March 29, 2009

Mothers of Sons

Preeti Sharma.

"It's a boy."

That statement sets off a series of lifelong changes for a mother whose apron strings gently, but tenaciously, wind themselves around the tiny boy-child's body. Her heartbeat resigns itself to be wholly dependent on his, her self-worth now judged only by sacrifices she can make for him, her heart vows to cook his favourite foods, wash his clothes, keep shrewd girls (that includes all girls, duh) away from him and keep track of his multiple fungal infections until her own body is lowered six feet under.

Her dying breath will be all about who will comb her baby boy's hair just right and who will heat milk with turmeric for him, every morning. Meanwhile, the baby boy who may have just celebrated his 38th birthday will sit wondering morosely, darn it, ‘who will take my clothes to the laundry and wash me behind my ears?’ He may also realise sadly that he will have to be nicer to his wife (yes, she does exist, but you wouldn't know it) because she would now go from being part of the wallpaper to being his surrogate mother.

I wonder about mothers who are obsessed with their sons. Take my friend Ashish's mother:

"I am telling Ashish to get married," says Mrs. Girodia.

"Does he have a girl in mind?" I ask cautiously.

"No, no, I only will select the girl for him. Problem is he is so good looking and smart, any girl will be so lucky to have him", she says and her eyes glaze over him as if she has inhaled Grade A cocaine.

I look at Ashish closely: he still looks like a mouse with constipation. The last time he smiled was 2004.

"There are very few boys like him now," she says wistfully. I nod wisely and bite my tongue.

Ashish got married 8 months later. His poor wife looks only downwards now and his mother is still the only woman in his life.

It's much more pragmatic with girls. True, many mothers are obsessed with their daughters' virtue (sic), but there comes a point when mothers just let their daughters be. They are allowed to manage their own eating habits, pack their own suitcases and make their own beds. Show me a twenty-five year old fellow living at home, and I'll show you a mother who is still making his bed.

My friend Prerna had a child very young, but she got married recently to a man in his 40s. She ended up learning all about men only after they were married.

- His mother irons his underwear.

- His mother goes with him for his physicals with the doctor, irrespective of the body part being examined.

- His mother decides when he needs privacy and when not. She questions why the door to his room stays locked longer these days.

- His mother needs to be the last person to hug him before he leaves the house. She says it brings him good luck. As far as Prerna can see, it has caused him to lose two jobs, one car and one expensive watch.

"Why is she so damn possessive of him?", Prerna fumes.

I cannot answer because I am now distracted by what Prerna is doing. She irons her fourteen-year old son's underwear. As he bounds into the room she hands him a freshly ironed one, still hot, and looks at him with abandon joy before he disappears to change. Why do mothers think their sons' underwear should be like a chappati, best when it's hot. Since everyone is in the throes of maternal love I refrain from pointing out what warm underwear can do his sperm levels.

And so the circle of possessive and obsessive mothers continues.

"My son is very fond of me. He calls me every week from London." Her son has taken truckloads of money from her, claiming to study in London. His phone calls are camouflaged requests for money.

"All the girls who meet my son want to marry him. But that silly boy is so romantic. He is still looking for that special someone." He has been rejected by over twenty five girls because he proudly informs them that his mother, occasionally, still ties his shoe laces for him.

“When I’m around my son lets me do everything for him.” He is actually useless at all times, but his mother will never get it.

"My son is so good looking. A little plump but so handsome. He looks
just like me." Mother and son are both 110 kgs. Nothing personal against weight, but I have yet to find a mother who says her 110-kg daughter is so good looking.

A relative sums it up. She has a twenty-eight year old son who travels the world, sits at board meetings, manages mind-boggling dating schedules. Yet, she needs to tell him when to change his bedsheets (sheesh…you would think a Standford MBA would have enough common sense to tell a dirty sheet from a clean one) and then, before he can move his lazy arse, she has already jumped up and done it for him and is basking in the gratitude she imagines she can see in his eyes.

"If I can do it, he cannot."

Famous words from the proud momma.

About the Author: Preeti Sharma is a runner up of the last Humour Story Contest.