My So-Called Bollywood Life(76)

By: Nisha Sharma

“Don’t forget to send me an invite,” he said as she yanked open his office door.

“You bet! And, Mr. Reece? I know you’re a Trekkie, but Star Wars is way better. Maybe you should look into being a double for one of those guys instead.”

She heard him laughing as she raced down the hall.

One confrontation down for the day, and one more to go.

* * *

Winnie spent a few hours packing up some things in her room, and then headed out with a box and a silver bracelet. She needed the time to get herself in the zone before she talked to Raj. She’d figured he’d be at the film-club meeting anyway, but according to a text from Jessica, he was absent, along with Dev, Jenny Dickens, and Bridget.

She got in her car and, for the first time in a while, didn’t turn on theme music. The storm that was brewing darkened the sky and made the familiar drive to Raj’s house feel ominous.

Throughout most of their childhood, Raj had lived in a small town house, but last year, when his father became uber-rich, they’d upgraded to a mini-mansion in Princeton Junction.

Instead of going through the garage like she used to when they dated, Winnie walked up the stone path and stood in front of the large French doors surrounded by stained glass. She blocked one nostril, breathed in, then pressed a finger to the other nostril and breathed out before she rang the doorbell.

 The sound of shuffling came through the front door until finally it swung open. Raj’s mom stood inside the foyer, her hair in a low bun and her small belly stretching the thin fabric of her tunic top.


“Hi, Chaya Auntie,” she said slowly. “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if Raj was around. I have some things that I want to give him,” she said, motioning to her box.

Chaya Auntie’s surprised expression changed to one of irritation. “Did he know you were coming?”

Winnie shook her head. Raj’s mother sighed and stepped back so she could come into the house. The door closed behind her with a resounding slam.

“How are your parents doing?”

Winnie bit back her groan. Stupid Indian small talk always made things a lot more complicated. What Chaya Auntie really meant to say was I don’t care about your backstabbing mother who didn’t invite me to her pooja. I had one of my own.

“They’re good. How are you and Uncle doing?” I couldn’t care less and I don’t want to talk to you at all. I really want to give this to Raj and leave.

 “We’re good. You know, so busy with Uncle’s work these days, but doing well.” We’re so rich now and have so many better friends that I don’t need your mother or your father anymore anyway. We’re better off, so have as many poojas as you want.

“That’s great! Well, I’m glad.” You suck. “Is Raj in the garage?”

“He’s outside right now. Near the stone wall in the yard. Here, let me show you.”

Winnie followed Chaya Auntie through the house to the patio doors. Thunder rumbled, but she ignored it as she stepped through the opening and onto the deck. Less than a hundred yards away, Raj sat on the short stone wall that separated his property from the neighboring field.

“Hey,” she said as she approached him.

Raj whipped around. “What are you doing here?”

She settled the box between them and shifted to get comfortable. “I have a few things I wanted to return to you.”

He was wearing a sweater that she’d bought him with the money she’d earned from her first paid movie review. He combed his hair the same way she’d told him to junior year, when he was getting a bit shaggy. It was the first time she’d looked at him in so long.

“Winnie, I didn’t mean to hurt you when I told you about Dev.”

“You were the only one who told me the truth. So thanks. Really.”

 “But after you guys broke up…you didn’t come find me.”

She swung her legs, the heels of her feet hitting the worn stone of the wall she sat on. A brisk wind whistled around them. “No. I’m sorry, but I still believe that our story is over. What we had—”

“What we had was real, Winnie,” Raj said. He looked at her through bitter eyes. “You keep telling me that it’s your horoscope to believe in. Well, it’s my feelings. Don’t tell me that I didn’t really love you. Because I did.”