“Are you ready for the puja?” I ask and push my plate away. “Yes, having Rohit’s mom here is a huge help.” “Does she like hanging out with Rohit and Doggie?” I ask. Rohit and Meera rescued Doggie, I am sure that is why Broke Back’s compassion resonates with her. “Yes! She loves her grand-dog! I felt a little bad that I am not spending time with her, but I haven’t seen you in ages!” Meera says. “Don’t feel bad. I am sure Auntie understands,” I reassure. “Rohit’s a cool dude. Stands to reason his family is, too."
The waiter stops by and says, “Can I get you ladies anything else?” “Nothing for me, thanks,” I reply. To my surprise Meera does something atypical and orders a second glass of wine. When her wine comes she takes a long sip and sets it down. “I have something to tell you,” she says. Something I can’t read and have never seen before flashes through her eyes. Her tone is very, very serious, it at once excites and terrifies me. Either really good or really bad news is about to come.
Because I am a bit of a desi drama queen, I like to worry about things I have no control over and give myself cardiac arrest. Well she can’t be pregnant because she’s drinking. There is the off chance she needs my organizational help, but that would not bring forth such a somber tone. Oh dear, what if she tells me they are moving out of New York City? She is my partner in crime, where will I find another Meera who loves me unconditionally in a town of 8 million? No no, they CANNOT be moving, they JUST bought an apartment. Then dread washes over me and settles in my stomach, it is bad news and I regret not ordering a second glass of wine. “What?” I finally ask.
“Rohit is sick,” Meera says. “What?” I demand. I can feel the start of tears in the corners of my eyes, but I will not allow myself to cry. I need more details and must find a way to be strong for my friend. And why did we waste an hour talking about stupid desi men? She takes a minute to collect herself and says, “He has a tumor.”
OMFG. Please don’t let it be cancer. Cancer is mean. And I hate cancer. I cannot wait around and watch cancer ravage my friend. We have to attack the cancer now! “We don’t know if it is cancer,” Meera explains. I have no ability to disguise my thoughts or feelings so I know she can read the panic spreading across my face. “He has to have surgery and we’re meeting with the doctor next week. Everyone but his mom knows,” she says.
I am atypically stone cold silent. “Rohit told a few of his friends. He didn’t want you to learn about from someone else so he asked me to tell you,” Meera explains. “How long have you known?” I ask. “A couple of weeks,” she says. I shake my head. “You better tell your husband if he does this again, I’m going to kick his ass,” I say, trying to be funny, but choke. “How are you holding up?” I ask.
She sighs and says, “I’m okay. It’s hard. You spend all your life looking for your ONE TRUE LOVE. You get settled and happy and then…” she says quietly.
I reach across the table and grab her hand, giving it a tight squeeze. Now it is my turn to be a good friend, which means I don’t get to fall apart. I need to be strong and supportive. “You know what? I just decided he will be fine. There is simply no other option for him,” I say and smile, forcing confidence through my tone. I refuse to let my mind wander to worst-case scenarios. We are WAY too young. Meera forces a smile, nods and says, “I know. It’s just…”
She doesn’t have to say anything. I know. Sometimes life is unspeakably unfair.