Saturday, May 18, 2013


For some months now I have been making a weekly trip to a non-conventional school in Tollygunge for Seagull Peaceworks as a volunteer of their 'Share Stories, Open Minds' programme. I usually spend my one hour with between 10 and 20 kids of ages ranging from 2 to 13 telling them stories. Sometimes we talk about what we heard; they sing and dance and they love to draw, so I often ask them to draw scenes from the stories they hear. Once, after an earlier discussion on Pinocchio, I made little paper and stick puppets with the children (something like these). Yesterday was the last session before the summer holidays and I threw the floor open to the children to make up stories of their own using three given elements (a snake -- we had just been discussing sea snakes; a ghost -- an all-time favourite; a mango -- it's the season!)

What was special about yesterday's session was that Rahul was there. He has been wanting to go with me to this school where all the 'Dada-Didi's (big brothers and sisters) hear stories. The children, on their part, have been curious about him ever since they found out I have a son. Rahul woke up late, while I was getting ready to leave, but when he remembered that I was going to the school he begged to accompany me and Vicky got him ready at super speed, so off we went, the two of us in a CTC bus.

He settled down comfortably enough once we reached, standing with the kids for prayers and only occasionally peering around looking for me. When we sat down in our circle I changed my plans; instead of starting the first of the two stories I had been planning to tell I told the kids about a recent family outing to the beach and Rahul jumped right in with detailed descriptions of his seaside adventures, including those sea snakes.

Then, when I threw the floor open to stories from them, Rahul was the first off the mark, ready with his story even before I stopped talking. He cleverly incorporated all three elements -- snake, ghost and mango -- into his little story and contrived to keep the big kids listening all through. It's no mean achievement for a six year old. He threw himself into his narration heart and soul and looked extremely contented when they clapped loudly for him. I was proud of all the kids then, the schoolchildren for making him one of their own so easily and him for completely forgetting to be shy or scared. Later on he followed it up with a couple of spirited renditions of "bang bhoot" stories (nonsensical tales of frog ghosts as dreamed up by my father for him last month).

It has long been one of my little disappointments that he has shown no interest in performance. Apart from occasionally wanting to watch shows he has been very clear he does not want to actually be the one on display. Yesterday morning, watching him enjoy the thrill of being the narrator, I thought to myself, yes, it's there somewhere, his mother in him.

Mostly I take pride in the little things in him -- his little kindnesses, his occasional tenderness and vulnerability, his lack of worldliness, his quaint manners, his consideration for the feelings of those he loves. Yesterday though I was simply that mother beaming with pride because her son showed his potential in front of the world.


Anonymous said...

Lovely post Sue !


SUR NOTES said...

thanks for linking me to this! I loved reading this post and it would have been a privilege to listen to his story.

Anonymous said...

Along with the story,his expressions were his own?
That's so great Sue :)

Thinking Cramps said...

Would have loved to be in the audience.

And, what you're doing sounds so interesting, Sunayana. Tell us more about your experience, please.

Sue said...

Dipti -- Thanks

Sur -- If only I could have stepped outside the circle I would have taped the session. Oh well.

Anon -- Always. He is really good with moulding language to his requirements.

Ana -- Maybe I'll do another post on this. I sound cliched but it really is turning out to be quite a learning experience for me.