Ritwick*, an eight-year-old boy, was frequently picking up fights with his peers in a Chennai school. He would often beat them up and every other day, he was being pulled up by teachers for his misdemeanour. The school's psychological counsellor realised that Ritwick was unable to articulate his anger and frustration.
She narrated a story to him in which the main character, an eight-year-old boy, was extremely quarrelsome and had no friends. She then asked Ritwick to guess why the boy was not getting along with anyone. And he came up with the reasons: “Probably, because he was feeling lonely and his parents were not spending time with him. Both worked till late in the evening and he was often left yearning for their company.”
For a boy who was always bellicose, the story of someone else helped him open up. Ritwick now understood himself better.
The oral tradition of storytelling, which is entwined with culture has several applications — corporates are banking on them to convey messages to their workforce while counsellors are finding ways to help clients speak their mind or help overcome addictions when others’ stories mirror their lives. In a more contemporary situation, infertile couples are finding solace in storytelling sessions, when they realise that they are not alone in the struggle.
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