Yesterday I had a bad fall, a sore back, and a reason to stay at home. The cousin I stay with, B, had gone off to work after washing the dishes. My other cousin, W, called up to say that he’d be coming over for dinner that night.
W is, in many ways, so similar and dissimilar to me that if I have anything to talk about, I really can’t think of anyone else to share it with first. We never agree, he always argues, I always stonewall – but that routine means more to me than a lot of meaningful discussions I’ve had with others.
We were talking about our respective work, how drab jobs really erode one, and how I must absolutely stay away from Lokhandwala. Apparently, it’s full of wolves. I’m the recipient of such focused advice because I have recently made a few friends from that area, and one of them has invited me to a pool party this weekend.
“You don’t know how they are!”, he warns me.
“They’re like you, I think.”
“Exactly!”, he says without thinking.
We laugh and I head to the kitchen to finish my absolutely delectable vegetable stew in butter and onion sauce. My cousins peer into the pot and tell me that I should probably not cook vegetables so savagely. “Just because they aren’t animals doesn’t mean you treat them like this. Show some dignity, woman!”, they guffaw. Of course, in the next 10 minutes, W practically polishes off the whole pot. When I look at his plate pointedly, he concedes that the stew was nice.
B, being the youngest of our ilk, is going through some tough situation in his job – the usual – demanding work and demanding boss. W spouts wisdom. I ask if anyone wants dessert and coffee. So, we bring out the chocolate and whiskey cakes and lemon tarts, sit down on the marble floor and talk well into the night.
It’s wonderful being with cousins. A casual, impenetrable comfort zone of doing things so ordinary that they are priceless - whipping coffee and cream to make the best cappuccinos. Me whining at 2:30 a.m. that I need chilled Coke, and B sprinting to Janta to get it. And also bringing me the latest edition of Vogue along with my drink (I don’t understand who’d be selling Vogue in the wee hours of the morning, but apparently there are some things one doesn’t understand and one doesn’t question.) Telling ghost stories (which, in fact, are W’s stories of his experiences with production houses), laughing until you’re snorting drinks out of your nose, making plans for the weekend, making plans for life, falling asleep on the floor with mouths wide open, and waking up to a beautiful Friday morning.
B is asleep. I cook lunch, go for my yoga, and get back to have tea with W, who will leave with me for work.
We get a rick and as I try to clasp my ear-rings, W continues with his tirade.
“I’m telling you…Lokhandwala is full of such fake people…just stay away, okay? You’re family. I don’t want anything happening to you.”
“Nothing will happen to me.”
“So am I.”
“You’re not…and even if you are, you’re a better brand of fake.”
“What’s a better brand of fake?”
“Fake that’s better than the original. That’s a better brand of fake.”
“You never make sense.”
“Of course I don’t. I stay in that mad-hole.”
We reach the part where we have to go our separate ways.
He pulls his knapsack and says, “Mail me…we’ll meet tonight if possible.”
“Sure…where do you want to meet?”
“Come to Lokhandwala…we’ll have fun.”
I get an SMS from B soon after.
“I’ve washed the dishes. If I’m going to Colaba Causeway, you want me to pick up those harem pants for you? What colour?”
I reply to my message. I smile. And I think to myself that I’m such a lucky, lucky girl.