Madhu Syal, 35 had joined the Import Export group as Head of Operations and was incorporated at the head office in Gurgaon. As scheduled, right in the first week of her joining, she was introduced to the entire team, and set of functions she was meant to head in the new term. The people reporting to her were the Operations Heads – North, South, East and West. Unlike others, only the Head of Operations North was based at the corporate office itself. Madhu had a proven track record and had earned herself fame in the industry due to her excellent abilities to manage huge teams and high result-oriented functioning. Within a month, she had gained confidence of her seniors and subordinates and had started showing desired results. From the day Madhu had joined, she had commanded respect and cooperation from everybody in the office from top to bottom. Her work orientation made her a favourite amongst the seniors while her dignified and sober style of working made her respectable for her subordinates.
Amidst the bed of flowers was a small thorn that was giving her a hard time with the hurdles he was creating deliberately.
Luv Bakshi, 33, Operations Head North was confident of being the next All India Head of Operations until Madhu Syal’s appointment by the management. He hated her and left no stone unturned to make sure her dismissal. His over ambition and hatred for this woman, who governed the chair he was supposed to take charge of, made him lethal but at the same time desperate, and hence predictable.
Madhu was experienced to help herself. But, her silence for over three months made Luv Bakshi elate with confidence. He became vulnerable to mistakes, having already overthrown the previous national head successfully.
The annual meeting of the company happened to be the right time when Madhu returned each favour of Luv’s – Madhu was a fox in the skin of a silent lamb.
In the throes of antagonism, Luv disguised himself. The chain of events that evening, left him embarrassed forcing him to leave the meeting right in between with some lame excuse. Madhu’s single play washed all his efforts in vain! That evening, Madhu could not keep that smile of triumph off her face. Not that she ever wanted to hurt anyone but that expression of realisation on Luv’s face was funny.
Her next step was to add a little pepper to the dish and that pepper was the message she texted Luv.
“So how r u feeling now Luv Bakshi?”
Prompt came the response.
“Never Better Maam!”
Luv Bakshi was restless – with all his emotions and intentions good and bad, lying helpless in front of her. Next morning onwards Luv Bakshi was scared of his uncertain, unpredictable and seemingly non-perishable boss. She was a one-of-a-kind woman – one like Luv had never met before.
Winds had changed course and Luv was in love. It took him a few days though to accept that to himself, but he did.
A month or so had passed. Mad (as Luv and all others called Madhu) and Luv had become great friends. The success of the team won them a trip to Mumbai. It was in February, being the idle time, the team decided to spend one complete day at the Juhu Beach.
Madhu was silent unlike other days and Luv could not keep himself from intervening.
“You ok?” Luv asked while handing a soda can to her.
Madhu took a pause.
“You know Luv, I came to Mumbai for my honeymoon.”
Luv paused, trying his best not to react but he wished at once he could hold her and tell her to take those words back.
“Honeymoon? You never told me you were married, Mad.”
Madhu smiled unwillingly.
“I no more am, Luv.”
“No more as in?”
“Jay and I separated six months back. Though we are not divorced, but we are not together anymore.”
“What went wrong?" Luv was inquisitive. "It is ok in case you do not want to talk about it.”
Luv was humble and Madhu needed a friend to talk. She had not really shared her feelings with anyone for a while now. Now, she wanted to face all that she had refrained from all these months.
Luv knew she was hesitant.
“Go on Madhu, I am listening.”
Madhu turned to him with a feeble smile.
“You can trust me. I cross my heart.” Luv crossed with fingers.
Madhu felt embarrassed. She of course knew she could.
“Jai and I met some five years back. He was kind and decent. The only thing that was not good about him was his lethargic attitude that developed, thanks to his parents who pampered him for he was the only child of filthy rich parents.
“But legacies perish if they are not added to. Jay was though lucky to have his father still alive and making profits.
“My parents always thought he was never the right match for me. But they surrendered to my wishes and we got married. After marriage, I realised how bad it feels to leave your man sleeping in the morning and finding him in front of the TV when you return back from work. I wanted him to work to gain respect in the society and become a man my kids could idolise in future. I some how accepted how he was and I knew my affection for him was spoiling him, all the more. He had money to sit and spend, but what about his self-respect and dignity?
“Luv, I spent two years telling myself things will change. But they did not. That was the crossroads at which I could either take the course of letting him be and take a side and keep getting his love or make him what he deserved to be by getting him out of the comfort zone with all the pain and effort it took and give up on myself to help him get his dignity.”
“And you chose the second path I guess?” Luv was looking at the setting sun in the opposite direction.
“Yeah,” Madhu continued. “I became the biggest critic of his life. I decided to take up duties I wish his parents had taken up when it was time. Jay’s love became neutral which then turned into hatred. My challenging words bruised his ego. I knew his success would leave me abandoned, but I was determined to set his thinking right.
Two years of criticism turned out beautifully. My challenges became his success. Today he is successful, popular and knows me no more. He hates me and proves himself to me every time. And I do not mind. This was pre-decided.”
“So his name is Jay?”
“Jay Nehra,” Madhu replied.
Luv wrinkled his forehead. He was amazed. “Are you talking about the famous producer-actor Jay Nehra?”
Madhu nodded with tear-filled eyes.
“Do you still love him?”
Before Luv could absorb her reply, they were called by the group.
Not that he was running around on the roads drunk, but yes, Luv Bakshi was hurt – hurt beyond words. He wished he could undo the time he fell in love with Madhu. He was not angry with her of course, instead loved her all the more and wished he could get just a bit of the love she had for Jay.
He hated Jay Nehra. What a wretch he thought Jay was.
One thing Luv now knew was that he could never get Madhu in his life. She loved Jay even today. But Jay! What about him? Did he even care?
He had never heard a link-up story of Jay Nehra. Did that mean Jay still loved Madhu and things could be set right between them? Jay was too far a destination for Luv but he wanted to help her.
The next morning Luv spoke to Madhu. “See Madhu, you still love Jay, yeah? And did you ever realise that despite the stardom, Jay’s name has never been maligned. I mean in ages you do not find an actor with such a spotless image.”
Madhu did not understand a thing or so, or at least she pretended not to.
“What are you talking about, Luv? That chapter is over.”
Luv got it straight.
“We do not cry for closed chapters Madhu. Go and speak to Jay. Tell him everything.”
“And you think he will understand and won’t think I am saying this because he is successful now?”
Madhu was right. Luv had not really thought about it. He left in silence, but his words had turned to be a ray of hope for Madhu. It was until evening that Luv was still thinking when his cell phone beeped.
“I think you are right. I will give this relationship another chance. I can’t speak to him, but I will speak to his Dad and express what I feel.”
Luv was happy. “Now that is like my girl.”
Madhu was sleepless and thinking about Luv. About their journey from being competitors to such good friends!
Madhu wondered all night long how kind was it of Luv to take unconditional care of her. She was amazed thinking what an excellent life partner Luv would make.
The next day, Luv bombarded Madhu with questions, and all Madhu could say was, “You know what Luv, I was thinking about you all night. What an amazing person you are. Lucky would be the girl you will chose as your life partner.”
Luv wished he could tell it was her.
“You should have been thinking about Jay.”
“I wish you were Jay, Luv.” There was something in Madhu’s eyes Luv had never seen before. Something he should have been happy about, but he was not; it scared him all the more.
Madhu was thoughtful of what she said and left. Was she in love with him? Then what about Jay?
Luv zigzagged between the ‘what-should-be’ and ‘what-has-to-be’.
Madhu loves Jay, but wishes I was Jay, he thought to himself.
It took Luv a lot of effort to settle for ‘what-has-to-be’ and not ‘what-should-be’.
The what-should-be… is wild. There are so many things that should be but can’t be because of the hazards and Luv had realised it after spending an entire weekend thinking about it.
On Monday morning the sun was shining was bright and clear. Luv knew what he wanted. He went straight to Madhu and showed her the photograph of the girl his mother had chosen for him.
“How is she?” Madhu did not seem as bright, as if she had to pull herself to answer this question.
“She is pretty. You like her?”
“Yeah,” Luv flashed an unwanted smile.
Madhu had lost Jay after five years and had still gotten over, so a week-old emotion flick did not much look like a problem.
Meanwhile, that evening her discussion with her father-in-law had shown result. Jay had asked her to meet over coffee. Madhu was happy for Luv and bravely stepped for the meeting.
She had not fallen for Luv Bakshi. Had she?
He was a friend, rather her best friend. And girls do not fall for their best friends, and that too, one who is younger to her.
The thought brought back Madhu’s smile. Two years back she had chosen the tougher route while at the crossroads. She was on one again and chose the tougher one yet again. Yes, it was tough for her to go back to the past, that too when life was trying to give her a fresh chance. Rejecting that chance was painful. Luv was just helping her, and finding love in a supportive best friend might mean taking him for granted.
Luv had sensed Madhu’s emotions though. But, he knew it was not meant to happen. He knew at times for love to sustain, the story has to be incomplete.
He agreed to marry the girl his mom had chosen even without meeting her. He knew he will give her all she would ask for but his love would stay as a blessing by Madhu’s side.
Madhu on the other hand pacified with Jay and moved in the new apartment Jay had gifted her. Jay was a changed man. Quite like any girl’s prince charming. His realisation of her sacrifices had left him ashamed and sad. He wanted to do anything and everything for her. He knew it was a new Madhu he was living with. He knew something about Madhu had changed but he was not complaining.
Two months later, Madhu decided to invite all her friends to a small party. Luv looked happy with his girl. Madhu could steal just a few minutes to speak to Luv.
“Nice tattoo, Luv Bakshi,” she teased.
“Yeah, let me read what is written on it.”
Luv offered his hand.
“Mad for Luv.”
Madhu was petrified. She looked straight into Luv’s smiling eyes. He loved her too.
She wished she had known.
“Don’t worry Madhu, you don’t have to feel bad.”
Madhu felt devastated.
“Luv you should have told me. You know I…”
Madhu wanted to tell what she felt but Luv stopped her…
“No, Madhu. You have to love Jay. A few words are better left unsaid. You know there are so many things that should be but they don’t have to be.”
Madhu knew what Luv was talking about. All at that moment she could do was to thank him. Luv left hurriedly without letting the emotions get over him.
Time heals so many bruises, and so did it for them too.
Both, Mad and Luv settled with their respective partners and remained good friends or at least preserved the unexpressed love, with the ‘Good Friends’ tag forever.
He showed up again. The horrifying creature from my dream the.....Read Detail
Madhu Syal, 35 had joined the Import Export group as Head .......Read Detail