We dragged our abbreviated senses to the car door, ready to thread large experiences onto the short skewer of this night, eager to grill it over the gentle heat of this chill. It was A’s cousin’s wedding. Few colourful pegs of Black and White can slingshot you five years back to college days when you used to be similarly packed at the back of an i10 passing whiskey and whimsy in equal measure, and the fat Patiala pegs A made in tiny plastic cups had us drinking unsparingly and unsparringly in seconds. We had been long bickering just because L (of course) had kept A waiting an hour, but now that our Bermuda triangle was complete, all that clamour disappeared and A didn’t wait a second more to empty the bottle in our quivering bodies. We had single swigs in every round, nostalgia swelling with every swill, then slid out the doors warm and wrenching. The perfumed evening lifted its booty beside us and twerked. Stumbling across and out the parking lot with eyes blinging sharper than my earring, we reached the entrance. A sea of baaraatis was wafting out into the November nip as we attempted to slide inside. A hurried upstairs to escort the groom down and we followed after.
-Oh god, L, this is fun. the three of us together in so long.
-I know right. I can feel it.
A dazzling baaraat in full bloom before us on the moonlit service lane and we—the embellished old bunch—breaking in plain ecstasy over new bonds. Under a roof of flowers and among curtains of lights, we floated inside, hands up in the air, springs down on our feet, singing, dancing, slowly advancing. This was a night of colour and shine and of plenty to dine. And how light-hearted it seemed, like the heavy beats of the dhol. With both his arms hoisted up over his head to hold the ghadoli, A walked forward, steady and smiling, as we—L and I—pattered around like rain with our giddy little steps on the big porch.
–Hoyeeeeeeee. Hoyeeeeeeee. Hoyeeeeeeee.
-Hahahaha. I skitter, stamping the camera on his happy, ugly face. Let me record this moment before I wreck-ord this moment.
We dashed straight to the DJ. By now, a soft buzz had hardened my desire to flow across the floors like spilled coffee, hot over cold flesh. Between the crisscross fluorescence and the straight-ass beats, we waved and wiggled like a sunflower with the sun. The music kept busy blasting, the lights kept busy being bright, and we kept busy buzzing about them like bees juiced up on the occasion.
-Tell me, is my lipstick still on?
-Shut up, H, nobody’s looking at you.
-Okay tell me if it’s on my teeth.
-All the wrong kinds of things are stuck in there.
-Soon it will be you if you won’t tell me.
We wobbled together in that square inch, the steady two of us since forever, flickering with the lights above, shifting with the ground beneath.
Just then A’s aunt pierced through the crowd with a phone and stabbed it towards us.
-We’re being recorded L, I feel clumsy.
-No more than you look, keep grooving.
We kept the show on till the pull of food drew us—me—away. The idea of having four gulab jamuns straight one after another killed my appetite for moves and pushed me to move for real. So I bolted for the buffet. Eyeing the aisle with unskimmed devotion. I exited successful (of course!) with an eloquent plate in my hands and pure efficiency in my jaws. As aunties and uncles ogled us probingly, I resolved to sort out A’s love life and dispensed with my (most!) priceless gems of dating knowledge. L said, I must first go fix my own before attempting to kill someone else’s but I reckon, he was just high on all that gulab jamun and gossip.
Later as the crowd thinned out and we got more conspicuous among A’s close family, L gathered that was our cue to leave. In the back of the Uber ride home, as zara tasveer se tu nikal ke saamne aa meri mehbooba boomed and busted on the driver’s playlist, a smell of scrubbed puke lingered determinedly. He sure had a taste for contradiction. A nauseating stench. An ever-fragrant song. I was silenced and humbled by the beauty of it all. The night had been assigned to the magistracy of magic. We reached home plopping around like popcorn in a pan. Then, with ridiculous cheer we got out—tight and bright as the frozen yell of unblinking fairy lights—just when upstairs I realized, L would need bedding to sleep and I hadn’t done laundry in weeks.