Kalyanaraman Durgadas

Adventures of a grand father

Anagi is my granddaughter who is all of three and a bit. Her recent arrival with her brother Ruby (adventures with Ruby is a story for another day) has improved my self-awareness beyond belief.
I know of men objectifying women. But, Anagi chooses to objectify herthatha (that’s me). She climbs onto my neck, using my shoulder as a ladder step to reach some portions of the whiteboard to gaw (draw).
“Gaw me a girl!” Anagi commands.
I recall my childhood drawing skills and draw one.
“Gaw me a baby!”
I start gawing — I mean drawing — a baby next to the girl.

Anagi snatches the whiteboard marker from me and gives me a look of exasperation which plainly seems to say —
“Don’t you know anything thatha?” Her voice matches her expression.
“Gaw a baby doll.” Now she speaks with her normal voice.
She looks at me once more to ensure that I understand.
I draw a baby doll in the girl’s hands.
Anagi takes the marker back, draws a cloud and some rain.
“Now, gaw a umbrella.”
I draw an umbrella over the girl’s head.
“You forgot the baby.” This is accompanied by a reproachful look.
I dutifully draw an umbrella over the doll.
Anagi steps back and looks at the drawing critically. She draws a strand of hair on the doll’s head saying — “It’s a girl baby, thatha.” Her voice is full of understanding and pity.

“She is playing,” Anagi says.

I draw a skipping rope in the girl’s hands.
Suddenly her hands are spread wide.
“I want toys, lots, lots, lots and lots of toys,” she says.
I draw a few toys including a bicycle.
She rubs off part of the bicycle and says —
“The bicycle is broken. Gaw many many many toys.”
I draw as many ‘toys’ as possible, looking around the room for inspiration.
“That’s not a toy. It’s a taar.” Anagi gives me a pitying look but makes no move to erase the star.
She looks at the drawing it for a while and says —
“Now gaw mommy clearing it all up!”
I am stumped.

If you liked the above, you may want to recommend it.

Dad, Tell me a story…

Are you a parent/ grandparent who is stumped when your child/ grandchild asks you for a story every night? If so, the post is just right for you. And I can tell you; it really works.
I hit upon the idea of interactive stories one night when my son after seven straight nights of made-up stories wanted a new story and my muse was on vacation.
“Once upon a time, (All my stories started with ‘once upon a time’. If I varied my opening hook, my son would complain, ’that’s not a story, Pa.’) there was this blue bird who always wanted to be a pink bird. All the fellow birds laughed at him and said, ‘what does it matter?’ He was not convinced. One day, he was feeling particularly low and was crying as he was flying.
He accidentally looked down and saw a large vat. He saw that it was full of something pink. It was actually a dye that the dyer had prepared for coloring his clothes. On an impulse, he dived into it. When he emerged — he was pink — the color he always wanted to be. He was deliriously happy when he went to bed that night and closed his eyes and slept.”
If my son thought it strange that all my stories ended with someone sleeping, he did not mention it. I must mention here that my son remembered every story I told him in meticulous detail and repeating a story to him was fraught with danger. He would start crying if I used a slightly different pitch for the rhino’s voice.The next night I told him. “I am going to tell you the story of the happy bird. What color do you want the bird to be when it starts out?”
He would say, “Red”
“What color do it want to be?”
“Noe here’s the story of the red bird that always wanted to be a blue bird…”
I am sure you get the drift.
Over time, I developed a number of template stories. For instance, about the <boy> who was a little scared of the dark. One day when <he> was walking through the forest, <he> began to be afraid. Then there was this <high-pitched> voice that said, “do not be afraid.” He turned around saw that it was a <hippopotamus> It walked with <him> all the way to <his> home and saw him off at his doorstep. It then gave him a <magic ring> and said, “I will come whenever you need me all you have to do is to <rub> this <magic ring>.” He was deliriously happy and lay on his bed, closed his eyes and slept.

I guarantee that if you use this technique, you will never ever again run out of stories.