The biggest casualty of motherhood as we all know is sleep. I last slept a good night’s sleep nearly a decade ago. My nights, since the arrival of my children have been filled with episodes of conscious sleepwalking and like any somnambulist, I am fatigued and sleepy in the morning.
Part of the reason I wake up often is because my younger one is a *somniloquist and my older one is a raging **hypochondriac who gets her aches and pains mostly at night. She has the rare gift of identifying a dengue mosquito from an ordinary one because “it is fatter”. According to her, the mosquitoes that follow her around are mostly the ones carrying the dengue pathogen. She also checks her own temperature with the ear thermometer routinely just to be sure her temperature is well within the normal range.
Last night was another one of those nights when I could not get enough rest as my little hypochondriac, woke up several times with leg cramps induced by a tetanus injection that was administered to her yesterday. I had barely managed to catch up on some sleep in the wee hours when it was time to be up again to get the girls ready for school. I was sleeping in an upright position at 10.30 am when I was woken up by the whimpering dog who was eager to have his day started with the usual Marie biscuit dunked in (my) tea. So much for being a concerned member of the family! You would think after all the years of me taking care of him and running up salon bills for his upkeep he would be more sensitive to my needs. But all this dog cared about was his Marie biscuit and chasing after petrified kittens in our building compound.
My mother had already called me a few times by the time I woke up and after none of her calls got answered she wrote an SMS to me asking me to be honest and tell her what was it that ailed me and kept me in bed this long. “You will not hide anything from me, promise me,” it read further.
I had recently mentioned to her that I had a vitamin d3 deficiency. My mistake. Turns out that with each missed call from my end, her fears for my health had escalated. I had to call her back as soon as I was done feeding the ungrateful canine to assure her I was fit as a Punjabi and there was no health related information that I was keeping from her. Relieved with my answer, she then asked me if I was pregnant. Before I could react she tried to salvage the situation by telling me good-humouredly that she was only asking since pregnant women overslept and are easily tired. Her generalization was touching. As far as I was concerned this conversation was over and it was time to start my day.
I received a few more text messages and urgent phone calls from mum soon after, to draw my attention to the percentage of vitamin b12 in mushrooms and vitamin d3 in celery. Imagine my state, struggling to open one of my eyelids that was still shut, and I had to concentrate on a lecture on nutrition, no less.
And finally, she brought in my dad into our one-sided conversation. “You must go and get some direct sunlight on your terrace, don’t ignore this. I asked your dad and he also said there is nothing like the direct sun.”
In the universe of my mother, a point she is making to her children can only be validated further and made official if my dad seconds it. “The earth is round, dad also says so.”
“We are in 2013, I checked with your dad and he agreed with me.”
“I feel you don’t know how to discipline your children. I was speaking to your dad about it and he also said, “Shunali does not know how to discipline her children.””
“Manmohan Singh does not speak much. Dad was also saying our PM is a man of few words.”
You get the drift.
My mother then went on to dictate the recipe of sautéed mushrooms to me which I jotted down half heartedly, mostly because EVERYONE knows how to sauté mushrooms. If I wasn’t so groggy, I might have even been offended with my mother for assuming I did not know how to toss around a handful of mushrooms in a pan. I wanted to tell her that I might not have been a domestic goddess but I wasn’t a domestic retard either and that even Kim Kardashain must know how to do mushrooms.
Soon after she had ended the conversation with me, I crossed my fingers and Googled all the diseases that D3 deficiency could lead to. On realizing that I had most of those life threatening symptoms already, I sprinted to the terrace of our building to try and prolong my lifespan. Sitting there under the half-past-noon-sun, with beads of perspiration erupting all over my face, I pictured myself looking like Alok Nath breathing his last.
I sat under the blazing sun till I was dizzy and my sebaceous glands had outperformed themselves. Only when I was convinced that I had improved my chances of survival did I finally return home dehydrated. Tomorrow morning, I intend to reach my terrace by 8 am. If I manage that, I will be spared two things:
1. Harsh rays of the afternoon sun and the subsequent dehydration .
2. Sermon on nutrition/parenting/gardening or general living from my mother.
Oh wait, but I live for those sermons.
(Mamma, if you are reading this, I love you and your sermons. Do keep them going, it gives me material to write.)
* Someone who talks in his or her sleep.
** I am told the hypochondria gene was passed on to the child by me.