Published: 24th April 2017
Seven stories for the wild we bet you haven't heard before
Journalist and author Baju Brahma talks about his love of nature that inspired his book
What’s in a name? Ask a Bengali this question and you might receive some interesting replies. That’s because Bengalis have two names — a bhalo naam (formal name) and a daak naam (pet name) — and the author of The Forest Piper & Other Stories is better known under the nom de plume of his daak naam. So Baju Brahma — his forename gained traction in school and his surname was a nod to his love of alliteration — wrote his first book (well, technically second) from all the experiences his wanderlust has exposed him to. Describing the book, the author says, “From the depth of the Sundarbans to the Satpura Tiger Reserve, the characters in these stories carry the mantle of a parallel civilisation that runs a century behind us.”
Here is what the author had to share with us:
First glimpse: The book cover
One book, many tales
This book is a series of short stories on India’s forests and tribals. Most of the characters are people that I’ve met on the road, talked to, shared tea with, or observed from afar. I often get confused with the laws of (and conflicts in) creation. Nature essentially works in a capitalistic mode. Man is perhaps the only species that values the protection of weaklings. And yet, nobody has destroyed nature like man. And within mankind, there emerged groups that wanted only their men to survive, and so on. What is the significance of humanistic values in such a spiral of violence that is primordial and essentially sustains nature? My thoughts over such contradictions found expression in these stories.
Who should read it?: The thrills of forest adventures should attract the young generation, while the conflicts between cultures should interest the more mature reader
Stories from way back
I spent my childhood away from my parents; I grew up with a profound sense of loneliness that was special to me. As an eight-year-old, I was fascinated by the natural world. Soon, I became a stray traveller, spoilt by friends equally bizarre. We spent nights in remote, empty railway stations and in caves in open forests; we strayed into the village of supari killers and became friends with them too. These stories grew in me over the years.
Method to his madness
I would jot down the details of places I visited in notebooks. My earlier interactions with forest officials and rangers (during my preparation for IFS and later as a scribe) helped me in gathering anecdotes.
Wish and dream: It’s Baju’s cherished dream to carry on the legacy of the immortal jungle lores penned by legendary authors like Jim Corbett and Ruskin Bond
The writing off the wall
Writing is an onerous addiction. And the life of an unpublished author is pathetic. You can’t justify your time and space, yet you can’t let go of it either.
The subject is human mind, which I find the most intriguing element in the entire creation after the nature. It’s about a man’s journey into his own mind to find the limits of man’s will power.