Sanjukta, the volunteer at Anandan, South End Park started off the session on 8 August with a fun game on creating animal sounds. Her ‘kids’ as she fondly calls them, made sounds of their favourite animals.
They then moved on to talking about their favourite books-what they liked to read. Out of the 10 children in the group, only two actually read storybooks. The others reeled off names of textbooks and subjects in schools. Other than the two who said they read books, none of the others had storybooks at home. Sanjukta then asked them what kinds of stories they liked to hear, and quite expectedly, the group answered in a chorus- ‘Bhooter golpo!’
Sanjukta followed this up with an activity—where the children had to draw—all 10 of them, on one chart paper, their favourite things. This was a fun activity because who does not like to draw their favourite things! It also served to give us a sense of how well the children worked in a group. Whether there was sharing and cooperation or arguments and shoving. Sanjukta demarcated each child’s ‘area’ using funny shapes and with almost minimal altercation, the children got down to work. After this activity was over, Sanjukta promised the children that she would use whatever the children had drawn in her stories in the upcoming sessions.
After this, the children all sat in a circle on the floor. They were handed a series of simple line drawings-each with a certain aspect of the absurd. For instance, a cricket bat with a smiling face. The children were fascinated. Sanjukta started off a story building exercise, at first asking them to simply describe the picture at hand and then gradually moving onto developing a story.
This session proved incredibly interesting. I noticed a difference in the way the children responded once they all sat in a circle to try and describe the pictures. It seemed to me that it was much easier for them to talk about the pictures when they were all huddled around them, in a less formal structure. It also showed me how much I take for granted having storybooks at home and that we are that much more responsible for taking stories to those who cannot access them easily.