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 :)...
~ I am trying to keep up with the schedule – Wednesday – Saturday – Hope I am able to continue…
~ Also, I will try to stay online on Sunday afternoons – after lunch, as I am not able to reply to all the comments from the readers, to the numerous emails and messages – and I will reply to all those who write to me. In case, you haven’t got my reply here or any social media, Wattpad, twitter, instagram – ping me again on Sunday afternoon.
~ Thank you loads… for being there… lots of love… stay blessed 🙂
Her other hand that was over the clothes in the cupboard, on it’s way back to her, brushed with his hand that was still in the cupboard. A sudden surge of impulses ran through her at that weirdly intimate touch. She shuddered.
He wasn’t naive to let those sparks fade away.
His hand sought her hand again, this time surprising her. Before she could speak, his finger was already tracing a path from her wrist to her elbow, slightly grazing at the inner aspect of her forearm giving her ample goosebumps, too strong to deal with. From her elbow, his fingers reached her shoulder and collar bone and her throat, making her quiver.
“Manikkk!” She barely managed to whisper through her nervous breaths.
“Sssssshhhh!!” His finger was now at her lips, stopping her from speaking anything, as he whispered –
Their shut-ups had been the most romantic of all… Nandini was reminded of all the moments spent with Manik, where either of them had asked the other to stop talking as words were proved to be insufficient to convey their fathomless emotions.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying not to buckle down at her knees. Manik lowered his face further. Nothing was visible in this grim darkness. His hand was his guide with his finger resting leisurely over her lips. When she took a deep breath, her cool breath touched the base of his throat, making him smile. They had been together long enough for him to know when she was nervous and when she was speechless.
She didn’t stop him, retract or push him away. But she wasn’t comfortable either. He was aware that they were still fighting. Her hands rested on his arms to support her. He lowered further but not over her lips but he let his face slide by the side of her face, brushing his cheek at her hair. Softly, his cheek lowered down the side of her head and then rose up, only to make her shudder. He moved slightly away, and with that, her silky hair was stuck to his one-week-old beard. He removed her hair from his face and tucked them behind her hair and sighed so deep that she could both hear him and feel him.
He touched his forehead over hers and spoke in a husky voice, almost over her face, “Don’t worry. I won’t take the shortest possible route to mend things between us.”
“Err…mm…,” She tried to open her mouth but didn’t know what to say.
He said, “But I do want you to know that I miss you… I miss us… US… we were really good together, and I’m sure we can do it all over again!”
She smiled when he said that. It was true that in an ideal universe, him and her, were a blast as a team. They were too good when together. But alas! The world wasn’t ideal and their universe wasn’t ideal. But they could make efforts to make it so cushioned that it stayed immune to ways of the world and became ideal for them.
He pressed his lips and moved away, “I’ll check what happened to the electricity!”
He fetched his phone from his pocket and dialed a call to the watchman and went out to the living room in partial light from the phone. He opened the balcony door and observed if other flats and other buildings in the vicinity were submerged in darkness too.
She touched the walls of the bedroom and the door to follow the route to the living room and found him searching drawers in the shoe cabinet.
“What happened?” She asked.
He informed her while continuing his search, “The transformer has exploded it seems. All buildings in this premises are facing the power-drop. The generator of this building is due for fuel refill and repair so we won’t be having electricity tonight, it seems. Moreover, it is Sunday. So they will probably repair tomorrow.”
“How irresponsible!” She spoke angrily in a shocked tone, “There might be an elderly patient or small baby in need of nebulization, any other life support, as simple as electric thermal blankets, beds… or maybe some students have exams…some people cook food on induction system… how can they just say that it is a Sunday… these are emergency services, right? Don’t we work on Sundays?”
He smirked, and teased her, “And, people accuse me of anger! Look at you… you become so angry too!”
She folded her arms across her chest and replied, “I know, right! The only difference is that I haven’t asked you or the watchman to get lost, never to show up again!”
He sheepishly chewed his inner lip and nodded, whispering to himself in a low voice, “Mannnn… Why do I always forget that I am not supposed to argue!”
She raised her brows and asked, “What?? Did you say something!”
“Nahhhh!!” He smiled sweetly, “Nothing!”
“I just heard you whispering to yourself!”
He tried to divert her, “Nothing!!! Gaawddd… you were never this stern! You are scaring me now!”
“You? And scared?? Tell me another joke!” She rolled her eyes, “And by the way, what are you doing there? Shuffling the contents of all drawers??”
“Searching for the candles that I was gifted by office people on last Diwali. I’d kept them here. If electricity is not coming anytime soon, we need to find candles and be prepared. We can’t allow the batteries of phones to be discharged by using it as a torch!”
Innocently, she asked, “You don’t have emergency light?”
He huffed, “You live with me! Have you ever seen any such light?”
She snapped back in a low voice, “I haven’t seen much about you and your house, in these 4 months.”
“Yeah! Right! Let’s argue again!” He added his sly to her sarcasm.
She nodded, “Okay… let’s forget it! Sorry!”
“Do you know anything about the candles?”
“Yes. They are in the storeroom.” She turned around to go the tiny, little room, almost the size of 2-3 cupboards, beyond the common washroom which they used as a store to keep unused ration, detergents, washed and unwashed laundry and other petty articles. He stood stunned, looking at her. She turned around and said, “What are you waiting for? Come behind me and show me the light so that I find the candles.”
Like a bot, he followed her command and threw light from his phone while he stopped at the door and she entered the tiny storeroom, opened a cupboard and shuffled through some packaged stuff like several packets of washing powder, almost a dozen soaps, bathings gels, and toothpastes.
He stared at them and asked, “Why are we stocking an entire shop of basic utilities?”
She didn’t want to reply to him because it was the small talk that would lead to him teasing her forever, but there was no option as he was waiting for her answer, very keenly. Without meeting his eyes, she opened the other cupboard and replied in short sentences, “They were on sale… I was saving a lot of money so I bought in bulk…”
She was right. He laughed hysterically, “Aww, Nandu. You are cute!”
“I know this is not a compliment… so keep your sly with you… and please shut up!” She gritted her teeth. Only to see him laughing more. She tried to ignore him but couldn’t. He was leaning at the doorjamb, showing the light and laughing like a kid. His laughter was adorable and she had always loved him laughing. There was a rare innocence in his laughter.
She realised that she had kept the candles in the overhead cabinet, “Oh yes! I kept them there!”
She pointed to the small cabinets lined by the ceiling. He gave a serious look to the height of the cabinet and making it obvious, he asked, “THAT cabinet???”
She shrugged, folding her hands at her chest, defiantly, “Of course! I can reach that cabinet…” She stopped speaking for a small moment and added in a trailing voice, “After I take a chair!!
He smirked and didn’t say anything. She frowned, massively embarrassed, “Okay… stop laughing… Take them out!”
Without saying anything, he took a step inside their little store and at that moment, she realised that this space was too small for two people. When he entered it, she was pressed to one of the tabletops with washed laundry behind her. He shamelessly stepped ahead, raised his hand to reach the overhead cabinet and opened it. He was only a breath’s distance from her, with his hands raised, reminding her about how intoxicating his scent was. His cologne mixed with the masculine smell of his tee-shirt made her press her lips hard. It would have been a major tussle to hold a fight with this man if she wasn’t firm on solving this crucial issue between them. It still was…
He took out the candles and smirked again. As if he knew what she was thinking. She just hoped that he didn’t.
The dinner program was canceled as they didn’t want to get ready in the dark and leave the home and Dobby unattended in the dark. Dobby became uneasy in the dark and constantly stayed around Manik. It was weird and Nandini was observing this for the nth time that Dobby had become more of Manik’s pet than hers. She wasn’t complaining either.
She loved both of them.
They fed Dobby and ordered their dinner from a Chinese restaurant.
None of them talked for some time as they ate food quietly. But as they were sitting at the dining table facing each other with beautiful red and white candles burning softly between them, it felt ironic that they were in a fight and having a candle-light dinner. It made her smirk.
He asked, “What?”
She nodded, “I was just wondering how people go for romantic candlelight dinners. We must be the first couple who is celebrating the dispute with a candlelight dinner.”
“Correction. We are not fighting anymore. We declared that the war was over. It’s just that we want to see how it goes… this way or that way… so we are in the middle of the two…”
She aimlessly moved her fork in the Chowmein and asked, “Can I ask you something?”
“Why did you say… err, I mean, inside… why did you say that you don’t want to take the shortest possible route to mend things?”
“Listen… I don’t …,” He tried to avoid it but she interrupted him suddenly.
“You can explain…I know you can!! At least you can try… it is not an exam… and no one is going to judge you. Just say what you felt…”
He waited for a few seconds to form his response in words and spoke his mind in broken sentences, not knowing if he was making any sense, “Err… I think you feel the same… I said that because — to forget things and moving on is easy… and that is exactly what would have happened at that time… I know you were not going to stop me…but this is not what I want. Your body is not you. When I say that I miss you and I need you… I need the complete you… your mind, your effervescence, your attitude, your laughter, your happiness… everything… and then, the physical aspect, for sure… but not just that!”
She was so floored that she could neither speak nor continue to eat. She stared at his pure eyes and harmless face, without blinking.
He spoke more, “I don’t want to rush our patching up, half-way through… only to end up fighting again because it wasn’t resolved this time… no! We allowed everything to simmer even the last time…so, this time, it is even more justified… You take your time and I won’t speak much, for I tend to hurt you every time I speak… but take your time and decide if you would have met me sans your parents’ interference, would you have chosen me?”
She grinned, “Aww! You are still stuck on that ‘one-sentence’ that I spoke in anger.”
Without smiling, looking into her eyes through the wisp of the candle, his intense eyes locked to her, he asked in a poised, calm voice, “Aren’t you stuck on one sentence that I spoke in anger?”
She lost her smile. Instead, she became sad. “No, I am not stuck at that sentence. I gave up, long back. I forgave you and excused you. And, I am trying my best to move on. But will you be able to guarantee that you won’t do this again?”
“Let’s find out, then! You find out if you would have fallen in love with me if you were not compelled to do so, just because we were married first. And I will try to find out if I can keep you above everything else in my life… including anger!”
“If it is a ‘yes’ from both of us, this marriage wins!”
“Otherwise, there is no point dragging it to have a useless fight on some issue or the other, every few days!”
“And spoiling whatever we developed in this time!”
“True. No point making things bitter with time… we will lose even the basic civility with each other after frequent fights. It won’t be so amicable after we start fighting every day…”
She became quiet. She didn’t speak when he said that. He found her quiet and serious, so he asked, “What happened?”
“I’m wondering if we will ever become that couple who bickers on every little thing.”
“It was just speculation. It won’t happen! Relax!”
“How can you be so sure?”
He replied in a very serious tone, “Bickering needs two people to talk more than necessary and then raise the voice. I never spoke that much. And now, I try not to speak at all. You used to speak so much… and you don’t speak like you used to…”
“Did you notice so much? That I’m not speaking like before?”
“What else do you think I do around you, all the time, if not noticing you?!”