“It’s a bang pad.”
“Bang pad, mom.”
“A place where Amit can take his girl…” said Vandana.
“Okay. Enough, already.” Reena sat down heavily on the bed.
“Bet you would never let me have a pad of my own.” Vandana watched her.
“Not if I told you the purpose for it.”
“I don’t need to know all the gory details, so stuff it,” Reena felt the blood rush.
“Why’re you pissed, mom? It’s the truth. Face it. Your daughter can’t do the same things your son does and gets away with.”
“Amit told me he needed a place to stay nearer his office.”
“So do I. And really for work purposes, you know I love my work.”
“So does Amit. He loves his new job.”
“And his new girlfriend so…ooo much more.” Vandana stood in front of the mirror, carefully outlining her eyes with kohl.
She sucked in her stomach. “Wish I was slimmer. Wish I had a pad. Wish I had a guy. Wish I had a fuck buddy like Amrita does.”
“Vandana! That sounds horrible. What does it mean…it’s gross.”
“Well, mother, take a guess.”
Reena changed the topic. “You did stay in Pune on your own.”
“Yeah, with a family and a stinking one at that. The girl I shared the room with switched off the a/c in the middle of summer.”
“You don’t need air-conditioning in Pune.”
“You’ve never been to Pune,” said Vandana. “I wish I was a guy. Why does Amit have all the freedom?”
“So you go ahead and do the same thing if you want,” Reena said.
Vandana rolled her eyes.
Reena said defensively, “I have fought with Varun to allow you to stay out late, you know how your father disapproves of you being out late.”
“Dad broke all the rules when he was 20 but wants me to stay home and do the dusting and the dishes. Cook rotis and kebabs in the kitchen.”
“You are being unfair.”
“He just behaves like…”
“Vandana!” Reena’s fingernails cut into her palms.
“At least he listens to you. We never said a word in front of our Dad.”
“So what, Grandma let you get your way.”
Just like I let you, thought Reena. “Come here, give me a hug,” she said, suddenly feeling blue.
“Am I your baby or what?” said Vandana, but came up to Reena and snuggled in her arms for a brief moment. “Okay, gotta run for this Foto Fest. And then I shall meet Amrita and Chikoo at TLC in Huaz Khas Village, and then I shall be at…”
“Take a Meru cab home, be safe, keep me posted.”
“Yes, mother, your wish is my command, mother.” Vandana ran to the door. “I’m late as usual, love you, ma,” she called over her shoulder.
All Reena could think was… A bang pad. A fuck buddy. She let the words sink in.
published 30 April 2012