“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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?