I don’t remember for how long I slept. But when I did wake up, I could see Vinnie walking around in my room talking non stop.
As my eyes adjusted to the light that I guessed she’d switched on, I could see her resting her elbows on the wooden table, her back to it.
She had a plate in one hand and a glass of water in another.
“Finally. The day I decide to cook something good for y’all, you decide to skip dinner and go to bed early.”
“What time is it?” I say as I stretch my arm to reach my phone that was sitting dangerously at the edge of the mattress.
“9: 30.” Vinnie answered as she sat beside me, placing the plate in my hands.
Seeing her dish, made me realise how hungry I actually was, for I didn’t even remember to thank her and dived right in. Taking the first bite, I realised I hadn’t eaten such good food in so long, for Vinnie’s desserts had always been my favourite. Whether it be her experiments with chocolate mousse or her “fried” ice cream, she had made sure I would eat them all and give suggestions so she could improve. But that was long before she went to the culinary institute.
Now she was an artist, as skilled as one can be.
“Glad you’re enjoying it.” She said grinning at me. “I know you’d love my Roquefort and Caramelized Onion Tart!”
“I’m so sorry, how could I forget-” I said while trying to swallow the bite I’d just taken.
“No, no that’s alright!” She laughed.
“Thank you so much Vinnie.” I finally said.
“Good lord, what’s with all these formalities? Cut it out!” Vinnie said and bent down to lie on her back, facing the ceiling.
“Can you see those stars up there?” She said, her tone now reduced to a whisper.
I looked up, and I could make out the green translucent stickers stuck to the white painted ceiling. They were fluorescent stickers, which lit up in the darkness.
“As kids, Manu and I would collect these as many as possible. They came free with those biscuits. Everytime we came across one of these stickers, we would save it up, wait until we travelled here for the holidays and borrow a stool from Grandpa to stick it on this specific ceiling.” Vinnie continued.
“Why this one in particular?” I asked, finishing up my food.
“I have no idea. Manvith decided and I just went along with it cause it was fun.”
I remembered every little detail about Manvith clearly. When I had to stay in my relative’s house during school, cause dad wouldn’t let mum stay with me in Bangalore, I found comfort in looking upto Manvith as an elderly figure. And most importantly as the replacement for all my expectations from Ahil.
Every Saturday was chess night. No matter how hard I and Nathan tried, we could never win against him. And he would make sure he didn’t go easy on us. Looking at us frown from all the pent up frustration, he’d laugh and complement us on having done better than the week before and that in itself was enough to make me content.
The second day of the weekend would be spent up with going cycling in the nearby park. I, Nathan, Vinnie and a few others from school would race throughout the park’s limits. Vinnie’s mother would send Manvith to look over us and he would sit alone in a shaded area and study for his entrances while looking up now and then from his books to see if we were all doing safe. And more importantly if Vinnie wasn’t playing the fool.
Once, Vinnie was bullied by a college student who threw a basketball deliberately at her cause she was mocking him as he played and Manvith had stepped in, like a real big brother and tried to beat up the guy who was atleast twice his size.
To the younger me, this was what I thought I needed. And all I’d gotten was cold acknowledgements of my existence from my dad and brother. And I’d never understood why. Dad had refused to talk to me while he was alive, and now mum had passed away with her secrets. And I refused to ask Ahil, even if he knew the reason behind the way I was treated all my life.
“I probably need to go to Mumbai sometime soon.” I said out loud and sighed deeply.
Vinnie got up, her eyebrows curved in concern.
Before she could question me further, Nathan knocked at the door.
“Millie wants to have a talk with you, Vinnie.” He said with a serious expression.
To be continued->
Hey, so I just wanted to insert this small thank you note at the end of this episode!
I mean, twenty episodes of this series, which started off as just some random musings of a fifteen year old? It kinda means a great deal to me that some of you actually loved reading the story and the characters as much as I loved writing it. So thank you so much guys! Gives me motivation to keep it going, ig ❤