Saturday, May 08, 2010

when words are never enough....

Everyone in town knew our home. A newcomer to the hamlet just had to follow the sound of laughter and it would lead him straight to The Storyteller. Nobody knew where his stories came from but he had a tale for every occasion and for every emotion. Some claimed he wrote them himself; others felt The Goddess of Stories lived on his tongue. I made him open his mouth one night but all I could see was a pink tongue. No sign of any Goddess.

"Did you eat her, Thatha?" I asked.
He just laughed aloud in his inimitable style...his wrinkles dancing to the tune of his infectious laughter.

Every morning he woke up before dawn, bathed in the brook outside the house and said his prayers sitting under the banyan tree. Except for a steaming cup of coffee, he ate nothing until his prayers were done. The routine never changed, in sickness and in health. But before even the first morsel of food was tasted, a crowd would mill around him begging for stories. Thatha always said yes.

There was magic in his voice...the kind of magic which brought Kings and Gods to life and made them sit amongst little children and every day folks; the kind of magic that was a soothing balm to troubled hearts; the kind of magic that lived long after the story was told. But he wasn't just a storyteller. He wove baskets as colourful as his tales, knitted scarves as soft as his touch and cooked delicious meals that made you wish you had another stomach just so you could eat some more.

His stories guided me as I grew wings and flew to fancier abodes. Far from a sleepy hamlet I created my own stories but they lacked the Magic his had. My Princes sulked on paper and the elephants could barely lift their trunks. I whispered to them, sang to them but nothing could make them come alive. What did the Storyteller sprinkle over his stories?

Finally, one day I packed my bags and made my way back to The Storyteller's village. A silent town greeted me. No laughter to guide me to The Storyteller's abode. I sat under the banyan tree and waited. Hours stretched into days, still no sign of him.

Where do the stories go when The Storyteller is no more? Do they turn into the mist that takes him to Story heaven? Do they weep for their master and then shrivel and die? or do they lie forgotten until someone calls to them for comfort?

I closed my eyes as a gentle breeze caressed me. The banyan tree whispered something in my ears. When I opened my eyes, I saw a small boy sitting in front of me, a yearning in his eyes. I smiled.

"Once upon a time, in a sleepy hamlet, there lived a magician. A magician who can spin a tale out of thin air..." A small crowd began to gather around and soon a ripple of giggles spread across the town.

Storytellers don't die. Not as long as there is someone to tell a story.
His story.
Our stories.

P. S: Dedicated to the only storyteller I ever knew. I miss you, Thatha.

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