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Stories Maketh a Person?

As someone who loves listening to stories and experiences, I wonder if it’s the time that the story happens that dictates the way these stories progress or are perceived, or is it the people who believe in these stories and practices that make the stories last forever? ‘Kaal thadukutha, okanthutu po’, ‘Night nail cut panna koodathu’, ‘Oru andankaaka paatha nallathuku illa’, ‘Kaaka kathina veetuku virunthali varuvanga’ ‘Karthigai masam na sayangalam velaku, Margazhi na kaalaila velakku ethanum’ are some of the superstitious beliefs that I have heard growing up; beliefs that are now ingrained in my memory. However, there isn’t a definite time or date that I can recall when I had heard an elderly person utter these.

It was quite recently when I heard one more such belief and the story behind it. On a gloomy day, post what must have been a 25 minutes drive, when I had gone to meet my grandmother, she found me irritated and enquired the reason behind it; it was the weather that day. “Enna paati veyil um illama mazhaiyum illama etho maadhiri irukku weather” I shared my frustration. She immediately responded saying that it was due to “meghagarbotham”. I paused, wondering if I had heard it right, and decided to check with her. “Enna paati sonna?” I asked her, and her reply took me aback with surprise.

She explained saying “Ippo ithellam neengalam nambuveengala nu theriyaadhu, aana andha kaalathula margazhi la kadasi 13 naal ah meghagarbotham nu solluvaanga. Megham nejamaave gharbama irukku nu oru nambikkai irundhudhu. Appo mazhai vandhudhu na abortion aiduchu nu arutham. Intha 13 naal la eniki lam mazhai peiyudho, antha Tamill maasathula lam mazhai peiyum nu oru nambikkai.” This explanation left me spellbound and I was not sure how true this belief was and if people in today’s day and age would rely on a system like this to know how the weather the next day would be rather than just checking with Google. Following this train of thought came another one on how or rather what would be a 21st-century person’s approach to such systems and beliefs.

As someone living in the 21st century, there is always confusion on how much of these make sense scientifically and how many are just oral traditions being passed over generations, like a precious jewel a family member attaining the elderly status starts flaunting. Is it just the age’s wisdom or is there some degree of truth attached? Is it just me or do all of you know how or rather the why behind all of this? Some of these beliefs and stories have become an integral part of me without my realisation, making it difficult to rub them off the shoulder and let them go!

But then I assume these beliefs have shaped the way we are today, having accepted some of them and having grown past many others. Aren’t we all made of many stories, some that are an integral part of our system, some that make us uncomfortable, and some we wish to abandon? Aren’t stories and experiences the only vestiges we have left post the moment? Aren’t we all indebted to the concept of stories? Aren’t we all by default storytellers?

As I sat quietly wondering the relevance of these beliefs in the current age, I found myself becoming worried about losing all these stories and values as the older generation passes? Will we carry some of them to our old age? For instance, does one really have a bad day when a black cat crosses their path? Does it make sense to cut nails only in the daytime even now, when we have light at the click of a switch now? Why do people suggest you take a minute or two when you are in a rush and your leg accidentally slips; does it not make the person late and prone to subsequent consequences? Do guests really come over when a crow caws? The more I hear these the more curious I am to know about the circumstances under which these stories/beliefs came up? Who made them? And who decided to follow them? Who thought it was a good idea to spread it? Did they know it would come so long in time? And are we going to take all this forward?

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