It was a slightly different version of an episode in the Mahabharat. There was the incessant rain. The gushing waters of the Yamuna deterred all but the brave or the very desperate.
Our Vasudev was carrying his child across the gurgling water. And the two were protected from the torrential rain by the black multi-hooded Vasuki in the form of an umbrella. The only difference was that the child being carried was a girl.
It was early morning. The pouring rain showed no sign of letting up. The footpath had turned into a rivulet with water flowing down at tearing speed. The school-bus was expected any moment. And the child couldn’t possibly risk spoiling the mirror-polish of her shoes by wading through muddy water. Dirty shoes would invite stern action by her merciless class teacher Miss Spic-and-spanwala.
The scheduled arrival of the bus was drawing nearer and nearer. The restlessness of the girl was growing further and further. In this trying moment what could a loving father do? He tucked up his dhoti which he was wearing like a lungi and asked the child to hold aloft the umbrella. In one clear sweep he lifted up the child, plunged into the water, crossed it and swiftly deposited her on the other side of the stream!
There was an anti-climax. This modern-day Vasudev lost one of his slippers. When he put a foot in water and lifted it to take the next step, the foot was bare! He hurriedly looked around for a floating slipper but there was no sign of it anywhere. The school-bus was now approaching its appointed stop; the child was getting impatient. So, without bothering about the slipper, the half-shod father soldiered on to reach the daughter to the bus stop. She boarded it in the nick of time.
Having accomplished the task, the father resumed his mission of searching for the missing slipper. He followed the current, examining every object floating along, with a hawkish eye.
Aha! He spotted the truant object not far off.
But his happiness was short-lived. The slipper belonged to a different pair. :(((((((
The desperate fellow trudged further down the road-turned rivulet and finally reached the mouth of the big covered drain into which the water was flowing. No luck. He cast an accusing look at the drain and started the return journey, eyes fixed on all floating objects. Still no luck. He reached home, still a slipper short. Letting out a sigh over his recent loss, he opened the gate and threw away the other slipper to the stream. Before shutting the gate, he cast a half-hearted look at the spot where he had lost the slipper.
Lo and behold! The elusive slipper was propping its tip over the gushing water at the very same spot!!! It had got firmly embedded in the underlying mud, by the combined weight of father and daughter. His face brightened. His smile was perhaps as wide as that of Alexander, the Great, after one of his victories. Retrieving the slipper, he ran down the stream to collect the other one he had thrown away and returned home. He stepped into the house and breathlessly poured out the story of his triumph over the unsympathetic and cruel nature before the lady of the house. But the LOH was no Devaki. Instead of congratulating her lord and master, she broke into a derisive and uncontrolled laughter. :(((((((((((
More was in store for our hero. He went to his Bank as usual. When he came home for lunch, the daughter had already returned from school. As soon as he crossed the threshold of the house, she said in a hurt voice, “Papa, how could you?” Then she said with an air of finality, ”From now on, never accompany me to the school-bus.” In the morning, her friends had seen it all from the bus-window!
Could a 14-year girl accept the role of 4-hour old baby-boy Krishna, that too against the glare, stare and giggle of her friends and school-mates?
But this blogger had no choice; the role of Vasudev was thrust on him by circumstance.
But look at the upside! Imagine the great Vasudev of Mahabharat losing and searching for one of his wooden clogs in the waters of the Yamuna!!!
This experience of mine was published in the ‘Punchline’ feature of The Sunday Economic Times of 21.12.1997
I find a lot of similarities between the pranks played by Balakrishna (the Child Krishna) and the antics of Dennis in the cartoon strip Dennis, the Menace by Hank Ketcham. Often Krishna's foster mother Yashoda would punish Krishna for his naughty pranks and Dennis's mother would punish him by making him sit facing the wall in the corner. But neither of the mothers can imagine her life without the pranks of the child. In one strip, fed up by the antics and the constant chattering of Dennis, his mother sternly asks him to stop talking as she wants some "peace and quiet". Then Dennis completely becomes silent. After a while, she can take it no longer. She hogs him tightly and says, "There has been too much peace; it has been too quiet!"