a 100th episode celebration special.-x-
"Do you think the universe fights for souls to be together?
Some things are too strange and strong to be coincidences."
Or else, what will explain destiny's games with two of its favourite children, Manik and Nandini.
He was the child born to the manor surrounded by the ivory towers of his pristine kingdom where money could buy everything and motherhood came with a price. Manik Malhotra spent years locked in the dark, cold vortex of loneliness, somehow struggling and fighting to save his dreams, hopes, morality and just humanity. It is then that the young Manik made one prayer, perhaps to a shooting star- a prayer for true love, the unconditional, all-consuming, trusting love. Somebody or something that could ease his heart's troubles, listen to his fears and be his light in the dark forest of life.
Fate listened. She gave him the stars, far away from the reach of the little child, but promising him hope. Hope of love.
She was a happy child. Loved by her parents, laughing with her young brother, Nandini Moorthy was content, she had everything. That is, until her mother told her a secret. The secret of fireflies, the secret of true love. Her eyes beamed with excitement as the fairy-tale her mother narrated spoke to the little girl about love, how like the little fireflies, even a trickle of love could lighten up the entire darkness. She experienced peace and happiness amongst her fireflies, she wanted this for herself. So, she prayed to her Ayyappa for true love.
The fireflies glowed. Her prayers were acknowledged.
Then came the twist of fate, ten years from then, the paths of these two kids crossed, a bond was formed, while the fireflies glowed silently, witnessing it all.
Some loss, some gain. Their world was turned upside down.
Manik Malhotra was not a lonely child now, he had a friend - his Dhruv, the buddy who saved his life. The boy whom the stars gave to Manik the fated night when he could have all but died. Manik was thankful, his prayers were answered, the stars had given him a purpose to live. He promised his happiness to Dhruv. But then, sometimes people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them. At 9 years of age, young Manik was far removed from the realities of this promise. To him, all that mattered was Dhruv, his brother, and his new life.
But Nandini had lost everything. Her happiness, her parents, everything was just gone. She saw her brother struggle for hours under the rubble with her. She cried, cursed and then gave up, as the stars kept a silent vigil over her struggle, uncaring and oblivious to her struggles. She envied them for their peace, hated their ability to indifferently shine on while her world was engulfed in darkness. It was then she decided, stars don't shine for her. They never bring light and all they do is watch and destroy her happiness. She promised them her hate.
"Strange things conspire when one tries to cheat fate."
It was inevitable wasn't it, the first meeting?
After years, Nandini found her happiness among her fireflies, saw them flutter around taking in the glory of true love. To the scientific mind, it all clicked.They were not all lies. In her friends' love, she saw them glow. Her mother was right, true love was like fireflies. She believed and stored the fireflies as her prayers.
He saw the shooting star again, the old friend who gave him his life. So he gazed on, not wishing but remembering the unconditional love he once prayed for.
Once again, Fate smiled.
And then it happened. Nandini Moorthy was apprehensive of her new world. She was unprepared for what awaited her, all she had was her fireflies. He was with his friends. They never saw each other but they did. He saved her fireflies and they glowed rejoicing the first brushes of touch. She could never see his face, but caught sight of the little star dangling from his guitar. Star, again. But her fireflies glowed.
And the dance continued,
Nandini became the reluctant saviour -not once but twice. She became a threat to the family he ferociously protected. The kink in his perfect plan-Nandini Moorthy was marked by Manik Malhotra. The veil was undone.
Was it the flicker of courage or her spunk, he will never know. But something about the cute, delicate doll-like girl instantly attracted him. He wanted to tease her, poke her and that is all he did. She was the bird who had willingly come to his dark cage and play is all he wanted.
So it started their story...
He pushed and poked, holding a mere pen as bargain. Give and take, he told her. She accepted, it was not a mere pen for her. It was her Appa's lucky pen, the last token of happy memories which she had long forgotten. If it meant giving him the pleasure of victory, she will- but she won't part with her father's last gift to her.
He was enjoying the chase, watching her struggle for a cheap looking pen. He was not mocking her, it was her spirit that he wanted to best. Why, he was unaware.
Then he broke the pen. Threw away the memories of her Appa from the window as she ran with tears flowing down her cheek, hoping for some miracle. But the pen was broken and she crumpled down to her knees- helpless, angry, frustrated, tired and just sad. Manik walked in with his Fab5 friends, if you asked her she would tell you there was nothing fabulous about them. Nothing.
He saw her sobbing face and smiled. Yes, the light of her spirit won't trouble him. He did it in front of the entire crowd, always the one for audience, he made sure they learnt what it meant for messing with Fab5. He continued with his taunts, smirked in victory and probably, he was too drunk in his own thoughts, he didn't care if it was her father's pen.
He never sensed her anger. But Nandini Moorthy had enough of Manik Malhotra. He was the monster that she only heard about in her mother's fairy-tales, the ones her Aams warned about. Though at that moment, he seemed none of that, he was nothing. So she punched him, with all her anger, in front of his own crowd. It hurt, he bled but it was her words that kept ringing him.
She saw through him, it scared him and he was angry at everything. Her courage to say the truth to him in front of everyone. He was mystified, what was in this midget which had him to be so disoriented. He couldn't hurt her now, mortal wounds won't measure to the pain she had given in reminder of his reality. Courage it was, courage he will test.
For now, he needed her closer to him. He has to, because isn't it about keeping the friends close and enemies closer. Friends they shall be.
Manik chose her to be his new friend. She was worried, confused, afraid not. He has done worse and she had paid him kind.
All it took for them was some music. He was away, probably for the first time in years from his friends, she was alone with him without any fears, because it was music. Among the shadows of their silhouettes, they both shed their inhibitions, they spoke one language. She twirled, laughed and sang. He played, relaxed and sang too. Together, they painted the beautiful picture. Meethi boliyan sun lo...
Fate was happy, they were one. The Ying to the Yang .
She fell for his sweetness, took his offer for a ride back to college. Was it the first time she trusted him? She won't know, but he was up to no good. Again she resented, but this time she made a mistake. A 25 lakh worth mistake. So he did what he would do for his entire lifetime, carried Nandini Moorthy on his shoulder, away from the prying eyes.
He had her finally. She became his spot. Around him, doing his bidding. But then she stumbled on to one of his secrets- Dhruv. She saw the boy she admired struggle much like her brother, the star symbol that had haunted her brother was there too. But what took her by surprise was Manik's tenderness. She saw a side of him that she never thought was there. Who was this Manik Malhotra? The Monster, or a boy who was capable of so much caring.
He was definitely the monster or else, why will he make her whip his dirty shoes? And the kiss, no, not for Nandini, it was just an accident that she wanted to rinse away. She'd had enough. But Manik felt weird. This was not his plan. She was getting in his head too. But he still needed her close to him, it was in his desperation that he stumbled on her secret, the one similar to his. He saw her struggle with Rishab like he had done many times with Dhruv. Was it the bond or just the empathy for her, he didn't know, but he didn't like her crying for the first time. Something about her breaking down bothered him. He was not used to a helpless Nandini, she was strong and fearless for him. So Manik ordered her to smile, in the only way he can. They were both exhausted with their burden, the silence formed a bond as they both remembered the night which started it all.
Manik Malhotra had learned very early in life to never reveal his fears to anyone. Vulnerability was a weakness and one an enemy wouldn't hesitate to use against him. It was a 'kill or die' world and he knew it. But there was one weakness he couldn't hide and that was his fear of darkness. When his stars were with him, he could survive it, the promise of their shine giving him courage, but when stuck in a dark room, where fate tricked him into, with none but his greatest source of irritation, Nandini of all people, he felt helpless to hide his discomfort and she noticed. He expected her to make fun of his fears or mock him for his discomfort but she did neither. Just like always, since the time he'd known her, she continued to surprise him. She brought him fire light instead. And spoke of little light-bearing beings, her precious fireflies, who fought the darkness relentlessly and inspired her to do the same. With her words alone, she lit up his soul, glowing just like a firefly herself. She did it all just for him, but asked for nothing in return.
That was the night Manik discovered that no sources of light were beyond his reach, high up in the heavens. There was light on earth too and it could be found in small, unexpected things.. or people.
Nandini Moorthy had learnt to be strong on her own. Because as she'd learned from experience, if she fell, there would be no one to catch her. Sure, her mother's fireflies were always there to listen to her, guide her and inspire her but even they couldn't take the place of the family she'd long lost. So she knew in this struggle for survival, she had to stand for herself.
All of that changed one dark, drunken night, when another game of fate caused her to lose her balance and her senses but this time when she tripped, two strong hands reached out to catch her; every time she lost her way, a familiar, friendly voice called her back and each time she felt afraid, two arms surrounded her in protection. And she was surprised by how safe she felt for the first time in her life. How unafraid, how free, how alive.
That was the night Nandini gave up her hatred for the stars, because she had found a reason to accept them. They were the greatest source of comfort to the person who was her greatest strength. But she still didn't trust them at all, how could she? And she definitely couldn't trust them to look out for the one who owned her soul, so she took on their role instead. He was her person now and he needed a shining star. Well then, she would be his personal, exclusive star from then onward and show him the light. All he needed to do was stay with her. Always. And all those silent, selfish hardhearted stars up there, well, they could just watch and learn, couldn't they? Watch as she outshone them all. For him.
Then came the magical night when Nandini and Manik found their home in each other. They were united by the promises of light, prayers and trust that bound them and they sealed their fate with love's first kiss. They thought they were alone in their special moment but they couldn't be more wrong; this beautiful, mystical, preordained dance of destiny had two silent witnesses- his stars and her fireflies.
Love is not easy, smiled Fate.
The night that started it all was going to play the final card- Dhruv. It was a rude awakening for Manik Malhotra. He was the undeserving one, especially now when he seemed to have been snatching away the happiness from his buddy's life. No this was not love that he couldn't leave incomplete. This was not love which needed courage to stand against his promise to a brother. So he decided to give it all up.
She is a star, she will shine everywhere. Beast he is, the monster: wasn't it what Nandini herself called him as, so he shall be- the one breaking her heart, even if it rips his soul. It was not love, it will be easy to set his mind. Yes, that is what Manik Malhotra decided and acted upon.
The very fireflies he never failed to save, he forced her to give up by telling her his lies. He knew she will never go away from him, so he walked out himself, taking her faith in true love with him.
Nandini stood there shattered; this was not how it was meant to be. She was willing to tell him the secret of her fireflies about their fate and the love they shared. But he walked out without a glance, just like the damned stars.
Fate is by far the greatest mystery of all. She laughed at them.
How can they walk away from each other? Don't they realize they cannot survive without one another? She laughed and the game was back on.
He never could manage to stay away from her. Her tears were haunting Manik and his looming presence in her space was suffocating Nandini. Yet they were unwilling to move away. They couldn't. They both needed their breaks to console each other. The loss was upon them, but Nandini Moorthy was not giving up, she needed answers to explain her hurt, this inability to stop caring for him.
Manik was clueless and lifeless. He saw her crying, watched her turn down his buddy and then he was confused. This was not suppose to be this hard, she wasn't supposed to cry like that. He was angry, without her, he was loosing his humanity, and himself.
With all the games playing around, Manik and Nandini couldn't help but care. She could never let him give up on himself and he would have never let her get hurt.
She got her answers, the hurt, his sacrifice and what they shared.
Once again Nandini Moorthy had ripped the monster away. The hurt he had given her re-affirmed what her fireflies promised, but she didn't want it anymore. Love is pain. She cannot be that vulnerable and broken again. So she turned her back on her own heart. Not again, not again.
For Manik Malhotra, she was right, he was all wrong. This is why he spent all his waking hours writing and begging for her forgiveness. He just wanted to make her happy again, with him. Love, he still denied. All he wanted even now is her and him together again, like old times.
She says there cannot be an end when their story never began. He is silent.
'Fool,' cried Fate.
She is his star, so she shall shine forever as he continues his struggles with darkness around him while he will bring the fireflies and restore her faith in true love. This is their journey towards each other.
What's meant will always find it's way...And so will Nandini and Manik.
"Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is growing up."