Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kalila and Dimna by Ramsay Wood

Title: Kalila and Dimna: Fables of Conflict and Intrigue
Author: Ramsay Wood
Publications: Madina Publishing
Illustrator: G M Whitworth

A sequel of Kalila and Dimna: The Pancatantra Retold - Book One (reviewed here), this book picks up from where the wise Dr. Bidpai had decided to halt his storytelling at the close of the previous book.

Though majorly a continuation of the previous book, a few changes have been introduced here, which include the fact that King Dabschelim now has three children who have been told about the amazing treasure and who are also to be the beneficiaries of the knowledge. Mimosa, rather interrupt-me-not (Mimosa is also the other name for touch-me-not plant) sister of Dr. Bidpai and a superb storyteller herself, enters and takes us through most parts of the story.

An amazing amalgamation of fables of personified stupid donkeys, of henpecked crocodiles, of wise, revengeful and storyteller monkeys, of normal people turned greedy, of wise idiots, and many more, the collection of stories presents an eye-opening insight into the feelings and thoughts of living creatures, both evil and gentle.

The stories, though meant to somehow relate to the rules of the conduct appropriate to the kings, give us, those far from the blue blooded races, a lot of meanings and moral lessons in ways both expressed and implied.  A micro list of the lessons I learnt includes: If we wish for something stupid and against the laws of nature, we are inviting our own doom. Exceptional greed leads to our own destruction. Blindly following the others, with putting in little logic could be tragic. A safe and strategically maintained distance and even friendship between enemies could be mutually beneficial .. and many more. How so many stories have be connected and put together as a single big story makes the work truly remarkable. 

Through the story, Mimosa comes across as a better storyteller than even Bidpai. The book completes the wise advise being given to the king, he gets his royal illustrators, calligraphers to put the stories together for us, the future generations.

To sum up: A wonderful book. An enjoyable read. An enriching experience.