Last week, the Indian government finally managed to get its hands on 26/11 handler Abu Jundal, probably because Kasab was bored and demanded company (I mean, there’s only so much goat porn one can watch). The arrest has been described as a major achievement for India, because we can now finally prove that Pakistan was behind the attacks, as opposed to earlier when the evidence pointed to pygmies from Congo.
Abu Jundal is reportedly a nasty piece of work, who evaded arrest all these years via the standard method of nibbling softly on the ISI’s earlobe. And now that he’s in custody, the circus will go on as usual: India will interrogate him until he reveals shocking details like Pakistan runs terror camps, or that Shahid Afridi and Rekha share the same anti-ageing DNA, after which Manmohan Singh will reiterate his anti-terror policy by staring balefully at Pakistan until the US feels sorry for India and promises to write a remark in Zardari’s diary.
Then there was also Jundal’s mother claiming that he was innocent. I feel bad for her, as you would do for a mother whose son turns out to be a mass murderer. You know how it is — you spend all day taking care of your kid, but you turn your back for one second, and the tyke sticks a pencil in his nose, or walks into an LeT camp. It happens. And she probably really believes that he is innocent, and that he went to Pakistan only for the wild beach parties.
It’s not her fault. As an Indian mother, she is genetically wired to reject any statement that goes against the idea of her son being the Noble King of Sunshine and Rainbow Land. It doesn’t matter what sort of maniac we’re talking about. If Hitler were Indian, his mother would have rushed to his defence saying that he was a sweet boy who had been led astray by that Mussolini kid. (For some reason, I see Kirron Kher as the mother, stuffing Hitler’s face with paranthas, going, “Kitna patla ho gaya hai! Bilkul Jewish lag raha hai!”)
Things don’t change that much with age. I’m 27, and my mother sometimes still treats me like I’m at the mental age of Rahul Gandhi. It doesn’t matter what I say; nothing seems to beat her ninja-like maternal reflex. This is what the average conversation in my house sounds like:
Me: Greetings, O Maternal Figure. I have come here only to tell you that I recently saw a burning bush and had an epiphany, thanks to which I shall now march into active war-zones to preach the message of love through shamanism and interpretive dance, while wearing only satin boxers and a towel as a cape.
Mom: Uh huh. Did you have breakfast today?
OK, I’m kidding. Sometimes she also responds with, “Get a haircut.”
It’s also amazing how mothers operate on worst-scenario mode. Son’s gone for a rock show? Probably doing drugs. Gone to a party? Probably doing drugs. The party’s in Juhu? Definitely doing drugs. A prime example of this was when I was in school, and used to frequent a McDonald’s (because this was New Bombay, and Mc-Donald’s was our Fire and Ice, okay?)
Anyway, in an example of stellar planning, the place next to the McD’s was a flashy dance bar. So yes, at one point, I was duly asked if I, a wisp of a teenager, had ever been to the dance bar. I didn’t know what to say, so I said no and went back to pawning my mom’s jewellery. (Mom, if you’re reading this, relax. I only did it to pay for the abortion.)
The best way to counter maternal paranoia is to just agree. I realised this in college, when I came home after a “DJ Nite!” at a fest and gleefully chatted about the pot-filled classrooms that I’d been sitting around in. I don’t think my mother will ever forgive me for that shock. (She’s started with her revenge though — she keeps throwing around words like ‘arranged’ and ‘marriage’ without using any other words in between.)
Also, I’m glad that I have no real arguments with my parents anymore. It’s a wonderful thing that you only begin to see in your twenties, and I’m all for it. I also know that no matter what I do, I can count on my mother to stand by me, while blaming my misdeeds on those pygmies from Congo.
Ashish Shakya is a writer and a stand-up comic. He co-writes the TV satire, The Week That Wasn’t. Sometimes he’s even sober while doing so