Dipika’s head was swimming as she sat in Tim Horton’s, Mall of the Emirates, waiting for Rupali to join her. The only reason she had even fixed up to meet her was that she knew her mother had called up Anjali who would have informed Rupali.
“Ha … I’ve crossed over to the dark side, Ma. Too late to return home again,” she thought. The black coffee she sipped did nothing to clear the confusion in her head.
Dipika pushed her limp, dank hair out of her eyes, struggling to make sense of the menu in front of her.
That bastard was stringing her along, she knew it. All his false promises meant nothing, she thought wearily while gazing at the menu.
She looked up to find Rupali rushing over to the table.
“Dips, darling, so good to see you,” said Rupali, trying to sound upbeat and cheerful. She almost recoiled as she hugged Dipika.
The stench of body odor and some other strange pungent aroma permeated the air around her.
Dipika looked awful; her usual dark circles worse than ever, hair dank and limp, and lips cracked and blistered. She never used makeup, but this was truly the worst Rupali had ever seen her look in a long while.
“Are you okay, babe?” she asked in a soft whisper. The answer seemed apparent – she was not.
Dipika made a superhuman effort to sound and act normal.
“I haven’t been too well, Rupa. That’s what I had called mom about. Hope she didn’t worry you girls. I’m sure it’s nothing serious. I just haven’t been sleeping much lately and it’s telling on my health.”
Rupali was sure that Dipika was depressed about her father’s upcoming death anniversary.
“Listen, baby … you are going through a tough emotional phase right now. It will get better, I promise. Meanwhile, we are all there for you, okay?” She hoped she sounded more confident than she felt.
Dipika nodded listlessly. Poor Rupali, such a good friend, always looking out for her. Dipika felt a million miles away from her right now.
They finished their coffee and made their way over to a few shops. Rupali could tell Dipika was having trouble walking and put it down to her mystery illness. Psychosomatic symptoms, probably, given her bouts of depression. All she could hope for was that whatever it was, it would clear up and her friend would get back to normal.
Dior, Valentino, Lanvin; there was truly no dearth of high-end brands in the latest styles in the Dubai malls. The girls finally agreed on a stunning Chanel dress, stark and beautiful, in black and white. When Rupali tried it on with the blue turquoise earrings the shop assistant provided, she loved what she saw in the mirror. The hunt for matching shoes took them to the Shoe District where even Dipika was seemingly revived by the stunning collection of Christian Louboutin. Rupa convinced her to pick up a pair of strappy stilettos in hot pink with a gold trim.
Rupali hesitated for a few seconds before charging her card. Sometimes she felt guilty about spending Rohit’s money. However, he had always told her that appearance meant everything – sleek, sophisticated and expensive clothes were his natural choice and, now, hers as well.
Finally, exhausted with their shopping, the girls headed to the parking lot where Rupali’s driver was waiting for them. She asked him to first drop Dipika off at her apartment on Sheikh Zayed Road before heading to her own home.
On her way home, she quickly called up Anjali.