When Ajji Tells Stories...
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
There was a time when ajji was very popular with the grandchildren as a good story-teller.They would sit around her, listening avidly, anxious not to miss even a word. They would never be bored if the same story was repeated many times, a credit to the interesting way of the narration. And ajji knew so many stories of puranas,bringing to life all the gods,goddesses, Rakshasas , etc. And the children would believe the miracles, accept the strange twists, without any questions whatsoever. With the demolition of such a legendary figure like the lovable Santa Claus,the mental attitude of even a small child over here has taken somersaults. Wide exposure through many a varied channel has made them over smart, often landing the poor innocent ajji into an awakward position..
Recently, when all the ajjis of the building(including me ) found themselves stranded in the lift due to powerfailure, I had the pleasure of hearing them exchange notes.-
“Ajji,why didn’t Seetha divorce Rama on grounds of cruelty?” The little girl of about six or seven, demanded soon after hearing Ramayana- “Making the poor girl jump into the fire, and on top of it, sending her away,alone,to the forest!”One ajji recounted, shocked.
“My granddaughter’s opinion is even more drastic!”- Another ajji interposed- “Far from getting shocked or perplexed by Draupadi marrying all the five pandavas, she shouted- “Hurray! I will marry fifty husbands-What fun seeing them quarrel with each other!”
And can you believe it--All the little friends around endorsed! What could I say?”
Ajji's gang in the lift had a good laugh.
“The precocious girls love swayamvara of old, but not the stakes that went along with it”.Another ajji had this to say – “They loved Swayamvara,!‘Swayamvara is a thrilling experience! Why can’t we have it? When we come to marriageable age, we ourselves will advertise it !’- They decide there and then, while their parents blame us for giving them them silly ideas. .That’s why I have now stopped telling stories to the chits”- Another concluded.
Listening, I felt it safer to stick to the usual prince-giant stories.
Anyday they are far more interesting, and there will be nothing there for them to work upon. So next time the children pestered me for a good story, “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess”- I began, and proceeded confidently as the group edged closer with rapt attention; I told them about the bad giant who carried her away,about the prince who rushed on a white speed to kill him, but the giant’s life was not there-it was in.....”
Before I could say the usual-“ seven seas away, seven hills above, on a tree high, within the big bird on the topmost branch. . . . . . . . . . . . .”
The group had choroused-
“The giant’s life was in his computer ajji,"