The other day, the wife actually spoke to me. She asked me why this column never covers world events and views, like the Arab-Israel conflict or Ukraine-Russia war? My answer is always the same, “I can’t cover any of that this week, because this week is my mother’s birthday. (Just to clarify, every week is not really my mother’s birthday, however, this week it is)”.
The wife then, like any well-settled mammal from the Serengeti plains, got a little territorial and asked me why this widely read, sorry, make that mildly read, column, never features her birthday? A tough question to answer, so I simply went with the truth. I blamed it on the editor, who, I said, found family birthday greetings a tad nepotistic. Imagine, if every week a whole column was dedicated to one relative or the other’s birthday.
However, under Indian constitutional law or labour law, (I forgot which), Article 17b, para 16 points out that in India, the mother and the cow are sacred. Also, as I explained to her, once she was out of earshot, and had left the room, “Unlike you, my mom actually reads the damn column, and moreover unlike you, she doesn’t correct the spellings and point out obvious grammatical errors”.
Now, let me start the tribute to my mother. By the way, I’m in the process of getting a pet buffalo for our ancestral home; make that somebody else’s ancestral home, which we procured in rural Maharashtra. Why buffalo and not cow? You ask me cheekily. My reply is and always will be “We get whatever is cheaper”. Okay, bovine economics aside. Let’s get back to the mother in question.
My mother’s name is Olivia. It’s featured thrice in Shakespeare’s works, once in Hollywood, and twice in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s about this tall. Weighs apparently, approximately that much, and likes to watch television with the mute button on. This may have something to do with her son very occasionally occurring on that medium, and she’s always lived her life by the mantra that ‘her children should be seen and not heard’.
My mother has one quality that separates her from the rest of our family. That quality is that she’s friendly. She’s also generous and warm. Frankly, an absolute misfit in our clan. The rest of us like to run over pedestrians when they are crossing the road, but my mother actually stops the car to let them pass. Which is not a smart thing to do, especially on the Mumbai-Pune highway.
Unlike the rest of us, she has some antiquated habits, like talking to the neighbours, wishing people on birthdays and anniversaries, and inviting guests home for dinner. I spent most of my adult life trying to wean her off these bad habits, but to no avail. But the thing we love best about her is her one act of murder. See, I finally got your attention Yes, murder. She has single-handedly murdered the Hindi language, and for that we must be grateful.
Just to make this a longer read, let me wish my mother Janamdim Mubarak.
The writer has dedicated his life to communism. Though only on weekends.