When the four-year-old came out of his bath, he draped himself in his towel and called himself Gandhiji. This gyan about Gandhiji’s wardrobe was attained since watching the film Gandhi on Independence Day.

Any stray piece of thought immediately evokes a million questions in his mind. Some are embarassing – embarrasing to me, of course, he doesn’t have an inkling about embarrasment except when he is nude. Our conversation goes like this…

– “What does Gandhiji wear when he is taking a bath?”
– “Oh, I imagine he takes his bath just as you do…”

– “In the bathroom?”
– “Yes.”

– “Won’t he be afraid?”
– “I don’t think so. He is a big person, like your parents, so I suppose he will not be afraid.” (After all, who am I to speak with authority of Gandhiji’s fears?)

– “Is he as old as you?”
– “Yes. Oh, I think he is older, like your grandparents.” (A few seconds later, as an after-thought:) “He was, I mean.”

– “And now? Is he a small child?” (He obviously didn’t see what Godse did to Gandhiji at the end of the movie.)
– “No, No, I mean, he is not in this world any more, he… died.” (He knows something about death, but it still is a dicey topic.)

– “Are Gandhiji and Mahabali the same person?”
– (Ouch!) “No, no, Gandhiji is Gandhiji and Mahabali is Mahabali. Now, will you get dressed while I get your things ready for school?”

I walk into the kitchen, the questions trailing behind me.
– “Were they both very old people when they died?”
– (Snacks, tiffin box, where was the water bottle?) “Well, I know Gandhiji was quite old…” (Hoping that this conversation and my display of ignorance were not reaching a third pair of ears)

– “And Mahabali?”
– “What are you doing there?”
– “Putting on my shirt.”
– “Okay.” (Where did I keep that darn bottle of his?)

– “Tell me!”
– (Ah, here it is. Now for his breakfast. A glance at the clock.) “Oh, well, I am not quite sure how old Gandhiji was when Lord Vishnu appeared as Vamanan and sent him to Pathalam.”

A swift patter and a half-dressed child appears at the door of the kitchen, with big, round eyes. “Eh?”
– “Eh what?”

– “Did Vamanan send Gandhiji to Pathalam as well?”
Stunned silence. “Will you quit yaking and get dressed? It is time for school!