April 20, 2021 4:39:18 pm
As reports of migrants fleeing cities because of the fresh coronavirus-induced lockdown are making headlines again, a new illustrated children’s book shows the impact that the 2020 nationwide lockdown had on Indians, particularly migrant labourers and children.
“Jamlo Walks”, published by Penguin Random House India (PRHI), tells the tragic story of 12-year-old Jamlo Makdam, who died of exhaustion during lockdown last year in April after walking 150-km from Telangana — where she worked in a chilli farm — to her home in Chhattisgarh. It is written by filmmaker-writer Samina Mashir and illustrated by Tarique Aziz.
The lockdown, which began on March 25, was first extended till May 3 and then till May 17 with a few relaxations. The unprecedented move to stem the spread of COVID-19 triggered possibly the biggest movement of people since Partition.
“‘Jamlo Walks’ was a response to last year’s vulgar display of inhumanity – those searing images of the migrants walking through the night, out of Delhi on the Yamuna bridge, the middle class apathy demonstrated on social media, the way domestic workers were being treated at colony gates, and finally the story of Jamlo that was simply heartbreaking,” said Mishra, who is also the author of “Shabana and the Baby Goat”, “My Friends in the City” and “My Sweet Home”.
“My work is with children and about the experiences of childhood, and so all this made me think of what it means for all children – how are they to think about these stark divides across different childhoods, would they go on to continue institutionalizing this inhumanity? I wrote the story hoping we will remember and not repeat,” she added.
The book, according to the publishers, is an important tool for parents and educators to help young readers question “how we treat each other”.
“‘Jamlo Walks’ accomplishes many things in very few pages and one of them is to hold a mirror to the society we live in. We see it as a conversation starter for young citizens who are aware of what’s happening in the world and have proved, time and again, that they are capable of handling so much more than we give them credit for,” said Smit Zaveri, commissioning editor, PRHI.
“We hope that the future is kind and history doesn’t repeat itself, even as so many cities are being locked down today,” she added.
The 32-page “Jamlo Walks”, priced at Rs 250, is presently available for sale on offline and online stores.
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