Rituparna Goswami Pande
After a fruitful trip to Upper Assam, our car was racing homeward via NH 37, spanning a distance of almost a thousand kilometres as the scenes and landscapes kept altering between lush tea gardens, verdant paddy fields and tall betel nut trees with the sun keeping a steady eye on us sometimes peeping from the groves, or amidst the clouds often ahead of the mountains inspiring the shutter bug in me to go ‘click, click’ on every turn... And then it finally bid adieu to us around Kolia bhumura, leaving us to our own machinations from there on wards....
The headlights were turned on at dusk and I noticed how our chauffeur of many decades muttered asilent prayer before switching on the lights.
Meanwhile, Sonny was gradually losing his over enthusiasm and the long journey was takinga toll onhis exuberance....
“Let me tell you a story,” said his aaita (grandmother), which immediately grabbed his attention and he inched closer to listen to the story.... “Once upon a time there was a monkey and a Tukura Sorai...”
The mention of the Tukura sorai immediately sent me into another journey back into time into my childhood when I used to eagerly wait for my mother every Sunday afternoon when she would be home and I would patiently wait for her to finish the chores in the kitchen and join me for her afternoon siesta.
I always insisted on the same story of the Tukura Sorai, my favourite bedtime story.
I was transported back into time on a rainy afternoon to our old house in the riverside... I could clearly envision our old room with the window right beneath the Jamun tree....A few white Jamuns lay beside me on an old newspaper freshly picked a few minutes ago,the pastel polka dotted curtains fluttering as the ceiling fan sent waves of air around the room, and there I laid beside my mom as she softly ruffled my curls....
“And the Tukurasorai sat inside the comforts of her small nest as the rains lashed outside.... and she called out to the monkey huddled in a branch drenched and shivering...” said my mom, continuing with the story as I closed my eyes and dozed off on that beautiful afternoon.
The car was speeding ahead only to screech to a halt to narrowly miss hitting a calf which suddenly seemed to appear from nowhere. “Let’s go slow, dada. I told our driver,“Wedon’t have any train to catch.It’s better to drive slow and enjoy the view and manoeuvre the car safely around the cows who are lost in their thoughts in the middle of the highway without a care in the world”.
Meanwhile, mom was wrapping up the story as my son, her grandchild lay fast asleep leaning on her shoulders. She gently put his head on her lap and comforted him as we moved ahead in silence...
Story telling was such an integral part of our childhood and bedtimes used to be especially assigned for story sessions. My mother used to improvise and add new dimensions to the old stories making each session better than the previous. Even grandmothers, uncles and aunts, etc. used to regale us with tales of the Ramayana or Mahabharata,etc to keep us entertained.
Sadly, these days the children are found mostly in front of TV screens, mobiles, tabs or video games. Screen time has totally hijacked story telling sessions.Story telling is a tradition that has been handed down to us through generations, handing down knowledge and lessons via the words of mouth. Our tradition of storytelling facilitates a transfer of knowledge. Such stories teach us many important values and children gain a lot from it.
However, television has marred the earlier appeal of storytelling with children preferring to remain glued to the television screen rather than listening to stories. But this trend has done more damage than good as substituted storytelling or reading with TV watching binges. This often leave children tired and stressed and lazy. This also diminishes their cognitive levels.
Too much time in front of screens isn't doing any good to the brain – or your health – any favours. Apart from a sense of instant gratification, it only disrupts one’s sleep quality and leaves them feeling groggy if it makes inroads into one’s daily routine.However, reading, on the other hand, is more likely to improve one’s sleep and not to mention the long term benefits that it brings. For kids, television has a tendency of quickly turning into a form of addiction.Therefore,
it becomes imperative for parents to involve kids in outdoor activities or other pastimes other than screen timings. Other things involving the practice useful skills, like reading, exercising, being creative, or playing a sport would help them in the long run.Limiting television time and encouraging healthy TV habits is a must if we want our children to be away from the addictive habit of television.
Meanwhile, the Tukura Sorai story was coming to an end but the saga of my walk down memory and had just begun as I went back into nostalgia mode with the memories stirred by the Tukura sorai and the timeless appeal of stories intertwined with memories...