The Yellow Bird- A world within the world

How many times have we dreamt about being transmitted to a place where fantasy comes into reality?

Lila Majumdar’s astonishing book ‘Holde Pakhir Palok’, literally meaning ‘The Yellow Bird’s feather’ transposes us to exactly such a land. The book was first published in 1957, and was originally written in Bengali. The writer herself confessed, “It (the book) was never serially published. It rambled inside my mind incessantly. I could not concentrate on any other work, it was unbearable! At last I had to take a week’s leave, and completed writing at Santiniketan…”

Representational Image

The story revolves around the siblings Rumu, Bogey and the domestic help of their house cum their constant companion- Jhogru. Jhogru tells the children numerous exquisite stories of his native village, Dumka-where plants can roam about freely and a white horse with the ‘buds of wings’ on its shoulders may supposedly become a pegasus. The stories are hard to believe for an excessively practical and rational mind, but the children cannot ignore the convincing and incontestable tone in Jhogru’s words.

His bizarre anecdotes sometimes feature rarely seen yellow birds. The birds do not have legs and cannot chirp either. They come to Dumka during twilight to enjoy ripe fruits and fly back to the infinite. But, Jhogru narrates in a mysterious voice, if a dog or fox devours a wounded yellow bird- it turns into a human being. He further adds, a person who has touched such a magical bird becomes fidgety, and is bound to leave his homeland and go out to visit new places. Jhogru himself is such a person, he claims.

‘Holde Pakhir Palok’ has always been designated as a book for children. But, is it really so?

The seeds of certain moral values have been intrinsically planted in every nook and corner of the story. It makes us wonder why the book has been consistently restricted within the boundary of ‘childrens’ read’- because-

“All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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