Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Blue Dress

It was Partho's birthday, and he offered to take us all out to a nightclub. We were all thrilled: that kind of entertainment wasn't exactly regular with us. Abha and I had been roommates and friends for over six months, and we'd never done that before.

I carefully picked out what to wear: my denim skirt and a black strappy top. I applied kajal more carefully than usual, and added a dab of lip gloss. Abha called, "Come on, the guys are here."

As I stepped out of my room, I saw Abha and stared. She wore a blue dress: a beautiful turquoise blue, but that wasn't what took my breath away. The dress was short: quite a few inches shorter than my knee-length denim skirt. (And Abha's taller than me.) But even that wasn't what I stared at.


It was scoop-necked, cut so low I could catch a glimpse of her bra as she reached out to turn off the fan. The bright blue brought the expanse of her clear skin into sharp focus.

I'd never seen her have as much as the second button of a shirt unbuttoned.

We sat at a table near the center of the room. We drank tequila shots, and talked and laughed loudly over the music. Abha swayed to the rhythm, making me look at her neckline again. I glanced around and saw the boys were looking too. Partho and Amol and Shri, the friends we hung out with in college every day, were all looking at her with a glitter in their eyes that I didn't think was entirely due to drink.

We had a great time. We drank and laughed and danced together on the crowded floor. Abha was as gregarious and full of fun as ever, and I winced several times as her skirt rode up higher as she danced. She seemed so oblivious.

We went out to eat at a dhaba afterwards, and the boys dropped us home around 3 a.m. Too excited to sleep, we lay down together on the narrow bed in the living room (which we used instead of a sofa and that our parents could use when they visited). We hadn't changed: I pulled on the straps of my top to keep it in position and glanced at Abha as she lay on her tummy with hands on her elbows holding up her head, her dress sagging and showing me even more of her than I had seen at the club.

"That's a lovely dress," I said at last. "But I loved your new black one too--how come you didn't wear that?"

"Oh, that's sleeveless," Abha replied as she sank down on the bed and shut her eyes with exhaustion. "I wasn't comfortable wearing something revealing when we were going out with the boys."

15 comments:

Unmana said...

Wrote this fifteen minutes or so, just because I wanted to try it out. Tell me what you think.

chicu said...

interesting, Unmana. By just describing the dress, you've managed to describe Abha. A girl just out of her teens perhaps..just out of her parent's house, just out of their vigilance; eager to try new experiences, seeing herself as adventurous, but still with her parents voices in her head. 'no sleeveless dresses' they might have said once. So now when she picks a dress, that is all she sees.

Unmana said...

chicu: Well, I actually thought while writing this that everyone has their own idea of modesty and what they're comfortable wearing, and that's how Abha came into being. So she's not necessarily as short-sighted as you've made out, but you have painted an interesting picture.

What about the narrator: what do you think of her?

s said...

nice again ..i was actually searching for a 'Like' button at the end of the post ..short but sweet :)

Unmana said...

s: Thank you. Blogger doesn't have a Like button like WordPress does, but you can share this post on Facebook or Twitter using the tiny buttons at the end of the post.

Indian Home Maker said...

Very interesting!! I read the comments too, so I know what you meant to convey! I agree, everybody has their own idea of modesty.

If I hadn't read the comments, I wonder what I would have thought of it...

Loved it.

Anita said...

Very nice. Grinned at the ending. I can quite imagine this stunning logic being given in a real life situation.

chicu said...

the narrator?
I get the impression of a young girl, a little naive perhaps, but excited and happy. A certain level of girl-crush on Abha. Observant, perhaps a little too much. And by this i mean that may be she is more of an observer than a participant? the boys don't seem to be staring at her, and she does not seem to be too concerned either.

Unmana said...

IHM: Thank you very much. And you don't really have to agree with my perception of Abha: one of the most interesting things about fiction, especially short fiction, is that everyone projects their own emotions onto the characters.

Anita: Thank you. In more ways than one, Abha was born out of me. I was wearing a ridiculously short and low-cut dress the other night, and found it absurdly funny that it had sleeves.

chicu: Ooh, I love what you've made of Abha's roommate. I felt her as a little less benevolent, though. Like some of that "observation" was envy, some of that disdain was annoyance that Abha (or the others) didn't pay her enough attention.

I also felt her obsession with the amount of skin Abha was showing was her problem, not Abha's. I am envious at how self-possessed and unself-consious Abha is.

Anita said...

Real life perspective on why such a dress may have sleeves (apart from the obvious reason of modesty) - To cover up unflattering upper arms even if legs and chest are display worthy.

softypinkngloriousred said...

Interesting one! Enjoyed reading it :)

@lankr1ta said...

How did I miss this one?

I love this story. Abha is so ubiquitous- I know her. You know the salwar kameez clad girl who used to flirt madly with any boy then tie him a rakhi? Or she is the cousin who carries on a clandestine love affair with someone totally unsuitable, then marries whom mommmy chooses- oh we all have an Abha in our lives- if we do not have a little bit of Abha in us.

Unmana said...

Anita: Oh, there can be other reasons. Fashion, for example. Sleeves can be cute.

@lankrita: Your comment makes me so happy and I can't exactly define why.

gitima said...

m zapped once again.... how do u manage to do it every time? so many emotions... so many layers.... so many meanings?

Unmana said...

Gitima: Thank you, that's very sweet.