Neha broke up with me last night.
I was immature, she had said. I honestly don’t know what was wrong in sending ice-cream to her house, along with salted peanuts. I knew it was thoughtful of me to send ice-cream. Appa had always told me food is the sole purpose of life.
Had I been the President of the country, which someday I obviously will be, I would have made sure ice-cream was available for free to every child, adult, or deceased. The idea of sleeping in a coffin, every day, without eating ice-cream was terrifying. Perhaps, that is what hell is. Heaven, meanwhile, certainly has a definite surplus of cute girls and chocolate ice-cream. Oh, and obviously cupcakes.
I am called a chocolate boy, by most girls, and all guys. I’ve always found it weird. None of my other mates are called that. It’s just me. I have no idea how they know about my obsession to chocolate, as I haven’t told anyone. I wonder why girls that like chocolate (Incidentally, all of them) aren’t referred to as chocolate girls. Maybe it’s just a male thing. By the way, is there any such thing as an Idli man? I know it’s going to be highly competitive, but Appa would definitely be interested for the position.
As soon as I got up, Amma started yelling at the top of her little voice. I had broken some ‘valuable’ crockery, she said, which she had preciously preserved for a special occasion; my wedding. I wished I could run away from home. Preferably, into Deepika Padukone’s arms.
Amma went on to explain, in great detail, why the crockery was so important to her. It was the family heirloom, she said. She got it from her Ajji, whose husband had made it with lots of effort, and years of thinking had apparently gone into it. It had intricate designs on it, Amma claimed, which would be impossible for any modern designer to reproduce. I repeated my apology, hoping she would let it go.
Of course, she didn’t.
“You are the cause of all my misery”, she screamed, as the pigeons that perched on the balcony flew, out of fright.
I looked at her, smiling sadly. The Hindi soaps she religiously watched every day, without missing a single episode, was definitely taking its toll on her.
“That was the only heirloom we had, you devil of a child” she yelled. “Had Ajja been alive today, he would have disowned you”, she added, throwing me her infamous sloth-eyed look.
If I were her Ajja, I would have disowned her.
“You have never had any respect for our family. I sometimes wonder if you are indeed the son I gave birth to”
I wonder that, too.
I was made to do the dishes, and mop the floor, as penance for breaking the heirloom. Amma seemed to enjoy her role of being my taskmaster. She heartlessly made me wash each dish thrice, until “I could see my own reflection on it”, while munching on the last piece of Raja’s Tasty Butter Cookies that Appa bought for me. I wondered if I should tell her that porcelain plates didn’t really have the same characteristics as that of a mirror.
Amma put on quite a performance, rubbing her hips, stretching her legs, complaining she could not get up once she sat down. She told she hated going to purchase grocery, and blamed it for her muscle pains. I did not dare to tell her that the contributing factor was most probably not the grocery, but the 5 hours a day- Power Yoga crash course that she sincerely took every day.
Amma was a tall, round woman. She was taller than me, and experienced particular pleasure in making sure everyone realised that. Her hair was always neatly tucked into a bun. I have never seen her with untied, open hair. She claimed that untied hair caused hair-fall, which she had successfully avoided for the past fifty years.
She owned two issues of Cosmopolitan, which was dutifully kept on the coffee-table for occasional visitors. She never read it. It was a dirty, disgusting book with a lot of pornography, she had once complained to Appa. I am grateful to God she never checks my internet history. She might commit suicide, for all I know.
She worked as a part-time sales executive at a nearby supermarket, and was intensely satisfied with her job. Serving customers brought her undeniable bliss, she had stated.
Amma told me that the prices of yogurt had gone up. She cursed god for bringing such misery onto her, and her family. She blatantly stated that the new government was useless, for having increased the prices. Being a very wise man, I did not tell her about the yogurt I spilled yesterday, and how I tripped over it.
As I painfully tried to mop the floor, she decided to narrate the story of my great uncle’s grand-daughter (of whose existence I was unaware, until that point), who ran away with a boy. He was a Muslim, she said, and no Hindu could ever marry a Muslim.
“It’s a sin”, she solemnly explained. “Such marriages result in the death of the groom’s parents”.
I bit my tongue, trying to keep a straight face.
“Your grandfather died, because my Anna married a Sunni. Ghosts came over him every year, torturing him for the mistake his son had committed. He had to sacrifice his life, while trying to seek mercy from god. Vishnu hates inter-religion marriages. You remember that, Nikhil.”
I kept mouth shut. She had no Anna.
“After mopping the floors, clean the shelves in the kitchen.. The shelves on which my Ajja’s crockery was kept..”, she sobbed.
After all the yelling, and penance for my sins was over, I genuinely felt guilty.I shouldn’t have practiced juggling with it. Maybe it was something really important. I wrote apology letters, addressing them to Amma’s grandparents, hoping they wouldn’t haunt me for the grave sin I had committed. I did not wish to be the audience of a live screening of Paranormal Activities.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, beside the trash can, lay the box of broken crockery, covered in a plastic sheet. Our protagonist certainly did not find the necessity to try and see how much damage was caused to the heirloom.
Had he done it, he would have seen that tiny little label on the box, which read “Made in China”