Madhu wore the black dress, designed by her, a black velvet one piece skirt with front buttons of gold , long black sleeves, a slit at the back  dressed with care for the party to Rake’s house, her older uncle dropped her to the party  at about 5pm in the evening. It was an old looking house, situated in the middle of the city. Rake’s sister-in-law was present at the gate, so her uncle waved a bye and left. Rake’s mother was a pleasant woman with the same slit eyes, they did not smile. His younger sister was harshly affectionate, constantly teasing his hair and everything else about him. His brother was polite, several friends mostly couples were already there.

AD arrived with a girl, who had a big build, she almost looked handsome. She just laughed for everything like Dr.Doddamalla’s xerox; she looked absent minded, a part of her charm. Rake took her round the house, upstairs was deserted, they had some ceramic models, modern sculpture attempted by him, there were paintings containing broken glasses,knives, fire , general violence, and damage. Madhu felt like an unbroken, tower standing amidst all those broken shapes.

He came close to her and whispered ‘you look gorgeous’ she knew he meant it for once. His breath smelt of a mixture of smoke, after shave with heady fragrance, and alcohol, a typical male smell. Madhu felt a distinctly uncomfortable sensation in her skin, like a reaction to the chalk piece creeking on the black board before it breaks. She averted her eyes, staring out of the balcony at the tamarind tree of his backyard it looked like an abacus with unripe tamarinds hanging on the tree. There was a beehive in a near by building, it looked like a single breast.His sister-in –law called him, so the spell was broken.

Down stairs, she saw that Rake’s mother and sister had disappeared, AD complimented her figure hugging out fit, “I never knew , you could be so stunning” he resented  that his heroine was with Rake. Was this the root cause of Rake’s interest in her? To get what AD had? A sort of sibling rivalry? A common affliction among school friends who visited each other’s home and grew up to envy each other’s inheritance…..

(To be contd……)

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