Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monkey's Drum

In Tamil, there is an old traditional children's song(probably folk!) that I remember from my young age, that goes like this -

"Vaalu Pocchu, Kathi Vanthathu

Dum, Dum, Dum"

It means something like "Tail is gone, but got a knife instead". There is probably an equivalent song in every other South Indian language. I did not remember any thing else apart from this line in the song till now.

Thanks to Tara Books publishers, the book called 'Monkey's Drum' (there is no direct link - scroll down this link to find the book details) deals exactly with this old traditional song. Monkey's Drum deals with the story of a naughty monkey. The story is by Anita Moorthy and illustrations by Soumitra Sarkar.

In a faraway forest, lived a naughty monkey that got a thorn in his tail. He goes to the nearest barber and requests him to remove the thorn. The barber ends up cutting the monkey's tail to remove the thorn. The monkey gets very upset and demands that the barber give him his knife for cutting off a portion of his tail. The poor barber is upset; but, has no choice but to give the monkey the knife. The monkey is very happy and starts into a song --

"The tail has gone

The knife has come

Dum dum de dum"

While singing along, he notices a girl trying hard to break some wood from a tree. The monkey offers his knife to the girl. After the girl uses the knife; the knife becomes blunt. The monkey is upset again and demands the firewood for the knife. The poor girl gives up all her firewood for the knife. The monkey is merrier and continues the song and now the song includes a line of the exchange of firewood for a knife. The story continues as the monkey continues to exchange one item after another and the length of the song increases as we continue further down the pages.

It is a great way to introduce our kids to some of the traditional stories we have probably learnt from our parents and grand parents. Although the song is in English in this book, one would immediately be able to translate it to the original Tamil or whatever is your local language. The song is very rhythmic. Sooraj and I had a great time shouting and yelling out the songs in Tamil.

All the illustrations are in black and white and very simple and expressive. Most kids would be able to comprehend the expressions in the illustrations without any problem.

It would have been great if the same book was available in local languages too. Tara Books are independent publishers based in Chennai and come out with some interesting titles for children and adults. Many of their books are handcrafted and exquisite. One of the books that I recently fell in love with is The London Jungle Book by Bhaijju Shyam, an artist from the Gond tribe. Every time I go to a bookshop, I browse through this book; but end up not buying it because of its cost (costs around Rs. 750). Their children's books are relatively cheaper. I got the Monkey's Drum for Rs. 50/-.

If you are in Bangalore, Strands Bookshop has a good and separate section for Tara Books. In Landmark, the books are mixed in children's section and it is very difficult to locate anything there.


Sheela said...

oh, you bring back memories, Satish! I do remember the 'vaalu pochu, kathi vanthathu' rhyme - just that line - i can't seem to remember how that starts or ends, though... looks like a good find. thanks!

sathish said...

sheela, the odd thing is that I am not sure if the story illustrated in this book is the real and original story! Should check it out with our parents!

but, I like the book anyway..

Anonymous said...

yes i do remember the song.When we were kids my grandpa sang and we all the time asked him to traditional.

Ramadurai said...

I do not know if this is full sequence but

Valu pochu kathi vanthathu
dum dum dum
kathi pochu mambazham vanthathu
dum dum dum
mambazham pochu ponnu vanthathu
dum dum dum
ponnu pochu melam vanthathu
dum dum dum
dum dum dum
dum dum dum
and the monkey tears the melam...

utbtkids said...

OMG, I suddenly remembered 'Valu poi kathi vandhudhu' two weeks back, since then I have made three over the seas phone calls to get the whole rhyme.

The version I got was

Valu poi kathi vandhudhu
dum dum dum
Kathi poi mangai vandhudhu
dum dum dum
Mangai poi nadaswaram vandhudhu dum dum dum
Nadaswaram poi melam vandhidhu
dum dum dum
dum dum dum
dum dum dum.

I wonder abt Ramadurai's story in which there is a girl :)

I remember loving this story as a kid.

Anonymous said...

as per my knowledge... this is how the song goes

Vallu pochu Kathi Vanthathu
Dum Dum Dum
Kathi pochu Mambazham vanthathu
Dum Dum Dum
Mambazham pochu Thosai vanthathu
Dum Dum Dum
Thosai pochu Kottu-melam vanthathu
Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Do u remember the story please post if u can

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