She is half asleep. Her dentures are immersed in a glass of water. Her earpiece and spectacles are placed on the side table. You can’t take your eyes off her, as her quivering lips inflate and deflate while she snores gently.
Surekha Sikri. Playing the matriarch in Badhaai ho. The toothless grandmother is right in the middle of the house. Bundled in her shawl and blanket. Holding fort. Her eye on every little detail. Nothing escapes her attention. Not the lipstick on your lips. Not the latch on the bedroom door. Not the breakfast which goes uneaten. Or the silent glares between people.
In another scene she goes off on a rant. Not about a big issue. But simply because her daughter-in-law ate three slices of mango. All this while her own plate has at least five peels of the mango slices that she has just been eating! She makes everyone cringe. They all escape into the privacy of their rooms when she starts off. For she can be pungent and acerbic.
And yet, this mother-in-law who leaves no opportunity to snub her daughter-in-law inside the walls of her home, stands up for her forcefully when outsiders humiliate her. It isn’t that she doesn’t see the positives in her daughter-in-law. But saying it aloud doesn’t come too easily.
Don’t we all know such people? Right in our homes or workplaces. Who will crib and criticize each action of yours on a daily basis (till you are fed up of them), but are reluctant to show their warmth. It needs an invader from outside for them to reveal their softer sides. And you remember that one gentle gesture for the rest of your life. It washes away years of caustic commentary.