Joined: 23 September 2012
Joined: 23 September 2012
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Neel was moving around nervously in the reception, when Manik reached the hospital. Nandini had already been wheeled into a ward by then.
"Has any doctor checked on her yet?" Manik asked.
Neel: " No not yet. She is on the second floor, room 212, third right from the lift."
"Hey Manik" Neel called out as Manik started walking towards the lift. " I am sorry to drag you into this. I mean we just met and you were kind enough to come for the engagement and now this mess. But honestly I am glad you are here. I would have felt pretty lost if I had to deal with this alone."
"Chill. Don't stress too much on this. I am glad I was there at the right time. I am going upstairs, complete the formalities and get one doctor to see her as early as you can." Manik patted on Neel's shoulder and dashed upstairs.
He had brushed off Neel's words but he did have a point didn't he? Neel was just a week old acquaintance and Nandini was a complete stranger to him. Yet, he was here in a hospital on a Saturday late night rushing around for them.
'Because they were in a crooked situation and needed help' Manik's inner voice was telling him. 'And he would have helped anyone else in a similar situation'.
'Perhaps!!' he thought and besides this wasn't the time to think about these things. But his gut was hinting otherwise. His gut always had to intervene. It always had to make things complex. "f**k!!" this time he spoke aloud and people around him turned to see who this ill-mannered guy was.
Manik pushed the door to room 212. There she was, dressed in all her finery lying unconscious on a hospital bed. Manik moved closer to the bed. The first thing he noticed was her tiny frail frame. Her honey and peaches skin looked so delicate that Manik felt even a gentle nudge could leave a bruise. Her hair fell over her face which was tilted to one side. She was beautiful, not in a 'model with a chiseled face and perfect figure' kind of way, on the contrary she had a chubby face and yet she was beautiful and delicate like ... like a living doll. But Manik hated how lifeless the girl appeared. He wished for her to wake up, blink those pretty eyes and talk animatedly.
His eyes fell on her feet. Her heavily embroidered ghaghra was folded halfway, exposing her feet and shoes. 'No one had the sense to take off her shoes' he thought. He bent down, then hesitated for a while and then bent all the way down to pull the shoes off her feet.
There was a knock on the door and the doctor walked in. Manik moved back. The doctor checked her pulse and measured her vitals. " Her BP is way too low. Has she been fasting? I see she is dressed for some occasion." The doctor asked.
"Well , we got engaged today and with all those rituals and people, we didn't have time to eat anything after breakfast." Neel sounded apologetic.
The doctor laughed. "Congrats! The very first day of a life together and this is where she lands. Step up to the occasion gentleman and take care of her. People and rituals will come and go." He continued "On a serious note, it's that and perhaps the stress of the function. She is severely dehydrated but that's something we can fix. Feed her something while we put her on a saline drip. She should regain consciousness soon."
This time it was Neel who stayed while Manik went down to the cafeteria to get something for her to eat. But he didn't know what she preferred , he didn't even know if she was non- vegetarian or not. He thought it was safe to take some dessert. It had sugar and would help her with easy calories. He ordered some cake and returned.
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Joined: 23 September 2012
Sunday, May 1, 2016
As soon as the saline entered her veins, she started regaining consciousness. She was just about to open her eyes when she heard Manik call Neel. She kept her eyes shut, pretending to be still unconscious. She strained her ears to hear their conversation. From whatever little she could understand, Manik didn't recognize her. At least for now, at least at this moment he was innocent & was only trying to help out Neel and her.
Her mind right now was a whirlpool of emotions, her prayers and her nightmares were both confronting her at the same time in the form of Manik Malhotra. Should she scream out of joy at having finally found him , burst out of anger at his betrayal or die out of sadness for being engaged to Neel.
For as long as long as she remembered, she had never hurt anyone. Whose karma was she repaying then? She mustered all her strength, she had to get her bearings and act normal. She would have to act so well that neither Neel nor Manik got the slightest hint of her inner storm.
She opened her eyes to see both the men standing infront of her.
"Thank God!! How are you feeling Nandu?" Neel almost jumped on her.
"Better, but weak." She answered to Neel , but looking at Manik.
"You are going to be better, now have some food. Manik has got you some dessert."
Nandini had to think fast. She had to do something. "Have you called anyone from my family?"
Nandini: "Good. They will be worried. Can you please bring Navya. I am not feeling very comfortable here and ask her to get me a change of clothes please?"
Neel: "Let me call her."
Nandini: "Neel... U will call a girl at this hour to come on her own? She doesn't even have her own car. Besides she must be at the radio station. Please go and pick her up. Enough of trouble for one night, I don't want my best friend to land up into something nasty."
Manik was listening intently. Her voice fell like beads of pearl on his ears. Moments ago she was so lifeless and now she beamed like a rainbow. She was a talking, blinking doll.
Neel realized there was no point arguing with her, not in front of Manik. He knodded like an obidient boyfriend. "Ok let me quickly go fetch Navya. Manik, you should go home and take rest. Nandini is stable now and we owe u a treat. Had it not been for you, we would have been in trouble today."
Before Manik could say anything Neel added "I am sure even Nandini would want to thank you."
Neel knew exactly what to speak and when. He knew no gentleman would refuse such a request. And he dashed out.
Nandini knew her fiance well enough to know that he never did anything out of etiquette or gratitude. But whatever it was that he had in mind was working in her favour. She had deliberately sent him off, she knew he wouldn't be back anytime soon for she was well aware that Navya was on air now and wouldn't be done before the next two hours. She had to take this chance. She deserved to know the answers to the questions that had killed her for three years.
She looked at Manik.
"You are ok, right?" Manik asked.
She was finding it difficult to breathe, to accept that Manik was right before her eyes..after what had seemed like an eternity, her love, her life, her everything was standing infront of her. And boy, did he look handsome...much much more than the last time she had seen him. Perhaps it was his hair that he now wore differently than before. All she wanted to do was to hug him with all her strength and cry, but her mind hated him with a toxic fierceness. She ended up smiling at him.. She could as well try her hand at acting, she thought.
"You are.." She feigned ignorance, as if she too didn't know him.
"Manik, sorry I didn't get a chance to introduce myself. I am Manik Malhotra. Pleased to meet you miss tipsy."
She was stressed. He should try to be funny and make her laugh perhaps.
"Miss tipsy?" Nandini frowned.
"Yeah u fainted the moment u saw me, what else should I call u? Heard u have been starving all day. See I got some chocolate cake for you."
Nandini: "Mujhe bhook nahi hai."
Manik: "Seriously? Soch lo kyun ki I am damn hungry."
They both smiled. Manik helped her sit up and fed her some cake. Something was crumbling inside Nandini. It was so hard to keep up the pretense.
Nandini: "See my luck. Who gets to spend an engagement night in a hospital."
Manik got thoughtful. He remembered his days in Switzerland. "I know it sucks. Who would know better. Three years of hell." He stopped abruptly realizing he had spoken more than he intended to.
That caught Nandini's attention : "Three years!! Y what happened?" Only if he would start speaking out.
Manik: "Nothing Miss Tipsy. But the bright side is I am better now and you too will be."
He was guarded. It wouldn't be so easy to get the truth out of him. She would have to be patient with him. But she would do it anyway and at any cost. At least she had a purpose now. Her life was screwed big time but at least she would take his answers to her grave.
Nandini: "Naye ho Mumbai mein? "
Manik: "Yes u can say so. Naya hi hun."
Nandini: "To fir friends banaye koi?"
Manik: "No, not yet."
Nandini: "Koi nai, I will be your first friend in Mumbai." She extended her hand for a handshake.
Manik smiled. "Done Miss tipsy." He felt his baby soft hand in his.
Nandini: "Acha Manik, have you seen my phone? I need to call home. They must be worried."
Manik: " I havent seen but I can ring. Tell me your number."
The last thing Nandini wanted was to call her family at this time. Till she figured out the whole truth, she would have to hide this from everyone, her family ,friends and even fab 5. But she lied to Manik to get his number.
When they found the phone she pretended to talk to her family and assured him that they would be at the hospital in no time. She asked him to leave and promised to meet him soon as both she and her fiance were supposed to treat him.
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Joined: 23 September 2012
Joined: 23 September 2012
Tuesday, May 2, 2016
It had been a long day. So much had happened within a span of 24 hours that Nandini was having a hard time, letting it all sink in. It was still pitch dark outside. Manik had left, even Neel had left after dropping Navya at the hospital. She had called Chachi, lying to her that she was spending the night at Navya's flat whereas in reality, she was lying on the hospital bed, with the saline drip still on. Navya had cuddled up on the guest sofa.
She felt sorry for Navya. For a week now Navya had been hosting two shows, one that was hers and the other late night show she had volunteered to host to cover for her sick colleague. She must have been dead tired but not once did she show it. She dropped everything at hand to rush to be at the hospital.
While the rest of the world was fast asleep, Nandini lay awake. Despite Navya being in the same room, she felt overwhelmingly lonely. The last three years flashed in front of her eyes, how the initial shock at Manik's unexplained departure, had eventually turned into worry and then intense anger and hatred over the years. How the famous FAB5 which was as famous for their music as for their friendship, fell out and crumbled to pieces, how Nyonika tried every trick in her book to mess up her life & how she was trapped by Neel. She would have fought through this and more if Manik hadn't deserted her. Together they would have seen through every difficulty, and that was her biggest regret... that they weren't together.
Flashback: 3 years ago on New Year:
It was pouring heavily outside on the unusually cold evening. Being the first day of the year, it was a holiday and people all around were in a celebratory mood. Nandini was packing her bags with one hand & wiping away her tears with the other. She had had a huge argument with Amms over the phone. Accompanying Manik to Denmark for his treatment was an impulsive decision and Nandini was adamant about it. She didn't care how her relatives or neighbours would react once they came to know she was going with her boyfriend. She didn't care that she had to leave her studies halfway. She didn't know how long it would take for the treatment to complete, she didn't know how difficult it would be to sustain in another country, she didn't even know whether despite everything, doctors would be able to save his memory, but none of it mattered to her. The one and only thing that did was her love for Manik.
But Amms wouldn't understand any of it. Even Nandini's uncle was sceptical. It was one thing to know that she had a boyfriend but to let her go to another country alone with him was a different ballgame all together. On top of that Manik's father was sponsoring everything because Nandini's uncle even if he wanted to, couldn't afford the expenses. Nandini had always been a docile child. Family meant a lot to her, especially after she lost her parents in an accident. But this one time she had to defy even at the cost of disappointing her Amms and uncle.
Their flight was at 11pm. It was half past 7. Manik would be here anytime, Nandini thought. But when he didn't arrive even by 8, she started getting worried. She called him once twice..a total of 10 times but each time she would get the same message 'The number you have dialed is currently out of service.'
Nandini tried to recall the last time she had spoken to him. The night before, she panicked. On any other day, they call each other several times throughout a day but today she was so busy with the packing and arrangements, they hadn't spoken even once. 'Was he ok?' She wondered.
Time was slipping away. One by one Navya, Dhruv, Alya, Mukti and Aryaman called her. They were all at the airport waiting to see them off. She asked the Fab 4 to wait at the airport while she took a taxi to Manik's home. She had a gut feeling that something was wrong. But nothing in the world could have prepared her for what she was about to witness.
When she reached Manik's home, Manik wasn't there.
Panicking she asked one of the servants "Bhaiya Manik kahan hai, hamari flight hai in 2 hours."
Servant: "Manik baba to chale gaye. Unki flight to 6 baje thi."
Nandini: "Bhaiya yeh mazak ka waqt nahi hai, please Manik ko bula do nahi to flight miss ho jayegi."
Servant: "Aap mera yakin karo, main khud unko airport chor aya tha sham ko."
Nandini totally lost it. Despite their telling her that he had left she couldn't get herself to believe them. Manik couldn't do something like this. She dashed upstairs to Manik's room. It was empty. She shouted his name but no one responded. His luggage too was missing. She opened the drawers and all the clothes had been packed away. Manik had indeed gone somewhere. Her first thought was 'Nyonika'. She must have done something. But no matter what she intended to do Manik would never leave just like that after having promised to go together. She called Fab4 and they all came rushing to Manik's place.
11 pm came and went, there was no trace of Manik anywhere. Dhruv called Manik's dad and put the phone on speaker.
"Uncle Manik kahan hain? Manik aur Nandini aaj fly karne wale the Denmark par uska koi ata pata hi nahi."
Mr. Malhotra: "Nandini ??? Manik ne to Nandini ka nam bhi zikar nahi kiya tha. Tickets bhi khali Manik ke hi book huye the and 6 pm ke. Who to chala gaya."
They all were speechless not knowing exactly how to react.
Dhruv: "Uncle Manik ka contact number hai kya aap ke pas? Uska old number to nahi lag raha."
Mr. Malhotra "Dekho Dhruv, tum jante ho main Manik ke personal mamlon mein interfere nahi karta. Agar jane se pehle usne tumlogon se contact nahi kiya to iska matlab who tumse contact nahi karna chahta. Leave him alone. Waise bhi who who beemar hai and ekbar tum logon ki wajah se , especially that Nandini he self discharged himself from the hospital. Aaj wooh jo bhi suffer kar raha hai uski wajah se. So please stay away from him."
Each one of them was shocked to their bones except Nandini, who remained in denial. She kept waiting for Manik's call..days rolled into weeks, weeks into months and months into years but Manik never called...until today.
Nandini started shivering, these sad memories had pushed her down a bottomless abyss. She just couldn't control her tears. Her loud sobs woke up Navya. She immediately got up and hugged Nandini in a tight embrace, massaging her back as if she were a kid. Nandini wanted to tell her everything and get this load off her chest. But she couldn't. She only kept crying and Navya kept consoling her till she got exhausted and fell asleep.
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Joined: 02 October 2015
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