That night, I had no idea it would lead to something as complicated. I had absolutely no clue. Of course I knew that it would be slightly confusing. So many people, with so many things to say to each other. It was disorganized. People streamed in from everywhere. They came in their cars and some came by themselves, in autos. Everyone sort of just drifted along until they reached the club. That is how things normally work on these occasions. There is very little time to sort everything out precisely and meticulously. People just assume that everyone will come along; for those who don’t, it’s a sort of unuttered loss, but it doesn’t matter. Minutes before, everybody messages everyone else and they all come to some common consensus. It’s not entirely very simple. They have their separate plans and problems, which come up intermittently, sometimes together. Some people don’t know where to stay over. Some people have a slightly more difficult time convincing their parents. Some people have a tough time concocting stories to sufficiently satisfy their curiosity. But usually, parents here are complicit in their children’s bouts of drinking and smoking and dancing. They kind of appreciate it; it implies that their children are progressively growing more sociable, more fun-loving, more open to doing things with other people. It marks a kind of rite of passage, one that culminates in full-blown social mobility. For some families here, this is important. It is as crucial as the academic brouhaha that persists in colleges, episodic things that they are kept mostly separate from. No one goes to their parents to discuss their classes. But for ‘socials’, they do come in somewhere, somehow, even if in the most nondescript kind of way, taking away their capacity of surveillance so subtly and yet so unequivocally.
And so it was that night. Everything followed exactly the same pattern and everyone produced the same procession of events, leading up to the club. It wasn’t very far off, closer than most of the other clubs in Delhi and it was significantly cheaper to get there. That wasn’t the issue. Everybody got there alright, without too much of a burdensome cash-slip attached. Certain people needed more comfortable means of getting there. They arranged for that as well. Cars are fairly easily available and women prefer cloistered cabs to the more public and more open metros and the more vitiating autos. People took a long time to get there, and the wait was kind of excruciating. Not because I didn’t know some people there; that’s not too much of a problem – you don’t really know too many people at these places, you just have to unobtrusively go along. But here, people I didn’t know had some kind of an overwhelming feeling of aggressive energy, transmitted randomly from person to person, from stranger to stranger, from one unknown space of discomfiture to another. It just kept growing, like little pangs of angry solitude. The dresses were nice, so was everything else they had put on. But they almost demanded, and screamed perfunctorily for, recognition. Not attention though, but recognition – the two are very different sometimes. I was there because I wanted to spend some time with certain people, which I did alright. But other things kept getting in the way.
It didn’t take me very long to slowly drift away. It was so easy. Everything already kind of egged on individual reveries. I only had to allow myself a conscious attempt at it. There were people who came along in throes, some of whom I didn’t find myself able to interact with. Which is perfectly fine. There is nothing reprehensible about not speaking to someone in situations like these. You can get away with it. You ought to get away with it.
I didn’t know, however, that someone there would seriously hold it against me.
It didn’t take me very long to feel that frustrated kind of repulsion. There is something instinctively invigorating about it. Whenever you get the feeling, you know it straightaway and you know it well. It fills you up with an assertiveness. You know you need to become more mellow, but some anger in you pushes you forward and you feel these little pangs of irritation. They cannot really be told apart from the melee of other things that inscrutably pass through your head. They come and go. You cannot be left wondering why. I felt those little pangs too. But I couldn’t tell them apart. They came and went. And I didn’t want to be left wondering why. So I simply felt it evaporate from me – effortlessly. They didn’t need any kind of initiative. They just petered out quietly, unspeaking. It didn’t feel right though, this person and her scrutiny. It wasn’t right. Because later, I chanced upon the conversation between them. It was ludicrous; not because it offended me, but because it was illegitimate; like a reprobate drunkard telling people off for harassing him, even as they tacitly watch him fulminate and go crazy, doing no more than witnessing the spectacle.
It was offensive. But so what? I enjoyed threatening its illegitimate coming forth. I liked the fact that I could reprehend it, and strangely, stupidly, even unwittingly, question it. Why not? People get away with a lot of things. They ought to get away with these things. Even then. They can be asked questions.