Fish Fry And Inflation

“Bloody they can’t run one single bus on time and they are raising the fare by one rupee!”

The voice/rant shook our 6-room home and was loud enough to break my sleep. For a change, it was my mother shouting. I wondered where my dad was, and why he had delegated his role to her.
 
I got up lazily from the bed, (as usual) leaving the job of folding the blanket to my wife. After grabbing my toothbrush but failing to locate the toothpaste, I inquired where dad was.
 
“He has gone out,” my wife replied, while tossing the toothpaste towards me. I gave her the how-can-you-misplace-things look, which she ignored, knowing I am a far more accomplished ‘misplacer’ than her.
 
“Wow!” I uncorked an imaginary champagne in celebration. Dad devotes his (and my) Sundays to cleaning the house. While my mom and wife escape into the kitchen (and have a hearty laugh over my broom-and-duster donning avatar), I am left to trail behind my dad helplessly for at least a couple of hours with a grumpy face. So his absence in the house today naturally made me go wow.
 
“But he will return in a couple of hours,” my wife said jubilantly, knowing she won’t miss seeing me in the broom-and-duster donning avatar this Sunday as well.
 
“What happened? Why were you shouting?” I asked my mom, who was now busy calculating how much the daily travel would cost henceforth as the city bus administrators had decided to raise the fare.      
 
“Inflation is rising too much. We must cut our expenses,” she declared. I looked at my wife, who gestured to me that I was soon to be in the line of fire.
 
“How much you pay for the Internet every month? Around 600-something I guess. Why you need to pay so much? You work for nine hours on the computer everyday in the office and then you want to come home and use it again. Inviting unnecessary backache and headache.”
 
Mom had launched a tirade against me. Suddenly, my broom-and-duster donning avatar seemed like a lesser evil.
 
“And these books your dad reads….why he needs all those glossy, expensive magazines about so-called photography techniques?” The tirade had shifted focus toward my dad. His absence in the house brings out the tiger in my mom.
 
“And enough of pickles, papads and fried stuff in the food. So much wastage of oil! Why can’t you people eat pulses and vegetables?” My wife’s liking for pickles and papads was undergoing antemortem.
 
“What’s the menu for lunch today?” I tried to change the topic.
 
“I think we should cook something vegetarian. How about simple daal and rice? Economical and healthy. Anytime better than the ever-expensive fish.” The advice+sarcasm had come from none other than my wife. With huge question marks on our face, we looked at mom.
 
Here, it’s worth mentioning that our Sundays are traditionally and historically dedicated to fish (or their mortal remains, in this case).
 
There was a long pause. We could even hear the ticking sound of the wall clock.
 
“See, fish is something we eat once a week. Spending the money on fish once a week is okay. I mean it’s just once a week. Once a week is fine.”
 
Mom was caught in a loop. And in a trap as well. Fish was her staple. A food commodity above inflation, and everything else.
 
“But then its so costly. I mean inflation is soaring,” Sarcasm was having a field day, courtesy my wife.
 
“Hmm…okay, fine. Make some daal and rice,” mom said, without looking at my wife and searching for a newspaper to hide her disappointment.
 
My wife took her purse and went downstairs. I was back on the Internet. A while later, she came back.
 
“What did you get?” I asked, even though I was aware what it was.
 
Mom had immersed herself in the newspaper.
 
“Pomfret and some prawns,” my wife replied.
 
There was a sudden flutter of paper. It was the newspaper in my mom’s hand. She looked at us. Her eyes were lit up. She gave the I-am-so-thankful-to-you look to my wife and got up from her seat to wash her hands.
 
After all, she was the one who cleaned the fish every time.
 
Needless to say, my Internet plan is still intact. Pickles and papads are still fried in our household and dad continues to sharpen his photography skills by referring to his favourite magazines.
 
The discussion on inflation has been postponed. Indefinitely.
eyes04111981 eyes04111981
31-35, M
2 Responses Dec 13, 2012

Well done, eyes. Very funny - and a great little Indian snapshot.

great story