Raising boys with raging hormones is not an easy task. Tripti found that her growing up son hastily closed his laptop and jumped from the bed. He asked a question that she should have been asking instead. The author reminisces her growing up days, in the not-so- distant-past. How she would find out the hidden Hindi novels of her mother meant for adults. How her sister and she would save money, walking to the school, to buy the pricey Mills and Boons. Here’s an interesting account of the growing up years and how life comes full circle, exclusively in Different Truths.
He hastily closed his laptop and jumped from the bed.
“Mumma, kya hua?”
That should have been my question! I had just entered the room of my fast growing up sons. One well into his teens and the other, soon to enter his adolescence.
This had become not an infrequent occurrence. Lately, I noticed many times, the suspiciously changed page on his lappy. Jennifer Anniston from ‘Friends’ would smile silly at me and her scatter brained friends burst into a familiar peal of laughter, safely from the elder sibling’s laptop.
The younger one peered from the top of the bunk bed. “Minecraft mom!” he said sheepishly to my raised eyebrows.
Been there, done that! They don’t realise that the ‘parents of present’ were the children of a distant but well remembered past.
I knew exactly where my mom hid her Hindi ‘Gulshan Nanda’ novels. Despite my short stature, I had found ways to sneak to the top of the almirah were it rested before being devoured by my curious mind during those without air conditioner, warm summer holidays that tried our patience. Such was the fascination of the unexplored.
Soon my sister and I were saving the money from our daily commuting. The ‘brilliant economists of the future’ would walk our way to school and save money to smuggle those pricey ‘Mills and Boons’ right under the nose of our unsuspecting parents into and under our quilts. Oh, that arrogant tall, dark and handsome (TDH) hero as he laughed sardonically at the poor heroine even as she trembled. And as he loomed threateningly over her, she cowered in the dark, and there! My hands fumbled with the torch and my heart missed a beat. Those were the days of ‘Jab Roshni Deta Bajaj’ under the blanket!
Our repeated errands to the shop often landed us some ‘oblique looks’ the handsome but cynical shopkeeper gave us as he handed us those books. But then all he met was defiance as the two soon-to- be-adults girls dared him back. He receded into a safe corner.
Overcoming road-blocks, sometimes these ‘passages to adulthood’ sneaked their way into my textbooks and undercover I would read breathless as my TDH hero silenced the heroine with a punishing kiss and his hands hovered around dangerously. I closed my textbook with a start. Red colour suffused my cheeks and I looked around guiltily. My mother was busy cooking with no inkling of what lay hidden in the folds of my heavy textbooks. Adulthood, hovered in my horizon, tempted and teased. Cautiously I opened my ‘textbook’ again. The fanciful classification of those kisses baffles me still. Nothing could be farther removed from reality.
Their list was much longer and complex than any differential diagnosis in my medical text books. So easy to befool the ‘high on hormones’ adolescents!
However, I seriously wonder what ailed those heroines of the even then, modern west. Surely not love! No girl with a bit of that precious grey matter would tolerate such high handed guys, TDH or no TDH. I wish they could meet Alia Bhatts of today and swoon to her ‘ladki beautiful / kar gayi chul’. But then like everything else even those books have undergone a drastic makeover. The ‘modern’ and the ‘sensual’ series have women more demanding yet the essence of romance is lost. As many would agree they are no longer about that sweet little thing called love! Yet the compulsion to pick them up at book stores remains just the same. I can be now candid about how we shared our novels with our friend’s mom, who also happened to be our head of the department in the medical college.
It was a good thing that I managed to get through my competitive exams – that too with flying colours – and what I now call the moments of reprieve escaped being labeled as the culprits of my secure future.
But then my present is not so familiar with the errands of my past.
My mom once caught those blue books in my shelf. I did the same, came across an elaborate passage, saved as a screenshot in the mobile of the erring teenager that otherwise lives non-descript in my home. My mom never questioned me and I did the same. With a regretful look thrown at ‘the fast disappearing’ childhood, I closed the door.
That’s the wisdom age gives you. I was puzzled for a long time why mom didn’t howl about it. I understand now, some three decades late. I was often witness to a strange look that passed between my parents. Today, well, I passed the same to my husband. Our children were growing up, experimenting and exploring the secrets of life.
Just as I turned I almost bumped into my mother-in- law. She took a long look at me and smiled knowingly, “Don’t worry, one day you will have a daughter-in-law too.”
The circle of life!
Wait for my next onslaught ‘The daughter-in- laws of the past’….
Photos from the internet.
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