Seventeen years ago, my parents separated. My mother was on her own for the first time in her entire life. She was 19 when she got married, barely out of college and out of her parents' home.
My mother is an open-minded person but still retains conservative values like many Indian women of her generation.
Moving to an apartment by herself was a big challenge for her. She did not have many things and did not even have a TV as she could not afford one.
I decided to surprise her with a new TV for her birthday which was around the corner. I was living on my own with roommates, working full-time job that time. I had ordered a new TV to be delivered to her home about one week ahead of time.
On the evening of her birthday, after work, I went straight to my mother's place. Upon giving her a card, I told her there was a surprise coming for her in an hour or so.
My mother looked a bit suspicious and asked what it was. But I wouldn't tell.
An hour passed. No delivery.
I pursuaded my mother to wait a bit more and tried to convince her that she would love the surprise. She was getting a bit restless. Normally, she is a patient person, but this time, she seemed a bit edgy. She sat on the sofa with her arms crossed, warily looking at me, possibly trying to figure out what I was up to.
Ten minutes later, she could not wait any longer. She tried to coax some information out of me. But my lips were sealed. Surprise is a surprise.
Anxious, I looked out the window for the delivery van to arrive.
About five minutes before the van finally showed up, my mother gave up her patience. She leaned forward, with her eyebrows narrowed, and nervously asked, "I hope you're not getting me a stripper, are you?"