The greatest storytellers are not whose names are listed among the Nobel laureates, but whose stories are imbibed in the hearts of the people.
There once was a town named Pompaelo in Faro. The people of this town lived in harmony and were the happiest people on the planet be it a Sunday or a Monday, whether sun or rain, whether food or famine. People of Pompaelo believed that the most important reason of life was to be happy and live in harmony with fellow beings. There didn’t exist violence, nor destruction. The people were understanding and empathised with each other, and helped one another promptly when need arose. The city thrived on agricultural produce and the predominant occupation was farming. Other occupations included tool-making, ornament designing, carpentry, pottery, fishing, teaching, among the others. A striking feature of this town was that it didn’t have a place of worship nor idols of reverence. Nobody believed in a higher being just because of the simple fact that each one was happy with themselves and each one was always there for the other when need be.
The town witnessed a festival every month that commemorated the achievements of the people during the previous month. Each one appreciated the other and there was a deep sense of warmth and attachment irrespective of the position, class and status because people did not even realize that it meant something to be greater than the other. Every festival witnessed a range of dishes prepared by each family, where everyone loved to share their produce and enjoyed the evening to its fullest. Ultimately, every person went home not just with a full stomach, but a merry heart. Was this a lot to ask for? Not at all, for a society that only gave ineffable significance to the lives of their fellow beings. This is the least they thought they could do!
One morning, a person, claiming to be a learned scholar with a fitting attire comprising a linen bag on his shoulder, an outworn hat, that seemed passé and with a calm, composed demeanour visited the town. He was polite and affable with the people of Pompaelo. The people in turn reciprocated the same feelings. With someone resonating their thoughts and way of living, they were cheerfully pleased to have another member join their community. Weeks passed and the scholar lived merrily with the people of Pompaelo. He taught the children for free and professed that education must never be demanded for; it is a right to mankind. He was uncommonly positive and enchanted people with his exceptional, inordinate way of storytelling. Soon, the children went to their parents and told them what an outstanding teacher and storyteller he had been and the great train of thought that he had possessed. Soon, mothers also joined classes, followed by the fathers; then came grandfathers and grandmothers. Not long before, he was the most talked about feat in town.
With time, he swiftly and unassumingly categorized the audience to male and female, then by their age, and then by occupation. To every category, he would say the other was better. While speaking to men, he said they were more superior to women. But when he spoke to women, he won their hearts by claiming them to be the greatest force on the planet because women are the only beings capable of giving birth. His stories were tremendously soothing, especially because he narrated it with conviction and matchless confidence. To the men, he retold the story of a country in another part of the world, where one woman led to the doom of her husband because she didn’t obey when she was told not to cross the “rekha”. Little did he tell the listeners that she only did it to help a sage who came by asking for water. Mr. Scholar was a great mastermind in manipulating and making the stories sound so satisfying and real. Soon, he only told stories which the people wished to hear. Since the town had a greater population of farmers, he illustrated stories where only farmers were the most important people of a country because they fed the society, while the rest did other kinds of so-called “odd” jobs. Listening to these stories, the people from other towns in Faro came to listen to the “wise” words of the scholar. Little could they foresee what their society would turn out to be in the near future. He then went on to claim that people with a darker complexion showed they were “impure” because angels are symbolised by the colour “white”, whereas “black” symbolised demonic power. In no time, people began looking down upon ones with a darker complexion and each one began obsessing over becoming fairer. Soon, fair meant beauty and dark meant otherwise. The people of Faro did not pay heed to the few persons who questioned the words of the Scholar, and they were imprisoned or executed for “offensive” remarks. The day came when the people, rather the “subjects”, asked the scholar to become their leader. The next generation worshipped him as God. Soon, there existed a feeling of lacking among the masses, and if one person in town was in need, then he/she would not be helped by fellow beings like what used to happen (not a long time ago), but he/she was asked to go to the temple and worship the deity by offering prayers in the form of pompous rituals and ceremonies. Before one knew it, the state of Faro was bewitched by distress and unfairness. People became slaves to their own thoughts and there was little scope for escape.
It was indeed a story that turned situations in a harmonious town upside down. The power of storytelling will only increase in the generations to come. So be careful of what you say and how you say it. A whole civilization can be under threat because of one story. In this story, nobody asked the scholar for his qualifications or list of certifications. The ability to tell a story determines not just what you become in life, but also how your life changes the world forever.
You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it is built in the human plan. The title of my blog is ‘Storytellers Never Die’, but there is a predicate to it – Storytellers never die, but stories can kill. Be mindful of the stories you tell, for a whole generation can either be carved into a more responsible and ingenious one or, one that is tormented by the ghastly, immoral thoughts that the human mind could get confined to.
Imagine the characteristics of existence on our planet if stories remained stories and NOT religious texts. Give it a thought. I may be wrong and in any case, I don’t intend to be a storyteller like Mr. Scholar.
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