“You can stay at my place” Anika offered as she watched her friend Meera pack her things into her bag. The 19 year old blackette girl smiled and shook her head.
“You know I can’t Anika. I have work tomorrow” she said as she put her art supplies into her bag. She had offered to help Anika with her project for school. Meera herself had dropped out after her parents murder and focused more on supporting her younger brother Girish.
“But it’s dangerous at night. Especially with Krish prowling the streets” Anika said with a frown. Krish was the masked criminal stealing from many villagers in India. Many suspected he was named after the hero of the movie Krish.
“I know, but I can’t leave Girish home alone” Meera said, grabbing her notebook. She dreamed of becoming an author and had many stories written in that book. The only people who read them were Girish and Anika.
“Alright then. But be careful. I wouldn’t want Krish to get his dirty hands on you” Anika warned as she led her friend out the door. Meera smiled and nodded, brushing her friend’s warning aside as she stepped into the brisk, cold fall night. She began walking fast down the path next to the river. She didn’t believe in Krish. Nobody had any pictures of him. That’s how good he was at his crimes. But there was still a threat wandering the streets, weather it be Krish or not.
“Hopefully Girish ate the food I left on the counter-top” Meera said as she began to run. She didn’t have a jacket and even if she did, she wouldn’t have anticipated the cold evening. Suddenly, as she passed an ally, a rough chalky had pressed her against a wall. Meera would’ve screamed if a gag wasn’t stuffed into her mouth. In the dark she could make out multiple shadows. In front of her, red eyes stared into her brown ones. Meera felt her pulse beating madly and her adrenaline began to kick in.
“Don’t move and nothing will happen” the mugger growled. He pushed the bag out of Meera’s arms and held her against the wall as the other men searched its contents. Tears began streaming from her eyes, even though she willed them not to come.
“Stop crying”! The mugger ordered harshly, slapping her face with his free hand. She winced as a red stream trickled down her face, but didn’t cry.
The men threw her things all over the place, searching for anything valuable. Meera watched, horrified as they ripped her notebook apart and tore at the purple bag. It had once belonged to her mother and was the most expensive object in the house.
Meera’s parents weren’t rich. They were considered poor and lived in the slums, having barely enough to eat for a week. Meera didn’t know who murdered them. She and her brother were in the market and when they had came home, their parents lay on the kitchen floor, bloody and beaten with scratch marks across their backs. Meera didn’t even have time to mourn as she needed to feed her brother, who was only 11 to Meera’s 15.
“Stop”! Meera screamed through the gag. The muggers didn’t even give her a glance as they kept searching for money. The deeper they got into the bag, the more Meera worried. Deep at the bottom was a small pouch containing a few rupees, enough to feed herself and Girish for a week at most. She squirmed, her heart beat increasing with each rip.
Meera tried kicking, but the mugger holding her simply moved to the side and hit her again. Before Meera could even make her next move, a growling sound tore through the air.
“Who’s there”? The mugger, maybe the leader, barked. The man stepped into the lamplight. Meera resisted the urge to scream. Krish’s menacing face stared back at her. His green eyes boring into hers. How did she recognize him? Simple. The only photographs of him were of his silhouette, which matched the man in the spotlight perfectly, much to Meera’s horror. The mugger sighed in relief as he put a hand over his heart.
“Krish! You startled me” he said as Krish walked over to him. Meera resisted the urge to cry again. Now she wouldn’t just be dead. She would be dead and ripped to shreds in the river.
“What are you doing”? Krish asked, a gloved hand resting on his chin. He didn’t move closer, choosing to remain in the spotlight. Like he wasn’t in a bigger one already.
“Well I snagged a pretty good girl tonight. Haven’t eaten for a week and she looks promising” The mugger boasted. A few of his friends scowled as they continued looking through her bag.
“Let me see her” Krish asked, speaking Meera’s dreaded sentence.
“Go right ahead. But be careful. She’s a fighter, quite a waste of beauty” The mugger warned, releasing his hand on Meera’s throat. She would’ve dropped if Krish hadn’t acted quickly and grabbed her arm, hoisting her up roughly. Brown and Green eyes widened as they bore into each other.
He really wasn’t what people thought he looked like. Many thought he was old and ugly. In fact, he was quite the opposite. Green eyes shone through a black mask which turned to a point at the bridge of his nose. He had silky curly black hair which tumbled at his shoulders. His claws dug lightly into Meera’s skin. From what she saw, Meera could gather that he was a very young and handsome man. But he reminded her of someone...
“She is beautiful” Krish murmured, reaching to finger Meera’s black locks. Meera blushed, then shook her thoughts away. This was a criminal. Her adrenaline returned as he stepped closer.
“Yep. But she won’t be here for long” the mugger gloated. His friends by now had completely trashed Meera’s bag and found her small pouch of money.
“Yeah, about that. I’d like to keep her” Krish said. The shocked faces of the muggers matched the one on Meera’s face. What would he want with her?!
“What! No way! I want the satisfaction of killing her”! The mugger screamed.
“Too bad” Krish said with a shrug of his shoulders. The mugger growled and attacked Krish. His so called friends had ran away with the money once they had realized just what their leader was going to do.
Krish had easily sidestepped, kicking the mugger in the back and banging him into the wall. Meera watched, horrified, as his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fell. Krish stepped back with a satisfied grin, maybe almost sinister. He turned to her, an Meera’s heart dropped. He was done with the mugger, but what about her?
“You don’t have to be frightened” Krish said, stepping closer. Meera nodded yet took a step backwards, hoping that the wall had somehow disappeared. Unfortunately, it didn’t and her back hit the brick wall. She gasped and turned around. When she turned back, she was face to face once again with Krish. She unconsciously blushed.
“Well! That was fun. Good way to loosen up a bit, don’t you think”? Krish asked as he stretched, his muscles pulling taunt against his skin tight suit. That was not what she was expecting. She thought he’d have her begging for mercy at this point. Meera didn’t say anything, but looked down. Why was he teasing her? He was only delaying the inevitable death. Wasn’t he?
“Hey, I’m not gonna hurt you. I wasn’t lying when I said you were beautiful” Krish said softly, his original show-off demeanor dropping. That was definitely new. Maybe she could trust him. Meera felt guilty and looked at him, his frown turning into a smile.
“I-I-” Meera couldn’t find her words
“Go ahead. My ears are all open” Krish said, cupping his ear. Meera swallowed.
“Why”? She asked.
“You’ve got to be more specific Sundar. Criminals can’t read minds”. Krish said. Meera ignored the fact that he called her beautiful and said “Why did you save me”?
“Well, as much as a criminal I am, I wouldn’t let that guy taint you. You’re too pure. Besides, I do have sense of morals... in a way” Krish said. Meera was about to ask why again, but decided against it. He didn’t seem as if he would divulge any more information about the subject. She looked at her things, which were all ripped to shreds.
“Those your stuff”? Krish asked, raising an eyebrow. Meera nodded.
“Hmm. If he wakes up from his slumber, i’ll be sure to teach him a lesson” Krish said, winking at her. Meera blushed again.
“Jokes aside what are you doing out this late”? Krish asked, concern lacing in his voice. Meera was a little taken aback, but nevertheless answered, remembering that she was still dealing with a criminal. A criminal who did flirt with her, but that’s besides the point.
“I-I was at my friend’s house working on a project and I lost track of time” she murmured. Krish clicked his tongue, the action almost as if he were scolding her.
“Well... it’s too late for you to be walking out here on your own”. Krish began mumbling to himself. Meera looked at him, wondering whether she should wait for him or walk away. Even though he promised he wouldn’t hurt her, he still seemed a bit intimidating. Plus, she had to check on Girish and go to work the next day. She and Anika were also meeting up with Abhimanyu and Anika’s boyfriend Rajkumar.
“Where do you live” Krish suddenly blurted. Meera raised an eyebrow. Now that piece of information was pushing it.
“I’m not going to come rob you at night or kill you” Krish murmured, the saddened look covering his face. Meera sighed. He had saved her life. It was the least she could do. Plus, she always had trouble refusing people. Even if that person was India’s most terrifying criminal...then yeah. She really needed to work on saying ‘no’.
“Just down the road. In the slums” she said, searching his face for any contempt. Instead, she saw... a smile? That really wasn’t what she was expecting.
“Hold on tight” Krish said as he scooped her up bridal style. Meera wrapped her arms tightly around his neck as he began running in the shadows, sometimes climbing onto roofs and jumping from one to the other. It reminded Meera of Girish, who also loved to do parkour.
“Isn’t the view beautiful” Krish called to her as they neared her house.
“It is” Meera whispered in awe as he set her down at her front door of her small house.
“Hm. That’s not the only thing that is” Krish murmured but Meera didn’t hear him, or notice the way he was looking at her.
“Well... I guess I should be going” Meera said, her sad voice surprising herself. Her brain seemed to be yelling at her for something, but what? Krish nodded, but then a smirk appeared on his face.
“But, I never got your name Sundar. And as much as I like calling you that, I would like a name to go by” he asked. Meera didn’t answer for a moment, internally debating whether or not she should tell him. But then again, he hadn’t done anything to hurt her...yet.
“I’m Meera” she said. Krish looked down for a moment.
“Meera” he repeated, rolling the name on his tongue as if it wasn’t in Hindi. He looked up and smiled at her, taking her hand.
“A beautiful name, Meera. But I like Sundar better. I’m Krish, but you probably already knew that”. He pressed a quick kiss to the back of Meera’s hand, making her blush once more.
“Goodnight, Sundar” he said before running off into the night. Meera took a moment to regain her thoughts as she entered her house and walked to Girish’s room, to see the 15 year old fast asleep. Meera smiled and got ready to go to sleep as well. As she sat on her bed, even though she didn’t want to believe it, she knew it would be the last time she would encounter Krish.