MY mom thinks she's funny. She's not. She sits in my chair while I stand behind her, peering over her shoulder at the screen. I tell her to first turn on the UPS. She asks me if it stands for Ultra Power Source, sniggering. She has an unhealthy fascination for making up acronyms. I ignore her. She hums the tune to some Habib song while I roll my eyes. I show her where to turn the PC on and the Windows logo pops up.
“It's the OS. Operating System.” Ah, my eyes, they've never rolled so far back.
The login screen. I tell her this is where you sign in. She tells me she came prepared: she has a pen. “No, mom, you have to type in your username and password.”
“Oh! This is so exciting! So what's my username and password?”
“You don't have one yet.”
“What's YOUR username and password then?” I point at the screen. “It's right there. The Professor. And I'm not telling you my password, mom.”
Her eyes go wide and she goes Ooooooh. I do not exaggerate the number of O's. “The Professor, eh? Very sexy.”
“What, can't a mother call his son's username sexy anymore?”
“No, she can't.”
She grabs my cheek, tugging it to a full stretch. “Come on, tell your favourite Mom your password.”
“Are you telling me I have more moms?”
“Hey, you never know.” Her voice takes on a pseudosneaky tone of pretend debauchery. “Not even if I give you a kissykissy?”
“Mom! I'm not giving you my password! Even if you give me a kissykissy.” She even got me saying kissykissy. Evil.
I log in and tell her I'll set her up with a username later. I move the pointer on the screen. “You use that to click on things and open them and basically get to places. And you move that with this.” I point to the mouse.
“And what's that called?”
“Aww, how cute.” Kill me, kill me now. “Why, though? Shouldn't it be called the cat and all the files we catch be called the mice?”
“Very funny.” I proceed to mock her with a perfect imitation of a Mandark laugh.
“Hey, why does it say MY computer? I thought it was YOUR computer.” We both stare at each other for a while. She could barely keep herself from laughing. “Come now, you know your momster's funny. Give me a proper laugh.”
“Yeah, it's a play on monster-“
“I think I got it, mom.” I can see through the back of my head now. “Now, these are the drives-“
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I'm not listening to you 'til you call me momster.”
“I'm not calling you momst-“
“Lalalalalalalala!” For a middle-aged woman, her voice is unusually high pitched. One of my blood vessels pop.
“Fine!” Pause. “Momster.”
“Now, that's a good cuteypiesnookyumssweetsauce.” I raise one eyebrow and stare at her some more. This is going to be a long lesson.
“Stop pretending to be The Rock and teach me. I haven't all day to indulge your childish desires!”
I show her where the drives her, the difference between double-click and single click and a file and a folder. I move on to Internet Explorer and tell her never to touch Mozilla because it has all my passwords saved and automatically signs into my Facebook account.
“Does it now?” She raises lifts her eyebrows into an evil arch in the shape of an M and starts rubbing her palms together.
Oh, look, I can see my throat now. “Momster, don't even think about it!”
“Fine, I won't look. I know you have a girlfriend anyways.”
“What?! How did you-“ I stop in my tracks. “I mean, I don't have a girlfriend!”
“Sure, you don't. Just like you don't steal money from your dad's wallet every night.”
What? How in the world does she know these things? “Er…”
“Go on. Am I going to get this lesson or what? I have to bake that strawberry cake you've been pouting about.” She's just playing. I don't like strawberry. And I do NOT pout.
I tell her it's called e-mail. “Does it stand for 'easy?'” I tell her it stands for 'electronic.' I browse over to hotmail. (“Why, is it hot? Like your username?” “Mom, please!”) I show her how to sign up for an account and how to send and receive e-mails.
“So what's your e-mail address?”
“Yes? Don't be shy. Does it have your girlfriend's name in it?”
“Fine! It's email@example.com.”
“What's the 'ch' and 'sh' stand for?”
“You don't tell the momster anything anymore.” Right about this point she proceeds to place her wrist on her forehead and bawl like a soap opera character. “Fine, guess I'll just go and make your favourite strawberry cake. Though, I do love to see that cute pout of yours.” Fine, I pout and I like strawberry. Sue me. “And before I go, come on, you won't tell your favourite mom your password? You know you want the kissykissy.”
I shrug. “Fine, I want the kissykissy. It's niluthebest.” She plants a wet one right on my cheek, awwing at the mention of her name in my password. What, I can like the kissykissy. And I can love my mom. Don't judge me.
To Anjuman Ara Begum (d. January 26th, 1999.)
By S. N. Rasul
Dust to Dust
ANOTHER one of those days, I think, with wood-polish in one hand, dust-cloth in the other. I flick the fan switch. Nothing. Not the best of beginnings.
I fail to comprehend how, on even the most tangibly humid mornings, when the mere effort of breathing leaves sweat trickling down my back, the shelves and tables stay bone dry and are perfect magnets for dust. And the open windows hardly help, futilely waiting for some pitying breeze to blow the dust away from the bedroom, for a change. Which it never does. There is, of course, no end of random gusts of wind and inconsiderate vehicles trundling down the road directing more dust in, but what else is one to expect? I wouldn't mind a sprinkle of pixie dust but no, that has to be the one sort of dust that is conveniently excluded in the mess that coats this little library over the course of every week.Not that the dust cares about this minor detail, though. Who needs pixie dust in our wonderful assortment of fascinating fumes, pollen, darling dust mites and your very own skin, to name a few? Which assertion, of course, begs the question dust-ward, do I look like a dust-junkie to you?
Do I, in my furniture-polish wielding misery, look like anyone who would be remotely interested in a concoction of insect poo, dead cells and next-door's paint flakes? And those aggravating specks just snigger in reply. Swipe. A vicious swipe. The dust scatters, floating up, receding deeper into the shelves, between the books. A futile swipe, as yet more dust settles back down, clings to my sweaty skin, invades the little breathing space I've staked out in this dust den. And now I feel a sneeze coming on. But shelves are hardly the worst of it.
If there's anything we humans are brilliant at coming up with, it's corners. The tiniest, most inconvenient, inaccessible crannies and crevices where dust grows and thrives and not even the best duster can reach. And do you know what happens when dust grows? You get dust bunnies. The vilest inanimate beings ever to plague a household since the beginning of settlements.
Few things sound more evil than the cackle of a dust bunny. Mostly because you can't hear it. But you know it's laughing at your desperate battle. Because it knows well enough that, however much you may polish and sweep and dust, there will always remain a few unreachable little specks in the very corner of the corner that will start drawing back their fellow flecks even as you move away to tackle the next nook.
Where is that stray breeze when you need it? Breeze? The heat is turning my brain woolly. Good old urbanisation does not bring you cool breezes. Stifling canyons and heat islands. That's what good old urbanisation brings you.And dust. Lots of it. For tens of thousands of years we have struggled, for what? To be consumed by our own dust. This microscopic grime and filth and dirt of our own drudgery.
And I hear them laugh, the jeering chorus of a million million particles of grit and ash and my dead skin, reveling in my desolation.
What? Am I to simply sit here and wallow and have the dust consume me too? How ridiculous! As if any dust mite will sit here, in my library and scoff at me! And I attack that demonic, derisive dust with a vengeance, polishing and dusting, copiously spraying wood-polish on every spare surface. It rises up in an angry cloud, clutching at my skin, trying to choke me. But it can do nothing. Only dead dust.
It takes a good hour to render the room dust free. But an hour well spent; I doubt that many dust specks will venture near my books now. For the next three days, at least. It's easier, I note, to be optimistic when the electricity's just returned. But I've had enough of rooms and furniture, walls and corners. So it's off to the roof. Somewhere open, airy, where no devilish dust will be able to smother me. A sudden breeze greets me as I walk out. Ah, there is hope in this city yet! I lean against the railing, just for a moment, to breathe in. Breathe in air that isn't a dust cloud, that doesn't start off incessant sneezes. It feels good.
A glistening, transparent drop bounces off the tip of my nose. A single drop of rain with a single grain of cosmic dust at its heart.I look up; finally notice it drifting ominously overhead. A huge, heavy, shapeless thing, streaked dangerous, dreary shades of gray. Dust bunny gray.
And it doesn't stop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Tiny capsules shattering all around, releasing new dust.
You have got to be kidding me.
And the dust bunny rain cloud bursts at its seams as the dust comes down in torrents, the new mingling with the old in muddy puddles and rivulets around my toes. And I watch on, drenched, despairing.
Another one of those days.
By Risana Nahreen Malik
MOTHER'S Day is just around the corner again and its time for us, the ungrateful little jerks, to show our moms that we do really truly love them. While handmade presents are the 'shizzle', we ladies prefer 'bling bling'. Or shoes.
But a handmade present as a sort of 'side dish' to the real deal would be delightful for mommy dearest, so we've come up with a play list to help you add a more personal touch to that expensive gift that we know you're going to lavish upon the first lady of your life. And really, what better gift is there than the gift of music…
Even if you don't like the songs mentioned, the mix (which has rap songs to rock songs and almost everything in between) will get those creative juices flowing to make this Sunday as special as you can for your mom.
1. The Wonder Of You Elvis Presley
2. Dear Mama Tupac
3. The Wind Beneath My Wings Glady's Knight
4. My Mom Tony Bennett
5. Loves Me Like A Rock Paul Simon
6. Julia The Beatles
7. A Mother's Love Aretha Franklin
8. Momma Can You Hear Me Talib Kweli
9. You Raise Me Up Secret Garden
10. Mama I Love You Spice Girls
By Musarrat Rahman
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