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Tuesday 11 August 2020

The Good Scare

"Yahan se pachas pachas kos door gaon mein, jab bachha raat ko rota hai, toh maa kehti hai, bete so ja, so ja nahi toh Gabbar Singh a jayega."

Iconic lines, aren't they? Mothers from times immemorial have used, booboo, bogeyman, buddha baba, rakshas, pucchandi and many other characters to get the little ones to listen to them when all other wiles fail. 
While modern parenting psychologists would reprovingly wag a finger against scare tactics of any kind, sometimes that may be the only recourse open to the parent to ensure the child listens to what she is told, especially if it is to prevent her from any potential harm.

My kids grew up listening to a healthy dose of fairytales, epics, folk tales, fables and a few made-up tales. 
You see we had this ritual of story-telling during all meals. It just made the whole affair so much faster! Besides meal-time, we had bedtime stories too. The main difference was, meal-time stories had to be more imaginative and delivered with exceptional raconteuring skills.
So depending on the menu for the day, the stories got more or less embellished. For instance, deep-fried potatoes or pasta didn't require too much effort while cabbage, sprouts, beans etc. required more work.
Bedtime stories in comparison were usually comforting, stress-free, even boring and monotonous...well, sleep-inducing ones, which usually the father seemed to be a pro at!

So my repertoire of stories had to be constantly upgraded as the audience demand for newer, wackier tales grew.

Occasionally, I sneaked in some tales that were a bit scary with the intent of inspiring some good old-fashioned fear to deter the kids from trying anything foolhardy.
The things we parents do in the name of protecting and keeping them safe from harm!🙄
Hey, don't go raising those brows...not until you hear me out!

Well, in the search for new stories to aid the meal-times, there began a series I liked to call: 
True Life Stories (with Morals).
They were supposedly real-life experiences that had taken place in my life or somebody else's. In fact, many of these stories have been passed down through generations.
Of course, it could be that these"real" experiences were majorly dramatized for better story-telling experiences.
In my defence, I'd like to point out that these stories were a hit with my little audience and fussy meal-times were non-existent!

Are you curious as to what these stories were like?
Let me share a few while pointing out that I've just shared the briefest outline of these stories. They were liberally seasoned, garnished and stretched to last the duration of a meal.

1) The boy who never cleaned his shoe
There was this boy who never, ever cleaned his shoes before wearing them, however much his mother reminded him.
One day a scorpion got into the shoe.
The boy slipped on his shoes without tapping it out clean. The scorpion stung him and his foot swelled up and hurt terribly. His parents rushed him to the doctor and after lots of injections and bitter medicines he became alright.
Moral: You must always clean your shoes before wearing them.

You bet this tale ensured the kids knocked the stuffing out of shoes before wearing them!

2) The careless mother
One day this mother is in a hurry to leave for work. She forgets to cover the pan of boiled milk. A lizard scurrying on the ceiling falls into the hot milk and dies. Later, the mother serves the milk to both her children without realizing what has fallen in. The children fall violently sick and have to be rushed to the hospital.
Moral: Never leave eatables uncovered.

I for one can guarantee that once you've heard this story, you'll never ever leave the kitchen without ensuring everything is covered.

3) The boy who got lost
A family goes on an outing. Little boy wanders when the parents are looking elsewhere. He gets lost in the big city and cries a lot. A friendly old man takes him to the police station. After many hours, the parents after searching all over finally reach the police station and find their little boy.
Moral: You must never wander alone in a new place.

This story ensured that my kids never strayed too far on outings or got lost ever!

4) The girl with the pencil
This little girl loved pencils. She kept sharpening her pencils and would watch the sharp points with pride. Her mother told her to stop playing with the sharp pencil especially with her little baby brother around. One day as the girl was writing in her book, little baby sneaked over and took a sharp pencil lying next to his sister. When his sister suddenly turned and screamed at him, the baby got scared and poked himself with the pencil. Thankfully he missed poking his eye but the sharp-pointed pencil gave him a big nick on his chubby cheek. 
Moral: Always be careful with sharp objects.

Nothing better to save the kids from sharp-pointed injuries!

So you get the idea? Scary tales that leave a mark on the psyche but in a good way...I think!

I was wondering what kind of cautionary tales must be doing the rounds nowadays.
I refuse to believe that such tales are out of fashion!
I'd say, the new Gabbar in town being the Corona Virus, parents would be narrating tales like this...

One day a girl went to the market without her mask. A man in the market sneezed. Another lady coughed. The girl came home and in a week's time, she tested positive for COVID.

A man went to work wearing his mask. But he did not bother to clean his hands every time he touched the lift doors, buttons and other surfaces. A week later, he was sick. on! You know what? With the number of COVIDIOTS doing the rounds, it would make sense to drill these stories more to such adults than the little ones!

The current COVID situation is throwing up all kinds of small and big horror stories around us. 
Do you think we should use them to sensitize our kids to the seriousness of proper care and precaution? 

As I sign off, let me share this bit of disconcerting trivia...
Some of the most popular English rhymes we croon lovingly to our children are actually pretty creepy! 
You could check out what I am talking about here: 

Cheers, till later!

Copyright © 2020 KALA RAVI