By Piyush Roy
Part 7 / Series 1
“They make a lovely pair,” I pointed out to Tammy, quiet casually, albeit expecting to kindle some fireworks in an otherwise sedate evening, going by our till now eventless watching by the aisle act.
Tammy straightened up, staggering under liquor’s addictive sway, her body shaking with a betrayed anger, swaying, tying the now forgotten scarf round her waist with an aggressive firmness, she barged right in-between Rahul and Anisha, muttering a definite, “Rahul, let’s go!”
“So soon,” Rahul questioned, “The party’s just begun man. You chill at the drinks counter… Me and Anisha have hardly hit the floor,” he said, constantly giving that ‘I will take care of her,’ assured smile to an unruffled Anisha, who’d already resumed her dance in slow motion. That was Anisha, detached unless actively solicited, respecting everyone’s right to space and priorities.
“Look at me Rahul, at least when you are talking to me. That bitch is not your date for the night,” Tammy insisted. “Come let’s go home, I’m drunk and not feeling well,” she said grabbing refuge in his shaky hold.
Rahul could see another guy, coming close to the now singly swaying Anisha, with a smile and an invitation equipped with a charmer’s profile. He couldn’t let one of ‘our’ girls, to an outsider; his manhood rebelled.
“Tammy, behave yourself. Even I am drunk, but I have not lost my senses. Please go back and sit, will you?
“Will I? No, I won’t!” she shouted, loud enough to silence the immediate pandemonium.
“Ever since we entered the disc, you have been prancing around with every other female on the floor except me; abandoning me to that damned corner. What the hell do you think about yourself? You think, you did a favour by getting me along?”
“Calm down Tammy,” Rahul tried muttering between his teeth with a suppressed vexation, “Please don’t make a scene!”
“I am making a scene. Look who’s talking,” she went straight into the middle of the floor, to garner some more sympathisers for her wronged woman status. “You come to me only get your tough works done, flirt with me in private as and when it suits your needs, but when it comes to any show of belonging in public, you behave as if I never existed. You, pathological ditcher…”
Her shrieks had by now effectively started intermingling with her tears, complimenting the overall impact, simultaneously leading to its due cacophonous crescendo. Lest something dramatic happened, as a worried Anisha was about to try pacifying her to save our other college mates from being boycotted by the disc management, with a harassed looking Rahul trying to gather himself to drag Tammy out, I moved in with an air of acquired confidence.
Bidding the victims of commotion to carry on with their dirty dancing, I led Tammy out of what I deduced to be a mutually suffocating atmosphere. If love meant being the last couple to remain on the dance floor, Tammy’s wasn’t destined for that honour that day. Her protest less following, did surprise me, but it worked a lot in softening Rahul’s metro-boy bias against small-town me. He remained eternally grateful for that impromptu act of saving him from an embarrassment he knew not how to tackle, never realising that the kindling of the showdown too was courtesy me.
It wasn’t Rahul’s fault alone. Thrown into a new environment, it’s human tendency to look for a support, a help, a confidante and when he is someone as charming and empathetic as Rahul, emotional slips are bound to happen. Rahul was given to treating his girls royally. When in mood he could even pamper a beggar to princedom, however miasmic the evolving imagery. Tammy had assumed Rahul’s normal affections to be the beginning of the romance of her life, but when he went ahead for greener pastures, on her refusal to join in for the game, she didn’t hesitate from creating the commotion of their life. The fact that it bought some scope of action, to my otherwise boring evening, was purely incidental, rather a lucky turn of far reaching consequences that suddenly propelled me into the thick of things from the status of an also present non-entity. The class started viewing me with increased respect coming from a proven act of mature crisis handling. I realized, talking whispers is not the specialty of women alone, and when the guys chip in, they either create a hero or banish a zero to ignominy. Who cared, my rising stars were already on the road to ascendancy.
On the way back to our rented homes, I had to contend with Tammy’s expletives laced ‘expose’ of Rahul and gang, revolving round their ‘so-called’ double standards and meanness, boiling down to even deriding comments on the vital statistics of a few, wondering how did she manage all that data in so short a time. However, the crown of the object of her hatred was reserved to be bestowed on Anisha. Surprisingly, I didn’t sober her on her diatribe, passively endorsing her ire against the glam couple of our class.
Jealousy, was I succumbing to thee? I let myself be human, for the time being. But that feeling of distrust and hate that laid its seedling in Tammy that day, festered with the passage of time to dangerous proportions. More of that later, because for the moment, I would prefer enjoying every bit of my act of the ultimate agony uncle, with Tammy tucked close to me drowning all sorrows in the sinews of her saviour-of-the-moment. Were women really that vulnerable, or did I have a softer side to me, appealing enough to make them drop their guard enough, to lay bare their inner turmoil. That too consequent to my first ever heart-to-heart talk with a girl in my life, so far. I was in a state of appalled awe, suddenly awakened to my tremendous mischief value!
The writer, a national film award winning critic, has authored three published works of fiction and non-fiction.