By Kala Sundaram
The Tale – Why The Sky Is Far Away
In the beginning of time, the sky was close to Earth and what’s more, it was edible too! People always had enough to eat, without ever having to work for it. However people grew careless with the sky’s gifts and they didn’t care. They began wasting the sky. The sky cared and soon the sky’s sorrow turned to resentment and then to anger. The sky warned the people of the Earth to be mindful but to no avail! The sky, tired of man’s inconsiderate ways lifted itself up far, far beyond the reach of man! This taught man to respect Mother Earth.
The Teller – Kala
Kala is a professional storyteller and coach. She has been telling stories for the past
Kala believes that Storytelling is an integral part of public speaking and she reinforces that, facts tell but stories sell, as they play to the emotions of the audience and makes them act. Kala has been telling stories at Northlight School for the past five years and other forums in Singapore.
‘Love for stories has been ingrained in me from a very young age. My father always drove home the message and importance of things in the form of parables, stories and anecdotes that he passionately related to me. Narrated playfully in the form of stories those lessons have stayed with me and helped me along the way in my interactions in my daily life. I believe in the power of stories to transform lives. “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” This quote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie aptly sums up my feelings.
My parents taught me to respect food. We had a zero-waste policy at home. I clearly recall an instance when I didn’t like what was on my plate and merrily binned it, only to get caught and then had to forego my next meal!
The African folktale, ‘Why the Sky Is Far Away” thus resonates with me. It depicts how we take nature’s bounty and munificence for granted to feed our insatiable gluttony and refuse to learn from repeated indiscretions. It is also a timely reminder to develop an attitude of gratitude towards Mother Nature!’
“What are the bounties of the sky?” I ask. ‘Rain, Sun, Moon, Stars’, shout out the kids in the audience. We then make actions for sun, moon, stars and create rain with snapping, clapping, tapping sounds. I then tell them that a very long time ago not only was the sky edible, but that it was so close to us that we could stretch out, reach up, tear a piece of sky and eat it. On hearing this their eyes grow big and wide in wonderment and disbelief! Some of them ask if someone as small as them can reach the sky? I then tell them, perhaps not you , but if you climbed by Bukit Timah Hill, (being the highest peak in Singapore) and stretch your hands out you may be able to grab a piece of the sky! When I come to the part where the village is having a feast in honour of the chief of the village with music and dance and food, I give them different small handheld noise-making devices to create music.
I have told this story to adult audience and to children. On hearing the story, adults feel a sense of gratitude and realize how we always believe that Mother Earth is so vast and will always be able to provide for our needs.