Thing About Food!
time I feel reassured that my son is my child too, not just
his father's, is when I see him at his mealtimes; he is a
small eater and poor eater, and he eats just enough to be
able to hop on to his bicycle, skip three steps at a time,
and jump from a rotating swivel chair. When I look at him
eat, I see in him an image of myself; I eat to survive and
so does he. It goes without saying that The Hubby is the other
extreme. As is every one else in his side of the family.
these Eid vacations, we went visiting my in-laws. From the
moment we landed in the city (and even as we were driving
home), I could sense disapproving glances from the MIL. I
could not understand why she was looking at me so distastefully.
My mind spun around searching the universe for all possible
reasons: a dirty or chipped toe nail, unkempt hair, creased
skirt, mildly faded top, unpolished leather hand bag, or a
missing strand of hair from the eyebrow. But it was highly
unlikely that it could be any of these this time. Punctilious
and fastidious as the matron is, and following years of trial-and-error,
I have learnt it the hard way that getting and staying in
her good books is more difficult than delivering triplets
seconds after one another. These days I don't leave anything
to chance and carelessness. So if an acquaintance were to
bump into me there, he would certainly do a double take on
have you done to my son, and now grandson too?" was that
a hiss that sounded like a growl? But at least it wasn't anything
about me in particular.
ma? Nothing. They look fine to me. In fact, they have learnt
to smile a lot more than they used to during our previous
visits. Look," and turning to my son I said, "smile
beta, smile. Show granny how well you've learnt to
son refused to oblige. The MIL wasn't amused. She usually
isn't, so that was nothing new. But my son, my blood, what
was wrong with him? Was it the all-pervading sternness that
was making him forget his lessons in bonding?
son, do it, don't you let me down- the holiday hasn't even
begun, I thought as I looked at him with urging eyes.
But he calmly turned the other way and seemed distracted with
the red-man, green-man at the traffic signal. So, yet another
of the family traits was starting to show in him. Would he
ever be my child?
are you forcing him to do what he doesn't want to? You modern
day mothers will never learn, always pushing children to do
the impossible…", the MIL interrupted.
Smiling, the impossible? Yeah, I can imagine, I mused, both
amused and horrified at the same time!
am talking about their weights," she finally broke her
veil of secrecy. Uhh ho! Did this have to come up so early
on in the vacation?
ma, I agree" I added hastily, trying to talk of possible
reasons where no reason would be entertained. But there was
no harm in trying. "Your son has put on several extra
kilos, what with travelling and continuous eating out, and
then the socialising in Dhaka. You know how it is when there
are friends all around…". I wanted to say more,
but was cut short.
son has lost a lot of weight, young lady, and that is what
is worrying me. So has this little one. And you look anorexic
as always. Have you all been crash dieting?"
Of course. It had to be food. The MIL has always had reservations
about my outlook towards food, and there is no way she entertains
any difference of opinion on their raison d'etre. And, frankly,
there was little I could have said to counter that. Here I
was cribbing about the fact that her son was out of shape,
and there she saw only skin and bones on him! Is it that difficult
for two women to agree on any given matter?
home, she said she was taking charge of the two "boys'"
meals. Her experience has taught her that precious little
can be done with mine. It's not that she's not tried. On my
first few visits to her place, she tried to feed me cheese
where my system was used to surviving on chalk. Naturally,
with disastrous results, both for my system and for the way
my hunger neurons reacted at the very mention of the words
'good food'! Those initial attempts having failed, she is
now quite circumspect at suggesting anything out of the ordinary
for me. Now, as she says, she has given up on me. Amen.
said, cut to these vacations where I had the most relaxing
time I've had in a long time. Her having taken charge of my
husband's and my son's most elementary need for survival,
I really had little else to poke my nose into. So the FIL
and this DIL put our feet up reading novels, listening to
music, and discussing world politics!
not what I set out to write about today. It was about how
my son finally proved to the world for me that he has traces
of me in him. The MIL's experiments with this little one turned
out to bear similar results as they had with me several years
ago. So while his father was happy gorging (and with such
an indulgent mother ever so ready to stuff him with a little
more, he must have been on the straight road to Bliss) on
sin-laden sandwich pastes, soufflés, risottos, crepes,
mishtis, and preparations that looked more like decorations
on the massive three-tier wedding cake, my son flatly refused
to put a morsel into his mouth. He asked for basic (and reasonably
healthy, as healthy as a three year would ask for) food and
stuck to it.
of a mother's view? Who knows? All I know is that we were
two mothers there, feeling ecstatic watching our sons grow
up the way we wanted them to. Nothing else matters, believe
(R) thedailystar.net 2004