“Come on in Anshu, welcome Komal, and ah look at Sriya, the big girl, what a beauty,” Amit Jindal held open the door of his opulent four thousand square feet penthouse in the high –rise of a residential complex, much talked about in the town because of its glamorous, celebrity residents, not to speak about its upscale posh locale.
“Really? Taken after her father? As if her Mom is an ugly duckling!” nudged Komal playfully, adjusting the folds of her see-through pale lilac georgette on her shoulders under which her flawless skin show of cleavage, midriff and a pierced navel played peek a boo through that flimsy fabric of her saree.
Batting her eyelashes with a lavish touch of mascara, her kohl-rimmed large eyes taking stock of Amit’s tastefully decorated living room but could not locate the mistress of the house- Priyadarshini, Amit’s wife, his two children were on the missing list too.
She was one of the most productive women in Amit’s life.
Sriya, a drop-dead gorgeous seventeen year old, only child of Anshu and Komal Mehra, gave a bored disinterested look at the three adults and marveled at her mom’s acting prowess, whom she hardly gets to see at home because all of Komal Mehra’s time is occupied by her social services, the NGO she runs for women’s rights and a shelter home for the poor children.
She is one of those Page3 women who is so busy with street children she has forgotten to take care of her own child, only, of course, she rises to her claim of being my mom in these parties! “Wow, some lucky kid I am!” Sriya gave them all a fake smile and tried to evaporate into thin air, only if she could.
“So what’s your poison today Anshu? The same?” asked Amit after the power couple Anshu and Komal Mehra settled in the imported pure leather couch comfortably.
“The same, you know it” Anshu complied.
“Well I will wait for the women and then we shall see Amit, is that fine?” “As you wish madam” Amit poured a hefty amount of scotch, Jack Daniel’s in a crystal tumbler and added ice cubes, the bell rang.
“Must be Parag and Namrata, I will see” Amit headed towards the door.
“Have you noticed Priya, Ananya, and Arya are not here?” Komal poked her husband conspiratorially.
“Priya must be busy doing her last-minute touch up like all the women and about Ananya and Arya, maybe they are not at home, who cares darling?” Anshu was busy admiring the amber liquid in his glass and was waiting for Parag and other guests.
“Look at them Anshu, just have a look, the finance whiz kid Mr. Parag Desai looking fantabulous and who will say Namrata is a mother of two kids? How old are Nimisha and Nairit, by the way? And where are they?” Just after Amit stopped kissing asses of the Desai couple their twelve-year-old twins stormed in the living room whining and complaining about a fight they had in their car.
“Well, Amit the monsters are here and don’t give me compliments when you don’t mean a word” Namrata Desai, looked stunning in her black low cut strapless gown and just the right size of her push bra and a lush cascade of lustrous hair added to her oomph quotient – a has been model and now a super successful model coordinator said coyly slapping at Amit’s wrist.
“Would I lie Namrata? Would I dare to?” Amit flirted back.
“You rotten scoundrel! I am sure you must have complimented Komal the moment she made an entry”
“Guilty as charged, you women are so damn good looking that a man like me can’t help but appreciate a little, now is that a crime admiring a beautiful woman?” Amit played along.
“Scotch for me too Amit” Parag announced grandly and lazed down in the lazy boy recliner.
“Here you go”.
“Where is Priya, by the way? The home minister needs to give us an appearance” Namrata said bitchily.
“Yeah she is coming in few minutes, meanwhile why don’t you and Komal tell me what will you both have?”
“Let us wait for Iqbal and Nafisa” Namrata and Komal agreed in unison.
Iqbal and Nafisa turned up after a good fifteen minutes and complained about the maddening traffic, “You can’t get out of your home on weekends, now even this part of the city is crowded by people walking, talking, creating chaos, my God!” Nafisa fanned her face with her hands, all exasperated by the epidemic touch of the lesser mortals in the road; she had a porcelain complexion, hooked nose, waist-length poker-straight hennaed hair, a striking personality in a wide-legged grey trouser with a halter neck sequined teal colored top ordained with a distinct British accent owing to her long stay in London.
While her husband was teaching literature at Oxford University, Nafisa always regretted their decision of coming back to the country from the UK but Iqbal’s ailing aged parents could not be avoided.
A sour-faced boy of fifteen trailed behind them and entered the scene.
“Look who is here? Atif, how are you, young man?” Amit greeted the boy. “Same as before, why do you ask every time we meet?” Atif was arrogance personified.
“Atif behave, will you?” Iqbal boomed in his baritone.
“Well this is how I talk, too bad if you don’t like it; I never wanted to come in the first place, why you have to drag me to all these boring parties of yours, I don’t really get you dad”
“Nafisa just look at him, this is what you teach him at home?” Iqbal looked at his wife sharply.
“I am not a single mother or the only parent alive you see Iqbal. Just like you teach in some oh-so-big university, I also run my own chain of apparel stores, just like you earn a shit load of money.
I too am earning megabucks besides taking care of your parents, so educating, teaching proper etiquette, morals, and behavior to your only child is not my sole responsibility, you too should have contributed in his upbringing.
Don’t you dare blame me, Iqbal, I told you, we should not have come back from London in the first place, and Atif was a different boy back then and now look at him. Culture shock, isn’t it obvious Iqbal” Nafisa inhaled for air to breathe after this long tirade and did not even try to hide her disappointment or agitation at her husband’s decision of coming back, which according to her was sheer foolhardiness on Iqbal’s part.
“Nafisa, we have talked about this and I do not wish to argue on this with you now that London chapter is over in our lives, get used to the reality and stop nagging me for God’s sake. Amit yaar, please make me a drink, I need it badly” Iqbal settled his long frame of six feet beside Komal.
“There they go again, my super intellectual family” Atif muttered under his breath and searched for some known face, came across Sriya who winked at him suggestively and both of them vanished in the open terrace, leaving the parents behind in huge relief.
“Children, you see, you give them everything, you do everything for them, still this show of gratitude” Nafisa grouched.
“I agree, even Sriya is a handful to manage sometimes. I don’t understand, what actually makes them happy. Holiday in Europe, Cartier watch on birthday, a new top class car after passing class ten, new model of the most expensive mobile phones, designer dresses, shoes, bags, makeup, club membership, what?”
Amit thought the topic has to change otherwise these ladies will go on lecturing each other on child-rearing and he was looking forward to some fun time after a hard week at the office, being on the board of his own organization is no mean feat.
“Cheer up ladies and Iqbal don’t sulk, Atif is young, give him some time, he will find the right direction in life. So Komal, Namrata and Nafisa what can I serve you?”
“A screw driver for me” Komal said, “Gin and tonic for me” Namrata had to be different, “I will take scotch on the rocks, like you men” Nafisa felt it was extremely important to prove she was a ballsy woman, no less than a man.
After Amit handed over drinks to each one of his guests, Nafisa asked, “Amit can’t see Priya around, where is she?”
“Exactly, I asked Amit the same thing a few hours back, that is before you all arrived.” Komal added.
“So, no home-cooked food today Amit? Since Priya is not around, we will truly miss her delicious cooking” drooled Namrata. “No, she is at home, just little unwell, last time I checked she was getting ready, you guys carry on I am bringing her”
“She won’t come, rather she can’t come” a well-serrated voice cut in.