After the shower, Manik was buttoning the shirt which she was wearing. His eyes were fixed at her face. He had just glanced at her naked body only for once, that too from behind when he had walked inside the washroom. After that, his eyes didn’t shift from her face. He didn’t want to look at her naked body without her permission.
She was staring at him blankly when he was buttoning the shirt. Her face became pale and dull. Her face was like a blooming flower for him but now her face had become like a withered flower. It was killing him deep inside, seeing her like this. Her eyes which used to sparkle like stars, those eyes were filled with pain and there was no shine had left in them.
“Better?” He asked after closing the last button. She just nodded her head slightly in response. Then he led her outside of the bathroom by holding her hand.
“Give me five minutes. I just come after changing my clothes.” He said after making her sit on the bed with the support of the pillow and covering her with the blanket. She just gave him a slight nod in response. He left after glancing at her.
Manik walked outside in a white T-Shirt and black joggers. He found her sitting with closed eyes resting her head on the headboard. His eyes became moist, but he composed himself and then strolled to her.
“Nandini,” he leaned down and called her, placing his hand over her shoulder. She flinched and her eyes shot up as his hand touched her shoulder. She sighed seeing his face.
“I am bringing lunch.” He told her.
“I will also come with you.” She said instantly removing the blanket because she was scaring to sit alone. Manik felt a sharp pain in his heart seeing this but he nodded his head after composing himself.
“Sir, give me ten minutes. The food is just about to get ready.” Sujata informed him as they stepped into the kitchen.
“We are sitting outside, bring there.” He instructed her and walked outside of the kitchen with Nandini.
They both were sitting at the dining table. He put one chapati in her plate and one in his plate. Then he put vegetable and dal in small bowls. She took the one bite.
“I am not feeling like to eat anything.” She uttered, looking at Manik who was already gazing at her.
“I can understand.” He spoke, placing his hand over her hand which was kept on the dining table.
“Even I am not feeling like to eat. But look I am eating. Just eat half of it..” he paused, “for me.” Both looked into each other eyes deeply. He brought the chapati close to her mouth and she instantly opened her mouth to eat. Both were still gazing in each other eyes intensely. Like this, he fed her full one chapati.
“I want to say something, Manik.” She uttered, breaking the silence when Manik was cleaning her face with tissue paper.
“Go ahead, I am listening.” He said, wiping his hands with the tissue.
“Please, don’t think that I am doing all this to come close to you.” He widened his eyes in shock after listening to her words. He wasn’t expecting these words from her but it was his fault only because that time to make her hate him, he had said those hurtful things to her.
“I-I-I just don’t know, what is happening to me? I am afraid to be alone. Trust me, I’m not doing this to come close to you. I never did this… I can never stoop so low.” She started crying. He felt guilty and regretting badly for his past deed. He was not understanding how to explain her why he had accused her earlier. She was not in the right state of mind to understand him. She could take the things in the wrong way. But he had to console her anyhow and make her believe that he trusted her.
“I know, Nandini, you can never do such cheap things because I trust you.” He clasped and pulled her face closer to himself. They gazed into each other eyes deeply. She was still shedding silent tears which he was wiping with his thumb constantly.
“I am sorry for whatever I said to you earlier. I am guilty of that. I didn’t mean a single word. I am really sorry.” He apologised from her and she was looking at him incredulously, having tears in her eyes.
“You said, you said that you hate me.” Whatever he had said to her yesterday, all those words were revolving in her mind again and again.
“Just take this thing out of your head that I hate you, please. I can never hate because I…” he paused and then continued, “whatever I did, I had my own reasons. You will get all your answers tonight. I promise you, Nandini, I will make everything fine. I just only want you to trust me.” After completing his words he kissed her forehead and she closed her eyes in response when his lips touched her skin. Then he kissed eyelids and she was shivering with his every kiss. His kisses took away all negative thoughts from her mind. It gave her relief. She felt better.
After that Manik took her inside and made her sleep again after giving her medicines. He did the arrangement for the night.
Nandini woke in the evening in his arms. He didn’t leave her alone for even a single second. He had done all the arrangements through his phone.
“How are you feeling?” He asked concernedly as she sat up on the bed after coming out of his arms.
“I am feeling better now. I am so thankful for whatever you did for me. I owe you. I don’t want to become a burden you anymore. I think, I should leave now.” She was about to leave the bed, but he stopped her by grabbing her arms. He pulled her closer himself.
“Stop calling yourself the burden. I am not doing any favour on you.” He became angry after listening to her words and shouted on her but her next words made shut his mouth.
“Then, why are you doing this?” As She asked, he closed his eyes after leaving her arms.
“You will get all your answers tonight, Nandini. You said that you owe me then give me your one night.” He spoke after taking a deep breath. She narrowed her brows in confusion.
“I am not understanding anything.” She shook her head.
“You are going on a date with me.”
“I don’t want to go anywhere.” She denied instantly.
“Please, It just the matter of one night.” He requested holding her one hand with his both hands and his eyes were pleading her to give him one night.
“Okay,” She agreed after staring in his eyes for a few minutes.
He got up and brought a red dress for her from the cupboard. He gave her that dress to her. “Wear this.”
“Why are you doing this? I am fine now.” She asked, thinking that she was fine because she wasn’t thinking about last night incident now.
“Who is saying that you aren’t fine? And you will get your all the answers tonight.” He placed his one hand on her face and gave her a small smile. She was saying to him that she was fine but he knew that she was not at all fine, but he didn’t want to break her heart by saying that she wasn’t fine.
“Now go and change your dress. I am here only.” She nodded her head and went to the bathroom to change.
She turned around after locking the door and looked at herself in the mirror. As she walked closer to the mirror, the marks on her neck became clear to her and tears welled up in her eyes. She touched the marks and cried badly after closing her eyes, recalling about last night incident, she couldn’t forget how those monsters were forcing themselves on her. They would have raped her if Manik hadn’t come and saved her on right time. The incident was making her weak with each passing second.
“It’s all over. I can never be same as before. They destroyed me. They made me dirty.” She cried badly, staring at herself in the mirror, clutching the dress which she was holding in her hands. She slumped down on the floor and cried in agony. The incident was revolving in her mind and she was feeling the same pain which she had gone through yesterday.
After crying for a few minutes, she was sitting holding her knees near to her chest and staring straight without even blinking her eyes. She was again thinking about only last night and going into darkness. Manik was getting restless outside. He was knocking the door while calling her, but she wasn’t even blinking her eyes.
“I shouldn’t have left her alone.” He scolded himself and opened the door by the spare key.
“Nandini…” He ran to her and knelt in front of her.
“Nandini, what happened?” He asked after cupping her face and made her look at him. She kept staring at him for a few minutes to make herself believe that he was sitting in front.
“I am not fine, Manik. I can never be fine again. It’s hurting a lot. I can’t take this. I need you. You won’t leave me, right?” She again started crying badly.
“Sh… I will never leave you. I promise you, Nandini. I will be there for you, always.” He touched his face with her face. Both closed their eyes and got lost in each other. After kissing her forehead and he made her stand up by holding her hand.
“You will be fine, Nandini. It will take time, but you will be fine and I am with you.” He reassured her after cupping her face. She was gazing in his eyes, trying to believe him.
“Now I am standing here only. Change your dress.” He stood facing his back to her and crossing his arms around his chest. Nandini opened the buttons of her shirt, looking at him. She picked up the dress from the floor and wore it after splashing the water on her face.
“It’s done.” Manik turned toward her, having a smile on his face.
“You are looking so beautiful.” He complimented her.
“You are lying.” He narrowed his brows.
“They made me dirty. I can never become beautiful like before.” She spoke dishearteningly, he was constantly nodding his head.
“Nandini, nobody can make your pure and beautiful soul dirty. These marks will fade away with time, don’t worry. You are still beautiful. Even you are beautiful for me with these marks also.” He tried to make her believe how beautiful she was. She didn’t respond, she just kept gazing at him incredulously.
“Now I will make you ready for tonight.” He led her to the dressing room and made her sit in front of the mirror. He was drying her hair with the hairdryer. She was just gazing at him through the mirror silently. She was not understanding why he was doing this for her if he didn’t love her.
He was now pressing her hair, smiling at her through the mirror. At last, kneeling in front of her, he made her wear the sandals.
“Now let’s go.” He held out his hand for her after standing up. She moved her eyes from his face to his hand, then she stood up, holding his hand, again looking at his smiling face.
“I just can’t wait anymore to tell you how much I love you.” He thought in his mind, looking at her.
He was taking her to the terrace and she was confused. He opened the door of the terrace and she was still looking at him. He gestured her to look inside. Her eyes twinkled a bit as she saw how beautiful the terrace was decorated with the lights and candles. He was admiring her. He was happy to see her eyes which were sparkling after so many days. He held her hand and took her to the place where a table and around it two chairs were kept under the shelter. He pulled out one chair for her and she sat down looking at him. He sat in front of her.
“It’s beautiful.” She uttered, breaking the silence and he smiled in response.
“Do you have any idea why I did all this ?” As he asked, she shook her head, having no clue why he was doing all this. She was confused.
“Today, I want to confess something.” He took her hand in his hands and caressed her knuckles with his thumbs. She was staring at him bemusedly.
“From the day my eyes fell over you, I fell in love with you. Yes, I love you, I love you a lot. My heart beats for you only. You are my shining star, Nandini. You are my star and I want to spend the rest of my life with my star. I am ready to fight from the whole world for you, for us. I can’t live without you anymore. You are first and last love of my life. My heart and my soul only wants you. You are the first girl who taught me what is true love.” He finally confessed and felt so relieved. He wanted to tell her so many things at that moment but first, he wanted to see her reaction. Nandini was staring at him in utter disbelief.
“Say something, please…” he pleaded, squeezing her hand lightly. As a tear rolled down her cheek, he felt a sharp in his heart. He wondered, did he say something wrong? He became nervous.