Chapter Thirty One - Mansi

Mansi entered the flat and placed the duffel bag on the floor, she closed the door behind her trying not to think about Manish Kumar occupying the flat opposite to Pallavi’s. Mansi wondered how much Pallavi knew about Manish Kumar. It was her mistake she had not discussed the interviews with Pallavi. Maybe if she had told her about the candidates and about selecting Manish Kumar to work night shifts with her; Pallavi would have shared the information about Manish Kumar staying opposite to her apartment. Knowing Pallavi, in addition to this information, she could have possibly gotten a profile reading of him. It was not too late; she could ask her about Manish Kumar when she met her the next time.

Only after the pain in her ankle became unbearable did Mansi realize that she was still standing near the door. She hopped towards the couch and sat down resting her head on the back-rest. Suddenly, she felt very tired. Checking out the bus-stops would have to wait, she thought. She had almost fallen asleep when the doorbell rang. She checked her wrist watch; it was not past the office hours, so it could not be Pallavi. Was she supposed to answer the door or let it be? She was still making up her mind when she heard a voice calling out from outside the door.
“Hey, it’s me, Manish. I am sorry to bother but could you open the door?”

Mansi got up from the couch and hopped towards the door wondering what Manish Kumar was doing here. She opened the door and found Manish Kumar holding ice packs in his hand.

“Sorry to make you walk with sprained ankle but I thought you might need these.” He said showing her the ice packs.
“Come, let’s sit down.” He said and put his arm around her waist expecting her to lean on him for support. It came as a surprise for Mansi and her natural instinct was to move away from him. In doing so she almost fell down again. Manish Kumar tightened the grip on her waist and placed the other hand on her shoulder, which Mansi shook off immediately as she felt the cold ice packs on her shoulder and after steadying herself she removed his hand from her waist and hopped towards the couch. She sat down on the couch and said, “You should have not bothered.”

“I am sorry for … that” Manish said, an awkward expression on his face; Mansi knew he was talking about putting his arm around her waist. “That was instinct and I did not have any wrong intentions.” He clarified.

“Don’t deny my services because of that foolishness.” He continued. “People say I am a healer.” He added kneeling down on the floor near the couch.
“You can ask me to get out after I finish what I am here to do.” He said and smiled. Mansi could not help herself. She smiled. The earlier awkward situation was forgotten.

“May I” he asked for Mansi’s permission as he placed his hand at Mansi’s heel, Mansi nodded and he gently lifted Mansi’s foot and placed on his leg. He placed the ice pack on the swollen ankle and smiled as Mansi inhaled sharply as she felt the cold penetrating her skin. It felt better after a while and Mansi relaxed as Manish continued applying the ice packs. She stared at him as he concentrated on her ankle and not even an inch above. Manish Kumar stopped as the ice packs reached the room temperature.

“You will need some painkillers” Manish Kumar said as he stood up. He took out a strip of painkiller from his pocket and handed one tablet to Mansi. He then walked to the kitchen and got her a glass of water.
Mansi took the painkiller and thanked him. She was already feeling better because of the ice packs.
“You really are a healer.” Mansi said and smiled. Manish Kumar responded with a broad smile.
“You must rest. I will check on you later. Do you need help walking to the bedroom?” He asked.
“Yes, thank you.” Mansi said and tried to get up from the couch. Manish Kumar stepped towards Mansi and then hesitated for a while before putting an arm around her waist. Mansi put her hand on his shoulder for support as both of them walked towards the bedroom. After Mansi was comfortably settled in bed, Manish Kumar turned around to go. He walked out of the bedroom and turned back to face her.

“Without sounding insensitive; may I know when I can join office?” He asked and smiled.
“Any time you wish.” Mansi replied and added, “And, no, you are not being insensitive. Just practical.”
“I wanted to join at the earliest, maybe tomorrow but considering that you might not be joining office soon, perhaps I should wait until you feel better.” Manish Kumar explained.

Mansi realised he was being practical yet again. He was aware that it was too early for Uncle or for her to trust him with the office keys. Obviously she could not allow him to join office when she was not around.
“I think I should feel better by tomorrow, will confirm in the morning whether we can go to the office at night.” Mansi replied and then realised that perhaps he would not be in his apartment in the morning because he still had his day job. The thought of his day job took Mansi back to the doubt that had registered itself in her mind when she had seen Manish Kumar in this building. If he stayed here why did he board the bus from the bus-stop near her chawl?  Was it really possible that there were no buses from here to his office or her office for that matter?

“Hello, earth to Mansi.” Manish Kumar’s voice brought her out of her reverie.
“I am sorry, I was wondering how I should inform you about the night shift since you would be working at your day job.” Mansi said and noticed slight chance in his expression.
“You can call me on my cell number, my number is 9987653451.” He said and then asked, “Is that all?”
“Actually, I meant to ask something else. I wanted to check it out myself but since I cannot it would be great if you could tell me about the bus routes from here to our offices.” Mansi said trying her best not to stress on the ‘our’ part and the plural ‘offices’. It was just an attempt and just in case he did not catch the word she was okay with it. As far as knowing bus route from here to her office was concerned she could ask Pallavi when she returned home from office.

“There are no direct buses from here to our office. You either need to walk down a few blocks or change buses” Manish replied.
“It’s okay we can take a cab for few days, until you feel better.” Manish Kumar said pointing towards Mansi’s ankle. “I will be coming back home from the day job and then go with you to the night shift so you need not worry about the bus routes.” Saying to he turned around to go but stopped, “By the way, I meant to ask you earlier – I have never seen you around before today, obviously you do not stay here. Visiting someone?” Manish Kumar asked.
Mansi tried her best to hide the surprise and even it did show on her face Manish Kumar did not see it, at least his own face did not show any expression to reciprocate the same.
“Yes, I am here to stay with a friend from the office.” Mansi said. Manish Kumar nodded and walked out of the bedroom.
I will call you tomorrow.” Mansi called out to him. He turned around, smiled and then walked out of the house.


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