Small books of the size of less than 1/4 th of an A4 sheet, rated anywhere between Rs 1.50 to Rs. 2.75, used to prevail the book markets in early eighties.
Those books came with interesting titles (One such title : 'A ghost in the house, a devil in the forest')
Since buying books was a luxury, we used rent them from a local library usually at 10 paise per day.
I used to read them like there was no tomorrow.
In just about an year, I developed a large audience in my school who would drop their nickers to listen to my stories. It was also not uncommon for the school teachers to ask me to tell a story to keep the class quiet.
As I progressed, it almost became a practice for the teachers to ask me to tell a story.
In less than a month after I started this storytelling, I started using my imagination and created my own monsters and my own thrill rides.
Looking back, I dont think I cared for characterization or a proper beginning or an ending. I gave them a thrill ride of monster after monster.
I grew up in a small town called Tadepalligudem. We had about eight movie theatres. Nobody in my school had a TV at home. (Now, think about it for sometime. A childhood with no TV :-))
So, telling the story of the movie you saw was a big deal. The kid who saw that Chiranjeevi's movie the next the day in the school was as good as Chiranjeevi himself. He had to tell everything to his friends. The comedy, fights, villains, chases.
Out of these kids, I was lucky because one theatre (called Relangi, owned by the legendary comedian Relangi Narasimha Rao) signed up a contract with a distributor in Vijayawada to show 100 English movies. One per week. I was lucky because my dad decided that we should watch these movies.
It was at Relangi that I saw every known genre (Bond, Western, Horror, Action, Chinese etc).
Very few others watched those English movies. This gave me a blanket bragging rights and a blanket creative rights.
Just imagine this. You are the only kid who saw 'A man with a golden gun' on the weekend and the rest dont even have a TV at home. Thats like sending Sehwag to a play against a local town team.
As it can happen, I started introduced flying cars, jumping ships, galloping horses and an occasional 'English Kiss'.
With the luxury of hindsight, now I can say that, I soon lost my girl audience and developed a hard core 'insiders' who would listen to any extent of outrage.
Enter the dragon, a new dude called Sasi. He was a brahmin kid with a surrogate mother and a pampered brother. Studied well. Dressed well. Looked good. Was kind to girls and had a brilliant sense of story telling.
He narrated them with sound effects, emotions, ghosts, daily life incidents and proper logical endings. He created stories at the drop of a hat. (Or a tie). He was just too much of a dude.
In less than a month he had the class with him. The girlDom especially. Girls pretty much dedicated lunch hours for him. I never really bothered with this development, because we were too busy playing cricket and Kabaddi in lunch hours.
In about an year Sasi totally dominated the storytelling scene. Except for few close friends, the class soon forgot me as story teller. (But I still remained a celebrity with my drawings and paintings. Thats a different story :-))
Later many a times I wondered the whereabouts of that great storyteller, Sasi.
Later many a times I wondered about the choice of my subjects during those storytelling house as we grew together in that school. I wondered if I could have captured those girls imagination the way Sasi did.
After my 7th class, I left that town (that School and Radha and a bunch of childhood friends) to a small city called Vijayawada. Vijayawada was extremely rude, lewd, caste based and polarized (Balakrishna and Chiranjeevi). I never ever bothered to tell any one that I can tell stories. I always loved my middle name, so I never ever bothered to reveal my past name deeveepee.
Thus, deeveepee, the storyteller was buried.
..to be continued