The beginning of something strange but beautiful

Chapter 4: The beginning of something strange but beautiful (Healing Hearts)

scintilla series

Chapter 4: The beginning of something strange but beautiful (Healing Hearts)

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The beginning of something strange but beautiful

Rajveer

“What was that?”

I twisted my head to find my assistant, and only friend, Mohan, by the door, staring at me with furrowed brows. His expression said it all—he was gearing up for the worst, ready to handle the aftermath of whatever mess I might have made. Damage control, he called it.

I threw him a smirk and turned back to my work, scrolling through the long and tedious email I had been reading before the call that changed everything.

He entered the room further, his mood already sullen. “Do you have it ready?” he asked, cutting straight to the point.

Ah, so that was why he was here. I pulled the letter I had written last night from the drawer. Carefully, I used the seal that would ensure it remained unopened during transit.

“Here it is,” I said, handing it over.

Mohan took the letter, examining the seal with a critical eye. “More time in Mumbai, huh? Grandma’s not going to be happy.”

“She will understand,” I replied, more hopeful than certain. “I am working on a few more things. Need a few more months to complete it. After all, the state doesn’t pay us to survive. We are on our own.”

Mohan slid the letter into an envelope and re-applied the seal. In this age of phones and video calls, it felt archaic to write letters, but Grandma refused to answer phones or use any digital means of communication. I had tried to explain that times had changed, but she always insisted that letters had more depth and meaning. I didn’t argue with her. Whatever she needed, I was happy to provide as long as she let me travel the world.

“I will post the letter, but seriously, what was that all about?” Mohan asked, raising an eyebrow.

“How much did you hear?”

“More than enough to know that wasn’t you on the call or the Rajveer I know.”

I waved a hand dismissively as my laptop pinged with an incoming notification. It was an email. I opened it to find a link. Before doing anything further, I checked the sender’s email address.

A grin spread across my face as I saw the email ID. It was Nivi, the girl with the sweetest tone I had ever heard. I clicked on the link and found images of various fonts and backgrounds. This looked like groundwork. Hadn’t I told her to send me the final design, not all of this?

Mohan leaned over, peering at the screen. “What’s this? Who sent you this?”

I ignored him, but he wasn’t one to be easily brushed off. “You need to tell me I won’t have a heart attack with whatever you are doing now.”

“Mohan, I am doing nothing that will warrant a heart attack. A friend’s promise.”

He rolled his eyes, as if not believing me one bit.

“You just ordered someone to call you three times a day. Who was it?”

I sighed and closed the folder. It was useless. I didn’t understand any of it. I had asked her to design a card and send it to me, not this.

Typing a quick message, I hit send before addressing my very stressed personal assistant. But I just wanted to cross-check if the message was sent or not. I tapped on her name, and yes, the message had been sent. A smile tugged at my lips. She was… strange, sweet, nervous, but still arguing and calling me out.

I was used to dating women who were flawless, already accustomed to the kind of life I led. They knew how to be with someone like me. But Nivi, she didn’t even know who I was. She was refreshing. My eyes drifted back to the message I had sent her.

Rajveer: Didn’t I tell you to send me the invitations and nothing else? Call me. ASAP.

ASAP was just for fun. I just wanted to hear her voice again. Sure, I didn’t want to come across as desperate, but the truth was, I wanted to talk to her as often as possible. I wasn’t going to let an opportunity like this slip away.

“Yep, say, what happened? Where’s the fire?” I finally turned to Mohan.

“What are you doing? And you are the fire. Sometimes, I need to save you from yourself.”

I sighed again, scrubbing my face with my hands. “I don’t know. This wasn’t planned. It just happened.”

“At least, tell me so I can be prepared.”

“You remember I took help from an associate for creating birthday invitations for Aaradhya’s birthday.”

“Yes, you said you will divert it to me. But I have not received any calls.”

“I am handling it personally. After all, it’s my niece’s birthday.”

His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What does that mean? And I am your assistant so it’s my job to handle your work.”

“You are already overloaded with work. I am handling this.”

“Rajveer, please, just tell me if this is another one of your flings.”

I looked at him, my expression caught between irritation and resignation. “It’s not a fling, Mohan. I genuinely need these invitations to be perfect. Aaradhya’s birthday is important to me.”

“And I can handle perfect. You don’t need to get into this.”

“It’s not a fling.” I said again, with an edge this time. “It’s just a girl who is creating the birthday cards. I don’t know what happened. She called and something shifted inside me. Her voice was so soft and melodious. She was nervous and I couldn’t help as I pulled her leg a bit. See, this is just for a week, alright. And I am not going to meet her. No more scandals, I promise. I just… couldn’t control. As if I became someone I am not when I spoke to her.”

“Just tell me if I have to intervene. The last one threatened to expose you. It took me a lot of persuasion of get her to settle down with a big cheque.”

“Yeah, yeah, nothing such will happen. Don’t worry. Nivi is not that kind of a girl.”

“Well, they change once they know who you are. And you have spoken to her only once.”

“Cut it, Mohan. I am your boss, not the other way around.”

I was going to berate him some more but my phone rang. It was her.

“Before you answer that, she shouldn’t know who you are so no video calls, no personal meetings. Got it? Or I am calling grandma.”

“I said this is just a little fun on the phone. Her voice was too sweet and I couldn’t resist. Now, get out.”

Mohan left, shaking his head and muttering under his breath. I hit the green button and waited for her to speak.

“Um…” her famous hums. I waited for her to form words.

“Hi,” she finally muttered after a few seconds of silence.

“Hi, Nivi,” I again used my stern voice.

“I just… I wanted to show you I was working yesterday on your designs only,” she said, explaining herself.  

“Did something happen?” I asked, sensing her distress.

Her sigh told me whatever had happened wasn’t good. “My boss called me, asking about the hourly turnaround. He absolutely never does that. Did you say anything?”

“Of course not,” I replied firmly. “If I want to complain or say anything, I will tell you directly. I won’t go above your head to your boss.”

There was a pause, and I could almost hear her thinking on the other end of the line.

“Right. Sorry. I just… I don’t like if anyone questions my work. I work very hard.”

“I know that. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, Dhruv said he was just being extra careful. He told me to send you everything so you know I am genuinely working on this and not ignoring you.”

Of course, she wasn’t ignoring me. I wouldn’t let that happen. But I didn’t like someone else berating her for this.

“Are you okay?” I asked again.

“Yeah, I guess. I already had two cups of coffee but I am feeling like having a third cup. Today has been…” she trailed off, not finishing the sentence.

“Stressful?”

“Hmm…”

“Don’t you have green tea in your office?”

“We have.”

“Drink that instead of coffee. It will calm you.”

“I hate green tea.”

“Nivi, go to the breakroom now and make yourself a green tea.”

“What’s with you? Why are you hot and cold with me? Sometimes so sweet and calm and other times always bossing me. By the way, my HR told me you cannot order me. Tanvi said I can go and talk to Dhruv about this.”

I applauded her spirit but the world wasn’t equal. I had more power than her.

“Do it, then.”

“What?”

“Raise a complaint against me.”

“I…”

“Either you go and make yourself a cup of green tea or you raise a complaint against me. Choose one.”

“Geez, what is your problem? Okay, I will make green tea. I hope it’s not too bitter. I already had one sugarless coffee; I cannot survive this much bitterness in my life.”

“Are you in the breakroom?” I asked, controlling my laughter.

“Oh, God, you are such a pusher. Going now. Are you able to hear my footsteps?”

“Nope, but I trust you. Nivi, you wouldn’t lie to me, would you?”

“I normally don’t. Don’t think it’s necessary. Too much stress, you lie then you have to keep up with that lie and say more lies.”

“Good. I like that.”

I stood and randomly walked around the room as Nivi gave me a run by commentary of her making green tea.

“I am adding a pouch of sugar.”

“No, you are not. You will feel drowsier. Just take a sip.”

“No,” she cried. My eyes suddenly went to the mirror and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was smiling. Like literally smiling as if I wasn’t burden by responsibilities or my name that was more of a nuisance than anything else.

“Hey, you there?”

“Yeah,” I managed to mutter. “Say? Did you taste it?”

“I need more encouragement.”

I sighed. “Nivi, just take a sip. Do you trust me?”

“I don’t even know you to trust you.”

“Then I want you to trust me right now. Just take a sip. For me, please.”

I waited; my phone plastered to my ear. I heard her groan, then a sigh.

“It wasn’t so bad.”

“See, I told you. Now, drink this, as many cups as you want but only one coffee in a day.”

I waited for her affirmation but only met silence.

“Did you hear me?”

“Um… two?”

I chuckled. “Okay, two coffees, and then you are switching to green tea.”

“Yep. For the next one week, I am your servant after all. Now, let me work. I sent you that email because my boss thinks I am avoiding you purposefully.”

“Are you?”

“No. You told me to email you once I have an invitation card ready.”

“Hmm… but you will call me before lunch and then before leaving for the day. Don’t forget that.”

“I won’t. Bye, boss.”

“I like the sound of that.”

Her chuckle was the last thing I heard before it was complete silence. She had ended the call.

What was happening to me? Shaking my head to clear the fog, I turned and found Mohan standing by the door.

“Now, twice cannot be a coincidence.”

I was pissed now. Was he eavesdropping?

“Your phone rang so I just wanted to see what I have to handle.”

“Yeah? What did you see?”

“Something I have never seen before. You have never smiled like that before. At least not in the last five years I have been working for you.”

“Don’t worry. Nothing is going to happen. I know my responsibilities,” I reassured him, though even I couldn’t shake off the strange feeling that had settled within me.

“I know you know. But… even if there is an inclination that you are flirting with someone on the phone, bossing her around, we would be in a big mess,” Mohan cautioned, his voice filled with apprehension.

“Nothing such will happen. Chill. And leave,” I said, dismissing his concerns with a wave of my hand, though deep down, I couldn’t shake off the nagging feeling that he might be right.

Mohan left, again muttering under her breath while I just sat there, thinking about everything. I didn’t want any of this. When Gurvinder suggested his team handle the invitations for me, I agreed because he had been pushing me to let him do something for me. But I hadn’t expected this. Now, it was like I was being pulled by a force I couldn’t resist.

I made a silent vow to myself: only phone calls, nothing more. I wouldn’t let myself get entangled any further. No meetings, no face-to-face encounters. Just the sound of her voice, echoing through the phone, keeping me company in this chaotic world. I will just let myself hear her sweetest voice and carefree mouth that always spoke her heart.

Nivi. Such a simple name, yet it held a certain charm that drew me in. I couldn’t believe I had convinced her to drink green tea. It was so out of character for me, yet in that moment, it felt right. She could have put the phone down but I realized she didn’t like to confront things which was why she agreed to drink green tea rather than talking to Dhruv about me.

If this goes on, I am going to have too much fun.

End of Chapter 4: The beginning of something strange but beautiful


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

Image credit: Freepik

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