"It's a boy."
That one statement then sets off a series of unfortunate incidences - the automatic dispersal of the mother's apron strings which gently but tenaciously wind themselves around the tiny boy child's body with a ferocity that will never diminish, her heart beat resigns itself to be entirely dependant on his, her self worth will now be judged only by the sacrifices she makes for him and her heart vows to always cook his favourite foods, keep shrewd girls (in case you didn't get it, that includes all girls) away from him and to wash his clothes and keep track of his multiple fungal infections until her own body is being lowered six feet under. Her dying breath will bring thoughts not of her life and her deeds but about who will comb her baby boy's hair just right and who will heat his milk with tumeric for him every morning. She might even extend her dying breath to instruct the cook on how to adjust the milk and tumeric just the way her baby likes it. Meanwhile, the baby boy who may have just celebrated his 38th birthday will sit morosely wondering how he will make decisions without his mother and darn it, who will now take his clothes to the laundry and help him wash behind his ears. He may also realise with a sinking heart that he will have to start being nicer to his wife (yes, she does exist, but you wouldn't know it) because she would now have to go from being part of the wall paper, to being his surrogate mother!
I wonder about this. Mothers who are obsessed with their sons. I would have thought one would go to great lengths to hide this affliction, but obviously I know nothing about these things. To most of these mothers, it's a matter of huge pride to be head over heels in love with their son.
My friend Ashish's mother is a perfect example of this.
"I am telling Ashish to get married," so says Mrs. Girodia.
"Does he have a girl in mind?" I ask cautiously. Ashish's marriage is of huge concern to me, he is the designated odd man out who always gets invited so we can get our group's number right. Marriage would totally screw that.
"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 actually glaze over as if she has inhaled some Grade A cocaine.
I look at Ashish wondering if I just haven't taken a close enough look at him, but no, he still looks like a mouse with constipation. The last time he smiled with 2004, and because we weren't quick enough with a camera we have nothing to show for it.
"There are very few boys like him now," she says wistfully.
I think there are way too many boys like him, who are nothing more than average and cannot rise above it because their mothers have managed to convinced them that they are already the best. But I wisely nod and bite my tongue.
Ashish got married 8 months later and nothing has changed. His poor wife only looks downwards (she has a PhD in his ingrown toenails, me thinks) and his mother is still the ONLY woman in his life.
It's so much more pragmatic with girls. True, mothers are over protective. 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 and hygiene issues, 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 is a few years older than I. Although she had a child very young, she recently got married to a man in his 40s. While she thought she knew everything about him, she ended up learning all the important things 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 so much more now!
- 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 as she folds her son's laundry. "Why does she insist on doing everything for him with such perfection."
I cannot answer because I am so distracted by what Prerna herself is doing. She is ironing her fourteen year old son's underwear. As he bounds into the room, she hands him a freshly ironed one, still hot to touch and looks at him with such abandon joy before he disappears to change. Why is it that mothers think their sons' underwear is like chappati, best when had fresh and hot. And since everyone is in the throes of maternal love, I decide against pointing out what warm underwear can do his sperm levels!!
And thus the precious circle of possessive and obsessive mothers continues.
Speaking of these mothers, they also say the darnest things:
" My Karan, he is so naughty you know. Always playful, always so affectionate."
Karan is a eight year old boy who was reprimanded for pinching his teacher's bottom!
"My son loves me very much. He doesn't trouble me like other boys do. He calls us every week from London."
Her son has been taking a truckload of money from her, claiming to study in a college that he has never enrolled in. His phone calls are all money requests, albeit camouflaged in a bit of "I miss ya, ma."
"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."
That 'silly boy' has been rejected by over twenty five girls because he proudly informs them that his mother still occasionally ties his shoe laces for him. One girl even asked him if his mother still changes his diaper for him.
They reject her just after she rejects them.
"Look at my son. So good looking. A little plump but still so handsome. Just the other day, Suresh mama was saying 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 110kg daughter is so good looking, tsk tsk.
"My son always wants me around. He is so lazy. Without me, he is useless, you know."
He is actually useless at all times, but his mother will never get it.
A relative sums it up better than I ever could. She had a twenty eight year old son who travels the world, sits at board meetings, manages mind boggling and life threatening dating schedules. Yet, she needs to tell him when to change his bedsheets (Sheesh, one would have thought a Standford MBA means that you have enough common sense to tell a dirty sheet from a clean one) and then before he can move his lazy ass from his computer chair, she has already jumped up and done it for him and is basking in the thanks she imagines she can see in his eyes.
It is simple she says, "If I can do it, he cannot."
Famous last words from the proud momma.