Mumma, take me to Papa,” said Ghattu to his mother, Hidimba. It was Father’s Day. Ghattu wanted to wish his father. But Ghattu, who was 14-years-old, had never seen his father. He was brought up by his mother, Hidimba, and the two lived in a dense forest.

“Ghattu, have patience. He will come home one day,” assured Hidimba, thinking of her husband, Bhima.

Many years ago, Hidimba used to live in the forest with her brother, who was a big bully. Things changed when the five Pandava brothers arrived in the forest. Hidimba’s bother wanted to kill the visitors. Hidimba warned Bhima, the mightiest of the Pandavas, about her brother’s plan. Bhima fought and killed the brother.

Hidimba and Bhima fell in love and got married. They had a son, called Ghatotkacha, who they called Ghattu out of affection. After a year, it was time for Bhima to leave. Fourteen years had passed since that day. Hidimba heard that the Pandava brothers had married Princess Draupadi and had become rulers of a great kingdom. But she was unaware that the Pandavas had lost their kingdom.

“I hope Bhima thinks of me, as I think of him,” Hidimba said to herself. As if reading her mind, Ghattu cheered her up. “Mumma, don’t you worry. I’ll bring Papa to you.”

“First get me something to eat, son,” said Hidimba with a smile.

Hidimba had fasted for three days and Ghattu could see she was hungry. He set out in search of food for her.

He didn’t have to go far. Not far from his house, he spotted a family passing through the forest. They were hurrying through the forest, afraid of wild animals and Rakshasas, who were known to be man-eaters. “Let’s walk faster,” urged the old man. Even as uttered those words Ghattu appeared, blocking their path.

Ghattu, though fourteen, was tall for his age. With a muscular body and head without hair he looked terrifying.

“Please show us mercy. Let us pass,” the old man pleaded.

“My mother has to break her fast today. I need to take one of you with me for her to eat,” said Ghattu.

“I’ll go with you,” volunteered the old man.

“No. I’ll go with you,” said his wife.

“No,” said Ghattu. “Both of you are old and feeble. You will not be a good meal for my mother,” said Ghattu. Then Ghattu eyed the three boys, “I’ll take one of these boys with me,” he said.

The old man put his arm around one of the boys. “As father, I depend on my eldest son. I cannot spare him.”

“I can’t spare my youngest son, either,” said the woman, hugging him.

“Looks like I am left with you Madhyama,” said Ghattu. (Madhyama means middle in Sanskrit. Since he was the second of three children, Ghattu called him Madhyama or the middle one.)

“Alright, I’ll go with you. First, let me have a wash, and I want to drink some water.”

“You may go for a quick dip in the pond there,” said Ghattu. “Come quickly. I will stay with your family till you return.”

Read the next part of the story: Ghattu meets his match

Click here to read more stories from the Mahabharata

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