~*~CHAPTER I : In which the Chap-Vitch is Introduced~*~
Eight months later.
I flung my handbag onto the hallway table, stuffed my trench coat into the closet and kicked off my wedge heels. My feet sank the three inches back to earth, flat as Nature intended and I groaned loudly. Ahh, foot relief. Sure my maroon heels were smoking and made me look all professional and shit but really, being barefoot was something of an underrated statement. Then again, so was gangrene I supposed. "Hey Mum? I'm home!"
"In the TWee room dhikri!" Mum called back, referring to me as 'daughter' in Gujarati. She was indeed in the 'TWee' room as she called it, relaxing with her afternoon cup of ginger cardamom chai and watching a Hindi film. Mum loved Hindi films only marginally less than she loved me. She longed to live in a world where villains were soundly beaten into submission, nothing was stronger than a son's love for his mother, true love reigned supreme above all and emoting was done via complicated yet colourful musical numbers.
I got myself a glass of skim milk and settled against the doorjamb, sniggering.
The Hindi movie Mum was watching had a blurred, yellowish quality to it telling me that a) it was filmed in the early 80's and b) it was most definitely pirated. On screen a tall, lanky dude with a feathered fro was chasing after a shyly squealing wench whose massively puffy hair existed in a time zone beyond her own head. Lanky was rocking scarlet bellbottoms, a matching scarlet vest, a tight orange shirt that featuring mini Taj Mahals all over it and a plaid ascot. Puffy had some serious hips of the child-bearing variety which were crammed into tight, bedazzled jeans that rested comfortably beneath her voluptuous bosom and gave her a gentle pooch. Her purple and yellow flowered blouse was stretched to maximum capacity across that massive rack. A matching bow adorned her frizz-fest, the bow flopping loudly against her ear. Her make-up was 80's hooker on a budget; her lace-up ankle boots Anne of Green Gables.
"I love this mowie very much," Mum declared, as though I couldn't tell from her starry-eyed, rapt expression. Her hands were fisted beneath her chin and she was looking like she wished lanky dude was chasing his bellbottom-ed ass after her. "The hero is a most handsome rascal, no? And so much romantic! In just one scene previous, he took some piece of stick and thrashed ten interlopers when they tried to do kidnapping to the girl! I could have cried. It was very much touching."
I could've cried too but probably for different reasons. I thought that being a handsome rascal was a relative opinion; for example, I found that I wasn't too crazy about guys whose sideburns were the length of a metric ruler. Or guys who thought beige platform boots etched with peace signs and flowers were the way to go. It was easy to see why the girl was running from him.
The hero, who was clearly of a diligent sort, was now attempting to grab the girl as she coyly flitted through some overgrown shrubbery; he caught her by the wrist and reeled her in while doing the twist. Then she did the twist and giggled. I guessed this was her idea of playing hard to get. The music swelled to an ear-shattering crescendo. Their moon-struck, yellowed faces slowly inched together, coming closer and closer until their lips were roughly two centimetres apart...only to have the camera pan away to said shrubbery at the very last moment.
Mum sighed, highly satisfied.
Because in spite of India having a population of about one billion people, Shiva help us all if we were to abuse our delicate sensibilities by gawking at an on-screen couple lock lips. Course to be fair, just about the last thing I wanted to see was Lanky guy and Puffy hair make-out in the bushes. It wouldn't be an attractive sight, what with those two fros wriggling around like a pair of epileptic caterpillars.
And then the couple were part of an elaborately choreographed dance sequence which took place in a massive field of red tulips with windmills churning placidly in the background. Apparently Lanky and Puffy were so in love that they felt the need to jazzercise it to the Dutch population.
I turned my attention away from those love-struck losers and studied my Mum. She was wearing her special going-out wine lipstick. I sniffed the air and caught a whiff of Tabu, Mum's special going-out perfume. She was dressed in a simple black and gold salwaar kameez, which was an Indian outfit consisting of flared pants and a long, matching tunic. It was a dressier outfit than what she'd normally wear if she was home alone and I hadn't been born yesterday. I knew what these shenanigans meant.
I sat down next to her and adopted a nonchalant tone. "So what'd you do today, eh?"
It was March break and Mum, being a grade primary school teacher, had the week off. She waved an airy hand about, her eyes pointedly glued to the TV. "Well I did a little bit of this thing and a little bit of that thing."
"Oh yeah? Like what?"
"What, you my mummy now?"
I smiled inwardly. She was getting defensive. "So did any of these little things involve visitors?"
"Why I have visitor, hehn? Vachoo talking rubbish?"
"Oh quit fibbing Mum." I thrust an accusing finger into her face. "You had Mr. Khalil over, admit it!"
Mum smacked me upside the head.
"OW! Christ Ma!"
"Don't shout at your mummy Navleen! Learn to have some respect."
I snorted. "So was your boyfriend over or not?"
"Oi!" Mum smacked me again, her eyes huge. "What kind of thing you talking, boyfriend? Chee! Your mummy is married woman, how I can have the boyfriend!"
"Mum, you're a widow," I pointed out, rolling my eyes at these theatrics. "It's not the same thing. And I don't even see what the big deal is anyway. You like Mr. Khalil and he likes you. You're still young and so's he; you guys should totally date."
Mum had only been sixteen when she'd gotten married to my father, a man over twice her age. He'd whisked her away from everything she'd ever known in Gujarat, India, to Canada, a cold and lonely country half way across the world. At the time, she had only known about three words in English. She'd gotten pregnant with me almost immediately; apparently there wasn't much to do while your husband was off working sixteen hours a day. My Dad had been a doctor, studying to specialize in Neurology and he'd died when I'd been three, of a blood clot. With a lot of help from Dad's younger brother and his wife, Mum had learned to speak English and had gone to school to get her teaching degree.
She had been alone ever since Dad died, some twenty years ago.
"What datingbating business you talking? What people would think, widow doing dating? I am respectable Hindu woman and he is Muslim!"
"So what? He's cute! And he loooooooooooovvvvvvvvvveeeees you!" I made loud, obnoxious kissy faces in Mum's personal bubble and poked her in the side, making her giggle.
"Bad girl, stop this buffooning!"
"Mum, you gotta chill and get with the times. It's the twenty-first century and you deserve to be happy. Who cares what people think?"
"I care Navleen, I have to live here! How I can show my face at temple and in society if I do gallivanting around with a Muslim? Is not right." She fiddled with her teacup, clearly embarrassed. My many attempts to coax her into dating Mr. Khalil, the Vice Principal of the elementary school she taught at, only served to make her incredibly uncomfortable and defensive. In her mind, widowers became asexual when their spouses died. Anything more would be akin to cheating. Mr. Khalil was also a widower and both of them had old world, Eastern ideas about widowers dating and mixing religions...i.e. they were not to be done. Both of them cared too much about what their respected communities would think and not enough about themselves. Which I thought was pretty shitty because they were so clearly infatuated with each other.
Mr. Khalil looked at my Mum like she was a Bollywood star and blushed whenever she smiled. Mum dressed up when he was around and spent a lot of time expounding to me what he thought about this topic and that topic. Mr. Khalil did carpentry work around our house and got rid of spiders for Mum if I wasn't around. Mum was teaching Mr. Khalil how to cook. They gardened, watched Hindi films and went to the Farmer's market on Saturday together. The way I saw it, they were pretty much already married, except for the sex part, which obviously I didn't want to think about.
"People are gonna gossip no matter what you do," I told her sagely. "Remember when everyone was all in a kerfuffle because I was dating Spencer, a white guy? Remember all the slack they gave you for allowing it? Like who bloody cares! Being happy should be more of a priority than giving a crap what people around here think."
Mum sighed. She knew I wasn't going to let up. Ranting on the stupid customs of Indian folk was a favourite pastime of mine. "I want to watch my mowie in peace, not talk rubbish. And how many times I tell you, no using swearing at me!"
I leaned over and kissed her cheek. "I love you too Mummy dearest."
She grunted but I saw her smile into her cup of chai so I knew she wasn't pissed. I turned my attention back to the TV.
Lanky and Puffy were now thrusting their pelvises at each other in front of the Sphinx. The Sphinx was looking like he wished he was eyeless as well as noseless. Lanky was wearing silver harem pants by way of MC Hammer, curly-toed silver shoes and a sparkly yellow turban. His chest was surprisingly buff and for an Indian guy, he wasn't even that hairy. Well he was hairy by white man standards but by brown man standards, he was practically bald. His shoulders didn't even have any fur on them for Jesus sakes. Puffy was wearing a matching silver bra with gauzy sleeves and a tight yellow skirt with slits up the side and bells sewn to the hem. She had yellow spandex bicycle shorts on under the skirt so as to preserve her modesty. Afterall, no hussy was she.
"Don't you wish that you and Mr. Khalil could dance with each other in front of the Sphinx like they're doing?"
Mum scowled at me. I began to giggle helplessly and so she turned her gaze towards the ceiling, seeking a higher form of help. "Bhagvan, why you give me this goof-monkey for daughter, hehn?" she implored the Gods. "What I did that bad in my past life?"
I couldn't speak; the image of Mum and Mr. Khalil dancing in Egypt like a pair of nuggets was too much for me.
"And today I even have surprise for you. Why I bother, who knows. You gone completely ghandee!" she declared, referring to me as 'crazy' in Gujarati.
I got myself under control. It was a slow process, especially given the way Mum was attempting to glare at me with shining eyes and a twitching mouth. "A surprise?" I eventually managed to choke out, wiping at the water pooling in the corner of my eyes.
"Yes surprise. I know you work very hard and you deserve nice surprise." She gave me a pointed look. "Sometimes."
I was touched. I did work very hard actually; I was currently on the home stretch to finishing up my undergrad in Environmental Engineering. I had decided break up my last year by taking on a four month co-op job with a company called Emera Oils. I was part of their asbestos team in the Employee Health and Safety Department and I only had one more month of work left. Then all I'd have left to do would be finish up and present my final design project, submit a couple of pain-in-the-arse reports and finally graduate. I would be a free woman earning the big bucks and I couldn't wait.
"What plans you have for tonight? I hope nothing because I made plans for both of us!"
Okay, so in spite of being touched, I was also suspicious. "Why, what's going on at the temple now? I'm not going to any more all-night prayers Mum; I can't handle that crud."
"Oh-fo, is not crud! Why you say this kind of thing? Bad girl, I want to take you to concert tonight."
"A concert?" Can't say I was expecting that. Mum liked Hindi music, opera (or Oprah as she called it) and Elvis tied with ABBA...in that order. I couldn't imagine what sort of concert she'd want to take me to. "Where? What type of concert?"
"Uh-uh, not telling!" Mum sing-songed smugly. "You wear some nice things tonight and then we leave home at ten-thirty. You find out the surprise when we get there."
"That's kinda late for a concert, isn't it?"
"Yes, very much late but what to do?" Mum shrugged expansively. "Is okay, we will have lots time to eat the supper and then watch 'Little Mosque on Prairie' on TWee. I don't want to miss my programs."
I left Mum to her movie; there was big drama brewing because Puffy had just spied Lanky hugging an even more puffy-haired girl outside the local train station, not knowing that the girl was Lanky's long-lost half sister. The skies let loose a torrential rainfall leaving Puffy to wander around desolately, clad only in a wet sari and heart ache.
Snickering, I had a quick snack of two samosas with some coriander chutney; apparently Mum had been teaching Mr. Khalil how to make them and they tasted pretty good. He was a quick study, that Mr. Khalil. I poured myself another glass of milk and took it upstairs, intending to work on my weekly Co-op report. I opened up Word Perfect, took out all the notes I'd made during the week, arranged a few textbooks around me for reference, stuffed my hair into a no-nonsense ponytail...and checked my e-mail. After that there was no hope for it. I spent the rest of the afternoon farting around on my computer but at least my notes were easily accessible. That way in case I got the urge to do some work, not much effort would be required. Turns out I never got that urge but I was able to beat my high score at Mah-jong so the afternoon wasn't a complete dud.
Mum and I spend a relaxing evening together, once her Hindi film was over, two and a half hours later. Puffy and Lanky went on to live a happy and hairy albeit unfashionable existence together. We ordered ourselves some junky pizza from Pizza Hut for supper since we felt that our butts weren't lardy enough. Then we lounged in front of the TV whining at how we'd eaten too much. And then we had Heavenly Hash ice cream for dessert, along with some more whining. So really, a great time was had by all.
Around ten, well after we'd digested and the urge to upchuck had passed, we tramped upstairs to beautify ourselves. I loaded on the MAC eye make-up, did the whole hair straightening deal and according to my reflection, I cleaned up pretty good. Mum poured herself into a glittering silver and mauve sari for the occasion. She had her hair up in a high twist, had reapplied her going-out wine lipstick and looked a lot more like my older sister than my Mum. Course after she cast her obligatory disapproving look at my low-cut top I didn't think she looked that much like an older sister. She didn't say anything though; years of me wearing low cut tops and short skirts had worn down her defenses. Still, I couldn't stop myself from telling her that I was advertising for a boyfriend, just to annoy her.
Mum drove us downtown at a snail's pace, did a really shitty job of parallel parking and turned off the engine. "Now we walk," she said, gliding out of the car. She made sure all of her sari was outside before slamming the door shut. "Is nice night for walking, no?"
I agreed. Spring had arrived and the night was warm. Personally, I was just glad to have thrown my winter boots and coat back into the bowels of my closet. I followed Mum through the crowds; it was a Friday and the night was just beginning. Mum got a lot of admiring looks from young and old dudes alike; she was an exotic lotus in a garden of daises.
"Okay, is there," Mum declared after a few minutes of strolling along. She gestured across the street. "Is that place, the 'Golden Banana'. Classic name yaar. Someone was really using the brain."
I gaped, speechless. Mum had brought me downtown to a club!
I had been to the Golden Banana loads of times, mostly on engineering pub crawls where I'd been too polluted to even know what a golden banana was. The last time I'd been there had been for my friend Nabilah's bachelorette party. I'd been so drunk that I'd lost one of my red stacked heels from Le Chateau and had made out with an Irish guy claiming to be a leprechaun, never mind the fact that he'd been well over three feet tall. Then I had hurled on the back tire of a police cruiser.
The Golden Banana was a three story dance club with multiple bars placed on all floors. The dance floor was located on the main level where a couple of DJs spun lots of remixed Pop, techno and house. The top level housed the VIP section and had lot of chrome tables and white pleather couches so you could drink your face off while appearing semi-respectable. The whole floor had a length of metal railing curving around it and gave viewers a chance to peer straight down onto the dance floor and ogle the dancers. It was also a great place to spill your drink onto the hair-do of a catty bitch that cut in front of you at the bar. The basement was known as 'The Peel' and that was where live bands played eyeball-jarring metal that didn't feature singing of the comprehensive variety. I'd only ever been down there when utterly sloshed and in search of cute dudes to dance with and even then, I'd known noise pollution when I'd heard it.
"See, they have queue to get inside," Mum pointed out. "Must be high quality musics, no?"
Yeah there was a queue alright, of hoards of students waiting to pay cover in order to dry-hump on the dance floor. And quite of few of them looked like their party had already started hours and hours ago.
"What kind of concert is this exactly? Is it a band? What's their name?"
"Fracture Glass. So much poetic, eh? Very much what they call it...the emo."
I was rendered speechless once again. How the hell did Mum know what emo was? Who told her about it? And why in the holy name of fuck would my Elvis, ABBA, the Beatles, Celine Dion loving Mum want to see a band by the name of Fractured Glass? She got headaches from watching the likes of Judge Judy!
"Oh chee!" Mum suddenly proclaimed, scrunching up her nose. "What is this disgusting display? Look those childrens; so much filthy! They bring shame to their mother's face!"
A couple in the line-up were wrestling with their faces and looked like they were seizuring against each other. The guy had his hand so far up the girl's dress that he was probably fondling her fucking larynx. However, it was no worse then what was probably going on on the dance floor...or what I myself had done on the dance floor. Still, I felt the need to shelter my poor, innocent schoolteacher Mum.
"Ma, don't look, you're too young!" I dragged her under the awning of a closed bookstore and situated her with her back firmly against the action. "That's a dance club Mum. They play dance music upstairs and noisy bands that scream a lot downstairs. We went there for Nabilah's bachelorette party last month and half way through the night, I thought my ears were gonna bust right off."
Mum pursed her wine-coloured lips. "What, you shamed of Mummy, hehn? Is not cool to have Mummy at club?"
I burst out laughing. "You're the coolest person I know," I told her quite honestly. "It's just that people drink a lot here and then they get all sexy with each other. Those two kissing in the line? Well they're doing a lot worse inside and I don't want you to have to see it. Why don't we go somewhere else? My treat."
"No, is not possible. We came all this way so we go there. Is modern times now and you're all grown up. You see this kind of thing." She frowned at me. "Only if any boys try to touch you, I will kill them into one thousand pieces!"
My Mum was thirty-nine. She didn't smoke or drink and her only addiction was ginger chai; she did yoga at five o'clock every morning and chased after rambunctious little kids all day. She could easily pass for a woman in her 20's; half the time she looked younger than I did. "What about all the sleazy guys that'll be after you, eh? You're a hot mama!"
Mum laughed. "Silly girl, vachoo talking this rubbish?"
I shrugged. Let her get hit on by the heaps of horny drunk guys and then she'd know better to wear a sparkly sari next time. Being drunk brought out a lot of monkey tendencies in guys, I decided. Like the urge to hump anyone in sparkles. Or anyone at all for that matter. Actually, maybe that had less to do with being sloshed and more to do with being a guy. Guys were pigs afterall. "Alright, well you can't say I didn't warn you. And if the band sucks then we can just hit up the dance floor. We do it up bhrangra style and then garba style and we'll let these whities know how it's done!"
Mum was thrilled. Even if the band was a bust, we could dance like a pair of foolios. Mum loved to dance. She had done bharaynatyam, a classical South Indian form of very technical dance, as a child and Bollywood style dances as a teenager. These days, if I was sly enough, I could catch her watching MuchMusic and imitating the dance stylings of the likes of the Pussycat Dolls and Madonna and K-OS.
We crossed the street and waited in line; Mum radiating excited energy and me scanning the line-up to see if anyone I knew was around. We were forced to listen to a gaggle of frat boys in front of us ramble on about how they were gonna bang tons of hot chicks and a gaggle of sorority girls behind us ramble on about how they were gonna bang tons of hot studs. Mum was oblivious; they were using derogatory language of which she was unfamiliar with.
We paid our cover, got our hands stamped, forked over our coats and a couple of loonies to coat check and made a beeline for the bar. I was pretty lucky with Mum; she wasn't a typically strict Hindu Mum. She didn't mind that I drank as long as I was careful and didn't toss my cookies all down my front. I was, as she put it, a 'growned-up women now'.
Mum ordered 'worth it one cocacolaclassic with no funny business'. The bartender was clearly charmed; he flirted outrageously with her, shot her drink into a double glass and didn't charge her since she was such an 'exotic babe'. I ordered an Amaretto and Coke and my bartender barely glanced at me. While he wasn't exactly my type – I usually tended to steer clear of guys with no necks and bald, gleaming heads – a little props to my freshly straightened hair and heavily lined eyes would have been nice.
"Come on." I dragged Mum through the milling, smoozing, writhing crowds, elbowing my way through with an ease that spoke of much practise. I noticed a lot of guys ogling my Mum and couldn't really blame them. She was ethereal in her glittering sari and delicate silver jewellery. However, she remained oblivious, watching everything going on with huge eyes. I cut a direct line to the other end of the club, where the entrance to go down to The Peel was located. Here the flashing, coloured strobe lights disappeared. The stairwell was made of wrought metal and the walls had been painted a glossy black. It was a lot darker. A few couples had taken it upon themselves to liven up the stairwell by making out.
"Oi!" Mum hissed, abruptly stopping on the landing. I was able to make out her scandalized expression in the dim light. "Navleen, those two doing kissy are girls! They are of the lesbian!"
I yanked out my camera from my handbag and snapped a couple shots. "There. Now we'll always have a reminder of this precious moment."
Mum gasped, shocked. "Bad girl!" She smacked me upside the head. Then she gawked at the lesbians. I didn't have the heart to tell her that they probably weren't lesbians; they were just drunk and slutty and stupid. Mum giggled. I giggled. And then I spilled some of my drink on my shoes so I had to stop giggling because dark stairwells, expensive drinks and high heels didn't mix.
I stuck my hand on the wall to keep my balance while I mopped at my green patent leather and cork heeled slingbacks. There was a poster stuck on the wall next to my hand, advertising the musical stylings of Fractured Glass. I squinted at it and suddenly a lot of things became crystal clear to me. Like what this surprising concert was all about and Mum's insistence that we stay at the Golden Banana.
'Featuring guest drummer from Kismet tattoo parlour...renowned tattoo artist Lucan Moretti'!
"Jesus shit Mum." I grabbed the poster off the wall and thrust it at her. "What the heck is this noise?"
Far from being guilty, Mum's face lit up and she hugged me hard. "Kismet Navleen, it truly is! Mr. Khalili and me was walking to the Canadian Tire today when I saw this poster fastened to a telephone pole! Did I not tell you Kaala Maa wouldn't lie, hehn? This vitch-chap is real deal! Now come, I want to see my son-in-law. Oh how much I have been dreaming of this day for so long time!" And before I could even process any of that, she was flashing down the stairs in a swirl of jasmine perfume.
"Man that was hot," a guy in a pink shirt told me, toasting me with his bottle of Corona. "Don't suppose you'd make-out for me and my buddies? We're leaving for Afghanistan tomorrow."
Yeah like I never heard that line before. I slapped the poster into his forehead with a satisfied smack. "Oh eff off you sickard," I snapped before teetering down the stairs after Mum.
The Peel wasn't as crowded as upstairs but the bar was still a mob scene and the floor in front of the band was jammed. The band hadn't started to play yet and in spite of myself, I found myself drawn to my supposed hubby-to-be, the chap-vitch himself. Hard to believe that a whacky hack like Kaala Maa could've foreseen this.
Lucan Moretti was shirtless and to be honest, it was a great look for him. He was lean and his many tattoos gleamed beneath the yellow and red stage light. His biceps were covered in coloured tattoos, there were lines of math crud racing down the right side of his chest and some kind of a fiery image licked at the side of his neck. He had messy, dark hair that shone scarlet beneath the stage lights. It fell into his eyes, giving him a slightly boyish appearance. He was chatting with one of the guitarists and when he paused to drain his beer, my stomach did a little ruffle.
He was the exact opposite of any boyfriend I'd ever had and while he wasn't the type of guy I'd ever choose, I had to admit he was good looking. Well better than good looking actually, he was deadly hot.
I slugged down my Amaretto and Coke, feeling rather hot myself and shoved my way to the front of the line at the bar. I ordered a double vodka and 7, figuring that I needed something stronger to arm myself with if I was to deal with Mum's matching-making ways, Kaala Maa's sudden legit predictings and my stomach twisting at the sight of Lucan Moretti's lips wrapped around a bottle of Rickard's Red.
The Peel wasn't a scene that featured a lot of people wearing saris so I was able to find Mum with relative ease. She was standing off to the side, chatting with a sleazy-looking FOB. I could see the shine from buddy's luxurious moustache half-way across the room. He was smarming it up, stroking her bare arm while thrusting a drink at her.
Oh no, that shit wasn't going to fly as long as I was around! I quickly intercepted. "Get going bhai-saab," I snapped in Hindi, shoving the FOB aside as my Mum gasped loudly. I glared at him in his tight beige pants and noisy purple paisley shirt until he slunk off, oozing oiliness in his wake. I grabbed the drink Fobby had given Mum and thrust it at a raucous passer-by whose hair was red and black and who was wearing more eyeliner than me and Mum combined.
"Here friend, it's on the house!"
The punk guy gave me the devil horns sign. "Sweet!" And he chugged the drink, his many eyebrow piercings wobbling.
Mum was aghast at these turn of events. "Navleen, what you doing? Using the swear words to a nice Hindu boy, what for you did this? What he think of us now, talking like that and wasting away this drink?"
"Jesus Mum, he was hitting on you!" I chugged some of my own drink, my eyes wandering over to Lucan Moretti in spite of myself. Yep, he was still looking fine. I hastily drank some more. "Christ knows what that greaser put into your drink. You shouldn't ever take a drink from a guy unless you see the bartender pour it. That way you know there's no drugs in it." I gestured to the punk buddy who was now in a head-banging competition with another guy who looked exactly like him, only his hair was green and black. "Probably that guy doesn't have to worry about date-rape drugs, eh?"
"Oh. I see." Mum processed this with much blinking. Then she squeezed my cheek and beamed. "You are my very much smart girl! No more taking the free drinks from anyone today, okay?"
Mum turned her attention to the stage. Fractured Glass was warming up now. "So what you think, Navleen? Stud or ya dud?"
I giggled and then Mum giggled. We giggled some more as we watched Lucan Moretti reel out a beat. I didn't know anything about drums but he didn't sound half bad to me. Not that I was really paying much attention to the way he was drumming; seemed his bare chest held a lot more interest for me. "Where'd you hear that from?"
"Seema Auntie. She was talking about that Antonio Banderas. She says he is all stud with no dud."
That sounded a lot like Seema Auntie. She had taken my Mum under her wing when Mum had first moved to Canada. She was fifty-six and while she loved her husband dearly, 'she wasn't expired yet'.
Mum nudged me. "So?"
I finished my drink and felt the need for another. "He isn't exactly my type."
Mum pooh-poohed. "What type, ya? Is no such thing, type-pipe business. It is kismet you marry this chap, what type has anything to do with it?"
Mum came from an age where you married who your parents chose for you and attraction had nothing to do with it. If you got lucky, your husband was decent looking. If not, well then that's what light switches were for. It was a simpler time and as a result, Mum had never really understood the finer points of the dating scene.
The music was getting louder. "Well what do you think of him?" I demanded into Mum's ear. "Surely you don't want someone looking like a thug to be your son-in-law do you? What will people say? We couldn't dare bring him to temple with us, he'd cause a riot!"
"Since when you care what society think, hehn?" Mum brushed some of my hair out of my eyes. "If he is loving to you and spends all his life making you happy then what I care what he looks like?"
What could I say to that?
Fractured Glass erupted into a cacophony of noise, electing to open with a cover of Iron Maiden's 'Fear of the Dark'. They weren't half bad but they were beyond loud so to cope with this auditory strain, I got us another round of drinks.
"He good at it!" Mum shouted, her eyes glued on the man who she perceived to be her future son-in-law. She looked like she wanted to jump onto stage and feed Lucan Moretti her renowned shrimp biriyani.
I had no opinion on this matter. It all sounded like noise to me; who knew if it was good or not? I certainly didn't. Mostly I was just ogling Moretti's bare chest and the rhythm of his lean body as he pounded the shit out of his drums. I had downed my drink in about thirty seconds and was now feeling rather light-headed. I decided I wouldn't mind looking down his pants to see where else he was tattooed; this salacious thought was immediately followed by a lot of guilt. It felt beyond greasy to have dirty thoughts while standing next to your Mum. I made sure to avoid eye contact with her because she'd always been able to read my mind. How else had she known when I lied or didn't do my homework or got up to some stupid shit?
I crunched some ice so Mum wouldn't know how quickly I'd finished my drink and sighed. I was feeling decidedly very hot and it just felt weird to be leering at Lucan Moretti with my Mum at my side, leering him for different reasons. We listened to some more brain-splitting noise, watched people head-bang their hearts out and give the devil horns like crazy before I finally put the kibosh on the scene.
"Let's go upstairs and dance for a while," I hollered. "I'm getting a headache!"
Mum nodded eagerly. "Is very noisy, no!"
We both cast one last look at Lucan Moretti, Mum's look longing, mine lustful, before we traipsed upstairs. I hit up the bar straightaway, opting for a bottle of Smirnoff Ice since it was a lot easier to dance with a bottle than a glass. I pretended I didn't see Mum's disapproving look. The DJs were spinning retro requests and a remixed version of Madonna's 'Like A Prayer' was blaring away so we hit up the dance floor. I ran into a few of my engineering classmates who all thought it was awesome that I was with my Mum. She was an instant hit and it wasn't long before she was showing them all some Indian-style dance moves.
"Your Mum's so hot!" Simon Wu, a third year Mechanical Engineer shouted at me. "She's totally a MILF!"
I punched him in the gut. Or well that was where I was aiming but what with the dancing and the drinking, I got him more in the side. I had to do it; it seemed to be the required thing for a devout daughter like me to get up to. "Say it again and it'll be your balls next!"
Wu's girlfriend Sayuri giggled and took it upon herself to grind his pain away with her little bum.
I also danced into one of my best friends Shalini Nagpal, who more fell on me than hugged me. "Your Mum's bitchin'!" she screeched, the warm fumes of Moosehead beer wafting over me. "My Mum would shit daal if she ever knew I was in a place like this!" Shalini was originally from Vancouver, having moved here to go to university so she didn't have to worry about her Mum catching her going out clubbing.
Mum had somehow managed to round up all the Indian people in the vicinity and was representing the desi crowd by doing bhangra to Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. Then she got the DJ to play The Bilz's '2 Step Bhangra' and it was massive a free for all then. Eventually Mum buggered off to go to 'the toilets'; she was accompanied by another girl I knew from school named Farah who wanted Mum to do her eye make-up. Shalini and I took advantage of Mum's absence to do a round of mango tequila shots together; it was something of a ritual with us.
"Ylaaa," Shalini gasped, wiping her wet, salty hand on her skinny jeans. She shuddered.
"Bluuugh." Heat raced all down my insides. I sucked at what was left of my lime before dropping the mushy pulp into my shooter glass.
We looked at each other.
"Can you handle another round bitch?"
"Oh I would imagine, slut-face."
After that we were feeling pretty fine, especially since we had a couple rounds of Porn Star shooters for dessert. We didn't have to pay for those; Shalini's fiancée Afshar bought them and I didn't want to be rude by refusing. Natch.
We spent the rest of the night dancing like a pile of loons. Even buzzed and sixteen years younger than my Mum, I wasn't able to keep up with her and she was in a sari. She danced like a demon and had an endless supply of energy that came from Shiva knew where. Plus she wasn't even sweating. It was unreal. She was a dancing machine and she made me danced out. Not to mention that it was a full time job trying to keep horny bastards from grinding up on Mum but with the help of Shalini and Afshar and Farah, I managed. Probably I was the only brown girl in the city who had to worry about drunken idiots macking up on her middle-aged Mum.
The club closed at 2:30 and it was quarter after. I was still buzzed and starving. I grabbed Mum, we did our good-byes and danced our way to coat check.
"Don't forget to add me to Facebook Auntie!" Farah yelled after Mum.
"What marvellous time! Really very excellent!" Mum raved as we made our way past all the smokers and sloshed dumbasses waving down random cars thinking they were taxis. She was flushed from the heat of the club and her hair was falling out of her up-do. "I see why you like this dancingclubbing business; is a very fun time!"
"Girlfriend I know!" I hugged her tightly, stumbling in my four inch heels. I really liked to hug everyone after a couple of drinks; people were a lot more tolerable I found. "Did I ever tell you that you're the most awesome Mum ever?"
Mum was amused. She brushed some of my sweaty, no-longer-straight hair from my eyes. "Only the last time you did drinking in the excess."
Since I was staving and Mum wasn't the least bit tired, we decided to get some coffee at Grabba Jabba, a coffee shop that stayed open 24 hours.
"I'm gonna order chocolate biscotti and some muffins and a haystack brownie and an oat cake and an oat cake with jam in the middle-"
"And then you'll oolti all over my carpet."
I hooted. Oolti, Gujarati for throw-up, was a very funny word indeed. "Ooltiooltiooltioolti!"
"Also what is this Facetalk business, ya?"
We eventually made it to Grabba Jabba; no easy feat when you're buzzed and in heels. Mum headed off to the bathroom while I ordered her a cup of green tea and a slice of Turtles cheesecake for myself. I paid and moved to the far end of the counter to wait. The shop was packed with loud, drunken bar rats, pretentious pseudo-intellects and cops working the backshift.
"Enjoy the show?"
I glanced over and did a classic double take. Standing next to me was the infamous chap-vitch himself, live and in the flesh. Up close, I could see that Lucan Moretti's eyes were bright blue. He had a scruffy bit of a goatee and a couple of freckles that dotted the tip of his nose. His hair was damp and standing sticking up; it looked like he'd rubbed it dry with a towel. And God only knew what he'd done after the show but he smelled delicious.
My stomach did a flip-flop. Moretti was even better looking when standing two feet away. An intricate design of flames and sunbeams and rays of light curved around the side of his neck. It was a beautiful design. It made me want to run my fingers down his neck. I cleared my throat; my mouth was suddenly desert-dry. "Excuse me?"
"The show at The Peel." Lucan leaned against the counter and rested his elbows behind him. He was wearing a tight black t-shirt, faded jeans and combat boots. I didn't know much about tattoos but even I could tell that the work on his arms was spectacular. I wondered if he'd ever tattooed himself. "What did you think?"
I blinked at him, surprised. "How'd you know I was there?"
He gave me a lopsided grin that made him look adorably boyish. "Turns out not a lot of women in saris come to see us play."
I found myself grinning back. He was beyond cute. "I guess those Indian Aunties just don't appreciate the subtle nuances of Anthrax."
"Yeah, we're working on that. Our next gig is gonna be at the temple."
I imagined the likes of Fractured Glass rocking out in front of the massive statues of Lord Vishnu and his wife Luxshmi and burst out laughing. Surely it couldn't be any worse than some of singing that went on every Sunday; attempting to surrender yourself to the Lord didn't a songbird make, I've come to realize.
"So where's your sari at?"
"Oh hell, that noise is at home," I replied, still laughing. "Believe me, I'm not what you'd call hot tripping over five metres of material."
He gave me a slow once over, taking in my short grey pencil skirt, my tight, low-cut top and four inch heels. The way he checked me out made my breath catch. It also made me want to fling my clothes off and get his further opinion on things. His voice lowered a notch. "Now I find that hard to believe."
Our eyes met and held.
"So we're playing again tomorrow night," he said after a few moments. "Well I won't be; Pierce will be back. He broke his wrist so I took over for a while. He rocks out a lot harder than I do. I suck compared to him."
He shifted and the long, lean line of his leg brushed against my bare knee, sending my arms to break out into gooseflesh. I swallowed hard. "I didn't think you sucked."
"You didn't stay long."
He hitched up one shoulder in a shrug. "I always notice pretty girls in the crowd. What can I say, I'm Italian. Probably I was noticing girls in the womb."
I couldn't resist flirting. I blamed in on the tequila shots and Porn Stars. "You think I'm pretty?"
He checked out my cleavage again, his eyes teasing. "Let me put it this way...you're not exactly a hag."
An image of Kaala Maa popped into my head and I had to stifle a giggle. Well okay I thought about stifling it but the giggle came while I was thinking. "Wait 'til you see me in the morning."
He raised an eyebrow. "Is that an invitation?"
I frowned as my brain caught up. "So I might be a little tipsy," I admitted. "It's the porn stars."
"Yeah that always my excuse too." He winked at me and my stomach curled. "So the guys are playing at Murphy's Pub tomorrow night. 11:30. You should stop by if you're free. Maybe I'll hook you up with a porn star."
A line of heat, not unlike when I downed a shot of tequila, warmed my insides. My eyes were drawn back to his neck and to that fiery tattoo. "I'll consider it."
He caught me looking. "I might even be persuaded to tell you about my tattoos."
Screw telling me about them, I wanted to see them, all of them. "How hard will I have to persuade you to show them to me?"
His leg brushed against mine again and this time I knew it was deliberate. "Cookie, all you have to do is ask."
The sound of a car horn honking interrupted us. Lucan glanced over his shoulder before grabbing a paper bag and two cups of coffee that sat waiting for him on the counter. "Shit that's my ride. So will I see you tomorrow?"
I smiled at him. "Anything's possible my friend."
He started to head out before stopping and turning back to me. "I never caught your name."
He repeated my name to himself. "Your Mum was right," he told me before hoofing it. He had a fantastic ass. I added a glass of water to my order; I was suddenly overheated. My stomach felt all fluttery and I just knew that there was a dopey-ass grin on my face. Christ this was getting pathetic. It was like I was fourteen all over again and in love with Ryan Urqhart, the blond skater boy in grade nine.
I had to rearrange my face as I took my loot back to the table; Mum was watching me with a highly smug, know-it-all expression.
"So he ask you to marry him or what?" she demanded, as I slid into the booth across from her.
I guzzled down my water. "What country are we in again?"
Mum rolled her eyes. "Okay, okay fine. So he ask you to do dating with him?"
I paused for a fraction of a second and that was all Mum needed. "He did, did he not! That chap-vitch is wanting to do dating to you!"
"It's not like that!" I stuffed some cake into my mouth. It was fabulous; why hadn't I thought to order the whole cake? "He invited me to see the band play tomorrow. Probably he asks everyone; it's not a big deal and it certainly doesn't mean that we're getting hitched next week!"
Mum ignored me. "So tomorrow we go and watch the musics again. You know, I am liking him a lot. He is a very nice chap. You know he teaches the maths at uni?"
I goggled into my glass. "He does what?"
"Well of course I had the talk with him!"
Oh well of course.
"He does the tattooing downtown half of time and other half of time, he does maths teaching. He helps the professors there. Also he is doing Masters in Calculus and only does this drumming business sometimes. He wants to be a maths professor one day and to also own a tattoo shop too. I was very much pleased; he has jobs and he has the goals. I don't want kind of a music bumsee with no cash-moneys chasing after my daughter!"
I was impressed, it spite of myself. Lucan Moretti didn't look like the math professor type. I knew; I'd been taking enough math courses for the past four years. "What else did you ask him? Did you embarrass me? You didn't start yapping on about Kaala Maa and all that shit did you?"
"Oi! Don't use the bad words, how many times I tell you!" Mum smacked me upside the head and I dropped some cake down my cleavage. "Doggies do yapping not Mummies!"
Christ. I stuck my finger down my shirt and scooped up the deliciousness. "Sorry."
"Of course I didn't tell him of Kaala Maa! That is your story to tell, so much the romantic. I just asked of his family. He has two brothers and a good mother. She goes to church all the time. So then I tell him I have one most beautiful daughter in the world and he agrees because he says I am so beautiful. Imagine! What a cheeky bugger!" She was clearly thrilled.
I got all warm and shit at Lucan's parting words and had to fight back a smile. Of course none of it mattered because he wasn't my type at all and we certainly weren't going to be married one day and have a two pair of son!
"Mum listen." I decided I needed to lay down the law before this really got out of hand. "All of this is just a coincidence. Sure it's a pretty good one but come on now. Let's be realistic. Of course I'm not going to marry Lucan Moretti. He isn't my type, I don't know him, we have nothing in common and frankly I don't want to marry him."
Mum shook her head in a pitying fashion, like I was so effing stupid that she couldn't even believe it. "Tell me one thing. What is the name of the shop he does tattoo in?"
"And what kismet mean, hehn?"
I huffed out a loud sigh, resigned. "Fate."
"Yes, Navleen fate." Mum was deeply satisfied. "No matter what you say, no matter what protesting you do, it is your fate to be forever entwined with that of the chap-vitch. We cannot argue with this things, it just is."
Jesus shit. I crammed a turtle into my mouth.
Holy Crud, this is one massive first chapter! 8,469 words imagine! Once I got to writing, the Mum and Navleen and that stupid Indian movie just wouldn't shut up! I decided to get out of the typical high school setting and go for more of a mature story…supposedly. Hopefully you guys'll dig this shit just like I'm digging writing it. Lemme know what you think and stay tuned for Chapter II, coming soon.