“The Wildings” by Nilanjana S Roy, Illustrated by Prabha Mallya

September 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

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Beraal. The Beautiful Queen.

From August 2011 to December 2011, I worked at an office where I had precious little to do. I spent my time reading blogs, one of my favourite haunts was Akhond of Swat. I had seen Nilanjana Roy on Barkha Dutt’s talk-shows, where she in her gentle voice put forth one logical point after another unfazed by the screaming voices around her. In her blog,  she reviewed books and wrote articles on topics ranging from censorship to Charles Dickens and more. Often I read reviews of books that I never intended to read, only because the reviews were so well written. Here was a good writer, you could tell that, but if I was asked what kind of book would she write  if ever she wrote a novel … I would have answered without a doubt that it would be something very serious, very literary and high-brow, which would take me ages to understand.
Then, she wrote The Wildings. A book about a group of cats. The excerpt released was enough to entice me. I Flipkarted the book few days ago and finished it this evening.
Right from the word go, I was sucked into the world of Katar, the confident leader , Beraal, the beautiful, agile queen, Southpaw, the cutie kitten always getting into trouble and Mara, the orange kitten, the anomaly … the devilish Datura…Tooth, the cheel… I could go on and on.  The world is viewed through the eyes of these cats where all people are the “Bigfeet”. As the cats roam and hunt and laze around; the streets of Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi come alive. There are endearing moments, humorous moments and nail-biting moments- I don’t ask for more in a book. You can’t help but smile when you read about “Affit” and “Davit”, the Supreme Court cats” and also the beautiful regal queen  who reigned in the past – “Neferkitty”.
Mara, the orange kitten, the “inside” cat, is very different from the others, she is a Sender . You must be wondering what is that…well ,between them, the cats have their own linking system to communicate, it is almost like their own Skype or Facebook chat and Mara happens to be a powerful Sender who can virtually travel anywhere without stepping out of her Bigfeet’s home. It is this linking system that plays a vital role in the story.
Perhaps due to hype around this book, I expected something more from the story, but I am more than delighted with the way it has been told. If you love and own a cat you will recognize each and every gesture that the author describes.
There is also a very good reason why you should not borrow this book and buy it instead–the illustrations by Prabha Mallya, they lend a character to the story being told and create the mood. You are never distracted , only spellbound. My personal favourite is that small sketch of Beraal, who happens to be my favourite character too! The illustrations are a huge reason why I love the fact that I OWN this book.
Of course being an animal lover I loved this book as much as I loved Born Free, Black Beauty and others. But even if you are not an animal lover or more specifically, a cat lover, you’ll still enjoy it. I did. Immensely.
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