Bulli and the Tiger
This book for Class 4 children (9-10 years) follows Bulli, a pre-teen girl from a family of basket weavers in Baghdhora Tila village, Assam, who goes on an adventure to save her family from economic hardship. The story’s illustrations are inspired by the paintings of the Pardhan-Gond Adivasis, who live in the Dindori valley in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh.
Early one morning, Bulli senses that something is not quite right. Her Pita (father) and Koka (grandfather) are talking tensely – and not weaving – and her usually cheerful Aaita (mother) also seems worried. Her younger brother Babu overhears the grown-ups and spills the beans to Bulli and her best friend Aloka when they’re walking to school. It turns out that the rate at which her family usually buys bamboo from the contractor has gone up, and Pita can’t afford to buy the bamboo directly from the government either. This is bad, thinks Bulli, and feels she must come up with a solution to the problem.
She remembers a story her Koka told her about a kind tiger deep in the forest, who had helped the villagers during a flood. And the solution becomes clear to Bulli: she must go to the forest and meet this tiger. That evening, when Bulli and Aloka go to catch fish for dinner, the girls head to the jungle. As they go deeper and deeper into the forest, they get lost, but hear a “crackle, a pop, a swish through the thick foliage” and spot the tiger. “They couldn’t see much —just the hint of a whisker, the twitch of an ear and, once, a glint of kind amber eyes that seemed to say, No need to worry. I will show you the way.” And so the “kind and well-mannered tiger” leads them to safety.
When Bulli arrives home, her Pita has good news from Guwahati: “We found a dealer in the city willing to sell us bamboo at the old price if we bought a large enough quantity…so we ordered enough for all the basket weavers [of the village].” Everyone is delighted by this wonderful news but only Bulli and her Koka know who really helped the girls – and perhaps the villagers too.
Focus by Imsutula Jamir.
Illustrator: Nankusia Shyam
Dastkari Haat Samiti (released by Pratham Books under a CC BY 4.0 license)