BHUBANESWAR: Stories help recap and relive experiences. In times when people binge on the unhealthy diet of social media and digital amusement, story-telling has become a tradition gasping for breath.
The younger generation may be an intelligent lot but its intellect is usually channelized mostly towards screen-based entertainment.
Still the wonders of oral traditions of storytelling have stood the test of time. They are potent enough to initiate a movement where youngsters can be conditioned into quick-witted individuals and be introduced into a whole new world where their imagination takes flight.
The storytelling session by author, chronicler and translator Gillian Wright on the second and concluding day of Odisha Literary Festival (OLF) was one such attempt.
Wright, who has translated two classic novels of Hindi literature, Raag Darbari by Shrilal Shukla and A Village Divided by Rahi Masoom Reza, as well as a selection of acclaimed short stories of Bhisham Sahni, read out snippets of her book “Mishti- The Mirzapuri Labrador” on the secon day of the festival.
Talking to the young audience, Wright admitted with refreshing candour that it was only after college that she developed a passion for translation. Going on to read out chapters from her latest work, which revolves around her pet Mishti - a feisty Labrador- and her anecdotes, she enthralled the audience by using the pet as a metaphor for the changing landscape of Delhi.
“Mishti is probably the only Labrador to have participated in archaeological dates,” said a beaming Wright for whom Delhi’s changing history is closely intertwined with Mishti’s narrative. But why Mishti?? Because, Mishti’s “pagalpan” (madness) is unmatched.
Mishti was born in Mirzapur, the famed city of handmade carpets but circumstances landed her in Delhi, in lap of Mark and Gilly (Gillian) who went on to share an adventurous journey with their high-spirited pet. The book revolves around their shared lives and Mishti, with endearing illustrations.
On being asked about how Mishti has impacted their lives, Wright gave an insightful explanation of how we all live in a human bubble while animals and plants are more “human” than believed.
“Dogs are way more unconditional than any other animal. It’s a matter of no surprise that early man first domesticated dog and accepted its company in the civilizational journey,” said Wright going on to add that the two decades they shared with Mishti was co-terminous with many parallel changes in Delhi - the narrowing of greenery, the progressing dereliction of ruins, the sprouting of concrete jungles and the changing social profile of the historical city.
The book explores the parallel journeys of Mishti and the reconfiguring contours of Delhi. Wright held the young audience with rapt attention with her playful narration and the poignancy of having a pet.