Andrea Nirmal

The October book club at PRAYATNA, Chennai, buzzed with excitement as children brought pictures of their grandmothers and fondly shared anecdotes about them. We spent some time discussing how parents were different from grandparents and the kids shared some interesting perspectives. For instance, one child said, “Parents look after grandparents and grandparents look after grandchildren.”

We chose to read an excerpt from the book Swami & Friends by R K Narayan. Set in an imaginary south Indian village called Malgudi, the story revolves around a boy called Swami. Like any other schoolboy of his age, Swami daydreams in his class, likes to loaf around with his friends, enjoys the pampering of his mother and grandmother and fears the discipline of his father. Listening raptly to the excerpt, children felt a sense of familiarity as they connected with the two main characters– Swami and his grandmother. The excerpt vividly described Swami’s relationship with his grandmother and recounts the events of a particular day.

Following the book reading, the kids enthusiastically participated in a quiz. We then introduced the concept of mono-acting, and invited children to come forward and mono-act scenarios presented to them. The scenarios were primarily based on the child, and their parents and grandparents responding to them. The scenarios included the child wanting to eat ice-cream, being asked to fold clothes at home by the mother, wanting to buy the latest watch etc. There was lively participation as kids incorporated out-of-the-box ideas into mono-acting their scenarios.

Towards the end children were asked to share one adjective that they thought best described their grandmothers. Each child was given a card to draw on or write and give to their grandmothers.

(Andrea Nirmal is a Special Educator at PRAYATNA.)

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