Hello everyone, I haven't been able to finish writing the update and I am busy in too many things this week. My kids are having exams, my younger one celebrates her birthday on 26th, I have to wrap up all aspects of The Masquerade, including blurb, bio, cover, and acknowledgments, my clinic has loads of appointments, and some paperwork is pending. In short, you all will have to wait for a bit :)...
It gives me so much happiness to share that today is the 100th update of Tangles and Ties. After Fire & Ice and Spark & Spice, it is my 3rd story to reach a 100 updates mark.
All thanks to you guys!!! Love you all. Gratitude is all I feel when I share things like these.
Also, we have another reason to celebrate – I made this site nearly 10 months ago, in last week of April 2019,
And today it crossed, 1 M hits — yayyy…
the number of hits by readers has crossed 1.1 lac per month and at the end of 9 months and 15 days, it is currently at – 1,011, 426 visits… which is a big feat for any new blog/site… too big for me!
Thank you for your trust, your love and your support. I can never thank you enough.
Stay blessed. Stay happy… love you, people!!
*This is a Bonus Update*
to thank you all
appreciate your love and kindness
He waited to add effect to his words while Sonalika looked at his face. After a pause of few seconds, he said, very strongly and firmly –
“Even if Nandini decides to leave me, I won’t let her go!”
This sentence from Manik pierced Sonalika like a knife through her chest. It had always been her sore nerve and it hurt her deeply.
She gulped hard and spoke in a bitter tone, “But you never stopped ME when I walked out on you?!”
Manik scraped the right edge of his gums with his tongue and with a single nod of his neck, he said, “You got your answer? Now, leave!”
Until now, Sonalika had been enjoying Manik’s state considering it as suffering that he was alone with a fractured leg, that he was dependent on his friend while his wife was not with him. She was hoping that he would regret that he lost her.
On the contrary, he was defending Nandini, about her possessiveness for her kitchen and had confidence that she wouldn’t leave him. To add insult to injury, he said that he would stop her even if she wanted to leave. That itself was too profound coming from Manik.
In one sentence, he had declared how important Nandini was to him!!
There was no need for any other words or any further conversation after this. Sonalika was so hurt that she became more bitter than she already was. She squeezed her eyes and said, “I had hoped that you would miss me and by now, you will be regretting that you lost me. But no… you have no remorse for the way you treated me. Not even once did you stop me… you were more than relieved that I left…”
He replied in a terse tone, “You are right! Relief – That was exactly how I felt.”
“Only because I asked questions? Demanded time and attention? Is that a crime?”
Manik replied sharply, “There is no point discussing the past, Sonalika. You know that I don’t like discussions. I don’t even like blaming people and accusing them. You were not happy, so you left… Simple!! Why exaggerate it?”
“And you?” She asked, almost depressed.
He shrugged, “Same! I was not happy, so I didn’t stop you! Simple, again!! What’s there to discuss? Anyway, it’s a thing of the past. I’m still surprised that you came all the way to make me feel guilty while you feel no guilt at all. Nice! I’m tired now. Don’t forget that I am the CEO of the company right now. Don’t force me to shelve the project that you are taking care of and send you back to Kolkata, immediately. I would like you to be professional, finish your work and go back to your branch office.”
Sonalika nodded bitterly, “You haven’t changed, Manik. You were always arrogant. You are still the same – arrogant to the core. I really wish Nandini sees how selfish you are and I really hope that she doesn’t stop even if you try to stop her.”
This was the last nail in the coffin, annoying Manik so much that he frowned visibly and angrily dismissed her, “GET LOST!!”
Sonalika turned around and left through the main door. She had hoped to see Manik begging her for forgiveness for not valuing her enough. But here, Manik had actually insulted her for the first time. Before this, he had only ignored her and avoided her. But this time, he asked in words to leave his house. She stomped her way out, fuming and fretting visibly.
Manik was so angry that he had to push his laptop away and rest his hands on the table to bury his face in it. Long back, he had really sighed in relief when Sonalika had left him. So brutally she had been harassing him. He could never please her and never live up to her expectations. Beyond a point, he had stopped trying, stopped bothering, stopped caring.
He had never expected to see her again. At least, not like this.
If she had even 1% sense, they could have talked like two mature people who were no more in a relationship and had moved on. They could have found closure to the past. But why did he even expect this from Sonalika? She had always been a narcissist. It was all about – her! She was the only one important in their relationship and when she thought that she wasn’t getting enough attention from him, not over his work, she had walked out. She got herself transferred to Kolkata and informed Manik only when she was leaving for Kolkata, telling him that it was over between them.
When she didn’t have the sense to talk like a mature person even when she left, why did he even think that she would have gained sense now?
The bitter memories resurfaced, leaving his mouth acidic. He hated these discussions and explanations. People like Sonalika were so toxic for others around them that they spoilt the ability of any normal interaction. He had suffered a lot first with his mom and then with Sonalika, so much that he had stopped expecting anything from any relationship.
He had a tough time opening up with Nandini.
And when he thought that he had found the true meaning of love, found a direction to his life and feelings with Nandini, he had messed it up with his anger and stupid words ruling him, that right now, even she was not with him.
The sound of the door opening distracted him and he raised his face from his palms. Nandini was entering the home, looking tired and worn out after long night duty, half of the day before that and half of the day beyond that. She looked upset.
Before he could say anything, Nandini walked towards him and asked, “When I walked out of the lift, I saw Sonalika leaving our home before she entered Cabir and Dhruv’s home.”
Manik looked at her face squarely, with his eyes focused on her face, observing her expressions but he didn’t reply to her.
Not even a word.
Nandini was already drained, both physically and emotionally. She didn’t have the energy to fight. She huffed and nodded before she saw the bowl of upma kept on the table. She asked, “Who made this?”
“Sonalika!” He replied.
She was so angry that she slammed her bag on the table and asked, “And you let her enter my kitchen?”
Manik swayed his jaw and tried to find words but was helpless. Defence didn’t come naturally to him.
When he didn’t speak, Nandini asked, “Do you want to explain something?”
Manik folded his elbow to rest on the table and folded his hand to rest his cheek, still looking at her, hoping for her anger to rise more. He knew that she was on the edge of her patience levels. And… So was he!
He had just gone through hell, reliving his misery and now Nandini too was fighting with him. Sonalika had cursed him that she will leave him and won’t stop even when he stopped her and this made his heart beat faster.
Nandini was very sad. Almost teary-eyed, she said, “You allow your ex-girlfriend to come to our house to take care of you, stay here to be all lovey-dovey with you and even cook for you?! And you don’t even have an answer? You almost forced me to go away to the hospital and said that Cabir will be here with you. Where is Cabir, now? You sent him away too?”
“Shut up!!” He was so angry at the implication of her sentence that he snubbed her sharply. How could she even think that he did it to spend time with Sonalika.
She spoke slowly on a choked throat, “Of course, I should shut up! Your ex-girlfriend joins the office 2 weeks back and you didn’t even tell me?! Why do you even need me? You have people around you – to make upma… to come early in the morning and make coffee…”
His annoyance was now up the ceiling. He was already mad at Sonalika and he had no concrete answers for Nandini. He couldn’t explain himself that he had in fact shown her the door and told her to leave. He couldn’t tell her what turn his talk with Sonalika had taken. Instead, Nandini was completely misunderstanding him. He was still trying to find a proper justification for her accusations but now, her last sentence hurt him deeply.
In a disappointed, sad and hurt tone, he said, “Coffee? Early in the morning? Oh, yeah… you know everything! You really don’t trust me, right? Then, why are you asking questions to me? Why don’t you just go to your spy and ask?”
“I would have trusted you if you told me about her… two weeks ago…when she joined the office.”
He controlled his anger as patiently as he could, clenched his jaw muscles, and gave her a long stare with a terse question, “Do I tell you about every new person who joins office? Do we talk about all the people who come from different branch offices and oversee projects? Do we talk about my office work and the personnel?”
She nodded, “No!”
“Then, why do you think, I should talk about her when I count her as ‘just another colleague’ who is co-incidentally working in the same office for a few weeks? Do you want me to consider her special?”
She took a deep breath and stood up. With a vigorous nod, she said, “I don’t know… I’m not even in my senses. I’m too tired, too messed up…and angry… I need some sleep…”
She went to close the main door. Cabir was about to enter but she found him at the door and told him that she was back from work and will be there to take care of Manik so he could go home and rest. Then, she closed the main door, locked it and went inside the bedroom to change, leaving Manik at the dining table.
She changed to wear a spaghetti camisole and a loose pyjama and ducked herself in the quilt on the bed to get some sleep. The soft bed and the fluffy pillow below her, the quilt above her were like divine pleasures after a hard work of nearly 28 hours. She closed her eyes to the darkness inside the quilt and covered herself completely.
After exactly 5 minutes, she suddenly opened her eyes, threw the quilt away and stepped out of the bed.
Manik was still in the living room, with the index finger and thumb of his right hand rubbing over his forehead. It was still a mystery to him, how he could confidently handle every conversation and relationship including office, his friends, family, and Sonalika…everyone he had ever known, even Shobha Diwan and the MD of the office… he knew how to deal with them, what to speak to stay distant, still get his work done, how to shut them up when they go overboard, how to be in control of situations, at all times… except with Nandini!!
Whenever he was with Nandini, the conversation, the situation, the circumstances would always go out of his hand. It was no more in his control and took an unexpected, unprecedented turn… always!!
It always happened that when he was with Nandini, everything about them went on an unpredictable route. At all times…
Nandini marched inside the living room and came to stand by him. He was distracted by the sound of her movement and he raised her head sideways to look at her.
“What?” He asked.
In a very low, muffled voice, she informed him, “I’m very tired and sleepy! I’ve been working for the entire night and I finished OPD before I left the hospital.”
He looked at her cluelessly, nodded and shrugged, “So?”
“So, if I go to sleep, I might go off for 5-7 hours. You can’t be sitting here for that long. So, I want you to be comfortable before I go to sleep.”
He leaned his turned face over his palm supporting his cheek, while he observed her keenly. She was standing right before him, lost and exhausted. He couldn’t stop admiring her when she said that. ‘How caring can someone be, even when she was so distressed herself!’
She was the only person on this earth who could look cute and adorable while being constantly annoyed and annoying. “Come!” She frowned as she helped him to get up.
He wound his arm around her shoulder to walk on one leg. She justified herself, “It’s not for you. It’s for me. So that I can relax and go to sleep and you don’t disturb me while I am sleeping.”
He didn’t say anything. She made him sit on the bed and helped him to recline slowly by the headrest by placing cushions and pillows behind him. All this while, his eyes were stuck on her face. They were so close that they could hear each other breathe. She tried to avoid his eyes while she settled him but couldn’t do that for long. They had to meet. At ‘this’ short distance. To remind them of the fire perpetually burning between them.
She stopped avoiding his eyes and let his wandering eyes find solace in her loving eyes. She sighed and walked away to go out. After a few minutes, she brought a tray with fruits, dry fruits, chocolates and a snack box with cookies. Keeping it by the side-stand near his side of the bed, she said, “I don’t have the energy to cook. You manage with this, right now!”
“I’m not hungry,” He said.
She shrugged and walked away. Then, she brought a jug of water and a glass to keep by the side-stand. His eyes never left her. Not even for a moment while she did small jobs for him. And when she turned her eyes towards him, he was looking at her with another deep, intense look.
She squeezed her eyes in a complaint and grumbled slowly, “I wish I could empty this jug of water over you!”
“Empty it over your head… Your anger needs to calm down…,” He replied softly.
She opened her mouth to fight with him but then she stopped. With a brush of her hand waving in air, she sighed, “Forget it! We’ll fight properly when I am back in my senses.”
He rolled his eyes and nodded to irk her. She twisted her lips, ignoring him. Then, she walked around the bed to reach her side, crawled inside the quilt and stretched her hand to give him the TV remote, “You will get bored…you can watch TV.”
He twisted his lips, “Naaahh! I don’t want to disturb you. You need to rest.”
She yawned, “Trust me, I’m so drained that you won’t be able to disturb my sleep even if you get a live band to play here at the highest volume they can.”
He turned his face away and smiled slightly. She ducked herself inside the quilt and drifted to sleep, while he reclined comfortably and watched some news channel.
When she opened her eyes after almost 3 hours, he was watching a movie on Star Movies. She stretched herself and got up.
“You woke up early… it’s only 3 hours, since you slept… you were supposed to sleep for 5 or 7 hours, na?”
“Hmm!” She stretched her neck side-to-side and winced, “I had some bad dreams… so I couldn’t sleep for more.”
He observed her face and the sapped look on her face. Her natural glow and spark were missing. She looked like a flower about to wither away due to dehydration and wind. She noticed him observing her and her subtle smile returned. She hated to give away her feelings before him, especially during a fight, but she couldn’t hide the fact that she loved the hint of longing in his eyes when he observed her. It was such a glorious, warm, assuring feeling.
She hated that they were fighting and she was helpless as she was changing. She hated her own negative and sad feelings. She hated that she couldn’t talk to him as freely as she always did.
Hunger pangs diverted her attention. She took her hair in her hands and tied them behind the nape of her neck, asking him, “I’m famished. I’ll get something from the kitchen. What do you want to eat?”
“Anything!” He replied.
She lifted one brow and asked, “Upma?”
He rolled his eyes, “Shut up!”
She loved to irritate him. And now that he had been a jerk, she could be annoying too. She shrugged, “I was just being kind. I thought you really loved ‘upma’…”
“Please shut up, Nandu.”
She frowned, so angry and irritated that she couldn’t keep it inside her, “I can’t believe you allowed her to make coffee and upma for you!”
This time, he simply observed her – Quietly! He was silent and calm, while she was fidgety with the quilt as she removed it from her and stood up, grumbling angrily, gritting her teeth, spitting words like fire, one after the other, “Don’t you dare ask me to shut up, this time. You have no idea how my work has sucked the life out of me… and when I come home to get some peace, I see this!! Do you even know, Manik… how I am feeling right now??”
“No!” He nodded, and softly spoke in a very low, soothing voice –
“How would I know? It has been 4 weeks since you stopped talking to me about you!”
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