The Daily Star – September 1 2012
Stories at Ekushey Book Fair. Photo: Ihtisham Kabir
Who doesn’t love a good story? Some of the earliest stories I enjoyed were long but exciting tales of prophets, kings and villains. My great-
grandmother, whom I called Biamma, told them to me and other children gathered around her. Like Scheherezade, she held us spellbound night after night, breaking off at tense junctures to ensure we returned to her the next day.
Biamma, who had married into the family from Dhaka’s Nawab Bari, was an extraordinary woman. She was over seventy, but her memory never faltered during her storytelling. With her long white hair she was a picture of grace.
She read voraciously. It is said that when she ran out of books to read, she went around the house looking for children’s textbooks.
Her brand of verbal storytelling, called Kissa, has almost disappeared from our culture. Our children multitask their way through life with smartphones, ipads and tablets while wrestling gargantuan homework assignments; few have time to listen to long stories……….