Yes, I may be a distressed debt specialist. I may have rescued bankrupt companies and structured complex takeovers. I may be a vice president at Goldman Sachs. But if I prefer flats because they are comfortable, I know nothing. I had kept a black dress for tomorrow’s party. Didi had a look at it. ‘Too simple,’ she said. She went on to accessorize it for me. As she opened her jewellery box, I checked my phone again.
‘Where in Goa?’ Debu had sent me a message.
‘Why?’ I said.
‘Can I call, please?’ he said.
‘It’s at a resort?’ he said.
‘Debu, you are in New York. Focus on your work there. Didn’t you have a girlfriend?’
‘I am sorry, Rad.’
‘It’s okay. Life goes on. It has gone on.’
‘Yeah, true. But I made the biggest mistake. And you are getting married now. Like now!’
I sent a smiley back.
‘Where will you live after your marriage? Hong Kong?’
‘No. I moved to London from Hong Kong a year ago.’
‘Oh. So London?’
‘Ah. IT guy?’
‘I have to go, Debashish.’
‘Still mad at me?’
‘No. I really have to go. I have to get ready for dinner with the guests.’
‘Okay. I am just asking casually. Where is the wedding?’
‘Marriott,’ I said.
‘Nice! Must be beautiful.’
‘Stop chatting on your phone. Who are you talking to anyway? Everyone we know is here in Goa for the wedding,’ Aditi didi said.
‘Huh? Nobody. Just. . .work,’ I said, keeping my phone aside. After the bridegroom, the bride had lied to her sister.
‘Take this, my body necklace. Your dull dress will liven up,’ she said.
‘My dull dress is Prada, didi,’ I said.
‘I don’t care. It needs to have a get-up, no? It is too sober. You are too sober.’
I didn’t think I was going to remain sober. Not after Debu’s next message.
‘I am coming,’ he said.
‘What?’ I typed back, mouth open.
‘I am coming to India. Let me check flights.’
‘Are you nuts?’
‘No, really, I want to talk to you.’
‘Debu, calm down, okay? This is not funny.’
‘At least you called me Debu again.’
‘Whatever. I have to go. Please don’t message.’
‘See you soon. Bye.’
‘Go to work. Bye.’
‘Again you are lost in your phone. What is wrong with you?’ Aditi didi said.
I looked up as I re-entered the real world.
‘Everyone’s meeting for dinner soon. Get ready.’
‘Can’t I go like this? I just wore this.’
‘No. You are the bride.’
‘So? I have to change every two hours?’
‘Just go shower, okay? And don’t take your phone inside.’
‘Didi, let’s go, the bus is waiting,’ I said. Aditi didi had spent the last two hours changing in and out of a dozen dresses. Finally, she wore the red one she’d always wanted to wear.
‘Is it showing too much cleavage?’ she said.
Isn’t that what you want? I am the bride, goddammit. It is my bachelorette party. Can’t you make me the priority at least for this week?
The room phone rang. I picked it up.
‘Hey,’ Brijesh said. I had started to recognize his voice. That’s a good sign, isn’t it?
‘Hi, Brijesh. All set?’
‘Yeah, my gang is on the bus. I am calling from the reception.’
‘Oh, you boys go ahead. The driver knows Club Cubana, right?’ I said.
‘Yeah, he does, it is in Arpora. Your bus for LPK is here too. Coming?’
‘I wish we were going to the same place,’ Brijesh said.
I laughed. ‘That’s sweet, Brijesh, but that’s the point of a bachelor party. Your last night out without the annoying spouse. Boys and girls go separately tonight.’
‘You are not annoying,’ he said.
‘Clearly you don’t know me yet.’
‘I wanted to see you before we left. My gang wanted to see all the dressed-up Mehta girls.’
‘Your gang is not laying an eye on my innocent cousins.’
I ended the call and turned to Aditi didi, who continued to adjust her dress in front of the mirror. ‘Didi, you do realize it is my bachelorette?’
‘There it is,’ said Jyoti, my second cousin, pointing at a huge flaming-yellow lit-up sign for Love Passion Karma or LPK. The club, half an hour from the hotel, was located at the waterfront of Nerul River and decorated in an over-the-top Paleolithic era theme, with stone caves and giant stone statues of the early man on the lawn. We were a group of fifteen girls. Suraj had also arranged two bouncers for us. We had a table in a semi-private area, with balloons and champagne bottles.
Nice job, Suraj, I thought.
‘Some of the girls seem too young, madam,’ the club owner told Aditi didi.
‘Everyone is above eighteen,’ didi said firmly.
‘Some people in your group do look underage, ma’am,’ he said.
‘It’s okay. Give them soft drinks. But get my sister drunk tonight.’
‘No, didi,’ I said in vain as the owner brought a round of tequila shots. I had to take two. Jyoti asked for another round. Rajni, our neighbour’s daughter, wanted the music louder. Shruti, my childhood friend from school, wanted Honey Singh songs. Saloni, Aditi didi’s best friend, felt we should play drinking games until someone puked. There is nothing as crazy as fifteen Punjabi girls determined to go out of control. I took out my phone. I had a message from Brijesh.
‘Club Cubana is nice. Thanks.’
‘You are welcome. How is it going?’ I said.
‘Three drinks down. And you?’
‘Was made to consume tequila shots.’
‘Wow. Wait, the boys are teasing me for chatting with you.’
‘Ha ha, go have fun.’ I kept my phone aside.
Aditi didi wanted to raise a toast. Two waiters arrived and poured champagne for everyone.
‘For my only darling sweetest sister. Someone who only studied and worked hard. She did nothing naughty in life. Nothing bad ever.’