I have never been good at talking. Most of my life. I have a lisp, I goof up my words, make bad jokes, forget details mid-sentence etc. I’ve always surrounded myself with storytellers, but never been one myself. I have, however, always been a good listener. Listening doesn’t apply just to words one is saying, but body language, emotion and that magical feeling of being a part of that story.
Of late, I’ve been delving a lot in photography and film. It was a by-product of listening. To myself. To what I can do, and what I can’t, and what can provide for my bread and butter. While I could take good pictures or make an awesome video, I’ve always felt that I could never tell a story. Somehow that skill had always eluded me.
I did some pondering and went back to my roots. To reminisce the best story teller I had the privilege to grow up and work with, Atul Kattukaran. Although, I’ve never told him that. I still remember clearly the stories during our college days, youth group and at work. He would make jokes, elaborate, exaggerate and many a times repeat stories, time and again, and the
same audience would take it in, and laugh with him every time. He was a natural.
Then I met another great natural story teller, Yasin. Learnt more, yearned for more. And there’s only so much one can learn without implementing. As Maya Angelou aptly puts it “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I’ve spent a lot of time trying to tell stories, but they never did match up to my expectations, because I wasn’t expressing myself, or sharing my feelings.
But one fine day, it happened.I got the best compliment from a totally unexpected person, a 12yr old girl. She was part of the kids group that I was with on an educational tour to the USA, and I usually hang out with the kids, as I find the teachers boring. This one girl pestered me for stories. It began with one, then another, and over the course of 2-3 days travelling in the bus, stories just kept flowing. I broke a lot of personal barriers to keep up with her demands.
At one point, tired of the constant nagging for more stories, I asked her why does she keep asking only me for stories. Go catch someone else. Her response was “But sir, you’re the best story teller” . And that, ladies and gentlemen, made my day!
After listening to all my stories, she made me promise her something in secret, and when she turns 13 next year and joins Facebook and Instagram, she want’s to see it. Let’s hope I fulfill it. Any guesses to what the stories were about, and what the promise was?