Twinkle Khanna on Her Mother Superior
A short list of the things Twinkle Khanna's mother has done to traumatize her at various stages of her life
MY MOTHER HAS NEVER BEEN the Band-Aid dispensing, cupcake-baking, checking-on-homework sort of mother that one sees in commercials. She is funny, sometimes wacky, a little eccentric and fallibly human, and has consistently over the years found new and unique ways to embarrass me, starting at birth when she decided that naming me Twinkle was a foolproof way of making sure that I would get teased throughout my life, have immigration officers at various airports stare at my passport and shake with hysterical laughter and strangers stalk me with WhatsApp messages like, “Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, I hope you get hit by a car!”
Here is a short list of the things that she has done to traumatize me at various stages.
I am 13: I am studying at Panchgani [in Maharashtra] and have been selected to play in the inter-school basketball match. Mother has come to see the match, as it is a big moment in my life. In the middle of the match, she starts yelling from the stands, “Tina! Tina! You are the best!” and when I turn to hear where all this ruckus is coming from, the ball is thrown my way, smacks me on the head and I fall down flat on the court.
I am 18: Mother has read a book on some colour-therapy diet by Linda Clark, and decided that I must follow this innovative weight-loss programme, which consists of eating only red- and orange-coloured fruits, drinking solarized water in red bottles and sitting in front of an infrared light for 15 minutes every day. End result after two weeks: I have gained three pounds and have a burn mark on my stomach from the infrared light toppling and falling on me.
I am 29: Mum and I are going to London for a shoot, and Mum is then going on to New York while I am heading home. Every day Mother goes shopping and as I see our tiny room filling up with shopping bags, I start getting a feeling that this will not end well. It is the last day, my flight is at 8 p.m. and Mum’s flight is four hours before mine. I start fretting as to how she will fit all her stuff in her suitcase and she reassures me that I have nothing to worry about—to go to work and she will pack everything for me as well before she leaves.
That evening I rush to my room to pick up my bags, only to find no suitcases, just two trunks. Description of the above-mentioned trunks: Dented, battered aluminium boxes with my name plastered across in massive letters and misspelt ‘Twinkal Khana’ with a bright red marker pen.
Mummy dearest has taken the two suitcases I had come with, to accommodate all the shopping, and has packed all my things in the film unit’s costume department trunks.
I am 37: My mother decides to call my entire family over for dinner—husband, in-laws, cousins and all—and then proceeds to talk about how fat I was as a child, how I got stuck in a bucket while trying to have a bath, how I used to eat mangoes sitting on the potty and how she had to buy clothes for a 14-year-old when I was just seven.
And then last week ...
8 a.m.: My phone rings. It is mother, and she says, “I saw your console in the foyer yesterday, it’s the first thing guests will see when they enter your house and it is looking very empty. You need to buy an antique statue and place it there immediately.”
I need to nip this potentially long conversation in the bud quickly, so I reply, “Granny is antique too, let’s make her sit on the console whenever guests come by.”
Mummy dearest hangs up without a word.
1:30 p.m.: Mother has forgotten all about our morning spat, and calls me in high spirits. She informs me that an old acquaintance from Delhi is coming over this evening. The lady in question has been trying to persuade mummy dearest to partake in a great money-making scheme, and mum has already decided that it is a fabulous opportunity and is now persuading me to take advantage of her friend’s generous offer.
6 p.m.: Our much-awaited visitor arrives. She is articulate, intelligent and extremely charming. I am almost convinced that I must part with most of my money, when I start mentally doing some calculations and an alarm bell starts ringing. I protest that nothing in the world can help you earn 125 per cent per annum, especially when the bank is just about giving 9 per cent. Every question I ask is met with vague answers like angel investors, trading in yen, etc. till the meeting comes to an abrupt end.
8:30 p.m.: My mother receives an SMS from her friend, which states, “I am very disappointed with your daughter’s attitude. What does she keep mumbling percentages for? Does she even know what she is saying? Under these conditions I take back my kind offer of granting you a place in my scheme. It’s your loss.”
Mother starts berating me for having spoilt this great prospect and when I try explaining to her that this is just a money-making racket as the numbers don’t add up, she again yells at me for behaving like I am “some kind of maths teacher”. Hurt about the maths dig, I remind her that I had scored 97 out of 100 on my board exam in the same subject. She must remember that at least, since she and my aunt had made fun of me saying, “The Human Calculator not only gets 97 marks but also weighs 97 kilos.”
She gets even more irked, so I sneakily grab her phone and send her friend a message back: “CBI has just arrested MP Ramchandra and two ex-MLAs in a Ponzi scheme, would you like to join them?”
A month later, mum calls me: “I have been trying our Delhi friend’s number but she hasn’t returned my calls. Really, you should have been nicer to her. Didn’t even serve her biscuits properly with tea that day. But I agree with you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. What is too good to be true usually is ... Anyway, listen, I got a letter from a nice Nigerian man who wants to give us some money ...”
Before she can continue, I yell, “Oh my God!”
She starts giggling and says, “I am just joking.”
I tell her, “It’s not funny, Mum, and sometimes you really do make stupid mistakes.”
She snorts, “That’s true, I made you.’
Twinkle Khanna is a humorist, columnist, former actor and interior designer. She has authored three bestselling books.
TAKEN FROM MRS FUNNYBONES, COPYRIGHT © 2015 BY TWINKLE KHANNA. EXCERPTED WITH PERMISSION FROM PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE INDIA