Sto­ries reach where noth­ing else can

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - REGION - Ritu Kamra Ku­mar

Au­thor Rud­yard Ki­pling wrote, “If history were taught in the form of sto­ries, it would never be for­got­ten.”

It’s true that kings and queens die but their sto­ries re­main alive. I spent much of my child­hood with sto­ries, thanks to my mother. There was some­thing that drew me to small story books. I was hooked to them; colour­ful and co­pi­ous, mag­i­cal and mem­o­rable sto­ries. My early mem­ory of sto­ries is what I first heard as a child from my mom. She would tell us the sto­ries at night, per­haps it was dur­ing Ram Leela. It was my first mem­ory of fear that Ra­vana would come and carry me off. It was here that I met Rama as a hu­man be­ing, Lord Kr­ishna as a vi­sion­ary and wanted to change Sita’s ban­ish­ment.

My mother in­vented a trea­sure trove of tales for us in which she put what­ever we liked -- a street, a de­pot, a school or a tem­ple at any spot in our lit­tle world. Step­ping into her shoes, I have been adept in craft­ing sto­ries while mak­ing my tod­dler son fin­ish his meals. Once my sis­ter-in-law’s fa­ther sat there and he said that he too had waited ea­gerly for me to wrap up the un­end­ing story.

Sto­ries reach where noth­ing else can. A busi­ness­man wanted his son to learn, in spite of ef­forts of many acharyas, the boy didn’t learn much. Fi­nally it was through the Panch­tantra sto­ries that the boy ex­cit­edly learnt the un­der­ly­ing lessons.

Ev­ery story opens a win­dow to ex­pe­ri­ence the myr­iad sit­u­a­tions of­fered by the world nar­rat­ing epipha­nies of ev­ery­day liv­ing. They act as maps al­low­ing the younger gen­er­a­tion to re­dis­cover or re­con­nect with the legacy of read­ing. The genre of sto­ries is small set­tings, small can­vas, straight­for­ward nar­ra­tion which feeds to non­de­mand­ing read­ers.

Sto­ries are cel­e­brated for many things, as repositories of folk knowl­edge or ac­cu­mu­lated wis­dom, as re­lief from hu­man con­di­tion, as en­ter­tain­ment en­abling some cog­ni­tive pro­cesses and even as the best way to get your­self and your chil­dren to fall asleep.

The ba­sic point about sto­ries is that they are the most com­mon, most per­va­sive and prob­a­bly the old­est way for hu­mans to think. We hu­man be­ings cre­ated myths, told sto­ries and thereby de­vel­oped an al­ter­na­tive re­al­ity in re­la­tion to a mi­lieu within which we grew.

Yu­val Hari, an Is­raeli his­to­rian, writes in his book ‘Sapi­ens: A Brief His­to­rian of Mankind’ that “our imag­i­na­tion and our ca­pac­ity to tell sto­ries com­bined with our abil­ity to work to­gether, co­op­er­ate on any sin­gle theme, is the short of our long story of evo­lu­tion”.

The so-called post-truth so­ci­ety is not pri­mar­ily the re­sult of our in­abil­ity to fo­cus on facts but it is due to our fail­ure to read sto­ries deeply that are wrapped up in the pages of books, to be read and told. Ev­ery­one can re­late to them as they deal with hu­man emo­tions and evo­lu­tion .That is why schools and cor­po­rate houses are in­cul­cat­ing story-telling in their train­ing process. Ad­ver­tis­ing also uses the story-telling to sell their ideas to our mind and we get trapped in an il­lu­sion of hap­pi­ness.

In­flu­ence of sto­ries can be traced to our life­style, habits and be­liefs. Have we stopped lis­ten­ing and read­ing sto­ries just be­cause we have ad­vanced tech­no­log­i­cally? We should have story-telling ses­sions. In­side each of us is a nat­u­ral born story-teller wait­ing to be re­leased. Tell your story so that the art of story-telling, which is striv­ing hard to sur­vive, may re­tain its place of pride. rit­uku­mar1504@ya­ n The writer is a Ya­mu­nana­gar­based col­lege pro­fes­sor

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