'My Mom added me on Facebook!'
Have you ever found out that your parent has opened a social networking account and has been snooping on your Facebook or Orkut profile? Well, here is the experience of someone who introduced his mom to the wonders of the Internet only to find out that is exactly what she is doing! Read on..
This is the true story of Mein, as in me, and the lovely Mrs Khanna -- my mother!
How it began
I remember the exact date that changed my world and me forever...November 20, 2008. This was the fateful day I wished to celebrate my mother's 59th birthday in style, little knowing that my life would never be the same again.
It began with Mein going out to purchase a birthday gift for Mrs Khanna, the woman who has given me so much. I thought that any gift I gave her would be incomparable to all that she has given me to date. So I decided to do away with pondering over the ideal present and purchased a not-so-unusual one that would possibly amuse her and wouldn't tighten my purse strings -- a mobile phone with all the latest fancy applications like music, photos, videos and the Internet, which would help her pass the time (she always complains that she is bored and has nothing much to do at home). The decision I took that day is the sole cause of my undoing today. Had I known that such an innocent-looking monster (the phone, not Mother!) would devour the social fabric of my life, I would never have made such a mistake. But alas, as a wise man once said -- 'What is to be, is to be.'
And so my story continues. The night before her birthday, I walked into my mother's room. At the strike of midnight, I wished her 'Happy Birthday' and presented her with the gift I thought she would be excited to receive. Mrs Khanna unwrapped it and to my surprise, was less than enthused. "Why did you need to buy this mobile? I already have one that works fine. You keep this for yourself ,sonny boy," she said. Fool that I am, I did not see God's hand giving me another lifeline and was disappointed at Mother's lack of interest.
So I decided to explain all about the mobile's many features to Mrs Khanna:
- Music: A true-blue Punjabi, she loves to listen to music and to dance at any opportunity presented.
- Photos and videos: Which would enable her to take snapshots of her daughters (my sisters), her grandchildren (my nephews and niece) and avoid quarrelling each day over who gets to carry the digital camera (Mrs Khanna is on the committee of our housing society and with her many friends and activities, has a far more hectic social life than me).
- Internet: Which she could start to learn about and use.
All the new applications seemed to rouse some interest in her and she began to look at the mobile more approvingly. She was, however, still unsure of what she could do with the Internet. Fanning my own ego (as if to say 'Mother, this is something I know more about than you') I explained to her that with the Internet she could have her own Email id, surf the latest news, read Bollywood gossip etc. I also started chiding Mrs Khanna that as the mother of Mein, who works with an Internet organisation, she should be more familiar with the medium, which would also help her to come across as smarter within her peer group. Being one up over others, I knew, was the sole motivator (bait, to be more precise) that got Mrs Khanna to finally nod her consent and accept my gift.
I thought that Mother, who refuses to even talk to her Vodafone mobile service provider and directs them to me, stating that she cannot understand what they are trying to say, would hardly be able to unravel the mysteries of the Internet. So I happily went off to sleep, gloating about how smart I was getting her to believe that the phone would be of great utility to her, earning brownie points. Boy, was I sadly mistaken.
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
The beginning of the end
Never underestimate the might and determination of a Punjabi Mother chided -- she is at all times the smartest and in the right.
When I woke up the next morning, I went to Mrs Khanna's room thinking that she would be fast asleep and that I would gently wake her. To my surprise, there she lay on her bed, wide awake, with the mobile phone in her hand, trying to decipher what it does. As soon as she saw me, she quickly pounced -- "What do I do with this Internet?"
To avoid getting myself into a mess, I resorted to the evergreen and most effective excuse -- "I have lots of work at the office and have to rush." I quickly bathed, dressed up and rushed out of the house, thinking that I would evade the situation tacitly and with time Mrs Khanna's fascination for the Internet would also diminish. There again, I was proven wrong.
Not one to bow down to circumstances, Mrs Khanna took action the moment my sister and brother-in-law stopped by to see her. By the time I came home from work, looking forward to our family dinner, Mrs Khanna already had a Gmail account.
The fact that in a matter of a few hours Mother had learned how to get onto the Web and check her mail sent alarm signals to me, but then again how much could that hurt me? The reality of the situation, however, was that Mrs Khanna was not going to stop at just opening an E-mail account, a realisation that I tried to pretend was not coming.
A man can run away from himself, but if born in a Punjabi household, he can never, never escape the clutches of his ever-prevailing mother.
With each passing day, Mrs Khanna started to spend more of her free time on the Internet. Even when she attended her weekly kitty parties, movies, evening high teas or weekend getaways with friends, she would spend every idle moment surfing the Web. And within a month of her birthday, I had a friend request waiting for me in my Facebook inbox, sent by Mrs Khanna.
Every day, whenever I logged into my Facebook account, that one friend request kept glaring at me menacingly. I dared not decline it -- I had learned long ago not to mess with a woman (Mrs Khanna) once scorned. I knew it was a matter of time before my fate was sealed. The daily jibes at home continued and finally, concern for my future (peace) pressured me into accepting Mrs Khanna's request on Facebook.
Mrs Khanna already had three friends on Facebook before my acceptance. Two of those lucky souls were my younger sister and her husband, who are the other culprits in this story and an innocent cousin of mine, who had just been in a bad road accident, was on bed rest and I suspect wanted to take no more chances with his wellbeing.
Now we all know that nobody can remain happy after marriage, so Sis and her hubby had nothing left to lose. But one man's happiness -- Mein's -- is the rest of the world's envy and they conspired and are responsible for bringing this mayhem into my life.
Anyway, moving on, things went smoothly for awhile, with regular (almost hourly) updates from Mrs Khanna on Facebook:
- 'Looking forward to the mundan (head-shaving ceremony) of my niece's son.'
- 'Enjoying myself with friends on an impromptu trip to Pune.'
- 'Watching reality show Dancing Queens.'
- 'Neena is cooking her favourite dish -- sarson da saag nal paratha nal chole nal dahi wada -- yummy!'
Then it so happened that my elder sister invited us to her mom-in-law's birthday party. As usual, snaps were taken and the next day Mein uploaded and tagged everyone (including Mrs Khanna). Mrs Khanna posted a stinker comment to my eldest nephew (who spent the party playing games on her mobile), stating that he had finished her mobile battery.
For people who have not understood what the cause of concern was, let me backtrack and explain. It was not the content of the comment that bothered me, but Mrs Khanna's ability to sift through my photographs and then comment on the same!
The next day my Wall feed displayed that Mrs Khanna was now friends with Mr Kapoor from Dubai. Mr Kapoor from Dubai is a very close college batchmate and friend of mine, who Mrs Khanna added onto her list and happily started exchanging feeds with.
Next in line was Ms Ghosh. Ms Ghosh is an ex-colleague and another close friend. Mrs Khanna and Ms Ghosh were soon exchanging notes on Facebook and ganging up to keep tabs on Mein.
I thought things could not get any worse, but then God has a miraculous way of saving his children (even he must have been surprised at the prowess of Punjabi mothers). One day Mrs. Khanna commanded Mein to upload her snaps and tag them on Facebook, to save her the inconvenience. Now this was truly a divine boon -- to upload Mrs. Khanna's snaps and tag them, I needed to log onto Mother's profile, meaning I got hold of her log-in id and password. Hurray! Now I could control this rot of invasion into my private space and set a clear demarcation between my friends and Mrs Khanna.
On an almost hourly basis, I would log onto Mrs Khanna's profile and decline all subsequent requests from my friends. And I continue to do so. When friends inform me that they have not received a response to their requests from my mother, I just say that Mrs Khanna is a social snob and very selective. Although I am remorseful about the character-assassination of such a sweet lady, I realise it is worth the effort for my private space.
An unexpected blow
I assumed that I had taken control of the situation once I gained access to Mother's account, but overlooked one simple issue -- my own updates and feeds.
Mrs Khanna was keeping tabs on all feeds (Wall posts, photos, comments) on Mein's profile.
Since Mein is fond of hanging out with friends, which happens more often than once a week, it also involves having a few drinks. This was now blatantly apparent to Mrs Khanna, courtesy the photo uploads and tags. Then started the quarrels over Main being irresponsible and putting an end to the partying. And it got worse -- on the days I came home tired from a normal day at work, looking extremely deadbeat, Mrs Khanna now rebuked me for coming home drunk! As I knew a clarification would only lead to a squabble, I decided only to nod my head and go off to bed.
Like a true blue Punjabi-bred mom (forgive my harping on the Punjabi factor, but the same has been ingrained into Mein by Mrs Khanna since birth), she suspects that any girl close to Mein is up to something is fishy.
'Why are you so close to her?'
'The girl in that snap is not a Punjabi, oh, no wonder she does not have charm.' (That's to convince Mein not to fall prey to feminine wiles).
And those are not my only complaints.
Whenever a long drive is taken with friends and the snaps uploaded on Facebook, I am subtly reminded that Dhano (as our car is affectionately named) is being over-used.
Occasional partying and snaps uploaded on Facebook lead to Mrs Khanna jibing me for wasting money.
And the icing on the cake was the altercation we had this morning.
Mrs. Khanna walked into Mein's room stating that she needed to have a serious conversation with me. 'Here we go again,' I thought, but I dared not question her, so I followed Mrs Khanna obediently to her room.
She suddenly broke down and stated that I can hide and pretend but she knows that I am taking drugs (and so are my friends). Which son can stand by and watch his mother reduced to tears? But I could not fathom what the basis for this allegation was. After some coaxing, Mrs. Khanna said that snaps uploaded on Facebook a few days ago were proof of it all. The confusion stemmed from my visit to a pub, where my friends and I enjoyed flavoured, non-tobacco hookahs. To Mirs Khanna, they were drugs. I tried to explain and reason it out with her, but Mrs Khanna is Mrs. Khanna -- she is always right and reminded me that at her age, she has seen life and knows all. She went into Dara Singh mode. My vision blurred and in my mind was running Dara Singh's famous dialogue from the movie Jab We Met -- 'Hamari umar main '
Mein immediately burst out laughing at it all and Mrs Khanna looked at me like I had lost my marbles.
I write this in the hope and belief that one man's (Mein's) downfall is the saviour of the rest. May you learn from my mistake and never add your mother to your Facebook profile.
Disclaimer: Mom, if you are reading this, "any resemblance to the person living or residing with me is purely coincidental."