The Story Teller


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We used to go to Villivakkam once in two years. That was grandpa’s home. After retiring from the postal service, he had decided to settle for good on the outskirts of Madras. The house was quaint to say the least. There was a big veranda with Malipu (Jasmine) flowers, a small well behind the house, a swing in the house and no flushes in the toilet.

The first time I had been there, I would not have been more than 3 years old. But I still remember how grandpa and grandma pampered the wits out of me. Mom was the disciplinarian, and used to keep pinching me on my shoulder. And one can’t even scream or shout infront of others. With my grandparents around, my mom also let me go scot-free.

HanumanGrandpa was the greatest story teller of all time. I used to laze around the whole day listening to stories. My favorites were Hanuman’s stories and the whole Ramayana. I would listen to it every day when I was there.

But things changed over the years. Grandpa moved from Villivakkam to Pune to live with his eldest son. So to listen to his stories mom used to take me all the way to Pune. But Pune was never the same, I missed the smell of the flowers, the coconut oil, the well behind the house and swing in the house.

But the stories were the same, in fact better. There was also more masala in his stories. So while I was growing up, so were the stories with me. So many a times, Hanuman would be cycling to school or enjoying a feast of idlis and dosas with his mangoes. Ravana learnt a few abuses eventually aswell.

Grandpa finally touched 80. We had a feast as well in a temple near Chennai. Lots of relatives had come. I was there too. On grandpa’s 80th birthday he gave me a gift. It was the complete recording of all his stories, he had ever told to me. The recording even had stories he had thought of telling me but I was too impatient to hear. It always had to be Hanuman.

There were totally some 20 cassettes. I listened to them whenever I could. Sometimes, I used to sleep having grandpa narrate me stories. Four months later, he passed away. I was not told for a few weeks. During those few weeks, I always wondered why Mom was so sad. I realized later. At least I could have shared the sorrow. Grandpa knew he had little time left and he shared with all of us what was most treasured by all of us. The legacy would continue, at least with me.

I am 24 now, and though I don’t listen to his stories often I do recollect the small pearls. Kids grow up with stories; it’s a place where they wished to be. Grandpa took me to those places - on the hills, under the sea, to heaven and hell, made me meet gods and demons. And we came out alive and unscathed.

4 Responses to “The Story Teller”

  1. samNo Gravatar says:

    the stories we listen to often shape our thoughts n beliefs as we grow up. some do get battered with “wisdom of the real life”, some remain preserved deep within us, often surfacing and guiding when we need them. that’s what grandparents teach us, when they tell us stories. :)
    my granny never made up the stories, she used to narrate them as they have always been, passed on through generations. till i grew up. dats when i was presented with two books which had all those stories… but somehow, granny’s version is what i remember even now, n not the printed words!! :)

  2. BhavyaNo Gravatar says:

    This reminds me of my Grand paa…
    He never told me Ramayana or Mahabharat stories.
    In fact he used to narrate the facts he witnessed and lived during India-Pakistan partition & the time when India was fighting for its independence.
    Today even when I visit him, he says
    “Value ur independence which ur elders have gifted you by sacrificing their life.
    Live a life….. which some1 will be proud off.”

  3. MeghanaNo Gravatar says:

    You just told a wonderful story yourself. :D I think childhood stories influence our impression of the world and a lot of real life choices that we make.

    Stories indeed are wonderful….my granpa used to tell us pirate stories and highly modified Gulliver’s travels and scary ghost stories.

    My scientist dad on the other hand used to tell me the story of “the big bang” and of how it lead to todays world. To add a little spice in the end, he would continue with a little story about how I saved(yes! I was the saviour) my city from a dangerous godzilla like bear.

  4. JayNo Gravatar says:

    Good one Vinni!!

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