Title: And That Is Why – Manipuri Myths Retold
Author: L. Somi Roy
Illustrator: Sapha Yumnam
Age group: 8years+ for avid readers, otherwise 10 years+
Before the book, the author. L. Somi Roy, is a cultural icon of the mystique of the North East. A native of Manipur, he promotes international polo, and is a film curator who has organized exhibitions in USA. He is also known for his translation of works by his mother, the famous writer M. K. Binodini Devi.
So when you flip this amazing book and read the back cover, things fall into place. Because only L. Somi Roy can engross us with 12 magical tales from the magical land of Manipur.
This book is special.
Decked up with beautiful rich Manipuri art, these stories of myths and legends are unique and quirky. For children, it transports them to far away lands, with myriad Gods and twists and turns from mountains to oceans. For the adults, it is pure joy, to rediscover the reason why a cat always buries its poop, and mother hen looks after sister duck’s eggs.
The loveable aspects of the book include more than a passing reference to Manipur’s neighbour, Myanmar. Burmese Queens flutter in and out of the pages. As do creatures from the jungle – monkeys and elephants, who donate 25 years each of their life to help a man live up to hundred. Young readers will embark on a colourful rich journey, embellished with the Sky God, Soaren, the Eternal Creator. Along the way, be prepared to meet the quiet worm weaving beautiful silk, the pied cuckoo who drinks only rain water, the nine celestial maidens, the Manipur pony, the cat who was married to a tiger and the doll that is worshipped as a goddess in a little village.
The writing is as stylised as the paintings that accompany it. I particularly loved the story about the Khurkhul Silk. I don’t fancy spoilers, so I leave it to the curious reader to discover how worms spin this treasured silk in silence, blessing the villagers of Khurkhul, who remain engrossed in weaving their shimmering cloth.
The size of the book (it’s taller than a regular paperback), gives you an added luxury to enjoy the exquisite illustrated paintings.
Intrigued? That’s why you must read And That Is Why.
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