#27 She is my destiny
“Are you sure that it’s Roopak?”
“Damn sure. I can trace the money flow, but he used a middleman to do this transfer and we don’t have any direct link or evidence. I will try to get him by all means.”
“No. Since there is no direct involvement, I am sure that he will play innocent in case we try to get him,” I said. “Let me take care of him.”
I turned to see Cinderella walking towards the car.
“Jeeva, I got to go, we will discuss this matter directly.”
I disconnected the call and started the engine. I took the car forward as Cinderella was waving at the twins.
As soon as we were out of the gate, she turned to me.
“What is it? You look...angry?” she said.
I know that I can no longer hide it from her.
“Rijo was working for Roopak,” I said slowly. “He was the one who got that Videos uploaded.”
“What!” She looked outraged. “I am going to kill that-”
“No, let me deal with him.”
“What are you going to do?” She looked at me. “You are not thinking about...beating him up, right?”
“I would love to, but I don’t believe violence is a solution,” he said. “Besides, it might incite him to target you more.”
“Then what are you going to do?”
“I will deal with him, please see that you stay far away from him.”
Michael looked angry and distracted the rest of the drive and I felt restless.
When we stopped by the college bus stop, I unfastened my seatbelt and turned to him.
“Uncle Jose is nearly here, you should go to your work-” I stopped as Michael reached out and took my hand.
I looked at him and he just held on to my hand, a solemn expression on his face.
“I...I need to step out, Uncle Jose is nearly here.”
“Don’t worry about me, I am literally living in a ‘jail’, I am being watched 24/7.” I tried to lighten the atmosphere. “I am Salena Adam’s daughter; no one can hurt me easily.”
Michael nodded slowly. He took a deep breath and turned to me.
“Then take care.” he smiled slightly.
“I will, can I go now? Uncle Jose tries to cover up for me from time to time, but I really can’t let him see me coming out of your car.”
“Go on then, I will be around until he picks you up.”
“Um...Michael,” I looked at him and he looked right back.
“You need to let go of my hand or I cannot move.”
“Oh,” he immediately let go of my hand. He looked flustered for a moment and I hide my smile.
I opened the car door and turned to look at him, then out of sheer courage and impulsiveness, I moved back inside to kiss him on the cheek. I only got a glimpse of his surprised look before I got out of the car in a flash.
My heart leapt and my face burned at the action, I was surprised at myself.
I could see my car coming from a distance and was relieved.
Ella! He is your boyfriend! You don’t have to feel like stealing a kiss...
Right, besides we have already kissed...
I stopped, gathered my courage and turned around slowly.
He was still frozen in his spot, but our eyes met and I felt like I am trapped inside them. He was not even moving, but the feelings in his eyes were open, raw and overwhelming.
Goosebumps erupted all over me and I was very thankful when Uncle Jose pulled near me.
Mama was out of town and I opened my journal and started to sketch. I just doodled the scene from the car, Michael holding my hand.
My phone started to ring and I looked at the name.
“Julian,” I answered the call.
“Where are you, Ella? No news, no messages and not even any reply to me.”
Actually, I was embarrassed to meet him after I got drunk and blurted out all kind of nonsense in front of him.
“I was busy with the project,” I said, it was half-truth anyway.
“Are you okay now?” He asked me.
“Um...can we forget about that day?”
“Which day? Oh you mean, the day you got drunk and cried your heart out for getting rejected?”
I groaned mentally. He didn’t have to slap it on my face.
“I didn’t get rejected,” I retorted. “Michael and I are dating.”
“You said he rejected you.”
“That’s because my Mama gave him a blank cheque and asked him to stay away from me.”
Julian whistled. “Now, this is just turning to be more dramatic and interesting.” He said. “But did you try it?”
“The shock treatment? The kiss?”
My face turned red as I remembered our kiss. It was actually Michael who gave me the shock treatment at first.
Julian laughed. “I see you have. Congratulations, I am happy for you, Ella.” He said, and then sighed. “Just be careful, Your Mama will kill anyone who would as much as hold your hand.”
“I will change her mind,” I said. “I know that she will be mad at first, but once she knows about him, she will definitely like him.”
“Now, I need to see this guy.”
“I will let you meet him.” I smiled happily.
I talked to him a little more and disconnected the call. I closed my journal and went to bed.
Michael had already told me that he would be working with Jeeva.
I spend an hour tossing and turning before sitting up.
I cannot sleep.
My eyes reached my violin that was mounted on the wall.
I waited outside the pub. I have already called Roopak outside.
“What is this about?” He asked me as soon as he reached near the car.
“Get inside,” I said and he opened the passenger door and got inside.
“Cinderella is my girlfriend,” I looked at him straight in the eyes and continued, “I want you to stop approaching her. I want you to stop everything here and now.”
He had already threatened Cinderella about our relationship, so I don’t want to deny it.
“I don’t understan-”
“Stop playing dumb, Roopak, there is no need for you to pretend to be innocent. I know that you made Rijo do that.”
Silence filled the car for a moment.
“Then I won’t pretend to be respectful, Senior Michael,” he spat out sarcastically. “Yeah, I did that to her. Someone needs to put her in her place.”
“Why? Did she ever offend you in any way?”
“Her Mama has been crushing all other companies in the IT sector. She thinks she’s everything. She has literally suppressed all her competitors.”
“So you are targeting Cinderella to get back at her mother because she is causing trouble for your company?”
Now it is making complete sense to me.
“I will ruin her in the public and I will ruin the reputation of the biggest IT Company in Bangalore.”
I took a deep breath and controlled myself before turning to him.
“Leave Cinderella out of these. Or I can do the same, I can ruin you completely.”
“What the hell can someone like you do to me?” He looked at me disgustedly.
“A lot of things, you would be surprised.” I opened the dashboard and gave him the papers. “You see, I have enough information on you. I can link you in the cases from cybercrime to drug cases.”
“This...this...” he went through the papers, looking shocked.
“I have enough evidence on your illegal admission as well. The next time you mess with Cinderella, I will see that you are out of that campus.”
Roopak looked at me. His eyes blaring with fire.
“You think Cinderella would be safe then? She got admitted through the back door as well! Her Mama got her in!”
“You are wrong. The college has a special quota for talented people from sports and other fields. She got admitted because of her talent. She is a Violinist who won a lot of awards; she even played on the international platform.” I looked at him. “Why else did you think she got the admission while everyone else was rejected after the student’s protest last year?”
Roopak stared at me. I can see that he hasn’t thought of this possibility. Even I was surprised to discover this. Her Mama sure knows how to deal with things.
Roopak chuckled all of a sudden.
“What a thoughtful boyfriend you are, Michael, but do you think Salena Adams will let you go?” He looked at me. “She will strike you down, Michael; she’s going to destroy you for touching her only daughter. Why do you think I selected Cinderella to get back at her? That lady is crazy when it comes to her daughter, she will go to any extent for her.”
“I believe that’s none of your concern, Roopak.”
He chuckled again.
“Okay,” he said. “I won’t touch Ella again. But you should keep your end of the deal; make sure that these details don’t get exposed.” He touched the papers. “I don’t even have to get back at you, Michael; Salena Adams will deal with you.”
“I don’t have a lot of patience, Roopak, you should know that I am controlling myself,” I said. “If you ever approached Cinderella again, I will see that you are taken care of,” I said and started the engine. “Get out of the car, and make sure that you stay far away from my sight.”
I looked at my reflection in the full-size mirror. Michael had asked me out for a date.
I swung my bag and walked out of the room.
My phone started to vibrate and Beep, I looked at it.
I walked back to the room and took it from the other bag.
I admit that it’s quite useful to me. And for once, I am happy whenever I see the red pouch with my medication. I am reminded of Michael and how he personally designed it for me.
Mama was having her coffee and I walked to her.
“Good morning, Mama,” I bend down and kissed her cheek. “Did you not sleep yesterday? Were you very late? You look exhausted.”
“I am all right.” She said shortly. “How is college, Ella?”
I sat beside her and the staff started to serve me breakfast.
“College is good.” I nodded.
“I was thinking,” she looked at me. “You detested going for the computer engineering course, was I too harsh with you?” she placed her cup on the table and looked at me. “Is there anything else you want to do? What do you think about business administration?”
“Don’t worry about me, Mama, I like my college and even if I am the odd one out, People have started to be friendly with me,” I said as I thought about how Alex, Vipin, Shreya and all treat me like a member now. “I have good friends there,” I thought of Sam and Nisha. “Besides, I love my college now.” I smiled as I thought about Michael.
Mama was silent and I see that she’s deep in thought.
“Hey, don’t worry about me,” I said firmly. “Let me think about this, maybe we can discuss this after this semester,” I said.
Michael had told me to stay and complete this semester. “I only have a couple of months for the semester exam, let me finish it.”
“You know...I have seen people exchanging couple ring, gifting necklaces and watches.” Nisha was inspecting my red pouch that was given to me by Michael. “It’s the first time I am seeing someone gifting a customised inhaler.”
“Wait; don’t put it on the table!” I took the pouch before Nisha placed it on the table. “You don’t know how precious this is to me.”
“I can imagine,” Nisha rolled her eyes. “On the other hand, Michael really knows you, Ella, he didn’t give you anything fancy and got you the most necessary thing for you, I am impressed.”
“See, I told you that he is the guy for me,” I smiled and placed it back inside my bag.
“I admire you, Ella,” she said. “You made the impossible possible,”
“What about you and Sam?” I looked at her.
“What about us?” She looked at her phone and looked disinterested.
“Nisha, don’t hesitate to grab your happiness.” I looked at her seriously. “I know that you two like each other.”
“I am not hesitating,” she winked. “It’s called “playing hard to get”.”
“You cannot play with love. Either you love someone or you not. Love is pure, precious and simple.” I said.
I don’t understand why people have to make it so complicated.
“Whoa! Ella, not everyone thinks like you. Anyways, I am not planning to wait more, we have already agreed to go on a date, it’s just that it got delayed because of all the dramas happening because of your love life.”
Oh, I forgot that she had to visit me at my house on the same day when Sam and she were supposed to go on a date.
I smiled sheepishly.
“I will make it up to you, I promise.”
I waited for Cinderella at her favourite place on the campus; the open canteen.
Her classes will be over by 1:30 but it was already 2 PM.
I was looking around the place when I heard my name.
I turned around to see Angela.
“You are going to the library?” I noted her laptop and files.
She smiled walked to me.
“Since I am one of the students who are lucky enough to present this project with you, I don’t want to let you down,” she said as she sat opposite to me.
“You are talented. You will do well.”
“Are you waiting for Ella?”
Her next question surprised me.
“That’s a personal question, I know, sorry if I am overstepping my boundary.”
“I am waiting for her,” I confirmed, I don’t want to hide that Cinderella is my girlfriend. “But how did you know?”
“I might be one of the few people who know Ella really well. I grew up with her.” She turned to me. “Ella seemed to be on cloud nine for the last few days, nothing Meera and I said seemed to get to her, so I kind of knew it, but I admit it’s still a little shocking to me to hear you admit it.”
“Cinderella is not that bad, Angela. I think you guys just misunderstood each other.”
“There’s no misunderstanding.” She sighed. “And it’s not Ella who is bad, it’s her Mama.” Angela’s face turned serious as she looked into my eyes. “Senior Michael, You are my role model. I have been treated by partiality all my life. The first person I saw who completely treated a person for who they are was you. You helped me to grow up as a person and guided me as a senior.”
“I could see the potential in you, Angela. You don’t have to credit me for something like that.”
“No.” She looked at me. “It was the first time that I got acknowledged for my efforts. I still remember you appreciating me after my first-year project; you don’t know what it meant to someone like me who was always stomped upon by others.” She stopped for a moment and looked up, her face solemn, “I know I am way out of my limit, but I should tell you this, Ella is bad news. Wait-let me complete first.” She continued before I started to respond.
“-I know, she is not that bad, but nobody knows her Mama better than me, I know that she will get back at you.” Angela looked at me pleadingly. “Ella might be innocent, but her Mama won’t let this go. When they came to India after Ella’s parents got divorced, she was practically out of her mind. Ella was not even taken care of properly. She survived because of the staff and my dad was one of them.” She looked into my eyes. “Salena Adams even tried to kill themselves once.”
She stopped and my heart leapt. I was shocked at this. It was hard for me to accept it.
“They were discovered and sent to the emergency room by my father and Uncle Jose. Her Mama survived while Ella was critical for three days,” she explained. “She woke up after three days and her Mama was never the same again. I think it knocked some sense to her, Salena Adams rose up to be the successful woman today and more than anything, she turned out to be this over-protective fierce mother who would do anything to protect her daughter.”
“Ella has...gone through so many things; I just...only saw her smile,” I whispered.
I am shaken by this information. It also pained me to know how little I know about her.
“Senior Michael, As soon as I was old enough to understand things, I forced my dad to stop working there. I knew that we had no other income to save ourselves. I knew my dad could never find that kind of work anywhere else, but I had to do it because I no longer wanted to be under her control...” Angela’s voice shook and her eyes filled slightly. “That woman is toxic, she will not hesitate to hurt anyone who would approach her daughter, it’s as if she has gone crazy after that incident and Ella would never do anything against her, I know her well,” she looked at me. “Senior Michael, it’s not too late to turn back.”
“I wouldn’t have started this if I were to give up one day,” I told her firmly. “I have considered everything before taking this decision.”
Besides, what Angela just told me only made me want to protect her more...
“You are willing to take this risk for Ella? Why?” Angela whispered. “What’s so special about her that she even made you, Senior Michael, moved?”
“I feel connected to her,” I said simply. “I never let people inside for the last 25 years, but Cinderella managed to break down the wall I imprisoned myself in, she didn’t give up until I opened up.”
“What about her Mama?”
“I know that I would have to meet her eventually.”
Angela nodded, “I see that I cannot persuade you anymore.” Angela got up.
“Thank you for sharing this story with me. This is extremely important to me.”
“I was hoping for an opposite effect, but I see that you cannot be saved,” she said and I chuckled softly.
“By the way, Ella has been called to the professor’s room, you should go back.”
“Why? Did she cause any trouble?”
“I guess it’s about the mark sheet,” Angela shrugged. “We just got the model paper result, that is-everyone except her.”
I am late!
I put on my bag and hurried through the hallway.
I reached the canteen and couldn’t find Michael anywhere.
I look at my watch and see that it’s already 4:30 PM
Shit! I couldn’t even call him as Professor Ambika asked me to follow her at the end of the class.
I took out my phone to call him and saw the message from him.
“I will be waiting for you in the library.”
I sighed in relief and sprinted to the stairs.
I walked inside and started to search for him.
I am not much of a library person, but from the few times I followed Michael, I kind of know his preferred seats in this boring place, but I couldn’t find him anywhere.
I looked at his message again.
Are you nuts, Ella?
It had been nearly two and half hours after he sent me that message, it’s Senior Michael, he won’t just wait for me to turn up, he will have a lot of things to do.
I looked around once more.
Besides, only a few people were present in the library, most of them would have left when the evening college ended.
I turned around to walk back when someone took my hand.
“Shh...Follow me.” He whispered before he yanked my hand and started to walk.
“But we are-”
“Shh...” he said again and I stopped.
He was walking to the very end of the shelves. It was honestly the first time I was seeing this part of the building.
He stopped in front of a door and let go of my hand to open it.
“Where are we going?” I whispered, but he didn’t reply, instead, he just took my hand and pulled me out of there.
“Whoa!” I am surprised at the scene in front of me. I was watching the entire campus from the top.
I turned to him. “There was a place like this in our college!? Wow! How did you find it-”
I stopped as I was engulfed in a warm muscular wall.
To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. I was still comprehending the situation while Michael held me close and whispered so softly that I thought I would have missed it if he was not holding me close.
“I love you, Cinderella. I love you so much.”
“I...I...love you too...” I said and he kissed on top of my head and I froze.
Michael let go of me and took a step back. He took both of my hands and looked into my eyes.
“To together means that we share everything. The love, happiness, pain and every other feeling,” he looked deep into my eyes. “Cinderella, I promise you that I will always be there for you. I don’t ever want you to feel alone.”
I stared at him. He looked different. His words felt like coming from the heart and I could feel it.
“I will...hold on to...that promise,” I told him. “I will tie you with these words.”
“You don’t have to,” he smiled, making my heart skip a beat. “I feel like you have already put a spell on me.”
I blushed at that. He leaned to kiss me on the forehead before letting me go.
The atmosphere felt intense and I tried hard to keep my unsteady emotions under control.
“Um...right, you...how did you find this place?”
“It has always been here. One of my seniors locked me here in my first year.”
“Whoa! Someone actually ragged you?”
“It was the first and last time. Rumours spread around that I am Professor Abraham’s person and there was no more trouble.”
“Speaking of him! He is a life savour!” I opened my bag and pulled my mark sheet out.
“You scored 72 out of 100?”
“It’s the first time I am scoring a decent grade and Professor Ambika dragged me to the staff room! Can you believe that? Instead of congratulating me she wanted me to redo the test again because apparently she thought that I cheated on her paper!”
Michael smiled. “Only you would be capable of ending up in problems like this.” He shook his head. “How did Professor Abraham help you?”
“I was halfway through the test when he appeared and talked for me. He said I am working under you and that I did great when he was monitoring the project group.”
“He told me that as well. He said you tried to corner Angela,”
“I should thank him well then,” I said.
“I think I should thank him well,” Michael said. “If it was not for him, I wouldn’t have met you at my place. You wouldn’t be there to teach violin.”
I looked at him and saw that he is indeed serious.
“You...something changed, did anything happen?” I asked him slowly.
“I am sorry that I was such a jerk and judged you to be a rich spoilt brat.” He apologised and I stared at him. “The more I know about you, the more I am falling for you, Cinderella. I feel connected to you.”
He looked so serious and I wanted to lighten the mood, “That’s destiny, you know...someone somewhere is made for you,” I smiled.
He looked straight into my eyes and said the words that literally stopped my world, “Then I am glad that you are my destiny, Cinderella.”
Q: Why do you think Michael is so affected by Ella’s story?