“No Hair?” Shaira asked as she touched Tashi’s head.
“Ammi, why doesn’t ‘he’ have hair on his head? He looks so funny!”
“Why are you wearing an orange cloth?” Shaira asked as she held the flowing cloth piece.
“Ammi, why is ‘he’ wearing a piece of cloth? Where are his ‘normal’ clothes? He looks so funny!”
“Why are you wearing wooden chappals?” Shaira asked flashing Pokémon sandals.
Tashi continued to smile.
“Ammi, why is ‘he’ wearing wooden chappals? Where are ‘his’ Pokémon sandals? He looks so funny!”
“Ammi … Ammi … ‘He’ only smiles. Why doesn’t he talk?” Shaira was excited, curious and angry at the same time.
Tashi came closer to her, bowed down and said, “Tashi Delek.” She was still smiling.
Shaira couldn’t understand what Tashi had just said.
“Say hello to your sister—Tashi!” Shaira’s Ammi said. “We have come to take her home.”
“Sister?” Shaira looked puzzled.
“Ammi, she is not a sister, she is a brother. I mean he is a brother.” And she giggled.
Tashi was still smiling seeing both of them talk.
Ammi scolded Shaira and asked her to stop giggling. Shaira felt hurt and ran away pushing Tashi. Tashi fell and hurt her knee. But she kept smiling.
Ammi made her get up and comforted her in her arms.
Tashi felt loved and started remembering her mother who was many many mountains and rivers away—in Tibet.
Tashi was only three years old, when her mother had sent her away from Tibet to save her life. Aunt Dolma had nurtured her since then.
Shaira was still angry seeing her mother love Tashi, and not her.
Tashi with her hurt knee, slowly walked towards Shaira, and held her hand.
An angry Shaira started smiling when Tashi held her hand in hers. Her touch made Shaira’s anger fade away. It was magic!
Ammi then came towards the girls and told Shaira, “Tashi is a nun. She is from Tibet. She is a Daughter of Buddha … like you are a Daughter of Allah!”
“Now, both of you are my daughters.” Ammi said overjoyed.
They both ran towards their Ammi and hugged her.
Conceptualisation of the Book
32 Pages 4 colour
Fully Illustrated Picture Book
Age Group: 3-7 years/ Class pre-primary/KG to Class 2-3
Tibet is a sensitive subject. It is important for children of today to be acquainted with the story of Tibet, their struggle of not having a nation which they can call home, being a refugee and how India is their only accommodating homely space.
Kids of today are travelling a lot to Tibetan settlements like Mcleodgang, Leh Ladakh, Sikkim etc where they come across monks and nuns, get fascinated, click pictures but never understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.
In commercials, advertisements, magazines etc we have started seeing how for brief moments their presence is acknowledged. But nobody knows who they are and why they are there.
With this picture book format, my aim is that kids would definitely pick up the book as they would recognize and relate having seen them on their trips, in ads, in movies etc. and would be curious of knowing what the story is going to be like.
Also, the illustrations are the core strength in making this book what it has been visualized to be. The setting has to be a monastery/nunnery in a hill station preferred Kashmir/Leh Ladakh where Tashi is the Tibetan nun.
I have purposely chosen Shaira, a muslim girl, and the illustration has to focus on her mother as a muslim women to sensitize children and parents, and other readers about the need of prioritizing the so called minorities.
Today, both Islamic and Tibetan population is marginalized because of their different reasons, but there is nothing so distinct and different which makes them apart and distanced.
The idea of bringing two little girls together into a bond of sisterhood, is to show how liberated today’s cosmos is and its beautiful when they get a home, which they could have never had, if people don’t adopt them.
I would wish to develop it as a series, or a proper narrative work in Fiction, if this storyline works.
Though the primary focus of the book is to introduce compassion, love and warmth but it will also unknowingly touch upon distinct personalities and behaviour.
A nun and a monk is difficult to differentiate for a layman as a man and a woman. For a layman, they both appear male. This is something which has to be taught to our children why they look so. The story focuses how the little girl is unable to understand that the said Tibetan girl is not a “girl” but is a boy and she keeps addressing her and “him”.
Secondly, their bald heads, robes, wooden chappals are so different from our usual clothing of pant, shirt, tshirt, jeans, that the little girl cannot understand and pokes fun.
These are beautiful unfortunate daughters of Buddha who have reached Indian subcontinent saving their lives from Chinese army. The nunneries, monasteries and orphanages are their only refuge where they grow, learn and follow Buddhism. They cannot return to Tibet, and they try to make a strange place their home, which is not like their home.
Having done fellowships under His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s foundation, I have a lot of personally experienced moments which I wish to translate into narratives for the world to read and experience and be sensitive towards.
If you are reading and like the idea and intent, we could materialize it into a picture book.