Home > From Twinkle, with Love(17)

From Twinkle, with Love(17)
Author: Sandhya Menon

My throat got all choked up like it does a lot when we talk about Mummy. “Right. Burdens.”

As usual, Dadi read my mind. “Oh, munni, of course I don’t mean you.” Dadi rested her head against mine as if she could beam love through her skull into mine. Knowing Dadi, she probably believed she could. “You are the greatest source of joy in her life. But she cannot help it. She has left behind a part of herself in India.”

“Ever since Nani died,” I said, swallowing away my tears, “she’s been so different.”

Dadi smoothed a strand of hair back from my forehead. “Haan. When your mother dies, it is as if a part of you has died too. And because she could not go to India to be there … she blames herself. It is not her fault, but she cannot see past her pain.” Dadi put a hand under my chin. “But, Twinkle, none of that has to do with you. None of it is because of you. You are faultless.”

I snorted and rolled my eyes, mainly to keep them from filling with tears. You once said, Mira, that nostalgia is a useless thing. It doesn’t move you forward. I so get that. I just wish Mummy did, too. Pulling away from Dadi, I put my feet up on the couch and reached for the remote. “I know. Anyway, I’m done talking about all that. Let’s see if we can find a Mira Nair movie on the Hindi channel.”

I felt Dadi watch me for a good long time, like she was trying to decide whether to say anything else on the subject or not. Thankfully, she just put her arm around me and said, “Okay, munni. Let’s see.”

So what if Mummy’s asleep and Papa’s at work? I have Dadi. I have Oso (and Dada by extension). I have my new friends Sahil, Skid, and Aaron. I have my movie. And I have N, my secret admirer. What else could a girl want?



Monday, June 8

Honors Calculus

Dear Sofia Coppola,

Today at lunch Aaron was trying to, as usual, convert me to listening to his alternative heavy metal bands. He is six four and he maybe weighs only, like, 140 pounds tops, but he’s got this giant, booming voice I hope (for his sake) that the rest of him will grow into. “Empty Plastic Bottles!” he bellowed around a mouthful of mozzarella sticks. (He was stuffing four at a time in there.) “Just give them a chance!”

Sahil laughed beside me as I made a face. “Aaron. Empty Plastic Bottles?”

“Don’t judge!” Aaron yelled.

“No, forget about all that for a minute,” Skid said, leaning forward. “You’ve never tried truffle balls?” As a chocolate fiend and our resident sweet tooth, Skid lived in a constant state of bewilderment that I was firmly committed to my Reese’s and/or other peanut butter and chocolate sweets.

“Nope,” I said, popping a chicken tender in my mouth. “Aren’t truffles mushrooms or something?”

Skid clutched at his heart all melodramatically.

“Dudes, leave her alone,” Sahil said. “She’s my director. I’m gonna have to start making appointments for you plebs to talk to her.”

“Plebs?” Skid said, glaring at us. “Don’t forget who’s editing the freaking thing.”

“Sahil didn’t mean it,” I said, smiling sweetly. We could not afford to annoy Skid. He’s a genius of video and photo editing. The yearbook group pays him a retainer because he says his time is too valuable to work on puerile and fleeting pursuits like the high school yearbook for free. “There’s definitely a trip to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at the end of all this. …”

Skid looked placated. “All right, then,” he said, and then he and Aaron got into a conversation about some football team.

I’d been stealth studying Sahil the entire time in the caf, but thankfully, he did not seem to hold any lingering awkwardness over our incident from Saturday. If anything, he was even friendlier today than he’d been before. Which I didn’t get, but I wasn’t going to question either.

“I hope we get at least ten people at the auditions Wednesday,” I said to him, glancing over my shoulder at Maddie. She was sitting at her usual table, but she’d laid out the capelet from her costume (which she loved) for everyone to admire. She was doing a great job as our PR person. The other girls kept touching the capelet, and I could tell a bunch of them would probably show up to audition now that Maddie was the lead and it didn’t look like we’d dress her in anything hideous. “Anything less than that and we won’t have our pick of who we want, I think.”

“Ten is a good number.” Sahil nodded. “I think we’ll get ten.”

He’s one of those eternal optimists, which is another one of those cute Sahil things I’m trying not to notice too much. “So …” I cleared my throat. “About that cyclorama you ordered? The one with the evil moon?”

Sahil grinned. “Yeah. They’ll deliver that Friday to Ms. Rogers’s room. She gave me the okay.”

“Yeah …” I stabbed my chicken tender with a fork. “Um, do you think we could swap it out for the other one?”

“You mean the one with the plain moon?” Sahil asked, frowning.

I nodded. “And the village lights in the distance.”

Maybe I should just let Sahil have the cyclorama. I know this isn’t just my movie. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Sahil, I wouldn’t even be doing this in the first place. Besides, I ended up choosing most of the props and costumes because Sahil kept going for these totally creepy, Victorian-era-esque masks and things. They would’ve just freaked the administration out and then we’d probably be banned from Midsummer Night. Sahil agreed with me in the end, but still. He obviously cared about the cyclorama a lot. And it was the one thing he did pick out without my help. But.

This movie’s my big shot. I’m ready to show the world what I have inside me, to reach out and make that connection. And Sahil had just taken over that piece of it. He didn’t even have a conversation with me like I did with him about the rest of the costumes and pieces.

“Hmm,” he said, his eyes flickering with annoyance. “I already placed the order. I don’t know if they’ll let me swap now. You know how they are over there.”

“Well, maybe I’ll call them anyway,” I pressed, even though my underarms were beginning to prickle with sweat. This was toeing the line of confrontation land, and I was completely out of my element. “Just to—”

“T, would you let it go?” Sahil’s voice was brittle, on the edge of snapping. I stopped short, surprise and hurt churning inside me. I glanced at Aaron and Skid, but they were still deep in a conversation about touchdowns. “I don’t know why you can’t see this,” Sahil continued, just barely meeting my eye before looking down at his food. He stabbed a piece of broccoli with his fork. “The fanged moon is the only way to go. It’s got that shine, that pizzazz we want. The other one is so plain it’s just going to fade into the background, and that is not the message we want to send. Okay?”

I gripped my own fork, unable to speak for a second. I had a thousand things queued up behind my lips. But in the end, the only thing that came out was a thready, “Okay.”

Ugh. I should’ve said something. I know that. Sahil was so out of line, it was ridiculous. I don’t even know what that was about; I’ve never seen him talk to me—or anyone—like that before.

Besides, do I really want to see that moon grinning at me with all its ten thousand and sixteen fangs? No, I do not. But if I want things to change, I have to speak up. And I really don’t know how to do that.



Monday, June 8

Honors Spanish II

Dear Mira Nair,

Well, now I know why Brij and Matthew weren’t at lunch today. I was walking from calculus to Spanish when I saw them in the hallway, sitting behind a long table. That’s when Brij took off his head.

Lest you think this journal has taken an unexpectedly dark turn, I should hasten to explain that he’s fine. They were both in costume.

Brij looked like a screaming blue toad, but he was actually “Poliwhirl, a water-type Pokémon that is also bipedal and whose abilities include the swift swim, which is, in fact, a hidden ability.” I nodded extra and showed a lot of interest because I think he was a little embarrassed when I said that thing about the screaming toad and I felt bad. Matthew, on the other hand, was Pikachu, and I guessed that one on the first try.

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