The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy
Google Wildings on the internet and you get a lot of Game of Thrones hits but I’m really not talking about those wildings. I’m talking about a book about cats – that’s right. A book I had purchased at least a couple of years ago and finally only managed to read the last week.
A few pages into the book you realise that this is a book that could only have been written by someone who loves cats. Because it’s not a book about humans with cats in it but is a book with cats occupying the centre stage. Humans don’t figure except as clunky sideline characters described by the cats as “Bigfeet”.
The tale begins with a kitten born with exceptional powers (she is a “Sender” with an ability to transmit, receive messages, project herself remotely etc). But she is a lost kitten (loses her mama to a fight with dogs) so she does all the things that kittens do, including noisily intruding into the lives of the other cats with her thoughts and her wails and her exclamations. The cats of Nizamudin (the tale is set in Delhi) perceive her as a threat and decide to eliminate her but things do not go according to plan.
Just when you begin to think that this is a tale about the kitten, the author turns the story around and tells you that it really is a story with no one centrally important character. There is a dark story that develops along the sidelines (also with cats) and then resolves itself at the end.
What I liked about the story was the author’s ability to have introduced an element of fantasy (or maybe it’s a reality !) about how cats (and to a certain extent other animals as well) can connect telepathically. Nilanjana Roy also weaves in a number of other animals into the story- the regal cheels, the musical seven sisters, the ants with their multi flavoured stings (pepper, jalapeno etc- very funny), the tigers, the mongoose and so on.
What really makes the book even better are the illustrations. They are quite well done and add a nice touch (the illustrator is Prabha Mallya). The illustration below of the steps in cat grooming is so spot on! I’ve seen so many cats do this in the same order!
I have grown up with cats all my life and have observed them forever so I could relate to some of the behavioural aspects of cats mentioned in the book (how they tend to wash their paw or their face when they are confused, agitated etc). The book is also a bit idealised in terms of cat behaviour but this is just a work of fiction and it is a good one!
So all in all a great book if you are a cat lover, a fun book even if you’re not. Give it a try!
Gotta love cats!