“Are you ready?”
Krystal closed the folder containing her half-translated Hindu scripture she was working on for her PhD dissertation. She turned from her desk to see her roommate, Brianna Wu, come into their shared two-bedroom apartment. Brianna held an overflowing box of props from the local theatre, one that she shimmied to one side of her hip as she made her way through the apartment and into the living room. It was at that moment when Krystal saw the DVD copies of the Star Wars films sticking out of the box, next to wigs and fake weapons.
“Oh shit,” Krystal said.
Brianna dropped the box on the couch and doubled back down the hallway to stand in front of Krystal’s doorway. Brianna’s pin-straight black hair framed her round face and made her sudden vexation seem lesser. Krystal knew, from living with her the last four years, though, that Brianna was a force to be reckoned with. Especially when Star Wars was involved. Brianna folded her arms over her chest and huffed.
“Don’t tell me you forgot about this! It’s right there on the calendar. May The Fourth!”
“But that’s Monday. Right now, it’s barely May and you know me. I forgot to factor in February because it’s a short month when we were budgeting this year. Of course, I still think it’s April right now.” Krystal ran her fingers over the mouse-pad of her computer, waking it up. She compared her tentative schedule online with her hand-written folder full of notes on the Vedas. Her Hindu scripture was only half completed, and if this really was May 1st, that meant she had very little time to complete all she needed. Only Friday, then the weekend.
All that time slipped away if she was watching Star Wars with Brianna.
“You promised,” Brianna said. “Back in December when we saw the most recent Star Wars at the movies. Come on, Krys. I watch your insane movies all the time.”
“Hey. Bollywood is not insane. ”
“Right. But a nine hour film is insane. The least you can do is watch three movies with me that aren’t even nine hours. Well, four movies now. I promise I won’t make you watch the prequels.”
“At least there’s that.” Krystal opened her school email account. Sure enough, her supervisor had emailed her to let her know she needed to have the Vedas completed, along with her accompanying analysis by next Wednesday. “Ugh.”
“Doc Brown again?” Brianna asked. She walked into Krystal’s bedroom without asking and flopped down on her single bed. The bed was pressed up against the wall and covered with pillows, so it was close enough to a couch. Krystal’s desk was adjacent the bed and also acted as her nightstand.
“Don’t call him Doc Brown. Makes it sound like I’m studying time travel.”
Brianna mimicked a line from the Back to the Future films, which were yet another one of her favourites. She and Krystal both attended the local university for their graduate degrees, but in far different departments. While Krystal was in Modern Languages studying Sanskrit and Hindi translation and Cultural History of India, while Brianna was across the campus in the Arts department, studying cultural theory and film. She also volunteered at the local theatre, putting on community plays and usually manning the costume department. In spite of putting on some of the best plays of the last fifty years, and writing academic papers on the best films of the past decade (with a speciality in the silent era), Brianna’s actual favourite films were the ones that usually had a dozen sequels, cheap dialogue, and huge fandoms.
Like Star Wars. But at least, Krystal noted, Brianna had enough taste to avoid the Jar Jar Binks nightmare.
“So Professor Brown is gonna be on your case,” Brianna said, relating back to Krystal’s first of many dilemmas of the night. “You do realize that everyone single graduate student is late for stuff, right?”
“Yeah, but I shouldn’t be.”
“Why not? Every single professor is also late. I had one prof say it was basically hypocritical of him to ask for deadlines for essays because he never got an article into a journal on time.”
“So what did you do?”
“I handed it in a month later. No penalties.” Brianna beamed. “I needed the time too, because you know, The Hobbit had come out and I was so watching that.”
Krystal laughed. She remembered that night, actually. She had been in her room, reading the Vedas over and over again, like she did all the time. She hadn’t even realized Brianna had been under a deadline and admired her ability to work under pressure.
“I can help, you know,” Brianna added. “With whatever you need.”
“How? You don’t know a thing about this culture.”
Brianna gave her the look that she always did when Krystal said remarks like this; the one that said you don’t really know anything either. Krystal was white and while she claimed that she probably had Indian lineage somewhere in her family tree, Brianna was the only person to actively call her out on her bullshit. Krystal didn’t have a single Indian person in her family, only a forlorn crush of the Indian girl next door that fueled this random obsession with everything Indian since she was fifteen years old.
Krystal glanced away, her cheeks reddening. Brianna was the only person―other than maybe Gita―who could make her feel embarrassed with a single look. She pulled up a blank email and started to write Professor Brown about handing in her translation work a week later.
“I’m not saying I’m gonna write it for you,” Brianna said as Krystal typed. “But you know, I could edit it. You write whatever you need, email it to me, and I proof. Simple, simple. Right?”
Krystal considered this, and while she did, Brianna made herself more at home on the bed. She leafed through Krystal’s many books from the library and then dropped them on the floor. The Diwali lanterns Krystal kept in her room at all times shimmered and cascaded light everywhere. Only then did Krystal realize it was dark outside and she was starving. Forgetting the email temporarily, she pulled up the local menu for the Indian place around the corner and picked up her cell phone.
“Hello!” she said. “I’d like two number eights, one less spicy than the others.”