It oft happens when one feels oneself emotionally invested in a potential relationship that one tries to curtail information which might be important because one does not wish to take any chance at upsetting the other person. Such was the case with Shaantanu Khandelwal.
It also happens that when one is afraid to confess or showcase a feeling of commitment to someone one has recently met, one does not probe too much lest one seems too eager. Such was the case with Khanak Jadeja.
Four days had passed since Khanak had asked him the question he had wished she'd never asked. But that would mean that she would have to accept him unconditionally. Why would she do such a thing? If his view on women was based on experiences in this world then of course Khanak would have made her opinion on men based on experiences in this world too. And no man in this world would have ever made her feel the whole sex was worth unconditional support, love and acceptance. If he couldn't do that, no one else could have done it- yes, our hero is a bit pompous but there are reasons for it which we shall uncover in due time.
Had not Rahul told him that such a day would come? A day when he'd realize that perhaps not all women were the same. That love indeed was a pure feeling. That if he kept on holding stubbornly to his self-proclaimed-absolutely-correct theory about women he'd have to face the consequences. After all, what woman would settle for a man who hated her kind? Who generalized the bad in the world and took down the good with it.
Though Shaan wasn't one to simple waive off years of effort that he had put into holding this theory sacred to himself and labelling every woman as a materialist he had finally reached a point where he felt he might just have been a bit bit unfair to womankind. He had been unfair to Khanak, that is for sure. But then, she was a woman. Was this a ploy? Was she really who she showed herself to be? Can someone be effortlessly pretentious? No. Had Khanak been pretending all the while, he would have seen at least one crack in her superficial appearance..
And there was the most usual of circumstances that a romantic relationship goes through during its initial stages. The guy convincing himself that the girl is indeed nothing different and then convincing himself again that she is so. The girl, meanwhile, tries to shrug awkwardness under the rug and appears to be most accommodating. This is the place where Khanak and Shaantanu stood at the moment.
Sitting at her writing desk in her room, Khanak stared at the envelope from University College London (UCL) . She still didn't know why she had discussed it with Shaantanu.
Shaantanu stood up a few seconds after she had finally mustered the courage to ask him the question. Seeing his eyes wander around the room, Khanak presumed he was thinking of a way to evade the question. Either evade it, or lie. Neither would do, and she made a point to make that clear to Shaantanu.
"Don't evade the question Shaantanu. And jhoot bhi mat boliye ga."
He looked directly at her and with measured words, spoke:
"The world gives us our lessons Khanak; I've had mine."
Not one to be easily swayed, Khanak implicitly insisted he open up to her.
"Lessons make us cautious, not cold."
"Some lessons make you cold."
"Cold as ice!" Shaantanu reiterated.
"And yet you are talking to me?"
"I told you I think you're different."
"But why? I love to shop, to talk, to dress up and to be myself just like any other woman."
"To be yourself? That's what you said, right? Don't you see the difference there and then?"
"Okay so some people are fake but so what? There are so many fake guys out there. Should I not trust you because of them?"
"But I trust you."
"Because you think I'm different. But have you given me any reason to believe there is not one man out there who is like you? Who I can say is the general version of all guys but not of you?"
"You're just taking this in the wrong direction Khanak. I don't have any problem with you so then why bother about my past experiences?"
"Past experiences houn ge Shaantanu. But I hope you haven't forgotten iss dosti ke chakkar mein, ke actually mein humare parents humari shaadi karwana chahte hein. A future can't be built if we're unsure of how our pasts affect each other."
"But this really is no big issue Khanak." Shaan was literally pleading her to let go of the topic.
"Big issue nai hai tou bataein na Shaantanu."
And that was when Shaantanu could see everything as crystal clear. Khanak was more than just an acquaintance to him. A friend would also be an understatement. Because in that very moment, he understood that Khanak meant more to him than any most of his friends. Her opinions, her anxiousness, her likes and dislikes impacted his mind. He sought her acceptance, even more now, because he knew he wasn't worth her. She was a woman built by ideals and principles that he had disregarded always. In his stubborness to label women as materialistic he had become so himself. He measured everything in reward and loss. Everything was there to either succeed or take advantage of. But now he met someone who thought about everything in the purest of forms.
For her a relationship was a meeting of two souls, not two agendas. Parents were to be loved and respected and looked upon for guidance, not taken for granted as backup support. Food was to be loved as a means of sustenance not simply to be gobbled down. He could go on and on about how Khanak treasured the small and finer things in life but he was still looking into her eyes ever since the start of the conversation. She expected a reply. And as far as he could remember, this was the first thing she ever expected of him.
"Give me time Khanak. I am a complicated person, still discovering himself."
He could see she was disappointed. Her eyes had lost their glow, the glow he loved. Her heart was beating faster and there was no trace of the subtle smile had often encouraged him to speak frankly to her. He held her hand and pressed it to assure her.
"Allow me to ask you to trust me on this. Trust me Khanak, I'll tell you soon."
A brief smile and he was gone. Her hands were dangling beside her legs and his legs could be seen walking away.
She was still looking at the envelope and the past four days passed before her eyes. After that unsuccessful conversation she had decided to give Shaantanu the time that he needed and not bug him about it. It was best to let him sort out his feelings and judge whether he wanted Khanak to be his partner in everything in his life.
They had had several conversations since then, and had discussed a lot of things ranging from studies to career interests to their views on parents, siblings and the Indian household. If they believed they were friends, they certainly acted like that. The question still hung in midair but it did not affect their camaraderie. A day ago she had received the acceptance letter from UCL for a Masters Degree Program in Economics and she had told him about it. She even asked him his opinion on whether she should pursue it or be content with her job at her father's firm. He had told her that it was a great opportunity which few were lucky to have and if she felt her heart was in it she should go for it. The problem was, she didn't know where her heart was.
Phew! Here's part 22 guys! Hope you all like it.
Edited by ABlank90 - 10 July 2012 at 9:53am