#19 She is hurt because of me
“Imagine our shock when we saw her walking inside with her PA! Even Shankar sir seemed to be shaken up.” another one said.
“They asked you to go straight inside when you are here.”
I took a deep breath and started to walk towards the cabin.
I wouldn’t have given a damn if it was before. I wouldn’t have been bothered.
But now, it’s different. She is the mother of the girl I like. Even though Cinderella and I are not in a relationship, the mere fact that her mother is here is starting to influence my normally cool head.
I knocked twice, opened the door and walked inside.
“You were looking for me?” I asked Shankar sir. He was sitting on the settee chair placed on the right side of the room where the guests are usually entertained.
He nodded and turned to the settee where I know she is seated.
“Take a seat Michael, Madam Adams is here to meet you,” he said and I took the opposite seat and turned to her slowly.
“May I know why you are here?” I tried to be polite.
“Hello Michael, Your chief was just telling me now how impressive you are,” she smiled slightly. “You managed to fix a big technological problem within a few hours.”
“That’s what I do,” I said. “It’s nothing special.”
“He said you have a natural ability in this field and that you are reluctant to join his team,” she said. “Would you like me to recommend you for any big companies?”
There was a moment of silence that hung in the room.
“Ah...Michael likes to do it in his own way,” Shankar sir said. “When he joined here, it was the first thing he asked me, to make his work flexible and to let him have his freedom.” he added.
“The world doesn’t work the way you think,” Salena said. “You are still in college, you will know the power of connections and influence when you are outside.” she said.
I looked at her.
“What is this all about?” I asked her. “I know that you are not here to offer me a job early in the morning.”
Another silence hung in the room while Cinderella’s mother and I looked at each other. Shankar sir, on the other side, seemed to have noticed the tension in the room for the first time.
“Can I have a word with Michael privately?” Her mother asked without taking her eyes from me.
“Ah...take your time, I will be in my office if you need me,” he said and got up.
As soon as the door closed behind us, the smile on her face dropped and she leaned back to her chair.
“Break up with my daughter,” she said. “I won’t allow you to continue this relationship.”
“Don’t play dumb, I know you are dating my daughter.” she said.
I stared at her.
“I am not dating your daughter,” I said. “And even if I am, I think you are rude to talk to me like this.”
“Do you think I don’t have anything else to do early in the morning?” She looked at me. “You can stop lying as I already know that you are secretly dating my daughter,” she said. “Ella has already admitted that, so let’s just skip that part and come to the point,” she said. “Tell me, what do you want from me?”
I am considered to be someone very smart. I usually pick up things the first time, but this time, I think I misheard something.
“Excuse me; did you just say that Cinderella said that we are dating?” I asked in shock.
“Yeah, so there is no need to hide it from me anymore,” she said arrogantly. “Honestly, I would know it even if she didn’t tell me, I know everything about my daughter.” she kept on going but my insides were in chaos.
Cinderella said we are dating?
Did she know about my feelings?
Why would she tell a lie like that?
What’s going on?
“-so I decided to help you achieve your dream, or whatever is that you want,” she said. “Just name it and you will have it, but stay far away from my daughter.”
I stared at the unreasonable woman in front of me. I really wonder how Cinderella could be her daughter.
She’s trying to bribe me!
“Madam Salena Adams, You cannot help me,” I told her firmly. “Nor do I wish for it.”
“Are you challenging me?” She raised her eyebrows rather threateningly.
“I am not,” I said. “And I will appreciate it if you don’t interfere in my personal life like this.” I got up.
“Then stop interfering in my daughter’s life,” she looked me in anger. “I cannot let her ruin her life just because she met someone like you.”
I looked at her.
“What do you mean by that?”
“I raised her like a princess. She has never suffered any difficulty.” she looked at me. “Someone like you who works part-time jobs and stay at an outhouse doesn’t even deserve to look at my daughter,” she said. “I won’t allow it, ever.”
Her words stung me. But I was angrier with myself.
It would have been just meaningless ranting to me if I was not having any feelings for Cinderella.
I would have told her to mind her own business and walked away instead of feeling insulted and getting my ego bruised like now.
She still kept on going about the difference in upbringing and things.
What made me lose it was when she offered me a blank cheque.
“You can write whatever amount you want,” she told me. “I just hope that we don’t have to meet in the future, for your sake,” she looked at me in the eyes. “I won’t be this polite the next time we meet.”
I couldn’t believe it. I never expected such a classical drama-scene to happen to me.
I took up the blank cheque, and then looked at her.
“Madam Adams, you are right, I don’t have a great background or anything fancy to my name, but I at least know not to evaluate a person by their family background or financial status,” I looked at her. “Cinderella knows not to judge people like that and she has more class than you,” I tore the paper in half and placed it in front of her.
“You...what are you planning to do!?”
I gave her a steady look.
“I believe that’s none of your concern, Madam.”
I opened the door and walked out of there.
There is no need to hesitate anymore; I need to make things clear to Cinderella.
I was late to the college and Cinderella was already in her class by the time I reached.
Okay, we have the project class today; I can talk to her then.
I was super annoyed and so angry that it practically ruined my day. But as time passed, I started to realise that I am more irritated with myself than Cinderella herself.
How can I let this affect me?
I don’t have to make it a huge deal and confront Cinderella for the things she hasn’t done...
She’s kind of the victim here, it must be hard for her to live with her mother, I don’t want to make it more complicated.
I just need to show her that we don’t have a relationship between us. If she has any misunderstanding because of that hug we shared, I should make things clear with her...
A few hours later, I walked grudgingly to the cafeteria.
“Good afternoon,” the cafeteria staff greeted me pleasantly and put a generous piece of chicken from the normally chicken less chicken curry. “Where’s Ella today?”
His next question came as I was contemplating the reason for achieving such an impossible task of finding a chicken piece without having to jump inside the container.
“Um?” I am sure I heard him wrong.
“Where is Ella? You guys usually hang out together.” he said.
The credit of finding a chicken piece goes to Ella, I guess.
“She’s just my junior,” I explained and then felt stupid for doing so.
My normal response would have been to ignore him.
“Sure, they are just junior and senior,” I turned around to see one of my classmates smirking. “That’s why they are hanging out all the time.”
“Don’t start strange rumours.” I said sternly.
Roshan chuckled at that.
“Do you not know that Ella is the only girl who has been around you all the time?”
“You are blocking other’s, start moving,” the staff told us while our juniors were patiently waiting for us to clear the path.
Roshan picked up the tray and moved and I followed him.
He stopped at the table full of our batch mates and I sat next to him while everyone looked surprised.
“That’s just coincidence,” I told him firmly. “Let’s drop it here and now,” I turned to my lunch.
For some reason, the guy started to laugh aloud, gaining everyone’s attention on the table.
What the heck!
“Roshan, Don’t start it,” I warned him quickly. I don’t care about any rumours, but I don’t want her reputation to be ruined.
My warning just caused Roshan to laugh more.
“What’s it?” Praveen asked.
“Share it with us too,”
“What’s going on?”
Everyone around started to ask questions curiously.
I warned him with my eyes while he somehow took control of his laughter.
“Okay,” he nodded. “I won’t say anything; I will just ask them,”
“What do you mean?”
But the bastard just turned to others.
“Who do you think Michael’s girlfriend is?” He asked.
“Is it finally official?”
“What’s the big deal about it?”
“Did you two finally get together?”
I looked around, clearly baffled.
“What...what are you talking about?”
“Did you finally propose Ella?” Someone asked me.
“What do you mean?”
“You guys were hanging out all the time,”
“Yup, she was the only one you were seen having lunch with... I mean... the only girl,”
“Yup, she even followed you to the library.”
“That’s right; I even saw her fighting with her classmate just because the later commented that you are very selfish when it comes to the academics.”
I am surprised by this news. I can’t let them misunderstand this.
“Guys!” I looked around the table. “We are not together! She is just a junior!” I exclaimed.
The guys just laughed it off.
“I am serious! Don’t make up some rumours and ruin her reputation, drop it with this.” I said sternly.
“Rumours? Everyone knows about you two from the moment someone posted a picture of you in the group.”
“Here,” Roshan went through his phone and showed me a picture.
I nearly cursed. It showed me carrying Cinderella a few weeks ago.
“She was hurt and I had no choice but pick her up!” I exclaimed.
“She’s the only girl you are close with.”
“Can I not be close to my junior!?”
“Because it’s you, Michael, People don’t usually get close to you because you don’t let them,” Roshan said seriously. “Think about it well.”
“No Julian, I have a project meeting after today’s class,” I said through the phone.
I have been looking for Michael everywhere but I couldn’t find him in any of the usual spots he usually hung out.
“Yeah, I will-”
I was walking out of the class when somebody blocked my way.
“I will call you back, Julian,” I disconnected the call and looked at Roopak.
He gave me a sick smile that I didn’t bother to return.
“What is it?” I asked him.
It has been a while since he approached me.
“Would you like to attend the year-end party with me?” He asked.
“I am going with someone else,” I just wanted to dismiss him.
After all, Michael has told me not to get involved with guys like him.
“Whom are you going with?” Roopak asked me. “I know that you are not invited by anyone,” he said. “And you cannot enter without an invitation.”
That’s right. Year-end parties are usually conducted in the banquet hall of the luxury hotel nearby college. Only the people who have an invitation can get inside.
“I just heard the news that Senior Michael is not together with anyone.” he said.
“I mean, you can stop pretending to date him, he told everyone that you are just a junior to him,” Roopak said cheerfully while my heart dropped.
“I never said that I am dating him.” I told him.
“So, what are you going to do about the year-end party? Senior Michael is the only one who doesn’t have a date in the CSE and it looks like he will not be inviting you, given the circumstances.” Roopak smirked.
I finally understand why he had stopped bothering me in the last few months. He must’ve thought that Michael and I are dating! He was worried to offend him!
What a loser! He wants to invite me now just because he thinks that I am available now?
“I am not going with you, Senior Roopak,” I tried to sidestep him, but he blocked my way again.
“Are you sure about that?” He asked me.
“Senior Roopak, I am a second year, not a fresher anymore,” I said sternly. “You cannot do this to me like last year,” I said exasperated.
He gave me a long look and took a step forward, crowding my personal space.
“I will see you, Ella.” He said and touched the single strand of hair that was falling to my face.
I slapped his hand away and took a step back away from him.
“Don’t touch me,” I looked at him warningly. “I will file a complaint if you ever do this again.”
“The heiress of Adam industries,” he said mockingly. “I want to see how much you are worth,”
“You-” I started, but he was already walking away and I stood there, fuming.
Michael is right, I need to be careful around him.
I won’t let it go the next time he does something like this.
I turned around and started to walk to the project hall.
Alex and Vipin waved at me from the front raw. I grinned at them and walked near. This is our first day after that project-incident and we sure are happy to be here.
“Here, I saved your seat,” Alex touched the first empty seat and I sit beside him.
“Thank you,” I smiled, and then turned around to face the podium. “Did you prepare well for today’s presentation?”
Both of them nodded.
“Knowing him, he would give us a hard time before finally accepting us in the group,” Vipin said.
“I know, right.” I nodded.
Michael is late today. Um, not late in the sense really late, he usually reaches the class five minutes before.
At exactly the correct time, he entered the seminar hall.
My heart started to go overdrive at the sight of him and I took a deep breath to calm myself down.
It’s the first time I am meeting him after that incident.
“Is everyone here?” Michael just ran his eyes through the class.
“Angela is not here yet.” Someone said from behind.
Ha, no wonder it’s awfully peaceful today...
“Yeah, she informed me that she would be late,” Michael nodded, then turned to us in the front raw.
“Alex, Vipin and Cinderella, I hope you are prepared well,” he said and we nodded.
Michael nodded back and moved his eyes away with that.
My heart jumped.
I feel like there’s something wrong. Michael didn’t exactly ignore me, but I am having a strange unpleasant feeling right now.
“So instead of doing it the usual way, I am changing the strategy today,” Michael looked at the class and started. “Each of you will present your project while the others listen to you,” he said. “After your presentation, the rest of the class will be asking you questions,” he said. “The people who get more questions answered will present the project in the tech-fest with me.” he stopped.
I thought I just have to endure his viva only...now he just made it more difficult.
The whole class seemed to be contemplating the idea for a moment.
“I am done,” I whispered to Alex.
“You will do well, Ella, you worked hard the past week,” he replied back.
“And Angela is not here yet,” Vipin added and for the first time, I felt slightly optimistic.
That’s right; I have gone through the project a zillion times as it was the only possible way for me to get inside the project group.
Maybe the luck is on my side after all...
The competition started and I was amazed at the way the students have prepared. With each passing moment, my confidence level started to deflate.
Everyone was considering the others as the enemy and they were not going easy on each other.
“Alex,” Michael called next and Alex took his laptop and moved to the front.
“Five minutes for the presentation and five minutes for the question and answer session,” he said while Alex nodded.
Alex had a talent and he presented his project perfectly. I clapped loudly, rather proudly while he ended it. The question and answer session was not as bad too. The students did ask him difficult questions but they didn’t grill him like the others.
“Why are they going easy on him?” I asked slowly.
“Michael already said that we cannot be selected for the presentation during tech-fest,” Vipin explained. “They don’t see us as competition.”
“Whoa! That means they won’t grill me either,” I was suddenly optimistic again.
“Cinderella,” Michael called and I got up.
“All the best.” Alex nodded on his way back and I smiled faintly.
I reached the podium and looked at the audience.
Everyone turned to the door while I didn’t even have to look there.
I am doomed!
My confidence level dropped down just like the Mercury in a BP apparatus.
“Come in, Angela.” Michael nodded, and then turns back to me. “You can continue, Cinderella.”
“Thank you for calling me at the correct time,” Angela told Meera as she took her seat while I scowled and turned back to my presentation.
Regardless to say, the Q/A session was eventful and the craziest one in my life. Angela not only just grilled me, but also roasted me on spot.
Every time I somehow managed to answer her, she started another question.
After a while, Alex turned to Michael who was watching the whole thing from behind the class.
“I think Angela is using this chance to take out her personal grudge,” he said.
“I am not,” Angela said. “This is a question and answers session, anyone can question her.” she said.
“You are not listening to her when she’s answering your question; you are deliberately trying to give her a tough time,” Shreya said to my surprise.
“You are being childish, Angela.” Vipin added.
“Oh, so now it’s my fault for asking too many questions?” she scowled at them.
I jumped at Michael’s voice.
“Not prepared enough.” He said and looked at others.
“As Angela said, this is a question and answer session, anyone can ask the questions however they want.” he said.
Even though my heart tugged as Michael was not standing with me, I was strangely still happy that he is still the same person; the upright, rigid person I love.
“But Angela is not being fair,” Vipin said.
“I told you before, consider this as the tech-fest, don’t expect for the competition to be very fair,” Michael said and turned back to me.
“You need to prepare the whole thing once again,” he said.
I nodded grimly.
To be honest, I am actually amazed at the fact that I have managed to answer half of the questions, which was an achievement on my part.
“The rest of you can continue in the next class.” Michael looked around the class.
“I am sure that everyone is excited about the year-end party,” he said. “Don’t get distracted and prepare well for the project. You will get enough time to enjoy after the tech-fest,” he looked around. “I plan to conclude this project classes in a couple of classes.”
My heart gave a painful jab at that.
“Why should we stop the classes? The tech-fest is only a month away,” Angela asked.
For once, I agreed with Angela...not that I am going to tell her that, anyway.
“I think we have prepared enough as a group, the rest of the week is for you to dust off the basics and prepare yourself for the project,” Michael said. “If you think you need more classes, let me know.”
“Class dismissed.” Michael said and everyone started to rise.
I gathered my laptop and study materials as everyone started to move.
I was super aware of Cinderella standing at the same place where she was presenting the project.
I waited till Alex and Vipin waved at her and walked out.
My heart was beating in a strange way that was so foreign to me.
“Senior Michael,” Ella slowly walked to me. “Um...I... I will help you to pack up.”
“I can do this fine, Cinderella,” I nodded at her. “Just concentrate on preparing well.”
I am actually surprised that she is doing better than before. She has even answered some of the questions Angela fired at her.
I guess she didn’t want to get kicked out and prepared well...
She nodded, “yes”
“I will prepare well,” she said.
Our eyes locked and my heart started to pound crazily again.
“I will see you, Cinderella.” I said quickly and started to walk back.
“Can I accompany you to the library? I have something to discuss...”
Her question made me stop on my track. I turned around slowly; she was looking at me hopefully.
“Cinderella, I think we don’t have to meet each other for anything else other than this project.” I said while she looked shocked.
I avoided her gaze, took a deep breath and looked at her again. “-and if it is about the project, I think we mustn’t meet each other anywhere else other than the project room.” I added and walked out of there.
Cinderella and I don’t have anything in common and we will never have a future together...so I am trying to deal with this in the logical way.
I heard her voice and stopped. I could hear her trying to run faster so as to catch up with me.
“About...that day...” she panted slightly while she reached near. “You...we-”
“Do you know why you are not performing well at your project?” I asked her before she could continue. “That’s because you are thinking about unnecessary, useless things.”
“Why...why are you getting angry?” She looked slightly hurt. “Are you angry with me for...not preparing well?” She asked slowly.
It was strange to notice how my heart was feeling heavy at her worry-filled face and at the same time, the realisation of how much I am getting affected by her just shocked me.
“That’s right,” I looked at her. “I voted for you to get you back inside the group,” I said. “But you didn’t do well today, don’t let me regret my decision, Cinderella.”
I expected her to defend it. Or give me excuses like Angela was targeting her deliberately, so I was surprised when she nodded her head, agreeing with me.
I could see the sudden flash of pain and worry in her eyes. It was as if I have gotten her where it hurt the most.
“I...I know I don’t really fit in your group,” she said slowly. “I know I am not very brilliant at the works like everyone else are, but I promise you that I will work hard and do better, I won’t let you down,” She swore. “We will talk after that.” She turned around and started to walk back.
She is really hurt because of me...
I stayed there and stared after her, feeling like a jerk.
Sorry for the late update, I was so busy. I hope you enjoyed the chapter.
Q: What do you think about Michael’s attitude?