Songs of Freedom: Postcard from the Lushai Brigade by Hannah Lalhlanpuii
My take on the book:
In 1942, in pre-independence India, in the Lushai Hills in Aizawl of Mizoram, a young boy Bawiha lived with his elder brother Kima, his mother and his grandmother whom he called Api. After Bawiha’s father passed away due to Tuberculosis, his mother worked at the bungalow of Mr McCall, the superintendent of The British administration. Soon Bawiha also joined his mother as the mother-son duo worked hard all day in Mrs McCall’s kitchen.
Bawiha grew up listening to the stories narrated by his Api about superheroes with magical powers. He was fascinated by these stories and imagined that these superheroes existed and longed to see them in action someday. However, life changed for the residents of this sleepy town when war comes calling, after Japanese troops attacked and drove away the British troops from Burma, the next destination seems India and specifically the Northeast border.
When there is a call for volunteers to enroll in the British Indian Army, in anticipation for the impending war, Kima promptly applies and is also selected. When the first army vehicle arrives in the town, when training begins for these selected young boys — the locals are in awe of everything about the war and kids like Bawiha are thrilled at the prospect of holding a real gun. What does the postcard from Kima bring to his kid brother and family forms the rest of the story.
The story begins with the fascination the young lad had for heroes with magical powers and ends with him realizing what it means to be a hero in real life. The story highlights the ugly truth of war and how it affects the common people while those in power use them as pawns. The surroundings of Aizawl and the Lushai Hills is vividly described by the author.
The irony of the British rule in India is also well captured by the author. There are not many books written in the context of Lushai Hills in the Indian history or specially about the Northeast region and its historical significance, hence this book will be a good pick for young kids to learn about this important topic. The highlight of the book however is the heartwarming bond shared by the brothers. The poems by Api are a bonus and are soothing as well as thought provoking.
Highly recommend this book to everyone, especially young adults as it makes for an important read to know about the freedom struggle and the significance the Northeastern region of India played in it.
This post is part of the Bookish League blog hop hosted by Bohemian Bibliophile