By Navin Agarwal, Educator
Geeta Ramanujam, master storyteller and the author of books such as The Wise Monkey and Other Stories and Tales from the World, held an interactive storytelling session on Day 1 of the Neev Literature Festival 2023 leaving both children and parents spellbound. With her charismatic presence and ventriloquistic magic, Geeta brought alive a story Gaegul, the Green Frog, entrancing the hearts of the audience.
Geeta’s session commenced with a hypnotic chant that set the stage for the captivating storytelling to come. “I’m a storyteller,” she declared, and her enchanted audience of children and parents responded in unison, “You’re the storyteller.” This call-and-response dynamic immediately engaged the audience, setting the tone for a mesmerising experience.
To further captivate her young audience, she introduced a delightful frog song, “lapavite, lapavite…pyom, pyom, pyom.” The children eagerly joined in, singing along with the author, creating a harmonious atmosphere filled with laughter and joy.
The Tale of Gaegul the Green Frog
Geeta proceeded to bring the story’s characters to life. A young frog and his mother took centre stage, and the tale unfolded. When the mother frog passed away, the young frog dutifully buried her by the lake, with other frogs joining him in a touching display of unity. From that day forward, whenever the sky darkened, and the clouds swelled, all the frogs came out to “croak” in memory of their beloved mother frog.
The Birth of Stories
Geeta Ramanjuam went on to weave a bewitching narrative about how stories came into existence. In this story about stories, woman was the first being created, and when she had children of her own, they pestered her for stories. But she had none to tell. Determined to find stories, her husband ventured into the woods, encountering an elephant, a rooster, and some birds, all of whom were too busy. Geeta’s animated and endearing impersonations of these creatures drew laughter and applause from the captivated audience.
As the father continued his quest for stories, he reached the ocean and met the Queen of the Spirits. Geeta brought this encounter to life, with children and parents alike marvelling at her animated expressions and charming impressions of creatures such as fish. The Queen of the Spirits, intrigued by the visitor from Earth, agreed to help him, but on the condition that he return on a full moon day with a picture of the Earth.
The story took a magical turn as the father returned to the sea with the picture of Earth and received a seashell from the Queen of the Spirits. Whenever he held the seashell to his ear, he could hear a story, and that’s how stories came to Earth. The moon too gave him a song in gratitude, “Rest for a while now, the night is young, time is short, and the road is long. Tell me a story; I’ll sing you a song, for tomorrow, the roads will be calling us all.”
A Resounding Ovation
As she concluded her session, the audience erupted in applause. Parents and children alike were deeply moved by her magical tales and engaging performance. Her storytelling had left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of everyone present. Parents showered her with praise and clamoured for autographs and selfies, a testament to the lasting impact of the magic she weaves.
During her fourty minutes on stage, Geeta Ramanujam took the audience on a journey into the enchanting world of storytelling, where the boundaries between reality and imagination blurred. It was a celebration of the timeless magic of stories and the power of a skilled storyteller to transport us to worlds beyond our own.