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A Room in Your Heart

When we were in Paro I picked up a book in the hotel lobby to read in our room.

In the introduction, Kunzang Choden wrote:

"In the Bhutanese tradition, stories, fables, and legends are not told but are unraveled (shigai in Bumthangka) and released (tangshi in Dzongkha)... It means that storytelling is a continuous process (unraveling) and to be released stories must be alive and vibrant."

The folktales of Bhutan, like folktales from anywhere in the world, are full of mischief, foolishness, wisdom, kindness, magic, spirits, animals, and village folk. I enjoyed reading the stories in Kunzang Choden's collection and was excited to see that she would be launching two children's books at the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival. I fervently hoped that I would be able to meet her and bring back some of her books for Mt Cloud Bookshop.

On the first day of the festival, we entered the venue which was almost packed and looked around for seats. A Bhutanese woman offered Nanay a seat next to hers and she introduced herself with a warm smile, "I'm Kunzang."

None other than the author of Folktales of Bhutan! When we told her about how we found her book and our wish to meet her she laughed and said, "This is the way it was meant to be." Not "It was meant to be," but "This is the way it was meant to be." For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, much less explain, the two phrases are very different.

So anyway, she was the first friend we made at the lit fest. When she read her new story books to the audience of young and old, I got goosebumps of happiness. Being read to is such a pleasure.

 In this book, Kunzang weaves a heartwarming story around the Bhutanese saying,
"There will always be room in your home, as long as there is room in your heart."

 Aunty Mouse showers kindness on a village orphan and a rich girl decides she should get her dues too. And she does.

The fact that Kunzang was reading stories from the world of Bhutan, a world not known to many people, was no barrier to enjoying and understanding the stories.

Anita Roy, editor for Young Zubaan books and publisher of Kunzang's new books, pointed out that:

"The books that really travel are the ones that have a sense of place; books that invite you in and make you feel, 'Yes I can step into that world'."


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