What’s the Story?

“Mum, it feels very strange when you send us off to bed without a story,” said Caitlyn to me last night. “I find it very hard to fall asleep.”

C1 & C2 at our library

C1 & C2 at our library

Our evening routine with the kids usually goes like this: dinner, bath, teeth and toilet, story time, night prayers, lights out.
But if it’s too late or if they’ve been acting up, I sometimes skip the bedtime stories. Like last night.

Back in the day when my brother Jason and I were little, my dad was the official bed-time story-teller (while Mum saw to our homework). “Story-time!” dad would call out. And Jason and I would rush to pick a book. Grimm’s fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen stories, Enid Blyton, Aesop’s fables, even a few Panchatantra tales… but NO comics – ever.
It was a time for magic and mystery. A time for wonder and wisdom. Imagination and ideas.

Books saved from my childhood - they're 40 years old!

Books saved from my childhood – they’re 40 years old!

So imagine my surprise when we went to India last Christmas and my mum and dad gave my kids these two books (above) saved from my childhood. They’re in pretty good nick considering they were published in 1974!

books2

Unlike my kids who go to the local library every fortnight, my brother and I didn’t have access to unlimited books. All we had was what we got as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. So we dipped into our limited book pool night after night. Soon enough, both of us had learnt the words to our favourites by heart.

"What about the bit where the pumpkin turns into Cinderella's coach?"

“What about the bit where the pumpkin turns into Cinderella’s coach?”

Which turned out to be a big problem if Dad wanted to speed things up and tried to skip a page or two.
“You missed the bit when Cinderella’s fairy god-mother turns the pumpkin into a coach,” I’d admonish him.
Or Jason would pipe up, “You forgot to say ‘I’ll grind his bones to make my bread’,” and we’d recite the “inadvertently” skipped passage by heart…
… While Mum would chuckle quietly in the background.

Story-time with Nana Cynthia

Story-time with Nana Cynthia

To end, here’s a quote from one of my favourite books:

“The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again… You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t… In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic.”

― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

So tell me, who read to you when you a child (parent/grand-parents/older siblings)? What was your favourite (or scariest!) story when you were little? Were you allowed to read comics?

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8 responses to “What’s the Story?

    • HiLorraine! Yes, I have to say our books are quite different from the ones my kids read today – the layouts, illustrations, etc. are quite advanced! Better ask your mum if she’s squirrelled away some of your childhood treasures…

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  1. Can so relate to it…. We still have all our books and sometimes the memories associated with those become bigger than the stories themselves….

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  2. Ah! I have almost all my books from childhood. (And I have A LOT!) after I got married I had Gus transport them all to our place (mum needed the space cos she had had enough of them and was eager to have them gone) and I remember he almost got pulled up by a traffic cop because there were so many tied up in sacks all around in his car that they were mistaken for “goods”. 🙂
    Never thought about it until I just read your post but yes, those books are now close to 30-45 yrs old! Wow!
    So so glad you’re writing again Alison, I’m a huge fan and I can’t wait for more!

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    • Great to hear from you, Sanya! So lucky you had the foresight to hold on to all your books. Just think, you’ll soon be reading them to little Z! I only have a few relics from the past… Sob! Just saw your FB background image. How creative!!! Have you been knitting anything interesting of late?

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