The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kilping
I first picked up this book at a shop in Kampala, Uganda. The movie, "The Jungle Book" had been a favorite for me as a child, and the idea of something familiar was comforting for me while abroad. I was so pleasantly surprised when, flipping past the preface to the first page, my eyes were met with the most beautiful poetry. "Oh, hear the call! - Good hunting all, that keep the Jungle Law!" - The Night Song in the Jungle. It still sends a shiver of inspiration down to the tiniest nerves in my toes! This is certainly not what was expected out of a childhood favorite of which, I thought, I knew. Among the pages of this classic, yet whimsical book are tales of an abandoned Indian boy named Mowgli and the wolf tribe that raises him. A courageously clever mongoose who fights off the evil baby biting snake, and the infamous but very much so misunderstood, naughty tiger, Shere Kahn. The royal elephant for whom after my blog is named, Kala Nag, will steal your heart just as he has stolen mine. In between my time spent in the villages of Danita and Walukaba, I was reading this delightful collection of stories and poetry with a cup of sweet black chai and a beautiful red African dog, named Dora, at my feet. To this day, cracking it open brings me back to a time when I did not have diapers to wash, or lentils to simmer in a pot, parking tickets and a sink full of dishes. It escorts me back to an adventurous era of my life in which my only responsibility was to listen to stories of courage, respond with compassion, and tell those stories to ears who could not hear them first hand.
The story of "How Fear Came" was especially influential to me while I was living in Uganda. There were so many things that I struggled understand, the cruelty of war, the effects of poverty, children going hungry and genocide being just a few. Reading the story of how fear, or evil, came into the world, from the raspy voice of the eldest and wisest jungle elephant helped me to internalize and digest the evil I had heard stories of. It helped me to not hate the people who had inflicted so much pain on the ones I had grown to love, but to understand that even the cruelest people have a story to tell. Now that I am a mother, this is a treasured book of tales that I look forward read to my sweet son, as soon as he is able to not rip the pages to unrecognizable bits of paper and slobber. This book will follow me into all the seasons of my life to come, as a reminder of that time of learning and growing. I highly recommend you find a well read copy at your local library, or used book store, and for me, read it with a cup of steaming chai tea.
Photos by Aiyana Taylor
see previous Literate & Stylish posts here.
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