This is a bunch of stories of eminent writer Prof. Manoj Das, falling into an odd category where he has taken advantage of the wide range of freedom and flexibility fantasy as a form allows, but that he has done only in order to present observations on mice and men that are aspects of probability and reality at different psychological and occult planes.
Of the eleven stories (the twelfth is almost a novelette), seven are expansions of and development over tales from the Jatakas and the Panchatantra. The narration clearly indicates the point where the original version ended so far as the plot is concerned (even though that part too is retold by the author in his own way in keeping with the totality of the story), and then from where the author builds up or expands the narrative according to his own inspiration. To leave no scope for any ambiguity, readers the bare outlines of the original versions though they are widely known.
Born in a remote village on the sea in Odisha in 1934, Manoj Das has travelled not a very short way through vicissitudes of life, standing a helpless witness to a devastating famine accompanied by epidemics sweeping away innumerable familiar faces and his affluent house being plundered twice by brutal gangs of bandits. Turning into a radical youth leader in his college days, courting jail, playing a role in the Afro-Asian Students’ Conference at Bandung in 1956, he ultimately became a student of mysticism.
His first book in his mother-tongue getting published when he was fourteen, he is an author “whose writings have enchanted a long range of readers, from the village boys to Graham Greene” as the Ravenshaw University citation read while conferring on him D.Litt. (Honoris Causa). The numerous accolades he has received include the country’s national recognition—the Sahitya Akademi Award—the most prestigious Saraswati Samman, the Padma Award and D.Litt. from about half a dozen universities.