Stories from the Mahabharata

When I was a little boy, I knew lots of stories from the Mahabharata. At that time I could hardly read, and to read a big book like the Mahabharata was an impossible task. My mother used to force me to sleep every afternoon. She did not want me to go out in the blazing Indian sun, so she would read from the Mahabharata and tell me stories so that I would fall asleep. For five or ten minutes I used to listen to her stories. Then I used to pretend that I was fast asleep.

My mother would be very happy; she would close her book and watch carefully to see if I was really asleep. Then she herself used to fall asleep. I was only waiting for her to fall asleep, and then I used to run away. In the garden there were so many trees bearing guavas, mangoes and other fruits. The servant used to help me pluck the fruits and I used to eat them.

In half an hour or forty-five minutes my mother would wake up and see that I was missing. She used to send the young servant to find me in the garden. Most of the time I was in the mango tree, getting mangoes for the whole family.

Then I would go back inside. My mother used to scold both me and the servant who would take me. She would say, "Why did you take him outside?"

The servant would say, "He was crying. What could I do?"

But my smile was enough to conquer her heart. As soon as she saw it, she would stop scolding me; she would forgive my deception. I played that trick many, many times.

During the school holidays my mother would tell me many more stories from the Mahabharata. I used to listen to her stories and then tell them to my relatives, who thought I was a great authority on the Mahabharata.