What nonsense!

Updated: Jul 01, 2020, 12:35 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

The book might make you purr in delight

An illustration by Sukumar Ray
An illustration by Sukumar Ray

Chhilo rumal, hoye gelo beral [it was a handkerchief, that's turned into a cat]." Bengalis of a certain vintage will get a fuzzy feeling about their childhood when they read that line from Hojoborolo, Sukumar Ray's seminal book of nonsense literature, published in 1921. It's populated with characters like a talking raven who keeps accounts. There's a goat that gives jumbled-up speeches. An old man with a flowing beard argues that he's 13 years old. And as for the cat born of the handkerchief, it's out to pull the leg of the central character, an eight-year-old boy who can't make head or tail of what's going on.

Now, a new English translation takes that child's befuddlement to a wider audience, giving Ray's fantastical world a global touch. Habber-Jabber-Law (Talking Cub) has Arunava Sinha capturing the humour with lines like, "There's no such thing as ledgedog." Pick it up for a window into the mind of the man who was Satyajit Ray's father. The book might make you purr in delight.

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