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What happens if your 24-year-old daughter comes home from a year abroad and says, “Mom, don’t freak out, but I did a thing?” Do you freak out?
What do you do when your daughter, who is studying abroad calls you early morning (her time) and says, “Mom, don’t freak out? There was a fire at the stadium where I was working. I am alright. I cannot talk now as my phone might die any moment. Will call you later. Bye!”
And your department head is in front of you for a meeting.
“Are you hurt?” I manage to blurt.
“No. I cannot talk now. Bye”
And I have to keep aside everything and concentrate on the meeting and spend the next 6-7 hours worrying silently.
I cannot afford to freak out especially while dealing with her, my daughter. With her, staying calm is the key.
So the rest of the time, till her call comes, is spent working mechanically and thinking of all the possibilities. And then, crossing them out one by one.
She called, that means she is alright and not in a hospital. Did she sound alright? Yes. So she’s also not hurt.
There seems to be no report of a fire on the internet. So it must not be a big fire.
Whom can I call? And I mentally think of my relatives and friends who are there. I cannot call my husband as he said he would be busy on the site, and there is no connectivity.
By the time I go home and tell her father about it, I am a nervous wreck inside. She has cut my calls twice and then sent an angry “Mom, I am busy!” message.
But when her father calls, she answers it on the first ring and I snatch it from him and start screaming at her.
“You were given a phone so you could keep in touch with us! Why can’t you keep it charged? Instead of playing games on it and messaging and messaging and wasting the battery! It was given for important things! What were you doing during the fire? How did it start? Are you okay? Were you inside? Are you hurt? Is everyone else safe? Did I not tell you not to work at such places but…”
By this time, the phone is snatched back and her father asks her in a concerned voice, “Are you alright? Not hurt? Then OK.”
And she tells us that the stadium caught fire in the afternoon and she was to work in the evening shift. They had then sent an SMS to everyone, to not come work as the match was cancelled. So she had gone to her friend’s place and they watched movies the entire night. Thus, she was so sleepy.
“And why didn’t you tell this earlier?” I asked her.
“But I told you. You don’t listen! Why can’t you be more positive? You will ALWAYS think of the bad things first, maa!” she exclaimed.
So I resolved to be positive the next time. Of course, there was going to be a next time. Her whole aim in life seemed to be to see how to shock me.
Next time the call came, it was after party at her college. “Mom, we had so much fun!! And now we are in a well.”
This was accompanied by lots of giggling and shouts in the background. Try positive thinking in such a situation!
“Are you drunk? What well? Which well? Why well?”
“You know I don’t drink here. Will call you at 1pm. I was awake all night and got back from the hospital just now. I am sleeping with my phone on silent mode.”
Yes. I know she doesn’t drink while she’s at the hostel. She sounded alright. And why did the hospital enter her conversation? Did they jump in the well? Well, she can swim, but why?
Later on it turned out that there was a step-well like pond in the campus, where they held activities when there was no water in it. And the students had decided to clean it after their party. Which they did.
See, I am a simple person. Typical middle class lady with a middle class mentality. My idea of adventure as a child was to be able to pedal a cycle from one square to the next on the busiest road of the city without stopping even once.
I lead a simple life following the rules, and considered myself an independent woman. This was because I could drive a two wheeler and a four wheeler, change a punctured tyre, a bulb and a tube light. I can clean a spark plug and could do small repairs around the house.
And to the eternal joy of my friends, my daughter turned out to be everything I was not.
Her main aim in life was to see in how many ways could she make my life interesting. She would do unheard things so that you had to be ready for anything. And such is her charm that she manages to collect like thinking people around her. All mad.
You think I exaggerate?
When she was in Senior KG, her teacher called from school.
So here is the situation. Your child has left for school at 7:45 am and there is a call from class teacher who wants to speak to you at 8:15 am. The call was on the land-line and as I went to pick the phone, everyone was worried.
My father-in-law, sitting next to the phone, my mother-in-law leaving her pooja half-way, my husband with half his face lathered, my brother in law ready with keys in hand to rush to school, the cook leaving the vegetables to burn on gas.
And then her teacher says, “Hello. I am the class teacher of KG2. I wanted to ask you how you made those beautiful houses for her project?”
“Do you want more? I will send them tomorrow. My daughter is alright?”
“Of course. Why should anything be wrong?”
“You called just now. So we were worried”
When I told the anxious worried listeners about her query, there was chaos. And it was only due to my mother-in-law who calmed all of us, that my daughter continued in the same school. Or there would have been a murder.
So you see, I cannot freak out. And I succeed in minor things. And knowing my daughter, I think of all outrageous things and ask her to promise not to do it. But then as I said, I am a simple person and my definition of outrageous is a bit different than hers.
Still I never expected her to call from her college and say, “Mom, don’t freak out, but I am getting married tomorrow! ”
Common sense tells me that she won’t do it, she can’t do it. But then can you depend on common sense while dealing with her?
Questioning her turns out that she is acting in a college drama contest.
“But you don’t know anything about acting?”
“I know. But I just have to bat my eyelids and look stupid. I can do that”.
My friends enjoy all her escapades and scold me if I say a word against her. But then they don’t have to live with her and worry about her 24 hours a day, all seven days of the week!
I am the victim. And I have given up hope that she would gather sensible friends around her.
“Aunty, she cannot come on phone now because they are sneaking Jimmy up the front stairs to their room while the matron is having lunch,” her friend says when I called one day.
My friend who heard it looked shocked, “They are sneaking a boy into their room? How can you stay so cool?”
“What can I do from here?” I say calmly. I cannot freak out.
By now I have learnt that Jimmy can be anyone from a dog to a toy. It turned out to be a cooler, the one they had purchased. They had to carry it to the second floor themselves as men were not allowed inside the hostel. And they were doing it on the sly as they were not supposed to use the front staircase.
No, I do not freak out. I have now decided that she was sent on the earth for my entertainment only. (I have to think that way or I would go mad).
The only hope I have from her is that she marries a sensible person. So when I met her “boyfriend,” I was hopeful and happy.
Till the day I received a phone call, “Aunty, don’t freak out, but…”
Picture credits: YouTube
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