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Rohini Rangachari

By Mariam Karim
Year 2016, pp. 135, Rs. 195.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

The House of a Hundred Stories: A Children’s Fable was launched in July this year at the India Habitat Centre by Mariam Karim- Ahlawat, a writer and freelance editor and columnist. Educated at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and at the Sorbonne in Paris, she became a university lecturer and has authored children’s books and books for adults. As a child, Ahlawat and her siblings were allowed to keep dogs, cats, owls and a mongoose, which inspired her to love animals and thus, write about them. This book is a collection of eighteen short stories with, as its title suggests, a moral at the end of each story. The House of a Hundred Stories, located near the Taj Mahal, has many animals living in it such as guinea pigs, rabbits, a dog, a little tabby kitten, a goat kid, a spotted owl, a baby mongoose, a squirrel, frogs, toads and a pigeon. The real story begins when the mongoose escapes from a snake charmer and goes inside the house of a hundred stories. He tells stories about all the creatures living inside the house of hundred stories. Through these stories, Ahlawat teaches many morals such as having good manners, the aim of a truly civilized society where everyone has an equal right to comfort and happiness, the difference between bravery and courage, the freedom to decide what is good and bad, being with one’s own kind, the self-sufficiency of certain animals versus the need of other animals to live together, fear creating hatred, a truly free creature never manipulating others and freedom without the freedom to love who we choose not being freedom. The House of a Hundred Stories teaches readers, children and adult alike, that friendship and love can spring up anywhere and are to be cherished. The last story in this book contains an inspiring song: You’re looking for Freedom, But you must first find Wisdom For if you’re not wise, You can never be free And if you’re not free You cannot be happee! The book ends on a happy note, where we learn that the other animals in The House of a Hundred Stories led full happy lives, in their own different ways, just as everyone is meant to do. Ahlawat uses compassion and humanity in her stories to preach the message of development. She shows that without these ...

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