When we were kids, we would listen to same story every day with lunch during the summer holidays. As our grandmother lined us up to feed us, we would demand the story of Rakhal and the rakkhosh (demon), who are frequent characters in Bangla folktales. If she ever got sick of telling the same story over and over again, year after year, she never said so. That’s the magic of folktales, though—that they never get old.
Parismita Singh’s Mara and the Clay Cows is a graphic novel based on a Tanghkul Naga folktale about a young boy getting in touch with his magic. This is a fairly simple story and definitely not a new one as far as themes go, but with a fresh coat of paint.
Mara is an outsider, with no clan to claim as his own, no friends, and with strange powers that make the other children fear and shun him. But the day he unwittingly fashions himself a pair of smart-alecky miniature talking cows in clay, his life takes a bewildering turn. Encouraged by his tiny cows, he befriends a girl called Shiroi in a meadow, who takes him on a thrilling, terrifying journey — jumping on to the jet stream and flying, dodging a gaggle of migrating geese, all the way to the mysterious floating Sky Kingdom of the North, in search of the Chief Magician.