Home > From Twinkle, with Love(8)

From Twinkle, with Love(8)
Author: Sandhya Menon

Sahil waved a hand. “Don’t even worry about it. I’m bankrolling this operation.”

Was it charity? I didn’t want charity. I studied Sahil’s expression closely. “Um, are you sure? Because that can get expensive.”

His face was pity-free. “I’m sure. I’m the producer. All I want you to worry about is making the most kick-ass movie you can make.”

I smiled at him, relief making me slightly giddy. “Now, that I can do.”

I’m trying to be calm and casual about this, but inside I keep screaming, I’M OFFICIALLY A DIRECTOR! LOOK OUT, WORLD, HERE I COME!

How the heck do you have so much chill, Jane?




Still Wednesday, June 3

Honors Calculus

Dear Sofia Coppola,

I just witnessed the weirdest thing in the history of PPC.

I was waiting by my locker for Maddie (we always walk to Honors Calculus (me) and AP Chem (her) together because they’re right next to each other) when Brij came up to me. “Are you ready for that econ paper?” he asked, pulling a gigantic binder from his backpack. I wasn’t sure how he’d fit that in there. It was like watching one of those clown cars, where people keep coming out of this tiny space.

Oh God, I thought. Not this weird obsession with my studies again. “Um … no.” I eyed the binder warily. It had color-coded little flag things sticking out the side.

“I’ve got all the class notes in here,” Brij said, patting the binder. “Plus old tests I got Mr. Newton to give me. This is the definitive study guide you need if you’ve ever spent a sleepless night wondering about the theory of rational self-interest or the three factors of production.”

I stood there, trying to figure out how to tell Brij that I have literally never had a sleepless night about school, period, let alone about … all the stuff he said, when Maddie walked up.

“Hey,” she said to me, and then, seeing the binder in Brij’s hand, “Ohmygod. Are those econ notes?”

Brij smiled smugly and opened the binder. There was a laminated index at the front. “And so much more. This is the only study guide you’ll ever need.”

“And you used the RealNotes five-color assorted page dividers, Tuff-Enuff limited edition,” Maddie said faintly, swooning as she ran her hand over them.

“Mm-hmm. Everything’s organized by topic, subtopic, and how likely it is to be on the test.”

I couldn’t believe it. They were bonding. Brij Nath and Maddie Tanaka, the most groundliest groundling and the most silky feathered hat person in the entire school. Over sticky tabs and econ notes.

I cleared my throat, and Maddie jerked her head up at me, abashed. “Oh, right. Wake up, Tanaka. Um, you ready to go to class?”

I raised an eyebrow and nodded, and Maddie reluctantly came with me.

“I can give you a copy,” Brij said to our retreating backs.

I looked over my shoulder and smiled. “Um, thanks, but no, thanks. I’m good.” Hadn’t we been over this already?

“No, I meant her.” He nodded toward Maddie.

Her eyes shone like he was offering her the key to the biorhythm lab at Johns Hopkins. “Oh, but I couldn’t ask you to make a duplicate. That would take too long.”

“I’ve already done it,” he said, and his eyes flitted to me and then away superfast. “But I don’t think I’ll need that second copy after all.”

“Wow. Thank you,” Maddie breathed as he handed the binder over.

Brij nodded, looking a little embarrassed.

“Nath, you coming or what?” Matthew called from his locker. “We’re going to be late.”

“Yeah.” He lifted a hand to us and then plodded off.

I stared at Maddie. “What?” she asked, her eyes all big and innocent. Yeah, right. She wasn’t fooling me. “I just liked his notes.”

“Yeah.” I snorted. “His notes. Is that what you kids are calling it nowadays?”

Maddie jostled me with her shoulder. “Shut up. I’m holding out for my Japanese-American tattooed artist, remember?”

“Sure, Maddie.” I grinned, enjoying teasing her way too much. It felt like the old days again, just for those few moments. “Keep telling yourself that.”

I didn’t even have a chance to tell her about the movie stuff. Which was fine, because she told me to call her later. We haven’t talked on the phone in forever. Wanna know a secret? I am ridiculously excited.



Yep, still hump day, June 3

My room

Dear Mira Nair,

I called Maddie tonight to tell her about the movie, but she didn’t answer. Actually, her cell rang twice and then went to voice mail, which means she looked at the screen, saw who it was, and then hit reject. I may not have a cell phone, but I’m not stupid.

I guess that connection I thought we had at school, where we were back to being Twinkle and Maddie, was just in my head.

I didn’t leave a message.



Thursday, June 4

School bus

Dear Jane Campion,

I found Dadi naked on the lawn today.

At least, I thought she was naked. It turned out she was wearing a brown housedress the exact color of her skin, and mistakes are easy to make at six a.m. when the sun is barely a blip in the sky.

After Papa poured me a glass of warm milk to steady my nerves, I went outside to see what she was up to. (My parents declined to go, muttering tiredly, Woh Dadi toh aisi hai, na? Which, okay, they have a point. This is just the way Dadi is, but still. My curiosity got the better of me. Besides, Dadi and I always check on each other.)

She was standing in the middle of our tiny patch of grass with this giant tub of water in front of her, her praying mantis arms waving around like she was conducting the world’s hardest-to-hear orchestra. Oso was at the fence, sniffing at our canine neighbor, Maggie, this little white creature that’s more fur than dog. (They have an epic romance that will never be requited because neither of them have opposable thumbs and therefore will always be thwarted by the gate. Legendary.)

I walked up to Dadi, stepping around the tub of water and wrapping my arms around my waist. My pajamas were cotton, and it was chilly enough that I had immediate goose bumps. Dadi, meanwhile, looked like she may as well have been sipping a sloe gin fizz in the Bahamas. (I don’t know what a sloe gin fizz is, but it sounds like something you’d drink on a beach in the Bahamas.) “What are you doing, Dadi?” I asked. “Do you want me to get you a sweater?”

“Great things are coming your way, Twinkle,” she said, like that was any kind of answer to my two very sensible questions. Her eyes glinted in the dim light. I was awed for a second, goose bumps rippling down my skin. Her words sounded … fortuitous. Like she knew something the rest of us didn’t. I was captivated, struck silent.

Until I saw the fortune cookie wrapper. She crumpled up the fortune she’d been reading and slipped it into her pocket.

I sighed. “Dadi …”

Dadi grabbed my arm and yanked me closer to the tub. “Dekho. Look. And stop making your skeptical face. Don’t you see them? Hamaare poorvaj.”

Hamaare poorvaj. Our ancestors. I raised an eyebrow and watched my reflection doing the same. Huh. Dadi was right; my skeptical face was very skeptical. “Our ancestors are … floating in the water?”

Dadi sighed. “Twinkle. The water is a conductor of the heavens. I’m listening for messages.”

I tried to smooth my eyebrow down and only partly succeeded. “Right. Messages.” Dadi was afraid of the voice mail feature on our landline, but sure, messages coming through water from our ancestors she had no problem with.

She grabbed my face with her cold hands. Her soft, iron-gray hair undulated in waves. Dadi was very pretty, even if she was around sixty-five. I bet she was a total babe when she was my age. “The decision you were asking me about yesterday? It will change your life. Our lives. They have spoken.”

Okay, so I knew this was all nonsense. I knew better than to put stock in what Dadi said after one of her “sessions.” I was a girl with a modern education, with parents who were both thinkers and readers, and a best friend who was the next Marie Curie. But I couldn’t help it. I was immediately sucked in. “Really?” I breathed. “They said that?”

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