Perfume for My Mother

I moved out. I missed my Mom. So, when I went back for a quick visit, I bought her a perfume.

“What is the price?”’; her first question.

“199 Rs”; I said.

Her face turned red, her eyes were bulging as if she was possessed by a ghost.

Ente Amme (Oh My… mother!)”; She exclaimed in the style of Sheela Kannanthanam, real and raw.

“Why on earth did you spend 200 Rs for a perfume?”

“Mom, its 199 not 200”

She raised her index finger as if she was pointing her middle-finger at me.

“Last time I bought a perfume bottle, it costs less than 100 Rs” She said in a stern voice.

“Mom this is Yardley. The flavour is Garden Roses. This is a taller bottle than your roll-on bottle, that’s actually an imitation of Rexona.”

I can’t blame my Mother for her strong words. She hasn’t been to a shopping mall or Rapid transit system like Kochi Metro before. When she wants to go shopping, she, like most of the small-town women, go to Local shops. They bargain with the traders for the cheapest quality goods – and they win.

This is the logic behind why it is very difficult to convince my mother that a bottle of Yardley – Anglicised name but local product – costs 200 bucks.

Whose fault is this?

I can’t evade the responsibility of failing to bridge the gap between my mom’s buying behaviour and 21st century shopaholics.

My Mom never visited Lulu Mall. She never took a ride on Kochi Metro. But, she knew there’s a rapid transit system working in Kochi. She had seen the visuals in TV and read almost everything about the project in Mangalam daily.

My Mom had dreams, Oops – I mean she still has. She was the first woman from her tiny village to make it into the Ernakulam city to do her pre degree. She was stubborn woman, who admits to have seen only one movie in her very brief period of education in the city.

She loves to go out and watch movies. But, her time was limited within the borders of the large kitchen. When she finally got the courage to watch a movie, she went with her best friend, shunning the two dominant, patriarchal authorities of her house – Me and my Dad and, of course. She knew the male members in her house would never take up initiative to go anywhere, whether to a Theatre or Hospital.

Then, after a week she disclosed me the secret.

“I went for a movie”; she said with a trademark giggle.

I become curious. “A movie, really?”

“Yes”; she showed me the tickets, neatly folded and tucked inside the secret pocket of her purse.

“Bahubali, that’s the name of the movie. Oh my, you have to see it”; she suddenly become a female-Roger Ebert.

“…and guess what, we had ice creams after the movie””she smiled.

“Splendid, I love the spirit Mom”; I congratulated her.

She still was laughing.

“Don’t stop this here. You can watch more movies. But, I think before that you have to say this to father. Not because you need his permission to go for a movie next time, but to remind him that it’s okay to go for a movie once in a while.”

Her answer was a straight NO.

Here is a woman, confined to kitchen and chorus of this walled compound. She gets angry when her son buys her a 200 Rs Perfume. Because, the costliest perfume she ever had is the one with sandal flavour she purchased from a local shop. It was enough for a woman like her, ‘confined to kitchen and choruses’. She doesn’t go to a Great Gatsby party wearing a Yardley Rose Garden.

But, have I ever asked her about her plans. Come on, I never asked whether she want to go to a Gatsby party. I never asked whether she want to see Bahubali. I never cared to ask what flavour of Ice cream she likes the most.

Before ending the conversation, I made this announcement.

“Mom, I didn’t buy the Yardley Garden Rose perfume. I got it for free from Big Bazaar. They have a special Christmas offer. I went for a grand shopping and I got this free”

She smelled the perfume, put the lid on, placed the bottle in the cupboard by the mirror and said; “This one smells like a rose”

Featured Image: My Mom on the extreme right, in a blue sari, in this photo taken at my sister’s wedding. My Dad in the middle, in his face, the regular arrogance. My sister with minimal ornaments and Mallippoo on her hair. The guy in the white mundu and silk shirt is my brother-in-law. I was reluctant to share the stage, thus I am missing from this particular photo. 













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