‘You haven’t heard this one. Listen! Listen! When I was a boy there was rumor at the madarasah that a man eater has entered our village. “He roams through the fields at night and takes away the children” my friends claimed. The only remains I heard from Abba were bones scattered a few hundred feet away…….’ Khasim began his story enthusiastically around his audience. Around ten men of all age groups Khasim ventured on yet another journey to the good old days. His listeners were engrossed. The story about the man eater ended on a triumphant mode with the great Jim Corbett entering the scene to end the life of the man eater.Khasim fondly remembered the white man, his hat and the magical instrument which showed animals roaming far away and green color of his eyes. The crowd applauded at the victory of good over evil. They clapped joyously and for that moment they were not the audience to Khasim’s story of the man eater but they considered themselves to be witnesses of the brave act of the Jim Corbett. ‘Corbett Sahib looked so pale that he resembled a ghost in the dark. My friend used to swear that Sahib could smell tiger from miles away and he was always right’ Khasim recollected.
That was the charm of Khasim’s story telling. He was gifted with the art of story telling and this art he practiced laboriously to reach the state of a perfectionist. People would forget their pains and stay mesmerized when Khasim was narrating a story. This allowed him to gain the affections of the people. Khasim was a retired clerk from the post office. In his retired life, he spent most of the time around people under the banyan tree speaking about the past. Many women gathered outside their house varandah’s to listen to Khasim’s stories. And children liked him the most. Khasim was a widower now and had no children. In many ways his stories was medicine to people. They never considered Khasim as a trammel. At times of distress they were motivated to stay positive by Heera’s character of Khasim’s story and at other times some one guilty would suddenly confess his crime lest he and his family not be punished like Hassan’s story that Khasim narrated. There were episodes of story telling when the whole crowd rejoiced with laughter at funny episodes from his stories. These people preferred Khasim’s story rather than a bioscope reel.