If there is a skill my mother has -- even though she will resent the implied, hypothetical singularity of that one credit -- it is her ability to mix with the plebs. To win them over and to enjoy herself in the process. She can do this. She's an un self conscious winner of plebs. My father, me, my brother -- not so much. Of us remaining three, and by mere fluke of gender genetics, I come next -- in this winning over of plebs. If I want to I could. I can. But I'm sure as hell not un self conscious about it.
My one "jungli cousin" and his bride are coming over to dinner this evening. He's a second cousin with whom -- without meaning to come off as a repellent snob -- I believe, I have nothing in common. When we were little, my brother and I named them jungli cousins (the freshly married one, his brother and his first cousins -- all of whom were our second cousins) because that's what they were. "Heathens", we also called them. God knows where we picked that up from. Heathens, junglis, anything else that was more than marginally pejorative, was automatically them. Why? Oh because they broke my watch once.. and mumble mumble.. But anyway. Let's not hold 16-year old grudges against the newly wed JC. So, with age doing its bit to up the maturity etc, when we now meet, two maybe three times a year, I like to believe, there's some good-natured small talk that is neither strenuous nor totally jungli.
He got married last month, JC1. I attended. When I hug-congratulated him and asked how he was surviving, he made a crack about being the victim. His wife, I met too. I thought she didn't look young. I didn't care for her sari. But then I don't care for maroon. She, Mrs JC1, I felt, looked unenthralled by the fuss, the proceedings, the being a bride-ness of it all. As if marigold- no marigold made no difference. I could, of course, be entirely wrong, pissed off as I was then that the vodka was not behaving like vodka in my skull usually behaves.
Anyway, so today my mother has reminded to be home on time. It doesn't look nice (if I'm not). She told me this a week ago -- be home on time on the 21st. Plus it doesn't look nice. They're coming to dinner; my mother's cousin brother, his wife, their son and his wife. And newly wifed as she is, a present is to be given and she is to be fussed over. Poor thing, having to do all these rounds of bore family show-facing; automatically she extracts some empathy from my marrow, the depths of my smirky being.
I can't imagine ME doing all this. I'm not saying I dread it, or that I'd be bad at it. It might be fun. But I just can't imagine me bowing my head, touching feet, saying haan ji, nahin ji, three bags full ji. I never touch feet. It's just not something I've been brought up to do. Humare yahan nahin ladkiya nahin kartin -- girls don't touch feet in this hood. New sis in law bridey, I guess, might. It always amuses me when someone assumes my mother 'senior' enough, L'oreal hair dye or not, whose feet are to be lunged for. She fumbles with these blessings she's supposed to dole out. It's expected of her. Place hand on bridey's head and emit a genuine-ish murmur of the god bless kind. It's hugely entertaining for me. I guess in time, I might have to grow into the role of blessed fumbling murmurer, too. But till that happens, all I'm required to do is be home on time. It doesn't look nice.