There was a time in the village at dusk when the fireflies would weave in and out of the mango trees and the first beams of moonlight would wash over the rice fields when the lamps would be lit and the fires would be stoked. I can still smell the wood smoke mingled with the charcoal. That is when the stories would come out of hiding, like wild things coaxed from the shadows. That is when Grandpa Miang’s deep and wise voice would shape those wild things so we could see them, sense them.
That was the time of magic. The villagers would come together at the close of the day, tired from labour in the rice- fields bringing woven mats to sit on and baskets of sticky rice. It was on one of those nights that Grandpa Miang conjured ‘Kinnari‘ for us. With the wings of a beautiful swan and the body of a woman he coaxed her from the mythical Himapan forest and brought her into our circle. That night has never left me for that night I curled up under the mosquito net looking up at the stars and found that even they had become her dancing form. And in that way I came to know “stories are living things.”
Only yesterday I read a quote about stories by Neil Gaiman.
“Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.”
― Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
And the stories that Grandpa Miang told me live on. They have grown wings and they have flown far. Stories as fragile as songbirds’ eggs and yet they live on. Watch
how our lives connect through story, yours and mine. Listen as Grandpa Miang’s voice still speaks and something fragile and real stirs in you. Watch as tonight Kinnari enters your dreams and whispers in your ear. Look tomorrow as you see her half hiding behind the tree in the back garden. Know in your heart “here is a living thing.”