The Ammuchi Puchi

Sharanya Manivannan

I’m digressing today from my usual staple of poetry to pay tribute to a very special children’s story, well, a story, actually - because there is really no such thing as children’s literature, is there? Anyway, I found various rationalisations for sharing this work today, but there can be no greater impetus than the simple momentum of love, the fact that I want to share this with you.

Poetly has featured Sharanya Manivannan’s writing before - Assignation- with the poet’s commentary accompanying it. Today I’m going to speak with you about my thoughts on The Ammuchi Puchi, a beautiful little story about growing up, play and imagination, about family, sorrow and healing.

I was very close to my grandmother, and the days after her death were probably the first time in my life when the ink in my pen went dry. I eventually did find the language to express what I had been feeling, a language, that when you chance upon it, is at once personal, yet natural, organic, universal. This is the paradox of profound emotion. It is simple, intense, but without vocabulary. How to share the inarticulable?

Manivannan’s story enters the world of two siblings and their grandmother, a world that seems to float seamlessly through whimsy and material reality. The story is narrated with a subjective wisdom that is filled with abandon and wonder, without being flippant or trivial. There is not a point in the story, where the reader has questions about the authenticity or the realism of the wondrous things that the children see, and the way they come to terms with sorrow and growing up. In the world that Manivannan has crafted, there is a sort of suspension of the ordinary, a kind of doing justice to the intricacy of felt emotions and the depth of hidden feelings. Nerina Canzi’s illustrations seem to be dreams borrowed from the minds of the children in the book.

Reading The Ammuchi Puchi was a kind of reliving and coming to terms for me - of my own relationship with my grandmother, the little games that we played, finding out things about her, and her little schemes even years after her passing. I became a child again after reading the story, and I think that is what I seek from every piece of children’s literature - a frame that lets me leap into a childhood of lost objects and preserved trinkets, hidden desires and unrealised dreams, only to discover that it is a world far more wondrous, far more real and true, than the sometimes enforced constructs of adulthood.

I have seldom seen healing dealt with in such a sensitive and poetic manner. The children’s ideas are far beyond their years at times, but not for a single moment did I feel them to be out of place. In fact, I began, to think, once again, about how we are perfect when we are born, how we experience wonder, and play, and how the world ruins us with its rules and artifice.

But it is something to experience that wonder again, and that terrifying beauty of losing something precious, but learning to love selflessly. I experienced that wonder today with Sharanya Manivannan’s The Ammuchi Puchi, and I highly recommend that you read it, and share it with all the children around you!

P.S. The Ammuchi Puchi is priced at a modest Rs. 199 and is available online. I have hyperlinked the online purchase page in the body of today’s newsletter.

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