I wanted to impress Mother with my riding skills. Change her opinion of me from being a useless daughter to a very talented daughter once and for all. Mother doesn’t think much of horse riding. She would be happier if I learnt bull riding instead. At least that way my skills could be put to use in soil tilling when tractors are not available.
“Although I’m a poor excuse for a rider she won’t know,” I thought and invited her to watch my performance. Besides, I’m riding Royal Secret, my favorite horse in the whole world. Read some more about him here. There are days I’ve birdwatched and learnt about grooming rituals in macaques while riding Royal Secret. Riding school is also home to some roguish macaques. They mock me while riding and spook the crap out of horses from time to time. Coming back to Royal Secret, I suspect that he speaks English, for even before my instructor is done saying “trot” he readies himself and trots and then I’ll have no choice but to follow him.
So, this day was no different, as always Royal Secret was in charge of me (which is not an ideal situation to be in) and he shined. We did the usual walk, trot, halt, circles, over the poles, and three and four-loop serpentines. I kept looking at Mother to make sure she was looking at me. But she was more interested in the macaques and as my luck would have it, there were baby macaques too and they were amusing her. She even called me once, while I was in the middle of sitting trot and busy almost falling off the saddle, to show that the baby macaques were warning my sister as she got closer to them. She was giggling away to glory.
And then it was time for me to canter and this time I was performing some new stunts. I just started cantering in forward seat and I was very proud of myself. I seriously hoped Mother watched it and applauded me later and I kept looking at her. And she occasionally gave me a glance, perhaps a little over a millisecond, and went back to gaping at the macaques. By the time I could manage to get Mother’s complete attention Royal Secret was tired, he stopped right in front of Mother, sneezed, choked, and peed while his heart was pounding at the speed of something very fast. He refused to move. And mother watched all of it. We called it a day and headed back.
I drank half a liter of water and ordered tea for Mother and readied myself for a lot of praise. I could literally feel my eyes twinkling. My mother added 20 gm of sugar to her 50 ml tea, for she has a sweet tooth. She stirred it for a few minutes while my eyes were still twinkling. She took a sip, relished it, and finally uttered “the little boy who was riding with you was so good, he can jump you know? When are you going to jump like him? And I noticed he was holding the horse’s neck strap, why didn’t you do the same thing? I guess you should also take a small horse.” She was referring to a pony. “I think this horse was too big for you and that’s why he was not listening to you.” I gulped and she continued “how long have you been riding?” I said a year. She reacted exactly the same way she reacted when I first told her I’m never going to marry. I can tell she was very disappointed that after one year I still couldn’t jump. And then she finished her tea and our conversation with “I hope you didn’t mind, I’m your mother and I have to tell you when you are not doing well at something.”
I was one step away from finding the little boy Ajay, pinning him to the wall and warning him that he’d never ever ride with me again if he had to ride with me, he’d never ever jump and if he absolutely had to jump, he’d never ever neck-strap in my mother’s presence.
And that’s how I succeeded in retaining Mother’s opinion of me: A useless daughter!