Its EARTH DAY today everyone! As always it calls for a celebration here at Saffron tree! And what better way to do it than through a good book? That is why I have here with me BEST FRIENDS, written by Nina Sabnani; a neat blingual production from Tulika Publishers, India. No contemplation preceded the choice of this book. And it cannot be more befitting for today – the celebration of a little girl’s friendship with a tree.
We are introduced to little Tamanna playing in the garden. We see her talking and sharing stories from her school and home to the big tall beautiful Kuchi. The sounds of nature had led her to believe, when she was a baby, that the tree actually spoke. Shhhuunnn! Muuuunnnn! was the language her companion spoke, she thought, and thus a friendship was born. However, her chatty friendship becomes a subject of ridicule and mockery amongst her human friends and that prods her to rethink her relationship. Pragmatism wins and her delusion ends.
Years roll by and we see her reading a book to her daughter. Shhhuunnn! Muuuunnnn! Something beckons her. Running out into the garden she sees a man with an axe. Stop! Don’t touch Kuchi! screams the woman, our Tamanna. The closing image is that of a little girl in a swing suspended from one of Kuchi’s branches. The friendship is passed on.
I turn the book and read “Based on a real friendship between Nina Sabnani’s niece and a tree….”. Deeply touched.
The author is also the illustrator. The text is oddly simple and the reasoning for this would be its ability to support multiple Indian languages. But the profound thoughts that the simple text can transmit impresses me. Trees, like water, symbolize our giving earth in its (her) full glory. Irrespective of whether we choose to talk about deforestation or recycling or about simply closing the pipe while brushing, amongst us and to our kids, the importance of our environment, the generosity of nature and the beauty of our home, the earth stands. Happy Earth Day!