I grew up in a country where (clean) water is scarce, and while I’d personally never faced shortages, I’m vestigially paranoid about wasting water. I fill glasses halfway when I set the table, for instance (but I’m generous with wine), and I never buy bottled when I can drink tap; what chumps those bottled water companies must think us. (I also get very perturbed when I see a film where characters brush their teeth with the faucet running.) I’m admittedly less painstaking about conserving other resources, but when it comes to respecting water and food: I’m DA SHIT. In a just universe, my spatula-and-mixing-bowl scraping act would out-viral Numa Numa.
To mark International World Water Day today (March 22), and to teach my son to respect a resource that seems endless (and, by implication, valueless), I’m reading (him) Water Stories from around the World, published by the lovely Tulika books, whose virtues I’ve long extolled on this blog. Tulika is a India-based publisher of multicultural kidlit, and their books are now available in the USA (details at the end of this post). Water Stories is a collection of folk tales from around the world, retold by well-known writers including Suniti Namjoshi and Zai Whitaker; all the stories focus on the need to respect and conserve water. There’s the story (from Botswana) of kind Selekana, who is rewarded by the River Goddess. Koluscap and the Water Monster tells us a creation story for fish–when a selfish village chief dammed a stream, the neighboring villages prayed to the great spirit for help. Koluscap broke the dam and freed the stream, and the people who’d loved and missed the water jumped in and stayed there to turn into fish.
There are eleven stories, and they may be read online here. And they’re free to read and share, like water would be in an ideal world. You can buy Tulika’s books in North America now, at http://www.tulikabooksusa.com