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’ve read all the responses and comments on the last update. Thank you so much for reading this story and writing back to me. It means a lot.
I haven’t been able to reply to people because I’m super busy these days. I will post a separate post at ‘my corner – blog’ to write about things that are keeping me busy and how I am spending days of lockdown.
For now, please know that I value each of my readers and I love you all with all my heart. Stay blessed. Stay home. Stay safe.
Lots of love.
Anshuman nearly jogged towards Manasvi as she had ventured far away towards the cliff. The sound of his footsteps startled Manasvi. She turned around, only to be surprised to find Anshuman taking the last few steps towards her.
Speechless and clueless, with a knot between her brows, she frowned slightly. To see Anshuman here was the last thing she had expected. Her face, her eyes, and her expressions were vocal enough to tell Anshuman that she was surprised. He could understand that. Even he hadn’t expected this from himself. In fact, he had surprised himself.
She didn’t speak anything. When Anshuman reached her, she had a questioning look in her eyes. He stepped closer, shrugged lightly and said, “Hey!”
“Hi!” She didn’t ask all the questions going inside her mind. Was he following her? Why was he looking out for her? Instead, she waited.
Anshuman took a deep breath, cleared his throat and explained, “Actually… uh…I saw you walking away so I thought I will check on you if you need something.”
She replied softly, “I was going for a walk.”
“Um…” He didn’t know what to say and how. So, he kept it simple, and asked, “Can I join you?”
This man confused her to no end.
When she stepped closer to him, he shoved her away. When she walked away, he followed her. He encouraged her to write a story on him and then suddenly developed cold feet after just one question from her. And now, when she was coming to terms with the fact that they were meant to stay away from each other, convincing herself that she should go back to living the way she had lived last 7 years, accepting that they were aliens to each other, staying content that this relationship didn’t exist, and believing that her career was the only thing she should think about, he decided to follow her and join her for a walk.
Confused, she frowned subtly, chewed on her lower lip, and shook her head slightly to allow him. Again, she turned around towards the direction where she was walking. He heaved a deep sigh, thrust his hands in the pocket of his jacket and walked beside her.
They took a few slow steps ahead, side by side, with none of them talking – to be precise, none of them actually knowing what to speak to break the ice between them – none in a hurry to reach anywhere, none in a hurry to go back either.
Few steps ahead, they reached at the edge of the cliff, the part of the mountain top that overlooked the deep valley down and a part of the city far off. Distant lamps at the camp made the visibility possible apart from the full moon in the sky making everything on the earth glow in those stolen rays.
They stood facing the valley for a long moment. Watching the horizon meeting the distant parts of the city somewhere far, the dark sheet of the sky blanketing the world, a horde of stars falling down from the sky. Gentle breeze from the valley caressed the bushes making a swishing sound, some crickets making loud noises declaring their conquest of the territory.
“So?” Anshuman asked her in a low voice, “How was your day?”
Baffled further, Manasvi subtly smirked. She didn’t know what else to do in response to his question. She folded her hands across her chest and shrugged, “Uh…you are asking me about my day?”
“Why? What happened?” He looked worried, “Were you not comfortable?”
“Dr. Shekhawat…” She started speaking.
He interrupted her, “Why do you always call me that? You can call me Anshuman.”
She shook her head, refusing vehemently, and whispered almost under her breath, “I can never do that.”
He heard that, paused for a moment, and then spoke in a deep baritone, “I insist.”
Just two words!!
He had spoken only two words and she didn’t know what to say to refuse anymore. While she had never thought of him as anyone other than ‘Dr. Shekhawat’, and while she had never imagined taking his name or talking to him about anything other than some formal exchange of pleasantries, or work-related conversations, but keeping all that apart, it mattered a lot to her if he wished for something or requested her to do something.
The position he had in her life decided a lot of her actions. The respect she had for him told her that this was the least she could do for him, if he wished so.
Just two words, he had said. And she subtly nodded. “Okay! I’ll try.”
“You were saying something…err… about your day…” He reminded her.
She pressed her lips, and slowly releasing them, she said, “Why do you want to know? You sent me away.”
This time, he smiled. “Are you complaining?”
“I don’t want to complain. But then, I didn’t want to do this story, either. You encouraged me, gave me the confidence that I should do it. And then…” She stopped speaking. She didn’t know how she spoke so much. She never spoke more than monosyllables and short phrases. Not with anyone. She usually never complained. Her life was all about gratitude and patience. She was satisfied with whatever she got. Until now. Why suddenly, she had started complaining about this petty issue and that too, to the person who had done everything in his might to make life smooth for her. Of all people, she was whining before the man who was responsible for everything good in her life. She took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry.”
“I am not a person who grumbles and cribs about what I don’t have. I try to make the best out of every situation life gives me. I don’t know why suddenly…” She frowned and winced, upset at herself.
“Expectations!” He completed it for her.
“Huh?” She was not expecting this reply. So she was momentarily taken aback.
“Expectations, Manasvi. They upset us and make us dissatisfied. You never complained and whined before because you never expected much from life. Or from people around you. Instead, you accepted everything you got and you were happy with it. This time, you expected some answers to your questions. You expected insights for your story. You were let down and so you complained.”
Unhappy, she tried to focus on a light coming from a distance, “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”
“Stop saying that,” He chided her softly, “It’s all my fault, actually. I asked you to tell me whether you got the job or not but couldn’t read the mail. I asked you to look for me first, whenever you are alone or need something. I asked you to do the story on PBB. You were not wrong to expect. I was wrong to not live up to the expectations that I build.”
“Please don’t say that.” Manasvi was too quick to forgive people. Too apologetic for everything she felt. Too ruthless to negate her own feelings. It was important for her to make others feel better and comfortable. When she did that for all ‘others’… this was Anshuman she was talking to. It was important for her to tell him that she was okay with that. She said, “You were not wrong. Maybe, I was too nosy.”
“No. You were not. You were justified. And your question was genuine. I was not prepared to answer.”
“Anshuman,” He reminded her.
“Err… Anshuman…I’m sorry. I will never do that again.”
“Tell me one thing,” He turned to face her.
“Are you always this apologetic?”
“Am I being apologetic?” She was nearly speechless.
“Truly. Pathologically. Apologetic.” He informed her in strong words.
“See!” He shrugged, making a point.
“Sorry again.” She closed her eyes and frowned visibly, at her own impulsive responses. Maybe she was not like that. She would love to believe that Anshuman’s presence did that to her. But she was not sure either.
He rolled his eyes and spread his hands in the air, sideways. His eyes focused on her innocent face glowing in the moonlight. Her closed eyes, squeezed shut after being embarrassed. Her lips pressed in. And the two lines between her brows, highlighting her frown.
He smiled at the way she had responded. If this was her defence mechanism, then this was the cutest he had seen in a long, long time. He leaned by the dilapidated building of the old fortress. With another subtle smile, he softly cajoled her, “Okay, you can open your eyes. I don’t bite.”
She smiled too and opened her eyes, “Thank God! I was scared.”
He smirked. His eyes sparkled with admiration when his smile swam over his face, and he said, “Scared? And you? I thought you were the bravest girls I have ever known.”
She had never expected this compliment. Never. Not from him. It thrilled her. She smiled softly and said, “You really think so?”
“Yep.” He picked up a stone from the wall near him and threw it far away into the valley, like he was throwing a ball in the air, and added, “I had never expected that you will plan to come here, all by yourself. Thank God for Krish that he came with you. Were you really planning to venture around all alone in a different country?”
She lowered her eyes and replied in a low voice, “I didn’t think about that. I just thought that it is my country. I was born here.”
He immediately realised it. He said, “Oh! Yeah! I forgot that relationship.”
“I don’t forget any relationship.”