I’ve been waiting for Ash for a long time. Maybe all my life.
I grew up reading myths about Greek heroes, about Vikings, Normans and Saracens, stories of Sinbad and King Arthur, and I’ve loved them all. But where were my heroes? My parents immigrated to England from the Indian Subcontinent and growing up in the 1970’s I had no heroes that I could call mine except Mowgli. The only Indian in children’s literature and he was over a hundred years old. Even Kim, Kipling’s other great child hero, is actually Irish.
I wanted heroes like me, but not labelled as ‘ethnic’. Ash is a bagger and tagger; he fights demons and is a plain and simple action hero. He’s not worried about having an arranged marriage or being in a Bollywood movie.
I was in my twenties before I came across the vast mythology of India and it blew me away. How could this stuff not be better known? Why weren’t kids reading about Rama, Arjuna, about demon-slaying Kali and flute-playing Krishna? The mythology of India is immense and current. It’s being celebrated today and yet we know so little. Why isn’t it as mainstream as any of the Greek or Norse legends?
I’d put the skills of Arjuna against Achilles any day of the week. The strength of Bhima against Hercules. The courage of Rama against that of Thor. (Even as I write this my Spellcheck is going mad. It doesn’t recognise the name ‘Arjuna’. Over one billion people consider Arjuna the world’s greatest hero).
But I didn’t have to be Scandinavian to enjoy tales of Vikings and I don’t believe you need to be Asian to enjoy tales of Rama and of Ash Mistry. Heroes are heroes and we love them where-ever they come from. It’s time we met some Indian ones.