Stroll? I think I’m getting an idea.
Stroll?…wait, I’ve got to switch on my computer!
“Kya stroll te stroller da siyappa laga rakha hai?” (Why are you raising such a hue and cry about stroll and stroller?) Mom’s booming voice caught me unawares and I toppled out of my chair.
“Stroll Mummy Ji, Stroll,” murmured wifey in a tone that could’ve meant two things – one, she wanted Mom to disappear and go for a “stroll” in that “go, take a walk”, dismissive kind of meaning, or she could’ve been clarifying my statement to Mom in an effort to ensure that Mom didn’t cast one of her witchy spells to change the flavor of our conversation entirely, by bringing in the apparently innocuous stroller into it. With wifey you can never say. I stole a sideways glance to see which meaning Mom decided to hear. With Mom too, you can never say.
Fortunately for wifey, and unfortunately for me, Mom decided to focus on the second meaning.
“Stroller? Arey tum dono se kuch ho to stroller ka munh dekhen hum!” (Stroller? If only the two of you were capable of doing something, I’d turn fortunate enough to see the face of a stroller.)
“Mom,” I interjected, “let us not go there again please.”
“Go where, puttar (son)?” Mom shot me a glance that was quicker and sharper than a Rampuri knife and continued, “if only I had a stroller with your son in it to give me company, I’d go somewhere. I could show my face in the neighborhood. I could boast about my grandson…at least.”
The “at least” was a well-thought-of-afterthought – a barb that was almost invisible – hidden in the tail of the scorpion-statement she flung at me.
“Mom,” I repeated – trying to sound calm as my temper began to rise, “I said: let us not go there. Whether or not we get a stroller would depend on a lot of things – not just your need to boast.”
“To main deenge maarti hoon? (So you are saying that I boast?) Is this why I brought you in this world? Is this why I carried you in my womb for nine months and seven days? Did I do all that so that today you tell me that I boast?”
“Mummy ji,” wifey intervened. I shuddered inwardly. She had the knack to make worsen the worst. “Mummy ji,” she said, “he didn’t mean to say that, he only meant that we aren’t ready for a child yet.”
I covered my face with my hands and waited for the inevitable!
“Ma-bete ke beech taang mat ada,” (Literal translation: Don’t stick your foot between mother and son,) Mom blasted her, “go into the kitchen and make a cup of tea for me. For all I know, something’s wrong with you!” She then turned to me and continued, “This is what happens when you pick a girl from a different community – no strollers, not even one! Everyone gets one…everyone! Even the newly married modern couples – they go on their honeymoon, and the first thing they buy after they come back, is a stroller. All I ever wanted from you was a blue stroller…but you never think of your mother’s feelings, do you?”
“Mom, should I go to the market and buy you a blue stroller? Will that make you happy?” I asked her.
She stopped her litany, then riveted me to my seat using her characteristic unblinking stare. “You don’t mean it, do you?” she asked.
“Of course, I do. If a stroller makes you happy, I’ll buy one for you. I might even get an off-season discount if I bought it right away.”
She looked at me. She knew something was fishy. I never gave in that easily.
And then she understood.
She didn’t go for a stroll; I didn’t buy a stroller. I just faithfully reproduced the whole incident for my readers.
This post is written in response to the daily post prompt Stroll.