Subbu loved stories. He would listen to stories from his grandmom Godavari Ajji. He would accompany his mom to the local Hanuman temple where Nagesh Sharma a Puranika – reciter of Puranas (collections of Hindu mythological stories) – would recite verses from the Mahabharata and explain their meaning.
When Subbu grew up, he took up a job with Amar Chitra Katha (ACK). He joined Anant Pai and his talented team who were producing stories from Indian mythology, folklore and history in comic form. The treasure trove of stories he heard as a child came rushing back to Subbu. The stories from the Mahabharata he had heard from Nagesh Sharma took new life as Subbu retold them for a new generation of kids. He wrote and edited stories for Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) for a number of years.
Later, Subbu came out with the idea of a comics digest for children. Thus, TINKLE was born. Many of the stories in the initial issues of TINKLE could be traced to his grandmother.
Subbu married Kirana a lively girl trained in the Bharatnatyam with expressive eyes. When their son, Siddharth, was born, Subbu started telling stories once again. Siddharth would demand stories to be told of things that he would point out — clouds, crow, ceiling fan, cupboard and so on. Soon, Krishna, Siddharth’s younger brother joined the fun.
More than 30 years passed. Siddharth today does digital marketing. He is the dream merchant urging kids and their parents to click on KathaKids. Krishna is a writer who has worked for newspapers and on documentary films.
With kids grown up and busy with their work, storytelling in Subbu’s household took a back seat. Then came Eesha, Siddharth and Jyoti’s daughter. As she started growing up, the dormant storyteller inside Subbu woke up.
He started telling stories to Eesha. This was a new avatar.
Eesha calls him Subbu Tata. Eesha’s cousins Sahil and Ishir, and friends, also join in the story sessions.
Kirana, Subbu’s wife, now a grandmother, sits on the floor, stretches her legs. She keeps her eyes on dancing knitting needles and ears on stories – good old stories now taking new colours.
Subbu Tata says: “I have great fun telling these stories to kids. These are Katha Kids, kids who love stories.”
Every time you tell a story it gets a new life. No story is told in the same way twice. When you read a story, it comes alive — in your mind. The story that comes alive in your own imagination is a new story. Thus, stories are ever alive. They are ever green.
We are supported by friends who have love for kids and love for storytelling. Friends like Abhijeet Kini, Mohandas, and Kaustuv are illustrating stories. More friends will be joining us.
So have fun. Tell a story. Read a story. Listen to a story.