We're back in 1993. Rahel sits in the garden – it's the first night it hasn't rained since she got to Ayemenem. She thinks about her life in Washington.
Baby Kochamma has been asking Rahel what she plans to do about Estha. Rahel has no plans, though.
Rahel flashes back to 1969 to a day during Sophie Mol's visit in which the three kids ran around saying "nictitating membrane" and wearing saris.
Back in 1969, things are going better between Sophie Mol and the twins than Rahel had expected. Sophie Mol has talked back to Chacko, telling him that she loves Joe more than him. Rahel thinks this will make Chacko love Estha and herself more than he loves Sophie Mol. Sophie has also refused to braid Mammachi's hair and, most important, has rudely rejected any nice gesture from Baby Kochamma.
The three kids put on saris and go to see Velutha. They introduce themselves as Mrs. Pillai, Mrs. Eapen, and Mrs. Rajagopalan.
Velutha plays along with their make-believe game. Rahel will realize later how important it was for him to allow them their imaginary world.
They paint his nails red with Ammu's old nail polish. We see an image of a policeman laughing at Velutha.
We're back in 1993.
Rahel watches Estha through the window. He's sitting on his bed, staring at the dark. The narrator calls them "a pair of actors in a recondite play with no hint of plot or narrative." Rahel thinks about how there was only one victim on "that day" in 1969 – Velutha.
Hours later, Rahel still sits in the garden. She hears drums in the distance and realizes that a kathakali performance is starting.
Rahel gets up to check out the performance. On her way, she goes to get a snack and realizes that one of the doors to the factory is broken. She walks in.
We learn that on the day Sophie Mol arrived, Estha stood in the factory, stirring jam and thinking "Two Thoughts." It was also there that a "Red, tender-mango-shaped secret was pickled, sealed, and put away" (9.48). How's that for suspense?