The Storyteller


Many years ago, there was an inquisitive child. He loved to hear stories. Every year during school vacations when he visited his hometown in Kerala, he would spend days at the house of “the storyteller”. The storyteller was none other than his aunt. She would narrate him stories of mysterious happenings, which would have invariably unfolded close to her house. Hence, the banyan tree near the entrance, the abandoned mill at a distance or the incessant barking of stray dogs at night were all part of her stories.

The stories ranged from ghostly apparitions to alien invasions and from witch hunts to haunted houses. But it was not the story per say which would keep the child engaged. It was the way in which they were being told. The impact of which was so great that the child would be unable to sleep at night. Every time the trees swayed in the wind or the dogs howled at night, a shiver would go down his spine.

Although, the stories left him frightened, he would still be keen to hear more. The sheer brilliance of the storytelling kept him engaged. When he went back to the city after his vacations, he would narrate these stories to his school friends and observe their reaction closely. He tried to imitate his aunt as much as he could and when he managed to grab their attention his joy knew no bounds. This would go on for days until he heard the next interesting story.

That little child was me.

But my aunt wasn’t the only great storyteller in my life. My mother who told me the first stories I ever heard, my father who narrated stories of his travels across the country, my classmate who told me about his heartbreak and the movies which mesmerized me were all equally great storytellers. When I close my eyes for a minute and recall all the memorable incidents of my life, these moments figure prominently in my recollections.

Now, let me urge you to go back to your childhood. Weren’t there great storytellers in your life just like my aunt? I am sure there were. Those people in your lives who would have told you fabulous tales of magical brooms, haunted castles, fairy godmothers, divine interventions and devious poltergeists. We are sometimes guilty of undermining the contribution of these people in our lives. For the stories we hear often shape our thinking. Sometimes even determine our actions. But most importantly they make our otherwise mundane lives interesting.

If you don’t believe me, the next time someone narrates you an interesting incident that happened in your colony, make an effort to notice the excitement that it kindles within you. In other words, we might still be surrounded by good story tellers, without us even realizing their value in our lives.

If weekend parties were only about the booze, don’t you think it would be boring? Isn’t it also about that one friend in the gang who has interesting stories to narrate? So next time, you are in the company of friends, relatives or colleagues; ask yourself who is the great storyteller in this group? Acknowledge his or her role in your life.

Jimmy Neil Smith, founder and president emeritus of the International Storytelling Center said, “We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”


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