“Mom, why is it that we never take selfies?”, little Ivana ranted as she stomped behind her mother from one room to the other.
“Honey! We do take sometimes”, replied Savita, albeit a bit indifferently, for she was too engrossed thinking about her work project.
“Nooo…but they’re just photos. They are not selfieeees!!” Ivana’s words dragged in rebellion while her mouth pouted.
“That means the same”
“Nooo Mom! As if I don’t know!!” Then after pausing for a while to think, Ivana asked “OK! Do we ever do like this in our pictures?” She came in front of her mom and pursed her lips out in a pout, to make a duck-face. But the mom was amused.
“Hah! And why should we do that?”
“All of my friends do. And their moms too!”
“Ha ha, in their pictures? I won’t pose like a duck. Naah!” amused Savita retorted as she left her project and walked towards the kitchen, for it was almost dinner time and she had not even planned the meal yet.
“Yess yesss! As if you know everything. With your Facebook picture in bad clothes. My friend asked why is your mom looking so sad in her picture?” Then holding her mom’s hand Ivana suggested “Can’t you put a better one, mom?”
“I will see”
Sitting on the kitchen chair, Ivana continued her whinge “And we never take any food pictures. My friends take so many colorful photos when eating in restaurants”
“But we do go sometimes, don’t we? Pictures are not needed. Even your dad won’t like to show off.” Thus Savita made her see the pointlessness of it all.
At that moment Ivana’s friend Riya came to her rescue, in fact to her mom’s rescue. Riya being older to Ivana by a few years, had a better phone with a good camera, so she was quite deft in the tricks of the trade.
Both of them went out and got busy taking pictures. Pictures of anything bright they could lay their hands on. A pigeon with rainbow chest as it sat in the sun, wobbling its head. That red car as it reflected light and looked glary.
“Tree! tree! And that flower is so pretty!” excited Ivana was getting creative now.
But unimpressed Riya had better ideas. “Flowers are sooo boring! That crawling insect…click it Ivana before it vanishes!”
“He he! Insect for your science class? Or for your profile picture?”, thrilled Ivana couldn’t contain her excitement as she acted funny and witty.
It was getting dark so both friends came indoors and went on to click selfies using the lip color that Riya had in her sling bag. Ivana decided that some food pictures will complete her first ever portfolio of colorful pictures, so they raided the kitchen and took snaps of half-ready dinner items, all this while mom Savita was temporarily away from the kitchen.
With Riya’s help, Ivana copied all the photos to her study computer. Happy with her efforts, that evening she uploaded the pictures to her newly opened Facebook account, while adding a catchy title – ‘My Colorful Selfies.’
Now the whole neighborhood knew that Ivana and her family had humble ‘frozen garlic bread and steamed vegies with tinned baked beans’ for dinner. Little did she know what her mom had told their intrusive and idling neighbor Leena. That their family will be away tonight, as they are eating out. With an all important office work to finish, she merely wanted to stop Leena from disturbing her for at least one evening.
But the truth was, they were at home. And now the secret was out.
Next morning, annoyed Leena made sure she visited Savita to shower her with jibes “If you so badly wanted to avoid me, you could’ve told me point blank! As if I care! Why cook stories about going out for dinner?”
As she walked out of the door, she looked back and remarked, “By the way, do scholarly bores ever go out to eat? For sure some people enjoy being a doormat!”
While that left Savita stunned, Ivana asked her mother, “Mom! Why did she call you a doormat?”
Savita had learnt a few lessons. That she can no more deny the existence of social media, for it is a reality here to stay. That growing children exposed so heavily to media cannot be happy isolating themselves from norms around them.
All in all, not only did she take charge of her family’s media image, she also bought a new smartphone for Ivana and decided to teach her how to use camera sensibly, with all the dos and don’ts.
Savita also clicked some nice family pictures that Ivana would feel proud showing to her friends.
“I don’t care at all for pretensions. But why should my daughter be made to feel that her family is any less, esp. if it is not!”, she murmured to herself as she took out her formal clothes.
Savita had realised that in this virtual world of make-believe, it is not what you have or what you are that matters. It is what seems to be, and what this world wants to see.
Actually she had derived this fact long ago, only now she decided to use it to her family’s benefit.
© 2016 Alka Girdhar
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