Being the board mother

Humour

Being the board mother

No mistake here. Not ‘bored’ mother. Yeah, I know many.  I’m them plus this — Board. This title came by virtue of the daughter’s appearance in her first Board exams.

I laughed off the initial dose of friendly dos and don’ts. A fellow Board Mother was getting the house painted before the academic year. In other Board homes birthdays were being celebrated, relatives being visited, vacations taken and books read — all a year in advance. Never were life’s forever-pending joys and jobs so readily and hurriedly being checked off.

During the early part of the session, we took a few breaks. Now and then. On weekends and on longer weekends. It’s easy to lose count when you’re a Board Mum. You can’t be bothered with the small stuff. And it’s ALL small stuff compared to the Boards. Then a friend enquired if the breaks and travels were not ‘distracting’ for the daughter. Distracting from? Nitwit that I am, I shot off before I could gather my Board motherly persona. Now she thinks my long-term (Board results stick for life, you see) memory loss is a definite distress signal.

I must be doing something dreadfully wrong! The thought engulfed me ominously. Visiting the other board homes, I realised that ours was acutely devoid of a broad Board feel. Giving myself to hyperventilate every now and then, I tried to uphold an alarmed air about the house. Only the air was alarmed. No movies, no celebrations, no eating out, the teacher told me in the raised-index-finger tone after the pre-pre-pre Boards. She also set a strict study schedule for daughter. Eight hours of study every day. There are eight hours in a day? This time, I kept the trap shut.

My days dragged. I lapped up film reviews not worrying if they revealed too much. No way was I going to catch a movie. Television-watching was restricted to the news, volume to a suggestion. It’s another thing that the Board daughter took a 15 minute break from studying every five minutes and watched TV. Needing fresh air, she strolled out for a couple of hours every evening, while I made badam shake and besan ladoos. Don’t shout at her, she needs all the TLC she can get, the grandmums reminded in glaring-eyed tones over phone. And the phone! I was allowed to hide under the covers and talk only if my withdrawal symptoms threatened to come between my daughter and her studies.

I never really chummed up with neighbours. Actually if they wanted to, with me, they’d need nice, heavy ice picks. But suddenly, I was so exposed! Every time I stepped out and noticed a movement at a distance, it quickly metamorphosized into a neighbour outfitted with a triumphant smile and walking straight up to me. So what if I didn’t know them from their block — Pine or Needle, or by face — the fighting fellows of somewhere upstairs or the barking dog dudes from somewhere downstairs. They knew me. Board Mum was an invisible marathon bib I was wearing at all times.

“Not to be seen?” I would smile. “Busy with daughter?” I would smile more. Keep it short. Showing teeth would be asking for it, I’d calm myself. Knowing-full-well-but-getting-to-it question, “Which class?” What now? I’d weigh my one option. I could dash back indoors and pretend I never met them. But it would only ram the rumorang. It’s certainly getting to her, they’d declare. “Tenth,” I’d say as naturally as I recited ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ in class three. “Boards, eh?” they’d lean over to dig in their teeth. Duck! I’d break into cold sweat. Phew! Just another sympathy hug.

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