Chapter 1

The running theme for the day was Grey.

The Sun was at odds with this corner of the Earth. Though still visible, he did naught to warm her. The dark clouds added no new hue to the sky. Down on the ground, a cold gale eased her way across the streets, lingering on the bare skin of anyone she encountered.
Some felt an esoteric beauty in this landscape; Shriya pulled her sweater tighter around her arms, tapped her heels on the pavement and scowled in the direction of the approaching motorbike.

It was an elaborate affair, that sweater, all merino wool and fancy handiwork. The hands that usually clutched at it dearly for warmth were unnaturally tense today. In the tightness of her grip, the Sweater could feel her anxiety and dread; it winced, but bore the insult bravely. It had no choice, her mind was in turmoil.

A young man, about her age, dismounted and fidgeted with his helmet.
“You’re late,” she said through chattering teeth, her brows furrowed, “Why don’t you just make me wait forever in this bloody cold!”
Chirag smiled at her sheepishly for a second and then frowned.
“You should’ve worn something thicker,” he said, his brows imitating hers, “Here, take my coat.”

“No need,” she spat and stormed off towards the cafe door. Each goose bump on her arm fuelled her decision. Any doubts she had vanished. This was going to be the last time she had to take any shit from him.

Chirag rolled his eyes and fingered the square, red velvet box he’d carefully concealed in his jacket.
He breathed a sigh of reassurance and steeled himself for the big moment.
This was going to cost him, every ounce of courage he had.


The cafe was a whirl of activity, warm and bright in stark contrast to the outside. A sweet smell threaded together the tapestry of the buzz of youthful conversation and laughter, the glean and occasional flash of a smart-phone and the tinkling of steel against china.

One table however, had retained the gloom.

Shriya and Chirag were sitting across from each other, legs crossed, scrolling vigorously through their respective Facebook feeds.
After 5 minutes of pointed ignorance, Shriya looked up. “Well, are you ever planning on keeping that thing down and talking to me?”

Chirag, who had been stealing glances at her every few seconds to determine if the time was right, scrambled to make coherent speech.
“So?” she asked.
“Getting pretty cold these days isn’t it?”
“Yeah I noticed when I was waiting for you for half an hour.”


“So… Happy Valentine’s Day,” said Chirag.
“It’s been 5 years now. I think you should know by now that I think Valentine’s is synonymous with overrated.”
“Maybe we can make this one a special one,” he said softly, his hand reaching into his pocket.

It was time.

Shriya's eyes softened. She took a few seconds to regain her composure and take a deep breath.

“I have to tell you something,” they both blurted out at the exact same moment.
“You go first, then,” she mumbled.

“I…  alright,” said Chirag.

“We’ve been together for five years now…” he began.

“I know. And it’s been a lot of fun...” she interrupted.

“You’re a wonderful person, Shriya…”

“And I’m sure you’ll make someone very happy one day…”

“I know we’ve been fighting a lot recently over little things…”

“I’m not saying you’re the only one to blame, Chirag. But it’s been hard...”

“And that’s why I wanted to ask you…”

“Will you marry me,” he breathed, opening the box and revealing a plain golden band.
“I want to break up with you,” she whispered at the exact same moment, her face turned away.