#15 She is sweet and delicate inside
“Don’t worry, you have two more years ahead of you, you can always try the next time,” Alex told me while offering me another tissue paper.
Alex and Vipin apologised and tried to calm me down.
I took it from him and dabbed my eyes.
The three of us were in an empty classroom.
“You don’t understand...” I sniffed. “I want to do this project under Senior Michael,”
“But why didn’t you say that you didn’t know about this?” Vipin asked me. “You really didn’t know about this,”
“We are a team,” I said. “You were patient enough to tolerate me and accept me in your group,” I said. “I cannot just be selfish and say that.”
Silence filled the room except for my occasional sniffing.
“We are sorry, Ella...” Alex said slowly. “We...we got you in trouble,”
I wiped my eyes again.
It’s not the first time that people are using me. I have gotten used to it throughout life. But what made it not okay was the fact that I am now kicked out of the project group.
“I am going to learn it.” I said. “Yea, that’s the only way now.” I added determinedly.
Alex and Vipin looked at each other.
“Learn what?” Vipin asked me.
“Creating that web-app,” I said. “You heard Senior Michael, The whole point of giving us that work was for us to be thorough with it, if we learn it and present it well, he might reconsider,” I said.
“Are you out of your mind, Ella?” Alex said. “We are talking about Senior Michael here,”
“That’s right,” Vipin agreed. “He is not someone who gives people a second chance,”
“I am going to get inside that group again,” I said firmly. “I don’t want to give up like this.” I looked at them. “Can you help me or not?”
I stilled as I saw Cinderella waiting for me on the steps in front of my house.
“Why are you here?”
I am still angry at her.
She was practically blocking my way.
“You cannot just kick me out of the group after all the trouble I went through,”
“I can do that,” I said shortly.
I don’t know why I am getting so angry about the whole thing. If it was in the past, I would have just kicked them out and that will be the end of it. But I am angry and bothered this time, which is very unlike me.
Cinderella just took a week off and she didn’t know what Alex and Vipin did with the project. She was confused and looked genuinely shocked when I revealed it.
What makes me angry is the fact that she is keeping her silence. She can try to clear her name and come clean, but she isn’t willing to do that.
That also shows how much she values the project.
“You cannot,” She got up and faced me.
I stared at her, hoping to unnerve her.
“Stop doing that!” She said. “I am not afraid of you.”
I ignored her and took a step forward. What I expected was for her to move back, but she didn’t and we were suddenly very close.
Our faces were only inches apart as I was on the first step and she was on the second. We stared at each other for a moment and my insides twisted in an unfamiliar way.
What’s this? What’s happening?!
Why am I suddenly feeling these bothering things?
Since I already took a threatening step forward, I can’t step back now.
“Why are you two staring at each other? What are you doing?”
Both of us snapped at Jenni’s voice.
“She’s blocking my-hey!”
I caught Cinderella before she could fall down. She had tried to move down at the same time I took a step back, thus causing her to lose balance. We ended up in an awkward position as her head rested on my chest and I had her wrapped to me.
“Are you guys acting in some Bollywood movie?” Jenni asked with a laugh.
I pushed Cinderella to an arm’s distance and looked at her sternly.
“You should learn to walk properly first,” I turned to Jenni then. “You should stop poking your nose to other people’s business,” I added.
“Whoa...Now you want me to stay away from “your business”? When did Ella become “your business?” She asked.
I closed my eyes and sighed.
Sometimes I think Sam and she are exactly alike; always bothering me.
“Senior Michael,” Cinderella gave me her signature puppy dog face that any guy will have a hard time saying ‘no’ to. Unfortunately for her, I am not just “any guy”.
“Don’t try to act cute,” I said firmly. “That’s not going to work with me,” I said.
“You think she is cute?” Piped Jenni from behind me.
I turned to her.
“I told you to mind your own business,” I said.
“Oops, my bad, Ella was “your business”,” she said.
I know she’s messing with me, but I am not actually in a good mood now.
I turned to Cinderella who was still waiting for me.
“I will tell you the only way for you to get back inside the project group,” I said sternly and she looked at me eagerly.
“Clear your name in front of me and the class tomorrow,” I said. “If everyone realises that you had no idea about what your team members did, there might be a small chance for you.”
What the heck Michael!? Are you actually asking her to clear her name!? Do you really want her to get back into the team!?
“I cannot do that,” She said, looking upset. “Nobody abandons their team,”
That infuriated me.
“They didn’t think of you when they used you,” I said coldly. “Moreover you weren’t there for the last week, so it’s easy for you to clear your name,”
Bloody hell! Why am I talking like this? It feels like I was bothered about this because she got caught along with the other two!?
“I cannot do that,” She frowned. “That will be very selfish of me after the way they accepted me in their group,” she said.
Is she stupid!? They took her in as they wanted to use her!
I took a deep breath to calm myself.
"Cinderella Adams, I don’t normally give people second chances,” I said seriously.
“That’s right,” Jenni said from behind. “You don’t give people second chances, then I wonder why you are giving her that,”
I had momentarily forgotten about her. I ignored her statement and turned to Cinderella.
“You should think about it well,” I told her and walked inside.
“So that’s what happened...” Jenni nodded in understanding.
I filled her everything that happened that day.
“I am sorry, he was rude to you because of me,” I said.
“I like to mess with him,” she said. “I just love to put him in a difficult spot so that he can be himself,” she said.
I looked at her.
“You like my brother, right?” She asked me.
I blinked, taken aback.
“Finally I find someone who’s a fit for Mike,”
“You just said he is your brother,” I said.
She nodded slowly. “Mike was actually adopted to the family,”
It doesn’t make any sense; he doesn’t even have a surname.
“Mike was left at the orphanage after his dad’s death. None of his relatives was ready to take him in. His mother passed away way before,” she said and I nodded slowly.
“Mike was adopted twice and left-back. One of the families even abused him physically,” she said. “So he grew up in the orphanage with his teacher’s support who was also my dad’s friend. My dad wanted to adopt Michael after his friend’s death,” Jenni said. “but Michael was not an easy person, he didn’t want to get adopted, so my dad asked him if it was okay for him to help my dad with the errands at home and he agreed,” she said. “Even after coming here, he worked hard and took care of himself. He refused to accept the surname and even paid the rent every month,” she said. “My dad didn’t force him and let Mike have his way,” Jenni looked at me. “He is someone who was afraid to accept us as a family, he was scarred from his past experiences, Ella, so someone like him will never take any initiative about any sort of personal commitments,”
I just heard the whole story in a trance.
“I want to see him happy,” Jenni said. “He has suffered a lot during his childhood, I want him to find happiness now,” she wiped her eyes.
“He is a nice person, people will naturally love him, don’t worry,”
Jenni laughed through her tears. “You are the only person who said this about him. He is very stiff and not-very-sociable.” She said. “All the girls who chased him were coldly rejected or unnerved by his rudeness,” she said.
I am not very sad about that...
“It’s the first time I am watching Mike caring about someone other than the family members, Ella,” she looked at me. “He was worried sick when you had that attack, he grabbed you and ran to the doctor,” she said. “I was shocked at his response even in that situation.”
“You are mistaken, he only did that because the situation was dangerous,” I said.
I want to believe it too, but I cannot be that delusional. Nisha had told me to get hold of myself so many times.
“I too thought so, that’s why I tried to test my theory, I told him that you were very weak and sick when you left the hospital that day,” She smiled evilly. “And I saw that he was worried and concerned,”
“He...he even visited me...” I said in wonder.
“What?” Jenni looked shocked and excited at the same time. “He likes you!”
My heart started to pound.
“You do like him, right?”
I nodded slowly, “yes,”
“Then stick close to him, he will eventually realise it,”
“What!?” I am confused now.
Jenni laughed. “My rude and arrogant brother won’t understand it even if he likes you, Ella, relationship and emotions like this would be so foreign to him,” she said. “You should make the effort to make him sway,”
Wow...she’s exactly the type of sister-in-law I need!
“Thank you, Jenni.” I said. “I was really planning to do exactly that,” I said and both of us laughed.
I looked at the watch.
“I should go now, I have some errands to make today,” I said.
“But it’s still early,”
“It’s important, I will call my driver,” I said and took out my phone.
“Wait,” Jenni held my hand, her eyes twinkling mischievously. “Let’s get Michael to drive you,” she giggled.
I looked at the two girls outside my door.
“What is it?” I asked them. I was trying to fix the broken shelf when Jenni knocked on the door.
“Ella’s driver is not coming today,” Jenni explained. “She needs to go somewhere urgently,”
“Let her call an auto then,” I said.
“The guys who created problems the last time were part of a gang in this area,” Jenni said. “I am worried to send her off alone,” she added. “What if she met with some trouble again?”
Now, I can’t deny that. Trouble seems to be a part of Cinderella.
“It’s okay if you are busy, I don’t want to bother you like this,” Cinderella said politely.
“But-” Jenni started.
“It’s okay, Jenni, I will just call an auto like Senior Michael said, I will run away if I see someone from that gang,” she said and walked back.
I stayed there for a moment. I remembered the last time she was having difficulty to breathe.
I sighed and took my key and walked out, unknown of the evil smile Jenni had behind me.
Oh my God!
I can’t believe my freaking luck! Michael finally agreed to accompany me.
I waited till Michael put his helmet, took his bike and reversed it.
Jenni gave me a thumbs up, wishing me good luck and I smiled at her.
“Aren’t you getting on?” Michael asked me and I got on the bike.
Oh My God!
I am sitting on a bike with Michael!
This is a historical thing!
Wait a minute, where should I keep my hand!?
“Hold on then,” Michael said to me and took the bike forward.
“Uh...” I brought my hands around him with a shock, holding him tightly.
The bike came to a halt.
“What are you doing?” Michael asked, his voice somewhat confused.
“This...this is my first time on a bike,” I admitted.
We heard Jenni’s laughter behind us.
I felt Michael taking a very deep breath.
“I will fall down!”
“Let go of me slowly and get the balance,” he said patiently.
“You won’t fall down, I won’t let you,” he promised.
I took a deep breath and slowly calmed down. I loosened my hands around him and leaned back slightly.
“It’s easier than you think,” Michael said. “If you keep a balance, you will get the hang of it,” he said.
I nodded stiffly while he looked at me through the rear-view mirror.
“You can...hold on to me on the side if you want support, but don’t wrap your hands around me tightly like before, I need to drive,” he added.
“O...okay,” I said slowly.
Michael turned around and placed his helmet on my head.
“Then let’s go,”
Maybe I should have taken the car from the house.
I thought as I felt Cinderella tightening her grip on my shirt.
I can’t believe that she never has been on a bike before!
“Here,” I stopped the bike on the side. “You wanted to come here, right?” I looked around the place.
“Take this thing off me! I can’t see,”
I turned around and saw her trying to take the helmet off.
I chuckled and took it away from her.
She started to smooth her hair and looked at the helmet.
“How can people wear such a dangerous thing?” She exclaimed while trying to get down.
And because I know her too well, I took her elbow before she lost her footing again.
“Thanks,” she looked at me and steadied herself.
“What do you want to do here?” I asked her. This is in the opposite direction of her house.
“Yea,” her eyes brightened up. “I need to get a play station,” she nodded at me.
“A game unit,” she said and walked to the huge building nearby.
“This was the urgent thing?” I asked her.
“I promised Vinu to get him one,” she said. “It’s his birthday tomorrow,” she added.
“What? Who’s Vinu?”
“You will know soon,” she said matter of fact.
I waited near her as she bought the latest play station set for a ridiculously huge amount.
“Can we take it another time?” I asked the manager. “We are here on a bike,” I added.
“Oh...that’s right,” Cinderella turned to him. “Is it okay for me to get this another time?” She asked.
“You are our regular customer here, its fine Ma’am,” he said politely. “We can deliver it to your place if you give the address, Ma’am.”
“That’s excellent!” Cinderella smiled a 100-watt smile; she looked excited and happy like a cheerful kid. “Thank you,” she smiled at the guy.
“Would you like to see our new-” he started
“We are running late today, sorry,” I told the guy. I don’t know why I am feeling annoyed like this. “Cinderella, you said you need to get home before eight,” I added.
“That’s right,” she looked at her watch. “I will see you another time,” she smiled at the guy again.
I turned around and walked back.
“Let’s go,” she said while hopping behind me, the right way, this time.
“Where are we going now?” I asked her.
“The birthday boy,” she said.
So after a fifteen minute’s drive, we reached the place.
I saw the small, tile-roofed, one-bedroom house in front of me and turned to Cinderella who was walking to the house as she owned it.
I heard the shout and saw a young boy running towards her.
“Hey Vinu,” she smiled at him. “Tada! This is your birthday gift, happy birthday!” She said while giving him the paper box and the manual of the play station.
“You really got me the latest model!” The boy looked very happy.
“Yup!” She said proudly. “It will be here shortly,”
“Ella, Is that you?”
I turned to the doorway and saw the old man coming outside.
I stilled as I recognised him. It was the same old man who was scolded by Cinderella for sleeping while on duty.
“This is...” I stopped midsentence as all eyes turned to me.
“You have met him! Our watchman, Uncle Babu,” she said.
“Please come in,” his wife was also there. She gave me a curious look. “Ella, this is...?”
“This is my...err...Michael, he is my senior from college,” She said.
“Is this your one sided cr-”
She covered the boy’s mouth before he could complete the sentence.
Soon all of us were inside the house and sipping the black tea prepared by Auntie.
“How many times did we tell you, Ella, don’t spoil him,” Uncle said. “You should stop giving him these expensive gifts,”
“It’s his birthday, Uncle, don’t scold him for this,” she defended.
I looked around the house. There was a big LCD monitor on the wall, taking most of the small wall. There were other electronic items stored away on the rack.
I watched Cinderella as she interacted with Vinu and Auntie.
I never thought the heiress of Adam industries will have the black tea from her watchman’s house like this.
“You are that young man who visited Ella that day,” Uncle told me.
“That’s me,” I nodded, now watching Ella listening to the boy who was talking about some game.
“Vinu is only concerned about playing all the time,” he told me. “He doesn’t like to study,” he added.
“He is still young, I am sure that he will be okay with time,” I said.
The old man shook his head.
“The only thing he likes to do is the gaming and playing badminton,” he said.
“That’s good then,” I said. “At least he likes to do it; Sports field has great opportunities these days,”
Uncle looked down.
“We cannot afford it,” he told me slowly. “I have already asked around, it is very difficult for you to get into a good sports school,” he said, then sighed. “I cannot trouble Ella anymore,”
I looked at him in question.
“It’s difficult to find a job for an old man like me,” he said. “If Ella hadn’t asked her Mama about keeping me as a watchman there, I don’t know how I would’ve looked after this family,” he said.
I looked at him in surprise.
“I thought she was scolding you that day?” I said.
The old man laughed.
“Her Mama doesn’t like me,” He said. “I worked for them when Ella’s mom and dad were together. I was appointed by her dad so her Mama let go of me and some of the staff when they got separated. Ella re-hired me recently when she was away on a business trip,” he said. “Sometimes when I feel tired or sleep on duty, Ella scolds me before her Mama,” he said. “That’s her way of keeping her Mama from firing me,” he smiled sadly. “I wish she has a good normal life like everyone else,”
“She’s quiet all right now,” I said.
“Her Mama has very high demand of her, she often pushes Ella beyond her limits,” he said sadly. “Ella always tried her best despite all that,” he said.
So Cinderella is not a rich spoilt brat like everyone made her to be, she is more of a sweet and delicate person who cares a lot about the people around her.
“That girl has a golden heart-”
“Uncle, we need to go now,” Ella appeared near us. “It’s time for you to go to work too, don’t get late,” she told him and then turned to me.
“I took so much of your time,” she said. “Let’s go now,”
Soon we bid our goodbye and drove back. I stopped near a waiting area in the bus stop as Cinderella requested.
“Thank you, Michael,” she looked at me. “Uncle Jose said he will be here to pick me up, I will go home with him,” she said while handing me the helmet.
I moved the bike to a side and got down while she watched me.
“You are not leaving?” She looked at me.
“The whole point of accompanying you was to prevent you getting alone,” I said. “I will wait till your driver is here,”
Cinderella stared at me.
“Come on,” I got inside the waiting area and sat down on the seat. Cinderella slowly followed me. She sits near me and looked at me again.
“Why did you go behind your Mama to help him?” I asked her.
She looked surprised at that.
“Uncle told me,” I told her.
“Uncle Babu was one of the care takers of my family when I was young,” she said slowly. “We were living outside the country then. My mama and papa were together that time...” she dragged off slowly. “Then when they separated, some of the staffs were removed from the house, Uncle Babu was one of them,” she looked at me. “Later when I came back to India with my Mama, he came looking for a Job, My mama was not home, so I appointed him,” she said. “It was nothing, I just wanted to help him in my own way, I didn’t do much,” she shrugged. “He was kind to me when I was still a kid, it was hard for me to watch my parents getting separated, Uncle was there, he made it easier for me to adapt,”
I nodded slowly.
“Why did you get Vinu such expensive things?” I asked again.
She looked surprised at that. She turned to me. “I wanted him to be like every other kid out there, I wanted him to be happy,”
“Did you get then the TV and other electronic items too?” I asked her.
“How did you know that?” She looked at me. “Did uncle tell you that too?”
“I have common sense, Cinderella,” he said. “The TV and other equipment’s didn’t fit in there. It took too much space from that little home,” I looked at her. “I guess that Uncle will not get luxury items like that for himself,” I said.
“He is a proud man,” she said. “He won’t accept any money from me, so this is my only way to help him,”
“Are you sure that you are helping him?” I said. “It looks like you are taking a lot of space in their already small house with the things you gift them. They cannot even use most of the things as it consumes a lot of power,”
Cinderella looked confused for a minute, and then realisation dawned slowly on her face.
That’s why Auntie and Uncle stacked most of them away on the rack. They always said they will use it when they move to a different house in the future!
I had been really stupid as not to realize it!
“You really are a genius, Senior Michael, you realised it on the first time you were there!?” I looked at him in respect.
“If you really want to help that boy, help him get into a sports school,” Michael said. “This way it will be easier for him to go on his path; his parents don’t seem to have much knowledge about this!”
“Senior Michael! You really are genius,” I looked at him. “I will do that! Vinu loves badminton! Why didn’t I think of that before?”
Michael chuckled and I stared at him while he looked at me with laughter in his eyes.
“Cinderella, rather than saying that I am a genius, why can’t we just say that you are the dumb one here?” He asked.
I was so carried away by his 100 watts smile that it took me a moment to register the insult.
“Did you just call me dumb!?” I asked him dryly and he chuckled again.
Oh my God! I have never seen him this carefree!
Maybe I should utilise this moment.
Ha ha... who told you that I am dumb? I am actually clever and cunning!
“Senior Michael, about the project, will you take me back-”
“Cinderella Adams, you heard what I told you before,” he looked at me in the eyes. “Clear your name in front of the class and I will take you back,” he said firmly.
I pursued my lips and turned around to wait for my car without a word.
Why does he have to be so stiff!
Uncle Jose pulled near us exactly at that moment.
“It’s Ella, call me Ella,”
Yes, I am angry at him.
“Don’t forget my words, clear your name and I will take you back,”
What a thoughtless person!
It’s a long chapter, hope you enjoyed reading it.
So what do you think? Will Ella get a chance to clear her name?
PS: Do tell me if you want me to continue the story, Let me know if you like my work.