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     Volume 5 Issue 79 | January 20, 2006 |

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Slice of Life

The Big Bash

Richa Jha

Sometime around this time last year, words floated into my ears that I was about to be invited to the Daily Star Anniversary bash. Now ordinarily, I would have laughed it off as a malicious prank on me, because I am not such an important person to be invited to such big do's. But this was different. With Daily Star's name in the picture, one would want to be wilfully led on into the dream.

And so I reasoned with myself, maybe it was true. Who knows, there may have been a sudden perceptible shortage of important people in Dhaka (VIPs holidaying, or VIPs attending International Conventions, or VIPs deciding to lay low for a while) and so, since a big bash cannot happen without important people, the Daily was having to look at the second and third rung of VIPs. Or maybe, just maybe, and this was the most unflattering supposition, they were looking for a representative from the ordinary people, and they thought I fitted the bill. Whatever it was, and no sliver of lie shall pass through my lips, it felt nice and important.

I asked my source (by now I had lain to rest any doubt whatsoever regarding the veracity of her information) if she knew whether all the high and mighty of the nation would grace the occasion. She said it was most likely. "But then, it would also depend on the headlines of that day's newspaper. I am sure you will be in esteemed company."

Since I had not attended any such important bash before, I didn't know what to expect, and what would be expected of me. I went to the mirror to see if I looked like an important person. The mirror didn't say much, but my heart sure danced. I practised (simultaneously) rolling my eyeballs and fluttering the eyelids, I decided I would have to grow my nails, those pimples would have to go, and so on. The preparations had begun in right earnest. But soon, as with hundreds of other women who would have been struck by the same existential quagmire, I was hit by a thunderbolt: what would I wear to the party!
I fox-trotted up to The Hubby who was busy fixing the break van of our son's toy train. "Helllouw, which one should it be?" I purred and waited. And waited.

He looked up after a good one minute, and gave a startled cry, "Heavens! Are you going to get married again? How come I don't know of it!"

"Relax. Tell me, which one looks better."
"Are these your entries for the next year's Bridal Asia?"
"Are you nuts? Can't you be serious, for once? Tell me, which one, please?"
"Hmmm," and this went on for eternity, it seemed, as his eyes flitted from one saree to the other, "this one," he said
"And what is it for, if I may ask?" He had done it, anyway.

I told him, and added that I needed to make a killing presence there, just in case they decided to devote a full page in colour for photographs of the event later in the newspaper.
The Hubby turned suddenly pensive. "And what about me?"
"Oh, I didn't think of that! But I am sure not. How can there be two important people in the same family? But let me check back with my source all the same.

Since she was my only link between the rumours at large, and me, I called her back. I think she too was caught off guard with my query, because rumours hardly ever carry the baggage of specifics. Facts are twisted to suit ones convenience. And who would ever think of the poor husband with such an important wife in the midst.

She made her few calls on the spot and turned around to announce, "He could be invited too. But strictly in the capacity of the spouse of an important person."
"That is fair enough. I don't want competition within the family," I added my two bits, fully reassured.

The Hubby too was happy and fully on board now. And so, we shared our concerns: Do you think we could be asked to comment on the latest happenings from around the world? We decided we wouldn't miss the Editorials from then on. Would it be appropriate to pretend to look more cerebral, or more beautiful (or dandy). You can't pretend to be both at the same time; the body's internal pretensions capabilities are non elastic beyond a point. Or would it be appropriate to get oneself clicked with the other important invitees, and later get them framed and mounted on the walls for others to take cognizance of our importance. And so on…

Days passed, and my esteem in my own eyes kept swelling as I waited for the sacred invite to land at my doorstep. I attended several other dinners in the interim, but my heart was never quite there. It happens when you know your rightful place is somewhere else…

About a month later, waiting for my turn for a hair trim, I overheard two genteel women discussing a bash hosted by the same daily where I was supposed to have been. The rest, as they say, is a sad saga of the making of an important non-entity…

Words flashed on my cell phone last night saying that it had been heard that I was going to be invited to Daily Star's this year's anniversary bash. It took me half a second to delete the message, pick up my reading, and carry on with my life without another tsunami hitting me. Once was enough.



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