Muddling Through: The Life and Times of Tara Chatterjee

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Chapter 3

August 6th 2013


8:57 a.m.

Assembly (But no speeches. Yay!)

List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

Well that list isn’t too bad. And anyway apart from the Neo-Nazi, nothing else looks too daunting. At least I don’t have to apologize to HB. I don’t think I could’ve done that with any sincerity. Not that the Neo-Nazi deserves any sincerity. But since I don’t know him at all I suppose I’m less likely to say something derogatory.

Today morning was nice though. Amira walked off the bus and of course Karan was with her. Along with his taller, much better looking cousin and Bowel Movement Boy. I gave her a look that clearly said she had better be saying extremely nice things about me to him and talking about how I was a much better person than stupid HB and if he had to be BFFs with a girl it should be me.

Except she wasn’t even talking to Karan that much. He was sort of just hovering around her. She was talking to Bowel Movement Boy instead. Now his name is actually Suresh Swaminath and he isn’t a terrible sort. But the first day I came to school he was sitting behind me and loudly telling his friend that he hadn’t had the best poo the day before. So in my head he’s Bowel Movement Boy. Now and forever.

I glared at Amira, evidently attempting to inform her through subtle facial expressions not to waste time on Bowel Movement Boy and tell Karan how awesome I am instead. Of course she just glared right back and continued having her deep and intense conversation about (of all things) Chemistry with BMB (ooh I do like giving people acronyms don’t I?), ignoring my obvious need.

“Oh Kari,” HB cooed appearing from god knows where with a slightly frazzled looking boy in tow.

“Hey Sowms,” he said. And yes I cringed. I mean he calls her Sowms. That’s the grossest thing ever. Maybe only a little less gross than Kari. But it’s pretty bad too. But surprisingly she didn’t turn around and insult me. She just gave me a little bit of a glare and went back to flirting with Karan. Who I must say was handling it manfully. Well I suppose it must be nice for a boy to have any sort of girl throwing herself at you even if the girl in question is a little doughy so I forgive him for not chasing her off with a cricket bat. Even though y’know, when we’re married I can’t have any of that nonsense. I’ll definitely have a cricket bat handy at all times.

“This is Varun,” HB said, gesturing to a skinny dude standing next to her as if just remembering he was there. Though I suppose Karan can be a little distracting.

“Hey man,” Karan said politely.

“He’s on my bus,” she said, explaining his presence to the circle.

Everyone said general hellos and introductions happened and the new boy looked incredibly uncomfortable. Though honestly spending more than fifteen minutes with HB can do that to a person so I suppose spending an hour must’ve been akin to torture.

“Children start moving for assembly,” the call came from Mrs. Buttback and the general population started migrating toward what was referred to (quite loosely in my opinion) as the skating rink.

“Which section are you in?” Amira asked Varun because HB being the bitch that she was had ditched him for Karan and they were both waltzing off to the skating rink thoroughly happy in each other’s company.

“A,” he said.

“Oh that’s Tara’s section,” Amira said. “Just follow her around.” And then she walked off with BMB and Karan’s cousin who were both in her section.

“Er… I guess we had better head to assembly then,” I said.

“Um yeah,” he said. “Thanks.”

And then he shot me wary a smile and despite its general lack of enthusiasm I must say I was a little blinded by it. I mean his mouth was massive. An ear-to-ear smile could apply to him literally.

“So where are you from?” I asked, mostly to be civil.

“Oh uh Delhi,” he said. Nervous one isn’t he?

“Are you alright?” I asked, because he was acting distinctly shifty.

“Oh uh yeah fine,” he said, hurriedly. “Thanks for taking me to my section.”

And then it clicked. “You spent an hour on the bus with Sowmya didn’t you?” I asked wearily. “And perchance did she mention me?”

“Possibly,” he said, carefully, as if I was going to punch him.

“Look I’m actually not evil,” I said. “I promise I won’t attack you. Or at least not if you don’t deserve it.” That got a rather nice smile out of him and I was a little pleased with myself. Maybe he could be saved from HB’s pernicious influence after all.

So now he’s sitting behind me, staring at Buttback in horror while I scribble in my journal.

9:39 a.m.


List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

Yay for Miss Poori. She just yelled at HB for not preparing for a proper presentation. But really did she think throwing together some crap about Tennessee Williams’ homosexuality and the effect of this on his work was going to do shit? Miss Poori’s always one for separating the author and his work. She always says, though events in the author’s life do affect their work and we have to comment on that, what is important is the work itself. So talking about gays for twenty minutes did HB absolutely no favours.

And I think she looked at Ragini and me and sighed as if saying, look at this dumb bitch. Amira said I shouldn’t show my joy so clearly on my face. So I will attempt to look less ecstatic that HB’s attempts to get in good with my favourite teacher failed miserably. Oh look she’s gone back to her seat looking like someone slapped her.

10:22 a.m.


List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

I’m done with number one and I have a distinct feeling number two will be a negative answer. But apart from my list being one third done, there have been some other rather interesting developments. Because about fifteen minutes ago Ragini (yes my extremely prudish friend who happens to be named after a locality) asked me quite casually what I thought of the boy I was talking to in the morning. And I can only assume she means Varun because there aren’t too many boys who hang around me.

Honestly he seems nice enough, even though he hasn’t realized just yet that HB’s the spawn of Satan. Though apparently HB’s been talking Karan up plenty to him so I suppose there are some upsides to her obsession. Also that other girl, the one that seems to be a new member of the HB and Lovely crew also happens to be in my Bio class. Her name is Aliyah, which really is just such a perfect pixie-ish name to accompany her perfect pixie-ish looks. Though I suppose I shouldn’t judge. Ragini says I judge too quickly. But really would you want a perfect pixie-ish girl to possibly start hanging out an awful lot with the love of your life? I didn’t think so.

But anyway coming back to Ragini’s curiosity about the new boy. That’s quite a development. Apparently he asked her where the psychology class was and they got to talking. She’s acting like she doesn’t care but she has obviously been mightily impressed by our new friend and his blinding teeth.

11:40 a.m.

Double History (praise be the Lord)

List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

So Karan’s pretty much abandoned his seat in front of me. Which would be terribly tragic if not for the fact that his new seat is the one next to mine. So huzzah. I’ve become an ace at subtly staring at him. It does help that he’s quite engrossed in the Berlin Wall and doesn’t notice my creepiness.

“And all the Higher Level History students are going to have Mrs. George as your teacher soon,” Mrs. Mandana said, effectively pulling me out of my Karan induced haze. Because Mrs. George is hellish.

Once I had to go on Bus 5 and she got on and glared at everyone and said “I know its Friday so you have your privileges but don’t abuse them.”

So I asked the dude sitting next to me what Friday privileges were.

And he was like “Oh we’re only allowed to talk on Fridays.”

I nearly shit my pants because Jesus Christ that’s insane. I mean you should see my bus. Mrs. George would have a heart attack and die.

First of all there’s Tarun who’s always saying something snarky which inevitably makes me want to slap him. And then there’s his best friend/sidekick/punching bag Villupuram. Though I suppose anyone who calls their child Villupuram can’t exactly be expecting said child to have a comfortable childhood.

Though speaking of names, mine is actually Tarabai. Tarabai Shinde was a nineteenth century feminist who deeply inspired Mum. So I suppose I can’t exactly mock other people for their names. I mean Tarabai? What did they want me to ride off to battle on a horse like Rani of Jhansi? Not that that wouldn’t be very cool mind you. I mean who doesn’t want to be a brave freedom fighter. It’s just that nineteenth century names aren’t exactly conducive to high school popularity. Though I highly doubt a different name would make any difference to my popularity or more importantly, lack thereof.

Anyway where was I? Oh yes my ridiculous bus. So there’s Tarun who’s jerkish tendencies have already been explored. Also I bet Mrs. George would flip because when he gets really into his music he starts singing very loudly and very tunelessly. Not only does he sing the words but also the guitar solos. Then of course there’s Villupuram who, when not singing guitar solos, Tarun insults continuously. And he attempts to counter and eventually it all just degenerates into very loud insults being thrown at each other.

I will enclose a transcript of their conversation just to prove my point.

Conversation between Tarun and Villupuram

T: So why do you want to go to UPenn? I mean what sixty thousand dollars? It’s a waste. You’re buying into the system.

V: No I want a good education man. I can make a lot of money and pay my parents back.

T: [Snorts].

V: I’m serious. I want to buy my dad a boat, man.

T: Buy your dad a boat? And where is he going to put it? Ulsoor Lake?

V: [Ignoring this] I also want to go to space.

T: [Quite rudely] You can’t go to space. You’re too fat.

V: Well at least I can lose weight. You can’t get any smarter.

And then Tarun punched Villupuram who immediately started yelling bloody murder. But the teachers on my bus have sort of learned to ignore the idiots making a ruckus at the back. But you can bet your bottom dollar (that the sun come out tomorrow) that Mrs. George would’ve pulled those two apart and smacked them upside the head. Not that they don’t need it. Especially since the current head smacker happens to be me.

But anyway she wasn’t going to come on my bus; she was going to teach me history. I think I’ve mentioned numerous times that history is in fact my favourite subject and I do not want to it be ruined by a harpy who won’t let me talk in class.

But I digress. Karan also asked me something really weird. I was just chilling and writing notes that I’ll definitely have to rewrite at home, just because I was paying very little attention.

“Are you trying out for the school play?” he asked.

“Why on earth would I do that?” I said, quirking my eyebrow. “I mean have you seen me? I’m not exactly the run up on stage and make a fool of myself type.”

“You do all the emceeing and the speeches for Independence Day and Republic Day and stuff like that,” he said with a shrug. “And you go for theatre classes right?”

“They pick me for the emceeing because I have an airhostess voice,” I explained. “And yeah I do classes but I’ve never actually been in an actual play.”

“So you practice but you don’t actually act?” he said dubiously.

“You sound like my dad,” I muttered. “He keeps saying that’s like spending hours in the nets and not actually playing a game.”

“He’s right,” Karan said firmly. “You should audition.”

I was a mixture of cross and happy that Karan actually knew enough about me to force me to act in a play but I still wasn’t doing it. I had started drama lessons for rather different reasons than most people had.

“You’re pushy,” I said, hiding a smile at his persistence.

“I’ll probably be around too,” he said. “Sowmya’s forcing me to be in the crew because she’s in the play too.”

“They haven’t had auditions yet,” I said rather nastily and then immediately regretting my path down that of petty meanness.

“Yeah but she’s been in all of them,” he said, not rising. “So she’ll probably be in this one too.”

“Of course,” I said sweetly and very fakely. “She has so much talent.”

“Yeah she does,” the boy said with a smile, missing my sarcasm completely. Because HB has the talent of an ageing cow.

“So what does she want?” I asked. “Like what role does she want to play?”

“I think she wants to be the bitch,” he said. “Y’know the horrible one.”

Oh Karan, I forgive you your lack of knowledge of musical theatre but if you refer to Rizzo as ‘the horrible one’ again I will smack you.

“Rizzo?” I asked. “I would’ve thought Sandy was more her speed.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. “You should try out though. There are like a bunch of other parts.”

That was true. And I’ve been thinking that if I do get a part I could spend a lot of time with Karan. Especially if HB’s being Rizzo or Sandy or whatever. And it’ll be fun won’t it? It’ll be fun. And also if I do the play that means I’ll have to stay back and generally be busy. And do you know what generally busy people cannot do? They cannot go to unnecessary therapy sessions.

I could be Frenchy. She doesn’t do anything much. Just dyes her hair weird colours. Oooh maybe I’ll get Amira to try out with me. I mean everyone needs CAS hours right? Okay I guess I have to add something to my list of things to do today.

12:01 p.m.

Hindi (the pain the horror)

List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

4. Audition for the school play.

5. Convince either Ragini or Amira to audition with me.

Ugh HB keeps going on about the play. And not only does she keep going on about the play, she does so in fluent Hindi. Is that fair I ask you? I mean I can barely say ‘can I have water please’ and she can chatter on about the intricacies of Rizzo as a character. At least Lovely’s looking put out. She doesn’t approve of Rizzo’s morals I’m sure. She does have a bit of a stick up her butt. I wonder what she would do if she knew that her TOK teacher’s as gay as the Fourth of July. Or Fifteenth of August for us I suppose.

Actually if I had to pick a Rizzo it would be the new recruit to the Bitch Squad, Aliyah. I mean she’s kind of got that whole Stockard Channing vibe and could definitely pull it off. But then HB would drop her as a friend in seconds so that wouldn’t happen.

1:37 p.m.

Lunch (green chicken yuck)

List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

4. Audition for the school play.

5. Convince either Ragini or Amira to audition with me.

I collared Varun before HB could get her claws into him. Just because if Ragini possibly might even have the slightest hint of feelings for him, he cannot be allowed to become a HB stooge.

“How was your first day?” I asked, as I steered him in the direction of our dining hall spot.

“Okay,” he said, not very convincingly. “Do you know where the textbook store is? Apparently they forgot to give me ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ I got into a little trouble.”

“But you’re new,” I exclaimed, possibly paying more attention to him than I otherwise would’ve because of my set-up-Ragini-with-someone plan. “Who’s your teacher?”

“I have Mrs. Hariprasad,” he said nervously.

“My condolences,” I said with a wince. “Buttback’s a hardass.”

“You call her Buttback?” he asked with a laugh.

“Everyone calls her Buttback,” I confided. “She’s terrible. The first day I got here she yelled at me about my eyeliner. Like I wasn’t nervous enough as it was.”

“Okay so then I wasn’t the only one who had a first day from hell,” he said, sounding oddly relieved.

“Green chicken,” I said scrunching my face up at my plate. “I hate green chicken days.”

“Do you want some of this” he asked, pulling a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup out of him pocket.

“Yes,” I said, almost comically grateful. “I think you’re my new best friend.”

“You really aren’t a horrible soul sucking person,” he said. “I think you deserve a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.”

“Before you finish that statement,” I said. “I have to do something.” Because out of the corner of my eye I had spotted the Neo-Nazi.

“Mohan,” I said, tapping the dude’s rather large back.

He turned around and his eyes went wide. “Are you going to yell at me again?” he asked nervously.

“No no,” I said, though I was waving a fork around so I might’ve looked a little bit mad. “I just wanted to say sorry.”

“Mathura made you apologize didn’t she?” he asked. Y’know for a Neo-Nazi he wasn’t that dumb.

“Yeah,” I said. “But I suppose I was out of line anyway.”

“I didn’t complain,” he said. “You know that right? I mean Sowmya just sort of brought it up and-“

“No worries,” I said. “Okay I’m going eat my lunch.”

Now Amira’s poking at me with the back of her knife because apparently it’s antisocial to write in your diary during lunch. I think she’s forgotten that at one point we used to take a piece of bread each and sit outside the swimming pool during lunch. So really she’s quite a big loser too.

She just looked over my shoulder and saw the last sentence and smacked me on the head. So I suppose I had better go.

2:30 p.m.


List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

4. Audition for the school play.

5. Convince either Ragini or Amira to audition with me.

Oooh ooh. Ragini’s totally got a crush on Varun. It was like love at first sight. Every time Diya and me bring him up she goes bright red. I can see the appeal though. He is kind of cute even though he looks like he’s capable of dislocating his jaw and swallowing a table. Like actually, he has the biggest mouth ever. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Ragini.

There’s a new extremely tall, very intimidating looking German boy in our math class who’s sitting next to me today. Ragini ditched me for Diya. Not that I don’t deserve it. Also she refused to try out for the play, which makes me sad. Because I mean Karan’s great but he’s also practically attached to HB’s butt. I’ll be bored out of my brains if I don’t recruit someone.

But anyway the tall German boy with dark circles is looking at me weirdly. Excuse me German boy with dark circles just because I keep a diary does not mean I’m weird. Oh wait maybe its because of that almost fork stabbing incident during lunch today. I should probably talk about the almost fork-stabbing incident.

A Dramatic Retelling of the Almost Fork Stabbing Incident

The camera pans in on our heroic heroine. She is eating lunch with her friends and subtly stuffing her face with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that her new best friend the wide mouthed Varun has given her.

Alas such happiness and joy cannot last for long because in storms the evil and horrible Sowmya Singh and her dastardly sidekick Lovely.

“You’re auditioning?!” she screeches.

[There was a definite use on an interrobang.]

“I think so,” says the brave heroine, never flinching.

[Okay even though this is a dramatic retelling I suppose I should stay away from actual lies. There was quite a lot of flinching. But can you blame me? The cow was yelling like someone had killed her parakeet.]

“Well you aren’t going to get anything,” the evil and dastardly villain says angrily. “You have no talent.”

“And you have talent in the bucket loads don’t you,” the heroine says smoothly.

[Again a lie. Why must I do this? I wouldn’t know smooth if it hit me in the face.]

“Please,” the villain scoffs. “At least the ground isn’t my best friend. How do you plan to dance when you have the balance of a retarded baby?”

“I’ll show you a retarded baby,” the heroine mutters under her breath.

[I know I could’ve done better.]

And then extremely dramatically, the heroine flicks a little bit of her green chicken at the dastardly and villainous villain.

“You bitch,” screams the villain, while the heroine laughs in shock because holy hell she can’t believe she just did that.

And then the evil villainess grabs her fork and in her rage slams it down on the table narrowly missing the heroine’s hand.

The heroine then stares at her a little horrified and realizing that perhaps actual physical harm was possibly a step too far the villainess exits hastily.

“So when she said you were psychotic she actually meant she was psychotic,” says the heroine’s new best friend [sorry Amira I’m replacing you] and provider of Peanut Butter Cups.

And thus ends the grand saga of the almost fork stabbing.

3:05 p.m.


List of things for Tara Chatterjee to do today

1. Ask Miss Poori to take a look at my dumb speech for Independence Day.

2. Find out if Extended Essays can be interdisciplinary (ask Mrs. Mandana?)

3. Apologize to the Neo-Nazi.

4. Audition for the school play.

5. Convince either Ragini or Amira to audition with me.

So I’ve been entirely unsuccessful in recruiting my friends. Amira said she might be a part of the crew later. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. She doesn’t exactly enjoy dramatic things. Though she certainly enjoyed my little bitch fight in the dining hall today. She keeps asking me if I’ve had a personality transplant. I told her it was the therapy. She just laughed and asked me where I’d developed my new sense of humour. Little does she know, her best friend is actually insane and going to see a professional. But yes, no one actually knows about the therapy thing because can you imagine the field day HB would have. I’d never hear the end of it.

My little feud with HB’s become quite public. NLB and LNLBF have both congratulated me on slapping the little bitch and pulling her hair. The speed and inaccuracy with which rumours fly around my school is a little terrifying. A lot terrifying actually.

“I didn’t pull her hair,” I said, trying to defend myself from all the slander. “Honestly. We just yelled a little.”

“So she didn’t try to throttle you?” NLB said curiously.

I rolled my eyes. Well as I said before, not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

“She didn’t try to throttle me,” I said. “It was an almost fork stabbing. Not an actual attempt on my life.”

“And what did you do after that?” LNLBF asked, excitedly, probably still hoping for some hair pulling.

“Nothing,” I said firmly. “She just left.”

“You must’ve done something to provoke her,” NLB persisted. “I mean people usually just don’t stab other people with forks.”

I sighed. “I may or may not have flicked a little bit of green chicken at her. But just a little. Her reaction was way over the top.”

“Nice,” LNLBF said appreciatively.

Well I’m glad he thinks so. I’m pretty certain any chance I had of ever being Karan’s friend has pretty much disappeared. I mean there are some things people just can’t get past and I’d imagine chicken hair and an almost stabbing are two of those things.

4:10 p.m.


Well…that was unexpected.

5:25 p.m.

Waiting for the buses

See things like this usually don’t happen to me. Not that I’m complaining exactly. I’m not sure what to think. Well I suppose I should start from the beginning.

After completely failing to recruit anyone I sadly made my way to the Amphitheatre assuming I would be sad and alone in my loneliness. I am seriously considering replacing Amira and Ragini with Varun. At least he gives me chocolate. All Amira and Ragini do is mock me.

“I’m so glad you’re trying out,” the voluptuous British drama teacher said with a smile. “We need new blood.”

“I wanted to try out for Frenchy,” I said.

I heard a snort. “Frenchy?” HB said sneeringly. “Then again someone with your talent can’t really try out for anything else.”

“Now Sowmya,” Mrs. Trask reprimanded.

But HB just let out a huff and walked off.

“Don’t pay attention to her,” Mrs. Trask said, comfortingly. “And Frenchy’s a great part.”

In a few minutes everyone was given a script.

Mrs. Trask stood on the stage and started a speech she had no doubt made several times.

“All right everyone,” she said. “I’m so glad you decided to audition. Today we’re going to just get everyone on stage to sing a verse of a song. It can be any song. After that you’re going to read out a bit from the script depending on which character you want to play. Keep in mind that not all of you can get Sandy or Rizzo or Danny. So if we ask you to read from another section it just means we think you’re more suited to another role. First up Abhaya Gurbaxani.”

A tiny girl with a squeaky voice went up and read for the role of Sandy. Slowly Mrs. Trask went through the list of names. Perfect pixie girl Aliyah had quite a good audition for Sandy but I had a feeling the twelfth grader Jyoti Sangeet would get it. I mean she’s really very good. And all of the teachers know that she’s good so her casting made sense. And then HB went up. Although I hate to admit it, she had quite a good voice. But her Rizzo had no depth. I suppose she could pull off Sandy better. But then again she had more competition for Sandy so I guess I was going to be in a play with a depthless Rizzo.

“Tara Chatterjee,” Mrs. Trask called.

“Good luck,” Aliyah said, a little surprisingly. HB just glared.

“So what are you going to sing for us?” Mrs. Trask asked benignly.

“Um…Zombie, by the um…Cranberries,” I said stuttering a little. It was not a good way to start an audition.

“Go on,” Mrs. Trask said, her smile dropping a little.

I wanted to whack myself on the side of the head but I figured that would definitely do me no favours now.

So I sang the song after pulling it down several octaves and I don’t think Mrs. Trask noticed because she started smiling again.

“That was very good,” she said. I knew I hadn’t been as good as HB but at least I didn’t completely choke which was most definitely a victory for me.

“Should I read my part now?” I asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Go ahead.”

My Audition

Me: Jeez! What am I gonna do? I mean, I can't just tell everybody I dropped out of beauty school. I can't go in the Palace for a job . . . with all the guys sittin' around. Boy, I wish I had one of those Guardian Angel things like in that Debbie-

Mrs Trask: Wait. Play it with more humour. There needs to be a little more lightness in this.

Me: Oh…um…okay. Jeez! What am I gonna do? I mean, I can't just tell everybody I dropped out of beauty school. I can't go in the Palace for a job-

Mrs Trask: Okay I think we should try something else. Aliyah could you come up on stage and read for Sandy? Tara flip to page 23 and read for Rizzo.

[Muffled squawk from HB]

Aliyah: I'm sorry to hear you're in trouble, Rizzo.

Me: What are you gonna do—give me a whole sermon about it?

Aliyah: No. But doesn't it bother you that you're pregnant?

Me: Look, that's my business. It's nobody else's problem.

Aliyah: Do you really believe that? Didn't you see Kenickie's face when he left here? (I turn away.) It's Kenickie, isn't it? (Awkward pause.) Well, I guess I've said too much already. Good luck, Rizzo. (She starts to leave. I turn and glare at her.)

Me: Just a minute, Miss Goody-Goody! Who do you think you are? Handing me all this sympathy rubbish! Since you know all the answers, how come I didn't see Zuko here tonight? You just listen to me, Miss Sandra Dee . . .

Mrs. Trask: [With a hint of surprise.] That was very good Tara.

And that was what happened in the auditions.

“You really were pretty good,” Aliyah said when we left the stage.

“I can’t sing,” I muttered.

“You can sing well enough,” she said rather nicely considering she was HB’s new BFF. “And you’re a pretty good actor.”

“You too,” I said, feeling the need to be nice too. Huh I guess Pixie girl isn’t the devil’s incarnate.

I waited until all the other auditions were over, kind of edgy because of what I assume were the leftover bits of my adrenaline rush.

“The shortlist will be emailed to all of you tonight,” she said. “Keep the scripts because we’re staying back tomorrow for final auditions and if your name is on the shortlist you have to prepare for one scene and one song. Good luck to you all.”

“We only have a day?” I asked Jyoti, a little panicked.

“Oh don’t worry,” she, the veteran of countless auditions, said. “You don’t have to memorise anything. Just read through it a couple of times so you don’t trip up. Mrs. Trask isn’t entirely insane.”

“Just a little bit then?” I asked.

“Just a little,” she agreed. “And good job out there.”

“You too,” I said automatically.

And that was how I accidentally auditioned for the part of Rizzo.

7:15 p.m.

Just got home.

No mail yet.

7:22 p.m.

Home (still sitting in front of the computer)

Still no mail. I might be getting a little antsy.

8:13 p.m.

Home (haven’t left the computer)

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I want to punch someone. Fuck I’m nervous. Gauri Didi just came in with a massive plate of vegetables.

“Storefraiy Shefali,” (translation: stir-fry Tara) she intoned and dumped the plate on my bed.

She doesn’t call me Tara. Doesn’t like the name apparently. She’s been working for us for ages so she gets to call me whatever she wants.

9:06 p.m.



Should I open it? I should open it. I’m scared now. Oh no. Stress headache.

To: Drama group

Fr: Gemma Trask <>

Re: Shortlist

My Dearest Students,

Thank you for your wonderful spirit and enthusiasm today. Congratulations to everybody. You have made me very proud to be a drama teacher. Enclosed are the names of the people shortlisted. Even if your name is not on the shortlist you still might be in the play these are just the people required to come in for another audition. The final cast list will of course be sent to you (as always) the night of the final auditions. Rehearsals start next Wednesday and everyone, regardless of the role they have must come. I sincerely look forward to working with all of you. Once again congratulations and good luck to those people shortlisted

With regards

Gemma Trask

Students shortlisted

Danny Zuko

Dhruv Thapar

John McCormack

Siddarth Joseph

Mohit Rampal

Sandy Olsson

Aliyah Sethi

Jyoti Sangeet

Varshini Gopinathan

Suman Soori


Madhav Jagana

Nadeem Khan

Rohan Karthik

Sanat Menon

Betty Rizzo

Hridya Khanna

Abhaya Gurbaxani

Sowmya Singh

Tara Chatterjee


9:12 p.m.


My mother heard me yelling and came to ask what all the fuss was about. Well I suppose everyone heard me yelling. I bet even my neighbours whose kitchen is right next to my room heard me yelling. I’m not too sorry for disturbing their peace though. They’re always cooking things with the vilest smelling coconut oil. I got a callback. Oh my heavens I feel like I’m in High School Musical. Except we are not all in this together. No siree. Every man for himself.

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