21. FACE-OFF!!!

Everyone is sitting at the dining table and having their lunch. Raman deliberately sat beside Manik’s left whereas Nandini is sitting on Manik’s right. 

After every 5 minutes, Raman shoots glares at Manik and he is not aware of his gaze. Raman’s full concentration is on him Whereas raj gives his full attention to Raman and smiles continuously.

Everyone noticed Raj’s smile but no one asked him anything but Nandini couldn’t stop herself anymore. 

Nan:- boyfriend, why are you smiling?

Nyo:- yes, raj I am also seeing you for the last half an hour you are continuously smiling. Tell me the reason behind your smile. 

Raj:- there is nothing like that. It’s just that I am very happy today. Today I feel like all my hard work pays off. My children become what I want them to be.

Al:- and, why did you realize this today only?

Nyo:- yaa, now I am damn sure that you are hiding something. 

Ram:- leave him Nyo bhabhi. Tell me about Alya’s engagement. Are all preparations done?

Nyo:- Ji haa Bhai Sahab. Everything is planned as Alya wants.

Ish:- haa Raman, I invite all of them for tomorrow’s dinner at our home. Because tomorrow there is going to be a hustle-bustle for the function. 

Ram:- good.  Aap sab zaroor aayega. 

Ma:- ( looking towards Nandini ) don’t take tension uncle. We will definitely come.

Ram:- (in low voice ) tum nahi aayogai toh woh bhi chalega. ( You will not come, it will also work )

Raj heard his best friend’s thoughts and replied to him in a low voice. 

Raj:- can’t you keep your mouth shut. 

After having a delicious lunch Nandini stood up to go to her hospital again. 

Nan:- I think I should take a leave. 

Ma:- ( immediately said ) why???

Raman glares at him seeing this raj nods his head in disbelief. 

Nan:- woh… I take a half-day off from the hospital. That’s why I need to go and continue my job.

Ma:- ok… Come I will drop you.

Before Nandini could reply Raman shouts.

Ram:- NO…

Everyone was startled to hear him. Raj pinches him on his hand to make him aware of his surroundings. 

Ram:- ( after composing himself ) I… Mean ki Nandini has her own car so she will drive herself. So why should we disturb Manik? 

Ma:- uncle there is no problem. I will drop her. 

Raj:- ( smirking ) yes Raman, let him drop Nandini at her hospital.

Ram:- ( smiling more sweetly ) raj…..

Nan:- Manik you don’t worry I will go myself. You enjoy your family time.

Ram:- ( smirking towards raj ) listen. My princess is too smart.

Ma:- ( sadly because he lost the chance to spend some quality time with her ) OK…

Nan:- ( smiles ) ok, bye everyone. Bye dad, bye Manik.

Ma:- ( smiles brightly ) bye…

Raj:- ( whispers in Raman’s ear ) see … Special bye to Manik, not bad!! ( Imitating Nandini ) BYE MANIK !! 

Ram:- shut up, Duffer!

Everyone settled down and just chit-chatted. In this whole conversation, Raman’s gaze is fully fixed on Manik. Whereas Raj is having a gala time in teasing Raman. In between all this  Manik receives a call from an unknown number. Seeing an unknown caller he cut the call first. His cell phone again rings but this time he receives the call.

When he received the call. Hearing the other side his face lost all glow. His fingers curled together making his fist turn pale.

Seeing his changed expressions both fathers shared a look. After cutting the call Manik directly went towards his room without saying anything to anyone. Raj and Raman to goes behind him.

They come inside Manik’s room to see him sitting on his bed while palming his face.

Raman comes inside and sits in front of Manik taking a chair from the side. Whereas Raj sits beside Manik and keeps his hand on his shoulder to bring him back from his zone.

Seeing both the men, Manik frowned. No one speaks anything at first. Manik feels a strong piercing gaze on him.

Ma:- ( frowned ) what ?? Why are you both seeing me like I did a crime?

Ram:- yes, you are a criminal. You stole my daughter’s heart. 

First, Manik frowned. But when Raman’s words settled in his mind his eyes became big and his mouth opened. Seeing him like that, Raj giggles and closes his mouth.

Raj:- arey… Muh toh band karo uncle. ( close your mouth or else fly will make home in your mouth ) 

Ma:- ( still shocked ) what are you saying, uncle? I am not understanding anything. 

Ram:- really !!

Raj:- Manik we know everything.

Ma:- ( stammers )  what … everythin…g?

Raj palmed his head and Raman spoke in place of him. 

Ram:- we know everything about you and Nandini. Should I elaborate more? Then listen, we know that you and Nandini are dating each other.

Ma:- ( shocked ) how??

Ram:- ( irritated ) uff…. We come here to get our answers not to give answers to your questions. 

Ma:- ( tensed )  what questions?

Ram:- ( irritated ) not again. If you ask one more question na then I will ….. I will…

Raj:- what, I will, I will kar raha hai pura bol. ( from when you are doing I will….I will… complete your sentence ) 

Ram:- arey wait, let me think first. ( after a pause ) yaa, if you ask one more question na…… then I won’t let you meet Nandini.

Ma:- ( shouted all of a sudden ) what !!!!

Raj:- don’t take tension, Manik. He won’t do anything. I am with you and I like my future daughter-in-law. I am very proud of your choice.

Saying this, Raj hugs him proudly and gives his affection to him through a hug. Both of them are very bad at expressing their feelings, that’s why they prefer actions to convey their feelings.

Seeing both father and son’s milap Raman smiles but immediately hides it because he needs answers today. 

Ram:- ( separates both of them ) stop your MILAP.

Raj:- jealous Murthy!!

Ram:- shut up, Malhotra.

Ma:- ( politely ) ask what you guys want to ask. I am here to give answers to all your questions. 

Ram:- ( noading ) Raj ask him.

Raj:- ( confused ) what? I don’t want to ask him anything. I am happy for them. I don’t have any problem with their relationship. You are the one who has a problem.

Ram:- ( frustrated ) why? I am still your friend. I feel like You are a VIBHISHAN in my family.

Raj:- So you want to say that you are RAVAN!!

Ram:- NO…  I am not saying that, you are the one who is assuming it.

Ma:- ( tiredly ) I think you guys don’t have any questions. So can I go down? You guys are free but I have work to do.

Raj:- ( give a pat on manik’s head ) you are indirectly calling us VELLA.

Ram:- ( angrily ) he doesn’t say that Raj you assume it too. Nowadays you assume many things.

Ma:- I am going. You continue your bickering. 

Raj + Raman :- acha sorry, sorry. Sit.

Ram:- so, my first question is. Why do you guys hide your relationship from us?

Ma:- ( takes a deep breath before saying ) uncle, this is purely my decision to keep our relationship secret. There is no fault of Nandini in it. I told her to keep this secret. 

Raj:- why?

Ma:- At first when we understood our feelings for each other at that time we were so small for this. But gradually we fell for each other. I don’t want to be an obstacle in her career. When I decided to open up our relationship at that time something happened and I took my decision back. 

Raj:- ( curiously ) what happened that you took your decision back?

Ma:- ( takes one more deep breath ) if anyone comes to know that I love Nandini then Nandini’s life would come in danger.  And I don’t want to let that happen. 

Both fathers gasped hearing him and Manik closed his eyes. It’s really difficult for him to say this or even assume that Nandini’s life is in danger.  

Ram:- what !!! My princess’s life would come in danger.  How?

Ma:-  ( smiling ) yes, uncle. That’s why I hide about us from everyone. Even Nandini doesn’t know the reason behind this. She just accepted my decision and never asked me anything about this ever.

Raj:- ( worried ) but Manik what is the reason? ( After thinking about something ) And the call you received downstairs makes you so tense. Is that also related to this?

Manik simply nods his head.

Ram:- Manik tells us everything. Don’t keep any secrets from us.

Ma:- uncle, I promise that I will tell you everything but not now. Please understand my situation. Please, dad, trust me.

Raman and Raj share a tense look. They are not ready to let him go before telling them the reason. 

Ma:- dad, uncle. I love Nandini a lot. And I swear that I will tell you everything as soon as possible but please give me some time.

Both nod their head in approval seeing the sincerity in his eyes. And above all, the love for Nandini is clearly visible in his eyes. They know that whatever he did till now is beneficial for Nandini. Manik smiles seeing his father and future father-in-law’s understanding nature.

Ma:- thank you so much. Ummm…. ( Stammering ) umm uncle can I ask you something.

Ram:- ( frowned ) yes, sure.

Ma:- ( rubs the back of his neck ) umm ….. Are you fine with my and Nandini’s relationship? I seriously love her a lot and I always keep her happy. I promise. 

Raj:- ( smiles ) arey, why would he have any problem?

Ram:- yes, I don’t have any problem but I seriously don’t like your washroom romance with my daughter. And one more thing don’t you dare come in front of my daughter bare-chested.

Raj rolls his eyes on the very protective father. 

Ma:- ( shocked ) you… You see us in the washroom together.

Raj:- not you … We!!!. We saw you and Nandini together in the washroom.

Ram:- yaa, we didn’t see anything. We just heard your moaning and saw you both coming out from the washroom together.

First Manik widened his eyes hearing them. 

Ma:- ( narrowed eyes ) don’t you guys have any shame. Is this the way you come inside someone’s room without knocking and witnessing our private moments?

Raj:- ( narrowed eyes ) And that someone is my son and he is not married yet and I don’t even know that he is inside with his girlfriend.

Ram:- ( narrowed eyes ) And the girl with whom you are spending your private moments is none other than my daughter.

Ma :- ( trying to change the topic ) I want your help.

Raj and Raman both got attentive towards him. 

Ma:- I want you guys to keep an eye on Nandini. The functions are going to start and there must be many people around us. I myself give extra attention to the security but I want some tight security for Nandini. But you guys have to keep an eye on Nandini only when I am not around her.

Ram:- why only when you are not around her?  

Ma:- because I stick to her in all functions.

Ram:- NO ….. I won’t let you do this.

Raj + Manik:- we will see. 

To be continued …………

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