Barkha glanced around, exasperated. How had she managed to gather such an eclectic bunch of friends over the years? She didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry!
There was Yashi, looking all glamorous and carrying around an afterglow from her trip to Cape Town with the husband.
There was Sakshi, asking her advice about her crumbling marriage almost every third minute. The hint of panic in her tone was beginning to scare Barkha. Should she get in the middle of this or be the neutral friend who nodded her head but didn’t really offer any solutions? Safer that way for sure, she concluded.
There was Mohini, who had stopped talking to her altogether but couldn’t just leave the party. Her ego simply wouldn’t allow it. Mohini had begun to talk about a very sensitive matter in a very callous way, loud enough for all to hear and Barkha had reminded her to be more mindful of what she said and how she chose to say it. She didn’t dignify Barkha with a reply, and that was the last interaction they’d had.
Barkha unconsciously sipped at her drink, barely aware of the glass in her hand or even the taste of the strawberry daiquiri. She was too focused on the antics of the kitty party group. These ladies were something else!
Not all in the group of people in front of her were this colourful or this vocal. The majority of women were quite happy to blend into the background, take a back seat and watch the show unfold before their eyes. Barkha chastised herself silently as soon as the thought formed in her mind. She was being too hard on the silent ones. After all at this moment, she was one of them too. Time to shake off the lethargy and the buzz from the daiquiri.
She started up a conversation with Sakshi who was lurking miserably in a corner. Barkha could guess her body language even before she struck up the conversation. She imagined Sakshi’s fingers constantly fluttering against the glass, her hands nervously holding her drink like it was as fragile as she was at the moment, like the glass would break
Barkha reached out to Sakshi and silently hugged her. Then before anyone else could pounce on this, she engaged Sakshi and herself into the current topic of conversation. Yashi and her group who were discussing the best places to visit in Cape Town. Barkha whispered to Sakshi, “Just forget everything for a few minutes and listen to this conversation. First world problems!”
Sakshi smiled. Barkha was always the mischievous one, trying to cheer her up and calm her down with distractions and funny one-liners. She was grateful for a friend like Barkha who did not focus entirely on what was wrong with life.
While the Cape Town carnival had moved on to other topics ranging from a top supermodel’s diet regimen to new school rules, one of the women suddenly got up and declared, “Ladies, I need to say something.”
Everyone was immediately silenced as Mini struggled for composure. After what seemed like an eternity, Mini said, “As of yesterday ladies, I am a divorcee. Finally free of Avinash and all the drama that came with him.”
There were a few seconds of incredulous silence. Everyone except Sakshi who was keenly aware she was headed in the same direction but simply lacked the courage at this moment rejoiced for Mini. Mini’s news only brought Sakshi’s issues more into focus and made her all the more miserable.
Meanwhile everyone else was busy congratulating Mini. They all knew drama was an understatement. Mini had seen it all from abuse to debasement to a complete loss of self.
Sakshi shook her miseries away and congratulated Mini. She hugged her and conveyed her best wishes for a future filled with peace and dignity. Mini whispered to Sakshi, “We will talk soon love. This too shall pass.” Sakshi’s eyes brimmed with unshed tears but she knew Mini was going to be a great source of support and knowhow for the days to come. She felt herself become more determined and strong.
Barkha was jubilant at Mini’s news! She wished the same peace and dignity for Sakshi and hoped things would settle in Sakshi’s life also soon.
Barkha sipped her third daiquiri, deep in thought about all the conversations she had been a part of tonight when she was startled by the ringing of the doorbell.
She opened the door to her husband Ashish who had just reached home after a long day at work.
They hugged warmly and Ashish asked, “How was your day?”
“Much better now that you’re here”, said Barkha
“Have you been cleaning? The house is sparkling babe! What’s for dinner?”
Barkha smiled at Ashish’s compliments, pleased he had noticed her efforts. She firmly left her smartphone on the coffee table. It was time to go offline from The Kitty Party whatsapp group.