24th December, 2015.
“Isn’t Manik behaving differently nowadays?” Aliya said, sipping some soft drink from a bottle.
“Yeah, he’s kinda bossing around,” Mukti commented. We three had just sat down to take some rest after practising continuously for two hours. Mukti was surely enough irritated by Manik’s sudden change of attitude like the others in the band. No one knew why, but Manik was very strict in this musicana. Due to the accident which had happened a couple of days ago, Cabir had a cramp in his left shoulder and he wasn’t even able to lift his hand. Strange, right? I mean, it was Manik who was driving but he was fit as ever, while Cabir had to suffer. So as a result of all this, Manik had to take up the charge for the rest of the match, and had been acting rather weird since then.
“No yaar, I think he’s kinda stressed out,” I said, taking Manik’s side, “Do you think he’s one who bosses around? He never behaves so oddly. I’ve noticed he’s worried since the day of the accident.
“Okay, but why? I don’t see any reasons why he should be so stressed,” Mukti said.
“Maybe he is, for some reason, taking this Musicana with SPACE a bit too seriously,” I said the reason which sounded appropriate as Manik was putting a lot of pressure on us to win this. This pressure did some good and some bad. Out of five rounds, so far we’ve won two and lost two of them. The tie breaker round is tomorrow, which means all the more stress. And Manik is making us practise without any break.
“I think something has happened between Manik and Dhruv. I have seen him avoiding her calls also,” Abhi suggested.
“I also think that’s the reason,” I said truthfully. I’d noticed there was some sort of tension between the two best friends, lately. “Well, let’s ask Soha about it,” I said, and pulled out my phone from my bag which was nearby me.
“Yeah, yeah… He just needs an excuse to talk to her,” Mukti commented as I dialled Soha’s number. Well, I can’t deny I wanted to talk to Soha, but I anyways rolled my eyes at him and paid attention to my phone.
“Hey, what’s up! Long time huh?” I heard Soha’s cheerful voice from the other end.
“Yeah, I was busy practising and all,” I said, glad to hear her voice after such a long time.
“Hmm, I know…I haven’t talked with Manik also since the Delhi match.”
“Oh then you must not be knowing.”
“I must not be knowing what?”
“Well, Manik’s been acting somewhat weird since late. And I was wondering maybe you must be knowing what’s bothering him.”
“Oh, I had no idea about it. Wait let me ask him.”
“Okay! Ask him and call me sometime.”
“Why sometime? I’ll call him right now and inform you in five.”
This made me chuckle lightly, before I said an ‘okay’ and hung up.
“Did she give you any useful information or only love stuff?” Mukti asked, smirking a bit.
“Is that even a question, Mutki? The two lovebirds were talking after such a long time after all!” Aliya teased.
Ugh. After that truth or dare game, when I’d said that I find Soha beautiful, these guys won’t stop teasing me about her.
I ignored their taunts and simply told them what Soha had told me—
“She had no idea about it but she said she’ll call Manik and let me know.”
These words had hardly left my mouth when a phone rang nearby us.
“It’s Manik’s phone,” Shikhar pointed out.
“MONSTERRR!” Mukti shouted, calling out to Manik —“your phone is ringing!”
I and Aliya at once turned to look at Mukti, giving her killer looks. Just a moment ago, we all were discussing that Manik is probably upset regarding Nandini, and now Mukti called him by the name Nandini had given him. This was definitely going to disturb him more.
Manik, who was practising at a distance, looked at Mukti, giving him a death glare. He approached his bag, where his phone was ringing consistently. Soha was actually swift in calling him.
Once Manik was out of hearing range, busy with the call, I and Aliya pounced on Mukti.
“Are you insane?”
“What were you thinking when you called him by that name?”
“GUYS! Sorry, alright? He’s not a murderer or something! I was just pulling his leg!” Mukti defended his case.
“He’s not a murderer alright, but he’s definitely nothing less than a murderer!” Aliya argued. That’s right. The way he’d been torturing us, it was unbearable.
“Arre, chill guys! He didn’t say anything na, so why are you worrying so much about it?” Mukti said.
“How can we chill? You almost got us killed…” I pointed out. And like this, we went on arguing with Mukti for some time when i suddenly spotted Manik coming towards us.
“Quiet, guys! Manik is coming!” I whisper-shouted urgently, and they immediately shushed up.
Manik came, kept his phone in his bag, and without saying a single word to us, went back to his practice. He was really over-stressing himself. He’s been practising for more than two hours and had not taken a single break. Not even for five minutes.
No sooner had Manik gone from our vicinity, than my phone rang.
Soha. Wow, this girl is really fast!
Without wasting any time, I accepted the call, mouthing ‘Soha’ to Mukti and Aliya.
“Hey, what did he say?” I asked straightaway.
“Nothing re, he didn’t say anything. We talked about random stuff here and there, and he was giving me only one word answers. He definitely is disturbed about something; I could sense it in his voice. He really sounded low,” Soha said.
“You didn’t ask him why he was upset?”
“I did, but he was like—‘I am not upset. It’s just the pressure of this musicna.’ But of course I know it’s not about the musicana. He never stresses himself so much regarding his concerts. He’s always confident of himself. He’s not a person to freak out for a competition!”
“Exactly! I was thinking maybe it’s something related to Nandini…”
“You stole my thoughts! I was also thinking the same. I mentioned Nandini a couple of times in my conversation with Manik, but he was totally avoiding talking about her.”
“Oh…And that day in the hospital also he left so abruptly when Nandini came.”
“Really? I did not know about it. Now I’m convinced it’s related to Nandini only.”
“He loves her, doesn’t he?”
“I think he does.”
“I mean I know. But please don’t tell anyone; there have been a lot of complications between them lately and I don’t even know if he still loves her or not.”
“He definitely still loves her. I can sense it!”
“Maybe… By the way, you said Manik was acting ‘weird’. What exactly did you mean?”
“Well, eh’s been over-stressing himself and us. He makes us practice continuously without any break and he is remaining quite detached from everyone. He has been avoiding everyone, and except formal talks, he doesn’t talk with anyone and is all by himself most of the time.”
“Oh, so you guys are suffering because of him huh?”
“You bet! I miss the old Manik.”
“Aww. Poor you!”
“Haha. Anyways, enough about me. You tell me…how’s life?”
“What to say about me yaar. Life is…hell! Work load is at its peak. Can you believe I’m working today also? Like, on Christmas Eve? We don’t have a holiday today also; I have a half day though. But all my girlfriends have their vacations and they’re off to their hometowns. I don’t have anyone to hang out with! And I miss you too…”
She missed me? The moment these words left her mouth, the butterflies in my stomach—or whatever you call them—began to flutter around wildly. But she quickly rectified her sentence by saying—
“I mean I miss all of you guys!”
“Hmm…I too,” I replied back, dreamily.
“You too what?”
“I too miss you…” By the time I completed the sentence, Mukti and Aliya stared coughing uncontrollably. I knew now that they’ll not leave a single chance of teasing me. First, I am not able to see her, and above hat, these friends of mine won’t let me talk with her in peace. Okay, I like her. So what? Why are they being so desperate to hear it from my mouth?
“Aww…You miss me?”She replied in a childish voice. Thank God she hadn’t heard the coughing of Mukti and Aliya. She continued in the same childish voice,
“But I’m sholly baby…I have loads of work to do and I can see my boss eyeing me from her cabin. I should hang up before she fires me!”
Did she just call me ‘baby’? Wow. Hearing her call me that felt so good. I wanted to hear it again and again.
“Okay. I don’t want my baby to lose her job,” I said, mocking her. A little bit of flirting won’t hurt, right? To this, she just laughed nervously and I didn’t have to be a genius to figure out she was blushing.
“Okay now bye. Take care!” Soha said and hung up before I could reply, leaving me smiling like a fool to myself. As soon as I kept the phone down, Aliya screamed, followed by Mukti—
“I too miss you??”
“Oh goodness! Chill, guys. I was just playing around,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah. As if we don’t know what you mean by ‘playing around’!” Mukti said.
“We know very well that you have fallen for her. Why don’t you confess it? We are your friends, right?” Aliya now did the emotional blackmailing thing. I stopped arguing for a while and thought whether to tell them or not.
“Okay. I like her! Happy now?” I finally gave in as I did not see any reason why I shouldn’t tell them.
“Then? Why don’t you ask her out? She’ll definitely say a yes,” Aliya said.
“No, I don’ think so. It’s just a one-sided thing. I don’t want to take a risk and be in loss,” I explained to them.
“What? Are you blind? She totally loves you!” Aliya said.
“Seriously?” I asked, hopefully.
“Yep, mate!” Aliya said, quite credibly.
I wasn’t sure if Aliya was right or wrong, but this surely gave me a new ray of hope. If Soha liked me back, it’d be the nicest feeling for me in the world.
“Look, he’s already lost in Bhabi’s thoughts!” Abhi exclaimed, shaking me out of my day dream. It took me a while to register he was referring to Soha as his ‘ bhabhi’ (Meaning: Brother’s wife), and when I did, I couldn’t help smiling like an idiot, while Mutki and Aliya exploded into fits of laughter.
They were still laughing and giggling like mad women, saying implicit words in between laughs, teasing me and I was trying my best not to look like a deep red tomato, when Manik snapped—
“What are you people doing? We have a concert to perform tomorrow. Pull up your socks and start practicing.” When’d he come up to us, I had no idea.
“Dude we are just taking a break,” Mukti said.
“That’s what you said twenty-five minutes ago. We are here to win the musicana and not to chat and gossip,” Manik said and stomped off without another word.
See now what I meant when I said he was acting oddly? He had immensely changed, and I need to find out why.
“Uh, Dhruv, I’ll talk to you later. I am feeling really tired now,” I lied to him and kept the phone after saying a goodnight to him. Dhruv had called to inquire if I was fine or not, reached safely or not and stuff like that. We had met about half an hour ago in a café and now he was asking me about my well being. Seriously? Why is he acing like…like…my boyfriend?
I mean, we’re best friends and he can definitely ask me anything, anytime. But I don’t know why he’s been acting really clingy as of late. After Manik had gone for his concerts, we had become quite good friends. We were hanging out together a lot. Now had come to Bangalore for some business work of his, and I was here accompanying my Ams for her work. I soon got bored in this city and landed up with Dhruv trying to entertain me. He kind of irritates me now. He calls me in the morning, in the afternoon, in the night. In short, always.
From the time I met Dhruv, I realized he liked me but I had ignored the fact as a stupid imagination of mine. Now, I am quite sure about his feelings for me from the day of his birthday.
He really thought I was going to kiss him? Of course, we both had laughed away that incident and forgotten it to prevent any awkwardness, though.
But Dhruv was my only friend I had now! Manik is also not talking to me, for God-knows-what reason. I was thinking about all this when my phone rang. It was Soha. How come she called me this late at night?
“Hi! You called so late, everything alright?” I spoke into the phone.
“Yeah , yeah, everything is fine. I was just getting bored and I thought of calling you. All the friends I know here are in Bangalore including Dhruv so I thought of calling you,” Soha replied back. Okay! So since when has she started thinking of calling me?
“Umm…I’m also in Bangalore. My Ams had some work here and she was traveling alone so I joined her.”
“Oh. Seems like everyone is in Bangalore except me.”
“What do you mean by everyone? Only I and Dhruv are in Bangalore, right?”
“Oh no! The Fab Five is in Bangalore, sweetie! It’s their final round tomorrow.”
“Oh. I never knew that,” I said truthfully.
“Never mind. So what’s up?”
“Nothing. I was just thinking about Manik. I mean, why is he behaving like that with me? No calls, no messages. He has like totally forgotten me.” I don’t know why but I confessed it all to her.
“Okay. So you are indirectly missing him huh?”
“Uh, maybe.” Was she feeling possessive of Manik? Are they really seeing each other? Manik would tell me if he was dating anyone, wouldn’t he?
“Then why don’t you go and meet him and ask him why is he behaving like this?” Did she really just say that?
“No…I don’t want to disturb him in the final round with my questions. I’ll meet him after he makes Fab Five win. I hope Manik is just stressed about the musicana and acts normally after that. Don’t you have any contact with him?” I asked, out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to know was Manik avoiding everyone or was it only me?
“Nope. But Maddy told me that Manik is disturbed for some reason and is making everyone practice a lot out of some kind of frustration.”
“Oh, okay…” I managed to say. So Soha was also not in contact with Manik? Did this mean they were not in a relationship?
“Well, why don’t you ask him out?” Soha said all of a sudden.
“Ask whom out?”
“Manik of course!” Soha replied, really shocking me. I checked my caller ID to ensure it was Soha with whom I was talking. Didn’t she like Manik? Why’d she tell this to me then?
“What! Why should I do so?”
“You know the reason!”
“What! No, I don—“
“Please! I don’t want to hear that stupid—‘We are just best friends’ again. I have already heard it like two thousand and fifty six times!”
“No, it’s not stupid; it’s real. There is nothing like—“ I protested, but I was interrupted by her.
“Good night, Nandini. Sweet dreams about Manik!” She said in a sugar coated voice and hung up giggling to herself, leaving me spellbound.
I updated 😀 Sorry, this didn’t have any Manan moments… But do comment how you find the Maddy and Soha pair up! I was thinking about a ship name for them, and all I could come up with was MadSo … And it sounds really weird xD Have a good ship name in mind? Comment about it! 🙂
And we have Manan coming back together really soon!
Credit to: Naisha