One Indian Girl(8)

by Chetan Bhagat

Yeah right, I thought but simply smiled as Aditi didi continued, ‘Oh yes, she’s the good girl. If I barely passed, she topped. If I became a housewife, she became a hi-fi banker. If I had the boobs, she had the brains.’

All the girls laughed. The muscular bouncers blushed. My phone buzzed. Must be Brijesh, I thought. He’s sweet. He’s trying to make a connection.

‘Hey, am at JFK airport. Figuring out last-minute tickets,’ Debu had messaged instead.

‘What?’ I typed back.

‘Fifteen hours to Mumbai. Then a quick connection to Goa.’

‘Debu, are you serious? Stop it, will you?’

Aditi didi caught me staring at my phone.

‘Look at my baby, chatting with her husband-to-be. At least leave him on your girls’ night out,’ she said. Everyone laughed. Aditi didi took a big gulp of the champagne. I gulped at what I saw next.

Debu had sent me a picture of the Air India counter at JFK. He followed it up with a smiley.

‘Take another shot,’ one of my cousins egged me.

Yeah, just shoot me instead.

‘Miss you,’ said another message.

‘Will you shut the fuck up and go home?’ I typed in response. Damn, I almost pressed send before I realized the last ‘miss you’ message had come from Brijesh.

I deleted what I had written and retyped, ‘Aww, sweet,’ adding a few smileys. I couldn’t think of anything more imaginative. With care I switched chats from Brijesh to Debu.

‘Please don’t bother me. Go home,’ I said.

‘Girls,’ my sister made an announcement, ‘what say we take away the bride’s phone for the evening?’

‘Huh? No, didi, no,’ I said in vain as Aditi didi snatched my phone from my hands and placed it in her handbag.

‘It’s your last night out as a bachelorette. You better do crazy things and not waste it on the phone,’ Aditi didi said.

I wanted to tell her I had enough craziness happening on the phone.

‘Okay,’ Aditi didi announced. ‘Let’s play “challenge the bride”. Everyone will give the bride a dare. And Radhika has to do it.’

I looked around. Our table was in one corner of the restaurant. In the middle, several people sat on bar stools. Half the customers were Indians who had come to Goa for the Christmas holidays. Others were mostly European and American tourists.

Jyoti gave me the first task.

‘See that bald white guy over there.’ She pointed at a forty-something man sitting at the bar. ‘Find out his name and the country he comes from.’

‘That’s too easy,’ didi said.

‘Get his name, country and slap, no wait, kiss his forehead,’ said Shruti.

Everyone laughed and cheered at the suggestion.

‘No way,’ I said.

‘Yes way. Here take this. Bottoms up.’ Saloni gave me a half-filled champagne glass. I gulped it in one go. My head felt light.

‘Go!’ Aditi didi clapped her hands.

I walked up to the bar.

‘Hi there,’ I said to the man. He wore a white vest and jeans. He had two rings on his right hand and a dragon tattoo on his right shoulder.

‘Hi there, young lady,’ he said. His accent sounded Australian. I had to confirm it.

‘Are you an Australian cricketer?’

He laughed. ‘No, mate, I am Australian but I am no cricket player. Like watching it, though.’

‘Aren’t you Philip Lee?’ I made up a name on the spot.

‘Is he even a player?’ he said and sipped his beer.

‘You aren’t Philip?’

‘No,’ he said. ‘Can I buy you a drink, young lady?’

‘Well, who are you then?’

‘I’m Mark. What drink would you like?’

‘A tequila shot.’

Mark ordered a pair of shots. I had accomplished two out of the three tasks.

‘Cheers,’ he said as we took the shot.

I put the glass on the table.

‘You here on holiday?’ Mark said.

‘Actually, I am here to get married.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. I have to go. Bye, Mark.’

Before he could react I kissed his head.

‘Thanks for the drink,’ I said and scooted out of there.

The girls gave me a standing ovation. Everyone had a shot as a mark of respect for my courage.

‘Okay, no more,’ I said as Mark winked at me from the bar.

The girls were hysterical. We finished four champagne bottles. We ordered four more. I don’t really know when we started to dance. The DJ played tracks like ‘Subah hone na de’ and ‘Baby doll’. Some men in the club tried to flirt with my little cousins. Aditi didi shooed most of them off. We had selfie binges as the fifteen of us took photos in every possible permutation and combination. An hour later, another group of boys arrived at the club. It took us girls a minute to realize the situation.

‘Oh my God. It’s Brijesh jiju and his gang!’ Saloni said.

Brijesh came up to me on the dance floor.

‘Not allowed, not allowed,’ Jyoti said.

‘You were at Club Cubana. What happened?’ Shruti said to Akhil, Brijesh’s maternal cousin.

‘Nothing. We had a few drinks. Then we thought, when we have the most beautiful girls in Goa partying alone, what are we doing here?’ Akhil said.

Shruti blushed. Even though the girls protested at the boys coming here, they secretly liked it. This is how we girls are. At times we want to be wanted, even when we deny it. My bachelorette wasn’t really a singles’ party now. However, I was too drunk to care.

‘You look too beautiful,’ Brijesh said. The DJ switched to Honey Singh’s Blue eyes, a slow couples-only type song, possibly to get drunk single men off the floor.

‘Obviously you have had too much to drink,’ I said. Nobody could find me ‘too beautiful’ otherwise.

‘Well, I have had a few. But I always find you really beautiful,’ Brijesh said.

Sweet, I thought. The tequila in me gave him a hug.

‘I messaged you,’ Brijesh said, ‘several times.’

‘You did? Oh, where’s my phone? I don’t even know where my phone is.’

‘I wanted to check if you would be okay if we come. I tried to stop the boys.’

‘It’s okay. The idea is to have fun. All this segregation is not to be taken seriously,’ I said.