Festival of Letters’, the annual feature of the Sahitya Akademi was held from 12 to 17 February 2018. Manifold literary events comprised the festival.

A children’s programme, ‘Spin-a-Tale’ was held on the lawns of Rabindra Bhavan on 17 February, 2018. The event featured a poetry and a story writing competition for school children. Our students of class 6 participated in the programme.

The special guests on the occasion were Mr. Rajnikant Shukla, well-known children’s story writer, Mr. Abid Surti, author, cartoonist, journalist, playwright and screen writer and Ms. Nazia Khan, National Bravery Awardee, 2018.
Mr. Shukla introduced Nazia Khan to the audience. He told the children the story of the inception of the National Bravery Awards in 1957, when a child saved the life of our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru. Mr. Shukla said that he has collected and published the stories of all these brave children since the inception of the awards. He shared the story of Nazia herself-how she rescued a girl from getting kidnapped by two motorcycle borne miscreants. Her act of courage brought her national recognition and awards and this further encouraged her to smash a drug and liquor haunt operating in her neighbourhood in Agra! This act of bravery won her the National Bravery Award in 2018.

The children directed many questions to Nazia about the challenges she faced, her inspiration and support in life. They sought her message for themselves and their peers. Nazia said she took her inspiration from her mother and her teachers at school. She said that if one does not act fast, quickly assessing the risk involved, one will never have the courage to help others. She said if a person even dies doing a good deed, the death too becomes meaningful.

Mr. Surti talked about the wondrous journey of story writing and how it began amongst early man as simple gestures. Gestures later became words. He told the children about the tradition of story telling in India. He gave the reference of Giju bhai, who collected stories from grandmothers in different parts of the country and published them in pre-independence India. These were later translated by Mr. Surti and published as ‘Gijubhai ka Guldasta’.

The interesting talk by Mr. Surti set the stage for the story and poetry writing competition which followed. Around 300 students from schools across Delhi participated in the competition. Some of the schools in attendance were Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, the Sriram Millennium School, Modern School Barakhamba Road and Delhi Public School among many others. The competition was divided into 2 categories, junior and senior. The topics were ‘Friendship’ for poetry and ‘Sharing’ for story writing. The participants were given 45 minutes to either write a story or compose a poem on the topics.

Soon the young minds were at work, taking their giant leaps into the deep pools of their imagination! The happy engrossed faces glistened in the crisp morning light. One couldn’t help but think about the numerous thoughts that crossed their minds, some spinning tales, while others putting them to verse.