You know, MN,’ I said, ‘sometimes I can’t understand why you’re telling me these stories, or even what the stories mean. What do they mean, MN?’ Ever heard the one about my donkey? The man was nuts. I asked him a question, and he answered with another question. As thirteen-year-old Shashank sits despairing over his Maths homework, a little doodle comes alive and reveals himself as Mulla Nasruddin (MN). Shashank and the quick-witted MN strike up a close friendship, and MN’s never-ending stream of stories make Shashank wonder if he is an explorer, a time-traveller, a smuggler or a clown. Shashank starts writing down MN’s hilarious escapades—of falling off roofs and defeating the Travelling Brainies; of staying dry in the rain and finding a road on the top of a tree; how he once ate a whole basket of chillies; and how he tried to get rid of Timur the Lame’s pet elephant. Then one day, while doing a search for MN on the Internet, Shashank finds himself trapped in a magic grid that he must use his wits and courage to get out of. As he looks desperately for an escape route, MN’s words come back, ringing loud and clear, showing him how to confront his own fear and secret sorrow to emerge unscathed and happy. Taking the much-loved tales of Mulla Nasruddin into a young boy’s richly imaginative world, Sampurna Chattarji’s retelling is one that will entertain and move both adults and children alike.
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