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S U N DAY H I N D U STA N T I M E S , M U M B A I
O C TO B E R 3 0 , 2 0 1 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           | 09

               think!                                                                                                                                                                                                VARIETY
                                                                                                                                                                                        STORIES ABOUT A CHANGING INDIA




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PHOTOS COURTESY: ACORN FOUNDATIO N INDIA & BLUE FROG
                                                               FROM SLUM KIDS TO
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ■   Acorn Foundation India conducts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              music and theatre workshops for slum
         Humaira Ansari                                                                                                                                                                                                                       children as part of The Dharavi




                                                           ROCK STARS
         ■ humaira.ansari@hindustantimes.com                                                                                                                                                                                                  Project. Two groups have even




         S
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              performed at Blue Frog.
                   ilence,” shouts buck-toothed
                   Abdul Sheikh, 10, grinn-
                   ing. “ Chup rahoge tab toh
                   bajaega (Only if you’re quiet                                                                                                                                                                                          Just back
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          from playing
                   can I play).”
         The crowd at performance club Blue
         Frog is cheering for an encore from

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          football,
         Abdul and 20 other Dharavi slum chil-
         dren, most of them ragpickers. The
         group is performing alongside popstar
         Suneeta Rao, singing, dancing or play-
         ing percussion on plastic buckets.
            Part of The Dharavi Project, this gig             OPENING DOORS The Dharavi Project, which recently showcased talent                                                                                                          in France
         was organised in late August by Acorn
         Foundation India, a six-year-old organ-              from the slums, is just the latest in a slew of NGO programmes promoting                                                                                                        SHAKTI
         isation working to expose marginalised
         children to music and drama.                         sport, art, music and dancing as possible careers for underprivileged children                                                                                                  JAGANNATHAN,
            “Jazz emerged from the cotton                                                                                                                                                                                                     20, FOOTBALL PLAYER
         fields; hip-hop and reggae from the


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          S
         ghettoes,” says Vinod Shetty, director                                                                                                                                                                                                hakti Jagannathan grew up in north

                                                                                                       successstories
         of Acorn Foundation. “Who knows?             props and costumes, another group of                                                                                                                                                     Chennai’s Vyasarpadi slum, where
         Our children may come up with a new          14 children also scripted, produced                                                                                                                                                      she got her first job at age 10, sort-
         genre altogether.”                           and enacted a play about slum chil-                                                                                                                                                 ing and cleaning raw fish for an export

                                                                                                    From Kamathipura to Shiamak’s institute
            It’s a new approach to educating          dren at Matunga’s Mysore auditorium                                                                                                                                                 company, in exchange for Rs 15 per day.
         underprivileged children and prepar-         in September.                                                                                                                                                                         “I remember I always had cuts on
         ing them for a career. Across the city,         Elsewhere, Akanksha, an NGO that                                                                                                                                                 my hands from the scales and bones,”
         over the past decade, NGOs have gone         started with English and math classes                                                                         ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HT                                                  she says.
         from teaching English and math to            for slum children in Colaba in 1990,                                                                                                   Khetwadi centre.                               But as she ripped fish eyes from their
         imparting non-traditional skills in          began offering weekend arts classes in         SAHIL, 22, CHOREOGRAPHER                                                                   But this too was a struggle. From         sockets and cleared out entrails, she
         fields such as dance, drama, art, music      1995 and, since 2003, has been offering                                                                                                2005 to 2008, after his mother died,         kept her mind on football. “It was the


                                                                                                    A
         and sport.                                   hockey and football too, via 36 centres              s a child, Sahil (name changed)                                                   Sahil worked at a phone booth and then                               PHOTO COURTESY: CRY
                                                      across the city, most of them in munic-              spent most of the day alone in a                                                  a courier company to support himself.
                                                      ipal schools.                                        tiny hovel in Kamathipura as his                                                     “Every time I passed Shiamak
              Slum children often do not have            “Cricket is on the cards next,” says       mother scrubbed floors to try and earn                                                   Davar’s Nana Chowk centre, my feet
           role models within the family. Thus,       director Suparna Mody.                        a living. At night, she would drop him                                                   would just start to move,” he says.
                                                         There are currently 200 children in        off at a shelter run by NGO Prerana                                                         In January 2008, Prerana offered
           classes in performing arts and other       the Akanksha sports programme. And            and head out to the streets, as a com-                                                   him an administrative job at a month-
            non-conventional fields help them         6,000 have participated in the Arts for       mercial sex worker.                                                                      ly salary of Rs 3,500 and he joined an
                                                      Akanksha project since 1995, with their          At age five, when he began asking                                                     advanced dance group where teenagers
              connect interests and careers.          cards, calendars and mugs sold online         questions about his mother’s work, Sahil                                                 from various NGOs were taught free
               PARVEEN SHAIKH, career counsellor      and at the new standalone store               was sent to a government boarding                                                        by instructors from VAF.
                                                      launched in Worli last November.              school in Pune where he spent 10 years      ■   Sahil teaches dance to slum kids            Earlier this year, Sahil received an
            Many of these courses began as               Meanwhile, NGO Child Rights and            in a 500-sq-ft room that he shared with         through Victory Arts Foundation.         offer letter from VAF. He now earns an
         stress-busting techniques, giving the        You (CRY), founded in 1979, has been          14 other children. “We shared a bath-                                                    additional Rs 3,200 every month teach-
         children a way to get together and           offering courses in street theatre since      room too, and took turns to clean it,”      Sahil signed up and realised that he         ing at eight dance classes in municipal      ■   Shakti Jagannathan has played at the
         blow off steam, and keeping them off         1997 and introduced sports coaching           he says.                                    loved the balance, skill and beauty of       schools across the city.                         district, state and national levels.
         the streets and out of trouble in non-       as part of its educational initiatives in        Ten years later, in 2003, he returned    choreography.                                   “My new job means I am inching clos-
         school hours. Now, as the job market         2006, in association with the Chennai-        to Mumbai, enrolled at Wilson College,         Now 22, he is a dance instructor          er to my ultimate goal of becoming a         only thing I looked forward to in my
         opens up, these alternative skills have      based Slum Children Sports Talent             and decided to reconnect with Prerana.      with Shiamak Davar’s Victory Arts            full-time choreographer,” says Sahil.        day,” she says. “I would hurry home,
         turned into careers for some of these        Education Development Society                 The NGO had just introduced a one-          Foundation (VAF) and holds an                “This thought keeps me happy and             wash up quickly and then run back to
         children, introducing them to worlds         (SCSTEDS).                                    hour morning dance class. Intrigued,        administrative job at Prerana’s              keeps me going.”                             school to join my team.”
         that would otherwise have been inac-            A total of 5,000 children across                                                                                                                                                    Now 20, Jagannathan has played 25
         cessible to them.                            Chennai have enrolled in SCSTEDS                                                                                                                           KALPAK PATHAK/HT PHOTO   matches at the district, state and nation-
            “Slum children often do not have any
         role models within the family. When
         they think ‘career’, they think of open-
         ing a pav bhaji stall,” says career coun-
                                                      since its inception in 2000, learning
                                                      sports such as football, chess, carom
                                                      and athletics.
                                                         About 500 of them are now com-
                                                                                                    Making a living from art                                                                                                              al levels. In August, she even played a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          tournament in France, spending 10 days
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          there. “The plane was so fancy, the roads
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          and football fields in France so smooth,”
         sellor Parveen Shaikh, who works with        peting at various levels. Among these         SIRAJUL JALIL KHAN, 21, GRAPHIC DESIGNER                                                                                              she says, grinning.
         students across 20 BMC schools in            is Chennai-based Shakti Jagannathan,                                                                                                                                                   It all started when a local NGO, Slum
         Mumbai. “Thus, when they are intro-          a slumdweller and child labourer intro-                                                                                                                                             Children Sports Talent Education


                                                                                                    W
         duced to performing arts and other           duced to football by the NGO in 2005.                  hen Sirajul Jalil                                dent and a part-time                                                        Development Society (SCSTEDS),
         non-conventional fields, it helps them       Now 20, Jagannathan has played at the                  Khan’s father                                    graphic designer.                                                           began organising football matches at
         connect interests and careers.”              district, state and national levels,                   signed him up                                        In April 2010, he co-                                                   her school in the evenings.
            Acorn Foundation India, for instance,     recently returned from a tournament           with NGO Akanksha in                                       designed with his             ■   Sirajul Khan works at a publishing          “It looked like fun, so I asked if I could
         was started in 2005 to train ragpick-        in France and is pursuing a career in         1996, this Mahalaxmi                                       Akanksha art teacher the          firm and co-designed the cover of a      join,” says Shakti. For two years, she
         ers in Dharavi to segregate and recy-        the sport.                                    slumdweller decided to                                      cover of children’s book         children’s book (left) last year.        played almost every day.
         cle waste. Six months ago, its Dharavi          “When someone like Shakti grows            attend all the after-school                                 Miss Muglee Goes to                                                          Then, after Class 10, she quit her job
         Project was expanded to include music        up to become whoever she wants to             classes — English, math                                     Mumbai, work that            says. “I felt like a star.”                  and enrolled in college, where she has
         and theatre workshops.                       be, that is the best possible motivat-        and value education.                                         earned him a graphic           Now, Khan’s long-term goals include       spent the past four years studying bio-
            Scores of kids have participated in       ing factor for other children living in          “But from the first week-                            design internship at the pub-    buying a house for his family and a          zoology and playing football.
         these weekly workshops and two               situations of extreme vulnerability as        end art class, I knew that art and design   lishing firm, Vakils, Feffer & Simons.       motorcycle for himself.                         “I plan to keep playing,” says Shakti.
         groups of about 20 each have per-            well as their families,” says CRY CEO         was what I wanted to do,” he says. Now         “I felt such a rush while posing for         “I am happy,” he says. “I know where      “My dream is to some day play for the
         formed at Blue Frog. Using recycled          Pooja Marwaha.                                21, Khan is a third-year commerce stu-      photographs at the book release,” he         I am headed.”                                Indian team.”




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ILLUSTRATION: SHRIKRISHNA PATKAR




         Two women retell the Ramayana, through Sita’s eyes
         FEMINIST VOICE Even as Delhi University drops AK Ramanujan’s essay on the epic from its syllabus, another interpretation makes waves overseas
         Radhika Raj                                  ry and does not glorify Rama as a brave       launched on July 30 and made its            AK-47s followed the children around.         seven languages and won awards in
         ■ radhika.raj@hindustantimes.com             warrior king but speaks of Sita’s oppres-     way to the New York Times bestseller           “Kalashnikov was already a part of        Germany, Italy and Spain.




         M
                                                      sion as a banished, humiliated queen,         list on October 16 in the Hardcover         my vocabulary,” Arni says.                      The same tone — a female perspective
                     oyna Chitrakar, 38, grew         and of the quiet strength of a single         Graphic Books category, based on its           Amid kidnappings and embassy              of the futility of war — now comple-
                     up hearing her neighbours        mother,” says Chitrakar. “It is a retelling   sales in the US.                            bombings, she says she learnt early          ments Bangalore-based Chitrakar’s
                     scream and sob in their          that the women of Nirbhoypur can                 The sleek, fast-paced book begins        that there are no winners in war.            visual narrative in Sita’s Ramayana.
                     mud homes as their hus-          relate to, so we have passed it on it to      just after Rama’s triumphant return            With playtime guarded, Arni spent            Rama’s victory in Lanka, for instance,
                     bands returned home              our daughters and our sisters through         from Lanka. But rather than telling of      hours in the embassy library, reading        is not celebrated. Instead, Sita says:
         drunk, angry and abusive.                    the generations.”                             the celebrations, it follows Sita as she    and rereading the Indian epics               “I heard the women of the palace,
            The girls in her Nirbhoypur village          In 2000, Chitrakar and her husband,        walks away from Ayodhya, alone, preg-       Ramayana and Mahabharata.                    shrieking, I saw Ravana’s queens run-
         in West Bengal were always the first         a Patua artist too, decided to spread         nant, banished into the forest by her          At age eight, a year before the Babri     ning to the battlefield, tears stream-
         to drop out of school when finances          the story in neighbouring villages with       doubting husband.                           Masjid demolition and subsequent             ing down their faces. Their screams
         became scarce; most were married by          a performance of traditional songs               The strong female voice, however,        communal riots, Arni returned to India       rent the air. Even I, enclosed in this
         age 15. Chitrakar, who grew up in a          about the banished queen, accompa-            is not Chitrakar’s alone. A year into       with her family and says she saw the         garden, could hear their grief.”
         mud home, one of five children of impov-     nied by an exhibition of paintings depict-    the two-year project, Tara invited          story of the Mahabharata mirrored in            War, in some ways, is merciful to
         erished traditional Patua artists, was       ing her struggle.                             author Samhita Arni, 27, to frame the       the hostility between India and Pakistan.    men, Sita adds later. “It makes them
         married at 14 and dropped out of school         Nine years on, Tara Books, an inde-        text for the graphic novel.                    “These two countries, like the Kauravas   heroes if they are the victors. If they
         after Class 5.                               pendent publishing house based in                Like Chitrakar, Arni’s work was also     and Pandavas, were brothers, divided,        are vanquished — they do not live to
            But through those years, she found        Chennai that scours villages across India     deeply influenced by her childhood          fighting over territory,” she says.          see their homes taken, their wives wid-
         hope and inspiration in a story her grand-   for traditional artists, invited Patua        experience of hostility and violence.          So, at age nine, she sketched her         owed. But if you are a woman — you
         mother would tell her as she painted         artists from Nirbhoypur village to Chennai       The daughter of an Indian diplomat,      own line drawings and wrote her own          must live through defeat...”                 ■   Author Samhita Arni, publisher Gita
         Patua scrolls — the story of the grand       and were told of Chitrakar’s work.            Arni moved to Karachi, Pakistan, with       retelling of that epic. Released by Tara              (Sita’s Ramayana [151 Pages,            Wolf and tribal Patua artist Moyna
         epic Ramayana, through Sita’s eyes.             Tara invited her to create a graph-        her family at age four. School was a        as Mahabharatha — A Child’s View,                            Rs 550] is available on          Chitrakar at the launch of Sita’s
            “The story is part of our oral histo-     ic novel — Sita’s Ramayan — that was          gated complex where bodyguards with         in 1999, the book was translated into            tarabooks.com and flipkart.com)              Ramayana in Chennai in July.

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Dharavi Hindustan Times

  • 1. S U N DAY H I N D U STA N T I M E S , M U M B A I O C TO B E R 3 0 , 2 0 1 1 | 09 think! VARIETY STORIES ABOUT A CHANGING INDIA PHOTOS COURTESY: ACORN FOUNDATIO N INDIA & BLUE FROG FROM SLUM KIDS TO ■ Acorn Foundation India conducts music and theatre workshops for slum Humaira Ansari children as part of The Dharavi ROCK STARS ■ humaira.ansari@hindustantimes.com Project. Two groups have even S performed at Blue Frog. ilence,” shouts buck-toothed Abdul Sheikh, 10, grinn- ing. “ Chup rahoge tab toh bajaega (Only if you’re quiet Just back from playing can I play).” The crowd at performance club Blue Frog is cheering for an encore from football, Abdul and 20 other Dharavi slum chil- dren, most of them ragpickers. The group is performing alongside popstar Suneeta Rao, singing, dancing or play- ing percussion on plastic buckets. Part of The Dharavi Project, this gig OPENING DOORS The Dharavi Project, which recently showcased talent in France was organised in late August by Acorn Foundation India, a six-year-old organ- from the slums, is just the latest in a slew of NGO programmes promoting SHAKTI isation working to expose marginalised children to music and drama. sport, art, music and dancing as possible careers for underprivileged children JAGANNATHAN, “Jazz emerged from the cotton 20, FOOTBALL PLAYER fields; hip-hop and reggae from the S ghettoes,” says Vinod Shetty, director hakti Jagannathan grew up in north successstories of Acorn Foundation. “Who knows? props and costumes, another group of Chennai’s Vyasarpadi slum, where Our children may come up with a new 14 children also scripted, produced she got her first job at age 10, sort- genre altogether.” and enacted a play about slum chil- ing and cleaning raw fish for an export From Kamathipura to Shiamak’s institute It’s a new approach to educating dren at Matunga’s Mysore auditorium company, in exchange for Rs 15 per day. underprivileged children and prepar- in September. “I remember I always had cuts on ing them for a career. Across the city, Elsewhere, Akanksha, an NGO that my hands from the scales and bones,” over the past decade, NGOs have gone started with English and math classes ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HT she says. from teaching English and math to for slum children in Colaba in 1990, Khetwadi centre. But as she ripped fish eyes from their imparting non-traditional skills in began offering weekend arts classes in SAHIL, 22, CHOREOGRAPHER But this too was a struggle. From sockets and cleared out entrails, she fields such as dance, drama, art, music 1995 and, since 2003, has been offering 2005 to 2008, after his mother died, kept her mind on football. “It was the A and sport. hockey and football too, via 36 centres s a child, Sahil (name changed) Sahil worked at a phone booth and then PHOTO COURTESY: CRY across the city, most of them in munic- spent most of the day alone in a a courier company to support himself. ipal schools. tiny hovel in Kamathipura as his “Every time I passed Shiamak Slum children often do not have “Cricket is on the cards next,” says mother scrubbed floors to try and earn Davar’s Nana Chowk centre, my feet role models within the family. Thus, director Suparna Mody. a living. At night, she would drop him would just start to move,” he says. There are currently 200 children in off at a shelter run by NGO Prerana In January 2008, Prerana offered classes in performing arts and other the Akanksha sports programme. And and head out to the streets, as a com- him an administrative job at a month- non-conventional fields help them 6,000 have participated in the Arts for mercial sex worker. ly salary of Rs 3,500 and he joined an Akanksha project since 1995, with their At age five, when he began asking advanced dance group where teenagers connect interests and careers. cards, calendars and mugs sold online questions about his mother’s work, Sahil from various NGOs were taught free PARVEEN SHAIKH, career counsellor and at the new standalone store was sent to a government boarding by instructors from VAF. launched in Worli last November. school in Pune where he spent 10 years ■ Sahil teaches dance to slum kids Earlier this year, Sahil received an Many of these courses began as Meanwhile, NGO Child Rights and in a 500-sq-ft room that he shared with through Victory Arts Foundation. offer letter from VAF. He now earns an stress-busting techniques, giving the You (CRY), founded in 1979, has been 14 other children. “We shared a bath- additional Rs 3,200 every month teach- children a way to get together and offering courses in street theatre since room too, and took turns to clean it,” Sahil signed up and realised that he ing at eight dance classes in municipal ■ Shakti Jagannathan has played at the blow off steam, and keeping them off 1997 and introduced sports coaching he says. loved the balance, skill and beauty of schools across the city. district, state and national levels. the streets and out of trouble in non- as part of its educational initiatives in Ten years later, in 2003, he returned choreography. “My new job means I am inching clos- school hours. Now, as the job market 2006, in association with the Chennai- to Mumbai, enrolled at Wilson College, Now 22, he is a dance instructor er to my ultimate goal of becoming a only thing I looked forward to in my opens up, these alternative skills have based Slum Children Sports Talent and decided to reconnect with Prerana. with Shiamak Davar’s Victory Arts full-time choreographer,” says Sahil. day,” she says. “I would hurry home, turned into careers for some of these Education Development Society The NGO had just introduced a one- Foundation (VAF) and holds an “This thought keeps me happy and wash up quickly and then run back to children, introducing them to worlds (SCSTEDS). hour morning dance class. Intrigued, administrative job at Prerana’s keeps me going.” school to join my team.” that would otherwise have been inac- A total of 5,000 children across Now 20, Jagannathan has played 25 cessible to them. Chennai have enrolled in SCSTEDS KALPAK PATHAK/HT PHOTO matches at the district, state and nation- “Slum children often do not have any role models within the family. When they think ‘career’, they think of open- ing a pav bhaji stall,” says career coun- since its inception in 2000, learning sports such as football, chess, carom and athletics. About 500 of them are now com- Making a living from art al levels. In August, she even played a tournament in France, spending 10 days there. “The plane was so fancy, the roads and football fields in France so smooth,” sellor Parveen Shaikh, who works with peting at various levels. Among these SIRAJUL JALIL KHAN, 21, GRAPHIC DESIGNER she says, grinning. students across 20 BMC schools in is Chennai-based Shakti Jagannathan, It all started when a local NGO, Slum Mumbai. “Thus, when they are intro- a slumdweller and child labourer intro- Children Sports Talent Education W duced to performing arts and other duced to football by the NGO in 2005. hen Sirajul Jalil dent and a part-time Development Society (SCSTEDS), non-conventional fields, it helps them Now 20, Jagannathan has played at the Khan’s father graphic designer. began organising football matches at connect interests and careers.” district, state and national levels, signed him up In April 2010, he co- her school in the evenings. Acorn Foundation India, for instance, recently returned from a tournament with NGO Akanksha in designed with his ■ Sirajul Khan works at a publishing “It looked like fun, so I asked if I could was started in 2005 to train ragpick- in France and is pursuing a career in 1996, this Mahalaxmi Akanksha art teacher the firm and co-designed the cover of a join,” says Shakti. For two years, she ers in Dharavi to segregate and recy- the sport. slumdweller decided to cover of children’s book children’s book (left) last year. played almost every day. cle waste. Six months ago, its Dharavi “When someone like Shakti grows attend all the after-school Miss Muglee Goes to Then, after Class 10, she quit her job Project was expanded to include music up to become whoever she wants to classes — English, math Mumbai, work that says. “I felt like a star.” and enrolled in college, where she has and theatre workshops. be, that is the best possible motivat- and value education. earned him a graphic Now, Khan’s long-term goals include spent the past four years studying bio- Scores of kids have participated in ing factor for other children living in “But from the first week- design internship at the pub- buying a house for his family and a zoology and playing football. these weekly workshops and two situations of extreme vulnerability as end art class, I knew that art and design lishing firm, Vakils, Feffer & Simons. motorcycle for himself. “I plan to keep playing,” says Shakti. groups of about 20 each have per- well as their families,” says CRY CEO was what I wanted to do,” he says. Now “I felt such a rush while posing for “I am happy,” he says. “I know where “My dream is to some day play for the formed at Blue Frog. Using recycled Pooja Marwaha. 21, Khan is a third-year commerce stu- photographs at the book release,” he I am headed.” Indian team.” ILLUSTRATION: SHRIKRISHNA PATKAR Two women retell the Ramayana, through Sita’s eyes FEMINIST VOICE Even as Delhi University drops AK Ramanujan’s essay on the epic from its syllabus, another interpretation makes waves overseas Radhika Raj ry and does not glorify Rama as a brave launched on July 30 and made its AK-47s followed the children around. seven languages and won awards in ■ radhika.raj@hindustantimes.com warrior king but speaks of Sita’s oppres- way to the New York Times bestseller “Kalashnikov was already a part of Germany, Italy and Spain. M sion as a banished, humiliated queen, list on October 16 in the Hardcover my vocabulary,” Arni says. The same tone — a female perspective oyna Chitrakar, 38, grew and of the quiet strength of a single Graphic Books category, based on its Amid kidnappings and embassy of the futility of war — now comple- up hearing her neighbours mother,” says Chitrakar. “It is a retelling sales in the US. bombings, she says she learnt early ments Bangalore-based Chitrakar’s scream and sob in their that the women of Nirbhoypur can The sleek, fast-paced book begins that there are no winners in war. visual narrative in Sita’s Ramayana. mud homes as their hus- relate to, so we have passed it on it to just after Rama’s triumphant return With playtime guarded, Arni spent Rama’s victory in Lanka, for instance, bands returned home our daughters and our sisters through from Lanka. But rather than telling of hours in the embassy library, reading is not celebrated. Instead, Sita says: drunk, angry and abusive. the generations.” the celebrations, it follows Sita as she and rereading the Indian epics “I heard the women of the palace, The girls in her Nirbhoypur village In 2000, Chitrakar and her husband, walks away from Ayodhya, alone, preg- Ramayana and Mahabharata. shrieking, I saw Ravana’s queens run- in West Bengal were always the first a Patua artist too, decided to spread nant, banished into the forest by her At age eight, a year before the Babri ning to the battlefield, tears stream- to drop out of school when finances the story in neighbouring villages with doubting husband. Masjid demolition and subsequent ing down their faces. Their screams became scarce; most were married by a performance of traditional songs The strong female voice, however, communal riots, Arni returned to India rent the air. Even I, enclosed in this age 15. Chitrakar, who grew up in a about the banished queen, accompa- is not Chitrakar’s alone. A year into with her family and says she saw the garden, could hear their grief.” mud home, one of five children of impov- nied by an exhibition of paintings depict- the two-year project, Tara invited story of the Mahabharata mirrored in War, in some ways, is merciful to erished traditional Patua artists, was ing her struggle. author Samhita Arni, 27, to frame the the hostility between India and Pakistan. men, Sita adds later. “It makes them married at 14 and dropped out of school Nine years on, Tara Books, an inde- text for the graphic novel. “These two countries, like the Kauravas heroes if they are the victors. If they after Class 5. pendent publishing house based in Like Chitrakar, Arni’s work was also and Pandavas, were brothers, divided, are vanquished — they do not live to But through those years, she found Chennai that scours villages across India deeply influenced by her childhood fighting over territory,” she says. see their homes taken, their wives wid- hope and inspiration in a story her grand- for traditional artists, invited Patua experience of hostility and violence. So, at age nine, she sketched her owed. But if you are a woman — you mother would tell her as she painted artists from Nirbhoypur village to Chennai The daughter of an Indian diplomat, own line drawings and wrote her own must live through defeat...” ■ Author Samhita Arni, publisher Gita Patua scrolls — the story of the grand and were told of Chitrakar’s work. Arni moved to Karachi, Pakistan, with retelling of that epic. Released by Tara (Sita’s Ramayana [151 Pages, Wolf and tribal Patua artist Moyna epic Ramayana, through Sita’s eyes. Tara invited her to create a graph- her family at age four. School was a as Mahabharatha — A Child’s View, Rs 550] is available on Chitrakar at the launch of Sita’s “The story is part of our oral histo- ic novel — Sita’s Ramayan — that was gated complex where bodyguards with in 1999, the book was translated into tarabooks.com and flipkart.com) Ramayana in Chennai in July.