Let Me Tell You A Story
Five storytellers - Himanjali Sankar, Prayaag Akbar, Shubhra Gupta, Samit Basu, Nilanjana S. Roy and Taslima Nasrin - brought their own unique styles and perspectives to the tales they narrated in the first chapter of the Reader's Digest Chronicles.
Taslima Nasrin's voice rang through the amphitheatre as the audience hung on to every word of the exiled Bangladeshi writer as she recited verses from 'You Go Girl!' She was narrating her remarkable life story, a saga of courage, resilience and resistance, at the first chapter of the Reader's Digest Chronicles--an evening of storytelling in the heart of Delhi's cultural hub, Triveni Kala Sangam. Springtime in Delhi is brief but magical. The stage, bedecked with flowers and tea lights, rang with stories from our star raconteurs Himanjali Sankar, Prayaag Akbar, Shubhra Gupta, Samit Basu, Nilanjana S. Roy and Taslima Nasrin. Nasrin was the surprise storyteller, her presence kept a secret until she walked up on stage. As she did, the amphitheatre burst into applause.
The theme of the event, 'What I talk about when I talk about women', came alive as Nasrin delved into her past to talk about her present. Flanked by security guards, always on the lookout for bigots responding to the fatwa: "off with her head", she shared stories of her girlhood in Mymensingh in Bangladesh and the challenges she has faced in her 24 years of exile. Her pledge to use her voice and fight for women's rights seemed to resonate the evening's theme and in the telling of the stories by the authors before her.
Earlier that evening, five storytellers brought their own unique styles and perspectives to their tales. Himanjali Sankar, writer--editor and author of Mrs C Remembers, spoke about her doting, checkers-playing maternal grandmother and a rather distant paternal grandmother with an acerbic wit--women who left an indelible mark on her life. Prayaag Akbar, journalist and author of Leila: A Novel, which is now being made into a Netflix series, shared his experience of writing in the voice of a woman, stumbling and failing several times before getting it right.
Film critic, columnist and author of 50 Films That Changed Bollywood, Shubhra Gupta explored the role of women in cinema in post-liberalized India when Bollywood's heroines went from having no last names to being main protagonists.
Samit Basu, author of the fantasy series The Gameworld Trilogy, was the only one to share an original fiction, on being invited to join a committee called 'Better Worlds for Imaginary Women'. The only problem: not a single woman was on board. The audience was in splits by the end of it!Nilanjana S. Roy, author of The Wildings, The Hundred Names of Darkness and The Girl Who Ate Books, owned the stage and spoke about the women (and the cats) who shaped her life--among them were the stories of two grandmothers with a trunkful of memories, both survivors of the partition, both remarkable in their own right. She concluded by saying: "It was the stories of women that helped me make sense of my life.
About Reader's Digest Chronicles: Compelling narratives and storytelling lie at the heart of the enduring legacy of Reader's Digest. The Chronicles is a series that aims to document, collect and curate untold stories, uniting them with new perspectives, in combinations and variations that may have been lost in the relentless flow of the times we live in. These diverse stories intend to help a community of listeners experience storytelling in its purest and truest form.