Fantastic Monsters and Where to Find Them – The New Indian Express
Express news service
CHENNAI: Our society has its demons – discrimination, violence, corruption – and we find ourselves braving all of these every day. The concept of opposing evil, however, is not a sudden introduction to adulthood and is actually introduced to us as children with fairy tales and hero stories. Musharraf Ali Farooqi puts it better: Stories of monsters serve to familiarize children with the faces of cruelty, injustice and evil. Whether it’s the fire demon Aasi Gaur, the cruel giant Sri Badat or the kidnapper Toraban Dev, his new version for children Monster Folktales from South Asia introduces us to these monsters and unveils stories of hope, bravery and conquest of these. literal demons and the metaphorical evil they represent.
Drawing from various parts of Pakistan (Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Gilgit and Sindh), the author finds adventure stories rich in action, strategy and dynamic spirit. âI work with a lot of schools and it’s good for all the regions I go to; every kid would have a monster they could brag about and a hero to talk about, âsays Musharraf, who himself was once a child fascinated by monsters. ‘… It fascinated me, standing in opposition to evil, someone I saw as a force for good. It meant that I would never be alone with the monsterâ¦ ‘reads the introduction to his book, recalling the needs and wishes of a younger mind.
Attempting to document folk tales comes with the responsibility of remaining true to their origins and relevant to the place, but the challenge grew further for Musharraf as he created his own version of the early tale Gondrani and the fire demon Aasi Gaur. . âThere are bits of information for the story: a girl named Godrani who fought demons. That was about it, and a bit about a few Buddhists and the caves. So, I thought if there was a dark cave, it made sense to have a fire demon. And the name ‘Aasi Gaur’ translates to fire demon in the Baloch language, âhe explains on the writing process. While the story may have been its own creation, it follows the tone and energy of the other tales very well. It would be difficult to choose the intruder if he didn’t reveal him in the first pages of the book, and it’s always welcome to see a fiery and intelligent female protagonist being the herald of change.
Confront yourself with raw narratives
Like prose, the burden of authenticity also falls on illustrator Michelle Farooqi. The first thing she keeps in mind when trying to turn the action into images is the century, place, country and society in which the tale is set, she begins by adding: ” I also look at other folk tales and their illustrations to find a style that works well. There are many styles that one can use, for example woodcut and Indian miniature painting. In this case, since there were a lot of stories in a book, I had to find one that would suit all the stories. But, there are always differences between every story. And you have to agree. The miniature watercolor painting style follows a common appearance across the pages, one can tell the difference in details such as color scheme, character design and style between each story.
What surprises the reader is the unfiltered presence of violence. The devastation and loss caused by the monsters and the retaliation of the protagonists are by no means watered down or censored, making the stories feel crudely and raising the stakes – as, I guess, is the case with most. tales and myths. In an age where content for kids is increasingly PG and simplistic, this is a refreshing change. âIn a number of books, children are brought up to deal with personal grief, loss of someone or illness, which is perfectly fine because these are things that children have to deal with. What we don’t see as often and what is so much a part of their experience is sheer violence committed in different forms and pretexts, which affects them a lot more, âhe says.
The book with its simple but captivating prose and spellbinding illustrations is aimed at anyone, children or adults, looking for a quest with a satisfying ending. If this sounds like you, the call of adventure beckons.
Price: Rs 250