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Lily watered the flowers for the last time in a while the next morning before she left. While on their way down the dusty and gravelly road, Daniel pulled up his truck by a stranger walking along the village street, on the way to the bus stop, a leather bag clinging to her right shoulder, a white umbrella in hand to block the heated sunlight, and she appeared to be dressed for work. She turned at them and immediately smiled when her eyes landed on Daniel's.

"Oh! Daniel!" she exclaimed, eyes wide in surprise.

"I thought you looked familiar," he grinned at her, peering through Lily's window. "Going somewhere?"

"Yeah. To Imphal."

"Well, you're in luck. Hop in. We're on our way to Bethany. This is my sister, Lily. Lily, this is Sapunai. My long-lost friend."

The two girls greeted each other and Sapunai got into the backseat.

"I thought you were in Bangalore," said Daniel.

And Sapunai replied, "Yes. I was. I returned two days ago. Me and my team, we're here for some project. We might be here for a month or two."

"You're still working in the same Christian organization?"

"Yes. I heard you're starting a school here."

"Yeah, I'm working on it. Not really sure though how far I can go."

She smiled, "I'm sure you'll do great. We badly need a school here."

Sapunai was once Daniel's crush when he was in his teens. They'd known each other even before he moved to Bethany to live with Lily's parents. Growing up, he often saw her during Christmas when he came back to the village for the winter holidays. He had fallen quite hard for her back in days, head-over-heel hard kind of love, but he never found the courage to propose to her. Part of the reason was that Sapunai was too much of a goodie-two-shoes, too focused on her studies, too passionate about God and poring through the Bible, the idea of simply asking her out frightened him. He thought that was the biggest offense anyone could ever incur on her and he didn't think she would like him back anyway.

Sapunai was now a qualified school psychologist, working in Bangalore with an evangelical organization. Although she looked like she just graduated college, she was, in fact, a well-groomed lady of thirty-one (the same age as Daniel, although younger than him just by two months) with warm nature and a pleasant appearance.

Lily didn't speak much of the ride to Imphal. She mostly listened to Daniel and Sapunai who kept the conversation alive throughout. Daniel asked her about her work and how schools function in her organization, to which Sapunai gave him very sincere replies along with her feedback. When she shared her experiences, the things she'd seen and learned, ideas, and methods that she thought were more productive and efficient, Lily was sure that Daniel was far more than impressed. He'd never talked so much in his life and Lily bet the two would be dating in a week. They seemed so engrossed in the conversation, too impressed with each other, Lily had to pray in her mind to let God remind her brother he was driving too and he ought to share his attention to the road as well. She didn't want to fly off a cliff somewhere and die just yet.

When they finally dropped Sapunai off in front of Manipur Baptist Church, Lily teased Daniel, "Seems like I'm getting my sister-in-law very soon."

Daniel laughed at her.

"Don't you like her anymore? She seems very nice. I know you had a huge crush on her."

"What?" Daniel gawked at her. "How'd you know?"

Lily scoffed at him. "I was very small but I had ears. I heard you and Laangthou talk about her all the time. He used to tell you she likes you too but you would never believe it."

He chuckled incredulously. "I thought you were just a kid but you were spying on me this whole time."

"Oh, don't be such an ass. You just had a loud mouth."

When they finally reached her hostel, Daniel took her bags inside the gate for her. They found Nelson washing his car at the verandah. He immediately smiled at Lily.

"Back, Lily?"


She took her bag from Daniel's hand.

"I might not come back to Imphal as often as I used to but I'll see you whenever I'm here," he said as he opened his wallet. "How much do you have?"

"I have enough. You don't have to give me anything."

He simply nodded and slid out four thousand rupees. "Will this do?"

"Of course."

"Yeah. I don't wanna spoil you either. Don't spend all of it on nail polishes. Eat some good food and grow some muscles."

"Yeah, right. And start looking like you."


Lily laughed as he pulled her into his arms for a bear hug. He kissed her on the top of her head and held her warmly. "I'll be leaving now. You take care and study well. Try not to get back papers, kid."

"Pff. Back paper. Is that even a thing? Watch me ace this degree with flying colors."

"Oh, please. Do that. Why don't you?"

She giggled at him, knowing she wouldn't even try, and he wanted to strangle her as he pulled her into another hug.

"I don't know, Lily. I'm going to miss you so much at home."

"I'll come by again if you're still unmarried," she teased him and he pinched her nose.

After leaving the girl at her hostel, Daniel drove further to Bethany to see her parents. He had dinner with them and returned home late. Shangdar made sure he was loaded with mangoes, which grew in their backyard, enough to share with whoever he wanted to since mangoes did not grow in the hills, and she knew how much he loved them. Che Dune had also sent them vegetables from her garden.

After another month, in August, Daniel's school was ready. He invited a few of his closest friends, both his family and the Pastor to celebrate with him. After which, he would go full swing for the admission of students and he planned to start teaching as soon as possible. Pavei was also going to work part-time as a teacher. Lily's parents picked her up from her hostel. When Daniel heard them park in his front yard, he rushed out to the porch to meet them. He had a toddler in his arm. A girl.


Hope you're all doing well. I do hope you're enjoying the story.

Tell me what you think (:

Love, Hermyne ❤

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