I pick up the phone and see my widowed mother was calling. I look at my husband and say, “miracle happens, my mom managed to call me today” while I swip the green handset to accept her call. She has an old but functioning mobile phone she inherited from my sister, which she insists she cannot use. Thus she still has an old style mobile phone and landline, to make sure that when she wants to call someone, she has a few options she can try.
“Hallo mom, you’ve got it right today, that’s great.”
“No, I wanted to call your sister, but as we are on the phone, we can talk a little.”
I roll my eyes, unseen and ask her how she was, wondering what the answer would we: the grocery list or the list of all the things which went wrong during the day.
“I am fine. I went to the street market, I bought a cauliflower, some zucchini, some salad, you know that I life to eat that, a few ham slices…”
I switch off my brain as she keeps telling me with largesse of details what she bought, what she will buy next week and how she is planning cook all that food, which in my view could feed an army.
When she utters “how” it was the clue for my brain to jump back into the call. Before I could finish a single sentence about my day, she interrupts me.
“I have a pain here on the right side. What is it?” she asks, and I imagine her holding the phone to her ear and pressing her hand on the said hurting spot.
“Mom, I don’t know, I cannot see.” I still try to be helpful, and I ask her whether it is on the ribcage or underneath or rather under the ribcage, where it is soft.
“Under, what’s there?”
“The intestine, you should stop eating so much, your colon cannot expel as fast all the food you eat.”
“You should shit more,” I explain in plain words.
“Ah, are you sure?” she asks, in her voice I can hear a hint of hope to have the right diagnosis.
“No, I studied arts, not medicine. Go to see a doctor.”
“I don’t know, he might get annoyed,” she says.
“That’s his job,” I say.
“Yes, but I am there almost every day, asking for one prescription or another.” I can totally see the doctor’s face, when the door opens and he recognizes my mother, again, or any other hypochondriac patients of his.
“That’s still his job,” I say, to encourage her to ask the doctor, feeling just a little guilty for encouraging her doctor visits habit.
“Why did you not study medicine? I would have less trouble now,” my mother complains.
“You told me to study what I liked,” I complained from my side.
“You should not listen to your mother. You only listen to me when it’s good for you. But when I tell you to come home to see me, you never listen.”
“Ok, from now on, I won’t listen to you anymore.”
“You never do anyway. I better call your sister, you are useless to me,” and she leaves the call without hanging up, and I keep listening as she messes around with the smartphone, hearing her complaining that nothing works.
She finally realises that I am still connected and says, “you hang up, I don’t know how to do it. And tell your sister I want to talk to her, I don’t know how this thingy works.”
I hang up with a sigh and send a message to my sister, telling her that mom almost had a good day.