I was going through some of my old writing, things I’d written before I began blogging when I came across one that described my home in a way that made me smile. While the humor may seem childish now, I love it because it was written in a time of innocence. While my home may be silent now, I’ll always remember the way it used to be. Some of you may have read it before. Here’s to you Amma and Appa.
For most people, Sunday is the time to relax, laze in bed, drool on the pillow and generally do their sloth impression. To lie in bed partially awake knowing you don't have to get up is a pleasure almost sinful. Add to this the pleasures of yawning, stretching luxuriously and absent mindedly scratching your bottom and there you have it, a hedonists utopia.
My mom however is not most people.
Unlike the males of the house (i.e.) my dad and myself, she does not care much for these simple pleasures. While at 4 AM, my dad and I snore in bed, dreaming the dreams of the blissfully ignorant, my mom has nightmares about dishes that must be washed, floors to be cleaned, houseplants watered, knick-knacks dusted, bathroom tiles scrubbed, pots scoured, closets organized and files filed.
As all males undoubtedly know, cleanliness is a key area in which my dad and I have enjoyed a key advantage over my mom , thanks to a superior blend of genes, evolution and good old common sense, we are pigs. We are content to see our pens gradually morph from a bacteria free environment, into a breeding ground for several small mammals and reptiles. Take my mom away from the house for a few days and you can see how living organisms evolve from single celled organisms to intelligent life forms which change TV channels with remarkable ease.
My mother unfortunately does not approve of our zoo keeper ways. An immaculate abode is one of her cherished ideals. Thus it is her sworn duty to arm herself with the broom and smote any traces of dirt that have the audacity to remain visible in front of her eyes.
When I come back from my college, I want to tackle my top priorities : eating, sleeping, eating and sleeping (though not necessarily in that order). My mom however prefers a slightly different routine. The moment she gets back home, she will remove her slippers outside, step inside gingerly, look around and perform a complete geological survey of the household. With the aid of her piercing eyes, she will mentally calculate the difference in dirt levels (before and after her leaving the house). Having ascertained this figure (usually 0.01 microns), she will curse us males for our primitive ways in cleanliness and hygiene. After this she will curse my servant maid and make scalding remarks about her skill with the mop and broom. This done, she will reach for the broom and once again go into sterilizing mode.
I often hide in my room to obtain sanctuary from my mothers rhypophobia (rhypophobia is a phobia meaning molysomophobia). Within these 4 walls, I am free to watch dirt accumulate to Himalayan levels. I spend hours staring at my computer screen while consuming vast quantities of chips, peanut candy, biscuits and occasionally even curd rice. Due to my slobbish ways, I occasionally spill some of my food onto the keyboard. These spills have accumulated over the years and I can now boast of a computer rich in carbohydrate deposits. If due to an unfortunate circumstance like an earthquake or a volcano, I am trapped in my room, I can stay alive for years merely by licking my nutritious keyboard.
My father and I generally find our incompetence spreading to other areas. Take for example the tube light in my room. Its a rather odd tube light which comes on only when it feels like. The moment I switch it on, it will come on for a few seconds, pause as if in deep thought and then go off again. After which it will flicker coyly for a few minutes, take a 2 minute break, marshal its resources and then continue flickering until I switch it off. Over the months my mom has repeatedly asked what was wrong with the tube light. She has rather naively assumed that because I'm a student of electrical engineering, I will automatically know what's wrong with tube light. That's obviously a ridiculous assumption. When the tube light flickers in class, we do what all electrical engineers do. We switch it off and wait for the watchman to come and fix it. This has not gone down well with my mom and she persists with her view that I learn nothing in college.
Mom: " What's wrong with the tube light ?"
Myself (Thoughtfully) :" Well, it appears to be flickering "
Mom( icily): " I can see that, but what's wrong with it? "
Myself (Even more thoughtfully): " Well, perhaps there's a problem with the capacitor, maybe the tube light has a leading power factor and is unable to draw a leading current, which means it might be drawing a lagging current which means there might be something wrong with the firing angle so the capacitor might not be able to provide a leading current.."
Mom: " What the devil are you saying? "
Myself :" Well, it appears to be flickering.... "
My expert knowledge has not satisfied my mom and she still feels that paying my college fees is an utter waste of money. That is very untrue. They teach me many fine things in college like " Touch the wire and you will be electrocuted!" or "Don't touch the guy who is being electrocuted, that way only one person dies.. " or " Please sign this paper. Now if you do get electrocuted, you can't hold the college responsible...".
My mom is however at her most crotchety self at the dinner table. Twice a day we assemble at the table to consume the healthy food that she has assiduously prepared. It during this time that my mothers blood pressure shoots up to sky scraping levels. While she scarcely looks down at her plate, her attention is focused exclusively on the bad table manners my father and I zealously display. This is quite a tiring feat as I sit diagonally opposite my mom and my dad to her right. So she stares menacingly at me for a few minutes and then suddenly turns right and stares menacingly at my father. This pendulum like feat enables her to realize that my table manners were genetically passed on to me by my father and that her genes didn't get much of a say in it.
Conversation recorded during dinner time:
Mom: " Don't eat with the spoon! We are Indians! You are totally ignorant of Indian culture and values "
Dad and myself: " Grunt.. Chew..swallow..choke..cough! cough! "
Mom: " Yuck! I cant eat with you people around! "
Dad and myself: " Water! Glug Glug..Aah!..Chew..swallow..choke..cough!cough! "
I have often suggested my mom wear blinders. This way she can only stare straight ahead and not be offended by our table manners. Or we could raise barriers on the table such that each person gets to sit on his or own cubicle. My dad has suggested ear plugs for ourselves.
While my mom struggles to keep the house clean, keep all the equipment working and tries very hard to keep our table manners from slipping below barbarian levels, my dad and I are quite content to let things be as they are. For we know that in the end entropy will set in and everything will deteriorate. Clean the room and within hours, it has to be cleaned again. Food particles, dust, run away news papers all conspire against us. Like that chap from Greek mythology who had to keep rolling that boulder up the hill and watch it roll down again, we know that cleaning is an ultimately futile affair. My mom however is determined to gain a temporary foothold in the struggle against chaos. She does battle against the forces of deterioration and disintegration. I suppose she's earned the right to be pleased with herself.