My childhood was in a quaint village near Mangalore. Stories narrated by my parents and grandparents in Kannada kept made my world large. My fascination for stories began there and made me explore more and more literature and love for the language was developed. With majority of people moving away from villages, settling for a ‘better’ life in busy cities, we find ourselves distant from our roots. Due to the pressure of daily life parents are busy and grandparents are away. The emphasis on getting better in English has taken far more importance when compared with staying close to our identity as Kannadigas.
My niece is 15 year old and she is a voracious reader. She has read Harry Potter , Lord of the Rings and a whole of host of fiction works primarily in English . This connections is missing with Kannada be it songs or stories as she does not connect with it. It pains me to see kids like her, staying in Karnataka who are Kannadigas completely out of touch of their roots. This is where I strongly feel that Keli Katheya audio CD has a chance to make a difference.
I was delighted when I first stumbled on the Youtube channel of Keli Katheya, displaying the clips of the stories that will be on the CD. It contains six stories from six prominent writers of the state being narrated by six well known personalities in cinema, theatre and music. I watched each of the preview one by one and by the end of it, I knew that I was going to buy this for my niece. It gave me a feeling that finally I will have something to give her, which will spark a love affair with the language and act as a catalyst to explore the vast literature we have. It may be a long shot, but I feel that it is totally worth trying. It will be almost impossible to make her read a story straight away but from whatever little preview I have seen, I strongly believe that experts narrating the stories in an intimate way should definitely have a positive impact on her.
We all want to hear stories. We read books, we watch a lot of movies to find entertainment, to find a piece of ourselves in the stories. It is unquestionable that the fulfilment, involvement becomes maximum when we can relate to the stories and the characters that are portrayed. It’s easiest to connect when you see characters and settings that are around us, that is native to us and are in our mother tongue. Itsearching for good stories anywhere else.
Movies of our times don’t tell much about our lives, neither does popular music. But in comparison, literature does far more greater work in reflecting the society we live in. It gives us a glimpse of the heritage, culture and people of the land. It makes you realise the things that makes you an unique individual. Reading to the children is said to be first step towards literacy. This is why I think that Keli Katheya can simulate that intimate story telling experience thereby igniting the love and interest for Kannada in those, who have moved away from it.
My brother, after moving away from Kannada literature for long came across Jayanth Kaikini’s story book and he was so blown away by it and it made him read Kannada books more often. I sincerely hope that Keli Katheya is a project that has the potential to do the same to people like him. Gifting the CD to anyone (whether it is a kid or adult) to whom I think it will be beneficial, will be the best thing I can do from my side. With all the profits made from the CD going to the border area Kannada medium schools, it will be a success for me even if the person who received the gift doesn’t get inspired from it. Success will be doubled if they actually get reconnected with the language! I couldn’t have asked for a better deal than this!