Lying on the terrace under the starry night sky, my lockdown companion recounted her childhood days in a small town of the then Andhra Pradesh. She was nostalgic about sleeping under the open sky listening to mythical tales told by her grandfather. At around the same time, in Delhi, my brother and I were huddled around our father in the AC bedroom of a 2BHK apartment. My father was telling us stories from the Panchtantra to put us to bed. These bedtime storytelling sessions, even though miles apart, were forming fond memories of our surroundings, memories that transport us to our childhood selves. Memories that we share with our friends now and give them a peek into our homes, scenes we saw, tastes we tasted, fragrances we breathed. It is an imaginary tour that one can see through the memories we carry. Isn’t that magical!
Sudha Murty’s children’s books reside in that theme of the ‘act of storytelling’. Her book How the Onion Got its Layers comes not only as a story but, that experience of being told a story. The book has a quality that while reading the story, you are sure to be pleased by the colours on the pages. If you are listening to the story being told by somebody, you find yourself experiencing a princess’s fascination for clothes. I for a fact found myself occupied in the story so much that I absolutely forgot how I entered the book thinking of onions because the title read so. Actually, it never gets mentioned until the very end of the story.