Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dear Popat

Title : Dear Popat
Author : Madhu Limaye
Illustrated by : Keerti Ramchandran
Publisher : National Book Trust

The beautiful day which dawned with India's freedom - 15th August 1947, unfortunately did not bring the same for the smallest but probably the most beautiful state of our country - Goa, which continued its struggle under the oppressive regime of Portugese, for many more years after 1947.

Madhu Limaye, a freedom fighter, initiated a Satyagraha movement against Portugese Government in 1955. For his protest, he was beaten mercilessly and was sentenced to a twelve year imprisonment. From the Fort Aguada Jail, he started writing letters to his 1 year old son - Popat (Aniruddh) - his way of filling the loneliness of his days by steering his mind and thoughts to the memory lanes of his family and his beloved son. He attempted to bridge the gap that physical distance had brought between a father and a son by sending a capsule of his affection regularly in written form.

The affectionate letters that he wrote to Popat must have been Popat's prized possessions throughout his life and now for us to savour the loving words of a father to his son. I simply enjoyed the diverse and disjoint topics, finding their mention in his letters - the way a child's attention moves from one thing to another - jerkily but enthusiastically.

In some letters he mentions about the fireflies coming through the window of his room and the conversation he had with them, the birds and animals which are being coaxed by him to convey his messages to his dear son Popat but they just eat the treat he offers and do not obey him. Sometimes he talks about mother sea and his son, who are engaged in a game of hide and seek and other times he describes about the huge ocean waves crashing against the rocks near the prison.

Besides being in captivity, Limaye and his small group of friends, enjoyed and celebrated all special festivals and occasions including Popat's birthday and his father getting the special treatment of not doing any chores that day and just basking in the sweet memories of Popat.

Madhu Limaye has written some very profound pieces but he has neatly managed to bring his writing style to a very comfortable level where his son could understand the written matter when his mother read these letters to him. One thing which I liked the most is the tone of third person narrative which Limaye has used in most of his letters, the way children talk about themselves and while addressing others. Using words like Bho-bho for a dog, miao for a cat, chiu-tai for a sparrow, zhook-zhook for a train etc. lends an extra personal touch to the letters and make the reading very interesting.

XPosted on: Literary Sojourn


Choxbox said...

Seen this book but did not pick it up - had too many in my hands already! Your review has piqued my curiosity - will get it next time. Thanks V!

Vibha said...

Thanks to you, I found Sutradhar and found some real gems.

utbtkids said...

Vibha, I have a soft spot for the books that have been compiled from letters. Thanks for the review.

ranjani.sathish said...

Vibha, I enjoyed the review and also liked the whole idea of this book. NBT truly has some gems.

Vibha said...

utbt ~ same here. I had read Nehru's letters to Indira Gandhi - a very brief description of evolution of humans, world and Indian history, liked that too. But 'Dear Popat' is very personal.

Ranjani ~ I agree. I am liking NBT books a lot and also the ones that you gifted to R and M.

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