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Joined: 05 September 2006
The thing about Airports is that they're often busy. Now, I don't mind people- in fact I'm sort of a people person. But I hate the constant rushing, pushing and disregard for people coming and going. Why is everyone always rushing? You're late for a flight, well- leave the house earlier. Manyata and I aren't rushing at all. Heathrow is busting at the seams but we walk calmly side by side ready to simply head to our hotel- separate rooms of course- and pass out. Uncle Brij and Aunty Komal are behind us walking at a similar leisurely pace. I see people I recognize, it seems that every Oxford Alumni had decided to come in a week earlier. Smile, wave and move on- the Airport is no place for a formal introduction. Unnati is walking with Jai ahead of us. Shoulders hunched and face sullen, she hasn't been the same since the fiasco at the Children's ball. I feel a sudden urge to go snap her out of it, because for the last two months Manyata has been concerned to the point of worry. These two girls are going to be the death of me.
Our flight had been uneventful, but utterly enjoyable. We had watched Tom and
Jerry Cartoons in the spacious seats of First Class, only to have Manyata
switch seats with Unnati so she could go be with Jai.
Have I mentioned I really dislike J?
I can almost feel the childish envy coming to the surface again, and I think Manyata beside me could possibly see it too, because she pinches my side. Thank goodness for lids, because my coffee would have slushed to the side from the surprise. Not amused I scowel at her, and she stares back.
Manyata: You need to be a little bit more mature then that Uday.
Me: What did I do?
Manyata: Stop staring at J like you'd like to slit her throat.
I swallow a chuckle and drink my coffee. She knows me too well.
Me: Whatever do you mean Princess?
She's practically hissing at me.
Manyata: You know what I mean! It's not her fault that your stupid friend is an asshole, jerk, a kutha..a..
Me: You know, I'm offended.
Manyata: Your friend deserves all the galiyaan in the world!
Me: He does, sure. That's fine. But I have a reservation on every desi Gali that comes out of your mouth Manyata.
She smacks her hand on her forehead and sighs.
Manyata: Tum Kabhi nahi suderho gay.
Me: You bet. So, what's the word of the day for me?
Me: Ahh, a classic I see.
She rolls her eyes, and hits her head gently against my bicep, and I place my hand on her waist.
We've come to know each other over this past time; it seems like eons ago that she was a silly, stuck up and proud Chawl girl. Others may stop and think that the girl is simply a princess now. Regal, Refined and Classy- but I still get unedited moments of the Jungalee billie. For however many changes have come in her- I've seen just as many in me. Don't particularly party as much- definitely not a flirt anymore, and not so arrogant. It's both a good and a bad change. I feel like I'm married- not that I'd mind being married- but the fact is she hasn't said yes! What type of woman wouldn't want to scream out YES at the thought of marrying me? She just gives me a condescending look or evades the topic of marriage completely. It's planned for early next year! But she hasn't formally said yes. She's crazy. Flat out nuts.
I guess I'm so busy thinking about how crazy Manyata is that I completely fail to notice that there's this little kid running by, I do my best to avoid the little guy but he ends up pumping into me, my iced coffee jumps and spills onto my clean dress shirt. The kid looks frazzled, his big blue eyes watering up as he realizes that he might get in trouble. Oh boy. I'm still cursing at the damned cold beverage running down my shirt, but Manyata wastes no time.
Manyata: Uday, you standing there hissing isn't going to help.
She crouches down and helps the little boy up, who looks like he's 5, I'll have to give him credit, he doesn't cry but looks up at us as if we're going to yell at him.
Kid: I sorry.
Manyata: It's OK! Uday was going to throw that away anyways, weren't you Uday?
Ah, no. I had half the thing left still.
Me: Actually I was..
She kicks my foot, which the kid notices right away since we're at his level, and does the damndest thing: Laughs.
Kid: I sorry, pwej don't tell mama.
Manyata: I won't promise.
I wink at him to make him feel better, and in return he shows me his perfect pearly white smile.
A woman with a long brown hair in a braid is running towards us, sliding down she holds on to the little boy, chanting his name.
Woman: Andy! Andy! Oh god! There you are! Don't you ever do that again!
The woman's British accent is thick with emotion as if her life was about to end. I'm not a parent, but I could understand the sentiment.
Andy: Soweee. I wanted to go pway.
I look towards where his chubby finger pointed and spot the children's play area at the other end. The kid is fast.
The woman looks up and us and gaps at the coffee stain seeping into my shirt.
Woman: Oh no. He did this didn't?
Manyata: It's OK, don't worry about it.
Woman: We should pay for the dry cleaning at least.
I appreciate the sentiment, but it was good silk and there is no way black coffee is coming out of it. But, she doesn't need to know that.
Manyata: Don't worry, it's just a shirt. It will clean.
Me: We should head out Manyata.
Manyata looks back and waves at the child with a smile on her face. I look back and see the kid do the same.
Great, she hasn't even agreed to married me
and she wants kids.
Can't I do something in order for once in my life?
If there is one thing I hate about traveling, it's the hotels. I've grown up in hotels and hostels; I've lived in them for so long that I envy a home. Jaigard is where home is, but I'm seldom there anymore, summers were spent traveling with Dad around the world to understand diplomacy and how our empire is run- the rest of the school year was spent abroad in boarding schools- Oxford Prep and then Oxford. It seems that I've spent more time in England than I have at home in Jaigard. I know the area like the back of my hand, and I know there are a few places I need to take Manyata.
The car ride is uneventful and soon we part ways and head into our personal suits. Jai and Manyata shared there's down the Hall, Komal Aunty and Brij in one, Unnati in hers, Vijay in his with his mother, and finally dad at the other end of the hall- the entire floor is for the Two royal families. As every other hotel the scene is the same- neat bed, clean sheets, impeccable view and polished chrome, aged marble and high definition TVs. I leave my bag for the maid to unpack and head into the shower to wash away the coffee that's sticking to my body, and thoughts take over my mind. I've never really thought of kids before by seeing that little boy made me think about it- I know Manyata and I will have to have children- its expected, practically a demand of our stature. But do I want them? Do I want to raise a child like I've been raised? Do I want him or her to know that they don't have choices? I still remember the days as a child when I would realize that certain things are simply not in our destiny. Dad always made it seem that our destiny- my destiny- was better then everyone else's, for greater and more important things.
But that's not true. I look back and think
about how much I would dislike the thought of having children had it been with
someone else. But with Manyata the thought brings a smile to my face. A girl.
With her smile, hair and eyes- let's hope she's a bit more princess like
though. I can see it all before me, but suddenly it's all gone. As if it's
being stopped before it can even take place. I open my eyes and the hot water
drips down my eyelashes, hands braced against the pristine cream tiles I take
in a deep breath, and swallow some steamy air. How can I have this future, when
Manyata hasn't even agreed to marry me? She hasn't said yes, she hasn't even
acknowledged our wedding that's being planned in less than a year. She doesn't
like to refer to me being as her fiance. She doesn't like to be called
anything which insinuates that. What if she doesn't want to marry me? Is that
even possible?! I step out and shake off the water from my hair as I reach for
my towel, what do I have to do to get this girl to say yes? To at least stop
grimacing every time the word marriage comes up? I don't know. I sigh as I walk
in to my room. The maid has left and all my clothing hangs neatly in the
closets, I step into my boxers and then a pair of grey sweat pants, and start
to dry my hair. I hear a gentle knock on my door and realize that it could only
be Manyata, at first I reach for my black shirt and then I drop it. Why should
I make her feel comfortable, when the mere sight of her gets me all worked up?
Grinning at her potential reaction I make my way to the door, and open it.
Someone shoot me now.
It's not Manyata instead it's 3 British girls, who each look about 21 or 22. Royalty Wanabees. This always happens when I'm in England. Girls trying to sneak into the hotel rooms, usually rich girls who want to fulfill some fantasy about a prince- even if he is an Indian one. For the most part when I was younger I was fine with it, sort of expected and took advantage of it. But right now, I don't want three bottled blondes. They smile coyly and their accents become low and sultry.
Girl1 : Prince Udayveer, we've been looking for a while and we're so glad we've found you.
Girl 2: Yes! We heard you were in the area, do you remember us?
I look carefully and realize who they are. The Benatte Triplets. They were brunettes last time. Which means they're like 24, rather than 19. Oh crap why do my wild sexcapades always seem to come back to haunt me?
Me: Hi ladies, hope you're doing well.
Girl 3/b]: We'd do much much much better love if you'd let us in.
One of the girls boldly runs a finger down my chest, her blood red nails against my bronzed chest.
[b]Girl 1: I see you haven't been neglecting your workouts dear
I don't know what to say to that, but I guess I don't have to.
Manyata: He's about to neglect you too, chural!
I don't know what to do. Laugh at the Girl's expression or be shocked my Manyata's language?
She's standing there, in her sleeping lace thingy. The conservative cream lace which makes an anarkali style suit, without the dupatta. Her hair is up in a loose bun, and she doesn't have a speck of make up on her face. Surprising me, she barges inside, and takes a step next to me, facing down the girls who are literally a foot taller than her in heels, as if she herself was a 7 foot giant. I swear I can hear a growl in her voice as she looks at the three.
Girl 2: Who the bloody hell are you?
Manyata: Princess Manyata, and prey tell who are you?
Girl 2: Ashley Bennette!
Manyata: That means nothing to me.
Girl 3: Uday! Who is this girl?
Manyata pokes my chest and I can't help but notice how delicate her strong hands look with those French tipped nails.
Manyata: Abb Bathado! Baar Baar sab ko kahathey ho ki mai thumari mangathar hoon, ab kyun bolthi band ho gayi hai?
Me: I was getting to that!
Manyata: Sure you were! You man wh**e!
The girls look appalled at her language, but I'm not. I bite the inside of my mouth to stop myself from laughing. She's jealous! Thank god! She's jealous!!
Girl 1: Don't talk like that about Uday!
She glares at the middle twin and literally goes nose to nose with her.
Manyata: I can talk to him however I want. Do you understand?
Her voice is lethal, and even.
Manyata: Now, I suggest you walk to the end of the hall and take the elevator down. If I so much as smell you and your overdosed Chanel perfume around you will regret it. Now WALK.
The girls don't bother to argue and make their way down, but Manyata looks downright pissed as she slams the door shut. No sooner had she slammed the door that she pokes her finger in my chest.
Manyata: And you! Put on some clothes!
I oblige her request and pull on the shirt, and she like a pissed of school teacher paces across my room.
Manyata: I don't understand Uday! Jab Bhagwan Akal bantra tha, tho tum kha they?!
I look at my feet in an attempt to hide my humor. She obviously doesn't find anything funny about the situation.
Manyata: It's not funny Udayveer! Stop laughing!
I look up and make the most serious face possible.
Me: I know! I'm so sorry. I'll keep that in mind next time around.
Manyata: And stop being sarcastic! What on earth are you smoking!
Manyata: Well it sounds like you are! How do these girls find their way here?
Me: They have methods.
Manyata: Hmph. Methods. And who told you to open the door?
[Me: I thought it was you Princess.
Manyata: ME! Why on earth would I come and see you this late!
Me: Well, why are you here anyways?
She looks taken aback, as if I had caught her red handed. She had come here to see me- or to say good night at least, but had found the triplets at my door instead.
Manyata: It's a free World Uday! I can walk where I like.
It's too fun baiting her and I can't help it. I cross my arms across my chest and start the process.
Me: Really? It looks to me as if you came all the way down the hallway to see me.
Me: Come on Manyata, you know you had to see me.
Manyata: Bah! Like you're so irresistible!
I give my most menacing laugh as I walk towards her, for every step I take forward, she takes two back. Soon I have her near the edge of the bed.
Me: Oh, but I am princess, I am simply irresistible.
Manyata: You're so full of yourself!
Me: Ah uh, I can't help it you know.
I take one more step and she falls backwards on to the bed. Now, if I were truly a gentlemen, I'd help her up, and not intimidate her. But the fact of the matter is, I don't want to be a gentlemen around her, she sure as hell isn't a lady around me. I lean over her, making sure I don't touch her, my arms are braced on both sides of her head, seeping into the soft mattress, and I grin.
Manyata: Get that smug look off your face Udayveer! And get off me!
Me: I'm not touching you. You're touching me.
She pauses and looks, and I'm right, her hands are pushing into my chest, but otherwise there is not contact.
Manyata: Why you arrogant asshole!
Me: Hey, hey Princess, I can't help it if you can't keep your hands off the merchandise. It's top quality stuff.
Me: Yeah, you know. Once ladies get a taste, they can't keep their hands off.
If looks could kill, I'd be dead.
She instead, runs a neat finger down my face.
Manyata: You're right, you do have a fantastic face.
Me: And a hot body. Don't forget that.
She hums in agreement, and smiles.
Manyata: Oh yes, too bad you're about to be beaten to death!
Out from the left side, she pulls a pillow and bashes it into my face, it didn't hurt as much as it took me by surprise.
Me: Ouch! What the hell Manyata!
She she's standing on the bed, her hair is coming loose from the movement, and she's armed and dangerous with that pillow.
Manyata: Hot body! Hot Body?! I'll show you Hot Body ka bacha!
She assaults me with pillows, and I'm doing a good job of blocking her, once she's out of her weapons I stalk her like a lion does to a gazelle, completely defenseless, now I'm the hunter and she's the prey. Standing on top of the bed, and me standing on the ground there is a good height differential, but I can tell she's realized her mistake: never fire your ammunition all at once.
Me: Well, well, well Princess, looks like there's no more pillows left.
Manyata: Uday! Stay away from me you pervert!
I grin sheepishly and try to grab her ankle but she gives a yelp and steps back, I jump onto the bed, and she jumps off from the other side, laughing. It seems like yesterday we had had a similar incident before, where she had injured me. The girl can be lethal.
Me: Come on Princess! You don't want to injure me now do you?
Manyata: Yes I do! Come on Yuvraj Udayveer Singh, are you going to get our matched by a girl?
I want to laugh and say she isn't just any old girl, but I don't want to give her that satisfaction.
Me: Oh Princess, still as nave as ever. This game is already won- by me.
Manyata: You wish! You arrogant Prick!
Me: Wha! Your angrazee galyiaan are getting better and better each day.
She smiles sweetly across the room.
Manyata: There's a lot more where that came from.
There's only 5 feet between us, and I intend to take her by surprise, but she is fast. I've taken one step and she sprints in the other direction behind the sofa, I run, jumping over the sofa to catch her. I make the leap and she screeches in surprise and dodges me. I unfortunately over estimated my jump and end up hitting my knee on the coffee table. Why do I always end up the one withering in pain after our chases? It hurts but not too much, I'm about to get up when I notice her expression of hurt, and guilt. Seeing that I gasp out loud and clutch my knee to express my pain, she runs to my side concerned. Sucker.
Manyata: Uday! You should be more careful!
I hiss as she touches my knee, and she pulls her hand back feeling guilty. God, I am such an asshole.
Manyata: Oh no! Where does it hurt!?
She reaches over to touch my knee again, and that's when I grab her hand, and she shrieks.
Me: I got you princess!
Manyata: You jerk! You're not even hurt!
I laugh as I pull her pull and close, whispering in her hear.
Me: Remember Princess, I always win.
Not one to be taken down so easily, she stomps on my foot, taking me by surprise, and runs away. No, I really do have a part of me injured. Ouch, she has some serious foot abilities.
Me: Ouch Manyata! You permanently injured me!
Manyata: Good! I hope you have a limp for the rest of your life you faker!
I laugh and run after her, she runs and throws my wet towel at me, it slows me down by I don't give up.
Me: You can run Princess! But you can't hide!
She picks up the pillows on the ground and throws them, we've gone full circle around the room by this point, and she's doing her best to knock me down, I've stubbed my toes on the corner of the bed frame, the steps, the dresser and god knows what else. Those are going to sting in the morning.
Me: MANYATA!!! Cut it out!
She sticks her tongue out and runs towards the washroom, I limp after her. It didn't take long for her to realize her mistake as I shut the door behind me, the washroom is large but she can't escape me now. I cross my hands across my chest and grin as I corner her. Like a Lion corners a Gazelle at the watering hole.
Me: I win now, don't I princess.
Manyata: You wish!
Me: But where are you going to go now Manyata? It looks like I get this round.
She smirked, obviously amused at my confidence.
Me: Why so smug?
Manyata: I'll show you smug Udayveer.
I should have been more vigilant because while I had been trying to intimate her and make her feel as if she had lost the smart ass had stepped into the large open shower. She grabbed the spray nozzle and aimed.
It hit me right in the face, the cold water was like a shock as it cooled my warm cheeks and washed away the sweat which had resting on my face. I open my mouth to yell at her, but water silences me as it's aimed at my face. I must have stood still for about a moment, but then I started to make my way towards her- her distraction was good, but not good enough. With great purpose I rush towards her, she screeches and try's to dodge me, slipping on the wet floor. Laughing at her blunder I finally grab her, my arms wrap around her waist and she screams as my wet chest presses up against the bare back of her dress.
Manyata: UDAAAYYY!!!! Chordo mujhey you duffer!
I laugh, there is no way in hell she's getting away this time. Instead I rest my cold face on her neck and she gasps, trying to swat my hands away which are holding her tight, lifted a foot up above the ground.
Me: So you give up yet?
She stops squirming for a moment and thinks about it. Then tries to elbow me in the ribs.
Manyata: NEVER! Let me go and fight like a man!
I laugh into her neck.
Me: Princess, if I fought like a man, who would you fight like?
She squirms and tries to kick out of my grasp but she doesn't stand a chance.
Me: Stopping now?
Manyata: No! Never!
Me: Give up?!
Manyata: Not on your life!
Me: How about now?
Manyata: Screw you Udayveer!
And then the rainbow of words starts, the language is colourful, strong and so Manyata, I think there are a couple of new ones in there as well, she's still going at it when I seat her on the pristine marble counter near the sink, now poking her nails into my chest.
Manyata: Who the hell do you think you are! Always acting like you own everything! As if everyone is supposed to fall at your feet! Well guys what Mr. Prince! I won't! You don't win! I dictate who what when where and why!
Me: You forgot the how.
Manyata: AND HOW!
She starts talking again, and I just drink her in, her hair is coming undone and is resting as a messy heap at the nape of her neck, her outfit is wet in patches and her face is flushed red with fury and exertion. My hands are braced on both sides of where she's sitting, the cool marble dry marble a sharp contrast to my hot wet hands. She must have sensed the sudden change in the hair, or seen my eyes go dark, because she stops talking and soon enough we close the distance between each other. We've only had one kiss between us, it seems we're hardly ever alone to have another anyways. The first had been short and sweet, her impatience had brought a smile to my face. This one is the opposite. It's slow, timid as if we've decided to learn another language. Her hands are tentative as they rest on my chest, but soon they too wander up and lock behind my neck. My own hands have left the cool marble and wander up her hips, rib cage and finally untie the rest of that hair. The wet tangles weave through my fingers as I pull her closer. Our breaths mingled and hearts racing I can't help but feel utterly content. With Manyata every touch is new, every kiss is pure. I don't need to rush, there isn't another place to go- physical or otherwise. Kissing her is more than enough. Her teeth nip my lip, and I pull back seeing her giving me a death stare. You'd think I forced her to kiss me or something.
Manyata: You still don't win, by the way.
I pull her close and laugh into her hair, and I feel her lips form a smile on my neck.
What more do I need in life?
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Joined: 05 September 2006
Recap: London Calling
It was almost eleven, and Manyata did not feel like leaving. After all these were the moments she cherished with Uday. The unguarded the private and the pure moments. No media, no family, no friends. No pretenses or expectations. Just him and her. He had changed into a dry set of clothing as she had fixed his bed again- after all she was the one who had ruined it. She bit her lip remembering the kiss they had just shared- it was odd thinking of their relationship at that level- something more than platonic and friendly. It was this type of want and need that she couldn't say she had ever experienced. Especially not with any actual person- not even Akash. But with Uday everything felt like a challenge, where two equals are battling it out for possession and power, but even in this battle there were ties, where no one felt like a loser- in fact no matter who came out on top both were deemed victors in their own rights. Sitting down on the couch, Uday had just sat next to her when frantic banging on the door interrupted them.
J: Jeeji! Jeeji!
It was Jai of course frantically banging at the door. Uday quick to ensure that the noise didn't disturb the others opened the door. Tears streaming down her face she looked for her lifeline- her sister. Manyata was up as fast as Uday and was hold the hysteric princess in her arms.
Manyata: Jai, look at me sweetie what's wrong?
Uday had to stop himself from laughing. It was almost comical to an outsider. Jai was almost a head taller than Manyata- even though she was younger- but was leaning into her sister as if she would fall otherwise. J's presence was irritating him more each day. At first he had thought it was a ploy for her to separate Manyata and himself, he had been suspicious and second guessed her every move. But the suspicion and resentment had slowly passed away when he would see the dismal look in her eyes- the girl was hurting bad, and he unfortunately knew who did it to her. But, what could he do? Drag Yash back? He was pissed off too, and hasn't picked up any of Uday's calls since almost three months ago. He didn't know what happened between those two, but Manyata seemed to know what did or didn't happen, but her loyalty towards her sister was unwavering, and would not be moved. She stood by her side and wouldn't disclose anything for anyone.
Manyata: Jai, Kya hua?
J: You shouldn't be here Jeeji.
Uday shot J a dirty look. He wasn't a fan of her possessing Manyata's time. It made him feel like an envious child. Manyata knew his sentiments were like that as well, but she tended to ignore him.
Uday: She's a big Girl J, she can be wherever she wants.
Normally J would cut daggers into Uday, but she hadn't been in the mood for daggers or anything lethal in quite some time, so she curtly ignored his presence.
J: Jeeji, we should leave. You shouldn't be alone with him like this.
Uday scoffed at her frightened tone.
Uday: Are you SERIOUS? What do you think I'm going to do J?
He was expecting a half-baked answer, but she looked right into his eyes as she pulled her sister away into the hallway.
J: Break her heart.
Manyata left with J leaning into her shoulder. There was this utter vulnerability in Jai now, something that hadn't been there before, it was as if Manyata was her mother, consoling her, standing by her side, being her pillar of solidarity and guide. It was odd to see this strong bond forged between the two sisters so soon, when less than six months ago bitterness was the only thing that Jai had felt towards Manyata, and resentment towards Uday. But times had changed now, theirs was a bond forged from sorrow.
The morning after was one filled with tourist like attractions and meeting old friends. Brij, Giriraj and Komal went out for Breakfast with a few of Brij's University friends, J was still up in her room, and Vijay and Unnati had decided to hit up the mall early, and that left Manyata and Uday to have breakfast down at the Hotel's restaurant. The dining room was fairly empty with a few people here and there, but it seemed for the most part that the rush had passed and a few late stragglers were coming in for a bit. The two were seated near a window which overlooked a lush garden and took in the morning view. They placed their orders and talked of small things, enjoying the peace and quit. He didn't bother to question J's demeanor last night, as it was an obvious out of bounds topic.
Uday: So Princess, What's on the itinerary for today?
He laughed when she actually reached for her date book inside her purse.
Uday: I'm joking Manyata, nothing is planned out, I'm asking you what you'd like to do today?
Manyata: Well, I have my final dress fitting- Unnati and I will go to that later today.
Uday: Interesting, what's the gown.
Uday: How do you manage to make everything sound so Indian?
Manyata: Shut up.
He quietly sipped his coffee and played with her fingers. There wasn't a ring there as there hadn't been an engagement. That was scheduled for next month- the formal ceremony would take place the same day as her coronation of becoming Yuvrani. He was lifting her fingers to examine them when he noticed Manyata turned and observing someone. He followed her gaze. The table a few meters down held the same mother and child they had seen at the airport. The little boy with the big blue eyes. His mother attempted to feed him some toast but the little tyke fiddled around holding onto some stuffed animal. His testing words could be heard from here.
Andy: NoNoNoNoNoNooo! I don't want it! No!
Manyata smiled at the child's outburst and as if sensing he was amusing someone the boy looked in their direction.
His face lite up as he noticed the two people and slid off of his chair to say hi to.
Dressed in a powder blue polo and neat khaki pants it was obvious that the child was from a well to do family, his wavy hair was midnight black and stood up in all directions indication he had refused to have a comb tame it. His head barely overlooked their table as he rested his stuffed alligator on the stark white table cloth, and looked expectantly at Uday.
Andy: I spwilled your drink, remember?
Uday, not amused, took a sip of his current drink which was safe in its cup.
Uday: How could I forget?
Manyata, was not impressed by his tone and let him know so by kicking him under the table.
Manyata: I sweety, how are you?
Andy: Not good. I gots in twouble 'cause of him.
He pointed expectantly at Uday, as if he had been wronged.
The child's British accent made his words even more heartwarming and Manyata felt a strong kinship with the child who was obviously not an Udayveer fan. Smart boy, she thought.
Uday: What! What did I do? You're the one who spilt.,..
Manyata: I agree, andy right?
Andy: Ah uh. Andeee. Did you know my mama got mad at me? She said I need to be a good boy or I don'ts get ice creams.
Manyata: Ice cream is important.
He had only been there a few seconds when the mother came and apologized for him.
Mother: I'm so sorry, he's a little bit of a strong minded tyke.
Manyata: It's alright, I was enjoying his opinion.
Uday reciprocated the kick under the table.
Mother: Oh no. I'll take him back, he's a bit opinionated.
He looked towards his mother amazed at her lack of insight.
Andy: Ofinions are good! Gampa told me so!
Mother: Yes, that's because your grandfather has a few of those himself Andy.
Manyata: He's adorable, how old is he?
Andy: I'm fwor. I'll be Fwive soon. And this is Gator. He's vwey old. He's my mama's.
The mother looked at her watch and sighed, looking exhausted she turned towards Manyata and Uday.
Mother: I'd hate to impose, but I have to rush to the loo, could you keep an eye on him for me? He seems to be taken with you.
Manyata: Yes! That's fine.
The mother looked at Uday unconvinced, but Manyata changed her mind.
Manyata: Don't worry, it's only a few moments Uday will survive.
He was not impressed by Manyata's response and gave her a lethal glare. Unaware of the tension and distain on Uday's face, the child walked right up to him.
Andy: I may be fwour, but I haves manners. 'Lo, my name is Andy, what's yours?
He gently held onto the tiny hand and was amazed at the striking size differential, his perfect tiny nails, gentle, soft pale hands, and enchanting smile.
Uday: My name is Udayveer.
The child's accent and young mouth repeated his name in the most charming yet comical manner.
Andy: It's nice to meet you Ooodaybeer.
Manyata almost spit up the juice she was drinking hearing Andy's interpretation of Uday's name, and Uday simply shook his head, completely unimpressed.
Andy: And you? You're pretty, like my mama, but what's your name?
Manyata: Hi Andy, I'm Manyata.
Andy: Manya, I like your name.
It was Uday's turn to look amused now.
The boy made himself comfortable as he sat down on the chair, his alligator in his lap.
Andy: I had juice. No oatmeal 'cause its yuck. Can I have that?
The child was looking expectantly at Uday's plate of chocolate chip pancakes, and Uday's expression clearly dictated that there was no way that this would happen. Of course Manyata couldn't let the little one's want go unfinished, so she promptly lifted Uday's plate and placed it in front of Andy, who happily dug into the high stack. Left alone with a fork with a piece of the pancake on it, Uday glared at the child, for taking his food. Manyata took a sip of her juice and grinned.
Manyata: Sharing is Caring Udayveer.
Uday: See that's the thing Manyata I ' Don't- Care.
Andy: You awen't very nice.
Uday couldn't believe that he was being talked down to by a five year old!
Uday: Did a five year old just try to put me in my place?
He looked at Manyata as she ate a piece of fruit.
Manyata: I believe you just met your match Udayveer.
Andy grinned as he dug into his pancakes- or rather, Uday's pancakes- and soon enough Andy's mother came out, thanked the couple for their assistance, and started to leave; never forgetting his manners the litter one went up to hug Manyata who to her credit didn't grimace at the syrupy hands the little one had- Uday was kindly ignored. Andy waved to them both as he held his mother's hand and walked away, holding the green alligator under his sturdy arm and jumping with each step.
Manyata laughed as she pushed the pancakes back in front of Uday who looked so sullen it was comical.
Manyata: here you go! Finish them up.
He pushed the plate away and looked up at her with a traitorous glare.
Uday: You sold me out!
Manyata: No I didn't!
Uday: Yes you did! As soon as you saw his big blue eyes you cheated on me!
Manyata: I didn't!
Uday: Yes! Otherwise you wouldn't have given that brat my pancakes!
Manyata: Seriously Uday. You're acting like a child.
He crossed his arms across his chest at that accusation, and in that moment she couldn't help but see children like him running across an unknown house, loud, obnoxious and entitled. A boy. Just like him. She quickly threw that thought out of her head when she realized that she wasn't supposed to be this enchanted by him, she wasn't supposed to pick up on all of these habits and wonder all of these things. After all the man had yet to marry her. Sheesh.
Uday: Child, whatever. I swear our kids better be well behaved.
She almost spit up her juice but somehow managed to compose herself, sensing her momentary lapse in surprise he clasped her hand, and ran his fingers across her knuckles- emphasizing her ring less finger.
Uday: Of course, with you as their mother that's obviously a task- considering you're such a wild one.
Manyata: ME! You've got to be kidding- you're the self-entitled, jerk!
Uday: No princess, you see, any child of mine would be charming.
Uday: Yeah, you know. Knows how to work a room, everyone loves them. Extremely good looking.
Manyata: Well, Udayveer. Looks like you're going to be childless!
Manyata: Because, you can't have kids if you don't have a wife.
Uday: I will have a wife. You.
Manyata: Hmm, that's funny- I don't remember receiving a proposal.
Uday: Proposal? We've been engaged since you were in diapers. I think that's sufficient.
Manyata: You sir, are an idiot. Enjoy the pancakes.
She gently placed her napkin on the table and took his leave.
He scrubbed off the sticky fork and dug back into his pancakes, grinning at the fact that he knew what was bothering her: Not marrying him- but marrying him without him asking her.
Uday: Now, that's something I can fix princess.
Manyata decided to get her nails done with Jai and Unnati. The three went into the Hyatt's spa and sat down in the high powered leather chairs as the technicians started to scrub and exfoliate their feet. J kept her head buried in a magazine, she did talk on occasion but she wouldn't open up about her worries in front of Unnati. Although the two got a long better than they had in the past- the relationship was not something either of them pursued. Manyata was the all-round factor- had a strong bond with each. One was her sister by birth; the other would be her sister through marriage. Clad in the Hotel Robs, without a lick of make-up and hair piled high on their heads the girls didn't look like princess- in this moment they were three friends enjoying the day. Sipping on sparkling juice the gossiped about celebrities, discussed the wardrobe for the event and places Unnati wanted Manyata to see.
Unnati: Manyata you've got to see some of Dada's old hang outs.
Manyata: I'd rather not see where your Dada did his shenanigans to be honest Unnati.
Unnati: I wouldn't show you any of those places, and I personally don't know those hot spots anyways. But there are some amazing parks and restaurants, cafes and museums. You've never been to London so it's a must Manyata.
Manyata: I will. If I feel like talking to him.
Unnati: What did he do now?
J: It's true. The man is irritating without even trying.
Unnati: Says you.
J: You have a bias Unnati.
Unnati: Like you don't
J: I could care less what happens to Uday. I'm just..
Manyata: Stop it you two! God who ever knew there would be a day where I would play mediator between you two!
J & Unnati: Humph.
Unnati: So, what he do?
Manyata: He expects me to Marry him.
Unnati raised her eyebrows.
Manyata: I know! I mean, just because everyone talks about a wedding and future doesn't mean there is one.
Unnati: But doesn't Dada love you?
Manyata: He does. So he said. Like once.
Unnati: And don't you love him?
Manyata: Love is a strong word. I have deep affection for him.
Jai scoffed beside her.
J: Deep affection my butt. You love him like crazy. No other person would put up with him otherwise.
Manyata: He's not that bad
J: Around you he isn't. You make him a better person Jeeji. No one else can do that.
Unnati: So what does this mean Manyata? Where does this all leave you and Dada?
Manyata: It means, I'm not marrying him till he bloody well asks.
The technicians grinned and asked Manyata which color for her toes.
J: Red, why not? Red it is.
Unnati: How are you going to make him ask.
Manyata: If he's smart enough he'll realize, that he can't command me.
There is something about a woman who wants
to punish you. Or put you in your place. It's sort of...sexy?
I've never had that. No woman has ever had enough authority to put me in my place- DS yes, but she isn't a romantic interest. Komal Aunty is too sweet- Unnati tries but isn't able too, and Jai in her prime was a very poor attempt. Perhaps if my mom was here, she could have been that person which was able to show distain and power, but with no other example to go on, I have to assume it's only Manyata. She's amazing at it. Her level of indifference towards me makes me understand that I'm addicted to her. She can ignore me, and I'll feel stung, she can dislike me and I have an urge to pester her until she speaks to me. They say in a relationship there are two people: The Devotee and the Devoted. I've always been the Devoteed one. The one the other wants, needs, begs for and can't live without. It's been part of my charm. But for once, I'm on the other side of the bridge. I can't live without her. Or be without her, I want to be near her even when she's a bitch.
She's decided to completely ignore me. The
last two days when we've gone out to dinner with the family, had a tour of the
Oxford Campus, she's been quite, and reserved. Or scornful. It's obvious that
I'm "in the dog house" and Unnati finds it quite amusing. As if it's supposed
to be funny or something. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Everywhere we
go, there is press out and about- at a caf, in the park, or simply walking out
of the hotel. I tried my best, but she would find the papers comparing her to
the various flames I had. The Sun did an expose on Mina's relationship with me,
with terrible pictures of her post our break up- they found recent pictures of
her, and compared her with Manyata- best and worst looks. It was frankly more
than a little disturbing, but she'd look at them and shrug. It doesn't seem to
bother her. Although, there was a little sadness in her eyes when she saw the
images of a sickly 21 year old Mina.
It's a day before the ball and it seems like we've gone further apart. Like she's waiting for me to apologize or something, but the truth is, I don't know what I've done wrong or how I can fix it. This girl- woman is everything to me, but suddenly it seems like she doesn't feel the same way. Is her hesitant smile enough reassurance? Would she leave me at the alter if that's what it came down to. Is she still hung up on Akash? Does she need more time? What is it with her! I thought we had a good thing going on here!
I knock on her door to pick her up for a day out on the town, dressed in a yellow suit with emerald stitching she looks simple yet elegant. It just won't do. I had her the Levi's bag from my hand, and she looks at it curiously.
Manyata: What's this?
Me: Just wear it and meet me downstairs.
She pulled out the skinny jeans and gasped.
Manyata: I can't wear these!
Me: Yes you can.
Manyata: No way! There are paps outside!
He smiled at the English term for Paparazzi she had come to use, but persisted.
Me: No, you can wear it, trust me. This is key for us to get rid of the paps, you know.
She slams the door in my face and I head back to my room to change and meet her down stairs.
It was difficult to recognize her for a moment. Dressed in tight dark jeans, a white v-neck t-shirt and oversized sunglasses. Make up was gone, and her hair was piled high in a messy bun, and she walked with an air of authority as she stopped in front of the hotel entrance, scanning the drive way. It didn't take her look to notice me sitting on the sleek BMW S1000RR Superbike running towards the right hand corner. With a full face mask on someone might not have noticed me there- Prince Udayveer, dressed in a black v-neck t-shirt and faded grey jeans, but she did. Without hesitation, she walked towards me, and took the full face helmet I handed her, taking off her sunglasses and tucking them into the v of her shirt, she hopped onto the bike, and loosely draped her hands around my waist. Not clinging but not stubborn enough to risk falling off.
speaking I start off and rev down the streets. For the past week I've shown her
around like any tourist would- we've seen big ben, London bridge, Buckingham
palace and cathedrals galore. But she hasn't seen my life- places I loved and
felt something towards. I'm not talking about clubs and bars. But places where
I was alone, places which were my sanctuary. Places that I want to share with
her, just so she'll know that I love her. I want her in my life and suddenly
she's mad at me. Well, its time to show her that we're happening, come hell or
high water. Plus, I think I need to ask. At least, that's what Unnati said.
Oh I know she was trying to be subtle about it- trying not to break her girl code, but I can figure out a hint here and there. Manyata is pissed off because I haven't asked her to marry me- just assumed she will. Well, when you've been engaged to someone for like you're whole life- you kind of have a right to assume, don't you think? Whatever, women are crazy. I'll ask her, but I need to bait her a bit first.
We stop at the library first, and I walk her around the space where I'd hide from the girls to get some homework done- no one ever looked for a playboy prince in a library. She's passive as I show her my favorite enclave, and desk, the books I read- the ones I failed to return, the garden outside where you could hide away within the pages of a novel and forget the royal burdens of life. But she doesn't seem to notice, or care. Although, the key word in that phrase is "seem". I'd see a smile touch her lips, especially when I told her about getting locked in here once, I see her look up in awe at the old pages and high shelves, and give me a stern look when I ask her if she wants to make out near the back.
Manyata: Is that all you ever think about!
Me: With you, yes.
Me: Come on, my javaani will be incomplete if I can't make out with one girl in the library.
Manyata: Why don't you ask her then?
There was a girl sitting on the far right starring at us, the overhead light reflected off of her square glasses.
Me: Nah uh princess, I could make out with anyone- if I so wanted- but turns out, I've been saving this space for you.
To my surprise she grins, and locks her arms around me, her chest presses up against mine, and then suddenly we're hip to hip, cheek to cheek, and I feel all the blood rushing from my head. What's gotten into her? Isn't she mad at me? Aren't we going through a spat? Wow. This is odd. I forget my train of thought has her hands run down my back and her warm breath passes my ear. The I get it right back when she pinches my side.
Manyata: Make out with yourself! Jerk!
She lets go and stomps off and I'm left holding my side where I swear to god she's left a mark. Long nails and all. Before it was just galiyaan, and now she's violent! Jesus!
I turn back and see the girl in the corner laughing. What is it with women! I used to impress them!
I give up and head out to the bike again, but in the hallway I see her looking at the pictures posted. Without even looking, I know which one she's smiling at. It's the old librarian Mrs. Greene at her retirement party, another volunteer and I were lifting her high on the leather chair she loved to sit in. she was yelling at us to put her down, and the moment was captured beautifully. I had bruised my arm doing so, but it was worth it. At 70, she had been at this public library all throughout my boarding school years and I had missed her when she'd left. Mrs. Greene passed away 2 years ago, but I'll always remember her as the one adult who was never charmed by me, nor did I ever try to charm her. She was a hard ass, but amazing.
I go up to her, and interrupt her thoughts, startled, but no scarred she turns and gives me an un-amused look.
Manyata: How was the make out session?
Me: Her glasses kept bumping into my nose.
Unflinching she rolled her eyes, and turned back to the photo. Who said I ever give up? I rest my chin on her shoulder and look with her.
<e: You know, if Mrs. Greene was here, she'd attest to the fact that you'd be the first make out in this library.
Manyata: If Mrs. Greene was here she'd say you're a perv
Me: She'd say you're blind for not taking what's yours
Manyata: No, she'd say that giving out free samples doesn't mean the product is yours.
OK. Now I'm offended.
Me: Hey! You don't know if you want to buy the product without the sampling.
Manyata: Sampling is overrated.
Me: are we even talking about the same thing?
Now she laughs.
Manyata: Honestly, I don't know. So where to next.
Me: It's a surprise princess.
Manyata: It better involved food.
It did. We drove to this small Italian pizza parlor where the owner Gianfranco, surprisingly recognized me. His stomach was a bit more pronounced, and his hair had a few more strands of grey but he looked joyous as ever.
Gianfranco: UV! UV! How are you son!
He has a bear of a hug and I can feel my lungs constrict as he hugs me.
Gianfranco: Maria has missed you! You must say hi to her when she comes back from school!
I can feel the holes being burned into my eyes from Manyata. Oh joy.
Me: Gianfranco, meet my-
I think about it, really think about it, and realize if I say fiance, she's going to kill me.
Me: Well, she's really important, and my best friend. Manyata
Gianfranco: Welcome! Welcome! Sit Sit! I bring you food!
We're seated at one of the booths, the afterschool crowd is coming in, and people are picking up their pizza's to go.
Manyata: Did you eat here often?
Me: Every week, once at least.
Me: A few.
Me: Can you stop judging me!
Manyata: I'm not!
Me: Yes you are!
Manyata: No, I'm just wondering what the point of me seeing all of these places is.
Me: These places were important to me. We're getting to know each other.
Manyata: Are we now?
Me: Is this a trick question?
Manyata: No, it's a realistic one. Why do you need to get to know me Uday.
Me: Because I want to spend the rest of my life with you Manyata. Is that too difficult to understand?
She was quite for once, I can see the wheels turning in her head to say something, come up with something but she can't seem to figure out where to go from there.
Manyata: It's not difficult to understand Uday- it's just difficult to separate.
Manyata: you'll figure it out.
I take a sip of water, as Gianfranco comes in to rage about how skinny I've gotten.
Manyata: Was he fat?
Me: I wouldn't say fat, but healthy.
Manyata: How much pizza?
Gianfranco: UV here likes his pizza.
Me: It was only one year, and I lost the weight.
Gianfranco: It first year of University. He eat, eat, and eat.
Me: It was your pizza.
Gianfranco: No no. You always eat the pizza, but then you stop excising. Got busy at library.
Me: It was a time balancing issue. I got it under control.
Gianfranco: Yes yes. You see Maria?
Gianfranco: Si, My daughter. She loves UV
I feel like banging my head against the table because I swear I can't catch a break today.
Manyata: Tell me who doesn't love him.
Gianfranco: you're right UV Friend. Everyone love UV! Handsome young man!
Manyata: Oh God.
Gianfranco went off to go get Maria, and I know what Manyata's thinking- she's thinking some Italian bombshell but the fact is that Maria is like 12 now, I've known here since she was a kid!
Manyata obviously doesn't know that, so she's ready to stab my by the time she hears Gianfranco exclaiming that Maria is here. But, the look on her face was priceless, when she finally saw Maria. At no more than 5 feet, the girl was tiny, with a pixie like haircut and large brown eyes, she could have looked like a sweet little angel, but was a complete tomboy. With 3 older brother's Maria had always been as such. Her Manchester United Jersey and black Nike shorts made her look like a little boy, but she was a growing girl who had always asked me for princes stories. Even with three older brothers, I guess there are some things that are always constants in a girl's life.
Maria: You're here! Did you watch the Euro cup! England didn't make it, neither did Italy.
Me: You win some, you lose some kid.
We start our intricate handshake and I can clearly see the surprise on Manyata's face. It's obvious that sometimes even all the tact lessons don't work with this girl.
Maria: Who is she?
Maria, could obviously use some skill in that regard.
Me: She's a friend.
Maria: Is she a princess too?
Now, Manyata wasn't just going to let us talk about her in the third person, so she decided to join the conversation.
Manyata: Actually, yes I am. Rajkumari Manyata of Devgard.
Maria: You're his princess!
Manyata: His princess?
Maria: Yes! The long lost princess! I know all about you: You're best friends, and he hurt you, and a bad guy took you- the king and queen got sad; and then the prince was sad looked for you and didn't find you'and 'and then I don't know the rest because you never told me UV.
Me: Well, the rest goes like this: The Prince meets this mouthy peasant girl, he's impressed, and has a weird feeling about her, he's about to get married to this evil witch
This is where Manyata kicks me.
Me: But destiny intervenes, and he finds out that the mouthy peasant girl was actually his princess, so he brings her back kicking and screaming to the palace.
Manyata/b]: She doesn't like him! The prince is full of himself! He thinks no one can resist him.
: Well silly, all princes are like that! Everyone loves a prince! Even I know that.
Manyata obviously hadn't been expecting that answer.
Maria: And then what happened?
Me: And then, the Mouthy peasant girl is turned into a princess slowly, but not before the prince realizes that he loves everything about her- her terrible manners, her lack of niceness and tact, he can even put up with the terrible cloths; he knows that even though she's his princess, he's always the girl that stood up to the arrogant prince on the beach. She's also the best friend he missed growing up.
For once, she's not rolling her eyes, she's looking at me as if I've lost it. Sort of suspicious but still enthralled by the topic at hand.
Maria: And then! And then!
Me: And then he told her he loves her, but she doesn't believe him.
Maria: She does!
Manyata:Yeah! She does!
Me: What did you say?
She looks away, and starts talking to Maria, completely ignoring me.
Manyata: The way I see it, the Princess believes him, but also thinks that the prince has an obligation towards the princess. Would he have loved her had she not been a princess? Would he have looked at her twice before? Would he want to be with her if there wasn't a promise between two kingdoms? Then'there is another aspect. Why should the princess marry him just because he thinks she will? Shouldn't the man ask?
Maria: You're right! He should ask! With flowers, and candies and a ring.
Manyata: Not only that, but with sincerity, and meaning.
We could have gone on and on, but Gianfranco brought out the Pizza, we ate together- Maria, Manyata and I, Gianfranco and his wife Lisa joined us and the their three older boys dropped by eventually- Mario, Fabio and Luis. It was amazing that throughout the entire meal, the only sensation I noticed was Manyata's hand in mine across the table.
It seems I'm finally forgiven.
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