My mother brings two cups of steaming chai and Marie biscuits; she doesn’t want to sit on one of those wooden chairs that come with the dining table. “It is inconvenient”, she says. “No, mom, unconvenient”. “Disconvenient”. “Non convenient”. We go on making up nonsense words by changing the prefix and laugh about it. As she settles in the comfortable chair, I sit beside her and ponder about mom and me.
If there’s something wrong with my laptop or phone, I’d call her. She doesn’t know how to fix them, but somehow I feel peaceful when I tell her about my malfunctioning gadgets.
If I’m too engrossed in reading a novel or watching a film and some unwanted light creeps into the room, I’d call her to shut the door.
If I don’t find something, I’d holler for her and she’d find it in plain view, exactly where I was searching for it. If my mom can’t find it, I can mentally say goodbye to it, because I’m sure it goes to the planet where all lost things go.
She’d go to bed, but not sleep until she is sure I’m tucked in comfortably and asleep.
She’d disagree with me over rituals and holiness, but proudly proclaim to others that I’m a feminist and they better not talk something sexist.
We have fights; they occur about once a day. Sometimes, mom would ask me to do something. I would say I’ll do it later and then she would end up doing it herself because she can’t help seeing work not done and doing nothing about it. I have no such qualms though, leading to arguments. We disagree about everything that has to do with household planning and maintenance. I see no need for such things.
I’m a single child. I can imagine but not fully sense what mom goes through every day that I spend in Delhi- waiting for my morning call at 8, panicking because I might be in danger, but at the same time not calling because I might be getting late for class; asking me when classes would end for the day and calling me precisely at that time and ensuring I’m going home safe, but still calling me 30 minutes later wondering if I reached my residence safely; wondering what I had for lunch and dinner but not asking it out loud because she knows I’d be irritated, but still wants to know if I’m having healthy food; not calling on weekend mornings because I’d be asleep. I sometimes wonder if I’m Ron from Harry Potter, having an emotional range of a teaspoon, because if I worried about these many things, I’d probably burst from pressure.
As I sip the last dregs of tea, she insists that I have a couple of dosas before I go out for my driving class so that I don’t get hungry.