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Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham

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December 2002
Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham

There it goes again?the blaring, mind-drilling snare of the alarm clock. It?s funny how you can transform even an inanimate object into your worst enemy. With one eye open, I manage to correctly aim for the snooze button. Ah, peace! A half-smile appears on my face and I begin my journey back into dream territory. Reminding myself that it?s the beginning of the weekend, my joy triples. But wait... the bliss is tainted. I hear her, climbing the stairs, yet hoping it was unreal. She stands in the white doorway of my bedroom; my mother.

Cheerful as always, with a turmeric stained hand towel on her right shoulder, she says, ?Wake up, beta! Chalo!? Although my siblings disagree, I strongly believe that my mother?s voice is eerily becoming like a high shriek. In a hurry she turns back into the hallway, leaving me with a glimpse of her jet-black dyed hair. And as she retreats, she exclaims, ?Come watch Zee TV!?

Of course! My mother?she thinks I?m a sponge. Always trying to get me to absorb every drop of desiness into my American born body. I can rightfully say that I feel full and am definitely overflowing. Well, she?s done a good job so far ? my ultimate range of Hindi CDs, the brass sculpture of a dancing dasi on my oak bedroom chest, and my painting of Krishna & Radha should all point to the neon sign blinking ?WAY TO GO!? I suppose her daily injection of a culture dosage reassures her that my partner will definitely be Indian. In the end, I don?t mind, I have actually started growing accustomed to her ways, even fond.

After a couple of minutes of lying in bed, my enemy ? the restless alarm clock ? starts to attack, this time with h Devdas? Mar Dala. How appropriate. Okay, so this morning I allow the desi tunes to resonate my abode, giving me background music for my regular painstaking Saturday yoga session. You see, the tricky part of this exercise is to stand on one foot, breathe slowly, bending your appendages in highly awkward positions, all the while resembling some kind of modern art made by play dough.

I feel awake after my flexibility test. So I readily run down the stairs to watch an Indian program with my parents. My spot on the blue sofa is left empty; it?s calling my name. I?m sitting in my comfy pink and gray pj?s, right between my mom and pop. At the same instance, both stare in my direction and with a sort of sternness and say, ?Jay Shree Krishna?. I quickly reply with a humorously added ?Mataji Pitagee.? Obviously, they were not amused.

The next words I hear are ?Did Kajol gain weight?? I laugh, just noticing how incredibly blinded my mother is to her surroundings when brown folk are on television. We rest in front of the tube, interrupted once by a phone call from an uncle. My mind begins to wander during the broadcast, I ponder how I did in my exam the day before, what time I should meet my friends today, and if I should, maybe, re-do my toenails. As the program is aired, my mother paces herself to the kitchen at every commercial break. I could see her in there, mixing and checking on the masala chai. The love my mother has for chai? could possibly replace me. If you asked her what her favorite hobby was, I wouldn?t be surprised if she replied ?chai preparation.?

As the show concluded, I imagined what it would have been like if I was sitting there alone. Sure, they were not the most down to earth people, but by far the most interesting. I heard the brass wall clock chime, and wished it hadn?t. I forgot about all the strange things my parents do. I left all the frustrated thoughts that they evoked in me behind. I was grateful for the moment. Respect and admiration arose in my mind. Love and safety flickered in my heart for these two persons that I often took for granted. I would remember simple occasions like these forever. All of a sudden, I was startled by the television; a snippet of a Hindi melody echoed the words ?Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gham?. A tune that encompasses what life is in a single sentence, and today I understand it more than ever. Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gham indeed.


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