|Picture Courtesy: Saffron Tree|
Author: Leela Gour Broome
There are some books that narrate extremely simple tales in a very emotionally appealing manner and still succeed in making an impact. Author Leela Gour Broome's book "Flute in the Forest" has a very musical ring to it, which should be one of the reasons why I started reading this book sitting on one of the sofas in Crossword. "Flute In The Forest" is the story of a thirteen year old young girl Atiya Sardare, the daughter of a forest officer. She is afflicted with polio as she stays with her father in a forest area in South India which is largely inhabited by tribals.
Prior to becoming a victim to polio, the book explains that her mother Sarojini, an acclaimed dancer dreams of making her daughter a dancer when she grows up. As she is struck by the disease, she deserts her daughter and husband as she realizes the dream of making her daughter a dancer shatters. Following the setback hurled by his wife that she never got the praise and attention from her husband and the climatic conditions in the forest were stifling her artistic potential, Atiya's father vows that he would not expose his daughter to any form of art namely music and dance.
As an only child afflicted with polio, she finds solace and is at peace in the serenity of the jungle as her father teaches her to identify different species of plants and animals and she explores it further on short, secret and often dangerous treks. Considering her background, she knows the ways of the jungle and its creatures both mighty and small. Although physically handicapped, her adventurous spirit takes her on lonely rambles into the wildlife sanctuary.
On one occasion, she hears the haunting notes of a flute which gives her goosebumps. She breaks her father's vow and promises to play the wind instrument. Her desire to play the flute brings her closer to a grouchy old anthropologist, Ogre Uncle and his Kurumba tribal daughter Mishora. Atiya's gift and her flute lessons transform her father's rigid views, it calms a rogue elephant and helps nurture a blossoming friendship between a teenage boy and a girl.
The story is moving and tender. Despite the book tackling some sensitive subjects such as a physically handicapped girl as the leading protagonist, the mention of her mother leaving her family aside to pursue dance, a terminally ill Ogre Uncle and finally a death, the tone of this book is immensely positive. The language of the book is very simple as it is aimed at children near or above the age group of 12. It is a charming story which is full of incident and leaves you with a good feeling. The descriptions of the book are so realistic that they almost transport the reader into the middle of a forest range when one can hear the flowing notes of a flute. As it explores Atiya's story, the book also mentions how animals are generally more receptive and sensitive when it comes to love, displaying affection and exhibiting care. Leela Gour Broome's "Flute in The Forest" is a moving, tender and mesmerizing tale which is laced with some wonderful incidents based on the real life experiences of the author. Summing up, it is a charming story, full of incident and good feeling and Atiya's flute definitely has a life and special magic of its own.