Bedtime stories

Bedtime stories

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

Niharika would not budge a bit that day. Until I fed my 6-yr old granddaughter her daily ‘dose’ of a new bedtime story, she would not sleep. Even the reasoning that doing so in the AC coach of our overnight train would disturb other co-passengers didn’t convince her. I had no option but to whisper a random story into her ears.

She was barely four when I introduced her to short bedtime stories. Soon, she became so fixated with it that telling her one every night became a must for me. Sometimes, even I would drift into drowse taking the story to an alien track when she would stir me up to regain my senses! As she grew, she lost interest in fantasy stories and craved for the ones that looked real. With my small treasure of stories soon getting exhausted, I started saving photos of the stories of her liking published in newspaper columns and children’s magazines and books for its instant retrieval when needed. A TV series “I Shouldn’t Be Alive,” based on the real-life thrilling events, telecast on Discovery Channel also provided me fodder.

As described by Aleks Krotoski, stories act as “memory aids, instruction manuals, and moral compasses” for the children. It was my late grandmother who made me discover the true potential of stories. Every night, I and other siblings would encircle her for a story which she narrated in her own inimitable style. During my schooling, fifty years ago, our library had a series of books, each captioned on the folk tales of different Indian regions. Believing these books to be extinct, I was pleasantly surprised to find them all freely available in my recent online Search!

I am continuing with story-telling to my younger granddaughter, Kamakshi, whenever she comes to Bengaluru. Though disinclined initially, it took just a few witty animal stories for her fondness for the stories to get wings! Lest both she and Niharika miss my stories when they are away, I sought refuge in technology. Now, I simply find a nice story somewhere and record it in my own voice on my smartphone, and then ‘Whatsapp’ the recording to them! Next, taking on board my other relatives having children of the same age-group, I created a Broadcast group to share the recordings instantly. As a father, I couldn’t tell a single story to my own children because of life’s challenges at that time. Nevertheless, this new-found satisfaction of telling the young children the stories that bring them joy is truly rewarding for me!