A month passed by, they met at work, extremely polite to each other, professional and pleasant
They saw each other in the hallways, and nodded, addressed emails to each other.
Outwardly they were the perfect coworkers, placing emotions and shutting it off in clean containers in their minds
At home... in the evenings, it was an altogether different story
He finished up dinner, he had a lady come in to fix meals daily
Nihar wasnt thrilled, but Neel arranged "food to be cooking" as Nihar entered the house around 6:30 with Neel in tow, being picked up from afterschool program
Neel actively researched after school stuff closer to home that had the ability to drop him off at home, so he doesnt have to spend nearly 12 hours at school every day
Single parenting was not a picnic
Neel chatted with the lady cook explaining the kind of food Nihar loved to eat, and even requested Gurpreet
to let the lady know in Punjabi, he forwarded Nupur's food blog to Gurpreet with the hope some magic would happen
Gurpreet and Gagan were godsent to him, a neighbor everyone would love to have
She insisted, Nihar should take the bus home and he can hang with her son Maneet, who was two years older, and went to DPS NOIDA
When dinner was done and Nihar was in bed, Neel wandered the tiny front lawn, checking his phone, his friends called daily, so did Amma
The last text conversation he looked at daily
He shared what happened with naved, only to be told to "move on"
He was frustrated at the advice he was receiving
Amma for her share was pestering him to meet people in Delhi, since it was close to UP Delhi had higher "supply"
He laughed out loud at his Amma's smugness
"Zyaada hongi to iska yeh matlab nahi mujhse milna chahengi" he said
"Iska matlab aapko milne mein koi aitraaz nahi?" his Mom stumped him
"Ma... Nupur ko gaye bus ek saal hua hai" he stressed
"Aur woh tumhe akele aise stress karte bilqul dekhna pasand nahi karti"
"To is liye hum keh rahe hain aapse aap yaha aa jaayiye"
"Aur meri naukri?" Amma demanded
"Hamey yeh mehsoos ho raha ki aap zabardasti school laut rahi hain" he argued
His Mom smiled at her son's shrewdness
"Theek hai na hamari baat?" he asked her for approval
"Nihar ki sochen aap beta" Amma urged
His smile was wiped out
He now had a room full of Naren Noodle comic strips on the walls...
She sat in the balcony, staring out at the concrete jungle, on occasional clear nights she could see some stars
Varsha had not called her back
Tai continued to be a pain.
She did not offer once to watch Aadhya after school, Apeeja NOIDA bus actually had a
bus stop right outside her society, yet the child got dropped off at the play school at 12:30 and ate leftovers and napped ona strange bed
She had two friends, both mothers stayed home, one offered to take Aadhya to her house if Suvi was in a bind (not otherwise, ofcourse)
Despite it being 5 years since, the anger she felt for Rutwik was not diminished
She wanted to check on Nihar, he hadnt returned her containers yet.
She had seen him in the car three days in a row with Payal
She had stayed up the first night she saw him with Payal
Gomez later mentioned he was helping her buy a new car
Payal was her usual smug self, ignoring everyone except Neel
She got up to go to bed, and Googled Payal... there were pictures of endorsements she had done
For some odd reason she wanted to know what car Payal bought
Or were they still looking
She had a restless night...
On the Friday, 8.5 weeks after she told him, not to talk or chat any more, one week after noticing him ride with Payal every evening
she showed up at his house
Aadhya was at a KG friend's house.
Nihar opened the door, the house smelled like fresh food, she heard the cooker, and a sizzle in the far back
Neel was startled to see her he was watching cricket
He dropped the remote
"Did Aadhya come?" Nihar asked
"Mera khaane ka dabba" she squeaked... as she approached her