I’m desperately trying to think what to say or do to make this less painful for Deevya, when Zack comes to the rescue. 

Deevya and I are still staring at Prakesh in dismay when Zack puts his hand on my shoulder and quietly says in my ear, “Need some help?”

“How did you know?” I reply.

“Nomusa quickly filled me in on the history between Deevya and Prakesh after she’d seen him arrive with that other girl,” explains Zack. She asked me to come and check on you guys while she mans AfroBollyMe – it’s so busy down there. Are you two ok?” Zack asks.

“I am,” I whisper back, so happy to see him “but Deevya’s far from fine. I was just trying to think what I can do to help. I don’t think going down to face Prakesh is going to help right now – she’s so shocked. I think it might be gentler to just get her right out here.”

“Let me help,” says Zack.

I nod gratefully.

And then Zack speaks in a louder voice to both Deevya and I. “Hey girls. I used to hang out in this gallery a lot a few years back. I know a cunning route out if you’re feeling like you ready for a great escape?”

Deevya hesitates for a split second before she nods. Zack puts his arm through hers and leads the way. I follow behind, across the upstairs gallery, then down staircases I didn’t even know existed. We walk past an admin room with windows that look through into the downstairs gallery. I catch a glimpse of Simon completely engaged in conversation with a girl I don’t know. I think he will be just fine without me.

As we walk past another window my eyes widen and I manage to stifle a gasp of surprise. There’s a couple locked in a passionate embrace discreetly out of sight of the crowds in the gallery, but unwittingly directly in my line of vision from this back route. 

It’s Nomusa and Lindi – and they’re kissing!

Instantly I decide not to say anything to the others. That was such an intensely private moment and I feel instinctively protective of my friend. But Zack turns around to catch my eye and I know straight away that he also saw, and that he’s known for a while.

It’s completely dark outside the gallery even though it’s not that late yet. The Mynah buses are still running and one stops as we get to the bus stop. We’re the only three passengers on board. 

Deevya looks pale and drawn. I can tell that she has that awful scene on replay in her mind, and it’s killing her.

Well all sit in silence for a while and then Zack starts to speak and gets straight to the point.

“Deevya, I just want to tell you that from the little bit I’ve been told about him by Nomusa, and from what I saw with my own eyes tonight, that Prakesh is one selfish, complicated piece of work.” 

Deevya looks surprised but she makes no move to argue with him, so Zack carries on. Bless him.

“You’re really amazing Deevya,” says Zack with sincerity. “You’re nice, clever, talented, beautiful, a good friend, and so much more than that too. If Prakesh, or any guy, brings this kind of pain into your life then I find it hard to believe that it’s worth hanging in there. I’ve seen you when you laugh and you really suit being happy. All this misery doesn’t do anything for you.”

Deevya actually seems to be listening for once and I nod at Zack to keep talking. Heaven knows its time Deevya sees the light on Prakesh. I know I don’t know Prakesh that well but I know Deevya and I know that her being involved with Prakesh has done more harm than good. 

“Deevya,’ says Zack “I personally know at least ten guys who’d give every chest hair they possess just to have a conversation with you.”

Deevya giggles and I feel a wave of relief.

“There are so many possibilities for finding really good love,” says Zack. “Don’t waste your time on this guy who obviously doesn’t appreciate you. What’s his name anyway! Prick-eish?” 

Deevya chortles and I could just kiss Zack. Where does he get all this stuff from? I reckon he must be a closet Seventeen reader. 

“I think I started seeing Prakesh differently for the first time tonight Zack, ” says Deevya.

Deevya’s looking at me as she continues. “Sometimes a girl needs to see a guy from a different perspective to get the measure of him. You know what I mean hey Hope? I think what tonight has really taught me is that it’s high time I learn to follow my own good advice.”

I lean across and give Deevya’s hand a squeeze.

“My stop’s coming up,” says Deevya as the Mynah trundles along Musgrave Road. I’d invite you in but I think what I really need is a cup of tea and a hot bath.”

Yeah, I think, and a long, hard sob into your pillow once the lights are out.

“Thanks guys, you’re both so awesome. I think you’d make an amazing couple by the way.” 

And then Deevya blows a kiss and hops off the bus.