It was like any other summer nights in Madikeri. It was 8.30 at night, all 5 of us were at the dining table trying to chew & swallow rock hard chapatis that we had prepared in spite of our mothers disapproval. But we were giving expressions as if they were the tastiest chapatis in the whole world (after all it was a matter of our prestige) when suddenly the power went out just like any other summer nights in Madikeri, sigh.
As our granny got busy in lighting up the age old gas lantern, all of us looked at each others faces in dismay as after dinner was always ‘Playtime with Nidhi mama’, how were we gonna play now in this power cut? That was the time we looked forward to the most each day. But then our faces lit up in happiness when we remembered that power cuts meant ‘Thatha’s stories time’, yippee.
After quickly washing our hands, we ran to thatha’s room to find him applying coconut oil to his hair which was his everyday after bath ritual (probably the reason why he still has a head full of hair). After making him agree to our demands for a story, we then ran to the front verandah (which was our usual story session spot) as we had to set the scene for the story telling session by arranging the pillows & by also sneaking a bowl of peanuts from the kitchen.
As thatha came out of the room, all 5 of us arranged ourselves at different corners of the verandah with me & Sukruth being nearest to the bowl of peanuts. Thatha stood in the doorway smiling down at us & silently enjoying the attention he was receiving courtesy his storytelling skills. As thatha settled down with his back against the wall I looked around, there was silence everywhere (as our house was situated on the outskirts of the town) broken by crickets chirping sounds & a frog’s croak from the lotus pond which got an answering croak from another frog in the garden & various other insects sounds. There was also pitch darkness everywhere with only 1 or 2 lights blinking from a house located in the forest on the hill opposite our house. And then I saw Fireflies coming out in hundreds & lighting up the whole atmosphere, their reflections in the lotus pond was another sight to behold & the trees with the fireflies on them looking as decked up as a bride on her wedding day. Sigh, pure magic.
Amidst such a magical scene thatha’s story telling session used to commence, where for the next hour or so all of us used to be lost in the various plots & characters of Ramayana & Mahabharata. Thatha was blessed with that innate talent of explaining the intricate plots of the epics in such a way that we kids not only understood them well but also remembered them for a long time. His favourite character was Narada muni & he made sure to include at least 1 of his stories in every session. This story telling session used to continue till the time the power came back on, which usually took up to 1 hour.
It’s been a long time now since we attended thatha’s story telling sessions, but I remember the joy of us cousins listening to his stories with Hithyshi combing her hair standing in front of the mirror when she found the stories boring (when the story telling session had to be moved indoors courtesy summer rains) as if it happened yesterday. Some of the memories are fading away now, I wish someone had told me at that time to grab onto those moments with everything I got because sometimes memories are all we will be left with for the rest of our lives.