The club was bright with the sunlight flooding in through the floor to ceiling windows. I immediately spotted Sulekha and Rimly, sipping on some kind of a beverage and looking blissful in each other’s company. While I headed towards them Swati hollered at Dichen and asked if she had any “churpis” she could spare. Dichen, happily fished out a packet from her bag and settled for a chat, completely forgetting the article she was working on. Alpana, the always caring one, carefully folded the paper for Dichen and put it in her handbag.
By the time I reached “Imly with an R” chatting with her outlier, Chokher had just dropped in and was humming a catchy tune, which I couldn’t get out of my head for a long long time. In no time the three were discussing literature and poetry with a vengeance. The topic immediately grabbed the attention of Tuladhar who was reading Emily Dickenson in one corner of the room and imagining living the poetess’ life. In no time Yoshay walked in and amazed everybody with her latest poem. While the chat here was too tempting to leave – I wanted to go around and say hello to all my other gals.
I saw a group at the center of the club, dressed to kill and ready for the world. They were so loud that one couldn’t help but get a little inquisitive about the topic of their conversation. Ronita was talking about her assistant. “Its preposterous” she was saying, “can you imagine living a life when most of your family is in the prison?? My assistant is the only one out of that hell hole and with a corporate job!!” Swati Coomar, looked at Ronita with amazement and shrugged wondering about the assistant. Pallavee said “really good of you to hire her Ronda! Who cares what her background is, when she herself is so bright and capable?” Suchandra was having second thoughts but was not really ready to make up an opinion. Zarbin sat there looking at everybody but really somewhere else. Next to her Srijana was busy making the most fantastic caricature of everyone around her. I took Anusha by the hand and introduced her to the group. She reminded me of Pallavee in so many ways and I was curious to see them together now. Pam immediately took the charge of making Anusha feel at home while Pratibha poured some tea to welcome her in.
In another part of the club Rima was laughing uncontrollably about Lona’s remarks about sex and other things! Lona was saying, “If I don’t find someone soon, I’m going to start getting cobwebs down there!” She always had a way of saying things. I looked at both of them fondly (my oldest friends from school). Rina joined us and we were soon reminiscing about how we would sip steaming cups of tea while chatting for hours together in Rima’s room, overlooking the entire range of hills in Darjeeling! “ Do you remember?” asked Rina, “Rima and her ex-boyfriend would signal each other with flashlights from one hillock to the other at night!” reminded Rina. That topic was just the beginning of a long lazy afternoon of reminiscing.
Out in the courtyard, Bhavna was sitting in the cozy corner with a group of friends, absorbing all the sunlight she possibly can. I looked at her and thought – this is probably the only way she can get warmth and take something. Mostly she is the one sharing the warmth and always giving. Giving selflessly and innocently…. For a person like her only the Sun has the power to give back.
Gargi, Melissa and Ankana, Sukanya and Priyadarshini were talking about a project in Bangalore that went awry. Sukanya was hell-bent on bringing out the lighter aspects of things as usual – making the environment infectious with her laughter. I joined the group and hugged my little cousin, Ankana. “Do you know” I said to Melissa, “this brat here would pee on the floor when she was 2 and then call the maid to clean the area when was done!! It would make my grand-dad crazy to wonder how she managed to ask the maid to clean her mess, when she couldn’t even say “wanna go pee-pee”!” I had just finished the story, when I caught the glare coming from my little cousin, excused myself and got ready to leave.
As I was leaving I head Gargi saying “oh common! There is nothing to be embarrassed about! We all have similar stories from childhood!” Priya agreed saying “no one is going to judge you based on what you did when were two, Ankana! In fact why do you care about judgments anyway?” Melissa quickly helped by changing the subject to my relief. I thanked God for people like them as I left, looking forward to the time when my cousin and I can laugh about the matter; just like we laughed about everything else together.
Lavina had just walked in with Kanwal and Nina. I was so delighted to see this bunch that I almost tripped over while going to greet them! Kanwal had brought some samples of her latest recipes for us and the smell was making me drool. Nina had the most interesting insight on a particular film noir. I was already a fan of her blog and now I was hearing it straight from her. I almost wanted to take notes!!! Lavina, of course, added value to anything she approached. I kept hearing my heart say – I wanna be like Lavina, I wanna be like Lavina, I wanna be like Lavina!!!
In a while I just walked past everybody and everything. I stood in a corner, looked around and thought to myself “this is where I want to be”. My heart filled with joy as I saw Reshmi hugging Sulekha, Payal listening to Eva’s stories, Denka discussing a medical question with Kukula, Candida and Preetu sharing their interest in singing, Priscilla discussing her next story for the magazine. This was a room full of talent, love, sharing and giving. I saw myself in everybody there. I saw myself in their laughter, their struggles, their courage, their vulnerability. I was all of them and all of them were me.