His own descriptions were greatly influenced by the Tamil authors that he read. When he was narrating even the smallest of incidents, he would try to work in suspense and a surprise ending into the account. For example, instead of saying that he had come across an uprooted tree on the highway, he would say, with eyebrows suitably arched and hands held out in a dramatic gesture, “The road was deserted and I was all alone. Suddenly I spotted something that looked like an enormous bushy beast lying sprawled across the road. I was half inclined to turn and go back. But as I came closer I saw that it was a fallen tree, with its dry branches spread out.” Mahendra would stretch himself back in his canvas chair and listen to Iswaran’s tales uncritically.
Iswaran was greatly influenced by the Tamil writers and he used to read their stories with great enthusiasm. The descriptions and scenes used in the story attracted Iswaran, and he used to narrate the stories to Mahendra in the same tone. Mahendra remembered that Iswaran would describe even a minor incident with a lot of suspense and surprise, making it very interesting for the listener. For instance, instead of saying that "he walked down the highway and came across a fallen tree on the road", Iswaran would use his facial expressions, bodily gestures and exaggerated descriptions to narrate it. Iswaran would raise his eyebrows and stretch out his hands to show the dramatic descriptions.
First, Iswaran would say that the road was empty and he was all alone on the road. This would create suspense in the listener’s mind. Then he would say that suddenly he had seen something which seemed to be like that of a giant beast lying across the road. As he walked ahead, his mind would be telling him to turn and go back. As he reached closer, he would have seen a tree that had fallen and lying on the road. The branches of the tree had spread out and seemed to be a giant beast. Mahendra says that the talent of Iswaran made the simple story fascinating, and it attracted him.
The fallen tree seemed like a beast
Although Mahendra knew that some of the stories of Iswaran were not true, the way of narration and description was very exciting. So Mahendra would not say anything but would listen to him quietly. Usually, while listening to Iswaran's story, Mahendra would stretch himself as he sat on a canvas chair and listened to his stories curiously.
Meanings of the difficult words:
|Incident||An instance of something happening; an event or occurrence|
|Suspense||A state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen|
|Surprise||An unexpected or astonishing event or fact|
|Tale||A fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted|
|Deserted||Of a place without any human inhabitant|
|Enormous||Very large in size, quantity, or extent|
|Beast||An animal, especially a large or dangerous four-footed one|
|Sprawled||Spread out over a large area in an untidy or irregular way|
|Inclined||Leaning or turning away from the vertical or horizontal; sloping|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Moments. Iswaran the Storyteller– R.K. Laxman (pp. 12-18). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.