FO° Books

World’s Worst Best Girlfriend

In Durjoy Datta's upcoming book, set to release on October 8, 2023, readers will be immersed in a tale of improbable love that unfolds against the backdrop of a luxurious Andaman resort. The chance meeting of D and A sparks an irresistible attraction that transcends their different life paths. Four years later, they reunite, both burdened by life's challenges. Their mutual connection deepens as they take control of their destinies, defying the whims of fate. Datta's storytelling prowess promises a captivating blend of romance and intrigue, leaving readers pondering the enduring power of love.

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September 24, 2023 06:31 EDT

It’s hard to look away from her. Silvery moonlight reflects off her face in ways that remind me of how stages are lit, how spotlights are arranged just to accentuate the art. I notice Aanchal’s eyes—a shade of light brown Sameeksha would know. Sameeksha’s make-up kit has brown but it’s not brown, it’s always something different—almond, burnt ember, coffee, tan— and she loves to tell me why ‘it’s not brown, okay!’ I wonder what Sameeksha would say if I texted her about my new-found crush. In the three months we have been together, Sameeksha has used the word ‘cute’ for three guys—two in her college, one a Bollywood star—and in my head, I have flayed them alive, fed them their eyeballs and quartered them.

I turn to Gaurav. ‘And what’s your name? Rabbani, my sister, wanted to know who gave up their ice cream for her.’

‘Gaurav,’ the brother answers gruffly.

‘The jail was heartbreaking, right? I saw you guys there.’

‘It was boring,’ he answers impatiently.

It’s cute that Gaurav thinks I’m interested in his opinion.

Aanchal shakes her head. ‘It made me furious,’ she replies.

‘Why are you talking to him?’ Gaurav protests.

‘Because your mother is not here so we can talk and choose not to be bored,’ I answer Gaurav. I turn to her. ‘Furious? Why did it make you furious?’

She digs her toes into the sand and turns her gaze towards it. ‘It seemed so . . . pointless. So much pain and suffering for independence. And for what? The best-case scenario for any Indian is to get settled in the country that ruled us. It seems like we wasted all those lives.’

‘Happiness comes from freedom of choice too. Now, we are free to go to the country of the gora even if it’s on illegal boats or whatever. Is that what you plan to do? Move abroad?’

She and her brother look at each other and share a soft chuckle. She turns back to me. ‘We can’t afford it,’ she confesses.  ‘We can’t even afford this resort. We are only here because we won a lucky draw.’

‘We should go, Didi,’ urges Gaurav, pulling at his sister’s arm. Gaurav, half-scared, half-angry, looks towards the resort building as if someone has trained binoculars on us. He then looks at me with a creepy smile and says, ‘If you want to stay, give me your phone.’

‘No,’ Aanchal warns Gaurav. ‘You have played enough games.’

‘You can talk to a random guy who’s trying to hit on you, but I can’t even play a game? How’s that—’

I interrupt him. ‘I’m not trying to hit on your sister, Gaurav.’

‘Of course you will say that!’

‘I have a girlfriend back in Dubai. I mean, I did before I came on this trip. Now I’m not too sure where we are at,’ I answer and, just to poke him, I add sincerely, ‘You would know, right, how tricky relationships are? You look like someone who’s a bit of a . . . playboy?’

Aanchal turns to me. ‘You live in Dubai?’

‘Who cares!’ whines Gaurav. He tugs at her arm. ‘Didi, please, can I have your phone? What’s the point of a vacation if I can’t have fun? I will play just one game and give it back to you!’

‘The point of a vacation is also so you can meet new people,’ I offer an answer. ‘Did you guys notice there’s literally no one young in our group except the three of us?’

Gaurav stares at me blankly. ‘New people aren’t more interesting than Call of Duty.’

‘You’re not entirely wrong,’ I concur. ‘The guns in the new version are legit. The new camo skins are a little expensive, though.’

Aanchal gives her phone to Gaurav. ‘Five minutes,’ she warns him. ‘And don’t hold the phone too close to your eyes. And not 100 per cent brightness, okay?’

He takes the phone, walks gleefully to the nearest sunbed and sits down. I hear the faint sounds of Call of Duty: Mobile.

‘You’re right about the young people . . . everyone’s old,’ says Aanchal.

‘Your brother’s cute in that annoying way that boys are. Never wanted a brother, though,’ I lie.

Her brother’s not cute. He’s skinny and shrieky and nervous-y, and the way he leapt at the phone reminded me of Gollum. But the new Call of Duty has been making boys of all ages behave that way.

I continue, ‘To be honest, I never wanted a sister too. But it’s cool now. So, you like it here?’

‘I’ve never been to a place like this,’ she remarks. ‘When I read about the Cellular Jail, I never thought one day I would get to see it. All this is new . . . exciting. And I have definitely not met anyone who lives in Dubai.’

[Excerpted from World’s Best Girlfriend by Durjoy Datta with permission from Penguin Random House India]

The views expressed in this article/podcast are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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