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I have wanted to read Moupia Basu‘s book ‘Khoka‘ for a while, ever since I discovered it. Yesterday, I took it and finished reading it in one sitting.

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Khoka‘ is the story of two boys who lived in two different times. One boy is from today’s contemporary times. He is intelligent and smart but sometimes he is upset and it shows in his behaviour. To make him happy, his mother takes out an old diary and reads stories from it to him. Sometimes she gives the diary to him and he reads the stories to her. The diary contains stories about a boy called Khoka who lived more than seventy years back. The book then goes back and forth from the present to the past, but mostly it stays in the past as we learn more about Khoka and his life and times.

I loved Khoka’s story. It takes one to the small town India of a different era, when people lived in joint families, when children went out and played in the streets, went to the nearby fields and mountains and forests, plucked fruit from the trees and had fun and enjoyed life in a very different way, how strangers helped each other, how life wasn’t the meticulously planned thing that it is today. If you have lived that life or seen that life in close quarters, this book will make your heart delight with pleasure, it will make you nostalgic. I loved reading about Khoka’s life and the adventures he had. The book read like a collection of anecdotes rather than as one continuous narrative. This gives a realistic feel to the book – it makes us think that these events actually happened. Reading the book makes us feel like we are talking to our parents or uncle or aunt or a relative about old times. It is like a beautiful conversation on a summer evening. In addition to describing small-town India of the time, the books also weaves in stories about the independence movement – about how ordinary people felt about it, reacted to it, participated in it. I loved reading that part of the book. The book has beautiful descriptions of the forest, trees and wildlife. The book also has beautiful mentions of food – when I read about how Khoka and his friends were sitting in a hut and eating rice with fish curry and brinjal fry, it made me want to go back in time to that hut to try that delicious food. There are also beautiful line drawings throughout the book which illustrate all the major scenes and stories.

I loved ‘Khoka‘. If you are a child like me and are nostalgic about the bygone era, you will like it too. It is a great gift for children at home or for your young nephews and nieces.

Have you read ‘Khoka‘? What do you think about it?

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