You are currently viewing Chapter 2: How it all started? Beginning of something beautiful (Healing Hearts)

Chapter 2: How it all started? Beginning of something beautiful (Healing Hearts)

Chapter 2: How it all started?

Table of Contents

Chapter 2: How it all started?

Six Months Before

Nivi

“Tanvi,” I called, as loud as I could. My eyes stayed glued to the balcony, hoping she heard me. Unlocking my phone, I tried her number again, but like the last two calls, she didn’t answer the third. She must have again put her phone on silent. I always hated it when she did that.

I was about to call her name again when she came out to the balcony and waved at me. Like actually waved as if I had called her just to wave or she wasn’t running late or we weren’t getting late for the office. “What are you doing? We will be late. And the auto won’t wait forever. Come down fast.” I screamed, hoping my voice reached her second-floor balcony, just as the driver grumbled some more in his native language.

I ignored him and made wide gestures, asking her to get her ass down now.

“Yeah, yeah. Two minutes. Coming. Chill, babes.”

I sighed, shaking my head. “Okay. Waiting.”

While I was waiting, her mom came out to the balcony, and I waved to her. “Hello, Aunty,” I called.

“Beta, she has just left. Climbing down the stairs now. Come home for dinner tonight.”

“Thank you, Aunty,” I screamed back. “Sure, I will be there.”

It was strange, but no one turned their hands my way or looked at me even once for screaming in public.

Mumbai mornings were a frenzy, with people hustling to reach their offices on time, and the younger crowd consumed by school, college, and various other activities. In this bustling city, no one had time to gossip. This city moved at a fast pace, not stopping for anyone.

You stopped; you got left behind. If you wanted to stay in the race, you had to keep moving.

The driver grumbled some more, and I just wanted to hide somewhere to be away from him and his negative personality. He was literally ruining my day. And Tanvi wasn’t here yet. I was going to kill her. Why wouldn’t she, for a change, come early? It was always the same. I reached her place and then messaged her. Her standard reply was asking me for 5 minutes. But never a day came that she waited for me. It was always me. And I just realized I was rambling in my head and needed to shut up.

Thank God, at least I couldn’t understand the words the auto driver was spewing at me. He was speaking Marathi, and I was yet to learn the language. He glared at me, but I just spun, looking the other way. Muttering a silent plea, I prayed for Tanvi to come soon, or the driver would murder me with his eyes.

Where was she? Squinting against the sun’s glare, I shaded my eyes with my hand, scanning the area for any sign of her. But she was nowhere in sight. Her building was inside a narrow lane, and I was outside it, standing in a corner, waiting for her. Because her window fell on the roadside, I could scream and talk to her with no need to go inside.

I tapped my foot against the ground, getting irritated every growing second. Typically, I waited for her to come out before searching for an auto. But the driver just stopped in front of me, and I could do nothing. Now, he was intimidating me. He could just go, I grumbled inside. I would call for another auto, but he wasn’t doing that too.

Why was he ruining my morning and his as well?

Sighing, I glanced around, wishing to get lost in the city. It had been an adventure, coming here, staying alone, and enjoying the air of Mumbai. I came to Mumbai two years back, and just like other eager dreamers, I spent all my free time roaming the city with wide eyes and eating all the delicious food, the world-famous Indian burger—Vada pav, the spicy sev puri, the delicious pav bhaji, and many other things. Tanvi’s mom also made delicious food, and she invited me once every week for dinner. And the other times, I ordered food from outside because I was so exhausted from working the entire day. I needed my rest.

When I arrived here, I had one week in my hand before my office started. I used that in seeing the major attractions of the city—the beaches and the Gateway of India, where I treated myself to a delicious dinner at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Then, the next day I went to all the holy places, the Siddhivinayak temple, Shree Mahalakshmi Temple, Haji Ali Dargah, Mount Mary Basilica and Mumba Devi Temple. It was a memorable day, roaming alone from morning to evening, eating outside, taking photographs, and finally ending it with an ice cream sundae on the beach.

I also visited a Jain temple, known as a derasar, which exuded tranquility and such peaceful silence that I just sat there for some time, in the quietness, enjoying the blissfulness. I had gone in the evening and was shocked that they didn’t use electricity to illuminate the room. As I entered the temple, my mouth hung open at view. It looked enchanting and heavenly with breathtaking decorations. Illuminated by diyas, the entire space seemed to glow, with the idol of Mahavir Swami adorned with pearls and diamonds, looking majestic, making you lost in him. They called it aangi, a ritual done in the evening to prepare the lord for evening darshan.

Sitting there, with my eyes closed in the soft glow of the oil lamp made of clay, I felt a profound sense of peace. It was as if all my troubles had washed away, and nothing seemed significant in front of the divine presence.

Every day, without fail, I went out for dinner, either to a restaurant or the roadside carts. Mom got angry hearing I was eating outside food daily, saying it would affect my health. When I argued, she changed her tactic, showing me the amount I was spending on food. And it was much. But… I was just so addicted to it.

Having grown up in Indore, I was no stranger to street food. We have our own specialties. Indore was famous for Poha Jalebi, Dal Bafla, and Sabudana khichdi, though khichdi was famous here as well, this being a hub of Maharashtrians. But the taste is very different from what I used to eat at Indore.

Indore had its own charm of street food, and people go out late at night to have the complete street food experience. But Mumbai had a different vibe altogether. It was a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, where every street corner offered a tantalizing array of flavors waiting to be explored.

To help me fight my addiction, Mom kept sending me ready-to-eat meals that she prepared at home. I only had to either add hot water to it and wait or reheat it, and my dinner was ready.

Being the only child who had completed her master’s and got a job on her merit, my parents spoiled me a lot. My father also insisted on paying the rent for the first year so I could enjoy my time in Mumbai rather than worrying about finances. I tried to stop him, but I didn’t put much effort into it. He had already told me I had to manage my own expenses, and he was just giving me a start, so if he was going to pay the rent for the first year which was 20k every month, who was I to say no?

I was again about to scream when I saw Tanvi sprinting toward me. I shouted for her to come fast, and she did. She skidded to stop as she reached me and grabbed both my arms, trying to catch her breath.

“Where is the fire? We still have time.”

I pointed to the rickshaw driver, and Tanvi rolled her eyes. “What took you so long?”

“One of the aunties stopped me. Asking me where I work. The normal shit. Her kid is in tenth standard and she is already dreaming of MNCs.”

I chuckled, nodding. We settled into the auto, and she started fighting with the driver while I prayed for both of our lives. Why would she do this? Paying a few bucks extra wasn’t a big deal.

“Meter phir se ghumao, bhaiya,” she snapped, asking the driver to restart the meter. He had turned the meter the moment he stopped in front of me. Even before I asked if he could drop us to powai. But what could I do? I knew Tanvi wouldn’t have it.

“Arrey, Madam…” the driver started, but Tanvi raised her voice, interrupting the driver.

“Varna hume nahi jana. Aap rok do.” She threatened the driver to stop the rickshaw.

I winced, not wishing to fight in the morning. “Tanvi, let it be. Anyway, today it’s my turn to pay.”

“So what? We can have a vada pav in the extra money he will charge us. Why should we pay extra?”

I sighed but remained quiet. She argued some more, and finally, the driver cursed, turned the meter again, and cursed more.

The rest of the ride was calm.

She wrapped her arm around my neck and leaned close. “You know, Shashank asked me out.”

“What?” I asked, shock clear on my face. When did this happen?

She grinned, making some dance moves with her hand.

“Yep. We are going to the movies this weekend. He called last night and asked if I was interested in watching some sci-fi movie.”

My frown deepened. “The one in the accounts team, right?”

“Who else? I am so excited.”

Damn, this girl snagged dates like it was no big deal. And she never got serious about anyone. “Hmm… good for you,” I said with not much enthusiasm.

“C’mon, don’t do this.” She bumped her shoulder into me, but I remained quiet. She sighed and continued. “I can ask if he has a friend. What say?”

“I will ruin your date as well.”

She clicked her tongue. “You won’t. You just get too excited about the date.”

“And get silent. My date always thinks I am uptight and rude.”

“It will get better. You just need to date more.”

“Easy for you to say. None of the guys like Shashank have asked me.”

She chuckled. “That is because you don’t mingle with people. I do. Being in the HR team has its perks, darling.”

“See… I told you I have a problem.”

“It’s not a problem. And it gets better with time. You are into designing, so you are busy the entire day, lost in your own world.”

“I can’t believe I am a twenty-four-year-old virgin.”

“Don’t worry. There are older virgins than you in India.”

I leaned back in my seat, frowning. “And that makes it okay? Just because there are more people who have never had sex so I can be in their category.”

“Nivi dear, you are not someone to have sex with a random stranger or even a boyfriend. You want to have sex, then get married because you wouldn’t do it before. I know you. You just won’t.”

“No, no. If the right guy comes, I will.”

“You are a compulsive romantic, sweetheart. You finish 300 pages of romance novels in one day. You don’t want to f…. have sex, you want to make love.”

I glared at her for using the F word, but she just chuckled, blowing me an air kiss. She always called me out because I stayed home on Sundays and read books. I went out, but not on dates. Whenever someone asked in the office if I was free, I never said no. If anyone was making plans, I always raised my hand. I was good at group outings, but… alone with a guy got to me. And I had already done all the sightseeing alone once. Now, I needed people to go out.

“So, what’s the problem with that? Last night, I read such an amazing book on Kindle. It was about childhood sweethearts. I wish I had a boyfriend in school, and we would forever remain together. Get married, have babies… have a wonderful life.”

She pushed her head back and started laughing while I glared at her.

“What’s the joke?”

“If you had got married, we wouldn’t have met. I can’t have that now, please. And… you are getting more. Marriage and kids will happen one day, but this won’t happen. You are living alone in Mumbai, learning new things, every day making fresh memories. I would have loved to go somewhere else and work, but because I stay in Mumbai, we easily get opportunities here. I cannot do that.”

I nodded. “Nice try. Now, what were you laughing for?”

She grinned. “You spent Sunday evening reading a book. Then you say you want to have sex. You need a partner for that. Baby, you cannot do it alone.”

“I don’t spend every Sunday at home. You were busy, and Chaitali was also busy with a family function. Then Arya had a date like you. So, who do I mingle with?”

“Okay, calm down now. Forget it. See, we have reached. Such a nice use of our auto time.”

“Hmm…” I smiled because it was true. Previously, we would see the traffic and groan and curse. But now we just ignored it. We would reach whenever we would reach. No point in continuously checking the time.

I paid for the auto, and we quickly dashed inside, swiping our cards at the entrance.

We got into the elevator, and she stepped out on the tenth floor while I made a face, not wanting her to go. But she blew me an air kiss just as the doors closed, leaving me alone with a few strangers. I reached my floor and stepped out of the elevator, swiping my card at the floor entrance. This also marked my attendance for the day. Finally, taking a sigh of relief, I discarded my bag on my desk before heading to the break room. Making myself a large cup of coffee, I smiled at a few people I knew while ignoring the others.

I settled in my seat just as Chaitali came.

“What are you working on?”

“Catalogs for Facebook marketing. You?”

“I am working on a video. Animation. Thursday evening, my place. Are you in?”

“Anything special?”

“My parents are going out of town. Friday, I am going to my sister’s place, so we have one night to enjoy.”

“Oh, great. I am in. If you want an empty house, you can use mine anytime.”

“Nah, with Tanvi staying nearby, her mom always calls us for dinner. And then it gets so boring.”

I chuckled but nodded.

“Also, your roommate is boring.”

“Hmm… but she handles everything in the house so I get a lot of time. I adore Pratiksha.”

“I know. So, my place, Thursday evening. Bring a pair of clothes. We will go to the office the next day from there only.”

“Cool. Arya is also in. Then two of the guys have also agreed.”

“Guys? Who?”

“Amit from the sales team and our Shreyas. We will watch movies, so if you have any choices, let me know. I have Netflix and Prime subscription.”

I nodded. She danced a little in excitement and left. I grinned.

Amit was handsome, and he was already giving me coy looks at the company parties. Maybe I could talk to him a bit more than usual, and give him attention. Maybe he would ask me out. Then Tanvi and I could go on double dates. Nothing serious, but maybe I needed to experiment with some of the romance novels I read. Now, my excitement for the evening had doubled. Tanvi wasn’t part of our group, but I will ask Chaitali if she can come. She would agree. She always said more the merrier.

And by our Shreyas, she meant our editing specialist. We designed the videos, and catalogs and then sent them to him. He did the final editing, checking the color combinations, the image sizes, requirements vs the output, and all the other things before sending them to the client for feedback.

Clearing my head, I got busy. The day passed in a blur until it was noon and lunchtime. I met Tanvi for lunch, but Shashank was also there and she ignored me most of the time. I literally felt like a third wheel. Maybe I should have had lunch with Chaitali or Arya but they were in a meeting and I was hungry.

I didn’t blame Tanvi, but I guess I had to take it forward with Amit. He was giving me hints, and I had to reciprocate. Getting past my nervousness would be difficult but I had to try. It was two years in Mumbai now. I had to give dating a chance. I was okay if it didn’t work, but I had to at least try. My parents had love marriage so they were okay if I chose my life partner. But maybe an arranged marriage was in the cards for me.

Argh, stop thinking, I chided myself as I shook my head and saved the file I was working on.

At evening four, my manager called me. I closed all my files before locking my computer and rushing to his cabin. Did he want an update? Normally he called me in the conference room for that. So, I could showcase my work.

“Hey, Dhruv,” I called out from outside as I reached his cabin. He had already asked us not to wait for his permission to get inside his cabin, but I always felt weird to just barge in.

“Ah, come on in. Nivi, you can just get inside. No need to ask permission. I am only using the cabin because we have a shortage of cubicles right now.”

“I know. It’s just something I cannot do. You have a cabin, which means you are entitled to privacy, and I won’t invade it without your permission.”

He chuckled. “Wow, that’s very nice of you. I won’t stop you next time from asking permission before entering. How are you?”

I sat in the chair opposite to him and smiled. “Good. How about you?”

“I am also good, thank you. How is Mumbai treating you?”

“I still have wide eyes most of the time. But I love it. There is this unique charm about the place. And… I love to roam on the streets.”

“Ah, nice. Still staying in the same place?”

“No, I moved closer to Tanvi from the HR. We have become good friends.”

“Okay, that’s nice. Now listen. Normally, we work for clients’ official work but I have got something personal.”

I frowned. “Personal? As in?”

“As in the CEO—Gurvinder called me. He asked me to handle work for one of his friends. But when I did some digging, it is some personal work he wants us to do.”

“Oh, okay.” I was still not getting this, but I nodded, not wanting to look like a fool. He never spoke in riddles, but he was doing that right now.

“So, I am sending you the requirements along with a number. The guy’s name is Rajveer. He wants to make some personalized cards. And wants it by this Friday. You have 5 days in hand and whatever you were doing until now, pass it to Chaitali. She will take over.”

“But… I cannot leave the designs I am already doing midway.”

“This person wants unique personalized cards for everyone. So, it’s going to consume a lot of your time. You won’t have time to do anything else.”

“But if Chaitali is free, give her this work.”

Dhruv cocked his head to the side, shaking his head. “I am the manager so I allocate the work. Not you. You are good at designs and Chaitali is busy with an animation task I assigned her that is already at a deadline.”

“Hmm… sorry…”

“Don’t be. I know you are very protective of your work, but this is a one-time thing. I promise.”

I nodded, standing. “Okay, you email me the requirements. I shall get started.”

“I am also sending you Rajveer’s number. You will have to call him every day with the progress and keep sending him the drafts so he can look at it and ask for any changes he wants. This isn’t the normal work we do, okay? This guy doesn’t have any team to handle this. And he has no idea about designing so don’t wait until the last minute. Be agile.”

I nodded, pursing my lips to not argue. I got back in my seat and Chaitali came. She must have already received update from Dhruv.

“What clients are you handling? Anything that needs to be finished this week, pass it to me.”

“Yeah. I will do it. Will share the cloud link of the files.”

She frowned at my gloomy face. “What happened?”

“I hate to leave anything halfway. How can he in the middle of my work assign me something else. I have been working on these designs since last week. Now, I won’t even get credit.”

She winced, nodding. “Hmm… why did Dhruv do that?”

“The CEO called. Apparently, some need a designer. It’s personal work.”

She winced. “I did that once. It didn’t even get counted in my review and finally, at the end of the year, I lost my points for it. But I got a thank you note from my manager.”

“This is so wrong.”

“Hmm… but the CEO pays us our salary and if he asks us to do something, we have to do it.”

I nodded just as my email pinged with a new mail. “Hmm… I got Dhruv’s email. Talk to you later. Will send you all the required data. Let me know if you need anything else.”

Chaitali nodded, offering me a sad smile, and went to her desk while I opened the email. Great. Party invitations. I normally designed catalogs and guides. I didn’t design party invitations. I clicked on the link and downloaded the requirements.

I groaned as there wasn’t much to start with. Literally nothing. I had to call the number.

Rajveer. That’s it. No last name.

I was so irritated that I stomped my feet to the exit while going to meet Tanvi for evening coffee. I was so angry. She was in HR, she had to save me from this. This was the reason I wasn’t working in a small company. Our company—Kaur and Sons, was a listed company, and we branched into numerous divisions, one of which was marketing. I was in the design department and I typically got requirements from the project lead. I didn’t call some random number and talk about requirements.

Argh, I was so frustrated that I didn’t even smile as I met Tanvi in the cafeteria. She understood something was wrong so she whispered something to Shashank and he left us alone. Thank God for that. Because I couldn’t endure his company a minute longer. Every time Tanvi dated someone from office, the guy always tagged along for everything, lunch, coffee. I hated it.

“Thanks for that,” I told her as she paid for our coffees.

We went to the serving counter and she gave our coupons. “What happened?”

I told Tanvi everything with as much drama as possible.

“How could he do this to me?”

“I understand, but… sometimes these things happen.”

“I hate this.”

She patted my arm. “The guy must be important.”

“So?”

“It’s just one week. Get it done. Get into the good books of the boss and big boss and I will push your name for promotion next year.”

I mellowed down. “That doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”

“Cool. So, when will you call Rajveer?”

“Tomorrow…”

“Don’t wait until tomorrow, or what will you say for today?”

“I will just say I was studying the requirements. I feel if I call the guy today, I may insult him.”

She chuckled. “Okay, as long as Dhruv doesn’t mind.”

“He won’t know to mind. He never gets into detail. He will call me after 2-3 days and ask for progress.”

“Cool.”

“Normally I am very sincere with my work but today I am sulking. What’s your mom making for dinner? She invited me.”

“Pav Bhaji and biryani.”

“Oh, God, my mouth is watering from now only.”

“She is making more so you can take the leftovers.”

“What? I will faint out of happiness.”

She chuckled. “So, Shashank and you solid?” I asked, taking a large sip of my coffee. She went to the snacks counter and got us a plate of pakoras.

I grabbed the panner one and moaned at every bite.

“He is a little clingy.”

I pushed my head back and laughed. “You find everyone clingy.”

“Alright. We just decided to go on a date and he is already joining me for lunch and evening coffee. How weird is that?”

“Hmm… I thought you wanted that.”

“Never. Our time is our time. This is why I don’t even get my team members along.”

“How sweet of you. You are my best friend, Tanvi.”

“Same to you.”

We both laughed at the same time and I finally felt relaxed. Okay, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it to be. Today I will study the material he gave me, make notes, and call him tomorrow first thing in the morning.

How difficult would it be to design party invitations? It was actually easy because I would get readymade templates online. I will for sure not copy, but at least I could get ideas easily.

End of Chapter 2: How it all started?


Author Payal Dedhia independently publishes books on Amazon Kindle. You can check her collection by clicking here.

Subscribe to get the Latest Posts & Newsletter by email

Subscribe to get the Latest Posts & Newsletter by email

Subscribe to get the Latest Posts & Newsletter by email

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

4 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback
2 days ago

[…] Chapter 2: How it all started? […]

trackback
2 days ago

[…] Chapter 2: How it all started? […]

trackback
10 days ago

[…] Chapter 2: How it all started? […]

trackback
10 days ago

[…] Chapter 2: How it all started? […]

Payal Dedhia

Hi there, I’m Payal Dedhia. I’m a proud Mumbai local who spends my days guiding budding coders through the fascinating world of development. But when I'm not deep in the tech scene, you’ll find me exploring new corners of the city or jetting off to faraway lands in search of adventure. As a lifelong bookworm, I’ve always devoured stories faster than my friends could recommend them. Eventually, I couldn’t resist the urge to write my own. Some of my tales dive into the darker corners of romance, while others highlight the beauty of contemporary love, where hearts connect in the most unexpected ways. Just like I strive to bring out the best in my students, I pour the same passion into my writing. My goal is to captivate you with every word and take you on a journey through the many forms of love—sometimes twisted, sometimes tender, but always compelling. Thank you for joining me on this adventure. Welcome to my world, where passion meets the page. I hope my stories whisk you away on an unforgettable journey.