My father’s voice was like a portal to me, rich spools of magic that spun stories as clear as day.
It was a mixture of warm tones and sharp inflections, where sparks of stirring excitation and ardour lay buried beneath an air of patience. His words kindled emotions within me that mirrored his own, and his stories swept my thrumming heart into a whirlwind of ecstasy and elation, sentiment and sorrow, until I was left with a lingering thrill.
In the murky darkness of my mind, I held on to my father’s voice.
‘I grew up in a forest: of trees that stretched to the sky; of rivers that cascaded down cliffs; of pebbles and sand and dirt and the wonders of nature.’
The veil lifted over my vision, and I found myself standing in an emerald glade. My eyes followed the cacophony of sounds around me to a bubbling stream, and feathered thrushes warbled lilting tunes as a breeze rippled through the lush foliage.
‘Me and my brothers loved to climb trees, and we would spend our afternoons eating its ripe fruit whilst sitting on the branches.’
I ran out of the sunlit glen, my bare feet treading on crinkled leaves and sandy stones as I scampered after the sweet scents of ripened fruit. My eyes landed on a small tree, where clusters of luscious mangoes hung from drooping vines.
Hoisting myself upwards, I rested on a twisted bough, and pulled out the pen knife strapped to my sides. My fingers plucked a lush mango dangling overhead, and I sliced it nimbly into thin slivers of tender fruit.
Looking down at the canopy below, I can make out the rough outlines of a house in the distance, where it stood against a crimson and gold horizon.
‘My father built that house from wood and stone, and our family of nine lived there for many years.’
Weaving through the brambly thicket, I dove around lofty trees as I made my way down the winding path to the little house.
‘We found ourselves most happy in these woods.’
His words echoed through me, and I felt a strange warmth blooming in my chest.
In these moments, I saw a different side of my father; in these stories, I found a new side of myself.
Stories are formally defined as a form of entertainment, in which narratives relay the events of their characters, either fictional or real.
As the saying goes, ‘we lose ourselves in books, and we find ourselves there too’. Whether as a form of escapism, stress-relief, or simple enjoyment, all stories blur to a simple goal: to captivate and interest their readers.
Most of the stories that fill our lives come from books – bound with ink and paper and spellbinding titles – where we grasp wondrous realms and dystopian dimensions at the edge of our fingertips, and find our source of entertainment through twisting plotlines and surreal characters.
As Veronica Roth would say, these stories are conflict-driven, where the entire plot revolves around some sort of dilemma. While I definitely agree that a long novel with no conflict would be immensely dull and tiresome, I firmly believe that not every story worth reading or telling must be conflict-driven.
From the introductory scene, my father’s childhood stories had shown itself to fulfill the basic criteria of a good story – to captivate and interest their readers – and so much more.
Good conflict-driven stories all influence and bring about various emotions in their readers, such as hatred for a villain, sympathy for the main character, and the most notorious one on this list: crushing grief when a favourite character is killed.
I have never experienced any of the emotions above when delving into my father’s stories, but what I do feel is thrilling excitement, tickling curiosity, unfurling wonder, a strong nostalgia for the past, and of course, an undying love for my family — all of which are very rarely felt when immersed in another book.
Additionally, stories without conflict have a way of expressing certain notions, concepts, and opinions, particularly because their lack of predicaments and perplexity gives more room for the story to unfold around single views.
Poetry is a clear example of this. Shakespeare had written a multitude of sonnets revolving around themes of impending doom, punishing fates and looming death, but let’s not forget his sonnets of eternal love and true beauty.
Art is a universal means of expression, and is also known to portray and depict stories of its own, especially ones that contain hidden messages. Paintings of blooming daffodil meadows, portraits of a loved one, and sketches of treasured places are all representations of the deep, meaningful connections we make in our lives, and the heartstrings we weave into these connections.
How can something as beautiful and intricate as poetry and art be disregarded as unimportant and pointless?
After all, writing is just another form of art, and if a story is just as subjective, abstract and personal as art itself, then who is to say what is worth reading, and what is not?
I might have an unhealthy craving of heart-soaring adventures, spectacular sights and sword-slashing heroines, but it is the warmth found within my father’s stories that my heart will never forget.