My So-Called Bollywood Life(6)

By: Nisha Sharma


“Is that the young Vaneeta Mehta?” he asked in Hindi. “Yes, it must be you. But yet it is not Vaneeta. Winnie is what you go by. Your grandmother has called you that since you were in diapers, nah?”

“Whoa.” Maybe she looked more like her grandmother and mother than she thought. They did share the same wide-set eyes and thickly arched eyebrows that were whipped into shape thanks to frequent trips to a threading salon.

When his forehead wrinkled, Winnie cleared her throat and responded in the same language. “Yes, I am Winnie. I hope I am not interrupted, but I don’t know if there is a right time I could talk in you. I have request.”

 Okay, that sounded weird even to her. She knew she was screwing up her verb tenses again—and maybe some other stuff, too—but hopefully he got the gist.

Pandit Ohmi steepled his fingers and nodded. “You can speak in English. I understand that as well as your Hindi.”

Thank the gods, Winnie thought. She could understand the languages that her parents spoke, but actually speaking Hindi and Punjabi was a little trickier.

“Okay, awesome. Uh, thanks for answering my call. I wanted to talk to you about the janampatri reading you did for my mother when I was a baby.”

“Oh ho,” he said, clucking his tongue after a pause. “So sorry about the death of your young romance.”

“My mother already got to you? Great,” she said, and dropped her head into her hands.

“She’s concerned for you. And no, I haven’t spoken to her yet. Your face has a story written onto it that I read very quickly.”

Winnie heard a few clicks as he leaned in closer to examine something on his computer monitor. “Ah, here is your family file. Mm-hmm, it looks here like your love story has changed in the last year, but your overall celestial alignment hasn’t altered. Your star chart provides the same prophecy it did seventeen and a half years ago, except now you have already met your love.”

“No way. How can Raj still be the one when it doesn’t…I don’t know, feel like he’s the right guy anymore?”

 “Who says it’s still Raj?”

Winnie sighed. “But, Panditji, it can’t be anyone else. Trust me, I know. Raj is the only one who fits your profile, and he has changed in the past year.”

“We all change. That is what growing up is all about.”

“Not like this. Okay, let me set the scene. His dad is an engineer who registered this patent and made a ton of money. Raj now wants to be an engineer, too. It’s like he never wanted to be a film critic like me, even though we’ve been talking about that for our entire lives, and…” She trailed off when she realized what she was saying. Pandit Ohmi was the root of her problem, and if she gave him too many details about her life, then he could use them against her by creating another dumb prophecy for her mother to harass her about. Shifting on the bed, she pushed her long hair over her shoulders. “Never mind. Basically, Raj isn’t for me.”

He shook his finger at the screen, and the gold ring on it glinted. “I think I understand. Your and your parents’ star charts are the most beautiful I’ve ever read. You’re afraid that if it comes true, you’ll be disappointed because it’s a choice you didn’t make. But wouldn’t you be equally disappointed if it didn’t come true? Finding a jeevansathi is a gift that many people aren’t fortunate enough to receive.”

Jeevansathi. Life partner. Soul mate. She looked over at her dresser and saw the promise of Raj’s silver bracelet. Keep cool, she thought. Keep it cool. He might be super accurate, but he was wrong about this. He was wrong about her.

 “Listen, I know you did this huge awesome prediction for my folks before they first got married, but I think you’re wrong this time around. I think that you watched Dil To Pagal Hai one too many times and maybe superimposed that Bollywood plotline onto me and thought, hey, this is totally plausible. I appreciate the peace of mind you give to my mother, but please don’t talk to her about my soul mate story deal anymore. I’d like for my folks to eventually get over it, you know?”