A slim volume, but one which makes oneponder on all sorts of questions on life and death and on the most loaded ‘what-if’ question. A children’s classic from a while ago, this has aged ever so well. Primarily, this is because the theme and introspection it inspires – namely that of immortality.
Winnie is fed up of her domestic situation and confides to a friendly toad one day that she would just love to run away somewhere. The toad would be a returning visitor in the story and of some import. One day Winnie does in fact o deep into the woods next to her place. This is not a de facto run away situation, since her parents own the whole thing but for her it remains an unexplored space. It is here that she comes across a spring and a young boy partaking in its water. However, what happens next does shake her. She is whisked away by the Tuck family – a nice enough family, but in possession of a secret which if revealed could cause chaos on the planet. Since Winnie has come into the know of their situation, they need to convince her to not tell this to another person.
For the Tucks are immortal. The water in the mysterious spring bestows the gift of everlasting life on the drinker and unbeknownst to them initially, the Tucks had drunk the water and are stuck in an ageless loop of life. After flitting between fear and apprehension for her safety and thoughts that the Tucks maybe insane, Winnie starts to warm up to her captors. The denouement is a touching enactment of a rescue which Winnie gets deeply involved in. Will Winnie join them in their everlasting existence?
As I said already, it’s a quick read. But the impact is unmistakably lasting. Immortality is a delicate question. How would we react or choose if we have the option of attaining it? Will we jump at it? There is an inherent excitement as well as deep sadness at its prospect. The thought of watching the world growing, evolving and the centuries passing by is no doubt an invigorating prospect. But watching every single person we know and love growing old and dying while we have to keep moving on and reinventing both ourselves and our relationships is achingly heartbreaking to even think of. Isn’t the circle of life and death one of the reasons why the earth keeps flourishing despite all the abuse it has been subjected to?
A small book with a big heart which leaves one overwhelmed at its emotional resonance.