Title : Flute in the Forest
Author : Leela Gour Broome
Publisher : Puffin
Age Group : 12+
There are some rare books which stir some chords deep inside the heart and after reading such books, I just sigh and wish I could also write something so beautiful, something so pristine and something so soul stirring. Oh well, atleast I am writing about one here.
‘Flute in the Forest’ is one of the most sensitively written stories of a thirteen-year-old girl – Atiya Sardare, the only child of her estranged parents. Her mother, a famous dancer succumbed to the lure of exciting stage, left the family behind when her hopes of seeing Atiya as a world renowned dancer got shattered following the polio attack that left Atiya physically handicapped. Now Atiya lives with her father – the forest officer in a jungle in Southern region of India.
But her handicap or her loneliness does not hamper her adventurous spirit in any way rather this spirit of hers often encourages her to explore the paths inside the sanctuary many times even without the knowledge of her father. She feels most comfortable in the natural surroundings amidst lush green silent trees and the world of big and small animals. She is well conversant with the ways of jungle and its innumerable creatures.
While on one such secret trips, she gets to hear the most mellifluous music of a flute being played in a distance which enthralls her so much that she resolves to learn to play flute herself. But she knows her father detests any kind of music in the house in the fear of losing another loved one to the temptation of the stage.
Atiya soon finds out that the player of that sweet melodious flute was none other than a very bad tempered mean old man whom she likes to call as ‘Ogre Uncle’. As the fate would have it, she starts learning to play flute from the same Ogre Uncle and surprisingly these teaching sessions lend a blissfully calming influence on the dreaded rogue elephant – Rangappa and Ogre Uncle himself – the physicallt dissimilar yet very similar duo. Atiya finds a loving patient friend in Ogre Uncle’s daughter – Mishora. Atiya’s flute-playing adroitness brings an unprecedented inner peace to herself and manages to transform the opinion of her father too. It feels as if the magic of the musical notes originating from Atiya’s flute weaves a blanket of calm, peace and love everywhere and everyone seems to find the answers to many personal unanswered queries.
Despite having dealt with a few sensitive subjects in the narrative such as – a physically handicapped girl as the protagonist, the mention of her mother leaving the family to follow her passion to dance, a terminally ill Ogre Uncle and finally a death – the book is very positive. The story is the true celebration of ‘The Happy Spirit’. I was reading the last chapter on my way back from a very satisfying trip to Rishikesh and I still can feel the same goose bumpy feeling that I experienced then while reading it. This is what a perfectly well-written moving stories do to the readers.
I am sure this charming story will touch the same inner chords of young readers as it did mine.