The preparations were in full swing and mom was determined not to leave anything short of perfect. We all knew this was a tall order but acted supportive nonetheless. Some long forgotten relative, whom we were to call “Uncle (Something)”, was coming for dinner. The only fact known about said the relative was that he was rich and had no heir. Hence, the preparation to prove to him that this family is the one to inherit his millions. This wasn’t the only family he was visiting so the process of scrubbing, dinner planning and attempting to discipline the kids was going on in every household. The kids(which included me) was probably the toughest part seeing that we all lacked the gene that helped not to make a mess of simplest of things.
With every passing hour mom’s panic was reaching new heights. She had managed to put into order most of the rooms. The bedrooms belonging to us kids were our sole responsibility, so it need not be said that they were going to remain a mess. My defense for the bedroom situation was “Hey, at least I’m honest. This is how things usually look around here”. Mom had turned her attention to cooking. She had received advice from a cousin that the Uncle didn’t approve of vegan meals and that he hated chicken. Dad was dispatched with the job of buying anything but chicken. He wasn’t happy leaving, some big game was on, but knew it was hopeless to argue.
Big Brother was in his room next door with his girlfriend of the month. An argument was going on. The walls weren’t thick enough to keep out the whiny voice of girlfriend who was saying ” Why did your mom say I was plump? She could have used the word curvy! They all think I’m dumb don’t they?” It was a pain to have her join this circus. It was hard to decide who should be blamed for her presence, should it be Big Brother or the parents who gave in after five different arguments on the topic. His demand was that she should join the dinner as “she was The One”, which no one believed seeing he had said the same about the last four. Little brother was in his room, glued to his computer screen as usual.
Dad came back an hour later with enough chicken for ten people. Mom’s face went from pale to red in a matter of seconds. Dad went into self-preservation mode. He kept repeating that no one told him about the preferred meat. I didn’t want to be dragged into the argument so I decided not to point out that Mom had explicitly told ‘no chicken’. Poor guy! he must have been lost in the game on TV and only one word must have registered in his head “chicken”, which happened to be his favorite.
By six thirty everything was ready or as ready as it could be. We were all dressed properly. Even Little brother managed to look proper for once. At seven sharp the Uncle arrived. He was quite old but had sharp eyes and a disapproving look. After spending some time with him I got to the conclusion that he was born with the look.
We all proceeded to the table which looked splendid with all the dishes (The chicken was passed of as pheasant). Mom was trying to be the best host while the Uncle was proving to be the worst. He had complains about the lighting, seating, journey, the food and various other things. Big brother and girlfriend were lost in their world. Little brother had manged to eat five servings and his white shirt now resembled a work of modern art.
The agonizing dinner was finally over and the Uncle left, his face still holding the same expression. A month later we got the news. He had passed away and all his money was donated to different organizations. Dad was speechless and Mom couldn’t move from the couch for a while. The conditions of adults from the various other households were reported to be the same. As for the rest of us, Big brother was lost in his own world, Little brother was still glued to his computer screen and Me? I was happy that I got a good story out of it.
© Sunita Menon,2012