It was bedtime again in our south behala apartment overlooking a grey neighbourhood ….blinds drawn, the tubelights switched off, and all the locks securely fastened and keys placed under mom’s pillows. The only dim glow was that which emanated from the pc screen in the living room where my father was working and intermittently grumbling about mom’s laziness to get up and give him a cup of tea.
My mother had a fascinating reply to this complaint….. “you want something? ……help yourself.” Short, polite, no nonsense and to the point….. my mom was always like that. In fact , it seemed to me that she was like that from time immemorial, her hair was never out of place, the pleats of her saree were always crisp and ironed, and she always spoke in the same musical voice…never a pitch higher or lower.
Now please don’t embarrass me by asking about my father, he was everything a man should be and should not be. He is a gynaecologist, you know ( yuck…..I would have exchanged for a cardiologist or a neurologist, if given an option)….he is the best of them as I am told…and students, both undergrads and postgrads crowded our living room in the evenings to discuss things with my father (or according to me…for an opportunity to ogle at me till their eyes popped out of their sockets).
My mother is no less…. She is a pediatrician….means a doctor of babies. Baby business in south behala has become almost a family monopoly for us…..they go to my father before the baby is born….and to mom after it is born, so the money always stays in the family!
Good lord! I almost forgot to mention my teenage brother….a real pain In the ass. Oh! I hated him from the very ‘un’auspicious moment of his birth; he is a devil, nothing but a low IQ, cursed, porn maniac .
What is worse is owing to my grandparents staying over for a fortnight in our 3 bedroom flat, I am having to share my bedroom with this dirty asshole. But he seems to have no inkling of the silent sacrifice I am making day in and day out. Rather he hovers over my laptop and checks my sms’es like a vulture to find out whether I am having an affair or not. My only solace in this battlefield is ‘facebook’, I would have died if it wasn’t there.
Tonight, as I just switched on my laptop to see what joy the twitter bird had brought me today, my mother came in….. “ now, now…Munni, put away your laptop, dear. Its 12:30 at night! Go to sleep children! Its way past bedtime!”
“m-o-o-o-o-m!” we groaned in unison.
“ now darlings…..I’ll give you two choices….either you go to sleep at this moment, or I shall lock up the laptop in my almirah….and you will never see it again!”, she said, matter-of-factly.
What a lady! She could be a president, or even better a mafia don! I had scarcely came across another person who talked as little as her, and then really did the dangerous things she threatened to do! No wonder my poor father was always at loggerheads with his wife! He would shout and scream about everything from toothbrush to his research papers and bring the house down, while my mother would return his attack with silent non response and total indifference, which would cause him to shout louder and louder until our neighbor Mrs. Khanna threatened to sue us for disturbing their son’s studies.
It went on and on in a vicious cycle you see, and to live in our house and not witness this soap opera was like going to paris but missing out louvre. I had got totally pissed off about marriage and love because of the wonderful examples they set…and now SHE WONT EVEN LET ME FLIRT IN PEACE ON FACEBOOK!!!!!!!! Wicked woman!
Just as she turned her back on us…..the SOB who was sharing my room opened his bloody mouth and said…. ” mom, why don’t you tell us a bedtime story?”
I looked at him like I look at the hippopotamus in zoo garden….WHAT??????????? he of all the people wanted a bedtime story? Did he run out of his endless stores of triple X movies? And even if he did….a bedtime story? Who ever wanted a bedtime story from a person who was a study freak? A story about how many vaccines a child should take and why is it pissing 7 times instead of 6 times?
His adversery turned, slowly…..she looked momentarily unsure of herself….and then she said “ aren’t you too old for a bedtime story?”
He made a face…. “ but you never ever told us one! If you don’t want us spending time with computers , you would better start spending time with us!”
Man, man…. I never knew that my brother can be such an unanimous master of bullshit!!! I could not help admiring him.
She looked nervously at me, hoping I would come to her rescue…. “ Munni, are you sure you too want a bedtime story like Bappa?”
“Why mom? Yes, of course I do!” I tried to sound and look as hurt and offended as I could feign. I was enjoying her moment of ignominy.
“ Well then,” she shrugged and sat down on my bed…..
“I’ll tell you a bedtime story.”
“But mom, there are some conditions…..” my brother cut in….. “ there can’t be any prince or princess, no demons or giants, no fairies, horses, elves, dwarfs or magical creatures…..and o yes! No happily ever afters!”
Oh yes! Its getting better…..she could never accept this challenge…and I quickly added… “ and it can bear no resemblance to any story we have ever heard! It should be an original bedtime story!”
“Why are you against prince and princesses?” she asked.
“ Well, for one thing, they never exist in our lives”…..i said….. “and for another they never get to finish their kiss!” my brother said…unabashed and blatant.
“ Okay….” She sighed in resignation, “so be it”.
“ Come on, children, then gather around me” she said, letting her waist length hair down and leaning against the bed. Just then, a cool breeze blew through the window, and the pitter patter of raindrops came splashing all around, drowning the sounds of item numbers from the tv next door.
We cosied up to her and she pulled the blanket on to three of us. “ Ah! What a perfect weather for a bed time story!” she chuckled and put her arms around us.
I was amazed that it actually felt so good and warm, to be with her. Her arms were so soft and warm against my shoulder and her eyes gleamed like a 12 years old child. And oh! How beautiful she smelt! She smelt of jasmine and like fresh cream and like the wet earth…she smelt of everything good, nice and innocent. I had almost forgotten that smell. It’s a mother’s smell….and I buried my face in her hair to fill myself with it.
She began…..in a dreamy voice……
( YOU’L GET THE NEXT PART SOON….THIS TIME I DECIDED TO FOLLOW DA FOOTSTEPS OF TRINA….AND DO IT PART BY PART…..IT REALLY GIVES U MORE TIME AND SPACE TO WORK ON IT…..HATS OFF TO HER!!)