Friday, February 24, 2012

Lord Shiva & Bhim Part II

[Previously: Hopeless and malnourished, the second Pandava brother visits the dwelling of Lord Mahadev in Mouth Kailash, seeking an employment, hoping to have a good meal.]

Now, it was already lunch time and Bhim was of course invited to partake in the food, after all, he was a guest and guests are like gods. Parvati rushed to the kitchen and rustled up another dish or two for the guest. She then laid the plates on the floor, before her two sons and Bhim (Shiva said he was happily high and did not feel like eating). Bhim looked at the plate offered to him and his face fell. “What’s wrong?” Kartik, who sat next to him, asked. “What would I do with this tiny portion. Even my thirty-two teeth won’t realise that I just had lunch.” Parvati heard the complaint and was rather miffed. “You don’t worry about the quantity. I cook for ten thousand ghosts and demons every day. I cannot run out of food. You finished your portion, I’ll give you more.” Paravati went to the kitchen to get the special dish. By the time she returned, the plate in front of Bhim was sparkling clean. Now, it would be unfair to blame Parvati as a bad host. She had served Bhim the largest plate she had in her kitchen, and she had served Bhim a portion larger than both Ganesh and Kartik combined, and those two boys were not bad eaters either.

Parvati served her guest some more food, and it was barely sufficient. Then she collected all the pots and pans in the kitchen and placed them before Bhim. The Pandava brother cleaned each of the pots with relish, and finally, after weeks, his hunger was satisfied. He bowed before Parvati and said, “Mother, you are indeed a great host and a worthy companion to the Lord of the World. I salute you.” Parvati beamed and gave Bhim a blessing, this despite the fact that today she and all the ten thousand ghosts and demons will have to go hungry, for Bhim had finished all the food.

For dinner, to be on a safer side, Parvati cooked everything she had in her kitchen, at least a month’s supply for the family. Bhim was naturally happy, he ate to his heart’s content; it helped that Lady Parvati was an A-grade student of Lady Annapurna (equivalent of modern names like Julia Child and/or Sanjeev Kapoor).

The next day, however, the Lady was distraught, in a quandary. There was nothing to cook in the household. There was no point talking to her husband; he’d put forth his chillum and offer her a puff. That’s that. Parvati called Bhim and ask him to clean the house, including the kitchen, and the courtyard, and went on an errand, with Nandi, the divine bull, in toe.

“Where to Lady?” Nandi asked.

“Where else?” Parvati said desperately. “We got to eat.”

Nandi instantly identified the destination. There was only one place in the universe where the Lady did not want to go, Kuber’s palace. And rightly so. The stingy banker, the hoarder of all of Shiva’s wealth, wouldn’t even offer a glass of milk to his benefactor’s better half. And Parvati could use a glass of milk, especially today.

“My apologies, Lady,” Kuber said in his oily voice, “but I cannot pay you anymore, not even a tiny pearl, or a worthless topaz, till your addict of an husband returns what he owes me, with interest.”

You do not suspect Lady Parvati’s level of endurance, Nandi mused. She can suffer anything, anything but an unkind word to her husband. She glared at the portly banker, who kept quiet, but resolute; he had no money to spare.

“But, this is my husband’s money you are hoarding,” Parvati screamed.

“I agree. But, there are rules I will have to follow. Otherwise, the Lord will burn me up with a look of his third eye. I cannot give you any money at will.”

What else could Parvati do? She returned home empty-handed, maddeningly angry at her husband. On reaching home, it’s always a big climb even when you are riding a bull, the Lady went to where Shiva sat, apparently in meditation.

“You,” Parvati screamed, “You are my husband, and you must do your duties.”

Shiva opened his eyes lazily, and said, “What’s wrong with you woman; go to your kitchen, and cook.”

It was like pouring ghee on a dry and blazing mango wood; Parvati flared up. “Cook! Cook with what? There’s nothing to cook with. Do you want me to boil the snake you are wearing and make you a snake stew?”

As the mortified snake coiled around his neck, Shiva finally realised that something was indeed wrong. He invited his better half to sit next to him and talk.

“There’s no time to talk. Do something. Otherwise, we’ll embarrassed before our very servant,” Parvati screamed.

It was your fault, Shiva wanted to say, and stopped himself, it wasn’t the right time. “What do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know. Arrange some food.”

“Where do I get food? I’m a god after all. I cannot go a-begging! I cannot even go to my friend Kuber. He’s strict about his loan policy. What do I do?”

At this, Bhim came to the rescue. He and the boys had come to see what was happening after they heard Parvati scream. “Why, my Lord,” he said, “You can do farming.”

“Farming?” Shiva said, “Are you joking? Man do farming, not gods. Anyway, I don’t have any training in farming. And where’s are the tools, and where is the land.”

Bhim had all the answers ready. You cannot learn unless you try, isn’t it? And, he was the Lord of the World, all the land was his. And about the tools, why, his trishul will make a wonderful furrow. All he needed was to start working. “And Lord, Bhim added, “We are with you. You just tell us what to do.”

TO BE CONTINUED... (The Lord of the World turns a farmer to the delight of his wife; every woman wants her husband to do something worthwhile. As the seeds grow, Bhim decides to fend for himself and decides to make a house call to Kuber. But, all’s not well in the household at Mount Kailash.)

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