The fightback story
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
The Adventures of Young Kalam by Stuti Agarwal (Juggernaut, Rs 199, 168 pages ) is an interesting insight into the life of India’s late President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. But don’t you take it to be a fact-based narrative as it is a fictional story that reimagines Kalam’s childhood in a magical manner!, so says the back cover.
If you think that the late President was all serious and sombre as a child, you are mistaken. For he was as naughty as any child can be and indulged in many tricks including stealthily entering the home of his teacher and changing the marks of his closest friends, Balli — the boys suspected the teacher, Miss Punnakai, was deliberately trying to fail Balli in class and Balli couldn’t afford a fourth time failure in class 3.
The book talks about the life of three bosom friends — Kalam, Balli and Ram — in their school Vivekananda Vidyalaya, their love for books, innovations and crazy ideas usually the boys this age have, including stealing biscuits from their teacher’s home!
Kalam comes out to be the cleverest little boy in his school, may be even in entire Rameswaram, his hometown. His curious mind is full of crazy ideas and often indulges in innovations. Everyone else except his science teacher Professor Ramachandran and his dad thinks he is crazy. It is at Ramachandran’s small laboratory, Kalam along with his two friends, undertakes his experiments and tests all his “inventions”.
All hell breaks loose after Professor Ramachandran has a verbal duel with Miss Punnakai over Hammad whom the lady teacher was literally ill-treating without any rhyme or reason. Scorned, Miss Punnakai then starts spreading lies about the Professor’s experiments and also begins plotting to throw Kalam out for his latest innovation. How the student-teacher duo fights back her wild allegations is what this book is all about.
Written in an easy and clear English by Stuti Agarwal, the book is ably illustrated by Ishan Trivedi. It makes an interesting read for children, the age group which it targets.
The book casts an iconic new character like Chhota Bheem by weaving a fictional narrative for children around India’s late President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.