Manan ff – Unconditional Love – The Finale

Recap: Nandini joined the Fab 5 to make her friends happy but had a plan behind it all. The Fab 4 found out about her relationship with Manik which left them all confused and betrayed. Dhruv got over emotional at that which bothered Aliya. Manik and Nandini shared some romantic moments in the rain sharing with each other about their lives and expressing their love for one another.

Nandini was getting ready for college the next morning and was running late. She had spent almost the whole night with Manik out in the rain, thinking of which still made her cheeks turn red, and then she had to again wake up early to go see off Amms at the airport. She was getting ready in a hurry when Chachi walked into her room.

Chachi: Nandu! What’s happening? Why are you in such a rush?

Nandini: Chachi I’ve got to reach college by 9 and it’s already 8.50. I’m so late!

Chachi: But why are you going to college? Don’t you have to prepare for your entrance exam? It’s due in like a month and you need to be working really hard.

Nandini: I know Chachi but this is important. Fab 5 needs me. I can’t just quit the band so easily and leave them by themselves. Their deadline is due in a month as well and I’ve got to help them with their song. Don’t worry. It’s just a matter of few days. After that, you’ll find me at home all the time simply focusing on my studies.

Chachi couldn’t completely agree to her decision of helping the Fab 5 as she was worried about her studies which were important too but decided not to discuss it further. She trusted her and therefore left that to her. She left the room and Nandini continued to get ready.

She had not talked to anyone about her joining the band back as she was there with a plan which nobody would have understood. Only Manik was aware of what she had been trying to do getting back into the band.

She was brushing her hair, her face facing the floor and all her hair gathered on her right shoulder, when she heard a car honking downstairs that instantly brought sparkle to her eyes and a wide smile on her face. She threw her hair back, placed the comb on the dresser, collected all her belongings quickly and ran downstairs. Just when she was about to open the door and run outside, Chachi called out from the kitchen.

Chachi: Nandu! Come dear. Breakfast is ready.

Nandini: (shouting from the door) Umm no Chachi I’m getting late. I’ll see you later. Manik is here and I’m going with him. Bye!

Saying that she rushed outside excitedly towards his car. Chachi came to the front door to stop her again for breakfast when she saw her get into the car and hug Manik. It brought a contended smile on her face to see her daughter so happy with such a nice boy. Nandini had not revealed about their relationship to anyone yet but Chachi could make out what had been going on and she was really happy about it.

Manik and Nandini reached college just at the same time as Dhruv did on his bike. They did not notice him park his bike on the opposite lane to them but he sure saw the two of them which aggravated his anger.

Nandini: (opening the door) Okay! Bye!

Manik: (grabbing her hand) No!

Nandini: What do you mean by No? Manik I have to go. I had to meet them at 9 and it’s already 9.15.

Manik: So what? Is this a lecture where you’ve got to be on time?

Nandini: No but still I need to be there. Come on just let me go. I need to work on the plan fast so that I can get you back into the band.

Manik: Look Nandini I’ve been thinking about your plan and I don’t have a really good feeling about it. I mean first thing I won’t really be comfortable working with them who simply hate me and secondly, I don’t think the plan would even work the way we’ve been thinking about it.

Nandini: Firstly Manik, they don’t hate you. They just don’t know you well enough the way I do. And secondly, are you really doubting my plan? Just wait and watch Mr. Malhotra, my plan would rock it very soon.

Manik: (flattered by her innocence) Okay then. We’ll see.

Nandini: But for that you’ll have to let me go now.

Manik: Fine go.

Nandini: Umm Manik you’ll have to let go of my hand as well.

Manik: (embarrassed) Alright.

Dhruv observed the two of them sitting in the car and chatting for a while after which he left to move towards the jam room. As he entered the room angrily, and slammed the door behind him, Cabir, Mukti and Aliya were left startled at his behaviour.

Cabir: Dude! What’s wrong with you this morning?

Dhruv: Nothing!

Mukti: Doesn’t seem like it.

Dhruv: Do you realise Nandini is 15 minutes late today for jamming?

Cabir: So are you.

Dhruv looks up at him with disgust and Cabir shuts his mouth straight away.

Mukti: Yeah but Dhruv when has she been on time anyway? And how does it matter? It’s just a few minutes.

Dhruv: It doesn’t matter how long has she been delayed. What matters is what has been delaying her. Or who?

Mukti: Who?

Dhruv: (in a high pitched irritated voice) Manik Malhotra! Yes that’s right! She’s already late. We have less than a month to prepare for the album and yet she is sitting with her new boyfriend in the parking lot and chatting.

Cabir: Dhruv relax. We don’t know yet if they are really involved. And besides, even if they are, we should be happy for our friend.

Mukti: No Cabir. In this case I agree with Dhruv. What we saw yesterday definitely indicated that there was something going on between the two. And we can be happy for our friend once she shares her life stories with us. These days, it feels like we don’t belong in her life anymore. Whatever might be happening in her life, we come to know through indirect means.

Aliya was sitting on a stool in the corner all this while, not interested in the conversation at all. She was replaying Dhruv’s reactions at Nandini’s relationship and changed behaviour. It had been disturbing her to know that Nandini still had such an effect on him. All her hopes of having a stable relationship with him had been shattered down again.

Just when they were discussing about Nandini and her behaviour, there came a cheerful voice from the door and all of them instantly stopped talking and turned around.

Nandini: (from the doorstep) Good morning! Sorry I’m late. Actually Amms was leaving today so had to go to the airport to drop her early morning.

Cabir: Of course! Amms. You had to go drop her at the airport. That took you so long right? Alright Dhruv?

Nandini looked at Dhruv in confusion but he chose not to respond.

As she walked in Mukti looked at her suspiciously and asked,

Mukti: Umm Nandini! Why are your eyes swelling? Haven’t you slept properly?

That question left Nandini thrown back to the good old memories she had made with Manik the other night. Her face started turning red when Cabir distracted her.

Cabir: Ahem! Nandini? Is everything alright ?

Nandini: (embarrassed) Yeah! Everything is fine. It’s just that..yeah! I..I could not sleep well because you know Amms was leaving today so we were sitting together till late night and chatting. You know with so much going on since the past few days, I hadn’t been getting much time to spend with her.

Dhruv: But Nandini as far as we know, Amms believes in going to sleep very early and then again waking up early in the morning right?

Nandini: Yeah. That is right. She does have those beliefs but…but…last night we never realised what time was it because you know..we hadn’t spent so much time together for so long.

Mukti: Yeah but…

Cabir: (interrupting Mukti) Okay fine. If all the explanations and chatting is over, can we please concentrate on our music now?

Manik was observing all of this from outside the door and was feeling guilty of being the reason Nandini had to lie to her best friends. He knew he could not walk up to her to talk as they hadn’t revealed about their relationship to anyone so he left her a message.

The Fab 5 were about to start jamming when Nandini got Manik’s message which she quickly started responding to.

Manik: I’m sorry you had to lie to them because of me. I kept you awake with me last night because of which these situations came up.

Nandini: You really are such an adorable Monkey! I stayed up all night Manik because I wanted to. So if anybody is to be blamed, it would have to be the love between us. And I don’t feel guilty about that love.

After chatting with Manik for some more time, she realised her friends had started noticing her distracted behaviour and therefore kept her phone aside and joined them in the jamming.

They practised for 2 hours straight trying to come up with ideas for their song. At the end, all they had was a small tune prepared to start with. Nandini still hadn’t jumped into her plan as she had been waiting for the right time.

Cabir: Okay that’s enough for now. I’m tired. Let’s go get something to eat.

All of them agreed and left towards the canteen. Nandini had again started chatting with Manik and was totally lost in it. She was not involved in any conversations with her friends and they were all starting to get pissed at that. She had been clearly blushing while reading and replying to the messages which led Dhruv’s anger to grow. As they settled on a table in the canteen, Dhruv could not control himself any further and spoke up angrily.

Dhruv: Enough Nandini!

She looked up instantly and was shocked to see all the angry faces towards her. She kept her phone aside and asked,

Nandini: What happened guys? Why are you all behaving like this?

Mukti: Seriously Nandini? You’re asking us? Have you seen yourself? How have you been behaving for the past so many days?

Nandini: I don’t understand.

Dhruv: Oh really Nandini? Maybe you don’t understand but we do. We understand everything with you lying to us about Amms, or constantly on your phone or suddenly deciding to leave the band and then again join in. We saw you with Manik last night in the parking lot. Now we are mature enough to understand what’s going on but we would appreciate it if you could at least now admit it yourself.

Manik had started getting worried about Nandini as she had stopped replying to his messages abruptly. He tried calling her but she didn’t answer as her phone was on the silent mode and kept aside while she was having the intense discussion with her friends. Manik’s concern had started increasing and he started looking for her around the college. As he was passing by the canteen, he saw her sitting at a far off table and immediately rushed to her. He was so worried about her at that time that he did not notice anyone around. He ran up to her and confronted her in front of the Fab 5.

Manik: Nandini! What are you doing? And where’s your phone? You’re not replying to my messages, you won’t answer any of my calls. Do you know how worried I was?

Nandini kept staring at him in surprise. A blast of emotions ran over her at that very moment. She felt on top of the world on experiencing Manik’s concern for her, but she also felt guilty about lying to her friends. She kept staring up at Manik without responding while trying to gather herself together and face the situation. The Fab 5 as well kept looking at the two of them but Manik still did not notice all the gaze on him.

Manik: (angrily) Would you care to answer Nandini?

At that she realised she had to gather herself and so got up from the chair and threw her arms around his neck to take him into a tight hug. Manik was surprised at first but soon gave in to it by crushing her against his body. As Nandini let go of him, he came to his senses and looked around to find the Fab 5 still staring at the two of them in amusement. He again started feeling guilty about his behaviour as he had gotten Nandini into some serious trouble.

Nandini: (squeezing Manik’s hand tight and addressing the Fab 5) Friends, meet my boyfriend, Manik Malhotra.

Although they knew what had been coming their way, it still took a few more minutes for them to register all of it in their mind. Cabir was the first one to come back to his senses.

Cabir: (excited) All the best Manik! You really are a real man to have dared to date this one right here. She looks tiny buy you’ll soon find out her true colours.

Nandini: Very funny Cabir. (To Mukti, Dhruv and Aliya) Guys I know this is big news and you might not be able to accept it. And I really am sorry for not sharing it with you guys earlier. Actually we were still struggling with our feelings and we needed some time to ourselves before we could let things out in the open. I’m really sorry guys. I know it’s not an excuse but it’s just my explanation. I hope you can forgive me. Please?

Mukti and Aliya gave in a smile accepting her apology but Dhruv still could not accept it. He took one angry look at Nandini and Manik and their hands intertwined together and left.

Later that evening, Aliya was sitting on the couch in her room thinking about how Dhruv’s feelings had been giving her a head spin for the past couple of days. She had known all along that he was inclined towards Nandini and therefore never had any hopes of having anything with him. But after Nandini’s rejection towards his feelings, her hopes had started to grow as Dhruv had started getting closer to her. And now again, his constant insecurity towards Nandini had disheartened her. She had finally started getting herself to believe that nothing could ever happen between herself and Dhruv. All she wanted to do now was to stop thinking about him and accept the fact that the two of them can be nothing more than friends.

Right then, the door bell rang waking her up from the thoughts. She gathered herself together and slowly moved towards the door to open it.

As soon as she opened the door, she was thrown aback by a bone crushing hug that took her off beat for a while. A few seconds later, she sensed the touch against her body as that of Dhruv. She was stunned, happy as well as concerned for that reaction. He did not let go of her for a long time and neither did she try and move away. They stood there at the door step with his hands curled around her waist. Her hands were hanging on the sides and she was still not in her complete senses to understand and react. After some time, she pulled her courage and started moving her hands upwards towards his back. As he felt the soft brush of her hands against his shoulders, he twitched, realising his actions but for the first time, not ashamed. He felt glad on having taken this step of reaching up to her and taking her in his arms. He was also delighted to know that Aliya didn’t pull away for so long as well.

After some time, both of them slowly pulled away.

Aliya: Wh-wh-at’s the matter Dhruv?

Dhruv: (nervously) I’m sorry for this. (Pause) Actually no. I’m not sorry. I’m glad this happened and I’m pretty sure you are too.

Aliya: (trying hard not to be too nervous) I don’t think so. No Dhruv. I can’t deal with this.

Dhruv: (confused) What do you mean?

Aliya: That is a different story. But first, I would like to know why are you here at this time?

Dhruv: That is a bit long as well as a complicated story. Can we settle down?

She let out a sigh and gestured him to get in and settle down on the couch.

They settled down on a single long couch with considerable distance between the two of them.

Dhruv: So, before I say anything, I would request you to hear me out completely before reacting.

Aliya noded and he continued…

Dhruv: You being a very good friend of mine, might have noticed that I was really disturbed since we saw Nandini with Manik last night.

Aliya curled her fist tight which was noticed by Dhruv but he continued…

Dhruv: I don’t know what it was but it drove me crazy. I again started thinking about the fact as to why couldn’t Nandini return my love and what could she have possibly saw in that stupid Manik! And after she confessed today, my mind went insane! I did not know what to think or do and all I could think was that you could help me. You had helped me earlier when I was disturbed about her and I knew you could do it again. So I drove up to your place.

Aliya could not take it anymore and got up to leave. Dhruv’s eyes followed her movement and was concerned about her. She turned around to leave, stopped, turned back at him and said…

Aliya: Dhruv, I know you are my best friend but I am sick and tired of being the one to help you get over Nandini. If you still can’t do it, I don’t think I can help.

She turned again and took a step forward to leave but was stopped by a firm hold on her hand.

Dhruv: I told you to hear me out first.

He got up, not leaving his hold on her hand and moving closer. Their bodies brushed and she was still facing the other side when he slowly whispered in her ears.

Dhruv: It’s true I came by to ask your help to get over Nandini but don’t you wanna know what really happened when I came in here? (Pause) I fell in love with you Aliya.

She took a step forward, letting go of his hold on her and turned around to face him. Her eyes were full of tears. She was happy to finally hear what she always wanted to hear but was also disheartened at the same time because she felt like Dhruv’s confession of love was only a rebound from Nandini’s moving ahead in her life.

Aliya: No Dhruv. That’s not true.

Dhruv: (stepping forward) Yes it is. I love you Aliya.

Aliya: No you don’t. You love Nandini. You’ve always loved her. And right now what you’re saying is only a rebound.

Dhruv: You really think so? Don’t you believe me when I say that I love you?

*Pause*

Aliya: No.

Dhruv was taken aback. He could somewhat even understand Aliya’s situation because he himself knew that Nandini did still affect him. But he really wanted to get rid of those feelings and lead a happy life with Aliya. He felt helpless. He did not know how to convince her of his unconditional love for her that had grown over time.

Dhruv: Alright Aliya. You don’t believe me, it’s fine. But you will, one day. And I will wait for that day when you and I would become US.

Nandini was trying to work on a new song in her room but her heart wasn’t with her at that. She was constantly thinking about how she had hurt her friends by not letting them know about herself and Manik earlier. She had given them a reason that she herself wanted to be sure before she could reveal it to others but she knew deep within that if she had been in their place, it would have hurt equally bad. Just when she needed it, Manik came to her rescue. She got a message from him, “Meet me on the terrace right now!”.

She quickly jumped out of the bed and rushed upstairs towards the terrace. As soon as she opened the door, a guitar tune started to play. She saw Manik standing by the railing, facing the other side, showing his back, his guitar in his hand. As she stepped forward, he slowly turned around to face her and that brought a blushed smile on her face. He took one look at her and the lyrics started flowing out of his mouth spontaneously…

“Gulaabi Aankhein, jo teri dekhi, deewana yeh dil ho gaya…

Sambhalo mujhko, O mere yaaro, sambhalna mushkil ho gaya…”

As he continued to sing to her, his eyes never leaving her gaze, her face turned crimson. She stood there at a distance as her feet stopped moving forward. She felt like she would collapse right there but was afraid of that because then she would not get to hear him sing to her. She therefore managed to hold herself up till the song came to an end. Once he finished singing, Manik kept the guitar aside and stood there, staring at her passionately. She then rushed towards him and threw herself in his arms. He took her in, buried his face in her neck, lifted her off the ground and swirled around. He then slowly kept her down but none of them let go of each other for quite a long time until a car horn from the street distracted them. They smiled at each other and forgot all worries of the day.

They settled down on the floor by the railing, hugging each other tight.

Manik: I know you’re still concerned about your friends.

Nandini: I am but I don’t want to.

Manik: It’s okay to be a bit tensed Nandini.

Nandini: Yeah but I feel guilty Manik. I should have told them right? After all they’re my best friends.

Manik: I don’t agree with you on this point. I mean yeah they do have the right to know about your life being your best friends. But Nandini, some things in life are best left unsaid or hidden. It’s a matter of your life and if you need privacy about it then it’s okay. You’re never bound by any relation to such an extent that you need to be 100% transparent. In the future, there might come situations which for the time being, you would want to hide from me as well. You might want things to be kept to yourself and that’s fine. You have the right to have that space. And I would be okay with it, and so should your friends.

Nandini: Are you sure?

Manik: Yes of course! So now please don’t stress so much and take some rest. You’ve got early morning practice tomorrow.

Nandini: Yeah! And as it is, tomorrow is the last day that I would have to practice.

Manik: What do you mean?

Nandini: I mean, that tomorrow we are executing our plan because I can’t wait any longer to prove it to them that you are way too talented to be rejected from the band. I know we were supposed to wait a few days but let’s not. Let’s get this over with.

The next morning, Cabir, Dhruv, Mukti and Aliya reached college together in Cabir’s jeep. As they were passing by the first floor jam room, a tune playing from in there, compelled them to stop right there. It was a powerful and mesmerizing tune coupled with an even stronger voice that joined in. Dhruv slowly opened the door and all four of them peeped in to find Manik jamming with that song which seemed to be his creation because of the command he had over it. All of them were stunned and shocked. They felt guilty at turning him down from the Fab 5 when Nandini suggested him as a replacement for her. Once the song came to an end, they quickly moved towards the third floor jam room before Manik could notice them. But Manik already knew that they had been witnessing his session.

The four of them reached the third floor jam room where Nandini had been anxiously waiting for them.

Nandini: (excited) Guys! I’m so glad you all are finally here. Come I’ll show you something. I’ve finally cracked an amazing song for the album. I just have it on the guitar right now but when we mix it with the keyboard, drums and the electric guitar, it would be a blast.

The four of them, shook off the thought of Manik and his song they had just heard and concentrated on what Nandini had to show. As soon as Nandini started off with the same tune as Manik, all of their eyes widened with shock. They looked at each other shocked as well as confused. Before Nandini could complete the song, Mukti interrupted her,

Mukti: Wait Nandini, stop it. Where did you get this song from?

Nandini: I prepared it.

Mukti: Are you sure?

Nandini: (trying to act confused) Yeah why?

Mukti: Nandini, your boyfriend is cheating on you!

Nandini: (actually confused now) What?

Mukti: Yeah we just heard him jamming on that same song in the jam room on the first floor. At first we thought it was his own creation and we actually appreciated his talent. But now that you’re saying you have created this for our album, we trust you and that means he stole that song from you.

Nandini was totally stunned on how things had been turning out. Her plan was going all wrong and things were becoming more complicated. She had thought that if her friends would hear Manik playing that song before her, they would understand that it was Manik’s creation and then agree to take him back into the band on witnessing his talents. But now everything was messed up, much more than it already was.

Cabir: Nandini are you alright? We can understand this is bit of a shock for you but…

Nandini: (shouting) No!

Just then Manik who had been observing from outside, entered and stood by Nandini.

Aliya: What are you doing here? You thief!

Nandini: Manik why don’t you say something? How can you remain so calm? This is not the Manik I fell for. The guy I liked was the one who spoke for himself, who took stand for himself. So what if they are my friends? You need to speak for yourself. Now tell them the truth and say it loud and proper so that it does not leave any doubt in their minds.

Manik: (to Fab4) The song you just heard was my creation. I hadn’t stolen it from anyone. I love Nandini and can never even think of outshining her. She is special in her own way.

Nandini: And Manik is special in his way. You can see it from the song he just created. Do you still think, taking him into the band is not such a good idea?

Cabir was the first one to speak up as Mukti, Aliya and Dhruv stood with their faces hanging low.

Cabir: We’re sorry Manik, we really underestimated and misunderstood you. It was not at all acceptable from our end and we feel apologetic of our words and actions. And Nandini, we really respect your love and support the two of you one hundred percent. (to Dhruv, Aliya and Mukti) Right?

Dhruv, Aliya and Mukti: Yeah!

Dhruv: Nandini, although all five of us have been best friends forever but you and I have always shared a more special bond. I know I ruined it by saying a few things which hurt you and despaired our relationship but I really wish to have my best friend back if you can please forgive me?

Nandini: You’re stupid Dhruv. Of course I forgive you idiot.

Dhruv: Thanks! And, I wish you and Manik a lifetime of happiness.

Cabir: So now this calls for a celebration. Come on lets head towards the canteen guys!

As all of them started moving out,

Aliya: Dhruv! Could you stay back for a while. I want to talk to you.

Mukti: Now what’s cooking between the two of you?

Dhruv: (straight face) Mukti, we’ll see you guys soon. Buh-bye!

Aliya: I’m sorry Dhruv. I did not believe your feelings were true. I should have. But I don’t know why I was having those thoughts in my head. I just…

Before she could go on, he took her in his arms and grabbed his lips to take her into a deep passionate kiss. His hands tightly curled around her waist as his lips ruled hers. She melted in his arms and gave in equally to express her love towards him.

After just a few moments, their friends who had been spying from the door burst in hooting and shouting that made the two of them blush red.

Nandini: Sorry guys, we could not control ourselves. We will soon leave you alone but we just had to disrupt you once you know.

Dhruv: So then miss Nandini, be ready to be disrupted when you’re spending quality time with your man.

Nandini: Oh I wouldn’t have to worry about that. My man knows the most romantic secret hideouts that you my friends would never find out.

She winked at Manik and he took her into a bear hug and kissed her forehead.

**One month later**

Nandini finished her paper just in time and rushed outside to catch an auto. The day of her entrance exam was the same as the day her friends, the new Fab 5, Manik, Mukti, Dhruv, Aliya and Cabir were to perform their songs in front of the producers of their album. After that performance, the fate of their album was to be decided and it was therefore a very important day. Manik had offered to pick her up from her entrance hall after the exam but she had strictly asked him not to because he had to be there on time for the performance. Nevertheless, when it came to Nandini, Manik would have to treat her as his princess and he just could not miss picking up his princess after her exam.

As she stepped out of the building and started searching for an auto, she saw Manik standing by his car across the street. He was in his dark blue denim, and white shirt, leaning on the car bumper, anxiously waiting for her to come out and when he finally saw her, instantly stood up straight, took off his sunglasses and looked out at her. She gave him her best smile that assured him that her exam went really well and then he took a sigh of relief.

Both of them reached S.P.A.C.E where the Fab 5 were to give their performance in front of the producers. 1 hour later, the Fab 5 were signing the contract for their first album and Nandini, Navya and Abhimanyu couldn’t stop clapping for their victory.

**The End**

8 comments

  1. kavya:$

    Hey dii…. How r u???
    Finally u update this story…. After so long….

    So congrats…. Or completing one more story….

    Hope so mujhe apko ye btane ki too jarurat nhi h ki u r fabulous writer….
    Nd in future also, ap hume aise hi apni story se entertain karti rehegi…..

    All the best dii for ur bright future….

    Love u….
    Miss u….
    Nd meet u in paniff comment box…;-):-)

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