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Sameer and Geet were inside Mr. Chetan's cabin waiting for him. Geet was busy with her sketches. Sameer could not concentrate. He finally said…
Sameer: Geet don't you think all this is a little strange?
Samee: Come on Geet… you ask as if you don't find anything strange…
Geet: Sameer…please be direct.. What are you talking about?
Sameer: Mr. Bhatt deciding to quit his business all of a sudden and handing them over to his arch rival Mr. Maan Khurana???
Geet: Sameer, we are employees here and cannot have the say on who should own the business. So why worry about unnecessary things. Who knows may be the company may flourish better under Mr. Maan Khurana.
Sameer: Geet I always felt that Mr. Maan Khurana was a little strange and sometimes even wierd. Don't you think so??
Geet: (A little irritated…she said) Sorry Sameer…I don't try to judge people…so no comments…
Sameer got fed up. He knew he is not going to extract anything out of Geet as usual. Soon Mr. Chetan came in and conveyed them about the new project and their planned stay at Noida for the next six months. He told them that it was a golden opportunity to prove themselves. Sameer and Geet were Ok with the plans and they were asked to head to Noida if possible the very day so that they can begin work soon.
Back at home Geet was in a very pensive mood…she was thinking about the happenings of the day. Again Maan managed to take over a company she was working with…He did that a few years back – buying Indian Paints from Mr. Yash and today Buildwell. She did not know what he wanted. All these years she managed not be seen by him. She came to know that he has withdrawn the divorce filing. She could neither feel happy nor sad about that. She was not sad because she never wanted a divorce from her Maan and she was not happy either because she knew Maan has not done this out of love…it was something else which she had no clue about… She breathed deep and started with her packing. She made a call to Dadima and requested her to come to the outhouse. Once dadima came in Geet told her all that happened and also that she had to shift to the Noida apartment as per Maan's instructions. She requested dadima to take care of Nandini who was now doing her PG. She said she will have to leave around 6 PM. Sameer is coming with the car.
Dadima felt sad that Geet had to leave. As Geet had stopped going to KM, dadima often came to out house to meet Geet and would keep chatting with her for hours to-gether. She will miss Geet a lot. Geet took blessings from dadima and dadima kissed her on her fore head. Finally she asked…..
Dadima: Geet beta….what exactly is the problem with you and Maan? Can your problems not be solved by taking time and talking it out with each other.
Geet: Dadima…I don't think that would be of any use. Maan hates the very sight of me. I don't want to trouble him.
Dadima: Geet beta…you are wrong…if he hates seeing you why would he buy the very same company you are working in and why would he take you especially in to this project. Above all why would he withdraw the filed divorce???
Geet: Dadima…I don't have an answer for withdrawal of filed divorce. I think only Maan can answer that part but the rest I see them as more of a professional move than anything personal…
Dadima: Ok beta… I think I shouldnot be interfering in both of your issues. Every time I had tried to, your issues only have become worser. Both of you are matured individuals so you can decide on your own.
Around 6 PM Sameer came with the car and Geet left with him towards Noida. They reached there around 7 PM. The new office at Noida was a beautiful building with good landscaping done. It had the Posh and Grandeur that each of Maan's office had. Sameer was impressed seeing the office. Sameer and Geet took their belongings to the Apartment near the office. Soon Pinky came running to meet Geet. She hugged Geet and had a broad smile on her face. Sameer was surprised that Geet already knew Pinky who works for KC. Soon Geet and Pinky left for their flat on the first floor, while Sameer went to his flat on the second. Pinky showed the flat around-a two bedroomer with beautiful balconys. Geet was given the bedroom on the right. Pinky helped Geet unpack and settle down. After dinner Pinky and Geet had a long chat. Finally both felt very sleepy and retired to their rooms.
Geet looked around her room. It was good. The best part of her room was her balcony. It was spacious, rimmed with flower pots and a transparent roof top through which she could see the skies. There were bright twinklings stars in the sky. She quickly changed in to her night dress and went to her bed. She never even dreamt of working with Maan again. She was tensed but she certainly did not want Maan to know that. She will try her best to keep out of his way, she thought. Her eyes felt heavy and she finally kissed Maan's photograph good night and slipped in to a deep sleep.
The next day Geet woke up early. It took her a few seconds to realize that she was in her new place. She freshened up and opened her balcony door and stood like a statue. It was Maan who was practicing Tai-chi early in the morning in his balcony opposite to her room. His flat stood next to hers.
Geet kept looking at Maan. He did not wear a shirt. His muscles glittered in his sweat and the faint sunlight enhanced that glitter. He was concentrating on his moves. Geet wanted to move away before being seen by Maan but she was almost mesmerized in her ma(a)n's physique that she could not take her eyes off him and stood rooted to her ground. Her heart was pounding like mad. Finally Maan turned around but just in time Geet managed to hide behind the huge pillar. He saw that Geet's balcony door was open. He had a faint smile on his face. He stood there for a minute looking in to her room, wiped his sweat with the towel and went inside his room. Geet quickly ran inside her room and closed the balcony door and pulled its curtain.
Uff… that was a narrow escape she thought…She quickly thought that she will exchange her room with Pinky but again decided against it. She wanted to see her Maan, if possible without his knowledge….All these years her heart was pinning to see Maan but she also feared that she would unknowingly get close to him and he will end up huting her again. But now from across the balcony she could see him every morning and night…without him seeing her. She remembered their first date when they both took the oath of "zindhighi ki har subah aap se shuru aur har rath aap peh katham"…she smiled and rushed of to get ready…She knew that Maan was a tough Boss.
Maan was getting ready as well…he knew that Geet was looking at him. He felt that…He finally thought to himself….Ms. Geet was trying running away from him…now she had no other option…She will have to face him day and night at office and at home as well….
There was complete silence inside the conference room. The entire team that was to work on the new project had assembled and was waiting for Maan. Shortly Maan walked in. The members introduced themselves. Apart from Pinky and Adi most of the staff were new and hand picked talented people with vast experience, except for Sameer and Geet who were freshers. As Geet stood to introduce herself, Maan leaned forward with a hand on his chin and looked at her intensely. Geet was tensed but held her composure and introduced herself as Miss. Geet for which Maan had a faint smile and grin on his face.
Soon Maan spoke to the crowd. He said…
Maan: Dear All… The project we have taken is a giant hospital cum health center to be constructed at Noida. This is going to be the biggest ever hospital in the country with multi-speciality facilities. We edged out many of our competitors to win the project. I am happy about that. Special mention to Mr. Adi who helped me with that. The owner of this project is an Indian origin Swiss Gentleman named Mr. Mittal who is erecting this hospital in the name of his late son, who died at a very young age. Mr. Mittal would be visting us after 6 months before which we should be ready with the completed project. The designs are the first to be made. I am sure Mr. Chetan and his team would start working ASAP and submit me the designs in two weeks time. Once the designs are finalized we will move ahead with other works. I am expecting full co-operation from my team so as to complete the jobs on time. You have been provided with comfortable flats so that we don't travel and waste time. Also until the project is over I would request people not to take any leave, unless an emergency…
Geet, Sameer and Mr. Chetan were given a spacious cabin. Sameer and Mr. Chetan were totally impressed with the infrastructure at Maan's office. Mr. Bhatt's office was not even half this size. Geet who was used to Maan's choices did not find it a surprise. Soon they started their work. A week after their starting work, Maan once walked in to their cabin and announced that there would be a presentation of the sketches and designs to the client's representative, and that would be the coming week. Mr. Chetan agreed to do the presentation but Maan interfered to say that he wanted the trainees doing the presentation looking at Geet. Sameer volunteered to present the slides to the client.
Sameer started preparing the slides for presentation, geet helped him with the slides and was simultaneously preparing. Sameer asked why she was taking the trouble but Geet simply smiled. On the day of presentation Maan walked in to the conference hall an hour before the presentation. Sameer was all set and ready but Maan said…
Maan: Mr. Chetan, I would like to see Geet giving this presentation rather than Sameer.
Mr. Chetan: But Mr. Maan Khurana, Geet is yet to prepare and Sameer is fully prepared. What if something goes wrong…?
Maan: No issues Mr. Chetan…I have told the client's representative Mr. Suman that it will be my trainees who are presenting the slides…so no worries. Also she has an hour to prepare….
Maan looked at Geet and asked…
Maan: Are you scared Ms. Geet???
Geet: (Putting up a brave face and said) No Sir. I will give the presentation as you wish.
Geet anticipated that Maan would definitely want her to present in the final moment. She was prepared for that….
Soon Mr. Suman and his team took their seat and Geet started with her presentation…She was clean, clear and crisp with her presentation. Maan did not seem to hear a word of what she said…He was fully immersed in her beauty. Her pearl white kurti was neatly worn. As she spoke her ear danglings danced along…Her voice was so sweet yet so sharp. Her eyes were in contact with the audience and he knew each one of them in the hall were with her. Every body listened to her with lot of enthusiasm. Finally when she completed Mr. Suman requested for a round of applause from the attendees for her outstanding presentation. Soon it was question time and Geet took the question with ease. She was completely comfortable with the designs, patterns and elevation but once the question got technical she seemed to fumble a little. Maan quickly got up from his seat and stood near Geet to answer the technical questions along with her. At the end Mr. Suman said…
Mr. Suman: Mr. Maan Khurana, I am so impressed with the presentation today. Also the designs are so fresh and creative. Please do go ahead with the project. I will sanction these designs at the earliest. Also, Mr. Maan when you told me that one of your trainees would be presenting, I was a little dejected thinking how would it all be. But I am extremely pleased with Ms. Geet. She is definitely going to make it big. All the very best Ms. Geet.
Mr. Suman and his team left. Sameer and Mr. Chetan congratulated Geet and they too left for their cabin. Geet was very happy. She felt so happy after a very long time. Maan came near Geet who was disconnecting her laptop from the projector…
Geet: Haan sir….
Maan: Congratulations…A very good job done.
Geet: Thank you sir.
Maan put his hand out to Geet…She looked in to his eyes. She knew he was sincere with his congratulations to her. She gave him her hand…
Maan stood with Geet's hand in his hand for a long time. They were in eye lock with each other after a really long time. Maan's heart never wanted to let go of Geet's hand and her. He realized how much he had missed and wanted her all these years. Her eyes were so innocent…how could she ever deceive him…Why can't she be his forever….His heart pleaded to her through his eyes… they wanted to say…Please Geet… come to me…You are mine. I will cover you with my love and keep you close to my heart forever. Don't ever leave me….Please love me….and only me…
Somewhere in his heart he had a doubt if he was too hasty in his decision. He did see and hear Geet accept Sameer's love on that night but in the past three weeks or so he never saw anything of a love from atleast her side for Sameer. She was merely friendly and always stood within that boundary. Every time she saw Maan her eyes were trying their best to hide her emotions but atleast for few moments they do betray her love for him. He thought he should try to know or atleast talk to her about this…
Sameer opened the conference hall door to see Geet and Maan in a "so called" hand shake. He had come in search of Geet. He was angry with Maan that he gave the presentation to Geet in the final moment and now touching Geet, though a hand shake.
Sameer: Mr. Maan Khurana…I beg your pardon but I certainly don't think what you did today was so wise…
Maan: (In an angry tone)…Oh really…so please do advice me on what I should be doing….I am waiting for you in my cabin….
Maan dashed out the conference hall in sheer anger…Sameer followed him to his cabin.
Sameer: Mr. Maan, I agree that you are the boss here…but I know from the very first day that you want me and Geet working separately and never to-gether.
Maan: You are right Sameer. I pay you only for your individual talents.
Sameer: What is wrong in working together Mr. Maan?
Maan: Well, Sameer…You are good at techniques while geet is good with her creations but to be successful architech, the person requires to have a combination of both. You will never learn all this unless and until you start working individually.
Sameer: So you want to improve Geet? Right?
Maan: You are mistaken…I want to improve you. Techniques can be learnt very easily with practise but creativity is not so. So geet can quickly learn the techniques and become a good architect fast…but you…unless and until you think and come up with refreshing ideas and creations your techniques will remain a waste and in the long run you will lose out….
Sameer: What if I don't mind loosing out to Geet?
Maan's eyes were red with anger. Still he controlled himself and said…
Maan: You don't mind but I do mind. If you would allow me to remind you an old saying…."The Boss is always right". So please get back to work.
Sameer was still angry with Maan. He had this strange feeling that Maan was trying to take Geet away from him. He could not take that. Geet was his. She was his best friend and he was still in love with her. She never gave him a positive reply till date but he knew he could win her one day.
The following week Sameer walked in to Maan's cabin with a request for leave. Both him and Geet wanted leave for the week end. Maan had not sanctioned the leave so Sameer went to talk to Maan personally on this.
Sameer: Mr. Maan Khurana…it is our best friend's marriage and we would definitely like to be taking part in her happiness.
Maan: Sameer, I had told the very day you people walked in here that you should avoid taking leaves until this project shapes up…right?
Sameer: Yes. But sir we are off only for a day that too Saturday….we will be back on Sunday.
Soon Geet also walked in and said…
Geet: Sir we will work on Sunday to compensate the day off. Please do allow us to go for the wedding.
Maan: Where is the wedding?
Geet: At Ludhiana sir…our best friend Neha is getting married.
Maan: Neha??? He fetched out a marriage card from his table and looked to find the same name on the card…Are you guys going to attend Mr. Ranjith Singh's daughter's wedding?
Geet: Yes sir…Neha his daughter is our class mate and we are friends…
Maan: Oh… Fine then…I am going for the wedding, so you both can join me. It would be a six hours journey by car. We can take NH1 to reach there fast…
Maan initially never intended
Geet was excited about the trip while Sameer did not like Maan's company. He simply hated Maan's presence amidst them. The following day all three set out to Ludhiana…Sameer sat with Geet at the back while Maan was driving the car. Maan's eyes were constantly on Geet through the mirror. Sameer did notice this a few times but tried his best to keep his cool. After about an hour they came across a fast food stall which was selling Pani Poori…. Sameer requested Maan to halt for a few moments and took Geet's hand and dragged her along with him to the stall. Geet looked back at Maan as to ask if he would join…but Maan looked away… he also looked angry…
Sameer was enjoying the Chaat while Geet was half interested….Soon Geet's food fell on her dress and Sameer took his kerchief and started to clean her dupatta inspite of Geet's resistance….Maan who was seeing this got really wild and opened the car door and slammed it behind him but could not take his hand out of the way on time. His palm got cut and hurt bad and he was in terrible pain…Geet saw this and rushed to Maan. He was still angry and did not give his hand to her. Geet forcibily took his hand in to hers and she saw that the cut was deep and it was bleeding as well. She looked up at Maan..there were tears in her eyes….Maan instantly mellowed down his anger and stopped the resistance he was giving….
Sameer came along. Geet asked him to take the first aid box from the car. She made Maan sit in the back seat and she got in the other side. She gently wiped the blood and cleaned the wound…applied a little antiseptic and looked up at Maan…she could see that he was in pain…She bandaged his wound and quickly got out of the car. She enquired with the chaat shop guy if there was a medico available…He showed the way and Geet requested Sameer to drive to the nursing home. They reached there in about 15 mins. Geet took Maan to the doctor. The doc gave him a TT injection with medicines for a couple of days. Geet told Sameer that they would better go back to Noida rather than go to Ludhiana but Sameer was reluctant. Seeing their dielemma Maan asked Sameer to drive to Ludhiana; Geet was not very pleased.
Maan sat with Geet at the back. He still had a sharp pain. He gently leaned back on the seat and closed his eyes. Geet could see that he was in pain. After some time, she gently took his palm and placed on her lap. She feathered his wound with the tip of her fingers. Maan opened his eyes and looked at her. He saw that her eyes were moist. He again closed his eyes. He felt a little relaxed and soon fell in to sleep. As he was sleeping his head slowly started to slip sideways. Geet moved closer to him and finally he placed his head on her shoulder to sleep very peacefully.
Geet was in deep thoughts. She did not understand why Maan looked so angry when she was having the Chaat with Sameer. In his anger he slammed the door which led to his injury…Slowly Geet started to doubt if it was jealousy. Could it be so, she thought. He always had gentle manners when she was alone with him but once Sameer comes in he quickly becomes the Dusht Danav. She remembered his angry dance with her were just moment after she had danced with Sameer. She remembered the night at the club when he kissed her. Maan is not someone who would try to kiss a girl just because he was drunk. He would never do that if he did not have feelings for her. Also that day Maan did mention Sameer….she recollected Maan's words… "Sameer tumhara best friend hai aur mei… Mei hota kaun hoon tumhara??" Also, it was the same night that Sameer proposed to her that Maan too came to meet her and finally left hurting her. She wondered how all these did not strike her earlier. She remembered Dadima's word of advice to solve their problems talking it out with each other. She decided to talk to Maan when opportunity strikes… She saw that Maan was in very deep sleep.
Sameer pulled up the car in front of Mr. Ranjith Singh's grand bunglow, rather a palace. It was a beautifully built structure. Maan and Geet got out of the car and they were all greeted to the hall. Sameer and Geet met their friends on the way and stopped to talk while Maan walked in to the hall. Mr. Ranjith Singh was a huge built man who upon seeing Maan came forward and hugged him. He said…
Mr. Ranjith Singh: Ah….Mr. Maan Khurana…it is a long time…I am so happy that you accepted my invitation and came here today. He enquired about his injured palm…
Maan: Dadima has expressed her happiness and her personal regards to you sir.
Mr. Ranjith Singh: Oh…how I wished Mrs. Savithri Devi was here to bless my daughter.
Maan: She definitely wanted to accompany me but she could not take travel a lot.
Soon Sameer and Geet joined them…Mr. Ranjith Singh was overwhelmed to see Geet. Geet touched his feet and he hugged her and kissed her forehead. Maan was stunned to see this.
Mr. Ranjith Singh learned that both Geet and Sameer worked at his firm. He was very happy for Geet. He told Geet and Sameer that it was Maan who had built his house. Actaully this was Maan's first assignment he said. He knew Maan's father and hence had requested Savithri Devi to take up this assignment who inturn had given the task to Maan.
Sameer and Geet left to join their friends but Maan wanted to know how Mr. Ranjith Singh knew Geet so personally and had shown such an affection for her. He striked a conversation with Mr. Ranjith and slowly asked him how he knew Geet… but his asking was not required at all as Mr. Ranjith had words only for Geet….He said…
Mr. Ranjith Singh: Maan beta….you know me. I am a very orthodox person. I always wanted my wish to be done- be it office or business. My daughter Neha was an exception. She stayed with my younger brother all through her school and college days at Delhi. Girls at my household never went to college. Since she had the backing of my younger brother she never listened to me. Being my only daughter I too did not want to hurt her. But during her first year of college, I got her engaged to my best friend's son. She resisted but I was stubborn. We fixed her marriage after eight months of her engagement. I never listened to her nor felt pity for her crying. She resumed college after her engagement. A month before her wedding, my younger brother called me from Delhi to say that Neha was so upset and she has stopped eating.
I immediately rushed to Delhi. I tried to console her, convince her, even threated her. Nothing seemed to work. I too was adamant that I will definitely get her married on the fixed muhurat. As we were in such a dielemma Geet walked in. She met Neha. Adviced her to have food but again she refused. Soon she walked in to my room. She asked if she could take 10 minutes of my time. I initially was not ready but later I said yes. She spoke to me non-stop for almost 10 minutes….I was left wondering as to how a girl so young of her age could talk as if she has faced life and its difficulties on her own….
You know Maan she told me that "Uncleji you might give lots of jewels and money as dowry to your daughter but uncle the actual dowry every parent needs to give their daughter is good education and capability to stand on her own without any support from others. All the valuables that you give may fade off but education makes one shine and glitter as days go by…."…I was left awestruck beta..
She even told me the story of a young girl from her Hoshiarpur who was married off at the age of 18 by her parents and elders saying that the groom would take her to Canada. Inspite of the girl's wish to study, she was forcibly married off. Sadly the groom turned out to be cheat. Having spent a day with the innocent girl, later he and his actual wife robbed the young girl and dumped her at the airport to fly off to Canada. The girl got pregnant….The very elders of her household who pushed her in to such a marriage wanted to abort her child and when opposed she almost got killed in the name of family honor. Thankfully there was a young man who saved her from getting killed. He was her Knight in the shining Armour who stood by her, gave her child his name and eventually even married her….
Mr. Ranjith Singh finished off with a tear in his eye….Maan beta I set off thinking. If Geet as my daughter's friend had so much of concern for her then I should be more concerned of her future I thought. I spoke to my friend and got the marriage put off until my daughter completes her education. My friend got wild and he dropped the marriage plan and got his son married off to another girl. I was hurt a little but my daughter's happiness mattered me the most.
But beta that is not all…just eight months after my friend's son got married he suddenly died due to acute Liver failure, a condition owing to his abnormal drinking habits…I went to attend his funeral… I was shattered beta…to see that young girl who married him….She was in white, totally shocked. For a moment I imagined my Neha there….I could not take it anymore… That day I decided that I will allow my daughter to have good education…I even told my son-in-law that he should allow her to persue her career. Geet is my own daughter for me now… I love her lots….
Maan stood so much in admiration for Geet…but the story that Mr. Ranjith Singh narrated……why did he feel that the incidents seems to be so familiar….as if he knew these people very well…as if it was not the first time he is listening to that incident….and the girl in the story….It struck a chord in his heart…..He stood thinking for a while……..
(To be continued….)
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