Once again earliest memories of reading takes me back to “Chandamama”, the monthly magazine for children that I have read in childhood. Now it is available in many languages including English but I had read it in Hindi at that time. Very recently, I had picked up the latest English version from a bookstore and found that old charm still continues. I have read recently that they have moved with the times but I am going to recall what I used to read many years ago.
This was a small little magazine with short stories taken from Indian mythology and history. Sometimes they used to carry stories from other countries as well. The stories were simple and educational with the idea of making children learn some good thoughts and values. Most of the stories were small and used to end within few pages. But they used to carry some long stories as well spanning across multiple issues of the magazine.
The most popular and the longest of them was a series of “Vikram-Betaal” stories which have been running all these years continuously. The idea of theses stories is taken from ancient Sanskrit texts but I think they have been improvising on that. The story involved King Vikram capturing and taking a ghost Betaal and then Betaal starts telling him a story on the way. The story always ended with a moral dilemma where Vikram ends up answering the question in the right way resulting in Betaal becoming free and the whole process starting once again.
This has been an amazing magazine of our times. I do not know how popular it is with today’s younger generation which is hooked to Internet and TV for their entertainment. For those who do not know “Chandamama” would mean describing “moon as mother’s brother”.