The first time Ruksar mets Rohan , he was locked outside his apartment because he had forgotten his key, his boss had ridiculed him in front of the entire staff, and his wallet was stolen on the metro ride back home.
The timing couldn’t have been better.
Seeing her new neighbour in distress, Ruksar invited him in for a coffee until the landlord came with his spare set of keys and Rohan gladly obliged.
“Ruksar .” Rohan echoed a name as graceful as her personality. She had moved in only 2 days ago which explained why her apartment was a maze of cardboard boxes.
Sipping on the instant tea Rohan learnt that Ruksar was many things. She was a salsa instructor, a certified acupuncturist, and even a part-time baby sitter.
But out of all the eccentric jobs she juggled between, Ruksar was an artist.
After several requests from Rohan ,she finally gave in and opened a carefully taped box revealing her artworks.
Ruksar stared at them all in awe. Each frame held a portrait so well drawn that it almost looked real. The portraits, ranging from young girls to old men only had a single shade of dark brown on them. Rohan tried to understand the expressions depicted on their faces but was at a loss of words.
He questioned Ruksar about the monotony in her paintings.
“Every artist needs a trademark, right?”
Not wanting the conversation to end and praying for the landlord’s delayed arrival, Dhruv questioned her more about art and her background.
Ruksar carefully evaded the questions about her home and simply replied that she was a wanderer who found the inspiration for her paintings in every new town she resides.
“I haven’t painted in a long time in my last home and decided it was time to leave. I hope I find my muse here.” She stated.
Just as he was about to leave, Rohan decided to lay out all his cards on the table.
“Maybe, I could be your muse.”
Ruksar smiled and stayed silent for what felt like the longest minute in Dhruv’s life.
“Does Saturday afternoon work for you?” She asked, and he nodded eagerly.
Undeniably smitten by her grace, Rohan eagerly counted down to when he could spend more time with Ruksar again. Dressed in a neatly ironed outfit he had picked out 2 nights ago, he reached the art studio Roop had texted him the address of.
He met her inside what looked more like an abandoned shop than a studio which she explained that she was just trying to renovate. Ruskar insisted he grab a cup of coffee before he sat down since it would be a long process.
Obeying her instructions, Rohan renowned the cup and sat down facing Ruksar mesmerised as she focused on outlining his features.
Before he could start up a conversation, Rohan went into a coughing fit. He brushed it off until it got controllable. Roop paid no heed and proceeded to draw.
“W-water-“ he managed to spit out.
“It won’t help,” Ruksar stated. “The poison is already in your system, give it two minutes.”
Rohan got off his seat and immediately fell to his knees.
He coughed and blood flooded his mouth, uncontrollably.
As he lay on the ground, unable to make sense of what was happening, Ruksar stood up from her seat with a paintbrush, dipped it in the pool of blood now formed and went back to paint it onto her portrait.
His eyes widened with realisation that all of her earlier portraits were the same colour of dried up blood, her trademark.
Helplessly lying there, he finally realized the expression on the people’s faces in the portraits.