Chapter Thirty Three - Manish

Manish Kumar knew that Mansi was being careful; she had her own doubts and that’s why she asked him about the bus – route to their offices. He did not miss the plural ‘offices’. She wanted to learn more about his day job. She was being sceptical and he admired that about her. He did not like the girls who blindly trusted someone. He knew he would have to strive hard to win her trust but he was also aware that once he did; it would be permanent. 

He opened a bottle of chilled beer and took a sip. He smiled as he thought about their chance meeting in the staircase. He was thankful that she had not seen him earlier or it would have been difficult to explain stepping out of the Mercedes. This apartment was one of the few he had scattered around the city. He’d come here to collect few clothes – the ones he could wear to the office where Mansi worked. He wanted to step into the role as soon as he could. However, when he saw Mansi and realised that she would be staying here for a while, he changed his mind and decided to stay in this apartment to get to know her better. He could go to office with her every evening and get to spend more time with her, getting to know her. Finding out more about Mansi had become his priority. He thought about the events that led to his first 'encounter' with Mansi.

Even though he had made up his mind not to come face to face with Mansi he could not stop himself from doing so. The time Mansi spent with the cabbie had started to frustrate him. The man’s concern for Mansi was too much to watch from a distance. He did notice that Mansi was drawn to him despite herself. 

He watched her closely for her reactions when she saw the cabbie dressed in formals walking towards her bus-stop. He had to admit, the man could clean himself up. The man got into the bus and Mansi continued waiting and so did he. He followed her until she reached the office. He saw the crowd at the office. Obviously a lot more entries had been accepted than those which he had short-listed. He decided to have a word with the peon. 

He drove away to his real office; he needed to take care of a few things. Whilst in office he received a call from his long lost friend who needed comforting. He gave her the address where he would meet her. After taking care of the business he drove back to the office and met the peon who told him that the boss had entered a few names on his own at the last moment. He paid the peon a handsome amount to take care of the extra candidates. Neither the boss nor Mansi would know that a few people would be refused interview and a few others would be added to the reject list. The peon told him that Mansi trusted him and he had a plan. Whatever it was, he did not care. He wanted the job at any cost. He made that very clear.

He left the office and drove towards Mansi’s bus-stop; she was not there. He sped towards the chawl and reached right on time to see her enter the chawl. He silenced the engine and sat in his car. A few minutes later he was going to get busy comforting his girlfriend.

He felt the urge to comfort Mansi when he spotted her sitting in the playground leaning against a lamp-post. Even though she was far from him and he could not see her clearly, he knew that it was one of her vulnerable moments. He knew she was crying. His heart went out to her. This woman had dark secrets in her past. The overwhelming weight of emotions she carried around with her was clearly evident. Or maybe he was a good observer. 

He wanted to comfort her, not like the way he had just comforted his girlfriend. Mansi was special and deserved special treatment. He wanted her but more than that he wanted her to want him.

After watching Mansi sitting alone, probably crying and exposing her vulnerability; he could not resist his strong desire to feel her. He paid a quick visit to one of his apartments and changed into formals; he then left his car in the parking lot and took the bus to Mansi’s chawl. He got down a few stops earlier and walked hurriedly towards the bus-stop from where Mansi boarded to go to the office. He was right on time; he saw Mansi standing at the bus – stop. He waited until she climbed in and then rushed towards the bus and stepped in behind her. The perfume she was wearing assaulted his senses and he took a deep breath. Knowingly he placed a hand on hers in his attempt to get into the bus and immediately apologized. It hurt to realize that his touch failed to elicit a response from her. Perhaps because it happened too fast, he convinced himself.

Mansi got down a few stops before the regular stop; he however climbed down closer to the office. He noticed that the office peon was actively participating in the interview process. He smiled and stood at a distance and watched as Mansi entered the office. It was interview time. He was going to put up his best performance. The one, which would win him an award – Mansi.

Manish opened yet another bottle of beer and walked towards the couch. He closed his eyes and visualised the earlier happenings. He imagined Mansi leaning against him as he took her to the bedroom. He looked at his hand and brought it closer to his lips. He could still feel her skin. When he had placed his hand on hers while boarding the bus she had not reacted but a few minutes earlier when he had touched her as he had placed ice packs on her ankle, he had felt it. He felt Mansi trying to resist him. He smiled and took another sip of beer. 


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