Tangles & Ties: Chapter 1: New Beginnings

{Please Note that these chapters 1-48 are the same as the ones posted at wattpad. I’m grouping them under ‘previous chapters’ to avoid confusing with new parts.

These are unpolished, unedited chapters in their first draft form with all the mistakes and glitches.

You don’t need to comment 🙂 }

 

“I’m still clueless about what made you say ‘yes’ to an arranged marriage?” One of her cousin’s irked voice distracted Nandini from something that she had been thoroughly enjoying since past two hours, now.

Since childhood, Nandini Murthy had been crazy about henna… the heavenly smell, the feel of cold gooey mix made out of henna powder and water tickling the palms, intricate patterns designed as per the occasion. She had always been fascinated by the color left on her skin when henna was given time for 3-4 hours. She used to wait for hours, to let the color grow to darker shades of deep red.

Today was Nandini’s wedding day and it was her turn to get pampered with detailed, complex henna patterns adorning both her hands, palms and back of it, wrists and forearms, towards her arms, crossing her elbows.

To utter dismay and shock of her cousins and friends, Nandini had been enjoying the entire process of getting married, to such an extent, that she didn’t want to get into a worry that her marriage was arranged by elders. From shopping to parlour visits, her wedding trousseau to jewellery, designer shoes to accessories, she had never indulged so much in anything all her life. It was her turn to feel like a princess and she wasn’t going to let anyone spoil it.

“Punnu, I’ve met the guy.” Nandini tried to assure her little cousin.

“Met? Like really?? Nandu di, you’ve met him?? And so, you decided that you are going to spend your life with him?? You have no idea, what he is like a person!! Sorry to say but he could be a male chauvinist, womaniser, a**hole, extremist, terrorist…??”

Nandini gave her a sly smile and interrupted her, “MBA… he has done his Engineering, followed by MBA and works for a very reputed company in Bangalore!”

“That I know!” Purnima made a point, “But that doesn’t guarantee that he cannot be all of the above. The point is that you haven’t spent time with him, you don’t know him, his likes, dislikes, his orientations, religious beliefs, political bents, his responses to extreme situations, his behaviour with lesser privileged people and women… he could be a bloody creep…I mean, I don’t want to offend you but he could very well be a jerk!!”

“And also, he may not be any of the above… and he maybe a very nice person…” Nandini corrected her cousin and smiled confidently.

“Never thought ‘you’… you would agree for an arranged marriage!” One of her friends came with sweets in her hand to feed her.

“Honestly speaking, even I had never thought about that…” Nandini smiled softly as she whispered under her breath.

Two mehendi experts applying beautiful design on both hands on Nandini, one working on each hand, were focused on their work. One of them asked, “What is the name that we should write on your hands? We will then hide it in the complexity of the design.”

Nandini whispered, “Manik.”

Till 3 weeks back, she had no idea that a person with this name existed in some part of this country who was going to meet her on his parents’s insistence. In just 3 weeks, she was getting his name patterned on her hands.

It was just yesterday that one small request from her father had changed the course of her life. Unbelievable, even to her…

It was a pleasant October morning. Nandini had been studying with unmatched focus for the final exam of her degree in MS Obs. & Gynaec. when her father, Devadutt Murthy, walked into her room and asked her if she could spare a minute for him. Her mother followed him.

She had been cramming the marked portions from DC Dutta’s textbook and memorizing from her notes, algorithms for various procedures and emergencies, the tables of differential diagnosis and doses and side effects of medicines when her father pulled a chair and sat down before her. Her mother kept standing. Her parents didn’t do that on usual days, so obviously, it confused her.

“What happened, dad? You want to say something?” Nandu tucked her curls behind her ears and stared at him pointedly, shifting her gaze between her mom and dad.

“Nandu, listen to this small request from us.”

“Hmm? Yes?”

“Your mother and I want you to meet a boy. He lives in Bangalore, is an engineer, well mannered, polite, good looking, well settled, earning very well, successful and belongs to an affluent family. Pretty much everything that parents wished for when they arrange matches for their daughters.”

Flabbergasted, was an understatement to her look!

She was at loss of words!! 
First, she had an exam in a few days and it was the most important exam of her life. Why did her parents couldn’t understand that. 
Second, she had always believed that life would be pretty smooth when a doctor married a doctor.
Last but not the least, she didn’t want to get married so soon and that too an arranged match. 

Who even goes for an arranged marriage these days??!! Times were changing and her friends had all married for love. 

Nandini was sure that she didn’t want to play this blind game with her life.

“Dad, I…” She started speaking in a tone of protest, staring at both, “I mean… Arranged marriage??”

“Do you have anyone in your life, Nandu??”

“No!” She nodded to refuse.

Her mother intervened, “You are turning 27 this year and all I see you is spending time with books, medical journals and attending friends’ weddings.”

“I’ll meet someone!” Nandu tried to justify her being single, “I have been studying…”

“That is why we are worried. You have been more in books all your life… and your life is slipping out on a fast pace… Soon you will grow old and boys your age will all be taken…What happened the last time…”

“Come on, mom!” Nandu tried to dismiss the incident her mom was referring to. She was not comfortable talking about it.

Her dad requested, “Forget it. Lets not go back in past. But this time, just take this as a request. Just for once. Listen to us. Meet this boy and we are not pressurizing you to get married to him, right away. Meet him, see if you like him… maybe you start thinking in the same direction as us…he is very nice…”

“At least, we liked him a lot!” Her mother added.

Ironically, her parents had never met him. They had liked his pictures, profile, and the lucrative prospects about him.

A boy chosen by her family was not even a doctor. She was reluctant to go and meet him, but when subtly nudged by her mom and dad that she should at least meet this man who had come down from Bangalore to Mumbai, just because his parents wanted him to meet her, she gave up.

Determined to give a tough time to him, she had gone to meet him with a closed mind, almost sure that she would either reject him or make him reject her.

……………………………………………………..

Manik Malhotra summoned almost everybody from his staff, one after the other, in his cabin and took briefings about the ongoing projects, pending assignments and client feedback.

As Head of Creative Team in his office, he remained a thorough professional, at all times. He usually allotted assignments to each of the staff, from writers to photographers and took daily report in the morning before he started anything new. He was absolutely strict about schedules and deadlines and the advertising firm that he was associated with, ‘Phoenix AdLabs Ltd.’ was proud of an official as sincere as him.

At all times, he kept the staff on toes, met deadlines before time, never took any assignment or project, however small, for granted and had a serious demeanour, when he was in office. He maintained a reputation that didn’t allow people to mess with him or take his orders lightly, at least during office hours.

At a towering height of six-one, he had rarely met anyone who was taller than him. Add to that, a muscular built and a thorough professional attitude. Every meeting, every seminar and every discussion revolved around his approval for projects.

He was a bit more precise today. A lot of work was to be done as he was going on a leave.

He checked and rechecked the log books, finished taking the reports and assigning work, ordered for a steaming hot cup of latte and reclined in his plush office chair.

Tonight, he was flying to Mumbai with his family. He was getting married in 2 days, to Nandini Murthy, the girl he had met just 3 weeks back!

He had never imagined that he would be getting married to a girl selected by his parents for him. But such is life! What you have never imagined about, just happens! And what you keep planning for, never takes off!

After his much coveted degree in Engineering from IIT Kanpur and then the quintessential degree in Management of Business Administration, he had lucrative jobs lined up for him. Instead, he wished to combine business with art. Advertising field had always been on his mind. And he followed his calling.

He had been well settled in his job since 4 years and had been growing with regular promotions and perks added every year. And since the same time, he was being nagged by his parents to get married and settle down on personal front, too.

With enviable good looks, height taller than an average Indian and a well toned body, he was mistaken as a model himself. He had been suggested many times to take a plunge at the front of the camera, rather than holding the reins backstage, but he had politely refused.

His personality, high profile job and lineage from an affluent family, hailing from Lucknow, made him look like an attractive deal himself. He was perfect as marriage prospect, by all means and he had regularly seen models drooling over him. Some ladies even went out of their way to let him know that they were available.

Anyone in his place, could have taken undue advantage of the situation and would have had a time of his life with girls all around him. But Manik Malhotra was different class. He was raised with character. His mother, Latika Malhotra, had an important role to play when it came to his dealings with women, at large. He respected them mostly and when he found any of them, not worthy of his respect, he stepped sideways and made it very clear to them.

It was a pity that even at the age of 29, he hadn’t found yet, a girl who was capable enough to ruin his sleep. His parents decided that it was enough and took the matter in their hands,for finding the ‘the right woman’ for him. 

“Manik, you are going to Mumbai, next week. I have shortlisted three prospective matches for you to meet.” His mother, who lived in Lucknow, had ordered over phone.

“Prospective matches !” He had rolled his eyes.

“Eligible-brides-to-be, that means. We had given an ad in classified column in matrimonial section of a leading national daily. And got hundreds of responses. We shortlisted a few. A couple of them are from Delhi, few from Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Mysore etc. Three lovely females are from Mumbai.”

“Uhh-ohh…ma…ma!! Give me a break. Ad in newspaper? When did that happen? And what does that even mean?? It appears as if you have put me on sale or something.”

“Don’t exaggerate it, Manik. This is how we do it in our family if a relative or a known person doesn’t turn up with an interesting proposal. The newspaper matrimonial columns are full of ads, classified according to caste, religion, profession, geographical location. We are not the only ones to do it.”

“I don’t believe this!!” He had tried arguing with her, but failed.

“Nothing doing!! You have a seminar in Mumbai, next week. Just take out time and meet these girls in the evenings. Is it a big deal ?”

He had twitched his lips and shrugged, none of which could be seen on phone. Nor his dejected voice could be appreciable by his ma or pa. His silence was taken as approval and his parents started waiting for the ‘verdict’ after their son met the ‘prospects’…

Manik, on the other hand, had been thoroughly embarrassed. He was not going to get married like this. He was sure!

He was not even prepared to get married at this time. But he had to do something to shut his parents’ nagging for some time. Go with the flow, till you find a breakthrough, his mind had advised.

He stared at the email, sent by his younger sister, with the phone numbers and short bio-data of three girls which he was supposed to meet in Mumbai and wondered how he was ever going to do it.

He reached Mumbai on a humid evening in the end of the month of October. And was still nervous. Not about his seminar but about the matrimonial rendezvous arranged by his parents!!

To call a model to fix appointment related to the ad shoot was so easy. 
To call a prospective bride and fix an appointment for interrogation related to marriage was gross!! It appeared uncomfortable.

Who am I decide the best between three girls. Girls are all pretty. And it is inhuman to call them at a meeting place or a cafe, talk to them and reject two of them for no reason, just because I think that someone else was better than them. This is absurd. And downright derogatory.

And, how was it even possible to decide who was the ‘one’ and who was not… in one meeting…?

He had a week-long seminar in Mumbai and he had to do something about the three meets in this time. That meant that he should decide on meeting one girl every evening so that he had enough time to process the entire situation and still had time in hand while he was in Mumbai.

The whole idea was so primitive. It wasn’t going down his throat. What if the tables turned and all three girls rejected him???
Never in his life, had he faced such a difficult situation.

He sat down at the desk in his hotel room, switched on his laptop, pulled out hotel stationery and started writing on a pad of paper, the names and numbers of the three girls, one by one, copying them from the email he was sent.

The first lady was a pretty girl from Bandra. She was tall and had a perfect hourglass figure. In his career, he had seen portfolios of several models. But this was more than impressive. She had all the qualities of a future model. Chances were, that she had modelling dreams and that is why she had opted to meet him. He noted down her phone number beside the basic details like name etc.

The second girl was a creative writer, pursuing her passion with an ad agency just like him. Profession wise, she was just like him and at personal front, she was from a rich, affluent background. Again, just like him. Her personality exuded confidence and class.

Both the profiles appeared nice.

The picture with the third profile couldn’t be downloaded due to technical issues. She was a doctor from Oshiwara and was pursuing her post-graduation in Obs & Gynae. Nothing much was written about her, except that she belonged to an educated family of doctors and bankers. 

Manik began writing her number on the pad when his cell phone rang. He was surprised to read the same number on the screen that he had been writing on the pad. He cross checked the number and froze for a moment. Tongue tied and nervous, for unknown reasons.

Wasn’t ‘he’ supposed to call the girls and fix an appointment as per his seminar schedule? 
Was there a miscommunication ? Why would this ‘girl’ possibly call ‘the boy’ when she didn’t even know him ?

He answered the call with a soft, “Hello.”

“Hey, am I talking to Mr. Manik Malhotra ?” The voice was polite but crisp. She appeared a little nervous, he could guess, with the shakiness in the voice… but the tone told him that the voice belonged to an otherwise confident individual. She might have been uneasy, just today! Justified, it was.

“Yeah. This is Manik Malhotra. How may I help you ?” He pretended that he didn’t recognise her number.

“Err…actually…,” She hesitated initially. Obviously, she hadn’t prepared the speech before dialing his number. “I don’t know how to begin with this… Anyway, this number was given to me by my dad who said that you might call… hey, by the way, I’m Nandini…Nandini Murthy.”

Clueless of what he should be saying at this, he found himself trying to maintain the conversation normally, “Hello Nandini. Yeah, I was given your number too. I was about to call you in the evening, today.”

“Exactly! That is why I called before you did. Actually, the issue is that I have an exam after three days. It is MS finals practical. It’s tough and it’s extremely important. My dad thinks I’m too bright to take out an hour before the exam and still not be affected. But I’m not sure. I didn’t want you to call me after you have already hashed out a schedule for yourself. I’m sure you must be meeting other girls too.”

“Err, yeah, two girls apart from you.” He didn’t know why he had honestly told her about the other two proposals.

Her voice had a hauntingly pleasant note, “I could guess that. Who would come all the way to Mumbai to meet just one girl !”

What ??!!

“Excuse me!! I didn’t come all the way to Mumbai to meet girls,” He was slightly offended and he repeated her words in the same tone as she had used and added, “I’m here for an Advertising Seminar and my parents ‘happened’ to arrange weird meets like these.”

She giggled, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. Anyway, why don’t you do this? Meet the other girls and give me a break. I will be able to appear for my exam peacefully, without wasting time.”

She was strange. Meeting him was ‘wastage of time’ for her?! 
Didn’t she know that he was ‘Manik Malhotra’ ??!! 
An air of smugness breezed through him for a fleeting second.

Like really?!!

He knew that he was tall, handsome and good looking. He was rich. Most of the beautiful and stylish girls in modelling and ad world swarmed around him like bees. He was told that he had almost everything that a woman desired for, in a man. Eligible bachelor, by every definition, he was!!

Did she even care to look at his picture or profile ? Wasn’t she scared of losing out to the other prospective profiles that she was asking him to meet other girls?

She was weird but interesting! A subtle smile appeared on his lips when he found himself saying, “No problem. I don’t want to disturb you if you have an exam.”

Relief smiled in her voice, “Thank you so much…Err… Mr. Malhotra!”

“See you after three days. All the best for the practical exam.”

“Thanks a lot. All the best to you too, for the two meets. Who knows, you might like someone so much that we won’t need to meet, at all.” She had wished him all the luck with the other girls.

But destiny was something else… 

He grinned at the chirpy parting shot from her and they disconnected the call.

On his fifth day in Mumbai, late evening, around 8 pm, he scrolled through the number that he had saved and called her. She answered after two rings.

“Ms. Murthy?”

“Hey, that’s me! Manik, right ?” She had immediately recognised him and from ‘Malhotra’, she was calling him ‘Manik’ now, as if they knew each other since ages.

“Yeah. Is your exam over?”

Her voice was tired. Just like her. “Yes. It got over an hour back and I’ve just reached home.”

“So, are we meeting?” He had asked without any prologue.

There was silence on the other end. She had been tormenting her lips in that time. He waited patiently after he suggested, “I know it’s over coffee time. But hey, we can have dinner together.”

“Is it necessary to meet today?” She was tired, after a long day at practical exam and grueling viva voce.

“I’m leaving Mumbai tomorrow. So it has to be today, if at all we have to meet.”

“Where do I have to come?” She had asked in a low, soft tone.

“I’ll pick you up. I have a car.”

“My parents have gone out. To the temple, I guess. Can you come quickly, say in 10 minutes?”

Like her previous request, even this one amused and amazed him. He rolled his eyes and replied, “Yes! In sharp 10 minutes, I’ll be there. I am nearby. A friend stays in Lokhandwala complex.”

“That’s great. See you in 10 minutes, then.”

Manik threw a glance at his wrist watch. Then at his attire. He was summoned within 10 minutes at Oshiwara. That was the time given by Nandini to him…. If he wanted to meet her…

Yes, he wanted to meet her… by all means!

…………………………….

Tangles And Ties: Chapter 2: Arranged Meeting

{ It was a really long chapter… but it’s okay… the beginnings should be with a bang!!}

Thank you for reading this story :)))

25 thoughts on “Tangles & Ties: Chapter 1: New Beginnings

            1. Yes! I just checked… it is not there… wait for some time… I’ll have to check the content of Ch 21 & 22 and upload them again.
              Check after an hour and let me know

  1. Wowww…. This wasssss WOWWWWW!!!!!

    Starting with Marriage ceremony where Nandu was busy with her mehendi ceremony, then showing flashback of how her parents reached her to make her accept the meet, followed by Manik’s view was wow and so REALISTIC!

    I love how you introduce your characters, with every little details of them, inch to inch perfection and still adding the realistic tint in them!

    I am now really excited for both of them to meet♥

  2. Wowww…. This wasssss WOWWWWW!!!!!

    Starting with Marriage ceremony where Nandu was busy with her mehendi ceremony, then showing flashback of how her parents reached her to make her accept the meet, followed by Manik’s view was wow and so REALISTIC!

    I love how you introduce your characters, with every little details of them, inch to inch perfection and still adding the realistic tint in them!

    I am now really excited for both of them to meet♥

  3. This website is confusing. I will need quite a time to adjust with its settings and also to resisit the urge to inline comment 😭

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