stories from the past
Author: T. V. Padma
Illustrator: Bhavana Vyas
Although history was a firm favourite to me during my initial years of school, it was never a favourite among friends. Almost every one would pull a long face when the discussion turned to history. Then along came a teacher named Mr. Arumugam who brought in a fresh breath of air to the subject with his propensity to rattle off dates and dazzle us with his breadth of historical information. History as a subject became more fascinating when it was mixed with his stories, imaginary and real, and his style of delivery.
Padma T Venkatraman makes history fascinating in this wonderful compilation of tales set in historical settings. Her stories mesmerize and gives a brief glimpse of a historical period. A glimpse brief enough to entice one to find out more about that particular era.
Imagine an old Mughal miniature painting showing many people playing a game like polo with a burning ball. T V Padma uses this as a setting to write one of her memorable stories. Akbar, the great Mughal king, is frustrated that he cannot play the game of Chaugan after sunset. Daughter of one his courtiers is also equally in love with the game. Her desire to play the game and her solution to Akbar's problem forms the rest of the story. If we analyse this story historically, it is known that Akbar was a great player of Chaugan and loved the game; there are many miniature paintings showing Mughals playing polo; some miniature paintings of women of that era also likely to have played the game. All these facts are used by the author to stitch this wonderful story.
In similar vein, all the other stories in this book are equally well researched and seem very authentic. She also provides some interesting tidbits along with the story which provides enough information for an eager one to explore further or a teacher to use it as a study reference. Infact, there is an extensive teachers guide provided by the author at this link.
This book reminded me of another lovely book on history - Anu Kumar's In The Country of Gold Digging Ants.