Stories one grows up with :-)

Recently a friend of mine, who is in her early thirties, was asked by a teenager: “so, did you have an iPad while growing up?” while a little taken aback by this question, my friend scrambled for a suitable response; then responded: “no, I grew up with stories”! While she was recounting this incident to me, her face glowed with the memory of the stories she grew up with and how this event in a way, brought them back to her life.

As I sat and listened to this, I remembered stories that I remember growing up with. Stories from Bengali folk tale and folk lore – the earliest one told to me by my maternal grandmother – an essential ploy she used to keep me sleeping next to her in the afternoons.

She told me stories of a large bird, a Kite perhaps, who brought up a human baby as her own. I listened to her, almost not breathing, wondering how did the kite managed the feat, while snuggling close to my grandmother, smelling her paan and betelenut mixed breath while she spoke. My chest hurt as I listened to the story as I knew that eventually the kite would be killed by the king or the trader whose son she was bringing up …. my mother’s then recent death compounded that feeling, I am sure now.

My childhood was mostly lonely in a house full of people – books and stories were my closest friends in many a afternoons and early evenings, specially so since I rarely kept good health. My high fevers and bad cough were almost always accompanied by a long thin slice of Cadburry chocolate wrapped in dark violet wrapper brought by my father, and a book that I managed to take out from the stack of old magazines and books that my aunt so ferociously protected. some of those afternoons would be filled with the Russian fairy tales – of Vasilisa the princess and her magic doll, Baba Yaga the witch, and Ivan, the lazy, dirty youngest son of the peasant who just had to jump through the ears of his favourite horse to metamorphosed into a handsome prince.

Stories were also with people – the domestic helps at home who came from Medinipore and other districts of Bengal had their own stories to tell – of their homes, of ghosts, of Gods and Goddesses and of the paddy fields.

Abanindranath Tagore filled my fantasy world with wonderful painted words, of dolls made with condensed milk, of goddess of birth and babies, of sad, exiled queen and her vary clever monkey son who came to her rescue. Or his other book, “Raj Kahini” – stories of tribal kings and Rajput kings and prince and princesses, temple priests and untold love stories.

Goldilocks and the three bears – my sympathies always rested with the little baby bear whose porridge was eaten and whose chair was broken by Goldilocks …..

the science fiction of Ray, the biography of Leela Majumdar, the Bengali cartoons of many myriad characters….. can not name them all.

So many many of these stories I grew up with…. they made me feel at home, warm, secure and comforted as though I belonged to them, and they to me.

what about you? what stories did you grow up with?

woman, mother, thinker, citizen of the world, curious and hopeful about the world, generous, opinionated, argumentative, insightful, intuitive, psychotherapist, executive coach and organisation consultant

11 thoughts on “Stories one grows up with :-)

  1. Lovely entry Sharbori. So stories that I grew up with were mainly bangla and russian. bangla had Dokhkhinaronjon Mitramajundar’s Thakumar jhuli with Lalkomol and Neelkomol and all the ‘hau mau khau’ of the rakhkhosh es, the lake where deep within nagkonnya rules and the brahmon brahmoni who were kind of travelers. Vostok publications had all these russian tales translated into bangla. somehow i only remember the pictures and not so much the stories. then mashi and goapl told me their stories from their villages – katoa and dumka. stories of a pumpkin’s sad life and those of monkeys and goddeses that protected you like ‘Bipodtarini’. Then Ismael had his own share of stories about jihns and paris who could tempt you and turn you into a lamb if you were not careful or did not finish your lunch 🙂 once i started reading there were other stories too Ray, leela majundar, abanindronath and then of course the tenida, ghanada etc. kishor shahityo or literature for the young was such a strong genre then in bangla. i started reading a little bit of english too later, but mostly classics and forbidden books. i got my hands on Lolita, lady chatterley’s lover (which i was thought was lady chatterjee) and the bangla ones like projapoti and bibor! i got caught once in school when i was in class 6 for reading pages of one such book and i remember proudly telling the nuns that my mother never stopped me from reading anything. they were not happy.

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    • @Arundhati: hey, thank you for sharing your stories … they are so familiar and one can add more and more I am sure. E.g Dumka reminds me of “Holde Pakhir Palok” by Leela Majumdar and the character Jhoru from Dumka who talks about the gods and goddresses from his village and the mythical yellow bird!, then Lady Chatterjee (sic) of course and Shibram Chakraborty and Handa Bhonda and Premendra Mitra and …… I can go one and on.

      and of course in pre teen and during teen age the so called “nishidhho sahitya” of Samaresh Bosu and others ….

      thank you for sharing a piece of your life. love.

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  2. It’s interesting that I don’t recall any stories ever being told to me..in fact the family joke as stories go is of one that I narrated often,that would apparently never end, but one line would tiringly repeat itself over and over again.
    I would read a lot..that was something my parents always indulged. But today my niece demands she be told stories and the few that I have shared are ones that I have made up…would never be able to repeat them 🙂

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    • @vandy: hey vandy, this is an interesting story in itself. Perhaps there is a story waiting to be told and your niece is the catalyst who is insisting that you finally write your story. Go for it vandy panda!!!

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  3. the stories that I remember from my child hood days is a series of short novels in tamil about the adventures of a prince and his magical side kick (so small that he can hide in the prince’s pocket). I remember once I asked some help at my fathers office to find out whether there are still horses and elephants living in the fort (in Vellore).
    I learnt tamil by reading the famous tamil weeklies and the it would be a rush every friday to be the first one to get the Kumudam and Ananda Vikatan. The first things we would read would be the Vikatan jokes!

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    • @jeyavelu: thank you Velu for your story. the small side kick of the prince has kindred spirits in Bengali and other stories too. One was called “Buro Angla” – a boy so small that his height was equal to the thumb of an adult human being – the thumb in Bengali being called “buro angul” 🙂

      And we had pocket books of murder mysteries which were available on the local paan and cigarette shops, written by one Mr. Swapan Kumar. His detectives usually wore big bulky overcoats and hats with pipes hanging from their lips (a la you know who) and the murderers and dacoits would feature in stories that were truly “hair raising” 🙂 Among friends these pocket books were exchanged and competition was about who has read most of the Swapan Kumar stories!! Many evenings of mine in school hostel were spent in being punished for reading Swapan Kumar stories, rather than studying.

      thank you for bringing those memories back. 🙂

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  4. I grew up with fairy tales — Grimms, mostly. The Chandamama was a favourite too. I read it in Tamil. In my grandparents’ house there was a room with shelves full of books and comics — Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Little Dot and Richie Rich among others . Many a hot summer afternoon was spent in that room browsing and devouring them. But the best stories were those of Ramayana and Mahabharatha, which my elder brother told me, with emotion and high drama 🙂

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    • @Zephyr: as always, lovely to hear from you. Oh Mandrake and Narda and Lothar, sigh, I have spent many a afternoons with them. Always felt sad for Richie Rich though. thank you for sharing your stories.

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