Thursday, March 28th
Life had moved at a terrific pace ever since Sonia, my wife to be, had made that announcement of our impending wedding just over three weeks ago. There were fittings and all kinds of marriage associated appointments, and not least was the hastily arranged engagement party (sagaai) at my house yesterday (March 27), with my parents playing host.
So many cousins I never knew I had, and some who lived only the other side of the street. Dad had stocked up on the booze, but I was under very strict instructions…no drinking. Just one …ok. Two, calm the nerves…well, if you must. Three, I might start to enjoy myself. No, no way. So, I was on my best behaviour. It wasn’t a huge gathering by any means, and members of her family did join us – giving me one final check over no doubt, and were probably also pumped to watch my alcohol consumption. Mum was especially insistent, saying she was nervous enough as it was, worried about what Dr Singhal would make of our three-bed terrace and all.
Suks had called me the day before, asking whether he could bring someone. I almost choked, Suks with a girl…Must be an escort, I teased. He sounded all smug as though he had defied all the odds to finally get his act together. I had other things to worry about.
Then, Ben asked if he could bring Kathy (ah, yeah, that’s her name…she was the one who arranged the eating in the dark experience and where I first met my beloved). Well, yes of course. He said he was trying to get back with her – too right she was lovely, but he’s just never very serious about anything – except Tottenham lording it over us. You see, a fool.
Vinesh was being his usual annoying self and said he had invited a ‘female friend’. Another choke. ‘I haven’t told Mum and Dad.’ Do not worry, bro, your secret is safe with me. Winky, wink. Ok, who is she? ‘She’s not Indian.’ Don’t say she is Pakistani. Though I myself have form in that area…best not to go there. ‘She’s Spanish, I met her college.’ Just tell Mum and Dad she’s a good Catholic girl and they will sleep a lot easier. Winky, wink.
Rani and her clan were with us, staying over in prep for the big day. Having my big sis around always calmed me.
Mr Babu was doing the food and Luigi and Isabella were floating about. Better not get too friendly there – that might wind its way back to Sonjs.
I was one drink in, when I saw Suks coming through and the first of my best buds. I spluttered the drink all over my sherwani when I saw who was with him. Bloody Martine. WTF. This was not in the script. I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t want to. This was crazy – a screwed up ex at your engagement party. Recipe for TROUBLE. I rushed over.
Suks had a big fat grin on his face, like… look what I’ve pulled. Martine was in a short black dress, showing off those legs like she loved the attention. She did. It didn’t make sense, she towered over him.
Suks went to shake my hand. I ignored him.
‘Hi, Tony,’ said Martine landing a smacker on my lips without any warning. I could see Mum, Dad and my father-in-law to be from the corner of my eye, watching. ‘Congratulations,’ she said clasping my hands, squeezing them tightly.
‘What is this?’ I screeched.
‘It’s your engagement party,’ said Suks, looking nonplussed and a little hurt at being ignored. I hugged him and as I went in, I whispered, ‘are you two together?’ To which I got the predictable answer, ‘not exactly’. Idiot.
‘I’d love to meet your parents,’ said Martine. Errgh, yeah, in the next life, sweetheart.
Dad came bounding over, recognising Suks from a stay over a few months ago.
‘Hello Sukvinder, how are you doing?’ he boomed, proud that he had remembered someone’s name from at least three months ago, proof he believed that he was not going gaga.
‘I am fine. Congratulations on Tony getting married, it must be a huge relief,’ joshed Sukhs.
‘No, but we haven’t got rid of him yet, they’re going to live here for a while, before they find a house. I might start charging him rent,’ he joked, a little bit of Johnnie Walker sloshing about.
Martine laughed loud, and yup, it got my old man.
‘Ooooooh, who is this?’ he said looking up (and down) at what must have seemed to him, like an Amazonian goddess… with legs like no end.
‘Hello I am Martine, I used to …’ I quickly got in there, before any damage was done.
‘We used to work together and now she’s got together with Suks.’ She grimaced slightly at the idea, let alone the reality of that statement. Ha ha. Two can play that game.
‘Another wedding?’ posed my Dad at the prospective couple.
Martine smiled politely, Suks looked beside himself at the mere suggestion.
‘Dad, look Mr Babu needs to know where to put the masala dosa.’ He scuttled off. Phew. I got another can from the table and headed back to Martine. Suks had been caught by Ben and Kathy just arriving - that was my opportunity.
‘What are you doin’ here?’ I asked Martine.
She looked away, uninterested at my line of questioning.
‘Tony, Tony, I am happy for you,’ she said swigging some champagne rather quickly. Drink+ disgruntled ex=fear, loathing (I worried). Her hand went to my shoulder. Dr Singhal was definitely looking.
‘Was this really necessary?’ I asked, gently stepping away from her dangerous clutches.
‘I don’t know what you are talking about, Tony. I am here to celebrate!’ And that she was indeed doing, with another quick down in one. Better not to get into an argument. I welcomed Ben and Kathy and Rakesh (my best man so to speak) with his wife, momentarily losing Martine. She was now with my mum and Rani. Oh Lordy. My heart must have missed a beat or two.
‘So, Mrs Raaj, I am disappointed with your son.’ Forget this was the natural condition for most womenfolk who knew me. She was definitely a little drunk. She was unpredictable in this condition, I knew.
‘I let her down on a project at work, sorry about that Marts,’ I declared quickly in front my intrigued audience.
‘I was your project?’ she scowled.
‘Ergh. No. You know - we had to close down that client account.’
‘What are you talking about, Nitin?’ she laughed, merrily. Suddenly the stakes had been raised, the harlot (my clan were thinking) knew my real name.
‘Did you know he has a thing for honey treacle?’ Oh no. Surely not that. I’d been awed by her and was curious, creative.
My mother looked slightly pale. Oh, not good, then suddenly she dropped to the floor. Rani scooped down to help her.
I was worried. Dr Singhal jumped over and assessed her quickly. ‘Call an ambulance now,’ he said, shot through with concern.
For a few seconds, everything was a blur. Dad looked terrible, everyone was totally shocked. What was happening? Dad climbed into the ambulance. Vinesh and I followed behind with Vin at the wheel. It was a long night at the hospital…
ENDS (I don’t think so…)
N.T.Raaj@asiangroom on Twitter