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Papa Scheherazade


The next moment she made a funny sound and spat the entire mouthful of the gooey stuff on my face. I was too stunned to react, but Ankita wasn’t. I don’t know how much she understood the pitiable predicament of a poor Papa but she burst into peals of laughter.  I cursed silently and went back to round two. Caesar might have backed off, Napolean would have given up, but how could a die-hard Papa who is also a Virgo, like yours truly, capitulate.

This time Ankita was more benevolent. She took three spoonfuls and just as a look of triumph started suffusing my face it happened. Splat!  She had deposited  three times the yuck on my face and was grinning and beating her gong with even  greater  abandon.

“Idiot!” I shouted and hell broke loose. Ankita screamed like she had never screamed before; my mother-in-law, who had chosen this rather delicate moment to pay us a surprise visit, hollered and Madhavi came charging  from the kitchen like a bull after an unfortunate  matador.

I sat with my head bowed, a picture of remorse.

My mother-in-law declared, under her breath of course, “This is what happens when you marry outside the caste.” Madhavi had the ‘trust you to mess up even the simplest of tasks’ look on her face and my angel Ankita kept glaring at me as if I, not she, had bathed me in muck!

My first chance at redeeming myself in the eyes of my dear family came a full two years later.

“You write satire and poetry don’t you? Then why can’t you tell Ankita stories and put her to sleep,” Madhavi told me one day. To her shifting from satire/poetry to children’s fiction was as simple as moving from the realm of the boiled to the planet of the poached egg.

Anyways, I took her rather broad hint seriously and started thinking up little tales to tell my precious one. I don’t know whether she liked the plot more or my antics, but she lapped up my stories and my confidence grew. Soon it became a tradition which continued even after my son, Aniket, grew up and doubled the size of my audience. The stories liked by my kids found their way to the laptop and from there to the publisher’s desk.

Our daily tryst with tales created indelible memories. Sitting on the bed, on long summer nights, cold winter evenings and rain drenched twilights we used to laugh, jump, sing, dance and  sometimes shed a tear or two as we explored the world of magic and mystery, action and  adventure, sentiment and values. The tales created a gossamer fabric of trust and togetherness which, I am sure, we shall always cherish.

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Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer for children and young adults with 27 books to his name. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His writings have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages and showcased in many text books and anthologies. Ramen is a much sought after inspirational speaker and storyteller. An Engineer and an MBA, Ramen is working as Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha. You can visit Ramen's website www.ramendra.in


3 thoughts on “Papa Scheherazade

  1. Kritika Srinivasan

    What a wonderful post – so well written that I could imagine you weaving your tales with two small children all ears and caught up in the moment! Yes, these story-times do create a wonderful bond with your children, don’t they? For many years, I made up stories for my daughter as well – all unbelievable, hilarious and extremely adventurous. Now I read to her. She has been an independent reader for years but still insists that the bedtime story must be read by me. And I enjoy rediscovering my old favourites with her.

    Reply
  2. Ramendra Kumar

    Thanks a ton, Kritika! Glad you liked it. For me and my kids the best time of the day was story time! I only wish young parents of today do not use surrogate story tellers like the idiot box or the net and become true blue Mama and Papa Scheherzaadie :)

    Reply
  3. Aparajita Bose

    I loved and laughed over every sentence! Indeed my own childhood came revisiting me as I read the blog. I can visualize my granny who raised me during my formative years sitting in the terrace as I relished and swallowed every short story she spun for me before I sat down with my books in the evening. I have always believed in bonding over stories. When I kept long hours at my workplace I tried making up with stories from books as my little son sat, ears and eyes alert! Later, with more time in hand, as I had quit my demanding job I moved to spinning stories, “cooked in my mind”, for my little daughter. Long live stories!

    Reply

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