Verbena. What kind of a name is that? I s’pose it’s OK in Guyana or one of them Caribbean places, but in Haringey? No way. My bloody parents’ fault. I shoulda had a British name, not something that makes out like I’m some kinda tropical flower, so that they can harp back to those ‘good good days’ before they came here. If they were so bloody ‘good good’, why on earth did they up sticks and em-ee-grate to London in the first place?


Anywayz there’s no street cred to being named Verbena and I sure as hell ain’t no sorta flower, so I call meself Vee and that’s OK, until someone asks me what Vee stands for and then I comes right out and tells them. That’s me. I’m not always all that gabby, though I have my moments, but if I get asked about something I can never keep my trap shut. I just blurt out the truth. I’ve always been like that. Some people say it’s one of my good points (ha ha), but I think I’d be better off if I could keep shtum. If only. The first time I ever went out with that slimeball Winston, there I was, at that time of the month and, well, ’course there was no way I was going to talk to him about that sorta thing, but somehow he sussed it out and he bugged me until I told him. That’s how he was. He wouldn’t leave a subject alone, once he got the bit between his teeth. Anywayz he asked me and so I just said, ‘Yeah, oh sure. No big thing.’ That’s me.


’Course, it’s been very different with Sudhir, ’cos we met on the Internet and so I was hiding behind a screen, without actually meaning to be hiding, if you know what I mean. There’s been piles of stuff I never told him, but that’s just ’cos of the way it is when you chat online and besides, he never asked me. You don’t exactly hide things on the Net, but you become a different person, don’t you? Anywayz Sudhir and I seemed to hit it off. I think he musta liked my pic. I use that one that shows my face from the right, my best side, and the light is behind me, so you don’t see none of those blotchy spots on the left. Then, when we’d been chatting for two or three months, Sudhir said to come and meet him and his family in Mumbai. Well, that came out of the blue. I woulda said you coulda knocked me down with a feather, but I’m not that easy to knock down, you know. I’m not real heavy, but I’m no lightweight either. Anywayz I didn’t hesitate. That’s me. Impulsive me. I just said yeah, like right away, without a second or third or fourth thought. ’Course I didn’t know then what a hassle it would be, getting time off work, having to tell the visa people half my life story, send them photos that ain’t even the same size as passport pix and, on top of that, paying them quite a few quid for the privilege. Seems they think the English give them a tough time and so they decided to play them at their own game. Fair enough in a way, but a bloody nuisance all the same.


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