Adventures of a squirrel
Randeep Wadehra

Zapp: The Squirrel Who Wanted To Fly
by Rachit Kinger.
Wisdom Tree.
Pages 115. $ 7.95.

IT is a rare experience to come across an Indian writer living in India who gives us a top class parable that can be turned into a comic book and even a cartoon flick. Zapp, the baby squirrel, ventures out into the big bad jungle to live life on his own terms — much against the elder squirrels’ remonstrations. During his adventures he befriends Saap the snake and Baaz the eagle — otherwise its species’ natural enemies. His encounters with the two are thrilling enough.

However, he also makes friends with a rabbit and a snail. From each of his friends Zapp learns something new and useful. If the snail dwells upon high ambition’s futility then the rabbit declares, "Life is not something you have to endure"; in fact "it is basically one’s perception’s affair". Zapp has developed a burning desire for flying and visiting distant lands by following the sun’s path.

Some discourage him while others make fun of him, but Baaz inspires him to develop his own wings — which he eventually does and how!!

This is an inspirational book with doses of philosophic gravitas at one level; and on another level, thanks to its child-friendly language, it is a sheer entertainer. Kinger’s novella is destined to be a bestseller.

Life Under One Roof
by Gurnam Gill.
Pages 143. Rs 195.

The spread of Indian, especially Punjabi, diaspora is often described as the revenge of the colonised. Those who migrated to the UK took their language and culture with them and did a bit of cross-pollination there to leave a lasting impact on the culture-scape of what was once truly Great Britain.

However, things were never easy for the early migrants to the UK. Apart from linguistic and cultural alienation, they had to contend with insidious as well as brazen forms of racism.

This volume does not just dwell on these aspects but shows how the diaspora came to terms with the not-so-friendly socio-cultural environment, eventually taking firm roots there.

The Birth of God
by R. S. Nain.
Pages 168. Rs 295.

The Birth of God is a collection of 16 stories. The very first one — of the same name — is actually not structured as a typical short story. It is more a story-cum-essay — an interesting innovation — in which the author has tried to convey how the need for a divine being must have arisen at the beginning of human civilisation. With so many unexplained natural phenomena, and reasons behind even mundane events not understood, there was a felt need for a supernatural power that could be held responsible for such happenings. Moreover, since agriculture was not known then and food had to be either hunted or gathered from the forest — a daunting task — there were turf battles among various tribes for the same. Inter-tribal warfare for food and women was common. To ensure victory divine intervention was essential, hence the invention of local deity. Finally, the need for morality arose when struggles for women’s favours turned really nasty. Hence a moral code, wrapped in piety, became essential.

The silver threads portrays a child’s bewilderment over human perfidy in matters of love. He is unable to come to terms with the manner in which Saabi changes her loyalty from her dead fianc`E9 Sultana to his brother Ramzana. The wailing stream is a love story with paranormal touch, whereas The faith is more a satire on superstition with star-crossed conjugal love as its background. Other stories, too, attempt to explore and explain human nature in variegated circumstances.