My Father’s Daughter

        I don’t remember exactly when I started making up bedtime stories. I think it was about 4 years ago, when my younger daughter was about 3 months old. My older one Kuttu was close to 3. I think I was just bored reading out Noddy stories night after night. Kuttu I remember was rather obsessed with Noddy and his tinkling cap at that stage.      I like to think I was subconsciously continuing a tradition. I have vivid memories dating back to when I was about 4 -5 years old, of my father telling me stories every night. All of them starting with,”Oru naaliki …”. Which in Tamil means, “One day..”
       Night after night, for well over an hour, he would tell me about the adventures of a little girl and her dog, his voice acquiring varying intonations and cadences. Many of his stories were about animals in need of food or rescue.  At some point he stopped telling them. I can’t recall why. Maybe I just grew too old for them.        I started off telling my daughters stories about two mice, sisters called Meethu and Meethi. How no one took them seriously because they were small and could be barely seen or heard. Of course they had to be pink, since that was Kuttu’s favourite colour at that point. Thankfully she has graduated to blue (Not just any blue mind, but the lightest shade of sky blue).
      Every night to the keen ears of Kuttu and 3 month old Amu (who obviously didn’t understand a word but found the routine soothing) I would make up the adventures of Meethu and Meethi. Through their stories I found ways to address troublesome issues. Take vegetables for instance. Kuttu was very averse to eating carrots and cucumber but when told a few times about Meethu‘s superhuman strength (and guess why!), she started  eating them. Amu’s habit of pinching and biting was similarly resolved (That issue cropped up several months later and took MANY stories). Meethu helped Kuttu adjust to a rather unfriendly teacher in a new school as well.

       Now Kuttu is over 6 years old, Amu will be 4 in a few weeks. I retired Meethu and Meethi several months ago, thinking it was time to move on to more grown up books.  But  I have to say I have been feeling rather tempted to hold onto those stories for as long as I can. Maybe the passing of Kuttu and Amu’s infancy is making me nostalgic. 


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