Chapter Fifty - Rohan and Mansi

If Rohan had to thank anyone for his speedy recovery it was his best friend; who, despite how he had treated her earlier brought him food and medicines and changed cologne strips to bring down the fever.

He already knew that he could not afford to spend more days lying in bed, sick. He had to get on his feet and get back to work. Now that he was feeling much better he decided to start driving the cab next day onwards. One more day of being pampered, of being taken care of and then he would be back to face the harsh realities of life.

He was about to fall asleep when he heard the front door being opened. He knew who it was. Long gone was his expectation that Mansi would come to his room and take care of him. He knew it was his friend who had brought food. He did not open his eyes and pretended to be asleep. He could hear her walking to the kitchen and keeping the casseroles on the platform, he felt her coming close to him and sitting on the bed. He felt her hand on his forehead as she checked his fever and then he felt her hand on his chest. He hoped she would not repeat the foolishness of the other day. He knew he would not throw her outside this time but it would definitely get awkward because he could never love her the way she loved him.
Thankfully, she removed her hand from over his chest and got up from the bed. A while later he heard the front door being closed. He opened his eyes and sat up straight in bed only to find her standing next to the door. She had not left.

“The food is in the kitchen.” She said and turned to go but she stopped after opening the door.
“I know I have ruined our friendship; I wish things could go back to normal but I know they cannot. Let’s try and make it less weird, okay?” she said and turned to look at him.
He nodded and she stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her.
He got up and had his lunch and took medicines. He thought of stepping outside the room and paying her a visit but then he changed his mind and rested.
She did not come in the evening or at night. Snacks and dinner was arranged though. He decided to talk to her the next day before he took the cab out of the chawl. He spent the whole day taking as much rest as he could. He knew he could never express his thanks in words for all that his friend had done for him; so he prayed for her, prayed that God gave her the strength to get over him and fall in love again, with someone else. As far as his life was concerned, he wondered whether he was ready to give up on Mansi. He slept with thoughts of Mansi in his mind; his dreams confirmed the answer to the question he had asked himself – no way, he would never be able to get over her. He pushed aside the thoughts and tried to sleep. Finally, he got up from the bed and opened the medicine cabinet. He rarely took the sleeping pills, but tonight was one of those nights – he needed the pill.

He felt slightly groggy the next morning when he woke up. He freshened up and got ready to go to work. He locked the door of his room and looked towards the neighbouring room; the door was still locked. He stepped down and walked towards the room of his friend. The door was closed; he did not know whether he should knock or leave. He knocked. When his friend opened the door and saw him standing outside in his cab driver uniform, a crease formed on her forehead. He knew she was thinking whether she had the right to stop him from going to work or she had lost the right.

He decided to make it easier for her, this much he could do.
“I am feeling a lot better; thanks to you.” He said. “If I am able to stand on my feet at all, it is only because you took care of me and if there is a way to repay you back, ever, I will do my best for you.” He added. As he said that he hoped she read in between the lines. There was one thing he could never give her.
“I am just glad that you are feeling better. If I need your help someday, I will ask for it. Not because you owe me; I will ask as a friend.” She said and smiled. “Can I give you a friendly hug?” she asked. He moved closer. She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close for a moment. She let go finally and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Have a good day” she said and he left.

When he drove around he did not have much expectations from the day. He did not look out of the window, hoping to see Mansi at the bus stop. He did not expect her to wave for his cab. He had assumed it would be just an ordinary day. But, it was not.

He did not see Mansi, but he saw someone who triggered the memories of her. He saw the man he had seen with Mansi the other day; only today he was with someone else. Rohan dropped a couple at the beach and decided to take a short break. He parked his cab at a distance and walked towards the beach. He had left his sandals in the cab, he walked barefooted on the sand and enjoyed the breeze, that’s when he saw the familiar face walking with two plates of snacks in his hand. The man walked towards a woman sitting on sand and for a moment Rohan’s heart skipped a beat. He hoped to see Mansi. When he realized the woman was not Mansi he did not know whether he should feel glad or feel bad for what the man was doing to Mansi.
Rohan watched them as the man sat next to the woman, nudged her with his elbow and handed over the plate of snacks to her. Rohan almost came out from his hiding place behind a food stall to run and punch the man in his face when the he touched the woman to tuck a loose strand of her hair behind the ear. But Rohan controlled himself as the man continued to run fingers through the woman’s hair. After that, Rohan could not take it anymore and walked out of there.

He had always known about the character of the man. When he had seen Mansi walking on the streets with the man, laughing with him; he had been worried for her, worried about what the man might end up doing with Mansi. He had been tempted to get out of the cab and warn her about him. Even now, he wanted to find Mansi and tell her about the man; tell her that she was making a mistake trusting him. That man was nothing but trouble.

When Pallavi had walked out of the flat with her duffel-bag, Mansi thought she saw a weird expression on her face, the one Mansi could not decipher. She pushed the thought aside considering it might be the stress about the home situation that must be bothering Pallavi.

The empty house and the silence was welcoming on one hand but on the other hand Mansi longed for some company. The first person she thought about was Manish. She hobbled towards the bedroom and picked up her mobile and sent a text to Manish. She waited for a response but none came. She felt disappointed. In these couple of days, which she spent with Manish she had gotten used to him. She hardly knew anything about him other than the few details he had shared; she wondered how it would be to get to know him more. With Pallavi away for a few days, she was looking forward to spending more time with Manish. She did not want to venture there but a thought fleeted through her mind nevertheless - What would it mean to have him in this flat, alone with her?

She was taken by surprise when her thoughts involuntarily turned to Rohan. Would any thoughts of intimacy trigger the memories of Rohan? She wondered. There was a strange and deeper connection she felt with Rohan, a connection she was not ready to accept or acknowledge.

Mansi spent her time moving around the house at slow pace and kept herself busy doing little things. Whenever she was not doing anything her eyes darted towards the clock on the wall and then to her mobile phone. She had tried a couple of times to get in touch with Manish but he had not called her back or even replied to her text. She told herself that she was not going to try contacting him again; not until he called her back. She fell asleep waiting for his call but the call never came.

Despite telling herself she won’t attempt getting in touch; the next day she opened the door of Pallavi’s flat and peeked outside towards Manish’s room – it was locked. The padlock on Manish’s door put an end to her expectations. She walked back in and sighed. She went through the day’s chore with chaos at the back of her mind. What was wrong? Had something happened to him? She checked her mobile phone again, there was still no response from him. Should she get the police involved? No, she was over-reacting, she convinced herself. One more day, I will wait for one more day and then decide what has to be done, she made up her mind.


Chapter Fifty One - Palalvi and Mansi

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