The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
I had always been a quiet companion. One who neither comments, protests nor compliments. A silent observer. My friends never minded that. In fact they craved to be like me. They wanted to know how I could resist not voicing my opinion on anything. Did I have an opinion? You had to have one to conceal it right?
Did my friends expect me to be the same after all these years? Maybe that’s why they had chosen my house for the re-union. They knew I would neither accept nor decline on the phone so they told me via the conference call that they would just turn up for lunch. And I smiled. It didn’t matter if they couldn’t remember my smile after all these years. They would have to do with their imagination. How difficult could it be to imagine one’s smile? I didn’t have dimples or prominent canines or a sagging smile or a cleft chin to stand out of the crowd. But at least my smile managed to reach my eyes. But they would have to search hard for that twinkle at lunch today.
As I kept the receiver down I turned to my rescue, Facebook. I logged in my fake profile and then began hunting for my friends’ profiles. I had never bothered to pry into their public lives until then. I was astonished to see that most of them were still highly opinionated.
Smriti, the hour-glass figure as we used to call her, now a tall pile of tires (Ash post- delivery), even mentioned as her Facebook status a while ago that she was expecting. And was asking everyone to take a guess at the sex of the baby. Eunuch, I silently guessed and chuckled to myself.
Anjali, the chatter-box kept changing her profile picture every five minutes and I wondered how jobless she was. From hearts to angels to smiles. Maybe her husband is fucking someone else I thought.
Kartika, now a mother of three changed her cover photo. Her three scrawny kids hung onto her ample arms to take the viewer’s attention away from her sagging cleavage or rather drawing attention to it?
Belika had no profile picture. Interesting. At least one person I looked forward to meeting.
Wanting to hang onto that suspense I logged out and concentrated on how I would treat them all for lunch.
Trying to remember their individual tastes I penned down dishes names. That is if their tastes hadn’t changed because of their husbands. In my case I had changed my husband’s preference. He used to only accept curries that had spices floating around and now he praises my bland culinary. Watching cookery shows never improved my cooking, it only gave me more reason to stay away from the kitchen.
Kartika came at 1pm. I didn’t expect her to be punctual seeing that she had three kids and all. But then I learnt that they were off to school and her maid would pick them up from the bus stop. So how couldn’t she afford to be punctual? Even before the first round of juice she had finished narrating her everyday hassles with her kids. If her hands were so full why did she give them birth in the first place?
She retorted saying I wouldn’t know and that she could never be too full of kids. They were just miracles of God. But I don’t see any praise only whining. She hadn’t expected me to voice my opinion. So far so good.
We turned to the TV for some distraction. A heel repair cream ad was blaring. We suddenly became stiff and I could see that she was trying to check out my heels from the corner of her eyes and I burst out laughing.
She flinched from my sudden reaction. I was enjoying it. She had clearly thought I was the same old Diana. Well, Surprise surprise!
Belika entered and my eyes lit up like headlights piercing the black of night. She was a total transformation from her old self. When my eyes tried to inquire her change she replied saying she was into modelling now and that the make-over was a necessity and we laughed.
I wondered why she hadn’t put up a profile picture of herself. Didn’t she want to show-off her makeover? Maybe she already got more attention than she needed I guessed.
Anjali called apologising that she couldn’t make it because her husband had ordered her to stay home and prepare for his impromptu business dinner. Of course I had to skewer that fact out of her.
It was almost 2pm when Smriti walked in. Her sari draped extra tight around her bulging stomach and my heart clenched.
I still see small footprints in my wet bathroom floor when I miss her. My baby. I can’t tell you anymore. I don’t wish to share my sorrow (nightmares).
Smriti sighed and sat down heavily. Her bosom heaving. Though she was out of breath she felt obligated to justify her late arrival, ‘As you know…My belly…so big..varicose veins…so painful..I’m afraid of hernia…’
I shut her up with a glass of Tang.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her belly. I imagined twins floating in it. Swimming. One on top of the other or both hugging each other or both wrestling each other or both strangling each other.
She winced in pain. ‘Aaahh…I get so many spasms..’
I smiled and wondered how to relieve her of her pain.
‘Dear my food will make you forget all your discomfort,’ I said and brought out the dishes.
I added my little extra secret ingredient to her dish- chole curry.
I watched her consume it with the appetite of a wild boar.
She looked up guiltily and said, ‘Eating for two, na.’
Belika and Kartika fell silent knowing that they couldn’t steal the show from Smriti. Belika shifted uncomfortably in her seat probably itching to tell Smriti of her modelling experience especially because she hadn’t bothered to ask or take the least interest in her looks.
Kartika kept checking her phone for any calls or messages from her kids. I rolled my eyes.
This shouldn’t have happened. The lunch was a flop but I was satisfied that at least I had fed Smriti’s unborn baby and it gave me an unusual high.
I hadn’t felt that way in a long long time. I was so happy for her. And myself.
Belika left after an urgent call from her agency. She couldn’t’ ignore any assignment though she had so many flooding in. What a plight.
Kartika didn’t even stay for dessert. Her second kid was running a fever and he always wanted his mommy when he was low but all the other times his Dad was Superman.
She didn’t even seem apologetic but I knew she was. She tried to mask her disappointment. Her parting words were, ‘Kids first always!’
Smriti was not full yet. I had made the crème caramel especially for her baby. I watched as she swallowed the wobbly dessert. And again I was on a high.
In the evening I logged in Facebook again, Kartika had replaced her family cover photo with her solo one. HAHA! So her ego was hurt!
Belika had finally uploaded her profile picture. It was her gracing the cover of a fashion magazine. And I wondered. No matter how much attention you get from strangers. You always seek acceptance from family and friends. Smriti’s lack of interest in her make- over had hurt her.
So the re-union was of some purpose to them. I was glad.
Now I had yet to see if my purpose would be fulfilled.
Anjali refrained from changing her profile picture. Maybe she was busy preparing for the dinner.
Smriti updated her status that her baby was full with lunch. I yawned. It was a good day. It was only a matter of time now.
Two days later…
Kartika was crying on the phone. Smriti had had a miscarriage.
After dis-connecting the call. I munched on an apple and logged in Facebook waiting for Smriti’s new status update.
© Michelle D'costa December 2013
Mamta didn’t need an alarm to wake her up every morning. She was among those blessed early risers who found themselves unable to sleep beyond their routine waking up hour