HUSH by Manta Ray

I first heard of Hush it was after we started organising and talking about CSA. A friend mentioned that HUSH is a very hard-hitting book on CSA. I looked up the net and found out that it was a graphic novel. I haven’t read too many graphic novels before (infact I think this is the first one). I went to their website and it seemed pretty interesting. So we contacted them and asked them if they will send us a review copy. They were prompt and I personally met Pratheek who handed over Hush to me.

I had met him at about 9pm to take the book and I finished reading it the first time but 10:30pm. The first time when I read the book what hit me was the force in the book the sheer directness. No beating around the bush. The book is thin the graphic story gets covered in about 24 pages but by no means it leaves us wanting for more.

The book is about Maya a girl who is sexually abused by her own father and how she turns to violence and suicide when she has nothing else to do.

Hush is a story without any words and yet it captures things which many many words wouldn’t have been able to. It almost stands up to its name and also the taboo idea that the book is trying to portray

However because its wordless I rushed through the book the first time I read it. I don’t know whether it was just me or the book wants you to rush so I read it again the next morning absorbing even more than I did in the first read. The shades of pages do speak a lot.

The book makes me sad yet gives me hope that may be we are ready to talk about CSA finally.

According to me its a must read

Rating 4/5

Here is the book trailer

We also did a small interview with the writer and illustrator of the book. Read below to what they had to say about HUSH

Q& A with Pratheek Thomas (the writer and partner at Manta Ray) and Rajiv Eipe (the illustrator) behind the graphic novel Hush, from Manta Ray Publishing which deals with the topic of CSA.

How the concept of Hush come to you?

Hush is a story my brother Vivek told me in early 2009. He wanted to make it into a short film, and I told him that I’d like to adapt into a comic book, which he could use as a pitch to producers when he looked for funding. I approached Rajiv Eipe who studied with me at NID (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad) to collaborate on this comic and he readily agreed. As I began to write the script, it changed in certain degrees from the story that Vivek told me…

What was your primary aim in taking on such a dark and taboo subject in India?

The origins of Hush & Manta Ray are intertwined, in fact, Hush led to Manta Ray’s inception as a publishing house. The way we saw it,Hush was a real story, though it takes its own fictional liberties. It’s a story that no one talks about, and we wanted to break that silence… and then, to break that silence with a silent story… it was a perfect book for us to debut with. With Hush, we were also trying to show that comics can tell different stories and not the usual mythology, superhero, personal history kind of stories that one usually finds in Indian comics.

How has the book been received? How are children reacting to it? Parents?

The response to the book has been overwhelming positive! Almost all the major newspapers in India have covered the book, The Hindu, Mint’s Cult Fiction, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Mid Day, Open Magazine… Hush has been featured in all these and more. Even in terms of sales, the response to the book has been very positive. For Manta Ray, Hush was an experiment, and it paid off.

Hush is meant for a ‘mature readership’, which would technically mean an 18+ audience, though it’s something a 16 or 17 year-old may also happen to pick up. But, it’s definitely not for children. We also don’t know how many of our readers are ‘parents’. But overall, we have had a hugely positive response and feedback from our readers. Many readers said they read Hush 5-6 times to grasp the story in full and each time they noticed something new. 

Faculty of a certain prestigious college also has indicated an interest to include Hush as part of their visual narrative coursework. But one of the biggest recognitions for Hush is the fact that people working on the field, like subscribers of this blog have noticed Hush. We want as many people to read Hush and it’s great to see it go beyond a normal comic book and being used as a tool to spread awareness.


What, according to you, is the biggest stumbling block that Child Sexual Abuse Awareness faces in India?

The biggest obstacle is the silence that surrounds CSA. There is a huge culture of silence, of taboo around CSA – that a child who has been abused has no one to go to – not her parents or relatives, not her teacher… there is almost no adult in whom a child can confide. Our society would rather pretend that CSA does not exist.

The other obstacle is the shortcoming of our own legal system. I was horrified to read recently (in an article on the Open magazine website) that India’s legal system does not recognize a crime called child sexual abuse! We’ve clubbed it under some archaic law from our British-rule era, and no one’s made an attempt to change it.

Are you planning any more books on CSA?

Manta Ray is not exactly an issue-based storytelling company. We are an entertainment company. But we want to tell realistic stories, stories of real people living real lives speaking in real voices. While we do not have any upcoming stories about CSA specifically, if there is a compelling reason to tell a story from a CSA perspective, I’m sure we will.

U can buy HUSH at flipkart

Reviewed by Monika