The very first story I remember my mother narrating to me was the folktale of the two small birds podna and podni. When the king steals the podni, the podna goes to rescue her in a cart made of twigs drawn by two frogs. Along the way he meets a cat, lion, ants, fire and river who all accompany him by sitting inside his ear canal. At the king's palace as the different challenges are thrown at the podna, he overcomes them with the help of his friends, and finally returns triumphant to his home after rescuing the podni.
The folktale of the podna and podni has remained with me and is now a part of the STORYKIT Program as one of its most popular tales. On account of the diverse characters, situations, and moods, it is also used in the program's Memorise, Connect, Improvise (MCI) method of interactive storytelling to train storytellers.
While translating The Adventures of Amir Hamza, and then doing work on the Hoshruba Project, I discovered the occult and mystical lore from the Indian subcontinent. I discussed some of these themes and traditions in the Microtalk Essays.
I realised how lucky I was to have studied the Sindhi language at school for a few years when I discovered the Folklore and Literature Project, a treasure trove of Sindhi folklore in forty-two-volumes, compiled by the scholar, philologist, and folklorist Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1917–2011). Incidentally, Dr Baloch was our neighbour in Hyderabad, and I remember seeing the great man and meeting him a few times with my father who was his colleague at the Sindh University. I was able to read and translate the stories in the collection with some help from the dictionary and Sindhi language scholars. As the folklore of my birthplace, it holds an additional charm for me. I translated three stories from Volume 26: Fables of Animals and Birds, and plan to translate more.