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Sun and moon

Chapter Text

When my moon rises, your sun rises under the same sky, in this different time.

Our hearts are connected under the same sky.

[Sun and moon - NCT 127]






Friday, November 11


“What is happening to my life ?!” She yelled.

Her mother did not understand. Or she didn't want to.

“Don't be so dramatic ! You're getting engaged soon, Meenakshi.” She had a smile on her face. “And then, marriage.”

Her engagement day was barely two weeks from now and her parents had already fixed a date for her wedding. Her future fiancé –help !– sure was nice, but she wanted to run away and never come back.

“We're gonna visit Madhav’s home tomorrow. Or… your future home.” Her mother wriggled her eyebrows before going back to the living room.

She immediately closed the door to her room. She didn't want to visit ‘her future home’, she didn't want of this marriage. And she knew she was 25 already, but her mother sounded so eager to have her out of the house ?

She grabbed a book on her desk and opened it on his picture. She stared at his face for a few seconds before rummaging through her wardrobe: here it was, his blue T-shirt smeared with paint. To think of the lengths she had been to to get them… utterly ridiculous. She had probably gone crazy.

She buried her nose in the piece of clothing as she often did and inhaled deeply. It smelled just like him . She sighed. It would usually satiate her but today it wasn't enough.

She took off her top and put it on instead of her pajama.

Ah… now this was more like it.

She lied down in bed, wrapped in his reassuring scent, his picture against her heart.

What was happening to her life ?


Saturday, November 12


“Wake up, Surya !” His mother came into his room. “It's already 8:30 !”

He could hear her picking up dirty clothes scattered around.

“You're never on time for anything !”

He was still in bed, half asleep and trying to close his ears to her usual morning nagging.

“Surya !” She slapped his shoulder, making his head shoot up. “Look at me when I talk to you !”

He rubbed his eyes, already tired of this day.

“When will you do something with your life ? I'm not getting any younger and neither are you !”

The venerable age of 25… sure. But he kept that comment to himself.

“You should be looking for a job, painting won't bring food on the table !”

He held back a sigh and slowly stood up to go shower.

“How do you think you'll find a wife ? Do you expect me to still take care of you at your age ?!” She switched to Tamil, yelling while filling a laundry basket with his clothes. “You have no sense of responsibility.”

He was standing in the door frame, pretending he was listening.

She noticed though, she always did, and shook her head in disbelief. “Go shower already !”

“Oh ! You're already here !” Madhav, her future fiancé, looked up from his roses as he saw her and her family step on his terrace on the first floor. “Let me get changed, I'll be here in a minute.”

Her parents left with Madhav’s parents. Her smile to her younger brother who followed behind their mother, was a SOS call.

And now they were left alone, just the two of them in the middle of the terrace of roses.

Madhav gave her a soft smile and she let out a forced giggle. He smiled some more then went to his room to put more formal clothes on.

She sighed. Maybe she should go back downstairs with the others…? She gave a glance to the roses… and her eyes landed on the guardrail and her grandmother in her wheelchair down there near the gate, measuring how close the ground actually was.

Meenakshi… you can't do that ?

Ten seconds later, she had jumped down the terrace and ran away under her grandmother’s cheers.

“Run, Meenakshi !”

She should have felt guilty.

“You can do it !”

She should have.

“Run, run !”

But she didn't.

She stopped when her legs couldn't carry her anymore, panting and trying to catch her breath. She had run as far as she could. Far away from Madhav’s house, their parents, him.

But how long would she be able to ?

She took a deep breath… his scent.

Him .

His mother had been nagging at him some more before he had to go. He knew it was out of motherly worry, but he still wondered why she had to bring the topic to the table every week. It had been four years since his father had died, and none of her remarks had changed his mind. He couldn't do anything else anyway: painting was his whole world.

He had just crossed a street when he noticed her out of the corner of his eye.

He kept running into her these days. If it was only for the fact that she worked at the library of his art school, but he would see her everywhere around campus the past few months.

She was always staring at him. She probably thought he had not noticed, too caught up in his paintings. He had.

What was strange was that he would surprise himself doing the same when she was not looking.

He walked a bit faster and turned in an alley. He could hear her further behind. He went back on his steps and passed by her.

She turned against the wall, trying to hide her face. He couldn't help a smirk: she probably thought she was slick. But wasn't she tired of this little game ?

She shouldn't follow him . But his scent attracted her, was calling her, it was like oxygen, how could she spend her life without it ? Without him ?

She wanted to cry. She was so desperate, it was absurd.

But as her conscience tried to bring her reason back, her feet kept on walking, following his trail across the market.

“Surya, it's been a long time. I thought you wouldn't come back !”

He shook his head in response while inspecting the dyes and colors the merchant had to offer. That was to meet this man that he had to get up in the first place.

He needed them for the factory; the one his father had founded when they had come from Madras; the one he had left him when he had died. It didn’t need him to function but he was still out and about, buying things and keeping an eye out like his father used to do.

The other kept quiet and let him cautiously look at all the dyes. As per usual.

He eventually looked up.

“When can I get the rest ?”

Minutes passed and she eventually had to accept the obvious: she had lost him . And she was lost herself.

Everything and everyone felt so hostile all of a sudden, now that his silhouette wasn't there to guide her anymore.

Someone grabbed her wrist and she let out a distressed cry as she was face to face with an unknown man.

“Come here, come here !”

She tried to leave but he wouldn't let go. Why had she left ? She started regretting all her choices.

“Where are you going all by yourself ?”

She slapped his hand and he finally released her. She quickly walked away, her mind in a panic and tears streaming down her face.

“Come on ! Stay with me !”

He left the merchant with a few samples in his pockets. He had to hurry back home to get his stuff. The light was beautiful today.

And he also found the market particularly noisy but as he turned at the corner of a street, he instantly knew why: a procession, dancers, the loud voices and drums, yellow powder flying in the air.

And her .

She was looking at the scene, like a frozen statue. Flowers in her braided hair. Her body slightly shaking. So close yet out of reach.

He shook his head and resumed his walk, passing by her quietly.

Maybe it was all in his head, but he was pretty sure he could feel her gaze boring into his back.

“Meenakshi ? Where have you been ?!”

She passed by her mother as she came back home, covered in yellow pigments.

“Why would you make us look bad in front of Madhav and his parents ?!”

“I needed air.” She replied, her voice tired.

“The whole day ?”

“Yes…” She felt too weak to give any better excuse.

“You can't leave everyone hanging just because !” Her mother cried out. “We still have so much to do for your engagement.”

She let out a small sigh and nodded. She knew her parents were scared of her ending up on the shelf but she wondered if they ignored the signs on purpose, because running away from your future fiancé’s home should be enough of a hint if the day she had told her mother she needed time to think about the engagement wasn't enough already.

“Can I go shower now, please ?”

Blue. Dark blue. Light blue. More blue. More and more blue.

He was frantically throwing paint at the canvas, harshly rubbing it with his hands, tracing lines with his nails, plunging his fingers in the colors and tapping them over the piling layers.

Taking a step back, adding some more. His brushes abandoned on his bed.

Paint was stuck under his nails as he scratched the canvas. His fingertips burned but he couldn’t stop.

“Surya ! Dinner time !” He had heard his mother’s voice but his mind was elsewhere.

Why was he seeing her everywhere ? Why couldn't she get out of his head ?

More blue.

Had she heard those stupid rumors about him drinking ? Then did he even have a chance ?

More scrubbing.

“Surya ?”

He snapped out of it when a hand patted his shoulder.

“Come eat something.” His mother’s voice sounded so soft.

“Hm…” He nodded. “Hm hm…”

He took a step back to look at his work.

“But go shower first.”

“Hm, why ?”


“You have paint all over you, Surya.”

Flowers everywhere.

Chapter Text


Sunday, November 13


“Meenakshi…?” He held out his hand and urged her to take it. For some reason, he was shirtless.


She gladly intertwined their fingers and didn’t plan to let go. His scent surrounded her as he held her close… she hummed and sighed, content.


His lips were trailing along her hairline then slowly down her neck.


She closed her eyes, goosebumps all over her skin.

“Meenakshi !”

This voice…?

“Meenakshi, wake up !” Her mother snatched the covers off of her. “Get dressed, we're going shopping !”

He had barely opened his eyes that he was already staring at the painting he had done the day before. These flowers… there was something missing.

He rummaged through his bottles and tins until he found it. He dipped his fingers directly into the paint and gently added small touches to his work.

Yes… this was more like it. Just a touch of yellow on the flowers made more sense. It felt... complete.


Just like about mostly everything she wore… wait, what ?

He rubbed his face in frustration, paint sticking to his cheeks.


He went to the bathroom to wash it away but as much as he tried to, there was always a little bit left.

“Surya !” His mother’s voice called across the flat, “I’m gonna buy groceries !”

He gave up and let the yellow where it was.

“Okay, Mom !”

“Well, come over here then ! What are you waiting for ?!”

“This necklace looks amazing on you, Meenakshi !”


“You’re gonna be a beautiful bride… Because you’re finally getting married !”

The enthusiasm in her mother’s voice didn’t reach her. She wasn’t feeling the least excited about shopping for her engagement or even her wedding. All she wanted was going home and be alone in her room, dancing and singing and dreaming of a life far away.

But here she was.

“Oh ! And what about those earrings ?!”

“Hello ! How are you ?”

He gave a nod as a greeting, his arms filled with grocery bags as his mother stopped to chit chat with an acquaintance.

“He’s all grown up !”

“Ah yes !”

He looked around while they were talking, staring at the stalls overflowing with vegetables, fruits, colors… so many colors.

He closed his eyes, closing his ears to the outside noise and opening his mind to his world.

Blue trees, their branches heavy with fruits as blue as them. He squinted his eyes and blinked several times: the one closer to him, so close yet so far from his reach… Yellow.



Monday, November 14


“Pakkada Pandi !” She waved at the young boy coming over to her desk.

“Have you studied ?” He asked as he sat down on her colleague’s desk, facing her. He was working at the canteen of the campus and took a few minutes of his time to teach her Tamil.

“Yes, I did !” She nodded enthusiastically.

“And have you watched Midnight Masala, just like I told you ?”

“I did everything you told me to !”

He clapped his hands. “Then show me what you’ve learned.”

She smiled and repeated a few Tamil sentences he had taught her. He corrected her pronunciation a few times but looked satisfied overall. It made her very happy; she really hoped her effort would help her with him .

“You really did your homework !”

“Of course I did !”

He gave her a thumbs up then looked at the clock. “I’m sorry, I already have to go.”

“Oh, right !” She looked into her bag for the chocolate bars she had brought for him. “Here.”

“Thank you !” He grinned as he took them.

“Pakkada Pandi.” He grabbed the boy’s arm as he got out of the library.

“Surya ! Hi !”

“Come here.” He said while leading him away.

“You know I have to go back to work, right ?”

“Hm hm…” He nodded, walking by his side. “Just a question.”

“Yeah ?”

“Since when have you been teaching her ?”

“Who, Meenakshi ? Tamil ?”

He hummed.

“Several weeks ?”

Weeks… He had already seen the boy with her before but didn’t think it had been going on for so long.

“She could learn fast, she’s willing to do it.” Pakkada added.

“Hm hm…” He scratched his arm. “What are you guys talking about ?”

The other laughed out loud. “Are we talking about you ? Is that your question ?”

He slapped his shoulder. “Don’t be stupid, Pakkada.”

He laughed even louder.

“Pakkada…” He huffed.

“Whoo…” The boy breathed in slowly. “But for real, Surya… she’s really cool.”



Tuesday, November 15


She smiled as he took her hand in his to slide the ring on her finger. She felt it, that happiness going straight to her heart. She wanted to cry for joy and hold him at the same time.

“I love you…” She said, looking up from her hand to his face. “Surya.”

“I love you too.”

She froze, the bliss replaced by horror.


Her eyes shot open. She was sweating, her breathing speeding up, her heart racing. No, no, no, this could not happen, this could not happen, this couldn’t be true. She couldn’t be married to Madhav ?!

She looked around and sighed in slight relief. Her room, her posters, his blue T-shirt on her. She smelled it, her breathing steadying itself.

His scent on it. His scent on her.



Wednesday, November 16


He threw the canvas to the floor, gathered his stuff and went to the door.

“Surya !”

He left without turning back to his teacher. He hated figure drawing classes. With a passion.

His painting was bad today anyway.

He could already hear his mother’s voice in his head, asking him what the point of all this was. He wondered too, sometimes.

He sighed. He had barely slept two hours after spending the previous night at the factory.

He stopped in an empty classroom, dropped his tools at the bottom of a desk and sat down, supporting his elbow on the back of the chair.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, feeling his head slowly falling back.

She was on her way back to the library, a pile of forms in her arms, humming to a Tamil song. When his scent caressed her nostrils.

His sweet scent.

She smiled and followed it. How soothing that scent could be, it was unbelievable.

She pushed a door open and held back a gasp when she saw him , asleep on a chair.

She looked around the classroom. There was only him … and her now.

Her feet walked on their own. Every step, she was more hesitant, thinking of going back and pretending she had not seen him there.

But a few steps later, she was in front of his sleeping figure, his head falling back in what looked like the most uncomfortable position.

There was a lingering presence, a breath close to his face. His arm being folded on the table. His head being held then gently put against his forearm, finally finding support and rest. His neck finally relaxing.

He frowned and opened his eyes. She was staring at him.

“Oh my !” She backed away.

His frown deepened as she ran out of the classroom. His heart was pounding.

What had just happened ?

Oh my, oh my, oh my ! What had she done ? He would probably think she was crazy !

She was running back to the library, hoping he had not recognized her. But what was she thinking ?! She didn’t know what she was doing anymore, this was absurd.

But maybe she was going crazy… maybe she was ?

Chapter Text




Thursday, November 17


“Here’s your chai, Surya.”

“Thanks.” He replied shortly. “Pakkada ?”

“Yeah ?” The boy was standing by his table outside the canteen.

“Did she hear about the drinking rumors ?”

“Who ?”

He rolled his eyes. “You know who, Pakkada.”

“Well yeah, probably from other people.” He chuckled. “I also told her you were on drugs.”

His eyes widened. “You told her what ?!”

“You never complained when I did that before.” The boy shrugged. “I thought you wanted girls to leave you alone ?”

He scowled. Now he definitely had no chance with her . Not in the slightest. Why would she want to be with a drug addict, who would want to be with a drug addict ?

“Besides, she didn’t believe me.”

“What ? What do you mean ?”

“She puts a lot of trust in you, really… and you have never even spoken a word to her.”



Friday, November 18


She saw him again on the campus. He was sleeping outside in the shade.

She hesitated to go talk to him. She would have to do it eventually. At least once before her engagement. She would have to put her fear aside and finally say something.

But what if he rejected her ?

So what ? Better than to get engaged and never know what he thought of her, or if he even knew of her existence.

This whole situation reminded her of when she was in middle school and had the biggest crush on Amir Khan.

But he wasn't Amir Khan, he was real, right in front of her, so close and yet… she couldn't bring herself to go to him.

That night, he had to go to the factory. The dyes he had bought should’ve been delivered since the time he went to the market.

The workers greeted him as he arrived. He went around the workshop quietly, as he always did. The dyes he had ordered were already being put to good use.

He rubbed his itchy eyes. He felt so tired and Pakkada’s scolding came back to mind. That if he kept going this way, he might die.

But it was his last year of college, so who knew ? Maybe he would have a healthier lifestyle once he'll be done… Eh, who was he kidding ?



Monday, November 21


She couldn’t think of anyone else. Everywhere she went, his image appeared. Even right now, focusing on her work was nearly impossible when her brain was playing with her and he was hovering over her, whispering in her ear, kissing her neck, giving her teasing looks.

“Meenakshi ?”

“Huh ?”

Madhav was already there, at the library’s door. He was showing her his watch, a cue to hurry. She gave one last glance around the library when her gaze stopped.

Him . Looking for books.

“Meenakshi ?”

She looked back to Madhav who raised his eyebrows at her absence of reaction.

Oh no. The two of them were coming over to her. What was she supposed to do now ?

“Meenakshi, come on ! We're already late.” Madhav looked at her with questioning eyes.

She kept on typing on her keyboard, panic rising inside of her as she saw him next to her desk in her peripheral vision skimming through his books.

“Meenakshi ?”

What to do, what to do, what to do ?

“Hey mister ! What’s going on ?” Her colleague Mynah suddenly interfered. “The library is closed, we are not available.”

“No, wait ! I know her !” Mynah was pushing Madhav out. “Meenakshi, tell her !”

As they both disappeared outside the library, she felt guilty for the relief that had just washed over her.

Until a pile of books landed right in front of her.

She opened the book register like a scared animal, hands shaking, struggling to turn the pages.

His mind wandered off to the guy who was there just a few minutes ago, asking her out. She had someone now ? So much for following him around. But of course a woman like her would have someone, what was he thinking ? But she had just ignored that guy ? And why was he so mad all of a sudden ? They hadn’t even talked to each other.

“Can I talk to you please ?” She asked right after he had signed. She wanted to talk to him ? Now of all times ?

His thoughts got clouded by more anger.

He grabbed his books and turned around without a word.

“Can I talk…” Her voice deadened as his steps led him out.

He couldn't. He couldn't do it.

She ran and ran. She would have never thought she would be running across the campus to catch up on a boy. Madhav of all people.

But she had to try, try to stop him before he left.

She was panting, her chest ached.

Then she saw him… on his scooter.

“Madhav !”

He did not turn around.

“Madhav, wait !”

The scooter drove off.

“Madhav !”

She stopped, out of breath, heaving for air.

He was lying in his bed, door closed, music playing.

His mother was washing the dishes after dinner. She had not nagged at him as she would usually do which was strange. But he didn't really stop to think of it.

He wanted to calm down. He needed to. But the flowers with a touch of yellow were eyeing him down from across the room.

He was angry.

She had a man.

Standing up to hide the painting from his sight.

A man she had ignored.

Turning the volume up.

A man she had ran after.

“Surya !”

Now more than ever, he wished his father was still here. He would’ve known what to say. Or he wouldn’t have said anything.

“Surya !” His mother was at the door. The music was blasting.

She looked more worried than annoyed.

“Surya, the volume ?!”



Tuesday, November 22


Today, after coming home from work, she had expected a call from Madhav. It never came.

She supposed she owed him an explanation, at the very least. She didn't want to marry him but he had also been caught off guard by their parents arranging the wedding in such a short time.

It wasn't his fault. It wasn’t fair to him.

Unluckily, the day before, he had left before she could explain herself. Most probably furious.

And now she felt bad… because he was a good man and yet, she couldn’t bring herself to be with him.

“Surya ?”

“Hm ?” He hummed between bites.

“You don’t have to go to the factory that often.”

“What ?” Had he heard properly ? Had those words really left his mother’s mouth ? “I thought you wanted me to expand it.”

“Yes, I said that. Instead of art school !” She exclaimed. “But right now, you’re doing both and I’m growing more worried.”

He furrowed his eyebrows, taking another bite of his dish. “I only go every other day already though…”

“I know but…” She sighed. “Surya, you really don’t look good these days.”

He frowned. He hadn’t noticed.

“Mom, I’m fine. Really.”

Chapter Text


Wednesday, November 23


Her head felt dizzy.

“I told you not to drink.” Mynah muttered.

She had woken up this morning to her house full of relatives. Because today was the day. The day she was to get engaged to Madhav.

She had found her escape and had gone to the library like any other day. Except she was drunk from Mynah’s vodka and was crying her eyes out.

“But this Madhav is 100% husband material, Meenakshi !”

She cried harder. “You think I don't know that !”

“Then just marry him !” Mynah looked away from her computer screen where Madhav’s Facebook was displayed. “Forget about Surya.”

“I guess that's what one’s gotta do: fall in love with a person…” she held back a sob, “and marry another.” But how could she ever do that ?

“Love is not everything, baby.” Mynah shrugged. “We don't need love and all.”

She put her face in her hands, tears rolling down her cheeks when her colleague whistled at her and gave her a fixed look.

He had come for books again. Why did he need that many that often, that was a good question. ‘Because there’s always something else to read’ was what he liked to convince himself of. But who was he kidding ?

He stopped in front of her desk and let the books land on it.

He frowned. She had been crying. She was trying to hide it but her red eyes and sniffles completely gave her out.

As she presented him with the register, he met her panicked gaze. He grabbed his books and left without signing.

Signing this register now felt too close to her to be comfortable. And he still had that unexplainable anger in him: angry at her for making him feel that way, and mostly at himself for being unable to stop those feelings. She was probably still with that guy from the other day anyway.

But she had been crying. Why was she crying ?

If this had to do with anything this guy had done, he wouldn't be able to hold himself back.

It had to be the worst day of her life. Until his handkerchief fell out of his pocket on his way out.

She ran to pick it up. Was she really that desperate ? Yes, definitely.

His scent was all over it. It was so soothing. Even if she tried to get over him, how could she ever forget this scent ?

She went after him to give it back. Obviously that was all this was about. Right.

Her feet were leading her in his steps, through streets and alleys. She was like in autopilot mode, like reason had left her brain and no one was behind the wheel. Her mind was filled with him, and only him.

A bicycle bell rang and she snapped out of it. Oh.

He walked up the stairs to his flat. When he noticed a silhouette out of the corner of his eye. He unlocked the door and got inside before giving it a quick glance. Of course it would be her .

He guessed he should have felt freaked out that she wouldn't leave him alone despite his attempts at avoiding her –did not signing the book register count as avoidance ?

But he smirked instead, half flattered, half annoyed.

“Surya, you're home ?” His mother called from the kitchen.

“Hm hm.”

He went to his room to gather his stuff. He needed to paint. But then…

“Mom ? Where's my bottle of alcohol ?”

“Which one ?”

He rolled his eyes. “The big one ?! The same I always leave down my bed.”

“I don't remember where I put it.”

He groaned in frustration. “Mom ! I already told you not to tidy my room !”

“Your room was a mess, Surya !”

“I don't care if it's a mess, just don't move my painting stuff !”

She hesitated to knock on the door, but after hearing him shout in Tamil inside, she did not dare to.

She sighed and walked down the stairs and back into the street.

She smelled the handkerchief she had come to give back. Tears welled up at the corners of her eyes. What to do now ?

She would have to go back home eventually. But the moment she would cross the doorway, she would have to submit to her parents’ will and get engaged to Madhav.

That was something she couldn't accept.

She looked up to his flat. The tears rolled down her cheeks and she couldn't stop them.

He looked out the window. She was still there, down his building, crouching behind the bikes chained near the mailboxes. She sure was persevering. But he had no idea why she would do that, she already had a man.

He wanted to go downstairs and shake her, wake her up, yell at her to leave him alone, that it was too late, that he was too late.

But he didn't.

She couldn’t stop the tears. How long did she think she could run away from this day and avoid getting engaged ?

She was so scared her parents would notice she had left. That they would come find her and bring her to Madhav.

Madhav who was angry at her.

What if she ended up being forced to marry him and he hated her ?

And what if he heard about it ? What would he think ?

Her mind was in a blur, her body shaken by uncontrollable sobs, hidden behind those bikes. All alone.

“I’ll be home late, Mom !”

“Don’t forget your keys !”

“Yeah !”

He walked down the stairs outside of the flat and down the building, then past the chained bikes and into the darkness of the night.

She was still there. He shook his head. Had she really stayed down there the whole day ?

He walked past her hideout. It was already dark outside. She should’ve been back home for hours now, but did it really matter ?

She rubbed off the dried tears on her cheeks and stood up on wobbly legs, following in his steps.

She had no idea where he was going and if it was wise to go after him but at this point, she was past caring. Reason had left the building.

As he arrived at the factory, he stopped. There was someone following him. Definitely.

He turned around. She scurried behind a tree.

Making him wonder if she really thought he hadn’t noticed her presence.

Hopefully he hadn’t seen her. She waited a little bit before getting inside.

It was dark until she reached the entrance of a large room, the light blinding her and making her head ache.

She hid behind a curtain and glanced inside. People, fabric protecting their mouths, were busy dyeing sticks.

This scent. Oh my, this scent !

Incense sticks. Of course ! Incense sticks.

Then he appeared. She held back a gasp.

He walked between the workers, checking everything was going smoothly –which it always was. Work went on with or without him anyway.

He brought more dye to one of the workers. He looked around once more when his gaze crossed hers .

He scoffed under the fabric protecting his mouth. She had really come all the way here.

He stared into her eyes. It was probably short but it felt like hours. Those red, unreadable eyes. Which thoughts were they hiding ? She wanted to know so desperately.

He took the fabric off his mouth, his face stern.

She felt dizzy. Suddenly, her legs gave up on her.

Then, darkness.

He carried her to another room, empty of people, quiet. He gently laid her down on a bench. The ventilation pushed strands of hair in her face. He tucked them behind her ear, letting his fingers linger on her skin longer than necessary.

He sighed and sat down on the bench next to her.

He didn’t understand what this was all about. Months of stares and here she was.

It felt surreal.

Chapter Text


Wednesday, November 23


When she woke up, he was sitting next to her, face in his palms.

She sat up and he noticed her, standing up abruptly. She stood up too, feeling terribly awkward.

“I… I hm… I’m…” She stammered. “I’m s-so–” But what was the point ? What could she possibly say ? There was no proper explanation to this.

He looked so serious. She sighed in frustration and turned around to leave.

She was leaving.

Do something, idiot !

She was leaving.

Say something !

“Meenakshi ?” He breathed out.

She came back running with a hopeful smile on her face. How pretty she was when she smiled.

“Please stay.” Stay with me. “Don't go.”

She looked at him, visibly listening intently.

“Come with me…” His mind was in panic. “Please.”

He knew her name. He knew her name ! He knew who she was ! And he had just asked her to stay !

She had no idea if she was in one of the many dreams she had had of him, but this made her beyond happy. And stressed, because they were about to talk, their first talk being on her engagement day after she had followed him all day. Frankly speaking, she imagined this moment to be very different.

“This is my father’s factory. He left it to me when he died four years ago.”

She didn’t pipe a sound. He really didn’t know what he should say or how to say it.

“My mother wants me to take care of it but…” He didn’t dare look at her. “All I can do is paint.”

She was quiet, her gaze focused on him.

“So I’m in school in the morning, I paint in the afternoon and I’m here at night.”

What to do now ? What to say ?

“What about your family ?”

She stopped breathing for a second. She who could usually talk for hours, he intimidated her so much.

“Hm… I have my parents, my grandmother and my little brother…” She answered hesitantly. “But they want me out.” The last part almost whispered.

“What ?”

“What ?” Her eyes widened. “Nothing.”

He nodded and they both kept quiet for a minute.

“By the way… I asked about you in college…”

The hairs raised up his neck.

“They told you about the alcohol, right ?”

She nodded, visibly embarrassed. “I’m so sorry…”

“You should’ve asked me.” The words slipped out of his lips, surprising himself in the process.

She didn’t answer, staring at her hands.

“They can say what they want, I don’t drink.”

“What’s the point anyway ?” He added. “I mean…”

She nodded quietly, not knowing what to say. She didn’t believe the rumors but was still relieved to hear it coming from his mouth.

“Anyway… do you like your job ?”

“Hm hm…”

“Not too many annoying students ?”

“Well…” She hesitated. “You empty my shelves…”

“Me ?!” He gasped. “I’m an annoying student ?”

“I didn’t say that.” She smiles cheekily. “That’s your interpretation.”

He snorted.

“And what’s your interpretation of that behavior ?” He asked again. Why would you ask that in the first place though ?!

She seemed to be thinking. Truth be told, her silence made him a little nervous.

“Maybe you haven’t found what you were looking for yet ?”

Rather who.

“Maybe…” He tried to form a smile but was pretty sure he had that resting angry face still.

“I often saw you painting around the campus.” She said.

“You did ?” He pretended not to know. But how not to notice someone like her.

She nodded shyly then looked straight into his eyes and smiled. Oh.

“Never thought you could have that many shades of blue.”

He let out an awkward laugh.

“They’re beautiful.” She went on. “They look like they have so much to tell.”


“Just like you.”

His heartbeat sped up. Uh oh.

“It’s getting late.” He eventually said.

“Hm hm ?”

“Maybe you have somewhere to be ?”

Flashes of the engagement party she was supposed to be at crossed her mind. She shrugged.

“Still, it’s late.”

“I know…” But she didn’t want to go.

“Let me drive you home.”

She didn’t want this moment to end. She didn’t want to say goodbye.

“Wait for me here.” He said before leaving to take his scooter.

“Yes.” She nodded.

He walked away and that’s when he started freaking out. Because they had actually talked to each other, and she was so gentle, and she had come all the way here… for him ? For him. When she had that other guy who seemed respectable in every way. When she was too good for him.

What should he do, what should he do, what should he do ?

He felt stress rising up inside him while pushing the scooter forward. Bringing him back to her.

Nāṉ uṉṉai …”

He stopped. Her back was turned on him, she hadn’t heard him coming back.

“... kātalikkiṟēṉ .”

Oh. Oh.

“Yeah ?”

“Huh ?” She gasped as he came back pushing his scooter. Had he been here for long ? Had he heard her training to confess in Tamil ? And what even was she thinking ?

“You were saying something ?”

“No, nothing !” And that sounded a little too panicky to be true.

“Okay.” He nodded. “Ready ?”

“Hm hm.”

She sat on the scooter behind him. Should she hold him ? Should she not ? Was it too much ?

He drove off.

Rah, never mind.

She put her arms around his chest, only not to fall, she told herself. Only not to fall.

“So… how’s it like to have a brother ?” He asked while driving. “Asking for a friend who’s an only child.”

“That friend being… you ?” She asked back.

He smiled. “I’m busted.”

She chuckled before replying. “Well, my brother is a little crazy.”

Her chin resting against his shoulder.

“A little crazy ?”

“Well, imagine the little brother who likes to annoy you; then add an undying love for dogs to it. And that’s my brother.”

He outright laughed. “Undying love ?”

“He has five of them !”

He laughed some more.

“But he took them off the street, so I can’t really blame him for being kind, you know ?”

“He sounds like he’s something else.”

“He is. I guess that’s also why I love him.”

He smiled to himself.

“Wow ! There’s no one, it’s like we’re all alone in the city.” She exclaimed. “Just the two of us.”

He nodded.

“It’s just us, two people in the city, at night, on a scooter that smells of gasoline.”

“It doesn’t smell that strong, does it ?”

“No, it’s just me.” She answered. “I have a strong sense of smell.”

And this man smelled so good. The smell of incense stuck to his clothes, and it felt like a safe haven. As if she would risk no danger if she stayed with him. She wasn’t getting tired of it.

He nodded again.

She had been afraid of talking to him all this time, because she was scared of being disappointed or even worse, rejected. But he was so kind and good ? She wanted to know everything about him, she wanted nothing else ! She didn’t know one could fall harder for someone, but here she was. She was completely whipped.

She didn’t want to go back. She wanted this trip back home to go on and on. Forever.