Delhi-based journalist, writer and EastMojo contributor Pritisha Borthakur has authored the book Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories named after her twin sons – Puhor and Niyor.

The book was released in September 2021 and has already sold over 9,000 copies, with over 5,000 copies sold across Australia, the US, the UK and the UAE. The second edition of the book is on its way, and the Sahitya Sabha has plans to translate the book into Assamese and other regional languages soon.

Published by Author’s Channel, ‘Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories’ is a 1,404-word children’s book that was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds. 

Borthakur got the idea of writing the book after she realised that whenever she searched for new books for her kids or to gift other children, she was struck by the number of children’s books that depicted one-dimensional, traditional families.

Being surrounded by close friends and family with young children who don’t look like that, Borthakur decided to write something for the multi-cultural families or families with third culture kids; they’re adopted or blended families, same-sex or single parents, careers.

“That’s the reality of the incredible tapestry of the world we live in. Their homes are filled with as much love as any other home, and my aim for this book is that every child can see their own family on these pages and know that – even though their family may look or do things differently – they have a place where they belong,” says Borthakur.

The book has been written for a global audience and is targeted at kids between the ages of five and ten. It is embellished with colourful images of families of different types to appeal to children’s sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time.

“I believe children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions. With this book, I am not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits. I simply want to do my part as a parent,” says Borthakur. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone, she adds.

Borthakur has received impressive reviews for her book by eminent personalities from the field of literature, arts and children’s welfare. According to author Kula Saikia, recipient of Sahitya Akademy Award and the president of Assam Sahitya Sabha, writing a children’s book covering such diverse topics in a simple manner is not easy.

“Borthakur’s book, ‘Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories’, about different kinds of families celebrates the uniqueness of various family situations in a way that is accessible and relatable for young children. Not only will they be able to see themselves in the book if they are a part of a non-traditional family, but they will learn about the variety of families and all the kinds of love that can be shared within a family unit,” says Saikia.

“The one striking feature of the illustrative book is the simplicity of style. No attempt has been made to complicate the issues by useless elaboration. The intricate questions are left to be answered at a later date when they mature. This book must be read by all, including adults,” he adds.

Poet, novelist, recipient of Sahitya Akademy Award Rita Chowdhury feels it’s high time we introduced our children to inclusive books. “Most children will assume that the combination of parents, grandparents, and siblings in their household is the default for everyone—until they have examples to understand families come in many sizes and types. Books about diversity help establish that difference isn’t a negative. Diversity adds colour and uniqueness to our lives and our society and is something we should all embrace and celebrate,” says Chowdhury.

“When we talk about the things that make us unique, we identify commonalities across cultures, race, ability, or religion – which enables us to shift our conversations about diversity to the things that unite us, rather than divide us,” she further adds.

Child rights activist, founder of UTSAH, Miguel Queah, who actively works with children and for their rights found the subject of the book close to his heart says, “Beyond race, gender, colour and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. Borthakur emphasizes the need to understand that the diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful.”

‘Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories’ is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination based on sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. This is a much-needed book and should be translated into as many regional languages as possible, adds the activist.

About the book – ‘Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories’

Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories begins with an introduction to Puhor and Niyor, two brothers making a mural, telling the stories of different families. It begins with the introduction of Puhor and Niyor’s family as being a nuclear family, with a mom and a dad. These twins demonstrate that there are all sorts of families (children with two moms, two dads, a single mother, a multiracial family unit, foster, adopted children, pet parent, and more) none more important than another, and all of them are beautiful in their unique way. The story progresses by adding to the mural an illustration of each unique story. 

The next family’s story starts with Ron, who has two dads. His family adds to the mural an image of them having a picnic at the park on a sunny day. Illiana has two moms, much like Ron with his two dads. Her two moms work in the community, volunteering at shelters and more. Elvis’s parents have mixed ethnicities. Saheil is adopted. He is Israeli but his adoptive parents are Chinese. They learnt Israeli to teach Saheil about his background and also taught him Chinese and English. Demetria and Isaac are the children of a couple who happens to be transgender. They are very active in the community by educating others on how to live healthy lives. Even though they were shy at first, the community loves Demetria and Isaac’s parents now after getting to know them. 

In the end, the small community made up of various kinds of unique families, teach each other about different types of people every day, and to not judge others based on their race, gender, sexual identity, disability, or anything else. They embrace their differences and paint a beautifully coloured mural, as beautiful and colourful as the community itself. 

Get a copy of Puhor and Niyor’s Mural of Family Stories here.

Also read: ‘Nineteen at Nine’: This 9-yr-old poet finds magic in the mundane



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