Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Love and Let(s) Live-In!

My Little Writing Project

To refresh your memory about previous chapters, or to know about My Little Writing Project, click here.

Chapter Twenty

‘What are your thoughts on a live-in relationship? Why it is still frowned upon in our society?’

15th September

Mukti looked at the time. It was just eight p.m. She had been browsing Facebook for three hours checking Veer’s profile, Shantanu’s pictures and even reading Kshitij’s posts. Her eyes hurt from staring at the laptop for so long. She rubbed them and heard the distinct rumble from her stomach. She went into the kitchen to make something to eat and realized her cabinets, which generally only contained Maggi and other ready-to-eat junk, were devoid of those as well.

Time for grocery shopping, I guess.

She picked up her wallet, put on a jacket and went to the nearby departmental store. She was browsing through the aisles picking up ready-to-eat meals, junk food, munchies and some fresh fruits. Her phone rang; she rummaged in her bag hoping it was Veer. It was her mother.
“Hey ma!”
“Kush raho beta, how are you?”
“I am good, was just doing some household shopping.”
“Put some veggies and fruits also in your trolley and not only junk,” her mother said laughing.
Mukti looked around.
“Are you here ma? Can you see me?”
“I can always see you. But I am not there. I know you pretty well. That’s how I figured out what kind of items you would be heaping your trolley with. You should eat healthy too.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Mukti added potatoes and onions into her trolley.
“So, how is the novel going? You have money right? For the rent and everything? Should papa send some?” her mother asked.
 “Ma, I am fine. I have money and the novel is also going okayish,” she lied.

Mukti hadn’t progressed further than Priya’s issue for almost a week but she couldn’t tell her mother that and worry her.
“What is the matter dear? You are not sounding yourself.”
“I am in a departmental store, mom, can I call you back?”
“Yeah, ok. I will be waiting.”

The talk of money and rent made Mukti realise that she actually doesn’t know the condition of her finances. Mukti went to the cash counter and paid for her shopping. Afterwards, she rushed to an ATM machine to check her balance. What she saw shocked her. She had only Rs. 450 left.

How is that possible? Mukti thought about the past couple of weeks. She had not taken up any new assignments because she wanted to work on her novel. But she had not worked on her novel because she got stuck. Also, she was too preoccupied first with Sonali’s pregnancy scare and then Priya’s affairs and then with Veer.

Am I just wasting my life? I have to submit the novel in . . .

She counted off dates in her head.

… fifteen days!! Three months flew by so quickly!

She hurried home and decided that it’s time to make changes. The first thing she did was to put her phone on silent. Next, she disconnected her internet connection. She put away her groceries, made a quick bite for herself and settled comfortably on her mattress with a mug of coffee. She opened her first draft of the novel and started typing but she couldn’t. It shocked her that she didn’t remember what she had written.

Why can’t I remember where I had left off? Isn’t it a bad sign that a writer doesn’t remember what she has written?

She scrolled up and glanced through the draft stopping at the chapter which she was currently writing. She read it again and started typing. Without checking the spellings or even the grammar, she typed the rough draft.

 I’ll edit it later. Let me type out the whole thing before I forget the details.

With her head bent low and fingers moving nosily over the keypad, she kept typing. When she finally looked up again, it was almost midnight. She yawned and went into the kitchen to get something to drink. She was pouring water when the window banged shut scaring her. She dropped the glass which fell on the floor with a loud clank spilling water everywhere.

“Damn it!” She got the washcloth and started cleaning the spill. She had just stood up with the glass in her hand when the door bell pierced the silence scaring her again. The glass fell down and rolled under the fridge.

Who will ring the bell at midnight?!

She looked around and due to lack of options, picked up the butter knife. She moved cautiously to the door and asked, her voice trembling, “Who is it?”
No one answered. She cursed the landlord under her breath for not putting a peephole. She stood frozen looking at door. Nothing happened for five minutes. She relaxed her grip on the knife when someone started banging on the door repeatedly. The knife fell from her hand. She rushed screaming towards her phone and dialled Veer’s number. To her surprise, she could hear it ringing somewhere nearby. She went closer to the door and she could hear Veer’s ringtone. She slowly opened the door an inch and saw Veer standing there waving his phone and smiling.

Mukti disconnected the phone and opened the door, “Are you mad? You scared me half to death!”
Veer looked from a sweating Mukti to the knife lying on the floor. He looked back up at Mukti and started laughing, “Who do you think was at the door?”
“I don’t know . . . maybe a thief, a rapist, a psycho!”
“And they will ring the bell and ask for your permission to come inside your house and rob you or rape you?” he picked up the knife lying on the floor.

Mukti snatched it from his hands, “it could happen. Don’t you read the newspapers?” she said walking back into the kitchen
Veer looked at her, “yes, it could. I think it is not safe for you to stay alone.” He hugged her from behind.
“yeah, well I have no other option. Priya’s rent is too steep for me to afford and Sonali is flying off so often that it is like living alone only. And by the way I am not living alone, I have the Bengali family. It’s just that I don’t have any way to get to them except through that door.” She said waving the knife in the door’s direction.

“What about me?” he asked nonchalantly flopping down on the mattress.
“What about you?” Mukti looked at him confused.
 “You could move in with me.” he asked simply.

Mukti looked at him unblinking. She didn’t know if he was joking or was he actually serious.

Is he really asking me to move-in with him?

“Very funny.” She went inside the kitchen, “Have you had dinner? I am making Maggi for myself, do you want some?”
She turned around and saw him standing by her dresser.

“Maggi seems fine. But, you didn’t answer my question.”
“Are you serious?”
“I am dead serious.”
“Veer, we have been only dating for six weeks. I don’t even know you properly. We haven’t even spent any time together.”

“Exactly. We have been dating for six weeks and we have not spent any quality time. If we live together, that problem is solved.” He said grinning, “We’ll wake up hugging, go to sleep kissing.”
“you are not taking it seriously. It is a big deal for me. what if our families find out?”

“I don’t care about my family. And you can tell yours that you are moving in with Sonali.”
“you want me to lie to my parents?” she asked clutching her chest feigning shock.
“It’s not a lie, it’s a small fib. Or you can tell them the truth, if you think they’ll understand.”

Mukti laughed and said, “they will never understand a live-in relationship.”
“Okay, a fib it is then. So, shall we start packing?”

He is serious.
“Veer, don’t you think it is moving a little fast? What will your neighbours think?”
“Do you think I care about my neighbours? I haven’t even spoken to them. Mukti, we are not moving too fast. It’s fine. It’s normal. Everyone does that nowadays.” He said biting into an apple.

“How many times have you done that?”
“No, seriously. This is the first time I have actually wanted to share my space with someone.”
“Why me?”

She looked at him. He shrugged his shoulders, “Because . . .”
Mukti smiled, “Because?”
He looked down shyly, “okay, this might sound crazy but whenever I have used the” he hesitated a little, “The L word, something bad has happened. I don’t want to jinx what we have. You know how I feel right? Don’t make me say it.”

“That’s so sweet” and added as a whisper, “and so superstitious!”
Mukti looked at him standing biting into an apple with his boyish grin in place and realized she wanted to wake up every morning looking at this face.

“Ok. I’ll move in but I need some time to figure out what to tell my parents.”
Veer smile stretched, if it was possible, from ear-to-ear, “Great!” he crossed the length between them in a stride and kissed her passionately. Mukti’s hand went into his hair and she could feel herself melting in his arms.

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