‘Tara’s Eighth Birthday Story’
This article was written by Dr Rukmini Banerji
The original article was published in Dainik Bhaskar
Here is the English translation:
Tara’s Eighth Birthday Story
Tara was turning eight. This was her second birthday in the pandemic period. She could faintly remember how birthdays were celebrated before COVID hit. Perhaps at that time a lot of people used to come over. But this time it was going to be a small party. It was not possible to invite too many people these days. But right from the early years, one thing was absolutely fixed… Nani would give Tara stories.
Each year she would get as many stories as her age. When she was two, Nani wrote two books. When she was three, there were three; when she was four, there were four. Often, in the stories that Nani wrote, Tara was the hero. Sometimes the stories had Mamma, Papa, Masi. At times, others at home or in the family also got roles. In the middle of a story, Tara’s favourite dogs – Zara and Kuki would also be seen wagging their tail.
When Tara was little, the stories were little too. But now she is a big girl. She reads a lot. She finishes fat books in a day. She writes long-long stories herself. Tara loves stories and books very much. Now, you tell me, what kind of story would be best for such a reader and writer?
Tara decided the plan for her own birthday. Few days before the big day, she announced – “this time my birthday theme will be – peacocks”. She started making colourful drawings of peacocks. These drawings could be seen all over the walls in the house. The peacock pictures hanging in the windows could be seen dancing. People in the family began hunting for peacock feathers. Mamma found someone to make a peacock cake. Nani kept thinking about what to do. It seems Tara had already told her friends, “My Nani will give me eight stories this year.”
On the evening of Tara’s eighth birthday, Nani gave Tara eight envelopes. Each one had a peacock story. There were instructions as well… “Each day for eight days after your eighth birthday you will get to open one envelope. Eight people have to help you. Each day one person will be named, and you have to do something with the story with them.”
You could say, that in a way, Tara’s eighth birthday celebrations lasted eight more days. First day was with Dadi. There was a short peacock story. After reading, they had to translate it from English to Hindi, together. Next day was easy too. Tara had to read another peacock story to her little sister. The activity to do with Masi was a little more complicated. There was a story of a proud peacock from Aesop’s fables, but it was written in an old fashioned style. Masi and Tara had to write it in easy language that would be fun to read.
Papa always bothers Tara with math. That is why Tara had to read a new peacock story with Papa and turn it into a math problem. But the most interesting task was with Dadu. Tara’s grandfather loved music and songs. He has a huge collection of songs. Their story was about a peacock, rain and pakoras. They had to read the story and then choose a song that fit the mood of the tale.
These days Nani is writing a new story. Actually, it is an old story but written in a new way. “Nani-teri-morni-ko-mor-le-gaye…" is being given a new form and direction. Beautiful pictures are being drawn. Tara does not know. In the eighth month after her eighth birthday she will get this story. Please don’t tell her.
(Views are the author’s own. She is Tara’s Nani.)