She is the central server through which all information gets routed in our family; the epitome of adorable irrationality; the most sincere well-wisher; the nation-wants-to-know aspect of our lives. Mothers are a unique specie. While they love us unconditionally, they have also carefully built a reputation for themselves where we are truly scared of no one but a fuming mother. After the quintessential Hi-Happy-Birthday call I was thinking about all things stereotypically Mom.
The Holy Trinity: Mom, Maid and the Cook
If there’s one thing people should stay away from for the sake of their own well-beingit’s the holy trinity. Over the years one thing that hasn’t changed one bit is the following routine: my waking up is a process which involves leaving the bed, zombie walking to the nearest sofa wishing my pets good morning along the way and then just lying there staring into eternity, thinking about nothing. It’s while I’m in the midst of this profound routine that from nowhere my mother materialises with her “if you’re here then who is with the maid!” To be sure that’s not a question. It’s an order to immediately go and shadow the maid. That for the past 26 years of my existence on this planet I have never once accomplished anything in this Sherlock-ian enterprise doesn’t deter my mother. The next time I’m home and if I wake up while the maid is around, it’s the exact same thing I will be asked to do. The awkward silence between my maid and me, my inability to explain my presence in every room where she happens to be working and my pets confusion over my circuitous route throughout the house are non-issues for my mother!
I had never known that the unwritten mother code of conduct involves praising your mom for the food even if it’s cooked by the cook. Firmly believing in the learning by doing maxim, I once innocently praised the cook for the lunch she had prepared. A lot of dirty looks and a plethora of taunts later I realised the folly of my deed. That I had to cover it up with things like “Mom, I praised her so that she feels good about working for us and doesn’t even think about quitting” taught me that the secret to a happy life at home is to keep the holy trinity at arm’s length. A pleasant smile. Don’t get involved in their affairs beyond that.
Mom & Cleanliness
The award for the most misleading advertisement ever should go to Surf Excel for their “daag achhe hain” campaign (followed by 2 minutes Maggi nonsense). Ever walked in from the garden without changing your slippers? If the blessed event happens within an hour of the house being cleaned you’re doomed. That day Saturn is definitely your ruling planet. And it’s not just the shouting. It’s an entire process where my mother will stare at the footprints on the marble of the house left behind by her not so great kids or grandkid or the paws of an innocent and unsuspecting pet. From staring at the footprint to staring at you with a rumbling “who did this” which takes about 15-20 seconds during which time you are already thinking that you have probably overstayed at home and need to get back, the lecture begins. Boy, what a monologue about an entire life wasted over cleaning the house without any appreciation in return and this one diabolical act of yours being the reason behind the likely event of the maid asking for a raise or even worse-quitting!
Why are dirty clothes piled in your washroom? What is “bahar wala joota” doing inside the house? Why can’t you wake up early to groom your pet before the maid comes? Between kids and cleanliness, mothers generally choose the latter which leaves us with no choice whatsoever.
Mom and Bills
It was the day that we used to dread. The day of the landline bill. Doom would be an understatement. Follow it up with electricity and cable-tv bills and you will find yourself asking yourself profound questions like why did you not have a say over your birth? Leave the lights on in the kitchen and mom would tell us about Dr. Rajendra Prasad studying under street lights to become the first President of independent India while her kids with domestic lighting growing up into pigs (to her credit, so much without having read Animal Farm). Leave the geyser or the TV on and your entire existence and future shall be made into a big bold question mark.
Mom and Missed Calls
I go out and my phone’s ringtone happens to be inaudible in the din I’m surrounded with. In such a scenario my father calls at say 9 p.m. I see my phone notifications at say midnight- Missed Call Papa. I tell myself that I shall call him next morning which doesn’t happen for the next one week or a fortnight or even a month till one day either of us remember that we have not spoken to each other for long. With my mom, the same scenario. I check my notifications to see Missed Call Mummy (18) with Whatsapp messages saying “Where are you? Why are you not picking up your phone?” The same thing as normal text messages. That the calls and the messages are coming on the same device which means that if I miss one in all probability I’m missing all is lost on her. But that is what makes her so adorable. She won’t give up, when most others already have.
Mom and Marriage
My mother’s obsession with my marriage is a thing beyond everyone in the family. On her birthday if I ask her so how old are you? Chances are she is going to tell me her age followed by “and you will still not get married, out of pity for your ageing mother.” She had an adverse medical report once and I called her to ask her to take care of herself. Acting smart I told her “can you please follow the precautions and exercise regularly. I’m not even married as yet. Please take care of yourself.” That I got a prompt “Look at my health. Please get married asap,” is a no-brainer. They love marriages. Mom and her friends. A single girl in her late twenties is a walking untapped opportunity for a berserk shopping carnival that is going to leave the male members with a heartache.
Mom and Technology
Our parent’s generation has taken to technology like fish to water. Tell them that their Whatsapp forward is most likely fake news, they take personal offence. Why would someone lie about this? Why have you become so cynical? Why do you think that what you read is the gospel truth and nothing else? These are the standard replies I get when I ask my mother to not read forwards and definitely not forward them.
Mom and Who said you’re fat? syndrome
My faith in humanity was rattled when looking back at my old photos I found myself to be fat beyond any reasonable doubt and yet my mother maintained her priestly you-were-not-fat-just-healthy rhetoric when confronted. If you loose weight she takes offence because you are losing fat that was made out of the food that she fed you. If you fall sick or you fall from the tenth floor it is because you lost weight. The poor woman was in for a rude shock when she looked at me and thought that my thin self was my lighter self. Even when I showed her that my weight is actually more than what it used to be, that I’ve replaced fat with muscle she didn’t budge. To think that your entire childhood you dressed, ate and pretty much did everything with her approval!
When I once told my mother that as a kid I had other important things to take care of and so had outsourced decisions with respect to what clothes to wear to her, that looking back (and at photos of that era) I feel she didn’t take the job too seriously either, she shot back with “Please, you looked so adorable in them.” That was the moment when I realized the blunders I’ve been making since childhood in trusting the wrong people for a particular job.
Mom and Conspiracy theories
From Diana Spencer’s death to Malaika Arora and Arbaz Khan’s divorce-mom will tell us what really happened. Source? Her conviction and years of experience in dealing with people. Brexit, Trump, Surgical Strikes, Demonetisation, just name the topic and Alternative Facts with marvellous conspiracy theories will be served on a platter. Why she thinks one of my ex’s was gay, why our otherwise well mannered Alsatian bit that woman, why I missed my train, why I’m the way I am: she has a bizarre explanation for everything.
All her idiosyncrasies notwithstanding, the fact is that I can’t live through a day without talking to her and survive through the week without fighting with her over my marriage. She lives on the philosophy of her kids’ friends being in her good books and people we hate automatically get doomed in her opinion. For anyone wanting a demonstration just mention the name of any of my ex’s in front of her. The longer I dated the person the more amusing the diatribe gets. Her refusal to accept defeat in an argument and presence of mind has kept the conversation going all these years. Lock the family sans mom in a room and even after a milllenia you will find Dad reading the newspaper, brother and I doing whatever it takes to avoid eye contact with Dad to keep him from starting with his “planning for the future” and “saving and tax-saving investments” talk. With mom things definitely get spiced up!