It all started with a ploy to get Katya motivated in her football (soccer) game. This is the third week of the current season, and – after two weekend games and a weekday game – Katya’s team was still scoreless. As one of the older, taller and swifter girls on her team, the coach had put her in the center forward or flank position in all those games; however, the team was yet to score a goal.
So, in order to motivate her and to try to make her understand what she was missing (a razorlike focus on the goal), on Friday morning as the kids were getting ready for school, I decided to tell her the story of Drona’s test for the Pandavas and Kauravas; how Arjuna displayed his focus on the target and did not let outside distractions to stand in his way; how Arjuna never looked away from the target and was even unaware of the tree that the target was hanging from.
Given how well that story telling session went, that evening on a car-ride home from the local Indian grocery store, Mrs. Porcupyn decided to tell Katya a story as well. For some reason, she picked Abhimanyu’s story and finished it by the time we got home – after many interruptions by my (for corrections and, in general, comic relief) and Katya (for extra knowledge). it appeared that Katya finally got the import of this story also and it whetted her desire to learn more about the great Pandava warrior.
With the backdrop that Katya has not really been exposed to our vast treasure trove of religious texts (in any format other than Amar Chitra Kathas, which do not go too much in depth), I was surprised at the eagerness with which she devoured it all and wanted to learn more. We have the entire set of Mahabharata DVDs at home; however, until now, she had been interested in watching one and only one episode – “Krishna jumping on the snake,” DVD #3. Whenever either of us parents had hitherto brought up the Mahabharata DVDs on weekends, her refrain was “Krishna jumping on the snake.”
Now that the opportunity appeared to have presented itself, I took the next logical step and reminded her of them. So, yesterday afternoon, after her football (soccer) game, I got her to watch the Abhimanyu episode with subtitles. There were many pauses along the way where she stopped the DVD to ask questions about what was happening and why. We watched the gruesome scene (in all blood and gory detail, Indian movie style) of the disarmed Abhimanyu being killed and mutilated by the Kaurava warriors. Later, we went shopping, daughter and I. Along the way there and back, while we window shopped in the local mall, I was peppered with question after question about Abhimanyu, why he was killed, why he was defenceless, why Arjuna was pulled away, why no one tried to save Abhimanyu, what the Chakravyuha is, etc.
After a second (late night, for her) session with more Mahabharata episodes, Katya got started early this morning with her Mahabharata marathon. Folks who go on a James Bond or Indiana Jones or some similar all-nighter binge will appreciate her concentration and desire to sit through the whole epic. [Latest update: we are now at the end of the tale, only Duryodhana is alive.] Questions have been streaming from her all day; the DVD remote pause/play button has seen a lot of action. Now, I can safely (and, I must add, happily) say that my daughter has become a Mahabharataphile.
Oh, and BTW, Katya’s team scored its first – and, as of now, only (but, hopefully, the start of a deluge) – goal of the season yesterday. No prizes for guessing the scorer (and I would like to hope that the story of Arjuna was the catalyst).