Aruna was sleeping in a deep slumber, when she felt her legs shaking badly and her head was filled with many noises. She changed the side and tried to put pillow on her ears. But nothing happened. Finally she opened her eyes with so much of difficulty and saw Neha standing in front. Neha had her uniform in her hands and an irritating expression on her face.
‘Ma I am hungry, please get up.’ She said in a pleading voice.
Aruna was trying to register the noise, and then sprang like a spring.
‘What’s the time?’
‘It is 4.30.’
‘Why didn’t you wake me up?’ She hurriedly went to the kitchen and started making roti for her.
Neha went to change her clothes.
This was a routine in the house. Aruna slept most of the time and everyday Neha woke her up when there was such emergencies like, hunger, or some guests who dropped at odd hours.
Actually all the hours were odd hours for Aruna. She hated her sleep to get disturbed by anything or anyone. But there was always a guilt trip followed by her sleep. After all her husband often left for work without breakfast and her daughter would often leave for school without the lunch box.
Neha started having her lunch at that odd hour and Aruna sat in front of her. Feeling ashamed.
‘You must be very hungry?’
‘Hmm..’ she continued eating.
‘Hungry since morning, nothing in the stomach….tch tch.’
‘No, I shared Pinkie’s tiffin ma. Her mom sent delicious chole bhature today..Yummmm…. ‘ Neha closed her eyes and felt that heavenly taste in her imagination.
Aruna felt sad. She also cooked delicious chole bhature. Someday she would make it and send in her tiffin. Why someday? She would do it tomorrow. She was thinking hard and decided to cook it for Neha. She was high on guilt so she stood up and went to check the ingredients in the kitchen. She soaked the chickpeas in water and felt relieved.
In the morning it was the same story. She kept on sleeping, dreaming of making chloey bhature but never really getting up. Neha left for school, without tiffin as usual, and Aruna kept on sleeping as usual.
But that day family had a treat of her delicious chole bhature. Neha and Vikram were happy. That made Aruna smile. Neha even claimed that hers were better than Pinkie’s mom. Aruna blushed and felt happy.
There was a commercial going on, on TV and model was flaunting her beautiful, silky hair. Neha, held mothers big, fat braid in her hands and started playing with it. The stickiness of the oil was too much that her hands started sticking.
‘Exactly like hers,’ she said excitedly.
‘What?’ Aruna shifted her gaze from TV to Neha.
‘Pinkie’s mom has same kind of hair Ma, soft and silky,’ Neha said with an admiring expression.
‘Hmmm…. She doesn’t have something worthwhile to do? She must be using her whole day to maintain her hair.’ Aruna got irritated.
‘Worthwhile? Ma she runs a nursery school, and is a writer, reads a lot and attends all the kitty parties.’ Neha explained enthusiastically.
‘Chii..kitty parties! Stay away from those people Neha. ‘
‘What’s wrong in that ma?’
‘These women drink and dance in those sorts of parties.’
Vikram and Neha both looked shocked and told her that this is nothing like that. Ladies meet, sometimes they discuss worthwhile things but at times just enjoy being together. Have lunch and talk like friends.
Their response was met with her Huh…s and haa…s that time but nevertheless next day they saw a new shampoo bottle of the same brand which was on TV last night. They both smiled and pretended that they did not see it.
It was a Sunday and Vikram planned for picnic. Neha was so excited but Aruna was ready with excuses. Picnic means wasting a whole day, and she has to cook something better to take along. She did her best to cancel that but when Vikram promised a lunch out she felt relieved. Aruna came with hair open, shampooed and picked the oil bottle.
‘ Ma!! You looking great!!’ Neha shouted.
Aruna looked at Vikram and saw him smiling too admirably. The oil bottle was promptly kept down and forgotten.
She was wearing a sari and it was a relief to see her in something rather then her nightgowns, which she wore irrespective of day or night.
‘Ma, you know you are looking better than Pinkie’s mom today.’ Neha touched her beautiful hair, while they were driving towards their destination. Aruna too was feeling good and Vikram’s naughty glances were making her blush. They had a great time together.
One day while lying down with ma, her arm on her mothers chest and reading a book, Neha saw that she was restless.
‘What else does she do?’
‘Means? Oh Ma you are doing better than her. You know you look better and cook thousand times better than her.’
‘But I think you admire her like anything.’
‘Yes I used to, when I did not see my mom like that but now you are the best.’ Neha hugged her closely. She too hugged her tight but her brain was running towards the perfection.
So thus begun the transformation of Aruna. Pinkie’s mom was always present there and the competition was tough but she was winning it slowly.
She subscribed the women’s magazines, which displayed and suggested makeovers and new recipes with colorful photographs. When she tasted the fruit of appreciation from Neha and Vikram, she started craving for more.
Neighbourhood women also started dropping in. She too joined a kitty and now Neha heaved a sigh of relief. Her mom was hardly sleeping at odd hours, house was always tidy and clean and there were always some new things to taste and savor.
She was feeling guilty but Vikram told her that ‘everything is fair when you are bringing out the best from a lazy and careless mom.’ She wondered what she would do if her mother ever wanted to meet PInkie’s mum. Vikram smiled and assured her that they would arrange that too. There is no dearth of women like Pinkie’s mom.
‘But Papa, I am running out of ideas.’
‘No need of new ideas right now. She is doing great.’
They both laughed and hugged each other. Her mom was transformed for good.