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 :)...
Thank you for reading this story and leaving your valuable comments. I feel privileged to have you all beside me.
I try my best to reply to messages, DMs, inboxes and other ways where you reach out to me. But last few months were very tough on me. So, I don’t even remember who I replied and who I missed. Those I didn’t reply, I might have read the messages thinking that I will reply later and either it slipped out of my mind or I assumed I replied. So, I might have missed a few of you. Kindly ping me again if it happened with you. I will get in touch with you.
Also, I am a little tied up in multiple things so I am not able to keep up with the schedules I posted. I am trying my best to be regular from this week onwards…
Love you all… for all the love… Stay blessed 🙂
“Is there no hope left for us?” He asked in a heavy voice.
She let her face buried in the pillow and heaved a deep sigh. Then after a few long moments, she said –
“The fact that I am in this room right now, is called hope!”
He smiled when she said that. She didn’t elaborate, didn’t look up and didn’t talk more. She was too tired to indulge in any heavy talk. She simply closed her eyes and after some time, she drifted to sleep.
He didn’t disturb her too. He didn’t ask her to talk to him. He had nothing to talk about, anyway. He reclined over the large pillows behind him and recalled all the events of the last week. So much had changed in just 7-8 days. It was his birthday a week ago and all was well, so beautiful between Nandini and him before that. Before his family arrived, all of a sudden and he couldn’t handle it. He was aware that it was his fault. He should have been careful. Instead of handling them, he had allowed the chaos to take over, something that could have been controlled.
And after all the turbulence, since last one week, he had been trying too hard to convey what he felt about the situation they were in, but he was helpless and clueless about how to do that… He wanted to say that he was thankful to her for saving his mom’s life in time, for being there with him when he needed her the most, for not going when he asked her to leave…
But he said something else…
He knew that he had been an idiot. He spoke whatever first words came to his mouth without giving it another thought. It had always been like that. Since college, at the office, with friends, him and his friends were least bothered about the content and tone of their conversations. They spoke whatever came to their mind, said all that they felt like to each other; they were direct and straight-forward – from ‘shut up’ to ‘get out’… from ‘don’t spoil my mood’ to ‘ don’t disturb me’… from ‘I’m not free today’ to ‘leave me alone’… he had always spoken like that. Though his friends used to swear abuses too, Manik never picked up those abuses consciously as he thought he was too sophisticated for abuse words. But otherwise, he spoke every other nonsense to dismiss someone when he wanted his way out, without thinking that it would hurt someone.
In contrast, Nandini thought a lot about everyone, how they would feel or react to words spoken to them. What should be said and what not to be spoken. And in exactly what tone? And so, she expected the same for her. She was polite and nice to others and used a positive tone to interact. It was an irony that she was the one to pick up abuses and used them as a part of her vocabulary shocking Manik often, but she never said any abuse on someone’s face. She was respectful that way even if she didn’t like someone. She abused only when she was with Manik or her close friends.
She always hated that Manik spoke rudely to her. She would get upset at the rough tone and all the silly words he spoke without thinking. This time, however, he knew that he had gone overboard.
He had asked her to leave the house… and him!!
Though, if truth be told, not even in his weirdest thoughts, he had ever wanted her to actually go away. He was angry at himself for letting his anger rule him at times. Sometimes, his temper would rise to unimaginable heights. Neither at office nor among friends or family, had anyone ever stopped him or checked his behaviour. Everyone just accepted him.
Nandini was the first person to tell him that his anger was hampering their relationship. He didn’t pay attention to initial few times when she objected. And now, he had said something so deeply disturbing that it had unsettled her.
She was shaken. She was terribly hurt.
And now, he didn’t know how to mend the broken strings between them. The moment he opened his mouth to defend himself and apologise, he would spoil it by saying something more hurtful. He had started learning to communicate with her and they were fabulous together but when it came to explaining his stand, he was still a struggler. He was trying his best to tell her that he would have never let her go. He would have stopped her, followed her and made her stay back…
Just like he did… right now… he had stopped her and convinced her to stay back after she decided to take the break from him!
He was always clear that he would never let her go from his life. Never!
But how to convince her? It wasn’t her fault, either. She was so damaged by her previous relationships that she thought that he would do the same to her. That he didn’t respect her or love her and he would break them. She was worried of being left wounded and bleeding in pain. She was scared. Scared to trust him again. To go back to being carefree with him again…
She wasn’t natural anymore about her behaviour and emotions with him. She was now on guard.
He had been noticing the change in her behaviour. He hated that. He hated to be the reason for that change… That made him anxious and that made him take desperate attempts to attract her attention… leading to incensing her further…
And now they were so tangled that they only hurt each other in the process of making peace. The fact that she was sleeping on the same bed as him, even after so much had happened, the fact that she said that it was a sign of hope from her, gave him hope too… She wanted to make peace as much as he did… yet he kept offending her by rude taunts and she told him that she would have never chosen him…
He shut the laptop and kept it away on the side table, stretched the quilt to his side and slipped beside her, with his eyes fixed over her innocent sleepy form, like a kitten after a tiring day. It was his favourite view, through the entire day.
When she opened her eyes, at around 2:00 pm in the afternoon, she found him sleeping peacefully, breathing softly, like a kid after a hard play. She frowned, twisted her lips and huffed at how adorable he looked while he slept.
Her first instinct was to shift closer to him and cuddle within his arms but she remembered how he had been taunting her for being stubborn. He had decided to hurt her every time he spoke, and now she didn’t know how to deal with him.
It would take him one minute to tell her to get lost… out of his life…
Even if she kept her ego or self-esteem aside, she didn’t know if Manik could really push her away, out of his life, and never follow her or call her back. He never did it with anyone. He never cared about who left his life.
But he had stopped her, this time!!
She was the only one he had ever asked to stay back and tried hard but convinced her to stay in the same house while they sorted their issues. Taking a break with him in the same house was his way of fighting…
This one step from him had given her hope. She hoped that they will be back to being what they were when they were together. But they had a long way to go.
Their relationship had started with a bang and it was hardly 4 months old… the understanding they had developed was too new to be tested on parameters like love-for-family, self-respect, rude language, impatience, anger, insecurity…
She hoped that they will get past these issues and find a way to bring back the camaraderie they had once developed… and then, maybe they would find a way to be together… again…
She felt a little tingling sensation in her nose due to the fibre from the quilt and sneezed. His sleep was disturbed. He frowned and opened his eyes too, only to be surprised that she was awake and was looking at him, right now. She felt bad at disturbing him so she squeezed her eyes apologetically.
She murmured, “Sorry… I disturbed you!”
He sighed, and nodded, managing to speak in slow, husky voice, “It’s okay!”
She didn’t say anything after that. He was quiet too. She wondered how nonstop banter between them had reduced to one word-two word sentences, small talk, and awkward silences with none having an idea of what to say anymore.
He finally spoke, “Nandu… I want to say something…”
She pressed her lips and stared at him, without speaking anything. He said, “I’m so sorry… I’ve hurt you…”
He could just speak this before she stretched her hand towards his mouth and covered his mouth with her palm, “Manik… don’t say anything more… all that you speak after your apology goes against you.”
He rolled his eyes and removed her hand from his mouth, “I accept it and I’m sorry!”
She sat on the bed to sit and stretched herself like a stiffened doll, as she said, “I know, you are sorry… and I know, you are feeling bad… I’m sorry too… for making you feel like this.”
He sat up to sit too, worried and confused, “And you forgive me?”
She smiled sweetly, as she removed the quilt from her to get up, “I’ve forgiven you long back. I’ve always told you.”
He held her hand and stopped her, “You have accepted my apology and you say that you have forgiven me… then why do you appear so distant?”
She looked at him with a confused expression in her eyes and surprise on her face, “Do I?”
“Yes. You look so detached… you are not in your element anymore…”
She smiled softly, and with a heavy voice, she said, “Manik, I’m fine. I’m trying my best, not to stretch the fight for more.”
He was unsettled. Uneasy.
He knew Nandini as someone spontaneous, bubbly, chirpy and a chatterbox. She was not someone quiet, cute or sweet who would just smile or use sweet one-liners as replies in any conversation. She was a blast. Her laughter kept the home jingling and reverberating.
He held both her hands in his own, desperately… as if he was losing her, and said, “Okay, let’s not rush into it. To be normal all over again… Let’s not be quick to move past everything and begin again. Let’s give each other the time that we decided to give. Let’s take a small break. You do all that you want to do. I will not even ask you or nag you. And, I’ll try to speak as less as I can. Trust me, I may have spoken trash but I meant ‘none’ of it… absolutely none! NOT A WORD!!”
She tucked her lower lip under her teeth, hiding the sadness, and apologised again, “I’m so sorry, Manik. I didn’t want to be a difficult person to deal with… I didn’t mean to torture you… I’m just a bit…” She stopped speaking after that, with a wince on her face..
“I know… I understand that you are feeling lost and demotivated.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve hurt you too… I keep doing that!”
“Not more than I did… Err… I don’t know why I took you for granted…”
“Maybe, because you always knew that we would be together. You knew, we would eventually find our way back, even after we fight…so you didn’t hesitate to thrash me and release your anger on me… and even I thought that we were meant to be forever, so it mercilessly broke my bubble!”
He listened to her and sighed visibly, “I don’t even know how you find all these words to speak…and explain everything so nicely…”
She smiled slightly at that. He continued, “Look at me, I want to say something and end up saying something else. I wanted you to react and talk to me … and so I spoke all the nonsense…”
She retracted her hands from his hold and stepped down the bed, saying, “I’m tired of fights. I don’t want this negativity and bitterness, anymore…not between us…”
“Neither do I!” He said.
“Great!” She nodded thoughtfully, “Let’s see how it goes! Let’s take one step at a time.”
She went inside the washroom and he was left staring at the closed door. It was strange that she had given up on the fight suddenly. She had wanted to take a break … from him, from the marriage… but since he had stopped her from going away, she saw no point in staying in one house and behaving like strangers. She didn’t want to fight anymore. She was talking to him nicely and sweetly and declared that the fights were over.
She had given him one more chance. And he should be happy at this.
But he wasn’t happy. Maybe, because she wasn’t his Nandini, anymore!