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...
This is for Pixie Pari – I read each and every comment of yours, LOVED them and wait for them. Never think that I am ignoring you or not replying to you. I DID!!! Soooo many times. You didn’t get the notification, I guess.
To everyone else who comments on my updates and thinks that I don’t reply to them, please note that I read EACH & EVERY comment and cherish them. They are a source of my motivation and happiness. I’m not shallow to ignore the love I receive through my stories. I like/upvote them too so that you know that I have read them, in case I am not able to reply.
I remember each one of you, wait for your opinions and I try my best to reply. Never will I ever ignore/neglect any one reader over others. You are all dear to me.
I think you are not getting notifications when I like them or reply to them. Please check back after a day if I have replied. Sometimes, I really get busy and don’t reply to any of you. But again, that is equal for all… not just for few… Also, I will reply as I get time… so give me some time after you post the comment. If I am online, I reply immediately 🙂
I hope I have cleared myself. Hugs to all of you as even after being sure that I am not replying, you continued to comment. This is the kind of love that touched me the most.
Lots of love. Stay blessed.
Once Anshuman introduced Manasvi to everyone else and once Alex and Amanda met her, they made sure that she was neither left out nor felt lonely.
Alex was an Australian doctor working with PBB for 3 years and he had closely worked with Anshuman during this time. Amanda was a beautiful, tall American with creamy, pink skin, light brown hair, and green eyes. When Manasvi saw her properly for the first time, she appeared like a barbie doll to her. Someone with a perfectly chiseled figure, five feet ten inches frame, wavy, brown hair reaching till her shoulders, and shapely lips and nose. Everything about her was picture perfect and beautiful. She was good at heart too and that Manasvi could guess because Amanda had the sensitivity to realize that a non-medico might feel awkward between so many doctors and paramedics. So she stayed with Manasvi and talked to her about her work and Mumbai.
Manasvi was glad to answer all the questions Amanda had for her. In a small meeting of half an hour, over dinner, Manasvi had grown to like Alex and Amanda, both.
“Ms. Rathore, you are very beautiful. The typical Indian beauty.” Alex complimented her.
Amanda quipped immediately, “Ignore him. He is a flirt.”
“No, I’m not! It was a genuine compliment.” Alex defended himself.
“No one will believe you because that is the image you have created for yourself. Last week, you were talking about how I was the perfect American beauty!” Amanda raised her brows, reminding him and teasing him.
“That was true, as well. Girls of all countries are beautiful.” Alex seemed to be failing at his defense and that made Manasvi giggle softly. He might be a flirt but he appeared harmless to her.
She enjoyed the banter between Amanda and Alex when they were not talking to her. Otherwise, they paid full attention to her as Anshuman had told them that she was stuck there with an injured friend. All this while, Anshuman was not around. He had left after a few minutes. Every few minutes, Manasvi would turn to the small entrance of the tent, looking around at people, hoping to find Anshuman there.
He was nowhere. Why? Where he was? No one knew. Everything about him intrigued her.
“Time to go to bed. I’m so tired today. You must be tired too.” Amanda brought Manasvi to her tent when they dispersed after food.
“Hmm!” Manasvi nodded. She couldn’t believe her luck that a few hours back she was helpless and hopeless, clueless about where to go and suddenly God had sent a few angels for her, to tackle her food and stay issue. Now she had a bed to spend the night in a comfortable, warm environment and a roof over her head.
She had been through worse all her life, but she had got the best too, even in toughest of circumstances. She was always saved from every big problem in the nick of time. The experience had been incredible and humbling because not every girl was as lucky as her. Some ended up with a stroke of badluck. But she had been fortunate. God was kind to her. This was one reason for her unwavering faith in Supreme Power. She readily accepted, with gratitude, all that he had given her and planned for her as she felt indebted to him.
People talk about God, but they fail to see Him in people around them who help them, who stay beside them as their saviour, and bail them out in times of distress. For her, God had always been around her, in form of Anshuman – helping her when she needed it the most, ensuring that she was safe and cared for, shielding her like a wall between every catastrophe and her.
She was self-sufficient and strong, she believed. She had taken care of every problem on her own, all her life. She had walked with her head held high and with a belief that she can manage herself in every problem. And the moment she faltered and saw no hope, she had Anshuman… right behind her… just beside her!!
Amanda snapped two fingers before her eyes to draw her back from her thoughts. “What happened? Absorbed in thinking about something deeply?”
Amanda had asked so sweetly that Manasvi smiled. She was a kind woman, Manasvi could guess that. Anshuman was lucky to have her. She was a good match to him.
Manasvi smiled to reply to her and observed the modest arrangements in the tent – two beds, with a cover and a pillow each, water cans, a small table and a trash can. It was a surprise to see that such senior and qualified doctors with prestigious degrees and affluent backgrounds, from rich families and well-heeled upbringing, were living with just the basic. So humble. So down-to-earth. Connected to the roots. Bothered about nothing but work.
Their work was their entertainment and release from every emotion – good or bad. Their work was their only mission in life. Helping people in the most distressed situations, war, epidemics, natural calamities was their purpose in life and they had chosen it themselves. They were in it by choice and by no compulsion. Manasvi was inspired. And deeply grateful.
She asked in a low voice, “I hope it is not much of a bother to you.”
Amanda brushed it off with a subtle wave of a hand, “Not at all! Alex and Anshuman always share the tent and I am left alone. Other 4 doctors share 2 tents as they were here before us. So, it’s great to have company today. Especially since you are known to Anshuman.” Unknowingly, unintentionally, a subtle blush swam on her cheeks as Amanda took Anshuman’s name. Manasvi noticed it and decided to let it pass. She sat on the bed and opened her small bag.
“Do you have a change of wear for the night? Or you can share my clothes.” It was a cute offer. Manasvi smiled and nodded to refuse.
“I have nightwear.”
“Okay! But we don’t have washrooms to change in such areas. The basic toilets they provide are not good for changing. So, turn around. This is the only way we can change.
Manasvi turned around and stood by the entrance to guard the tent and Amanda changed into a small pair of white cotton shorts and grey spaghetti top. “You can change now.”
This time Amanda stood by the entrance looking away. But she couldn’t stop talking, “Anshuman said that you are known to him since long… Do you mind if I ask, how long?”
“Seven and a half years,” Manasvi replied.
“Your parents were friends? Are you from Delhi? Are you his friend? Best friend?” The questions from Amanda came out as a row of bombs from a cannon. One after the other. She wasn’t upset or jealous of Manasvi. She was more inquisitive. Because she now had someone close to Anshuman whom she can be friends with and grow close to Anshuman. She could ask someone about his likes, dislikes, his thoughts on a particular topic and how he could be pleased. She had no idea that Manasvi knew nothing about Anshuman.
Even Manasvi didn’t want Amanda to feel jealous of her. She didn’t want Amanda to think that she was close to Anshuman so she burst her bubble unintentionally, “Yeah, we know each other’s families. But since he was studying Medicine away home and then doing a job here, we don’t know much about each other, except our names.”
“How is that even possible?” Amanda’s face was drawn at that.
“Say it that you don’t want to help me. Did Anshuman ask you to say this?” Amanda was slightly disappointed.
Manasvi couldn’t understand what Amanda was talking… ‘Help’? Help her in what?? Wasn’t she Anshuman’s girlfriend?
“No. He didn’t say anything about you.” Manasvi softly whispered to relieve Amanda who was more irked now. She turned around surprised at what Manasvi said. Manasvi had changed into a white salwar and sky blue kurta, surprising her more.
“Is this what you wear as nightdress?” Amanda asked.
Manasvi looked at her suit from top to bottom and slightly moved her neck, “Yeah!”
“What was the difference between the previous dress and this one?” Amanda shrugged with eyes wide open and a genuine surprise on her face. For her, nightwear meant a shorter, more comfortable, almost negligible piece of clothing which let her skin breathe. She couldn’t understand Manasvi’s idea of nightwear which was exactly the same as the dress she had worn during the entire day.
Manasvi stared at her cluelessly and then shrugged, “This is with less threadwork and it is older!”
Amanda burst into a giggle of laughter, almost forgetting what they were talking about, before this. Then, she immediately apologized, “I’m sorry, okay! But I found that funny. I buy new shorts and tees and lingerie, mainly to sleep in… how can someone sleep in so many clothes?”
Manasvi smiled too. With all her eccentricity and difference from her, Amanda was cute and there was no denying about that.
“Is it okay, if I go for a small walk outside?” Manasvi asked.
Amanda slipped under the cover on her bed, stretching herself, “Perfectly okay! These camps and the place around them are very safe and guarded well, but aren’t you tired?? After a hard day, you want to walk at night?”
“Just for a few minutes. I need some fresh air.” Manasvi walked out.
“Come soon and zip the tent from inside.”
“Yep!” Manasvi walked out assuring Amanda.
It was dark outside, with only a few lamps lighting the pathway outside the tents, arranged in rows at a distance from each other. It was silent and eerie since this area was meant for the staff and the doctors, and it appeared quiet and deserted completely. It seemed that everyone had gone to sleep.
Manasvi walked out, closing the entrance of the tent. Hardly, she had taken a few steps and crossed her tent that she found Anshuman coming out of his tent, which was just next to hers. She stopped when she saw him. At the same moment, he saw her too and stopped. He was still far, almost around ten meters. He kept standing at his place, waiting for her to cross that distance and reach him. She did.
He spoke nothing when she reached near him. Instead, he observed her keenly. She felt intimidated and nervous all over again. With the raging storm of silence, between them. She was still not getting used to the goosebumps his soul-stirring eyes gave her.
Why did he do this to her? Was it deliberate? Did he do this so that she didn’t talk to him?
His eyes ripped apart her soul and yet she felt drawn to him. She didn’t belong to him, yet felt safe with him. She knew he had told her about the girl in his life but that didn’t stop her from thinking about him.
When she reached near him, he asked, “Did you have food?”
“Yeah…” She nodded, correcting the dupatta on her head.
Pat came the next question, even before she could speak more. He asked, “Are you comfortable in the tent with Amanda?”
“Hmm.” She nodded. She wondered why all doctors asked leading questions – the answer to which was always either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They would frame a question to seek a short answer, not letting others elaborate more unless they wanted it. Anshuman was the same. He decided what he wanted her to speak.
Either he didn’t talk. And when he did, he asked a serious of questions and all he was interested in was a satisfactory answer to his questions.
He was conditioned like that, it seemed, like other doctors, who had that much time only. They wanted to know the issue and solve it asap instead of meaningless chit-chat. Manasvi was almost like that too. So she was quick to notice this.
Anshuman nodded, “Okay. Good.”
With that, he turned around and walked away without saying anything more. Manasvi was surprised to see him walking away. She had hoped to talk to him for some time, but here, he had simply ensured her well-being and left.
Anshuman had taken around a few steps that he heard Manasvi’s voice from behind. A soft but determined voice, “Dr. Shekhawat!”
He stopped in his tracks. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and left it slowly. It was getting so difficult for him. The more he tried to stay away from her, the more he was drawn towards her. The more he planned a distance, the more circumstances pushed them together.
He waited for her, this time without turning to her or looking at her. He thrust his hands in the pockets of his brown trousers. She couldn’t see from far, the restlessness of the man in the white shirt and brown trousers. She walked towards him and stood right behind him.
With deepest gratitude in her voice and genuine appreciation, she said, “Thank you so much. For everything!”
He ran his tongue on his dried lower lips and turned around. Without speaking anything, he observed her for a moment and then he asked in a calm, poised voice, “Now that you have thanked me, can I ask you a simple question, if you don’t mind?”
She nodded and raised her eyes to meet him, waiting for his question. “What?”
“Where do you think you were going when you left the camp on your own?”
She was speechless. With a blank look on her face, she nodded and opened her mouth slightly to reply but couldn’t say anything. Slightly scrunching her nose, she recalled the desperation she had felt at that moment when she was asked by the duty nurse to leave. , She couldn’t stop her brows from furrowing when the helplessness returned. Then she composed herself. With another nod, she replied, “I… err… I don’t know…”
He snapped immediately, “Exactly! You didn’t know. Even then you thought about leaving the camp. Did you even think once that it is not safe? That, you shouldn’t go out alone, at night time, especially when the situation in the city is so tense?”
She defended herself, “Err… actually… I did think about it.”
“And yet, you decided to take the risk?”
She was getting cornered and she could feel her throat drying. She had gone out alone. Many times. At night? Quite a few times. She had been managing her life, alone. But that was India. Manageable and safer. This was a different country and she knew no one here. There was no doubt that she had been terrified. But this was for the first time in her life that someone was upset with her for not taking care of her safety.
“Err…” She shrugged, looking at him, “I was worried…but…”
His tone softened, “But you didn’t try to ask for help. You knew that I was around but you preferred to walk away instead of trying to find me. You could have come straight to me. It must be my fault. I didn’t give you enough confidence to come up and ask me to do something for you.”
“But you said that no one should know about us?” She spoke genuinely.
He looked at her as someone would look at an adorably annoying baby. The frown on her face with a genuine and confused look in her eyes was awe-worthy. How she had retained her innocence despite all the hardships she had faced, amazed him. He smiled softly and nodded with exasperation in his voice, “I asked not to tell people that we were married. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you have to tell people about our relationship. You could have told what I told everyone – that I know you for long, through our families. When I sent someone to call for you, she told me that you were asked to leave the premises. It was fortunate that she found you on the way out. Had she been even a few minutes late, where would I…” His voice sank low. Immediately, he corrected himself, “Where would… ‘we’… find you in this big country?”
“Me and your ‘friend’…” He clarified in a composed voice. He was not jealous. He was not taunting her. He was genuinely concerned. He spoke of the word ‘friend’ as if he was talking about someone close to her, “Your friend seems to be a nice guy. To come to Afghanistan, all the way from India just to be with you speaks of how highly he regards you.”
She nodded to agree but didn’t know how to tell him that what he was thinking was wrong. Krish was not a special friend. She wondered why she wanted to clarify at all. But she did want Anshuman to know that Krish was a casual friend and she had no idea why he had taken pains to be with her and there was absolutely no romantic angle between them.
“Yeah. He’s nice… but…”
Anshuman never let her complete what she wanted to say. She could never speak clearly. He replied almost instantly, “He’ll be fine. Don’t worry!”
“Thanks… but… he is…”
This time, Anshuman waited for her to complete what she wanted to say. She didn’t know what to say – ‘but he is not my boyfriend…’ or… ‘but he is just a casual friend who came all the way here to help me…’ or… ‘but what you are thinking is wrong…”
She didn’t even know what he was thinking. And did it even matter to him? It didn’t look like that to her.
She didn’t complete her words. Anshuman waited for a moment and then said, “But he didn’t know that you were asked to leave. Nor did I. You hadn’t eaten and you had no place to go. Still, you decided to walk away?”
“I’m sorry…” She had no idea why she was apologizing. But this seemed to be the only way to escape his ire. He was genuinely upset with her.
“I will accept your apology but only on one condition…”
“You have to make a promise.”
Anshuman had no idea why he said what he said next. But this seemed to be the only way to relieve his own anxiety and restlessness. He didn’t want another panic attack about her, like the one he had a few hours ago. So he requested her.
“Promise me, wherever you are, whoever you are with… every time you find yourself in a trouble or you feel you are helpless, or alone… you will first find me wherever I am and let me handle it.”
Overwhelmed, confused, speechless, she nodded to affirm. It was not even a promise that he had asked her.
It was a right that he had just given her. On him.