Every minute without talking to Sid or seeing him was suffocating her. She tried calling Sid but after a few calls the phone was not reachable. His scornful words which he had said when he was angry, his indifference, his eyes which accused her were haunting her. He was angry again and she was the reason for it all like back. Her mind was already throwing up possibilities which scared her.
She was on her way out when the she received a call. Rahul and Muskan were in town and they urged to catch up.
'For old times sake.'
'You would be there for a couple of days so we can meet up later.'
'No we are going to Delhi by tonight's flight. So lets just meet up and bring the whole gang along. Don't tell them let it be a surprise.'
'Then we can meet up later when you are back.'
'Don't know if we get the chance.' Muskan was insistent and finally Riddhima had to give in. They met at a lounge near the airport.
They were surprised not to see armaan with her. 'Where is armaan and the rest of them? We thought we will get to meet all of you.'
'armaan and Anjali are not here.'
'Where are they? And where is Dr Kirti Subhankar and Atul.'
Dr Kirti and Subhankar had left for the day.'
'Give me their number I will call them.'
Riddhima was successful in reasoning with that they were family people and could not do late nights due to their daughter while the rest were in Delhi.
'No issues we shall catch up with them in Delhi. Why don't you come down with the rest for the weekend. We can have a gala time there.' suggested Rahul.
Riddhima was not in a mood but she tried to assure her presence. 'I will definitely try.'
'Make sure you come and give me armaan number I will call him once there.'
The rest of the evening they talked about old times. Riddhima whose mind was still stuck on Sid just kept nodding her head absent mindedly.
Muskan noticed this and commented 'Someone is missing armaan. My My'
Riddhima was quite uncomfortable but gave a vague smile and changed the topic back to Rahul and Muskan life after Sanjeevani. Over dinner Rahul and Muskan informed moved to US individually and later caught up in US Sanjeevani and got married. They were in India for a marriage in Muskan's family.
Sid was in the same lounge unaware of Riddhima's presence.
He drank peg after peg slowly humming to the song that was being played.
Riddhima's table was not far but she did not see him as he sat with her back to the bar.
Sid got up taking unsure steps towards the rest room when Rahul saw him. 'Oh he is here. How come?
'He is supposed to be transferred here.' said Muskan.
Riddhima who was hardly paying attention just nodded not realizing whom they were talking about.
'Ya it's sad. Such a fine doctor but by evening a complete drunkard.'
'What? Whom are you talking about' questioned Riddhima seeing the conversation going towards alcohol abuse.
'That man there. You know him, I guess.' pointing towards the bar. By the time Riddhima turned Sid was out of sight.
'Who Rahul?' asked Riddhima irritably.
'Dr Modi yaar.'
'Dr Siddhant Modi.' Muskan clarified seeing Riddhima's stunned expression.
'What rubbish? He does not drink.' Riddhima growled back.
'Why are you so defensive about him and if you don't believe it see for yourself. He will back soon as the evening has just started for him. You can take a nice long look at him to clear your doubts.' said Muskan
'Do one work lets shuffle places. You sit next to Muskan so you get a clear view of the bar.' suggested Rahul.
Riddhima waved away the suggestion as she was sure Sid would never drink so much. 'I don't need to. I know that is not true.'
Both Rahul and Muskan found Riddhima self belief funny and waited for Sid to return to prove their point.
Seeing Sid return Rahul immediately beckoned Riddhima's attention 'See he is back.'
The fear which lay dormant for some time rose and she turned. Only to catch Sid's profile. She realized it was him but her heart did not want to believe. Refusing to accept that what Rahul said was true.
Seeing that, Rahul purposely got up and nudged Riddhima to shift places. In the state of shock still she shifted. Her eyes fixed on the man at the bar.
'So now you agree.' Rahul mocked Riddhima's belief.
There was no response. To get her to affirm he called out. 'Hello, Dr Modi. How are you?'
Hearing his name Sid turned to look in the direction of the voice.
His vision a little blurred from the intoxicating. He focused a little at the table to make out who it was.
Some doctor who looked familiar. 'From US Sanjeevani.' He nodded his head and was going to return to his drink when he saw another familiar face. 'No it can't be her I am imagining. This person will never let me live in peace I think I need another drink.' He drank the peg he was holding on to hoping that the burning sensation in his throat surpasses the pain his burning heart experienced. He felt the drink hitting his stomach and senses. He steadied himself and looked again hoping she would disappear. 'Nopes" and he turned tapping his finger on the glass indicating a refill.
It looked like Riddhima had seen a ghost. She looked pale. Her eyes stark, wide open still trying to come to terms with reality. She was shocked and was trying to make sense if what she saw was indeed true.
Muskan a little worried seeing Riddhima tapped her on her shoulder 'Riddhima'
'Huh' she responded shifting her gaze from Sid to Muskan and back to Sid.
Everything zoned out. Tears welled up blurring her vision.
'Riddhima, why are you crying?'
'Why?' Riddhima questioned with her tearful gaze still fixed on Sid. That question was meant for Sid not for Muskan. Before leaving Sid had promised her he would take care of himself then why was he doing this to himself?
But it had sounded like a question meant for Muskan. Muskan shrugged her shoulders 'We really don't know. Ever since he is there he has been like this. He is the finest doctor but god alone knows why he is like this. He doesn't mix around, hardly talks. In fact I have never seen him smile also.'
Description of Sid's life broke Riddhima and the pain numbed her. The tears which her eyes held flowed down staining her paled cheeks.
Rahul and Muskan did not find this out of place reaction. Riddhima was always a sensitive person with a kind heart which would go out for any unfortunate person. 'Riddhima, it's ok. Relax. All have to go through their share of pain. Look at yourself. Remember how miserable you and armaan were when you were trying to convince your parents.'
Riddhima was staring blankly at Muskan. She did not know the reason for Sid's pain was her. This pain was not due for him but he had taken upon himself for her. This was nothing in front of the pain that armaan and she had suffered when convincing her parents. They had support while Sid always endured everything alone.
Muskan consoled her. Rahul felt that till Sid was there Riddhima would be miserable so he suggested helping Sid. 'Do you want me to drop him home or something? Soon he will not be in the state.'
Hearing that, she vehemently rejected the offer. Sid would hate anyone pitying him and thus offering help.
Soon it was time for their flight and all three left. Riddhima wanted to wait back but that would call for suspicion and these two planned to meet armaan. If he was to know then he would come rushing back adding to their stress.
But indeed she could not walk away leaving Sid like this and so she was back after dropping Rahul and Muskan to their waiting cab.
Sid was not to be seen at the bar. Scared that he left in that state alone she panicked and asked the bar tender about his whereabouts.
'He has gone to the rest room. But lady please do not trouble him. He is our regular patron and we do not want him disturbed.'
'Regular patron. Does he come here regularly?'
'Yes every evening.'
'He was here last night?'
'Yes ma'am but I would request you to be seated at your table and enjoy the evening and not bother him. Or else we will need to ask you to leave.'
She could not leave and she withdrew to her table.
The moment Sid was back he felt he was being watched; by an undesirable person.
He settled down at the bar and still he could feel those eyes on his back.
He called for another drink despite knowing he was reaching his limits but he preferred losing himself to oblivion than feeling those eyes on him.
He drank a few more. Each peg down felt like a punch in her gut. Her heart bled seeing his body was slouching on the bar unable to hold his weight and sit straight.
Her endurance gave way and she walked feebly to the bar.
Ignoring those warnings looks of the bar tender she lightly touched Sid's shoulder 'Sid.'
'Sid' that soft pain stricken voice tucked at his heart for a moment and repelled him the next.
He refused to look up shutting his eyes tight afraid of being pulled back any moment to face those eyes which always had the capability of melting him.
The warmth from that touch was telling him a different story that what had come to believe. No he was not precious to anybody and definitely not her. He shrugged his shoulder to shake off that hand. That slight movement had the capability of driving a sharp dagger through her heart. She winced in pain.
The bar tender gave her another warning look. She had never let the pain of Sid's rejection and protests dissuade her then this was just a warning look of bar tender.
She waited for a minute before calling out to Sid again nudging him lightly.
His head wobbled to one side leaving Riddhima gasping from fear.
'Sid .. Sid aankhen kholo Sid'
Sid having had his last drinks too fast had passed out.
'Ma'am Ma'am he has just fallen asleep.'
'Oh god.' Riddhima grabbed held on to Sid fearing him falling from the bar stool.
'Help me please.'
The manager and another attendant rushed to her help.
They took Sid and made him sit on the couch near the bar waited for Riddhima's instructions.
Riddhima's mind was working at full speed. ‘What to do? Where to take him to? How to make Sid sober? How was she going to manage him when he comes around?’
She felt drained looking at Sid's sleeping figure. She tore her eyes away from him and braced herself. 'Get hold of yourself. You will have to do it even if it means bearing his wrath.'
She got up and requested the manager to help Sid to her car.
They were taking him away while she stood rooted looking at his drooping figure supported by the two men. Seeing her sorry state the bar tender called her 'Ma'am'. She turned to the bar tender. Thinking it was for the bill she pulled out her wallet and handed him her card.
The bar tender felt a little ashamed to have warned her off. He quietly charged the card and handed the slip for signing. While Riddhima completed the needful formalities the bar tender gathered the courage. 'Who is he? As in to you? I have never seen him with anybody. You are the first one.'
Riddhima looked up wondering what to answer him. Then looking in the direction that they had taken Sid she replied 'My saviour'
Bar tenders encounter many strange people with their strange stories. This was just another one he thought and got back to work after handing over the card and bill.
Riddhima still couldn’t think up with where she could take him. Not to her house. She did not want Shashank or her mom having a bad impression. She did not know where he was staying. She did not to check into a hotel. She opened her bag to place the wallet in when her hand touched something. The keys to the penthouse. She had never got around to returning it to Sid and always remained in her bag.
The penthouse was in a mess. It was covered with dust. The watchman helped Sid up. Riddhima quickly changed the bed sheet in the room which was once hers and helped the watchman to settle Sid in bed.
Sid was sound asleep but she could not get herself leave him alone. After making a quick call to her mother to inform her she would be not returning as she was catching up with Rahul and Muskan she was decided to settle down.
She covered Sid with a blanket after carefully removing Sid's spectacles and his shoes.
The whole night she spent by Sid's side sitting on chair with her one hand resting on Sid. She wanted to be there if Sid needed anything.
As the effect wore off Sid's sleep was getting disturbed. He shifted in bed almost displacing the blanket.
Immediately Riddhima was up to check on Sid. He was sweating profusely. An after effect of alcohol.
She turned on the air conditioner, covered him with the blanket and settled down.
Sid slept quietly through the night only intermittently murmuring to himself which Riddhima could hardly make out just a few words here and there.
Morning came and Sid got up with a startle. He looked around surprised. 'How did I come here?' He never carried the keys to penthouse around then how come he was here.
His answer was standing right in front of him.
'Riddhima' He clenched his teeth in disgust and got up swiftly. The hangover caught up and he collapsed in bed again. Riddhima rushed to his side to help him sit up.
He held up her hand waning not to come any closer.
He had a right to be angry and she would endure it. She calmly held out a glass of water for him to help his dehydration. Sid turned his face the other side indicating his refusal.
'Pee lo better feel karoge' said Riddhima holding the glass out to him once again. Sid was not going to give in to this. She placed the glass on the side table 'Yaha rakh rahi hoon. Pee lena. Heater on hai aur kapde yaha rakh diye hai. Shower and get ready nahi toh hospital ke liye der ho jayegi.'
Riddhima had gotten up early and had set about arranging the necessities. To her luck there were still some of his and her clothes there. She had ironed his clothes and set them out for him.
He hated the sight of them. As she turned to leave he moved across the bed to throw them away.
Typical of Sid. She smiled and quickly reprimanded him. 'Neeche mat phekna farsh ganda hai.'
Her calm normal behavior got on his nerves. He crushed them and threw them aside on the bed as soon as she left.
She reckoned he needed time to get ready. He was not going to agree if she was to persist with him.
She silently set herself to making some breakfast. She had gotten the watchman to do some quick shopping for her.
When she was here this was her daily routine and life then seemed so settled. She missed this many months. Having set out the table she went in to check on Sid who was still grumpily sitting on the bed and all her effort lay crushed on the side.
Time was running out. Soon she needed to report to duty and going by the discipline issues faced she was sure get slaughtered even if she was late by a minute but this was more important. She went down to the kitchen to wait for Sid. Some more time passed by yet there was no sign of him coming down.
Sid was waiting for Riddhima to leave. He hated every moment of her presence in the house and she refused to budge.
Riddhima again went to check on him. Sid had not moved a bit. He sat there staring into blank space. 'Sid kya tum theek ho.' she asked moving in.
'Tum se matlab?' he barked back finally not being able take Riddhima's concern any more.
A very valid question coming from Sid. She cheated on him and she was the reason for the failed marriage then why would not Sid ask such a question. Yet she was there because his well being mattered. It mattered more than what it mattered to her when armaan was on his path to self destruction. But armaan was always self destructive. Not Sid and that was killing her cause she had pushed him towards this path consciously or unconsciously.
'Sid ..tumne kal raat ko itni sharaab pee li thi ki ..'
'Sharaab pee thi zeher nahi'
'Chillao mat. Aur tumhare boy friend ki tarah nahi hoon jisse sympathy aur sahare ki zaroorat hai. I can manage myself.'
'Sid tum kal uss halat mein nahi the ki ..'
'Pehle kaha hai aur aaj wapis keh raha hoon mar bhi jaonga toh bhi tumhari maddad ki zaroorat nahi padegi and now get lost.'
Sid was not going to accept her help. It was best that she left. But one last try.
'Tumhare liye breakfast rakha hai. Kha ..'
'I said leave ...Get out ..' he screamed.
Her swollen eyes and her tear stained face attracted much attention. Patients relatives assuming her having received an unfortunate news of a dear one while staff contemplated her having another showdown with armaan.
Uncomfortable with those stares she retrieved to the changing room. Sid's scornful words were refusing to let her tears dry.
She was already late for her duty yet she could not pick herself up to report to duty.
After much time Sid and deliberation Sid got himself to the hospital.
It was briefing time and the PA system announced to assemble near the nurse station.
Still emotionally drained Riddhima picked herself up and made way to the briefing.
Riddhima stood there with her head hung hiding her face. She still looked and felt pathetic and did not any questions coming her way.
Dr Kirti assigned the tasks and then took up the list of defaulters to assign the additional responsibility not as a mere punishment but to them engaged in meaningful activity. One by one she finished and next was -
'Dr Riddhima you were late for shift today. May I know the reason why.'
Sid had just entered and was passing by walking briskly towards his cabin. Despite of having noticed Riddhima he chose to ignore yet the question from Dr Kirti got him to a grinding halt. He wanted to hear the reason Riddhima was going to give.
'We are waiting Dr Riddhima.' asked Kirti seeing Riddhima staring at Sid.
The buzz was starting seeing these two staring at each other. Sid's cold eyes chilled Riddhima's spine and she jolted back when Kirti again questioned 'We do not have the whole day. You are an hour and half late. Can you please tell us the reason quickly?'
She had left the penthouse much and Sid was wondering what kept her back. The look in her eyes told Sid she was not going spill the reason for being so late. After all for him truth was not her virtue.
And so it happened 'I am sorry Ma'am. It won't happen again.'
Disappointment is all that she got from that batch of interns and the story was continuing. 'You will fill in for those hours and after shift make the briefing points for tomorrow and update with the latest tomorrow morning.'
Sid felt guilty but he was happy cause this would keep Riddhima off his back.
Towards evening Sonia was back to working on the project.
'Sid was massaging his temple. He had a splitting headache due to hangover and not eating much in the day. Food repelled him the moment he remembered the breakfast table Riddhima had laid out for him.
'Seems like had bit many last evening or are you also drinking on shift.'
'I do not drink on shift.' he barked back.
'Why you always land up barking at me. Just because I take it.'
'No because you are again prying in my life. What would you take to not do that then I will also have a reason to stop.'
They left together with Sid hoping that she would finally stop and he got an opportunity to drive that point still further. He already had Riddhima on his back trying to butt into his life and he did not want to add Sonia to the list.
On their way out Riddhima saw both leaving together and the gossip in the locker room confirmed that Sid was taking her out for dinner.
Knowing Sonia's habit of lying she doubted that piece of news and after shift she went back to the lounge to check for Sid.
Sid was indeed a gentleman. With a lady around he would not drink more than two.
Sonia tried hard but her impulsive nature took hold when Sid was going through his second drink and she questioned 'What pleasure do you get from brooding over the past so much?'
'You are doing it again.'
'So are you. Why are scared of opening up.'
'I don't want anyone in my life. I have told you that.'
'Sorry my memory failed me. But honestly what is it?'
'Stay out of it.'
'You are being rude.'
'You are intruding.'
'Ok let's talk work.'
Though he never encouraged that but for now it was a better idea.
'So what eye talk was happening this morning? I mean Dr Riddhima and ..'
'That's it. I am done with my dinner. Are you?
'No' she replied stubbornly. 'And you did not answer?' she persisted.
'She was guilty of coming late and I was just was waiting to know the reason. Does that sound good enough a reason?'
Before she could continue Sid managed to take her on a tangent and for the rest of the evening they did not return to the topic.
That topic however did not leave Sid in peace. After dropping Sonia Sid sat in the hotel bar trying to forgot the morning incidents.
Riddhima happiness not finding Sid at the lounge was short lived when her mind threw up the possibility of Sid being someplace else drinking.
To add to her misery, her mother called her to attend a phone call.
'Landline pe iss waqt kaun hai?'
'Jiske calls tum avoid kar rahi ho cell phone pe'
She shut her eyes in an effort to calm her anger and took the receiver. 'Yes armaan.'
'Looks like someone is having a hard time? Is Dr Kirti making you work too hard?'
'No!!!' she dryly replied.
'Oh so someone is missing someone.'
'armaan, why did you call so late in the night?'
'Why are you behaving so uptight? You do not answer my calls nor my messages and now that I have called you are behaving so weird. What wrong?'
'Nothing is wrong.'
'Everything is wrong. Here I am so far away from you stuck in this stupid project which god know for what reason is being stretched for no rhyme or reason. The head here is hell bent on making me join in. You sound so stressed. I am sure they are harassing you too.
'Is Dr Shashank there I want to talk to him right now?'
'I want to come back.'
'It's all a management decision. You are sent there for work and it would be better if you don't jump the protocol and unnecessarily try to pull strings.'
'Why shouldn't I talk to Dr Shashank? I am going crazy missing you. I hell can't even concentrate on anything. I want to come back. Back to you. I am dying to talk to you, to meet you, take you in my arms and feel your love. Look at yourself. You are also so miserable. I can't handle you being so Basket. I am coming back and that is final.'
'No armaan. You are not going to do anything of the kind.'
'You bet I am.'
'No armaan. Don't do this to Papa. Just let things settle at least once. Please'
'Ok but on one condition you will not avoid my calls?'
'I am not avoiding..'
'Love you basket' I did not hear it basket.'
'What I am dying to hear? That you ''
Riddhima patience level touched its limit. She felt disgusted with the entire thought and she just disconnected the call. In an attempt to shut him out, she even left the receiver off the hook and shut off her cell phone. This impulsive act took the toll on armaan. The doubt of a conspiracy cooking up against him resurfaced. The first person he called was JP, his ardent follower whom he had innumerable tips to impressing girls. It was payback time. JP was in catch 22 situation one hand his tips were at stake on the other the wrath to be borne divulging information. He carefully avoided giving out Sid's name but armaan was smart enough. He ultimately used his charm to get information from one of the nurses.
He was hopping mad at Shashank, the gang and especially Riddhima. He felt his world was slipping out and the next day he somehow got himself relieved from Delhi on the pretext of being in Mumbai to attend to his ailing father.
Due to the reason the Delhi head could not deny the request and without consulting with Shashank transfered armaan back.
Another rounds of pills stressed Riddhima out. Nothing was going to hold her back.
'Sid Aaj wapis? Kyu Sid?'
'Is that something you have not learnt or have you forgotten that we need to put you through a refresher training on the various uses of aspirin?
'Ok then I guess you know them well. Good thank you.' mercilessly he crushed the pill and gulped it before Riddhima could stop him and walked out of his office.
Riddhima stubbornly followed showering questions and reasoning. After a point Sid could not take it any longer and buzzed Kirti.
'Dr Riddhima ki duty kaha honi chahiye.'
'She is wilding time outside the General ward on trivial matters. Would you like to talk to her? ... Sure '
Sid handed the phone to Riddhima and left from there.
Kirti could quite gauge what must have happened and Riddhima filled in the blanks while protesting against extra duty.
Kirti just did not want any mess up and did not relent though she understood Riddhima did not mean any harm.
The situation was already messed up and Kirti unknowingly added fuel to the fire.
Riddhima's extra duty was to be with Dr Sonia in the General ward.
'Extra duty today again?' taunted Sonia.
Sonia had seen Sid and Riddhima together and took pleasure in Riddhima getting extra hours. The previous morning incident and Sid's discomfort on Riddhima's mention was bothering her.
'Can we start the duty?'
'You have to start. I have already doing my duty and doing it well.'
'I can where your attention was while you were doing your duty hence I said let's start.'
'After all its Sid...'
'That's for you. Not for me.'
'Let's start duty.'
'Yes I have to work on my project with Sid and intend to finish early this evening.'
'Why? Another so called dinner plan.'
'Good idea. I will get him to take me for dinner again like last evening.'
'Just like the fake dinner that evening.'
'I lied just to save his image but not yesterday when we did go out for dinner.'
'And you did not stop him from drinking.'
'But I contained him to only two drinks.'
'And with just two drinks he got a hangover.'
'How do you know?'
'He was again on his aspirin this morning. Why do you think I was trying to talk to him?'
'Well it was clear that your talking did not even help. My company at least contained him and I will prove it to you.'
'If you can do that I will thank you for the rest of my life.'
Sonia found stance suddenly softening strange. Few moments back she was enforcing herself on Sid and fighting tooth and neck with her and suddenly was ready to thank her if she succeeded in the challenge.
'You will see.'
Sonia felt intimidated by Riddhima and this challenge felt like she wanted to prove Riddhima and more so to herself what she believed in was right.
That evening Sonia could not trick Sid again to take her out for dinner. So she followed him. At the same lounge he sat with his drink.
Sonia pretended bumping into him accidently while waiting for some friends.
'So where are they?'
'Stuck in traffic. You know Mumbai roads.'
'I am sure a gentleman like you ask me to wait up with him till they arrive.'
She had caught his weak point. 'Yes'
He signaled the bar tender to serve her a mocktail of her choice and went back to his drink.
He was going a little slow this evening also. Sonia took a chance and initiated her mission.
'I can see that you drink only to douze your loneliness.'
'Can we talk anything else or better not talk at all?'
'Why are you so scared?'
'No I am not.'
'Yes you are. Scared that someone will come close to you.'
'We have gone over this and I am tired of this conversation. Have your friends not come as yet?'
'Why you want meet them?'
'No then I can have my peaceful evening.'
'No they have not. Anyways why do you drink.'
Sid realised that it was difficult to shake her off and so he ordered another drink and quietly sat down on it not bothering to answer. Sonia went on with her chirade of drinking being bad and Sid being rude towards her feelings.
Sid patience was being tried and to add to it he was again having that feeling of being watched.
The previous evening when Riddhima returned to the lounge, the bar tender moved by the extreme concern and pain in Riddhima's eyes for Sid. Humanity is a virtue which makes man do things which go against their financial benefits. Despite knowing he would lose a steady client, he promised Riddhima without any solicitation that he would inform her if Sid comes there. So he did.
Riddhima sat at the far end of the lounge watching Sid and Sonia. Though her heart burnt seeing Sonia there she tried to console herself that if it did Sid any good then so be it.
'You seriously don't care for yourself do you?' Sonia continued to question Sid
'Riddhima!' Sid murmured as the slight buzz hit him.
'What?' asked a confused Sonia if she had heard it right.
'Nothing.' snapped Sid disgusted with himself for remembering Riddhima.
'What's your problem? Why are you closing on me?'
'I am not closing in on anybody.'
'Yes you are.' snapped losing her patience. There is no point talking to you. You can never be happy. Bye.'
Riddhima seeing this confrontation immediately came forward to stop Sonia 'Sonia' but missed her.
Her attention immediately went to Sid who was now drinking fast to subdue his anger.
Riddhima signalled the bar tender to stop serving and approached Sid 'Sid'
'Oh God ab tum Akela kyu nahi chod dete mujhe'
Ignoring his irritation 'Sid bahoot raat ho chuki hai. Chalo.'
'Jao tum yaha se ...One more please' turning to the bar tender.
'Bas aur nahi Sid.' pleaded Riddhima
'Tumhe samaj nahi atta. Kitni baari samjhao. Yeh meri zindagi hai' and he downed another and yet another.
Riddhima efforts were futile and the story of the first evening repeated.
Next morning Sid was sitting holding his head exasperated at Riddhima's stubborness. She had brought him back to the penthouse.
'Heater on hai. Naha lo. Aur Kapde press kar ke rakhe hai yaha.'
'Enough Bahoot ho gaya. Leave right now and don't show me your face again.'
This was bound to happen and to Riddhima's she managed to take it in her stride. This was the cold Sid who would only vent his frustration by using harsh word yet not meaning any of them.
She needed to be patient and she was going to do all it takes for it.
'Main hospital jaa rahi hoon. Ready ho ke aa jana. Breakfast table pe rakha hai kha lena uss din ki tarah bina khaye mat aa jana.'
Riddhima in both their best interests. Sid needed time and she could afford to be late again. She needed to get off on time to keep a check on Sid.
Sid sat for a long time contemplating 'I think I should go back. I was stupid enough to come here in the first place.'
Sid was not the one to run away from his responsibilities. Kirti's reminder message about the management meeting helped pick up Sid and he was back in Sanjeevani to complete what he had started.
He felt so much in place the minute he stepped in. This was the place where he found and won back the love of his life. Though she seemed aloof now he was sure she can't escape his charm.
He had done this earlier. 'Nobody can take her away from me. Here I am try your luck as much as you can and you will lose again. This time even more miserably.'
He strode confidently to announce his return.
The briefing session was almost done. Riddhima was in on time thus saved of further extra duty.
Since the management inspection was due any moment and they expected it to a surprise one Sid were present to monitor the briefing. Kirti did a fine job driving the point in and the doctors and interns understood the importance of it well. Things were falling in place well. The earlier resistance was being replaced by acceptance as all understood the importance of the new rules and changes. The new changes gave many them opportunities to prove their prowess and gain varied experience thus adding to their profile. They felt empowered and receptive to take on more. This was a big achievement in short span of time. Credit went to Sid and his policies but without the staff's support it was not possible and so he passed it on to them gladly.
The staff was elated and enthusiastically moved to their duty except one - Riddhima. She needed a confirmation on other matters and so she waited around purposely with her interns discussing the cases for Sid to be done.
Kirti noticed this but she was hesitant of reprimanding while Sid chose to ignore her presence entirely.
Sid and Kirti finished arranging their schedule.
Sid was going to leave when Kirti looked at Sid and then at Riddhima to draw his attention hoping to get an indication as to what to do.
Those nervous looks stolen in Sid's direction perturbed Kirti.
Sid and Kirti looked up and this time found Riddhima looking past them feeling uncomfortable.
Kirti looked in that direction and felt as if someone had just successful executed their plan of bringing destruction to all the efforts. 'armaan'
Sid turned to check why Kirti to find armaan staring back at them.
Suprise was written all over his face. He knew was there but he never expected the man standing with Kirti in that professional boring garb to be him.
'Chasma' he smirked seeing the spectacles 'this is not even competition' he reassured himself as his confidence had taken a slight beating by Riddhima's troubled look when their eyes met.
Sid's entire being was repelled by the chessy grin on armaan's face as he greeted Sid. 'Hey Dude.'
He looked away and his eyes fell on Riddhima. The frightened look did not surprise him. Her boyfriend and ex husband in the same place a definite uncomfortable situation. As their eyes met he nodded his head in dismay and disgust.
He was about to take Kirti leave when he was slapped on his shoulder 'Good to see you dude. How are you?'
He closed his eyes to steady himself from turning back and shirking the hand off.
Sid was a gentleman and so he returned with courtesy 'Very well fine Thank you.'
Kirti squirmed thinking of the what may lay ahead. She needed to keep armaan at bay.
'Aap yaha Dr armaan? Aap ko Delhi Sanjeevani ko bheja tha project ke liye.'
He was elated that Kirti asked him that question, now he could mark his territory and show Sid his place.
'Woh kya hai na armaan aur Riddhima ko koi alag nahi kar sakta. Toh chala aaya apni Riddhima ke pass sab kuch khatam karke'
Anger surged through Sid's veins and he questioned gritting his teeth. 'Then are you reporting to duty?'
'Dr Kirti please do the needful.'
'Hey dude. ..Tum toh ek dum professional ban gaye Suit boot ek dum Dr Shashank ki tarah. Kise impress kar rahe ho. Said he almost whispering to Sid...'But good to have you here hum sab ko todhi madad mil jayegi. So Dr Kirti where is my duty and which intern is assisting me. Is it Sid?'
armaan every comment was trying everyone's patience. Riddhima looked on dreading a fight. Sid was counting numbers to divert his attention but Kirti was not the one to take things laying down.
'Dr armaan Firstly Dr Siddhant Modi ek senior doctor hai aur humare DO. Everyone reports into him including me. Woh humari maddad ke liye nahi yeh jo mess create kiya hai usse theek ke liye specifically bheje gaye hai. As for your duty, woh path lab mein hai aur aap waha akele kaam karenge. And finally you are late so you will have to compensate the hours.'
'Par mein abhi Delhi se aaya.'
'Toh kal raat ko aana tha. Dr Siddhant mujhe meeting ke liye kuch discuss karna tha can you spare me some time please?
Hmm and Sid started walking away.
Sid a senior doctor and being specifically called seemed like a slap on his face. Things were worse than expected cause now he would have to take orders from Sid and he was expecting Sid to get back at him for taking away his wife.
He would not let that happen and damage control was important. 'Riddhima' He needed to secure her first and then he could deal with all the Sids in this world. Riddhima fearing armaan coming after her started walking away with her interns.
Kirti hearing armaan's call turned back and warned 'To you now Dr armaan.'
armaan was left there standing looking from one end to another helplessly.
As long work was going fine and the two undesirable people were out of his sight life in Sanjeevani was bearable.
Knowing the discomfort Sid had faced Riddhima relented from checking on Sid about breakfast.
armaan was shifty as Riddhima was avoiding him like a plague. He needed to impress his feelings on her and his mind was constantly working on what he could do.
The meeting went off fine and both Sid and Kirti's efforts were applauded but this was just the beginning. They needed to prove that this can be maintained. Shashank was nervous with armaan's return so was Kirti. Sid was however calm knowing Kirti was handling matters well and tried to assure Shashank that situation was still under control.
It was lunch time and Sid's stomach was growling. He did not want another headache so after the meeting he headed towards the cafe along with Kirti.
armaan sat there with the gang trying to coax them for something special while everyone were dissuading him.
'Why? You will also get a chance to spice your love life.'
'Cause if Kirti comes to know we are involved them she will grill me alive.' quipped Subhankar.
'I always organize such events in Sanjeevani. After all I am Dr armaan Malik yaha ka maalik'
'Not any more Dr armaan' sounded Kirti
'You no are going to anything. Is that understood?'
Kirti authoritative tone rubbed armaan the wrong way and he felt the need to show her that indeed what he said would not be denied.
'Well you are no more the DO so you cannot order me. I will talk to Sid and he will not refuse me. After all he is a cool dude.'
'Not cool but cold' mocked Jiggy
'Don't try your luck armaan.'
'Check it out for yourself.' and he confidently strode towards Sid's table with Kirti following him.
'Pitenge armaan bhaiya' forecasted JP.
'Hey dude what's up.'
Sid looked at his watch a gave a dismissal look and continued to munch his sandwich. From the corner of the eye he had already seen Kirti approaching.
Ignoring Sid's non responsive behavior. 'It's boring now a days. This place looks dead so I have planned to celebrate rose day tomorrow.'
'I think I have already told you that you are not doing anything of the kind.'
'And I think I have also told you that you are no more the DO so you can't pass any orders on me. Sid is the DO and he is my dude DO who will not deny me anything.'
'And it will have you woo any girl you are interested in except you know who whom you could never.' said armaan leaning into Sid.
Lousy man and his lousy statements, which was the only thought playing on his mind.
'See I knew it you and someone had doubts about my authority here.' exclaimed armaan.
Disappointment washed over Kirti and she was about to leave dejected when Sid ordered a briefing to be called. 'Dr Kirti, please announce a briefing to be held in 15 minutes from now.
There were couple of more who had been giving Kirti a little hard time and so it was apt time to deal with all.
Everyone assembled for the briefing wondering what had happened. The thought of management meeting spelling more disaster loomed large.
Riddhima nervously shifted as armaan purposefully came and stood right next to her. Slowly she distanced herself and armaan tried to move more closer.
They both were jolted back with Sid's loud voice.
Dr Kirti offended by Sid's behavior kept herself behind with the other senior doctors away from Sid's sight.
'Dr Kirti if you are here can you step up please?'
Reluctantly she joined Sid.
Sid gave her reassuring nod and started. 'I will conduct this briefing but I need you here.'
'Doctor and Interns present There seems some disconnect as some do not know the changes, some know yet choose to ignore and cause some do not want to accept So let me start with a small introduction I am Dr Siddhant Modi your new DO and the doctor that stands next to me Dr Kirti is the executive DO who in my presence and absence will be responsible for any and all responsibilities of a DO like she has been doing in the past. This means that her word is an order and her decision is final which has needs to be abided by. There is no requirement to escalate matters especially as trivial as whether to have a rose day or not.'
'But ..' interrupted an intern and armaan
'I have not finished yet.'
'In case you do feel the need to escalate it needs to done in writing. If the cause is valid due action will be taken. If not then it shall go into your file as a reason to create trouble.'
'But Sid' interrupted armaan
'Dr Siddhant' roared Sid
Dumbstruck armaan could not find his voice and his protest went unvoiced.
'I do not want see any further instances of Dr Kirti's orders challenged on lame grounds and I assure you of serious consequences if any one question her authority and position. Am I understood?'
Everyone nodded in affirmation.
'So now the first question can come if anyone has to ask?'
All the trouble makers stood quietly.
Sid still wanted to impress Dr Kirti authority of armaan knowing his stubborn unruly nature.
'Dr Kirti someone had asked you a question in the cafe some time back.'
Kirti nodded. 'Dr armaan you had a question for me?'
'No ...Ma'am .. actually .. I wanted to know if we could have a .. rose .. day tomorrow'
But I guess Sid I mean Dr Siddhant have answered .. I mean his explanation suffices.'
Sid raised his eyebrows warningly at armaan.
'I mean you had answered my question earlier Ma'am'
'Good. Are there any more questions for Dr Kirti?' asked Sid satisfied having driven his point through the biggest trouble maker.
That took care of armaan for the time being but both Sid and Kirti knew that armaan was not to be trusted. To keep him check they needed someone whom he close to. Riddhima was one option but being a peer and love interest they did not expect much from her. After all, his antics were to impress her. The next best candidate was Subhankar, his possible accomplice in crime.
Sid informed him of his duty. Being Kirti's husband also Sid did not involve Kirti not wanting to create a possible rift in case of non compliance.
Sonia had kept aloof the whole day. The management meeting also did not give them a chance to work on the project. The previous evening's behavior was bothering Sid. He wanted to apologize and caught up with her just when she was leaving.
'Yes Dr Siddhant?' she acknowledged coldly
'I just wanted to say sorry. I was a little harsh yesterday.'
'You are harsh every day. Nothing new.'
'May be ..actually yes but I genuinely don't like anyone butting into my personal space.'
'So I have not today. I hope you are happy.'
'Yes but I genuinely did not mean any harm.'
'Well but ok but even I did not anyways I have to get somewhere.' said she hoping that Sid would stop her and ask where she was off to all dressed up. It pinched her that he did even give her a second glance. But Sid did not do either. He just bid her goodbye and went his way.
Riddhima had finished earlier. Fearing armaan will try to catch up with her since Kirti and Sid were due to leave in some time she exited earlier.
Another person she feared was her father who had given a sound warning for not coming home for two nights.
She settled in the lounge waiting for Sid.
armaan after getting off work promptly made an appearance at the Gupta house. armaan's belief that everything was slipping from his hands strengthened with Riddhima's absence.
Here another wasted effort to get Sid to stop drinking landed in another trip to the pent house and a morning with the same routine. Sid was sick and tired with Riddhima following him and taking him back to the penthouse.
First he was not going to return to that lounge. Secondly, he needed to take away her keys hoping that this shall drive the point through to her.
Armaan refused to let go such aloofness easily. So what he could not have a rose day. He planned to make it special only for his Riddhima.
Riddhima's office was plastered with photographs of their courting day. Her duty was in the children's ward and each child patient she checked gifted her with a rose.
Riddhima's frustration knew no bounds but she ignored each attempt. Seeing no response armaan finally confronted her.
Riddhima gasped as felt herself suddenly pulled into the fire escape.
This proximity was not unknown but the emotions connected felt so alien. She tried to break free from the tight embrace.
'Chodo mujhe armaan.'
'Problem kya hai Riddhima?'
'Kuch nahi hai'
'Kuch toh zaroor hai. Kya Sid..agar aisa hai toh mujhe batao.'
'Nahi.. Aur Sid se tum dur raho. Usse please aur stress mat do.'
'Toh phir kya baat hai. Jab se aaya hoon ek baar bhi tum milne nahi aayi. Maine aaj tumhare liye jo kiya uska jawab bhi nahi diya. Kab se tumhe apni bahon mein le kar tumhe tumhare pyaar mehsoos karna chahata hoon.' engulfing Riddhima in his tight embrace. Riddhima though wanted to scream out but that dangerous proximity was numbing her efforts from the fear that someone might see them such. She squirmed under his hold as armaan traced her lips with his thumb. 'Tumhara inn hoto se apna naam sunna chahata hoon.'
The fear was building with approaching sound of steps. 'armaan chodo mujhe koi aa raha hai.'
'Aane do.' denied armaan intoxicated on hearing his name from his lady love.
'Tum sirf meri ho aur aaj koi bhi aa jaye Sid bhi koi mujhe tumhe apne pyaar mein baha le jaane se nahi rok sakta' He angled his face eyeing her lips. 'Riddhima!!!'
The sound slowed down.
Riddhima stared back seeing the passion in armaan's eyes. It evoked only one emotion at that moment. Taking in every bit of it and strengthening it as armaan's warm breath started scorching her skin.
She blocked out ever other stimuli that her senses could feel to focus on that one emotion.
They both were lost in their own world that did not hear those footsteps stop at the mid level landing.
Those eyes had seen this sight before but seeing it now his body trembled in disgust and anger. 'How more shameless can anyone get?'
armaan was already reeling as the sweet moment of victory was near.
Riddhima closed her eyes garnering every last ounce of her will to strengthen that emotion.
'Enough.' the fire escape echoed.
Armaan almost lost his footing. It took good long moment for him to recover yet he could not understand what displaced him from his moment of victory.
How did he land so far from it? Was those echoing voices shattering his ear drums that pushed him back or was it ..?
Riddhima stood there drained. She had used every ounce of and will energy to exert all the force to push armaan away.
Riddhima looked at armaan wondering if she had actually managed to push him so hard that he almost landed at the other side of the staircase.
armaan stood there holding the railing still trying to gauge what happened. His mind was telling him one version but his heart just refused to believe that his basket could have done that to him.
But the man at the bottom of the stairs was oblivious of what had taken place. He stood there with his eyes closed in disgust drawing deep breaths to calm his frayed senses.
Horror seeped in she realized his presence there. 'Sid' She would have felt lucky if Mother Earth would have opened up and taken her shame ridden self into its womb.
But she was indeed no Sita. She was the tainted Riddhima who had wronged her pious husband with her shameful act of adultery.
The look of disgust was not new to her. He had felt the same when she had confessed about her henious act. She wanted to beg for forgiveness though she was not at fault today.
Sid's body still trembled with anger. He felt suffocated. The air he was breathing also felt like poison. He needed to move out from there. He wanted to walk away. Why should he he thought. He was not wrong nor should he be ashamed of anything. So he stepped forward.
Those slow yet heavy steps echoed in her ears. As there were going to pass them her voice got caught in her throat fearing the thoughts that may be rushing through his mind. She hoped desperately that Sid had seen her repelling armaan. His straight stare told her he had also considered her guilty. Hanging her head with shame she stood there with her shoulders drooping under the weight of her past crimes and the Sid's perception of today's situation. But not armaan. He still stood tall as if guarding his personal space from further intrusion. He was angry with Sid crushing his precious moment. He wanted to tell him off. He extended his hand to stop him.
That slight movement also seemed to echo in that dead silence.
Such behavior in any work place was unacceptable. However Sid intended to discount it from the fear of tainting his mentors repute. But the arrogance of the culprit propelled him to take action. If it was not him then someday it may be someone else who would catch them in an equal or more embarrassing situation which would be worse.
But he did not wish to decide the punishment knowing his past connection with one of accused would be questioned to have biases his decision.
'Meet Dr Kirti in an hour from now. Both of you'
'Sid ..' That voice was laden with guilt but failed to evoke any feelings.
Those eyes always had lied to him. May be today also they were. What a wonderful actress she was.
He forced himself to quicken his steps. As he was going to exit he heard the man closing in on the girl that was his accomplice. Shameless that they always were. 'Despicable'
'Get yourself a room for God's sake' He spited out in disgust and walked away.
No doubt that Riddhima had wronged him many times before and he had been spiteful towards her but now their relationship gadd changed.Even if he said that their behavior offensive from a professional point of view yet his words were laced with personal grudge he held for them. It was completely inappropriate behavior as their senior or as a third person. He never ran away from anything but today he just did not want to meet them again.
His rationale was deceiving him and he wanted to keep himself away from it all. Yet he had to cause he was witness and so reluctantly he got himself to go to Kirti's office.
armaan was waiting patiently outside Kirti's office nursing his bruised ego and shattered desires. The sight of Riddhima crumbling in front of him yet not letting him close to comfort her had been tormenting him. He knew those few words from Sid had pierced Riddhima's heart and to his dismay he had seen only remorse instead of lashing out from hurt pride.
Riddhima had only found herself guilty which irritated him. All in all it seemed that only his relationship with her affected.
Riddhima's eyes refused to him that reaffirmation that all was still the same when she walked past him.
armaan fists his hand the moment he saw Sid walk in Kirti's office. He had a good mind to drag him to the basket ball court that very moment for spoiling his moment, for his untimely intrusion, for coming back into his life and most importantly having such an effect on his basket. This could be left for later now he was called in and he would stand his ground that indeed he meant no harm except steal a few moments with his basket.
They all stood quietly for a few moments.
It was a tricky situation. An ex husband and current lover. One visibly uncomfortable while other's shooting daggers with his eyes. The cause ex husband had found the lover getting cosy with his ex wife. The complaint came on professional grounds yet it had a little too much of personal emotions involved.
'Where is Dr Riddhima?' initiated Kirti fearing a fight breaking out.
She had deliberated from entering for a long time. 'I am here.' announced Riddhima as she walked in and stood at the far end near the like an untouchable stealing a few glances at Sid who refused to look at anyone in that room. His spiteful words kept echoing in her mind.
'What has been brought to my notice by Dr Siddhant is that true?'
'Yes' came a quick reply from armaan not at all swayed by the gravity of the consequences.
Riddhima's protest died with that angry disgusted look on Sid's face and his words returned sharply to her. Everything was lost. He would never believe her. She did not even have the energy to fight back. She stood there with her head hung low.
'Should we take your silence as an affirmation Dr Riddhima?' Tears pricked her eyes. She once again looked up in hope that she may see one tiny spec of trust in Sid's eyes.
Those were blank as ever. He had closed on her. She nodded.
'So it is true?' questioned Kirti again hoping that Riddhima would say No. Kirti saw that plight in Riddhima's eyes begging for one chance from Sid.
'We do not deny it.' said armaan confidently as if he was owning to an act of great gesture.
'I am not asking you Dr armaan The question was for Dr Riddhima?'
'But I am answering the question.'
'You are not her.'
'There is no difference. I answer she answers its all the same.'
Tolerance level reached and Sid fumed 'It is confirmed by both parties so you can continue Dr Kirti'
Nodding Kirti questioned again trying to buy time. 'You understand the consequences?'
'Suspension or termination' said Riddhima almost choking on her words. She did not fear either. She insisted on staying back for Sid and now there was no hope of any reconciliation.
'You cannot suspend or terminate our services cause the last time some one caught for similar reasons he was awarded DO duties.
Kirti was caught unawares. She looked blankly from Sid to Riddhima.
'Dr armaan that was a disciplinary action.' appalled at armaan bringing up that issue now
'I would love a similar one in my favor.'
'You do not deserve one. The person concerned deserved every bit of being a DO.'
Sid was taken aback for a moment seeing Riddhima defending him. This yet could not convince him. He was wearing dark glasses and everything seemed black. It was another act of hers.
In that case I will step down.
'From the charges!!! Good and anyways I was not doing anything wrong. Just trying to get spend some time with the one I love.'
'Do it in your own time Dr armaan.' Howled Kirti.
'Why are you behaving so uptight just because ''
'Enough ... This is a hospital and you are doctors. You come here to work not to fool around at the drop of the hat. Such behavior is highly unacceptable and especially in here in Sanjeevani. This is last time we would let go of any such behavior. Sanjeevani Please ensure that you do not involve yourself in any such indulgences during duty hours. I am leaving both of you with a warning this time because any action would mean tarnishing someone else's repute
'You mean Dr Sid's'
'We mean Dr Shashank' snapped Sid
'Oh!!! So you are saving yourself using Dr Shashank as a shield.' Retorted armaan.
'Enough armaan' reprimanded Riddhima.
'Why are you taking Sid's side?'
'Enough both of you.' Kirti warned to put a stop this worthless clash of words. 'I guess this settles it then. Off to your duties now.'
armaan stormed out leaving all behind. Riddhima waited for a moment looking at Sid who looked visibly uncomfortable and unsure of what happened and left.