Ma Thoughts: Aren’t You Going to Finish That?

Ma Thoughts: Aren’t You Going to Finish That? Loading

It’s the weekend and we’ve just finished guzzling some of the best Italian food in town. My parents are licking tiramisu cream off their spoons while my sister and I argue about something silly. Wishing to get home, watch some TV and let the insane amounts of cheese and butter I’ve just eaten digest slowly; I signal the server to bring us the bill. My mother pauses her blissful state of indulgence and looks, then points to the three cream-drenched pieces of spinach ravioli on my plate and questions, “Aren’t you going to finish that?”

 “I’m too stuffed Ma. I’ll puke if I eat anymore.” Even as I say this, I know she’s not going to let it go so easily.

“Sandy, why don’t you have it?” She nudges my sister.

Already miffed with me about our disagreement, she replies with a firm, “No!”

I pray that perhaps my father might have some space in his belly, because I know what’s going to happen next if none of us offer to polish off the incriminating leftovers. Alas, he shakes his head as well.

She signals to the server, gestures to my plate and asks him sweetly, “Can you please pack this?”

The poor guy looks down and does his best to hide the “Are you sure?” expression that’s leaped to his face. Who can blame him after all? He doesn’t know my mother. Sandy and I look at each other and stifle our giggles. She throws us a glare and then gets back to relishing her tiramisu.

When we were children, my mother had a sort of laissez faire approach to letting us build our values. I don’t recall her sifting through parenting books or magazines (the way I obsessively do for my daughter, who is barely three) on how to raise children with a decent set of ethics. And yet somehow we turned out okay (Or so we’d like to believe). But there was one moral she was fervently passionate about etching into us and that was to never waste food.

If we took too much on our plates and couldn’t finish up, she’d yell at us and spew her classic accusation, “Eyes bigger than stomach!!!”. The preaching was only one aspect, her actual practice of it was another thing. When there were bunches of uneaten fruits sitting on the dining table for days and gathering fruit flies, she’d hack away the squishy parts, dunk them in a blender and juice them into a somewhat dubious concoction. Even the ground masala trapped between the blades of the mixie wasn’t spared and would be cajoled out with some water and poured into the curry being cooked. Multiple katoris of cooked sabjis sitting in the fridge would get thrown together in a pot along with some coconut milk and become vegetable korma.

Her creative determination to adhere to this mantra of course has some side-effects; expired spice packets in the fridge, drawers of plastic take-out containers that she refuses to throw away or recycle, boxes of spice packets from Domino’s Pizza (I mean, there’s only so much of oregano and chili flakes anyone can consume!).

Decades of her conditioning has not gone without its impact. I find myself boiling with rage when I see people leaving heaped plates of food untouched at lavish buffets; sad when I discover a hidden packet of tomatoes in my fridge that have gone bad; proud when someone unabashedly requests to take-away three pieces of ravioli at a fancy restaurant.

Sure, we aren’t solving world-hunger or saving children in under-developed countries, one piece of ravioli at a time. But I firmly believe there is great underlying truth in our mother’s legacy; the idea that ‘Every little bit matters’.




Sangeetha is a 31 year old mummy who lives in Dubai, but with a heart in Bangalore, and a mind that wanders everywhere else. After pursuing a career in Finance for almost a decade, she decided to walk away and do something whimsical - chase her dream of writing. She currently writes and manages a parenting blog called 'No Time To Moisturize' that describes her bumbling adventures as a mother. Her hobbies are singing, drinking wine, telling people what to do & reading lots and lots and lots of books whenever she finds the time. She loves to blame the universe for everything that goes wrong, laugh at her own jokes, and ponder over the meaning of life once she’s done updating herself with all the celebrity gossip online.

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