The Greatest Folk Tales of Bihar revives childhood memories

Must read

As a kid I grew up listening to tales my maternal grandma would tell us at night as we slept under the open sky with the stars shining bright in the pollution free sky of our ancestral village in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The tales combined with the surreal beauty of nature would spin a yarn of such beauty and magic that I made sure my kid got to hear those tales from her maternal grandma, albeit in the confines of an air conditioned room in a cosmopolitan city. But such is the beauty of these folktales that all the kids in the house tend to retell the same to each other whenever they get the chance to gather together, fuelled by mirth and leg pulling if one got the line wrong or could not pronounce the word or phrase correctly. And the timeless ballads continue to enthral everyone, children in particular, due to their lyrical quality along with the simplicity of the tales that have hidden gems inside.

As a student of literature and closet writer I often thought of collecting these tales for future generations and also to connect with readers globally by translating them. There’s no iota of doubt that folklores across the globe have the common thread of lyricism and simplicity interwoven with everyday life and experiences common to man. What adds to the appeal is how animals and birds are used to convey deep messages to humans who are not always, much like in real life, as appealing a character as super humans, gods, goddesses, demons, fairies, ghosts, birds and animals can be. So kudos to the author, or rather the collector, of these timeless tales for painstakingly collecting them together and translating them for English readers. He has done a great service to literature as well as the great heritage of this nation and the region in particular. My heartfelt gratitude to him.

These folktales are popular and very appropriate for little children and young adults but some stories like The Rakshasi’s Sacrifice and Saranga and Sadabrij should be read under parental guidance. In fact these tales could well become an excuse to start the vital discussion most Indian parents refuse to indulge in, sex education. It’s time the subject was discussed under able guidance instead of prompting the young minds to discuss with equally ignorant minds or searching for it over the Internet and then getting lured into pornography.

It took me a while to get my hand on a copy of The Greatest Folk Tales of Bihar, by Nalin Verma, but it was worth the wait. When my 14 going on 15 year old daughter western music lover flipped through the pages of the book she jumped up in surprise at the very first story, The Sparrow and Her Crumbs, an eternal favourite, and began singing the song the bird (sparrow) sang to get the crumb (half grain of dal) stuck in the wooden handle of the grinding stone used traditionally across the villages of India, in her broken Bhojpuri dialect. Such is the appeal of our folktales. Our childhood memories are the ones we cherish the most and The Greatest Folk Tales from Bihar is a front runner in reviving those memories of happy, carefree days.

These folktales are popular and very appropriate for little children and young adults but some stories like The Rakshasi’s Sacrifice and Saranga and Sadabrij should be read under parental guidance. In fact these tales could well become an excuse to start the vital discussion most Indian parents refuse to indulge in, sex education. It’s time the subject was discussed under able guidance instead of prompting the young minds to discuss with equally ignorant minds or searching for it over the Internet and then getting lured into pornography.

Parents and guardians could do well to pick up a copy of How I Got My Belly Button written by Anju Kish which is the most subtle and informative way sex education can be imparted to children. And it’s all about science and everyday life. Even grown ups can learn a thing or two from that book. But then let’s focus on the folktales for now.

It is rather unfair to criticise such an effort but to be fair to the folktales the translation has somehow failed to capture its most appealing quality, lyricism. There are some YouTube channels where these folktales are being shared in their original form. I’d suggest as well as request the author of the translations that his mammoth effort would get a fillip if the publishers added a CD of the tales retold in the original fashion. That way not only can we preserve these folktales but can also preserve the language in which they were originally told or sung.

To sum up the experience of reading this book in between the unending demands on our time I can only say this, thank you Mr Verma for bringing back those memories. I sent a silent prayer to all those long gone who regaled me with such tales, including my paternal grandfather’s friends, about whom I haven’t thought of in decades. The memories tugged at my heart. But that’s the beauty of memories, especially of childhood and bedtime stories.

FOLLOW US

204,858FansLike
23,848FollowersFollow
10,384FollowersFollow
15,844SubscribersSubscribe
- Advertisement -

Editor's choice

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest News

Any elected government needs to be questioned by the citizens—Kannan Gopinathan

Kannan Gopinathan is a 2012-batch officer of the AGMUT cadre who resigned from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) over the restrictions imposed on Jammu...

Muted in grandeur, Pujas won’t give themes a miss

Kolkata: At a time when all the festivals and celebrations are going through uncertain times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Durga Puja organisers and...

Covid Curtails Congregations but Takes us Down Memory Lane

The Covid-19 caused lockdown and norms of physical distancing have robbed the people of the opportunities to congregate and celebrate their festivals. Many religious...

‘The PM’ India never had

From Union Finance Ministry to Political Oblivion to being the first Bengali President, the ‘Chanakya’ of Indian politics had tasted it all. Despite being the...

Sakshi Maharaj getting quarantined and the strength of BJP’s (mis)information ecosystem

Giridih/Ranchi: Member of Parliament (MP) from Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj getting quarantined in Giridih, Jharkhand and being let off within a day has once again...