Ten-year-old Charunaninika debuts as writer with ‘The Unknown Friend’


T Adityan / hareeshadithyan9388@gmail.com

Out of the pandemic has emerged ‘The Unknown Friend,’ a novella from the 10-year-old writer-illustrator Charunaninika, a 5th standard student of Silver Hills HSS, Kozhikode, inspired by the Australian author Peter Carnavas and her principal, Dr. Fr. Biju John Vellakada CMI

The Unknown Friend | Photo: Special arrangement

The plight of children condemned to attend boarding school away from paternal care, leavened with the happy moments spent with classmates and teachers; such be the narrative birthed by the ten-year-old imagination of Charunaninika. The result was the novella ‘The Unknown Friend’, written and illustrated by the 5th standard student of Silver Hills HSS, Kozhikode. As Arunlal Mokeri writes in the blurb, the work offers “a child’s eye view of the world of virtual real possibilities.”

From a tender age, Charu, from suburban Thiruvangoor, had shown an inclination towards reading and drawing. In time, in the indolence of Covid-19 ravaged period, she was inspired to start a YouTube channel (DoodleCharu), which became a repository of her artistic creations. Her sketches, the happenings in her beloved school, the books that caught her imagination, all flowered here as blooms of happiness. The parental remit was confined to shooting videos, for Charu was the sole arbiter of editing and design.

Charunaninika | Photo: By arrangement

It was during this creative interlude that Charu performed an appreciation of ‘The Elephant’ by Peter Carnavas, in both Malayalam and English. After some days, the Australian primary school teacher, who had chanced on Charu’s video review contacted her by e-mail.

Her mother, the social entrepreneur Anjali Chandran, says Peter’s words of encouragement proved to be her daughter’s inspiration, as was the unstinted support provided by Silver Hills HSS principal, Dr. Fr. Biju John Vellakada CMI, who took the initiative to publish it. Peter had said that he liked Charu’s writing very much, and wanted her to write more, conveying that she was capable of that feat. This spurred her on to attempt the novella, published by Insight Publica.Charu’s father Laju G L is HDFC Bank training manager, Kerala.

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