Chapter Eight - My Little Writing Project
To refresh your memory about previous chapters, or to know about My Little Writing Project, click here.
Girls’ night out is all about drinks and discussions, goofiness and gossip, dreams and desires, secrets and fetishes!
10th June 2012
Tick Tock, on the clock . . . But the party won’t stop . . .
“Stop it! Stop the damn party!” Mukti said in her sleep covering her face with a pillow.
Ooh, ooh, ooh . . .
Finally, tired with the blaring ringtone, that she had changed recently, Mukti picked up her phone and said groggily, “Hello?”
“Mukti! Rise and shine!” came Priya’s excited voice from the other end.
“Priya? Why are you calling me now? What the hell happened last night? Why didn’t you call me back?” asked Mukti, getting up from her make-shift bed, “I needed you, you know,” she added dramatically.
“Nothing ya, got stuck in office. I have got great news by the way! My stupid bitch of a boss got transferred!! Yay!!” Priya almost yelled into her iPhone.
“Wow . . . great! So now, you will hate your job a little less . . . I hope. Good. I am happy for you!” Mukti replied rubbing her eyes.
“Yeah… And my new boss is going to be a guy! I am so happy. Male bosses can be MCPs but they sure are easy to handle than female bosses. Women are always bitches to the other women subordinates. God knows why they can’t follow gender camaraderie. Instead they turn out to be a woman’s worst nightmare behind closed doors. Don’t we have enough to deal with, without our own kind turning on us? I --”
“Ok . . . ok . . . Germaine Greer, that’s enough!”
“Gree . . . Who? Never mind, anyway, how was your date with Mr. Dreamy? How did you manage to get out? How boring was he?!” she enquired.
“Don’t ask,” said Mukti and sighed.
After giving Priya a detailed account of what happened the previous night, during which Priya kept muttering ‘I told you so’ and laughing to her heart’s content, Mukti hung up the phone and got down to work. She had two weeks to come up with an interesting idea for a book, a detailed synopsis, character sketches and first five chapters. So, naturally she logged into Facebook.
There are still two weeks to go. Let me check who is up to what? Maybe I will get some idea. This is not a waste of my time, this is research.
Mukti was just browsing through when she got a ping on her Gtalk from some Anurag to add him as her friend.
Hmm . . . I don’t know any Anurag? Do I?
She copied the name from the email id that was flashing on her screen and put it in the Facebook search box. A profile came up. It was locked but the profile picture was of a good looking guy playing with a dog.
Aww . . . sweet. Should I accept?
She was just about to press add when the reasonable part of her brain reared its ugly head,
Obviously not Mukti! How can you even think about it? You don’t know him. He could be anyone? Rapist! Murderer! Crook! Creep! Just ignore him.
Next, Sonali’s voice came in her ear - I met a guy online . . . he is from IIML . . . You watch too much TV . . .
Yes. Sonali is right. Maybe he is my Mr. Right. And what’s the harm in chatting with him once or twice. If he turns out a creep, I will block him. No big deal.
And she pressed ignore.
You should never appear too desperate. What does he think? I will just add him like that, no questions asked? No Mister Anurag, I am not like other girls.
Instead, Mukti sent him a mail with a single line – Do I know you? If yes, kindly refresh my memory and if not, then I don’t talk to strangers.
Minutes passed by and nothing happened. To Mukti’s surprise, she felt a little disappointed.
Maybe I scared him away.
Mukti decided not to cry over the proverbial spilt milk and went about browsing Facebook. She searched for people she hadn’t seen since school, looked at their entire lives trying to figure out their antecedents. She glanced at her novel’s character sketches and dejected at its flat and uninspiring composition, began selecting random people and started reading their posts and looked at all of their personal private pictures to try and formulate a character. It was a pointless exercise and she knew it, but for the lack of a better idea continued doing so.
The ringing of the doorbell reminded Mukti that dusk had fallen and a veil of darkness abnormal to a cheerful summer day had enshrouded her apartment. She hastily shut down her laptop and opened the door to find a much styled Priya along with Sonali standing there tall in high heels.
“What are you guys doing here?” Mukti asked astonished.
“Well, since you had such a bad night yesterday, we thought let us take you out someplace nice. Get dressed, it’s a girls night out!” said an exuberant Sonali.
“Ok, but where do we go?”
An hour later, when Mukti was also primped up and in her lone pair of heels . . . all because of Sonali’s perseverance, the three girls, went to their favourite haunt, Urban Pind. They liked hanging out at the lounge mainly because it had great food and amazing drinks. It had the appropriate amount of lighting, not too dark that you can’t see anything neither too bright that you go blind. The music was also groovy and not loud enough to hamper a conversation. As usual, they went and sat at their regular table by the window. This feeling of habitual seating made Mukti feel like she was one from the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. gang sitting at their customary couch at Central Perk!
After ordering for some starters and a first round of drinks . . . Cosmopolitan for Sonali, Scotch for Priya, and Mojito for Mukti, the gossip session began.
“You guys should have come with me. I had a blast!” Sonali led with her Goa trip, “We stayed at this charming little cottage in Palolem right at the beach.”
Mukti and Priya exchanged knowing glances. They knew what was coming on next.
“I have never experienced Goa like this. We walked on the beach, sang songs, and partied till dawn . . . Loads of fun. Let me show you the pictures.” Sonali fished into her bag to get out her phone. “You know Kshitij can play the guitar as well.”
Priya pinched Mukti and gestured her to ask what they had been dying to know.
“So, did you sleep with him?” Mukti blurted out, “Priya wanted to know.” She pointed at Priya who was mortified with Mukti’s little betrayal.
“No, I did not.” She said hitting Mukti on her arm.
Sonali stopped fidgeting with her bag, “I know what you guys are thinking but no I did not sleep with him.”
“You are telling me that you went on an out-of-station trip with a guy who you claim to be in love with, stayed with him in a ‘charming little cottage’ alone and nothing happened? Looking at your track record, I find that hard to fathom? Do you believe her Priya?” Mukti turned and looked at Priya.
“You do believe me, don’t you?” Sonali stared at Priya too.
Priya glanced from Mukti to Sonali and then back again. To the other patrons of the lounge, she must have looked like a spectator witnessing a tennis match who is following the ball as one player hits it back to another and vice versa. Not a fan of confrontations, she decided it is better to stay out of it and keep mum. When the silence stretched a little longer than anticipated, Sonali saved her from her predicament, “Well, I am telling you we didn’t sleep together. In fact, he is the first guy that I have met after a long time who is chivalrous and doesn’t want to jump into bed with me. He wants to take out time to know the real me before we… you know...”
Mukti rolled her eyes, “Yeah right?!”
“I am serious Mukti. He said so himself. It was his idea to wait and get to know each other before we sleep together. Even when I was drunk and pretty much out, he didn’t take advantage of me. Instead, he left the room to avoid temptation. I am telling you he is a genuinely nice guy.”
Mukti stared at Sonali. This is certainly a first. Sonali was looking earnestly at both the other girls, eager for them to believe that she has, after many trial and errors, finally found a guy for keeps. Mukti glanced at Priya who shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly as if to say,
Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.
“Well, in that case,” Mukti picked up her drink, “Cheers to you and Mr. IIML!”
Sonali laughed and clinked her glass with theirs, “He is The One ladies, I can feel it this time. He is The One.”
After taking a sip from their respective glasses, the conversation turned to Priya and the impending arrival of her new boss.
“So, it was a normal work day and Her Bitchiness called me into her office. I went in expecting a long job list to be handed over to me, as usual. Instead, I see her packing up her stuff.”
She paused and took a sip, “Naturally, I had heard rumors about her move but knew nothing concrete. So, when I see her packing, my heart rate increased in anticipation of hearing those three magical words – I have quit. Summoning all the fake concern I could, I asked her politely, ‘Are you moving to a bigger office?’ As if!”
“You are turning into a drama queen just like Mukti,” Sonali said, “Just get to the point, will you?” Sonali drawled on bored while munching on some nuts.
“Ssshhh . . .” Mukti silenced her, “Priya, continue.”
“So she looks up at me and says, ‘No, I have been transferred to a different city.’ Not what I wanted to hear but still . . . I wanted to hug her, I wanted to do a cartwheel! At least, now she will leave me alone for good! However, I do pity the poor assistant who will have her as a boss now,” Priya said gorging down a whole kebab, “Then, she told me that some Shantanu will be joining in her place. A male boss, finally!”
“Great news! This calls for another toast!” The girls clinked their glasses together again.
“When is your new boss joining?” Mukti asked, “You know anything about him?”
“He will join by next week. And all I know is that he is a he. That’ll do for now.” Priya took a deep breath.
Sonali snickered, “What if he turns out like Mukti’s boss? You know, boring!”
Priya stifled a laugh.
Priya stifled a laugh.
“First, Prakash is not my boss and second, even if Priya’s boss is boring it doesn’t matter. It’s not as if Priya is going to date him? Priya has a strict no-mixing-business-with-pleasure policy, aren’t I right?” She said turning to Priya.
“Absolutely,” She gulped down her drink.
“Whatever,” Sonali replied, “I still can’t believe Mr. Dreamy was so boring that you had to create a fake crisis just to get out of a date with him!”
“Trust me. He was. He claimed that he was nervous and had never been on a date—”
“What?! He has NEVER been on a date?! How is that even possible?” Sonali exclaimed.
“I have no idea, but that’s what he said.”
“Wow. You do manage to attract some weird ones. First there was that guy who couldn’t talk in English and now Prakash, who didn’t want to talk at all!” The girls, including Mukti, laughed heartily.
“I do, don’t I?” replied Mukti. Sonali waved over the waiter and ordered for a second round of drinks along with some more starters.
“This,” Sonali picked up a fish kebab, “is Kshitij’s favourite. He loves fish.” She said munching on the kebab.
“How long do you think it will take Mr. IIML to fall in love with you?” Mukti asked.
“I don’t know. But what I do know is that he is a fitness freak. He has an amazing body.” Sonali moaned. Priya and Mukti raised their eyebrows.
“I saw him when he went for a swim, you naughty girls!” She added hastily.
“Did we say anything?” Mukti said with feigned innocence.
“Anyway, in Goa, he used to wake up at dawn and do yoga. Once I also saw him playing beach volleyball with some random guys he had met. He is such a friendly person, he was fooling around with one of them as if he had known him since forever. You know how guys are, falling over each other, punching playfully . . . That kind of thing.”
“If he is a fitness freak, I am sure he goes to a gym . . . maybe you can join the same gym and pretend to run into him there? He will see that you have shared interests and voila! he falls in love with you!” Mukti suggested smiling proudly at her apparent stroke of genius.
“How will I figure out where he goes to the gym without asking him about it, Ms. Love Guru?!” Sonali asked confused.
“Facebook” Mukti said matter-of-factly annoyed at her friend’s obvious lack of any snooping prowess. She asked Sonali to log into her Facebook account and go through Kshitij’s profile methodically, “you will definitely find something there.”
“I wish I had my new boss’ full name. I would have searched him on Facebook too and seen how he is. I certainly deserve a good boss now, don’t you think? I have done my penance. I need to be rewarded now.” Priya was saying softly, as if talking to herself.
“You will. You said so yourself, male bosses are easy to handle. You remember I had that stern boss once, Mr. Khatri. He was so strict and a yeller but he couldn’t handle tears. A couple of drops, and he would mellow down instantly. If worse comes to worse, you do the same.” Mukti advised.
“There is one good result of your so-many job changes, you have handled and have experience with all kinds of bosses!” Smiled Priya.
“Yup, that’s true.”
“Why don’t you write about them? You know your experience working for any one of them? That is bound to make for an interesting read.” Priya offered.
“Hmm . . . I don’t know. Who would want to read that? Everyone has a horrible boss, why would you want to read about mine?”
“To find solace in the fact that we are not alone!” opined Priya.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Mukti said courteously but rejecting the idea without much ado.
Sonali who was still busy with her phone checking out Kshitij’s Facebook profile, oblivious to the conversation around her, suddenly looked up and said, “I can’t find his gym. This is stupid! Who posts about their gym on Facebook?!”
She threw the phone on the table that slid across and fell on the floor with a loud thud. Mukti’s heart skipped a beat looking at Sonali expensive iPhone falling to the floor.
“You have no idea what people post on Facebook! I have a friend who uses the check-in application every time she goes to a fancy restaurant. She clicks a picture of what she orders and posts it online.” Mukti bent down discreetly to pick up Sonali’s phone,
“For that matter, look at Prakash, he kept clicking our picture and posting it on Facebook and Twitter along with constantly updating his status. I mean he had nothing to say to me, someone who was sitting a couple of feet across from him, but had a lot to say to his 200 followers who he had never even met!”
Priya on a different tangent altogether whispered, “I have this picture of my boss, completely drunk and making out with a dealer. I think I should post it on Facebook.”
Sonali and Mukti’s head snapped into attention. Mukti’s eyes widened but Sonali laughed and said casually, “I never thought of you as the revenge types?”
Priya, realizing what she had said, suddenly became solemn. Mukti knew what Priya must be thinking . . . her past, what all she had gone through and what she had eventually done. She placed a hand on Priya’s lap meaningfully. Priya looked up at Mukti who nodded reaffirming her solidarity. Mukti could see the same dread in Priya’s eyes she had seen a couple of days ago when, in the heat of the moment, she had mentioned about her past deeds. Mukti noticed the same anxious shifty glance she had observed countless times before, whenever even a slight mention of what she had done in the past or anything related to it was made . . . the terror of all her skeletons tumbling out. Mukti patted Priya’s lap discreetly and gestured her to have a sip of her drink to calm her nerves. Priya, in turned gulped down the entire drink in one go.
Sonali noticed the sudden shift in Priya’s otherwise cheerful disposition, “What happened? Did I say something wrong?”
Mukti answered, “Nothing, Priya just has had too much to drink.”
“Really? Priya has the highest capacity out of all three of us. We have just had a couple of drinks yet. You guys are hiding something. I can feel it.” Sonali responded.
“Why would we do that?”
“I don’t know—“ At that precise moment, Sonali’s phone started buzzing.
“I think your phone’s ringing.” Mukti peeped to see it was Kshitij. She silently thanked him for calling when he did. Sonali, in an instant forgetting all about Priya and her grave appearance excused herself and went out to take the call, smiling to herself.
“Priya, you need to calm yourself down. You can’t react like this every time anyone mentions the R word.”
“I don’t know. It just happens. I have no control over it. It is involuntarily,” Priya looked at Mukti, “plus I thought you told her.”
Mukti sighed, “Have I or have I not promised you that I would never tell anyone about it? I have right? Why don’t you believe me? It’s been almost five years since that happened and no one knows that it was actually you. So, you can relax. It is over and done with. Nothing bad can happen to you now.”
Priya just nodded her head, “I know.” They hugged awkwardly across the table.
Mukti smiled and called for another round of drinks. Sonali entered with a frown on her face.
“That was Kshitij. He cancelled our date later this week.” She said slouching down on the couch.
“Apparently he is having a boys’ night out.”
Mukti smiled mischievously, “you know na what happens at Boys’ night out, right? Booze and girls.”
“Kshitij is not like that,” Sonali added quickly, “He never even glances at any other girl. He only has eyes for me.”
“Good for you!”
Another round of drinks, and the girls started getting a little tipsy. The conversation became more incoherent and disjointed. While Sonali was making her and Kshitij’s wedding plans, Priya was rambling about being made her bitchy boss’ boss and ordering her around. Unaware of all this, Mukti was dreaming about standing on a podium and receiving the Booker prize. It was only when their regular and trusted waiter told them that the kitchen is closed that they decided to crash down at Mukti’s place. They all stumbled into a cab and chatted about their respective future plans.
“I want to get married to Kshitij seven times . . . I want to be a Hindu bride decked up in red, then I want a Muslim wedding, then an all-white Christian wedding . . .”
“I will make her do everything! Get coffee for me, take print-outs, and answer my phone . . . every damn thing!”
“I want this to work out. I want to see my novel in a bookstore. I want to see people picking up the copies and buying them.”
Their distinctive monologues continued on till they finally staggered into the dark apartment, giggling like schoolgirls. Throwing their high heels in any direction possible, the three girls stretched out on the floor in their expensive dresses and fell into a deep sleep dreaming about their individual future.