Title: And All the Seasons in Between
Author: Arti Jain
Format: PDF Ebook
This is a unique book which magically blends a fairy world with the real one. “Surrounded by High Mountains of Himalayas in the north and Shivalik Hills in the south, lay a valley called Doon,” it begins. The author spent her childhood in that valley and the book is her nostalgic reminiscence of those innocent childhood days with her grandparents who, in the words of the author, “filled my world with love and magic”. The book is suffused with that love and magic.
Each chapter (with the exception of one or two) begins with an episode from the life of a little girl named Artemis who lives partly in the fairy world with a dragonfly for a companion. Her dream is to be “the Most Green Gardener of all times”. Her parents were “the Beekeepers of the Valley” who keep half the honey for the bees. It is man’s divine obligation to make sure that the bees never go hungry.
Artemis grows up in that fairy world or divine world, not far away from the Great Garden of Papadash the Perfect, a kind old man. No one knew where he had come from. But everyone knew that he had magical powers. Artemis becomes his apprentice, though not without much success initially. Even in the fairy world, life has its ups and downs. And a story from beyond galaxies can soothe your bruises.
The Artemis episode glides smoothly into the author’s childhood experiences in the Doon Valley in most of the chapters. We meet her making pajamas for grape bunches with her grandfather, sculpting pots and pans from the garden soil for the wedding feast of the dolls, having yoghurt baths, and so on.
Songs and stories, recipes and riwaz (traditions) and nostalgic memories. The former shaped the author and the latter shape this book. Right from page one to the last word, the book keeps you riveted by the sheer elegance of the style and the depth of the content. You enter a magical world as you begin to read the book. You don’t want the magic to stop. It is a rare experience. It is like being in the presence of the divine or at least some mystical guru.
The diction is earthy and the style poetic. The effect is ethereal. See how Artemis gets her name: “The Moon had hung so low and so full on the night of her birth that her mother decided to name her after the Goddess of Moon.” Take another sentence from a story told by Artemis’s mother: “Countless cosmoses ago, long before Man and Woman came to live on Earth, Sky was not what you see.” Beyond all that poetry lies a wisdom that is not quite common these days. “For it is common knowledge that dreams are worth pursuing through disappointments and hardships and that is the way of all the dreamers of this world and beyond.” We learn towards the end of the book. It is not a verbal learning. It is a lesson that the book, its episodes and characters, reveals to us quite like a stirring ballet whose steps and gestures continue to haunt our souls much after the show is over.
The illustrations worked into the pages by Arshia Jain are quaint and apt. Like the settings of the ballet that gripped your soul.
The book is free to download now. You can get it here.
PS. This book is part of an ebook carnival in which my book LIFE: 24 Essays is also a part.