Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Mother, the Writer

This was my first ever published article (apart from those in school magazines.) It appeared in Eve's Weekly (March 14-20) 1981. This magazine was edited by Gulshan Ewing, and was a healthy competitor for Femina. I don't know exactly when it was discontinued, or if it has donned another avatar. It was a part of my growing-up and I have fond memories of it----and not only because I saw my name (A.V.Lakshmi as it was then) in print for the first time here!


My mother is a fairly successful author. I get a bit of reflected limelight. Thanks, but no thanks; I would be quite all right without anything of that kind. Because, I know what it is to be the daughter (that too the elder one) of a lady writer.
When Mummy is writing, we come home to what can only be described as utter chaos. Bits of paper flutter at you at the slightest breath of breeze. Pens disappear, because Mummy not only jots down ideas as they come, she misplaces (to be euphemistic) the pens, to boot.
Once I brought a friend home when Mummy was writing. That means the house was in a shambles. My friend (whose mother no doubt keeps her house spic and span) gazed around in bewilderment and then said, “Why doesn’t your mum finish the housework and then turn to writing?” To which I had the opportunity of saying, “You see, when people are writing, they forget everything else.” She looked at me as if she thought my head needed seeing-to.
Coming to appearances, Mummy the writer sports no bindi, wears the most appallingly crumpled saris and neglects her hair for days on end---- much to the disgust of her teenaged daughters. Honestly, Mummy’s matted locks could straightaway gain her entry to the Ancient Ascetics Association.
When the symptoms appear (far away looks, absent mindedness, a sudden burst of argumentative spirit, to name a few) we promptly hide any notebook within sight. This is because, once, Mum, quite unknowingly, started an article on the back of a notebook and was halfway through it (the notebook I mean) when I discovered that it was my Maths. homework. That was how the mystery of my missing notebook was solved. In the fireworks that followed, Dad got a word in edgeways and said serenely that had I been a regular student (that means goody-goody), doing my homework regularly, I would have discovered this earlier. So now we are wiser and take no chances.
My biggest grouse is that dependable ol’ me can be depended on to don the apron and be transformed into a hausfrau. To add to the already existing confusion, there are now explosions in the kitchen (well, nearly). Burnt or half-cooked meals. A terrific clattering of pots and pans provides musical background. Usually the music is cut short by Dad’s stentorian voice asking, “What is that infernal din?”
Mummy wades through it all somehow and manages to send off the script. A peace descends on the house. The wife and mother is back in harness. Things revert to normal. I am released from my extra duties (that is most important, I guess!).
Then, all of a sudden, Mummy gets a gleam in her eye plus a faraway look (it’s no good telling me that eyes can either gleam or have faraway looks--- not both---because I’ve seen it happen.) She starts stirring empty cups. We raise our eyes heavenwards, sigh “Not again!” and square our shoulders.