Drafting drafting, on a roll! Must stop for lunch, though, and rest fingers.
She survived the party too, somehow, the leers and snarky comments of the uncles, the discomfort of the teenage boys dragged to it. Nikisha was careful to steer clear of the kitchen, where Amma and her sisters had soon fallen deep into very serious weighings of the merits of this boy or that. Which one had a family history of drunkenness? Which one had passed his exams with flying colors? Which one already had an uncle in America, who’d promised to get him a programming job at IBM?
Mostly, she tried to keep her sari from falling off – the embroidery made it itchy, so she kept tugging at it, and that loosened the folds, and even though Amma had stuck a huge safety pin through the big folds, there was only so much a safety pin could do. Eventually, Nikisha retreated to the bedroom she shared with Udhya, closing the door. Maybe no one would notice she’d gone?
It wasn’t long before her sister slipped in. “Hey – are you managing all right? I brought you a plate.”
A plate piled high with cashew milk toffee. Nikisha reached out for it eagerly. “How’d you manage to sneak this past Amma?”
“She was distracted by scandal! You know the Ponnadurai’s daughter, the one who got married last year?’
“Right. Turns out her husband is gay – he’s been in a relationship for years, on the sly, and just got married to keep the family happy. When she told him she was pregnant, he broke down and admitted everything.”
“God, what a nightmare for her.” Nikisha wondered if she should reach out, text Rani – but she barely knew the girl. How awful.
“The whole family’s humiliated – that’s why they’re not here, not wanting to show their faces. Rani’s moved back home with her parents, and I guess she’ll raise the baby there. No one wants to dissolve the marriage with a baby coming, but it’s just a mess all around.” Udhya brightened. “Hey, maybe we can use this as an example?”
“Don’t rush us into marriage, because he might be secretly gay?”
“Hey, every little bit of ammunition helps.”
“I think, ‘But Amma, I’m too young; I have to concentrate on my studies,’ is still the best approach.”
“Maybe for you!” Udhya flopped back on her bed, heedless of her carefully pinned half-sari. “No one will believe that I’m taking my studies seriously enough to matter. I’ll be lucky if I pass my A-levels. When you’re a rich doctor, with a beautiful house of your own, you’ll let me come live with you, right?”
“Always,” Nikisha said, smiling. Udhya was often ridiculous, but she also made everyone laugh. No one could keep a frown on their face when she was around.