Second Update of the day. Please read Chapter 72 before this…
Anshuman and Manasvi received Badi Dadi from the station.
Badi Dadi was a chatterbox and she was thrilled to see Manasvi. She blessed Anshuman, asked him to pick up his luggage and then she couldn’t stop talking after that.
She kept talking about her journey from Indore to Delhi, how it was horribly hot in the train and there was nothing good to eat from the pantry, how it was a last moment plan to come to the weddings, but her family had insisted that she should attend these weddings, how she was thrilled to be there for them, how she was pleased to meet Manasvi, and how it was a such a great relief to see her with Anshuman.
She kept talking on the way towards home. Anshuman and Manasvi only smiled, listening to her, nodded to agree with her, answered in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and let her talk all the while. Anshuman would often sneak a quick glance to look at Manasvi, and would find her looking at him, all the time… often she was telling him to focus on the road ahead.
When they reached home, Badi Dadi was still talking and everybody surrounded her. A few other relatives reached at the same time. And suddenly, everybody was talking to everybody. Prateek found other cousins and wanted to know if they should use flowers to decorate the house or lights or both. Preksha and Kavya needed to decide where they wanted to shop for the Mehendi ceremony and Haldi ceremony, and which dresses to wear. Dadi wanted everyone to eat first. Badi Dadi opened the gifts she had brought for everyone. She wanted to see what Madhu had arranged as gifts for Varun’s family. Bade chachu and RajSingh wanted tea. It was a sea of commotion and everyone was in the central hall of Shekhawat household. Except Anshuman.
Manasvi looked around for him for quite some time, listening to others, and smiling for them. But when he didn’t turn up for another fifteen minutes, she quietly excused herself and walked around the hall and kitchen to see if he was there. She hadn’t seen him going upstairs. And she was sure that they had entered the home together with Badi Dadi. After that, he had gone out to take Dadi’s luggage and brought it to place it in the hall.
Did he go out again to park the car? What took him so long? Is he fine?
Worried, she walked out of the house, and covered the entire driveway to go towards the garage, taking quick, rushed steps. When she reached the garage, she didn’t expect to be pulled by him, near a wall behind the house, near the garden at the backside near garage. There was no one around. It was a secluded place. The big trees and the shade outside the garage made it a silent, cool place.
She grinned adoringly when she saw Anshuman holding her captive against the wall. His bold moves had been making her shed her guards too. She realized that she loved being cornered by him, here and there, sneaking away from the family to have a moment or two for themselves. She loved being looked for, being sought after, and being waited for, by him. He made her feel special. He made her feel loved.
Once she was settled, he removed his hands from her and stood straight. She quickly turned sideways and behind to see if they were being followed or watched. Once assured that they were alone, she chuckled softly, and crossed her hands across her chest, adoringly observing him. He sighed. For a moment, he was quiet, not sure what to say. He needed to tell her that he couldn’t have wait for her. That he couldn’t have enough look at her. But he couldn’t say it. When words fail, actions and looks take over.
Slowly, he leaned ahead towards her and when she didn’t recoil at this proximity, he rested his hands on the wall behind her, coming closer to her in the process. She smiled coyly and lowered her eyelids down, making his heart race faster. Her lowered eyelids, with her eyelashes fanning out on her cheeks was a view he had been seeing in his dreams. She was a regular feature of his non-scary dreams, whenever he was not disturbed by nightmares, she would soothe his dreams and trances. With that, he had also dreamt about holding her close to him, cocooned in his arms, kissing her mindlessly, leaving a trail of kisses on her face, and on her jawline, unfurling her hair with his fingers tangled in her tresses, making her soft skin turn deep red due to his stubble brushing over her.
But he knew that they were out in open, though away from the crowd, still vulnerable to any unexpected surprise. He was far more sensible than a silly teenager to jeopardize their privacy and dignity for a stupid hormonal moment. He gave rest to his galloping mind and softly rubbed his nose over her nose before giving a chaste peck over her forehead. She blushed nevertheless. Even his presence was enough to make her blush. And here a quick kiss made her completely speechless. He moved away after the forehead kiss in a sign that he wasn’t going to make it uncomfortable for them.
Softly, she raised her eyes and asked him, “What took you so long?”
He rested his hands on his hips and replied, “Hey! I want to ask the same question. What took you so long?”
Surprised, she shrugged. “Was I supposed to come here?”
He twisted his lips, “When you didn’t find me there with everyone, I really thought you will miss me and try to search for me, and you will finally reach here. In fact, I was waiting for you.”
“My God! How were you so sure that I would come?”
He smiled mysteriously and walked ahead to rest his back on the wall, just next to her. Stretching his long legs before him, he threw a bit of attitude, making her wonder what he was up to.
“What?” She smiled and asked, moving her hand in a question.
“Is it too smug to say that we both know each other well?” he said.
She blushed, her cheeks turning strawberry red, and turned her face away to compose herself until she stopped blushing. He was right. They instinctively knew where the other would be, what each of them was thinking about, how the other would react in a certain situation, and whether the other was peaceful or in pain. They connected on a level that was above and beyond any description. They bonded over so many things in their lives that they had started bonding over instincts.
“No. It isn’t smug,” She whispered softly, leaning behind by the wall, “You are right.”
“So, you agree that we know each other well?” He asked, cautiously.
She nodded softly, “Hmm.”
This time, he spoke very seriously, “So, you have to agree that we will never be able to live with anyone else but each other. We are simply irreplaceable in each other’s life.”
She lost her smile too. She knew that it was right. At least on her part. She knew that she will never be able to allow anyone inside the closed doors of her heart and her life, the way she had let Anshuman cross all borders of her guarded walls. She had limited capacity to love. And she had spent it all on Anshuman. She knew she will never be able to love anyone else, ever. Not like the way she loved Anshuman with all her heart, mind, and soul.
It was true on his part too. Because the way they felt about each other was beyond every description, beyond every limitation, beyond every distinction of pain, guilt, suffering, or doubts.
There were so many questions in her heart, even now. She didn’t want to be a reason for any pain that Anshuman suffered, from here. And that scared her the most. He was finally happy and satisfied. Finally, he was peaceful. She hoped she would never cause any troubles for him, after this day. She had been enough a pain for him. And that guilt of not being enough had weighed her down. She was still not over yet.
Before she could ask him about his PBB posting after the wedding, he said on his own. “You were asking me if I am going to Jamaica or not?”
She cleared her throat, and asked, “I… I just wanted to…”
He didn’t let her complete, and informed her, “No. I’m not going to Jamaica. I’ve applied for the post of a consultant orthopedic surgeon in a multispecialty corporate hospital in Mumbai. They’ve assured me a positive response.”
Shocked, she flared her eyes wide. Her jaw dropped, “Whatttt???!!! Nooooo… are you crazyyyy…??”
“This is what I wanted to tell you in the morning. I applied the day I came back from Goa. They had a vacancy they want to fill urgently. I received a call from them for a telephonic interview, yesterday.”
She didn’t know what to say, so she simply stammered. “Anshuman… noooo… I mean… what are you doing?? Why Mumbaiii???? Omgggg… for me??? No….no….no…” She closed her eyes shut, tightly, trying her best to come to terms with this news.
He rolled his eyes, “Seriously, Manasvi! Do you ever hear yourself? Do you even know what you want? Tell me… what do you want? You don’t want me to go to Jamaica? You don’t want me in Mumbai? Then what? What do you want me to do?”
She frowned, pained and disturbed deeply, and nearly pleaded, “I don’t want you to do anything for me. Please! I beg of you… I don’t want you to plan your life’s decisions based on what I think or what I want. So, please stop asking me about what I want you to do. And no… please don’t assume that ‘this’ is what I want… The last thing I would ever want is to drive you away from things you have always wanted to do…”
Upset, she moved away from him and walked away, completely disgusted, angry, and annoyed at him for giving up his passion, his life, his career for her. He was swifter and taller than her. He blocked her path, and held her wrist to pull her back to him, this time in his arms. She struggled slightly to break free. “Let me go.”
“No. We need to talk.”
“There is nothing to talk.” She sighed.
“I want to live with you.”
“I want to live with you too…” She spoke impulsively, and then added, “But not at this cost.”
“Where does that leave us?”
“I don’t know. My mind is not working. Something is not right. This is not right. I don’t want this.” She removed his hands from around her and tried to break away. She needed time away from him. The moment she felt easy and comfortable with him, something happened that told her that this happiness, this bliss was not for her. It was stolen in bits from him.
He held her arm tightly, and spoke in a gruff voice, “Tell me, in one sentence, what you want.”
“I want you to follow what you love…”
“That’s what I’m doing.”