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A short story of a woman who sees her future and realises that she wants to be the mother-in-law she never had.
I had cleaned the kitchen after lunch, while my parents and my son slept, and went to my room. I entered to find a strange golden door on the wall beside my wardrobe. ‘That’s strange, there was a calendar hanging here in the morning…where did this door come from?’, I wondered. I thought I was hallucinating because I was tired. I took my glasses off, wiped them and put them back on. But the door was real. I dared to move forward and touched it. Yes, it existed! I moved back and examined it further. It was a metallic door with a button on it.
I hesitantly pressed the button, a lock opened and I stepped back, surprised. A bright light hit my eyes and blurred my vision, but I still walked through the door.
The bright light slowly dimmed and I saw a tunnel like path. I kept walking, as if I was hypnotised. A few steps forward and I came across a small helicopter with the words ‘TIME MACHINE’ written on it with red bold letters.
‘What’s going on? Am I nuts?’, I thought as I watched my hand pull open the door of the machine. I felt as if I was in a dream. I saw a seat and sat down, and suddenly the machine seemed to turn on. I held on to the seat handles and the machine flew! I closed my eyes, afraid of what was to come next.
I felt a jerk and opened my eyes. I am at home and I am almost 60. My son is a handsome adult, twenty-five and an established aeronautical engineer. Girls keep competing for his attention and he enjoys it.
It seems like he has come back from work as he announces “Maa, I’m in love and I’m gonna marry my colleague soon. She will come to see you tomorrow and we are gonna fix a date.” What! I have always been a liberal and modern mom. I am alright with letting him make his own choices in life. But then, why was I not happy?
“What is her name? Where is her family from?” I ask, as I try to stay normal.
“She’s a Punjabi, Maa. Bindaas (chill) girl, you know!”, he replied and hugged me. “Oh! you will love her. She loves paranthas like you. You both shall have a great relationship, I’m sure!”.
I prepared the dinner and kept thinking, ‘When did my baby grow so big?’.
After I met her the next day, I realised she was beautiful, smart and had a warm charming presence. I loved her and approved of her. A date was fixed and the weeding soon took place. Both of them looked wonderful together! Oh how I missed my parents…
Days went by and now, it has been 4 months since they got married. My daughter-in-law enters the kitchen and asks me to allow her make some food. I told her to make anything she wants to and showed her the ingredients. “Call me for help if you need something, ok?” I said and left.
I was busy writing some guidelines for the kids I tutor when she entered and announced the table was ready. I was hungry and decided not to wait for my son. The aroma of gobhi ka parantha (flatbread stuffed with cauliflower) and gajar ka halwa (Indian dessert) doubled my hunger. As she served me, I could see ghee dripping from the halwa and the pranthas were soaked in oil. They tasted great though. I praised her cooking skills but I lovingly added, “Dear, you see your husband is not exercising these days and developing a ‘football’ tummy. Shouldn’t you cut down on the oil and ghee on our food?”. I have always been a fitness-freak. “Ek din khane se kya hota hai Mummy ji?” she smiled at me. “Roz to healthy hi khate hain.” (What will happen if we eat like this once in a while Mummy? We eat healthy everyday anyway).
I felt apprehensive about leaving my son with her. They were about to leave for Chandigarh to join their job transfer soon. What if he develops a high blood pressure or diabetes in the years to come?
Suddenly, I remembered someone. I remembered how I hated her for the way she kept controlling her son’s lifestyle after marriage. My mother-in-law, that’s who I remembered. That nosey lady, that nagging old woman who kept on scolding me for frying papads (fried dough) and pooris (deep-fried bread) which dripped oil on plates.
After so many years… who was she to me now? Why do I remember her? I’ve no relation with her anymore, I divorced her son years ago. I don’t know where or how they are. Maybe now I understand – she was a mom. Maybe all moms think alike. Protective of their sons, they start judging their daughters-in-law. Apprehension takes over when the time comes to let them go.
Even so, I never had a daughter and always wanted one. Now that I have a pretty, warm-hearted and charming daughter, why do I judge her? Why do I feel annoyed when she plays loud music and enjoys her workouts? Why can’t I be her mom?
The time machine beeped and with a jerk I was back in my room, standing in front of the wardrobe. I walked out of the door into my room, in deep thought. I heard my mother’s voice yell , “Cha banabi na?” (Won’t you make tea?). I looked at the clock and it was 5:00 pm. “Haan jachchi,” (Yes, coming) I replied. I rubbed my eyes and walked to the kitchen.
Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-white-photo-of-clocks-707676/
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A single mom, freedom lover, passionate about life, self-employed (teaching and learning), love writing
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