Even when you let me win, you try to screw me over.
I reached into my pocket as soon as I'd turned away from Sanjay, only to discover I'd forgotten my mobile phone at home. Oh Great! I would've borrowed Sanjay's phone and given Larry a call, but I figured that would not be a very great idea of beginning a prospective relationship. She would home when I got back, I reasoned, and went downstairs to get my car.
However, when I got back home, Larry was not in her place. I swung by her place before going to mine. Her mother answered the door, and looked confused to see me.
"Oh hi, Meghan," she said, "You're back from office early."
"I just went to rescue a file," I told her, shrugging, "Where's Jasmine?"
I'd always called Larry Jasmine when I was talking to her mother. Somehow Larry had felt like a private pet name throughout our lives.
"She went down to the office," her mother told me, "her father's been having a hard time at work, apparently."
"Does this mean she's going to be working from now on?" I asked, my heart sinking.
"Who knows," she said, "Do you want to come in?"
"No, no. Thank you. I should go see where my mother is," I smiled at her, "See you later, Aunty."
"Mom, are you home?" I asked, as I opened the main door using my key.
My house was eerily quiet. I wondered if my mother had even woken up from her sleep yet. Things in my house got a little messed up, every time my father had to go on tour. I found my mother, curled up under the blankets, in her room. I glanced at the watch.
"She's sleeping past eleven now?" I asked myself, shaking my head. "How bad were things when I was studying in Mumbai?"
It occurred to me then that a lot could've happened during my two year absence from home. I'd barely come home for a week. And maybe everyone pretended during the time I was home. Like Jasmine used to pretend two years back, every time Lakhi would come home, that everything was alright in her world. I was smarting from the very thought that my family could have possibly hidden something from me.
I walked over to my mom, and gently shook her.
"Ma, ma," I said, "Are you going to wake up now? It's eleven o'clock. And an empty stomach isn't good."
She mumbled in her sleep, and opened her eye just a crack. Then it must have hit her that I was sitting beside her on the bed. She leapt up at once, exclaiming, "I am awake, I am awake. Could you just boil some water for tea?"
"Ma, it's okay to sleep in on a Saturday," I told her, "I can go get you breakfast."
"No, you've come home and I should make you breakfast," my mother said, firmly, getting down from the bed. She her dressing gown on, and as she exited the room, she called over her shoulder, "What do you think of chocolate pancakes this morning?"
"Good," I answered, albeit a little surprised. Because as far as I could remember, the last time my mother made chocolate pancakes for breakfast, I was twelve years old. It had been a special occasion back then though I couldn't remember it now.
I couldn't help but feel today was special, and somehow connected to that day long ago.
I finally caught hold of Lakhi around 2pm. She texted me saying she was on her 'lunch break' and I should tell her the details of the morning.
"You scored two dates in one morning, go MM," she cheered from the other end of the line.
"Yeah," I said, rolling my eyes, "only my first date is at eight and the next at nine. How am I supposed to come back home on time?"
"Sanjay offered to get you from home?" she asked, "Well, just text him around 8:45pm, tell him you're out with me and you'll meet him at whatever restaurant he was planning to take you to."
"Oh my God, Larry, you're a genius. That never even occurred to me," I told her, "But I still need help with my clothes…wish you were here."
"No way in the world will I make it back on time," she replied, "the work's crazy around here. And I'm completely lost."
"How come you inherited the family business?" I blurted out before I could stop myself, "isn't it the older sibling's job to take care of that?"
"Yeah," she replied, sounding very vague, "Lakhi Di wanted nothing to do with the fashion industry."
"And you're just too nice to say 'no'," I said, shaking my head exasperatedly, "Larry, can you really sign your life away to a job you don't even like."
"Firstly, I don't hate the job. I am sure I'll grow to love it, and secondly, MM, I have got work to do. Keep texting me updates, okay? Bye."
And with that she hung up on me. My best friend just hung up on me because I pointed out she had wanted nothing to do with her family's business in the first place. I also felt that there was something Larry was keeping from me. Why do I feel like a complete stranger in my own house after two years, I couldn't help but wonder, why is everyone keeping secrets from me?
And seven thirty rolled around too soon for my liking. Deciding to go with a semi-formal look, I wore my denims paired with a white half sleeved shirt. My mother came along to admire me as I combed my hair. I could see her reflection in my mirror.
"Where are you off too, Meghan?" she asked, "You look very pretty today."
I was brushing my brown locks of hair, trying to make them look manageable. I smiled at her in the mirror.
"To a dinner," I answered, elusively.
I thought it was only wise to leave out the police officer out of this little conversation. She smiled encouragingly and said, "Isn't that your colleague?"
"Yes, he is," I answered, "I better go now. Otherwise I'm going to get late."
"Don't stay out too late, though," she warned, "and call me if you're going to get extremely late."
"Stop worrying," I told her, opening the main door, "Ma, nothing will happen to me."
With that I walked out of the house, little dreaming that a lot was going to happen in the course of one night alone.