Story-telling, the Grandparents’ way!

Pallavi had put up a status on facebook, a couple of days back wherein she mentioned how she couldn’t remember who Rama’s father was while narrating Ramayana to her son.

The status made me laugh out loud thinking about how well I could relate with her situation. I’ve had moments where, while reading out stories to Namnam, I have felt completely lost about certain characters and instances. So much so that I’ve even left them mid-way and tucked the books back in her shelf. * Shamefaced*.

But what Pal’s status also made me do was reminisce about my own story telling sessions with my grand parents. About the wonderful memories that are still so much a part of me.

The formative years of my childhood were spent at my maternal grandparents’ house. As both my parents were working and did not feel very comfortable having babysitters or Nannies around, it was only natural that they left me and my brother in our grandparents’ care, who lived just a few blocks away.

Story-telling sessions were an integral part of our stay at my grandparents. Especially stories from our Indian Mythology. The sessions were a wonderful way of bonding with our grandparents. We learned about the vastness of our culture and tradition from the different stories that they told us. They helped us widen our imagination ad infinitum.

Whenever I wanted to hear a story the first person I ran to, be it day or night was my grandmother,my Ammamma. She had some of the most precious pearls in her kitty. Her innate way of narrating stories made me want to live in those mythical eras. It was as though the characters sprang to life every time I pictured them in my mind.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

To give an instance which is still so vivid, when she told us about Jatayu, while narrating Ramayana, I remember forming a very ferocious and huge image, in my mind, of a vulture fighting it out with the giant Ravana. And then the image would transform into a very meek, broken,beaten bird lying on floor hoping desperately that Rama would come by just in time to be informed about his wife’s abduction. I remember feeling desperate myself at that point of the story, no matter how many times I would have heard it from her. Each time Ammamma reached that point I could feel that sadness and desperation creeping inside me.

Image courtesy Google Images

Another instance that I can give is when Ammamma narrated the story of Mohini, the only female avatar of Lord Vishnu, who tricked the Asuras by her enchanting ways, into handing her the Amrit, the nectar of immortality, and distributed it among the Devas. I remember having an image of a vast ocean with hundreds of Devas standing ashore to drink the Amrit. And for some strange inexplicable reason I imagined the Devas standing in a line, like school children waiting to get their candies!! Even the ocean that the Devas stood in front of, had the power to churn out Amrit, in my imagination!

One can find a lot of information about Mohini and the different versions and legends of her exploits in Wikipedia

While still on Devas or Suras, to this day I cant approve of them as genuine or godly as they are made out to be. I always felt they were a selfish, opportunist bunch who took advantage of their appearance and proximity to Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, to get the better of their infamous brothers, the Asuras. Thats my perception though.

Even Achachan, my grandfather had an engaging way of reading Bhagwat-Geeta, Adhyatma Ramayanam or any book for that matter. Hearing him and then having him explain it made us understand the essence of Indian Mythology in a far better way than we could if we had read them ourselves.

Stories begin to look and sound so much better when narrated by grandparents, dont they? I’ve observed how engrossed Namnam looks when her grandparents tell or read stories to her. I do read stories to her from Amar Chitra Katha, Panchatantra and other books but I know its so not the same as being narrated by the grandparents. They are a true blessing!

Being away from home, I still feel though, that Namnam is missing out on a huge chunk of fun moments and learning from her grandparents. But I’m glad whenever she gets to be with them, she makes the most of her time.

42 thoughts on “Story-telling, the Grandparents’ way!

    1. Such a sweet post Deeps – the bonding with grandparents go a long way and are filled with story-telling sessions throughout…It was always my paternal grandmother for me, to tell me stories (even today she tells me stories πŸ˜‰ )!!! Its amazing how my heart always wants her soothing voice to go to sleep, her soft hands on my hair…its such a bliss.

      D: I know,Ums! ‘Soothing’ is the word! I remember how much I used insist on being told the same stories over and over again and my grandmother would be just as calm and patient to repeat them πŸ˜€

      Now, that I’ve crossed the story-telling age, me and girls do book-reviews !!! he he he !!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


    2. Oh dear !!! Pal, have a tag line from now on – Listen to whatever story I tell you – for more facts and info, refer the Wiki – Howzatt ???? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰


  1. I usually remember the irrelevant parts of any story n forget the important ones! I am too weird that way..I will remember those small small scenes of Mahabharata but I will not remember significant events 😦

    even i read Pal’s status, and the first comment said that she didn’t know it either, so I felt so shameful as I knew the name!! i quietly moved ahead and didn’t comment πŸ˜›

    D: Can understand, Neha πŸ™‚

    great post Deeps..very very nostalgic πŸ™‚

    D: Thanks, re πŸ™‚


  2. Great post Deeps. Reminded me of my childhood and story telling sessions. In addition to my grandma, her friends who came home to see her were also great story tellers. We used to take turns telling stories to each other πŸ™‚

    D: Wow, must have been such fun!


  3. Hmmm…you made my remember my grand mother and then my children’s grandmother!

    I learned more from my grandmother than from Chandamama in those days. My mother was a treasure trove of stories. My sons enjoyed those sessions like Namnam did, Deepu.

    D: They are such treasurable moments, aren’t they, Sandhya? πŸ™‚

    I ‘read’ from Amar Chitra Katha since I am a very bad story teller! Still the sons enjoyed.

    Story telling is an art by itself.

    D: So true and I’m so bad at it!

    Your post brought back sweet memories, thank you!


  4. Oh I looooooooooooved this post, Deeps. Espicially how vivid pictures were formed in your mind,by your grandma’s story-telling. Sadly, I actually havent heard many stories from any grandparents, but yes, I did read up a lot when I was kid!! And I used to love them all. R too seems to like all the heroic stuff from Rama and Co πŸ™‚

    D: Thats great! I’m yet to read Ramayana to Namnam. Planning to do it soon πŸ™‚


  5. Both my grandmothers were story tellers. But my parents sure weren’t to my kids. For them their story teller had been their Mom, yours truly herself. πŸ™‚

    D: After having read your short stories, I can imagine very well what an engaging story-teller you must have been to your kids, Shail πŸ™‚


  6. Hi,

    Aww such a swweet post Deeps. Grandparenst and stories they go hand in hand isnt it?? My elder daughter has this story telling session with my mother everyday, and as you rightly said sometimes she demands to hear the same story again and again.. i am sure she also must be having some vivid imaginations which she might be reliving everytime she hears her favourite stories.

    warm regards


    1. You’re so right, Rekha. Grandparents are more often than not associated with stories. We get to learn to so much when they tell us stories. Its an experience in itself.


  7. Oh yes, listening to stories from Grandpas and Grandmas are pleasant experiences in life. In this generation many are not fortunate..

    I am not aware of mohini avatar..


  8. Wow! what a sweet nostalgic post πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    I totally agree with the fact that I too remember the stories narrated by my grandparents more vividly with all the intonations and even expressions as compared to the ones my parents narrated or read to me πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Can you believe it, even when I was around 4 years old I always wanted to be a story teller like my grandma and I feel that lingering strong desire made me jump into story writing πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    D: Wow, so glad you took that leap, else would have missed out on reading and knowing such a prolific writer πŸ™‚

    But as far story telling goes, count me in on forgetting characters and not just that I sometimes even add characters to fairy tales out of my imagination giving them twists like 55 fiction πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

    D: Ha ha ha

    Absolutely loved this post πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€


  9. aaah u took me back in my childhood deeps, I had the exact same setup used to be in granny’s house while mom-dad were at work… and the life was full of stories…

    i somehow feel todays grandparents tell less stories and god knows what we will do for our grand children

    D: I’m very bad at story telling, Mon. But I’m learning the art by narrating stories to Namnam so I can be a fairly tolerable one by the time my grandchildren come into picture πŸ˜‰

    lovely post


  10. my grandparents lived across the country so all I know about Indian history and mythology comes from Amar Chitra Katha-and now my kids have the same source…

    D: πŸ™‚


  11. Very good post ..its true evn with my granparents told me all mythoilogical stories, and my parents to my children.

    D: Grandparents are such joy to be around!

    Asuras were cheated because theyb would have used Amrit for nefarious activities and devas were favoured because they did only good.


  12. This is what exactly happening in my house now,Kids go granny most of the evenings and pester her for the stories.Mom sometimes she tells them mythological stories and sometimes her own stories.

    D: How sweet! It is such an enriching experience to have your grandparents tell stories to you.


  13. Aww u r so rt Deeps. Grandparents are magicians and their stories magical. My Dadi used to stay with us and she had a hugeeee collection too. Every night, we wud go to bed only after listening to a story. Some of them used to be interwoven with songs too. Bliss indeed πŸ™‚

    D: I had a feeling that you would relate well with this post, considering how close you were to your grandparents πŸ™‚


  14. Wonderful memories and a wonderful post.
    Some people are blessed to have actively spent time with the 3rd generation but for the rest..they too become stories…like when I heard my grandpa wrote a diary every single day of his life from age 11 through age 94 when he died., I was flabbergasted !! It s almost like an almanac of memories…!

    D: What a treasure-trove it must be!


  15. Very good post deeps…unfortunately i didnt hear much stories from my grandparents…my grandfather use to tell some but he was quite old and couldnt speak much..

    I use to read all thse stories myself…was too fond of reading during my childhood too πŸ™‚
    Now definitely enjoy board book sessions wiht angel..she seems to be interested in books from now only πŸ™‚

    D: Wonderful to know Angel likes books, Rash. I believe reading books to your child from early on does go a long way in making him/ her develop a good reading habit πŸ™‚


    1. Ash, I remember reading your tribute to your grandfather, very clearly. I think it was your first post. Its a post that I’ve always associated you with :). Thats how moved I was by it πŸ™‚ So I can imagine how nostalgic you must be after reading this post πŸ™‚



  16. I have never heard stories from grandparents or from my parents.. but I used to watch mythological serials with utmost interest πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


      1. why sorry Deeps… Its really difficult to write a post in which everybody can relate to it…

        I got to know how you all feel about hearing stories πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ so thanks to you for that πŸ™‚


  17. Ah! made me nostalgic… yea.. grandparents have a strange hold… hmmm πŸ™‚ u know what silly me, as i was reading this, i was wishing i am a good granny πŸ˜€ !!!!

    D: As they say,’ All in good time, my dear, all in good time’ πŸ˜‰


  18. Deeps, A post after my own heart.

    ‘Being away from home, I still feel though, that Namnam is missing out on a huge chunk of fun moments and learning from her grandparents. But I’m glad whenever she gets to be with them, she makes the most of her time. ‘ – This is exactly how I feel. I have learnt to be grateful for the time that she gets with them.

    As for storytelling, I had the same experience with my parents as well. Both of them are wonderful story-tellers, and now I see Poohi enjoying it all. I owe my love of reading to my grandfather who set off the love of stories when I was little. I find it amazing how my dad and mum manage to tell such wonderful stories effortlessly, while I struggle 😦 You know, in the books that you gifted Poohi, one of the back covers had the picture of Krishna battling Kaaliya. Poohi started asking me about it, and I found that while I remembered the bare bones of the story, I could hardly make it half as interesting as my mom made it for her later πŸ™‚

    D: I’m very bad at story telling, Smits! I do read stories to Namnam, modulate my voice, add some effects of my own, and try make it interesting,you know, but I just cant make up stories of my own. My grandparents were so adept at it. And now I see my parents, even R tell her stories without any help from books. Like Sandhya mentioned above in her comment, story-telling is an art in itself πŸ™‚


  19. Awwwww (caught this bug from the brat 😳 ) You have painted such a beautiful picture of your story time with your grandparents. You now what I feel great about those sessions? My grandma never ever read from a book (like I do now for Samy 😦 ) and yet when she narrated with her careful chosen words and antics, it was like as if I was watching a movie πŸ˜› Err for a long time I used to belive that my grandmom was a story Telling Gypsy in a grandmom disguise 😳

    D: Even my grandmother, Saksh. She never felt a need to read a book to us, she knew the minutest part of the stories by heart, be it Ramayana, Mahabharata or any story!


  20. In our home, my parents were the storytellers and I remember all of them. Now I narrate them to Peanut and this time in India, Mom & Dad were amazed how I remembered each one of them. I have few stories were all the characters are our family members and that’s her fav.

    D:R is the one who’s more creative, in our house, at making up stories! She comes to me when she is in a mood to read books.

    As for grandparents narrating stories, I think Peanut would agree with you. She loves the same stories that my Mom tells her.


  21. Me too… in many ways I thought Asura’s were better than Indra… even in Mahabharata war… in many places it was Krishna’s shrewdness and cunning that won the Pandava;s not just their bravery… again thats my perception.. !!!!

    D: I’m a Krishna-bhakta, yet there are many instances in the Mahabharata where I disagree with his approach towards fighting the ‘evil’.

    my childhood stories came from my nani… and she had the worlds most amazing stories… !!!! I still remember a few and I actually narrate them to Hriday… !!! now he is onto reading the panchtantra… and amar chitra katha… but my nani’s stories came in handy… !!!!

    D: Thats wonderful!

    I remember sleeping in her lap, playing with her aging skin and listening to tons of stories and her tales from her growing up when they would go for picking and burning items made in England… during the freedom struggle… sheer bliss were those days… !!!!!!! I didnt read Pallu’s post… but this post brought back awesome piles of memories… !!!!

    D: I wrote this post in response to Pallu’s status-update on FB, Hitchu πŸ™‚


  22. 5 more days to go – must be all excited no πŸ™‚
    She is growing up sooo fast. I so wanna see her and Poohi as kiddos. Baaah when πŸ™„

    D: Hopefully soon! Keep your fingers crossed πŸ˜€


  23. I am so used to being told a story before sleep, that these days after the knot I pester AB to do it.

    D: Ha ha ha

    In the uni, my pal Pads, without fail narrated a story every night on our walks….

    It seems my father read to me from the day I was born from books and no day went without a story since.

    D: Thats really nice to know

    My mother has that effect on all of us when she narrates stories any sort… one gets to feel the ghosts around you somewhere when it is about them, or the gods when it was their turn to take centre stage or andersons and aesop’s characters….. I used to imagine Ravan as this huge as a mountain person, same as Vamana’s huge leg….

    D: Oh yes, Vaman’s huge leg..I used to imagine that too

    bed times are story times….

    I don’t remember my grandparents telling me stories, but remember them teaching me how to draw and sing and our walks around the rice fields during those Hols πŸ™‚


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