Muezza and Baby Jaan by Anita Nair published by Puffin books of Penguin India is one gem of a book. It is a rare infusion of knowledge and entertainment. The book clearly makes a strong statement.
Muezza and Baby Jaan follows the story of a baby djinn and a cat called Muezza. Muezza’s master is a prophet, Shahir, who has left behind Muezza without realizing it. And Baby Jaan has been practising shape shifting skills while her parents are away on a mission. In arid desert amidst the heart-warming tales recited by Muezza, the cat and the djinn become fast friends. They brave the obstacles the eeriness of the desert brings time and again; and together they revisit the stories from Quran which are crucial especially in current times when Islamic fundamentalism is on rise.
This book was a pleasant experience. I completed this book in single sitting. The stories were so involving that I stayed up all night to finish this book. Considering that it is children’s literature it is one gem of a book that you can bring for your child or gift it to kids without thinking twice. The plot of the story is simple and it is simplistically narrated. Though the story is in third person narrative yet the narrator throughout is Muezza. Muezza has been with Shahir for a very long time and so he is reliable enough to reiterate these stories from Quran which he has heard from his master. These stories are distinct and all make a statement, by that I mean that every story leaves us with a moral and helps us understand how Islamic fundamentalists haven’t really understood the sacred text, Quran.
This book is as much for adults as it is for kids. The language is lucid and it has a flow to it. Every story is interwined because of Muezza and Baby Jaan’s conversations. There is enough humor to make you laugh and enough entertainment to keep you going. Everyone of us likes a good story. In Indian culture we have grown up listening to grandmom’s stories. This books gives all those feels. It is an unputdownable read. On surface it is simple storytelling but deep within it gives you beautiful life lessons. These stories are thought provoking. The book consists of many quotable quotes and as a reader I would love to go back to those stories and quotes once more. And for someone who has grown up watching Arabian Nights, this book is sure to make you nostalgic with it’s storytelling format.
Coming from a Hindu background I hadn’t a clue about these meaty and yet unheard stories from Quran. But Nair has done an excellent job of picking and fusing these stories to give us an impeccable read. Moreover, while reading, I realised how these stories are not only similar to those found in Christanity but also in Hindu mythology. For instance the story about Nuh’s ark is Noah’s ark as seen in Christanity but if seen closely you will find a similar story in Krishna leela wherein Krishna holds a mount Govardhan to shelter the villagers from one such world engulfing flood.
When it comes to the title of the book I presumed it to be a story wherein a mother is narrating stories to her child. But this book took me by surprise the instant I realised that Muezza is a cat and Baby Jaan is a djinn. The friendship that blossoms between these two is uplifting. Coming to the themes of the stories one finds that these stories comment on friendship, forgiveness, faith, jealously, hate and much more. There are multiple characters that Muezza introduces throughout the book and every character pleases us instantly and evokes the right reaction and emotion, in my view.
Do I recommend this book? I definitely recommend this book to all irrespective of your age, gender, ethnicity or culture. There is a lot that you can take away from this book. These stories will stay with you and also guide you in difficult times.
Publisher: Puffin Books/ Penguin India
To buy the book, pls click https://amzn.to/2YarNDU