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Reminiscence

Stories

Durgadas P.V.

The moral of the story is..........

Story telling is an art. Listening to stories is one of easiest activities any one would have enjoyed right from early childhood days. Any story, irrespective of whether it is real or fictional when told in a lucid manner becomes captivating. The old Panchatantra stories and fables from the epics told by Grandma or Grandpa were always in great demand during my summer vacations spent in the ancestral house of my parents. Mostly such stories used to be told to us when seated on palm leaf mats spread on the floor, in the open quadrangle of the big tiled houses in the evenings after dinner, with the hurricane lamp or oil lamp hung at one corner. The light would be just sufficient to know the presence of the children sitting around the story teller in rapt attention.

The stories were rattled out from memory without referring to any book. The "audience" used to listen to the stories in bewilderment with their jaws dropped and eyes popped open. The questions or doubts asked were far and few. Even if the events described were illogical or filled with fantasies it was enjoyed with lot of attention as if there would be a memory test the next day........!

Having the company of two naughty grandsons in our midst in my daughter's home in USA, naturally made me recall my good old summer holidays in my mother's tharavadu on the banks of Kurumali river.

Listening to stories continues to be the passion with my grandsons too. It doesn't confine to any particular time of the day. Hence right from the day one, they started demanding stories from me. Within a week of my arrival, having rattled the stories not only during breakfast, lunch and dinner time but also when bathing/brushing and even potty time, my ram (random access memory) became blank. I managed one more week by making newer versions of the stories and presenting them with a different "moral" of the story. As with the "hare and the lion" story which was presented with one more jackal in between. The rabbit and tortoise story was amended with a drift board.....! But as the amendments were found out by the little listeners, they lost interest and started asking difficult questions on the feasibility which shook my credibility.

Later I turned to a few story books which I had taken with me like stories of epic characters like Hanuman, Ganesha, etc. When I explained about Ramayana I faced a lot of predicaments. First of all was the introduction of characters. I had to assign nobility or villainy to each new character brought into the story. Ravana was described as "a bad guy " in their lingo. Then came the queries regarding the powers of Ravana. When I told them that he got boons by worshipping Lord Shiva, the story got diverted towards Shiva. Immediately the little grandson inferred that Shiva is a "bad guy". The reasoning was simple. Giving power to a bad guy could not be treated as a good deed. Hence he too is bad. Now I had to tell them a few excuses which never appeared in any of the religious books I had read to get out of the riddle. That night, luckily they fell asleep early without asking any more questions.

When Hanuman, Ganesha, etc were introduced, their parentage was also explained. But I was dumbfounded when the elder grandson asked about the parents of Lord Shiva. At last I escaped telling him that Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are considered the original Gods. And I put a full stop to the questions like certain political leaders reacting to inconvenient probing questions at press meets.

On another day, my job was to read out the book they had brought from the library. It was on "Spiderman". The second one was "Avengers ". Both enjoyed it without asking a single question or seeking any clarification. In between they were seen calibrating the strength and weakness of each character based on their performance in the fights. It was similar to giving the ATP ranking in tennis. I also enjoyed it since I could read it out without applying any logic or grammar.

The moral of the story must have been understood by now......" you are never too old to learn.....or practice what you learnt......when you are in Rome........."