Friday, August 26, 2011

It's gonna hurt while it heals

Title credit to Lennie ......... Thank you so much Lennie 

Part 1

Is there anything such as love? If yes then, what is love? Are people so cruel and insensitive?  Is there no such thing as honesty and genuineness in this world? Were people all there for only a reason of fulfilling an ulterior motive? What was the reason for his life? Why was he here? Was this place really his home? ………
He could not find a single answer to his questions since the day his journey started as this new person. Every evening after fateful one he would get himself drunk.
That evening when he had seen his wife … his life confessing her love to someone else. To get him out of there his friend had suggested cheekily that it was time to find someone for him. He had whisked him away to a bar with no other intention except to get him to wind down.
That evening at the bar became the turning point in his life and then life soon became a routine; getting up in the morning with a stiff hangover, going to work after dousing some aspirins and evenings sitting at a bar in the neighborhood with his whiskey quietly drinking away.  Not a word exchanged except when he wanted to get his drink refilled.
It was four months since he had returned back. From a place which was once his home to a place which also could be called his home but he could not identify with either at all. Every evening he would ask himself those same questions and every evening he would draw blank, frustrating him further. He hated drinking because she never liked it yet he drank so that he would not be in his senses and hoping then those questions would not haunt him.
When he had left, he had promised her that he would be happy and he would take care of himself. But those promises seemed meaningless as they were made to a person who never really bothered about the genuineness. His genuineness. He was fine with it all along because he wanted her to be fine. Deceit had become second nature for her when he was in question or was he her favorite alibi whom she used at any given moment. She always gave him false hope and assurance. Finally all came crashing down. Yet he was fine. Her moving out of his life to seek her happiness with the love of her life, the ridicule he faced back home, his lonely broken heart, everything. He was fine just because what always mattered to her was one smile on her face.  He truly smiled as she smiled.
But it all seemed to be worthless as he never mattered to her. If he did, then she would not have had put up a big farce in front of the whole world to make a mockery out of him.
He never thought that way but that evening at the bar changed his perspective completely.

Part 2
All his feelings, his emotions and his thoughts got prejudiced as he overheard a couple talking away enthusiastically about their adventures of getting back together. The boy was plain happy to have his love back in his life while the girl showed no remorse about her broken relationship.
Hearing them Yuvi tried to lead Sid away from there. Sid however wanted to hear the girl out. Horror seeped in as the girl spoke about her failed marriage. His life immediately started playing in front of his eyes and he started putting the odd pieces of the jigsaw together. Surprisingly they fit perfectly which till date he could not arrange.
The girl had continued about her two relationships to assure her lover that all was well now and nothing would come in between them. The biggest obstacle, her husband had cleared her path and had set her free after understanding that her lover always took precedence over everything. She seem to be feeling bad for him at points but reasoned to lessen the guilt that she got coaxed into continuing with her marriage by her father. How much she tried she could never come to terms with her marriage and hence then opted to continue with her marriage till an apt time came to tell her husband that it would never work. She continued with a silent relationship with her lover in the mean while. ‘He should have known that he could never touch you cause you can never be anyone else’s but mine. He was such a fool.’ Her insensitive lover’s comment jolted the daylights but had no effect on the girl who seemed to agree with it. She smiled and planted a kiss on his forehead and settled into his arms blissfully.
There was startling resemblance between what he saw an hour back in the basketball court and here in the bar. To fuel his fury Yuvi’s instance was in front of him. Naina had parted ways with Yuvi on her father’s insistence. Riddhima also had married him for her father’s repute. She continued with the relationship to fulfill her responsibility. She portrayed to love him for everyone’s sake. He was a fool not to see her blatant acts of deceit. Every passing moment, anger clouded his mind yet his heart did not want to believe what his mind was saying. The warring groups were driving him mad and to settle himself he started downing one peg after another. ‘Neat!!!’ He drank till he lost touch with everything.
And from that evening onwards he did the same every evening. Losing touch with oneself was better than witnessing his heart having lost the battle with his mind.

Part 3
On his return the second time from India his father asked him for only one thing. To concentrate on his career and to do well in it to untarnish his and his family name which his disgraceful wife had tarnished. He wanted to give Sid a goal to work on so his mind would be occupied. Little did he know that this goal setting exercise would push Sid into further away from everyone.
Sid wanted to be away from everyone’s appraising looks so he moved into a small apartment near the hospital. The feeling of not being wanted came from his failed marriage. Now with this conditional acceptance it heightened. The emptiness in his life took the toll on him. To block out all feeling he decided to just concentrate on work. If not, proving himself worthy atleast he could keep himself occupied.
Sid learnt to drown his agonizing evenings. But as day dawned his sane self would return bringing along with it the responsible and capable Dr. Siddhant Modi. Nothing could rasp his attention while on shift. Anyone who would have seen him the previous evening would never be able to relate with this side of him including himself.
Every morning, he would turn up at the intern briefing sessions on time. Unlike other interns he donned a complete different look; clean shaven, crisply dressed, hair gelled back with head held up high. It first started as a feel good and then became second nature. After initial few days he started sporting a pair of glasses. It seemed more of an additional barrier created for whoever tried to read him eyes and to give oneself a sterner look to ward off everyone. Yet his appearance would have every other lady’s head turn to admire him. Some bold ones would try to befriend him but as their eyes met the deadly stare in his eyes would force them to retract their steps.
He kept his distance from all. People, group dynamics, random casual interactions bothered him. His attitude was fueled by the reason of desertion by friends in his hour of need. So the best option available was to avoid everybody. He would be happy sitting alone for lunch or coffee breaks working on his files instead of chit chatting of the day’s affair or worse still someone’s affairs. Interactions of dating or married couples severely unnerved him but soon he learned to ignore them. Days, weeks, months passed. Nothing had changed a wee bit except his career graph which was on constant ascends. His no nonsense focused attitude, dedication to his patients and his brilliance was unmatched. Responsibilities came in fast and he always knew how to take them in his stride. But these things did not affect his routine life. That suited him perfectly but one fine day that too came crashing down in a fraction of a second as he stood there holding an order from the head of US Sanjeevani.

Part 4

The dark look in his eyes scared the hell out of the kids in the children’s ward. He scrunched the paper strode out to meet the Head. He cared a damn for anybody who would try to unsettle his life. No one dared to mess with him, even if it was the Head of US Sanjeevani.

After a sharp knock he entered to find the elderly looking gentleman waiting for me. He was an old colleague of Sid’s father and was quite expecting Sid’s revolt. Sid’s father had warned him of it. Sid’s father’s concern for his son’s life had lead to masterminding this order.

Mumbai Sanjeevani Management again seemed to be in a mess and had become a laughing stock amongst the other branches. They needed someone to set it right. He saw an opportunity here. After much thought Sid’s father approved this suggestion.

Both knew that Sid was heading towards disaster. Sooner or later he would crumble. He could not carry on his life the way he was. He was leading two different lives. One which was devoid of any emotion while the other incapable of showing any.
He needed to face life. If required face those people who had brought him to this juncture. Maybe he needed a closure to it all if not answers to his questions. There was a greater possibility that this could even break him completely. But nonetheless they had to take this risk. It was a gamble.

The old gentleman tackled Sid rally of questions and excused tactfully leaving Sid defeated at every stage. Sid’s final weapon – his father’s displeasure on returning to the God forsaken place also went waste and finally Sid conceded defeat.

Part 5

Three days later he stood in front the place which had given him worst memories of his life.  He did not make any attempt to wipe off the scorn off his face. He was not going to alter his life this time. So it may have been a deliberate attempt to prove himself, he after he setting his bags down in the hotel room he headed straight to the bar.

‘Black Label’
‘With Soda or …?’

He walked through the corridors of Sanjeevani just the way he would in US Sanjeevani. Head held high without a glance thrown anyone’s way. He definitely did not need anyone except for getting the regular tasks done. He was no more there to build relationships. But people treated him no differently than in US Sanjeevani. He was an enigma. It was not too long ago that they had seen him. The memory was still fresh and today seeing him such only brought a curse on their lips for the people who were instrumental for destroying this man they had once known.

Once in the Head of Mumbai Sanjeevani’s office, Sid found himself completely mellowed down. He was his mentor, he was family at one point in life. He found it difficult to hold any grudge against him. Dr Shashank yet found the change in Sid quickly. He was no more the same Sid whom he had known. He cursed himself for it for a moment but let his emotions take a back seat and proceeded with official matter. His hospital was in a mess. His trusted people were responsible for it and he was guilty of letting this mess take place. Whatever be the reasons but he was responsible for ensuring all went well. Being the Head of Mumbai Sanjeevani it was his responsibility to ensure smooth flow of work.
He missed the man who stood in front of him for many reasons. Right now he was just glad that he was back even if only meant to take care of one of the two most things in his life.
The discussion was brief and to the point. Sid intended and managed to keep it so. As he took charge, Dr. Shashank was moved to tears. One reason being he was handing over the charge to one of the most trusted persons in his life while the other being he still could not find the zest for life in this person’s eyes that he always seen. He felt responsible for all the mess in his and his daughter’s life.
After discussing a few points more, the first personal question came. ‘Kaise ho tum?’
The obvious concern moved Sid but he quickly gained composure and plainly replied ‘I am fine. Thank you Sir. How are you?’ He was scared to display any emotions. He did not fear being abused but feared hurting this genuine man who indeed cared.
It was best kept as formality which was fulfilled and he answered courteously yet plainly. For Dr Shashank it felt as if the doors to this man’s life were closed forever. They all had lost him.

Part 6

The change was anticipated. Things were too messed up. For a few days after Dr. Kirti took over charge all went fine but soon many felt the atmosphere in Sanjeevani deteriorating. The person in question for the change in atmosphere was none other whom he sort support from for his daughter. Everyday seemed to be a party or a special day being celebrated. Initially, both Shashank and Dr Kirti let it go. To a greater extent Dr Kirti even supported it for easing the tension in Dr Subhankar and her relationship but later things started going out of hand. Many accused both Shashank and Dr Kirti leniency for aiding repair to Riddhima’s personal life. Every misconduct or lapse was compared with armaan’s slippages in conduct. Though he was a decent doctor in fact one of the toppers of his time as an intern but everyone took leverage of his casual behavior to give an excuse for their own. At such times, both Dr Kirti and Shashank were tongue tied. Sanjeevani Mumbai became a laughing stock at all Sanjeevani meeting and soon the management decided it was high time to take action. Shashank due to his previous record was spared to a greater extent but was definitely asked to pull up his socks. They were considering bringing back Dr. Abhimanyu Modi but Dr. Banerjee of US Sanjeevani convinced the board to dismiss the idea and have only the DO changed and review the situation.
Due to all this, Shashank was already aware of Sid’s appointment as a DO. He was a little scared. Natural for a father of a daughter whose past kept on interfering with her present. He wondered if this was going to be history repeating itself. He was already seeing a definite rift between armaan and Riddhima. In the initial days things seemed more than fine but soon things started changing.
At home she would be lost in her own world. Many of the nights he has seen Riddhima strolling on the terrace or her balcony or plainly standing there staring at the sky. If at all she was in a room, she would lay down flicking the night lamp on and off. Her work was suffering as she would most of the time she would be tired and drowsy. Patients are a doctor’s first priority and they should receive their undivided attention. Riddhima was caught violating this fundamental rule.  One day while working in the OPD she had tried shifting a patient to another doctor without any valid reason for not attending the patient.  Shashank found Riddhima too edgy around armaan and he concluded this was the reason behind not attending the patient. She was trying to avoid interaction with armaan. Off late even the mention of his name unsettled her. He was worried of the consequences Sid’s comeback would have on his daughter and her relationship with armaan.
He was hoping to manage some change before the order was affected, thus trying to buy more time to either delay or better still cancel the order. But while doing all this he did not want Riddhima to know any of it and so he packed his daughter off for a holiday. Knowing armaan, he would follow her. Initially Riddhima resisted the idea of a holiday but Shashank had a better plan. He sent armaan to Delhi Sanjeevani on pretext of some work and cleared ground for setting things right.

Part 7
Shashank should have known better that things were not going to settle down so easily. There are never quick fixes when it comes to changing the attitudes and work culture of a place.
The time for Sid’s arrival was coming closer. Riddhima had returned from her holiday. She seemed even more miserable than before. He had not expected any improvement but this was even more disturbing.

She was indeed glad to be away from armaan but with armaan not around being away from Sanjeevani unsettled her. Sanjeevani was her second home. When she was upset it was the first place to be in. She realized why her father wanted her away from it for a few days so she had relented. Riddhima did not know what to do with her time off. She was tired of running away from the issues in her life, the biggest issue was being with armaan. There were too many questions hounding her mind and one more got added to her list. What should she do with her free time? The never ending list of questions and confusions started when she visited Panchgani. She had gone there to seek her love of her life but that destiny gave her the companionship of Siddhant whom all lovingly called Sid.

Soon after her divorce with Sid she confessed to armaan that she loved him. It seemed as the most ethereal moment. It was a dream that comes true. Life seemed simple. For some days questions that had been hounding her since her marriage to Sid took backseat but it was not a lasting experience. She wanted to smile up at life and at armaan’s every effort to make life special. She wanted life to be easy like it was when she was with armaan. One look at armaan and she used to know why life was such a bliss. Back then she had no questions clouding her mind except one, is armaan happy? Now when she looked at him she felt empty. There was a definite void which refused to fill up. Whatever armaan would do could not fill that up for her. Every passing day she only experience void growing larger and larger until it threatened to consume her whole being.

She only felt tired and drained thinking up of the answers which she sort for filling this void. So finally when she had to take a break she decided to start from the beginning – Panchgani. This placed evoked many feelings. Being protected, cherished, appreciated and most importantly brought back to life. Her life was indebted to that man who saved her not only then but every time when destiny or she herself became biggest threat. She always paid back poorly. First by accusing of a heinous crime and then by doing a heinous crime, either ways the ultimate price was paid by only one – Sid.
Her heart cried for the pain that she inflicted on him. She was downright selfish with the man who was the epitome of selflessness. Her restlessness was growing and it was pushing her towards desperation to find the answers to her questions. In her quest she paid a visit to all those spots where Sid and she had memories together.
She felt precious for a brief moment as she stood outside that room where Sid had first affirmed his faith her beliefs when all ridiculed her yet it left her agonized knowing how badly she had betrayed his trust.
Sitting in that old hut in the village made her feel worthy that at least once she was able to tend to Sid, ease his pain but the pain from the everlasting wounds she had given him traumatized her.
It was not easy going there again but she knew she had to. The deserted hut in the jungle where Sid had saved her life that fateful and later got accused of rape. She sat there for long moments trying to sketch what may have happened that night.
It filled up Riddhima with immense pride to have known Sid. Not only that night but every time when he could have taken advantage of the situation or exercise his right he had exercise restrain only for her comfort and honor. Despite of accusing him he still stepped forward to marry her so that her family and her honor were not tarnished.
He was so true to his name – Siddhant. He was truly a man of honor.
She always knew all along but revisiting these places helped Riddhima a certain extent and so her next stop was a temple.

Part 8

This was the same temple whose steps Riddhima had climbed a hundred times. She genuinely wanted to make things work between Sid and her. Despite all the fury and spite that Sid drove her way she wanted some peace in his life. She knew he was hurting secretively. His rudeness was a just a façade which he had created to wall the concern he had in his heart for her.

That night all that concern broke free and gushed to the fore as he rushed to stop her doing her penance for disregarding him and as he tended to her wounds.
As she stood in front of her the resort, realization dawned upon her. She did have feeling for Sid. She was affected by him, his proximity and his touch. It was here she first felt so for Sid and she spent the next 9 months fighting those feelings. She kept blocking them out every time they tried taking charge of her. She felt guilty. She always felt guilty of having felt for Sid. She was a one man woman so then after armaan how could she feel for anyone else and so she tried to give all sort of names to her feelings for Sid. Be it marriage, concern, priority or responsibility. It was definitely guilt which created all the havoc in her life. First the guilt of developing feelings for sid, then guilt of having hurt armaan and most importantly moving on with Sid happily. Even now she did the same; she blocked out that realization that it was indeed guilt which stopped her and decided to head back to Mumbai.

She tried to convince herself that her mind was playing games. To ease herself she tried to think of her future which was now armaan and her heart immediately felt being consumed by the void she had been feeling.

It felt as if someone was pulling her back into darkness. She was struggling to break free towards light. The thought of armaan made her edgy but it was her memories with him which became the path breaker. So she decided to revisit the place which held some of those. Lonavla orphanage.

The minute she stepped in Sid’s happy face popped in her mind.    Tamanna’s innocently question pierced her heart. ‘Genie bhaiya iss baar bhi nahi aaye?’ Last time when she had asked the same question she had lashed out on her. Today there were only tears of remorse. Tamanna kept pestering her with questions and tears continued to flow.

She had already broken too many hearts and to do it to this innocently child seemed too cruel. Fact remained that it Sid was no more with her. ‘Genie bhaiya baad mein ayenge na … main unse abhi baat karti hoon … batati hoon ki aap bimar hai aur unko yaad kar rahi hai … woh jhat se aa jayenge pichili baar ki tarah’

This revelation broke Riddhima further. She always misunderstood Sid. He never came to keep a tab on Riddhima and armaan the previous time. It was his love and his concern for her which had brought her.

As she broke down sobbing heavily, the matron rushed to her. There was something definitely wrong that had happened and matron started consoling her. Seeing Riddhima cry so bitterly Tamanna panicked and continued her questions inbetween her own sobs. ‘Aap roh kyu rahi hai? Genie bhaiya kyu nahi aaye saach bataiye?’

The matron quickly got someone to take Tamanna away. Her questioning was not doing any good. Once she was out of hearing range the matron started questioning Riddhima. She was witness to Sid and Riddhima’s fights and fiascos during Tamanna’s treatment. She had sense the bond that these two shared despite their fights. ‘Kya Siddhant…….. I mean ….. woh kyu nahi aaye …..?

There was no point in hiding the truth. Sooner or later everyone would know. Her marriage with armaan would be declared and done soon as armaan was getting impatient and was pressing for it since long.

Sid was not going to be back ever after all that had happened. ‘Woh ab kabi nahi aayega’

The matron gasped in horror thinking the inevitable had happened and she leaned forward to console Riddhima on her loss. ‘Main tumhara dukh samaj sakti hoon ….par honi ko kaun taal sakta hai … ‘
She looked up in horror and in a flash everything seemed out zone and she collapsed on the spot.

Part 9

The thought of something dangerous happening to him numbed her senses. Back then her insides gripped with fear the moment she had seen him injured. Those images returned in form of her worst nightmare. ‘Sid!!!’ She got up frightened. It seemed so recent that she tried to rush out but collapsed on the bed from weakness. Nothing has stopped her ever to rushing towards Sid and she made another attempt, this time collapsing on the floor. Her head swirled. She looked around for support. This familiar surrounding and she recollected what had happened. Those last words of the orphanage matron had sucked the life out of her. That emptiness which was threatening her engulfed her in seconds. She never could come to terms with the remotest thought of something untoward happening to Sid. Be it before marriage when he was away from her sight for a moment or the gas leak incident. She had empty feeling threatened her. She felt so lifeless that she curled up on the cold floor and passed out.
The matron had found her unconscious when she brought in food for Riddhima. She had been laying on the ground for a long time and now she burnt with fever. In her delirious sleep the only name that came to her lips was ‘Sid!!!’ The in house doctor had sat by her side all night to nurse her back to health.
As morning came the fever had subsided but weakness kept her in bed. She cleared dreaded misconception of the matron and wanted to meet Tamanna. But the doctor disallowed any such activity which would strain her or the child. Comfort comes less from medication and more from the concern of the loved ones. Tamanna sneaked into Riddhima’s room the minute she got the chance. Riddhima held her close as Tamanna once again showered her with questions. This time Riddhima reacted more calmly. Having Tamanna close flooded her senses with calmness as they both talked about Sid. She wanted to break the news to her but could not gather herself to break her heart and more so live that agony of separation from Sid.

For the next couple of days, she stayed in Lonavla orphanage spending some quality time with the children there as her health permitted her.

Each night she would sit on the steps reliving that night when Sid had come to meet her. Her holidays were coming to an end.

That night Tamanna’s questioned her out of sheer curiosity ‘Armaan bhaiya … ….’ She never really heard that question. She zoned out immediately. She remembered the purpose she was here for - to recollecting some happy moments spent with armaan and she had spent the last few days reminiscing Sid. He was always her ray of hope. His love, his support, his mere presence always managed to ground her and give her life new meaning. Now with his mere thought of Sid completed her. The emptiness vanished leaving her aching because of his absence.
Tamanna nagged her about armaan; stubborn that she was and Riddhima got pushed to the edge to accept that this was indeed the answer to her questions. The emptiness that she felt was because of none other than Sid. It was her guilt that made her refuse the turn of feelings. But then why did those moments of her past overwhelm her always? Why did she find herself confused? Why did she accept armaan back into her life?
For some of these answers going completing the full circle was important.

Part 10

She has walked in with anxiety plastered all over her face. There was no better option than what had come to his mind immediately. She could not allow Riddhima to continue in Sanjeevani like this. It spelled disaster. So the moment he came to know that Sid’s appointment was finalized and he was due to arrive, he tried coaxing Riddhima to shift to Sanjeevani Delhi branch. He was sure he could arrange something if for both armaan and Riddhima if Riddhima agreed.

Riddhima remained adamant on her stand that she wanted to be near family. Actually she just wanted to be in Mumbai to try finding some answers.
‘Delhi ek achi jaggah hai aur armaan aur Anjali bhi waha hai’
‘Par main Delhi kyu javu Papa?’
‘It will be good for you’
‘I am fine here unless you want me here’
‘No …No it is nothing like that’
‘Then I am joining work tomorrow’
‘I think you need to take some more day’s holiday.’
‘Why Papa?’

Shashank kept giving her lame excuses and Riddhima kept defeating them off with her reasoning. Finally, despite all her effort Shashank announced his decision. ‘That is it. You can think whatever you want to but I don’t think you should join back. Look at yourself. In fact I would not recommend you treating any patient even in Delhi Sanjeevani but I know there atleast you will be away from it all.’
‘Away from what?’
‘Riddhima … I think I have clarified my position enough. Now as the Head of Sanjeevani I would have to say that you are not fit for work. You are still mentally stressed out and I cannot risk my patients in your hands.’
‘Papa you very well know I have never compromised on my patients.’
‘Think back clearly Riddhima’
‘That was because….’
‘Because of armaan…. Right …?’
‘Yes… I am tired of his antics Papa’
‘And this is the reason why I would not recommend you working in Delhi Sanjeevani. In fact work on your relationship. I have been supportive but you cannot continue like this. First…’
Now she felt the circle completing. Shashank had voiced his doubts of armaan being the reason for Riddhima splitting with Sid the first time also. Though then she had vehemently denied that none wanted to believe her. Even Sid had always expressed his concern for her overt attention towards armaan after things started smoothening out with him. Her life had become a series of confusion. She did not want to burden Sid with a relationship when he did not believe in the first place. Then when they both wanted to move ahead, armaan’s destructive tendency made her feel guilty. During that phase Sid was very supportive but she always feared the bonds snapping. To add to the mess, she could not place why exactly there was concern for armaan if he was her past. All this stopped her moving forward completely in her relationship. She indeed felt for Sid like a woman would but then crossing that threshold became difficult. When she did cross that threshold she had found the wrong person standing in front of her. Somewhere she felt it was God’s indication that it was meant to be that way. armaan had aided it further by pulling her back into their beautiful past and she had flowed with those feelings. It was Sid who had pulled her out before the disaster struck but yet the damage was done.  

Her insane love for armaan had always clouded everyone’s and her mind so much so that none believed that it was possible for her to move on.

She had moved on. He had become that integral part of her life for whom nobody could separate. This was the only reason why she felt that void in her life after Sid left. She indeed had been in love with him and still was. Yet she had lost him due to her insanity.

Part 11

The argument continued and finally Shashank found no other way than order Riddhima ‘You are not joining back before you set things right between armaan and you. Your marriage is due in couple of months. I think we can pre-pone it. I will talk to Billy about it. We all have had enough. There is no sense of maturity in either of you. It’s high time you both realize responsibilities and make good of them.’

‘No Papa I don’t ….’

‘Enough Riddhima. You have gotten what you always desired. Now learn to be happy. I am not listening any further on this. So use this time to bridge the gap that has been created. I shall book your tickets you can go to Delhi for some days.’

‘But why Delhi? Let me stay here. I can help you with work. Now since armaan is not here let me try mending the messed up situation.’

‘Riddhima you are required to only mend one situation at the moment and that’s it. You are leaving for Delhi tomorrow. Now go do your packing.’

It was a lost cause to make Shashank understand what she had come to realize. To aggravate matters Shashank planned on pre-poning the marriage. She was going to do the only remaining option available. Try contacting Sid. She had to talk to him. But those attempts went vain. On calling US Sanjeevani she came to know he was on a brief leave. On asking for Sid’s phone number, she was flatly refused on grounds on not divulging personal information.

Her heart sank and the inevitable was to happen. She had to leave for Delhi. Before going, she decided to pay one visit to Sanjeevani.

Sanjeevani was abuzz with the news of the change. Everyone was talking how Dr. Kirti failed to manage the situation despite being such a strict and capable DO. armaan and Riddhima were also being talked off. They both were not seen around and people gathered that Shashank must be purposefully keeping then away. This thought had struck Riddhima too but then she understood that her father must have wanted to control the situation and then re-introduce them. The news that shocked her most was that she would no more be the DO. She felt bad for Dr Kirti having suffered a setback. She headed towards the locker room to gather some of her stuff when she overheard some more gossip happening.

The interns spoke of a new DO coming in from US for taking charge. She wondered who that was and that’s when she overheard another intern speaking ‘He has worked in Sanjeevani here.’
Riddhima’s curiosity peaked and she came out of the hiding and confronted them ‘Who is it? Do you know the name?’
‘Yes, absolutely it’s someone named Dr. Modi.’

Her heart squealed with joy but the next moment. She realized that it could be Abhimanyu who must be returning. When she confronted her father about the same he was quick to affirm her guess. His sole motive was to keep Riddhima and armaan away while Sid was here. It seemed to best option for all.

Abhimanyu could be the key to information on Sid, hence she again started debating on her requirement to be in Mumbai.

‘Is this the reason why you sent armaan to Delhi and are sending me also?’

‘Yes, I do not want any further mess. Dr. Modi is Siddhant’s brother and after all that happened I really don’t know how he will react with the two of you around. And Riddhima I do not want any further discussion. Please help me by making things easier.’

She was guilty of making life difficult ever since she entered Sanjeevani and if her going away seemed to do good she would do so. Yet Delhi was not one of the options. So she after begging to Shanhank she finally got herself to be shifted to any other branch of Sanjeevani or to the affiliate institutions. Shashank reluctantly agreed and plans of Riddhima flying out to Delhi were cancelled.

Part 12
Agreeing to Riddhima was the biggest mistake he did which he was soon going to realize. Riddhima first thought of meeting Abhi but then decided against it.

Separation from Sid would be known to him and it was more than evident that he would not help her with information about Sid, especially Sid’s phone number.

The next two days seemed to be drag. Most time was spent avoiding armaan’s phone calls and ignoring his messages or trying to think where she should go.

If she had half a chance she would go to US Sanjeevani. Impossible dream as her father who would not allow her in Mumbai Sanjeevani would definitely not agree to US Sanjeevani. She did not even dare to suggest as she was sure she would get packed off to Delhi.  

armaan was driven up the wall with non response from Riddhima. To add to it, his stay had gotten extended and in the morning meeting the Delhi head had offered him to a position in Delhi. He got a little suspicious when after rejecting the offer Shashank spoke to him that he would be transferred to Delhi for good. He smelled foul play against him.

It was the first day in Sanjeevani as the DO. The typical Sid was back in action. The buzz went around that the new DO was in and to every girl’s delight was extremely handsome and eligible.

Dr Kirti shifted on her feet as Shashank briefed her of her tasks to aid smooth transition. She hung her head in shame as she was now going to report into a doctor who once upon a time reported to her. Not that she minded it and made it an ego issue but this was the one of the biggest setbacks her career would have.

During his discussion with Shashank, Sid assured him that he would review the situation and take corrective actions accordingly to ensure things fall in place quickly. He did not intend to take over the complete charge instead planned to stand behind and guide where required thus not disrupting the entire set up and facilitate his quick exit.

Soon they were to meet the team. The moment was coming close. For a brief moment his focus shifted but he was quick to check it back in place as the thought of certain two flashed his mind.

Part 13

They both discussed further on the issues Sanjeevani were facing. All throughout, never did the conversation go beyond work. Shashank was not surprised. He was happy with himself that he had shipped armaan to Delhi but his biggest concern Riddhima was still there in Mumbai. He was dreading each moment that she would turn up at the hospital and then every effort of his will go down the drain.

The staff waited quietly in the conference hall for the Shashank to arrive with their new boss. The circular had reached all that morning and it was up on the notice board. Almost all were surprised to see an intern whom they had mentored once was now going to be their boss. Some felt extremely proud of the achievement this lad had done in such a short span of time. Some seemed offended being subject to being ordered around by a person who until some months back was a mere intern. Though he had been a DO earlier but that was a temporary thing done to prove a point. They could not understand the reason why he was called all the way from US for this. While some were plain nervous not knowing what to expect. In them were Dr Kirti, Dr Subhankar and Sister Lovely. They knew the entire history behind this man and his association with the Gupta family and unfortunately had no experience with him being the responsible DO of Sanjeevani.

When Sid had left he still had more than 6 months to complete his internship. As his father wished he had focused on work and made him proud. He was soon promoted to being a Senior Doctor and was entrusted with more responsibilities.

The staff talked amongst themselves while Dr Kirti was lost in her thoughts. For a brief moment ego took charge and she smirked at that thought of having a happy go lucky Dr Siddhant Modi who sported loud T-Shirts and insisted to be called Sid being the DO. A person who loved breaking rules was in charge of setting things right.

She was so lost in her thoughts that she did not realize when Shanshank and Sid walked in. The room dropped to having pin drop silence.

‘Hello Doctors, most of you know this gentleman who stands beside me. Most have worked with him also. However, let me take a moment to re-introduce him to you. Dr. Siddhant Modi……

Hearing the name Dr Kirti snapped out of her thoughts. ‘Dr Siddhant Modi.’  She squinted her eyes to focus better and then finally rubbed her eyes to clear her vision and looked the man standing in front of him. She disbelieved what she saw. Many faces in that room adorned the same look.  Many were questioning their memory. Two different people can always have the same name.

‘started as an intern in Sanjeevani. Later he shifted to US Sanjeevani. Due to his exemplary performance he was graduated sooner than most would have and now we have him here to take over as a DO. In his previous 1 month stint of being a discliplarian he was extremely successful and so the board has sent him back for another stint here in Mumbai. I would request you all to welcome him back and work towards restoring the glory of Sanjeevani.’

During this whole speech, Sid stood there quietly appraising each of the members present. He was never the sort to judge people. But time and now responsibility had gotten to be so. He was not trying to distinguish the friends from foes but just assessing who would be non-compliers or the trouble makers in the change process.

After brief introduction, the whole team left leaving Shashank, Sid and Dr Kirti behind. Shashank and Dr Kirti felt extremely awkward while Sid was his calm self. For him it was just another day at work rather just a new day with some new opportunity which he had to just take into his stride.

‘Dr Kirti please show Dr Siddhant his office and you can then discuss the further on the plan of action.’ Dr Kirti plainly nodded and left from there with Sid and headed towards the office.

Shashank had informed Dr Kirti that he had discussed the issues in detail with Sid and assured his assistance. Now it was up to these two to make things fall in place.

It was a silent walk towards Sid’s office. As he passed, Dr Kirti noticed every staff member’s heads turning to see the new DO. Same awestruck look.

Silence was awkward so to begin the conversation ‘How are you?’

Courteous answer to a courtesy question, ‘Fine, thank you.’ After a brief pause he questioned ‘And you?’

‘Just about ok.’ She said in a matter of fact way. Handing over charge to her once junior. Yes she was just about ok with it all. She had to be. But she was definitely pleased to see this new avatar of Sid. ‘You have done extremely well for yourself Dr Siddhant. We all are extremely proud of you.’

He got these quite often which many used with him while starting the conversation. He never got overwhelmed with such words of praise. He would always nod away the statement and come straight to the point. However, surprisingly he found himself getting overwhelmed. Probably because of the person it was coming from but could not get himself to say anything beyond a simple thank you.

They settled in the office and discussed on the state of affairs. He was not surprised. When responsibility came he shed his wayward ways over night but with armaan it was completely different and since Riddhima’s life revolved round armaan she being affected was no news.

They discussed the cascading effects it had on the interns and staff. Reviewing the whole matter he finally concluded ‘Responsibility is the key to everything here. We need to give each problem maker some additional responsibility. Their progress depends on its performance hence they will not go wrong. Plus this will leave them less time to waste and also boost their esteem.’

‘But responsibility with authority will not work.’

‘The authority is their reward but it will come only after appraising the person. The mentor will have to work extra hard – first to mentor, then take decisions in the initial phase and finally to review. But what we shall have is after the appraisal period a person to delegate work to. Second in lines will get created automatically and this will motivate others also to take on additional work.’

‘How do you plan to do this?’

‘I will not do anything. You will do. You know it better here. I have already informed Dr Shashank that I am not taking over complete charge. You will continue to many of the activities that you did earlier. I am here only to support you in them.’

‘Decision making process for many of the things like scheduling.’

‘Let us finish the intern briefing session and then sit down to discuss further on it. However, most of it will be collective. Individual decision making areas we shall finalize. Like I said I am here only to support you in this cause, not take over.’

The supportive attitude won over Dr Kirti and filled her with renew vigor to take on the challenge of turning things around. She could not thank the board enough for sending this man here. If it was someone else, she would be sitting in the OPD doing patient check-ups only.

They had walked into the room as individuals but came out as a team.

Part 14

As per her expectations the intern Dr Kirti the intern briefing also had many with those surprised faces especially JP. Sid's demeanor put the point across that he was there for strictly work. The minute JP had seen Sid he had rushes to draw Sid into a friendly hug but the restrained response from Sid put the message across effectively.

Many of the new interns were shocked to see such a young DO. To add to that Sid's new avatar had most girls smitten.

Those shy and some dangerously bold desirous looks amused Kirti and too had a smirk plastered all over her face when she sat down for lunch with Sid at the far end of cafe having his lunch quietly.

This did not miss Subhankar's attention. This was his 'I will never smile wife' which got him curious. 'Is there something Kirti?'

No nothing said Kirti trying to not discuss the thoughts playing on her mind.

Are you sure? Is it something about Dr Siddhant? The ever nervous Subhankar probed.

Kirti was hardly paying attention to him. Her eyes were set on the girls in the cafe and Sid

'Well I think I will have to work extra hard in order to get some of the interns focused on work'

Subhankar sweared under his breath on Sid while nudging JP and Jiggy for help. Not finding any response got him to remember his masihah armaan 'armaan should have been here then there will be the real competition and we could teach this man a lesson. all these girls will be will stop being so giddy headed.'

That snapped Kirti back armaan is no for Siddhant When I first met him I felt here comes another spoilt brat He has changed so much long gone are his days of bright t shirts and kiddie mischief He was always an honest person who owned up to his wrong doing which were many but just look at him He is every girls dream Mature responsible an achiever with no qualms about his success Do you Subhankar he did not take away my charge and authority

Her singing praises irritated Subhankar This is definitely a pretence if not then why would Riddhima leave him for armaan

Well I don't know but now I genuinely think Riddhima surely needs help she must be out of her mind to let go of this gem.

Working with Sid seemed so easy. The biggest plus of this team was both were no nonsense focused individuals. They set about framing strategy and putting it to work immediately and effectively.

Shashank was happy with the progress but he was soon going to regret his decision.

Riddhima's visit to Sanjeevani made Shashank's nightmare real.

The hospital was going gaga over the new DO. A handsome young DO had left the girl weak in their knees and the guys dreaming to be in his place.

Riddhima finally seemed to lose her head when she found the girls in the locker room talking the same. For her it was her best friend’s husband. Irritated she commented 'Sorry to break your hopes but he is taken'

‘No ma'am he is very much single.’ retorted an amused intern at Riddhima's lack of knowledge.

Abhi being single alarmed Riddhima since she had not heard of any news of distress between Abhi and Nikki. They were the most compatible couple which got her to retort back ‘Dr Abhimanyu Modi is married to my best friend Nikita so I think I should know better than you.’

That statement made Riddhima, daughter of the head of Sanjeevani, a laughing stock as did even know the correct name of the new DO. Everyone was laughing their heads off when a rather calm but equally amused girl spoke up. ‘Ma’am’ Riddhima was furious at all ridiculing her. That calm voice called for attention. The possessor of that voice was beautiful with rather alluring eyes. Her slim yet toned body was any girls dream and a man’s desire. Her tall walk proclaimed that this girl could be any woman’s nemesis. Riddhima could not understand why but she definitely did felt intimidated.

‘It’s not Abhimanyu ma’am the name is Siddhant. The irresistible Dr Siddhant Modi !!!’

Part 15

A gamut of emotions flooded her senses which got Riddhima rushing out in search of Sid.

Someone informed her that Sid having left for the day moments ago. Desperation got her to the parking lpt where she could see see two sombre silhouettes talking. One of a man who seemed so different standing near his car and while the other she quickly recognized as Kirti.

Question struck her mind and she dismissed it being Sid.

Hearing Sid being called specially filled her with pride yet she felt so angry. Angry for her father lying to her.

Soon she found herself confronting her father.

'How could you do this? I have been so desperate to contact him and you did not tell me.'

'There was no reason for you to know that he was the new DO.'

'I wanted to meet him.'

'You are not required. He is on official work.'

'I want to  talk to him.'


'Cause i need to. He is my husband.'

'Was!!! You are confusing yourself and anyways you always loved armaan.'

'But i miss Sid. I have always missed him ever since he left. There is a big void which just does not fill up.'

'You are plainly missing his presence nothing else. You do not love him and so he left. Get hold of yourself. Go meet armaan you will be fine.'

'Armaan could never fill this void only Sid can and I have come to realise why. Actually accept the reason why.'

'And why is that if I may ask?'

'Cause I love him Papa.'

'No you yourself nave agreed to the fact that you always loved only armaan. You are messing again Riddhima and you are leaving for Delhi tonight itself.'

'No papa I will not!!! I am staying right here!!!'

The next day had Riddhima rallying between the management and her father to get herself reinstated. There were too many illusions surrounding Riddhima and finally Shashank felt its best to let them break on their own though he feared losing Sid, his only hope to get Sanjeevani back on track.

He gave up and let the management decision take precedence.

Finally having found success she set out to enquire about Sid's whereabouts. So her next destination was the OPD. She could not find that familiar cute face of her doctor and she kept humming that question. 'Where is he?'

'Whom are you searching for?' questioned a nurse.

'Sid…. I mean Siddhant Modi’ she corrected herself seeing the bewildered look on the nurse’s face. The nurse pointed at the far end of the ward walked away shaking her head in disbelief that Riddhima could not recognize her ex-husband despite his change in appearance. After all she had lived with him for almost a year. How vain was she? was the only thought that could come to the nurse’s mind.

Despite being told she found it difficult to locate Sid. There seemed to be a briefing session happening and in the middle of the crowd was a man with his back to her. He wore a black trousers and a crisply ironed light blue pin striped with barrel cuff fastened in place. His hair was gelled back to add to his look and she noticed he also wore a pair of glasses when he turned slightly while addressing the interns standing there. For a moment she wondered if the nurse played a prank on her.

As she was about to leave to wait up in Sid’s office the nurse returned ‘Did you not meet him? He is right there in briefing the interns.’

‘That’s not him’ Riddhima chided the nurse while the nurse stood her ground ‘Yes, that’s very much him Dr Siddhant Modi ….yo…..’ and she bite back her words though being very much tempted to taunt Riddhima ‘your ex-husband’.

Wanting to prove the nurse wrong she went forward to meet him. The crowd was dispersing and Sid was checking his pager. The dark look clouded his eyes for a moment reading the page. Shashank had messaged him that Riddhima was joining duty that very day. Matter fact information which he needed to share but the ulterior motive was to warn Sid beforehand so he would not feel overwhelmed.

He steadied himself when a voice called out. ‘Hi…..’

Part 16

Dr Kirti too had got the news and worried sick of the after effects she had come to check on Sid. Finding him strangely calm made her more worried and so she had gently nudged Sid for his attention 'hi'

Coolly acknowledging her presence he went on to check the reason for being there 'Is there anything that needs my attention?

'No nothing was just passing by so thought of ...'

Sid nodded his head and started making his way out.

Riddhima could not understand how to find her voice back. When Sid turned to acknowledge Kirti that's the time she had gotten full view of that crisply dressed gentleman and had knocked the daylight out of her. 'Sid?' He looked so different that she could not recognize him. She was unable to place her finger on what bothered her more; Sid changing so much or her not being able to recognize him.

She had been searching for her cute doctor where as she found a stern looking somber gentleman who seemed a too mature for his age. For a moment she even questioned if this was her Sid or just a look alike or an imposter.

To add to her agony she found the same girl from the locker room standing there with the same amused look on her face. 'Ya that's him not Abhimanyu but Siddhant .'

That girl was really getting on Riddhima's nerves and such people were always told their place.

'I think you have duty assigned!!!' barked Riddhima and moved forward calling out 'Sid!!!'

Not frayed but Riddhima's deadly looks 'Sid and that makes him even sexier...isn't it' she questioned herself enthusiastically.

Sid and Kirti immediately stopped in their tracks hearing that call.

Kirti was cursing her fate for being there while Sid just took in deep breath to ease his frayed nerves. The both turned back to have Riddhima standing right in their face.

'Hi...' that was all she could manage while trying to calm down her excitement.

She did not need to make much of effort as it was brought crashing down

'Reporting for duty?'

Sid's calm indifferent question threw Riddhima completely off balance. She narrowed her eyes as to question 'Is that all you ask?'

Kirti definitely wished if she had some magic wand which she could wave to either make herself disappear or Riddhima. But alas she was not a magician but just a doctor and the second in line 'Reporting to duty aren't you Dr Riddhima?' she asked hesitatingly half scared that a volcano would erupt if she was too pushy.

Still in her daze Riddhima nodded a yes. Sid who was waiting till now quietly took in another deep breath and turned to Kirti.

'Assign her the duty for the day and I shall meet you at 3 after my meeting with the human resources.'

Part 17

After Sid left Riddhima could not recollect anything that happened except that Dr Kirti had pushed a file in her hand which listed the OPD patients for the day for some Dr Sonia. She was still reeling under the shock of what had transpired there.

She felt as if pushed into the dark dungeons of hell.

However someone was on seventh heaven. The attitude with which Sid dealt with the woman who gave her a deadly stare got her happy. 'What attitude ... Dr Sonia Mehta likes men with attitude. This is going to be interesting.'

Riddhima could hardly concentrate. She wanted to meet Sid but Kirti made sure that Riddhima would not remain even on the same floor as Sid. Sid was her savior and she would also make sure life was easy for him and if required she would guard him with her life. Ignoring all the irritated stares and excuses she managed to keep Riddhima busy and away from testing Sid's patience.

At one point, she had felt she almost lost the battle. 'I know this place well and I can handle this task Dr Kirti.'

'No Dr Riddhima you continue with your duty and I know whom to assign the task of assisting Dr Siddhant' It was Sonia's lucky day and Kirti beckoned her in haste as she was the only other doctor she could see in sight. 'Dr Sonia you are required to assist Dr Siddhant'

'Dr Kirti how can you assign this task to an intern?'

'Intern!!!' they both exclaimed in horror as if Riddhima had used the most kind of abusive term for her.

'She is a senior doctor.'

' really don't know much here looks like. Anyways where can I find Dr Siddhant?'

Kirti was quick to pack off a grumbling Riddhima before dealing with Sonia 'You will find him on the fourth floor. And one moment Dr Sonia I will not appreciate you talking about your colleagues like this again.'

'But she really does not know anything. She did not even know Siddhant...'

'Dr Siddhant ...mind you' cut back Kirti

'that he is the new DO'

'That not her fault. She is just back from her holiday and now you may leave to do your duty.' Kirti packed her off too and got down to counting the number of hours for her day to finish. By now she was sure she had gotten off the wrong side of bed. To avoid Riddhima she wanted someone else and of all people she had to find Sonia. In the very first briefing session she had gathered that Sid would definitely have a hard time keeping this girl at a bay. She wondered which of these combinations were deadlier Sid and Riddhima or Sid and Sonia. From the frying pan into the fire but who was the pan and who was the fire she could not understand.

This was indeed Sonia's lucky day. After a long wait her wish was getting fulfilled. She had tried hard to convince her parents to let her stay back in US but unfortunately they wanted their only daughter back home. Sonia had seen Siddhant at one of conferences her hospital where she did her internship had arranged.

Sid's charisma had caught her attention like many others but never got a chance to meet or talk to Sid. But that chance destiny provided and she intended to make the most of it.

'Hello Dr Siddhant ...I am Sonia your assistant for this project.'

'Here are the files for you to work on.'

'I understand you need someone to help you with the working of this department and I was glad to be chosen for it.'

'No I know my way around'

'I have been waiting for this opportunity since City Hospital days. I had seen you at a conference there but alas I had to come back home.'

Sid being least interested just nodded and returned to his work.

They worked silently for a while and it was time for Sonia's break.

'I was planning to take a break. Would you care for anything?'

'No, I am fine.'

Sonia's presence had started unnerving Sid. His non-response to any of her attempts to make a spirited conversation was crushed by Sid but that refused to dampen Sonia's spirits.

The moment she left he got agitated at his luck. He had been keeping strict control on his emotions but for how long. First there was Riddhima and now Sonia, both was getting to him. He was quite aware of Riddhima's efforts to try meeting him and here Sonia was trying to make the most of having met him. He had no aspirations than completing this task of setting Sanjeevani right and leaving to disappear in some far end of this world away from all.

He stormed out of his office to make way to the changing room to splash some water on his face.

Riddhima could not come to terms with what was happening. First Sid had changed so much. It was beyond what she could digest. Plus he had not acknowledged her. As in he had but not as she expected him to. Every spare moment her thoughts would be back on Sid. This was so unlike him. Deep down she knew she was the reason for this and her heart cursed her for it. It pained her to see him such but what she was soon going to witness would kill her totally.

Part 18

Sonia did at times comes across as a girl who lives in a dream world of romanticism but was a very mature person. Those few hours with Sid and she read him through and through.

Sid was back from his break. Seeing Sonia still not in he decided to relax for a while. He was sitting with his eyes closed almost as if he was meditating when Sonia walked in. Sid got up with a jerk and resumed his work.

Sonia too did not bother much and resumed her work whilst keenly observing him intermittently.

Soon her task for the day was done and she handed her files back to Sid.

He was going through the same when she commented 'You forgot to wear your spectacles.'

Caught he tried to make an excuse of him being short sighted and did not need them for reading which Sonia again caught 'So they are just a barrier for not letting people read your eyes or to create a stern image.'

Hearing that Sid glared at her to ward her off.

'You are not what you portray or are you friends with people who spread rumors about you that you are so desperate to prove them right.'

'What do you mean?'

'What I mean is you wear your spectacles only to build up an image and these tough look are just to only ward off people cause they may intrude your personal space. But what are you scared of?'

'I am not scared of anything. I just am like this and prefer being like this.'

'You mean sadoo.'


'That means you are not'

'What makes you think so?' asked Sid gritting his teeth.

'You would not have been so defensive and nor would you have asked me why I felt so.'

Sid shifted uneasily in his chair. Sonia felt sorry for a moment trying to pull Sid out of his comfort zone and thought it was enough for the day. She also did not want to put Sid too much on guard nor did she want to trouble him. While in US she was merely attracted towards Sid due to his status, his achievements and his charisma but now she felt being pulled in seeing the real man behind the garb of the no nonsense Dr Siddhant Modi. She finally resigned 'I think I will take your leave.  Take care of yourself.'

Sid was completely frustrated of his situation and he decided to call it a day. Once in the hotel he headed straight for the bar.

Riddhima checked on Sid the moment she was done with work only to find Sid having left for the day. Frustration further caught on when the staff refused to give her his contact information and her visit to the most likely place, the penthouse went futile.

She must have waited for over a couple of hours before one of the neighbors informed her that her ex-husband was not seen here for many months. This acted as another blow to her. Even when things were not fine between them Sid always stayed in their penthouse. Ironically even after all that happened between them while thinking of the penthouse the words that her heart resounded was 'their penthouse'. After all it was this place that Sid always wanted to bring her back to. This was their 'Sapno ka ghar'. Knowing that he was in India yet not even staying there bothered her terribly.

His indifference in the morning and avoiding staying at their home was a way of avoiding those memories and her. He was always overtly indifferent when he was hurt and upset. He was hurting and he would do so silently. He was upset and he would vent out on himself. She felt helpless but at that moment there wasn't much she could do except return back home with a heavy heart and mind clouded with worry as to where Sid was.

Part 19

Sid's eyes haunted her. She winced in pain as the stark emptiness in his eyes dug a dagger into her heart. The paranoia that hit her during Lonavla trip came back with double the force. Sleep eluded her and she was back in the hospital much before her shift time. She had to meet Sid before Dr Kirti set to her task of keeping her busy with work.

Luckily Sid was in too. The sight wrenched her heart further. Oblivious of his surrounding he went on with his routine. Mercilessly crushing the aspirin and scooping it into the glass of water and downing it in one go. He had drunk a bit more than normal and his head still felt a little grogy and his body dehydrated. He drank a few more glasses of water and settled down to work.

Not wanting to stress him further Riddhima slowly withdrew from there. The entire day she practically spent trying to engage herself in work but at breaks she came back to check on Sid.

Sid tried to find peace Riddhima that Riddhima had not approached him again but somewhere deep down he was a little angered that his belief was very true. She never did care for him.

To add to his agony Sonia persisted with what seemed to be her new found hobby - breaking down his defenses. To scare her he was at his rudest best.

She was back to working on the project in his cabin. Lunch time was fast approaching 'I guess you don't eat lunch.'


'So it's not even a snacky kind of stuff will do.' presenting him some homemade dokla.

'No I don't eat such food.'

'Oh yes I forgot you are born and brought up in US so Indian food would be not your taste.'

'I hate Indian food.' he lied through his teeth whereas his favorite still was a sumptuous meal of simple Rajma Chawal.

'Oh so then, how about a burger? There is an amazing joint just close by.'

'Don't you get it? I am not interested.'

'I can understand you are angry with this world but why make your stomach suffer for it.'

'It's my life, my body. I can choose to do anything I want.'

'Like eating aspirins every morning and then going hungry.'

'Yes and are your files ready that you are taking the luxury of yapping away to glory.'

'Yes they very much are.' smiling triumphantly.

'Fine then you may leave.'

'Cool but I will still say don't punish your stomach.' saying that she left.

Sid was infuriated by Sonia's persistent behavior and it angered him more that she had intentionally left the box of dokla to tease his hunger.

Sid had to prove that he was the epitome of self control and so the box got returned to Sonia in the evening untouched. 'Thanks but no thanks.'

Sonia did feel much offended but contained her angry understanding that it was a unsolicited gesture and Sid indeed had a right to refuse.

Riddhima who was observing this felt a little offended seeing Sid refusing any kind gesture coming his way. She was also hurt seeing how he had closed himself off yet a small part of her was happy seeing Sonia is being refused.

She had used her resources and pulled up Sid's details and right after the shift she parked herself in the lobby of his hotel. Tonight there would be no escape but Sid determined to avoid her exited the hotel and settled himself in a nearby lounge bar to chill out till the ground cleared.

Chilling out was not his destiny as some of the male interns were there for a quiet evening and so JP and Jiggy walk in towards the end of the evening.

Sid had downed a couple of drinks. when he got up wobbly, making way to the rest room when he bumped into JP.

'Sid bhaiya!!!'

'Huh...' Sid steadied himself to see who called him. Seeing JP he smirked and walked away lightly pushing aside JP.

JP was stunned to see Sid in this state. He too felt guilty of abandoning him when the whole divorce fiasco happened.

The rest of the gang left soon but JP and Jiggy waited around. It was nearing 10 in the night and no sign of Sid got Riddhima worried. On enquiring at the reception she was told that normally he returns by 8 but he was not seen that evening. He was not in the hospital also so started her incessant calls to Sid.

Each missed call from Riddhima hammered his senses and he drink peg after peg to the extent that he started feeling sick.

JP and Jiggy both tried to tear him away but Sid dismissed them 'Leave me alone. I am fine.'

Fearing a scene being created the attendants asked JP and Jiggy to leave but seeing his once friends being asked to leave he walked away himself.

Seeing Riddhima still there being stubborn not to leave he entered the hotel through a restaurant entrance and made way to his room.

But worry did not leave him in peace even in his drunk state. He called up the reception to ask them to make Riddhima leave. He was strictly instructed them to escort her gracefully and hail a decent cab if she did not have her own car.

Next day when Sid got and recollected the evening anger surged through his veins. The concern from those whom he had left far behind got to him. They pitied his state he felt and he hated that. Even for matter Sonia's advances irked him. He wanted to be left to himself and all were encroaching on his space. What repelled him most was his concern for the lady who never really cared for him.

He had a good mind to return back to Houston taking the next flight out but he was never the person who would run away from facing the situation. He would do what it takes to tell all those who were sympathizing with him that he did not need any.

He decided to go to work but before that he needed to shift out or else Riddhima being her stubborn self would be back in the evening.

He checked into a new hotel and went to Sanjeevani.

The grapevine works fast and almost all knew about the evening at the lounge.

The staff was however careful not to discuss anything near Riddhima. Even JP and Jiggy avoided her like a plague fearing being questioned for not informing her. They were by now quite suspicious of something having gone haywire since Riddhima behaving like a lost lamb ever since Sid left and now with armaan missing from Sanjeevani.

Sonia was also aware but not surprised. Her friends in City Hospital had already gathered quite a lot of information for her. She now quite understood why her parents had dropped sending a proposal to Sid's family seeing her interest in settling there when she was back in US completing her internship.

Sonia unaware of the situation under which Sid took to drinking confronted Sid. 'So its a liquid diet!!!'

That did it for Sid and this time he was not going to take it laying down.

He took off his spectacles and gave her a long hard stare 'Is it a part of the project you are working on for Sanjeevani.'

'No' said Sonia shifting a little in her chair yet trying to keep her voice steady.

Sid remained silent yet holding eye contact intentionally for another minute to unnerve her.

It did the work and Sonia was justifying her question 'Well .. you see .. Its not the best for a person to ..'

Sid narrowed his eyes to stare at her more viciously.

Sonia gulped back and cleared her throat to continue 'to do alcohol abuse.'

The silence which followed gave Sonia the chills.

'Have you finished with your sermon then please do continue with the project or else I will find someone else.'

'Why are you hell bent of messing with your life.'

'Cause it's my life haven't I made myself clear by now on this and I can choose to do whatever I want with it.'

'And what about the people who care for you?'

'There are none.' He swiftly picked up the phone and rang Dr Kirti.

'Is there anyone else who can do this project?' he almost barked at Dr Kirti.

Stunned by the sudden change 'What happened, Siddhant?' she stepped out of professional boundaries as she felt for Sid and asked with a voice laden with concern.

'Dr Siddhant .. Its Dr Siddhant Modi.' yelled Sid back into the phone.

Taken aback completely with Sid's behavior and slightly offended Kirti retorted back 'I am sorry ..Dr Siddhant is there a problem?'

The change in tone got Sid back immediately to back to being calm and feeling guilty. He drew in a sharp breath and replied this time more calm 'Yes ..It would be great if I could have someone else working on this.'

'Is she not doing her job well Dr Siddhant?' asked Kirti putting much emphasizing on addressing Sid appropriately.

Sid made a note of this and calmly replied 'No she is doing a fine job but ..'

'But what ..?'

'I think I can handle this on my own. I don't need anyone assisting me.'

Kirti gauged something must have happened if not Sid would have never reacted like this. Setting her pride aside for a moment she replied 'I can understand but taking the work upon yourself is not a good idea. Let me see what I can do. Till then we can stall work on it.'

'Hmm' Sid affirmed her suggestion solemnly.

'You may continue with your regular duties Dr Sonia.

This had Sonia fuming mad 'If some shows genuine concern you shove the person away. I have never met a more stupid and uncouth person like you.'

Unaffected with Sonia's scornful words he returned to his work.

This was not for long. The realization of having wronged weighed heavy. He hated giving in to his emotions. This was exactly the reason Riddhima and armaan could manipulate him. But Kirti and Sonia were not at fault though they too were tried to break his defenses but their concern did not seem so fake. Finally his guilt and primal nature caught up and he was standing in front of Kirti. 'Dr Kirti I am sorry. My behavior towards you was completely unacceptable. I did not mean to enforce my position on you.'

Kirti was moved yet again by his genuineness and gave her hope that the old Siddhant or more appropriately Sid was not lost. He was just hiding somewhere scared to come out from the fear of being hurt.

She was aware of what had transpired between Sonia and him as she had touch based with her immediately.

As unfortunate was the incident yet something always came out of it and here too she felt the same. She saw a glimpse of the old Sid and understood the reasons behind him hiding.

Hope surged and she looked keenly at him. 'And..'

'Or on Dr Sonia. She can resume work tomorrow'

Kirti smiled and nodded.

Riddhima was extremely worried. He did not return to the hotel till late in the night. During the day he was visibly angry and was behaving increasingly uptight. Was it her presence that was bothering him so much that he refused to mellow down even on others? This possibility seemed unlikely cause Sid never was the kind who would direct his anger on anyone else other than the person concerned. At most occasions, he would end up venting all on himself. Her anxiety rose every passing moment as fear built in her for Sid doing something untoward to harm himself.  For this she needed to meet Sid. She called the hotel to inform her when Sid arrives but she was told that he had checked out of the hotel in the morning and refused to divulge any further information.

Calling Sid had already proven a waste and so she was left with the only option which she avoided for so long, meeting Sid in the hospital itself.

Elated Kirti reached the locker room to inform Sonia that she would be continuing to assist Sid. Sonia who was still nursing her hurt pride sat there shedding silent tears. She felt for Sid and hence wanted to help him and understand him better.

Kirti thought that the good news would act a healing portion but before breaking the news she wanted to check if that was indeed the reason for her tears. 'Dr Sonia are you still upset?'

'How dare that man can behave like?'

'And what if I say that Dr Siddhant himself wants you to work with him?'

'But I do not wish to work with an arrogant stupid drunkard.'

'Those are rather harsh words for Dr Siddhant.'

'You are saying this. Don't you remember how he spoke to you?'

'Well I remember what he did after that. He apologized to me.'

'Oh .. did he? But seriously what is his problem. He was downright rude. He has a drinking problem and I was just concerned for him.'

'Do you really know what his problem is?'

'I feel he is just too scared.'

'Exactly and do you know why?'

'All that I have come to know of him is that he has had this drinking problem for many months now.'

'But you don't know the reason?'

'What is the reason?'

Kirti that evening told Sonia about Sid being divorced recently. It was personal information but she felt Sonia needed to know. She could also see that Sonia had broken Sid's defenses and was getting to him. In order to make him snap out he needed a jolt and Sonia seemed to be providing them. But again Sonia also needed to know what she was dealing with. A man broken in love and by the people he loved. She was careful not to divulge names but and also did not tell her all the details.

Sonia was flabbergasted hearing it all. Her heart went out for Sid yet she could not get herself to agree to what Sid was making out of his life. Kirti advised her to take it a little easy on Sid. When one is dealing with tangled threads one needs to do with patience and here too patience was the key. What remained to be seen was how much patience did Sonia have in her?

Part 20

Another day had come to an end and Sid was on his way out. But before that he had one agenda. Talk to Sonia.

Sonia was pleased to see him there in the locker room. It seemed ages after he returned to that place. This place held a lot of memories which rushed back to him. He shut his eyes for a moment in disgust remembering the last incident he had witnessed there.

Sonia for a moment could not understand the reason but waited patiently for Sid to start with hopeful eyes. Sid's apology to her was on its way.

But those memories sent Sid on a tangent. 'I understand by now Dr Kirti has communicated that you are still on the project.'

Was that all he was going to say? That question was all over her face. His insensitivity mocked her and she questioned 'Is that all?'

'No ..and there was something more I wanted to say.'

Once again hope surged that now he would apologize.

'It would be much appreciated if you restrict your attention to the project and not pry into in my life.'

'But I was concerned.'

'You do not need to Dr Sonia.'

'But ..'

'Thats enough Sonia and now please if you have anything to talk about the project we can or else lets call it a day.'

As Sid turned to leave Sonia was quick to stop him. 'So what plans for evening..I mean how about dinner?

'No I am good.'

'Well you need to eat and so do I and then I may be we can discuss further on the project.' suggested Sonia hoping Sid will fall for it.

'I don't want staff carrying work out of here.'

She was not going to let it go so easy 'ok then at least you can walk me to my  car.'

While walking towards the exit she again tried coaxing him. 'You know there is fantastic restaurant which serves amazing Gujju food. I am sure your mother must be cooking similar food and you must be definitely missing that. I think you will like for a change the home cooked food taste.'

'I said I am good. And by the way we have reached your car.'

To Sonia's fortune her car refused to start. Out of sheer frustration Sid had to ultimately offer to drop her when she played the helpless dame card.

Riddhima was a tad bit late and when she saw both of them driving away together. It pinched her like it always did. Be it when Sid had been to see Naina for marriage or when Sid vehemently defended Shilpa. She was always insecure of losing Sid as Sid never openly accepted that she mattered fearing burdening her with the relationship which started from a compromise. That fear set in strongly. Sid always left the ball in her court and this time too she needed to make the first move. She wanted to stop him but PA system announced her requirement in the ER.

She stomped away in frustration. After all duty always came first.

Sid's mind had chosen to block any reasoning. Sonia was not the first person who had tried. Abhi, Nikki, Sue, Yuvi and his parents all at some point had tried their hand at it. But none had worked. They even had thought of therapy but Sid did not relent and so after escorting Sonia to a decent cab he was back at the same lounge as the previous evening and next morning in his office crushing an aspirin and downing it in one go.

Riddhima who was passing by or more like it chosen to pass by his office, observed this.

Worry etched her mind and she was just about to walk into his office when Kirti stopped her.

'Do you have some work with Dr Siddhant?'

'Dr Kirti this is the second time I have seen him taking medicines in the morning. I am worried for his health.'

You have your other patients who are waiting for you.'

'But Dr Kirti ..'

'I am here to check on him so you can move on to do your duty. He should not be your concern.'

'But Ma'am ..'

'Leave now.'

Knowing how adamant Riddhima could be Kirti entered Sid's office and started discussing some work, waiting for Riddhima to leave.

Riddhima observed them for a moment. It did not look like Dr Kirti was examining him. She decided to walk in when once again she was stopped. This time by a nurse who was called her for something that needed her immediate attention.

That sight did not leave her. The whole day and she finally caught up with Dr Kirti in the cafe in the evening.

'Dr Kirti, I need to talk to you.'

'Is it something urgent.'


'Tell me'

'Can you come aside for a moment please?'

Kirti understood what was playing on Riddhima's mind and so stood her ground.

'You can discuss anything here since it has to be work related.'

Annoyed Riddhima drew in a sharp breath 'Dr Kirti I wanted to know the findings about ..Si ..Dr Siddhant's health.'

Kirti was shocked seeing Riddhima braving the chance of gossip and openly questioning about Sid. So was the whole gang which included Subhankar JP Jiggy and Sister Lovely.

She calmed herself and replied 'He had a head ache and was talking an aspirin. Nothing to worry about.'

Headache can be symptoms for many ailments and panic struck her. 'He is having it too often. Did you put him through a thorough medical?'

'I did not see the need. He is fine and you do not need to worry.' said Kirti in a tone that sounded more of an order than suggestion.

The blabber mouth that JP was could not resist. He nudged Jiggy and whispered 'Hangover!!!'

Riddhima was quick to catch that and so was someone sitting beside eavesdropping on the conversation as it was regarding someone she was interested in.

'What?' Riddhima questioned sharply.

It came so suddenly that JP and Jiggy were caught off guard.

'Nothing Flowerji'

'What did you just say?'

Jiggy coming to JP's rescue. 'Nothing its just that he must have drank a bit to unwind and went ..'

'Sid may be a social drinker but does not abuse alcohol' she said refuting the charges.

Another gang of interns were heard giggling at Riddhima's lack of knowledge. She turned and said glaring at them 'Is there anything funny?'

One of interns who got ticked off by Riddhima's arrogance was about to open his mouth when Sonia jumped in 'Sorry for overhearing the conversation but what you are saying is true Dr Riddhima. He does enjoy a drink but not yesterday.'

'See' Riddhima beamed triumphantly.

The intern now got even more irritable as he was being proved to a gossip monger churning out a bunch of lies.

Sonia anticipating the intern's rebuttal added 'We were out for dinner and he surely did not drink.'

Sonia had two intentions behind this lie, one to save Sid's image and second was to prove to Riddhima that the person whom Riddhima called Sid so casually the other day and others around was closer to her. It was her way to mark the territory.

Riddhima felt like strangling Sonia but discounted her closeness as she was the one to prove her case for Sid.

Riddhima once again got on a mission. Meet Sid but her luck really did not seem to favor her. He had left for the day. Gulping her pride she came back to the café and then went to locker room in search of Sonia.

‘Yesterday you were with Sid right?’

Sonia rolled her eyes at Riddhima. ‘Yes.’

‘Do you know where he stays?’

‘Yes’ Sonia lied again.

‘Can you please tell me where?’ almost pleading to Sonia.

‘No’ came a quick reply

‘Please I need to talk to him something very urgent. Please tell me please.’

What was she going to tell Riddhima when she herself did not know so she faked a reason ‘He has asked me not to disclose his information to anybody.’

‘Dr Sonia please I beg of you please tell me. I really really need to meet him.’

‘I am sorry.’ And Sonia walked out leaving a tearful Riddhima behind.