‘Just So Stories’ by Rudyard Kipling – book review

I believe history is a branch of literature full of events and stories made by artists and artificers weaving facts into myth, and vice versa, into a timeless tapestry of the world that was, is and will be. In that regard, Kipling is an artist who spins beautiful tales of how animals became what they look like into a poetic wheel of ear-delighting and cadenced words aided by gorgeous illustrations distinctively graceful and dazzlingly beautiful.

Kipling’s evolution of animals explains why they look the way they are, such as a Leopard with spots, a Carmel hump, and many more. The stories become a fable and a history of its kind. It’s a literary version of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the wonderful menageries of Man and Beast that cannot live alone despite the differences in species because we are the inhabitants of this world, Earth. But, above all the fantastic tales of wonder, the Cat’s tale stands out in the story and the subject. Kipling’s Cat is proud but not arrogant, independent but affectionate, and vain but graceful. It’s a cat who walks by himself, and everything is alike to him and nothing else. The Cat is a beautiful stranger even if he likes to be a family, a kind of forever loner, the Puss in Boots with a cowboy hat and an empty holster. Kipling’s writer’s eyes saw the romantic solitude in a cat, and the result is one poetic Cat that rhymes well like the graceful way cats do their amazing somersaults.

Just So Stories are not just for children even though it is classified in Children’s literature on the shelves of libraries. It’s a book for everyone who loves legends and magic, who still has a childlike innocence that refused to put away as an adult because it’s in nature. The stories are not for academic analysis or psychoanalysis but simply for the enjoyment of the mind and the delight of the heart. Remember Freud’s saying, “Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.” So are Just So Stories, so delightful and so pleasant.

Adieu, my friend

A week has passed since the Beluga whale died in transit from the Seine to the sea. The question remains with the image still fresh on my mind refusing to fade away with my heartstrings pulled in all withers: did he break away from his kind to find a treasure island like Jim did? Or did malice of fortune take him away from the tribe on a lark to see if he could make it back to where it came from? What is the meaning of all of this anyway?

He had no name because he had so little time to live in this world, and I mean the Beluga whale stranded in the Seine River in Paris, France, and ultimately died in transit to a sea last week. No one knew why he swam all the way up to the freshwater, which was not a typical habitat for the whale species. IT wasn’t the first time to see a whale end up in the river following an orca in May that died of natural causes, but the Beluga whale still lingers in my mind a week after his death. Maybe it’s because of his ever-good-hearted-looking appearance that oozes out a sense of pathos from my feelings. Whatever it may be, he endeared me like my two-year-old tabby tom Toro, and I had been following his tale of the river, which seemed to me his journey to the resting place – among humans with whom he might have cherished good memories. Maybe he disliked his kind, so he ran away from there. Come to think of it, are we also not in favor of our superior humankind when we can’t take any more violence, disappointment, betrayal, and arrogance?

Although I admire the efforts made to revitalize the Beluga whale and to send him back to the sea, I cannot help thinking that there should have been more professionally effective operations to achieve the noble human intention to save nature. We live in an information-saturated, expert-ridden global world, but why is no such help readily unavailable in dire need? Are outstanding vets only for YouTube channels and other media outlets via which they can amplify their view to lucrative celebrities? But the argument is futile since he’s gone. By recording what my heart feels about him, I want to pay tribute to his incredible journey to the human world by himself with kisses and tears. Good-bye, my Beluga whale.