01 January 1970

Short Poem: The Family On TV

Weekend Reads

Short Poem: The Family On TV

So at what point did you realise, ​​that you’re not the family on TV?

A television artwork.
A television artwork. Aradhana Seth

When did you realise you’re not the family on TV?
The mother on TV is young. Her forehead is crease-free.
Her hands are not the land of reverberant rivers.
Her pitch is not a determinant of her stress.
In fact the mother on TV has an ASMR voice.
It’s almost like she’s not a mother full-time.
Ma is not the mother on TV.
She wears unmatching clips to gather her frizzy hair.
Her un-taut under eyes haven’t survived the test of time.
She bites her lips too often.
Cervical doesn’t let her arc here back for too long.
An audience dulls her convictions.

Pa is not the father on TV.
He refuses to fold his shirt sleeves up.
He claims there’s merit in securing the cuff closer to the wrist.
Not many remain of his teeth,
And that makes his words sound strange.
The air from his mouth is still adapting to his ever-changing oral landscape.
He doesn’t smile when he should.
He’s not a tie-wearer. Not the type.
Unlike the father on TV,
His angry mutterings and pot belly enters the room before he does.
His face distorts in shame when he has to put an arm around mother biannually for a family photo.

The walls of my home are not like those on TV.
On TV, they exist in a weather-vacuum. No damp monsoon walls,
No one plays ball on those squeaky clean walls.
Someone definitely polishes their furniture when we’re not seeing
and a deity must have descended
from the heaven of home decor
to have placed a green palm plant right next to the turquoise sofa
making the lemon colour cushion cover pop!

Family on TV is aloof to the soaring price of the kulfi they so merrily slurp,
The mirth in their eyes tells the tale of a dinner that satiated the heart and the stomach.
The home on screen exists in a vacuum of strife.
So at what point did you realise,
That you’re not the family on TV?

(Garima Pura, is a screenwriter known for the Oscar’23 nominated film The Elephant Whisperers and Filmfare’20 nominated web show Little Things, both streaming on Netflix. She's written, directed and produced documentaries for the United States Agency for International Development, Outlook Traveller, and British Asian Trust among others.)