By Sunita Pandey
It’s early morning when the daughter-in-law rings up. I pull my steaming cup of chai closer to the bed and settle down for a good natter. I glance at the husband. He is sitting seemingly oblivious to the world, surrounded by his pile of newspapers. Good. It’s much more fun if I can gossip peacefully with no interruptions. And we have much to discuss.
Just one more week to go and we are off to Goa, our first real ‘family’ holiday. Bahu and I spend a happy 10 minutes comparing the clothes we are taking, specially the imaginary bikinis for our non-existent bikini bodies. The daughter and she have decided on a colour scheme for the mandatory coordinated family portrait, which has to be shared on Facebook.
We brag about our respective social-media presence and chortle at how shallow we sound. A regular ma-beti conversation.
Then she drops the bombshell. Apparently, the son has asked her to Google the details of a club in South Goa. Once Ma-Baba are in bed, he will take her and his sister there, it seems. It’s an amazing concept called noiseless voice or voiceless noise. People wear headphones and the DJ plays music at a low decibel. “Isn’t it wonderful, mama? So environment-friendly!”
“What mama? Kiski mama?” My inner mother-in-law has risen and she is seeing red. “You are going to leave us behind and go clubbing? Why are you taking us on a holiday with you? I know you think we are old and decrepit… I always knew it.”
“But mama, you are the one who says you like to be in bed by 9 pm. It’s lights-out for you guys at 9.30,” the daughter-in-law sputters.
The husband looks up from his pile of Amar Ujalas and Dainik Jagrans at this sudden ranting and railing. He wants to go to the ‘jad’ of the ‘mudda’. The root of the matter.
I tell the daughter-in-law to hold on while I enlighten the husband. “Hmm,” he intones solemnly. “Tell the bahu I have experience of foreign nightclubs.”
I feel a giggle building up. It’s almost as if he is asking her to update his curriculum vitae.
Then I remember. “Hey, what do you know? I too have experience of foreign nightclubs. I’ve been to the Lido in Paris. I’ve actually seen hordes of topless women prance around on stage,” I inform my daughter-in-law sternly. ‘Now top that!’ is inherent in my tone.
The daughter-in-law is instantly all cooperation. “Okay, mama, I’ll Google some more. It will probably take some research to find a club of your standards, what with all your foreign experience, but I’ll try.”
I ring off, satisfied. This new generation is not too bad, I think. But wait… Was it uncontrollable laughter I heard at the other end as I put the phone down? This new generation, I tell you…