So, the 50th part! Had to take time as I had to make it special. Sorry I’m just kidding. Yes it is special but that’s not the reason it’s late. It’s late because I could not complete writing it on time. Apologies! Hope you enjoy it.
Recap: Manik convinced the Fab 5 to support Nandini in what she wished to do.
It was their last day and night at the farmhouse. They were to leave the next day. The fab 4 had happily accepted Nandini’s decision of switching to science and everything was well sorted. However, they had not yet talked about taking Manik into the band. That was still difficult for them to accept and they therefore decided to leave it aside for the time being. They had a month before they had to give their performance for the album and that seemed to be enough time.
They enjoyed another pool party, some outdoor sports and some good meals prepared by all the ladies of the group. Mukti and Aliya were however just the helpers. Nandini, Navya and Soha seemed to be having a bit more expertise and therefore took over. Nandini too would have been a part of Mukti and Aliya gang in it but thanks to her Amms, she was well equipped with household knowledge as well. Soha had been staying alone in India for quite some time now and that had taught her some of the work which came of some help. Navya was the all time household girl who loved cooking. That made her the leader with the others following her footsteps.
The boys however had to go by their staple characteristic being notorious. Had they behaved themselves and stayed calm and quiet, it would have gone against their true nature. They did not leave a single opportunity in teasing the girls while they happily cooked for them all. The girls were no less. Having Mukti and Aliya on their side helped a lot in giving it back to the boys.
Manik and Nandini kept sharing some blushed glances all day long, their eyes communicating a lot more than their mouths. Manik even appreciated Nandini’s hard work towards the cooking and the dishes prepared by her. He could never have imagined in his life of getting to taste something from her kitchen. But there he was, sitting on the table across her, with the others around not noticeable by any of them. He took a sip of the special soup recipe of Nandini’s kitchen and raised his eyelids towards her, giving her a faint smile indicating how wonderful it tasted.
Aryaman had been confused on how to react further with Soha after her harsh comment. He knew she didn’t mean to hurt him and it was because of her frustration that she behaved that way. But he still wished to be more careful towards her so that he might not end up upsetting her further. Soha on the other hand was feeling apologetic of her reaction and wished to talk to him about it but Aryaman kept ignoring her, probably because he wished to be careful with her. He thought of leaving her alone for some time to come out of the Harshad zone by herself. Little did he know that Soha had now been dying to have him around as he did make her feel better, unlike her comment she passed at him when he tried to console her.
As the sun set in the clouds changing the colour of the sky to a bright yellow to orange with a faint red in it, they set up a barbecue by the pool with some drinks. Some of them jumped into the pool, the others sitting by the edge of it dipping their legs into the water. That night, it never occurred to anyone that they were all 2 separate bands. It felt like they were all one big happy family incomplete even without a single member. The musicana, the struggle to search for Rishab, and the 2 days of holiday combined with fun and emotions had brought them all closer than they could have ever imagined.
Nandini was sitting at the edge of the pool, after taking a dip in it with a cocktail in her hand. She had been staring at Manik who was busy enjoying with the boys who seemed to have forgotten already about their issues of accepting him into the band. She took short sips of her drink, stirring it all the while and glancing at him through the thin glass.
Rishab noticed the interest his sister seemed to have been showing in her new found old best friend. He left the boys’ side and joined her outside the pool to talk about it.
Rishab: So sister, happy? You would finally be able to fulfill Appa’s dream now.
Nandini: Of course I’m so happy. But I hope I am able to do it. I’m really nervous. What do you think Rishu?
Rishab: I think I’ve never seen my sister give up on anything too easily. I think she has been my role model all my life because the way she reacts to any and every situation in life has some sort of lightening power in it. I mean you’ve always been so involved in whatever you take up in life, I don’t think it would be a problem for you to finish the project. Take music for example. You did not really wish to join it but Amms convinced you into it. But then one could never tell this wasn’t your first love. So now that you are actually taking up what has been your first love technically, how do you think this might not turn out good?
Nandini: (giving him a side hug) Aww Rishu thank you so much!! This has motivated me a lot! Really!
Rishab: So now that you’re impressed with me, can I ask you something hoping you wouldn’t burst out your anger at me?
Nandini: Why would I get angry at you for anything? Go ahead ask me.
Rishab: There’s something between you and Manik right? Now you promised you won’t be mad at me. So tell me. What’s going on? I’ve been noticing since the day me and Amms came to Mumbai that there’s definitely something going on quietly.
Nandini: Well you’re right about one thing. It is going on quietly. I mean nothing’s spoken out. And I don’t even know what I feel for him or what he feels for me. I mean I faintly know about both but I’m not really sure.
Rishab: See one thing I can clarify is that what he feels for you is extravagant. It’s nothing ordinary and that I can tell being a man myself. No one would risk their own lives for someone in today’s world nandu.
Nandini: What do you mean by that?
Rishab: Okay Manik might not want to tell you this but now that you’re thinking about this, I feel like I should let you know.
Nandini: What is it? Tell me.
Rishab: The day he came looking for me and got me back from Harshad, it was a tough fight. Harshad is one really bad man I tell you. He was much more evil than you would have imagined. And that day, while trying to save me of him, he almost risked his own life. Just to save someone you care about, just to see that contended smile of relief on your face.
Nandini: Are you serious? What exactly happened? Please tell me.
Rishab: Do you see that wound on his arm?
Nandini: (concerned) Yeah!
Rishab: That’s a bullet wound.
Nandini: (covering her wide open mouth with her hands) What?
Rishab: Relax! He’s fine now. But back then, it wasn’t such a small thing to do for someone else. Now you are clever enough to realise what that might mean.
That night, Niti could not fall asleep. She had been sharing a room with Mukti and Aliya. After both of them fell asleep, she slipped out of the room and went back to the pool. After staying there for a while, rethinking over her conversation with Rishab and also about the faint hints she had got from Manik, she moved towards his room.
Manik had been sharing a room with Aryaman and Rishab. She was really nervous on knocking at the door, fearing to see Rishab or Aryaman instead of Manik at the doorstep. It was 1 am and coming face to face with any of them would have been too embarrassing. Hoping for the best, she planted a soft knock on the door. Nobody opened at first and she decided to leave. She turned around once but then turned back and gave it another try. This time, the door opened and she looked up slowly hoping to see Manik and there he was.
She saw him there and gave out a loud sigh of relief releasing the breath she had been holding on to.
Nandini: Thank god!
Manik: Nandini?! What are you doing down here? And what are you thanking God for?
Nandini: Nothing! Why do you ask so many questions?! Come with me I need to talk to you.
She took his hand and dragged him out of the room barely giving him some time to shut the door behind. She took him to the pool side and made him sit at the edge along with her.
Manik: Nandini what’s wrong? Why have you….
He was interrupted by her hand covering his mouth “shhh”. Their faces inches close, their eyes observing each other’s faces.
Nandini: (still resting her hand on his mouth) Do you realise Manik? There’s something in here. Something in between this tiny little space.
She then let go of her hold on his mouth and both of them turned their faces the opposite direction, blushed. Manik turned back to face her but Nandini still had her face turned the opposite direction. He looked at her hand resting in between them on the floor and slowly placed his hand over it. Nandini sensed his touch on her hand and something moved in her belly. Her stomach sank in nervously and her face turned Crimson red. She slowly turned around and looked at his hand on hers, not lifting her head up to face him. Manik joined his head to hers bending down staring at their hands and both of them closed their eyes, absorbing the moment in their hearts.
Manik: (still not lifting his head, neither opening his eyes) You know it Nandini.
Nandini: (blushing, in the same position) Yes!
After some time, both of them slipped into the cold pool water. After swimming together for some time, they returned to the edge of the pool but stayed in the water this time.
Manik: You know what? I don’t have the strength to resist you. I mean I tried but just…couldn’t!
Nandini: Why did you even try?
Manik: I don’t know maybe, I thought you might not feel the same way.
Nandini: (smiling) You’re stupid!
For some time, the silent cold breeze talked for them and both of them just stood there in the water, staring at the moon, their shoulders touching above the pool edge.
Nandini: Thank you. Thank you for everything. You’ve really done a great great deal for me. I could not…
This time she was interrupted by Manik’s hand covering her mouth.
Manik: (staring into her eyes) My pleasure! *winks*
And she flushed under his intense gaze. She made him remove his hand off her mouth and moved closer to take him into a hug. She threw her arms around him softly and Manik pulled her closer and tied her to his body.
Manik: (not breaking the hug) Would you like to hear something?
Nandini: (breaking the hug) Oh my god! Manik! You’re so romantic! You’ve already written a song for me?!
Manik: Well it’s not a song really and I haven’t written it but I’m hoping you might recognise it?
Nandini: Oh! Expectations flushed down the gutter.
Manik: Sorry about that.
Nandini: (smiling) oh I’m kidding. Go ahead.
They moved out of the pool and while Nandini dried herself with a towel, Manik slowly slipped inside the farmhouse to get his guitar.
As he started playing the tune, Nandini’s wide smile started fading and her forehead started forming creases of confusion. After a few seconds, she stood up from the chair and moved closer. Manik stopped the tune and looked at her, hoping she would have recognised it.
Nandini: Now I remember you!
Manik: (confused) What? NOW you recognise me?!
Nandini: I mean had you played this tune earlier in front of me, I would have instantly caught you as Manik the monkey.
Manik: Really? So you remember?
Nandini: Yeah I mean I remember the tune and am able to associate it with you but I can’t remember it exactly.
Manik: My dad taught us this tune in our childhood. Remember?
Nandini: Yeah! That’s right! Wow! That’s…
Manik: I do have a faint song to go with.
Nandini: Well then what are you waiting for? Go ahead.
Manik: It’s not really complete.
Nandini: Oh come one! Give me the guitar.
She took the guitar from him and started playing the tune. She fumbled a bit and Manik helped her with it. He then started adding the song to it.
Manik: “Na jiya zindagi ek pak bhi…
Tujhse hoke juda sun Zara…
Nandini: “Bin tere mujhse naaraz tha dil…Tu mila hai to hai keh raha…”
Both of them stopped, the tune paused and stared at each other.
Manik: “Main to tere rang mein rang chuka Hun…Bas tera ban chuka Hun…mera mujhme kuch nahin…Sab Tera…”
Nandini: “Main to tere dhang mein dhal chuki Hun…Bas Teri ban chuki Hun…mera mujhme kuch nahin…Sab tera….”
None of them realised where the night passed as they sat down together and completed the song.
As the sun started throwing faint light on them, Manik opened his eyes, disturbed by the sharp sun rays. He turned his face to his right and found Nandini sleeping beside him resting her head on his arm. He looked around and found her stole lying on the other side, picked it up and covered her face to protect her from the sun rays. But as he did so, Nandini slowly opened her eyes and smiled looking at him.
Their first morning by one another’s side seemed to be beautiful. They lay there looking at one another their shoulders barely touching and their hands entwined together. Just as the sun started rising high above in the sky, both of them slowly moved towards their respective rooms without getting noticed by the others.
Precap: Would the Fab 5 accept Manik as a new band member? Would Soha manage to convince Aryaman of her situation?
Lots of love ❤️
PaNi – a story we wish were true (Season 1)
PaNi – a story we wish were true (Srason 2)
Manan ff – Unconditional Love