Dancing in the Drawing Room by Pia Ghosh Roy I like how they keep their living room filled with shadows. Two quiet lamps on either side of the sofa, evening in between. It’s called a drawing room here, not a living room; I wonder why. Drawing, living. Is it about drawing breath then? Or drawing people out in conversation? Maybe, drawing conclusions. No one knows until something happens within the perimeters of a room to explain its space better. Drawing, as a word, seems open to deception: interpretation is a kind of deception, isn’t it? I don’t want to be drawn out tonight. I’d much rather sit in the shadows with my Scotch on the rocks. The bootlegged Scotch is spurious of course – after years in the UK my tongue can tell the difference. But here, one would rather be seen drinking fake Glenfiddich than good Indian whisky; the pressures of a nouveau riche economy. After the third sip, I tip the glass into a potted fern next to my sofa. The shadows help. The dim lamps throw just enough light. I say just enough because any less would make it difficult for Neel and Diya to show off their heterogeneous bookshelves, any more would show up the greys in Riti’s hair. She’s tried to hide them with a new parting. I see her slip her fingers into her hair now to massage her scalp; sudden changes in parting make her roots ache. It’ll soon give her a headache and make her reach for the Paracetamol in her bag. She bought a big box of them from the Boots in Heathrow just before we boarded our flight. She’s suspicious of the chemist shops in Calcutta, of the medicines they sell. She’s suspicious of most things. Ten years in bad weather had changed her; she always expected the worst. I wonder if she finds me as difficult to recognise sometimes. Like a printed word you’ve stared at for too long. We moved from Cardiff, back to Calcutta, six months ago. Riti had listed the obvious – better weather, old friends, the spacious Ironside Road apartment my parents had passed on to me, and the maids and cooks we could so easily afford. I hadn’t been able to muster up enough reasons to refuse.