I've never been too fond of feline creatures.Cats always seemed too self-possessed to attract my attention. I am no dog lover, either. I once harbored soft corner for canine creatures when I found a healthy diversion for my tired mind, hopelessly mired by the complexities of tamil grammar. Visiting my tamil teacher's residence to learn tamil grammar was the perfect excuse for me play with that cute little thing full of fur. When I asked for a pup at home, my mother dismissed my plea, smirking playfully that she was already too busy managing one.
And then I set out to read "The Wildings" by Nilanjana Roy. How badly have I missed them all this while?
This beautiful novel works in multiple ways. Read the fable like a child, savoring the fecund imagination of the author and the illustrator who has brought to life the travails of animals who claim their little, unwanted spaces of wilderness inside our over crowded, modern cities replete with manufactured landscapes. When was the last time you read a novel where birds are named after seven swaras (notes) and cheels (eagles) hunt their preys with their pea-sized brains, equipped with a real-time dashboard flashing out their kill-success probabilities?
Or else read it like an adult for a subtle, yet profound commentary on creatures who originally came much before us and are today forced to share with us the last few spaces remaining from our ravenous desire to extend the human civilization far beyond borders. When the main protagonist cat 'Mara' explores the limit of her magical sending capabilities across the great wild animal social network(I wonder if the author was inspired by Twitter), the farthest she could go and meet the largest creature of her cat species, The Royal Bengal tiger, is inside a zoo. We see the Royal Bengal Tiger and his family, Ozymandias, upset by the lack of space and amenities inside the zoo.
While the author's wacky creative liberties in portraying wildings as clever and ecologically sensitive warm the cockles of our hearts, one could also sense the subtle indignation for what these wildings have suffered under the tyranny of the bigfooted humans. When the cheels could decide to not eat the last few sparrows remaining in their neighborhood, one wonders where do humans stand, with their big fat egos and their hyped intellect. If only bigfoot could learn from these wildings what is essential for our survival.
Gift this beautiful novel to the beautiful child or to the sensitive adult in you! You can buy the book here.
P.S: My special thanks to Blogadda for gifting me a copy of this novel and my sincere apologies for posting the review so late.