Archive | 10:12 pm

A (Birth)Day In The Life Of

17 Jul

So I had a birthday today. Not really, if you’re looking at the Roman calendar. But if you consider the beautiful bungle that is the Zoroastrian calendar after arriving in India, it’s my birthday. And it’s the one my family celebrates with many loud noises and jokes only they can consider funny.

I’m writing this with too much rum-drenched cake in me, so pardon the drunken recounting of the day:

Mom (feeding me cake): Now next year, celebrate your birthday in your sasroo (sasural). [Incidentally, she’s been saying this since I was 4. Or 14. Or thereabouts.]

Me: Is it still called a sasroo if there’s no sasoo (M-I-L) living in it?

Mom: Yes, it means your marital home.

Me: A sasroo without a sasoo?

Mom (keeping her patience): Okay, your husband’s home.

Me: Not mine??!!

Mom (trying to remember it’s my birthday): Okay! Yours and your husband’s. Your home together. No sasoo. No sasroo. Okay?

Me (smugly): Okay.

***

According to my mother’s accurate calculations and superior prior experience, the number of rice grains that stick to one’s forehead when pressed onto the tilo (kumkum tikka) indicates the number of children one will have.

“28!” she delightedly declared to my father today, squinting at my forehead.

Right, Ma, and Granny had 32 on her 79th birthday, but never mind that. Maybe other people’s babies are accidentally included in the count.

***

My cousin forgot it was my birthday. Most of my generation only remembers the calendar that they actually use. Or maybe it was because she was too busy doling out worthy advice over SMS. “Tie up those tubes!” she messaged. “Here I am, on my few days off, teaching Z to write ABCD instead of flying off somewhere!”

I’m wondering if I should’ve gently reminded her that flying is her day/night/weekend job, one she passionately claims to detest.

***

My mother’s assistant refused to eat my cake because it was soaked in rum and Thursdays are for Sai Baba, who apparently frowns on chugging a few. Dad launched into a history lesson about the Sufi movement and the need for alcohol to “Transcend the Everyday”, but I don’t think Shevanti the Poker Face was suitably impressed. She, like everybody else, knows that Dad doesn’t drink.

***

Mom (smilingly): Someone told me you’d get married at 32.

Me: Someone also told you 28.

Dad: Yes, yes, 28’s right. I think you’ll get married at 28.

Me: Uhm… you do realize I turned 30 today, don’t you?

Dad: Oh. Ahem! Right. Of course I knew that!

***

Dad’s been diagnosed with slight hearing loss recently. I can’t decide who’s happier about it: Mom, who can finally blare all she wants, or him, for finally being able to ignore all of it.

***

As a child, I was a perfect angel. Check with my brother, he’ll agree. When I was 10 and he was 5, I educated him in gory detail about a banshee called Bhaskari Bai who inhabited a hamlet near our native village. Of course, since Bhaskari Bai the Nocturnal Banshee was a powerful spook, she could fly over to Bombay anytime she fancied and hence there was no reprieve from her there either. All this, I solemnly swore on our religion, was absolutely true. The erstwhile Doubting Thomas wobbled his stick-like legs and crapped his pants and I rolled all over the floor, consumed in unshared mirth. Two decades later, an occasional steely glint in his eye tells me he hasn’t forgotten. (Strange, given that I’m the family elephant.) I’m so glad not many of you know I work with children.

Err… Good night, folks.