Mama, I know there's already a lot of guilt attached to being a mother. I know you constantly ask yourself if you did enough, if you spent enough time, if you sacrificed enough (yes, yes, and way too much, by the way). I know that everyone from your mother-in-law to your colleagues has given you several hours worth of unsolicited advice about how to raise me. And I know you've overheard snarky comments about, I don't know, letting me spend too much time online or how much weight I've put on lately or how, chhi chhi, your kids chose to study English instead of business.
And, to add it to it all, I guilted you, too. I guilted you for waking me up too early, conveniently forgetting that you'd been up for an hour already. I guilted you for sending me to the same classes that now, as an adult, I'm so glad to have taken. I guilted you every morning for leaving me and going to work; I didn't know then, sobbing in the doorway, that you were doing it for me.
I know you live in a world where everyone insists on comparing your kids' accomplishments with those of your sisters' and your neighbours' and I know that despite your exhaustion, you've remained my staunchest cheerleader. I know that, to this day, you find ways to blame yourself for my bad days and, even when I'm thousands of miles away, you can't fall asleep until I've WhatsApped you saying I'm home safe.
Mummy, I know that mainstream pop culture has made some unreasonable demands of you, what with Jaya Bachchan having a beta-sensor that tells her when her kids are within a hundred-metre radius and a teary-eyed Darsheel Safary having convinced us that you're some infallible, all-knowing demigoddess.
Let's be real for a second – tujhe sab kaise pata ho sakta hai, ma? You're only human after all, ma.
And Indian advertisers really didn't make it easy for you either, did they? Week after week, they raised the bar that determined your adequacy as a mother. Are your kids friendless because their clothes aren't white enough? Is the wrong kind of diaper ruining your baby's butt forever and will the wrong face-cream leave your daughter husbandless until the end of days? Is their morning wala milk making them "taller, sharper, stronger"?
Are they failing tests because you fed them the wrong cereal and are they losing races because you failed to shove chyawanprash down their throats in the five minutes you had free all day? Are the neighbourhood children ostracising yours because the paint on your house is peeling? Is there – god forbid – no salt in their toothpaste?
So when a product came along that advertised a way to make your kids' days with just two minutes of effort, of course you took the bait. Who the heck wouldn't? Toss in a picture-perfect model-mom dancing around a pristine kitchen to the slogan "taste bhi, health bhi" and there you have it: finally, in a country that makes it so damn hard, here was an easy way to be a good mother.
And you know what? It worked. It made my day, every single time. First things first, it was (and, unfortunately, still is) delicious. And, more importantly, it made your horrendously difficult life easy for a second.
Ma, I know that the last thing you need tempering with your already besieged sanity is the additional guilt of, once in a while, as a treat, having fed me something which wasn't exactly healthy.
So, this is just to say: Don't worry about it. Relax. It's OK. It was worth it.
As for you, Maggi, the verdict isn't out yet but juuust in case the rumours are true: mess with me all you want but screw you for messing with my ma.