Biju spins some magic


This is a book  for Class 4 children (9-10 years old) that tells the story of nine-year-old Brijeswar Prasad Mehr – the title’s ‘Biju’ – who is from a family of ikat weavers in Jimlinda village, Odisha. It is illustrated in the pattachitra style, a traditional form of painting from Odisha.

Everyone in Biju’s family plays a part in the weaving process – Biju’s father, Bapa, ties, dyes and weaves yarn; his mother and sisters spin cotton into thread, wind yarn onto spools, and press and roll the woven sarees. And Biju helps everyone. Besides weaving, he learns to read and write from his grandfather who uses skeins of yarn to teach him maths.

One day, Biju and Bapa embark on a long journey to Delhi – Biju’s first adventure outside the village. They board a train with sarees and a book with the addresses of customers’ homes. Bapa says that selling directly to women who wear the sarees (rather than wholesalers or traders in Sambalpur) will get them better prices. And so they end up at Bibiji’s home in the capital.

Bapa takes out the sarees one by one as Biju helps drape them over his father’s shoulders. Bibiji and her son Bubbles are amazed by the “rainbow [that] had fallen into the room”, but soon, Bubbles is bored. He asks Biju to come play with him in his room. Biju is curious and cannot resist the temptation of seeing “the boy’s room in the big house in the big city.”

Bubbles brings out all his playthings and Biju feels “a bit silly” because he hasn’t seen such toys before. He then spots a charkha (spinning wheel) and is soon showing Bubbles how to spin yarn with fluffs of cotton. Bubbles struggles at first but half an hour later is finally able to use the charkha. Thrilled, he runs to his mother and exclaims, “Mummy, Mummy, this boy taught me magic!” And that’s how a boy from the village shows a boy from the city a thing or two about weaving.

Focus by Subuhi Jiwani.


Author: Jaya Jaitly

Illustrator: Bhramara Nayak


Dastkari Haat Samiti (released by Pratham Books under a CC BY 4.0 license)