My curiosity is nothing compared to that of my daughter though, who's already read two kiddie versions at lightning speed. And my knowledge about the story is far more limited than I had thought, as I discovered today in the car on the way to the Music school where we're both enrolled.
'So Mama, can I ask you a question?'
I refrain from the wisecrack 'Well, you've already asked it, haven't you', and instead say 'Sure. What is it?'
Peanut asks 'So are you serious that Chhota Bheem grew up to become the Bheem in Mahabharata?'
Me: 'Erm...no...actually...Chhota Bheem is just a cartoon and...'
Peanut: And the other Bheem was real?
Me: Well, no. I mean, yes, more real than Chota Bheem.
Peanut: But you told me that it was the same Bheem.
Me: No, what I meant was that the big Bheem came first in the Mahabharata story and then some guy thought 'Hey let me make a cartoon of this guy and fool a bunch of kids into becoming his fans!' ( I say this in my Kalia-impression-voice)
Peanut (makes a face): Very funny Mama. But tell me, na, why did Bheem Shah not get killed by the arrows?
Me: Bheem Shah? (Realization) Oh, you mean Bhishma.
Peanut: Ya, Bhimsha. Why did he not killed?
Me: (struggling to keep up) So...he lay on the bed of arrows...until he chose to die. He was a great man of many powers and so he could choose when to die.
Peanut (shocked): But why didn't he just choose to live longer?
Me: (realizing this is an opportunity for some education about a topic that oft bothers us) Because not everyone wants to live together, Peanut. Bhimsha, I mean Bhishma wasn't the type to come crying into his Mom's room every night saying 'But I don't wanna DIE'. He was tired of living, maybe and just wanted to rest.
Peanut (still can't believe it): But why would he want to die?
Me: Maybe he believed in heaven? You know anything about heaven?
Peanut ( impatiently): yeah yeah, it's the sky. Okay, but Mama, can I ask you a question?
Me: Well actually...
Peanut (ignoring me): So Mama, Bhishma could also have just wanted to spend time with Pandavas, right?
Me: See, given that they were on opposite sides, it may not really have worked out.
Peanut: But he could have waited to see who won the war, and then spent time with them. Didn't he like the Pandavas?
Me: He loved them, but you don't do stuff like that...just wait to see who wins the war while lying on a bed of arrows so you can spring up and hang out with the winners...he wasn't that kind of guy...
Peanut (changing track again): But Mama, why did he fight against the Pandavas? I thought he liked them better than the Kauravas...
Me: Yeah, he did , but...( My memory fails me here and I'm thinking - yeah, why did he do that?)
Peanut (happily moved on anyway): But Mama, why did Karnaa become their brother?
Me: Karan, Karan...he was their brother because Kunti was his mother.
Peanut: So why did he go away from them?
Me: Well, because...( I don't know how to explain this but decide I can't just leave her hanging)...actually, he had a different father.
Peanut (Shocked): How can that be? How can brothers have a different father?
Me: (struggling) But...but...even the Pandavas had different mothers, right? It's okay, it happens! ( I really don't want to get into the details here)
Peanut: So then Karnaa wasn't the son of Panda?
Me: Panda? ( beginning to laugh, knowing fully well what she means)
Peanut: I mean that hugging guy, the guy who hugged his wife and died...Pandu...stop laughing!
Me: But Peanut, you're just so funny.
Peanut (accusingly): You don't know the Mahabharata!
Me ( with a sigh of relief, looking out the window): Look! We're at the music school....come on now, we're getting late...
Peanut: Okay, but Mama, can I ask you a question?
Me: ( Dragging her out of the car and propelling her towards the building) La la la la la la, come on now, chop chop