Aadi was just like any other ten-year-old when he enrolled to participate in a summer story-telling workshop. Smart and precocious, Aadi took his time to come out of his shell. Soon, when the final day of story-telling arrived and Aadi had to take stage to tell his first story in front of an audience, he discovered that he had to go with his parents on an urgent trip to Delhi. But the boy chose to stay on in the city, without his parents, and go ahead with his solo telling, much to the immense pride of his parents and his two teachers — Deeptha Vivekanad and Nisha Abdulla. While this is a seemingly small story, it is the exact kind of impact that Bengaluru women Deeptha and Nisha have been making in communities of children and adults who attend their invigorating sessions which range from inspiring children to break out of their shell to informing adults of the horrors of the Partition.
In 2013, tired of the terrible techniques used to impart education in India, Deeptha Vivekanand founded Ever After Learning — a platform which would share knowledge through shared stories. Soon after, she was joined by her friend Nisha Abdullah. A Chennai-born Bengalurean, 33-year-old Deeptha says, “I was working as a learning consultant at an IT firm when I realised that the power of stories had to be harnessed. Nisha joined me soon after and together we have formulated a syllabus built with stories that can be easily harnessed into the existing CBSE curriculum. Gradually, we found that it is not just kids who could gain from story-telling but also adults in the many Bengaluru companies which have decided to incorporate story-telling after realising the impact that it has had on their counterparts abroad. Soon enough, we were doing call and response exercises with adults just as we would with kids.”
When the two are not hopping from one school in the city to another with their story-fuelled curriculum, Nisha spends her time concentrating on her second love — theatre. “The love for performance is something that I found I was able to incorporate in story-telling. I had worked in retail consultancy for the longest time before taking writing and theatre seriously enough to attend the Bangalore Writers Workshop. Deeptha too was part of the same classes and just when I was looking for an outlet for these twin passions of mine, she asked me if I wanted to join her. It was meant to be and we hit it off immediately,” says the 31-year-old from Mangaluru, who now considers this city her home.
With a four year old son to take care of for Deeptha, and a household to run for Nisha, life as touring story-tellers is never quiet for the twosome, yet it has its moments of quiet introspection.
Deeptha says, “We recently had a session where we got a professor of Indian history to comment on the realities of the Partition right after we told stories about it. It was very rewarding to see how the audience reacted.”
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