Ladoo grins at Tamara. She takes the pregnancy stick and sneaks into the small bathroom on the terrace.

She sits down on the pot, with the stick in her hand, and pees on it. She bites her nails in tension, waiting. Only one line appears. She breathes out, annoyed, and shakes the stick. She pees on it some more. The stick still shows only one line.

“So bloody unfair!” the thirty-four-year-old grumbles. “How come even Billi can get pregnant, and I can’t?”

Ladoo leaves the stick on the sink and comes out of the bathroom. She finds Tamara sprawled on the mirchi gadda, making a video of herself smoking a joint.

“Tammy! I told you not to hide your ganja next to my pregnancy sticks. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not getting pregnant!” she scolds her sister.

“Don’t be so extra, Dids,” Tamara says, using her usual millennial slang. “And shhh! I’m making Rishikesh’s best Insta video. ‘Hot Yogini Does Ganja’. Guaranteed 10,000 views.”

“You millennials!” Ladoo says. “You’re the world’s only generation that makes doing nothing look like something!”

“You know you’re a millennial too, right?”

“I know. But I feel like a boomer, Tammy.”

Ladoo plops down next to Tamara. Tamara stops recording her video and looks at her sister, concerned. “Why? What happened, Dids?” Tamara asks.

“Nothing, Tammy. I’m still not pregnant,” Ladoo whispers.

“You’re also not....” Tammy says and makes a wedding shehnai sound, “..married.”

Ladoo sighs and adds, “I told Ricky I was on the pill, so he wouldn’t use a condom. I was ovulating that day. I even made sure he ate bananas before know...his sperm count increased. Still...nothing.”

“Ovulate???” Tamara asks her loudly.

“Shhh! Kamini Kavya might be listening to us!” Ladoo says. She pushes the clothes on the clothesline to one side and looks around for her neighbour on the adjacent terrace. No one’s there. Ladoo heaves a deep sigh of relief and continues, “Ovulation is the only time that a woman can get pregnant, two weeks after her period.”

“You’ve lost it, Dids! Are you even speaking English?” Tamara says, looking seriously at Ladoo. “Look, I’m woke and all, and I know it’s 2021 and all, but are you sure you know what you’re doing? What if you actually get pregnant?”

Ladoo looks at Tamara, confused, “That is the plan!”

“The plan is to get knocked up and guilt Ricky into proposing?”

“Of course! We are Indians. Pregnancy means marriage.”

“One second, so if he proposes, you’ll actually...for reals...marry Ricky?”

“Obvs yes,” Ladoo says, looking at her sister like she’s calling the sun yellow.

“But...what about Mr Right?”

“Forget Mr Right. I need Mr Right Now.”

“Dids, no! Yuck! You cannot marry that loser. He wears a red tilak on his forehead all day! He introduces himself as, ‘Myself Ricky’. His real name is Ratneshwaram!”

“So?” Ladoo shrugs. She gets up from the cot and begins to hang some of the wet clothes that are lying in a bucket.

“So?” Tamara says in surprise. “You deserve better than Ricky, Dids. He’s so yuck!”

“Don’t say that about your future jiju.”

“If you actually get pregnant with his child,” Tamara says, “you’ll be better off as a single mother.”

“Being a single mother involves being single,” Ladoo says. “And you know me, I can’t be alone.”

“Fine!” Tamara says. “Anyway, he’s Garhwali and we’re Kumaoni. Mom won’t even allow you to marry him.”

Ladoo looks earnestly at her sister and says, “And I’ve told you, Tammy, you won’t understand. I’m a childless divorcee. I’m going to be thirty-five in a few months! This is my last chance to have a baby. So, I can either have an accidental pregnancy and trick the guy into marrying me, or I can freeze my eggs and keep waiting for Mr Right. And, trust me, pregnancy is the cheaper and easier option.”

“Dids, so much drama over having a child?” Tamara says. “Why? Kids are so annoying!”

“Kids are annoying in your twenties...but a necessity in your thirties. Got it?”

“Fine, Dids, but I don’t think this country needs one more kid!” Tamara says. “We have so many already.”

“And I don’t think me having one kid will affect our population of 1.3 billion people!” Ladoo snaps.

“Whatevs, Dids,” Tamara adds. ‘Sadhguru says that women who choose to not have kids must be rewarded, and that you should find something else to involve yourself with, like yoga. That’s what I do! Why don’t you try that?”

“Tammy, the only thing I want to involve myself with is a baby,” Ladoo says. “So, I can’t afford to wait, ok?”

“Why not? Kareena Kapoor and Farah Khan had their babies in their forties.”

“Celebrity eggs are different, yaar. They are like Katrina Kaif. My eggs are like Shakti Kapoor. That’s the problem.”

Tamara looks at the boiled eggs on her plate and pushes it towards Ladoo.

“So have my eggs, Dids,” she says innocently.

Ladoo looks at her sister and laughs.

The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News

Excerpted with permission from The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Good News, Meghna Pant, Penguin Books.