“Add the Calzone Pockets and the Choco Lava Cake to our Pizza order, will you?” Meha did not bother hiding the smile, her mother was used to their unabashed amusement at her expense. “To hell with my weight, I have earned this today, all that heavy duty relocating, life can be tough” the maternal rummaged around in her bag for the exact change. “It is rude to keep the delivery boy waiting” she directed the gem at Meha, “they are providing us a service and we must respect that.”
The mother daughter pair settled into their domestic hum, an expectation of hot pizzas easing their unsettled space somewhat. The house was like a war zone, boxes and packing material strewn around in untidy heaps. “This is the one thing I hate about being in the Armed Forces. When I look back, life seems so fragmented” Meha half heard the familiar litany. She had covered the rainbow range of uniform colours, having attended ten schools in fourteen years, ‘friends come and go’ was the eternal truth scarred into her retina.
“Here, hang this uniform up carefully….it is a symbol of honour and privilege…you see those stars on the epaulettes….they don’t come easy….there are years and years of consistent work behind the salutes directed at your father” Meha quietly plugged her ears, logging into Grooveshark online for music. “What an archaic, servile and hierarchical structure, completely out of step with the millennial world and its challenge to authority and patriarchy” her young mind whirred dismissively.
It was as though Meha’s generation had penta-jumped ahead of the parents, their heads and ears abuzz with signals from a global monoculture. Liberty, personal autonomy, ownership of one’s spaces; their modern buzzwords duelled with the family idioms of solidarity, group identity and ancestral approval. Where did one end and the other begin, it was hard to fix the base level!
The bell chimed and Meha pattered to the door. “Wonder what the conversation is about, the order was pretty clear and I gave her the exact change”’ her Mum furrowed her brows at the soft voices. She fought her paranoia at events going awry for lack of anticipation and foresight. Years of negotiating a busy and productive life had taught her the value of staying organized. She heaved herself up from the dining table, pushing back her chair only to knock into Meha bringing in the Pizza boxes from the door end.
“Did you check the delivery? They once got us an incomplete order. Let me get the scissors for the seasoning sachets” the senior pushed open the spring door to the kitchen. A rustle and a flap caught her eye on the table. She squinted at the five hundred rupee note tucked under the napkin holder. Confused and full of self-doubt, she turned towards Meha.
“No big deal Mom! We do it all the time in the hostel. I gave our neighbour’s address on my cell phone. They are out of station on leave you know…I saved the delivery guy from logging a non-delivery…he sold me the order for half the price. Chill!”