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.

Bang my head, pull my hair!

Ever been around people who would make you want to bang your head on the wall?? I’ve been, a couple of times. In fact, I encountered one only yesterday. And I didn’t have to go very far, he was right here in my house. And that’s my cleaner.

Now, my cleaner is otherwise a very nice helpful person. Very hardworking. Very humble. An absolute blessing I must say when it comes to helping me with the sundriest(wonder if that’s even a word) of chores. The best thing about him is the ever-smiling persona he sports even when asked to do the toughest of jobs or when faced with a house that many a times looks as though it has been hit by a typhoon.

BTW he is very innocent too. Or so he wants me to believe. And that’s what makes want to pull my hair and bang my head on the wall! It irks me when people try to be ultra naive or make an effort to be sweet. AAARRRGGH!

Yesterday, I boiled milk and I spilled a small amount, ok a fair amount, on my cooking range. My cleaner, the innocent soul that he is, came in to the kitchen, saw what was very conspicuous and asked me, ‘ Oh the milk got spilled, huh??’. πŸ™„

And then a few minutes later, when he saw the AC dripping water droplets he asked in the most ignorant way possible,‘ Oh the AC is leaking, huh??’. πŸ™„

And then again, a little later he saw a few dark scratches on the coffee-table, out came, ‘Oh the table got scratches, huh?‘. He was unstoppable yesterday! And I was on the brink of losing my sanity.

The incident(s) made me realize that he is not alone in this world of ‘innocent’ people. There are many.

There are those who, right after you’ve seated yourself aboard a non-stop Delhi-Doha flight, ask you the very pertinent question, ‘Oh so you’re going to Doha, huh??’.

Or when you’re glued to your book with the title written in bold on the cover for even an ant to see and you’re just about to crack the Da Vinci Code, you’re fielded, ‘ Oh so you’re reading Dan Brown, huh??’ πŸ™„ πŸ™„

I remember the wife of a very dear friend of my father’s who had this stating-the-obvious-while-trying-to-be-angelic syndrome. She had taken it upon herself to explain whatever we spoke or did, word by word to her husband, who BTW would be sitting right next to her.

For eg. if my brother smiled she used to say, ‘Nokku, M’etta, Raghu chirikkunu (Look,Raghu is smiling)’ or if my mother served them tea,‘Nokku, M’etta, CK chaaya undaaki (Look, M’etta, CK made tea)’.

And each time she would be more excited and more upbeat than the previous, with her loud louder loudest laugh!!

To this day each one of us in my family have a rollicking time reminiscing about those moments when Aunty visited us, although I’ll have to admit when I actually lived those moments years ago, they did make me want to bang my head on the wall.

When Namnam was born, I came across such kinds aplenty. Every time I told them I was blessed with a baby girl, they used to reiterate what I said with a question,‘ Acha ladki hui hai?’ and even go a step further to say,‘Koi nahi, agli baar ladka hoga(Never mind, next time you’ll have a son)’

Here I’ll admit that more than wanting to bang my head,I wanted to bang THEIR head on the walls and pull THEIR hair!

**Image Courtesy: Google Images

Tag time

Its been a while since I’ve done a tag. I normally reserve it for occasions when I dont have anything interesting to share otherwise. And this is one such occasion :).

Amrita has tagged me to share a few tidbits about my life. So here’s how it goes…

1. Indebted to someone for life:

Jayanti, without a doubt. Many of you know who she is. In fact I’ve even written a letter telling her how indebted I’m to her. She has been with my parents for close to 4 years. She is not just a care-taker or a helper to them, but a daughter in many ways. Someone who is very sensitive to their needs, who knows what their likes and dislikes are, who looks after them like her own parents.

Everytime I leave Delhi with a heavy heart, my only concern is Achan & Amma’s welfare. But its her ever-smiling face that gives me an assurance that I’ve nothing to worry.

No amount of thank you’s will be enough for what she has been to me and my family. I’m eternally grateful to her for being there for us.

And today and everyday I pray to God that she is blessed with all the happiness in the world that she so rightfully deserves.

2. A gesture that left me speechless

This was in August 2007. We lived in Muscat. R was away on a business trip. Namnam was suffering from fever. Although she had a history of febrile convulsion, it had been a while since it had relapsed as we had been able to regulate the temperature whenever she had fever. So it never struck me that she could have her bouts again.

I still don’t know what went wrong that day, but she had her convulsions again. It was late evening. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to drive, who to call for help as some of our friends were either out-of-town or lived away. I was as helpless as could be. I took her in my arms, ran to the next door and rang the bell. I couldn’t even wait for the person to answer the door. I rushed to our landlords’ house who lived in the ground floor.

To tell you a bit about out landlords, they were not a very favorable bunch of people to be around. They were a rude lot who had had at least one altercation with whoever came in contact with them. They were very difficult people to handle. Our friends from Muscat would vouch for that.

But your landlords’ behavioral problem is the last thing to cross your mind when your child is convulsing in your arms.

Anyway, when I went down for help, what I got to see was not the rude, brash side of my landlord, but a noble and kindhearted one. When he saw Namnam’s condition, he immediately called for his driver(who, thankfully stayed in the same house), and asked him to take us to the hospital. He even told him to wait in the hospital so he could bring us back home once she was treated.

That one gesture has stayed with me ever since. Thats when I realized the true worth of having good neighbors. They were truly God-sent for me.

3. Say ‘Sorry’ to someone

To all my friends from whom I’ve drifted apart for whatever reasons- be it my childhood friends, friends I made in school, college and at work, those I made in Muscat and Doha, all of them. I want to say sorry to even those virtual friends who I ‘met’ through the beautiful medium of blogging, but with whom I lost track as I moved on in this journey making newer friends.

I want them all to know that even though time and circumstances may have drifted us apart from each other, yet I treasure each of the friendship close to my heart.

4. Say ‘Thank you’ to someone

To God for giving me the most precious gift. My Namnam. My family and most of my friends know how much I yearned to be a mother. I remember spending many a nights crying my heart out for not being able to conceive. There were days when I’d pray endlessly for that one signal from Him that would quash all sorts of unpleasant doubts creeping into my mind.

And then after much yearnings and prayers Namnam came into our lives as the most precious gift from God.

5. Most cherished possession till date

It’s a wrist-watch gifted by my father when I passed my 10th class board exam which was way back in 1992. And it has been with me ever since.

6. A special moment that brings a smile to my face

Now that’s a tough one! Only recently I was going through some of the old snaps of Namnam and I realized each one of them made me smile. So let me share one of them with you.

This was taken in when Namnam had just turned one. She was at a stage where she had begun to identify her body parts. We had taken a whole sequence of pictures where she identified her ears, teeth, eyes,etc.

The image I’m sharing below is one where she responds to us when we asked where her nose was πŸ™‚

Did that make you smile too?? πŸ™‚

I’m leaving this tag open to anyone who would like to take it up. In case you do pick it up, please share a link too πŸ™‚