Farming Out My Services

I am great favourite amongst my parents’ friends. This is a result of many things, but primarily because of my mother’s inability to keep quiet.

Growing up in Dubai, we had a steady stream of visitors. There was hardly a day when Daya and Mohan’s home wasn’t visited by someone, for a plethora of reasons: I was in the neighbourhood; I needed a chat; My child has a tuition class here, and I needed to kill an hour; Need a glass of water; and so on. My parents are warm and welcoming people, and never resented these visits, although I occasionally chafed at the intrusions.

The reason I chafed wasn’t because I didn’t like these people; far from it. It was because this was a strictly one-way street. There was no way this sort of thing could happen in their rigidly ordered lives, with kids going to school, and working members of the family. Oh no. This was reserved for our home, where I was stuck in a limbo between school and college, and my parents were trying hard to regain a financial foothold in a life that was rapidly turning into quicksand.

I didn’t have the option of shutting myself up in my room, because my mother has funny ideas about hosts and visitors. One of these funny ideas was that the whole family plays host. Including the teenager with pressing issues of her own: emails to crushes, chats with besties, and the sighing preoccupation with the latest cinematic heartthrob. So I was asked to join these small impromptu chats, regardless of what I was doing.

From there, it was a short step to doing the odd thing for them. How did this happen? Two words: my mother. Means: “Oh Karishma can do it for you in a jiffy!”

By this point, I was established as the most technologically capable person in the immediate vicinity. I had learned some level of software development, and sure enough all my parents’ friends piled on me as well. I once got a call from one of her friends: “Karishma, I’ve accidentally gotten Netscape Navigator bigger! How do I make it normal again?!” [It was in fullscreen mode.]

Thankfully this nonsense stopped when we moved back to India, and I went off to college, because now my absence was legitimate and being in another city altogether was extremely helpful. Moving back in with my parents though? Slowly the workcreep has started again. Just today I had mum’s friend send me a Whatsapp from Dubai, asking me how to tell another friend of hers to download a VoIP app from the Play Store, because that lady’s son couldn’t find it.

The worst part?

I sent her the app link. This will end only with my demise.

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