Khushi is a 7 year old child who lives nearby. She visits me daily after dinner, nagging for stories. Initially, I had fished out this fairy tale book from my childhood which, like me, she had grown utterly bored of, within a week.
It has always been suffocating to read about sleeping or imprisoned princesses waiting for a white prince to rescue or kiss them.
“It is stupid and full of lies! Chacha Chaudhary is better”, she had retorted.
“Well, yes.” I had to agree.
I then told her a couple of tales from Anandpur. As the stories went on, her eyes grew wide, her pupils dilated and her breathing slowed. She wants to hear one daily now.
She wants to hear of Lakshmi, Nema Raam’s cow, who was being milked but got scared of my honking and pulled in her udders.
She wants to hear of Raju, a boy her age, who sits under a tree and sells combs, buttons, scissors and needles.
She wants to hear of Tejaaji, the local deity whose omnipresent temples and idols have a snake biting his tongue.
She wants to hear of Kaka Saa, a village elder, the tall 68 year old “uncle” to entire village, who walks into the bank with elan and panache, wearing a crisp white dhoti kurta. He commands everyone’s obedience and respect.
She wants to hear of Bidami, a girl of 15, who got married recently.
She wants to hear if we were able to get enough steel glasses instead of paper cups for school’s milk program.
She wants to know why I don’t fight with Kaka Saa who doesn’t drink water offered by Durga Raam, the bank’s sweeper, because he is a “bhangi”.
She wants to know of Panch Peer- Paabuji, Gogaji, Hadbuji, Ramdev and Maangliya, the 5 famed saints of Rajasthan who fought for animals, trees, tribes and Hindu-Muslim unity.
She wants to know why Jodhpur’s King changed the name of this village from Kalu to Anandpur.
She listens with rapt attention. I am sure I will never run out of stories to tell her.