As I go down the memory lane, I find that over generations, mothers find themselves in similar situations. My concerns, diktats and sermons are the same as they are for most mothers in the world. The journeys are different however the experiences are similar.
Did you go to the bathroom? Are you done? Finish the vegetables, Don’t sleep, were just about home, Don’t hit your sister, Wash your hands, That’s it we are going home, How much cartoon do you watch? Where did the sweets go?
And during the preteen years, it goes like this – I am talking to you, Keep the phone, For God’s sake, comb your hair, Your socks smell, and the mother of all…Ask your father.
After carefully negotiating my way through the paternal minefield for two decades, I am at a threshold when tables are turning. The roles are reversing. And as parents, I and my husband are amused spectators.
Our only son is in a hostel pursuing his engineering and very often we find ourselves following dictates from the other end.
“So, what’s up?” I try to connect.
“Did you wake up in time for breakfast?”
Now let me unravel the meaning of hmm. First hmm amounts to listening from one ear and letting it breeze through the other. It actually means a polite ‘No’. Second hmm is a reminder that you are talking to a wall and your query is not hitting the target. Third hmm warns you, ‘Enough… stop it’.
“Took a bath today?”
"Yes or no?"
"Yes or no?"
“Seriously,.. Ma. I am in college; it’s funny when you remind me to take a bath and wash hands.”
I stood corrected. Certain reminders come with an expiry date.
“It is getting chilly, wear a jacket when you go out.” After I blurted out I realized …oops. I pressed the wrong button. Again.
I try to change directions. “I am booking tickets for coming home. Late evening flight is ok?”
“No, no flight. Book train tickets.”
“You will save a day. Come home and eat home cooked food. Why do you want to slog for eighteen hours?’
“Ma…Air tickets will cost 7K. Do you realize the value of 7K?”
I think so. And wasn’t this supposed to be my dialogue?
Greedy for some family time, I try more convincing, cajoling. Nothing works.
I continue, “We are booking your flight. Why are you bothered?”
“Please do as you are told. No questions. I have to study…..”
“Okay,” I follow the sermons tamely.
“And book third A/C . We save another 500 there…”
While I am still on the phone, my husband promptly booked the train tickets.
“And don’t come to receive me. It will be embarrassing.”
“Okay.” We take the orders like good parents.
“You and dad, take care.”
I realize that roles are not reversing. Roles have reversed. When….?
(Sorry son, for leaking the tapes of our conversation)