Nani’s Kahaanis – The Magic of Storytelling

Certain childhood images travel with you as you go through the journey of life. These become anchor points at all times especially those of rough weather. One such is the image of my grandmother, a robust heavily built entertainer sitting on the floor with one leg stretched out.  She only wore nine yards saris which was a marvel for us. Her many grandchildren sat in a semicircle in front of her each day, where we would look forward to a breakfast session accompanied with a generous helping of stories.  She had a big mud pot filled with the most delicious curd rice, made of left over rice, fermented over the night with curds and salt. She also had a small bowl with pickle in it.  The stage was set the actors had taken their positions. What followed was a roller coaster ride of stories that took us all into the 3 worlds – The Underworld, The Earth and The Heavens! The stories were woven around traditional culture, family history, make belief, unfulfilled dreams and much more. Our memories were tested when she went into those ‘to be continued’ stories. The immediate reason for her telling us those stories was to keep us sitting still on those hot, summer days, but she did much more than that. When a grandparent tells a story the bond established is instant- between one who is seeking and one who has discovered in abundance. They instilled in us virtues relevant to life. We listened with patience, we questioned, we learnt with ease. In fact, my grandmother delegated one of us on special occasions to hold the stage and we did so with great expertise! We had learnt to communicate! We had become proficient with words! We coaxed our imaginations and creativity on those exciting days. These skills went a long way in shaping who we would become. Storytelling is a tool which can be used by one who has an imagination, patience and a way with words. The grandparent was ideal for this but anyone can do so. The benefits are the same! Parents who use story-telling as sleep inducing devices are transported into an everything-is-possible world. Looking back I realise the long term effect of these stories. They entertained then, they teach now.   - Revathy Venkatraman Photo Source: The Hindu