Senior Citizens Love Telling Stories. How About Storytelling For Them?

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A storytelling session for seniors? Aren’t they the ones supposed to be sharing stories with the younger ones?
If the idea sounds incredulous, think again. Aren’t seniors the treasurers of our most precious heirlooms – the memories of our family? So here’s an account of a storytelling session for senior citizens, done for Silver Talkies by the inimitable Lavanya Prasad. Written by our very own member and well wisher, Pushpa Ranganath.


Our families are like branches on a tree, where we have all grown in different directions yet our roots have remained as one! Alas! Each one of us has been so caught up with living in the present trying to secure the future that we have had no time to relive and relish those beautiful moments, which had made us so happy and cheerful in our childhood. That childhood which is the most precious of all life’s seasons. That childhood where our universe centred around parents, siblings and grandparents; grandparents who were a delightful blend of laughter, caring actions, a treasure trove of wonderful stories and love!

However, sometimes all it needs is a trigger to set in motion the reminiscences of the past, recollecting the wonderful time we spent with our family. And believe me, such a trigger was set off by Lavanya Prasad, a professional storyteller and educator based in Bangalore who conducted a storytelling session for the senior members of Silver Talkies Club, South City Chapter, Bangalore.

Lavanya runs TALEscope, an initiative that uses stories as a medium to conduct workshops and training for children and adults. Lavanya’s verve and passion for her chosen profession is remarkable and was evident on that day as she narrated tales from her own life and made us reach far into our childhoods. Lavanya shared stories from her own family to trigger our hidden memories and the tales from the past.

Lavanya Prasad shows the family book of stories, created to preserve memories of her ancestors for the generations to come

Lavanya Prasad shows the family book of stories, created to preserve memories of her ancestors for the generations to come

The session began with the rendering of a Kannada folk song, which Lavanya sang so mellifluously keeping beats with her damru, that we were all captivated and transported to a different world.

This was followed by her recollections of her own childhood memories and the wonderful time she spent listening to the engrossing stories told by her grandfather. The narration continued with an account of her adolescence years, her fears, her likes and expectations. You might rightly wonder how that would have stimulated us. Ah! That is the beauty and skilfulness of this sprightly storyteller! By bits and pieces she cleverly started drawing everyone present into thinking back to their past, their own childhood, stories that they had heard, things that they liked and did, the heirlooms they cherished and which till today they possess and consider priceless, not in monetary terms but in terms of sentiments and emotions. Lavanya’s prized possession was a stamp, specially created for her in her name, over 20 years ago by her grandfather, who worked in the collector’s office. For Lavanya, the gift was special because it is associated with the stories she and her grandfather shared and a very special childhood memory.

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For many of us attending the session, it was throwback time. One of our members shared about the letters he had inherited from his grandfather, another spoke about coins that had been in the family for years…

While each one was looking back to their own childhood days and trying to remember some interesting anecdotes and stories, I too was transported to those days in my own childhood in Bombay.

Sweet memories lay softly on
The pages of my mind
With tenderness they call me back
To long since by-gone times.

There were many interesting recollections. Once I happened to see the black and white photographs of my parents. One such photo caught my attention! It was my father dressed in all white. In those days, gabardine material was in fashion. With his curly hair and immaculately dressed in white he looked very much like some Don from Hindi films. When I asked my mother, she told me that he used to be very fond of Hindi films. And can you imagine the offshoot of this addiction? We, three siblings, were named after the heroine and heroes of those days. Pushpa, Vijay and Arun! Many of you might have seen Hindi movies of yesteryears where these names were common. Another interesting event etched in my memory is the celebration of Gokulashtami. Being a very important festival for us, there used to be hectic activity in preparing for the decoration of the big ‘mantap’. Shopping for fruits with stems, to hang from the top of the mantap, and tying the various savouries my mother used to make was exciting indeed. After the decorations and the lighting of the diyas before puja the mantap looked like a mini Brindavan! You can imagine the times I might have prayed not for the Lord’s blessings but for the purohit to complete the puja as fast as possible so that I could partake of the mouth-watering sweets and savouries! Although I do follow the custom even now, it’s definitely downscaled. Ah, those sweet memories of childhood – they bring to mind a lovely poem by Arti Chopra:

Sweet memories of childhood,
came to me like a soft breeze,
memories that bought a smile to my lips,
memories that tickle and tease.
long forgotten moments…
of times when we were young and brash,
buried deeply in the folds of time,
surfaced to consciousness like a flash.
…………………………………..

warm love and care of our parents,
a longing for mothers food,
relaxing and chilling in our familiar room,
just being at home felt so good.

………………………………….

but nothing can erase the happy moments,
that lift our spirits like a fragrant breeze,
these are memories imprinted forever,
only in death will they ever cease.

ah childhood…we were so lucky,
to have so much love and care,
such loving parents to guide us,
as we for life prepare.

Before concluding the wonderful session, Lavanya showed us the book she has compiled which chronicles the stories and anecdotes associated with her great grandparents along with a family tree! Lavanya encouraged everyone present to remember the stories, anecdotes etc. that formed a part of their own life to compile them and try to trace their own family tree. She promised all help towards this effort. Thus ended a morning well spent, with camaraderie and laughter.

About Author

Pushpa Ranganath

Pushpa Ranganath is M.Phil (English) and has been a teacher for nearly three decades. She is actively engaged in writing academic books and language editing for online education solution companies. Travelling is a leisurely pursuit she has actively taken up in her silver years and one she is definitely enjoying! Pushpa lives in Bangalore with her husband.