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The picture is alive in my mind, when rainy nights were dotted invariably with stories. The cosy shelter of the huge verandah, the rains pouring down, where as a child I’d sat at my father’s feet and listened fascinated, to these stories, often several times over!

The spray of the raindrops and then the rustle of the leaves and the twinkling of the stars, when the rains stopped! The clear dark blue of the sky, the enchanting moon and the shimmer of the Milky Way!

There was a magic in those nights, which has not faded with time, the memories linger on. It is like the comforting touch of a fond hand…

The pleasure of hearing a well-told story can be equalled only by the pleasure of telling a good one! In days of yore, in the absence of the television and the computer, video games and other such, storytelling was an integral part of childhood.

A day was not quite complete without a juicy story at the end of it!

In our country, as in many others, these stories were based on mythological figures, legendary heroes and larger-than-life characters who performed astounding feats of excellence or unimaginable acts of foolishness.

The stories wove a brilliant and kaleidoscopic canvas to leave children wonderstruck with their colour and imagery. They teased the listener’s imagination to new heights, creating a space where everything, no matter how impossible, was made real and possible. They left unspoken role models to follow, subtle lessons to imbibe, hilarious recipes for enjoyment and wonder!

However, nothing seemed out of reach in them...

By and large these were not read out, but pulled out of a treasure trove of tales, much like the magician’s rabbit emerging out of the hat! In large families teeming with elders, there was no dearth of stories and tales to tell. Anyone from a grandparent to uncles and aunts turned official storyteller.

Of course, there were the favourites who could add a lot of spice and tell one with a flourish!

Often, stories were told to keep naughty children away from their pranks, the talkative ones quiet, and to put the troublesome ones to sleep!

Many carried a relevant, sneaky moral to set an errant child right as well.

All in all, these stories invariably gave a message of good winning over evil, of patience rewarded, and of courage celebrated. Consequently, they imparted a sense of well-being and hope, arguing (through examples) in favour of what was right. They made exalted values believable and practicable.

Much depends, therefore, on how well a story is told. And how responsibly…

There are so many wonderful, thrilling stories of kings and queens and princes and princesses, that even as I recalled and wrote them down for this book, I got the goosebumps! Telling these stories is as thrilling as hearing them...and I feel fortunate to relate these stories to you and share the joy with you all!

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