The Trickster Bird
Illustrated by Manjari Chakravarti
9789350467572 | Center Stapled | pp. 28 | 2016 | Tulika Books
A humorous grandma story about a smart partridge, which gently draws attention to the plight of the Paardhi tribals of Madhya Pradesh who have had to leave the forest to become ragpickers in the city.
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When Renchu prods her grandmother for a story, Daadi launches into one about when Renchu’s grandfather was fooled by a partridge in the forest. But Daadis stories are never told straight. She is ‘sometimes in the story and sometimes out of it’. And as she moves in an out, we see two worlds – one of a time when Renchu’s family were people of the forest and trapped birds for the begum’s parties, and one of now when they have been forced into cities to live in jhuggis as ragpickers. The reader too is made to flit between the contrasting milieus through the distinct colour palettes, styles of the beautiful illustrations. Although narrated with all the flavour and affectionate humour of a grandma story, in her characteristic style Rinchin gently draws attention to the plight of the Paardhi tribals of Madhya Pradesh, who still bear the stigma of being once classified as a criminal community.
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