Yesterday Devyani and I toddled on by to a friend's birthday party. Ragini, the friend in question, is someone I have known for years--her mum was friends with my aunt in Hyderbad and when she moved to Delhi, became friends with my mom. (I believe sharing friends is something that siblings do.) Anyway, so I've seen Ragini growing up, she's always been someone I feel intensely fond and protective of, being three years younger than me and an incredibly sweet person.
When she was in class four or five I think and I was lording it in my newly acquired teens I told her wisely, "Don't worry, by the time you're in the seventh, you'll have a boyfriend. I guarantee it." She looked at me a little sceptically--having a boyfriend wasn't something she was particularly worrying about and I suppose at nine or ten, you don't really care. We spent hours making crank calls and fudge and revelling in that only-Indian pecularity--the family friend. Someone whose parents you called 'Aunty' and 'Uncle'. Someone who wasn't "really" family, but who had been around for long enough to know yours. Someone who was always invited to birthday parties and otherwise boring gatherings. Even now, when we go to her house for dinner, Ragini and I quickly say we're going outside to take a walk and bond, sneak into the park and smoke a forbidden cigarette.We share clothes sometimes--actually more accurately, I borrow hers, because she has the best wardrobe ever! We talk about boys and our lives, and I enjoy the role I have with her, the older, wiser advice giver, with the whole 'woman of the world' aura that I like to exude.
Ragini used to be a plump little girl, pretty enough, but without any remarkable features. I will never forgive her for growing up so much hotter than I could ever be--seriously, she's tall, slender, with very long straight hair and since she's grown into her face--everything looks proportional and all. I give up being hit on when she's around, because even though she's pretty much blissfully unaware of it--she is the object of much male attention. And the other problem is that she's so nice!
Anyway, so Devyani and I went for her birthday party and after weeks and months and years of beign nearly the youngest or being treated as the youngest at gatherings--I felt really old. Here were a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds, all with very baggy low-waisted jeans, you know the kind that you yank down just enough to show your pelvic girdle and then fasten with a belt? I own a pair myself, but mine aren't quite so baggy, or quite so pelvic-showing. All these PYTs (note the subtle way I tossed in PYT and got away with it) also had very shiny, very straight hair and like you know those horror movies where the person's face goes from young and nubile to old and shrivelled up in an instant? That's exactly what happened to me. I could feel the wrinkles--pop, pop, pop--and crows feet and old bones and hurriedly I made myself a drink. And then Devyani and I lurked in a corner drinking and talking about how we too had thought we were so old and wise when we finished third year college.
You know, I do a strange thing when I'm at parties where I don't know anyone. I sort of look around to see if I can spot me, or anyone who used to be me in the groups. I find a strange sense of recognition when I see someone, obviously not one of the most popular girls, who is clowning around or looking for approval. "That used to be me!" I think and then I want to go over and put my arms around the girl and tell her that ina few years, she will be a wonderful unique person and weirdness will gave way to 'quirky' which is really a much prettier word. I whispered this to Devyani yesterday and looking around said, "I can't find me." She scanned the room too, "I can't find me either." "Ooh," I said, an a-ha moment dawning, "Perhaps you and I were like you know unique products! And that's why we can't find us." She looked at me pityingly for a minute and then smiled, "I just don't think we're at this party." "Oh," I said, now feeling a little sad, "We weren't invited." She patted my arm and we continued to watch one really hot 19 year old boy getting jiggy with it.
Isn't it rich, isn't it queer
Losing my timing this late in my career
But where are the clowns
There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year.
--- Send In The Clowns from A Little Night Music