Monday, June 08, 2009

Bonding with kids

-->Read Mr Bond to kids at easylibrary this Sunday morning.

The minute Vani asked if I’d read Ruskin Bond to kids, I thought of The Night the Roof Blew Off , that is, after I said 'yes' to her. I had loved to read it to Chulbul when she was little and to myself, at all sizes. 
…snowflakes…settling on picture frames, statuettes and miscellaneous ornaments. Mundane things like a glue bottle and a plastic doll took on a certain beauty when covered with soft snow. The clock on the wall stopped and with its covering of snow reminded me of a painting by Salvador Dali. And my shaving brush looked ready for use!
But it was long and descriptive for her wide-age-group (ages 6-12 years) audience so I decided to start with A Tiger in the House, sneak in a ghost story (nothing very scary, complaining parents, my only deterrent) in between - The Haunted Bicycle seemed safe; and close with a tree story, the beautiful The Cherry Tree that ends with the philosophical, ‘Just one small seed,…. ‘I wonder, …is this what it feels to be God?’
After the tiger story there was a small discussion on why Grandfather calls the tiger Timothy, knowing Timothy was dead. The Children were unanimous in their belief that Grandfather thought the keeper was lying! I had never thought of that and tried to lightly introduce the idea that perhaps Grandfather didn't want to believe that Timothy was dead or that all tigers were as dear to him. There were no takers :( So the question that perhaps we are making them grow up more ‘cautious’,  distrustful (?) than necessary, is niggling still.
The Haunted Bicycle left them wide-eyed and wanting. Before I read the story, we discussed that ghosts were creatures of our imagination. I read out a humorous intro from The Ruskin Bond Omnibus, ending with ‘Ghost stories are meant to frighten you, but at the back of your mind you know it’s all a nightmare from which you are going to wake. In other words, it’s a “safe” fear and you can enjoy the process of being frightened. More than them, it put me at ease.
So? I asked. What was it? Buffaloes? Not wanting to put the G word into their heads. Ghosts! They were positive!! How can buffaloes talk? How can they ride bicycles? Why not? I insisted but between a ghost and a buffalo, the latter does seem like an insipid choice, really. 

Before reading The Cherry Tree, we talked about fruit and seed. How mummy tells them that if they swallow the pip/seed, a tree would grow out of them.
I forgot to ask if they imagined it coming out of their tummies (like I did) or from the head as was more likely? Flowing with their fantastic ideas, I said it would be wonderful to pluck fruit off each other and eat. But a 7 year old cringed at the idea, she was certain the fruit would have spit on it! They also wondered about mud and manure and I assured them there was enough inside. Ten-year old Neethi wondered if they should occasionally go out in the sun and stand with their mouths open to let in the sunlight! :D

In the light of this discussion, THIS was very alarming! So if you can't be bothered with spitting out the seeds, listen to mum and CHEW YOU FOOD!
The kids wanted more. A 'Ghost' story was the certain choice! So a scary ghost story it was – A Face in the Dark. The finale, raw fear and all. We did not stop to talk about it. Fear of ghosts is a good thing. I’m smiling.
PS: Everyone’s favorite RJ Vasanthi Hariprakash, the Sunshine Girl of the Radio City heydays came with her son :)

1 comment:

  1. Vandana Hunma12:42 PM

    Wow, what a lovely time you people had. Imagine and explore imagination.
    Now I understand why I never got trees popping out of my head. I hadn’t sunlight the sprouts and they shriveled inside my tummy. Ooops.
    I am concerned about the lying hypothesis, that too from such young children. We could never lie or even think of anyone lying because there was always a fear that if nani learns of this, she will make us wash our tongue with cow dung!