Herculean Task

Short Story - By Lakshmi Menon

It was a day of celebration when Jaideep’s mother wrote to him that he was going to be twenty-eight years old on the following Sunday. He presumed that his mother was indirectly reminding him that it was time for him to get married.

His joy knew no bounds when he felt proud of his mother who was able to read his son’s mind without having to express his desire in words.

Jaideep immediately grabbed his mobile from the table and called his close friend Madanlal. He asked him to look for a good girl before his mother could find some village girl of her choice to be her daughter-in-law. It was really a very good news for Madanlal. He was waiting for this very moment to mention to his friend about his own sister who was also of the marriageable age. He had laid his eyes on Jaideep for a very long time and waiting for the appropriate moment to propose his sister for him.

“Namitha is very good at cooking. Every one who tastes her cooking, praises her for the quality of her culinary art,” said Madanlal to his friend. “I’m not telling because she’s my sister, she actually excels in cooking.”

Jaideep, a computer engineer, was not a fool to accept a girl who had not even completed her degree. He however, didn’t refuse his friend’s proposal directly fearing the loss of his friendship. He started reading a number of newspapers and magazines with the matrimonial advertisements and enquired through his vast circle of friends, before his mother could get him an unsuitable girl for a huge sum of dowry. He decided to take the help of modern technology to find his soul mate, and had registered his profile in many matrimonial web sites. He soon found his mail box filled with photographs of attractive, educated girls. His main chore of the day became sorting out the many emails and replying to the relevant ones.

The next letter came from his mother the following week, but not a word of marriage was mentioned.

“She would’ve forgotten to write this time”, Jaideep consoled himself.

He decided to remind her by writing about his frequent stomach upsets because of the hotel food and also about the increasing dhobi charges, have done the damage to his clothes. He thought he could attract his mother’s attention to get him settled.

Every day Jaideep returned to his one-room apartment hoping to find a positive reply from his mother. The postman would have carelessly pushed it in, without knowing its importance, through the little space under the door.

After a week of impatient waiting, he found the expected letter inside the house. As he went through the letter his enthusiasm vanished. His mother had decided to send his widowed aunt to do the cooking and washing for him.

This time Jaideep was utterly disappointed and sought Madanlal’s support again. His wide experienced mind gave him many ideas. The most important idea he thought up was about the cold climate of Bangalore. Accordingly Jaideep wrote to his mother, discouraging her before she could make arrangements to send his aunt to Bangalore. He eagerly waited her reply.

“The doctor has advised me to stop eating from the hotel. He says no medicines can help me unless I start eating home cooked food,” said Jaideep that night when she called him on his mobile.

He took a deep sigh and waited hopefully for his mother’s response. Since there was no reply from the other end Jaideep got worried. “Ma…. Are you there? What happened? Why are you not telling anything?” He became very impatient.

“I’m listening to you, my dear son, and wondering how to find a solution for this,” replied his mother in her usual calm tone.

“How is Appa? Can I talk to him?” He thought at least his father would understand him.

“He has gone to bed early today, immediately after the News.” Prompt came his mother’s reply.

“Don’t worry, son. I’ll soon find a solution for you. At any cost I can’t compromise with your health. Go to sleep peacefully.”

Before Jaideep could ask anything further, he heard the sound of the phone being disconnected.

That night Jaideep slept peacefully, thinking that finally he was able to get his message across to his mother and she was able to understand his problem. To make his case stronger, after two days he continued his complaints of the food and his loneliness. Then an urgent phone call came from his mother, asking him to meet her in the railway station the next morning.

“Oh my good God, what’s the idea of my mother? Why can’t she accept the fact that her little son has grown into a gentleman who will soon enter his third decade of life? Why can’t she accept the fact that her son needs a partner in his life?” Jaideep couldn’t get a wink of sleep that night and cried for being the “Mamma’s boy”.

“Mama, how can you stay away leaving Daddy alone at home?” asked Jaideep with tears in his eyes, when he went to pick her up in the railway station the next day.

Pat came her reply. “You don’t worry about it, son. I’ve made your father understand to manage for six months until I get an old lady to work for you.”

That evening, as a last measure, he called Madanlal’s son to pull out his grey hairs in exchange for a Kit Kat, sitting before his mother, and hoping that at least this time she would read his thoughts.

“My dear son, why are you pulling out your grey hairs? Don’t you know that they will increase in number as you pull them out? There are a lot of dyes available in the market today. Why don’t you buy one of them? If you’re ashamed to pick up one from the store I would’ve got it for you, if you had only told me.”

Poor Jaideep! He forgot that his mother was clever and more experienced than him.

That day, his mother cooked his favorite dishes for him and sat next to him like just like she used do when he was a little boy. He remembered how she forced him to eat. But, he couldn’t enjoy the food, as his mind was preoccupied. How could he be free himself from his mother’s grip?

After food, glancing through the half-finished news paper, and thinking seriously how to make his mother who was sitting next to him understand him, he heard her voice, “Jaideep, don’t you think it is time for you to find a partner in your life? How long can I be with you?” She ran her fingers fondly through his hair.

“If you are not able to find anyone for yourself, see these photos, and tell me whom you like here. They’re all well qualified girls,” added his mother and displayed five photographs of beautiful and well educated girls.

Jaideep’s eyes filled with tears of joy and he wished he could cry aloud like a little boy before his mother.

“Silly Boy,” thought his mother, “Refuses to grow up, so childlike still!”

   ___

Comments

Interesting and a good read.

Nice work, Lakshmi. However, the only thing that makes me sad is the fact that boys still think that a wife is supposed to be a 'manager' like in their life. Very true, identifiable and well written. Looking for more from you!

Sneha, Mumbai

But, what to do Sneha? Unfortunately, that's the fact. Thanks for the comments.

Lakshmi

I agree with Sneha and I was hoping that although "that's the fact" there was an attempt to challenge that idea.

Suchaita

Thanks Suchaita for reading the story and offering your comments.

Since the focus was on getting the mother's attention the story was written on that direction.

Lakshmi

I liked the story with the hidden humor. You've presented well the efforts of the young man to grab his mother's attention. It made me laugh!

Veena, Singapore

Thank you Veena for reading the story and making a comment. I'm glad you were able to find the humor element in the story. That was the main purpose.

Lakshmi

Ha, ha, ha! I am sending the story to my son.Good one.

- Kiran Jhamb  26/3/2013

Thank you for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the story and you're sending it to your son. 

- Lakshmi


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