Well my mother-in-law, senior Mrs Ojha keeps us in good humour whenever we get bogged down by Life’s tireless everyday tests.
My mother-in-law once happened to hear the family members discuss about the ‘Kanda Court Case’, wherein former Haryana minister Gopal Goyal Kanda, was accused of abetting the suicide of an air hostess employed with his aviation company in 2012. My mother-in-law had been busy arranging things in the kitchen and was not aware of the initial part of the discussion, she just overhead me saying ‘Good, that Kanda has been sent to jail’. My mother-in-law in her innocent way asked me wide-eyed ‘But how can Kanda be sent to jail? Since when courts have been sentencing vegetables to jail and what are they convicted off? ‘We all were shocked for a moment failing to grasp her question when suddenly I remembered in the morning that day I had asked my Maharashtrian maid to make ‘kanda poha’ and since my mother-in-law wasn’t well conversant with Marathi she had enquired as to what is this ‘Kanda’? And I had explained that in Marathi ‘Kanda’ means ‘onion’. When I related this background information to my husband and father-in-law we shared a hearty laugh over our steaming coffee cuppa thinking how two diverse animate beings had been effortlessly united by my mother-in-law.
One fine morning it was all over the headlines that Osama Bin Laden, the founder and head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am by United States Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six). The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation. We all discussed the pros and cons of the case appreciating Barack Obama’s leadership and like true Bengalis over our morning cup of tea debated and discussed the entire incident till we were exhausted of new points that could be added. My mother-in-law listened intently to the entire mumbo-jumbo and refrained from adding any of her views. However in the evening she dropped a bolt out of the blue, she looked straight in our eyes and commented: that Obama Bin Laden, if he was always so busy plotting terror, how did he get time to marry so many times and produce so many children? At first we could not get the gist of her statement and then we realized how deftly she combined two people famous in their own arenas in one masterstroke who otherwise would have never thought of confronting each other defencelessly – Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden. Well I am sure if Obama ever managed to hear this he would completely freak out.
Very recently my mother-in-law read in the newspaper that a disgruntled daughter-in-law in one of the cities had been regularly urinating in her mother-in-law’s tea cup to fulfil her hunger for adequate retaliation to the mother-in-law’s daily torture and the poor elderly woman had been regularly consuming that delectable decoction for months together. One fine day the mother-in-law caught her daughter- in –law during the act. I am not sure what mayhem followed in that household but in my household my mother-in-law graciously relieved me of any future tea/coffee-making duties. Someone’s revengeful act actually proved to be a blessing in disguise for me since in our household the tea rounds ranges somewhere around 5-8 per day.
Another observation of my mother-in-law happened when she was taken to Metropolis Mall, Hiland Park in Kolkata. The whole day went in planning what all we would do when visiting Hiland Park. As per plan in the evening we visited the mall and returned home exhausted but happy. On the way back however we had our moment of mirth when my mother-in-law pointed out that we spent so much time in Hiland Park but didn’t visit the park only. She complained that she wanted to visit the park in Hiland Park instead of wasting time in all those shops. Our laughter erupted like gas bubbles realizing that we had failed to enlighten her beforehand that though the name is ‘Hiland Park’ yet it has no parks in it.
My mother-in-law’s quips give us the much needed respite from the humdrum of modern stressful life. She gives us reason to laugh and most importantly –‘laugh together as a happy family’. Life with her has become a joyful merry-go-round with recurring spontaneous insights and mirth.
© Paromita Mukherjee Ojha 2015