So there we were, a group of four moms, togged up in our best smart casuals sitting at a newly revamped Chinese restaurant, a stone’s throw away from my home, doing what four moms sitting together do the best. Discuss anything but the children. Oh yes, they managed to creep in occasionally into the conversation, but by and large I am proud to say, we managed to keep them firmly out of the topics under discussion.
Much calorific fare was ingested, with me justifying my endless round trips to the buffet counter returning with plate laden to horrific proportions to the fact that I hadnt had breakfast. By default. It was a crazy sort of morning. I ran into the office to realise I had three deadlines sitting on my head and one threatening to strangle me now. I am that organised about my work. I believe in working on an article on deadline day itself. And get down to actually working on said piece due for submission an hour before the panic phone calls begin. And I kid myself I work best under pressure. And am so lazy and laidback otherwise, without deadlines work would grow roots under my feet. Or whatever. You get my meaning, right.
This of course, means that whoever is the unlucky person who is assigned my piece to edit does a lot of hair tearing out and hand wringing and such dramatic gestures. I hope none of them pieces have ever compelled anyone to hand in their resignation, though I did come pretty close to handing mine in a couple of times when I was on the other side of the editing desk and editing an Entertainment section in a Sunday supplement for which the writers were journalists with more knowledge of the sexual shennanigans of them stars rather than any serious knowledge of cinema that they brought to the table.
So what is my typical day? The alarm rings. I hit snooze. It rings again. I hit snooze and snooze some more. The husband who is wide awake and anxious for his cup of tea yells at me to get a move on it, do I plan on lolling there all day. And not very seductive too, the intonation, I might add. I run into the bathroom, apply toothpaste to them cavities and wince with the pain and the procrastination of visiting neglected and rueful dentist type. Run into the kitchen, get the tea made for the household. With sugar for some. Without sugar for others. With sugar and loads of ginger for me. Without sugar and with loads of ginger for some others. By which time I confuse myself totally about what goes into which cup and end up tasting all the cups to ascertain their ingredients before handing them out to their rightful recepients. When I PMS, I add sugar and ginger to all the damn cups and bang the tray on the dining table with a sullen gaze that once bitten family members know better to argue with.
Then comes the getting ready busy. Getting breakfast ready, getting the brat’s tiffin box packed. Luckily, the cook is generally here by then and I can leave that onerous task to her, flitting in occasionally to supervise the proceedings with an eagle eye of complete ignorance and absolute panic. The child is awakened, depending on mood and PMSing situation, either with tickles, hugs and kisses or deep, growly, threatening barks. Milk ingestion, bathing, dressing, etc happens. People generally tip toe out of my way at this point, I have been known to run over innocent bystanders like a vague and disoriented maid who was unfortunate enough to stand undecided as to which room she should attack first with the broom when I was in full panic spate, with the clock clonking on eight am.
We, mother and child, bid our adieus to the household, which breathes a perceptible sigh of relief which I hear as I slam the door shut behind me. The child dwaddles. In that infernal way that pre schoolers can dwaddle when one of the lifts deigns to come up and open gratitiously for us. “Not this lift. I want to go in that lift.” A short sharp bark rectifies the recalcitrance and any lift is deemed good enough to get away from Virago Mom.
Drop the child at school where a peck on each cheek and a pat on the head, and a dash to the car later, I move onto the office. Where I have my said two hours to dash out whatever work needs dashing out. And then dash off back again to pick up child from school. Take him to his tuition classes. Take him home. feed him, etc. Yup. Couldnt be more exciting. Even bungee jumping couldnt give one such a rush. Sometimes, gasp, gasp, I even go out for lunch.
Which is where this post started out. So there were we, four moms, trying hard to pretend we were young and free and unencumbered with the invisible chains of needing to get back home before afternoon nap wake up time, and evening class routine drop time, and such wonderful wonderful activities designed by the powers that be to convince us that we were indispensable and keep us blind to the fact that, come on, face reality, these four year olds we birthed, had a social calendar and life more hectic than we were ever going to have in the near future at least.
Ever notice how women who meet unencumbered without children for an extended period of time talk about a)shopping. b) shopping. c)shopping. We stuck to the script. Apart from of course, occasionally meandering into the realms of fitness and dietary tips and the occasional lapses into, actually, really, discussing our work (yes, of us four, three actually earned our keep through various activities that did not include anything we could get arrested for, including freelancing, working as consultants, and more freelancing. Thankfully, we were once upon a time in professions that take kindly to freelancing that allowed us to keep our professional hats on to cover our moments of temporary insanity. As anyone who has given birth to will confess to.
There are somethings you need to do exclusively with your girl friends. Not girlfriends. Girl friends. As in your gang of girls. Shopping together. Lunching together. Watching Sex and the City, the movie, together. Sitting round a table on a rainy day and downing high calorie foods comes high on this list. As does talking to each other at least twice a day to check on each other’s mental health and whether any crimes of anger have been committed. Or rushing over with sympathy and offers of help when the other is in crisis of any sort.
In the good old days, we used to have best friends. We dont have best friends anymore. We have multifarious friends, each to suit a certain fragment of our lives and our personalities. But I am okay with that. I would rather have many friends I can call onto rather than no friends at all. But vacancy open. Am looking high and low for a new best friend. All my best friends through school and college have been dissipated through time, distance and life. I have new friends now. But I long for that comfort of the old friend who has seen you through thick and thin, who knows your history and accepts you despite it. Despite knowing that you once wore stonewashed jeans with an offshoulder sweater in the heat of the Mumbai summer. And that you were so uncool, that you were the perfect before shot in them makeovers magazines keep having all the time. Nothing much changes in life does it. Except living, which sucks you into a routine of neglect of old friends.
So are you still in touch with your childhood friends? Come on, shame me. And prod me into trying to get back in touch with those who matter again.