Monday, June 06, 2016

A fighting chance

"Kids like gross things, Sayesha."

These were my senior editor's wise words to me circa 2003 when she was teaching me the ropes of children's magazine publishing.

I watched with horror as she cast aside the cute one and picked the grosser-looking bug from the two photo options I had presented. I knew nothing about kids then, so I just went with what the boss said.

But, now armed with a 5-year-old of my own, I can see how right she was. It is really true. Kids like gross, violent things. A lot. Presenting exhibit A -- a book called 'Tell me about Ramayana' meant for children that someone gifted to Xena when she was in India. When I flipped through the pages, I was horrified to see many many graphic pictures of demons being beheaded, and the one of a bloodied Shurpanakha getting be-nosed by Lakshmana especially disturbed me.

"Xena is not reading this. No way." I told myself. And hid the book. On hindsight, I should have tossed it away, because somehow she found it and started flipping through it and then I had to sit and answer the 4560489357 questions she had for me. After a while, I gave up on the idea of tossing the book away while she was asleep. I can only protect her for so long.

But what amazes me is how my very calm and serene child is supremely fascinated by the demons and the fights and their killings. Every opportunity she gets, she fetches the book and asks either my mom-in-law or me to read the story of how XYZasura was killed. Gaahhhhh.

On most days, we get away with reading the more fun parts of the story, such as how Hanuman fetched an entire mountain because he couldn't find the correct herb that could revive Lakshmana. At first, she just didn't get why he would do such a thing and kept asking me again and again why he did that. No matter how many times I told her that it was because he couldn't find the herb, she went on asking why he went and got THE WHOLE MOUNTAIN.

So I decided to take a different approach.

"Okay, if I ask you to fetch me something from my handbag kept in the other room, and you can't find it in the handbag, what will you do?"

"I'll bring you the handbag."


"OHHHH!!! That's why Hanuman got the whole mountain?!"


Yesterday, she suddenly asked me out of the blue, "Mama, why did Indrajita hit Lakshmana?"

Obviously, the first question that popped up in my head was the one that would have popped up in the head of any well-informed parent -- who the heck was Indrajita?

Of course, I censored it before I said it out loud.

"Who is Indrajita?"

"Ravana's son." She replied.


"Why did he hit Lakshmana? Did he do it accidentally and then he said 'sorry'?"

"Erm, no. He did it on purpose and he didn't say 'sorry'."


"Because they were in a battle. They needed to fight each other. On purpose."

[In my head, Salman Khan in Maine Pyaar Kiya was going, "Battle ka ek usool hai, madam. No sorry, no thank you.]

"But why?"

"So that they could decide who won the battle."

"But why was Indrajita on Ravana's side?"

"Because he was Ravana's son. So he needed to fight on his daddy's side."

"But Vibhishana was Ravana's brother. Why did he fight on Rama's side?"

[Wow, this girl really knew her stuff.]

"Because he chose to fight on the good side." I replied.


"Because when there is a battle to fight, you need to choose which side you want to fight on..."

And here's when I thought I'd introduce some Harry Potter style gyaan about our choices versus our abilities.

"So, tell me Xena... if you had to fight a battle, which side would you choose to fight on -- the good side or the bad side?"

She didn't even look up from the book she was poring over.

"No side. Fighting is bad."

Phew. So there is hope then. 


Reef by any other name said...

Xena ♡♡♡♡♡

Sorry Bhai, but your daughter is way smarter than you. I cannot remember your blog without Xena stories anymore!

Unknown said...

Love her. Don't know what else to say!

ZQ said...

Xena, the warrior pacifist princess!
+100 to the previous 2 comments :)

Shraddha said...

Kids say the darnest thing at times... Love Xena's enthu to understand the story... I'm waiting for the time my son grows up a bit so I can read him Ramayana n Mahabharatha stories...

Love Xena...


ZQ said...

Listening to the radio on my drive back from work, there was a story about J.K. Rowling. I wondered where the next Harry Potter series would come from, and then my mind wandered to how lucky the young kids are that they will get to read these books; and then this message flashed through my mind - dear parents with young children who are likely to be voracious readers, please teach them proper reading hygiene, by which I mean the methods to avoid eye strain.

And wish them happy reading!

ZQ said...

Spice gull: seabird turns orange after falling into vat of curry

Reminded me of the ladybugs that suddenly turned white and black, or black and white.

preetiprasad said...

Picture abhi baaki hain .. Lol..

Beena Venugopal said...

She is a doll :) Her deadpan one-liners just brighten up my day :)

Unknown said...

Lovely daughter!

ZQ said...

What condition will you be in if someone gives her the Mahabharata?