I know sorry won’t be enough this time. But friends, I don’t know what else to say to all of you. I guess many of you won’t even bother reading the story further after such a long gap! But there were just so many things happening in my life, I was not in the right state of mind to write good. I really am very very sorry for this. I just hope you can all forgive me and as a cover up, I have given such a long update that I hope you all enjoy.
And, PaNi story update would be up tomorrow. Also, I am again changing my schedule so from now onwards I would be updating only on weekends. Saturday would be a Manan update and Sunday would be a PaNi update. But don’t worry, since there would be just one update per week, it would be really long to satisfy your curiosity.
And one last thing before you can start reading. Yes I had told that this story is coming to an end but a few of you seemed to be dissatisfied with that decision just like me. Even I did not wish to stop writing this as I love to do so but I had decided that because the story plot I had planned in the beginning was coming to an end. But when I gave it a thought, I got a few more tracks so it won’t end soon enough. A few more tracks before the story ends.
Recap: Manik and Nandini have the girlfriend/boyfriend tag for each other. The fab 4 inform Nandini that they weren’t ready to accept Manik into the band. Soha overhears Aryaman’s conversation with another girl telling her that he loved her which disheartens her. Nandini decides to join the Fab 5 again.
The fab 4 had just taken an exit from the jam room leaving the new couple all alone. Nandini knew she had to get going and make things correct before they would get shattered all around. And, to start with, she needed to gain Manik’s faith in her and then go talk to her friends.
Nandini: Manik, are you alright? I’m really sorry about what my friends said just now. But don’t worry I know just how to fix these things.
Manik: Nandini, you don’t have to give up your dad’s dream for this.
Nandini: Let’s just say, it’s all worth it for my friends and for you.
She gave him a soft peck on his cheek and left. Being an ex-member of the band and very much a lifelong best friend, she knew just where she would find them all after that heated argument. She walked up straight to the terrace on the third building of the college premises, and there they were.
Mukti: I can’t believe this! Was that really Nandini? Our Nandu? How could she….
Aliya: I know! She was behaving so weird. She was fighting with us and defending that new found friend? Look I don’t have anything against Manik but with Nandini forgetting about us and going closer to him is really bothering me.
Dhruv: Yeah! I wish there was a way she could manage both. You know? The music album and her dad’s dream. Is it that difficult?
She had been witnessing the whole conversation from a distance, trying to feel the pain her best friends had been going through. But, at that statement made by Dhruv, she had to step in.
Nandini: Yes it is!
All of them turned around and on seeing her face started feeling guilty about talking behind her back.
Nandini: (joining them) You know before I talked to all of you about my decision, I did consider that thing. Look, I want you all to know that this is very hard for me as well. I never wanted to choose between my Appa and my friends. But you know, it turned out to be a bit more difficult to manage both. Nevertheless, what happened is in the past. And I would like to say I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have made you all go through this. But you know what? It’s never gonna come up again. Because, I am rejoining the band.
Cabir: (excited) What? You would be back with us?
Nandini: I’ve always been with you all. I never left the friendship, but just the band. You all took it the other way. But now, I’m ready to come back to the band as well. For my friends, who are more than family to me.
Dhruv: But what about your dad’s dream?
Nandini: Rishab can try and finish it. He is already into science.
Dhruv: But it was your dream to complete it right?
Nandini: Doesn’t really matter now. Come on. We need to rehearse. We just have 1 month left to prepare for the album release.
All of them realise how hard Nandini had been trying to hide her emotions and get along with them for their dream. They felt guilty about it but were a tad bit more selfish about their friendship.
They reached the jam room and rehearsed the whole day. They kept practicing their old songs to get into the proper zone of creating some new stuff but by the end of the day, they were still at the same place they started from, no new songs. Nandini never let anyone talk to her about her decision all day and kept motivating all of them to keep practicing so that nobody would bring up the topic again. Manik kept looking at them, especially Nandini, from the door without disturbing their jamming. He wondered if he could do anything, just anything to get Nandini to fulfill her dream?! He felt so helpless on not being able to help her.
At 7 pm, the peon interrupted the jamming and asked the Fab 5 to leave as the college gates were to be shut. They had to then pack and leave.
Nandini: Okay guys, will see you tomorrow.
Cabir: But, aren’t we going to hangout for a bit?
Aliya: Yeah let’s go out somewhere. For dinner maybe? We’re all finally together after so long.
Nandini: No. You guys carry on. I’ll be having dinner with Amms. She is leaving with Rishab tomorrow morning for Mangalore.
She packed her stuff and left immediately before the others would be ready to leave with her. Everyone found it strange but decided to let her be by herself for sometime. She reached the parking lot and was about to get into her car when she felt someone tap on her back. She turned around and found someone holding out a large box full of chocolates in front of their face. She did get excited at first on seeing the chocolates but wondered who was hiding behind it. She placed her hand on the box and lowered it to find Manik’s head peeping from behind the box. Seeing him got all her emotions back and she threw her arms around his neck to take him into a tight hug. It was as if he was always around when she needed him the most.
The fab 4 reached the parking lot at that very moment and saw Nandini with Manik. Neither Nandini nor Manik noticed their presence and therefore stood there in each others’ arms comfortably, without moving a bit. The fab 4 were stunned! They were well aware of Manik being nandini’s best friend from childhood, but what they saw then did not at all look like friendship. Dhruv clenched his fist tight in anger which was noticed by Aliya. She had started getting some hopes of having a future with Dhruv and his reaction to Nandini leaving the band and then joining again and then again her being with Manik had shattered all her dreams. He was about to move forward to confront Nandini about Manik but Cabir stopped him.
Cabir: Now is not the right time Dhruv.
Soon, Nandini and Manik broke the hug, got into her car and left. Manik took over the drivers seat and Nandini relaxed beside him, hogging on the chocolates. She seemed to have completely forgotten about all her worries after the magical hug. Manik looked at her from the corner of his eye and adored her childlike innocence.
Manik: Nandini, can I ask you a question?
Nandini: Yeah sure!
Manik: Why do you pretend so much?
Nandini: (surprised) Pretend? What do you mean?
Manik: Look, I know the Fab 5 has been friends for quite a long time and they know each other really well. But there’s one thing about you that I believe nobody knows. Not even your chacha and chachi I guess.
Nandini: And you know it?
Manik: (proudly) Yes!
Nandini: oh! And what is it?
Manik: That you pretend too much in life. You’re not what you look like from the outside.
Nandini: (playfully) I’m not a joker from the inside Manik! Nor have I gotten some surgery kind of thing. I am what you see of me.
Manik: See now that’s what I’m talking about. I know it and I can see it Nandini that you’re not contended with how your life has been shaping itself at this point of time. So then, why do you wish to show me your fake emotions? And no matter how cool you behave all the time, I know for a fact that you are the same innocent kid you used to be earlier, who enjoys bike rides, chocolates and ice creams. Who pretends like she’s really strong but is actually an emotional fool on the inside. Who is a hopeless romantic and loves the idea of cheesy romance.
She kept staring at him blinking her big eyes in amusement.
Manik: Look at you! (Pulling her cheek) you’re so cute!! So now seriously! Why do you pretend?
Nandini: (nervously) I don’t understand how can a person understand the other so well?! I don’t mean to pretend or anything, it’s just that I don’t like to or rather, I’m not able to portray my true self in front of everyone, except you. You’re right, I am this person you just described but those are the things I am when I am with you. Because with you, I’m a completely different person Manik. I’m not Nandini, nandu or choti. I’m just a different person altogether. And to tell you the truth, I like that different person I become with you. You change me Manik and you change me for good. And I love you for that.
Just as she said that, facing him while he was driving, she felt a sudden jerk and turned around to find that the car had stopped in the middle of the road. Manik was so excited, he instantly stopped the car and turned to face her.
Manik: Could you say it again?
Nandini: (playfully) Now who is behaving like a child?
Manik: Fine I am. But could you say it again?
Nandini: I love you Manik. I really do. I did not know what love was until I met you. You know, since the first day I saw you in college after our performance, I felt something strange in my heart. It was a feeling I had never experienced before. But I named it as some kind of curiousness to find out about you since I believed I knew you before. Which was true. But then again as we saw each other more often, that strange feeling started getting stronger. And it still keeps getting stronger with every passing second. I still do not know what love is. But if it is this strange feeling one feels, then what i feel for you is definitely love.
Both of them kept staring into each others’ eyes and slowly started moving their faces closer. Neither of them realised that their faces where getting too close until Nandini could sense Manik’s cologne which bowled her over. He noticed her nervousness from her face and smirked a bit. He then placed his right hand slowly on her cheek and his left hand curling around her waist, bringing her closer to his body. Just when their lips were to meet, and blend into love and emotions flowing all over their bodies, were they disturbed by a car honking constantly at them from behind. They turned around and found that their car was still in the middle of the road and had been blocking the way. They quickly let go of each other nervously and Manik drove off.
He again stopped the car after a while, this time on the left side of the road and Nandini who had been staring at her hands on her lap all the while, not daring to look up at him, suddenly looked around. He had stopped at the same tea stall which had an ice cream parlor on the opposite side, they had stopped by one evening and spent the entire night talking to each other about their lives.
Manik: Would you like some tea?
She stayed in the car while Manik stepped out to get tea for both of them. Soon she remembered the wonderful time they had spent earlier when the two of them had been there, and decided to step outside and join him in the beautiful weather.
As Manik took the glasses in his hands and turned around, he found her moving closer towards him. She indicated him to settle on a small bench in between them and so did the both of them. For a while they sipped their hot tea slowly, enjoying a cool breeze without talking about anything. The nervousness about the kiss that was about to happen back in the car was still forming a barrier for them to get along. Finally, Nandini broke the barrier and started a conversation.
Nandini: So, you know me really well it seems but I feel too bad that I don’t know you well enough.
Manik: (smirking unknowingly without looking at her) Well you’ve not loved me since childhood. So obviously it’s different.
As soon as he said that, Nandini instantly looked at him in surprise and he kept staring at nothing ahead of him without daring to look up at her. He had never imagined of letting her know of his feelings that had been for such a long time. He always thought, telling her about it would seem really stupid and she might consider him a fool to have felt that way about her for so long.
Nandini: Manik! Would you please look at me?
Manik: (nervously) Umm..No!
Nandini: (raising her pitch) Manik!
Just as she snapped at him, he had no other option but to look up at her instantly.
Manik: (fumbling nervously) I’m really sorry. I know you might think it’s so stupid of me to have felt such things for you for so long. And you might even think it’s all fake but trust me it’s true and those feelings have always been for real and…
Nandini: (keeping down her glass of tea and holding his face in her hands to interrupt) Manik! Manik! Manik! Calm down. I believe you!
Manik: (relieved and blushing) Really? Thanks.
Nandini: Aww you look so cute while blushing.
Manik: What? No! I’m not blushing! It’s for the girls.
Nandini: Oh ! Now I know you!
Manik: What do you mean?
Nandini: I mean that I know another thing about you. That you’re quit similar to me in the case that even you try to pretend, but fail miserably. Manik! What’s wrong with blushing?!
Manik: You sure it’s fine?
Nandini: Of course! In fact it’s cute!
Even after the tea stall closed down, they sat there on the bench sharing with each other about their lives what the other one had missed out on for all the years.
Nandini: Okay, so now you tell me one thing about yourself that nobody else knows.
Manik: Oh! That might take some time. I’ll have to think about it.
Nandini: Okay! Take your time.
Manik: So then even you think of one thing about yourself that nobody knows, not even the Fab 5!
Nandini: Ohh! That is going to be really difficult.
Both of them start thinking about it, recalling their childhood and youth, school and college, their secrets, friends, likes and dislikes. After about 5-7 minutes, both of them speak up together, “I got it!”
Manik: You go first.
Nandini: No. I asked first so you go first.
Manik: No Nandini. You go first.
Nandini: (faking anger) Manik!
Manik: Well I’m not scared of this fake anger but fine. I’ll go first. Umm..When I was young, I used to steal money off my dad’s wallet.
Nandini: (shocked) What?
Manik: Okay don’t give me that “you’re a thief look” alright?! Just hear me out first.
Nandini: Go ahead.
Manik: I have always been close to my dad. Specially after mom, he was everything for me. He was like this best buddy to me rather than just a father. And, since mom wasn’t there, I had to pick birthday gifts for him all by myself. And for that, I needed money. Actually my dad used to teach me how to manage your funds since my childhood so he would ask me to keep a track of all my expenses out of the pocket money he would give me. And on the 1st of every month, we would sit down together and analyse my expenses for the previous month. He would never cut me off on anything, but this was the practice he followed just to let me know the importance of money. Now, his birthday used to be on 2nd of November. And if I had used money out of my pocket money to spend on his gift, he would find out before I get a chance to give it to him. Now, I could not juggle with the money he used to give me so I had to steal some from him before his birthday to buy him a gift. He would never find out because he was too busy to manage his own money by himself. Whatever cash was in his pocket was never regulated by him, because he did not have the time neither did he need to do so as he had already learnt his lesson about managing the funds. So yeah! I know it’s complicated but that’s the truth. Even my dad doesn’t know about it till today. So after me myself, it’s just you who knows. Now don’t you dare reveal my little secret to anyone.
Nandini: Wow! What a genius. But also sweet that you used to listen to your dad as well and then again never miss out on his birthday gift.
Manik: Oh well I did miss out on his gift once. He had gone to London once, for some work for about a month and was going to return on the day of his birthday. So I never got a chance to take the money and buy him the gift that year because it was a tradition among the two of us that on either of our birthdays, we would spend the entire day together.
Nandini: Aww that’s even sweeter!
Manik: Okay but now I need to have your story.
Nandini: (confused) What story?
Manik: Something about yourself that nobody knows!
Nandini: Oh yeah right! I completely forgot about that. I was so lost in your story and your childhood. Okay so mine goes like this. See, the Fab 5, we always hang out together whether it’s birthdays, vacations, picnics, or even shopping for that matter. But, in all this time, there has been one such time when I traveled all alone. And if any of them find out, I am dead!
Manik: Well then be prepared! Because, I’m not sure if you can trust me on that.
Nandini: What?! Manik! I promised I won’t let out your secret!
Manik: I’m kidding. Go ahead. What was the story behind it?
Nandini: Okay so, 2 years back, it was my birthday and my friends had been pretending as if they don’t remember my birthday so that they could then surprise me in the evening. Obviously, I knew what they were all up to because it had never happened before that they would forget my birthday. I mean think about it, one person can forget but how can all 4 of them forget about it? They did have good excuses as well because we had a very important performance in school then as it was our last year. So they pretended that they forgot about it because of the rush of the performance. But I knew it can never happen.
Manik: So that’s your secret? That’s not so interesting Nandini. Come on. I gave you such a great story.
Nandini: At least let me finish!
Manik: Oh so there’s more? Sorry. Go ahead.
Nandini: Right! So, that evening when they surprised me, I pretended that I was actually surprised and that I did believe them earlier when they showed as if they don’t remember my birthday. But, since they were pretending for the whole day, they had left me alone. And I did not have anything to do the entire day and so I took out all of my old stuff that had some of my parents’ stuff as well and started going through all of it. That was when I came across my mother’s diary. I never knew till then that she used to write a diary. And as I went through it, I came across one life event she had mentioned in there which was our last family vacation together before they…(clearing her throat) Excuse me..So, yeah it was our last family vacation to Lonavala. There were some pictures as well in there but I could hardly remember anything. That night after my surprise birthday party, I pretended that I had fallen asleep very early so that made them wrap up the party early. And, after all of them left, I sneaked out of the house quietly, took Chacha’s car and headed towards Lonavala, although I wasn’t really allowed to drive by myself since I did not have a license. I reached there and stayed for a bit, it was so late but I enjoyed myself, remembering Amma and Appa. It was like the perfect birthday, but I just wish I could spend some more time over there. I had to leave in a couple of hours as I had to be back by morning. I was lucky enough to have not got caught by anyone and that’s a little secret nobody knows!
Manik immediately took her into a hug as he could feel her pain of not having her parents around for so many years. He knew how it felt because even he missed his mom but Nandini did not have either of her parents. The hug was a long one that lasted like forever and while they were lost in the moment, it started raining as if the heavens from above had been showering their blessings on them. As soon as it started to rain, Manik tried to let go of the hug so that they could rush into the car but Nandini kept holding on to him tight.
Nandini: (holding him tight) Don’t go Manik. Not so soon.
Hearing that melted his heart and he tightened his hold around her waist and buried his face in her hair. After some time, both of them slowly broke the hug but did not let go of their hold on each other. Nandini had her arms on his shoulders and Manik had his hands curled around her tiny waist. They slowly moved their faces closer and joined their lips into a deep and passionate kiss. Their bodies came closer as they kept moving their lips in harmony of each other. The water was still pouring from the sky and their emotions had been pouring through the kiss.
Manik ended the kiss after a while by biting her lower lip. They joined their foreheads together and closed their eyes. Without leaving the contact, Manik held out his hand to the side and asked, “May I have this dance?” Nandini opened her eyes and blushed on seeing his intense gaze on her. She then slowly lifter her hand, placed in on his hand and nodded her head in a yes.
He lifted his head up and got up from the bench leading her towards the middle of the road. She followed him blushing. It was past midnight and the road was completely empty. As they reached the middle of the road, he still had her hand in his held tight to never let go and then pulled her strongly towards him that made their bodies collide. He slid his left arm around her waist and pulled her more closer. She placed her right hand on his shoulder and lowered her gaze shyly. He led her to move her body on either sides and although there was no music, both of them could feel some music and were able to dance accordingly. She kept her gaze constantly on the side, not daring to look up at him and he had his constant gaze on her no wanting to look away. She could feel his gaze on her that made her blush even more. He wanted her to look up but she just wouldn’t and so he tried technique. He let go of his hold on her waist and pushed her away not letting go of the other hand. His plan worked and she looked up at him confused but before she could understand anything, he again pulled her towards him and took hold of her waist again.
Manik: See I know just what to do with you.
Nandini could not respond to that and his presence started making her nervous and weak in her knees. Her heart beats were so fast she bet he could hear them clearly.
Manik: I want you to be this close to me FOREVER! I do not have the strength to let you be away Nandini. I LOVE YOU!
She could not take it anymore and to control herself from collapsing at his words, threw her arms around him and hugged him tight.
Precap: Does Nandini have a plan to convince her friends into accepting Manik into the band instead of her? Or would she have to stay back with them and give up her dad’s dream? Would the Fab 4 confront Nandini about her relation with Manik?
Lots of love <3
PaNi – a story we wish were true (Season 1)
PaNi – a story we wish were true (Season 2)
Manan ff – Unconditional Love