THE CALL AND HOW YOUR MOTHER BECOMES THE POLITEST HUMAN BEING ON EARTH
Now your mother is a nice person. Even if she didn’t get along with most of her in-laws. Her explanation is that her in-laws have been the meanest monsters on earth. Your dad’s side explains the estrangement with vague allusions to your mother’s unreasonable disposition and volatile temper. But since you’re her child, you dutifully look past your mom’s hand in the complete alienation of your dad’s side and remember them by their idiosyncrasies rather than any terms of endearment.
Your mother is a nice person even if the entire neighborhood is scared of her and the kids who play cricket outside your home deliberately miss the opportunity of a four or a six if that means the ball landing in your house. The veggie vendor is another poor person who is scared of your mom’s uncanny ability to tell exactly how much he bought a certain vegetable for and how much extra he’s charging for it. Having said that, your mom can be a nice person at strategic moments and actually will ultimately go down in history as the political mom who left no avenue unexplored to get her daughters off her hands.
But long story short, the call comes. Even though your mom pretends that she wasn’t expecting it, she knew the time of that life-changing call to the last millisecond. She has been hovering by the phone since this morning. She has been touching her hair up and checking her lipstick in the mirror every few minutes and for a minute you had thought that your mom was going to facetime the Rishta Aunty but the look that your mom gave you when you asked her this is one that sends cold chills down your spine so you don’t pursue this question any further.
Now, even though this isn’t THE Rishta, it is a Rishta. And this guy could potentially be your future husband or at least future fiancé or at least that guy in the future whom you could look wistfully at and wonder why you chose your husband if this one was available therefore your interest is legitimate in this call. While your mom hovers over the phone, gently cursing the Rishta Aunty about the fifteen minute delay in calling, you decide to clean your mom’s room where the phone is located.
Your mom is suspicious of your motives but also wants someone to be around to remember any crucial details that she might forget later while relaying this call to your father . She wants you to be a witness of sorts to this epic moment in history when she embarked on the quest for a groom for daughter #2. She doesn’t object much to your sudden interest in housekeeping and decides to focus on the call instead.
The call comes and whoa!!!!!!! Is that your mom speaking?????!!! I mean, is that your mom or is that your mom? I don’t think people are getting your surprised state of shock so let me explain.
See your mom has various inflections to her voice. She has many tones to her voice. As a woman who has been traveling through time purely by the force of talking, she has accumulated various timbers and decibels. Her voice can range from a frequency that is barely audible to one that’s only audible to bats and dogs. She has shown you over the years that she can be sweet, nice, sarcastic, insulting, rude and condescending in the same day and sometimes in the same breath . But what you’re hearing right now isn’t your mom. It’s like one of those Greek sirens or Julia Roberts trying to fake-seduce Richard Gere. Except your mom is no Julia Roberts and the Rishta Aunty is no Richard Gere. Then why is honey dripping from your mom’s voice? It’s like a cheap actor begging for a role in a B grade Bollywood movie. She is agreeing to everything that the Rishta Aunty is proposing. She said yes to dinner at 5. She said yes to everything cooked in olive oil. She agreed to the cake coming from the best bakery in town. She agreed to have your driver sent to get the guy’s family. She even agreed to locking up the dog for that day. But HOLD UPPPPPP!!!! Did she just commit to you and the guy getting some alone time to talk? Wait! No! This is against your principle! Actually No, wait a minute! This has always been against your parents’ principles.
For as long as you can remember, your parents forbade any type of premarital sexual activity. This includes talking to guys. Because they fear that this would get you pregnant. They’ve also always forbidden looking at guys because this can get you pregnant too. For the same reason, you can’t say a guy’s name. You can’t even think about a guy because that could also potentially get you pregnant and make you a whore.
So why is your mom agreeing to this guy, whom she doesn’t even see as your future life partner, chatting with you and potentially going to the neighborhood ice cream store for some sinful ice cream too? Don’t her principles mean anything to her? Also, because of all the precautions that she and your dad have taken all their lives to raise you with the misconception that you are probably the only gender worth talking to on the face of this earth, you have never had the chance to have a proper conversation with a man. And now this? How are you supposed to wing it? How can you make an amazingly smart and witty conversation with this guy that he would be smitten and would only have the loveliest tales to tell his friends of the mysterious beauty he met through the Rishta Aunty?
Suddenly everything seems like a sham. The lifelong sheltering from men by your parents only to expose you to a complete stranger. The various insults that your mom always threw at people for soliciting prospective proposals for their daughters. The fact that your youngest sister is shunned because she eloped with a guy of her choice. But…….. you can’t be thinking about these mundane details. This isn’t even the guy who is going to be the one. You consider him to be the perfect practice shot.
You can tell that your mom is not going to leave any stone unturned to get this Rishta home. There’s no shame in her game. She is being polite in that mind-numbing way that you find annoying. Some people find it evil. Some think it’s what a predator does before he goes in for the kill. You can sense your mom’s flimsy values about Rishta search becoming flimsier as the conversation continues to get longer.
Your mom is providing a succinct, prepared and rehearsed account of you too. Why, you’re learning so much about yourself. Like how you’ve always been an outstanding student (if that’s what you call a student who spent more hours in the principal’s office than the classroom), amazing cook (well, you would’ve been an amazing cook if you weren’t mortally allergic to all the spices in the kitchen), excellent conversationalist (your random ramblings do have deep wisdom), awesome help around the house (thanks for acknowledging mom! Even though cleaning your room came out of ulterior motives and is the first time you’ve actually taken up cleaning but you are an awesome help just for your once-in-a-lifetime cleaning services), exceptional mediator (you have wrestled the neighborhood kids’ ball out of your mom’s hands many a time when she refused to return it). This is your favorite part of this whole conversation. Wonder why mom held out on important information about you!
Your mom puts down the phone and looks at you with the kind of genteel smile that she reserves for special occasions like when people die or lose their house in gambling. She appraises you for a good five minutes and then tells you that three days from now a “loser type family that was immediately available when asked to come over” will be coming to see you. You have a million questions, the most important being how tall the guy is but your mom squashes all such hopes by prefacing further information with “they’re not bringing their son yet”.
For a girl who was really looking forward to her first sexual experience AKA talking to a strange guy for the first time while being chaperoned by at least four people, this is truly disappointing news and you’re immediately crestfallen.