Your Grand Mother’s Stories are Your Wealth

Do you remember, in your childhood, you had been requesting your grand mother to narrate some stories when you were going to bed? Her stories were full of the experience and some time, had many good things to follow. For generation, this tradition is being followed except in those cases where our circumstances have compelled us to lead nuclear family system. Somewhere, the work of story telling has been taken up by the professional story writers to fill up the vacuum created by the lapse of joint family system. Though active in smaller towns and villages, and brought to city-dwellers as part of ‘cultural’ or ‘art’ events, this tradition finds it difficult to remain significant; it’s hard if not impossible for young people to continue the tradition and choose it as a viable means of livelihood, so necessary for survival.
Through such stories, the wisdom of the world’s cultures have been preserved and conveyed, helping explain our world and our place in it – enabling us to develop as individuals, create community, solve problems, discover meaning, and teach, nurture and inspire younger generations. In ancient Ireland, a master-poet, sat next to the king and was privileged, as none but the queen was, to wear six different colors in his clothes. He also held the respected position of judge and seer, and tutored the king in morality. In Turkey and Azerbajjan, the singing storytellers or troubadours were called ashiks, a word from the Arabic meaning ‘lover’, which describes someone who is a musician, poet and storyteller.

While some storytelling traditions have died out, others continue. However, with the role and position of the tellers, and their basic means of livelihood eroded, their numbers have drastically dwindled. The loss is ours. In the Mali, Guinea and the Gambia, the jalis or griots were and are the community’s historians, with skills to draw a village or people closer – one known way is by “giving them courage” through the short stories orally delivered.

Of recent the world over, people are recognizing the power of storytelling and story-sharing in different arenas of life, and actively working to revive it. And some of the indicators of this revival take surprising forms. In Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani, the Storyteller’s Bazaar, professional storytellers recited ballads and tales of war and love to traders and soldiers crowding its many tea-shops each evening. Today, the place is known by the same name, but is full of traffic, shops and noise, with no tellers in sight. Still, in this busy market, storytelling recordings in the form of tapes and compact discs sell briskly, helping listeners to remember the past and tellers to find new audiences.

In the Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakesh, you can still find a teller or a halaka who recounts ancient stories handed down from generation to generation. A friend tells me, “Our young Moroccans would rather get their stories from TV soaps than listen to storyteller – much less become one themselves.”

Only six years ago there used to be around 20 or more halakis in the square, and now he finds barely half a dozen – and they are all very old. UNESCO has worked to try to save the stories as part of world’s oral heritage, even recording some of them on the internet, so modern technology may yet come to the rescue of these wondrous tales.

There is a good difference between a story teller and our Grand Mother. Story teller is always a professional whereas the stories by Grand Mother always intend for the betterment of their grand children.

Be Happy – Your Grand Mother’s Stories are Your Wealth.


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