Nobody with his head screwed on would consider visiting a tiger reserve with family and friends on his honeymoon. I know. But my husband-to-be is a man with a difference. As they say, you get to know the guy after it’s too late to wriggle out of the commitment. I should have known; this is my second go at matrimony.
Until last month, things were cruising along perfectly. Pun intended. We were debating between an Alaskan and a Mediterranean cruise for our romantic getaway. You get the picture—why I want to hitch my wagon to his, that is—DK is loaded, and my mission is to help him make the best use of his money. Then he drops the bomb, over lobster thermidor at the Otters’ Club.
“Darling, did I tell you Mahee is coming for our big day? Although the poor child is burdened with coursework, she requested the school to give her a fortnight off for her grandfather’s wedding, and guess what, they agreed!”
“Lovely!” I curse the school authorities for their kindness. Don’t ask me why I detest children. It may have something to do with my never having had any. It may also have something to do with my obsessive need for cleanliness and order.
“I’m glad you feel the same way as I do. Now comes the interesting part. Next month, Mahee turns thirteen, so I asked her what gift she would like. And the little earth warrior that she is, she’s expressed a desire to visit a tiger reserve. So I thought we could postpone our cruise until the end of the year, and go to Kanha National Park instead. I’m sure you don’t mind the change, Lola, do you?” His brown eyes, looking over his glasses and under his bushy eyebrows, search my face for a response.
Caught completely off-guard, I grab the napkin and dab my mouth with it, far longer than necessary. “DK, you know me, how scared I am, of dogs and cats,” I begin nervously, almost knocking over my long-stemmed glass of Chardonnay. “How would I survive a tiger reserve?”
“Lola, my precious, would I dream of exposing you to any danger? Don’t you trust me, your DK?”
“Not a word more, my darling. It’s settled. First thing tomorrow morning, we go to the jeweller’s, for your solitaire earrings, and then we get the travel agency to book our trip to Kanha. Mahee will be so pleased!” Giving my hands a little squeeze, he calls for the bill.
Not much conversation happens on the journey home. With a perfunctory peck, I am dropped off at my apartment. The old dog is such a shrewd negotiator.
The next week, I bump into Chetna at the hairdresser’s. She’s DK’s neighbour, a single mom.
“How’s the bride-to-be?! Lola, you are positively glowing.”
I thank her without disclosing how much it costs to be glowing at my age.
“Touch wood, nobody can tell you’ve crossed fifty!”
Read the complete story in The Best Asian Short Story 2018. Show your support for contemporary Asian voices. Order your copy now:
For all buyers (except India): Kitaabstore
Dear Reader, Please Support Kitaab!
Help promote Asian writing and writers. Become a Donor today!