Flyaway Boy – Fit in or disappear?

Jane de souza’ s  Flyaway Boy is a sensitive, thought provoking story of young Kabir who lives in a small wintry town , where everyone fits perfectly in their boxes  with labels.  But Kabir who lives in a fantastical world,  in his head, where anything is possible, does not fit in.  As we hear Kabir repeatedly being laughed at by the class ‘when his line ran away’ or his art teacher finds his  ‘adibal’ deeply disturbing and Mum and Dada are at the end of their rope , Kabir diligently tries to add to his ‘Dont make up list’. Yet we begin to hear the unsaid  , the missed and heart wrenching piece of  ‘Why can’t you be more like him/her…means why can you be less like you?”

The innocent , creative dreamer is lost and slowly feels he is letting down everyone even as she struggles to understand why Mum had a sob for his moon story that went with the curry stains on the table cloth, even if it had a happy ending . A street dog , that is appropriately named ‘Shoo’ by Kabir and the know-it -all -crabby Nana seem to be closest to what he can call friends. The head boy Josh was nice to him too, but then one day something  gives way and Kabir is missing. Yet  it seems quirky Kabir has literally flown away, invisible to all!

As parents, peers and police try to track down the mysteriously disappeared boy ,the family slowly discovers how little they actually knew about his interests and the people he met regularly.  Where has Kabir gone?  Has he been kidnapped?  Read the book to discover the end of this tale, that was just magical to me.

Author Jane de Souza has written this poignant and powerfully imaginative tale of ‘not fitting in’ of inclusion , kindness and acceptance in a playful and yet acutely insightful way. As we see with Kabir’s eyes , we see how much beauty we are missing by focusing on ‘the way things should be’.  There is an incredibly beautiful story written by kabir , with no beginning or end , where a plant talks to the ‘invisible thing’ and it left me wincing  at the harshness of the world that restricts and jeers at what is considered ‘not normal’  

As you read this story, I am sure you will not only think twice before dismissing another dreamy, clueless Kabir around you , but also discover a lost Kabir in yourself and embracing everything that makes you uniquely you

Strongly recommend this book as a must read not just for kids ages 12+, but for parents and teachers as well, to remind us to not to make  “Stay away” be a word that just won’t stay away” in any child’s heart.

Grey Matters Discussions

#Stereotypes and Perspectivism

…Why do we try to labels and box things? We talk of “out of the box” thinking – but who has made these boxes and why do we limit ourselves to these ?

…The quote “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” appears at the start of the book.  How aware are we of these  judgements? How we can transcend such boxes to become the best possible version of ourselves?

#Fitting in and Belonging

…As social beings, we crave the need to not only be part of a group but to ‘feel’ part of it. How is fitting in different from belonging?  Why do we change ourselves to fit in? Does it feel like being accepted?

“In fact, fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are—love of gourd painting, intense fear of public speaking and all. Many of us suffer from this split between who we are and who we present to the world in order to be accepted. But we’re not letting ourselves be known, and this kind of incongruent living is soul-sucking.” – Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

…Watch ‘Mr. Cellophane’’ from the fabulous musical Chicago and pause to see if you have walked past someone , a birthday party invite or even left them out of a whatsapp group .

#Rewarding the right things

…Are we in an age where consistently academic excellence , coding excellence , child prodigy dance stars , music stars at the age of 6–anything that can be coached alone is lauded? How can parents and teachers ensure they don’t fall into this trap of raising a brilliant ‘rat ‘ to  win  the rat race? 

The author Jane De souza herself was in a FABULOUS session at our school today and I leave you with a very important question she raised- “Why don’t we have Kindness as a subject in school? Why don’t we award the child that does the most important things for a better world -dreams, cares and listens?”

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