If I wanted to fool you to get you in my bed, I would have told you that I love you and proposed marriage to you. It was that easy!!”
She was speechless at that. Slowly, she stepped away and murmured in a low voice, “I’m really sorry for giving that impression!”
With that she collected her stuff – her jacket, her handbag and all her self esteem before she left his room, leaving him stunned and lost.
He wondered where exactly he could have stopped this interaction and avoided this turn to the mesmerizing time they spent with each other. He had hated every moment of this talk.
She was glad that it happened and woke her up at the right moment, before she lost herself, her values and dignity in his arms in the steam their intimate moment had created. She had been impulsive, she had been demanding but at least she had avoided the hurt from deepening further.
Tears flew down her cheeks when she returned to her room and closed the door behind her. Quietly, she took out her bag and arranged her clothes and other utilities in her luggage, clearing the room.
She had let herself down enough by falling in the arms of the first person who gave her a shoulder after Harshad’s rejection. Maybe, Manik was trying to be nice to her because he knew how hurt and broken she was after the engagement fiasco and then things went out of hand. Maybe, he never had any feelings for her…
‘What an idiot I have been… He is so right! How can you fall in love with someone you met hardly 3 weeks back?
How can you think of spending your life, your future with someone after spending time for just 3 days with him??
No, it’s certainly not love!! Maybe, I’m infatuated too… attracted to his personality, attitude, behaviour… I liked him… that’s it!!
It doesn’t mean anything like love…I need to stop thinking about him…
I wish I hadn’t kissed him… I wish I had maintained my distance… things went beyond our control and intimacy stepped in… otherwise, we would have taken our time to know each other.. he did say that he liked me… he did say that he wanted to know me…
But then we shouldn’t have kissed…he shouldn’t have taken it further…
Oh My God!! How desperate I must have appeared!!!
It’s so embarrassing!! Someone was just being nice to me and I lost control on myself!! He was taking it like a casual affair… so casual that he didn’t even think about it… then why did I kept thinking about us??
He was flirting with me and I was loving it… I can’t face myself again… he was not even serious about the whole thing and I labelled it as ‘love’…Aiyappa!! Am I really so helpless that I didn’t see it in his eyes that he didn’t feel anything deep for me…?? Am I so pathetic that he made advances and I let him do it, maybe because I was desperate to fall in love…
Have some self respect, Nandini!! And some patience too…
How the hell did you imagine that he loved you or was even going to fall in love with you, hopelessly and unconditionally… That he would want to spend his life with you… stop crying… he is not worth shedding tears for… it’s your fault… all of it! ‘
She didn’t want to be in this place anymore. She had made up her mind to leave even before he woke up or saw her again.
Manik couldn’t sleep for the entire night, turning and tossing sides on the bed. It felt like the ‘talk’ with Nandini was unfinished. Something had been missing. Maybe, he wasn’t able to express properly what he felt about her or what she meant to him. Maybe, he had used wrong words to explain his point of view.
Should I go and talk to her? But what will I say? Everytime, I open my mouth, I end up talking nonsense and it hurts her more. I have no idea what I am trying to say and what I actually feel.
In fact, I have no idea what she is expecting from me. Did she really mean it when she was talking about ‘future’ or ‘forever’ … or even ‘marriage’…Is she really that serious?
What about me?? Am I, that serious… about her??
He couldn’t rest after her. The answers to his questions were only with Nandini. He decided to go and talk to her.
Manik stepped out of his room to talk to Nandini, though he had no clue what he was going to say but still, he wanted them to understand, what it was, that was so beautiful between them.
She is right. I have no idea what relationship we shared and where it was going. I didn’t think about it, so absorbed I was in the bliss of her presence with me. I just let the flow take us ahead. And messed it up!!
It was morning 5:30 am.
He knocked the door of her room twice and called her too, but there was no response from inside. It terrified him. Quickly he went down to the reception to talk to the manager.
“Hi…Err… the guest in room no. 303, is not answering the knock or the call… I was wondering if you would just help me get through the room and see if everything is fine.”
The lady on the reception smiled sweetly, “Sir, please give me a moment!”
That ‘one moment’ felt like ages to Manik. He was worried for Nandini, for her safety, for her wellbeing…
Maybe, she had been crying… maybe, she was in the washroom… I had been impatient… I should have waited more… was she so upset that she decided not to talk to me, anymore… did she do something dangerous to her…no…no…no… she is quite mature and sensible for that!! God!! This wait is killing me…’
“Sir, are you asking about Miss Murthy, R. no. 303?”
“Yeah…yeah…” Manik impatiently nodded.
“Sir, she checked out early in the morning. No one is in the room.”
“Whatttt??? What time?? Where did she go??” Manik was so angry and worried at the same time that he didn’t know what he was going to do next.
“Sir, she left an hour back…around 4:30 am… and she was asking about the bus service from Lucerne to Paris.”
He was impatient… angry… and very nervous!! How was she going to manage alone, in an early morning bus, alone to Paris. He called Nandini. Her number was switched off. He tried again and when the same message played that informed him about the switched off phone, he called his Personal assistant.
“David, please book me the earliest flight from Lucerne to Paris and send me the details, asap!! And send the driver to Lucerne and get my car picked up from hotel. I’m sending you the address. “
Manik reached Paris 3 hours before Nandini and waited at Gare du’ Nord stop for the early morning bus coming from Lucerne.
Nandini collected her bags and stepped down the bus to turn around and find Manik standing by his car, hands folded across his chest and eyes and hair suggesting that he hadn’t slept the entire night. His jaw was taut and eyes reddened due to exhaustion.
For a moment, her heart felt a pang when she saw him so disheveled. But the next moment, she composed herself and rolled her eyes. He came forwards and stood facing her, his tall frame towering over her and his demeanour trying to intimidate her. But she had learnt her lessons. She wasn’t going to be affected, this time!
“Manik!! Not again!!” She spoke in a tired bent to her voice, turning away from him.
“Nandini… what is this??”
“What did I do?” She shrugged.
“Leaving Lucerne like this?? It’s heights of irresponsibility, impulsiveness and immaturity!! I was so worried…”
Nandini was supremely irritated at that, but she didn’t want to fight with him. They had no such relationship that allowed them to fight and make up, complain and be consoled, build expectations and fight if they were not met. They had no relationship at all…
Calmly, she replied in a straight tone, “Please Manik… please stop this!! This caring attitude and all those flirtatious mannerisms, being considerate and all that…I’ve told you before as well, I’ll repeat again – I’m not a kid and you are not responsible for me! If I can travel alone from India to Paris, I can also travel by myself from Lucerne to Paris and back to my home. I don’t need you to escort me!!”
“Okay, let me drop you home!” He requested.
Once again, she patiently replied, this time she even managed a small smile, “No, thanks ! The local bus no. 229, that takes me to my apartment will be coming in a short while at the bus stop at the opposite lane. Thank you very much for the offer, but I’ll take the bus!”
She walked ahead for 2 steps and then she turned back, with another smile, “By the way, I had a great time at Lucerne. All thanks to you!!”
He threw a deep breath and followed her to reach beside her. In a warm voice, he said, “I know you are very angry… and disappointed with me. I’m really sorry… I truly am!! Maybe we can talk again… a bit more maturely… we need to…”
She was proud of herself that she didn’t lose her cool, her composure and didn’t let the tone of her voice change. She neither cried, nor did she fight. She was as cool as a cucumber, no matter how wretched she was at the inside. She didn’t display even a flicker of the pain she was going through.
“Manik, let’s not make it any more embarrassing than it already has turned into… please leave it here… just the way it is!! Now, I need you to stop blocking my way. I’m too tired!”
Even he was flabbergasted at that. He had spent the night tossing in bed, worried for her… he couldn’t sleep on the airplane and kept thinking about her and here she was behaving as if nothing happened last night. Was she so unaffected?? Or was she pretending to be brave??
“Listen, I’m sorry about everything that happened last night. I may not have committed anything to you, because I am not very good at assessing and managing feelings like I do business… but I can assure you that I believe you are the most precious part of my life. I regret all my stupid words and all the impulsive actions… I regret hurting you… but honestly, I don’t want ‘us’ to end on such a bad note. I’m sure, we can save all that we have between us and there must be some way to get back to being ourselves … on a fresh note??”
For a moment, he appeared like a lost kid here. He seemed to be searching for peace and solace that he had lost a few hours back. She studied his face and felt her heart tugging at him. All that self-talk about her not being in love with him was all in vain for she couldn’t see him so disturbed.
‘No, Nandini!! This was exactly the same way, when you took the wrong route the last time, as well!! He is not your destination. He is just a distraction. Stay away from him.’
She cleared her throat and took a deep breath, before she replied in a sweet, calm and pleasing voice, “Why don’t ‘both of us’ take some time off from each other and decide if there is any ‘us’ left between you and me!!”
He observed her very keenly… her calm face, her determined voice, her composed posture and the toughness in her attitude!! There was a certain firmness about her!!
He knew very well that getting a second chance with her was next to impossible, unless he assessed his feelings and exactly knew what he wanted from her and how he perceived them together in future…
He may not have known clearly what he or his heart wanted but he was dead sure of one thing – He couldn’t lose her… Not at any cost…!!
The responses that I had received on the last chapter had moved me. It was beautiful to read so many different views and opinions. It was not only motivating and inspiring but also insightful for a writer!!
Thank you for all those who shared their views on ‘Love’ and all other emotions attached to it. I took care not to comment on or justify either Manik or Nandini. They are 2 complex individuals who are not perfect by any means.
My take on them is in the story…
My question for this update was – “Should they give each other one more chance or should they stay away from each other??”
Love you all… take care}