< Holi Hai
“So I have had enough of relationships.” Vandana, all of 23, sounded really definite.
“Yes, for sure!” Komal, her friend, nodded in vehement agreement. Reena, Vandana’s mother, stood next to them, hoping they would move towards the car. She had had a long day and the air was too cold. The girls did not seem to feel it though, burning as they were with agitation against all men.
They were standing outside Bahrisons, the bookstore at Khan Market, or Khan, as Dilliwallas, the people of Delhi, call it. Reena had come to fetch Vandana on her way home from office.
A couple of hours ago Vandana had sobbed into the mobile, “Mother, I have broken up with Sudhir. He will not come from Mumbai to meet me for New Year’s. He said, (gulp here) he said…oh, forget it mother…please pick me up from Khan after work, I am here with Komal… thank God she is here, mother, I am disintegrating…and Komal has also broken up with her guy, mom, y’know, it is terrible…are you coming?”
Now Reena was here. They looked at her with big black eyes where the kohl had smudged due to tears hastily dabbed with tissue, and told her they had drowned their respective sorrows in beer. Lots of beer.
“Let’s go, girls,” Reena said. She steered the girls in the direction of her car.
“Auntie,” said Komal, “Auntie, we hate men.” Reena watched Komal eye a young dude with a short, black leather jacket and hair winged up in the latest style as he swaggered past.
“Yes,” said Vandana, “we hate men so absolutely.”
They had reached her red Honda. Reena removed her coat and got in behind the steering wheel. The back seat squeaked as Komal made herself comfortable.
Vandana said, “Both of us have had enough of men.”
Reena knew she would have to deal with her daughter’s emotions for the next few weeks, maybe months. “Baby, time heals, you know that. You’ll get over him.”
Vandana said, sitting next to her and lighting a cigarette, “No more hims. We are going to swing the other way.”
Reena’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Swing the other way…what does that mean?”
‘Like …girls, women…y’know,” Vandana giggled.
“Ok…ay, if that makes you happy,” Reena bit her lip. The car was squeezed between an auto- rickshaw and a taxi. She would have to watch it.
“I knew you would react,” Vandana said. “Didn’t I say so, Komal?”
“Expected,” Komal grimaced in the back seat. “It’s okay, Auntie, don’t lose any sleep over it. We are just friends.”
“But you never know, right?” Vandana said. “The future is indefinite, unclear.”
“Vandy, definitely no men, though,” said Komal.
“No men. Amen. We don’t want no men, amen…” Vandana’s voice broke.
“Here’s my stop, Auntie, b-bye. Don’t mind us, it’s the beer…” Komal banged the car door shut. “Oops…sorry!”
As Reena revved the engine, Vandana's loud wails drowned the music playing inside the car.
published 2 April 2012