Bedtime Stories

We’re in the midst of a complete lockdown in Karnataka, and my wife and daughter are at my in-laws, while I’m stuck home. This is the same situation we were in a year ago, and we’d then gotten into a routine where my daughter would call me close to her bedtime, and I’d tell her a story.

When I was young, bedtime stories would mean retelling a famous story from the Panchatantra, or the Ramayana, or the Mahabharata. I used to love those stories. But the epics of our past hold little attraction for a generation of children raised by cartoons. For my daughter, Paw Patrol, My Little Pony, PJ Masks, Superhero Girls and their ilk have set standards of what a story should contain. A large cast. Adventure. Variety. Humour. A variety of tropes.

Our version of these ended up following the adventures of a bunch of shapeshifting camels called ‘The Camel Club.’ Raised to human-grade consciousness by a mad scientist, gifted with the ability to transform into any living creature, the Camel Club are a set of eight shapeshifters ranging from really young (second grade, so her age when we started the series) to far older(college-age, which for my eight-year-old is waaay old). In human form, they live in their base in Jaipur, go to school/college in human form, and are called upon by the various governments and police forces to help solve mysteries, prevent crimes, bring down supervillains and save ecological disasters.

In the past year, they’ve rescued animals from a forest fire, stopped a giant iceberg from destroying a port, brought polluters to justice, stopped a variety of criminal syndicates and supervillains, reformed and absorbed a rival group of shapeshifting animals and navigated the vagaries of school such as talent shows and exams.

I’ve come to love these occasions, and so has my daughter. She’s now started recording the sessions and often stops me mid-way to give her editorial comments on how things should progress. I’ll stop here, as I have to work on part 2 of our current serial - stopping the menace of giant vampire bats creating havoc in the farms around Mandya.

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