I’m not great at keeping in touch. This is not a new thing, or a trait I picked up in my later years, but my parents are convinced that said character flaw reared its ugly head around the time I made friends with Fatboy. This is patently untrue. Fatboy and I just happened to become friends roughly around the same time as when I ran out of things to talk about with my family. I let him take the fall for it, of course, in the same way we’ve both pointed fingers at each other every time one of us was caught in possession of pot or porn or –on one deplorable occasion- a Pussycat Dolls CD. He still refutes the Pussycat pop allegation. I will plead innocent till death on that count.
Having established my indifference to the occasional phone call or email, I’d like to tell you a little story of how the best intentions sometimes blow up in your face. And spit on your grave while doing the Gangnam Style. I was in Kodaikanal over the Diwali holidays, and slightly more in sync with the Oneness of the universe and the sentience of the collective human experience and all that other hippie bullshit you buy into when you’re on a diet of magic mushrooms and Kingfishers. Having risen earlier than the sun on one of those days, I decided to give the Ol’ Maternal a call. You know, just because.
“Hi Ma,” I say, “how are you?”
“Older,” she says, “roughly about a year older as of yesterday.”
Fuck. 20 seconds. That’s how long it takes to realize why social telephony is not a good idea, especially if you’re not the type to remember birthdays and anniversaries and names of the fast expanding brood of the Jimani clan.
“Happy birthday Ma,” I say.
“I didn’t forget,” I assure her stony silence.
“Everybody called but you, you know,” she says, “even Fatboy.”
“Yeah but talk is cheap, right Ma?”, I say, “you’ll never guess what I got you.”
Now tendency to one-up each other notwithstanding, Fatboy will always be my go-to man in times of trouble- and me, his- no matter what. So it was that a half hour of recriminatory stop-start conversation later, I found myself calling The Obese One himself for counsel.
“That was low man, calling my Mom,” I say, “I’m impressed.”
“I thought you might appreciate it,” he says, “even set up an iReminder and all.”
“Fuck you Fatass, you fucking Apple fanboy fuck,” I say, “sorry.”
“Pleasure. How’d it go?”
“Not too bad, I guess. I’m royally screwed,” I say.
“What’s up? Jesus, you’ve got to add Sam on Facebook. Girl’s all grown up.”
“Skinny Sam? Really? Fuck Sam, Fatass. Fuck you, you fucking Facebooking fuck. Hear me out, I’m fucked.”
“So Mom was all pissed I forgot her birthday, right? Stop laughing, you bastard. So anyway, I ended up telling her I’ve written this kick-ass thank you note and dedicated my novel to her.”
“’Snot so bad.”
“What? Dude, you don’t understand. This is my one and possibly only novel. It’s all I’ve got.”
“So I also told my ex I’d dedicate it to her.”
“Well, it is pretty much about her. I don’t see a moral dilemma. Do the right thing.”
“But my Mom’s not sounded this happy in years, man.”
“Wait a second. This is not about your Mom. You’re not that nice. What’s going on?”
“I may have…also given my girlfriend the impression the book’s dedicated to her.”
“Seriously, what is with you and dedicating everything to everybody? You’ve only been seeing her a couple of months.”
“I was weak, ok? It was the only way she’d let me… enter through the gift shop.”
“Sorry ex-girlfriend, whose life you plagiarized. Sorry Mothership, with the womb and all.”
“It’s the right thing to do, right?”
“Your Dad would be so proud.”