Told, Untold and Told
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An old storyteller lived in the mountains in the eastern part of Malabar. His wife often complained about the lack of any human companion to their solitary dwelling. There was always a reason the storyteller told his woman; “I learn my stories from this solitude, my dear Chakky.”
Silence was the only option the old woman had, since she knew that the family survived on the money the folks in the market place offered for the tales the old man told. And it was into this region of sulking silence the young aspiring storyteller came, one day. He was there to learn the art from the master. The old woman celebrated his presence by cooking various delicacies for the student and the master.
One day the student went to town and came back with a cloud of disappointment over his face. His eyes were red as if he had cried a lot of sorry hours out. “Now, would you ever ask him what happened?” the old woman forced the storyteller. The heart of the woman perhaps had taken the young man with a maternal affection.
Understanding her desperate need, the master asked the young man what happened. The young man seemed agitated at this question. He said, “I don’t think I need to tell you this, but I understand your concerns. I was telling a story in the town and suddenly without me foreseeing; I deviated from my tale, and started telling something else. I was aware of this, but it happened as if I had a different person inside me and he was freeing himself from my control.”
The master thought for a moment. Then he smiled and said, “I can see why you are upset. Let me tell you, you should not worry about what happened. That was a sign; a sign that told you how much close you are to the universe of stories. It has started flowing through you, like a brook. Sometimes we have to submit ourselves to the mouth of the universe; it speaks through us. Let it be.”
The young student looked at the old man. He also saw the wife of the master standing beside him curious. “I did not ask you for any advice this time, did I?” he asked with a thunder of frustration on his face. “Master, don’t take me wrong; what do you say of the disgrace I had in the market and the bad impression I registered today in the hearts of those people?”
Once delivered this question, he walked away from the master and the old woman. The wife of the storyteller slowly approached her husband, “I never thought there would an acidic edge to his retort, ever.”
“That is all right, Chakky. Understand that he is deeply disturbed,” the master said. “Think of yourself in his terms. You will understand.”
Her arms held the old man’s right arm as if supporting herself in the hurt the mother in her had just endured. The father figure being disgraced, the mother felt a deep burning pain in her mind. “But you told him the best things I ever heard in my life,” she said.
The master said with a smile, “Yes, I did, but at the wrong time.”