The DC book fair at Kochi was advertised to be the largest book fair in South India… really? Have the organisers never visited the Chennai book fair? It is supposedly the second largest book fair in India… I was able to go only once – in 2013. And there were at least a 100 stalls there compared to the thirty odd stalls here. Sheri, athu potte…
Having lived outside Kerala all my life, my Malayalam education was taken care of my grandmother, balarama and vanitha. My grandmother taught me the alphabets and I learned to string them together reading Balarama and Vanitha. It started with a few sentences and finally I have now graduated to reading entire articles. Still my reading is comparable to a junior schooler’s reading… 😯
Now my children are also growing up far away from their roots. And I realised today at Fort Kochi, that the foreigners were able to understand what my son was speaking more than me. So this holiday, one of the high priorities in my book lists for this India trip was to buy as many Malayalam books for my preschool children. (Not that speaking English with an accent is a bad thing. But I elt knowing the mother tongue well is also very essential. That is such a simple thing, right? But apparently, no. I must have been up and down at least some 5-6 bookshops, but except for H&C books, none of them had any aksharamalas, Malayalam rhymes etc.
So I was quite excited today when we finally decided to go to the DC book fair. Surprise, surprise! The so called “largest book fair in South India”, did not even have a single aksharamala with them! (Whereas there was no dearth for books for toddlers and preschoolers in English)
Now this was an eventuality that I had not expected. And it bothers me, raising a multitude of questions in my head. Where are the Malayalam books? (Again I have to clarify – there were quite a number of Malayalam books for more advanced readers. My grouse is that there were NO books for preschool and primary çhildren). Am i alone in thinking that our language should not fade out with a generation? When kalikudukka and the like is selling like hot cakes every week, really, is there no market for primary level Malayalam books for reading and writing? Or is this vacuum the reason that the former is doing well? If saleability is the problem, won’t bilingual books work? (for eg the book on fruits will have both Malayalam and English names) and last but not the least, am I ALONE in asking – where are the Malayalam books?