Fiction: HOME IS WHERE MOM IS

Glory Sasikala

Glory Sasikala

As we set out into the world
Travel near and far and high
Our paths yet never stray far from you—
For every Moon a sky


There was one ammunition in my favor, and I bungled it. I did keep the alarm for 5 am but I did not wake up. And, as usual, I woke up in terror, my eyes wide open, and rushed to open the door to stop that incessant doorbell from ringing.
It’s always worth it because I wait to see her face. My own chubby-cheeked baby girl was back home. I watched as she arranged her stuff…in my shelf…next to my things…on top of my things…mingled with my things. She dumped some of my things on my bed to make space for her books.
“Can I take your laptop? What’s your password? It’s okay, I remember! You never change it.”
My loud “No!” was drowned out by even louder music. She was on the phone now, calling up her brother. How can she talk or listen above that din?
My son is married, so in addition to one giddy-headed boy, I now have a giddy-headed daughter-in-law and a rascally little grandson too. 
“Hey! When did you come?”
“Just now. Mom is all freaked out. I rang the doorbell loudly. Hee hee hee!”
They all giggled.
“Are you guys coming home for breakfast?”
My eyes were big now and I was listening, “Wait! What? What do I cook?”
“Yes, sure. Mom, please make vada and pongal… And mutton curry for lunch…”
By this time, I had become resigned to the day. And before I knew it, she had called up her friend and ‘borrowed’ his bike, and there I was, pillion riding. Of note, this is the same guy who went all the way to the bus station early morning to pick her up and bring her home. He wasn’t very happy about it, but she’s his friend and he has to take care of her. You would think it was romantic interest, but, “We’re just friends,” is a not-so-cheesy line you hear nowadays. 
“Like a brother?” I asked, feeling like an ignorant ignoramus.
“No, not exactly. Just friends, you know.”
No, I don’t, actually. I belong to a different time…a different era…the baby boomer one. God! I feel like an old relic. Where was all this friendship when I was growing up? My mom would have sent the guy packing or asked him what his intentions were. Everything I wanted when I was young, all the freedom and informality that I had craved when I was a teenager, these kids have it. Maybe my generation had something to do with the change….Maybe we were the ones who brought and wrought the change…
I was still pillion riding, first to the Bismillah Mutton Shop, and then to buy vegetables.  Once back home, I made “French toast” with lots of egg and milk and sugar in it, just the way they liked it. 
“Just the way you did every Sunday when we were kids,” they remind me. 
“You will be making mutton jarri for lunch?” my daughter asked, looking anxious.
I had forgotten that “jarri” is another carry-over from her childhood baby talk when she could not say, “Curry.” It had stayed ‘Jarri’ since then. 
My son looked at me, and with hopeful eyes, explained, “It’s the one with the onion rings in them, remember?”
Sigh…yes, of course, I remember. Onion rings are so important!  Jarri would not be the same as from childhood without the onion rings.
So. then. while they had their breakfast and relax, I got ready to cut a lot of onions to get the ‘Jarri’ going.
And then, all of a sudden, they were up and very active, with my grandson so excited he squealed every two minutes—a high baby squeal that I so love much. They got down the Christmas tree and started setting it up. From bedlam to bedlam….shouts, scissors, papers, glue…
I steered clear of the whole mess and made my way to my sanctuary, my kitchen.
The “jarri” with the onion rings got done. Just as I was going to make the rice and the papad, the gas got over, and I had to call up the gas agency.  Thankfully, they deliver in half an hour and we were able to have our lunch in time, a delightful slow meal, relaxing round the table and talking, followed by rather sleepily watching a movie.
The day flew by and it was evening, and again they were bright-eyed and active. They 'borrowed' my saris and my table and set up the manger. My screams of “Those are my saris, leave them alone!” were all to no avail. They just grinned and got on with it.
And then it was time to go to church. Once back, it was time for the baby to sleep and for my son and his family to leave. The next day, it was time for my daughter to leave for Bangalore too and get back to work.
I can never relax while she’s travelling, and I needed no clock to wake up early to check if she had reached safely.  
I thought the day was done with, but that afternoon, I could not find the remote for the TV. So I picked up the phone, 
“Mona! Where is the remote?”
The “I don't know,” sounded innocent enough.
Another call to my son, “Tenny! Did you see the remote?”
A sleepy, “No Mummy. Leave me alone! I’m sleeping!”
After searching for a while and turning the house upside down in the process, I finally found it…behind a cushion. 
Picking up things and putting them back in their rightful place, switching on Christmas lights in the evening, piling my plate with leftovers, I sighed deeply and thought, “They’re all grown up and have found their rightful place in the world…but where I am is still their home.”
***

Bio: Glory Sasikala is a writer, publisher, and poet currently residing in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India. She is the Editor and Publisher of GloMag, an international poetry and prose magazine. Her poetry books, novels, and short stories are available in various online bookstores such as Amazon and Flipkart as well as on her blogs. She is on the brink of publishing a very interesting collection of anecdotes and short stories inspired by her rather colourful and chequered life.


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