CHENNAI : There’s no denying the fact that fantasy and entertainment are important to engage a child’s creativity and imagination. However, a book which can increase empathy and compassion in a child means something special. I want the child to connect these dots and create a better understanding of reality,” said Padma Venkatraman. The children’s book author recently launched her book The Bridge Home. Her other popular books are Time to Dance, Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End.
The story revolves around four determined children — Viji, Rukku, Muthi and Arul — who make a life for themselves. Eloping from their house, the two girls befriend two abandoned boys. They become family and travel together through a roller-coaster of emotions. The book exposes us to the harsh reality of what the underprivileged kids are facing in their lives.
“As a child, I had a taste of reality at a young age when my parents split up. My mother took care of me and worked hard to ensure there was food on my plate and roof over my head. Any child who is privileged will understand the lack of privilege when they pick this book. The poor children do not want to be pitied. They show how courageous they can be despite the struggles life throws on them.
A movie can easily portray it through emotions. But, if my words can touch the lives of these children then there’s nothing rewarding than that,” said the author who is also an oceanographer. She currently resides in Rhode Island.Padma has lived in five countries. She takes inspiration from the kids she grew up with and interacts with in life. “There was a girl who called herself Indira Gandhi. She had a hard life of growing up in a cemetery hiding from the men who wanted to sell her for slavery.
The young girl survived, found a home and pursued her education. Recently, I heard that she’s with the forestry department. Another boy that I grew up with from our village in Bengaluru is now running a school with his wife. These are the success stories we need to celebrate. I had to travel to these places in my own past. The book is only a culmination of it,” she said.
The book talks about difficulties, courage, joy, love and the grit and determination with which the kids come out of their problem. After reading the book, six children opened up to Padma about their problems. “We get immune to problems around us and take things for granted. When we begin to feel that we’re better than somebody else then our ego oversteps the territory.
I also don’t like to make difficult issues sound light. I’ve addressed homelessness, poverty, and hunger. My approach is honest, straightforward, and a lot of research has gone into the book. Each of us is like a river. We have different paths but we all end up in an ocean. There are moments of joy and laughter in all our lives that should inspire others,” said Padma. ‘The Bridge Home’ is available at stores and online stores for `299.