This is a really, really long update - of the size of 2 updates. Happy Reading!! ....................................... Three days! It was simply three days that he had asked for them to spend together without whining and complaining about being separated. She didn’t even think twice before she agreed. She would have done anything for him. And it was just some time that he had aske...
After a long time, Manik and Nandini were together for the entire day. Without any stress of work. Without the rush of following the ticking clock. Without the pressure of deadlines or hurrying to the office.
It was nothing less than the bliss of fresh air.
Nandini helped Manik with everything that he needed. From little things to big. From every personal routine to casual needs. Everything.
She held him, helped him walk, stayed beside him and was there to cater to his needs before he asked.
Her caring nature made her go out of the way for every person she knew, every patient, every friend, even Dobby… then, how could she restrain herself when it was about Manik. In fact, she went out of the way for everything he needed.
Manik loved every bit of it. He didn’t remember when was the last time someone treated him like a baby…
He was the oldest at his home. So he had always been the big brother for his sisters and all of his cousins. He was smarter, sharper and stronger one. So, he was looked up to for small issues and to save his cousins from mischiefs. Due to Latika’s state, he had always felt that she was biased towards Gaurvi. He had always felt that she didn’t love him. Practically, he had never been pampered before.
And here, Nandini went all out to treat him like he needed her care and concern even for the basic things. When she pampered him, cajoled him to eat, took care of him and ensured that he was comfortable, he felt special. He couldn’t stop grinning thinking about how she treated him like a baby.
His eyes were on her when she applied moisturizer to his foot beyond the fracture and massaged it softly with her fingers moving in circles. She moved his toes, back and forth, and in a circular motion, stroking them softly. Her eyes were on his foot when she said, “Keep moving your toes like this. Or else, the fingers will stiffen. The skin is getting dry too.”
He shuddered, and whispered, “Stop it, Nandu!”
“What?” She looked up and raised her brows innocently. He had stopped eating the broccoli soup that she had prepared for him. Instead, he was staring at her dumbfounded. She shrugged, “Manik? What happened?”
In a serious tone, he said, “Leave my toes.”
“Why?” She asked cluelessly.
“Your fingers create a weird sensation.” He nodded as if shaking off a sensation rising up from his spine towards his shoulders.
“Are you silly?” She was confused.
“You have no clue about the kind of sensations your fingers moving over my toes give.”
“What kind of sensations?” Her innocence was adorable… making him grin again.
“Goosebumps!” He informed her.
“Whatttt?? But why?”
“You don’t know?” He chuckled and asked.
“No!” She nodded.
“Don’t you know that a man’s toes and spaces between them are his erotic spots?!” He laughed as he said that.
This time, she was staring at him with eyes widened, before she blushed and whacked him, “Manik…you are too much!”
“That’s a fact. Check it on Google!” he didn’t stop teasing her.
He laughed more, “Have I ever told you before how I love it when you try to shut me up?”
“Many times!” She giggled.
“I think you deserve to be told that …for one more time…”
“Get lost!” She tried to get up but had to stop only to find her wrist closely secured within his hold. His grip was firm but soft. Strong but careful. Determined but loving.
It didn’t take him any effort to draw her back to him. She slid effortlessly towards him as silk slid over the skin.
It was a different experience for them, to be on the bed all the time. Manik was nearly chained to his side. He was not allowed a lot of movements. Nandini would complete the chores and would sit beside him on her side.
They would watch TV, play a board game, play chess, play cards, listen to music, eat food, read news, watch movies, talk, sleep, and repeat…the bedroom had become their one-room-studio apartment. Nandini would order groceries online and cooked food for him. In the mornings and afternoon, Manik would sit in the living room and work with Cabir. Nandini had decided not to go to the hospital until her issues were solved. This move came as bliss for them as it gave them a lot of time together.
One afternoon, Manik was watching an old replay of a soccer match on TV when he turned to look at Nandini for the third time. She was busy scribbling in her diary. He turned his eyes away, once again, to watch TV and let her remain busy with her diary.
She turned to him too. He was reclining over the cushions at the backrest of the bed and engrossed in the silly old soccer match, even when he knew who was going to score a goal and who was going to win the match.
She kept observing his face. The vulnerable, soft look in his eyes contrasting with the tough clench of his jawline, now slightly hiding behind his growing beard. Since his accident, he had not been shaving. She couldn’t judge whether she liked him clean-shaven or loved him like this. He was adorable in every look.
She stood up and drew the window curtains away to let the sun rays enter. A pleasant post-rain breeze entered the room. Laden with moisture and cooler than the usual days. Nandini impulsively smiled and leaned ahead towards the window, stretching her hand out of it to feel the fine droplets of rain. This distracted Manik and he smiled. Such kiddish things suited her and he never pointed it out to her. He didn’t want her to feel conscious before him. He wanted her to stay natural, do what she loved to do. It was enough for him to soak in the elixir of her beauty and purity.
She turned to him. She knew that his eyes were on her.
His eyes always followed her. Making her feel special, wanted, needed…desired!!!
Even now, his eyes were rested on her. Leisurely. Lovingly. Possessively…
They held her eyes with a deep pool of love for her, making her blush. She knew she was turning pink but she didn’t move her eyes away. He smiled too but even he was unable to tear away from her eyes. He couldn’t let go of this moment of relishing her presence unabashedly. Without any pretence. Without any hesitation.
She pressed her lower lip in, still blushing hard. And came back to sit on the bed. She picked up her diary and once again, she was busy scribbling. He observed her for a few more seconds and was back to watching TV, again.
After a long time, he turned to her. She was still scribbling!
“Nanduuuu!!” He called her, almost like a baby would call for attention.
She giggled at his tone, still writing in the diary, “What?”
“What are you doing?”
“I can see that! But writing what?”
“Mmm… a lot of things that come to my mind… but right now, I have written a small poem for you!”
“Are you kidding?” He couldn’t believe it.
She pressed her lips and stretched her hand to give the diary to him. He started reading, one word at a time. She leaned over his shoulder to listen to him reciting her poem –
A soft touch
a gentle nod
the art of
Drops of rain
endless soulful moments
humming of music
Sometimes, a deep comfort in silence
negates every conversation
Manik read it, twisted his lips and shrugged, “You mean to say that it’s all about silences between us? We don’t talk enough?”
“Don’t add words in my poem. It doesn’t mean that.”
“So, what does it mean, then?”
“It means that even silences are beautiful between us. Even when we don’t talk, I feel happy and content with you.”
She had spoken lovingly, looking at the diary with her dreamy eyes. He made a face again, “Tch!”
“What?” She shrugged.
“Till date, you’ve written 2 poems for me… one, when you confessed your love in Rotterdam… and now, this one…I feel so … so …. so…” He shrugged, “I don’t what to say after that…how do I feel?”
She grinned, “Mushy?”
He nodded to refute, “Tchhh!!”
“Uh… maybe… you feel overwhelmed…”
“Yeah, that’s okay…. but more than that… I feel… so… so…” He tried again, “I feel responsible!” Finally, he got the word.
She rolled her eyes, “Responsible??”
“Yeah! I mean, you must be expecting things from me, don’t you?”
“No, it’s okay! I write what I feel…”She smiled adoringly.
“But still…” He pressed his lips.
“You want to do something? Then do what I told you yesterday morning… tell me in DETAIL… what I mean to you… maybe, write an essay about it. I’m sure you must have written a thesis during your masters in Business studies.”
“Essay?” All colours of his face faded, “About you?”
She shook her head back and forth, giggling with it, knowing very well that this task was out of his capacity and that would give her a chance to tease him at all times.
“Can’t you give an easy task? Like, Manik – bake a cake for me… or take me on a holiday when you recover… I would have done all that so easily! But I can’t write an essay!”
She laughed again, “Then, stop feeling responsible! Enjoy my poetry!”
“You are so tough!” He cribbed and made a face, making her laugh loudly as if she had a fit of laughter. Her happiness was spilling out from her in form of laughter and giggles.
After some time, she was busy writing again. He looked at her again and sighed, “Nanduuuu!”
“Hmm?” She didn’t look at him.
“I’m getting bored.”
“Manik, you are watching soccer!”
“But it’s an old replay.”
“Then, watch something else… Netflix or something?”
“I’m fed up of these channels and shows…movies and soccer…It’s been 5 days…” He exaggerated.
“Just 5 days?!” She laughed, “Sir, you have to bear it for 3-4 weeks or maybe more. It’s a complicated fracture.”
“Noooo!!!” He expressed displeasure, “I’m not used to sitting in one place for so long. Please do something.”
She nodded sweetly, and looked up at him, “What do I do?”
“Keep that diary away and talk to me.”
“Look who is demanding that… one who doesn’t talk! You are quiet for the entire day!” She accused him.
He spread his hands in air, “Big deal?! That’s how it goes between us – you talk and I listen! Suits you?”
She blushed gleefully, closed the diary and put it away. “Perfectly!”
The next morning, Nandini helped Manik to sit in the living room over the dining table chair and set his laptop, phone, diaries, and chargers there so that he could work efficiently. Cabir had come and both Manik and Cabir were discussing the latest project that they had to submit the next day. Manik had completed his work and Cabir was supposed to present it in the office before the Board of Directors.
Nandini took a small nap in the meantime. When Manik was working, it meant easily 3-4 hours would pass at a stretch. She had woken up early that day so she slept.
Her slumber broke after an hour or so and she stepped out of the room to ask whether Manik or Cabir needed tea, coffee, or something to eat.
As soon as she stepped in the corridor, she heard Cabir and Manik talking. Cabir was urging Manik to submit another proposal for the new office at Los Angeles.
“This is going so well. The MD is really happy. He is amazed at your dedication. Even when you are on an official off, you’ve managed to do so much!”
“I love working. You know that. I get bored when I don’t work.” Manik replied.
“Yeah, we all know that!” Cabir chuckled, “Anyway after this expansion is approved and submitted tomorrow, I think we should also submit our project for the new office and branch at LA.”
Manik refuted, “No…yaar, Cabir! Not LA. Even for this expansion, I worked hard because MD was keen on it. But it is not my job.”
“Yeah, I get that. But only you could have done that! Finished the entire plan before schedule and with all meticulous additions. So, it’s great that MD asked you to do it… Now again…you have a chance. Think about it – LA is jackpot. It’s a golden opportunity!” Cabir insisted.
Manik was not convinced. In a doubtful tone, he said, “I’m not sure.”
“Come on, Manik. Make the best use of your abilities. Projects here are so minimal and basic. LA is class apart. It’s a dream come true.”
Manik looked at his face for a long moment, and then asked, “Are you sure?”
“100%” Cabir was firm.
“Mmm…No… I admit that I was once interested in LA… but…” Manik’s voice dipped after ‘but’.
Cabir asked, “But, what?”
Manik nodded, and after a few moments, he sighed, “I don’t know… nothing…”
Cabir asked, “You look confused. I have never see you so indecisive about a business move. What happened?”
Manik rolled his tongue inside his mouth and said, “Nothing!”
“Okay… start doing it for me! Let’s see how it goes!”
“Yeah, sure!” Manik laughed, “Anything for you, Cabir!”
“That’s like a true friend!” Cabir laughed too, patted Manik’s back, got up and left.
Nandini was rooted to the ground after what she just heard. She couldn’t move, As if her feet were stuck in thick wet cement. She leaned by the door-jamb of their room and rested her head over it.
‘Is Manik letting go of an opportunity to be with me?’
‘He has done that before… he took up a post here and let go of his dream project…’
‘But why? He doesn’t even tell me anything…’
‘I can’t let him do it again…’
‘How can I allow him to make decisions based on my comfort?’
‘He should get all the happiness…and success that his skills and capabilities deserve…’
She wiped her tears trickling down her face. Then she tried to smile, tried to appear normal and walked through the corridor to go to the kitchen.
Casually, she asked him, “Manik, I’m making coffee. Do you want me to cook something for you?”
He was on the dining table. He tapped his pen over his laptop, while he was lost in thinking something deep. He didn’t reply to her. She came back to stand at the kitchen door and asked, “Manik!”
“Hmm?” He was distracted.
“Do you want to eat something?”
“No! I’m good.” He replied.
“What happened?” She asked casually, not letting him know that she had heard him talking to Cabir.
Manik shook his head, “Nothing?”
“You seem lost… do you want to share something?” She prodded him, taking out a bowl and a spoon.
He refused, “Nahhh!! Nothing great. Just small office things.”
She came back to the living room, fetched a big tub of Belgian Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream from the freezer and brought it to the table. She sat beside Manik and settled the tub before her. Instead of serving it in the bowl for her, she opened the 1-litre tub and started digging it directly with her spoon. After a sinful, large morsel melted in her mouth, she turned to him, offering him a scoop, using only her raised brows to ask him. She knew that he didn’t eat ice-cream. Still, she asked like she always did. He nodded to refuse but still, kept observing her keenly like he always did.
His eyes moved to study her face and his hand tapped the pen over the table, while he stayed quiet.
“Forget about me. What happened to you?” He asked.
“You are disturbed. You were okay in the morning… then what happened suddenly?”
She shrugged and even managed a fake smile, “Nothing. I am not disturbed.”
He twisted his lips, “You can lie to me, but a lot about you talks to me honestly. It tells me about you.”
Speechless, she was gaping at him, stunned at what he was telling her. Then he pointed towards her and said –
“Those three lines on your forehead… that fake smile… that uneasy twitch of your lip… and this tub of ice-cream in the morning, instead of coffee – all this is not you, Nandu. These are the traits of a disturbed side of Nandini who sometimes takes over my girl!”