I am constantly searching for really interesting stories to tell children. Now it is also true that the school I go to has storytelling right from 1st standard, so that means by the time they are in 4th standard they have heard ... a lot of stories!
I have an affinity for Indian stories. So keeping this in mind I was looking for a good Indian story. The difficulty in choosing a story is also because of the exposure that these children have to Amar Chitra Kathas, which are Indian Mythology/History stories in comic form. So my search requires that I spend many hours on the net, or going through actual books.
This time I chanced upon a book called Vikramaditya's Throne by Poile Sengupta. I read with increasing interest and the more I read, the more I liked it. She uses a a technique of layering, where she tells a story within a story. It is extremely fascinating not only for me but also my young listeners.
Though the original story talks from the perspective of a small girl who has lost her father, and how she is in turn enthralled by a storyteller who she calls Rumple (after Rumpelstiltskin!).
I started my story only at the point where the Throne is introduced to the audience.
The author tells us about its beauty and magnificence and that it was a gift from the gods. The Throne is buried in an orchard after the death of King Vikramaditya.
It is rediscovered by King Bhoja, who then builds a special enclave for the throne, and decides to ascend it on an auspicious day.
There starts the layering! The statues which are a part of the throne, then challenge the King and question his worth. Only a person as worthy as Vikramaditya can climb the steps they say, and then go on to tell a story. At the end of which King Bhoja has to answer a question, and only if he answers in a similar or in the same manner as King Vikramaditya, he will be allowed to occupy it.
As it goes, the King Bhoja is unable to give a satisfactory answer and has to go away in disappointment. To try many more times.
This story is quite common and oft repeated, but the individual stories that the author tells with great accomplishment, within the story, is very interesting.
So I had three parts to narrate to the children, which I did using a simple sketch made by my husband, but the story itself had the children in rapt attention.
It was a long story, and by the end of the day I was exhausted, but the thrill of discovering another wonderful story that I can tell, remains with me forever....