Saturday, November 17, 2012

Timeless Tales

It seems that Musharraf Ali Farooqi, the author of Tik-Tik, the Master of Time, gave a free hand to his inner child while writing this book.

Tik-Tik, the hero of this story, is not happy on the planet Nopter, his home. He wants to become an adult really fast but on Nopter, the growth rate is really slow. It takes ages to become an adult and Tik-Tik doesn’t want to wait all that long.  ‘The adults of our species enjoyed all kinds of freedom on Nopter. They could eat what they fancied and leave what they disliked untouched. They could stay in or go out at will, and remain outdoors all they wished. All this, of course, was denied to us, the small ones of the species’*.

Tik-Tik is sure there is a solution to this problem and he is determined to make the discovery which shall help him, and other children on Nopter, to grow quickly. He’s assisted by his best friend, Nib-Nib, an intelligent girl who helps Tik-Tik in a number of ways on his crazy mission. Although Tik-Tik is very fond of Nib-Nib, he often ignores her suggestions. He is also not very fond of Nib-Nib’s cat, Dum-Dum, a feeling that is reciprocated by the feline creature. Don’t be fooled by the name because Dum-Dum is no dumb cat and as the story progresses, she has a few tricks up her sleeve (or paw?). The one adult person who is crazy enough to help Tik-Tik in his mission is Grandpa Kip-Kip who, too, tried to grow up faster once, but failed.

The illustrations by Michelle Farooqi bring the whole story to life and make the reading process fun and engaging. This book, in my opinion, establishes Farooqi as a master story-teller, for all age-groups. It might also herald a new beginning for children’s literature in English by local writers.

Tik-Tik and Nib-Nib transported me back to my childhood.  As a child, and especially during early teens, everyone just wants to grow older quickly. I, too, felt the same way as Tik-Tik although I didn’t go to the same lengths as he did! The one character I immediately warmed up to was Nib-Nib. I’ve grown up with two younger brothers and lots of male cousins and boys always think they’re so smart, just like Tik-Tik. And they just don’t seem to lose this habit even when they’re grown men!

Even though I’m not a cat person, I liked Dum-Dum. If cats be so cool, I might consider becoming friendlier towards them in the future (and try to prevent our German Shepard to run after them during evening walks!).

Tik-Tik, the Master of Time, is a sort of sci-fi book for kids with a great story and some very unforgettable characters. It is definitely a better read than books about dysfunctional families in the United Kingdom or USA. I mean, really, would you rather your child reads a book about a girl living in a council house, with her mother, siblings and her mother’s boyfriend?

We need to let out children develop their imagination and creativity by reading good fiction which includes fairy tales, classics, and lots of picture books. Albert Einstein said, ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales’.

I don’t know if Tik-Tik, the Master of Time will make your children more intelligent (though there is a bit of science lesson in it also!) but it will make them think, and laugh and wonder and maybe even get inspired to write their own story. They might color the illustrations or even name their pet Dum-Dum. But above all, they’ll read a story about friendship and adventure – something we all need in our lives no matter how old we are.  

* Excerpt from the book