Chapter Forty Nine - Rohan

Rohan knew that watching his friend in a bra, straddling another man was something he could not un-see ever. He walked out of the gate instead of back to his room. He was too tired to walk around but there was too much chaos inside his mind and he needed to clear his head before going back to the room where his friend, perhaps the only real friend he had in this city, a friend he could have soon started calling as his best friend, had tried to get intimate with him. And the worst part was, he had kissed her. Their friendship was ruined already. He felt lonelier than before. There was no one he could confide in, anymore. Not that he emptied out his feelings in front of her often; but at least she knew how he felt about Mansi. Despite everything, that woman had done what she had done. He could not really blame her, though. He knew she was not thinking straight. Love does that to you, he was well aware of the fact.

He could have tried to stop his friend; could have made her understand that the kind of relationship she was expecting from him was not possible because he loved Mansi – but she had ruined everything by calling Mansi a ‘bitch’ and then cursing her. He had lost his temper, he was not thinking clear, he was not thinking, period. Part of him was convinced that he did the right thing by stopping the advances; the other part of him felt hurt that his friend did not need much time to replace him with another man. He did not see who the man was; perhaps it was one of their common friends, since she was not the kind of woman to get into bed with a stranger. For a long time, he had believed that she was not the kind of woman capable of the things she had done in his room earlier.

The way his body reacted to the earlier happenings and at the sight of her sitting on top of another man, made him wonder how it would have been had he given in to the surge of emotions like his friend had. He would have ended up having sex with her. Would that have been wrong? He wondered. It was not as if Mansi and he were a committed couple, hell – they were not even a couple. She was like a mirage he was running after. To what end? He asked himself. Was there even a possibility of him and her? The question bothered him. And - it was not as if had never had sex with another woman; but it had been before Mansi had entered his life. He had never been emotionally attached to anyone, in fact he had been the one to run away from commitment. Mansi changed everything. She was the only woman he wanted to be serious with; the only woman he wanted to spend his entire life getting in bed with at night and waking up next to in the morning. The only woman he wanted to know more about, be emotionally attached to and have a future with. He was ready for a commitment if Mansi gave him a chance.

The cold breeze made him shiver and for a moment he considered going back to the chawl. He was a few steps away from the bus-stop from where Mansi boarded the bus for her office. He walked towards it and sat down on the bench. How would he know whether he had a chance with Mansi when he was not even aware of her whereabouts? He did not even know whether she was coming back. He was not the kind of person to stalk someone, so apart from knowing the bus-stop from where Mansi boarded the bus and the rough location of where she worked; he did not know much about her. He knew her office locality only because he had once picked her up from near her office, he assumed it was from near her office. He did not know little details about her – where was she originally from? How she had ended up in the chawl? What was it in her past that haunted her? He did not know where she went when she was not working and was not in the chawl, who were her friends? The conversations he had with Mansi had been vague. She had not disclosed much about herself; not that he expected her to, so soon. He hoped the man he had seen her with, the other day, was not one of her friends. He still remembered them, walking together like a couple. She seemed happy being with the man. Only he knew, that man did not deserve Mansi. He wanted a chance to get to know Mansi better. He wanted to know her deepest fear and then help her overcome it. He wanted to give her a secured life. He wanted to be a part of her life; he needed her.

If Mansi was interested in that man and was considering future with him; that is of course if she had not already done so, then Rohan believed that Karma had played its role. What goes around comes around, he had been told. He had hurt someone once, avoided commitment and pushed the person away and now, the woman he was in love with did not even consider him to be a part of her life.
His thoughts went back to the time when she had stepped out of his cab and vomited. When he had rushed towards her, the way she had looked at him – it still haunted him. He could not understand what was possibly wrong; she had not said anything to him, had not given him a chance to know and then put forth his point of view.

Rohan wrapped his arms around himself. It was cold and he was shivering visibly. He had to return back to chawl, he could not afford continuing to be sick for a long time. He had to earn his bread. Thinking about Mansi and trying to figure out what went wrong was not going to help him in any way. He got up slowly from the bench and started walking towards the chawl. When he entered through the gates, he involuntarily looked towards the room of his friend. The window was closed. Before he could look away, the window opened and his friend’s eyes met his. She held his gaze for a long time before being pulled inside by someone. He could not move from where he stood. Before he knew, he collapsed on the ground and blacked out.

When he came to, Rohan was in his room. His head hurt, his entire body hurt. He heard the sounds of utensils coming from the kitchen. He tried to sit up straight but failed and collapsed back on the bed.
“Don’t try to get up just yet.” He heard his friend’s voice coming from the kitchen.
What are you doing here? He wanted to ask her but he already knew the answer. She was the one who had brought him to his room when he had blacked out. Perhaps with the help of the same man she just had sex with. The fact that she took out time from her activities to be there for him made him feel ashamed of his behaviour of earlier when he had pushed her out of his room. He tried to hold back his tears.

“I am sorry.” She said as she reached his bed with a bowl of water. She dipped his handkerchief in the cologne water and kept the strip on his forehead. He let her take care of him. He did not ask her what was it that she had said sorry for, exactly. Was it for trying to get intimate or for calling Mansi a bitch?
As if reading his mind, she said, “I should have not said the things I said about her. I know how much she means to you.”
“I am not sorry, though, for what I did.” She continued.
Rohan closed his eyes as she took off the warm strip from his forehead and dipped it in cologne water again.
“I know this might not mean anything to you, but …” she said as she placed the strip back again on his forehead.
“Don’t” Rohan said before she could finish her sentence. As if not saying it would change how she felt about him. The emotions building up inside him were crushing his lungs, he felt the heaviness in his chest, in his throat and in his head. It felt as if his head would explode any moment, the throbbing headache was unbearable. He could no longer hold back his tears. Much to his embarrassment, it came out as a loud sob.

Rohan continued crying as his friend threw her arms around him and hid her face in his shoulder. A while later she turned her head, her lips touching his neck. It felt good.
“I am sorry, I am sorry … I am so.. so… so… sorry!” she whispered against his neck. “I did not mean to cause you pain.” She said raising her head slightly.
“Can we let things be the way they are?” she asked looking into his eyes and wiping away his tears with her hand. “You keep loving her and I will keep loving you.” She said with tears in her eyes.
Rohan nodded and wrapped his arm around her. She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes. Rohan stared at the ceiling of his room for a long time before drifting into sleep.

When Rohan woke up the next morning; she was gone. He felt better and stronger. He sat up straight in bed and saw that she had left a note for him. He picked up the note from under the glass on the stool, which she had used as paper weight. She had written that she had made breakfast for him and he should eat as soon as he could. She had instructed him to take the medicines on time and had promised that she would return in the afternoon with his lunch. She had warned him not to stop her because she was not going to let anyone stop her from taking care of her best friend. Rohan smiled as he read the note and then got out of bed. He felt the strength in his legs. His friend had worked a miracle on him. She had done what medicines could not do for past few days. Maybe that was the power of love - it healed. Unfortunately for her, her love for him would not heal her broken heart, at least not in near future. He hoped and prayed that his friend would be able to get over the pain he had caused her. He brushed his teeth and filled his plate with the breakfast she had made for him. His stomach growled. He was hungry. He finished his breakfast and took his medicines.

He thought about the previous night when he had wrapped his arm around her. Having his friend in his bed, her body close to his, Rohan had realized that he could never love her the way she loved him. Despite the closeness he did not feel aroused. Therefore, his earlier doubts of what would have happened had he allowed to be led by his emotions were now cleared. Even if he had not stopped the advances and had reciprocated, it would have been only because of his thoughts about Mansi and he would have regretted it later. 
He felt happier than the previous night. The absence of Mansi still hurt but he did not feel lonely. To know that someone was there for him; someone cared for him, made a lot of difference.

Had he seen his best friend crying her lungs out in her room, holding his shirt to her chest; he would have not felt the way he did.

Chapter Fifty - Rohan and Mansi

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