Many people will remember the time when they were told a story, not read to, but told- the oral art of story telling.
From my early memories, I recall my Grandmom’s elder sister who would lie beside me and tell stories of mythology, tales of royalty, of common man, wisdom tales, folk tales and animal tales etc. She would gesticulate with her wrinkly hands and modulate her voice as the story changed the settings from a forest to a Kingdom to a faraway land. The First story that I remember told to was a” Kozhakattai”(modak) story in tamil.
Later, it was my grand parents, parents, aunts and uncles who would narrate family stories. Especially the moments spent with my Grandmom on the terrace of her home, with my cousins under the starspangled sky are my emotional cushions now. These family stories are like the blueprint for our family identities. One such famous family story is the Dhanushkodi story which I have already blogged about.
My Story tellers must have had a profound influence on me that even today wherever I see the word “Storytelling” in print or in e-media my eyes stop there and throw me back in time.
Then it was at school I wandered again into fairy land along with Thumbelina, Goldilocks, Tom-thumb, Red Riding hood etc. These listening and reading of stories some where left such a deep influence in me that many years later my passion for stories lured me to take up a profession of story teller. For a couple of years between 2009-2011 my job was that of a life-skill facilitator(visiting faculty) which involved teaching life skills through story telling for children of class I through Class X and I even conducted a small Winter workshop in theatre through Helen-O-Grady style of story-telling.
The stories we told not just put ideas and moulded the young minds but also enchanted and delighted the young ones so much that the children of the various schools where we went waited for us than their own school teachers. Infact, This was a pet complaint of many regular faculty when we interacted with them. Some children would even follow us after class hours for autograph.
I believe stories have that power. Apart from teaching moral values, life skills, they enchant, delight, teach, inspire, excite and take us to unexplored lands .
During my early school days we had an exclusive story telling period. One such story that I have heard during my young days is that of “The thirsty crow”. This story was hung up as a chart and was divided into 6 pictures . The moral or values did not sink into our little brains then, we were more besotted with the art of storytelling. I am sure this story is widely heard and read for its lovely moral of "Where there is a will, there is a way". Even recently, one of my friend sent me a message on our Whatsapp group asking how many of us remembered this story. This is one of the evergreen story. Today's children of course, I am sure will apply the moral by seeing them in video formats like this.
The other story that is clear in my memory is that “Goldilocks and 3 bears”. This was a pictorial pop-up book and the baskets, tables, bowls and beds that popped up enchanted me more than any moral. I even remember seeing the dramatization of this story in a TV program called “Wonder Balloon”.
Some stories and story tellers leave an impression on our young minds that they are unerasable for a life time. Apart from the power to enrich us with language skills in the form of vocabulary, expression and communication, they inspire us with their morals too which are applicable in our day to day life. Today's kids have wide exposure and access to such stories like in the above video formats.