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Mrs Funnybones(2)
Twinkle Khanna

Bemused with the nonsense this moronic man is spouting, I say, ‘Really? And how would you know that?’ Pat comes the answer, ‘Madam, rickshaw chalata hun, sab pata hain.’ (We rickshaw drivers know everything.)

The prodigal son starts laughing hysterically as I struggle to pull out my fare of seventeen rupees, and we run up the stairs to our house.

The man of the house is sprawled on the couch and I breathlessly start narrating the whole sequence. ‘So funny! Listen, na, apparently Akshay Kumar used to live here but now he lives in Bandra and his wife hates her mother and . . .’

The man of the house narrows his eyes and exclaims, ‘You were heading towards it but now you have gone certifiably insane. What are you babbling about Akshay and his wife and her mother? That’s us, our family! Who refers to their entire family in the third person? You are really an idiot.’

I immediately correct him. ‘The word is not idiot but illeist. Illeist is a person who talks in the third person, whereas an idiot just talks; though they sound similar, they cannot be used in place of each other.’

Shrugging his shoulders and giving me a goofy grin, he retorts, ‘I don’t know what an illeist is but I know an idiot when I see one.’

The baby immediately stops playing with her tea set, looks up and says, ‘Where idiot? Show me!’

Blimey . . .

B: Beware of Mommy Dearest

My mother has never been the Band-Aid dispensing, cupcake-baking, checking-on-homework sort of mother that one sees in commercials. She is funny, sometimes wacky, a little eccentric and fallibly human, and has consistently over the years found new and unique ways to embarrass me, starting at birth when she decided that naming me Twinkle was a foolproof way of making sure that I would get teased throughout my life, have immigration officers at various airports stare at my passport and shake with hysterical laughter and strangers stalk me with WhatsApp messages like, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, I hope you get hit by a car!’

Here is a short list of the things that she has done to traumatize me at various stages.

I AM THIRTEEN: I am studying at Panchgani and have been selected to play in the inter-school basketball match. Mother has come to see the match, as it is a big moment in my life. In the middle of the match, she starts yelling from the stands, ‘Tina! Tina! You are the best!’ and when I turn to hear where all this ruckus is coming from, the ball is thrown my way, smacks me on the head and I fall down flat on the court.

I AM EIGHTEEN: Mother has read a book on some colour therapy diet by Linda Clark, and decided that I must follow this innovative weight-loss programme which consists of eating only red- and orange-coloured fruits, drinking solarized water in red bottles and sitting in front of an infrared light for fifteen minutes every day. End result after two weeks: I have gained 3 pounds and have a burn mark on my stomach from the infrared light toppling and falling on me.

I AM TWENTY-NINE: Mom and I are going to London for a shoot and Mom is then going on to New York while I am heading home. Every day mother goes shopping and as I see our tiny room filling up with shopping bags, I start getting a feeling that this will not end well. It is the last day, my flight is at 8 p.m. and mom’s flight is four hours before mine. I start fretting as to how she will fit all her stuff in her suitcase and she reassures me that I have nothing to worry about—to go to work and she will pack everything for me as well before she leaves.

That evening I rush to my room to pick up my bags, only to find no suitcases, just two trunks. Description of the above-mentioned trunks: Dented, battered aluminium boxes with my name plastered across in massive letters and misspelt ‘Twinkal Khana’ with a bright red marker pen.

Mommy dearest has taken the two suitcases I had come with, to accommodate all the shopping and has packed all my things in the film unit’s costume department trunks.

I AM THIRTY-SEVEN: My mother decides to call my entire family over for dinner—husband, in-laws, cousins and all—and then proceeds to talk about how fat I was as a child, how I got stuck in a bucket while trying to have a bath, how I used to eat mangoes sitting on the potty and how she had to buy clothes for a fourteen-year-old when I was just seven.

And then last week . . .

8 a.m.: My phone rings, it is mother, and she says, ‘I saw your console table in the foyer yesterday, it’s the first thing guests will see when they enter your house and it is looking very empty. You need to buy an antique statue and place it there immediately.’

I need to nip this potentially long conversation in the bud quickly, so I reply, ‘Granny is antique too, let’s make her sit on the console whenever guests come by.’

Mommy dearest hangs up without a word.

1.30 p.m.: Mother has forgotten all about our morning spat, and calls me in high spirits. She informs me that an old acquaintance from Delhi is coming over this evening. The lady in question has been trying to persuade mommy dearest to partake in a great money-making scheme, and mom has already decided that it is a fabulous opportunity and is now persuading me to take advantage of her friend’s generous offer.

6 p.m.: Our much-awaited visitor arrives. She is articulate, intelligent and extremely charming. I am almost convinced that I must part with most of my money, when I start mentally doing some calculations and an alarm bell starts ringing. I protest that nothing in the world can help you earn 125 per cent per annum, especially when the bank is just about giving 9 per cent. Every question I ask is met with vague answers like angel investors, trading in yen, etc. till the meeting comes to an abrupt end.

8.30 p.m.: My mother receives an SMS from her friend, which states, ‘I am very disappointed with your daughter’s attitude. What does she keep mumbling percentages for? Does she even know what she is saying? Under these conditions I take back my kind offer of granting you a place in my scheme. It’s your loss.’

Mother starts berating me for having spoilt this great prospect and when I try explaining to her that this is just a money-making racket as the numbers don’t add up, she again yells at me for behaving like I am ‘some kind of maths teacher’. Hurt about the maths dig, I remind her that I had scored 97 out of 100 in my board exams on the same subject. She must remember that at least, since she and my aunt had made fun of me saying, ‘The Human Calculator not only gets 97 marks but also weighs 97 kilos.’

She gets even more irked, so I sneakily grab her phone and send her friend a message back: ‘CBI has just arrested MP Ramchandra and two ex-MLAs in a Ponzi scheme, would you like to join them?’

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