Beyond Every Border is nearing its end in around 2-3 updates.
Love you for all the love, and encouragement to Beyond Every Border. Hugs for all the love and tears you shed for Anshuman and Manasvi.
This story has been through lots of ups and downs. Love you all for being there. I’ll write a long note after the last update. But for now, loads of hugs and kisses for being with me through yet another milestone of my writing journey.
Take care. Stay Safe.
(A small update today, because the next update will be a really long one and very special one… so I didn’t want to cut it in two parts.)
Manasvi couldn’t go back to sleep after what she had heard at the terrace. She was disturbed and desolate.
It wasn’t like she didn’t know about Anshuman’s nature of work, his dedication, his devotion to service and his profession. She knew that a time would come that he would have to leave for a distant land, and a difficult posting to continue with his job.
But that time would come so soon, she had not expected.
He had just been out of jail. Hardly 3 days ago.
He had travelled from one country to another, taking risks of his life, crossed border, and was now talking of going back to work! This man was crazy.
She was dedicated to her work too. But Anshuman’s diligence was on another level. Everything else seemed trivial and shallow to him, only his work and patients were worship.
She knew that the situation won’t turn bad at The Insight. Her slamming Mehta for not giving leave wasn’t a big deal. She knew they needed her. Also, she was sure that Krish would handle people at office and Mehta won’t sack her. But if he did, she knew she would get a decent job elsewhere.
Should she do that? Leave ‘The Insight’ to be with Anshuman?
But Anshuman didn’t talk to her about it. Instead, he had decided to go away to Jamaica and he didn’t even tell her. Why did he do it? She wondered.
So, how were they supposed to manage?
Where did it leave both of them? Together? Or at different places, trying to meet each other?
Why did he even ask her to be with him, if he was going away? What did he mean?
She was already struggling to come to terms with the fact that she had been useless for Anshuman and his family. She might have been akin to an opportunist who used people. Anshuman was being kind to her. And so was his family. And now this situation put her in further tight spot.
She tossed and turned in bed for the entire night and could only fall to sleep in early hours of the morning. A disturbed sleep, on that. She had no clue what made her so upset. Whether it was the fact that Anshuman was going away? Or that they were going to be separated once again?
In the morning, after hardly two hours of sleep, Manasvi woke up before everyone else. By around 6:00 am. She quickly went to the kitchen and found Madhu there, instructing the helpers to prepare for the day.
Madhu was surprised to see her there. With a adoring smile, she touched Manasvi’s cheek, and said, “Beta, you woke up so early? Are Preksha and Kavya sleeping, yet?”
“Yeah,” Manasvi smiled, and said, “I was uneasy so I woke up early. Can I help you do something?”
“Nothing. I’ve instructed our helpers for the breakfast, and lunch. You only need to get ready. We will go to the jewellers and designer’s boutique to select clothes for you and Preksha. And all those who want new clothes. The markets don’t open before 11:00. So you can take rest until then.” Madhu smiled.
“Umm… I don’t feel sleepy.” Manasvi spoke hesitatingly.
“Do you need tea?” Madhu asked.
“Uhh… Shall I take tea for…” Manasvi let her voice trail off. She felt awkward talking to Madhu about Anshuman.
Madhu grinned. “Yes, take tea for Anshuman and wake him up. He needs to get ready too. And by the way, Mehul and Prateek are in his room. Send them down. I need to send them to Old Delhi Railway Station. Dadi’s sister is coming from Indore.”
Manasvi nodded, and picked up the tea kettle and three empty cups in tray, given to her by the helper preparing tea for elders, and everyone who was already up. Manasvi took the stairs up and went to Anshuman’s room and knocked. When no one replied, she knocked again and slightly pushed the door in to peep inside.
Mehul was sleeping on an extra mattress on the floor and Prateek was on the bed. Anshuman was missing. Manasvi looked around the room and frowned, wondering if he was in the washroom, or in the balcony. She was completely oblivious to the fact that Anshuman had come to stand right behind her at the entrance. She kept the tray at a table near the door and looked here, and there, hesitating to step inside an all-men’s room. The confused look on her face amused him. He pressed his lips and grinned.
Then, slightly leaning ahead near the door jamb, he spoke in a husky voice, “Looking for someone?”
She was startled, as she jumped around, unable to hide the relief on her face. Quickly, the relief turned into an evidently pleased look, genuinely happy to see him. He didn’t miss even a single expression on her pretty, volatile face. He had a large mug of tea in his hand. He might have gone down to meet Dadi and his Dad, and his Mom must have told him that Manasvi had gone to his room, she speculated.
Non-chalantly, he took a sip from his mug, relishing the look on her face. She grinned teasingly, and nodded, “No. Not looking for anyone. I brought tea for Mehul Bhaiya and Prateek Bhaiya. They have to go to Railway Station, it seems. Dadi’s sis, Badi Dadi is coming from Indore.”
He held her hand and carefully drew her out of the room in the corridor, closing his room’s door, and clicked his tongue, “Don’t wake up the poor kids. I told Mom that I’ll go to receive Badi Dadi.”
She tilted her neck, and asked, “Do you always take everyone’s responsibility as yours?”
He chuckled, “Yes.”
She could look at his smile for the entire day. His messy hair look early in the morning, his drooping eyes due to a hectic schedule, failing to dim the relaxed, careless smile on his lips – she could do anything for this view in the morning, every single day of her life.
“I guessed so.”
He held his tea with both his hands and leaned along the iron railing of the first floor. He said, “I love doing small things that make people happy. Moreover, I hate to wake up people who are blissfully sleeping. Sleep is a luxury. Not everyone is lucky to get it.”
She nodded, “Both of us know that.”
“Isn’t it fascinating? Both of us have a few things in common.”
He straightened and stepped closer, to whisper, “Do you think, we have more?”
She lifted her chin and looked at him, this time speaking in a serious tone, “What do you think?”
He twisted his lips, “Why don’t we find out?”
Her face toughened, “How?”
“By spending more time together.”
She frowned like a baby. She didn’t want to sound demanding or needy. She didn’t want to sound as if she was exerting rights on him. Yet, she had no control on her own heart and responses to his words. Almost in a complaint, she said, “But you are going away?”
He studied her changing expressions and chuckled, “Where?”
“I heard you last night. Aren’t you joining PBB, in Jamaica, after the wedding?”
A proud smile waltzed on his lips when she said that. His act had worked. He could see insecurity and restlessness on her face while she had been busy proving how she didn’t deserve him in last few days. One hint that he might leave to go away had ruffled her stability to leave her troubled and anxious. She looked worried and uneasy. Now, he regretted doing it. He had thought he would make her accept her feelings but didn’t want to trouble her to this extent.
He asked considerately, “Looks like you didn’t sleep well, last night?”
She spoke with a puckered brow, “Forget about that. Tell me, you are going to Jamaica? Right?”
He shrugged, “Forget about what you heard. You tell me – you want me to go or not?”
“How does it matter?” She whispered softly and turned around to avoid showing any more of her expressions to him. He had been reading her and now playing as well. Her emotions were all over the place and he was not helping to calm them. In fact, he rattled her more than she had expected. She was losing every ground to sway in the tornado called Anshuman. He was dictating terms to her heart and mind and she was behaving the way he wanted her to.
Not that she objected to any of it. She was willing to be swayed, unopposed. Only that, she wasn’t expecting this powerlessness before him.
He stepped closer to her behind her and held her one arm, right below her shoulder, before he spoke in a deep baritone, “It matters to me, Manasvi. It matters a lot.”
Helpless, she sighed. At the same time, she was aware that they were in a corridor and could be seen by anyone. It felt awkward and embarrassing. She turned to face him and replied, “What do you want from me?”
He nodded slightly, and sighed, before speaking, “I don’t want anything from you.”
She pressed her lips and turned around to enter Preksha’s room, which was next to Anshuman’s. She needed time away from him, to streamline her thoughts, to compose herself better to talk sensibly with him without losing her ground, to know what she really wanted and process it with what he wanted from the relationship they had between them.
Before she entered the room, Anshuman called her from behind, “Manasvi…”
“Yeah?” She turned to him, her hand on the door.
“You didn’t hear my complete answer…”
“I don’t want anything ‘from’ you. I want YOU… All of you.”