SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Uthara writes too!

This is Uthara's original story. Even though, a moral at the end seems to be mandatory for her, I like her thought process...so here goes..( I have not edited any grammatical/spelling errors!!)
Uthara is my daughter, age-7 1/2!

Story No.1
Who Is The Greatest?

In a big house in the Dining Table there was a cup of Tea, Coffe,Milk. the coffe and the tea were discusing Who was greatest. "I am the gratest because I am the latest drink" said the coffe.
"I was there even befor british came also". But cup of milk kept quiet.
Then a boy came and drank the cup of milk!
The cup coffe was very sad, the cup of tea too.
But next secend the boy's mother and father came and drank the drinks.
the father drank the tea and the mother drank the coffe.
cups were so happy, they all said to each other now on words we both are best of friends.
the moral of the story is Everybody is the same.


Story No.2
(based on an idea given by her father!)
Nothing
Once in a village there lived a man who was carrying a Heavy bag. Another man came passing by him. he felt sorry to him, so He said "shall I help you?" The other man said "Ok".
Then you have to give me something said the other man. but the man told "i'll give you NOTHING".
the man kept the log on the place
and said " Now give that nothing"
the other man said "Nothing is Nothing you can't have it".
But then the two people started to fight. At last they decided to go to the head of the village.
The head asked "What is the problem?" The men told the whole story. And the head thought -this man is mad He wants nothing!
the head said- you there come here now, then tell me what is under the carpet?
the man said "nothing".
head said "then take that and go"
the man was disappointed,
the problem was solved!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Having a blast at my special school...!





Yep! I had a blast!
Today was the culmination of my efforts in storytelling for this term at my special school. Over the last 4 months, I've been doing one story with the special children in the Non-Formal educational group, every Thursday.( Non- formal implies that these children, who have cerebral palsy and other associated disabilities like mental retardation/sensory impairments, get training in a number of life skills, along with some functional literacy skills.)
Every week it was a challenge selecting a story for this group. The story had to be simple and realistic enough for them to relate to. Fantasy doesn't work, as it has no meaning, long plots also have no value.
Finally out of all the stories done, it was Varsha who decided that it would be the story of the Milkman's Cow. Varsha is a shy, reserved, non-verbal teenager, and when i started off with these sessions, she would be looking elsewhere, not interested, just not connecting.
Then I did Milkman's Cow, and Varsha just enjoyed herself thoroughly! She called me close to her and made me show her the pictures, looked at every character, making a specific action for each. Her class teacher was so excited at her involvement, that she was communicating so spontaneously with gestures that she drew out the entire story onto another book, and had Varsha tell the story. .
So when it came to selecting a story for the show, I wanted to do this as it was this story that had connected me with her.
Every one of the class children participated. As we assigned roles, some children demanded to do certain roles. The narrator was selected, the milkman, the cow, policeman, vegetable women, cobbler, ice cream man, peanut seller, muscle man, and finally a small boy who manages to make the cow get up from the middle of the road by offering it grass, where all the others fail! Simple, effective story.
We practiced it for 4 sessions and on the final day everyone of us got on stage, with costume and make up.
Some glitches were there, mike wires running everywhere, so wheelchairs could not move, some of the characters would not talk unless the mike was placed near their mouth! But the show got done, claps and appreciation were received. We all heaved a sigh of...relief!

The other part of the show was the LKG/UKG group, who did the story of Baby Jesus, followed by Santa and Jingle bells! I condensed the entire story of Nativity to 4 lines.
The children had just 4/5 simple lines to work with:
This is the story of Baby Jesus
I am Mary/I am Joseph
We go to Bethlehem.
We take Baby Jesus( from an angel!)
We are 3 kings(enter the kings),
We carry gifts to Baby Jesus
We carry toys, dresses, and Video games(!!!),(that last input by a child who insisted on it!)
Chaos reined, as one of the sheep( child in costume), refused to sit down and insisted on roaming around the stage and distracting all!
Very entertaining, but a tad tedious for our older audience, who found all the disturbances very.....disturbing!!
Anyway we had a great time putting it together, so what if the end was not as effective! This was the first time for the kids, they did a great job....!

Nivedita playing the fur elise




Nivedita played the fur elise by Beethoven. I was floored! She played it with such elan and panache. Who doesn't recognise that melody?
Such a confident young girl she has become, I cannot resist writing about her!
I've seen her 6/7 years back in 1st standard. Naughty, talkative, smart, and very people savvy, she was everyone's darling.
I am seeing her now, and I guess she must be about 15/16 years old...
She looks smart, and savvy, and plays the synthesizer like a pro! She is really an inspiration for me. I look at her parents, and admire them. What a fantastic job they have done, they have raised her so well inspite of all the odds.
You see Nivedita studies in a special school, and has Cerebral palsy. A condition which affects her mobility and coordination.
We need to make such children true champions of this world, give them awards, rewards and accolades. Talk about them every where, so that we can all learn to appreciate life!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elegy to a loved one....

People were her lifeline. She wanted them and likewise they too were attracted to her. Her charm and common sense, her piety and her calm, were there for all to imbibe and to emulate.
They say a woman is the back bone of the family; she can make it or break it.
This lady was the matriarch of our family. Her kind and gentle demeanor was only a facade for an assertive and stubborn personality.
She laid the rules, the values, the religious rituals to be followed. All laid down by her dictum.
Don’t mistake me, she was not dictator, but I can call her a benevolent despot!!
She grew old, her roots firm and secure, enclosed in the protective fold of her son’s family she could now lead a retired life. Handing over all her responsibilities and her chores into the competent and capable hands of her daughter in law, albeit reluctantly, she immersed herself in piety and worship.
The first blow came when grandfather passed away.
The red dot on the forehead of a married woman is her proud declaration of “pativrata”, of her dedication and distinction.
It was taken away from her.
What she feared most in her life had happened. She was not to be given the gift of dying a “sumangali.” Her prayers had fallen on deaf ears.
She bore this too with her customary dignity. But her thoughts were tortured. Her mind would swirl with the unfairness of all that had happened. But the thought that no one can change vidhi (fate), was her only solace.

4 years passed this way, she was now confined to a room. Yearning for attention, she would call as we crossed the room. To give us small inane jobs, to keep us near her, to talk to us, she tried in many subtle and blatant ways.
We had no time for her.
Life was a roller coaster, a hundred new things to be done, a hundred different ideas to be explored. There was no time,… no time to sit and chat with an old lady.
We wanted to finish the job and quickly run from there. We could not understand her need, her loneliness.

Her greatest fear was that she would have to face death alone.

Her decline happened slowly. A year on the bed and a week in coma. She was sinking and we knew that. Knowing her fear for being alone, we tried to keep her company, took turns to stay with her, sat in her room, doing our work, or close enough to monitor her every move.

It just happened that we took a rare day off and decided to got out for the evening, leaving her, not alone, but with her college going grandson.

We don’t know when it happened. Which was the exact moment when her life passed, passed into eternity, but it happened that night, and not one of us were next to her.

My brother was there at the door step, tense and expectant. Quick phone calls were made to the doctor, as I made my way into the room and touched her. Cold and lifeless, she lay there on that bed.

I stroked her cheek, and all the love and affection, scolding and admonishments that she had heaped on us, flashed through my mind.
The end is innocuous, taking us silently or violently, but ultimately we will only remain as memories in the minds of those we leave behind. Whether those memories are sad or happy or angry depends solely on how we had chosen to lead our lives.

For this grand dame, death had finally released her from bondage. But she is not gone for ever, for we as her loved ones, carry a piece of her in us always, and we in turn will pass it on to our loved ones.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Arul's "Little Monster"



Guess what I did this week for my story session. Yes, you are absolutely right! I did "Little Monster". Arul's maiden venture into the world of magical story writing. It was simply a great hit!
The children from all 7 classes, just lapped it up like cream. They connected with all the characters and names, especially "Snewalot", from where the wicked witch comes, was one of their favorites.I just had the book with me this time, and drew the 3 main protagonists on some colored paper, just so that the kids could see it in a bigger frame.
Not one class would let me stop. If there were any interruptions then some other child would shush him/her up and say, "Please Aunty, continue!"
I stopped at chapter 9 drawing loud protests from all, and said "To be continued". "No aunty, don't stop, not fair", were all the words hurled at me. Sweet Pleasure!
Children showed a good grasp of vocabulary, they knew, "quest", "armor", "gargoyle" etc
I also learned that there were many in the class who wrote stories, poems. Children nowadays have great opportunities, they only need to utilize them well and channelize into the right path.
Arul is lucky to have a grandfather who converted his creativity into some thing so tangible and concrete. Not everyone has that chance.
I continue the story next week and I have promised the children that they can go through the printed book slowly.
What a win-win situation for me.I'm lucky to find work that I love to do!

Footnote: Arul is my 12 year old nephew. He wrote this book last year (2007), and it was published by his grandfather (my father!). So you can call it a full fledged Home Production!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Story with Tangrams




So this is my second week with a story,for my weekly assignment at a school. I knew what I wanted to do. Something with Tangrams. The Tangram is a fun/educational idea developed in China. If you have children then you would have definitely come across this. It can keep children occupied for hours. It has 7 pieces having a definite shape. A square, parallelogram, and the rest triangles of different sizes. The whole point is to create figures with these shapes and it can be fascinating. So browsing through the net I found a nice story with Tangrams. Its about a grandfather telling his grand daughter a story with Tangrams, the main characters in this story are fox fairies!
So I made the Tangram pieces with paper, got them photocopied and stuck them onto A4 sheets. Now I wanted to display this. When I tell the story, I want the sheets to be displayed on the table (standing). So I went around looking for an easel or a stand. The stationary shop had what I wanted, but the cost was way beyond my budget for this.
I just let my eyes roam around the shop and voila I hit on what I wanted. A box file. The sheets went neatly into the file, and I could make it stand by bending it backward. So cheap and effective.
Monday morning is chaos but the adrenalin is worth it. Children had some idea about Tangrams, but had never seen it used in a story. They were fascinated. Some children from the 4th std especially were not impressed! Yet I could see that the children were taken in by the idea of using the Tangram for a story.
Now what happens is that the class teacher sits in the class, as the story session is going on , so I have not much difficulty managing the children. But when the class teacher is not there, the children just take me for a ride!
I love to make my sessions interactive, so I keep asking questions in between. In a classroom, I guess the children feel it is their space so the exchange will not subside easily, and I have to really work hard to bring their focus back to the story. Time being limited to 40minutes I have to really manage it well. I have to complete the story, get a feedback from them, and make them record the story in their books, along with an activity that I have planned.So that's a lot of "ands" that have to be fulfilled within a short time.
Regular classroom storytelling is fun, interesting and challenging.