Monday, March 4th
There we were: Woodlands Heights, Harrow, Friday evening. All sat round a dinner table again. Rematch from Luigi’s.
Babu Krishnarajah was a solid dude, despite the slightly off putting name, but very welcoming to his most esteemed guests, as he liked to call them. Sweet, very south Indian. He was a lovely geezer, small, round, with slightly thinning, big Afro like hair. Felt confident I could rely on him.
This time Dad had done the honours of the short drive but as he sat down he looked pleadingly at Vinesh and me, out of sight from Mum. Oh, no. No.
Mr Babu, as we called him, brought over a rather generous measure of whisky and soda, on the house. Dr Singhal looked pained, whether it was this act or at his own overgenerous measure, it was hard to tell.
‘Aids digestion,’ Mr Babu said, glinting.
I couldn’t face another repeat of Dad’s performance in Luigi’s. The wedding would be off or Sonia would demand we live in Birmingham or some other godforsaken place.
Mum had nagged him the whole week before and what was he doing? Defying her. It was his way of manning up, beating his chest like a silverback in the jungle. I thought for a moment Mum was actually going to scream at him. Instead, she scowled, he muttered back an expression that sounded a bit like the ‘ner-ne-ner-ner’ you hear in a playground. Jeez. My so grown-up parents?? Give me an overdose.
Tuna was making faces at me from the start. Had Vinesh put a laxative in her drink? I decided to be civil, defuse the atom bomb sitting at the table. I got up, lent in.
‘Karisma, how are you?’ I never call her this, knew she didn’t like it. She has many names, and her family all call her Tina, after Tina Turner, the 1980s rock sensation – apparently there was some passing resemblance. Well past, if you ask me and I rather liked the name I’d come up with after Valentine’s Day, Tuna. Me not much like. Fishy, tasteless (who says I wasn’t good enough for Sonia?)
‘What’s it to you?’ she sniped. Charming.
‘Sister, can we be loving?’
She screwed up her face like I was trying it on. Please, Madam. Looking for a kinky threesome? Ergh, no, that Suk’s territory (…in his dreams). I blame his pornpad.
Sonia tugged at me, she knew trouble would flare if left to open combat with Karisma.
I sat back down, held Sonjs’ hand under the table and for a while, as the lovely starters were going round, I did thank God – at least the families were proper conversing.
‘I’ve got a date,’ Sonia whispered to me. A date? I’m your permanent date… Silly gal. Whaddya talkin’ about? I looked at her, stumped.
‘Silly, a wedding date!’ She gripped my hand tighter. It felt like mine was going to drop off.
‘I want to make an announcement.’
‘Hang on,’ I cautioned.
Didn’t we say December: yes, but she had found a venue in Surrey for the end of March…March ! How come, I panicked. Cancellation.
‘I just phoned them to make an appointment and they told me.’
‘Aren’t we rushing?’ She hit me in the ribs. She banged her spoon against a glass. Everybody looked at her.
‘Tony…I mean Nitin and I have set a date.’ Have we? ‘We are going to be married on Friday, March 29, just a few days after my birthday and it was my dear old grandmother’s birthday, so it seemed a lovely idea.’
Her mother grunted. Mine looked overjoyed, she had finally heard that word, wedding. A worry line or two had vanished. Her life’s work with me was done. Over. Rani first, me taken, now just Vinesh. She’d look 30 again.
What about time from work, Sonjs, honeymoon… (stag, I thought, to myself)? Don’t worry all about that, she said. What matters is us, marriage, a new life. We could talk it all over. We have three weeks. Flippin’ heck. My WIFE(!) is off her rocker…and we are not even married yet…
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