A Perfect Match

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REVIEW

A Perfect Match

By : Sandhya Rao  /  2017

A Perfect Match

A Perfect Match.jpg
A Perfect Match
Author:
Ramendra Kumar
Illustrator:
Niloufer Wadia
20 pages
English
Rs 35.00
ISBN: 978-9350224601
Pratham Books, 
2016
Tags : 
Competition,
Grandparents,
Hockey,
Siblings,
Sports,
Overall Rating : 
6
Story/Content : 
3
Illustration : 
0
Language : 
3
Design : 
3

Ramendra Kumar is a prolific spinner of yarns, and A Perfect Match is a perfect example of this. The title itself is vintage Ramendra, pun and all, as you will realise very soon. But first, if all grandmas and grandpas had the energy and ingenuity of Dadaji and Dadiji who star in this story, life would be a cinch for all grandchildren. However, it is not clear why Saket and Sakshi live with their grandparents, or indeed, if Dadaji and Dadiji live with them. Anyhow, here’s the story in brief.

“The two of them lived with their grandchildren, Sakshi and Saket.” We don’t exactly know where, but it’s a place where women and girls mostly wear salwar-kurtas. Di supports a young hockey team called the Halwas, while Da (the abbreviations are mine) supports another called the Jalebis. Yup, you got it: The Halwas are a boys’ team, and the Jalebis are a girls’ team.

The book opens with the two grand oldies arguing about who will lick whom, and a match is fixed (not really, but you know what I mean). After some initial misgivings regarding fear of being thought of as sissies and blatant expression of superiority, the girls and the boys agree to participate in “the epic battle”. Di and Da bring their own skills into the equation: “Dadiji who had represented her college in hockey taught the Halwas a few more skills. Dadaji who had studied management brought his team building and planning talents to the fore.” Now, we just have to take the storyteller’s word for this.

The big day dawns, spectators take their seats; “even the peanut vendor and the ice cream seller who sold their wares in the market had shifted to the venue of the mother of all matches”—although there’s no clue as to why this would be the mother of all matches. A seesaw battle ensues, with the teams scoring a goal each. Di and Da are in their element, she nearly losing her voice, and he almost losing his whiskers—and he blushing at her language, really. Finally, with one minute to go, and a deciding goal waiting to be punched into the goalpost, up pops Toofan, a pet dog who belongs to Sakshi and Saket. He neatly picks up the ball and makes off with it, providing “a perfect ending to a perfect match”. No winners, no losers, all equal, boys and girls, Di and Da very happy.

It’s a romp in the old-fashioned style, reminiscent of the early days of writing for children in English, when location didn’t matter, nor did context, or even substantiation, so that there’s little scope to ask why. However, the pictures, lively in themselves and adding to the fun element, make some suggestions of other perspectives not enunciated in the text. For instance, while Di and Da are pretty smartly shod, the children play barefoot.

Overall, the narrative journey is focused, and the writing, if not award-winning, is competent. Most important, the story is not pretentious. Of course, if you were to go only by the description on the back cover, you could be misled into thinking this is a story about sports, in the manner of the Shah Rukh Khan film, but it isn’t. Hockey is just a tool for another tale-spin from a writer who pushes them quickly through the air.

Sandhya Rao is primarily a reader who can’t thank her stars enough that there are so many stories and so many wonderful writers to bring them home to us. She is also a journalist and writer of children’s books.

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