In between Babbles and বকবক: A Reading List on Bengali Chatterboxes
Author: Sneha Chatterjee
Published: February 1, 2021
Sneha Chatterjee is currently in the second year of her post-graduate degree in English at Presidency University, Kolkata. Her research interests branch out into Dalit gender studies, especially narratives produced in and around the state of West Bengal , the cultural politics of 19th century Kolkata, specifically the oral narratives and customs specific to the country.
Sampriti Bhattacharya is currently a final year postgraduate student in the Department of English, Presidency University.
Born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, Deepty Victor completed her graduate studies from Patna Women’s College and is an M.A in English (IGNOU), Education (Ambedkar University Delhi) and Fine Arts Painting (Pracheen Kala Kendra). Her interests lie in education, research, illustration, storytelling (national and international) and creative writing. She is an artist, teacher, storyteller, researcher, lecturer and has published several research papers and articles in the field of literature and education. She is also a part of the First Readers Group initiated by the students of Ambedkar University, Delhi. She founded 'Colourful Story Mind', where she performed as a storyteller. She has also published several story books for children.
Riya is a 21 year old queer artist from Chennai. She enjoys drawing her cats, illustrating poetry and song lyrics, and expressing her existential woes through her cartoons. You can find her on Instagram @notyourcatbutt.
From 1950 onwards, the Delhi based publication Shankar’s Weekly, founded by Keshav Shankar Pillai, began sponsoring an International competition for children up to the age of 16. The winners of this competition of children’s writing and artwork were each year published in Shankar’s Weekly Children’s Art Number. Volumes of this publication are bursting at the seams with children’s art and writing, featuring as the 1957 edition suggested: “the work of children from sixty countries” or from 1965: “the best of over 100,000 paintings and writings.” This publicationwas endorsed by the likes of the Director General of UNESCO Dr. Luther H. Evans as “a precious gift offered to mankind” (Children’s Art Number 1957) and the President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad as forging “a new link in international understanding and promotion of good will” (Children’s Art Number 1954-55). However, the sentiments contained in children’s stories at times depart⎯ in fantastically mischievous ways⎯ from these lofty ‘adult’ ideals.
By: Sethulakshmi Vinayan, Subashini Ravichandran and Sayujya Sankar
Published: December 19, 2020
Sethulakshmi Vinayan is an artist and researcher with an interest in art, gender and mental health. Subashini Ravichandran mostly reads but also occasionally writes. She is a product writer, non-practising nutritionist, and cheery baker. Sayujya Sankar teaches English for college students. She is interested in creative writing, speculative fiction and gender studies. We would also like to thank Vaishnavi for her support and inputs during the creative process.
A Battle of Wits: Talkative Children in the Nante Fante Comics of Narayan Debnath
By: Upasana Das
Published: December 13, 2020
In many works of Bengali fiction, a child who engages in excessive verbal dialogue often with those who do not seem to have the time or energy to spare, are not viewed positively like Mini in Tagore’s Kabuliwala or a younger Apu in the beginning of Aam Aantir Bhepu who was curious about visiting a new place and kept asking questions to his father, who himself was engaged in a discussion with another and could not spare Apu any time.
Dialogue has been a significant part of comics which exist side-by-side with images and provided a means of interpreting the action in the latter. In Narayan Debnath’s Nante Fante comics, dialogue by the characters play a very significant role, more so as there is very rarely a third-person narrator who narrates what is happening in the scene in his comics. The comic is a comedy around trickster figures, who are constantly in a tussle and his comic medium thrives on the wit within the words spoken by the characters. The story which is set around hostel students Nante and Fante, who are in a constant tussle with their senior Keltu, whom their Headmaster is shown to often prefer. The role of Nante and Fante is centered on ways to thwart Keltu who in turn attempts to thwart the two characters’ actions. All of this must be done either away from the Headmaster’s eyes or in a manner in which Keltu is punished by the Headmaster.
I am an ardent lover of all things fictional and believe after Ursula K Le Guin that fiction is the carrier-bag of life or life-stories. Hailing from Kolkata, I did my Bachelor's in English Literature from Presidency University and recently finished my Masters from The Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. My academic interest lies in the intersection between children's literature and comic studies. For my Masters's dissertation, I worked on the representations of child readers in fiction. There are few things in life that I hold dear: the refuge of books, the resilience of friendships, and anything that makes me feel alive. In my free time, I run an online journal called Birdhouse Poetrywatch documenting stories of lesser-known writers, artists and storytellers.