By Somali K Chakrabarti
Nature has always been a source of wonder and woe, prospect and peril, delight and danger. ~ Voice of Nature
Do you remember the fables in which the trees, animals and birds talk among themselves, and also mingle with humans as if they were living in a seamless world?
I am talking about the kind of world that is depicted in children’s magazines such as Champak, (widely popular in North India) or the world that you see in the Disney movies or in Chronicles of Narnia.
What if you suddenly discover that you had the gift of understanding what the birds and animals are talking about? Won’t you be interested to peep into their world?
So when Haiku, a small boy finds out on one fine day that he can comprehend the talks of the Mogli, a white tiger caged in Nanadankanan Zoo, in the city of Bhubaneshwar, he is intrigued. To his amazement and amusement, he further realizes that he can make out the conversations of a tiny bird called Kuki, and can even talk to the ancient Banyan tree in the zoo.
Haiku befriends the white tiger, the bird and the Banyan tree. Kuki flies from place to place and narrates her observations and the wise Banyan tree puts them in perspective. Listening to Mogli, Kuki, and the Banyan tree, Haiku understands the desires and concerns of the animals and plant world. In the process, he gathers the wisdom from the old Banyan tree that has been around for the last 100 years. Together they reflect on the relationship between humans, animals and nature.
The story that I am writing about is Voice of Nature written by Nihar Pradhan in his book Makeup and Breakup.
Before you form the perception that it is another children’s story, let me tell you that though the story has a childlike simplicity about it, it raises very pertinent issues such as fragile equation between humans and nature, the extinction of white tigers and the need for conservation of forests and wild life.
A beautiful woven story in the backdrop of Nandankanan Zoo, nestled in the splendid environs of Chandaka forest in the Temple City of Bhubaneshwar, Voice of Nature is blended with nuggets of interesting facts about wildlife and the sanctuary.
I came to know that Nandankanan (Garden of God), famous for its white tiger population is home to over 34 white tigers. Visitors to the Zoo can view the white tigers in their natural habitat from specially designed protected bushes in a White Tiger Safari.
The 50 hectares of beautiful water lake spread area named “Kangia” attracts large numbers of resident and migratory birds like whistling teal, cotton teal, darter, purple moorhen, herons, jacana etc.
The small and simple story deftly explores the facets of our environment and eco-system, and does so in a very interesting way. Through the basic expressions of imagination, and interaction between the child, the tiger, the bird and the tree, it encourages the reader to develop an empathy with plants and animals; finally it leaves the reader with a pleasant afterthought about the possibility of animals and human beings staying in harmony on the face of earth.
Voice of Nature is a story from the book Makeup and Breakup written by Nihar Pradhan.
The stories looks at life through a compassionate lens, reflect upon every day moments, relationships, social, cultural and philosophical themes, and raise some very pertinent questions. After reading the vivid description of Nandankanan through the characters in the book, I have the strong desire to go there whenever I get the opportunity. Maybe the characters will come live in front of my eyes whenever I do. :-)
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