The Storyteller

“Happiness is nothing if there is no sorrow sometimes, failures are also inspiring.” These days school openings are monumentalized with pomp and colour. Kids are happy to witness the school welcome ceremony. They are enjoying the comfort, the homely atmosphere, like a home away from home. Today, they desire to be at school, something attractive, not a dreadful place. All these changes are sudden, thanks to the psychological approach of the authorities at the helm.

Every morning before going to the Ezhuthupally (old traditional nursery schools) Ma, my mother used to beat me. Yes. You heard right. At times Ma also accompanied me with a stick in hand halfway to my school. I was afraid and reluctant to go to the Ezhuthupally. The figure of the Ashaan (Master) still stays fresh in my mind. Ashaan was a tall, heavy, and bald man. His eyes and mouth were reddish, he always chewed pan (sweet and sour nuts rolled in beetle leaves). There was no trace of compassion or love left with him. For me, walking inside the Ezhuthupally was equal to entering a butcher’s shop, and I thought of myself as a prey dragged in, to be slaughtered.

Waving a choral vadi (cane stick) in his hand he speaks and showers of red saliva sprinkle all over us kids. I was not at all in his good books as he never preferred crying kids. The thatched Ezhuthupally was the extension of Ashaan’s own house. It had no bench or desk. We sat on the sand-filled verandah. He wrote Malayalam alphabets on the sand. The first letter ‘Hari’ was ok for me to write, but the second letter ‘sree’ looked weird. I overwrite his scripture.

Despite how hard I embarked, I couldn’t construct it myself. After so many attempts Aashan got angry. He started pinching my thigh using a bit of sand in-between his fingers. I had always cried aloud with pain. Sometimes he used to whip me with the choral stick. He grabbed my forefinger and made me write on the sand forcefully. In the process, the tip of my finger got hurt, and blood began to ooze out.

It was hard to eat my lunch with my bruised hand. Though the ordeal was unbearable, I was afraid to share my woes with Maa. She believed such punishment from elders was always for the shining destiny of the kids. Usually, my cousin abetted me to the nursery. When she leaves I trotted after her crying. As days passes she was fed up with my behaviour and stopped accompanying me. Then the turn plunged into my elder sister. She dropped me off before going to her class and picked me up after class disburses.

On that fateful day while returning home, carrying a small tiffin box in one hand and holding my sister’s hand with the other hand a cycle hit me from behind. I fell on the metalled road, and that’s all I remember. When I became conscious, I felt the warmth of the hands wrapped around me, heard the rhythmic heartbeat like a delightful lullaby.

Holding me tightly Appa, my father was running towards the hospital. I didn’t feel any pain, instead, I felt I was flying. That incident was piteous. But I thought that the cyclist was a representative of the Almighty to succour me from my horrible ephialtes of the Ezuthupally. I stopped going there. I never saw the face of the master again in my life.

Appa bought me books with pictures instead of letters. He found time to introduce me to the world of letters in a beguiling way. he never rebuked me or punished me whenever I made mistakes. Even though he had only formal primary education, he was a master of multi-languages. He had shared with us enchanting bedtime stories.

Besides Malayalam, Appa read our stories of Ambilimama, Kalki, Kumudam, Rani, all Tamil periodicals to habitat us with other languages too. Gradually he stopped reading stories to us and presented a multi-lingual book for self-learning. This time, he corrected us whenever we made mistakes. Learning seems enjoyable. Thus, slowly, and steadily I was attracted to the world of engrossing evergreen stories.

Memories of endearment became sweeter when we have parted ways, sometimes forever. I often comprehended that my heavenly father is sitting in the middle of a group of glaring children and narrating galvanic stories to them.

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