Notes from JLF : Rohini Vij
Rohini Vij says…
another telling stories to children like you. All my stories are inside this bag and whenever I have
to tell a story I just dig into my bag and pull it out.’
during my first session in JLF-Outreach 2017, organised by Pratham Books.
They waited patiently for me to dramatically dig out a story for them and once I was done telling
the two stories that morning a girl with a very concerned expression walked up to me and said,
‘Didi please put these two stories back in your bag for other children.’ For a moment I was
speechless, I then smiled and clumsily pretended to put the stories back into my bag, much to
the satisfaction of the girl.
here is a 5 or maybe 6 year old child far away from the amenities some of the children her age
are fortunate to have access too. Attending school in old worn out clothes probably passed
down to her by her siblings or neighbours, unwashed face, torn bag, oversized slippers,
listening spellbound to stories that probably temporarily drifted her away from her world into
another, yet so selfless that once she got her share of the stories she wanted to be sure other
children like her don’t remain deprived of them.
initiative by Pratham Books. Each time I tell stories to children I go back feeling great about
what I do. Those few minutes they make you feel like a celebrity. After the story they are
bursting with energy and they all want a piece of you, literally! Their goodbyes are full of
positivity, their appreciation is upfront, and they are hopeful that you will be back again. That
magical rush is probably what makes me want to tell stories more and more. ‘It’s almost
addictive’, I told Yashdeep a young engineering student from Amity University who was a part of
the volunteer team at the festival, when he asked me what I loved the most about my job.
a 13 year old boy suffered an epileptic fit during the session. This happened in the middle of the
second story I was telling. While the boy’s body shivered and his mouth began to froth I
watched him suffer helplessly for what seemed like a lifetime. The children who was so
cheerfully engaged till until a moment ago were absolutely silent during the attack – perhaps
feeling as helpless as I was. The teachers of course rushed to the boy and tried their best to
provide him comfort. He was unconscious for a while before he came around. He was then
taken away to rest. I was then asked to resume the session. That was perhaps one of the most
difficult experiences of my life. A group of children visibly disturbed after what had happened to
their friend and also waiting to know what happened next in the story. For me to transition into
my role as a storyteller at that difficult moment was indeed a challenge. Of course I told them
the rest of story with as much gusto but the incident truly tested my skills as a performer who
was herself experiencing a myriad of emotions.