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Good Friends

By Geetika Sodhi Lohan

Madhu Syal, 35 had joined the Import Export group as Head of Operations(All India) 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 in 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 highly 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 favorite with 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 upturned 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 over thrown the previous national head successfully.
The Annual Meet of the company happened to be the right time when Madhu returned every favor Luv had done. 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 vein! That evening Madhu couldn’t keep that smile of triumph off her face. Not that she ever wanted to hurt anyone but that expression of realization 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 Mam !!”

Luv Bakshi was restless. He felt naked 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 bitch yet a woman one of her kind, 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.
That tickle in the vacuum just above his bottom was irresistible and he loved the silent woosh estrogen would make in his body with Madhu around.
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. 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 couldn’t keep himself from intervening.
“You OK?” Luv asked while handing the beer 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 aren’t divorced but we aren’t together anymore.” 

“What went wrong?" Luv was Inquisitive. "It’s ok in case you don’t wana talk about it .”
Luv was humble and Madhu needed a friend to talk. She hadn’t really shared her feelings with anyone for a while 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.

“I and Jai met some five years back. He was kind and decent. The only thing that wasn’t good about him was his lethargy that developed thanks to his parents who pampered him being the only child of filthy rich parents. Legacies perish if they are not added to. Jay was though lucky to have his father still alive and working for profits.
My parents always thought he was never a match for me. But they surrendered to my wishes and we got married. After marriage I realized how bad it feels to leave your man sleeping in the morning and find 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 idolize in future. I realized my acceptance to what he is and my affection despite what I felt was spoiling him, all the more. He had money to sit and spend but what about his self-respect his dignity?
Luv, I spent two years telling myself things will change. But they showed no signs. That was the crossroad 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 the duties, I wish his parents had taken up when it was time. Jay’s love became neutral and 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 don’t 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 famous Producer – Actor Jay Nehra?”

Madhu nodded with tear filled eyes.
“Do you still love him?”

Before Luv could absorb this “Yes” 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 wasn’t of course angry with her, instead loved her all the more and wished he could get just five percent of the love Jay had of her.
He hated Jay Nehra. What an inert bastard 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 Nehra was too far a destination for Luv but he wanted to help her.

Next Morning Luv spoke to Madhu.. “See Madhu, you still love Jay ya? And did you ever realize that despite the stardom Jay’s name too has never been attached to a co-star. I mean I guess in ages you don’t find an actor with such a spotless image.”

Madhu didn’t understand a thing or so at least did she pretend.
“What are you talking about Luv. That chapter is over.”

Luv got it straight.
“We don’t cry for closed chapters Madhu. Go and speak to Jay. Tell him everything”

“And you think he’ll understand and won’t think I am saying this because he is successful now?”

Madhu was right. Luv hadn’t really thought about it. He left in silence  But his words had turned to be a ray of hope for Madhu. It was evening Luv was still thinking when the cell beeped.

“I think you are right. I will give this relationship another chance. I can’t speak to him but I’ll speak to his Dad and express what I feel.”

Luv was happy. “Now that’s like my girl. <Wink>”.

Madhu was sleepless and thinking.
About Luv!
About their journey from being competitors to such good friends!
Madhu wondered all night how kind was it of Luv to take unconditional care of a friend. She was amazed what an excellent life partner Luv would make.

Next Day Luv bombarded Madhu with questions. And all Madhu could answer was.

“You know what Luv, I was thinking about you all night. What an amazing person you are. Lucky would be the girl you’ll chose as your life.”
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 wasn’t. It scared him all the more. 

Th Short Story is continued here....