Amar (rahe), Chitra Katha(kar)
"Uncle, how was your childhood?"
"Mine.. Well It was just like most of yours, but...."
"Uncle...what was the best thing you did when you were a child?"
"Well, I listened to a lot of stories, read a lot of stories..."
"Uncle, what is your hobby?"
"Hobby.. it is stories, reading stories and telling stories.."
"Uncle, don't you have any other ...?"
"Well, why should I have any other?"
This is a fleck of memory from an interaction with Uncle Pai some time around 1990 in Trivandrum. The stage was set by Pai & Co. during launch of an Amar Chitra Katha book. I was fortunate to be one among the winners of Purana Quiz and hence got an invitation to the event.
It was twenty (or twenty one) years ago (Oh, I am getting old!), but some things are still fresh in memory: Myself among the group of little urchins, "interviewing" the maker of Kapish and Shikari Shambhu. But the children were more interested in hearing the yet-to-be-published stories of Kapish than interviewing his author. The elderly man was visibly happy to be surrounded by a group of children and the happiness engulfed the group like the infinitely extending tail of Kapish.
Death, at times, is a reminder. A reminder about people, how much they meant to us or how much they had influenced us. Pretty well, Uncle Pai was forgotten long back in the aisles of memory. But the news of his demise blew back through time all those forgotten flakes, and now they speckle on my eyes, albeit a bit moistened.
The best teacher is the one who inspires. And the greatest one, the one who inspires our fantasies and imaginations. Uncle Pai, with his Amar Chithra Katha, not only excursed a generation into the mystical beauty of epics, but made them laugh and wonder. Above all he enabled them to imagine. That was all he did... and why should he do anything else?
Uncle, we do owe you a lot.... for all the worlds you created before us.....and for everything those beautiful worlds have done to us....
Amar rahe, Amar Chitra Kathakar