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I was busy choosing the tenderest okra at the weekly market when someone thumped hard on my back. It had to be either Easwer, Roy or Sunil. I turned, the choicest abuses reserved for my close buddies ready on my lips, and froze. A rotund figure in a white kurta and salwar stood there grinning at me. Her short unruly hair framed her face like a halo adding to the overall look of roundness.

What the hell. Who was she?

“Look at him gaping! Don’t recognize me, do you?”

She laughed, cackled was more like it, and followed it up with another thump on my back.

I lost my balance and almost fell.

This was embarrassing. I didn’t know her. I wished Parvati would hurry back. She had wandered off to buy fish at the other end of the market taking Ria with her.

My wish was granted almost immediately because she suddenly materialized beside me. Ria was busy licking the sticky chocolate off the wrapper and I made eyes at her to stop.

“Parvati, I presume? And this must be little Ria?” she said patting (I noted she didn’t thump Parvati on her back, just pats) Parvati, taking Ria’s grubby hand in hers and shaking it solemnly.

Parvati gave me a questioning look. I shrugged. If Parvati didn’t know her then.. could it be someone from my college days? I tried to recall all the plump girls from my class. Not that I remembered very many. There were the WhatsApp groups I was part of. But I wasn’t active in any of them.

“Girl, how did you agree to marry this nincompoop? He used to be all pimply faced, oily hair kept long, always sniffling…”

Wait a minute. It couldn’t be. This was embarrassing.

“I was amazed when I heard a stunningly beautiful doctor had agreed to marry him!”

Oh my God. No. Not her. Not Pushpi.. er, I mean Pushpalata. No, no no! How had slim Pushpi, no Pushpalata, the delicate beauty, toast of the school, turn into this huge round person I was seeing? I had been smitten with her those days. I remembered the day she spurned my offer of eternal love. How miserable I had been. No, no, no. Please God. Let her have forgotten it. Amnesia, that’s it. Give her amnesia on this matter, God. Let her not remember how I had cried so heart-brokenly, begging her to reconsider. Stop sniveling, she had said that day. As soon as I got back home I had looked up the word in the dictionary.

“Kya re? Getting your memory back now?”

There was a knowing, cheeky smile on her face. Parvati looked at me with interest. Who is she, her eyes queried.

“This guy swore eternal love to me,” she said turning to Parvati, her eyes twinkling, “and I told him to get lost.”

Now Parvati was laughing too. She knew all. I had told her the story in one of my expansive moods.

Easwer, Roy and Sunil were waiting outside the market. Apparently Pushpalata had sought their help to surprise me.

At the celebratory dinner that night, I had to be on my guard every time she guffawed for fear of her next thump landing between my shoulder blades and breaking my bones. Gawd. This woman had the strength of an ox. Just before leaving, and after I had successfully ducked yet another of her tries to thump me on my back, she winked at Parvati and said,

“Good thing I did that, right? Look how lucky it has turned out for him! Or else he’d have been pulp by now.”

All of us were laughing so hard, and I the hardest of them all, that I missed sidestepping the next one that landed on my back.

Fiction for today’s Daily Prompt: Embarrassing

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