By Utpal Borpujari
Zapp is a young squirrel, happy-go-lucky as all squirrels are. Upset over his lowly status in the jungle, he starts a journey across the world in a quest for freedom and a sane society. Along the way, as he travels from forest to forest, he meets a variety of animals, each giving him a new meaning to the challenges of life. Zapp is also symbolic of the quest for individual freedom in the highly-competitive contemporary society, where everyone is running in a rat race, often sacrificing their own, individual identities in search for so-called success in a materialistic world. In more ways than one, young Rachit Kinger could be Zapp himself, though the author would like to present the squirrel as a symbol for many young people across the world.
Zapp is the protagonist of Kinger’s debut book “Zapp – The Squirrel Who Wanted to Fly” (Wisdom Tree), a venture that he had started never initially intending to publish. But quite surely, it has been able to connect with a lot of people, and the proof lies in the fact that it is already into its second edition. Kinger, an alumni of IIM-Lucknow now working with a media consultancy house in Delhi, could not have asked for more.
“After I quit several things after achieving them, I realised why I was going towards things which I did not want to pursue. It’s probably because I am such an integral part of the society like everybody else. I too had put on blinkers on my eyes and followed the same path, before realizing one fine day that I did not want it. I was fortunate to stand in a position of having achieved something before saying no to it. If I had not, there would have been definitely a problem. The squirrel actually come from there – he does not want to do what the society wants him to do, so what does he do? Probably I was also looking for answers – Am I too whimsical? Am I fickle minded? – it was just thinking about it that probably brought this idea into being,” says Kinger, who spent three years in Merchant Navy before returning home and joining IIM-Lucknow for an MBA programme.
Kinger had started the book as a way of expressing his thoughts, the squirrel his medium because it was his favourite animal and also presented a happy-go-lucky picture of an individual who is weak but has every right to survive along with the mighty in this world. As he says, “I wanted someone who is naturally not very powerful, authoritative but is meek and small, because that guy also has every right to live as a big industrialist does.”
While the name Zapp was suggested by his publisher – he had initially named him ‘Frier’, the ‘I’ replacing an ‘e’ in the word ‘freer’ to mean “I am freer than anybody else” – Kinger has coined some interesting names for his characters, for example, Dault the tortoise, which is an anagram of the word “adult”, Id, symbolizing Freud’s terminology of the child in us, and the lemmings Apple and Orange, symbolizing how very similar looking individuals are actually completely different from inside.
“Jean Paul Satre had said that everyone chooses his own world. That thought symbolizes my book. It’s about having your own dreams, but not looking at the world through the same lenses that everybody has done. It cannot come across as a pressure – peer or societal pressure or whatever. The book says that you have to really accept that madness of doing something you want as your own. If you don’t accept the world as an extension of you, that rancour will stay in you, but if you do, and peacefully work your way through it, it’s very easy,” he says. The book, he says, is also about adults who want to do things they want to do, moving away from the rat race. “It’s the older people who needs inspiration more, kids anyway will do wild things, being kids,” he says.
Kinger is already into writing his second book. “It again touches upon the subject of individual freedom, but in a human setting, trying to find out how society affects individual freedom, how society moulds it,” says the author, who is trying to fix a disciplined schedule for writing amidst his busy career. Want to be a squirrel amidst racing rats, anyone?