Autorickshaw Blues and other Colours is a result of a collaboration between Sadhana Ramchander and her ten-year-old daughter, Ragini Siruguri.
Ramchander renders her daughter’s experiences and feelings through poems that provide insight into the mind of a young child discovering and interpreting the world around her. The book opens and closes with poems about riding the autorickshaw to school (a three-wheeled open-sided vehicle used as public transportation). The first poem tells us how much longer the autorickshaw takes to get there than a ride in mother’s car. The final one, titled “I don’t want to go in the autorickshaw!” details the transformation, in the course of several weeks, of her daughter’s experience of riding the rickshaw to school. The young girl goes from complaining about how crowded it is and how hard the seats are, to making commuting friends and finally refusing a ride in her friend’s family car in favor of the autorickshaw.
Less culturally specific topics are also explored. “My sister’s ice cream”, for instance, describes how little sister eats her ice cream cone (“She holds the cone in her left hand/Her eyes gleaming under the red hair band”). “Toothpastes: Red, Green or Blue”, is an ode to toothpaste and its many colors and flavors (“Some have stripes, green on white/To make my teeth sparkling bright “). There are also poems about sneezing, swallowing a seed and worrying that it will grow inside you, being afraid of the dark… All in all, there’s much fun to be had in the pages of this slim and accessible book.
Siruguri’s candid drawings of happy, dark-haired children (including one of her little sister biting the bottom of her ice cream cone), and of the crowded autorickshaw on its way to school add much to this fun-filled teamwork. Kudos to mother and daughter for bringing this creative project to life with so much gusto.