A boy, around seven years old comes to my storytelling sessions. Bespectacled, with spikes for hair, he is all smiles but never seems to utter any word. Yesterday I took this beautiful book for my session. As I opened the book I noticed the wide toothy grin typical of excited kids on his face. He beheld the book with sparkling eyes, as if he was about to fly on a magic carpet. I could clearly sense that he had been waiting for this.
In my storytelling sessions I have often found that children are natural readers. They gravitate towards books and stories, just as easily as they are attracted to say TV or other gadgets, provided these are not there in the first place. They love to listen to stories, to be read to and to read by themselves if the story catches their fancy. They are very open and receptive if you try to speak to them through the medium of stories.
But even more importantly they often have stories to tell of their own. I told them this poignant tale of two young children, two best friends who were separated by partition. They never saw each other again. After the story ended I fell silent, a lump in my throat. The lull was broken by exuberant voices.
“Ma’am I have a Christian friend. But their house has a tiger skin!”
“Miss I have five Muslim friends.”
“I bought khaki pants just like the soldier in the story for my Happy Barday.”
They told me so many stories, some were mischievous, some were funny and some were so warm and touching. They had captured life with the purity and innocence of their age. And it was so soothing, so refreshing.
We were not just exchanging stories, not just ideas. But love. Not between an adult and a child, but between two souls.