Born Confused fanfiction.
Before I knew fanfiction existed, I have pretty much always done it- but just in my head. I never wrote it, because I didn't know that there were people out there who would want to read it, who would even get what I was doing, and who did the same thing.
But yeah- this is an unwritten part of the story that might complete things. It doesn't challenge what's going on in the book at all. It's just one of the backstories.
If you haven't read Born Confused, don't even attempt to read this little fic. (If you haven't read Born Confused, READ THE BOOK.)
SETTING: About a year before Born Confused; Manhattan
SYNOPSIS: Kavita just arrived at NYU and finds she has no place to stay- Sabina comes to her rescue.
PAIRINGS: Um, Kavita/Sabina.
RATING: Let's try PG for slashy themes and angst.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing of the book. Sometimes I feel like I AM one or more of the characters in the book- but sadly I don't own any of them.
It was a little scary, being in a foreign country for college. Of course, she knew the language and understood the culture (or thought she did, remembering everything her little cowgirl cousin had told her about America)- but still, Kavita felt painfully self-conscious. She was very aware of her Gujarati accent and her slight tendency to screw up grammar as she made inquiries about housing and classes and buying books. They were used to accents at NYU- but she couldn't help feeling a bit uncomfortable as she asked the girl behind the counter about her dorm assignment.
"Kavita Patel?" asked the blonde woman, surprisingly pronouncing her name correctly, shuffling through some papers. She looked up apologetically. "Well, I guess the reason you didn't get your room assignment in the mail is that- we don't have a room for you."
"Excuse me?" said Kavita, suddenly panicking. No place to stay. Great.
"I'm sorry. There was some mistake in housing. They thought you were a rising senior." The woman started putting papers away, and then she saw Kavita's expression. "I'm really sorry," she repeated. "There are no rooms available. All I can suggest is trying to find an apartment around here. Do you know anyone?" Kavita shook her head. "Well I'm sure there's somebody in the same boat as you." The woman signalled for the next customer. Kavita shrugged and walked away, hoping she would be able to find a place to stay within a few hours. If nothing else, she would have to sleep on a bench outside. Or the library- that was probably safer. She decided to start trying to find an apartment at the library.
Kavita was sitting at the computer and Googlesearching apartments without much success. She had just started resigning herself to the idea of sleeping under the tables in the library and using the gym showers for the entire semester, when she glanced out the door of the computer lab and saw a vision.
A girl was walking in the hallway. She had blue-black hair sticking up erratically like static electricity. It looked appropriate, though- the girl was electricity personified. Her bronze skin glowed defiantly. She was very thin, but somehow didn't look anorexic- she was too confident in her walk, in her menswear cargos and skintight black shirt with the words "See Me For Who I Am" Tulip-painted across it. Kavita found herself dizzily staring at the words- but then caught herself and moved on to the wise, defiant face, the exquisite lips, the reclangular glasses, the eyes.
She was intense. There was no other word for her. All around her, people in the crowded hallway edged slightly away to give her space, awed and intimidated by the intensity emanating from her. Kavita found herself feeling involuntarily jealous of the people in the hallway, next to her. As she came closer, Kavita noticed a sociology textbook in her narrow intricately henna-ed hands. Definitely Indian. The henna crept all the way up to her toned biceps. Her spandex T-shirt rippled deliciously with evidence of defined abs- again, Kavita had to stop herself staring. There was no makeup on her face, except for a thin line of kajal on each eye. She was wearing the Jain Universe on a gold necklace. Chain. Jain Chain. Bangles and pride bracelets huddled together on her wrists. Her nails were short, with silver paint chipping off. Those brilliant kohl-darkened eyes were burning right into Kavita as she entered the library. Kavita held her breath as The GIrl approached.
"Looking for an apartment?" SHe had swung herself into a rolling chair and wheeled over, right next to Kavita.
"Yes, actually," said Kavita. Once again she was painfully aware of her accent. This girl sounded completely American. Probably an ABCD. Or just an ABD. "I was supposed to have a dorm room but the housing office made a mistake."
"Tough," she said sympathetically. "I'm Sabina, by the way. What's your name?" Sabina held out her hand.
"K-Kavita," said Kavita, hesitantly shaking Sabina's hand. "Patel." Kavita was surprised to note that Sabina's handshake wasn't strong and confident as she expected- it was hesitant, uncertain, like Kavita's.
In reality, Sabina was nowhere near as confident as she appeared when she approached Kavita. Ordinarily, she was extremely self-confident, defiant, argumentative, unbelievably arrogant and stubborn- most people at her high school had thought of her as "the bitch." People were usually intimidated by her intelligence and wit, and even more so by her uber-liberal ideas and the confrontational way she made a banner of her deviance. But in the presence of this dusky goddess, something within her softened. She maintained her confident exterior, but inside, she was a big blob of jelly. She had even considered doing what she would have doen three years ago- turn away, run and hide, spend the semester surreptitiously watching and longing for this vision of beauty, bookmarking her Facebook if she had one, memorizing her schedule. Uncharacteristically, she wasn't even sure what to do next- she could have spent forever just sitting there, looking into those lotus-petal eyes, drowning in the cascade of raven waves framing the perfect dusky complexion of the most beautiful face she had ever seen. The eyes staring back into hers were just as uncertain as her own, and something about the posture of the rich, womanly body in the kurti and jeans revealed a soft vulnerability.
"Well, I was wondering... I mean, I have an apartment, and uh... if you wanted, you could, well... you could live with me." Shit. Now Kavita would think she was an absolute freak.
"Wow. Thanks!" said Kavita. Then her brow furrowed. "But why don't you have a dorm? You're a freshman too, isn't it?"
"Well, yeah," said Sabina, scratching the back of her neck, "but the dorms here really suck. My parents said I should just get an apartment and live there all four years." Kavita nodded. "Here. Let me help you with your stuff." Sabina effortlessly toted Kavita's huge duffel and started for the exit. Kavita hurriedly grabbed her bookbag and small bags and followed. She had to practically jog to keep up with Sabz's powerwalk. Sabz. Hmm. That suited her far better than just Sabina. Kavita wondered if she would mind if she called her Sabz.
As they walked the seven blocks, Kavita wondered how it would be, living with Sabz. She hadn't known her for more than five minutes, and yet she was going to her apartment. Remembering what Dimple had told her about New York, Kavita realized the possibility that Sabz was just going to beat her up, take all her stuff and leave her bruised on the street. Well, she wouldn't mind being beat up by Sabz so much.... What was she thinking? There was a laptop in the bag Sabz was carrying. Kavita's mind wandered. She wondered what made Sabz make this offer right when she needed it. Maybe Sabz was lonely and wanted to live with her like a sister. But one didn't think things like this about one's sister. Kavita wondered how she would feel if she came home to the apartment to find Sabz with a boy. How would she stand it? Kavita started to feel like maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
As Sabz led the way, her mind wandered too. She couldn't believe her luck- Kavita had actually said yes. But Kavita was so innocent. Sabz's luck had never been that great. Kavita was probably desperate for any apartment and would have taken anything. Sabz suddenly remembered something that had happened about two years before, when she was still uncertain about many things- at a friend's sleepover party, when they were doing "makeovers" and Sabz had been henna-ing everybody up, and she had been doing lotus flowers on a friend's neck, she had wondered what it would be like to kiss a girl on the lips. So she had done it- and the girl had angrily pushed her off and called her a "low-minded opportunist." Sabz wondered if she was being a low-minded opportunist now. Maybe Kavita just wanted to live with her like sisters. Sabz thought of the timidity with which Kavs had shaken her hand. Kavs. Hmm. But maybe she was just a timid, nervous person in general. She wondered how it would be if she were to come home to the apartment and find Kavs with a boy. Sabz would probably tear the boy to shreds. She started to feel like this maybe wasn't such a good idea after all.
Finally, they reached the apartment. Kavs wondered if Sabz thought it odd that they had walked the entire way in silence, instead of trying to get to know each other better before they were to be 'room partners'- but Sabz didn't seem to mind. They went up the elevator several floors, hearing the arguing of couples even through the thick steel elevator walls. Kavita shuddered. But her feeling of foreboding evaporated once they were inside the apartment.
The apartment was tiny. But there were two well-stocked bookshelves, with classics, Indian stuff (written in Hindi, Gujarati and even Sanskrit), and lots of feminist literature. Kavita suddenly remembered the pride bracelets, and allowed herself the hope that maybe they were not to be sisters after all. The white walls had Rajastani mirrorworked tapestries. All of the furniture, including the sofabed and the air-chairs, was deep red, as were the curtains. There was a small TV with seasons of Seinfeld stacked on top, and a large stero with piles of obviously burned CDs. There was a tiny mandir in the kitchenette, loaded with Ganeshes. There was only one bedroom. Loud posters, obnoxious bumper stickers, Ansel Adams prints and random computer printouts lined every inch of wall space. The tiny closet was full of edgy clothing and body art supplies. Candles were everywhere. There was a red genie lamp, two lava lamps and a red satiny queen-size bed.
"It's perfect," said Kavs- Sabz blushed with pleasure. She had decorated it herself. "But the thing is- there's onyl one bedroom. I don't know how- this will work."
Great, Sabz thought. She did just want to be sisters. "Well, if you really want to, you can take the sofabed, but I wouldn't recommend it," she said.
"You wouldn't?" asked Kavs. Fire danced in her eyes. Maybe this WILL work, she thought.
"Nah," said Sabz. "But I guess we can work out details later. You've had a hard day. What do you say to a little henna?" Wow, thought Sabz. I really AM a low-minded opportunist. But Kavita didn't seem to mind.
"I'd love some!" she said eagerly. "Are you good?"
"Decentish," said Sabz, getting out the supplies. She set them all up, turned own the lights, and lit the sandalwood-scented candles. Kavs lay down on the living room floor and Sabz immediately went to work, starting with the palms of her hands. Her usually steady hands were trembling. She and Kavita talked while she worked. Kavita's eyes were closed in complete relaxation, total surrender. Kavita told her all about her family in India, about her Dadaji passing away, the pressure on her sister Sangita to get married and be a good girl, her American photographer cowgirl cousin Dimple in nearby Joysey. Sabz told her about her own family, her high school, her interest in getting back in touch with her roots, her feminist ideas. In the course of the hennaing, their life stories came out, except for certain details surrounding a certain fact about both of them- Kavita didn't mention how as a child she had had a huge crush on Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai, and Sabz didn't mention any of the sleepover parties. Sabina worked in a daze, making swirls and lotus flowers and Oms. When she paused for a moment, she realized that she had henna-ed Kav's entire arms, whole back, and most of her legs- and that Kavita had pulled up her jeans to mid-thigh and shed her kurti and was wearing only a tank top. Kavita had also been in a daze, and she too realized, at about the same moment as Sabz, that she was half-naked. Both girls suddenly felt shy.
Kavita spoke first. She was afraid that Sabz would guess what she had been thinking the whole time- and that she would change her mind about wanting to live with such a freak who thought things like that. She decided to put Sabz at ease. "You know, I am so glad to have found a friend and a sister in you," she said.
Sabz deflated like a tired old balloon. "Sister?" Kavs looked at her- she looked so disappointed, so sad- and like she was beating herself up inside.
"Well, that is- you can be my sister- if you want to be," said Kavita haltingly. She wished there was a way of communicating her thoughts without risking anything- or reading Sabz's mind. "Or, if you want to be- something else- that's great too."
"Madhuri Dixit," said Sabz to herself, thinking of the curly-haired legendary Bollywood goddess with the million-dollar smile.
"Heh?" said Kavs, extremely confused.
"That's who you look like," said Sabz. "I was trying to remember who it was you reminded me of. You look just like her."
Kavita blushed as she looked up at Sabz. She was still lying on the floor. And suddenly, Sabz didn't feel like such a low-minded opportunist anymore. She leaned over. Kavs closed her eyes in absolute rapture. The heady, intoxicating scent of the mehindi and the candles swirled around the two of them, surrounded them, pressed their lips together.
And the rest, they say, is history.