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Youth Forum - The Magic Of Mother's Munchies

Sid Muralidhar

I am the only one in my family of four with the valor to continue the attack.  The posture alone of my father, sister and mother is enough to illustrate the shameful defeat that they have just suffered.  My posture, on the other hand, rightfully exemplifies my glorious fighting nature.  While they lean back in their seats, with their mouths slightly open and their abdomens quite distended, I am leaning forward, beads of sweat pouring from my mighty jaws down my muscle bound, straining neck.  As each morsel of rice and chicken curry enters my mouth, the stupefied expressions on the faces of my family grow more and more stupefied.  They feel they are witnessing a miracle…never before have they seen one man, much less one teen, eat so much food so vigorously.  When I start getting a little faint from too much consumption, they begin to cheer me on.  My sister leaps onto the table. I grab my food in order to secure it as she begins screaming in my face, “C’MON SID, YOU DIDN’T COME THIS FAR TO GIVE UP AND CHICKEN (excuse the pun) OUT!!  STAND, O MIGHTY PARTHA, AND FIGHT…CHICKEN (heehee) HEARTEDNESS DOES NOT BEFIT YOU… DO YOUR DUTY!”
Encouraged by my renewed, wolf-like vigor in destroying the meal, she happily turns to my parents. “Give me an ‘E’!” she cheers.
“EEEEE!” My parents scream in unison, clapping their hands.
”Give me an ‘A’!” She somehow contorts her body into an ‘A’.
“AYYY!” They yelp gleefully.
“Give me a ‘T’!”
“TEEEE” They erupt into a standing ovation, cheering me on like little children, yelling, “Yaaaay, Sid, eat, eat, eat!”
With a loving family like this, I will invariably die of obesity by the age of 21.
When finally, in slow motion, my fork falls from my hand to land, in slow motion, on my empty plate, a look of unprecedented pride and love is on the face of my parents. With tears in their eyes, they start congratulating me on my heroic battle.  
“You tore apart that innocent meal like Bush in Iraq, son…you made your father proud.” My dad struggles in vain to keep his sobs to a manly volume.  
I ignore my family and stumble into my living room.  I notice that my center of balance seems to be lower now, after the meal.  I collapse into a deep slumber on the sofa.  
My ecstatic mother wakes me up after an hour that feels like a second.  I grumble at her to go away and try to sleep, but she persists, her lively cheeriness completely unfazed by my deadly insolence.  Finally, I can take no more.
“Jesus, Mom, what do want?! I just closed my eyes, why you have to come and wake me up like this? What is your problem?! First you stuff me, then you don’t give me a moments peace…this is so hard.”
“Oh, shush, baby-“ she starts.
“Mooom, I’m not a baby…that’s what I’m trying to tell you!”
“Well, you’ll always be my baby!” She bursts into laughter as she pinches my cheeks and makes baby noises.  I grimace and tear away, in the process stubbing my foot on my desk.”
“AHHHHHH GOD, Mom, look what you did now! I can’t live like this, its intolerable!” I am furious at the injustice of the situation.
After the slightest hesitation, my mother drags me into the kitchen again, where my father and sister are gathered around the tape player like vultures around a carcass.
“I want you to listen to this.” My mom says with a smile so bright I cringe and shade my eyes.  It is an old tape she proudly recorded when I was 3.  The cassette features me singing and generally showing off my premature talents.
“Mooom!  I can’t believe you dragged me here to listen to myself!”
“Just listen, Sidharth!” Her enthusiasm is like the flame of a candle, refusing to waver no matter how hard I blow.
I begrudgingly sit down on a chair and pretend to listen to the tape. While my family roars with laughter as if I used to be Richard Pryor or something, I can’t help but hear some of what is playing on the tape.  It is actually quite fascinating.
I hear myself as a 3 year old, but more importantly, I hear my relationship with my mother. Although at first the corniness of it makes me sick, I see that there is actually something interesting going on. My mother would ask me to do something, such as sing a nursery rhyme or do a comedy routine(oh yes, I was a comic even way back then), and before she even finished asking me, I would start.  Not even the slightest hesitation or protest.  It was as if every word she said was the word of God, commanding me to act. 

I was such a loser, I think to myself. However, questions begin to flood my head. Was I a loser? Why?  Because I wasn’t egocentric and selfish?  Or because I was obedient and innocent? As the questions continue to flood my mind, they morph from ‘was I a loser’ to ‘am I a loser?’

It seems as if, growing up the way I did, I learned to avoid innocence, gullibility, servitude, and such things that were embarrassing.  However, listening to the tape, I realize that I actually sounded happy.  I had completely surrendered myself in the arms of my mother and I blindly obeyed her, but I sounded freer than I am now (and I consider myself “independent”).  Perhaps I was freer then…perhaps my independence from my parents simply led to a stronger dependence on something else…as I listen, I wonder why I used to sound so carefree and light-hearted. What happened over the years? I realize, slowly, that it is probably because when I was young, I had so much trust and, in turn, so much love. 

One of the greatest fears I have is the fear of being alone. I now begin to realize that I never need to be alone.  My mother never changed from the time I was young to my teen years, but as a teen-ager with a raging ego, I feel as if I am alone.  That indicates that my own attitude had separated myself from my family.  In fact, it also separated me from the rest of the world.  What an ignorant fool I had been!  The only thing that makes me feel alone is my own inflated ego. 

All this time, the secret to love and happiness was right in front of my eyes.  My mother, with her unwavering enthusiasm, is actually the embodiment of constant love.  The secret, I realize, is sacrifice and trust.  Only by sacrificing my egocentric desires and thoughts and fearlessly trusting, can I truly love and be satisfied.  To be innocent is to be truly courageous.  To obey blindly is to open my eyes. To obey blindly implies complete trust in another, which is the building block for love.  Faith and trust require from me the strength to subdue my ego.  Once I stop thinking about myself, I realize the effort and sweat my mother must have put into the meal that I so ungraciously ate. Once I stop thinking about myself, I open my eyes to the true nature of love, and how I am surrounded by it from all sides.  As long as I am blind, as long as I am cynical and ill tempered, I will always feel alone and miserable.  Only through innocence, trust and a spirit of servitude can I find love, happiness, and freedom.

Sid Muralidhar is a freshman at NYU.

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Sidharth Muralidhar

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