• Vijeta Gawdi

Storyteller: Vibhishan Ghar ka Bhedi


Our school announced the dates for tentative reopening, for the new academic year. As much as it should have given me a sense of normalcy, it has only brought more anxiety. The news flash every day is just making the situation seem a lot grim for Mumbai and Delhi. I am unsure as to how many of us parents, will be willing to send our children to school. The times that we are living in, going to school is no less than going to war, a biological war.

So once upon a time, not so long ago, when our routine comprised of school pickups, I remember starting to take my then, 3 month old with me. On days that the 8 year old had her final examination papers, she would be dispersed a couple of hours before the 3 year old and hence it was customary for her to accompany me to pick up her younger sister. This was the highlight of the examinations for the 8 year old, the gratification that she would get from seeing her sister stay in school longer than her was enough to perk her up on most days.The 3 year old would also be very happy to see her sister at the end of the day, she would quite revel in the attention, that she would get from to having her elder sister and younger brother come to pick her up.

On one such cool January day, as I waited with the baby in my arms all wrapped up in a fleece blanket-seems so unimaginable now :) with the 8 year old in tow, outside the school gates, a young school peon walked up to me. It took her all of five seconds to judge me as a crazy woman to have three children in this day and age. All of which, I understood from the roll of her eye and the smirk on her face, she was finding so difficult to wipe off. Now I am really not the kind of person for small talk, so I decided to look away, a hundred things running into my mind. Once the kids come home from school, I am mentally in an auto mode. There is always so much to do and so little time.

So this peon, unable to contain her derision, walks up to me and asks, ”How old is he?" Now the one trick of the trade, that I have learnt from my mother in law, always overestimate and exaggerate when people ask you how old your baby is. Why? To simply dissuade people from saying things like ”He looks so healthy and big for a that many months old.” :) So I quickly do the Math and blurt the number 5 out. At that precise moment, my 8 year old gives me the look. The look that says, what kind of an irresponsible mother you are, you must be so dense, to not know that your baby is only 3 months old. I smile at her, my eyes fixated on her face, I am praying that the telepathy works and she keeps her mouth shut. Wishful thinking on my part because she is quick to refute "Arre, Mumma he is not 5 months old, he is October born na, so only 3 months.” The 8 year old seems very pleased with her arithmetic skills and beams with pride. The school peon gives me a blank look and walks away, I am pretty sure, I hear a scoff.

Moral of the story ”Ghar ka Bhedi Lanka Dhai”

So today’s story is about-Vibhishan :)

Vibhishan, as we all know was the youngest brother of Ravana. What was uncanny about him?

Everything almost. For one, he was born in a demon family and yet never exhibited any demonic trait. Two, he worshipped his own brother's arch-nemesis, Bhagwan Ram and three, he was the one to divulge the secret of the elixir hidden near Ravan's navel to Bhagwan Ram.

So why was a person so righteous, born into a demon family. The story goes, in his previous birth Vibhishan was the chief advisor of King Pratapabhanu. He was known as Dharmaruchi. King Pratapbhanu with the help of Dharamruchi as his advisor and his brother Arimardan, conquered a great number of kingdoms. On one such conquest, the king was separated from his troops and got lost in a deep jungle, where he was met by a yogi. Now, this yogi was actually a king who went absconding after losing his kingdom to Pratapbhanu. He had disguised himself like so to keep his identity a secret. So King Pratapabhanu was unable to recognize him. The yogi thought this was an excellent opportunity to seek vengeance. He told the king that he was an immortal ascetic and could immortalize him too. The king readily agreed. The yogi called upon a hundred Brahmins to perform a yagna and ordered the king to feed them with food, cooked by his own hands. Little did the King know,that this yogi had mixed the flesh of a deceased Brahmin in the food.

Once the yagna was complete, the Brahmins sat down for the Bhog. The king dutifully served the Brahmins with the food cooked by his very own hands. Just as the Brahmans were about to eat the food, a voice echoed from the heavens above and stopped them. The conniving yogi came out at that instant and lied to the Brahmins, saying that the King had polluted their food with flesh. Thus his defeat avenged, the yogi fled.

The Brahmins cursed King Pratapbhanu, that he and his kith and kin and all those dear to him would be reborn in the demon clan in their next birth. Thus Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Vibhishan were born as demons. Though their father Vishrava was a great rishi himself, their mother Kaikesi was a demon and daughter of Sumali, the king of the demon clan.

In the Ramayan of our family, I the mother, am the perpetual Ravan for the girls, their father- Sri Ram always, the 5 month old- Kumbhakarna from the other half of the year and these daddy's girls play their part of Vibhishan to the fullest. Every evening when daddy gets home, these papa ki parees flock around him and give him a download of every reprimand, warning, admonishment and punishment, that I have(in their words) so unjustly inflicted upon them.

There is something truly special about the father and daughter's relationship isn't it :) It is such a delight to see these girls sit on their daddy's lap and complain unabashedly about me. As a mother of three, there are moments, when you feel inadequate and guilty for not being able to divide your time and focus equally among the three kids. So at times like these, when I see the girls bonding with their dad, it takes a lot of pressure off me.

To all the fathers, who are doing a great job raising their kids, Kudos!

To the Ram of my life, the father of my beautiful children- Thank you for everything :)

Vijeta Gawdi

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