It’s hard to be a rebel, especially in a small town like Chandigarh. But having the raging hormones of a twenty-year-old, and with my parents heading out of town for an overnight trip, you can feel my need to break the rules, right?
I gave them the usual excuse of how much Prerna, Divya and I needed to study for the upcoming exams, trying to convince them to let us have a sleepover that night.
They looked at me sceptically. I admitted, ‘Okay, we want to have some girlie fun, too.’ They smiled, underestimating their daughter’s plan, or perhaps they knew better than me what bad behaviour I was capable of.
After much pleading, the other two sets of parents gave their permission as well and, yippee, our plan was in motion. The three of us gathered at our front door, bidding adieu to my parents who perhaps had their own naughty plans. Then we started plotting how to get our respective boyfriends into the house.
The first obstacle was sixty-year-old Mrs Gill, my most vigilant neighbour. So whatever we had to do would have to be done when villains mostly strike – at night.
We made a lot of preparations that day. We got cold drinks; sadly the boys didn’t drink alcohol and we didn’t want to push our luck, so Fanta and Coca-Cola it was. We bought chips. Now the last thing we needed to arrange was a movie.
We girls decided to celebrate our chromosomal conglomeration of Xs and rent an XXX film. I don’t think the boys would have appreciated it because that’s what they did the whole day anyway, but for us, it was a novelty.
Now the question was how we would get a CD and what we would say to the VCD guy. The video rental shop was in sector 11, and I couldn’t go and ask for the CD as the shopkeeper would recognize me. I was a regular customer and usually picked up cartoons from him which I loved (don’t laugh). He would get the shock of his life. ‘Baby went directly from pink movies to blue.’
I didn’t want him to get any ideas, so the deed would have to be done by either Divya or Prerna. But neither of them was willing to go. Even our daredevil Divya didn’t want to raise eyebrows. Such are the taboos in a small town.
So we devised a ploy. One of the girls would cover herself in Mama’s dupatta, revealing only the eyes and the nose. Mummified girls on scooters on the roads of Chandigarh were a common sight.
But we forgot that we were using my car. And there was no need for a girl to cover up in a car, as the only reason girls acted like they were on Mummy Returns was to protect themselves from the sun and reduce their chances of not making it to the advertisements for Fair & Lovely.
With a mummified Prerna in the car, we drove nervously at a snail’s pace. What were we thinking? A girl covered up with a dupatta in a car that was moving at the speed of thirty to forty kilometres an hour? It was the opposite of inconspicuous. We were asking for turned heads and craned necks.
We parked the car across the road from the shop and Prerna left for the mission. That’s when Divya and I realized our folly. Both of us swore we wouldn’t say a word to Prerna, but the thought had struck our warrior, too. She came back running, saying, ‘Why the f**k did we come in a car?’ Oops. ‘Listen, it’s going to get dark, our boys will be here soon. Let’s just go. I feel stupid wearing this dupatta.’
She did look stupid in it. The dupatta belonged to my mother who is five foot nine inches tall and liked them to be longer than usual. Prerna was five foot two. The dupatta fell around her like a tent. Her look was screaming for attention, much against our plan.
Now that we had got here, we didn’t want to return empty-handed. So we pushed her, and finally Prerna agreed. Divya and I were sweating in the car watching the conversation between her and the shopkeeper. The latter’s face looked grim at one point. I thought he was going to call the police. Divya said, ‘Why would he? Wouldn’t he get caught, too?’ She had a point.
The next instant we saw the shopkeeper roaring with laughter. Prerna lost the plot at this point. Not only did she unmummify herself, but she screamed at him, her face now completely uncovered.
And, to my surprise, the six-foot guy shut up and handed her a CD.
Prerna came back angry and victorious. I wanted to give her a chest bump. I was so bloody proud of my friend. Divya said, ‘He knows you now,’ to which Prerna replied, ‘Good, perhaps next time he will think twice before he says “Ladkiyan toh sirf ek hi rang ki filmein dekhti hai, tumhein badi aag lagi hui hai” to some other girl.’
The three of us laughed. Two hours of elaborate plotting had just gone to waste, or maybe it hadn’t.
Excerpted with permission from Juggernaut Books.