People take on a variety of roles and responsibilities in life. Some become academicians and businessmen, others consultants, teachers, and technocrats. But it is storytellers who have always intrigued me the most.
Storytellers are a special breed. What begins as just an idea in their head is poured over endless pages to form a vivid picture, a piece of the author’s heart, a story. Every time that story is read and reread, a new facet comes out.
It was my mother who introduced me to the world of stories. With each bite of aaloo parantha, she also fed me a staple diet of Usborne’s classic fairy tales. Bedtime would be incomplete without a reading of Panchtantra. Such short tales, such big lessons.
Good grades in school made me eligible to have a month’s supply of Archie comics. As I graduated from primary school to the secondary wing, so did my love for St Clare’s to Mallory Towers. I gained and lost many friends during tumultuous teens but Enid Blyton remained my constant companion.
In my 20s, I read ‘Maximum City’, saw Mumbai through Suketu Mehta’s eyes, and decided it was my favourite city in the world. ‘Dongri to Dubai’ by Hussain Zaidi kept me up all night. I met “the man of my dreams” with Mills and Boons, long before Fawad Khan became a sensation. Shobha De’s ‘Starry Nights’ gave me a sneak peek into the dark, captivating world of the Indian film industry.
‘Forty Rules of Love’ by Elif Safak became my inhouse counsellor. A piece of my heart still lies with the abused and tormented Hasan of Khalid Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’. Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ taught me a simple yet profound lesson about what careless words did — make people love you a little less.
Since then, I’ve “known” many a writer. Reading someone’s work is almost like knowing them at a personal level. A reader establishes a strange yet wonderful connection with the author. With every word, one hears a voice. With every sound, one paints a picture. How powerful are storytellers! They engage, bind, and transport us to a different world. American literary scholar Jonathan Gottschall puts it beautifully: “We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”
Storytelling is a little bit of magic. Only instead of a waving a magic wand, you weave a story — an inspiring, gripping, enchanting story, woven with words from the heart.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor