Mom, me and the Jazz

A Mother’s Day post.


Mother’s Day post. A late one. But it’s straight from the heart. And the heart cannot be rushed.

After my dad retired three years ago, I had to drop my mom and pick her up from office, everyday. My workplace was close to hers, I just had to take a short detour from my normal route. I resisted at first, made a few excuses, and then reluctantly decided to take up the responsibility. On the first day of us travelling together, we were trapped in a pattern-less clotted traffic. Sia’s Cheap Thrills kept me calm, but annoyed my mom. She reduced the volume, and with her eyebrows furrowed, looked at the jam around, and then her watch, and then cursed the jam some. I dropped her late to work that day.


Months went by, she had begun to like my playlist. So much so that, her hand subconsciously tapped on her thighs whenever Cheap Thrills was on. Some nights, I stayed up late and copied new songs into my pen drive, just to see my mom’s reaction the next day. Though she disapproved of Imagine Dragons and Linkin Park first, she never lowered the volume. And slowly, together, amid the snail-paced traffic on hot sunny days, we bobbed our heads to Coldplay’s Up and Up and Kygo’s Firestone, while snacking on Britannia ‘Good Day’ cookies that she packed from home.


A year after, I quit working at the office close to hers. And just like that, the two hours that we spent within the air-conditioned frame of our little Jazz car everyday, became a luxury of the past. Before, we used to hurry our breakfast down our throats together, and curse the clock in chorus while reversing the car out of the garage. Now, from my bed that was still unmade, I watched her get ready and wait with a certain calmness for her cab. Our Jazz, packed with a ton of memories, stood motionless on the road. One evening, she came home and told me excitedly that her Uber driver had played ‘my’ song. “Which one?” I asked. She hummed a line from Cheap Thrills. Fresh hot tears welled up, but were efficiently dismissed by a thousand blinks, and a choked laugh.



Six months

…of marriage.


Month one

October 30. Newly married. In the night, I lie down with combed hair and a wee bit of mascara. And in the mornings, I wake up a few seconds earlier than him to wipe the drool off my face. Inside my head, I keep drawing a family chart, carefully putting in names of his relatives with their corresponding faces. My cell phone lies dormant in my bag. The person on speed dial is always an arm’s length away now. “It hasn’t sunk in yet!” we say to each other, several times, during our first getaway to the small French town of Puducherry, as we pack our bags to fly from India to the US, and as we get out of Philadelphia airport and drive home.


Month two

I feel like I am back in a chemistry lab, as he pours a cup full of Downy liquid soap into the washing machine, and then gives the exact number of tide pods and dryer sheets to be used. The coffee machine has to be fed the rather cute Nespresso coffee pods a certain way. The water in the humidifier has to be changed every other day. The bass, AV receiver, projector and phone, should be switched on before resting on the couch to watch TV. I learn the ways. Together, we fix the book shelves, the dining table and study table, and stand next to each other in the kitchen making pancakes and toast.


Month three

Our calendars are filled with a constellation of red dots. Travel plans. We watch the fireworks above Times Square, and start the new year surrounded by a lot of friends. Every weekend, we take off to a new place. Boston, California, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Boston again. Most times, together, sometimes separate. The distance apart is filled with mushy texts. And the return is marked with cake and flowers.


Month four

Birthday month. On D-Day, I find surprise presents waiting at the dining table. A personalized pen, and a personalized jewelry box. The week is spent with my folks, eating authentic Indian cuisine, playing a card game called 28, and visiting the Philly Zoo. In the sudden quiet that ensues after they leave, we find an alternative to binging on Netflix. Board games. Evenings are spent building houses in Monopoly, planning routes in Ticket to Ride, killing soldiers in Risk, and protecting an island from sinking in Forbidden Island.


Month five

Days are longer. We set up the patio, put on some crystal lights, and I get a long bob haircut. We are ready for spring. On days the sun shines more, we head out to watch the stunning Swan Lake ballet performance, spend a day trekking at Kilgore Falls in Maryland, and wander around the enormous Philly Museum of Art. In a spurt of enthusiasm, we even pack our picnic bags and drive to Rehoboth beach, only to realize it’s  too cold to step outside the car.


Month six

We take up a ‘Daily fitness challenge’. Though largely sincere, some nights we give in to cake pangs by baking a quick chocolate fudge in the microwave. Some other nights, we lace up, and head out in the wee hours of night, to eat Burger King fries, and watch the moon follow our car.  It turns out to be a month full of festivities. We spend the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a long walk under a roof of pink and white flowers, in Washington DC. And drive for eight hours to Cleveland, to spend the Indian festival of ‘Vishu’ with my folks.  And just as we watch a ship sail by in the waters of the Delaware river at Fox Point State Park, we embrace our relationship, which a day ago completed a small milestone.