We are all storytellers. Sometimes we know it sometimes we don’t. Each story we tell becomes a catalyst for another, it becomes a vital tool of healing, of reconnecting with each other and with past. Telling stories completes us , it makes us whole. Sometimes holding a story within can be an agonizing experience, a story sometimes seeks release so a person can live. It is cathartic as well as therapeutic to share stories. Memories form a large chunk of story telling. Growing up listening to “memory stories ” as I called them helped me connect to my parents’ legacy , the life and times they lived in. It brought alive people, events, places, smells and aromas transporting me to another time another place. It was a very liberating experience. These “memory story” sessions are one of my cherished memories. My father was mostly out-of-town and I had working mother so there weren’t many opportunities of spending quality family time. Many times something would trigger a conversation about some old memory and dad or mom would narrate something that happened when they were kids or in college. My parents especially my father was very interactive and we would sit and talk for hours. Even the most mundane events would turn into an interesting story and we would laugh and ponder and chortled over the incidents that took place years ago. Ma seldom got time for long conversations when I was a girl but later we spent a lot of time walking down the memory lane.
As a girl, mom and I would go to my maternal grandmother’s home in Pune and every evening and after dinner all the uncles and aunts and cousins would gather and talk about their time in Banaras (Rajghat Theosophical Society where mom and her siblings were born) and the conversations would turn to their childhood games, music, friends and neighbors and the bonding that everyone shared in those times. Everyone had time for each other. We children would either gather around , keep out heads on comfortable laps or just laze around on mattresses neatly arranged on the floor, and listen to the tales from their lives.
Sometimes we would get bored and have our own sessions of memory sharing. One kid (mostly the cry baby) would become the target of leg pulling and all those funny embarrassing moments from his/ her life would start pouring out in the midst of laughter and tears. For days we would tease the poor cousin. I was the lamb of sacrifice many times and was teased to death by older cousins.
I miss those times terribly. We were happy when we were young and then sadly we grew up.
I had those story telling sessions with my boys too. They had so much to share and I would listen to them and interact with them and maybe that is the reason we shed all inhibitions of being “mother sons” and became friends. These storytelling bonding times brought us closer. They instilled the trust and a feeling of security between us. A feeling of being there for each other.
I didn’t have my grandparents living close by and had none from dad’s side but my boys were lucky to have both sets of grandparents living nearby. Two completely different sets of people with vast cultural and social differences. They even belonged to different communities, different states and were a treasure-house of “memory stories ” . I think my boys had the best education at home. They learned what to shed and what to incorporate in their lives through the memories of their parents’ and grandparents’ life stories.
I believe sharing memories , good or bad , enriches our lives. These stories tell us of human lives, hopes, dreams, joys and sorrows across a vast spectrum of life. These memories help us to cope with loss, with our insecurities , with our past so we can live better today. They help us heal and know those we love better. They help us shape our own stories. These voices from the past help us understand so much about where we come from.
I always hunger for these “memory stories ” from people’s lives. Have some friends who have introduced me to people from their lives in such a way through their memories of them that I feel as if I have known them personally for years. They are the greatest storytellers. That is he impact of a good story-teller. To bring out a life incident in a story from that people can listen to or read and feel part of it is an art. My life is enriches by such people.
I love street stories too and the waiting room stories. I have met interesting people on the streets – street vendors, daily commuters, homeless people, locals waiting for public transport, workers on construction sites, rickshaw-pullers and cab drivers, people in waiting rooms of doctor’s clinics, hospitals, railway stations, hotel lobbies, restaurants, beauty parlors, malls and many such places who have recounted events from their lives, their memories of places they have been to or their experiences and trust me this people are the best story tellers. You will be surprised that the elderly are treasure chest of stories and very eager story tellers. They have so much to share and no one to share with. These people are the ‘human manuscripts’ that combine all the genre you can think of.
If you are a good story listener then you will never be alone, never be lonely and even if you hesitate someday you will be telling stories too. It goes hand in hand.
You just need to be receptive and a story will find its way to you or pull you to it.
I will tell you some Memory Stories in the next few posts and you can tell me your memory stories too.