You did what?
I stabbed him!
Are you sure?
Oh, I am sure.
You got that right.
Payal you are way out of your depth.
Well, what can I say, you got that right too.
What’s gotten into you?
Chill he’ll live.
And how do you know that, you stabbed him right? You said you’re sure!
Chill, I stabbed his palm, to the table, that’s all.
What? How can you be so calm about all this, why are you so damn calm after such a royal fuck up? Koyal threw her hands in the air, and sat on the chair at the dining table, head in hand
Payal smiled dreamily. If she could see her own face now, she would know she looked demented, she didn’t feel demented though she felt calm, serene, like she had just taken a long swim in the clear blue sea.
He is gonna FIR your ass from here till Delhi, where his MP (desi for Minister of parliament) dad is going to fry your ass straight to Tihar (one of the biggest prisons in India), dude I think we should call him, just say you’re sorry.
Payal slowly pulled the phone out of Koyal’s hand and pocketed it.
Koyal just stared at Payal aghast, mouth gaping, eyes wide, BP sky high, daru (desi for alcoholic beverage) evaporating from her pores like nail polish remover, dead sober and panicking with alarming speed.
Ok, ok I get it you’re in shock, we need to see a doctor you need to get some sedative or something, sleep it off, I’ll take care of everything, just give me my phone back Payal, you’re not thinking straight.
Payal burst out laughing, an eerie high pitched laugh that made the hair on Koyal’s neck stand
Wiping her tears off, Payal realized why Koyal could not get it, she was meeting her after 5 years, and 5 years is a long time. People change, Payal certainly had. Koyal certainly had not.
I might have to explain this, damn.
Koyal, I am fine I am not in shock; I am not sure about you though.
Babe, Surya is not going to call his dad, he is not going to call anyone, trust me, just trust me. Ok. I have got something on him which is going to sting worse than that steak knife, way worse. He knows better than to piss me off any fucking more.
That should do it. Payal thought.
Koyal still looked confused, trying desperately to process this crazy ass development, the violence, Payal and her nonchalance towards all of it, she looked at me as if she was seeing me for the first time. Well in a way she was. Payal Shartri Beta version motherfuckers.
Payal’s phone rang, she sighed, it was getting annoying now. Koyal’s exasperation, all that explaining and now the bloody phone. Can’t I enjoy this for a bit please?
Is it Surya? Please Payal please pick up, dude we can fix this, I know why you’re angry, I thought you didn’t know, but I guess you do now, you’re justified sweetheart. But he loves you and you love him, you have been together for 8 years, 8 years damn it, don’t throw that away. This is just adrenaline, it will wear off, then you’ll regret it Payal, I know you.
Koyal kept on pleading, the phone kept ringing. Payal could feel a headache creeping.
Fuck this shit.
Payal took the phone out of her back pocket, picked up the call and kept it on the dining table. She turned the speaker on and sat besides Koyal. Koyal dearest, had started crying. She muffled her sobs, wide eyed in anticipation of doomsday.
What? Payal barked at the phone
Baby I am sorry, I am so so sorry, I am an idiot, you know. I love you, please baby
Koyal looked at the phone and then at Payal in quick succession
Finally Koyal’s exasperation and panic for her friend was replaced by something resembling pride.
Payal smiled at Koyal patted her shoulder and slouched back in her chair like a lazy cat, Crossed one long leg over the other, picked up her car keys lying on the table, and pressed a small hidden button on her keychain aka Mr. Junior Laughing Buddha’s bum
Mr. Junior Laughing Buddha emitted Surya’s voice, “Don’t worry about dad yaar, He thinks’ it’s in the Mutual fund, fucking technology retard is not going to login to check, I have made sure there aren’t any paper statements being sent home, and in 6 months the principal will be back, it’s a growth fund yaar, I’ll just tell him the market was bad so there was no appreciation, Chill, that old fuck’s a dumb ass.”
Payal poked Junior Laughing Buddha’s bum again and it stopped.
Koyal tried, but could not stop herself, Payal joined in. They were rolling off their chairs, laughing. There was silence on the other end and then without a word and with a fresh set of burns, Surya hung up.
Damn Girl! Koyal whistled appreciatively
Payal went into the kitchen and came back loaded with a bottle of old monk, 2 glasses, coke and cigarettes
Koyal poured the drinks while Payal lit 2 cigarettes at once and passed one to Koyal
Koyal took one long look at the cigarette, cursed then took a long puff, and then she just sat there looking at Payal, waiting
Payal went on smoking and downed a large patyala (desi for a double large) neat before realizing that more explanation was due
Oh come on Koyal your pms-ing on steroids today man. First you’re angry, then afraid, then negotiating, crying, laughing and now you’re looking at me like Rodriguez. Koyal flinched at Rodriguez. No one likes being compared to their half-witch hostel warden.
Koyal sighed looking tired and defeated
How was she going to get any of this? It’s not her fault, you owe her some dirt, spill. Payal reprimanded herself.
Payal poured another patyala drank it neat and started explaining.
5 years ago when they had parted ways after college, Surya & Payal were the ideal couple, deeply in love, committed and happy, or so it seemed. The poison had taken root by then and was just not evident on the exterior at the time.
Surya was possessive, exceedingly so. Payal was becoming a progressive recluse as a defence mechanism towards his constant character assaults. Payal, a people pleaser by nature had been going over and beyond, cutting her ties with first her male friends, then colleagues, then female friends and then with the rest of humanity. All in an attempt to placate the abundant insecurities Surya nurtured
Somewhere down that murky path the sniggers began, then came the stories, the well wishers, the other girls. Surya was a pathological cheater, to add insult to injury, he also bitched about Payal, how she was the leach in the relationship. To his friends, her friends, her boss, her brother. Surya was a miser when it came to Payal, but ask him to throw a party and he’ll be the first to spend his father’s money on you. Provided, you brought along them hot chicks to the event. It was death by a thousand cuts, the most painful kind.
Then suddenly six months ago, Koyal called up Payal out of the blue, the girls chatted for four hours straight, laughing at old jokes, Koyal bringing Payal to speed with all the gossip, Payal kept the phone down and realized her face was hurting, hurting from laughing so much, the poor thing was out of practice, she cried all night that night. Next day she had one of her most epic fights with Surya, he had been trying to call her while she was on the phone with Koyal and he accused Payal on cheating on him.
Payal, placated him, pleaded, professed eternal love, begged for forgiveness, cooked his favorite meal, made love to him and while he slept next to her that night, contemplated suicide.
In the middle of the night she just could not take it, the shame of it all, she sneaked out of the bed and into the bathroom, sat cross legged of the floor with a razor blade in one hand, the wrist of the other ready for sacrifice. She couldn’t do it. She did not want to do it, she wanted to slip out noiselessly and run that blade across Surya’s throat so bad that she was shaking in the effort it took to restrain herself. She sat there all night twisting and turning that blade in her fingers, at the Cusp of reclamation, control, deciding what she could and would do. Then she did it.
Koyal’s face was streaked with silent tears by the time Payal was done, Payal stretched across and hugged her.
I should have known something was not right. I should have been there for you, I am sorry paggu.
Payal chuckled and said, don’t be stupid, I shut you out for that fool, I am sorry
So, what did you do those 6 months? Wait around that asshole, for him to say those dumb ass things?
Oh no, not just that love, I did so much more. Payal laughed and Koyal felt the hair at the back of her neck stand again. (To be continued…)