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falguni kothari
It's Your Move, Wordfreak!

It's Your Move, Wordfreak!

Excerpt 1

Chapter 1

'I...N...S...A...N...I...T...Y... Now there's a perfect bingo, kutty!'

Alisha Menon admonished her towel-clad reflection in the full-length mirror that adorned one buttercup yellow wall of her bedroom. The narcissistic contraption was encased in a broad, wooden filigree frame inset with citrine stones. It was bold and beautiful.

The exact opposite of the image it outlined.

Her round brown eyes were tainted with faint smudges underneath. She looked so pale, so gaunt. She was certainly not the fairest in Mumbai, but she would settle for being one of the smartest.

Heaving a sigh, she picked up the bottle of moisturiser from the dresser and sat down on the bed to replenish her skin.

It was late February and the sliding windows in her room were open to the balmy evening air. Faint sounds of traffic from below and a louder I'd like to move it, move it wafted in rhythmically, making her grin. Little Chucky from next door was watching Madagascar, yet again.

She felt slow and sluggish. Understandable, she was still recovering from a bout of flu from last week. And if her hands trembled, she put it down as a bonus from the mini epidemic. She absolutely refused to credit her nervousness to the big date she was getting all dolled up for.

Alisha's stomach fluttered at the thought. She was going on the bloody date and that was that!

Was she "off her rocker" as her best friend, Diya, had so eloquently put last night? Granted, she didn't know him too well, not at all in reality. She only knew him by way of their intensely competitive online scrabble games and, fun and flirty chats. That he could very well be Jack the Ripper snaring his next hapless victim crossed her mind. But it did not feel like that. He did not feel like that.

Arguably, how could a blind date be any less or more risky than a random chance meeting between two people at a club or party, or for that matter, in a book shop?

Her iPhone jingled its merry marimba tune startling her out of her ruminations. Was it him, calling to cancel? Get a grip, Alisha. He doesn't have your phone number, remember? She checked the caller id—MOM. Rolling her eyes, she decided that Savitri Menon could wait until morning to voice her angst, again, on her daughter's irrational and imprudent behaviour.

By tomorrow, Alisha figured that either she would be proved right and Wordfreak would be all that she hoped he would be (picture Brad Pitt, but truly she would even settle for a taller version of Shah Rukh Khan) or they—her mother, brother, best friend, ashioni, etc.—would be right and Alisha would have allowed her not-usually-impulsive-self to be mugged, raped, kidnapped, brutally murdered, or a combination thereof. They could all come and gloat while picking up her pieces.

Stop the insanity, Alisha, and move it already!

She stripped off the towel and quickly donned her clothes. Turning this way and that, she eyed the dress she'd borrowed from Diya, the ashionistas, from every angle. Then she prettied up her face with a few practiced strokes of powdered foundation, a slash of blush per cheek, colourless mascara, and shiny, sweet lip gloss. Heels? Nope, what if he's not that tall, better stick with the flat silver roman sandals as she stood five feet eight inches in her bare feet.

With one last critical look in the mirror, she picked up her purse and stumbled out into the world with butterflies in her stomach and two possibilities.

© Falguni Kothari

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