“Two individuals look for a piece of land to live in. They finally find a patch, after much searching. But the search weakens their legs and they can walk no more…”
Thus goes a short story by Class III student Megh Ganguly. The story, written in Bengali, is part of a creative project initiated by ThinkArts to keep young minds engaged during the pandemic. Children aged between six and 10 years from all over India took part in the storytelling event – Let Me Tell You A Story – where they used different media to narrate an original idea.
Some prompts (lines from children’s books) have been given to help children recreate their own world of fantasy, utopia and friendships since February. Illustrators from Switzerland worked on 15 best stories and 45 of them have been picked by various storytellers for audio narrations. Megh’s story has been illustrated by Swiss artist Mirjana Farkas. “My story is entirely a figment of my imagination,” said Megh, a student of Calcutta Public School, Bidhan Park who loves math and computers, besides writing stories. A fan of Ruskin Bond and Leela Majumdar, Megh likes to unwind by writing and reading.
Let Me Tell You A Story has unleashed the imaginative side of many students who are otherwise getting restless at home, following over a year of virtual schooling. “I miss school and my friends,” said Prapti Mandal of Patha Bhavan. Her story is her way of reaching out to an ideal world. “It has parts of my life. I used to love visiting my grandmother’s house that is surrounded by trees and greenery. I would personally love gaping at a tall palm tree. My story is about a girl finally managing to climb that tree and catching a glimpse of a perfect world,” said Prapti who loves writing in Bengali just like her favourite author Sukmar Ray.
Nine-year-old Aarohan Dasgupta of Hindustan Park is home schooled. So virtual education is not a new experience for this student of Grade Four. What is new is losing out on playtime with his para friends. “I miss the fun and interaction that I had when friends would come to call,” said the boy who writes poetry and plays the piano to vent out. His story (in English) is about animals – a badger, a squirrel, a rabbit and a rat - and friendship, things that he holds dear. “I love feeding strays and am an animal lover. The story brings out a part of me,” said the boy who is very excited at the prospect of Swiss artist Paloma Canonica illustrating his tale.
ThinkArts has uploaded 100 such short stories in English, Bengali and Hindi on their website, as part of the project.
“In these difficult times, the stories by the children have given us a reason to smile, to hope and to imagine and strive for a new and better world. It is great to see that the stories are now being read and heard by hundreds of children from across India and abroad. We are grateful to Pro Helvetia New Delhi-Swiss Arts Council for supporting this project,” added Ruchira Das, the founder of ThinkArts.
Pratt Memorial School
A plate full of colours - the nursery kids of Pratt Memorial School created magic with a variety of fruits, sugar, cream and chaat masala at a fruit salad party that was conducted on July 16 morning. The event was a fun way of educating children about the different varieties of fruits and their seeds. "We have around 50 children in each section. So nearly 200 of them were ready with their fruits and ingredients on the day of the party, eager to whip up a tasty dish and share recipes," said Ruth Anita Malik, the head of the pre-primary department. Some children were also dressed in a chef's gear as also were the class teachers who conducted the sessions. The four sections of Nursery had their separate party. Aiza Hussain of Section C made her concoction with bananas, mangoes, pomegranates and apples. "Banana is my favourite and I loved the party," gushed Aiza, whose mother Ruhi Shiraz and twin brother Aadil joined in the fun. "I cut the fruits for her but it was Aiza who mixed it and prepared the chaat. She kept some for her father who devoured it with relish despite not being a fruit lover," added Ruhi. Every child was given a chance to prepare her own salad or chaat and share the recipe. They also sang fruit-themed songs and had a merry time.
"As we step into the second year of online teaching, it is especially important now to make virtual teaching fun for our little ones so that they are able to enjoy learning even from the comfort of their home. They also need to learn how to interact with their teachers and peers confidently and comfortably. So we keep doing fun events online. Even though we have been divided by the pandemic, we have been united by technology," said principal Carolyn Lionel.