Author : Aparna Krishnan
Company : UST Global
Truth and Dare
It was nearing midnight. Rest of the house has gone almost silent. But that’s just a temporary situation. For the next three days the house is going to remain the center of attraction in the locality. With colorful LED bulbs adorning the entire structure, it screamed “Party time” on everyone’s faces.
It was indeed party time. The younger daughter of the family was getting married in two days. The beautiful, smart, outgoing and highly ambitious girl, Vaikha has at last agreed to tie the knot. That too with a guy her parents picked out for her. This was a big surprise, considering the rebellious streak and string of boyfriends she had in her younger days.
Vaikha was on top of the world! She couldn’t believe that this was happening so fast. She never wanted to get married before 28! Or atleast that’s what she always thought. And here she was, all set, with mehendi on her hands and a light flutter in her tummy. She was getting married on Sunday! To her one and only “prince charming” Vivek! Thinking about him gave her goose bumps. She kept remembering their first meeting. When her parents pestered her to go and meet a guy whose proposal has come by, she was damn annoyed at first. They met at a coffee shop in Kormangala on a Sunday morning. She had to wait half an hour for the guy to turn up for the meeting and was starting to get pissed off. Then someone came behind her and called out her name. That was Vivek, the smart, handsome techie with a wit to match his brains. Within the first half an hour of chitchatting itself, Vaikha was floored! She just found her connecting with him unlike with anyone else before. “ Cool guy, I guess this might work…” she thought back then. After their first official meet, they both gave the “go ahead” signal to their parents. This was followed by rounds of meeting the parents, all the big talks about the function. Vaikha and Vivek choose to tune out those discussions and focused more on building their relation. Dates, phone calls, random surprises and more than that, unbridled open talks. They talked about their thoughts on career, interests and yes, past relationships. And they were in sync when it came to looking past old struggles, with the hope and promise to build a future together.
Tonight she was in for a pre-wedding slumber party. Vaikha was given a full-on bachelorette bash by her office friends, with booze and dance and lots of drama. That was without doubt one of the best surprise party where she got to be the star. But tonight, it was with those three girls who stood by her through thick and thin. Her lucky stars.
In the comfort of Vaikha’s old room the four friends sat surrounded by pillows, chips and dips,a bottle of Appy fizz and four wine glasses and a full bottle of Bordeaux, a gift from her colleagues. Vaikha looked forward to this night since a long time. Life has changed so much for all four of them since their school college days. They still try to meet once in a while, but that proved to get tougher as each year went by.
Neena, the tomboy of the gang, was always on travel. Her job as a career counselor and trainer got her to travel and take classes in colleges across the country. She still found time to follow her passion for bikes and cross country bike trips, spending most of her vacation time on road too. “ Crazy old neens” as they called her had no intention of settling down any time soon in her life. Despite her mom’s constant worries and complaints that her job, hobbies and bob-cut hair will make her end up a “dried up old maid” Neena lived her life in her own terms.
Ananya or “Ana”, the hardcore romantic was also in Bangalore with Vaikha. Ana worked in an MNC, but unlike Vaikha, she worked as a charted accountant with the finance team. Though working in the same place, the girls seldom got to meet up. Ana had two major quirks – numbers and romance. Being a friendly soul, she made a lot of friends, both guys and girls, but never been in a relationship. Her fair share of crushes always found her to be too cute and friendly and ended up dating her other friends. Her minor heartbreaks made her love numbers more than ever, making her work hard towards her dream of being a CA. And she did just that.
The shy and naive one of the gang, Geetu had small dreams all her life. Graduate, get married and stay close to her mom and dad. She never wanted to grow up. Back from school days, she was the kid of the gang. And she got her perfect life. Her husband, a college lecturer was a few years older than her and treated her like the child she still was. Geetu was quite happy with her life the way it was.
The Neena, Ana and Vaikha slowly sipped their wine, savouring its taste. Geetu took her apple juice, She was never in for anything with alcohol. Each in their own world, they shared the comfort of night and silence.
“ Well this is too quiet for me” stated Neena after a while. “It’s time we pep up things”.
“I was waiting for the wine to kick in. As you all know, I get high easily and then the party starts” Ana said with a small giggle.
“ Mmm….” Vaikha took another sip and continued. “How long ago did we play our old truth or dare game? “
“Must have been years ago..” Geetu said.
“Why not we give it one more go? I bet it will help us get started.” Vaikha said.
She got up and opened her cupboard and started sorting among the junk in there. She pulled out an old pepsi bottle out of it. “Remember this?” she quipped happily.
The girls smiled at that. The old “hand painted” pepsi bottle was their companion since their school days. Vaikha used to carry it around in her bag to school so that they could play during their break time. Even after years of rolling and spinning, the bottle was still in good shape.
“Spin it away” roared Neena
The girls laughed at that and sat down on the floor, setting the bottle in the middle. “Ready?” Vaikha asked her girls.
And she spun it.
It took a few moments before it finally came to rest pointing at Ana.
“Yup, see, even the bottle knows where to kick start the party!” said the slightly dazed Ana.
“Okay girl, I will ask you first. Truth or dare?” Vaikha asked.
“Truuuuthh….! I am not taking a dare yet, na ah! Ana giggled.
“ Aha…well….Well, tell us one of your hottest encounter with a guy.” Vaikha asked.
Ana stopped giggling for a few seconds. The others could see that she was thinking hard and all they guessed was Ana will come up with something silly like “smiled at the guy at the coffee shop”. Never did they except what she said-
“The first time I drunken sex”
“WHAT???!!!!” Vaikha and Neena screamed out.
Geetu sputtered on her drink and started choking.
Ana sighed and started telling her story, the one she kept a secret till now…
He was her neighbour. The first time they met was when she was coming home after a long day at office, around 1 am in the morning. On the landing of her floor she found two people wrapped up around and snogging the daylights out of each other; pressed against her apartment door. Ana stood there speechless and by then the guy opened his eyes and saw her.
The guy had grey eyes as if it was a stormy sky. He gently pushed off the girl he was kissing and stepped aside from Ana’s door. Apparently he knew his neighbor. Ana quickly pulled out her keys, opened her door and crept inside without looking at the “so in lust” couple. It took her a few deep breaths to calm down her racing heart. Those grey eyes. For a split second, she had wished that it was she who was pushed up against the door and being kissed by him. Ana tried to physically shake off the image from her head and go to bed. For days after that, every time she came upon her front door she remembered the same darn scene; and now she kept fantasizing herself with her crazy hot neighbor.
And then she saw him again. At her office. Ana stepped in to the meeting room and there he was. He was in level 3, with one of the technical team. Ana couldn’t believe this was happening. Her neighbor, whom she had fantasies about, was also her colleague. She couldn’t remember seeing him there before. It was in the meeting that she found out that he is new to the company and she will have to see a lot more of him in the coming months as both their teams had to work in close connection over a new deal. All through the meeting, she tried not to look his way. And all the while, those grey eyes never left her face.
It started slowly. The meetings, discussions, work related talks. It led to more talks, team lunches and casual small talks. One thing lead to the other and by the end three weeks, Ana was meeting and talking regularly with him. Sidtharth, her new friend and secret star of her dreams had slowly taken up space in her daily routines. Ana came to learn a lot about him, his interests, hobbies even his family. And offcourse, she came to know about his carefree lifestyle, with parties booze and casual hookups. And yet, she found herself getting strangely attracted to him. Everything about him screamed “Bad Boy” on her face, still she found herself wanting to know more.
Out of the blue he asked her out on a date. One date lead to a few more dates. On one such trip Ana got her first kiss. One damn kiss lead to many more, which lead to many sessions of make out all over the place- in his car, in the cafes they went and her personal favorite of being held against her own front door. He kept in casual and so did she. But as days went by it started becoming a struggle for her not to fall for him. The “L word” was a taboo and so she kept it to herself. And then it happened.
One dinner date. A few extra shots later, they were in the cab on their way back home. Held against her door and a few hot and sweaty minutes later, Ana took a decision which she will regret later. In the early hours of the next morning, she stayed awake, with a warm body spooning her and a hot breath on her neck.
It led nowhere, or that’s what Ana felt. They ended up in bed a few more times. Then she told no. She couldn’t keep fooling her heart that everything was casual. Friends with benefits was not her thing. She wanted a promise, something they both could work on. And he was not ready for that. Ana didn’t push it. She was tired of being a heartbroken wreck. So she stopped being one. She stopped seeing him, taking his calls and kept her interactions strictly official. And that’s how it was. She still wonders if he ever felt anything for her all this while or if she was just one of his many conquests. It’s been two weeks now. And heartbroken or not, Ana still held a candle out for him…
“Wowaa….All this happened and now you choose to tell???” Asked Neena.
“ I was not ready to talk about it. Just let it be Neens.. Not everyone is a tough nut like you. “ Ana sighed.
“He never tried to contact you again?” Asked Geetu
“ He did. Still does. I don’t answer his calls. At office, I make sure he doesn’t get a chance to talk personal stuff.” Replied Ana
Vaikha was in deep thought “I think you are being a bit mean Ana. Why didn’t you just tell him that you liked him more now. He might have felt it too. He might have said yes. I honestly think that you didn’t give that guy a chance to clear himself”
“Mmm…May be. I am just scared of hearing a No” Ana replied sadly.
Geetu took Ana’s hand in hers and said. “Give him a chance to say what he wants to. At least it will give you closure.”
The girls were quite for a few minutes. Then Neena spun the bottle again. It pointed at Geetu.
“My turn to ask” Started Neena. “ Truth or dare?”
“You know me Neens…nothing but the truth” Geetu smiled.
“ Best moment of your married life?” Neena winked.
Geetu smiled at that. “Well, I was meaning to tell you guys. As of now, only Jay and our parents know. I am pregnant.”
“Oh my God!!! Screamed Ana. “ That’s just wonderful girl! Congratulations “New Mommy”.
“Shit, This night is full of surprises” Neena emptied her wine glass and got up. She went and hugged Geetu. “Love you girl, I am so darn happy for you.”
Vaikha was quite. She suddenly felt so overwhelmed that she tear-ed up.
“You made us all aunties you bloody fool” she laughed wiping her eyes. “But girl, are you ready for this? Having a baby is a big decision”.
Geetu just smiled. This was such a life changing situation. And never did she feel happier…
Her life was perfect. It was all God’s grace. She went from the love and comfort of her home to that of her husband’s. Her in-laws were wonderful people with so much care for her. And Jay and her, they were made for each other. Geetu never really grew out of her childlike antics. She was the youngest child of her parents, born much later after her two brothers. And they pampered her like a princess. Despite all the attention, she was not a stubborn girl. She was always the sweet simple happy girl all through her life.
It was one year since her marriage when one fine day she felt very nauseous. All day through she felt week and dizzy. By evening she was convinced that it was some stomach bug. Jay took her to hospital after his work.
And then they were told the surprising news. Geetu was carrying their first child. Her initial feeling was panic! She broke into a sweat and started rewinding her memories what and where it went wrong. Was it any missed pills or a broken condom. She couldn’t remember. And then she started feeling overwhelmed. She is going to be a mother! She has an actual person growing inside her. Geetu was starting to cry out of all her confusing feelings when Jay came rushed near her examination bed and scooped her into a hug. He was beyond happy. They both thanked the doctor and left the hospital. All the way back, Geetu was thinking. She felt she was not ready for this. She never felt grown up herself, now how in the world was she supposed to raise a child! She silently started crying and dabbing her eyes. Jay noticed this. Back in their flat he made her sit down and talked his heart out. He wanted them to have the baby. How they conceived their little one without actually planning was not a big deal. The big deal was this was happening and they are ready for it. He was ready for it. Jay, her better half in better or worse convinced her that no matter what, she will be his little wife and he will be there with her always.
The “kid wife” felt blessed to have a husband like Jay. No matter what some people say, for Geetu, her husband was her sole strength and support since day one of her marriage, and she felt that with him by her side, she can do this- live this life….
“I am going to babysit and spoil your baby rotten. Give it a sweet tooth”. Laughed Ana.
The girls laughed and were back in their own world. How things change.
“I am done spinning the bottle” Yawned Vaikha. “I have an early day tomorrow”.
“But I didn’t get a chance to do or say anything!” Neena complained.
“ You pick your own task and fire away” said Ana. “I get a feeling you have a new story to tell yourself”
“You are right girl. I actually wanted you all to see a special pic ”. Neena pulled put her phone from her jeans pocket and searched though her photos. She paused on seeing a photo and smiled.
The girls peered into her phone and broke into big smiles.
Ana was the first to speak “You proposed?!! This is just wonderful”
“Thanks darling. Yes I proposed. On my knees and all that stupid romantic stuff” Neena laughed.
“She said yes. We are engaged!”
Neena liked women. She knew it right from her school days that she was into girls and not guys. She snorted and laughed whenever one of her friends teased her saying a guy’s name. Men and boys were just friends for her. But there were always some girl out there who caught her attention.
Her first ever crush was on her 7th grade English teacher. Riya miss was a 22 year old Anglo-Indian girl barely out of teacher’s training school. She was very pretty, with a sweet smile and a kind disposition. And her teaching, it was just so innovative and interesting. Neena started getting serious about English language solely because of Riya miss. She started reading more books and started trying creative writing under the influence of her teacher. She felt on top of the world whenever Riya miss complemented her for her writing skills. She often found time during her school hours to go and talk to Riya miss even when she was in high school.
And then one day, her teacher told that she was getting married. And Neena was heartbroken for the first time when she was 14.
Neena was unsure of how to let her friends know that she was different. That she had a different preference. It was not until they all were in college and a little less prejudiced about gays and lesbians when Neena finally opened up. By then she was sure of her orientation. She had read numerous books on LGBT community, their rights and their lives. She followed famous people like her and even registered with a support group and corresponded frequently with her new group of friends. She was still waiting to come out and tell to others, including her mom. After her father’s death when she was a toddler, her mom had been her everything. Still she knew that her mom was not going to think lightly of her situation. She had a plan to bring mom to see what she was but it will surely take time.
Neena met April Williams at a small LGBT convention she attended in Mumbai two years back. April, a US citizen and a single mother of 2 year old baby girl Sasha, was one of the speakers at the convention. Later, during the meet and greet dinner, Neena got to talk to April over a whole lot of things and they just clicked. After two years of long-distance relationship across continents, April moved to India to work with an NGO and be closer to Neena. They both were living together with their girl Sasha in Mumbai since 3 months now. And Neena took the next step.
Neena was planning to take April and Sasha to meet her mom soon. She was also trying for a pHD in Psychology from Yale University so that she could relocate to US and build a life there with her fiancée. She was all hopes and sweet dreams for future now…
“Big things planned huh” Vaikha smiled. “ Got to hear much more than I expected to hear from my friends. Now let’s get to bed. “
“Aww sleepy head, you didn’t get a pick. Say, Truth or dare?” Ana asked.
Vaikha started laughing with a light rosy blush on her cheeks… “My dear Ana, I am in for the biggest dare of my life on Sunday. Hell I am getting married girl! That is much more than I bargained for!! “
The four friends dissolved into laughter in that small cozy room. Some relationships, like their friendship , was beyond all truths and dares….