A. B. SUDHINDRA
This summer, ask to listen to a great story about days long gone.
Who excels at telling stories? According to Suhasini Hiremath, a teacher, it is our `ajjas' and `ajjis' (grandparents). "Story telling is an art and our grandpas and grandmas know how to bring life into characters", she says. Fairies, angels, gods or demons take a particular shape in their imaginations, it transpires into the psyche of the listener, and in turn he or she starts connecting to the story.While listening to a story, the concentration and the involvement of the listener must be complete. "Otherwise, the listener may not enjoy a story," she says.
Many children, these days, although glued to television, enjoy listening to stories told by their grandpas and grandmas. They imagine themselves to be the hero of a story and fight the "villain" in their dreams. They always imagine themselves to be a prince who conquers the world or a princess who is an epitome of love and care. The preferences and tastes of children have changed over the years. The grandpas and grandmas need to keep pace with the changing times and needs of the present day children. "My grandson pesters me to tell a story on Superman or Spiderman. In the story I know, if the character travelled in a bullock-cart, I have to modify it to a car, when I tell it to him. Otherwise, he will pose many questions. What is a bullock-cart? Who makes it? Who drives it? I need to answer to these and many other questions. As a grandparent, you have to be very creative," says Vishalakshamma.
Ms. Suhasini remembers her childhood. "During summer holidays, we used to visit our grandparents living in a village in north Karnataka. Every day, after dinner, my sister and I enjoyed listening to stories told by our grandma. She knew so many stories, everyday; she used to tell us different stories. It was fun listening to her. She had lost all her teeth and we used to get confused with some of the words she said. We used to hear "katte" (ass) as "kappe" (frog) and wondered how a frog can bray. Later, our mother used to come to our help", she recalls. A parent, Malini, rues the disintegration of joint families and blames the `idiot box' for taking away these activities from present day children. "I am not against children watching television. They also should have a healthy relationship with the elders in the house. I tell my children to listen to stories or spend quality time with my parents who are staying in my house. They just do not care. After watching television for endless hours, they want to sleep. They just don't recognise what they are losing," she regrets. However, Anindita, a student declares, "No doubt I will watch television during holidays. But, at night, I will be beside my grandma to hear about kings and queens."