He had never expected that she would say ‘this’. Not even in his dreams. Neither did she ever imagine that she would speak like this with anyone. With him! But such words are not planned and articulated. They just spill out. Like emotions. Like tears. Like an overwhelming surge of a deeply felt pain. The way she didn’t think even for a moment before she ran towards him to ensure that he w...
I apologise for making you wait for this story.
Actually, I have always written one story at a time and I love to give back to back updates as the story stays in my mind and moves at a fast pace. I live in that story, mostly.
But to switch between Tangles & Ties and Beyond Every Border is like switching between 2 genres, settings, characters, ambience and almost like 2 eras… so it takes a toll on me… I am not able to switch between stories that fast… so I take time to get in that time frame.
I hope, I’m making sense 🙂
Love you all for loving this story… though non-MaNan… your love for Manasvi and Anshuman – my ManAn is precious for me.
“I don’t mind being proved wrong, but there is no harm in confirming things instead of assuming!”
“Excuse me!” Anshuman cleared his throat with an apology and walked away.
Manasvi asked Krish, “How are you feeling now?”
“Much better! I had only heard about PBB till now. But to see them working is a different kind of a thrill, altogether. Had this lovely experience today, thanks to you!” Krish quipped.
Manasvi smiled and started walking away in the direction where Anshuman left. “I’ll just go and talk to the doctor and ask when we can leave.”
Krish didn’t understand the urgency. “We can ask that later… Manasvi…” His words trailed off behind her as she was already gone. In the last few weeks of his association with him, Krish had never seen Manasvi this impatient or this restless. She was known for her composure and balanced response to everything she went through.
Manasvi crossed the length of the small makeshift ward and almost ran into the corridor that took a turn towards the minor OT on the left. She was sure that she would find Anshuman. They had so much to talk about.
Something about the silence between them gave her an unspoken strength to tear apart the darkness between them.
She didn’t mind being ignored. She had faced innumerable ugly situations in life. But she didn’t want to feel cared-for while being ignored. She didn’t want the mixed signals her husband gave her. He appeared to care for her as he cared for nothing in the world, yet he behaved as if she didn’t matter to him. As if she was no one. Nothing, at all.
He had tried to do it once when he was about to drop her at the airport in Delhi. He had pretended to be rude to her to push her away. She had caught him and asked him not to do it ever again. Was he doing the same again?
Wasn’t it a weird coincidence that he was posted in Afghanistan at the same time that she was there? Wasn’t it another huge coincidence that he had reached Kabul and Jalalabad the same day as her? He had told his mother about going to Afghanistan… which was again weird…as they didn’t know about his profession. He had never discussed his postings with them. His mother would freak out. She had made him leave the Indian Army posting to go to the US. Why did he tell her now? Didn’t she freak out when he told her about Afghanistan? Didn’t she stop him? In fact, she told her that Anshuman was going to be in Kabul and she could call him when she needed him? She must have told him about her!
Then why was he behaving as if he didn’t know?
Manasvi was sure by now that Anshuman was pretending ignorance about her while he knew that she was around. But why?
She had to ask him. Now.
She spotted Anshuman at the end of the corridor talking to a nurse on duty. Manasvi walked towards him and called him from a distance, “Dr. Shekhawat!”
Anshuman was distracted. He observed Manasvi approaching him. Next moment, he smiled to dismiss the nurse, “Okay, sister, please get these reports for me.”
“Yes, doctor!” The nurse left, leaving Anshuman alone in the corridor, now turned towards Manasvi.
He was neither happy to see her. Nor upset. He was neutral. He stood with his legs slightly spread apart in a defiant posture, and crossed his hands at his chest, waiting for her to come nearer and speak whatever she wanted to. Waiting to prepare himself to not speak more than required. Not more than what he had decided.
His height, his posture, his deeply penetrating gaze fixed on her, his taut jawline as if he had clenched his jaw muscles still making him appear relaxed as if he had all the time in the world to listen to her – all of ‘him’ intimidated her.
She could hear her heart beats getting louder and louder with every step taken towards him. Her throat went dry and so did her lips. Her feet felt like two blobs of bean jelly mousse and her back muscles ached. As if his physique was not enough that he had to look at her like that! It foiled all her plans to speak up straight.
His calm, yet stirring and husky voice that followed took everything about him to exponential levels and heightened its intensity. “Yes??!”
Just one word! A ‘yes’… to ask her what she wanted and she realized that she was never prepared for this attack on her senses.
“Dr. Shekhawat…” She cleared her throat and gulped her saliva with an increased effort, but it seemed to be stuck inside her throat. She tried to speak, “Err…umm…”
Her entire confidence waned off. She tried hard, wondering about how to speak all that she had to say – Your mom said that I could call you if I need you. I know that you are here for me… to help me… but why are you not accepting it? Why are you trying to prove that you didn’t even know that I was in Afghanistan?
She pressed her lips hard. The way he was looking at her, waiting for her answer was enough to give her cold feet. Anshuman observed her nervous face and shrugged lightly, lowering his face forwards for a few inches, “Yes? I’m listening…”
“Err… actually…” She tried again and gathered all her courage to look up at his face. She had to talk. She knew that she was going to do it.
Before she could speak more, she heard a subtle commotion at the entrance of the central unit, at the last turn of the corridor and 2 people waving at Anshuman and calling his name.
“Anshuman!! Hi…” The man spoke first, followed by the lady who grinned and approached them.
Anshuman turned to them and didn’t smile. He was clearly awkward and Manasvi could sense that. She could sense that they were either his colleagues or his friends.
Anshuman took a deep breath and spoke in a firm, straight voice without mincing any words, “I don’t want my friends or anyone here to know about our relationship.”
Manasvi was sure that she wasn’t even smiling before this as she was nervous. She was trying to streamline her own thoughts around Anshuman and trying to bring all of it to a platform where she could understand them. But after his request, it appeared like a gallon of water was poured over her.
She lowered her eyes and nodded, “I understand.”
“Thank you!” Anshuman muttered under his breath and walked away. Manasvi tried not to look at them as she dreaded the obvious. She didn’t want to know if the beautiful woman approaching him with the cutest smile on her face was his girlfriend.
She turned around and walked away. There was nothing left to ask him. It was obvious. He was indeed there to help her if only she needed him. He didn’t want to take chances. Her documents meant her citizenship of India. After she gets citizenship, his responsibility was over. He was free to get rid of her. Free to get divorced. Free to marry again and be with someone he loved.
Manasvi dragged her feet out of the main clinic and stepped out in the dark, to slip behind a dilapidated wall, where no one could see her. She sat down on the warm floor, laden in the dust. Hugging her knees with her arms around them, she buried her face in her knees. Tears ran through her cheeks in a flow but that didn’t mean that she was sad. She was not sad. She was happy, she convinced herself. She was sure that she was happy and would always remain happy because Anshuman was happy in his life. She didn’t need to be a part of his life. She could ensure his happiness from far. Anshuman had decided on a beautiful life for himself and he was content in his life. This is what she had always wanted for him. Isn’t it??
She had never wanted to tie him down in an unwanted relationship forced on him at an early age. She was glad that instead of trying to please his parents or forcibly trying to live up to a marriage he didn’t want to, he had the guts to listen to his heart and walk out. He had suffered for long. Now, he had every right to live his life and be content with it. Wasn’t this the only thing she wanted for him.
She smiled through her tears.
After her citizenship issue was solved, even she will also move on. She will never give him any chance of feeling guilty about her. She was going to try and make a life where everyone would be proud of her.
Manasvi wiped her tears, washed her face from the water available at a mud pot in the clinic and went back to sit beside Krish.
“My phone is working.” Krish informed her, “Check yours!”
Manasvi was no more interested in her phone or the signals. All her chase to find Anshuman had found a calm halt, thanks to the man himself.
“Hmm? Phone?” She pressed her lips and disinterestedly searched for her phone in her bag. She took out the phone and checked.
Krish had his eyes twinkling at that, “So? What are you waiting for? Call your husband!”
Manasvi tried hard to keep a straight, blank face but she was tired of keeping that look on her face as if all was well. She had been doing that all the time. On and on. Years after years. Repeatedly. Before everyone.
She lowered her eyes and scraped the floor with the tip of her shoe. Krish insisted, “He must be getting worried, na! I will become free too after giving this responsibility to him.”
Manasvi smiled subtly, “You are not that lucky. His flight got canceled.”
More than Manasvi, Krish had a look of disappointment on his face, “What?? Oh no!! But what about that flight from Dubai…that…” He raised a valid doubt.
She interrupted him and shrugged, “Leave it! Some confusion happened…”
Krish studied her face for a moment and asked, “Manasvi, is everything fine?”
“Hmm! Yup!” She flashed a broad smile and shrugged, “No… actually, I was a bit disappointed as I hoped for…”
Krish consoled her with the utmost concerned look on his face. “Don’t worry. You will get your work done fast and we will go back soon. You take a leave after that and be with your in-laws in Delhi. Ask your husband to be there.”
Manasvi moved her head side to side to agree to this and smiled again. Food for the patient was to be served at the camp itself. As Krish was admitted, he was served with food, given a blanket and a bottle of water along with medicines. Krish took his food packet and felt awkward being given only one packet.
“We can share from this!” Krish suggested, opening a foil pack, which had one big nan roti with a simple preparation of mutton with some vegetables rolled in it. It was essentially basic and meant for one person. Manasvi shrugged, “No…no… you have it. You are taking medicines, you need it too. I’ll go out and see if something is available.”
“This is a PBB medical camp in the middle of nowhere. Do you expect a restaurant out there?”
The way he said it, made her smile. She nodded and assured him, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll do something.”
“Like what?” Krish asked her, “Come on, eat this!”
“No, I don’t even feel like eating.” Manasvi was talking to Krish when they were interrupted by a nurse who asked her to follow her to the next ward.
Manasvi had had some injuries too but her scratches were only minor and superficial so she was not admitted. She had been given basic dressing of her wounds. The nurse gave her the prescription meant for her, a packet with some medicines and asked her to leave. The nurse informed her that she was supposed to leave the ward and the camp as it was already 8 pm and the visiting time was over.
This was the first time, Manasvi panicked. She had nowhere to go. It was dark and lonely outside. Her room was booked at Jalalabad but there was chaos in the city. She wouldn’t get a cab to take her to the city at this time. It wasn’t even safe too. Manasvi walked out taking heavy steps with a mind racing fast to come to a solution. It wasn’t a safe situation to be in and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
She didn’t go back to the ward to share this issue with Krish. He would get worried about her. Already she had not eaten and he was insistent on sharing the food which was hardly enough for one. And now, if he came to know that she had nowhere to stay for the night, he was going to freak out.
The patients at PBB camp kept increasing and the doctors and paramedical staff attended to the patients and had them admitted to several temporary camps beyond the main building. The crowd meant that some of them will have a similar issue as hers. Maybe, she found someone in a similar situation and help her get to the city. But how to approach these people? She wondered.
The maximum people hurt and injured were Afghans – mostly laborers and daily wage workers. She was wary of going and talking to absolute strangers in stringent conditions. Even if someone was going back to the city, she wasn’t going to ride with them.
Manasvi dumped the idea of getting help from locals and decided to sit down at a calm, cool place to let her brain do the working at peace. There must be some way out…
There has to be…
The long unconstructed path from the ruins to the main road was dark and scary but she kept walking… hopeless and lonely…
She was on the verge of her tears when she heard a voice behind her. A nurse had been calling someone from behind her.
Manasvi saw no one while walking to this side so she turned around wondering why would a paramedic call her. She was seeing this nurse for the first time. She was young, in her early twenties and appeared pleasing and kind. Manasvi hesitated first and then asked her, “Are you talking to me?”
“Are you Ms. Rathore from India?”
“Yes, I am!” Manasvi confirmed, worried about Krish. She hoped that he was fine and this nurse was not looking for her because something had happened to him.
“Please come with me!” The nurse turned around and walked fast. Manasvi held her bag on her shoulder, balanced it well and followed her through the long road – a broken path, sandy ground with rocks in between. They crossed the tents that she had seen before.
It was surprising when they passed the main building. Before she could ask her, the girl took Manasvi to another tent which was well lit and smelt of food. The first thing she saw after the nurse left her there was a central table in the room, which had a spread of food over it, along with some water cans.
The room was full of people, standing in groups and talking to each other. All of them stopped talking and turned to look at Manasvi when she entered. It was enough to intimidate her. She was instantly nervous but she kept her grit intact and walked in. A few people were seated inside the room and rest others were standing. Manasvi knew none. She had no idea what to say in case she was asked why she was there. She didn’t know what the nurse meant and why she knew her name.
The only connection that could have brought her here and that came to her mind almost instantly was – Dr. Anshuman Shekhawat!
She had taken only a few steps inside and stopped almost ahead of the entrance of the tent, worried about the hostile eyes she was about to face next, frowning due to growing nervousness, biting her lips.
Just then, someone entered from behind her and stopped right next to her. It didn’t take much longer to sense a tall, confident presence beside her. She didn’t have to look up to guess who he could be. None other than Anshuman.
There was something strangely warm about his presence around her. Something assuring. Something familiar. A rare association. Like she was not alone, anymore!
They might not be in any relationship for the world, they might not have interacted much, they might not be even friends with each other. Still, she felt a deep connection between them, even if it was just from her end. But, it was enough for her.
Anshuman spoke in an unmistakably authoritative manner and a firm voice, “Hello everyone, she is Ms. Rathore from India. I know her for a very long time. In fact, our parents were close friends. It’s a coincidence that she is stuck here with her friend who was injured in the accident today and is now admitted to the general ward. Till everything is fine and till they are not fit to leave, I’ve requested to be our guest.”
Alex was the first one to approach them with a wide smile. He nodded, smiled and greeted Manasvi before introducing himself. So did, Amanda. And suddenly, everyone was smiling, talking to her and welcoming her, just because she was a new and different face among 7 doctors and 15 paramedics. Suddenly, she didn’t have to worry about what to eat. She didn’t have to worry about where to stay for the night.
So what, if Anshuman didn’t belong to her, he cared. She had always known that he cared for her. Even if he considered her as only a responsibility, but he went out of his way to ensure that she was fine. He didn’t shun her away. He had remembered that she was alone. He had made sure that she was around for he knew that she had nowhere to go. She knew that she would never be able to pay him back for all that he did for her. Except for prayers and wishes.
He deserved the world’s happiness. He deserved someone he loved and who loved him back equally and cherish his goodness.
If he was in love with Amanda, Manasvi decided that she will never come in the way of his love.
Anshuman had always been her angel. It was time for her to be his angel now.