Gangamma’s Gharial by Shalini Srinivasan, Puffin India.
Okay, strictly speaking, this is fiction and not part of my ‘farming library‘. But if I needed an excuse – which I don’t, because whose blog is it anyway? – it’s about a gardener. In fact, it’s about an entire gardening community, plus a mythological gardening species. So!
Gangamma’s Gharial is a children’s fantasy with, strangely, a 79-year old protagonist. It’s set in Giripuram, a temple town in South India, famous for its gardening gods, its mild climate and its unique blue lotuses. Only three gardeners, including Gangamma, can grow the blue lotus, and the skill is jealously guarded. The sights, sounds and smells of this little town are brilliantly evoked. One day, a gharial earring, bright eyed, toothy, and annoyingly cheerful, enters Gangamma’s life, whisking her off on the first holiday of her life. And in the Himalayas, she meets a nameless, taciturn young girl, whom she kidnaps by mistake. Ondu, as she decides to call her, is not quite what she seems. In her wake come mysterious beings and happenings. And as danger, tragedy, adventure and friendship overtake Gangamma, the peaceful tenor of her life is changed forever.
I love this book, and the illustrations are fabulous too! And I’m not just being a doting mother (yes, the author is my daughter). Gangamma’s Gharial has been shortlisted for the Hindu-Goodbooks award, to be announced later this month. Fingers crossed!