the making of “bijoy and the big river”

The Boy and Big River - Layout-7The Boy and Big River - Layout-4Friends for long, we’re also like-minded in many ways.  And when it comes to writing for children, we share a distinct passion for cultural and environmental themes. After Dinaben and the Lions of Gir, a fascination for exploring stories about communities with traditional occupations and their ecological ways of living stayed on.

Silk. There’s a science behind it, and a beauty. With this seed idea in mind, we were familiarizing ourselves with the silk-weaving communities in India to set our story in motion. This opened new doors – landscapes, wildlife, history and traditions of regions where silk-making thrived.  And quite immediately, we felt compelled to tie it all up and share it with children. It also seemed like a natural extension after writing about the Maldharis and their dairy farming in our earlier work.

Research is a big component of all our projects. When we started looking at specific types of silks in India, it was clear to us that we needed to keep eri in focus. The wooly white eri, the most eco-friendly of all silks, captured our imagination like no other!  Eri was also a massive eye-opener to Assam. When there’s an aha! moment, then there’s no looking back.

The Boy and Big River - Layout-6

Even as we were organizing our elements together, we were immediately drawn to the river Brahmaputra for the backdrop.  Then on, a rural Assamese boy growing up on the banks of the mighty and majestic Brahmaputra filled our dreams, day and night. A day in his life showcasing his deep love for eri and xihu, and embellishing it with the cultural details of Assam made up the narrative for a meaningful tale for older children. And it became clear that Tulika’s “Where I live” series would be its home.

Meanwhile, we also progressed into the logistics of procuring the photographs that will eventually bring the narrative to life, a format typical of the series.  This was by no means an easy task to pull off. But the hunt led us to wonderful photographers, professors, conservationists and bloggers. Meeting these passionate people (virtually) was a reminder of why exactly we had fallen in love with the story we had decided to tell.

The Boy and Big River - Cover.pmdAt the end of it all, it almost feels like we were on a long, dreamy journey on the big Brahmaputra. After months of rowing the story together, it feels great to have finally made it to the shore, quite pleased with the outcome. In retrospect, the relentless hours of research and emails between us across continents, and the incredible support from editors seem to make it all worth it. And it’s humbling to imagine it all started with a tiny worm 🙂

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