Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Jump Into Jilebi Land – The Making of the Story

Last year, we conducted the Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest. Participants had to remix a set of pictures from one of our books and create a new story with these pictures. Sruthakeerthy Sriram was the winner in the 'below 16 category'. 

Sruthakeerthy wrote to us and told us how she came up with the story :

It all started when my father informed me about a story writing contest. Not just any story writing contest (as he hastened to tell me). This was one story writing contest which was quite unlike others. At first, I was indifferent. This was just another one of those contests which I frequently participated in. However, by and by, as I found out more about the contest, I realised that it was in reality quite different from other contests. Since it was different, I naturally began to take a lot of interest in it! For one thing, it was an online contest conducted by a children’s publisher. Another thing that appealed to me about the contest was that we weren’t given the topics and asked to write a story (this is the standard thing). Instead, we were provided with pictures and all we had to do was to write a story based on the pictures. I was really excited at this novel way of writing a story. Even the prize was an unusual (though wonderful) one. The winner would see his/her story in the form of a published book!!! This kind of reward was something I had never dreamed of in my wildest dreams and it was the icing on the cake. I decided then and there that come what may, I would take part in this contest. Time was not a problem as the contestants had about one month’s time to submit their story, but I got to work at once with great gusto. 

Then, suddenly, enthusiastic as I was, I realised that I did not know exactly how to go about writing the story, as this was the first time I had taken part in a contest where the story had to be based upon the illustrations. Suddenly, I had a brainwave. My first stop was the computer. I shooed my brother out on the pretext that I wanted to work on my story. Poor guy! (I am being sarcastic) He couldn’t do anything as I had my father’s whole-hearted support. I immediately logged on to the Pratham Books website! Once there, reading some entries of last year’s contest was a piece of cake. I found some of the entries (especially Listen to my Body and Ranju meets Puchee) very entertaining. They were also the solution to my problem. After reading these stories, I got a very clear idea about how to use the pictures to the fullest and write my story. I also downloaded all the pictures. Now, all that remained was to start writing my story. Hmmmmm........... 

As it was the vacation period, the afternoons were long and dreary. But now, I decided to utilise this time for writing my story! Not only would boredom be dispelled, my story would also take shape bit by bit. The first thing to do was to form the general plot of the story. I initially decided to mould my story upon a little girl who is hungry, when an appetizing smell of delicious jilebis reaches her nostrils. She decides to play the detective and follows the smell till it leads to the jilebis. Though I was quite satisfied with the plot when I first began to write my story, I realised towards the latter end that it was just a teeny bit like Noni’s “Listen to My Body”. My parents were of the same opinion and my brother, always ready to detect flaws in anything I do, said the same thing. I tried various ways of modifying my story – pruning it here, adding a little something there but NO! It just didn’t seem right. In the end, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that I would have to make a fresh attempt with a wholly different plot. Unable to bear my brother’s sniggering, I pushed my grey cells to the utmost extent. I was determined to make this second attempt a success.

I wondered what sort of plot to come up with, as I wanted it to be innovative and ingenious. I thought and thought and came to the conclusion that the story should be based on something which was the least conspicuous to write about. JILEBIS!!! I made up my mind to make Jilebis the central characters around which the entire story would revolve. Now, I began to rack my brains about how to create such a story where jilebis would be the central characters. Just at that moment, my brother Raghu walked into the room to begin his routine job of irritating me. I did all that was in my power to oust him from the room but to no avail. Nothing worked – not pleading, not threatening, not cajoling. At other times, he was usually bearable, but now, just when I was concentrating so hard, to have him irritating me was too much! Yet, I knew that if he were not there, I would miss his pranks, his jokes and yes, even his irritating ways! I also realised that I would be very lonely if I had no one to fight with, to support, to love and to irritate. Raghu had unwittingly given me the perfect idea for my story! A child who doesn’t have any siblings, who feels lonely, has a surprising adventure one day and at the end of it all, finally gets an extraordinary companion. That was how Divya came into being. 

Divya was a little girl who lived happily with her interesting friend Fluffy (a cute, furry thing). I decided that my story would be centred on Divya’s first meeting with Fluffy and how she felt before and after she met Fluffy. As I wanted my story to revolve around the jilebis, I created Jilebi Land, which is made up of jibis, jilebis and nothing but jilebis! After that, ideas started pouring out and materialised in the form of Jiligate. I thought about the security guards at the gates of any apartment and decided that instead of a guard, I could have a talking door instead! (there are no people in Jilebi Land). I really enjoyed making up a suitable description for the room where everything including the furniture is made up of jilebis! The strange manner in which Divya and Fluffy meet emphasizes upon Divya’s kindness and also upon the stickiness of Jilebi Land! After some time, all jilebis and nothing else, makes Divya a dull girl. She wants to play, but finds out that she is the first human being to step into Jilebi Land in many years. I coined the term Jill-year by mixing the first half of ‘jilebi’ and ‘year’ together. By this time, I had almost come to the end of my story. I wanted to make sure that I did not end my story abruptly. I decided to end my story with Divya taking Fluffy home with her, as I had started with Divya recalling her first meeting with Fluffy. The main thing was to end it on a happy note!

Keeping both, my fingers AND my toes crossed, I showed the story to my parents a second time. This time, apart from some minor faults, they were delighted with my story. At least the idea was a unique one. They were unanimous on one point. It was definitely better than my first attempt. I pranced around the room. Raghu, though, was of the opinion that it was no better than my first attempt (I never take his opinions into consideration - the pessimist!). After I made the necessary changes, I sent it off – not caring whether I would get a prize or not as all that mattered to me was that my parents had appreciated the effort that I had put in and as I had completely ENJOYED and LOVED writing the story!!!!!!!!!!!

The next few weeks were spent in a fever of excitement, anticipation, and suspense. It became even greater when the date of the results was postponed. However, come it did! It was an evening like any other and I had just started on my homework when my father looked into my room and beckoned mysteriously. I followed him into the computer room wondering what was up. My mother was also inside the room. Without saying a word, my father sat down at the computer and motioned wordlessly at the screen. I glanced at the computer and saw that the Pratham Books website was displayed and the results were out. And I was the winner in the under-16 category!!!!!!! When I first saw my name, I really couldn’t believe that it was true. I had to pinch myself once or twice to convince myself that it was real. Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought that I would actually win. The next few minutes were spent in a sort of dream. It was only after I had conveyed the good news to my relatives and friends that it actually began to sink in. My parents were extremely happy and congratulated me. Even my brother had to admit that it was a great thing that I had won this competition. My mother immediately went into the kitchen to celebrate the occasion with some special sweet dish. Guess what? SWEET, SYRUPY, STICKY, PIPING HOT, DELICIOUS JILEBIS!!!!!!!!! I will never forget that day which was one of the best days of my life.

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