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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
The Story and the Song
by Manasi Subramaniam
Age Range: 6-8
In a small village in Tamil Nadu there are preparations for great festivities as a young school teacher called Parvathi is getting married. Thayi, the oldest and wisest woman of the village comes to Parvathiís house the night before the wedding to tell her a story and teach her a beautiful song. She instructs Parvathi to share them with everyone she knows. ďAfter all, of what use are a story that is not to be told and a song that is not sung?Ē Parvathi promised to do so but her new life keeps her very busy and she forgets all about the story and the song. What she doesnít realise is that they are getting bored inside her because they want an audience.
Kamban, Parvathiís husband, has two treasured possessions - a wooden betel nut crusher and a small carved box to keep his betel nuts and leaves in. One afternoon, while Pavathi is roasting coriander and chillies, she sneezed and the story and the song leap out of her mouth. As they need to take the shape of real objects Kambanís betel nutcrusher and box are the perfect solution and when Parvathi isnít looking they escape from the house. How is Parvathi going to explain the loss of these most treasured possessions to her husband and what happens to stories that donít get told or songs that donít get sung?
This is a lovely unusual tale adapted for children from a Tamil folktale by Indian author Manasi Subramaniam. Accompanied by colourful illustrations by Ayswarya Sankaranarayanan it is a perfect way to introduce children to storytelling and the oral tradition of how stories and songs are passed down verbally through the generations.