'Mom, call me… need to talk to you ASAP', my daughter had sent me a message few weeks ago. Between the time I saw the mail and managed to get to a phone, my mind had assumed its favorite 'Sivaji ganesan' role and overacted as usual. Even as I dialed with shaky hands, I imagined her lying helpless and pale in bed at her college dorm burning up in fever yearning for her mom to be at her side.
Like I said, my mind over(e)acts at times. Being the only active part of my body, I think it tries to balance the scales every now and then by going in to overdrive. When my daughter picked up the phone at the first ring, I pounced with 'A, are you okay? Are you in pain? Don't worry, Appa and I will come and get you soon. Take a couple of advil and lie down until we get there.' Next to seedless green grapes, Advil is the most popped/prescribed item in my diet.
While I stopped to gulp air, A interjected with a puzzled 'Amma, who said I was sick?' Apparently, all she wanted was to discuss her course selection for the next semester with me. Really A?? You couldn't say that in your email?? How many more grey hairs would you have me 'henna-rinse' each month? As it is, the petition to increase my beautician budget from 3 months ago is still pending with her Dad. Anyway, I was glad she was okay.
Also, she was not completely without worries. Driven by a goal to finish her degree early, she has been cramming her semesters with tons of gruesome science courses and has been juggling her time between her classes, labs, homework and volunteering. I have never seen anyone with such clarity of mind in setting goals but knowing where you have to go doesn't automatically make your path easier, I guess.
Sometimes I wonder how the kids of this generation handle so much pressure without falling apart. If I have to live their lives for a day, I will take up my Dad's offer from childhood without blinking where he had often offered to buy me 4 cows and 4 sheep to shepherd as an alternative to going to school. Cattle will stomp on Chemistry any day, if you go by Sheldon Cooper's 'Rock, paper, scissors, lizard and spock' logic. What puzzles me most is how these kids dress up. How come they all wear their underwear inside their pants and not outside like Superman? Then how will this world recognize them for what they truly are? You would think all their fancy education would tell them how to dress the part. Duh!
I cannot recall a single day from my childhood when I had worried about life after college, about paying off college loans, landing internships or finding part-time jobs to fund further education. Life was much simpler for us. We were the 21st century version of Jane Austen's Bennett family.
My sisters and I were raised lovingly by a large joint family whose collective aspiration was to get us all married as soon we graduated. My mother aka Mrs. Bennett's visits to the local temples fetched her not only divine blessings but also information about families with eligible bachelors in the 20 mile radius. I don't recall her stepping out of our house without our horoscopes in her purse. Next to the 'sundal' prasadam, our horoscopes were the most popular item distributed in the temples those days.
In anticipation of someone knocking on our door to check on our availability in the marriage mart, my Dad and Uncle were forever in a 'ready' state to prostrate at their feet for that favor. My Uncle loved us as his own so much so that he handwrote our 'assets' painstakingly on the back of our horoscopes before they were distributed around town – 'Fair complexion, docile (a small lie never hurts anyone, he believed), sings well, can put 'kolam'/rangoli and excellent cook'. His love for us knew no bounds really.
Coming back to our stress-free childhood, my wise sister attributes it to a 'lack of expectation' from us. All we had to do was graduate and get ready to pick our wedding clothes. I am happy to say that my sisters and I rose to the occasion and completed the task set for us with flying colors. We, the Bennetts, lived happily ever after and never had occasion to wear our underwear on top of our pants.
How about you?