1971 my mother returned from England after a years stay. To be honest it did not mean really very much expect that I did not have to play mother surrogate to my brother. She had brought couple of clothes, and I think toys they were fine, but the best thing she brought was a gift from her Landlady.
The landlady’s kids had out grown their books, so she gave amma the whole lot of them. The golden Nightingale, a book on cars for my brother, Cinderella, my own favorite ones were my first English dictionary, Here’s London and ‘mother goose’ who killed jack Robbins, London bridge is falling down, so many more. I must have read and re-read them until the pages came apart.
As we grew into preteen and went to Manipal Junior College it was the advent of Mr..Bhaskar Rao, with all disdain he told us, that mother goose poems were not in the least bit of kids level. If one listened to him the poems entrapped deep racial and political implications. Of course at that age we all were revolutionaries and we shook the roots of the establishment, so we sprouted whatever Mr.Rao told us that are…
Goosy-goosy ganderà spoke of a romance between, the queen and Lord Oliver Cromwell,
Ring a ring a roses à about the great plague or London fire… I do not recollect very much.
London bridge à about the weak bridge that kept collapsing and that my fair lady referred to the mistresses of the sailors and workmen, or the women who solicited the workmen and sailors. Now we didn’t really know what the word soliciting meant, but we did share this ideology freely and loudly … I guess you can visualize its impact on our image.
Pea’s porridge that talked lot of sense. Each poem he came up with a dark underlying message that fascinated the teenage imagination.
As one grows older one discovers that its white and black, it grey, there are interpretations and context. But who was mother goose, my book had the cover of a plump women, on a gander, with appointed chin and beak nosed, her eyes sparkling and a smile on her lip quite in contrast to the sour “Mother Hubbard” or the “harried old woman of the shoe” though the American press would like us to believe that it is a woman called Elizabeth vergoose,. John Newbery was inspired by Charles Perrault’s collection of fairy tales called Contes De Ma Mere I Oye . the original title being Mother Goose Melodies, Or Sonnet Of The Cradle.
The book was first published in 1760 and has sold 3,600,000 copies of hardcover to the day. Illustrations meta morphing with each generation of illustrator. Mother goose, must have opened the imagination of generations of kids.
Here’s to the nanny who put countless kids to sleep with her Wee Willie Winkie.