Bhaktaprasad Bhagyuto, the inimitable amphibian, will now enthral the blind with his adventures. The by-now-classic Dhumdhamko Ghumgham by Kanak Mani Dixit, has just been translated into Devnagari Braille for the benefit of an estimated 40,000 Nepali blind children of school going age.
1 am thrilled that the book is going to be available for Nepali blind children. Because this book is descriptive of the people, its geography and culture it will probably be more useful for the blind," says Dixit.
The award-winning Dbumdhamko Ghumgham (the Nepali translation of the English original, Adventures of a Nepali Frog) is the first children\'s book to be translated into the Braille. "We decided to translate Dhumdhamko Ghumgham into Braille because it is an interesting book and introduces different parts of Nepal to readers in a fun way," says Kamal Ruphakheti, chairman of Nepal Association for the Welfare of the Blind, the book\'s publisher.
"Interesting" is an understatement. Since its publication in 1996 by Rato Bangala Kitab, the book has acquired a cult following and is enjoyed by anyone between eight and eighty. The original English version of the book has gone into its fourth printing, making it arguably the highest selling children\'s book in Nepal. . Besides Nepali, Adventures of a Nepali Frog has been translated into Newar Bhasa, Urdu and German and will soon be published in Bengali, Hindi, Dutch and Spanish.
Dhumdhamko Ghumgham is the story of Bhaktaprasad,Bhyaguto, a tadpole just out of his teens thirsting for adventure. He decides to leave home because he wants to "experience life" beyond the fields on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley in which his ancestors have always lived. Using any and every means of transport he comes across, from a tin can to a taciturn yak, a contemplative bullock and a Twin Otter pilot\'s pocket, he embarks on a journey that takes him too many parts of Nepal.
During his travels he meets all sorts of friendly and welcoming creatures. Among them are Jagat Bahadur, carrying loads for Kathmandu merchants; Royal Bengal, the wise and elderly cat who feels claustrophobic in the Chitwan jungle that has been left for animals; Fulmaya, the first woman truck driver of Nepal; and Prajapati Pokhreli, the know-all frog from Pokhara\'s Lakeside. Further north his companions are Saligram Snumshere, the mule ferrying goods for traders up the Kali Gandaki valley; Dzo Dzopa, "the most talkative bovine this side of Mongolia"; and Pemba Musa, a wrongly named marmot from the Nepal-Tibet border. In Dolpo, Bhaktaprasad even chances to catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard.
The book sets new standards in Nepali children\'s literature as it moves away from texts that are generally didactic and uninteresting. Full of informative conversations the book shows that descriptive stories need not necessarily be dull, it\'s greatest worth is that it makes the reader feel for this beautiful and varied land.
This children\'s book is also probably one of the best introductions to Nepal, and is a favourite among tourists too. Probably recognising this, the Pakistani government has prescribed it .for its schools. And now the book will take Nepali blind children (and adults) on a delightful tour of their country.