“I am going to the mall. Will be back in an hour”, I shouted through the door. It’s standard operating procedure. Before I leave the house, I must tell the ladies where I was going and how long I’d be gone. It makes me feel like a teenager; it claws at my self-respect; but it keeps them happy. So why not.
“Which mall?” mom shouted back. We Punjabis can’t talk without shouting, especially when we don’t have to keep up appearances- for instance, at home. “Does it matter?”, I hit back. “Yes. If you are going to The GIP mall, I’ll come along”, she called back waddling out after me.
Only my mom could’ve waddled out fast enough to have caught me. Trust me, I am really nimble on my feet. But then she’s my mom, and she’s spent years running after me and my sister. So no big deal.
“Mom, I am going to be busy. You can’t tag along”, I tried again. It’s virtually impossibly to escape when mom has her heart set upon wheedling out information from you. She can chuck her hand into your throat and reach right down to your gut, and pull it all out- and one of her tricks to accomplish it is- Punjabi.
“Puttar, ki gal hai, tu mainu das!” (Son, what’s troubling you? You can tell your mom), mom said. You’d say that after thirty-some years, I should’ve smartened up enough to see through her ruses by now, but I fell for it. Once again. Lock, stock, and barrel. “I’m going to get a tattoo,” I mumbled. “What? A tattoo? Gudna!” She translated it into Hindi- as if translating it would change its meaning. Well, the meaning didn’t change, but suddenly it stopped sounding all that funky and spunky!
I tried again. “It’s fashionable, Ma”, I said. “It’ll make me look smart”, I sighed. “Please mom, just one tattoo on my shoulder”, I whined. Sometimes, mom gives in to my whims. I waited wondering whether this would be one of those times. She thought long and hard. Then she smiled and said, “OK.”
My heart grew wings and it soared. I was finally going to get a tattoo- a Pirate Tattoo– one that would have skull wearing a cap and smoking a cigar! I had always dreamed of getting one of those.
“Thanks mom”, I said, my emotions constricting my throat. I wanted to hug her and tell her that she was the best mom in the world! But she wasn’t done. “As long as it’s Om. Anything else, and you’ll see me dead!” she said with an air of finality, threw me a victorious look, and waddled back inside.
So tattoos have now got added to my ever-expanding list of tabooed desires.
If you could fake amusement for this post, a barrel-full of my trials and tribulations awaits you here.