Louisa took a thoughtful bite of curry before saying, "I think I'll get married in a July, on an evening like today. I'll wear a big poufy dress, with lace sleeves, and a sweetheart neckline."
Shefali swallowed hastily, almost choking on the unexpected shift in topic, and on the tightness in her throat. Was Louisa daydreaming? Shefali had known once what she would wear for her wedding -- a simple A-line dress with a corset bodice, that laced up the back with silk ribbons. Jasmine blossoms trailing in her hair, and white sandals that glittered, like Cinderella's. A crimson and gold sari for the reception, richly-embroidered, with enough gold jewelry to fund a small country on her wrists, her neck, pinned into her hair. "Are you guys getting married?"
"Oh, I'm not sure when we'll actually have the wedding." Louisa smiled absently. "But it'd be nice to have it in July. It's easier for people to travel in the summer, and if you're getting married, you might as well make it a really big wedding, with all your friends and family to celebrate." The edge in her voice was unmistakeable now, as if she were angry with Shefali for not having had the big wedding, not asking her to be a bridesmaid. They had talked about their weddings since college, not often, but enough. Louisa knew that Shefali had wanted her bridesmaids to wear shimmering sunset colors, pinks and oranges and reds.
Louisa knew, and so Shefali asked sharply, "Aren't you putting the cart in front of the horse? I hate to quote my stepmother, but as Geetha would say, where's that ring?" Her voice cold, brittle.
Louisa hesitated, then said, "It's a virtual engagement ring. We were talking last night, and decided it was silly to spend a lot of money on a ring. We know how we feel about each other. The ring is just a symbol."
"Isn't that what a wedding is about? It's all symbols." Her ring, Roshan's ring, was sitting in a small red box in a drawer in her bedside table. Shefali wished that she were wearing it now, wished she could twist the reassuring gold weight of it on the fourth finger of her left hand. That finger felt naked.