Families, what holds them together and what makes them love each other (if at all!)? Do we really know the people we call our family? What makes them tick, what ticks them off and will they really stand by you? Do we stay with our families because we love them or because that’s what we are supposed to do? If we do love them, why do brothers fight over property, why are sisters jealous of each other and why do families disintegrate as children grow and move on with their lives? In the animal world, there are no hard feelings when the children attain “maturity” and go on their path to make their own life. But in the human world, it’s called the ‘empty nest’ syndrome. Parents look after children and then children look after parents: Is it natural or are we forcing it? And if it should be okay for parents to “let go” of their children once they grow – and not interfere with their lives or expect anything in return – is it also fair to assume that the parents then should live their own lives, and perhaps cut us off the inheritance?
The last two more chapters in the pre-published Mishra stories…
Mishraji’s Musings Chapter 5
Catrina K’s secret and Salma Hayek
Despite Sam’s spirited attempt on Xmas eve (did one mention he is Catholic AND British?) – and after which Pinkiji dumped him – the appearance of Sam had only thrown the Mishra family into deepening silence. Except for brief periods Catrina Kohli appeared on the scene, which caused various Mishra family members to react in various ways.
Mishraji would look at Catrina with speculative suspicion. Mrs Mishraji would instantly develop an expression that could mean either she had bitten her tongue hard or had eaten a fly. Pinkiji would become very self-conscious and would send admiring glances to what Catrina was wearing. However, it was Tinkuji who reacted the most uncharacteristically. The fact that Catrina seemed to taunt him continuously wasn’t helping matters either.
While Tinkuji had displayed a general eye for the ladies – especially the girls who came for biology tuitions at the Professor's house, three houses down the Mishra's – Tinkuji was pointedly rude to Catrina. He would either leave each time Catrina appeared or refuse to look at her. It had started with Sam's dismissal on Xmas eve. Tinkuji's entry had gone unnoticed the other night because everyone was looking at Pinkiji slapping Sam.
As Sam had left holding his left cheek, everyone had noticed a stunned Tinkuji standing at the gate and Catrina had asked him, "So that's the end of Uncle Sam. How is your story coming along Tinkoo, Rosebud Salma? You dumping her too?"
Tinkuji had ignored Catrina, looked at Pinkiji stunned and had muttered, "But why did you dump Sam?" With no response coming, he shook his head, walked inside and had refused to speak to his sister or Catrina since then. In fact no one had spoken at all.
Till that morning's newspaper arrived and Mrs Mishraji yelled, "Aji sunte ho!" and Mishraji had come running, Pinkiji had followed with Tinkuji on her heels. The entire family had huddled together around the newspaper. 'Benazir Bhutto assassinated' screamed the headline. The entire family pulled in closer. As someone held the paper and someone else read out loud, Pinkiji said, "Papaji, we should get our own satellite dish. We would have had the news last evening."
"Yes," added Tinkuji, "You can watch everything instantly on 24/7 news channels."
"Is this the time to discuss TV? A world leader has died." chided Mrs Mishraji.
"But she's not our leader Mummyji, she is a Pakistani…” continued Pinkiji, embarrassed she had mentioned TV at all.
"OH keep quiet. Kabhi sochne ke liye rukte ho?,” said Mishraji, “Do you ever stop to think that things and life can change so instantly? Like you Pinki... One evening you hate your father for S...someone, another evening you slap that boy in public. Things just changed like that, so frivolously? Why did you give up on that boy?" At that Pinkiji burst out crying.
"Papaji, sorry. I don't know what to do (sob). First I like S... someone and you get angry. Then I don't like S... someone and you still get angry. (sob) Papaji, I did not like S... someone because I wanted to hurt you. And I just liked from far Papaji, from very far. I did not do anything to hurt you Papaji... I did like him," Pinkiji could barely talk, the tears flowed that fast and her lips quivered that hard.
"Then why the hell did you dump Sam? If you loved him strong enough" pointed Tinkuji at which point both parents asked him to shut up.
"Because no one calls my Papaji a liar," said Pinkiji and began bawling like a 9-year-old. Mrs Mishraji started crying loudly too saying, "Pinki bitiya mat ro."
Mishraji stood silently with changing expressions flitting across his face. One wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh or cry for one had never seen Mishraji do either. For a minute everyone stood doing their bit and then Mishraji folded the paper and ambled inside and both women followed him inside. Tinkuji stood there bemused and walked outside the gate. As Tinkuji made his exit, someone sighed loudly.
"SIGH. Such love. Don't you think THAT family is SO full of stereotypes," Catrina asked chattily, looking at yours truly, her hand resting on her heaving bosom. This was highly odd. First, Catrina had made a silent entry, which was unusual and then SHE was calling someone else a stereotype, which was... One didn't know what to say. "But then Media Madam, there are certain stereotypes that are so blatantly true, no?" Catrina continued smiling, the hand on her bosom shaking ever so slightly, something like a tremor in her voice, the consummate drama queen. "Like the stereotype of Good Indian Girls who will fall in love but will not take it to the right conclusion because they get sudden guilty feelings about letting their parents down. Or the stereotype of the Ageing Single Woman, like me, who can’t fall in love, can’t ask her man to stand by him because he is too scared, who…” (SOB). One was stunned. Catrina Kohli was crying or at least trying not to cry. What was happening?
“Do you know Media Madam, the man I love calls me the Queen of Poorly Conceived Stereotypes? He says I should not think of it as a compliment. But then, at least he calls me a queen," finished Catrina. One was trying to say the right words for such a situation when...
"My mother is not come, she go somewhere for other work. I have come for housework today, but two hours only work-time," said a soft voice in exactly those words and as one turned, one nearly died of shock. There was Salma Hayek standing at the gate, offering to do our housework.
(to be continued)