30th December, 2013.
My thoughts revolved around the night’s various incidents, especially the dance, as I waited for someone to open the door of my house. It was definitely one of the most memorable moments of my life. I and Nandini had danced for an hour or so, but it still didn’t seem to be enough.
Baby, Come, stand by my side
Come n be my guide in life
Oh I will be what you want me to be
I will give all my love in whole of my life
This was the first song to which Nandini and I had danced to and I wasn’t able to get it out of my head. I had, unknowingly, started humming the song when one of my servants finally opened the door. I was just about to step in when I saw Dhruv sitting on the sofa and poking his phone. Since he left from Bangalore that night, he had completely disappeared for five whole days. He was neither answering my calls nor was replying to my messages, and now he was casually sitting in my living room as if it never happened.
“Oh finally, aapka darshan ho gaya bhagwan! (Finally, I am able to meet you, God!)” I said sarcastically as I approached Dhruv. He did not reply but giggled and kept his phone away.
“You are laughing? You had completely vanished for five whole days, and now you’re laughing? You had sneaked into a hole and were hibernating or what? I must have called you at least 2056 times but no answer. We all were so tensed! And that day you had left Nandini all alone on the beach in that drunken state! Were you out of your mind? I understand that you were depressed as she rejected but you shouldn’t be acting like Devdas when—“ I went on ranting about his idiotic actions, and sat down on the sofa when he cut me off—
“She didn’t reject me that day.” His voice was soft but it came to me like a bang!
“What? What did you say?” I could not believe my ears and asked again for confirmation.
“I said she didn’t reject me that day. Cause I didn’t ask her only in the first place. I had lied to you,” Dhruv replied innocently as if it wasn’t his mistake.
“And why the hell did you do that?”
“To get you to meet Nandini. I knew you wouldn’t do that on your own, so I made an excuse.”
“I still don’t get it. Why’d you want me to meet Nandini?”
“Well…um…actually, I know something about you.”
“About me? What? And how does that ‘something’ got anything to do with this?” I asked, clueless about what Dhruv was talking about.
“I know about you and Nandini.”
“Arrey, will you stop playing around and say it clearly?” Dhruv was just making me more and more curious while I wasn’t able to figure out what he was saying.
“Okay. I know that you love Nandini,” he said. His reply left me flabbergasted. What the f**k! How on earth did he come to know about it? This shouldn’t have happened. I tried to conceal my emotions and replied—
“What the hell are you saying? It’s nothing-” but I was stopped by Dhruv.
“Oh for God’s sake, stop it, Manik!” He practically shouted at me. “Aren’t you fed up saying the same old thing to everyone? You really think you sound convincing when you say that? I admit, I used to believe it earlier when I was too blind in love, but now, the person you’re talking to is your best friend, who knows you better than you know yourself. You can’t possibly bamboozle me.” Why do best friends always come to know when you are lying?
“How did you come to know?” I asked straightaway, without beating round the bush anymore.
“Uh, well, don’t kill me for this..But actually, I read your journal.” My eyes almost popped out of my sockets when I heard this. He freaking read my journal! When did he read it? Today? He must have read about the kiss thing! Shit! I think Dhruv understood by my expressions that I was beyond annoyed, cause he instantly added,
“I am really sorry Manik. I know it’s wrong reading other’s personal diaries, and it was a very childish and stupid act of mine. I guess my curiosity got the best of me, I couldn’t resist the urge of reading your diary. But don’t worry, I haven’t read much. I was too surprised by your confession to read any further.” He hasn’t read much. Thank God! I still have a chance of diverting him.
“No, Dhruv. I agree I hadn’t told you but I did it as there is nothing more like that. You love her and you shouldn’t be thinking about this.“
“Manik, will you stop lying? I don’t understand why are you sacrificing your love? I’m thinking you’re planning to become a saint.”
“I am not sacrificing anything! I just want to see my best friend happy.”
“If that’s the case, I’d be happy by your happiness. And you should have confessed all this to me from the very beginning. You should have known our friendship is strong enough to bear such things.”
“I’m sorry, alright? But you love Nandini and Nandini loves you. Period. It doesn’t matter if I love her or not. Everyone doesn’t get everything in life, Dhruv.”
“Did God come down to Earth and tell you that she loves me? I was thinking i was the only blind person but seems like you’re no different. She obviously loves you, man. You’re just assuming things! She confessed this to me when she was drunk!”
“She was drunk!”
“A drunk person’s words are a sober one’s thoughts.”
“I don’t believe in this!”
“You don’t have to! The only thing I want you to do now is to go and confess to her.”
“What! No, never. I am never going to do that! You two are a heaven-made couple. You should at least try.”
“Till now, I had been doing whatever you were saying, but now, you will have to do what I say. And it’s final.”
“Dhruv, try to understand! She loves you not me! I don’t want to lose her friendship at least!” I was literally begging Dhruv to spare me and not to remind me of all the feelings which I desperately wanted to forget.
“You won’t lose anything. I am sure she will say a yes. Don’t be a coward!”
“God, please help me!”
“God is helping you and that’s why I’m here to convince you to tell her before it’s late. Not that it isn’t already late,” Dhruv said, when the door bell rang and one of the servants went to answer it while I continued with Dhruv.
“No! I am not going to do anything like that!” I said, this time in a firmer voice.
“Yes, you are going to do it. I completely agree with Dhruv,” a voice said as the person approached us. It was Soha. If she knew what Dhruv was planning, then I am doomed. Siha had been requesting me to do the same since ages and I had been refusing her by giving Dhruv’s excuse. Now if she comes to know that Dhruv himself is asking me to do this, she wouldn’t just let it go.
“Thank God, you’re finally here! Our Manik is acting like Mr. Stubborn. Please deal with him, I’m fed up,” Dhruv said dramatically.
“Okay, Mr. Stubborn! Why are you troubling my best friend?” Soha asked and plopped down on the sofa in between me and Dhruv.
“Haww! Now he is your best friend huh?”
“Yes, he is my best friend because I don’t want to have a best friend who does not know how to man up and confess his feelings to the girl he loves,” Soha said. I was pretty sure by now that Dhruv had already told Soha about his stupid idea.
“You dare challenge my manliness, okay?” I said.
“Acha? Prove your ‘manliness’,” Soha said, making quotations in the air, “Go and confess your feelings to her.”
“You know I won’t do any such thing. Come on, Soha. We both know that Nandini and Dhruv love each other. Why can’t we just let them be?”
“Yeah. We all know. But the thing which we know is that you and Nandini love each other.”
“No, Soha. ? Nandini does not love me and I used to love her. Mark the keywords: ‘does not’ and ‘used to’. So let’s just drop the topic.”
“Manik, you are in denial. You are just assuming things on your own and are not ready to accept the truth.”
“Listen, i am doing this for everyone’s happiness. Everyone will—“
“And what about yours?”
“Dhruv is my best friend and I can’t—“
“Hello! I am sitting right here, you know. And I am the one who is telling you to do this. Besides, I know by this you will be happy, and so will Nandini. And my happiness is your happiness,” Dhruv said, smiling at me. I looked at him emphatically. His eyes still had a glint of sadness in them, but he wouldn’t show it. He was trying to be happy for me. It was then that I realized the depth of our friendship. He was the best person in the world. I managed to return a small smile to him, my eyes never leaving his.
“Aww! You two look like a gay couple!” Soha taunted.
“Shut up, Soha!” I snapped, “And I’ll think about it!” The moment I had completed the sentence, Soha shrieked like a little kid,
“Yay! Group hug!” And with that, she threw her arms around me and Dhruv, engulfing us in a big Mommy Bear hug.
I know it was a childish and a rather girlish gesture of hers, but I liked it. It felt so right, hugging the two of my childhood best buddies. All the sweet memories of our childhood came back to me. I was really blessed to have such friends.
Once we pulled out the hug, Soha said,
“By the way, I have some news.”
“And what is that?” Dhruv asked, while I tilted my face to look at her.
“Umm… Maddy, uh, asked me to be his girlfriend tonight, after the dance… It’s official, guys,” Soha said, blushing hard.
“That’s great! I am so happy for you two!” Dhruv said.
“Yeah, you two make an adorable couple! Finally he asked you…” I said, smiling at Soha. I still remember when I had first introduced Soha and Maddy to each other. They had clicked at their first meeting only. Soha had always fancied him, I now realize. Back then, I was supposedly in ‘love’ with her to notice it, but now that I come to think of it, they had always had a thing for each other. Thiers was a simple and cute love story—minus the unnecessary complications. I felt really happy for them. I looked at Soha, who was animatedly describing her first date with Maddy to Dhruv, who had not been around at that time. She looked genuinely happy, and I was pretty sure Maddy was the perfect guy for her who’d keep her happy.
Speaking of which, was I the perfect guy for Nandini? In my honest opinion, I really think she deserves someone better than me. I mean, I would always be busy with the music and everything; what if I’m not able to give her time? Will it work out between us two? But most importantly, if I confess my feelings to her, what if she doesn’t reciprocate? I have no idea if she thinks of me anything more than her best friend or not, and ‘love’ seems to be so far away. Will I do the correct thing by confessing to her?
“What are you thinking about?” Soha’s question broke me out of my reverie.
Without hesitating, I asked her the question I’d been asking myself,
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to tell her?”
“Obviously yaar! Will you just stop thinking about it? You’re doing it, and it’s FINAL!” Soha said, and Dhruv nodded in agreement.
Inhaling deeply, I sighed, and mumbled an ‘okay’.
I hope everything goes well.
31st December, 2015.
‘Ting tong!’ I rang the door bell outside Manik’s house. I was feeling really nervous and jittery on the insides. After my realization yesterday night, I was going to meet him for the first time and I didn’t know if I could conceal my feelings for long. Will I be able to behave the same in front of him? I was not even sure why he had asked me to come over, all dressed up.
“Hello?” I spoke into my phone, receiving Manik’s call.
“Hey, what’s up?” Manik chirped from the other end.
“Seriously Manik? Have you seen the time? It’s eleven o’clock!”
“So? Don’t tell me you were going to sleep?”
“Of course I was!”
“Well, now you aren’t.”
“And why’s that? What else am I supposed to do now?”
“It’s New Year’s Eve, Nandini! You should be celebrating!”
“I’m all alone at home, Ams not there. With whom shall I celebrate?”
“That’s why I called right? You, are going to come to my house and we, are going to celebrate!”
“No Manik. It’s already so late. Let’s celebrate tomorrow na…” Well I don’t sleep so early normally, but today I felt really sleepy and was already in bed. And I sure didn’t want to get out of my warm and comfy bed.
“How can you take it so lightly? It’s New Year’s Eve, after all! We can’t possibly celebrate tomorrow!”
“No buts, you’ve got to come. I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“Please?” he said in a childish voice. I could almost imagine him pouting. How adorable he looked! “I want to spend the first second of 2016 with you,” He added.
“Okay fine! Only for you!” I said, giving up. You can’t possibly say no to a guy who says such sweet things to you. And a guy like Manik, at that.
“Thank you! Be here by 11:40, and wear something nice.”
“What! Why—“ I was asking, when Manik disconnected the call, leaving me puzzled.
*End of flashback*
I came back to the present situation and realised that no one had opened the door yet. Getting restless, I pressed the doorbell once again.
I never used to care about my looks or what I wore, in front of Manik, but today, it was different. I was feeling greatly conscious, and was constantly fidgeting with my hair and my dress, straightening them. I looked down, examining myself. I was wearing a sky blue dress, tight on the top part and flowing down the rest of the way, and it fell up to my knees. With that, I was wearing my stilettos and had left my hair fall on my shoulders. I usually wouldn’t wear makeup, but today I had used a bit of eye liner and mascara, along with some lip gloss. I really hoped I wasn’t overdressed.
‘Manik has slept or what? If this is the situation, I’m going to kill him!’ I wondered, seeing that no one had opened the door yet. Being my own impatient self, I proceeded to turn the doorknob. The door, much to my surprise, was unlocked, and opened up on a slight turn of the doorknob by me. Really, Manik? Who leaves the door unlocked at this time of the night?
“Man—“ I called out, peeking into the house simultaneously, but halted on seeing the sight in front of me. The living room was dimly lit with various candles, giving it a really romantic look. As I stepped into the house, a clam and serene music flowed into my ears. It didn’t take me long to realize it was the same song, to which I and Manik had danced last night. I looked around the room in absolute awe, admiring the decoration. But what was the occasion?
Not a single soul seemed to be around.
Oh, no, wait.
The very next instant, I spotted none other than… Bruzo, Manik’s adorable pet dog, sitting on the sofa, and looking at me through his wide open big orbs.
“Hey, Bruzo!” I said as I approached him, “Did Manik leave you to celebrate with me on ‘The New year’s Eve’?” I asked as I bent down and slowly caressed his soft coat of fur. He turned his head towards me and I spotted a note hanging from his collar.
“What’s this you’ve got here? You’ve got a letter for me, Bruzo?” I asked, plucking the note out. On the note, in big bold letters were written three words, with a sign at the bottom:
FOLLOW THE ARROWS.
“What arrows?” I stupidly asked Bruzo, who in return gave me a blank look. Or was it my imagination? He then humped off the sofa and disappeared into God-knows-where.
“Wow. Now you are leaving me to search for these arrows alone, huh?” I said. Realizing that I was talking to myself like a crazy maniac, I shook my head and let my gaze travel around the room, looking for ‘The Arrows’. Circling my eyes around the breathtakingly beautiful room for the second time, I spotted the arrow which I’d missed the first time. It was printed on a clear sheet of paper pasted on a vase, right by the staircase, and pointed towards the stairs.
“Finally!” I muttered, making my way towards the staircase.
Nearing the stairs, I found another arrow stuck to the side railing of the stairs, pointing upwards. I slowly started climbing the stairs, enrobed in a red carpet. After a few more steps, I noticed something else stuck to the railing. But this time, it wasn’t an arrow. It was a yellow rose, with a note stuck to it, which read—
‘Yellow rose for you which symbolises the precious moments of our friendship which we have spent together.’
“Aww!” I said out loud. This was so sweet! Casting a look at the rest of the railing in visibility range, I found that there were several other roses to follow. I had no idea what was Manik up to, but I found it really sweet.
I further climbed up the stairs, and plucked out the second rose, an orange one this time. I read it out—
‘Orange rose for your buoyant spirits which have filled up my life with excitement.’
After a while, I came across another rose, with yet another message with it—
‘A light pink rose for the sweetest person in my life.’
The rose which followed this was a white one, with the message—
‘A white rose which reminds me of your innocent, pure and childlike heart.’
As I collected more and more roses, the love in my heart that I nourished for Manik grew manifold and the smile on my face grew wider and wider. The next rose was a peach one with the note which said—
‘A peach coloured rose as a celebration because you’re in my life.’
By now, as happy I was, I was equally confused. Why was he doing this? And most importantly, where was he? He had asked me to come and celebrate New Year’s Ever with him, but seems like he had something completely different planned out. I noticed that there were n more arrows, so i was bound to follow the roses, which seemed to lead all the way up to the rooftop.
The next rose was a burgundy one with a lovely message—
‘A burgundy rose which symbolises your unconscious beauty. You don’t know you’re beautiful, but let me tell you this, you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met.’
As soon as I read this, I felt my cheeks getting warm as all the blood of my body gushed into them. Shaking my head, I carried on walking and soon found the next rose which carried the message—
‘A lavender one ‘cause I was enchanted to meet you ;)’
I smiled to myself and continued walking. This time, the rose was a dark pink one, with the note—
‘And last, but not the least, a dark pink rose as a thank you for everything you’ve done for me.’
“No, thank you Manik,” I said to myself. This guy sure knew how to make me feel special, and that’s why I loved him.
I looked up to see that I had reached the terrace of the building. I spotted Manik standing near the parapet of the terrace, with his back towards me. My heart raced in anticipation as I took small, exaggerated slow steps towards him. I was not ready to face him, yet. As I approached him, I heard him murmuring something to himself, completely unaware of my presence.
“Manik?” I called out, when I went and stood beside him, on his left. He instantly turned towards me while his right hand almost instantaneously went behind his back. He was definitely hiding something.
“Oh, hey, uh, hi!” he said, stuttering a bit. Was I imagining this? Manik was stuttering? Was he also nervous to meet me? So I was not the only one?
I looked at him, he looked so flawless! He was wearing a black button down shirt, along with washed out faded jeans. His hair was gelled up perfectly, making him look really hot. His brown eyes were mesmerising me, and I found it difficult not to gawk at him.
I mentally slapped myself to get me back to reality, and released the breath I didn’t know I had been holding. Composing myself, I asked him,
“Well, what is this all about?” and gestured towards the roses and the notes which filled both of my hands.
I guess he wasn’t paying attention, as I found him looking at his watch, after which he mumbled “Perfect timing.” It seemed like he was telling it more to himself, but I anyhow asked him,
“Nothing; listen to me first,” He said in a soft yet demanding voice and I obliged.
“All this is for a special reason. I want to tell you something and I want you to listen to me calmly,” He said, took a deep breath, and continued.
“The first time when I met you, I still remember it very clearly—all the abuses you had showered on me for hurting your ‘baby’. Only I know how I had managed to conceal my amusement when I heard you address your car as your ‘baby’. Let me admit it, you really hurt my big ego when you couldn’t recognise me. I was living with this fake assumption that I everyone in Mumbai knew me. You were the first girl who didn’t. You didn’t give me any of your attention, and I guess that’s the reason why I craved for it more. Under normal circumstances, I’d never ask a stranger to have coffee with me, but in your case, it was different. I myself don’t know why I had asked you for that coffee that day, but now I’m glad I did. That night, when I first saw you cry, I felt our hearts connect. Even though it was you who was crying, I felt like someone had torn away a part of my heart. I know it’s weird to say this, as back then I had known you for less than a day, but I really did feel that way. I still feel the ticking effect your fingers had on me when you held me for the first time when we went on the bike ride. The joy on your face when we were having ice cream in the rain, I could never forget it. I normally don’t like conversing on the phone, but then again, with you, it was different. The endless phone calls which we exchanged every single day never seemed to be enough, and I always craved for more, just so that I can hear your voice. On my birthday, I was really expecting you to wish me first, and I was disappointed when you didn’t. But you know, the surprise which you gave me…drove all my disappointment away. To say you had completely mesmerised me, and I was totally smitten by you would nt be a lie. Hell, I even got messed up for you! Today I want to tell you something, which I should’ve told you long before. You must be thinking why I used to avoid you, and that you don’t mean anything to me anymore. But trust me; it was hurting me much more than it was hurting you. It was literally killing me from the inside when I was not talking to you. But I had to do it; for Dhruv. He really loves you Nandinj, and I didn’t want to come in between you two.”
This news would have surprised me in some other situation but then something told me that it was not the main objective of his speech. SO instead of reacting, I let him continue.
“The events of that night, on the beach, and then the dance last night, made me realize that I couldn’t stay like this. You don’t know this, but you light up my world like nobody else. Each time I see you, you always manage to take my breath away. The way you get frightened by the simplest of things, the way you call me ‘Monster’, the way you enjoy dancing in the rain…Everything about you is just perfect. I know I’m not the perfect guy you might have dreamt of, and I cannot devote all my time to you. I have my own flaws and I can never be near about ‘perfect’. I have taken many wrong decisions in my life, Nandini. But now, for once, I know what the right thing to do is. I always want to be there for you. I want you all for myself. Nandini Murthy, you have stolen my heart, and today I am not afraid to say that I really lo—“
“I love you Manik,” I cut him off, tears pricking at the corner of my eyes. No one had ever said anything near about so sweet to me. I was really touched by what he said, and I couldn’t control anymore and just blurted out the feelings I knew I couldn’t keep hidden any longer.
Just as I’d finished saying that, I found some light coming up from below. I realized the light was coming from candles. Flying candles. Soon, a hundred lighted candles were flying around us. They were exactly like those flying candles in the movies. Except that this wasn’t a movie. This was real.
“This is so beautiful!” I exclaimed, completely dazzled by the scene before me. “This was all planned by you?”
When I looked at Manik, I found his face wearing a surprised expression, and his mouth hung wide open. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to confess to him soon. He then looked at his watch, and blurted out,
“You spoilt it! I was going to say it now, at exactly twelve!”
I was not wearing a watch, but I didn’t have to be a genius to figure out it was exactly twelve o’clock now. It was 2016! As if on cue, right then, thousands of firecrackers shot up in the sky.
“Aww, this is so sweet of you!” i said.
“What sweet of me? You completely spilt my plans and you’re now saying that it’s sweet of me?”
He laughed, and then looking at me earnestly, said,
“I love you Nandini.” With this, he exposed his right hand which he had been hiding behind his back since forever. There was a red rose in his hand, which he held out to me and said, “This final rose is to let you know that I will always love you.”
“Well, my hands are full you know?” I said, gesturing towards my hands.
“Oh, just keep them there,” he said, pointing to the parapet, and I did what he said.
Then smiling at him, I accepted the ninth rose from him, soon after which he engulfed me in his arms, hugging me. I didn’t want anything else. This was the best day of my life, no doubt. It was the best feeling to be in his arms, and not think of anything else.
We stayed like that for sometime, when he suddenly pulled out of the hug and said,
“One last question…”
“And what’s that?”
“Will you, Nandini Murthy, give me, Manik Malhotra, the honour of being your boyfriend?”
Blushing, I said,
“Yes, Manik, I will.”
And with that, I crashed my lips on his, making the fireworks explode in my stomach along with the ones in the sky overhead.
So another long episode, finally the both of them confess yaar! So far my personal favourite. So how’s it? Comment 😀
Credit to: Naisha