I woke up with a wince, drenched in my own sweat. My body ached like I’d been used as a doormat. My stomach burned like the insides of Nyiragongo. Had the fan went off, I’d have melted in a second. I crawled out, famished and exhausted, and trudged around like an old elephant. I searched for food. There was none. I searched for my mother. There was none. I was starving, and so I yelled out for her. No response. I whatsapped her – Where Are You?
On a holiday 😎 – came her reply, and I felt like crying….
It was 8:18 pm. We were glued to our seats, watching India cruise towards victory in the last league match against South Africa. My mother was frying Okras in the kitchen.
“Hey, could you knead the dough? “She asked my father. He pretended as if he had been deaf for the last fifty ears, and then my mother turned to me.
“I’m on a holiday. “I shrugged my shoulders. My mother stared at me as if it was a lame excuse.
“Okay. Would you at least peel and chop onions? “She tried again.
“I’m on a holiday. “I said. “I’m supposed to enjoy. Watch green people lose in cricket matches, eat delicious food, and get pampered. ”
My mother gave me a dirty look, as if to convey men are assholes. Twenty minutes later, she yelled,
“Here’s your food. ”
“I’m on a holiday, Maa!! Oh wait! Yeah, comin. ”
And the very next day, she’s off to Rajgir, watching lush green hills and Tumtums and Bengali signboards and whatnot. And here I am, gnawing this four day old bread after peeling the fungus, and googling Top 10 Bear Grylls survival tips. I have no idea where my father is but if he’s out eating in a posh restaurant I’d charge him with Child Neglect.
I couldn’t believe my mother was gone. I mean you got to be kidding, right!? Who takes holidays! Okay, my case is different, okay. 😑
I chewed 4 breads in total and then I felt like a celibate monk who’s shed all desires and tastes and is naked and dying and happy about it. I fiddled with my phone for a while, thinking about the perks of my-mother-on-a-holiday. Yeah, I could draw naked ladies, but that apart, I could see no remarkable advantages of her absence. I texted her if she’s planning to come back or what. She sent me an audio clip and texted,
“Why would I ever think of coming back when it’s so much fun here? Listen to the clip, baby. ”
I downloaded the clip. It was some Bengali poetry, and people clamouring and laughing in the background. Perhaps she was in some poet show. I never knew my mother had a taste for Bengali poetry. I don’t know anything about my mother. 😷
What the fuck is that? – I typed, and then erased ‘fuck’ and replaced it with ‘hell’ and then erased ‘the hell’ and sent the rest.
“Poetry. The wonder of the worlds. “She wrote. She was getting poetic herself.
My father arrived home at mid noon and asked if I had eaten something.
“There’s nothing to eat. “I grumbled, and then he showed me the things I could eat and I could cook and what the hell, who keeps snacks inside a barrel and why the hell is the pack of biscuits buried beneath Bay Leaves and Cinnamon and Patanjali scrubs.
“When you were a kid you used to sneak everything edible. So we started hiding them, because there were other mouths to feed. “My father said. Yes, I remember waking up at midnight, climbing shelf after shelf and pulling cookies from the jar without a drop. I’d eat most of them, hand the rest to my brother and when my mother found out the next day, we would pretend they disappeared on their own. My brother was a scrawny thing, so no one believed he ate anything at all, so I was labelled the Scooby Doo of the house.
“Okkkkay. “I said.
My father prepared the dinner. It was Rice, dal and potato. For flavour he asked me to grab some pickles from the jar. And some curd. For supper, we had chutney and fat pita Rotis and when my father asked me to grab pickles for flavour, it was awful.
This has been in the menu for the last four days now. Not even a hint of change. My father throws everything in the pan in the precise, calculated, measured amount and prepares the exact same food everyday. I wonder why he is not helping scientists in preparing clones.
That apart, this is awful. Men are awful. They suck at talking. They suck at displaying emotions. They suck at being stupid. My mother would be dancing around, bitching about the neighbours, talking about her latest craze, going nuts over tiniest mistakes, reading stupid jokes from whatsapp, making weird faces when doing nothing, complaining about her old age and wishing she had more money. Then she would say she is dying soon and so employ each of us in the task of massaging her head and palms. She is a whole entertainment package, I tell you. Without her, here we are, my father asking if the water was delivered on time and me asking if the dinner is cooked yet. The most interesting conversation we had so far was related to sharpening of scissors.
I called her a few times, and she was always in some concert or show, living her holidays in bliss.
“Child, I am on a holiday. “She said, “you eat delicious food and get pampered when you are on a holiday. You don’t think about ending it. “She said.
I frowned for a while and then went on to peel onions so that my father could prepare the chutney for supper.