“I love you baby; you come first for me; there is nothing more important in my life” Suheena’s head fell back with fatigue at this exhibition of relentless assurance. She watched the earnest young mother from her TV recliner, hovering and fussing over her primary school kids. “Oh, you are trying hard Tina” her tone was sardonic “treat your children with respect, do not baby talk, appeal to their sense of reason, educate them on options, offer choices and let them make the call…..your parenting tenets are clearly in line with modern theory and thought.”
“Harrummph!” The dismissive sound came from the master bedroom. “What’s gone wrong with my family, they are forever minding their Ps and Qs? It is not our way in India to be so apologetic and grateful all the time. There are some things owed, expected and given without a thought, you don’t have to keep thanking and saying sorry” their grandmother ranted from her invalid bed, clearly offended at the excessive and unfamiliar social graces in the air.
“Nani, it is all right…..they respect each other in their country. We presume a whole lot here, in ours. Neither is right or wrong, it is a cultural thing” Suheena watched Tina lead her children into the kitchen for a discussion on the day’s menu. “This is going to take time” she chuckled to herself, leaning forward to get a good view of the anthropological drama about to unfold. The young mother began soon enough.
“How would you like your milk today kids? Cold or hot?”
“I want it cold, Devi will probably drink hers warm” little Karan cocked his head at the sister.
“Sure, would you like to try chocolate Horlicks in the milk? It is a popular brand in India” the mother began to warm up to the decision making process.
“Mom, it says here the product is for women. Devina can use it, I refuse to!” Karan’s voice went up a sharp.
“Absolutely, that’s fine” Tina acquiesced soothingly. “Would you like your milk in a cup or a glass? Here, take your pick? Don’t hesitate.”
“I like the tumbler, Devi likes that Twilight Forever cup.”
“How about you dip your Oreos in the milk, dunk them like I do?” this was one parent eager to lay it all.
“I’ll pass; just the fluid please!”
“Hey kids, look…..Nani has arranged to have all three available…..there is toned, double toned and full cream milk. Isn't she considerate?”
“Mum, you know I am allergic to the fat in a hybrid cow’s milk….they have withdrawn it from our school meal plan too.”
“Well, you both returned negative for the lactose tolerance hydrogen breath test. It means your bodies can break down and absorb lactose. Now shall we drink it here or out in the garden?” the mother was certainly eager to please.
“I don’t care Mum, let’s just pour the double toned!”
“How hungry are you? It is getting close to breakfast time. You want to drink the milk now or keep it for your toast and cereal? You have options.”
“You know what Mum; options spook me. No milk today, no way!”