Nawan Sij (New Sun). A rock opera for children. THE BOOK

Nawan Sij. A rock opera for children–the book: The book narrates in 11 songs the story of a girl who wishes to know how big is the earth (its circumference) and finds out in Zoya Science School.

The book combines several ideas: it is a collection of songs and their illustrations; It teaches math and science fundaments and how to use them for celestial measurements (Earth’s circumference); It is a commentary on the socio-cultural reality that shapes the lives of the children; It is an effort to make them aware of their capacity to change that reality; And it is a call to shine the light of education on all. It is a collective effort of villagers, teachers, artists, and children.


THE OPERA is set to a mix of musical styles: local, pop, (western) classical. The singers/musicians are villagers/children.

NAWAN SIJ is a compelling story of a girl’s striving against odds: facing off those who wish to put her back several centuries, of learning math/science, and proving her competence amid poverty and subjugation.

The prologue (chorus of villagers–vox populi) (page 1), mourns the society’s wretchedness, yearns for NAWAN SIJ that shines the light of education on all.

The next song (pages 5-10), inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem Woman’s Work, is a mother’s response to our heroine’s question how big is the Earth? How would I know? she cries in despair. On the cross of ignorance my fate is crucified. ‘I’ve children to tend, clothes to mend;’ Cane to cut. Animals to feed…

Painful is the mother’s fate, as that of countless rural women who toil and perish in obscurity.

 Yet our heroine’s fate is to be different. In the next song she rouses her slumbering countryfolk (pages 11-12): Wake up! End this despairing night; Send children to Zoya Science School.


There she goes singing the next song (pages 13-14): I am going to Zoya Science school. I will learn how big is the earth!

In the school, our heroine learns science. She learns abstract concepts with catchy songs in her mother tongue Seraiki (pages 15-19): Pythagoras theorem (20-23), Circles, Pi (24-29) She learns Heliocentrism (pages 30-31); All the fundaments needed to measure the Earth’s circumference. And How Eratosthenes and Al Beruni measured it (pages 32-37).

And so, the opera reaches its crescendo (pages 38-39): to thunderous music of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy our heroine exclaims: I have learnt how big is the Earth! It’s 40,000 kilometers (its circumference).

In the finale, the villagers appear again. Stirred by our heroine’s achievement they pledge to raise NAWAN SIJ, and send children to Zoya Science school (pages 40-45)! our children shall learn to shape the country’s destinyno more tend someone’s animals!


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