Monday, February 22, 2016

Ranjan De and the crow

Post by Sandhya Rao

Ranjan De with writer Bindu Bhaskar Balaji at a workshop
We lived in a nest of sorts at the top of a flight of narrow iron stairs. Back then, the perch still provided a fair view of the city through the leaves of the shady trees surrounding Tulika's first home. There wasn't even that much traffic back then, just two people and the occasional three or four, dreaming dreams of books for children flying off in different directions. Ranjan, naturally, had the table facing the window and there he sat ... to dream, perchance to create.

Of course, his birdie num-nums were already up and flying: Number Birds was one of Tulika's first three books, and for Ranjan, a project close to his heart. He was the artist guy, the guy with genius at the ends of his fingers, the wacky sense of humour and the brilliant visual ideas, never mind if we had to do some mopping up afterwards! When the question of the Tulika logo came up, nobody wanted a quill (that's what the word, toolika, means, by the way, the old feather quill), it had to be a bird, a bird that everybody could see everywhere because it flew so far and so fast and was so bold, and brave, and part of the great big family of life. What else could it be but the common crow: that unmissable part of the sights and sounds of India? And so, Ranjan stood on the outer perimeter of our perch, gazing for hours at the skies, the trees, following the beady-eyed birds, studying them and studying them. We were getting a little nervous, then we started panicking and after that it was sheer paranoia! Our first three books were nearly ready, but where was the logo? "Here," said Ranjan, coolly one morning. And there it was, our kaka! Complete in its shining glory!

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