When I first walked in, I couldn’t see a thing. I just about managed not to stumble over the blazer-draped empty chair next to the seat I was supposed to take. Opposite my chair, vaguely human outlines shimmered as my retinas adjusted to the dingy but apparently chic lighting. The smell of cigarette smoke woven in alcohol hit me like a tonne of bricks. I think I stopped breathing for a whole five minutes. The music pounded through my head into the deepest corners of my brain. I silently wondered if I was going to get home with a migraine, a wheeze or night-blindness. The environment seemed almost hostile; completely and irrevocably non-conducive to chilling out.
Then, beside me, Gloria smiled and laughed radiantly.
Just like that, I thawed.
All my girls – my girls - were around me.
Kirti in her trendy grey harem pants, squashed in at the edge of the bench, with only one butt cheek on solid wood. Kirti – who is so good at adapting no matter how great the discomfort to butt or soul;
Shruti with mischief written all over her face;
Annie, with stunning blue at her throat and those devil-may-care glances,
Ashita, sunshine happy in the dark corner, swaying to the music;
Lubna, with dappled, satiny hair and ‘listening’ eyes;
Manisha in that pretty blue dress and soft smile;
And Gloria – adorned with elegant pearls, guiding the conversation, fighting through the impossible decibel levels to create a synergy of sharing and laughter.
We ate, drank and made merry. I don’t even remember when we glided to the dance floor, but I soon found myself closing my eyes, allowing the music to fill my core until it overflowed in my movements. Everything else faded; the lights, the smell, the strangers getting up to watch us. The dance was all that mattered.
And every time I opened my eyes to take a peep, I’d find myself in the safe warmth of a circle where each face was that of a goddess, a friend, a sister-soul dancing her own piece, to the same melody; enriching it with her special essence. Together, we brought more to the experience. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts.
I was reminded of ancient celebrations. Moonlit dancing around sacred stones, sacred fires – always in circles of kinship and trust, where your place in the circle kept moving, but your space was respected and what was created from that, was breathtakingly beautiful.
I felt alive, that night, as I left Turquoise Cottage.And so grateful for my girls.