Follow the Blue Line

Pratham Books conducted 4 events during the main festival days of Bookaroo 2010. Rajesh Khar talks about our event ‘Follow the Blue Line’ which took place on 27th November, 2010.
“I am Antara and my mom has a programme here in a while”, a sweet looking young girl informed me while I was looking at the fine illustrations by Jagdish Joshi displayed there. It was the second day of the 3-day Bookaroo festival at IGNCA, New Delhi and Manisha and I were waiting for Vidya and Parthiv Shah. Their book, Narmada, was scheduled for that afternoon session. I briefly said hello to both Vidya and Parthiv upon their arrival and all of us walked into that cosy looking empty hall. Parthiv set the display and Vidya took her station, all set to go. As the hall began to fill up, Parthiv put up one of the pictures from the book, Narmada, that has been written by the couple and illustrated by Parthiv’s photographs. The book has been published by Pratham Books. Vidya started with a folksong from the ‘Ghati’ area sung by the Bhil women and to my surprise, her son took to playing tabla as accompaniment! It was simply wonderful to see the family perform the event together. The audience began clapping with her and the words flowed out of the hall in the same way as they would in the familiar surroundings of the ‘Ghati’,.“….Ma Reva, …….khal, khal bahta jaye.”
Vidya’s voice attracted a number of people from outside and she went on reading excerpts from the book and interacting with the children present in the gathering. Parthiv supported by displaying suitable photographs on the wall-mounted LCD television. He introduced the fact that there were a number of people who would undertake ‘Narmada Parikrama’ – a difficult travel of circumferencing the river on foot gladly even today and he was one among them. The children present were taken by awe to know that he had done it earlier and it had taken him about two years to do so.
A number of distinguished people had also gathered on this occasion and Samina Mishra and Suvidha Mistry were among them. After reading selected portions from the book, Vidya asked a few questions related to water conservation and the children were quick to respond. They talked about various ways of conserving water and for every good suggestion, Vidya and Parthiv gave away copies of their book, Narmada. The session concluded once again with Vidya’s song – a nice folksong from the Narmada region that people sing to show their protest against destruction of the river and its surroundings. We all clapped and tried to sing along with Vidya while waters of Narmada must have flown past its banks imitating the eternal flow of life as always.
View images from all the Bookaroo events here.


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