Chapter Thirty Six - Manish and Mansi

This was not exactly how he had hoped it would happen. He had imagined smelling her perfume and the shampoo in her hair when he hugged her for the first time instead of inhaling the smell of sweat. Nevertheless, he was glad it happened. He had wanted to hold her in his arms from the day he had set his eyes on her.

He knew he had some explaining to do. Breaking the lock on the door of Mansi’s friend was not going to work in his favour. He hoped Pallavi would understand that he had to do what he did because he was genuinely worried about Mansi.

Manish walked out of the society gate and hailed a cab. He was going to replace the lock as soon as possible and while the lock was being fixed; he intended to fix the things that had gone wrong. It was obvious, by now Mansi knew that Pallavi and he had not met before today. He had been a fool to say that he stayed in the same building. He had to know that Mansi was visiting someone she knew and he had to know that it would be difficult to explain not knowing the person she was visiting. What was he thinking? He wanted to hit himself in the head. The problem was he was not thinking clearly. Seeing Mansi in his building had taken him by surprise, a pleasant one no matter what. As the cab made its way through the traffic Manish wondered how he would explain staying in the same building, in opposite flat and not ever coming face to face with Pallavi?

He reached out to his contact in Godrej and asked for one of their best in door locks, the best security. On second thought he decided to get the same lock he had damaged because trying to impress them would also mean showing his hand. He had to remember that Mansi was not like other girls he had met in the past. She was different. His approach had to be different. He could have easily done this over the phone but he needed to get out. He needed time to clear his head and sort things out. He reached his contact’s office and collected the lock, as expected the person tried to show him better options but Manish refused. He requested the man to spare one of his technician to fix the lock. By the time he was in cab with the tech and on his way back to his society he had cooked up an explanation.

Mansi thought about what Pallavi said and then replied calmly,
“Well! It is going to be difficult to stay away from him since he is going to work the night shifts with me soon.”
“What?” Pallavi was shocked.
“When were you going to tell me this?”  Pallavi questioned.
“Tonight. He is the new Mr. Accountant. Uncle and I interviewed him, short-listed and selected him. Since he already has a day job, which he is trying to quit, he said he wanted to work the night shifts for a while and after a lot of thinking I agreed to let him.” Mansi explained.

Pallavi was speechless. She could not believe that Mansi had allowed someone to work night shift with her. As far as she knew Mansi liked working alone. That was the main reason she preferred to stay away from the buzz of the day shift. Allowing someone to work with her and that too a man was not really like Mansi.

“Are you really sure you want to do this?” Pallavi asked.

“Of course, it is not that I am going to sleep with him. We are going to work together that’s all.” Mansi said, slightly irritated. Pallavi sighed.
“Stop over-reacting. You don’t have a say in everything I do. I am not a child. I can take my own decisions.” Mansi yelled.
“Calm down, why are you yelling at me? I know you can take your own decision. I am just worried what if your decision does not work in your favour.” Pallavi explained.

Mansi knew that Pallavi was hinting towards what she had recently shared with Pallavi. She was talking about Rohan. Pallavi was worried that she might open up to Manish the way she had opened up to Rohan and would be hurt in the process. Mansi believed that Pallavi’s concern was genuine.

Mansi was sure that the decision she had taken was right. She wanted to break the shackles and learn to trust people. She believed she was capable of differentiating the right from the wrong. Her decision to allow Manish to work the night shift was right. It was the beginning of the new phase of her life. She had everything under control. It was not as if she was going to blindly trust him. If she had been the fool she was earlier she would have not been bothered by the fact that Manish had never met Pallavi even though he said that he stayed in the flat opposite to Pallavi’s.

She was going to demand explanation.
“I promise I will be careful. It’s not as if we are going to be buddies. We are colleagues and that is how it would be. Besides, it is very unlikely that he would do any harm in the office.” Mansi said.

“Right now what I need to know is how come you two have not met before if he stays in the flat opposite to yours. And – if you say it is the flat reserved for the owner; what is he doing in that flat?” Mansi told Pallavi to make her believe that she was not blindly trusting Manish.

“Hmmm” That’s all Pallavi could say. “Where did he say he worked day time?” Pallavi asked after a while.

“I do not know.” Mansi replied, slightly embarrassed. She had not asked questions. She believed Uncle must have asked him about his day job. Or maybe he had not. Uncle never really took all this stuff seriously. That was the reason many people ended taking undue advantage of him. Even she was one of those, she had plans of quitting the current job after finding a better one. That was before she knew that Uncle was her father. She wondered whether she would be able to do it now.

“Make sure you find out that first.” Pallavi said. After a while she added, “It’s not that I do not trust the decisions you take, the choices you make. I simply want you to be careful. Is it wrong to care for a friend?”

“I understand. I did ask him indirectly as to where he worked during the day but I guess he did not get the hint. I will ask Uncle – I mean dad, whether he knows about Manish’s day job.”
“Dad sounds so good to the ears, doesn’t it?” Pallavi asked. Mansi smiled. It was true, it felt good.
“I think that is what you should start calling him from now on. He will like that.” Pallavi said.
“Dad” Mansi whispered, her emotions building up in her eyes.
There was a knock on the door that startled both Pallavi and Mansi. Pallavi asked Mansi to rest and she walked out to open the door.

The door was closed when Manish reached Pallavi’s apartment. She had used the old fashioned latch to secure the door. He rang the doorbell and waited.
Pallavi opened the door and he introduced the tech to her informing her that he would replace the broken lock with the new one of the same make. Pallavi nodded, acknowledging his action but not thanking him for the same.

He wondered how he would initiate the conversation to explain not knowing Pallavi. As the tech began his work, Manish pretended to concentrate on what he was doing but from the corner of his eyes Manish could see that Pallavi was staring at him. Perhaps trying to read him. Obviously the two girls had discussed him. He had to make it right if he wanted to spend time with Mansi. The truth was, his initial attraction had turned to obsession after physical contact with Mansi. He needed that woman in his life, no matter what.

“How long have you been staying here?” The question brought Manish out of his thoughts. The girl does not waste time, Manish thought. He was glad she had initiated the topic, now it was going to be a smooth ride.
“Not many days. I do not actually live here.” Manish said and left it at that. He did not want to go on talking giving an impression that he had practiced the conversation so many times in his mind.
“But, Mansi told me you stay in the flat opposite to mine.” Pallavi asked.
It was going to be an interrogation just like he had assumed it would be, Manish concluded.

“Yes, I do. But that is temporary. I have been here on and off for a couple of days getting things ready.” One sentence at a time that is how he was going to do it.
“Ready for?” Pallavi questioned.
“The owner’s son. You must already know that the flat is reserved for the owner. His son has some guests visiting him and he wants them to stay here. He has asked me to clean the flat for them.” Manish completed his sentence.
“You work for the owner’s son?” Pallavi asked.

“Yes. That’s my day job. I plan to quit soon. As you can see, I have to do the kind of work that does not fit the job description. The problem is that I cannot complain. That’s one of the reasons I took up night shift job where Mansi works so that I can be sure of having a source of income before I quit this job.” Manish stopped realising that he had said it too fast. He hoped Pallavi would buy it.
“I see.” Pallavi replied.

Manish knew that the questions were not over yet but at the same time he could read from Pallavi’s expression that the girl had bought it. Now that he had explained it to Pallavi he was sure the information would automatically reach Mansi.

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