Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The fatal fete

An excerpt from my debut novel, Live from London.

The party was a riot. Everyone we’d invited had come bringing more uninvited people along as was the norm in dorm parties, turning it into an event the size of a prime minister’s address. Free alcohol needed no invites, I guessed. We were rather pleased by the number of people dressed up for the theme at such a short notice. It was an impressive sight. Nemo was making out in the corridor with blue crab; giant turtle and sea horse were drunk and singing; a gang of seals was making a mess in one of the bedrooms; dolphin had started on the karaoke machines without Riya’s permission and was singing along; an eel-lobster duo had locked themselves in the orchid-themed bathroom; a whale had launched an unsightly food attack and a hundred varieties of fish were dancing in the backyard.

I hadn’t smiled and hooted so much in ages. The spontaneous karaoke sessions, embarrassing people with ridiculous costumes, shaking a leg on catchy beats, cracking up at funny jokes, gorging on junk food; it was a fiesta. The clock struck two in the morning, five hours after the party had started, and no one seemed in a hurry to call it a night. It suddenly occurred to Riya that one of the neighbours had complained about loud music in the past and the deadline to dial it down was 2 a.m.

‘That’s it, guys! I’m killing the music. But here’s to board . . . ’ She tripped while carrying out a dozen board games stacked over each other from the game room. Her alcohol tolerance level was way lower than what she thought, which always resulted in her crashing. Not that anyone in the room was in their senses. People howled and attacked the board games.

Another hour later, it was almost time to wrap up when somehow someone dared someone into doing something wild and that’s how everyone got onto the truth-or-dare game. My feet were aching severely from the high heels, the generously greased food made me want to throw up and three shots of tequila had me buzzed. I was in no mood to play ‘dare’. I just wanted to go home and lay supine. But that was far from what happened.

After all the drama and cheering and screaming, it dawned on me that somehow I had been dared in front of fifty people from college to sing on Britain’s Got Talent, the reality TV talent show. I had been dared, and I had lost.

I brushed it off as one of those things that none of the drunks would remember the next morning. But, much to my shock and stern disapproval, I had managed to become the topic of conversation for everyone who had come to the party as well as the rest. Sarah, I suspected, was taking the lead in spreading this piece of non-news like wild fire. Sarah was my only friend who was very highly accomplished. She was a professional ballet dancer, a student of MENSA with an IQ of 145 and could put most learned people to shame when she discussed macro-economic policies in the Third World countries. Gorgeousness oozed from her. She stood tall at five feet nine inches with a slender frame and sexy auburn locks. Her periodic articles in The Sun, our campus newspaper, were thought-provoking and brilliant. She was on the board of The Sun and I would never have guessed how capable she was of misusing her power, until now.

Riya giggled and showed me the latest issue of The Sun that was bound to bring utter darkness into my world. There it was; an oddly charming picture of me with messed-up hair wearing a grey tank paired with graphic pyjamas, playing my red guitar while jumping on my bed from one of our slumber parties under the headline ‘Senior from Literary Arts to go on Britain’s Got Talent’. It got me severely aggravated and I could feel fumes rising from my head. My knee-jerk reaction was to kill Sarah, strangle her until she could breathe no more. But the world around me thought of it as the most exciting piece of news they had heard all day. I heard giggles, cheers, ‘congratulations’ and words of inspiration. I wanted to bury myself.

What followed was nothing short of a movement on campus like no other I had seen in a long time. Everyone was dreadfully determined to send me on that show. WHY?

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