Twentieth – 1.6

Recap: Kunal forgets his Pen Drive at Nandita’s home and requests her to return it to him the same day as there are important documents saved in the Pen Drive. After a whole day of hustle and bustle, Nandita meets Kunal and returns his Pen Drive. Kunal, as a token of thanks, takes her out for a coffee and on the way back home they witness a road accident which traumatizes Nandita. In a weak moment, she reveals her phobia to Kunal and he, inadvertently, asks her to marry him.

Myra was sleepy when Nandita reached home around 9.30. She quickly took her to their room and tucked her in bed and slept without having supper. B Mom sensed there is something not normal with Nandita but decided not to ask her right away.

“Haaaaahahahhahahahahhaha” Purvi bursted into laughter when Kunal told her about the incident that happened with him and Nandita today. Kunal was clueless on a 3 peg down Purvi’s reaction.

“Dude, I have told you endless times that think before uttering words from your mouth. Haven’t I??? But would you be called Kunal Mehra if you improvise?” she said and laughed again. “The other day also you said she looked beautiful in Kairav’s birthday party but her photo isn’t beautiful because she didn’t smile… which means you were appreciating her with a coating of criticism around it.” And Purvi continued laughing.

Kunal looked at Purvi and clarified “I don’t think I said anything wrong today? My intentions are not bad?” and he looked at his glass of whisky.

There was a silence between the two as Purvi had stopped laughing on his last statement. She tried to understand Kunal’s state of mind and her phone rang with her boyfriend’s call. “Whatever happened has happened. Leave it.” She patted on his shoulder and went to kitchen to put her glass in dishwashing basin.

“Good night.” She shouted on the way to her room and shut the door.

Kunal sighed and finished his peg and said “good night” to himself and went to his room to sleep.

“You look a bit upset Nandita.” B Mom asked her the next morning while having tea. “Is everything okay in office?”

“Yea Maa… actually there were some issues raised in yesterday’s meeting so my boss was upset, hence I was upset.” Nandita covered up and looked at her tea cup.

“I’ll be fine Maa, don’t worry.” She said and got up from her chair and went inside her room and looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were sombre. Last night’s entire scene revolved in front of her “I wish yesterday had never happened.” She kept looking at herself feeling gloomy.

Myra woke up soon and their daily routine followed.


 

Nandita was quieter than usual for the whole day in office. Upon her boss and colleagues’ inquiry, she said ‘family issue’. She was lying not just to everyone else, but to herself. Kunal, on the other hand, had typed ‘Sorry for yesterday’ countless times on his phone and erased.

Finally after twilight, Kunal sent a text to Nandita.

“Can we talk? It’s important.” Nandita read his message and overlooked it.

Kunal noticed the blue read receipt and understood that Nandita has not replied intentionally.

Before going to bed, Nandita picked her phone to check her Whatsapp and there was a message delivered from Kunal just 2 minutes back. She looked at his name. It mentioned “sorry for….”. Ignoring her apprehension this time, she opened it “Sorry for yesterday Nandita. I know my words have hurt you but perhaps you perceived my intention wrongly. We need to talk about this otherwise you and I, both will keep feeling bad.” Nandita read the text and kept thinking whether to reply or not. Another message appeared next moment. “I definitely want to talk this out but there is no hurry from my side. Let me know whenever you’re comfortable in meeting me.” Though Kunal had sent the last text in a gentle manner but it pent up Nandita’s sentiments once again in the wrong way.

She replied “I say Never” and turned off Wi-Fi and plunked her phone on the bedside table. She felt a kind of heat inside her which made her angry. On receiving this reaction from Nandita, Kunal was dismayed but he kept calm because he knew that Nandita has misunderstood him. He decided to not communicate with Nandita until she wants to and left it on his destiny.

Days converted into weeks and both of them were out of communication. Nandita felt distressed because the thought about this incident would cross her mind sporadically. Her face looked dull most of the times.

 “May be I need to talk this out with Kunal.” One day she thought.

“No way… He is a marketeer… He will convince you for what he wants in a very smooth way and you’ll get swayed… It’s a bad idea.” Another side of her brain warned her.  “But maybe you can discuss it with someone else.” An idea struck her.

“Yeah… that sounds good… I’ll discuss this with Charu and Sneha during lunch.” Nandita got convinced with this idea.

Charu and Sneha were Nandita’s friends in office. They used to lunch together and shared a good bond.

“Girls, there is something which is confusing me a lot for a few days now. So, I want your opinion about it.” Nandita initiated while they were looking for a vacant table in the cafeteria.

“See, there is one table getting vacant. Let’s go” Sneha pointed in the corner of the cafeteria and they headed in that direction.

“Sorry I interrupted you Nandita. What is it that you want to discuss?” Sneha said while opening her lunch bag while Charu ate a slice of cucumber from her plate and looked at Nandita.

Nandita had just opened her mouth to utter a word when a voice interrupted them “Hey ladies, would you mind if we share the table with you today?” Nandita, Sneha and Charu looked in the direction of that voice and saw Isma and Shiney holding their meal plate in their hands. And before the trio could refuse them to sit there, they were already seated.

The trio looked at each other with displeasure as Isma and Shiney were the gossipers in the office and none of the three liked them. Their interruption snatched away the opportunity from Nandita to talk her heart out with her friends. The trio kept silent and started eating.

“Hey, Look at Carl and Hansika..!” Isma moved her eyeballs from one corner to another and spoke to Shiney. “Do you think they’re texting each other?” she said again.

And Nandita, Charu and Sneha also moved their eyes in the direction of Isma and Shiney.

“You bet they are.” Shiney said.

“This guy Carl…he is a bloody cheapster!” Shiney said.

“He sleeps with every girl who comes across him. And now he has set his eyes on Hansika.” Shiney said and chewed her bite.

“That’s how half of the people in this world are babe. They don’t get satiated with one person in life and hence…” Isma sighed with her last sentence.

“But this girl Hansika… she looked so sincere n cultured when she had joined a few weeks back.” Shiney again passed a contentious remark.

“Excuse me!” Charu interrupted their not – so – personal conversation.

“What’s so wrong with you both?” Charu asked them both and they gave her a questioning look.

“Who is doing what in their personal life… how does that affect you?” she asked them in a low, but furious tone.

“Are you making some revenue out of this gossip or is this just your habit to snoop all the time?” Charu kept asking questions and they stared at her.

“Carl, the guy you’re calling a cheapster happens to be my friend. Even if there is something brewing between them, why is it scratching you in ass?” Charu said.

“I know he is your friend and that’s why you are defending him. But is it a good culture to sleep with other girls outside your marriage?” Isma gave a furious look to Charu and asked.

“hahaha… I am not defending him that’s first, and second, I don’t interfere or gossip about other people’s life like both of you.” Charu said and an argument started across the table. Nandita and Sneha kept mum as they knew Charu is capable enough to prove her point.

“You called him a cheapster… how much do you know him huh? Did he ever cross limits with any of you? I am sure he must have never even looked at you both and….. yeah… that’s it…. you both are jealous because a hunk like Carl doesn’t even look at you.” Charu smirked.

“Shut up…. will you?? Shiney said to Charu with an angry face.

“If someone is sleeping with other person outside their marriage, that’s their personal matter. Who are you to poke your fucking nose in between?” Isma and Shiney gave an infuriated look to Charu on this.

“Even if I go by what you said… It’s not just Carl who is sleeping with that girl. That girl is equally responsible for her life… Carl is not raping her, is he? If yes, she must seek justice. If not, then don’t point fingers on others for what they are doing in their personal life and stop prying. It is the most disgusting thing one does.” Charu said her final word and stared at both of them. Irated Isma showed Shiney another vacant table and both of them left.

“Bravo! Good speech there!” Sneha laughed.

“You bet they deserve it.” Charu said and ate a bite.

“So what is it that you wanted to discuss?” Charu asked Nandita.

“Nothing serious. I’ll share it later.” Nandita replied and the trio continued with their meal. But Charu’s speech to Isma and Shiney made Nandita ponder about her own scenario.

“Charu said it rightly….” She thought while washing her hands after meal. “It is not a decision that one out of the two takes, it is a mutual decision.”

“Kunal asked me whether I want to marry him. He did not impose anything wrong on me… and though he kept pleading but I did not let him explain why he asked me that.” Nandita reached her workstation thinking all the way.

“Any case….  what he asked for, is simply out of question. So better I stop mulling over it.” Nandita convinced herself and logged into her laptop.

“Tu hi tu har jagah aajkal kyun hai…. Tu hi tu har jagah aajkal kyun hai?

Raaste har dafaa sirf tera pata… mujhse pooche bhala kyun hai?”

she heard the song “Tu hi Tu” from the movie “Kick” on her way back home and those lyrics made perfect sense to Nandita’s current state of mind. Because although she had tried to convince herself to not walk in that direction, something or the other kept reminding her of the conflict in her mind as if Kunal had got deeply inked in her memories. If there was any guy in yellow tee, it would remind her of the most dreadful day in her life or Kunal’s lunch at her home; any cricket match or a pen drive would remind her of Kunal. Whenever she looked at Myra’s favourite sandals she would think about Kunal. Every day when she crossed the road she would think of Kunal when she had seen him with a friend. The mall, the coffee shops would remind her of him. She thought about sharing it with B Mom but was scared that this may hurt her and as they had never discussed about her remarriage.

Days passed by, and Nandita and Kunal entered the 6th week of confusion in their minds. Though they were busy with their routine life, Nandita was contemplating about Kunal where as he was unaware of her contemplation. The only thing he was feeling bad about was he could not explain his truth to Nandita which had left a bad impression of him.


 

Next day, as per her schedule, Nandita flew to Bangalore but unlike what she had decided, her mind kept diverting to Kunal’s last message time and again. His words “perhaps your perception towards me has altered” kept boggling her. In between her meeting, she would look at her phone and think about the whole conversation that Kunal and she had done till now. Her heart was feeling heavy, very heavy today.

“It has been more than a month and half. How much more do you want to sulk?” Nandita’s heart asked her and she kept pondering.

“Things get sorted only when one talks them out. If he is ready to talk, why are you hesitating? Is there a fear inside you? What is it? Do you understand it?” Her heart kept throwing questions at her mind and bloody mind had no answer to them but now she was definitely longing to find a solution to this skepticism.

Hai barf si saanso mein… Ankhon mein dhuaan dhuaan

Ye har pal kyun khele hai, Gham ka khushi ka juaa juaa

Ye umeedon bhara Ye khud se hi dara…

Suljhe dhaago mein Uljhaa hai kyun,

Salahe salahe yeh khud ki bhi sunta nahi

Gustakh dil… Dil mein mushqil…Mushqil mein dil… Gustakh dil

The song ‘Gustakh Dil’ from ‘English Vinglish’ was playing on radio while Nandita was packing her bag before leaving for airport. Those lyrics affected her mind and her eyes looked at her phone. She quickly walked towards it and opened her WhatsApp and scrolled the screen up and down for Kunal’s number. Her heartbeat was speedy but she opened his Whatsapp conversation and without wasting a single moment, she typed “Can we meet tonight?” and sent it. When the message got delivered, her heart trembled again aand asked “what you just did? Are you ready to face him? Wasn’t this step hasty?”

“There is no looking back Nandita? Just sort this out for your own self?” her conscience suggested her and she took a deep breath and typed another message “I am coming back from Bangalore. My flight will reach at 8.30ish and I’ll be home around 10ish. Is it possible for you to be there?” and she hit the send button. Once the message got delivered, she put the phone back on table and slowly started walking towards the closet to take out the stuff from inside but all her eyes wanted to see is a reply from Kunal. In every 10 seconds, she checked her Whatsapp but there was no reply from him. She was perturbed and apprehended so she ordered a tea to feel better. An hour passed by and Nandita kept waiting for Kunal’s reply but his ‘last seen’ status was same as before.

“Why on earth he has to be busiest today?” she thought; pulled her luggage and stepped out for checkout from hotel. After her check in and security check done at the Bangalore airport, Nandita picked up her phone to find any reply from Kunal and there it was.

“There means where?”

“Airport or your home?” Kunal had asked.

Nandita took a sigh of relief but she was still apprehended.

“Beneath my residence’s building.” She replied with little anxiety on her mind.

Within a minute Kunal replied “I’ll be there. Have a safe flight!”

Nandita took a deep breath and proceeded towards her flight. Throughout her journey from Bangalore to Mumbai and from Mumbai Airport to her residence, she was thinking about her meeting with Kunal. There was a month and half that both of them had spent waiting for an appropriate answer from each other. She had messaged “on the way to home” to Kunal when she took the cab and he had replied “I am waiting” to her.

May be fortune was not so pleased with Nandita therefore she had to face a massive traffic jam on the Vashi bridge. Every second that was ticking down on her watch made her restless as she couldn’t wait to meet him and sort out things.

After an hour, her cab got way from the traffic and she sighed with relief.

“Hello Maa” Nandita called up home when she was about to reach her residence.

“Hello Nandita! When are you reaching?” said B Mom.

“Maa, I m stuck in traffic outside the airport. It will take a while.” She lied to B Mom and the taxi driver looked at her from the rear view mirror.

“No problem. Myra is already asleep. Just call on my mobile when you reach home. I’ll open the door.” B Mom said and both hung up the call. Nandita felt guilty about lying to B Mom but then her mind convinced her that the task that she has got to finish is more necessary at this point.

She got down from her cab at the gate of her building and entered inside searching for Kunal. Her heartbeat was fast and she was nervous. “What should I ask? What will he say?” sort of questions were revolving in her mind.

“Nandita” she heard her name and recognized the voice. Kunal was standing beside his car parked in the guest parking. She saw his face under the dim light and started walking towards him with a lot of anxiety.


 

to be continued…

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