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Illustration by Aruvi Dave

All of us carry many stories within us – those passed down to us, those that happen to us, or to people that we know and these are the stories that need to be told and shared.

The Good Story Project came to us, as an idea, a desire, in the month of July 2020. We realised that we wanted to create a platform for stories big and small. Stories of ordinary people and everyday life. A safe space where interviews, personal narratives and features could be conducted with balance and empathy. In order to set the ball rolling, we started brainstorming for story ideas; not just themes that were relevant to us in the midst of the pandemic but also those that were pertinent before and will be so, much after the pandemic ends. We aim to share and open up this space with fellow writers who believe in telling stories in the spirit that we do.

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For daily wage earners and migrant labourers, it’s a sense of Déjà vu

For more than a year, our lives have revolved around Covid. A pandemic fatigue had set in. But just when people were hoping to move on, the situation exploded in our faces. The second Covid wave has hit India hard. The country is reporting on average three lakh fresh Covid infections daily and rumours of lockdown are making people anxious and restless. Yet again, migrant workers and daily wage earners are crowding local train and bus stations to return home because bitter memories of the 2020 lockdown are still fresh in their minds. We bring to you five heart-breaking stories of those who had faced harrowing experiences during the lockdown last year. They shudder to think what is in store for them and others this year

“Before I became an adoptive parent myself, I theoretically knew that each child deserves a family who passionately loves and protects them,”

Says Smriti Gupta, who is a child rights campaigner, and a partnerships and marketing professional. She is working to drive awareness and find lasting solutions for India’s most vulnerable children. In this interview with The Good Story Project, she talks about running a Facebook group that supports Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs), how a family can prepare themselves prior to bringing home a child, as well as her campaign on Safe Surrender. Gupta also addresses several pertinent issues regarding adoption in India, including the lack of maternity leave for parents who bring home an older child.

“When I think of our daughter and how both of them missed getting to know each other, I feel a lump in my throat,”

Says Vadodara-based artist and sculptor Zaida Jacob whose daughter was only a year and half when Jacob lost her husband in 2002. In this piece, she shares what grief feels like – tracing her memories to the time when she had just lost her spouse and 19 years later. She also shares her thoughts on how one can help a person who is grieving as well as how loss shapes a person…

“In December 2020, my whole world came crashing down around me when I lost my ma to Covid”

says Pooja Ganju Adlakha, who, in November 2020 started writing this story which was meant to be about coping with the grief of losing her father, Major Virendra Ganju, in 2016 to Motor Neuron Disease. However, by the time the story could come out, she unexpectedly lost her mother to Covid. In this first-person account, she writes about how, with both her parents gone, she is experiencing a different kind of an empty nest syndrome

“I had to deal with the grief of losing my wife during the 2020 lockdown. I felt very lonely”

says Sunil Kumar, a social worker and an artist based in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, who lost his wife Sarla Siriwas, 33, just a day before the March 22, 2020 Junta Curfew – a day-long lockdown that was announced ahead of the complete lockdown last year to stop the spread of coronavirus. While the whole country was anxious, Kumar was fighting a different battle at a hospital in Muzaffarpur caring for his wife, a social worker and a puppeteer, who had spent most of her life travelling across and living in some of the Adivasi-dominated and Naxal-infested regions. This inspirational story is about how he dealt with the grief of losing her

“Suddenly, while talking to someone over the phone, my grandfather started referring to my father as ‘body’”

says Eshwari Shukla, a journalist, while remembering the day her father passed away in an accident when she was only 13. In this first-person account, she talks about how, initially, it was strange for her to see her mother in a white saree. Her empty forehead would remind her of the sudden vacuum in their lives, but gradually the mother-daughter duo became each other’s silent strength while coping with their common grief

“Hope keeps the ship sailing … a faint hope that I will meet my mother someday”

says Darshana Shukul, a corporate communication professional, who lost her mother soon after her baby brother was born. She was just five. She still remembers seeing her mother lying on the hospital bed, pale and lifeless, and the strange deafening silence between the two. In this first-person account, she talks about how, while growing up, she wrote stories, sought solace in God’s grace, and absentmindedly befriended books, weapons that helped her battle the painful emotions of losing her mother

“I wrote a series on Facebook titled ‘From Diagnosis to Death’. Penning my thoughts helped me a great deal to process my grief”

says Nitin Naik, a Mumbai-based sports journalist, who lost his wife to pancreatic cancer in September 2015. In this first-person account, he talks about how his wife’s illness and death triggered episodes of intense darkness and depression and his coping mechanisms that include spending most weekends rearranging her wardrobe, which helps him reconnect with her

Spotting tiger pug marks, gazing at Himalayan peaks and savouring ‘Neembu Saan’, a Kumauni delicacy … Winter diaries from Almora

Eating only home-grown organic vegetables, looking after cows and consuming unadulterated milk, breathing in the fresh air, connecting with your roots, spotting tiger pug marks in your courtyard, and spending most of your day playing with dogs and pups and shooing monkeys away while working from home and fulfilling your professional commitments … if this sounds like an exciting life, writer, director, and filmmaker Kanchan Pant is actually living it

What did The Good Story Project stories teach us?

“I always thought no one can ever understand me because my situation and my life experiences have been extraordinarily different. Not all in a good, extraordinarily different way though. But after reading Jerry Pinto’s interview here, I think he will definitely understand me. His words moved me to a place of quiet acceptance of allContinue reading “What did The Good Story Project stories teach us?”

What kindness meant in 2020

The Good Story Project started in the midst of the pandemic. Many of the stories that it featured reflected in part, what was happening around us as a result of Covid-19. In the beginning of 2021, we thought we could use this opportunity to reflect on the issues and things that really mattered, that left an impact on us and will guide us in the years to come. And that is why, we decided to focus on kindness.

Overflowing crematoriums, unsaid goodbyes … the pandemic death story

The year 2020, which was both forgettable and unforgettable for the entire human race, is finally drawing to an end. There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t affected by the tiny virus that brought the world down to its knees. While the economic, financial, and emotional suffering was immense, death, unfortunately, topped all the sufferings, as world over, the numbers kept mounting by the day. Overflowing crematoriums, mass burials, heart-wrenching scenes from hospitals, and stories about unsaid goodbyes broke everyone’s heart. As this year comes to an end, we revisit some of these stories as never before have we, collectively, stared at death so closely

Ajjibaichi Shala … schooling grandmothers and fulfilling their long-cherished dreams

These grandmothers – all in the age group of 60 to 90 years – living in Fangane village in Maharashtra – had just one dream … to be able to write their names before they reached the end of their lives. Their dream came true in 2016 when Yogendra Bangar, a local schoolteacher, opened a school for them. Now, they proudly shun the thumb impression ink pad and put their signatures on ration cards and bank documents. These days, they are praying very hard for coronavirus to go away so they can go back to their school

The taangawaals of Lucknow, a slice of Nawabi history, are on the brink of oblivion post lockdown

Human Rights Day is observed on December 10 every year. This year’s theme focuses on the devastating fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on the underprivileged. For the daily wage earners living across India, the lockdown was the darkest chapter of their lives. The taangawalas of Lucknow, who make their living by ferrying tourists who come to visit the many historical monuments in the city, also fall in this category. The tradition of pulling horse carriages has been in existence since the time the Nawabs used to live in Lucknow. However, the pandemic and the lockdown have threatened the existence of this tradition.

“The need of the hour is to provide assistive devices at reasonable prices and accessibility to persons with disability”

As this article is being published, Ekta Bhyan is busy preparing for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. However, it was only accidentally that she stumbled upon club throw – a para athletic event meant for athletes with limited hand function – a sport that changed her life completely after an accident in 2003 left her in a wheelchair

“We need more training institutes and special coaches”

As a college student, Kartiki Patel would sometimes bunk her classes to play basketball, a sport she was passionate about. However, after an accident that left her in a wheelchair, in the absence of proper information, good infrastructure, and trained coaches, she had to wait for long to get back on the basketball court. This is the story of almost all para-sports persons

“International players come with an entourage. Many of our players don’t even have proper wheelchairs”

Naik Suresh Kumar Karki’s life is akin to a battlefield. Born in Nepal, he joined the Indian Army in 1995, his battalion was posted in Naugaon when the Kargil war was being fought, and in 2004, during an insurgency in Assam, he met with an accident that left him in a wheelchair. However, his second innings as a para-sportsperson is an indication that he is still a soldier at heart – brave, focused and determined

The hauntingly beautiful Spiti Valley stood completely deserted this whole year

Spiti — a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas in the Northeastern part of Himachal Pradesh – was barren this summer. It was peak season, but there were no tourists because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. It’s going to be a cold, dark, and long winter for the locals as tourists have been advised to give Spiti a miss until further notice. For homestay and hotel owners, tour operators, drivers, trek-organizers, horsemen, porters, and locals, who are dependent on tourists for survival, the pandemic has meant zero earnings. This story is like a postcard from Spiti … words and pictures telling you individual stories

Do I look like a person with mental illness in this photo?

Once, a journalist, after, I mentioned in a meeting that I have a mental illness, asked me “Why did you say that? I have never seen you talking irrationally, so you can’t be mentally ill.” I told him, “You might call me tomorrow 50 times and get no response, because the days I am more depressed, I cannot find strength to take a phone call.” He looked and smiled. Did he believe me? I am not sure.

“My comics have done wonders to my mental health and given me sort of an unshakeable self-esteem”

says Tanika Godbole, a journalist and a comic artist, who started making doodles in 2017 to get out of a bad phase and randomly shared them on social media platforms. She was surprised that people found her work relatable and funny, and her Instagram followers kept on increasing. In this interview with Swati Subhedar, she talks about how ‘missfitcomics’ has helped her deal with her emotional issues and how art can be a saviour during the pandemic

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2 thoughts on “Home

  1. Fantastic pieces of stories! Topical, relevant and liberating pieces of stories that need to be told, shared and heard. Well done to the good story project team.

    Like

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