It happened in the winter when my father opened his new Facebook account. One day, as I was minding my own business, I found him staring at his phone’s screen, exhausted.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I’m saying Hi to all my friends on Facebook. But there are too many of them.”
“Exactly why are you doing that?”
“Facebook informed me that I should say Hi to my new friends.”
That was embarrassing. “Baba, just because Facebook told you to say Hi to your new friends, doesn’t mean you have to say Hi to your new friends.”
My father looked at me, baffled\.
“Are you sure my friends won’t mind?”
“I’m sure they couldn’t care less.”
“Then how do I start a conversation with a friend?”
Baba sat up straight, removed his glasses, and looked me straight in the eye, “But, you just said I don’t have to.”
“Okay, let me clear this up for you…”
It was the summer my mother decided that I became old enough to talk to girls (although she was terribly behind schedule). She thought she should talk to me about it over the phone.
“Your roommate is a handsome kid.”
“Yes. Quite strange of you to say that though.”
“I’m sure that girls are crazy about him.”
“That’s spot on, Maa. Now, let’s talk about something else.” Of course, she didn’t.
“I feel bad for your roommate, that’s all. Getting all caught up in romance at such a tender age.”
“Yes, Maa. I feel bad for him, too.”
“Just be careful when you talk to girls, will you?”
Her voice sounded much more confident then, “Your father and I didn’t know each other until we got married. But look what an amazing family we’ve created.”
“But you secretly wish you knew him before marriage, don’t you?”
Awkward silence. “No, I don’t.”
“Great. Baba’s gonna hear about this.”
Nothing is as painful as discovering the shocking fact that your parents had misspelled your name when they named you.
“You guys misspelled my name when you named me.”
“I’m sure, we didn’t. But let’s hear what you think we did wrong.”
“If you’re going to call me Jamie, don’t you think you should spell it like Jamie, and not Jamee?”
They gave their evil-parent smile, “We gave an Akika when we named you. We made a pact with God. You can’t change your name now, or ever.”
“Give an Akika again!”
“Don’t behave like a child. Just text me the new spelling. I’ll rename the WiFi router. You don’t need an Akika to rename the WiFi router.”
I guess every mother, at least once in their motherhood, feels they’ve failed their children. My mother was no different; which was cute, but I wish she didn’t.
“You and your sister deserved a better mother.”
“Sometimes, I feel like I haven’t done enough for my children. I wish God had given you a different mother.”
“Maa, I don’t care what you say as long as you get the science right.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean we couldn’t possibly deserve a better mother. It’s scientifically impossible. I’m fifty percent of you and fifty percent of Baba. Take your fifty percent out, and replace it with a better mother’s fifty percent, and I cease to exist. So, you are basically wishing that my sister and I didn’t exist.”
“I get what you are saying. But what if God really wanted you to have a different…”
“Maa, I’m watching TV.”
Once upon a time, on a cold winter night, I got caught watching an R-rated movie.
“We thought we raised you to be better than this,” said Maa.
“Maa, this movie got like three Oscars.”
“You’re losing your laptop.”
“I figured. But if I can prove that the movie I was watching was good, will you give it back?”
“No movie with such inappropriate images can be good. Why can’t you watch Paddington all the time? Paddington is a good movie, and there are two of those.”
“Allow me to change your mind. I can neither lose my laptop nor can I watch Paddington all the time.”
So, I showed my father Chinatown.
“What happened to the bad guys?”
“What? That’s insane. I don’t like this movie.”
“That’s the point, Baba. Nothing happened to the bad guys. The hero failed.”
He looked at the TV screen showing the credits for Chinatown, and said, “Is there a Chinatown 2 on your laptop?”
“I thought we were going to watch Paddington?”
“Goddamn it! Is there a Chinatown 2?”
Nayeem Ehtesham loves to read and believes his degree in computer science has helped him write funny stories using his computer.