Friday, February 25, 2011

Tinkle Tinkle, Little Star...

I am ashamed of the fact that I hadn't heard of Uncle Pai until my facebook feed conglomerated of messages announcing his demise. Little respite lies in the fact that as a child we aren't used to keep track of the authors behind the wonderful world of fiction we engage ourselves in. Oh, wait a minute... Enid Blyton? Agatha Cristie? Now that I think of it, aren't foreign authors' names displayed more prominently on the cover pages of their works (juxtaposed with the titles) than their Indian counterparts? Or is it the case with novels alone? Whatever the case, it is high time we pay our tribute to authors of those countless comic books we adore.

Wiki tells me about the life of Mr. Anant Pai - how he lost his parents at the age of 2, how he moved to a new city, graduated from a prestigious institute (UICT) in Mumbai and finally turned into a full-fledged comic book writer. I salute his spirit in overcoming all impediments and cynics to pursue something his heart truly desired.

I still remember the herculean Abhimanyu with the chariot wheel in his hands before Kauravas slayed him, on the front cover of his series in Amar Chitra Katha. Doordarshan fed us with Ramayana & Mahabharata every week, and ACK served as a handy reference for all events and occasions. But frankly, my ultimate delight was in those colorful glossy booklets of "Tinkle". I hunted through the library racks for the blink-and-you-miss copy of Tinkle Digest, hidden by some fool to pick up on his/her next visit. As I laid my hands on the prized possession, Chacha Chaudhary sighed disapprovingly from the top shelf while Billu & Pinki yelled for attention from the neighboring rack. 'Next time guys...', I would smile acknowledgingly.

The smell of a new edition was enough to enthrall my senses. Tinkle presented an array of charaters with myriad set of virtues and vices. Suppandi, the simpleton with his egg-head and sparse hair, always managed to make me feel superior by his foolish antics and innocuous remarks. Whereas, Kalia and Kapish managed to outwit their opponents and rescue their friends by their sheer presence of mind in times of danger. The bumbling Shikari Shambu always saved his lazy ass by pure luck. The evil shade of human side was portrayed by the scheming Tantri whose plans eventually backfired similar to the jackal's in the Road Runner show!

The stories eventually shaped the moral fabric of an entire generation. The omnipotent sentiment of "good reigns over evil" was judiciously woven in those words. Humor found refuge in the actions of the confused simpleton and absent-minded Shambu. Young minds learnt the subtle art of friendship and the importance of staying calm in a precarious situation, thanks to Kalia. No parent ever implored their kids to read the comics for educational purposes, but somehow, in its own subconscious manner, Tinkle and its contemporary magazines managed to accomplish the very goal that parents strive to achieve.

In this tech savvy age, I wonder if Suppandi would ever peek out from a Kindle or if Kalia would smirk from a notebook (pun intended). Or at worst, they may be relegated to a facebook page with 56,277 likes by the last remnants of the Tinkle age. And one of those would be me.

1 comment:

Varsha said...

Brilliant language!