Time was, I always thought I would be world-famous by the time I turned 30. One of those childish ambitions like living in Paris, wearing bimbo outfit – tight, cleavage-revealing top, tight jeans, boots, red lipstick – and saying, ‘What’s that?’ for everything. You know, stuff like that. As it turns out though, I am not world-famous at all. While I do have many claims to fame – an unpublished novel, a few unpublished short-stories, the number of husbands I am collecting, and other such things, nothing has struck gold yet. And I haven’t seen Paris even from a plane.
Then there was that absolutely conventional time in my life when I hoped to be married by the time I turned 30 and other really banal stuff like that. I am glad that didn’t happen. However, I do feel quite sad about the lack of sex in my life. Marriage might have taken care of at least that. Maybe.
But, and how this hurts, I always thought I would be bendy and sexy by the time I turned 30. For some time I was. Just moving was so bloody pleasurable and how much we take that for granted. Now I can barely breathe. Forget contortions and flexibility. Those remain teal-coloured memories. It’s curious how most people believe that just because you are plump or fat (depending on which side of the cycle you are on) you won’t be funky and bendy in bed. Short-sighted men often miss out while the more broad-minded ones whose taste in women runs to the voluptuous do discover some great times. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
I always also thought I’d be my own boss. And while that has definitely come true, it’s not quite the way I intended. And that is really depressing because I have completely lost interest in anything to do with a career. I just don’t care anymore. My therapist assures me it’s the pain talking. I only hope that’s true otherwise I am taking nihilism to rather alarming levels.
So I feel rather bad about life. In a few days I will be 30. I feel I have nothing to show for it. Also no one’s throwing me a surprise birthday party this year breaking the three-year long tradition of bringing in my birthday with a surprise party. We are going to party and hopefully there will be no cops, but still.
Last year was brilliant. That was the week I was staying at the townhouse in Koramangala, 1st block, being all wifely and motherly and sisterly and everything to three men (Cat whom I’d just married, Freety, and Roo). It was Cat’s last week in India and he’d caught a stomach bug. I was rather alarmed for him and so very strict about his diet. So while we had decided to go out dancing and bring in my birthday, what we eventually settled for was a quiet night in – ordering pizza and chatting and playing sex games. Lunch had been a heavy affair at Cat’s driver and cook’s house. I was really tired and sluggish. I’d changed into my night dress. My friend Preethi describes it as, ‘minimum covering and maximum exposure’. I was also terribly confused about time. I’ve found that I get like that when I am having too much fun and hoping time will just stand still.
I asked the men if I should go buy some cake. Freety assured me that it was too late and the shops would be closed. So instead we ordered a cup cake from the pizza guys. I decided that sick husband should have something home-cooked and bland and not eat pizza. That’s when I found we didn’t have what I wanted. Roo and Freety went shopping. They came back with the stuff and when I was cooking, the Isaacs dropped in followed by the pizza and the cup cake (ghastly by the way). While eating we played the sex game.
And then the men decided to smoke on the balcony. Everyone left the house except for me and Cat. I cleared the table. These three men bring out the wife in me, I swear, I never do such stuff otherwise. I saw that my phone was blinking. It was a message wishing me a happy birthday and I told Cat, ‘Look, they are already wishing me!’ And Cat simply caught me and said we must go out to the balcony.
Even then I had no idea. It seems like I was particularly daft that night. So we went out and there it was – all ready. Cake, lit candles, flowers, decoration and screams of ‘Surprise! Happy Birthday Day!’ and even a camera to capture everything! It was perfect. And sure enough that cheered all of us.
I had Bohemian Rhapsody playing in my head. So I insisted we have to dance and listen to it. And that’s what started the party. We had a wild hour of dancing, and music, general madness, and fun.
I decided it was all absolutely fabulous so I got hammered on half a bottle of vodka – drunk straight from the bottle. It was a really wild night.
And then, the Isaacs decided to leave. We lowered the volume on the system as Cat and Roo left to see the Isaacs off.
Freety and I were practicing some really complicated dance routine when Roo and Cat rushed in saying cops had caught hold of the Isaacs and were speaking to them. I told them not to worry because while the rest had gotten high no one was as stupendously drunk as I was.
Just then the door bell rang. Roo opened the door and found two cops on the doorstep. The cop was asking Roo who owned the house and so Cat answered. But I pushed through the guys as Freety quickly and haphazardly draped a duppatta around me. Since I was the only one who spoke Kannada, and also because I was asking ‘what happened, what happened?’ the cops addressed me.
‘Madam, the neighbours complained about the noise.’
‘Oh sorry. We just turned out the music now. Sorry, you had to come all the way here.’
‘Yes, Madam, that is fine, but…’
Conspiratorially, ‘See, it is my birthday, they just threw me a surprise party…’
And the cops staring at Cat, ‘so yes, Madam, but…’
Sotto Voce to Cat, ‘Cat. Go inside. Now.’ To the cops, ‘Yes, Sir, so sorry, wasted trip and in the night. We were just going to bed.’
‘But, no Madam, we need you all to come to the Police Station.’
‘What? To the Police Station? Why? We have stopped playing music and everything.’
‘No, Madam, that is the procedure.’
‘But, how can we come now? It’s too late.’
‘No, Madam, you don’t come. Send the men.’
‘No, no, that just cannot happen. It is my birthday. Wait, tell you what, have some cake. Roo, get them some cake, darling.’
‘No, no, Madam, we cannot eat cake. We…’
‘Of course you can. It’s my birthday. Here, please eat some cake. And then we can talk.’
‘Thank you, Madam. Happy Birthday, Madam.’
‘Thank you so much.’
Even in my drunken state I was clear about two things. I knew they probably wanted money. I had even signalled to Roo to keep some 100 bucks handy. He had it ready. But in the last minute, I signalled him not to give it because I decided that it was my fucking birthday and I should be receiving gifts not giving away bloody money to cops. So I knew I wouldn’t give money out and I was equally determined that no man of mine would be going to a police station on my birthday.
Since then I’ve come to know that the cops had no case. If they ever come knocking at your door like that just say goodnight, shut the door, and go back to your life. There is nothing they can do. As an Indian citizen you can do that. But I didn’t know this then.
‘Madam, sorry, but one of the men should come to the police station.’
‘I’m sorry, Sir, but that just won’t do. I’m sorry. I cannot have them come to the police station because we had a party. And do you know, it’s the first time we’ve had a party like this in this house. We are very respectable people, we don’t do such things. And what’s more everyone here knows that we’ll be vacating day after.’
‘Madam, all that is fine, but someone has to come.’
‘No Sir, I am sorry, but we cannot come to the police station. Would you like some more cake? Just a little more?’
‘No, Madam, thank you, but it’s procedure.’
‘Sir, please. How do I explain this to you. Okay, why lie to you! So here’s the thing. I just turned 30. You know how it is when a woman turns 30, no? Very depressing, Sir. So they just wanted to cheer me up and they threw me this surprise party. (Dramatic pause as I brushed some tears out of my eyes) And you know, I am very depressed. I also recently lost my job, you see. I was a lecturer in MC College.’ (Technically, not a lie. Also being a lecturer makes you respectable pronto.)
Both the cops didn’t know where to look. ‘Madam, sorry…’
‘And you know what; we were just going to bed. Look at me. (Thrusting boobs out here and rearranging dupatta) Would any respectable woman come out like this otherwise?’
‘Oh really, I will not forget what you have done for me tonight. I am sure you will handle this.’
‘So sorry, I didn’t even ask your names. What is your name, Sir?’
‘Madam, Sweetie, madam.’
‘Sweetie. Darling. I cannot thank you enough for this. Really, thank you.’
And so that was how I ended up turning 30 a year before I actually turned 30. Well, this year will not offer such excitement I know because there is to be no surprise happy birthday party. But I will have a party and there are friends who care enough to do that.
So I must be doing something right. And it will all be absolutely fabulous, I know. So I will just dance.