It's my wedding after all!

…I have to have the last word!

Lets talk about IT

You know what is worse than being caught by your mother-in-law, while you are making out? A ‘Bachelorette’ party comprising primarily of self-invited cousins, who want give you a ‘First night’ talk!

Yeah, yeah, yeah… IT happened to me!

We sprawled on my Bua’s rich beige carpet, clad in our ridiculous pyjamas (mine actually had  butterflies on it!) too drunk to care for the real world,  and still very very keen on finishing the endless supply of champagne and wine. I was feeling uncharacteristically thrilled at the thought of marriage and I just knew I had gulped one glass too much.

My cousins, to their credit had done nothing unexpected of them, this far . Oh Vani had invited this hot neighbor from her locality and insisted all of us try and undress him blindfolded, all the while giggling idiotically and insisting it was ‘Just a game!’. And surprisingly enough my eldest cousin Tara, who is a mother of two teenage sons, had him undressed in less than sixty seconds. Or maybe its not all that surprising, considering the experience she must have garnered in a house full of men.

But given the occasion, I had expected some embarrassing absurdities as such and was really really relieved that nothing terribly horrible had transpired. I was basking in the knowledge of the night securely winding to a close when Tara said, “Since I am the eldest and by that count..err.. umm.. ah the most experienced one too. I think I have to sit you down and talk to you about THE FIRST NIGHT.”

When nobody replied to her statement, I looked away from my glass and frowned at Tara. She was talking to me?

*gulp* about THE FIRST NIGHT??!!!

Oh horror!

“Oh dont worry so much,” Ayesha who had been married for six months now chirped in, “Its no biggie.”

“You would know!” Shalini said offended that someone should not think much of THE FIRST NIGHT. “You were hardly a virgin when you got married!”

How is one ever ‘hardly a virgin’? Either you are a virgin or you are not!

“THE FIRST NIGHT is very special,” Shalini insisted. “It is when you truly shed all your inhibitions and surrender completely to the one man who has the right to see you naked!”

“Brilliant!” Ayesha applauded sarcastically, “Now she really has nothing to fear, except, oh well except embarking on a new journey as a sex slave!”

Was it the wine?

“This is MY talk?” Tara reminded the room through gritted teeth. “THE FIRST NIGHT,” she said looking straight at me, “Can actually be quite scary!”

“Oh come on!” Ayesha groaned. A few other murmured and moaned.

“Excuse me?” Tara defended herself, “considering my first night was the first time I EVER saw a man naked…”

I did not want to imagine or think about Tara’s husband without his clothes!!! I took another strong swig of my wine and determinedly kept all unwanted thoughts at bay.

But I had to admit; Tara’s husband without clothes was a scary thought.

“I remember,” Vani giggled.

What? She remembered Tara’s husband without clothes?

Tara must’ve had the same thought for she was glowering at Vani. Vani did notice or care. “The first time I saw a man’s pinky,” A man’s pinkie??!! For crying out loud!!! “It was pretty gross. I remember thinking it looked like dried and shriveled Dates!”

Groan! Yuck!

Some laughter floated around. “I kept telling myself,” Chanda the romantic heroine confessed, “That a tiny something was going to come out from all those folds and go ‘boo!'”

“Oh something did come out of folds, didnt it,” Ayesha laughed wickedly.

I just kept drinking. I needed to pass out.

“The point though is not about what it looks like,” Tara reminded everybody, “we have to tell her about what it does!”

No!!! I pleaded silently. I KNEW what IT does. I did not need their thoughts and experience enriched narratives on the topic. I drank some more wine. I had to pass out any minute now. Please!!!

“Its painful at first,” Tara said reinforcing the convention, “but its ok later on!”

‘”Its more than ok!” Ayesha insisted. “Its absolutely fantastic!”

“Ayesha sometimes you talk like a sex crazy bitch!” Neela who had been quite for this long and who also was the only unmarried woman in the room, other than me, said with some sort of an wed wonder twinkling in her eye.

Ayesha shrugged but said nothing.

“Dont fill her head with stupid ideas,” Vani warned Ayesha.

I just drank some more.

” keep the room as dark as you can,” Tara offered helpfully. “That way you wont get put off by anything you see!”

” Does he turn you on?” Ayesha asked leaning towards me. I spluttered on my drink.

“Of course he does!” Vani looked at Ayesha warningly.

“Have you guys kissed yet?” Neela wanted to know.

“The tongue in cheek kiss?” Ayesha added helpfully.

“Nobody kisses tongue in cheek!” Tara said horrified.

“Just because you dont,” Ayesha replied, ” does not mean others dont like it!”

“You like it?” Vani asked mystified.

“Yes!” Ayesha confirmed.

“Will you show me?” Vani asked tentatively. My eyes widened horrified. Ayesha looked at Vani skeptically. She then shrugged and said, “Why not?”

Thankfully I passed out!!!!

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What fun?!

So the wedding’s getting closer and my silences are stretching making me acutely aware of how the bride me is going to be oh-so-different from the me me. Confusing? Yeah I thought as much.

Anyway so here’s what get’s me typing on this sticky keyboard again. Sticky because last night I was on the phone or so long that I practically lived in my front of my laptop. Parallel entertainment.

“Isnt that sweet of them?” my mother crooned for the third time.

“hmmm,” I replied absentmindedly as I answered one more email

“They did not even attend Natasha’s wedding!” She exclaimed with awe. Natasha, my first cousin who got married a little earlier? Everybody was supposed to or was expected to attend her wedding. wealthy families throw weddings to remember, or so the crowd seems to think.

“So why are they coming to mine?” I asked, not sure of who the ‘they’ were myself.

“I dont know,” my mother said thoughtfully. At least I could give her brownie points for honesty. “Maybe because its so long since they have met the rest of the extended family. You know they have been in London for like ever!”

Ah great! At least it was clear they were not attending the wedding for anything or any reason to do with me.

“So what’s the total count now?” I asked.

“About five hundred.”

“Five hundred!” I jumped, spilling some of the coffee on the keyboard. I winced. “Mom this is supposed to be a small wedding,” I  informed her exasperatedly dabbing a tissue on my ruined keyboard.

“How am I supposed to help it, if people want to come!” she said defensively. “Besides five hundred is an OK number for an Indian wedding!”

I said nothing.

“You are quite ungrateful you know,” she said after a mini pause.

“What?” I screamed flabbergasted.

“You should feel flattered that people are lining up for your wedding!” she  explained. “They did not attend any of the three weddings before yours, but they are all coming to your wedding! Does that not make you feel special?”

“I dont even know these people!” I said frustrated. “I havent met them in years and years. I dont have any feelings for them!”

“Dont say that!” my mom reprimanded aghast. “They are family!”

I sighed, “alright, maybe I am just not a people’s person.”

“As a kid, you loved having people around,” my mother replied, ” and you know its going to be fun meeting all those people after all this time. I wonder if Sheila has put on weight after her second kid…”

Big B: Wassup?

Big B is a nickname for my elder sister who assumes the dual role of an elder brother.

Me: Mom on call 😛

Big B: How boring! Do something better with your life than take calls from mom all day

Me: thanks

Big B: pleasure 🙂

pause

“…and did you know that Kritika’s husband might be gay!” Mom was still on with her monologues and I was mumbling my appropriate responses at appropriate intervals. Kritika’s  husband might be gay since the past ten years that they were married.

Big B: btw, do you know who’s coming to your wedding?

Me: some godforsaken long lost uncle and family from london?

Big B: Dont be silly! Chirag is coming to India to attend your wedding!

Me: I think the last time I met Chirag was like five years ago and the last time he called was to wish Dad a happy birthday!

Big B: I know! He hasnt come to India in seven years, but he is coming to your wedding!

Me: That’s good?

Big B: Of course it is! he is a great guy! We catch up almost every weekend you know. I am mighty pleased he is coming to the wedding.

Me:  He didnt make it to your wedding, did he?

Big B: Nope. Some visa issues and stuff.

Me: oh!

Big B: we think we might fly in together. He’s getting his wife and kid along and they have never come to India!!

Me: oh!

Big B: What’s with the monologue?

Me: no was just wondering, how come so many people I hardly know are all excited about attending my wedding!

Big B: Spoil Sport! Chirag is fun!

Me: mom thinks this uncle from London rocks!

Big B: Bull!

Me: hmmm

Big B: What’s with you?

Me: I think I am not a very people’s person…

Big B: Shut up! Just go with the flow and have fun!! its gonna be awesome.. I am so excited about your wedding!

Solar Eclipse

The Solar eclipse affects people world wide differently. I woke up in the morning, having completely ignored the fact that an absolutely breath taking phenomena had occurred for the first time in this century, just minutes ago. I woke up knowing, that no matter how hard the day turns out to be or how long, that no matter if I wile away my minutes doing nothing at all, it would all culminate in me downing vodka.

The solar eclipse naturally hexed the day. Nobody, I mean absolutely no f****** body, was free to drink with me that evening. I was desperate enough to ask my boss, who I hated with all my guts. She just looked right through me and pretended I hadn’t asked. That ust added to my urge to drink.

Finally (oh sweet heavens!) Rohit agreed. Who is Rohit? Who cares? He is a colleague kind enough to accompany for drinks. That itself pushed him towards my list of favourites. So we found ourselves around eight sitting on the bar stools of TGIFs drinking what can be called our preference of poison and enjoying every bit of it. I was beginning to unwind and enjoy myself. Besides, he too was engaged for about a week now. That made him safe.

“Can you believe it?” He said munching unelegantly on a potato wedge, “In a matter of months all this will be over!”

“What will be over?”

“This!” he said spreading his ketchup spread hands on both his sides.  I was about to ask “Ketchup?” when he said, “All this partying. Spur of the moment outings. Everything!”

He lapsed into a silence and I groaned inwardly. I hated one of the marriage-screws-freedom talks. What a waste of drinks this evening was going to be. I remained silent. Maybe, if I ignored him he would get the message.

“My bathroom will be filled with pink fluffy towels!,” he said his eyes widening with horror. “Pink!” He gulped the remainder of his drink and signaled the bartender to fill it up again. Ok, so this guy was going into it real bad.

“Yuck! I might find her hair on my razor!” He said crunching yet another wedge.

“Yuck!”  I said disgusted with the thought and wondered what kind of a woman he was engaged too.

“See?” he said grasping at my acknowledgment. “And then not to mention the ‘feet-off-the-carpet’ syndrome.”

“Look,” I said, “Its not feet, its shoes!”

“Is there a difference?” He asked. And there I was flabbegasted. My fiance had better find a difference, I hate dirty shoes all over the carpet!

“I will even have to put my shoes in a rack!?” He whined.

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Guys dont like to remove their shoes! They carry their shoes with them to bed and then remove them there and get ready in fifteen minutes straight, knowing exactly where to find the shoes!” He explained.

“And that would be beside the bed?”

“Yeah!”

“How unhygienic!” I remarked.

“Bloody well didnt fall ill for the past decade despite doing that!” He argued. “Besides bare feet on a cold floor makes you catch a cold! THAT is how you fall ill.  Not because you leave shoes beside the bed.”

“Wear slippers!” I suggested.

“You waste such precious minutes of your time changing from one footwear to another! Whats the fun in that?” He said quite ready to blow up. “Its about as much fun as being forced to keep things in ‘their right place’! How can things have a right place? Who decides which is the right place?”

“Its about not walking into and living out of a shit hole!” I threw back at him.

“Shit hole? How does a towel on the table or a book in the loo, make a place a shit hole! If I like to read while I poop, I will bloody well leave the damned book there and THAT then is the RIGHT place for that book!” He said animated.

“Arrrgh! Disgusting! What next? Use the pages as toilet paper?” I asked gulping my own vodka.

“In case of emergency, why not?” He said purely to annoy me.

“How could you?” I asked completely repulsed.

“What?! you would rather have me walk out just like that? That’s hygienic?”

I opened my mouth to say something, but then thought the better of it. I squinted my eyes at his back and poked my tongue at him.

“I saw that,” he said, pointing to the mirror behind the bartender.

“Like I care.”

“Just married huh?” The bartender, who had evidently eavesdropped on our conversation, smiled understandingly.

Horrified! I  walked out. On my way to the parking lot, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my fiance’s number.

“Honey,” I asked, ” Would you hate me for asking you to leave your shoes in the shoe rack and walk around home in slippers?”

“What a weird question! When have I ever objected to that? Thats cool with me.”

First sigh

“And you wont read books in the loo?”

“Newspaper will do?”

“What?” I asked panicking again

“Hahahaha, kidding babes, Ok I wont.”

“And its ok with you  to put things in their right place?”

“Where are all these questions coming from,” He finally asked.

“Call it the solar-eclipse effect!”

Mother and Mother-in-law

Where was I yesterday, you ask?

Dude, read the title again!!!!!

Need I say more?? Oh yes…

I hope neither my mom nor to be mother-in-law, EVER read this!!!

(probability is anyway zero to nil as neither of them are net Savvy, SO for the moment I am safe! phew!)

Now as to what happened yesterday. Mother-in-law calls me to tell me, she is in town (ever since I’ve declared I am getting married, people somehow jus manage to BE IN TOWN). Well and naturally since we have just initiated our process of bonding, mother-in-law wants to strengthen the foundation by spending a couple of heart-to-heart hours… at MY place!

So I actually risk my client’s wrath, my bosses wrath and absolutely everybody related to work’s wrath, cut short my working day and rush home. No, no, mother-in-law was coming only for dinner, but I had to make the house look  presentable!

So there I am in my washed out Levis and (sigh) Benetton aquamarine top, rushing round hiding booze bottles and dumping photographs far out of ‘a couple of hours’ reach. I did not want her picking through my past personal life for excuses to call off the wedding. I was not sure whether she was capable of such acts, but was being safe anyway.

And mom calls up and I tell her mom-in-law is coming and she asks me “Why?”

“Because…” I said juggling the washed glasses and struggling to arrange them in an appealing display, “She is in town!”

Mom launched into her expected speech of things I ought not to discuss with my mother-in-law. Right, as if I was about to discuss my monthly cycles and family planning concepts with her!

She was in the midst of telling me, how I MUST NOT give my EXPERT opinion on handy-tips in the kitchen, when I screamed, “OH SHIT!”

“Oh no!” my  mom exclaimed as if she knew the exact reason which had elicited this reaction from me.

“What happened?” I asked curious.

“Something bad, evidently and imagine that too just on the day you saasu ma has to arrive!”

SAASU MA!!!?? This was my first insightful glimpse into the future. I hadnt progressed beyond calling my mother-in-law “aunty-ji”. Would I now suddenly have to shift gears to maaji, mummyji or saasu ma?

“Sorry? What was that again?” I asked mom in a semi-dazed state of mind.

“What’s wrong?” She asked, referring to my exclamation of near doom.

“Oh Shit!” I exclaimed once again as I was called back to the now and present. “The lights just went out on me! So I am essentially stuck with reading order-in menus by the candle!”

“What?” mom exclaimed horrified! God bless moms. There is nothing like a sympathetic shoulder. “You wont cook for her yourself?”

“You out of your mind?” I exclaimed shocked at what was expected of me.

“I am sure she is coming to sample what her son is getting into!” Mom said amazed at how thick-headed I can be at times.

“What bull? What next? She’ll sleep with me to check if I am good enough in bed for her son?” I said forgetting for a moment that I was talking to my mother.

“You do NOT talk to me like that!” pause. “Oh my God! And you NEVER talk to your saasu ma like that? You hear me?”

“Loud and clear,” I mumbled.

Was I really expected to cook and be the ideal Bahu?? I’d rather be dead.

“And for heaven’s sake, ” mom was saying, “wear a saree!”

“What?” I asked horrified.

I cannot carry sarees. I am sure to trip on it, rip it, let it come apart and thoroughly embarrass myself. Besides, I was not going to dress up like a doll, just because!

I hurriedly hung up on mom. Mother-in-law was due in an hour and I did want to look presentable. I settled for a Slawar Khameez.

Mother-in-law walks in two hours later. She gave me an entire hour, to first build up my anger and then sweat it out. There were still no lights.

I tried coaxing her twice in between to dine out. It would be rather uncomfortable to dine in the heat. She refused politely both the times. When I tried for a third time, she said, “Is there something or someone at home you DONT want me to see?”

She laughed quite a humorless laugh after that. I resigned to a dinner without lights.

“Salwar Khameez?!” she smiled at me the minute she walked in. “Is that for my benefit?”

What was I supposed to say?

I smiled.

We sat for a bit just doing the necessary chit chat. I got up to fetch her some water.

Quite forgetting all about the dupatta, I stepped on it and almost choked myself. The phone slipped out of my hands and cluttered to the floor. Mom had chosen that minute to call me and the fall had put the phone on loudspeaker.

“Are you a virgin?” blared my mom’s voice in the candle-lit darkness at my mother-in-law.

“I was just asking,” mom continued as usual not waiting for my response, “That way your saasu ma wont have to sleep with you to find out if you are good enough for her son.. hahaha..”


Well wishers

Now, now the  it IS a wedding after all! So I have to have the usual in flow of well wishers calling me with.. well.. their wishes.  But one friend of my mother’s was entirely different. She called me over for dinner!

“Lets celebrate your good news over some rocking Dosa-sambar!” She said failing miserably at sounding even a second younger than her fifty five glorious years. I hate Dosas. But decided that Dosas would have to be my dinner, because a) My fiance/Boyfriend was out of town and I was really missing him, b) I did not want to spend the evening fending calls alternatively from my mother and this boisterous aunt explaining why I was not munching her ..Dosas and c) I really didnt feel up to ordering in/eat out/ cooking maggi.

She squeezed my face between her plentiful boobs, the minute I walked in. It was her excuse for a hug. Lesbian! Blame Vignesh for planting homosexual thoughts in my head. Anyway, I sat on the platform dangling my long legs and trying hard not to wrinkle my nose in disgust at the overpowering smell in the kitchen as she bustled around me,  chirping like an overfed penguin. Do penguins chirp? Who cares?

She lifted her long genetically inherited ugly nose and sniffed the air said, “A south Indian kitchen always smells so appetising no?”

South Indian kitchens might smell appetising, her’s smelt like stale left overs. I smiled.

“Have you decided on your venue yet?” She asked as she stirred something in a pot coated with yellow food from all sides. Was I really going to eat that atrocity?

“Ummm”  I said trying to focus on the conversation so I wouldnt think about the food I was going to stomach.  “I was thinking of something outdoors. Its a winter wedding you know!”

She smiled patiently at me.  “but of course! it’s a brilliant idea! Even Kamakshi’s daughter wanted an outdoor wedding. I told her Beta  baarish ka kya bahrosa? But no! She wouldnt listen to me! You know what happened?” She asked bobbing her head up and down.

I shrugged my shoulders. I did know Kamakshi auty’s daughter got married last year. I didnt know her wedding had a near disater.

“Why! It rained of course! Right during the Pheras! Imagine! I thought it was ill-omen and all that.”  She looked straight at me now and battered the Dosa dough mercilessly, "Like God had refused to grant the couple its blessings by sending His holy aide the Rain God to douse the moment.”  She touched her left cheek and then her right, thrice, rapidly, uttering,  ” Shiv, Shiv, Shiv” and then continued,  “But Kamakshi would hear none of it! After a bit the wedding proceeded as planned! Hu kya? Kuch Nahi! Its almost a year to that wedding and still no child!”

Silence as she beat the vessel with her spatula spattering drops of batter all over he apron and kitchen.

“You better have a mandap at your wedding!" she emphasised poiting the spatula in my direction. “but without God’s blessing na, nothing is possible. At Sarita’s daughter’s wedding one of the tendrils of the floral decor caught fire from the flames of the havan itself! Imagine!” She said staring at me once again eyes wide with horror. “And the entire mandap went up in flames!Look at that couple! Married for eighteen months without a child!”

Silence again as she loaded a greasy pan on the stove and lit it.

“Any plans for your wedding dress yet?”  She asked as she dribbled some water on the hot tawa and watched those bubbles sizzle.

“I dont know, the usual lehenga I think, ” I said in a perfectly non-commital tone, refusing to discuss any bit of my wedding with her.

“Oh! Dont buy lehenga form Shamuns!" She instructed, naming the only designer I really wanted to go to. “He stiched Anita’s daughter’s wedding lehenga and you know what happened?”  She asked bobbing her head again. By now I knew, I wasnt expected to reply. “She accidentally stepped on her Lehenga and the sequins got caught in her heel and the entire Lehenga ripped! Right before the wedding! Imagine!” She looked at me as she spread some Dosa batter on the tawa.

“It’s God’s will!” She continued eyeing the Dosa. “I tried telling Anita. But she wouldnt listen. Now look at that couple! Twenty months to the wedding and still no baby!”

She sighed heavily and waited for the Dosa to cook. “You should watch out for all these omens,” she instructed me, ” It’s God’s way of subtly telling you, that you are marrying the wrong guy!”

She tried to lift the dosa out, but it remained stuckk to the pan. Finally, she managed ot free it out of the pan in crumbling, burnt pieces. I wondered if it was God’s way of subtly telling me,  I was having dinner with the wrong lady?!!

She ene

cough, cough, ahem!

So, there I am fuming over Natasha’s duplicity and wondering if life will ever progress beyond vile gossip for her, when the phone rings once again! Since its an unknown caller I almost dont answer it. Almost. Then I do!

“hello?” I said in a voice gruff with abandoned emotions

“Is this a wrong time to call?” he asked.

“Depends on who is calling!” I replied.

“Oh! Of course you wouldnt recognise me after all this time! Its me Vignesh! Naina mausi’s, husband’s, brother’s, wife’s, second cousin’s younger son?” He reminded me.

All this time? When had I ever met him? And heck! I still couldn’t place him. So true to my nature I remained quite.

“We met at Parangana’s wedding?” he hesitated.

“Who Paranagana?” I asked completely baffled now. “Dude, if you are chatting up a wrong number, you’ve picked the wrong woman!” I was annoyed. Really annoyed.

“Wait! Parangana? Naina Maasi’s, husband’s…”

“Wohohoho!” I interrupted him before he charted out a new family tree for me. “It Naina Bua for me. And since that’s absolutely the only name I recognise, I am still on this line with you. Come to the point.”

I knew I was being rude. But I sure as hell did not know this bloke, who did speak decent english, but sucked at breaking ice.

“I was in town. Naina maasi had given me a packet to give to you that’s all,” he said on such a heartbroken whisper, that it was a miracle that I didnt burst out laughing.

“See? it was easy as that!” I said in a semi-conciliatory tone. “Now, when do you get free?”

“I am free now,” he said still in that heartbroken tone.

“Great! Write my address down and we can do lunch together! Sounds good?” I asked.

“Yes! yes!” he yelped like an eager puppy.

Precisely an hour later, I opened my door to a rather handsome, twenty-something, charming gentleman. Over ordered-in lunch I learnt that Vignesh was actually a geek and was in town for some hush-hush top-secret business, he refused to talk about. He was totally intrigued with me and my independent lifestyle and kept bombarding me with hilarious questions like, ” So you drink daroo?”

He was such an entertaining break after screechy Natasha, that I was quite enjoying myself. I offered him some wine and he sheepishly accepted. His eyes were aglow with the excitement of doing something wicked. I almost rolled my eyes.

A couple of glasses down, he asked me, “Wont your fiance mind this?”

“Mind what?” I asked my wine-fuzzed mind not quite comprehending his question.

“You entertaining another male when you are all alone at home?” He said staring deep into his wine glass.

I spluttered on my wine, but refrained from laughing. “No,” I answered as sober-faced as I could, “he will understand that you are a distant cousin of mine and that I am safe with relatives.”

He smiled, content with this explanation. “Besides,” I added,” If you hang around long enough, you might just meet him!”

His eyes widened in horror. “he comes to meet you when you are alone?”

I looked at him with a dead pan expression. Was this dude for real? Was I hallucinating ? Maybe I had a couple of drinks to many. He smiled at me and then looked back deep into his wine glass.

“Can I ask you something? And you wont get mad at me?” He asked. I just remained quite. I had no idea what was playing on his mind.

“Have you been deflowered yet?”

“What?” I asked genuinely confused.

“No! No!” he screamed jumping to his feet. “You dont have to answer if you dont want to. I know I crossed my line there. Its just that I was curious you see. I have never met a woman quite like you before. So bold and so strong. Almost like a man!”

Anybody interested in a GAY marriage?

What A weeekend!!

“Ohhhhhh……..maaaaaaaaaay……gaaaaaaaaaaawd!!!” she screeched in my ear.  I almost dropped the phone and my coffee mug.

“I am sorry, who is this?”  I asked struggling hard to be polite. What I really wanted to do was cut the connection and block the caller.

“It’s me you idiot!”  right. You tell me who is the bigger idiot here. Me, who does not really want to carry on a conversation with this mysterious, screechy caller or she, who identifies herself as ‘me.’

“You didnt recognise me?” she said in a mildly offended tone.

“Voila!” I wanted to scream in her ear, in the same screechy manner in which she had screamed in mine.

“I am Natasha dodo!” she said on a nervous giggle.

Oh! Of course Natasha! My supposed first cousin who has, god knows how, chanced upon my number and was now calling me after about two years on nil correspondence.

“Hey,” I said in a voice completely devoid of enthusiasm.

Taking this as a cue she repeated, “Ohhhhhhhh…….mayyyyyyyyyyyyy…….Gawwwwwwwwwwwwwwd!”

“Gosh! Your ‘Gawd’ must be running as far away as possible from you after all that screeching,” I thought, but courtesy prevented me from voicing this out loud.

“You are getting married!” She sighed heavily into the phone.

“Really? Now that’s a surprise,” I said.

She giggled. “Naughty naughty, keeping secrets from your cousin eh? Are you off work now?”

Considering it was nine in the night, I had better be.

“OK!! Here’s the plan. I am actually in your town right now! Aint that cool?” She crooned.

“Just fantastic!” I said thumping my empty coffee mug on the table and dreading whats to come.

“Lets catch up over a couple of drinks….”

I drank a gallon instead of a couple. It was the only way I could drown her mush and her screechy comments and pseudo excitement at MY wedding.

“Still in bed huh?” Ma sounded somewhere between exasperated and angry. I looked at the phone through sleepy hung-over eyes. Had I really answered her call? I must love my mother very much indeed!

“You drink?” Ma asked astounded.

“Of course I drink!” I said summoning my alcohol induced wits.

“I mean you consume alcohol!?” ma clarified. I had this silly urge to laugh, but even in my semi-awake state I knew it wouldnt go down well with ma.

“It not like a news flash ma! You knew all along!” I said a tad defensively.

“Ya, but I didnt know you drank like a fish!” She said a little heatedly.

“Whats with the drinking rant on a saturday morning?” I asked mildly annoyed.

“Natasha called this morning to say how much ‘funnnn’ it was meeting up with you last night and all she could talk about was how you downed one drink after another!!” Ma said.

That biiii…. Now I could see it all.  She calling ma with spicy albeit non-existent tales of my drunken escapades. Ma worried that four generations of our relatives will hear of this gossip. Some will scoff at me, some will shun me, some younger ones will gape at me with awe.

“She was drinking too ma,” I said in a small guilty voice. I hated putting ma in a situation of any kind.

Ma softened at my tone. “But beta, she is married!” Ma explained.

Well… good people.. so yay!!! In some months I am going to have my official drinking licence!! I am getting married!! Whooooooooopppppppeeeeeeee!!