Chapter Sixty Three - Mansi and Rohan

Mansi was surprised when she received alert from the bank about the withdrawal. All her money was gone from the account, leaving only the minimal required amount in the bank. She could not breathe. She had decided to talk to her father about the money, she wanted to request him to give her the money she deserved after deducting what she owed him, but her father had taken all of her money. She could not believe he would do something like that. She was furious. She did not know what to do, should she call him or confront him at his house? She rubbed her forehead. Damn, the headache was killing her. Her entire life was falling apart, or perhaps had already fallen apart while she sat in her room, worrying about the future of so many people associated with the office. Why had her father done something like that? 

Having this kind of conversation over the phone was not appropriate. Going to her father’s house while his son was visiting him was inappropriate as well. She was sure her father must have not told his son about her. She picked up her mobile and opened recent calls log, then she kept it in her jean pocket and picked up her purse.
She stepped out of the room and stormed down the stairs. She saw some movement in her peripheral vision. Rohan was back at the chawl and was sitting with his friend. When he had seen Mansi storming down the stairs he had gotten up from the bench and walked towards her. 

Mansi did not pay attention to him and continued walking. Once out of the chawl gates she looked around for a cab. There was none. She continued walking. It was getting dark. She reached the bus-stop and waited for the bus. She saw a cab approaching and waved without looking who was driving it. Then, she saw Rohan. 
He stopped the cab in front of her and asked her to get in. It had been many days since she had heard his voice; it felt relaxing amidst all the chaos. She had avoided eye contact with him for so many days; now, finally when she looked at him she fell in love with him all over again. Tears gathered in her eyes. She wanted to get in the cab and kiss him, she wanted to tell him what a mess her life was. She wanted to tell him that she was suicidal and she wanted him to stop her, she wanted him to save her. 

“Please get in, I will take you wherever you want to go. I won’t say a word, I promise.” Rohan pleaded. 
She wanted to ride shotgun but she changed her mind and opened the passenger door and slid in the back seat of the cab. Rohan changed gears and started to drive as soon as she closed the door. She looked at the rear-view mirror expecting him to be looking at her but he was looking straight ahead at the road. 
She continued staring at him through the rear-view mirror wondering how could she still be in love with someone who had taken undue advantage of her. She wanted to yell at him and ask him why he had ruined it for her. She could not hold back her tears anymore and she let them flow. Silently at first, then she started to sob.

Rohan did not know what to do. He parked the cab on the side of the road and looked at her through the rear-view mirror. It hurt him to see her cry. He knew she was disturbed. When he had seen her storm out of the chawl he knew something was wrong. 
‘Had that bastard done something to her?’ he thought. He wanted to ask her about him, but it seemed too personal. He wanted to tell her that he was not the right man for her, but telling this to her meant admitting that he believed she was interested in that man and was dating him. He did not want to admit it to himself. Accepting that was too painful for him. 

He waited for her to realize that he had stopped the cab and was looking at her, waiting for her to pay attention to him so that he could initiate the conversation. When she did not look up or acknowledge that she knew they were not on the move; he turned around to face her.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
She looked up at him with teary eyes. Streaks of tears had left a mark on her cheeks, he wanted to move closer and wipe the tears. He wanted to hold her and comfort her. 
“Why?” she asked. 
And, he knew what she was talking about. He knew that she was not upset because of the misunderstanding between them; something had happened recently that had upset her, despite that she was thinking about that night, which meant the misunderstanding had affected her tremendously.
“Nothing happened.” He said. 

“The backrest of the seat I was sitting on was pushed back, an extra button of my shirt was popped open, it was uncomfortably hot in the cab.” Mansi accused Rohan. This had been bothering her for days, that incident was what had brought about some changes in her life. She had moved out of the chawl because of it, she had stayed with Pallavi and trespassed into her privacy. It was because of this incident that she could not concentrate in her work, the incident had always been a part of her, a nagging thought at the back of her mind, a constant irritating sound around her ear.

Rohan was hurt because of the way Mansi hurled the words at him but he let it go because he knew she was upset.
“You were asleep, I wanted to make sure you were comfortable” Rohan calmly explained. 
“I fell asleep after drinking the water from your bottle.” Mansi accused him again. 
Rohan closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then said, “You were tired, that’s why you fell asleep. I did not drug you. It was my bottle, water that I was supposed to drink; I did not have any idea that you would be drinking from it.”
He waited for a moment to see the look of understanding on Mansi’s face. 

“I was about to get out of the cab but then you had a bad dream, you started blabbering something in your sleep; you became restless, violently shaking your head and started sweating profusely. I tried to calm you down, I called out to you but you did not get up, I was trying to wake you up; I placed my hand on your shoulder, that’s when you grabbed it and held it over your chest. That’s when the button must have popped open. You were scared and did not want to let go of my hand, so I did not remove my hand forcefully from your grip. I waited for you to calm down. I wanted to crack up the window but it was raining heavily. After you calmed down, I pushed back the backrest of the seat to make you comfortable and then I got out of the cab.” Rohan explained looking into Mansi’s eyes. He could see her expression changing. She believed him. 

Mansi had stopped crying. Her financial mess had taken a backseat for time being; at least some mess in her life had straightened out. She wiped the tears and looked away. She could not continue looking into Rohan’s eyes without being tempted to kiss him on the lips. There was uncomfortable silence for a while and then Rohan asked her where she wanted to go.
She had decided to knock on her father’s door and ask him why he had robbed her of her life savings but after getting into Rohan’s cab things had taken a different turn. She did not want to go there anymore, she was ready to let it be on the back burner for the night. 

“Take me to Marine drive.” She said and Rohan nodded his head. He turned around, started the ignition and started to drive. 
Mansi looked at him through the rear-view mirror; hoping that he would look back at her. If he did, she had made up her mind, she would kiss him. But, he continued looking straight ahead at the road. When Rohan started driving towards Marine drive, Mansi thought about Rohan’s friend. She remembered how she had kissed Rohan. She felt physical pain as she visualised them together. Was it too late for her? Had she lost Rohan to that woman? Mansi wanted to tell Rohan that she loved him, she wanted him to kiss her, take her in his embrace but she was scared at the same time. She was afraid to take the initiative because she did not want to be wrong; she did not want to be embarrassed. 

Rohan knew that they had a connection when they were looking into each other’s eyes but then Mansi looked away and broke the connection. In a way he was glad she had; because had they continued staring at each other he would have moved in closer and kissed her on the lips. She had been angry with him for all these days for what he had not done; he did not want to give her a reason to hate him now. He knew she was vulnerable and it was not the right time to express his emotions. However, had she taken the initiative, he would have loved to kiss her and feel the softness of her lips. He would have loved to hold her in his embrace.

He looked straight ahead on the road and avoided looking at the rear-view mirror because he knew that doing that would have been disastrous. He would have succumbed to his feelings for her and would have done something that he would have regretted later. He did not want to lose her, again. He was happy knowing that she had believed him when he had told her that nothing had happened that night. 
As Rohan drove towards Marine Drive he suddenly thought about his friend. Perhaps, what she had done earlier had actually played a role in the clearing of the misunderstanding. 


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