Sipping my morning cup of tea, I scroll through Facebook. A flurry of identical posts greet me.
Mom. You’re the greatest. Love you.
There’s nobody more valuable than a mother.
My momma is my greatest strength.
It’s time for me to react. I live in constant fear that I will be declared as an outcast by the messiahs of the social media if I don’t tag along. But my penchant for doing something out of the box kicks in. What’s the use if my post doesn’t contain the mandatory humour? So, suppressing a giggle, I type – Happy Nirupa Roy Day!
I fish out a picture of the actress from Google, and voila! I get the first ha-ha reaction of the day. I place the teacup on the table, lean back against my sofa, and close my eyes, smiling to myself. The clicking of the sewing machine somehow has a calming influence on me.
COUGH! COUGH! COUGH!
I begin to clear my throat, when I get up with a start. Wait! I never have a sewing machine at home. And I definitely did not cough! I stand rooted to the spot. The sound is coming from my right side. My hands shake, my feet turn to wood, and my soul threatens to leave my body. Come on, babe! You can do it. I turn around.
It’s a sewing machine from Singer, complete with a foot-operated treadle. Memories of a poverty-stricken mother suffering from tuberculosis rush in. My parched throat makes noises as if a lamb is getting slaughtered. Gazing at me, sitting on a chair, coughing, is the lady in question. Erm. Isn’t she dead?
“Am I a joke to you?” she asks, eyes raised, lips pursed. This is not the loving mother of Bollywood I had admired in my growing up years. Is she an imposter? Nothing makes sense to me.
I shiver. “I am sorry. Who are you?”
She gets up, her hands above her waist. “How dare you ask me this silly question? Don’t you know who I am?”
I cower. “N.. N… Nirupa R. R.. Roy?”
She frees her hands and takes her seat on the sofa. “At last! These millennial kids have lost all sense of respect. Tell me something. Why do you always equate me with kind mothers?”
I have no answers. But I sit next to her. “You have always been the epitome of motherhood in the Hindi film industry.”
She shrugs her shoulders. “Blame it on the era I lived in. How I wish I could act now. You really get to see some awesome movies. What was the name of the movie? I forgot. Arey! That controversial one?”
Her sudden question catches me off-guard, but I manage to regain my composure. I point out to her that almost all the movies nowadays generate controversies. I pick up my cup. Mercifully the tea hasn’t turned cold.
Her eyes gleam. “Ah. Lipstick under my Burkha.”
I choke on my tea. I must be dreaming. This cannot be happening. But the forlorn expression on her face is unmistakable. My faith in the quintessential good Indian mother is shaken to the core. Have desi moms too lost their sanskaar?
She seems to have read my mind. “You think women like me don’t have desires? Why can’t I take on roles which are what you call as bold?”
I have no answer. Because deep inside, I know I have been prejudiced. Yeah, despite my alleged liberal upbringing. I cast my eyes down.
I feel a pat on my shoulder. She plants a kiss on my forehead. “I am not angry with you. I just wanted to vent out my feelings. That’s all.”
She has indeed a magnanimous heart. Not to speak of normal urges. However, like the cine going public of the 80s, I had placed her on a pedestal she didn’t deserve. Divinity is reserved for the Gods and the Goddesses. She is a human. With feet of clay, of course. I must apologize to her. I raise my head. She’s nowhere to be seen.
P.C – Annie Spratt from ‘Unsplash’