A delightful children’s book about a music-loving buffalo – Art-and-culture News, Firstpost
Author-illustrator Priya Kuriyan’s new book tells the story of Agent Jincy who helps a villager named Tessamma find her beloved buffalo, Beauty, who has been kidnapped.
Priya Kuriyan is easily one of the best writers and illustrators India can boast of. His work stands out for many reasons – his power of observation, his sense of humor, his understanding of local nuances, his vibrant color palette, the celebration of quirky little details and his unbridled imagination. If you missed his work, get started with his new book titled beauty is missing.
She wrote and illustrated this charming story of a buffalo named Beauty who loves to listen to music on her sleek red radio. Beauty is a connoisseur. She has different musical preferences depending on the time of day. When milked at dawn, she prefers Western classical music. Bollywood songs are ideal when she is grazing in the open air. While wallowing in the pond to take care of herself, she is in the mood to listen to romantic songs in Malayalam. Before retiring for the night, she likes to be soothed by soft instrumental melodies with dim lighting.
How the hell did the author find such a lovable protagonist? The answer is at the end of the book so that your enjoyment of the story is not diminished. She writes: “Buffaloes are very intelligent animals that like to socialize with others of their species. They are often found wallowing in mud or taking dust baths to protect their sensitive skin from sunburn and insect bites. They like to graze and be outdoors. Research shows that buffaloes also like to listen to slow music. This helps relieve stress and relax them.
All research on buffaloes was made available by the Humane Society International (HSI), who funded the development of this book. They gave a grant to Pratham Books, which is the publisher. HSI works on animal welfare projects in more than 50 countries around the world, and this includes promoting animal-human bonding and animal-free testing and research.
The beauty belongs to a loving and assertive woman named Tessamma who is upset when the beauty disappears. She goes to the Erumannoor police station to lodge a complaint. When Inspector Gopi and his associates see Beauty’s photo, they burst out laughing. “Who Names a Beauty Buffalo?” Tessamma is clearly not amused. Neither was Jincy Jose, the new constable. The illustrations here are so evocative that the pages look like scenes from a movie set.
Jincy understands that every moment without Beauty is painful for Tessamma, so she quickly gets to work. She displays a poster with Beauty’s photo and this call: “If you see this buffalo, call 100.” Afterwards, Jincy gathers more details from Tessamma, who spent a trying night without her beautiful companion by her side. Jincy is impressed when she learns more about the beauty and says, “What great taste in music!”
Searching for the buffalo, Jincy goes around the village asking various people if they’ve seen Beauty. One of the villagers, Thommachan, says, “I don’t like buffaloes. I only love my cow Chandanakutty and she doesn’t wallow in mud like those buffaloes. Remani, another villager, said, “Anyway, who would steal that useless buffalo? Savithri, who is Remani’s sister, says, “If she (Beauty) was a pretty cow, I would steal her.
It’s a smart way to challenge stereotypes that equate beauty with fair skin. Isn’t it unfortunate that human prejudices against dark skin are so deep that they don’t even spare animals? The book makes a powerful point without overemphasizing it. Read the story to find out how Jincy catches the kidnapper and brings Beauty back to Tessamma. The chase is beautifully illustrated, with fireflies lighting up the night when Jincy lies in wait. Fortunately, Inspector Gopi changes his mind. He said, “Beauty is indeed beauty.”
Chintan Girish Modi is a Mumbai-based journalist and book reviewer.
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