Damini, the lightning bolt


Damini grew up in Mumbai, the daughter of a highly successful Bollywood film financier. He had raised her hoping he could turn her into a star, but in act of defiance, she fled to California, planning to become an actress in her own right.

What she became instead was a lush, a party girl, who glided from one rich, handsome benefactor to the next. When I met she was engaged to my business partner in my short-lived Internet start-up (aaah, the 90s). After Raoul went to the bar to refill his drink, Damini leaned into my ear and whispered, “I’m not going to marry your friend. Please don’t judge me too harshly.” Instead, I fell for her.

Our affair was torrid, and drunken. She crashed my car into a parked fire truck. I threw her TV out the window of her condo, into the swimming pool. Once, we brought a bottle of 50-year-old cognac to a taqueria and drank it with our tortas. My romance with Damini was an experiment in blue blood nihilism, carried out entirely under-the-radar of her fiancé.

When he found out, he flung himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. Damini broke down. I tried to console her, but she was a total wreck. At the funeral reception, she stabbed me three times in the shoulder with Raoul’s letter opener, and then fled to Los Angeles. I knew better then to try to chase her down, but I called her constantly, begging to see her again.

“You know what, Knox?” She told me over the phone, “You’re the worst thing that ever happened to me. Now I’m going to get black-out-drunk try to forget you.”

It must have worked. I saw her again once, years later, at a gala in Milan, on the arm of a renowned Saudi playboy. When I approached her, she didn’t even recognize me.

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