I had copied the following words from somewhere in one of my old diaries – I used to record my favourite quotes and passages those days.
You may have tangible wealth untold,
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold,
Richer than I you could never be;
I know someone who told stories to me.
Reading it now, I was intrigued about the author of these lines. I googled it and was even more intrigued. These lines were attributed to Cynthia Pearl Maus. And the same lines with a different ending were attributed to Strickland Gillilan. It ended thus: “ I had a Mother who read to me.”
I do not know who was the real author of the said lines. But I could identify with Cynthia Pearl’s verse as I know someone who told stories to me – My father. He was a good story teller. He would patiently weave stories, bring before our eyes the characters and we would be transported to strange worlds. Tom Sawyer, Gulliver’s travels, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Robin Hood, Water Babies, Mahabharat and so many other stories that he made up in a jiffy – I only have to close my eyes and I can see my father recount the stories in measured tones and the children utterly captivated by the mesmerising tales.
I never tired of listening to two stories – Merchant of Venice and A Tale of two cities. Shylock and his bitter speech would be told in glorious detail and though life at that age was seen only in black and white, he tried to describe the shades of grey. I understood the anguish of Shylock much later and could commiserate with him now. As for A Tale of two cities, apart from Sidney Carton and Miss. Manette, Evremonde is somehow etched in my mind. The story of Evremonde running his chariot over a peasant boy, and then throwing a coin to the peasant, the girl with brain fever mumbling all the time, Dr.Manette hunched over making shoes and Sydney Carton facing the guillotine are so vivid in my imagination, as if I had seen the entire novel happen.
Story telling is an art. It calls for patience, imagination, involvement and most of all love for the listener. It is entirely due to him, that I have developed a voracious appetite for books and an unending thirst for knowledge. I am sustained by what I read and learn. My father has thus given me the one most valuable gift – a treasure for which I am thankful to him. So I knew someone who told stories to me and made me richer than I could ever hope to be.