Families are like fudge… mostly sweet with a few nuts.
— Author Unknown
The daughter is in Class 6. A nice kid: obedient, creative, intelligent and best of all rather quiet. The mother: doting and devoted, but has a strong sense of duty and responsibility. The two are thick as thieves! But when it comes to priorities, the mother and daughter do not see eye to eye. So invariably there is a clash. The kid just takes things at random in line of her studies and pastime. Keeping them in the assigned place, like the book in the book shelf and waste in the bin, is not her priority; as for her mother, it’s hers. To make matters worse there are a hundred and one collection areas in the small two-bed-roomed apartment all to keep the kid’s things (anyone would get paranoid recollecting which goes into which)! For example all the hair clips goes into the brown brocaded box but not the ear-rings and bangles (they have separate boxes as well); the colour pencils in the pathetic Quality Street Toffee tin on the second shelf and so on. Also, the little one takes her badminton racquet to school during her PE days, but bringing it back home is not her priority but, there you’ve guessed right, it is her mother’s. So also homework – mostly it is done, but once in a while forgotten! And many more . . . .
On a typical day you will catch the two engaged in a typical tête-à-tête. It goes something like this.
Mother, a teacher in the school where the kid is schooled: Did you do your homework?
Mother: Are you sure?
Mother: What about Math?
Kid: Yes, . . . huh . . . Oh I forgot, (taking the exercise notebook and flipping pages) yes there’s some here (fiddles the lower lip with her fore finger and looks not in the least perturbed)!
Mother: (Her face is scowling and her voice has increased several decibel) Look, I had to check to make sure to see if there’s homework. (Voice still higher) When will you learn to be more organized. . . . .
Kid: (looks sheepishly, pouting her lower lips) mmm …
Mother: What’s the time now?
Kid: 20 to 10!
Mother: (Voice has reached a menacing high) And all this while you were watching TV?!!
Kid: (looking incredulously) I was watching with you.
Mother: (Mocking) Aahaa! So, that is my fault, huh?!!
Kid: (Silent. She has a tear precariously hanging at the corners of her eyes) ….
Mother: (Voice reaching a crescendo) WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!!!
Kid scurries off with the book to the table and starts the homework, whimpering.
Mother: (Not ready to stop the tirade) Hmph! When I asked you, you say there’s no home work; now look there’s all this work (just about 2 sums). How can you lie so blatantly? (Working herself up) There is no more TV for you! (Kid is bawling now). SHUT YOUR MOUTH! (Kid literally shuts her trap and covers it with her hand, eyebrows arched and eyes popping in fear and disbelief)
Kid: (After a while, between sobs) Until when?
Mother: SHUT UP! (Dismissively) Until I feel it’s alright! You do your work; don’t crib
Two minutes later homework done, the kid peeps through the curtain at entrance to the sitting room and announces her work done. The storm has died; sort of!
Five minutes silence. Kid is left to her misery calculating how many shows on the TV she would lose! 6th minute. . . . .
Mother: Hey look, you’ve not polished your shoes . . .
Kid: Scurries to do it (perhaps her mother will relent and allow her to watch TV!).
Mother: . . . and look at your room, it looks like A STABLE!! (the last part is a shriek)) (soliloquy) Oh my God! OH MAH GAWD! (in disbelief, to nobody in particular) what am I going to do with this girl?!!
Kid (in a diminutive tone): I will do it after the shoe polishing.
Mother: ALWAYS have to be after you to do this, or that! I repeat this like a parrot how many times?! A HUNDRED TIMES! A HUNDRED TIMES! (The shrill sound waves reverberate – the kid cows down)
Mother: (eyeing the school bag) AND NOW I WILL HAVE TO INSTRUCT YOU TO KEEP THE BAG!
Kid: (by now trying to put back her room in order) I will do it soon, Amma.
Mother: (not heeding what the kid says) I’m sure you will not have sharpened your pencil, if at all you haven’t gone and lost it. How many pencils do you lose a day, huh? . . blah blah!!! And some more blah blah!!!
The next twenty minutes the mother accuses the kid of all the silly things she has done and not done. The kid cries, bawls, whimpers, moans, becomes silent finally. Suddenly she grows twenty hands and thirty legs and cleans her room, sharpens her pencil (pencil shavings go into the bin), keeps her bag and does lots more chores all in six minutes flat and finally flies to the sitting room to flop down on one corner of the sofa exhausted. The mother too is exhausted from all the supervision; flops down on the other corner of the sofa. Each heaves a deep sigh. Then they watch all the shows on the TV (punishment is forgotten in the heat of the action on the screen) and retire to bed. Before going to bed there is some bickering about brushing the kid’s teeth and washing her face with a special soap to stop a skin aberration. I forget – there is this device the kid is forced to insert into her mouth to correct her gums before she goes to bed. That too . . . .
At 10.30 PM they go to sleep together. The kid is an habitual sleep activist. She moves around and anything that hampers her invasion in the bed is kicked out. And to ensure that no harm may fall on her while she sleeps, her mother makes her curl up in the master bed with her. But invariably throughout the night the mother gets kicked around by the kid aspiring to conquer more land on the bed!
The script is repeated everyday more or less at the prescribed time, with minor changes here and there. Sometimes the kid becomes aggressive and stamps her feet, bangs the door and makes a big face and walks around like a tragedy queen! Nevertheless, neither the mother nor the daughter changes their pattern of life and priorities!
That reminds me – there is a dad; he sits, oblivious to the proceedings around him, at his computer and taps the key mechanically, that’s all he wants and does!!
The End of an episode! Will it go on like a mega serial?!