‘Suddenly, towards late afternoon, darkness fell and a monstrous pre-monsoon storm broke loose. Leaves of the bamboo and the jackfruit tree, dust and bits of straw came whirling into their courtyard filling it up in seconds. Durga sped out of the house to pick up falling mangoes and Apu ran after his sister . . .’
In the little village of Nishchindipur, a brother and sister grow up, their days filled with discoveries of the world around them, and innocent play. Apu, a six year old towards the beginning of the book, is curious and sensitive, while Durga, his elder sister, is restless to explore the world. Together they roam the beautiful countryside, gathering fruits, getting into scrapes with other children, trying their hands at cooking, and even make a long trek to the railway line in the hope of seeing the majestic steam train¾until one day, poverty and fate deal a tragic blow.
Making a Mango Whistle (Aam Anthir Bhepu) was first published in 1944, when the author’s path-breaking Song of the Road (Pather Panchali) was abridged for children. Immortalized on film by Satyajit Ray, the story of Apu and Durga is a classic of Bengali children’s literature. Evocative of the joys and traumas of childhood, and filled with sensuous descriptions of nature, Making a Mango Whistle, now available to a wider readership in this brilliant new translation, is sure to touch hearts with its simple yet poignant story.