Coronavirus Panic or My Parents, Who Will Drive Me Crazy First?
PM Modi has advised senior citizens to stay home, but my folks think they’re immune & live in an apocalypse bunker.
“Pack your bags and come home right away.”
This statement from my parents, uttered in different tones and pitches as warranted by circumstances, is the supposed panacea for all my woes. I have heard it countless times, and here’s an indicative list in no particular order:
- when I fell sick at boarding school
- when my hostel was under a lockdown due to communal violence
- when I wanted to stay on in Delhi after university exams to be able to meet my then boyfriend
- when my daughter was born and I had to bring her up single-handedly while trying to finish my MPhil dissertation
- when Holi or Diwali approached every year
- when the government declared extended holidays for primary schools due to extreme weather, and I desperately argued that I was a ‘univ lecturer’ and NOT a primary school student
- when any long weekend appeared on the calendar
- when I was undergoing a painful divorce
- when it became necessary to show the world that I hadn’t actually eloped
- when the coronavirus panic started
Modi May Be PM, But My Parents Know Best
PM Modi has advised senior citizens to stay home, but my parents think they are immune to everything and live in an apocalypse bunker. Basically, my parents — like your parents — know what is best not only for their progeny but also for the entire world’s progeny. And they know how to rub it in. Like that time in Hong Kong when we had packed for spring (shorts and tees) and were greeted with rains and Indian-style winters. You should have seen my mother’s smug expression while lending me her jacket. My parents had packed for winters, despite our repeated pleas that all weather apps showed sunny, toasty days.
Now, with their all-knowing stance firmly in place, my parents have given the “come home” ultimatum.
Before you, dear reader, begin to think of my parents as a peerless paragon of parental love and virtue, let me educate you a little. Hang on, they are not monsters. But they are not angels either!
Sample this, father calls each one of us three times a day to ask what we have eaten and how it was prepared. Not because he has any special love for us but because he’s genuinely bored at that time. The moment something or someone else emerges to entertain him – a household help, a visitor, a factory worker, or even a random person – he disconnects immediately with a hurried “OK, bye”. You could be in the middle of an intense heart-to-heart conversation about your life, the visitor who has come seeking some chai and snacks under the garb of asking haal-chaal is more important.
Mother is even better. She’ll hang up without saying bye if she thinks you are talking rubbish. Which is most of the times.
We Need Creches For Mischievous Parents
Coming back to coronavirus, there is no shortage of material on how to handle your kids in the time of lockdowns and stay-at-home advisories. Many parents are complaining how their kids are driving them crazy and they have already run out of ideas to keep them engaged, entertained, and basically out of one’s hair. Notes are being exchanged along with oodles of sympathy. Where is such a support group for people dealing with parents?
I have only seen absolutely exasperated men and women dealing with their parents’ ‘we-have-seen-worse’ bravado. Every time I read a tweet about a mother insisting on going to her place of worship, I offer a silent prayer of thanks for my parents’ lack of religiosity. They have bigger vices.
My parents cannot NOT go to a wedding or a funeral. They wouldn’t visit us for months at a stretch, but lo and behold, if someone dropped dead in our city, they’d appear at our hostel/flat magically. I’ll be telling a lie if I said that I didn’t pray for deaths or weddings to occur when I ran out of tucks or desi ghee or any other supplies. Today, I’m praying for everyone’s longevity and have become a hardcore naysayer to weddings. Coronavirus has not yet encountered my parents’ gritty resolve to make it to a social occasion.
Why My Parents Think They Are Immune to Coronavirus
My parents also think that all doctors, except those in our family, are out there to fleece them. Hence, each time we fell sick, we were supposed to come back home to be nursed back at my eldest uncle’s medical establishment. They also feel that the whole point of getting a ‘test’ done is to find something wrong, else it’s a waste of money. “See, nothing came out in these tests. We wasted money unnecessarily.”
You can very well imagine what their response to coronavirus testing would be. Yes, endless grumbling, should they be subjected to it. I’m sure if they are ever tested for COVID-19, even the virus will cower in fear and dare not appear in reports. Their grumbling and wisecracks are deadlier than any and all antibodies.
And I need not tell you, dear reader, that my parents are stronger than yours. My parents eat sugar, fats, refined flour, and everything else that’s considered bad for human beings and yet, “nothing happens”. Because they are quite slim for their years and (okay, I admit) rather healthy, they think they are tougher than Thor. Additionally, they certainly do not think they are in their sixties. Obviously, they are not vulnerable to this pandemic. No, absolutely not, despite coronavirus research data telling them the opposite. They also do their walks and yoga and drink pure milk and eat homegrown vegetables and don’t smoke and ‘don’t talk on mobile all the time’ and ‘don’t work on computer’ and don’t live in a polluted city. You get it — coronavirus stands no chance.
So, never mind the fact that there is no testing lab within a 200-kilometre radius of my hometown. We must “come home”.
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