Usri wondered why the women of her acquaintance called her ‘Bisri’, meaning ugly, behind her back. Little did she realise that by calling her ‘Bisri’ they referred to her ugly mind rather than her ugly appearance.
She looked at the mirror and saw a short, stocky woman in her fifties with a square face, thinning hair and fair complexion. She smiled at her reflection and grimaced. Her teeth marred the little impact created by her carefully made up face. An average person had, at the most, thirty-two teeth (including the wisdom ones). Usri never counted her teeth, but it seemed like she had sixty-four. They overlapped each other in such a disgusting manner that they really made her look ‘bisri’ whenever she smiled. Hence she restricted her smiles to the outer world. Actually smiling was not much necessary for her, considering the type of addas she had with her close friends. It was always bitching, bitching and more bitching. Usri and her friends derived perverse pleasures from criticizing others. Whenever she said, “Oh, we had a great time together,” it would surely mean that she and her friends had been bitching about other women. Where bitching, backbiting and dirty politics were concerned, there was no one to outshine Usri. She was always the master planner behind every evil activity. Usri thought that she was very clever, very discreet and nobody knew. But everybody knew and hence they called her ‘Bisri’.
Usri always used others to achieve her end. When she decided to corner Rima she provoked and used Chiroshri as her mouthpiece. When Rima retaliated Usri used Anuradha and her followers to bad-mouth her. Their verbal abusement continued till Rima threatened to take legal steps. Usri individually rang up her friends and convinced them to block or unfriend Rima and her close friends on social media circle. Some of them were influenced by her, some were not, but Rima’s image got tarnished nonetheless. Rima, who believed that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, acted accordingly. Readers loved her new novel.
Usri’s next target was Dolly. Her plan of action was more or less the same, ie, using the birdbrain Anuradha to foul-mouth Dolly on her behalf. Dolly, who was a no-nonsense woman, refused to digest this. In her fury she wrote a piece of her mind on social media and took the feud on public platform.
Usri blocked Dolly and turned her attention on Honey. She continuously brainwashed Anuradha and created a rift between Anuradha and Honey’s long-lasting friendship.
In all the above incidents, Usri utilised others and mostly remained in the background herself. She thought she was very clever which she was not. Her evil activities had already detatched her and her allies from their core group of friends who were disgusted with their dirty politics. Some of the men even threatened to leave the group if the ‘old bitches’ were entertained there. Some chose to swing both ways.
Usri understood the circumstances and made new plans to do some repair work. Her first attempt was to renew friendship with Rima. At a common gathering Usri revealed her basket of teeth at Rima and tried to engage her in a conversation. Rima snubbed her and later scornfully narrated the incident to her friends. When Usri heard she completely denied it, forgetting that there were multiple witnesses to that incident.
A leopard can never change its spots, neither could Usri change her ‘bisri’ nature. Soon she abandoned her abortive reformative attempts and returned to her former vindictive self. She formed a group and boycotted the core group’s annual luncheon meet. She and her allies arranged for separate get togethers and shamelessly posted photographs on social media to make their intention more clear to the others. She was peeved to note that none of them was missed at the annual meet. In fact she felt  left out of all the fun and frolic that the core members enjoyed. Then she made her epic mistake.
Usri attended a get together with her husband where some of the men from the core group were present as well. Soumen was sitting with his friends, having his third peg of whiskey, when she joined them at their table. Soumen tried to avoid her gaze but she was determined to speak to him.
“Hi Soumen,” said she with a real broad smile. “This is my husband. He’s eager to meet you.” Her husband folded his palms and greeted him. Soumen, unable to avoid her any further, did the same to him.
“Hello Soumen babu,” said her husband. “I have heard so many things about you.”
“Bad things you mean,” replied Soumen with a smirk.
“Of course not. You have won so many prizes in cricket tournaments. Such commendable performance at this age deserves a lot of appreciation.”
“Thank you. But how did you know? I generally share these updates on social media. Your wife has unfriended me there. Then how did you come to know?”
Usri turned pale. She hadn’t expected such a direct attack from Soumen. She swallowed and said, “Oh, that happened by mistake. I touched the wrong button. I’m sending you a friend request right now.”
“Don’t bother,” replied Soumen, enjoying every moment of her discomfort. “Who knows, you might touch the wrong button again. Moreover I hardly know you. So I can’t even call you my friend. Hence there’s no necessity to send me a friend request.”
Usri had no answer to that. She shut her mouth and looked away.
Nandita, who was sitting opposite to her, started a conversation with Pramit.
“Why didn’t you come to the annual meet Pramit? We all missed you so much.”
Pramit, who was no less outspoken than Soumen, replied, “Everyone knows that I was engaged elsewhere on office work. Otherwise I never fail to attend these friendly get togethers unlike Usri and her allies who intentionally boycotted the meet.”
Usri turned red in the face. The evening was turning into a nightmare for her. She forced a smile and said, “I…I never got the news you see. Otherwise I would have definitely come.”
“Of course you won’t get any news,” retorted Pramit. “How can you when you left the group for your dirty politics? Serves you right.”
Usri did not know where to look. She silently sat there for a few minutes and then left the table with her husband. She had never faced such public humiliation in her life.
Later she called Anuradha and lied, “You were missed there so much. Everybody talked about you. Only Sutanuka said ‘Its good that Anuradha didn’t come. She looks so cheap and vulgar in her backless cholis. We’re better off without her.'”
Usri’s face lit up with an evil smile as she thought of her next target Sutanuka.

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Rini Basu
Author, singer, photographer, English teacher, nature lover. Published 5 books so far. Winner of Literati 2019 award for South Asian micro fiction.
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