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Book Talk
Book Reviews: Mara and the Clay Cows
July 31, 2015

Written by Shirly

Mara and the Clay Cows

The lost potential  of a  powerful folktale bothers the reader( ie, of course, me!) here.

Just imagine  what  a play of words, images and awareness levels is possible in a story

where  clay cows come alive in the hands of  a real cowherd,where clouds swirl around the hut of the chief magician grandma,where girl-guide -apprentices ride the winds to  come gathering herbs, where every chore and task  is the eligibility test for a  magician-aspirant and where magic is applied to protect  the wounded wild from the wayward human?


Well, all the strands of  a great story are here.

Only the play of the weft is awkward.

The yarn is strong; the spin clumsy.


What kind of a cowherd is Mara?

“He liked the cows.But they are not interested in him”

A cowherd marginalised even by the cows?

A very unfair estimate of the EQ of the cows!


The thought-bubbles of the  graphic novel form is one way of taking the story forward and magical elements like the clay cows and. the wise talking-bird is another way of unfolding the story. To me it looks likes the two  devices clash and the story is weak in it’s magic strain as well as  the critical bystander voice of the third person.

Some stories get strengthened  and gain colour and texture  by the medium they come through. Some get weakened. The fact that Mara and the Clay Cows retains  some  power of its  magic even in  this overlapped medium, I think,is a testimony to the power of the original folktale .


And the questions it raises is:

Who has the  power / the vision to tell/retell  whose story?

To whom does stories belong?

How does a teller/writer  find one’s place/relationship in/to the story one is medium to?

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