Fairy tales retold

Last Updated 16 July 2010, 14:49 IST

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. But with the demystification of the lovable Santa Claus in the West, things have changed  in the East as well.  Wide exposure  has made our kids so smart that  the Ajjis and their stories often find themselves in  awkward spots.

Recently, when all the Ajjis of the building(including me ) found  themselves stranded in the lift due to power-failure, I had the pleasure of hearing them exchange notes.
One grandmother recounted, shocked how a little girl asked her, “Ajji,why didn’t Seetha divorce Rama on grounds of cruelty when she had to jump into the fire, and on top of it, was sent  away, alone, to the forest?”

The little fire-brand demanded to know this soon after hearing the abridged version of the Ramayana.

Another Ajji  interjected, “My granddaughter’s opinion is even more drastic !” Far from getting shocked or perplexed by Draupadi marrying all the five  pandavas,  she shouted, “ I will marry  50 husbands! What fun seeing them quarrel with each other!”

Exclaimed another Ajji, “These precocious little girls love the idea of Swayamvara! They wonder why they can’t have it in this day and age and some of them want to organise their  own Swayamvaras when they grow up! And then their parents blame us for giving them them silly ideas. That’s  why I have now stopped  telling stories at all.’’

Listening to these travails,  I felt it was safer  to stick to the usual prince  and giant stories.

They are far more interesting, and there will be nothing in them for  the kids to be provoked or excited by. Or so I thought. So the next time the children pestered me for a good story, I began,  “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess..”  I proceeded confidently as the group edged closer, listening with rapt attention. I told them about the bad giant who carried the princess  away, about the prince who rushed on a white steed to kill him  but could not because the giant’s life was...”

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 shouted, “In his computer’s hard-disk, Ajji !”

(Published 16 July 2010, 14:49 IST)

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