My five cousins and I, stared at our aunt open mouthed. She was narrating one of our favourite lunchtime stories.
When we realized that she had paused, we automatically chewed what was in our mouths, and ate a few more mouthfuls. Another pause from our aunt meant that it was yucky vegetable time. But, we would have done anything to listen to her stories. She was an amazing storyteller.
One of our favourite stories was about this little sparrow, who had tasted some sweet porridge near a small hut. The sparrow couldn’t forget the taste of the porridge and was determined to have more. The sparrow walked up bravely to the old granny, who lived in the hut, and asked her if she could make some for her. The granny gave the sparrow a list of things to gather, like rice and sugar and milk and clarified butter, after which she would make the said porridge.
The determined little sparrow, managed to gather all the ingredients, and gave them to the granny. The granny prepared the porridge in a big vessel, and kept it outside to cool. The little sparrow could not wait, and managed to gobble up the entire contents of the big vessel, before the granny could give it to her.
As the porridge was very hot, the sparrow scalded her beak and then drank up all the water from the pond nearby. Having eaten too much, the sparrow dragged herself to a barn nearby, and slept in the hay. A cow that happened to eat the hay, caused the sparrow to move, and the entire contents of her stomach came out, flooding the entire village. People and things floated.
All of us loved this story, and asked for it to be narrated at every meal time. And our dear aunt never disappointed.
When my kids were young, I told them many bedtime stories, this one was one of the first ones I told them. I laughed with them and relived the joys of my childhood.
Just a couple of months ago, my son asked me if I could tell him a bedtime story, though he admitted he was too big for bedtime tales now, but would I still do it?
So there I went, narrating the same story of the bird that over-ate. My daughter joined in too, and all of us had a good laugh; but this time it was at the story’s absurdity. But we enjoyed it all the same.
Cut to this Sunday. My daughter and son, spent the morning skating. We bumped into one of our good friends there, whose son, aged five, was also skating.
We drove back home together, in our car, and my daughter spun a story to the little boy, about how our car had a flying button that could make our car fly over a traffic-jam! The little boy’s eyes opened wide in amazement.
“Can you make the car fly, please, please?” he asked.
“The button works only on weekdays when traffic is heavy”, replied my daughter.
The little boy continued to look amazed and I could see his mind imagining a flying car. He discussed it with his mother.
The wonder in his eyes hit me. The kind of wonder that comes with innocence, when anything can happen and where anything is possible – from flying cars, to sparrows that can cause floods.
I realized how time has flown; my children have crossed that stage of make-believe, and have now started spinning tales for younger kids, and seem to enjoy their open-eyed wonder.