Written by Prerana
The Chimbel community library was buzzing with static energy though last Saturday session was attended by around twelve children. The Words ” My Sweet Home” stuck out in a delightful shade of pink against the dark backdrop of the blackboard.
The curiosity of the children seemed to take the form of a living, breathing entity in the room as they wondered what we had in store for them.
The workshop started off with a wonderful activity. We gathered in a circle to play a game involving rhythm, fluidity, grace and most importantly one that re-enforced the sense of unity in the children.
We split the children into groups of three.
Alia took on the role of mysterious storyteller as she told the children the tale behind the book ‘My Sweet Home’ based upon which the day’s workshop was to be conducted. She went on to explain about the blast near Okhla and how, as is mostly the way of humans, people began to label the locality as ‘dangerous’ or ‘ unsafe’ and how the people from there were constantly shrouded by accusatory remarks and glances. She told them about how the book was filled with true stories written by children residing at Okhla, which was proof that the locality was as “normal” as any other in Delhi – just as crazy, just as hectic, just as peaceful.The book, which was printed, was passed around and the children went through the stories and illustrations done by the children of Okhla.
After they had a good, long look we told the children we’d be conducting a similar activity. We told them to think of any specific spot in their locality where they spend a part of their day as part of their routine.
The children thought carefully and came up with locations like The Mahadev Temple, Munni Bhabhi’s shop (the local ice-cream shop), the local ground and the ice-cream shop owned by Khadar.
These were places in the settlement that played an integral part in their lives. One by one, the four groups first illustrated the locations. The pictures they drew were colourful and sketched down to minute details. They even drew The Library and The Library Car and then told us their stories – the whys and hows and whoms and whens, and I have never been so utterly enticed as I was that day.
They spoke from the heart, with clear voices and some with emphatic nods of their heads or tiny hand gestures.
They spoke frankly, letting their inhibitions fall to the dust effortlessly.
The workshop ended on a positive and fulfilling note as all the children finished their stories. It was a privilege to have been part of it.
I also learned that children are the best storytellers if they’re just given then chance .