Grace Seetharaman is a staple on our Poetry weekly Chai Lines and brings to us a unique set of stories every time she is on the show. Therefore, on the occasion of World Literacy Day, there couldn’t have been anyone better than Grace to celebrate with.
As a part of the World Literacy Day celebrations, Grace has composed a wonderful collection of poems based on the book ‘Kottavi Raja and His Sleepy Kingdom’. The book narrates an amusing story of an entire kingdom that came to the rescue of their King who was suffering from sleeplessness. They spent a lot of time contemplating ways to evoke Nidradevi or the Goddess of Sleep and relieve the King of his woes. Each of his ministers came to him with a different suggestion about how he could regain his sleep and while one suggested that he eat well before sleep, another asked him to drink a big glass of milk mixed with honey. The musicians suggested that he listen to the Neelaambari raga that is supposed to make one sleepy and the poet told him that a long romantic walk on a moonlit night was the solution to his insomnia. The King, however, felt no relief even after having tried all these methods. Finally, the Queen took the matter into her own hands and ordered for a masseuse to visit him. When he was completely relaxed, the King finally drifted off to sleep and the kingdom rejoiced. Another problem soon arose and that was sleeplessness in the subjects of the kingdom who were so used to attending to the calls of the King all night. The Queen called on an ascetic whose chants put the people to sleep and the kingdom was rid of all its problems.
The theme for this year’s World Literacy Day is ‘Literacy In A Digital World’ and Grace’s interpretation of this is an interesting observation with respect to the story. She says that the story is an exact representation of what people have come to face in this world that is constantly on the move. People seem to have no time to relax and unwind and are losing their sleep over deadlines and hectic schedules. We are losing precious time with family and precious sleep over things that won’t matter to us a few years down the line and Grace is of the opinion that the story teaches us that taking some time off our busy schedules is necessary to be able to work well.
– Anagha Bharadwaj