Help! My Mother is a Candy Crush Addict

Modern Family

Help! My Mother is a Candy Crush Addict

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

As teenagers, my brother and I spent hours glued to the TV watching the yearly poker championships, slack-jawed in awe at the money being splashed around and the bluffs being called. My mother, who was a far more innocent creature back then, was filled with curiosity by the idea of a gaming competition. In her little world, which revolved around not-so-perfect children, being paid to play games was a seriously novel idea. Unless it was some sort of sport – cricket or the Olympics. The more we explained, the more it intrigued her. She read up about gaming and soon got hooked on to it.

Now that I look back, I think we created a monster.

Over the years, my mother has gone from being humble and gracious, to a raging, swearing, warm-your-own-food kind of obsessive gamer. Her life revolves around beating all her peers and juniors at Candy Crush Saga, the game that spread faster in one year than the telephone did in 100. That’s not a fake statistic; I came across this when I googled “Signs of addiction to Candy Crush Saga” to show my mother. I might as well have told a fish not to swim.

A typical day at my home starts with everyone engaged in their morning rituals: me with my books or laptop, my brother with his accounts, my father with his calls, and my mother with her green tea. It’s a peaceful picture, punctuated by a doorbell that rings all morning. However, by mid-morning, a one-sided show begins where we turn into amused spectators as my mother pounds candies in an attempt to dominate the world. Bear in mind, this is a woman who can hoodwink you into thinking she’s a little fairy until you hear her yell at the game algorithm for making her lose a life. She really, really wants to be a champion at crushing pixelated candies, and no one can stand in her path.

It’s not easy to lose your mom to Candy Crush and my brother and I have both protested. I wasn’t thrown out of the house for remarking on how immature she was acting, but was met with an exaggerated eye-roll. My younger brother’s protests were met with a lecture on how to be a champion and set your own benchmark.

I might poke fun at her obsession, but with my father at work and my brother and I busy doing what millennials do, my mum finally has some time to herself.

It had all started as a stressbuster for mom. Swipe matching candies together, destroy goals, and unwind. The plan was simple, harmless. When did it turn into a full-blown addiction? When did I begin receiving “send-a-life” requests from my mother? I continued to ignore them until it got to a point where I had no choice but delete the game from my app list.

I was an idiot for assuming that this would be the end of it.

Soon, my mother graduated from the phone to a tablet, which she purchased to exclusively play games on. “It’s more fun to crush candies on a bigger screen, like the feeling you get, riding in a Mercedes instead of a Maruti,” she said. I didn’t quite follow her metaphor, but to her credit, she had crossed 1,000 stages of Candy Crush Saga by this time. She already knew more than I do.

Despite the addiction, it’s difficult to argue with the joy on my mother’s face as she conquered one stage, one challenge after another, just like that of a child who’d gotten a Golden Ticket to the Chocolate Factory. If I had a penny for the number of times she has yelled, “Yessss!” in public at inappropriate times, I’d probably be sitting on a heap of them, sipping chai. Her childhood friend, Pushpa, had no idea what was coming when she was talking about her son’s divorce and my mother went, “Yessss!” Because, hello, Stage 2,000!

To my mom, however, she’s a serious gamer. If I printed out every bookmark she has saved on world gaming championships, I’d have a binder larger than the Constitution. She reads up diligently on trends and lets me know I am a moron in very clear terms when I ask her to give it up, since a Worldwide Candy Crush Saga Championship doesn’t currently exist. She plans her day around her Candy Crushing, and it’s clearly effective, given how she’s currently leading her friends on Stage 2,510.

I might poke fun at her obsession, but with my father at work and my brother and I busy doing what millennials do, my mum finally has some time to herself. Who am I to stand in the way of a little happiness, a little serotonin pick-me-up in the afternoons? The few solitary hours that homemakers like her have, are those that are exclusively theirs. it’s also the last vestige of control she might feel, she has: The kids, after all, have grown up and no longer rely on her the way they used to. Where most mothers take to books and some to plants, my mother has taken to Candy Crush.

It’s a little unconventional, just like my freelance career, but it’s something that has her heart.    

I marvel at my mother’s ability to consistently stay at the top of her game. I hope the makers of Candy Crush Saga are listening. Set up your championship, because I’ve found you your champion!