A storyteller by heart

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Apr 2018 12:23:02



By iffat amjad sheikh

And this is how the Pied Piper played the magical pipe to drive away the rats from the city of Hamelin... is a staple food for bedtime stories since ages. We all want to recreate the world of ‘once upon a time’ and ‘they lived happily ever after’ - tags associated with grannies and their good old tales. Storytelling finds an instant connect with childhood and leaves an indelible mark on young minds by taking visual imagination to a newer heights. The warm world of stories make us relive those tender childhood moments again. The stories are actually an extension of the ways of living. They teach us the basic life skills required to lead a decent life. And here is one person who has taken the art of storytelling to a professional level and has turned into a children’s book author. Meet Nandini Nayar, a simple and overtly enthusiastic person who has found her true calling in penning books for kids.

“Right from our childhood, the world of books opened a different sphere of life for me. My early days were full of books of different authors and I would really wait to lay my hands on a new addition. I grew up reading Enid Blyton books, which was a firm favourite at that time. Soon a simple hobby became stronger by the day and a thought just casually crossed my mind - why can’t I write a book which has a more Indian connect as most of the popular authors were foreigners back then,” recalls Nayar as her face lights up reminiscing the nostalgic days.
Her earlier influence was Shashi Deshpande, who inspired her to pen down her first book for children. “If you wish to write, first you need to be a good reader. Reading not just improves your language skills and vocabulary, but it powers your imagination, which would ultimately benefit your writing skills. The biggest advantage which I have realised all these years is that reading inculcates life skills in a person. It gives you a sense of right or wrong, which is very crucial in a child’s formative years,” continues Nayar.

And her tryst with pen began with books like Pranav’s Picture, What Shall I Make?, The Diary Of An Indian School Girl, fictional biographies retold like Mango Classics - The Story Of My Experiment With Truth - M K Gandhi, Gora - Rabindranth Tagore, and the hugely popular Apoorva’s Fat Diary and she is still counting. She was a regular contributor to The Hitavada Twinkle Star and Knowledge Magazine too. Ask her to share her personal favourite work and after a brief pause and a subtle smile, she says, “Each of my work is dear to me as that has defined my mental state at that point of time. I have penned down some stories when I was going through a rough patch, so that work is dear to me as it has helped me vent out my fear and insecurities in some way. Some stories helped me enter a different sphere of life and was quite insightful as an author. Some were funny enough that even now when I remember the process, it brings a smile on my face. It is like asking which is your favourite finger, I just cannot pinpoint that,” elaborates the very articulate lady.

Apart from writing, the one thing which she enjoys a lot is the live interaction with kids, which is crucial from an author’s point of view. “Workshops help me to gauge the relatibility of my work, the likes and dislikes of the present generation, and the instant reaction is just unmissable. I get better story ideas and the interactions help me evolve as an author and channelise my way to become a good storyteller,” points out the author in a lucid way.
Quiz her to compare the writing experience as an author with the live storytelling sessions and with a smile she says, “Writing a book is a very lonely experience. I need to shut down the whole world, where I prefer isolation with no phone, no internet, nobody around, so that I can get enough space to concentrate. In my live storytelling experience, there is so much to enjoy and take back home. With live storytelling, I should be entertaining enough to keep their interest alive and keep them involved. The instant reactions which I get is the only award that I crave for. It helps me to narrate my story in a better way and I gets cues for my next story too,” claims the lady.

She never thought of writing for adults as this particular sphere gives her more satisfaction and she feels she is a good storyteller for this generation. A future plan of writing a novel for adults is surely in the pipeline.
When we compare the western kids’ book authors with their Indian counterparts, she says, “I appreciate their work which is in tandem with their culture, so that kids can relate to them. The language used has a natural advantage. The Indian authors are trying to bring in more variety with the addition of new authors. As far as the language is concerned, we have chutnified it to our advantage. The ‘Hinglish’ used, I feel, has a greater connect with the readers. As they say that variety is the spice of life and the same goes with books too. Winds of change are definitely sweeping the literary world. Newer authors are bringing fresh experience and people are whole heartedly accepting and relishing the Indian chutney, says the author on a confident note.
She certainly mourns the rejection of some of her works by various publishing houses, but takes this as a learning experience and begins afresh.

Making book reading a daily ritual, she feels it is the parents who have to first start reading and the kids would naturally follow. Keep the gadgets away as far as possible is the only advice the author wants to advocate mourning the overuse of technology. Read, read and read for this will not just enhance your language or vocabulary, but will make you a better person. There is no friend as loyal as a book. So grab your best buddy now!