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Nani’s values for the win

Chithkala Rajaraman, with the help of her friends Snowy and Honey, delivers stories of value in fun little packages

Published: 17th March 2021 02:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2021 08:16 AM   |  A+A-

Chithkala Rajaraman

Express News Service

CHENNAI: When someone comes to meet us, they should go back feeling rejuvenat e d , happy and optimistic. It is important to have a positive aura and emit the same energy. For this, we need to be mindful of intrinsic values like patience, love and respect for one another, among other things.

These values are not time-bound,” says Chithkala Rajaraman, a value- education teacher with over four decades of experience, as we discuss energies and auras at her Anna Nagar residence. Over the past year, on a mission to take the manysided knowledge of such values to the children of today, Chithkala has been uploading short-story videos, laced with intrinsic principles, on her Instagram page ‘Chikunani’.

A legacy
With over 1,000 followers from across the globe now following this sprightly nani (grandmother) for her engaging content and words of wisdom, Chithakala shares that it has been a serendipitous and gratifying journey. “The idea was mooted by my family. They said that leaving behind this knowledge would be a legacy in itself. But, I thought to myself, ‘Who would want to listen to value- based stories from a grandmother, on social media?’ I was wrong .

Stuck indoors amid a global pandemic, parents especially those between ages 25- 35 and with preschoolers at home were immediately drawn to the narratives,” she shares. In July 2020, when Chithkala uploaded her first video a sing-along for preschoolers on self-love  little did she know she would receive admiration from hundreds of Instagram users. “Love is the basis of life and self-love is the beginning. It is important to impart this knowledge to children at a young age. I was glad that the video was wellreceived,” she smiles, sipping on a cup of hot coffee.

While it didn’t take too long for her to come up with a concept for the first video, it took her nearly eight hours to edit the footage. “I am not techsavvy and I had to learn the process from scratch. This new journey that I embarked on has taught me a lot. Now, I can edit videos, I have learned to share videos on Instagram and add the appropriate hashtags! As for the creative process, I look for story inspirations from daily life and need just two-minutes to weave one,” says the storyteller, who was formerly a Balvikas mentor in Dubai.

Creating characters
During the chat, she introduces us to Snowy, a fluffy polar bear. “He is my granddaughter’s best friend. When I first started shooting these videos, I found it odd to not have a live audience or children to interact with. I used to freeze when the camera started recording. So, my daughter handed me Snowy for support and I started narrating stories through him. Soon, Snowy and Honey, another character I created, became a huge hit among my followers. The love the page and Snowy have been receiving is heartening. There is a mother who even did a Snowythemed room for her child,” she beams.

For long, in theory, the very purpose of education has been to provide learners with a well-balanced edible spread of information, to enable them in their overall development. However, in reality, the emphasis is often laid only on information-based education, making one intellectually developed, leaving other aspects of one’s personality physical, social and emotional underdeveloped. “It is times like these that reasserts the importance of value-education, which helps children understand attitudes, values and allows them to reflect on tenets that go beyond the walls of the classroom.

These help in the long term well-being of the learner and those around them. I want this education to become an integral part of a young learner’s life. The parents’ community has been welcoming of it,” she notes. In all her videos, Chithkala follows a simple story-telling technique, one that is unique to her character. She calls it, “being herself ”.

“This is the kind of storytelling I know — the one where the narrative is simplistic yet the takeaways are profound. I want to tell stories to children the way I would to my grandchild. I don’t want to upgrade my skills because then, I would lose my voice,” says the honorary value-education teacher of Veranda School. The grids of Chithkala’s page are now filled with stories on self-appreciation, mindfulness, working without worrying about results, nature and its inherent intelligence, among other aphorisms.

Transformative narratives
While the stories are not tailormade for every follower/ child, it has so far had a profound impact on different kinds of learners and children with different needs, including those with disabilities. “It’s amazing how observant children are during their formative years. This is the right time to feed them stories that are of value. But, they have to be broken into edible pieces. They need to be given the time to reflect on their learning,” she suggests. Besides virtually imparting information to tiny tots, she has also been sharing her fitness journey on the page.

“Many times, parents forget to care for themselves. Our body is our home and ahimsa starts at home. So, one cannot abuse their body and not care for it. My fitness journey started in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with rheumatism. I have since then enjoyed the rush and goodness of a workout. I have been uploading my workout videos in the hope that it encourages a parent to take some time out for themselves,” she adds. Taking suggestions from parents, she is now penning a book based on the stories on her page. “Many parents who don’t endorse screen-time suggested I turn my stories into a book.

I had to respect their decision and vision to keep their children away from the screen and the works for a book are underway. I am excited about this new phase and purpose in my life,” she smiles. In a discussion spanning 60- odd minutes, we tangibly experience a slice of Chithkala’s initial words  about the importance of fostering a positive aura, one that she abundantly exudes. This makes the reason children and adults al ike adore her, more apparent.

Fitness first
Besides virtually imparting information to tiny tots, Chithkala has been sharing her fitness journey on the page. “My fitness journey started in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with rheumatism. I
have since then enjoyed the rush and goodness of a workout. I have been uploading my workout videos in the hope that it encourages a parent to take some time out for themselves,” she adds.

For details, visit Instagram page @chikunani or YouTube Channel Chiku Nani



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