“My dream is sitting right in front of me!”
The way he spoke, sent shivers of ecstasy through her. A rush of adrenaline ran down her spine making her feel fuzzy. She could stare at his seemingly drugged, dreamy eyes for hours and hours together.
She bit her lower lip before smiling hopelessly and sighed as she said, “You always have a way with words, na? You just know what to speak and how well to say it in a particular situation!”
He shrugged and grinned before sitting down on the floor, casually leaning his back by the edge of the bed behind him. In another movement, he held her elbow and dragged her back, to sit beside him.
“Did I say something wrong?” He asked, looking at her with a lost look in his eyes.
She nodded, “No! No one can win over you when it comes to speaking effectively. So I won’t even try, but Manik…” She stopped speaking.
“But Manik…what?” He raised his brows.
She looked around to buy time to think of perfect words that didn’t offend him or make her look like someone who didn’t understand him.
“Yes?” He probed more.
“Manik…I don’t want to be the reason behind you giving up on such a promising career.”
“But who said that you are stepping between my career and me? Wait! Who told you about this letter?”
“Does it matter? You didn’t tell me about it. And that is enough a reason for me to be upset with you!”
He smiled knowingly, “Did mom talk to you? Did she ask you to come and talk to me?”
She turned her face away and frowned. She knew that he could read her and her eyes couldn’t lie to him.
“I know, now.” He shrugged, “Where are our parents?”
“Downstairs.” She replied, “My mom is helping your mom to make dosa for you and my dad is sitting with your dad.”
He grinned mischievously, and whispered leaning towards her face, “Perfect! Why are we wasting time, then?”
“Manik!” She rolled her eyes, and whacked his arm, “Be serious!”
He made a sorry face. Irritated, he looked away towards his bicycle and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t talk to messengers. Talk to me if you have to say something for yourself. Not on behalf of my mom.”
“What makes you think that I am talking on her behalf?”
He was almost angry by now, “I know that, very well. Because you are speaking something else while you want totally the opposite.”
“Who told you? It’s nothing like that. You are mistaken.” She fumbled.
Rolling his eyes, he asked, “Don’t you want me to stay back and forget about New York?”
She opened her mouth in shock and refuted, “Nooooo!!! No way!!! How can you say that, you idiot? Why would I want you to give up something you have always wanted?”
He shrugged and stared at her eyes, “Well! That is what I heard you speak in your sleep!”
“Me? In my sleep? When??? Is that what I said when I was sleeping? That’s crazy!!!”
“Yes!! And, that’s the truth. Deep in your heart, you don’t want me to go. You almost pleaded in your sleep, not to leave you and go to New York… And now, just because mom said that I should go, you come back to convince me, otherwise!” He looked clearly annoyed.
“Manik… let me explain…please?”
He calmed down and nodded to give her a go-ahead to say what she wanted to say.
She started speaking, “Listen… Okay, I must have said that. But it was a fear speaking when we had not committed to each other. I mean, we had said nothing, we didn’t confess, and I accept that I lived in a constant fear that once you go away, you will forget about me. We’ll lose touch and then we will hardly meet and that will be the end of us.”
He looked at her, speechlessly, trying to understand. Trying not to be distracted by how adorable she looked speaking about ‘them.’
She continued to explain, “But it is not the same case, anymore. We are together!! And that makes me confident. I won’t stop you from following your passions just because I want to tie you down to this small county. Because of me. No!!”
He listened to her patiently before he affirmed, “But still, I don’t want to go! I want to stay here, be with you… my dream was to open a chain of cafes and restaurants… I can begin here, anytime.”
She spoke with utmost conviction, “Yes, you can! But it’ll be a huge struggle. After this course and internship with the global chain, you’ll get a kick start. New York is a big place… there will be n number of opportunities…to learn… to start… to grow!!!”
He smiled, and caressed her long hair with his hand, smoothening the tangles and setting them straight, “How convincing you sound!!”
“I’m sure of what I am speaking!”
“Sweetheart, New York is far. I won’t be able to come frequently. I may become busy with work and studies. I may have a hectic schedule.”
“We’ll cope with that! Together??”
He took a deep breath as his smile vanished, and he spoke determinedly, “No!!”
“I said – No!!”
“Manik… you are so stubborn!”
“You are no less!”
“Okay!” She lowered her head accepting failure and with a sad look on her face. She rotated the bracelet given by him between her fingers and bit her lips. He held her wrist and touched the bracelet. It had ‘M-N’ inscribed over it.
“Don’t feel sad. It’s just that – I don’t trust destiny or my luck. I had never imagined, even in the silliest of my dreams, that I… I mean, WE… will be together! Now that you are with me, I don’t want to give anyone any chance to separate us. I can’t go away, to New York, for 2 years… nopes… no chance!!”
She raised her eyes from the bracelet and looked at him, with a warm, mushy look in her eyes, “You are so hopeless!”
He chuckled, “Hopelessly in love! With you!”
“What have I done to deserve you?”
“You kissed me in the pub that day…” He chuckled.
“Shittt!!!” She whacked him pulling the cushion from the bed and hit him hard for 2-3 times, before he snatched it from her, took it away, and pulled her in his arms. She struggled to break free but he kissed her before he left her.
“You will never stop embarrassing me over that one kiss! You are such a loser!”
He laughed out loud, “I was not trying to embarrass you. It was supposed to be a compliment. I love the ‘bold’ and ‘hot’ Nandini…sooooo much!!!”
She closed her ears, “Stop!! I was drunk … Goodness!! Didn’t you see that I was high, that day??”
“No, I didn’t.” He replied in the sexiest, low, knee-melting voice. “Coz, I am always high. High on you!!”