Our Incredible Cow
Our Incredible Cow
“Non-Veg” to “Incredible”? I was intrigued by this shift, as I had first read about Nyadosh in a book titled Our Non-Veg Cow and Other Stories published by Seagull Books. The non-veg shifting to incredible in Tulika's picture book had me curious because a title with non-veg in it would be politically powerful at this point in time. Holy cow!
Open the book and surreal images that almost overpower the text jump out at you from every double-spread. Then you notice the tiny creatures who have poured out of Ruchi Shah’s pen. You meet a family in these light pen-and-ink doodles that draw you into the story.
If you skim through the book like all good book lovers usually do, you are likely to first go “huh?” But once you've passed that phase and actually begin to read it, this picture book leaves you thinking – incredible!
Ruchi Shah takes Nyadosh the cow to a surreal level, visualizing Nyadosh as one who becomes what she eats! Once you crack this code, you can only marvel at the designer's wonderful visual imagination and skill.
An exceptional home produces an exceptional writer, thinker and person like Mahasweta Devi. Through the story, we see Ma as a sensitive, caring woman; the children, all nine of them, as vibrant, curious and interesting people; and Baba as the only one who Nyadosh recognizes as an equal. There are so many threads in a story of this kind that constructing Mahasweta Devi’s family makes for a really fun exercise. I really enjoyed the rather effortless way in which every sibling is named and characterized. Nyadosh, too, emerges as a wonderfully eccentric character because of the manner in which her likes and dislikes are portrayed.
Thinking about the life and times of the story's context (it was written in Bengali in the late 1960s) asks of the reader a pause for reflection. Many of its pages have an idea embedded within that can be drawn out, and yet the story as a whole leaves you thinking – incredible!
What makes this Tulika book even more incredible is the fact that we now have the story as a picture book, translated into multiple languages, accessible in form, price and visibility, and as something we can place in multiple hands to trigger multiple thoughts. Incredible!
Sujata Noronha is an educator who works with literacy and reading resources and runs an organisation called Bookworm in Goa.