I am sorry if i made you cry. But the story is incomplete without twists and turns. So enjoy the coming chapters
Chapter 16 : Chapter 16
Every night I slept in his arms. Every morning, he has been by my side when I got up. He said that I was struggling when I slept. It was no surprise that I did. How many years had it been since I have had night terrors? Papa and Rishabh used to struggle to keep me by his side when I slept. They said that Kavita Didi and Mom couldn’t control me when I thrashed about. For months, I couldn’t sleep without someone by my side, so that I wouldn’t do anything stupid without realising. I saw him sleep. Black rings under his eyes made it clear that he also had not been sleeping. Did he even sleep at all since he came here? What would I have not given to see him sleep by me, not like this but as a lover and a husband? How did we miss each other? The bell rang. I threw over the coat on myself and opened the door. Peggy came in. One of the neighbors walked by and waved me. When I smiled back, she came in.
(Neighbor) “Nandini, dear! How are you? I am very sorry to hear about your child. Don’t worry, my child. You are still young. Think whatever happens is for the good. I see that your husband is finally back. I am sure he will take good care of you. If he doesn’t, divorce him, dear. He is not worth it, not worth you.” I chuckled. The situation is exactly reverse of what she said. He didn’t care before, got me pregnant; now he cares and wants to be my husband. Finally, I felt a bit better.
(Nandini) “Thank you, Mrs. Jane.”
(Neighbor) “Do come by for tea when you better, child.” She looked at me with care.
(Nandini) “Yes. Surely.” Manik came out in a hurry with a concerned face. Seeing me at the door with Mrs. Jane, he tried to smile and go back in.
(Neighbor) “Take care of yourself.” I closed the door after seeing her go back on the road. Manik stood behind me looking apologetically.
(Manik) “I am sorry. I should have gotten up earlier. You take it easy and rest. You are still not strong enough. I will go and prepare breakfast.” Saying, he went back to the kitchen.
(Nandini’s POV) I sat down on the sofa. He took care of me; tended to my every need. I didn’t know that he had this side to him. He read me books when we had nothing to do. He didn’t talk about us, not even once. He realised it would lead to a fight. How nice it would have been if all of this were before Christmas. I realised, I still love him. I could never forget him nor my feelings for him but I couldn’t trust him anymore. Not after what he did. For the first time, we had breakfast together. When he finally sat down with me to have food, I noticed him wear two rings. His little finger, halfway, had a diamond ring, the engagement ring he bought for me and on his left ring finger, the ruby ring I got him. He didn’t remove it.
(Nandini) “Isn’t it hard getting women with that ruby?” I asked him casually.
(Manik) “I never wanted them.”
(Nandini) “Liar! Your wonderful Arabian nights were flashed all over gossip papers.” I couldn’t believe the spite I said it with. But he replied back calmly.
(Manik) “That is all they are. Gossips. I just took those women on dates for dinner. I didn’t take them to bed. I couldn’t when all I wanted was you in my arms.”
(Nandini’s POV) I didn’t know how to answer him. We silently ate our breakfast. I sat on the sofa thinking of everything while he sat opposite to me reading something. An hour later, Peggy left. I gathered my strength and went into the room which was planned as the baby room. I saw the paintings hanged there. I filled them with pictures of babies. No matter how much I try, I couldn’t control my tears when think of the child. I couldn’t reason out why this had to happen.
(Manik whispered) “Hey, Nandini, come on. Get dressed. We are going out.”
(Nandini)“I am not going anywhere.”
(Manik) “I am not asking you to do anything. I am asking you to, at least take a walk outside. Please.” He looked worried. Now that I think about it, did he lose weight? He looked thinner than before, his eyes hollowed.
(Nandini) “Are you not busy? You are the CEO of the Malhotra Industries, are you not? Do you have time to be fooling around here?” I turned away from him. He won’t be there for me. Not ever.
(Manik) “You still don’t believe me. I won’t blame you for not believing but at least try to. I am worried about you. I cannot leave you like this.” Leave me like this? Is he feeling guilty for what he did?
(Nandini) “You don’t have to feel guilty. Whatever happened is all because of what was fated. You can go. Even if you don’t, they will find you anyway.”
(Manik) “I am not feeling guilty. I truly love you. And they won’t find me. My phone and laptop have been switched off ever since I decided to come here. I have not even contacted my family.”
(Nandini in her mind) I am surprised. Really? He didn’t call anyone? This workaholic? He didn’t call even his Mom to whom he would never miss to call every day? Is this Manik when he is unswerving? I couldn’t understand. I don’t fear what would happen anymore like before but I just can’t trust him; trust that he would be with me. I just don’t want to think about him anymore.
(Nandini) “So, if I get well, you will leave? Isn’t that what we agreed?” I said in monotone. He looked pained all of a sudden.
(Manik) “If that is what you want, I will.”
(Nandini’s POV) This proud man, who ordered people to be at his back and call, is actually looking depressed and unsure. What are you going through Manik? What are you feeling?
(Nandini) “Fine. Lets go for that walk.”
(Nandini’s POV) About two weeks later, like usual, Manik had gone to pick up the groceries. I am finally getting over my despair and started thinking about other things. The bell rang. Peggy was already in. The villagers had come one after another to visit me, comfort me, and see the handsome husband who abandoned his beautiful wife for work. I wonder who it is today. I opened the door to find a person who I would have never imagined to see. Papa was standing outside. I was stunned, frozen.
(VM) “Can I come in?” He came in. I didn’t know what to say. What am I going to tell him? How did he find me? So many questions bombarded my head.
(VM continued) “A cozy little place. Is the maid in?” He glanced at me. I replied instinctively.
(VM) “Send her out for sometime on an errand or something.”
(Nandini) “Yes.” I meekly obeyed his words. Fear spread around my mind. What am I going to do? After seeing her off, I came back with some juice and sat down opposite to him. He stared at me, inspecting me.
(VM) “You have lost weight. How have you been doing?” I bit my lips. His tone was caring, not angry, not sad.
(Nandini) “Good.” I fidgeted my fingers. He patted me lovingly.
(VM) “Nandini, why did you run away?” I feared to answer him. “Did you think about what you did even once?” He almost begged. I couldn’t tell him. He would be shattered if he heard that I was raped. I shouldn’t tell him.
(Nandini) “I am sorry.” It was almost a whisper.
(VM) “That is not the answer I want! Do you have any idea how worried we were? Fighting with us and going to your aunt’s place is one thing but running away without any trace? What happened, Nandini?” I cannot tell him I got pregnant and I couldn’t face him. I could only answer him with my tears. I shouldn’t break down in front of him.
(VM again) “Answer Me!” He got up, furious. I flinched. I was always scared of dad’s anger and this time, I let the fury fall.
(Nandini) “I am sorry, Papa. That is all I can tell.” I didn’t dare to look at him.
(VM) “You mad daughter of mine!” I was grit my teeth, ready to receive a strike, but he hugged my crouched figure. His voice was almost like crying.
(VM continued) “You are my precious daughter! You could have told me anything, fought with me, done anything! Why did you have to leave without telling us anything?” Did dad know? Did Navya tell him? I felt wet on my shoulders. First time after my grandmom’s death, my Papa cried and I made him. How much did I let him suffer?
(Nandini) “I am sorry, Papa, I am sorry.” I hugged him back, tears fell on their own. After sometime,
(VM) “Have you calmed down?” He gave me a tissue.
(VM) “I won’t ask you anything about this. So, come back. Get ready. We are going back.” He doesn’t know? I thought he knew. Wait, going back? No. I don’t want to. And furthermore, Manik would come in any moment!
(Nandini) “Papa?” He held my hands. I dragged my words.
(VM) “I don’t want to let you out of my sight. I want you to be in a place where I can be sure you are well.” As dad was talking, Manik entered.
(Manik without noticing VM) “Hey, I got your favourites today……..”Seeing dad, he stood outside, lifeless. How am I going to explain him? He didn’t say anything for a moment. He looked like a fool after seeing dad. Instantly, he gathered back his composure.
(Manik) “Hello, Sir. How are you? How come you are here?” Dad looked at him curious and wary.
(VM) “I could ask you the same. I didn’t think that you knew where Nandini was.” Papa looked at me. I shook my head pointing that I never told Manik anything. Somehow after a long time, I feel like laughing. Manik caught red handed. He really is a genius fool. Didn’t he notice dad’s car outside? He shouldn’t have come in.
(Manik) “I didn’t. I found out.” Suddenly, dad was annoyed.
(VM) “Don’t think you can lie your way out of this, Mr.Malhotra. To others, Nandini was out of the country while we were searching for her desperately. I was not aware that the Malhotra family were searching, let alone, how they knew she was missing.”
(Manik) He answered back solemnly, “Its not the Malhotra. It was I who was searching for her.”
(VM) “And the reason would be?” He looked at both of us. Please don’t tell Manik. Papa doesn’t have to know. Please. I was praying in my mind. Surprisingly, he kept quiet.
(VM) “It seems that I am not going to get an answer out of you both. Nandini, do whatever you please but at least keep me informed. Mr. Manik Malhotra, I would like to remind you that the engagement was dissolved long back. My daughter has nothing more to do with you. I don’t know why you are here and it seems that none of you would tell me but I don’t want you hanging around her. Call me later, Nandini.” Papa left in anger. Did he know I was pregnant? I am scared. What do I do?
(Manik) After seeing him leave, “You don’t have to worry. He didn’t know you were pregnant. He thinks you ran away because of me.” I didn’t like the casual way in which he answered.
(Nandini) “Isn’t that the truth?” I said spitefully. He clenched his teeth.
(Manik) “Yes, it is.” He didn’t continue anymore. Both of us have been beating around the bush, not talking about us. We both finally feel comfortable around each other.
(Manik) “Today we will be having your favourite.” This cannot go on. I shouldn’t get used to him around.
(Nandini) “Manik, we need to talk.”
(Manik) “Yes?” He smiled back at me. For the first time, I saw him smile happily at me. Wearing the most casual clothing possible, how can he look so handsome? His tall frame, the wide shoulders and big arms that held me tight when I slept to calm me down, my heart skipped a beat. Nandini! Haven’t you suffered enough? What more do you want from him? After dinner, both of us sat down to talk.
(Nandini) “You need to leave.”
(Manik) “Why all of a sudden?” He looked surprised.
(Nandini) “I have regained my health. I don’t cry anymore when I sleep. I don’t need you to take care of me. Dad also found out where I am. I will move to a busier place that will keep me occupied, with his help. You have been here for almost two months already. You don’t have to be here. You don’t have to feel guilty anymore.”
(Manik) “You still think I feel guilty? No! I love you. When I realised I loved you, it was a new feeling, and it made me feel uneasy and insecure of myself. I was an idiot, a jerk. But not now. I realised my mistake. I want to make up to you. I want to love you, care for you. I want you to trust me.” He talks like what happened was inevitable.
(Nandini) “How Can I Trust You After All You Have Done, Manik? I won’t lie, I also loved you. I thought you would never love me. I knew you were too prideful to accept it. I came into reconciliation with that feeling only during Christmas. I wanted to give myself time. Unlike you, I can face the emotions I feel and accept them. But after what happened and your indifferent face you had after raping me, all I feel for you is hate! Nothing else, pure hate!” I shouted. I don’t hate him but I cannot trust him anymore. If he was dejected, he didn’t show it. What is this? He is not put off? He looked more determined. Just the thought sent shivers through my spine. It scared me as to what he was going to do.
(Manik) “I will stay out of your face, if you want but I am not giving up on you. What I did was wrong but I will not apologise. When the baby got aborted, you were not the only one in pain; so was I. I came here happy that I would be able to see you and see our baby with you.” I hate this male chauvinism.
(Nandini) “And just because I was pregnant and you came to get me, you thought that I would cry into your arms?”
(Manik) “No. I expected you to be just as stubborn as you are now. That is what I love about you. I love you as the person who you are. I don’t expect anything because I know you. Those six months we spent together, I don’t know how much you learnt about me, but I came to love you more than I care for myself or anyone. Even if you change to be a coward or be anything, it won’t change the love I have for you. I know I am saying this very late, but I don’t want to ever lose you. If you disappear again from my life, I would go insane! I never felt like this before nor would I feel like this for anyone. But I can’t stop this, Nandini. This isn’t infatuation. If it was, I wouldn’t be here with you. I don’t want to do something I would regret forever. I don’t want to let you go. If you say you loved me, you must realise, I am not going to back down. I will keep pursuing you till you come to love me again.” He said it not violently, not softly but with firmness and decisiveness in his voice. The resolve with which he said it chilled me to the bones. He got up. “Since you don’t want to look at my face, I guess its best if I leave for now.”
(Nandini’s POV) He went in and packed his bags. He moved about angrily. There was no trace of the Manik who never showed what was on his mind. Ever action of his showed what he thought. As I stood at the door seeing him off, his expression softened. He looked caringly and adoringly. He caressed my face, softly and gently. I almost returned his feelings back.
(Manik before leaving) “I am glad you are getting well again. Well, at least, you are not scared of my touch now. Thank you for that, Nandini.”
(Nandini’s unspoken words) He looked like he was about to cry. He stroked my face again and I didn’t withdraw. I didn’t feel like something was crawling inside me. It felt natural. I didn’t feel disgusted and scared as I did when he forced a kiss on me. Instead, I stood steady, waiting for him. Waiting for him to kiss. What? Why would I want that? It dawned on me. I still love him dearly. I will still love to be with him. He would be happy to hear that. But I won’t say it. I don’t trust him anymore. What is love without trust? He left and I didn’t say a word. I closed the door and looked at the house. I don’t want to stay here anymore. I would constantly be reminded of my baby. Though, it was never born, it gave me a sense of security and happiness. I put my arms around my stomach. Tears brimmed. Its time to move on. I will go someplace else and start afresh.
After coming back from Nandini’s Place
(Manik’s POV) I left Nandini. For more than months I was with her. Now, she is in better hands. Her Dad would take care of her. For now, it is better to give her time to recover from loss of our child. I just hope that she wouldn’t destroy herself. I didn’t realise how much it hurts to be away from her. Those two months when I struggled to find her, how used to the fact I was that I would convince her till she says yes and we both with our child stay happy together. It was divine punishment. But she shouldn’t have also had to experience it. It was right for me but not for her. All she has, is suffered because of me. I want to show her joy beyond heavens and dreams and I realised I am doing a terrible job at it. What can I do? What should I do, I don’t know. Days went by. I couldn’t think of anything except her. I heard that she shifted from there. I didn’t know what she was doing, where she was. I didn’t have the courage to ask her family for her address. Navya barely even meets my eyes during conferences. Would Nandini have calmed down by now? Can I contact her now? How can I contact her?
Precap : Someone is going to meet but who i do not know