Chapter Twenty Nine - Mansi

Mansi walked to her room and packed few clothes and whatever she thought was worth taking away from the room. Not that she had anything expensive in her room, all that she had was valuable in the sense that mattered only to her.

Mansi thought about the recent development in her life. She disliked being in this chawl since the day she came to stay here. Right from day one she had been planning on leaving. It had taken her all this time to finally make the move. The trigger was a bit disappointing though.

Mansi finished packing and walked towards the door. Before walking out of the door, she turned around and glanced at the room for what was hopefully one last time. She had not yet handed over the keys officially but she had made up her mind to do it. She locked the door of her room and walked straight towards the stairs without looking at the neighbouring room. What had happened before was going to stay with her for a long time and it was going to hurt but she was sure she would be over it soon. She was turning a page of her life.

Despite everything she convinced herself of; Mansi could not stop herself from looking towards the cab. It was a place, sort-of, where she had made memories. It was a place where she had been carefree and careless at the same time. Place where she had learned to trust and where she had been betrayed.

She walked out of the gates of the chawl and hailed a cab. Unfortunately she did not have any idea of the bus route to Pallavi's society. She drove to the address Pallavi had given her. Instructing the cabbie to take the turns just like Pallavi had instructed her.

Finally when Mansi reached the society where Pallavi stayed she got down from the cab and collected her stuff. Cabs were not allowed beyond a specific point, she was told. She looked around before walking in. There was a bus-stop just opposite to the society gate. She checked the bus numbers that stopped at the bus-stop. None of the buses led to her office. Mansi decided to take a walk and find out the bus route but before that she needed to keep her stuff in Pallavi’s apartment.

As she walked through the gates she noticed the play-ground to the left; similar yet not so similar to the ground of her chawl. There were kids playing cricket, that’s where the similarity ended. She took in the surroundings as she walked towards the building Pallavi said was hers. There was a park on the right, it was empty. Mansi visualised how it would be in the evening when the sun was not shining so bright.

Mansi entered the building and walked towards the elevator to find an ‘out of order’ sign hanging at the door. She took a deep breath. Pallavi stayed on the fourth floor. She had to walk all the way up to the fourth floor along with her belongings. Mansi started sweating profusely and could hear her heartbeats in her ears by the time she reached the second floor. Mansi kept down the duffel bag she was carrying and sat on the stairs for some time. She got up immediately as she heard footsteps climbing up the stairs. She picked up her duffel bag and started climbing. However, after climbing a few steps, she missed a step, lost her balance and was about to fall when someone held her at the waist. Mansi straightened up and turned to look at the face to whom the hands belonged. The face was familiar.

“Hi” The voice said in surprise.
“Hi, What are you doing here?” Mansi asked equally surprised.
“Well! I live here.” He replied and Mansi nodded not knowing what more to say.
“May I?” he asked pointing towards Mansi’s duffel bag and before she could reply he took it from her and hung it around his shoulder.
“Can you walk?” he asked.
“Yes, I can.” Mansi replied and started walking. One step at a time, because she realised she had sprained her ankle. 
“Which floor?” He asked looking at Mansi’s ankle. Despite trying her best, Mansi could not keep the pain from showing on her face. 
“Fourth.” Mansi said and continued climbing up the stairs. When they reached the fourth floor, Mansi looked at the flat numbers trying to figure out where was Pallavi’s flat.

“Thank you, I will manage from here.” Mansi said and extended her hand, a hint to the man to hand over the duffel bag to her. He picked up on the hint and handed the bag to her.
“Nice bumping into you, literally.” He said and laughed at his own joke.
Mansi smiled and continued walking. The man followed. Mansi reached Pallavi’s flat and took out the keys from her jeans pocket and before inserting the key into the keyhole she turned back and saw the man opening the door to the flat opposite to Pallavi’s flat.
Great, she thought. Manish Kumar was going to be her neighbour, at least for a few days.


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