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Authors: Narinder Dhami

Bhangra Babes

BOOK: Bhangra Babes
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For more than forty years,
Yearling has been the leading name
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“D
o you think it will hurt?” Jazz asked. “No, of course not,” I said briskly. “Now stick your leg out.”

“It's got to hurt a bit,” Geena remarked. She was painting her nails at the dressing table. “Pulling hairs out by the roots usually does.”

“The box says it's quick and easy and painless,” I replied, picking up a waxed strip.

“They're hardly going to say it's quick and easy and hurts like hell, are they?” Geena pointed out.

“That's true.” Now Jazz was looking worried.

“Oh, live a bit dangerously for once,” I said, advancing on Jazz with the wax strip held out in front of me. But Jazz rolled over to the other side of the bed and tucked her bare legs underneath her.

“Why do I have to be the one to try it first?” she grumbled.

“Because Geena and I value your opinion,” I said. This might have worked if Geena hadn't giggled. “You don't want to turn up for the first day of the new term tomorrow with hairy legs, do you?”

“No one's going to be looking at my legs,” Jazz said with satisfaction, glancing at herself in the mirror. She'd gone up a whole cup size over the summer holidays. Now she was bigger than I was. Drat and double drat. How embarrassing is it when your little sister looks older than you do?

“Anyway”—Jazz was eager to change the subject—“I thought one of us was going to sneak downstairs to listen at the living room door.”

Geena tutted loudly.

“I don't know what you're being so uppity about,” I said. “It was your idea.”

“She thinks she's one of the chosen few now she's moving to the upper school,” Jazz sniffed. “Saint Geena the Perfect.”

“It's because I'm growing up,” Geena said, waving her hands in the air to dry her pale pink polish. “I simply can't afford to behave so childishly anymore.”

“So if I thump you, you won't retaliate?” I asked, grabbing Jazz's pillow and swinging it round my head like a hammer thrower.

“I will, of course, defend myself with whatever comes to hand,” Geena replied, picking up a hairbrush.

“Oh, stop it, you two,” Jazz said in a world-weary

voice. “Let's talk about Auntie. What are we going to do with her?”

This was a question we'd been asking ourselves ever since Auntie had moved in with us. Our mum had died a year and a half ago, and Auntie had come from India to look after us and Dad. It all looks so simple, written down in one sentence like that. It doesn't tell you anything about the pain and the suffering. And I'm not just talking about Mum, which was the worst thing ever. We also had to learn how to get along with Auntie taking her place. There's only one thing you need to know about Auntie. She interferes. That is all.

“I
mean”
—Jazz was getting warmed up—“we hand her the best-looking teacher in our school on a plate—”

“I'd say Mr. Arora is possibly the best-looking teacher in the whole of London,” I broke in.

“Or even the entire country,” Geena suggested.

“All right,” Jazz went on. “We hand her possibly the best-looking teacher in the whole country on a plate—”

“We didn't exactly hand him to her on a plate,” Geena interrupted.

“Oh-ho, did we not?” I scoffed. “Whose idea was it to get them together in the first place?”

“Yours.” Geena gave me a look. “And as I remember, they had a quarrel the very first time they met.”

“Details,” I said airily. “They soon realized they were meant for each other.”

“Was that before or after the Molly Mahal disaster?” asked Geena.

Three or four months ago there was a bit of a rift

between Auntie and Mr. Arora when we had ex-Bollywood star Molly Mahal staying with us for a while. Don't ask why and how—it's too complicated to explain. And definitely don't ask Geena and Jazz, because they'll blame me. I mean. As if.

“All right,” Jazz said impatiently. “We find possibly the best-looking teacher in the country and we try our hardest to get him and Auntie together—”

“We did more than try,” I said. “We actually did it.”

Auntie and Mr. Arora had been stepping out together since the Bollywood party at school, just after Molly Mahal had callously abandoned us to resume her
filmi
career. Now what we all wanted to know was, when was the wedding? Which was why we wanted to find out what was going on at this very minute behind our living room door.

“Please stop interrupting me,” Jazz said huffily. “I mean, we've done all that and made it really easy for them. So
when
are they going to get married?”

“Jazz, you've been asking the same thing for the last three months,” Geena grumbled.

“Well, when
are
they?” Jazz persisted. “I mean, Mr. Arora's got that promotion now—”

“He'll be fantastic as head of the lower school,” I said. “Much better than Mr. Grimwade was. Although now he's the deputy head, Mr. Grimwade has the potential to create a lot more misery.”

“So what's stopping Auntie and Mr. Arora from announcing their engagement?” Jazz persisted.

“That's not for us to say,” Geena replied, quite

pompously actually. “And there's nothing we can do about it either, except wait and see.”

“Oh, I wouldn't say that,” I remarked.

“Really?” Geena said frostily. “And why wouldn't you say that, Amber?”

“Oh, God.” Jazz put her hands to her temples. “I can sense one of Amber's ridiculous ideas coming. I feel sick.”

“I'm not going to
do
anything,” I said cheerfully. “Except maybe drop a few subtle hints.”

I lifted my pillow and picked up the magazine that was hidden underneath it.

“Asian Bride,”
said Geena. “Yes, very subtle. Like being hit on the head with a hammer.”

“I thought I'd just leave it lying around,” I explained. “No pressure. Now”—I picked up the waxed strip again—“let's get on with this, shall we?”

“I'm not going first,” Jazz stated firmly.

I sighed. “Well,
really.
I sometimes wonder if I'm the only one with any sense of adventure round here.”

“The three of us do it together or not at all,” said Jazz.

“Oh, if you say so.” I peeled off one of the strips and slapped it onto Jazz's leg. Then I stuck one to my own.

“Not me,” Geena said. “My nails are still wet.”

“Too late,” I replied, bouncing across the bed to stick a strip on Geena's shin.

“It's not hurting at the moment,” Jazz remarked cautiously.

“Of course not,” I said. “I told you it wouldn't. Now, one, two, three—pull.”

I think Jazz must have torn hers off a fraction of a second before I did because a bloodcurdling scream echoed around the room.

“Aaaaaaaarrgh!”

No, not that one. That was me.

Oh, every-rude-word-you

The pain.
The pain.
It was like a million tiny red-hot needles piercing the skin. I was lucky I had any skin left, mind you.

“You said it wouldn't hurt!” Jazz wailed, rubbing the red patches on her legs.

Still shaking, I realized that there'd only been two screams. Not three. I looked down. Geena's strip was still stuck to her leg.

“Get that off right now,” I ordered.

“I can't,” Geena spluttered, looking utterly terrified. “My nails are still wet.”

“Allow me,” I said with grim relish, and whipped the strip off at speed. Geena's screech nearly brought the roof down on us.

We heard footsteps charging up the stairs, and Auntie flung the door open.

“What is it?” she gasped. “Who's been hurt?”

“Amber tried to kill me!” Jazz moaned.

“I nearly killed myself too,” I said defensively.

Auntie surveyed the scene in front of her, our bare legs with the red patches and the wax strips covered with hairs. She smirked. “Don't be such big babies,” she said. “Leg waxing doesn't hurt. Try a bikini wax. Now
that's
painful.”

“Can we not go there?” Geena said faintly. “I've just had the most horrible picture come into my head.”

“I've still got hairy bits,” Jazz grumbled, inspecting her legs closely.

“You can tweezer those out,” Auntie replied.

“Tweezer
them out?” Jazz shrieked. “Are you insane?”

“I was impressed when you said you were coming up here to get ready for school tomorrow.” With one sweeping glance, Auntie took in the makeup, the hair dryers, the straightening irons, the nail varnish and all the other stuff strewn on the bed. “I kind of had the idea that you were going to lay your uniforms out and pack your school bags and check over your summer assignments. Little things like that.”

Looking justifiably smug, I pulled my bag out from under the bed and held it up. “I checked my holiday homework yesterday, my bag's packed and my uniform is hanging up in the wardrobe,” I said. “We're ready to go, aren't we, girls?”

“Oh, yes,” said Geena in a fake cheerful voice.

“I've just got to sort out my uniform,” Jazz muttered, carefully pushing her school skirt under the bed with her toe.

“I can never count on you two to back me up,” I grumbled.

BOOK: Bhangra Babes
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