Thursday, June 5, 2014

Weaving stories

One of the favorite activities for my son is to listen to stories.
He loves to read by himself, but at the end of the day, he saves time to just lay by my side and listen to a story I tell to him.

I also read myself a lot, so I try to simplify those stories to his level and narrate to him.
Simplifying the details so he can understand at his level.
I even mix up some of the actual happening around me when I create stories for him.

Recently, I tried narrating him the old Indian stories like Ramayana and Mahabharata.
But how can you explain to a modern age boy that a king could have 5 wives in that era.
Or that a mother could order something and the son would give up everything just to follow her orders !!

Or that a monkey could carry the whole mountain on his hand and burn down the whole city with fire on his tail.
He just doesn’t buy those parts of the stories.
When I started telling him the story of Mahabharata, he had 100s of questions and each one of them made 100% sense:
- Why did Gandhari blindfold herself when her husband was blind? She could have been more help if she was also not blindfolded?
- How can someone have 100 sons? (even I was baffled)
- Why did Arjun not say “Oh maa, peeche mud kar to dekh lo” when her mom ordered them to divide “whatever he brought home with his brothers” (which was incidentally Draupadi)

And so many more such questions.
So I finally gave up on these old stories (Also, as a side note, I am looking for a kid friendly English version of Ramayan and Mahabharat, printed or Kindle version. If you know about it, please drop a line)

Now, in our story sessions, I tell him stories from my own childhood – story of my brothers and sisters.
Those are the ones he laughs out so loud and keeps on asking me to tell those again and again
The ones where we left our little brother in a stroller in the middle of the road because me and my sisters were busy fighting who’d push the stroller
Or the silly games we used to play just to make him laugh when he was a little baby
Stacking up all the pillows and quilts to make a king like seat for him.
The story about how we used to come back from the school in our school bus
The watchman we used to see on our way back
Or why was our school bus stop so far away from home
Our little friends in our neighborhood
Fights and games with them
Their strict Nani, their candy lover Nana
Nana getting us kulfi in the hot summer days
Nani throwing away our comics on the “machan” when we didn’t finish our homework in time or fought badly with each other.
Tales of my teachers and days at school
How me and my sisters used to negotiate with each other for school homework
Craziness of my brother about listening that one particular song on the cassette tape hundreds of time by rewinding the song
Collecting coca bottle caps to win a promotional audio cassette tape

And seeing him laugh so hard and enjoying these stories, even my daughter has started joining us for these session and she is getting to know them through these tales
For me, this is my chance to make them familiar to my family who is so far from away from me and whom I don’t get to see for such long times...
I hope they continue to enjoy these stories as much as I love to weave those snippets for them.

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