Updated: May 21
Cruise ships have a somewhat romantic yet tragic history. When one thinks of a luxury cruise, the first one to come to mind is undeniably, the Titanic. The Titanic, as everyone living on planet Earth would know by now, ended quite tragically. The trajectory of the journey in “Life of Pi” begins quite similarly, however, there is a calming reunion with the sublimity of the universe as the protagonist progresses through the film. This paints the entire movie in a positive light, hiding the literal shipwreck at its outset.
My mother’s journey was unlike these two films, thankfully. We first heard of the luxury cruise from Mumbai to Phuket in January. A relative recommended that we leave in May to escape the humid heat and exchanging it for the pleasant breeze on the water. I had gone through all the activities available on the ship, there were quite a lot, and I had registered my recently turned Senior Citizen mother for number of them.
I believe I did not introduce myself; I apologise to you, dear reader. I am Aakash Arora, a 28-year-old software engineer on a holiday with my mother, Mrs. Amita Arora.
The idea for this journey began as all great expenses these days begin, with a targeted Instagram advertisement. In January of 2022, the idea began to solidify as I noticed the growing influence of our neighbours on my mother’s religious ideology. While I enthusiastically participate in the occasional aarti, I am in no way shape or form ready for a chakra healing. I realised that I had to get my mother out of the reach of our Rhonda Byrne reading next door occupants.
Viola, the cruise.
It had been quite a while since the two of us, my mother and I spent some time together. I have been thinking of the poem I studied in school, “My Mother at Sixty-Six” by Kamala Das a lot lately. I don’t really like thinking about it though. I will leave it to you to read the poem and figure out why. Since the poem gives me constant passive anxiety, I would like to share it with you too.
The journey started out a bit rocky, it was difficult for my mother to adjust to a new way of living. She had always been the person who added water to empty shampoo bottles and shook them until every last drop was out. It was odd for her to have someone do every little thing from setting the table to making the bed for her. Funny how some people are born into hard work and find it difficult to relax, isn’t it?
However, a day before we reached the glorious beaches of Phuket, I sat down with my mother to have a drink.
I had packed my bottles in my Outer Woods Bottle Cooler bag, a stylish and sensible choice. We had Sugarcane Mojitos, a stylish and sensible choice as well. I had packed all the things I’d need in the cooler bag itself. Two small glasses, a bottle of vodka, and some chaat masala. I got some fresh sugarcane juice from the kind people in the ship’s kitchen. They even offered to make us the drinks, but I refused.
There are times when a son must make a drink for his mother and cause social outrage, quietly though, since we were the only ones who knew.
As we sat by the water drinking our refreshing cocktails, my mother turned to me with a smile and took my hand. “I remember the first time we had a cold drink. Wasn’t that a life changing experience!” she chuckled.
“What was it like? Is it true that coke back then had actual cocaine in it?” I asked.
“Ha-ha, no. We never had any coke. My father had no faith in the fizzy black liquid. He always used to say – why do you want to drink that dirty fizzy water Ami? Why would it be black if not for dust and mould?” She continued, “The first cold drink I had was Limca. 1979, I still remember it like it was yesterday - The fresh flavour. This drink reminds me a bit of that experience.”
I said, “I remember when the neighbour’s daughter jumped into that police barricade after watching that Limca ad on TV.”
My mother laughed and said, “Oh! The one where the girl drinks Limca and everything she jumps into turns into Limca! Ha-Ha!”
“The poor child broke 2 teeth.” I laughed.
“Ah, no worries. They were milk teeth.” My mother laughed as well.
As we looked out onto the water, I heard the poem in my head, and it made me nervous. But I think the memories we made on this trip will last a lifetime.
"I looked again at her wan pale face as a late winter's moon,
and felt that old familiar ache, my childhood fear,
but all I said was, see you soon,
Amma, and all I did was smile and smile"
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