P is for Priya
“Pree, my love you have to have to come. Sweety, it`s my 40th! The whole gang is invited - I am not inviting The Random Group girls only the Soul Sistah’s. So not a peep to anyone as of now, ok?”
Priya’s heart pumped with excitement. She could barely breathe! O.M.G.Sabina was inviting her for the 40th! Never mind that she had a 40th two years back - a huge dance party at Tryst or was it at Aer. Doesn`t matter, if she says it`s her 40th it`s her 40th! Who am I to complain? Not when she invites me - that too to Budapest! Priya was bursting with excitement. She had to relieve the pressure and she dialed Ritu, “Ritz you heard babe?”
“Yeah! Sabina? Such a bitch. I was planning my 40th in Budapest this summer. She hijacked the idea.”
Priya was deflated. She didn’t want to say anything. She had to go to Sabina`s party but she couldn’t cross swords with Ritu-not when she had such fancy plans too.
“Hmm. So now?’, murmured Priya. “Now what. We go. I`ll plan something else- not breathing a word about it. Ok I`ll catch you. Have to pick Shanaya from her piano class.”
Priya walked out on the terrace outside her room. Budapest. She felt a thrill. What fun. Girls trip. I am buying those tinted aviators. The green ones. No actually so many of my friends have green or blue. Maybe I will go for gold. And I will need a long jacket- the one with fur lining and maybe a pair of long boots. Thank God she had got her kitty last month. Rohit would freak out at her shopping list. She would go with Gayatri- her sensible friend with a great eye for fashion. She didn’t realise it was nearly 7:30p.m. when she heard Rohit call her out.
“Pree what are you doing on the terrace”.
“Oh! sweetheart. I have to tell you something- Sabina called. We are going for a girls trip for her 40th.”
Rohit smirked, “We? We as in?”
“Our Soul Sistah`s group.”
“Have you asked Mummy?”
“No I haven’t. I thought I will tell you and then. ..”
“And then what? You know how it goes Pree. After 15 years of marriage also you don`t get it? You fight your own battles. You tell Mummy. And then Dad. I have no issues- you can travel to Timbuktu if you want. Chalo come. I’m going down to eat. Mummy said dinner at 8 today.”
Rohit walked away breezily. Priya chewed her lips. I have to tell her. I mean what`s the big deal? I have my money to spend. Kids are teenagers. There is house-help. Surely, they can manage without me. Priya mumbled to herself as she walked down to Mummy’s apartment. They ate all their meals with her. Rohit was sprawled over the sofa munching chips. Mummy was busy knitting yet another cardigan for Manju or maybe Manju’s husband Mukund. Mummy was obsessed with Manju. “Hai meri rani beti- She is so delicate. Dilli ki thand- she cannot bear it.” So every year during monsoons Mummy would go into this knitting mode churning out cardigans, mufflers, skivvies, gloves, kaan topies- all for the delicate darling Manju.
“Mummy,” Priya said softly as she sank into the worn out sofa which always seemed to devour her. She squirmed to find a comfortable position.
“Mummy you know Sabina na? My friend on Pali Hill.”
“Of course beta- I must say she is a big show-off! Where’s Ananya? I haven’t seen her since evening.”
“She’s gone to her friend’s house. Twisha. Remember she told you yesterday? They are having a sleepover. Some 7 girls”
“Oh ya!” exclaimed Mummyji. “She did. Poor thing she needs to go out. How much she studies and then you send her for tuitions. I never sent Rohit or Manju. And they did well, didn’t they? And then you send her to piano class. Nanhi jaan how much can she do? Why piano? Kahan bajayegi? I tell you Priya you must not let these shoo- shaa people dictate your choices. We are not like them.”
Priya could see the conversation going downhill. She tried to salvage the situation. “ Mummy how’s Savita behenji? Is she better now?”
“Yes she is a little better. I mean how much better can you feel once you get diabetes. I tell you she is really careless. Jalebi par Jalebi she popped when Radha behenji had satsang in her house.”
Rohit turned and winked at Priya. ‘Pree what were you saying about Sabina…”
“Yes Mummy,” Priya blurted hurriedly before Mummy could start. “Sabina has invited me to Budapest for her birthday. I will go na?”
“Yes beta go. Do I ever say no for party? I am not like that Radha who sits like a vulture- eyeing her daughter- in- law.”
“Mummy you know where’s Budapest?” asked Rohit with a smile. “It is in Hungary- in Europe.”
“Europe? London ke paas? I thought it was the name of some club. Aaye haye beta chnochley hai sab. How can you go there?”
“Mummy all my friends are going. We are a big group.”
“Beta London se aage? You know the expense?”
“Mummy I just got my kitty.”
“Aaye haye toh uda dogi saari kitty? Money is for saving. My mother always said money saved is money earned. These trips are not for us. All these fanciful things – waste of money. Useless women. They don’t care about their family. Beta you are not like them and wasie bhi tumhari umar nahi for all this. Ramu khaana laga.”
Priya looked at Rohit imploringly. He just shrugged his shoulders. Tough luck he mouthed and walked up to the dinner table just as Daddy came in and sat. Mummy took her position on his right. “Did I tell you that our Mahila Mandal raised Rs.250,000 for the temple?”
“Really that’s commendable Shobha.”
“Mummy beamed with pleasure. We will save some after all the expenses. So Sarita behenji suggested that we should do a pilgrimage to thank Sai baba. We will go to Shirdi. She will hire the bus. It’s a day trip but Radha behenji was saying that kakad aarti is the best so we will stay one night there’s a nice guest house near the…”
“Shobha!” interrupted Daddy. “What is the need? Why do you have to go to Shirdi to thank Baba? You can thank him right here. Baba humare dil main hai. Chonchle hai sab. Chodo. Rohit where’s Arav?”
“Dad I told you he’s gone to Lonavala. Shiv’s 14th birthday. They are staying at his bungalow. The caretaker is there. Besides Arjun will go there tonight to check on the boys.”
“Hmm” grumbled Daddy. “Pass the dal Priya. Shobha why aren’t you eating?”
“I am”, Mummy said softly as she picked up the sabzi.