Monday, September 19, 2011

It's gonna hurt while it heals From Part 31

Part 30

Sid felt uncertain of what Kirti had inferred about his complaint. Fearing Kirti digging deeper or understanding what exactly had happened he did not question her understanding.


Riddhima was completely broken. As she saw no hope she decided to go ahead with what she had thought of. She wanted to leave immediately but she needed to finish her duty and the remaining formalities. Also she had to do another important task so immediately after she left Kirti's office she walked up to Sid's office knowing he would not be there.


She had to give up the last right which Sid never asked back from her - keys to the penthouse.


With a heavy heart she deposited the keys on Sid's table. She wanted to say so much. Knowing it would not mean anything to him she left.


Sid was elated seeing those keys on his table. After a long time his heart thanked Riddhima for not putting him through further misery of asking them back from her. She was finally out of his life and now he could be peaceful in his life and routine. He finished his duty and headed to his regular destination.


Kirti who was a witness to armaan's every grand romantic gesture and his suave ways and the closeness that these two shared was skeptical that there was more to what had happened in the fire escape than what Sid had complained of yet had taken it at face value knowing Sid well. Her suspicious had strengthened when Riddhima spoke of suspension or termination of services and further got affirmed when she received Riddhima's resignation information. The information came through trusted sources and so she immediately asked them to put it on hold and not let anyone know of it, especially Dr Shashank.


Talking Riddhima out of this brash action was imperative.

She stood there looking at Riddhima gather her belongings in her office.

'Dr Riddhima this is not required.'


'It is. Today or tomorrow everyone will come to know and I cannot face those judgmental looks again and..'

'Sid?'


Hearing his name broke Riddhima.


Kirti unsuccessfully tried consoling her. Kirti realized the importance of Sid and his perception in Riddhima's life seeing an inconsolable Riddhima. With no option left she revealed the truth.

'Jo kuch hua uska saach main jaanti hoon. Par woh sab mujhe Sid ne nahi bataya.'


'Kya?'


'Sid ki sirf yeh complaint armaan apna time aapko roses gift karne mein barbad kar raha tha aur FE mein aap ko roses de raha tha aur aap dono apna duty hours mein aisi cheeso pe barbaad kar rahe the.'


'Toh kya Sid ne aapko sirf itna bataya toh phir aap kaise.'


'Haan .. par jab aap ne suspension ki baat ki tab mere shaq mazboot hua.'


'Mujhe laga ki Sid ne..'


'Shayaad tum Sid ko kabhi pehchaan nahi saki ..uske liye aaj bhi aap sab ki izzat bahoot mayane rakti hai.'


'Mujhe maloom hai Dr Kirti par Sid bahoot badal chuka hai.'


'Par itna bhi nahi badala.'


Riddhima still seemed unsure after having seen Sid and his ways. She wanted to wait but leaving seemed a better option even after knowing Sid's kind gesture. She remained adamant on her decision and Kirti understood it.

Kirti had seen Riddhima's miserable state ever since Sid left. She too felt it was just a temporary phase which everyone goes to when someone with whom one is associated for a long time and that too so closely leaves. She might be just missing his presence. Riddhima's misery heightened so did Kirti's doubts. Riddhima's insistence on staying back knowing Sid was coming back had scared her as she expected turbulence for all. Her actions were only guided by the fact that Sid had preferred to stay aloof. Even she accepted that Sid had been wronged hence protecting him for greater good was more essential.

If Riddhima would leave a major problem would get solved by itself. Stopping her was still more important even though it added to the mess but she could not stake the career of a good doctor and a good human being. 'Main jyaada kuch nahi bolungi but I think reconsider your decision.'

'Of?'

'Quitting Sanjeevani'

She was not one to interfere in anyone's life and knowing Riddhima's uncertain mind she found it a more prudent option not to lead Riddhima towards reconsidering her decision which she herself had affirmed months back.


Kirti left leaving the ball in Riddhima's court.


Sid was going to celebrate his freedom. He pulled out the house keys and called for his drink. With each sip he looked at looked at those keys searching for the spark of happiness.


Those were never any ordinary keys. They were the keys to his house his heart which he had given Riddhima. Seeing those brought along a strange pain. He downed the rest of the drink in one go to ease the pain. Sadly it brought fresher memories which had gotten etched in his mind.


The ironed clothes, that perfectly laid breakfast table and his morning nimbu paani. He never appreciated any of those but had unconsciously gotten habituated to seeing them all ready for him. Those keys were telling him that he should not expect any of it now. That thought pained him ever more. He downed another drink willing to not let the sight of those keys affect him.


After a few drinks he stared hard at them checking if those keys evoked any of those memories again. He was triumphant that he had effectively blocked those memories but the dismay on Riddhima's face started pricking his heart. Her words in his defense mocked his perception.


Blocking each of them he kept drinking and slowly all those questions started coming back. 'This is better. At least it's familiar.'


He was back in his comfort zone. Hating Riddhima's deceptive and dishonest ways to manipulate his life



Sid had changed. This change was so familiar. Stern, indifferent demeanor and words laced with anger and spite. All this was to only shield his aching heart. How could she not recognize it? He was just the same after their first marriage and also after they returned from the Lonavla orphanage. He still tortured himself for no fault of his. He still thought of others before thinking about himself. Actually Sid hadn't really changed at all. She was proud that Sid had indeed been true to his word. He hadn't really changed a bit. She found some solace in it. Though Sid had not changed circumstances had. In these changed circumstance, if her leaving would give Sid any comfort then she would do so. She collected her belonging and drove out heading towards the Gupta house though her heart yearned to return to the lounge which Sid frequented.


The roads were unusually empty as the private transport service was on strike. Driving was bliss for a Mumbai commuter who owned a vehicle. Cars zipped pass while Riddhima drove slowly at a steady speed. Her mind was somewhere else. Sid too was using his car but being a responsible citizen he left his car in the hotel always before proceeding to the lounge. Riddhima was worried. How was Sid? Where was he? Was he drinking again? How he go to the hotel? The questions were hounding him when she got a call from the lounge.

'Ma'am Sir is quite high and as you know the taxi service is on strike. I was wondering if you would be coming in tonight to pick him up.'


'Yes I will be there in a minute.'


She needed to go despite knowing that it would enrage Sid.


The attendants dropped Sid to Riddhima's car while Riddhima settled the bill.


While the bar tender stopped her 'Ma'am your keys'. Those words tucked at her. 'They were once my keys.' and left taking them with her.


Part 31


Riddhima settled Sid in once again.


The penthouse always had a strange effect on Riddhima. This was the place which she always felt she belonged. It gave her a new identity which was dear to her. It was here that they both had confessed that both mattered to each other. She always wanted to return to this place and when Sid had brought her here after confessing his love, she had felt she had truly gotten all the rights of being Sid's wife. Unfortunately those rights she had lost due to her own misdeeds.

Those spiteful words 'Get a room for God's sake' jolted her from her reverie.

Waiting back did not seem the best option tonight so she decided to leave.

Sid's who having a disturbed sleep was murmuring something which caught Riddhima's attention. The words were clearer this time. She moved closer to hear them. She was taken aback listening to him speak in his sleep. The questions which tormented him every evening had found a voice.


Kya saach mein pyaar hota hai? .. kya hai pyaar? .. Kyu log itne krur aur berehem hote hai? Kisi ke jazbaato ke saath khelte hua darr nahi lagta ki kya guzaregi uss insaan par? Kya duniya mein saachai naame ki koi cheese nahi hai? Kya sab log sirf apne matlab ke liye hai? Kya meri zindagi sirf unn logo ka maksaad ke samne koi mayane nahi rakti? Main yaha kyu hoon? kyu jee raha hoon? Maine apna aashiyaan kahi aur banana chaha par zindagi ne mujhe yaha khada kar diya . kya yahi mere ghar hai?

Each question crushed Riddhima. She collapsed on the spot. She could realize the reason for his angry harsh words in the real sense only now. Sid continued to murmur in his sleep while Riddhima wept silently seeing him in pain. She wanted ease his pain, comfort him and help him find answers to those questions. She was the reason behind all those questions. She had erred but she never deceived him intentionally. She wanted to assure him but how, she did not know. Sid's trust was broken beyond repair. He would not believe her. She had seen that in him. But all was not lost cause at the end of a dark phase there is always light. Sid was the one going through a dark phase and this time she would be his support. She willed to walk through this dark phase with him and she would do all that it takes.


armaan on the other hand shifted uncomfortably in his bed. He had thought talking to her. Ask her why he felt that his basket seemed far off. He had gotten a few opportunities but his pride stopped him. She had wronged him and she needed to apologize. He was confident like all times she would come running back to him yet that wait was dreadfully long. On earlier occasion his slightest discomfort had her running to him disregarding everything everyone even her husband Sid That name got his blood boiling. Sid was responsible for this distance and he would make Sid pay for it and that too heavily. This was war and everything was fair in love and war.


Next morning a familiar sight awaited him yet that familiar face was absent. He got up in haste and rushed down to check to find Riddhima absent. The thought that she left him irritated him. I was getting used to having her around. That thought too irritated him. He always wanted her out of his life. With her out of his sight should be welcomed by him. 'Why is it irritating me then?' Somehow he did not feel complete. Was he used to spewing up venom which was why he was missing her. 'No' he dismissed the thought. To a greater extent he did miss her for that. He had been carrying his frustrations for too long and in a way felt light after he had vented out a bit of it.


He always felt bad having said nasty things to her especially, what he said yesterday. His soft side had reprimanded himself a million times the day before. 'It was such a vulgar comment.' He found himself again scolding himself.


He brushed his thoughts aside and turned to move to take a shower when he saw her emerging from his bedroom.


His anger returned and he howled 'Waha kya kar rahi thi?'

'Heater on karne gayi thi. Naha lo'

'Tumhe ek baat samaj mein nahi atti'


'Hum yeh baad mein bhi discuss kar sakte hai.' she replied unaffected.

Her cool demeour irritated him further. What did she mean by 'Hum'.

'Hum .. Kabhi hum nahi the.' he spat out.


Riddhima dutifully avoiding that comment understanding where this would lead to tried to walk past him.


Sid found her non responsive very cheeky. Above all why was she playing this farce of being a dutifully lady of the house. 'Yeh sab jo kar rahi ho woh tum apne boyfriend ke liye karo Mujhe zaroorat nahi hai.'

'Boyfriend' she always hated Sid for disregarding her efforts using such sarcasm. But she had to patient. It worked.

'Theek hai par ab tum naha lo nahi toh late ho javoge.'

'Tum apne boyfriend ke pass kyu nahi chali usse zaroorat hai time pe aane ki Main apne aap achi tarah manage kar leta hoon.'


'armaan ke saath kya karna hai mujhe maloom hai.'


'Woh kal dikh raha tha.'

'Siddhant'


'Chilao mat mere ghar and now get out from.' He caught hold of her wrist in a tight grip and lead her outside the house.

Riddhima's protests went fell on deaf ears. He had completely lost his sense of right and wrong. Her every action was reminding him of those days when she did everything to cunningly lead to believe that she loved him while carrying on an illicit relationship with her boyfriend.


He did not want to see her again. The wounds which he was still nursing Riddhima's warm gestures had unknowingly rubbed salt on it.



Part 32

The cold water ran over his body cooling his senses. He would normally use this time to ponder on the previous day's work and mentally arrange his schedule for the day ahead.


Today when he thought back on the events passed he found him fighting a battle with himself. He was never such uncouth and an anti-social person. Yes, he preferred to keeping things to himself. He liked his space.

It was Sonia was the first culprit who started breaking his defenses and Riddhima's presence shattered them to unleash the boiling lava of his resentment which he had kept locked for so long.

'What had happened was wrong. How could I do that?'


He was ashamed of his behavior that he could not meet his own eyes.

'You are responsible for this. This is all happening because of you. Had you not persisted I would have carried on with my work, finished it and left to lead my life away from you. Why are you doing this? What do you want now? I had given you all that I had but now there is nothing except hatred.

'How can she be responsible? My actions are in my control and so I am responsible. I should not have said all those things to her. She has every right to live her life the way she wants and what she does should not be any of my business. Yes, she is being intrusive but what I did this morning was completely unacceptable'


His saner side started winning the battle as his heart reasoned on the inappropriateness of his actions.


He hated every word every action of his. He had lost self control and he despised that fact the most.


'She is doing it again. You are falling for it just like last time. You don't need to feel guilty for any of it. That is exactly what she wants so that she can exploit you again.'

That battle was driving him crazy. He was no doubt hurting for having hurt her. He always did. It was his primal instinct but the dark past refused to let him entrust Riddhima again. His mind seemed to have won the battle temporarily.


All in all he knew that he needed to strengthen his defenses. He could not afford to let anyone intrude and penetrate his defenses. The best option was to distance himself or he would invariably land up saying or doing things which he would regret later. He could not avoid but he could definitely restrict his conversations. 'No, that would also not help.' Riddhima at her stubborn best had the ability to exploit his vulnerability.

He needed to cut off completely.


When he reached the hospital, it was abuzz with the news of something having happened due to which armaan seemed extremely upset and Riddhima not reporting to work.


Kirti aware of all this took the first opportunity to inform Sid of Riddhima's resignation.


'When did this happen?'


'Yesterday.'


'Does Dr Shashank know of it?'


'I guess yes. By now he should have been intimated.'


'Ok I will talk to him.

He felt guilty for Riddhima's resignation. His words would have hurt her but to this extent that she resigned took the toll on him.


The news had reached Shashank early morning. He did not wish to have things turn so bad but he felt it would be better to keep Riddhima away. Sid was going to be there for few more months only and he did not want to lose a fine doctor in Riddhima. So he convinced the management to allow a short leave till he sorted matters out.


It took him much effort to convince Riddhima to go on another leave and reconsider her decision.


Staying in Mumbai would mean armaan his endeavors to woo Riddhima so Shashank suggested her again going on a holiday. This way armaan would be left with no option but concentrate on his work.

Sid's re-entry was proving to be a boon as well as curse. Riddhima had already declared that her interests laid in Sid. Shashank still could not convince himself. Trying to talk her out of this at that moment could be dangerous. Shashank feared she should not declare it to all making the situation more complicated.

armaan had already voiced his concern and Shashank was scared armaan being true to his nature would react to the situation without giving a second thought to the consequences. He had a good knowledge armaan's obstinate and obsessive nature. He had borne the brunt of it many times during armaan and Riddhima's courting days. armaan never failed to leave any stone unturned and was always quick to declare war.


armaan would not leave any stone unturned this time too to achieve his goal and Shashank feared which path it would take all due to this.

Sid was becoming a concern for him too. He had seen Sid's cold closed behavior. Riddhima's repeatedly intrusion in Sid's life and Sid's drinking habit all were adding up.


Shashank felt like he was sitting on a volcano waiting to erupt.


He was still assessing the possible solutions when Sid's dropped by.

'Sir, I need to talk to you.'


'Yes tell me.'


'I fell things are fairly under control and I should return back to my duties in US Sanjeevani.'


Sid was not running away. He was just reeling under guilt that due to him Riddhima had put down her papers.


'I don't think that is the reason Siddhant. If I am not wrong you wish to leave so that Riddhima can come back.'


'Well my presence must be definitely making her uncomfortable.'


'Well I can understand but that does not mean that to make her comfortable I put Sanjeevani's future at stake. Sanjeevani definitely need you.'


'And so do you need your daughter and a good doctor who can carry the work further which you started.'


'Yes but leaving is not a solution.'


'But I don't see an option.'


'In that case I feel you should take a break.'


'That will not help the situation.' No amount of persuasion helped. Sid was right in his stand. It was difficult to see two people who had back stabbed him day and day out. Riddhima who was giving misleading signals was driving both Sid and armaan up the wall. armaan's cooperation would an unachievable dream till Sid remained a DO. He would always consider Sid as his prime enemy who was back to disrupt his life and relationship.


Everyone seemed beyond reason especially armaan and Riddhima. Sid who was the saner one could not be lost. He was Shashank's only hope for Sanjeevani. Things had stabalized but not completely under control. Sanjeevani still needed Sid. In case Sid left it could attract more attention and harsher action from the management. So Shashank suggested 'Ok in that case why don't you do this. Sanjeevani orphanege in Lonavla is scheduled for a check. Why don't you go. Kaam ka kaam ho jayega aur holiday bhi. You will get a break from all this and we can review how well Kirti can handle work in your absence.'


This seemed a better option. Shashank again bought some time to think of a solution.


Sid left for the Lonavla orphanage. Though it was an undesirable destination, it was still bearable, since he would be away from all. Sid reached the orphanage to be greeted by his little princess Tamanna.


Shashank thought of going back to Panchgani. She was too wary to drive so she hired a cab. Midway to Panchgani she decided against it and asked to driver to turn back to a new destination. She was turning back and this turn was going to lead her to her true destination. After all it was all destiny. Her destiny awaited her.


Part 33


Sid felt at ease with the kids; innocent and uncorrupted. He could safely say these had no malice or ulterior motive unlike the opinion his prejudiced mind held for all others.


As night fell he left to go to the guest house after putting Tamanna to sleep. He had chosen to stay at the guest house not wanting to create a bad impression coming back even slightly tipsy.
She had spoken non-stop. Her constant blabber about Riddhima triggered his misery. Her questions too added fuel to his agony. How was he to explain why Riddhima was not with him? She did not fail to recount Riddhima's recent visit and miserable state which baffled Sid for a few fleeting moments but dismissed it as a child misunderstanding Riddhima pining for him. Yet later over drinks it kept tucking his heart. His previous encounters with Riddhima and Tamanna's testimony were forcing his heart to wage war with his pre conceived notions. His heart was betraying him. Riddhima's guilt ridden face kept flashing before his eyes refusing him any peace. He hated that fact that he remembered every detail of that disgraceful moment when he worded that crude comment.


As soon as he had left the orphanage had another visitor. Wary of the past few day's events and having faced rejection she had come here to find some solace being with kids.
'Aap?' questioned the matron.

'Haan socha kuch ki bacho ko mil loongi.'

'Oh!! Mujhe laga aap bhi annual check-up ke liye yaha aayi hai Dr Siddhant ko help karne.'
'Dr Siddhant yahi hai.'
'Haan aap ko nahi pata?' The revelation hit the lady hard. Her presence was agonizing him which was why she had come away. She was not required in his life but here she was, in the same place as him. What was destiny asking of her? Probably it was just a coincidence. She should leave immediately and not burden Sid with her presence. How could she leave? She had dismissed the cab the minute she reached there. Was there some place she could stay till morning?
'Kya hua?' enquired the matron.
Waiting back was also not the best option. Probably she should leave.
'Nahi kuch nahi Kya main Tamanna se mil sakti hoon.'
'Woh sow rahi hai. Kya aap rukne nahi wali?'
'Nahi main yaha se guzar rahi thi isiliye aayi. Todhi der ke baad main Pune ke liye nikal jaoingi' She gave a lame excuse to move out.
'Main Tamanna ko sirf dekh ke nikal jaoingi phir.'
'Theek hai.' agreed the matron.
She deposited her belongings and went to check on Tamanna.
Tamanna stirred from her sleep for a moment and excitedly sat up seeing the visitor.
'Riddhima didi!!!' The pain ridden face immediately had Tamanna asking 'Aap itni sad kyu hai? Genie bhaiya abhi aap se bahoot fight karte hai isiliye aap sad ho na. Maine genie bhaiya se kaha ki main bahoot naraaz hoon ki woh aap ko saath nahi leke aaye.'

'Nahi Tamanna ..aisa kuch nahi hai. Woh yaha kaam karne ke liye aaye hai na isiliye main pehle nahi aayi.'

'Par mujhe maloom tha aap zaroor aayogi. Aap genie bhaiya se dur nahi reh sakti na.'

'Genie bhaiya ko maine kaha tha ki aaj mere saath yaha pe rahe par woh nahi ruke. Main unse baat nahi karoongi.'

Riddhima gauged the reason for Sid not staying at the orphanage. She explained to Tamanna that Sid was working very hard and needed rest hence he was staying at the guest house. She urged her not to trouble Sid and bother him with her topics knowing well Sid's state of mind with her.

Riddhima got Tamanna to go back to sleep and left to make way towards the market hoping to find a bus or cab which could take her away from this place.

As she walked out of the gate her mind wandered back to her past associated with this spot. It was here that Sid had said some very harsh words to her and later had punished himself for it. He had said something equally harsh recently. Those words pained her but the pain of knowledge of Sid punishing himself for those words seemed much greater

Sid too was fighting a battle. Both were trying hard to find peace but could they really knowing that the other was in pain.

The pain was excruciating. Thought of Sid fighting his battle with those questions was urging Riddhima to go to him. She wanted to help him. Clear his mind and perceptions. Doing that would bring more grief. The pain from that grief that he has misunderstood her would shatter Sid but oblivion of the facts would not let him live peacefully either. She too could not ever live in peace either ways. They were connected by destiny and this pain seemed to become their destiny. Maybe she would have to live with it all her life. She dismissed her thoughts for a moment to book a cab. 'Pune'

'Haan Ji chaliye.'

She handed her bag to the driver and settled herself in the car. To distract her mind, she started observing the surrounding.

'Madamji chale?' asked the diver throwing a back glance at her. In that split second the man assessed Riddhima's state of mind.

Hmmm ..'

As the car pulled out of the parking Riddhima's eye caught a reflection in the side view. 'Nahi..'

'Kya hua?'

'Gadi rokiye.'

'Kyu?'

'Maine kaha gaadi rokiye please.'

She jumped out the moment the car halted to take a closer look. Her eyes focused on the man walking on the road. He walked with wobbly feet, almost tripping on his own feet taking the support of a nearby park car or pole to steady hims once in a while. Siddhant!!!' she gasped almost lunged she forward to help.

That sight brought back that sharp pain which she experienced when she had first seen him such.

The irritated driver who had followed suit looked in the direction where Riddhima was looking. 'Hai rabba aaj kal ke jawaan.'

'Nahi ..tumhara yaha hona usse aur jyaada dard dega...Par main usse akela iss halat main nahi chod sakti. Chod de usse apni halat pe. Nahi'

Seeing her contemplating the old driver asked 'Chalna hai kya ab?'

Tearing her eyes from that dreadful sight she turned to the old driver who looked almost irritated with this delay. Yes, maybe that was it and with a heavy heart said 'Haan chaliye ..'

She dragged herself back to the cab. Before sitting in she turned back to take one last glance at him.

Sid was resting against a car to gain control on him. Her heart cried 'Nahi main usse iss halat main nahi chod sakti.'

'Ji kuch kaha aapne?' asked the perturbed driver.

'Sardarji aap please mera ek kaam karenge please.'

It was definitely associated with that drunken man which bothered him. 'Ji boliye.' He asked half heartedly.

Riddhima crossed over to the other side and explained the driver her request.

It was the most weird sounding request which forced him to protest 'Par aap..'

'Main manage kar loongi aap please unko sambhaliye.'

'Lekin ..'

'Chahe toh extra paise le lijiye par please mera yeh kaam kar dijiye.'

'Paise ki baat nahi hai.'

'Please kar dijiye na please.'

No one would do anything for a stranger in this world and the pain which he saw in this woman's eyes was definitely not for one. That drunken man seemed too important for her. He could not understand the relation but she cared dearly for that man. Reluctantly he agreed.

Knowing Riddhima was alone in the market place the driver got back quickly. 'Kya woh theek hai?' question laden with concern confronted him the moment he reached.

'Haan theek hai.'

'Unhe aap ..'

'Fikar mat kijiye unhe main unke kamre tak chod ke aaya hoon.'

'Unho aap se kuch poocha?'

'Nahi uss halat main hi nahi the. Par ..'

'Par kya?'

'Nahi kuch nahi sab theek hai. Kya ab chalna hai?'

She again turned back as if she could catch another glimpse of her dear one and settled in.

The old driver could make out her state. It was closely related to what he experienced while dropping Sid back to his guest house. The faraway troubled look was searching for some answers which were connected to the drunken person on the road whom she had asked him to help.

'Aapke koi khaas hai aisa lagta hai?' question breaking the silence.

'Apne sawalo ke jawab dhondne nikali thi na?'

The lady's silence was affirming all his beliefs.

'Aur ab sawalo se bhaag rahi hai.'

'Ji?'

'Mere kehne ka matlab hai ki itne sawal leke yaha se kyu jaa rahi hai aap?

'Aisa kuch nahi nahi hai Sardarji.'

'Agar keh rahi hai toh theek hai. Par maine bhi bahoot duniya dekhi hai. Aankhen sadak pe rehti hai par passenger ka haal achi pad leta hai hum driver log. Woh bhi apne sawalo ke saath ladte bhagte aaj iss mod pe aa khade huye hai. Hum insaan bhi ajeeb hotey hai kabhi kabhi hamare sawalo ke jawab wahi hota hai jaha se hum dur bhagna chahate hai.' what that not so well educated gentleman said was true. Those were words of wisdom which came from experience.

She was running away. She had always done that and that is why she too was standing at this point in her life. Every time she tried to take a stand she was met with more pain. For herself and others.

'Par ..Sadarji ab iss sab se kuch hasil nahi hoga sirf  ..'

'dard hoga? PutarJi  ..Tumse jyaada pada likha nahi hoon par tumse bada hoon Tumse jyaada duniya dekhi hai aur mera tajoorba hai ki sawalo ke jawab milne pe utna dard nahi hota jitna unke na milne se hota hai. Aur agar yeh dard tumhe rok raha hai toh woh darr dimag se nikal do. Kyuki yeh kudrat ka niyam hai. Jab insaan bimar padta tab bhi usse takleef hoti hai aur theek hone ke liye bhi usse kuch dard ka samna karna padta hai jaise suyi lagwane ka dard. Uss dard ke darr kya hum ilaaj karwana toh bhi chodte na. Aisa socho ki woh sab sawal ek bimari hai aur jawab ek dawai jiske kadve ghoot peena ab lazmi ho gaya hai. Aur shayaad woh dawai aap ke pass hi hai.'

'Hmmm'

'Toh phir kyu jaa rahi hai?'

That old driver had been driving a point which probably she always knew. She was a doctor and indeed while healing every patient had to endure the pain encountered during the healing process. If not then normalcy could never be attained. Only they both could heal each other. If that was so then she may have to do it even if it meant confronting this pain and enduring it.

'Sadarji yaha pe ek orphanage hai. Kya aap waha pe mujhe chod sakte hai?'

'Jee bilkul. Yahi toh hamara kaam hai. Musafir ko apne manzil tak pahochana.'

This time round there was no backing out. 



Quick re-cap
Sid is Panchgani. Riddhima finally decides to help Sid search the answers to the questions he is fighting with and comes back to the orphanage.
Ab aage LOL

Part 34

Sid having had a bit too much the previous night sat in his bed holding his head. The splitting headache seemed to be causing enough nausea that he felt he would throw up any instance. The sight of aspirin also seemed to make him sick. Nonetheless he needed to have something. He thought of having some juice which would help replenish the lack of fluid and calm his growling stomach. He buzzed the reception to order some but he was curtly told off that they served none. 'Theek hai jo bhi ho bhej dijiye.' He resigned on his efforts not having much hope from this place.

'Paani hai chalega?'

'Haan chalega.'

A young boy walked in carrying a tall jug of water and placed it on the side table shortly. The sight of plain water was mocking him. He had been getting used to the luxury of nimbu paani being ready for him every morning though he never had it. 'Damn you why are you thinking of it now?' accepting that he had been ungrateful to Riddhima and now the mere thought was depressing him even more. The war of logic started tormenting him 'Why the hell I am feeling so depressed all of a sudden. Is it'.? No it's just another after effect of a hangover nothing else. I guess I should not drink so much. Kal kuch jyaada hi pee gaya main. Pata nahi kaun tha woh jo mujhe yaha leke aaya ' Par this is not done. Damn 'my head hurts.'

Sid hated hangovers. Even though he was a regular drinker, he always preferred walking back home straight. Well not exactly straight but he definitely did not need anyone dropping him back home.

'Mujhe Mumbai aana hi nahi chahiye tha. Actually mujhe kabhi bhi Mumbai nahi aana chahiye tha. Na main kabhi Mumbai aata aur na hi main kabhi.. Damn! Again I am doing it ' I shouldn't have had so much No hangover no depression and no nagging thought of random people who like to barge into my life as per their own wish. I will not let anyone affect me, rule my life, dictate terms to me. It is all because of that why I am where I am. But not anymore. I will live my life just the way I want.'

He wished it was a slow morning but alas that was not the case. He needed to be somewhere. Reluctantly he pulled himself out of the bed and got ready for the day.

Sid coming in for the check-ups had Riddhima up and ready. She waited on the porch waiting for his arrival. She had made all arrangements hoping to give the whole check-up procedure a head start thus later leaving some time free for Sid and her.

Sid was delighted to see everything ready for him on arrival. 'Sheilaji yeh sab kisne kiya?' asked Sid pouring out a glass of water for himself.

'Dr Riddhima ne.' the matron Sheila promptly replied.

'Riddhima!!!'  all the delight of having everything ready washed away hearing that name. 'Mera peecha kyu nahi chodti yeh .. damn it?' He swore under his breath gripping the glass tightly. His frustration peeked when his eyes caught the culprit's profile and his grip tightened on the glass in an attempt to reign in his flaring temper.
The intensity of feelings did not take long to have its effects. In a fraction of a second the glass lay shattered on the floor in pieces covered with blood.

The alarmed cry from the matron brought Riddhima rushing to the room.
A quick scan left her gasping. The blood covered hand hit her. 'Sid!!!' Riddhima lunged forward to help. Not wanting to create a scene Sid quickly apologized and bent down to pick up the pieces of glass as if telling all was fine and nobody's services were required.

Sid's apology got the matron to dismiss it as an accident  'Yeh naye glasses kuch theek nahi hai. Itne fat se toot jaate hai. Rukiye main yeh saaf karwa leti hoon. Aap apne zakhm ko bandage karwa lijiye.'

Before Sid could react he found his hand in Riddhima's. Very carefully dabbing off the blood with a big swab of cotton.

Instinct propelled him to shirk his hand away while Riddhima stubbornly held on 'Sid please mujhe bandage karne do.'

She quickly did the first aid and left to gather the children and line them up for Sid to start his check-ups. Waiting around would only irritate him.
The first thing Sid did as soon as Riddhima was out of sight was to call Shashank. He wanted to end this once and for all. Luck did not seem to favor Sid. Shashank was operating so Sid was left to handle this matter on his own.

So if you can't cure it then endure it. His silence and indifference could drive Riddhima up the wall just like her non responsiveness did to him. So it was going to be tit for tat. He decided not give in to any of her provocation. 'Jaane do main yeh sab khud ko affect nahi karne doonga. Usse jo karna hai karne do.' 

Knowing his hand was injured Riddhima waited upon Sid while he did the check-ups intermittently trying to do something or the other to help him.

While Sid continued to behave stubborn, not wanting any help. He struggled with every activity due to his injured hand especially taking notes. Writing with an injured hand was a painful activity.
Riddhima stood there watching him try gripping the pen. She flinched at his each attempt. She tried to take charge but her hand got shirked away rudely every time.

Tired of Riddhima's umpteem attempts Sid thought of seeking the matron's help to take notes but this plan also took an immediate beating. 'Aap please Dr Riddhima ki help lijiye.'

'Woh duty pe nahi hai.'

Sid was behaving stubborn and she matched it. 'Main volunteer kar sakti hoon.'

'Dekhiye aap ki problem solve ho gayi. Main chalti hoon mujhe todha kaam hai.'

Left with no choice Sid had to relent.

They finished with all the scheduled children with only the last one remaining-Tamanna.

Tamanna had been observing them for a long time. Sid dictating and Riddhima taking notes. Any further conversation or help from Riddhima not being entertained by Sid. Be it work related or otherwise. So the first question came the moment Sid perched her on the make shift examination table. 'Genie bhaiya aap Riddhima didi se abhi bhi gussa ho?'

'Nahi' he plainly replied.

'Toh phir aap baat kyu nahi kar rahe hai.'
It was a question asked in innocence He could hold it against a small child. He rolled his eyes and 'Main busy hoon isiliye Tamanna.'

'Par woh toh aap ki help kar rahi hai.'

'Tamanna ..main kisi se naraaz nahi hoon.'

'Par main aap se bahoot naraaz hoon. Pichili baar bhi aap Riddhima didi ke saath nahi aaye. Aap ko maloom hai kitni sad thi woh. Maine bataya na kal aapko.'

'Haan ..ab chalo lait jao mujhe aapka check up karna hai.'

'Nahi pehle aap mere sawal ka jawab do'

'Tamanna!!!' warned Sid.

'Tamanna Sid ko examine karne do phir tum baate kar lena.' coaxed Riddhima.

The minute the examination got done lunch was announced saving Sid of any further questiona at least in front of Riddhima. Tamanna dragged Sid with her to the lunch table.

Here too Sid struggled with the spoon for some time. He switched to eating with his left hand the minute he saw Riddhima approaching his table. Unaccustomed to eating with his left hand he had spilled  more and ate less.  Riddhima wanted to help him but knew he would prefer walking away hungry than eat with her help. But later seeing him struggle with cleaning the stain off his shirt later had Riddhima go across to help him. 'Main kar do' she asked meekly. Sid quietly continued with the task. 'Natak.'

'Sid karne do mujhe please.' Sid announced his displeasure, throwing the napkin aside.

'Sid tum aise kyu behave kar rahe ho. Main toh sirf tumhari help karne ki koshish kar rahi hoon. Tamanna par bhi gussa ho gaye. Yeh kya hai Sid? ' His patience limits were getting saturated. He was about to lash out but noticing the kids stop playing to see their argument stopped him.

Knowing Sid it was not going to an easy task but Riddhima persisted. Tamanna too came to her help announcing that if Sid would stay back they could have a small campfire. Sid was not in a mood to endure Riddhima any longer and got the matron's help to dismiss the idea owing to it being a school night. The plan flopped and soon Sid headed to his favorite destination to unwind. Sid chose a decent restaurant cum bar and settled himself at the bar.

When Riddhima reached the guest house after escaping from Tamanna's incessant blabber, the care taker told her that Sid could be found at a nearby restaurant.

Riddhima willed not to let Sid drink this evening. She wanted to put an end to this routine. But she knew her Sid well.

When she reached there, Sid was already through a few drinks. She was not allowing him to drink himself to death this night again. Stopping Sid was not going to help. He would not pay heed to her pleadings. He had not complied earlier nor would he do so that evening. Yet stopping him was necessary.

She confidently strode up to the bar counter and stood at a distance from him taking a quick check of his state.

He looked quiet ok. She wanted to stop him immediately but this was the bratty Sid and she needed to match it so she settled herself in a chair some distance away from Sid. This time being in his complete view.

'Repeat .. Ek black label large Neat' ordered Sid. Tired from dodging Riddhima he sat there resting his head on the bar counter.


'That's your Sir and what would you have Ma'am.'

'The same black label large. Neat' she said trying to sound confident really not knowing what was in store for her.

'Riddhima !!!  Why does she have so much of effect on me still that now I have also started hallucinating about her?' Sid dismissed her presence being just a figment of his imagination and continued with what he had been doing.

'Would you prefer some ice?'

'No this is fine.'

Hearing her voice again he looked up this time. He gasped at the sight. She indeed was there. The bar tender placed the order in front of Riddhima suspiciously of the order been placed 'That's a black label large Neat!!!' he repeated trying to drive a point home.

'Yes of course.' accepted Riddhima gulping back her fear.

All Sid's enthusiasm drained. Anger surged seeing her toy with her drink placed in front of her. 'She never drank not even wine or champagne. What is she doing with whiskey, that too a large peg.? 'Oh she intends to stop me by playing this game. Ok let me see for how long she can carry this on?' He was not going to let her rule his life this time.


'Cheers!!!' he toasted mentally raising his glass.

Riddhima gulped back her fear knowing there was no turning back. She had to take her chance.
She too lifted her glass and signalled back. 'Cheers!' trying to sound as enthustic as her possible. Sid took the first sip without losing the eye contact with his nemesis. Even in his buzzed state he could make out the fear in her eyes. It amused him. She had at many occasions stepped out of her beliefs to assure him of her best intentions. He had always rushed to ask her to do otherwise as her comfort was his highest priority. Little did he know then that she was just testing him to see if he fell for her farce. 'Not so easy this time. Not this time. You are not going to win this game Dr Riddhima Gupta.'

As Riddhima brought the glass near her lips the stench of the spirit hit her nostrils repelling her senses. 'How can someone drink this stinking thing?' Her hesitation brought a triumphant smirk on Sid's face. 'Way to go Dr Riddhima Gupta. Bring it on. I am waiting.'

Her eyes were pleading Sid to stop her which tucked Sid's heart. 'No Sid she is doing it again.' His brain reprimanded.

His face displayed a gamut of emotions. He was fighting himself. She hated herself doing this to Sid but somehow she felt happy too. It gave her hope that moment that her actions did affect him but crashed the very next noticing his lips turning up into amused grin.
'So be it. I challenge you to stop me now and I shall stop only when you stop me and you yourself stop drinking.'

She raised the glass again with nervous hand, taking a deep breath not wanting to inhale the disgusting stench and took a sip. It could not be counted as a micro sip. Her tongue felt violated tasting the bitter potent drink. 'Yuck!!!' she barely managed exclaiming aloud but her facial expressions gave her away.
'Oh my my .. so Dr Riddhima Gupta hates the taste. Great. This is going to be an easy victory.'

They both could read each other. Riddhima swirled that drink in her mouth cursing the man who invented this wretched drink. Sid's ever increasing grin turned into a stifled laugh as he made another go  at his. Sid was thoroughly enjoying it all. 'Stop this game Sid.'

'Let me see you gulp that down.'

'Ok have it your way.'  Riddhima willed and gulped down that excuse for a sip. That potent drink burnt her insides making her choke on it. Her stomach churned.

She was in visible pain which Sid could never be able to handle.

She was waiting for Sid to break down which she hoped would happen before she did under the effect of that wretched drink. She was finding this difficult but she would still endure it if this was the only way and indeed it was going to be.

Unaffected Sid non-chalently picked up his glass, this time making a larger go at his drink. He defied her and waited for her move.

'How can you so unaffected? You were never  so. Have you really changed so much. No you cannot. My Sid can never change. He had promised me he wouldn't and my Sid does not break his promises. He is just hiding and if you really want to play this game I will match it. I will not let you win.'

This time she took a  real sip. She let the taste settle in, gulping down little by little.

It was an ordeal to see her drinking like this.

'Give up Riddhima before my patience give in.'  his heart cried attempting to finish that sip.
'Absolutely not. Not until you stop me yourself and then I shall see how you also continue to behave unaffected continue to drink.'

His insides cringed and instinctively his hand grabbed the glass downing the rest of the drink. No big deal he was used to it.

Shocked by Sid's guts she decided to match this too. Angered, she too made a go at it.
It was too much to handle. It threw her into a violent cough making her spit out more than half the drink back into the glass while choking on the rest of it.

'Thats it.' He could not endure this tirade any longer. All the intoxicating effect washed out in a moment. Jumping off the bar stool he found himself next to Riddhima. Instinctively his hand lifted to try sooth her. 'Sid!!!' his mind reprimanded making him withdraw it immediately. 'Water please.' he called sternly.

The bar tender placed a glass of water in front of Riddhima. Stubbornly still holding on to her drink she looked at Sid trying to gauge his mind and defying him to give up these pretences. 'Be true to yourself Sid. I know you can't handle me in pain. It still pains you and your pain is something I cannot handle. Give in.'
Sid looked away in disgust which prompted Riddhima to make another go at her drink.

The bar tender who was watching this scene also lost his patience. 'Ma'am have some water or at least mix the drink.

'No..I prefer it this way.' she remained firm on her choice.

Wary of a scene getting created Sid drew his wallet and threw his card on the counter 'Bill it.'

'Both Sir' hoping this two warring individual's move out before a showdown.

'No only hers. She is done.'

'I am not done.' Snapped Riddhima.

'Do as I say' said Sid fiercely gritting his teeth.
'I said I am not done.'

She was not going to relent 'Bill both' said Sid snatching the glass from Riddhima's hand.

'Wait.' he set a few thousand's notes on the counter and retrieving his card he stormed out.

Riddhima had won the first battle not the war.


Part 35

Sid studiously maintained his distance from her striding briskly in front but made sure that he did not let Riddhima lag behind. It was an unknown place and quite late in the night. Instinct had him worrying for her safety and protecting from any danger that lurked around in the darkness of the night.

'She is just another girl. I am doing what I would do for any other girl.' his mind argued as his heart questioned.

Riddhima kept calling out to him. She wondered where he was going as the the guest house was left far behind.

After walking some more yards did she realize what Sid was doing and a smile appeared on her face. 'Mujhe tum akele raat ko anjaan jagah mein chod nahi sakte na. Tumhe ab bhi meri chinta hai toh kyu iss jhoote mukhote ke peeche apni feelings chupa rahe ho.'Kyu khud ko dukh de rahe ho.'Kyu bhag rahe ho mujhse khudse.'

His actions was proving that her Sid was not completely lost. Her resolve just strengthened seeing him not wanting to leave her alone. He was indeed was wanting to walk her back to the orphanage.
This time was perfect. Sid was  vulnerable and she had to make her move fast.

She tried to catch up. At times calling out to him plainly or taunting him to stop running away and face the truth but could none worked and soon they reached the gates of the orphanage.

Throwing open the gates Sid stepped aside to let Riddhima through.

He was angry which meant he would again torture himself. He would be back to his old routine which would defeat the entire purpose.

'Andar chalo Sid.' she commanded.

Ignoring her he tried walking past her. But Riddhima was not going let this golden opportunity go waste.
She needed to get Sid talking his heart out. She needed to address all those questions which Sid was fighting with. 

She caught hold of his hand and commanded again 'Andar chalo.'

All his defenses were crumbling. This was the adamant Riddhima who would go to any extent to prove her point and achieve her goal. She would get her way yet he tried. Shrinking her hand hand away he threw a disgusted look her way to tell her he detested everything she did.

'Mujhe maloom hai tum wapis pee ne ke liye jaoge aur main yeh tumhe karne nahi doongi. Andar chalo.'

Sid was baffled how Riddhima knew that he intended to go back to the bar. It was such an irony that she never knew much about him to the extent of causing a major embarrassment on night of Teej yet she always managed to read him like an open book. Riddhima took her chance seeing Sid soften and tried leading him inside.

'Kya pareshani hai. Baat karte hai. Chalo andar.'

'She is playing her dutiful wife's role and you are falling for it. You are such an idiot Sid.' his mind warned him. Shirking her hand Sid tried stepping away again.

He tried dodging her. Every time Riddhima successfully blocked him. He wanted to lash out. Maybe some vile words would deter her but the thought of them hurting her stopped him. Yet he could not let her win so he used his best weapon - Silence.

Riddhima again tried to lead Sid in when Sid's phone rang. It was the matron calling. He moved aside to answer and Riddhima followed not wanting to give Sid any space. Sid put the phone on loud speaker. She could hear the matron speak asking about Riddhima.

'Kya Dr Riddhima bhi aap ke saath hai?'


It irritated Riddhima that Sid was not ready to converse with her even to give a message.


'Haan main yahi hoon boliye kya hua?'


As the matron continued they both listened with full attention.


'Good Sachin ko thoda  bukar ki tarah lag raha hai wapis.'


Both their minds started working on it immediately.

'Sid par dawai ka stock khatam ho raha hai I think we will need more supplies.'

Sid thought for a moment.

'Shielaji Aap tension mat lijiye. Main dawai arrange karta hoon aur tab tak Dr Riddhima Sachin ke pass rehegi.'

'Theek hai.'


Back at the orphanage Riddhima checked up the patient and called Sid to confirm the list of medicines required.


'Sid yeh sab kafi hai kal subah tak.'


'Hmm'


'But I am worried for Sachin. Bukhar kafi tezi se badh raha hai.'

'Kal tak bukhar control mein aa jaye toh hum usse Sanjeevani shift kar denge.'


'Hmmm ...Acha Sid ..Please gaadi dhyaan se chalana ..Sid ..Sid ..'


Sid was back soon. He was a thorough professional did not let his differences with Riddhima come in way of the treatment. He smartly routed all instructions suggestions or affirmations to Riddhima's advice through the nurse that he had gotten the chemist to arrange.

Though Sid's did not utter a word his concern for Riddhima seemed too obvious. Another reason for arranging the nurse was giving Riddhima rest. Though being on leave she had worked the whole day and he knew they had a long night ahead of them. Also he kept pushing for Riddhima to go take some rest when Riddhima kept waiting upon the child.

'Sheilaji nurse aur main yaha pe hai ab Dr Riddhima aur aap rest kar lijiye.'

His efforts continued seeing Riddhima refusing to leave Sachin's bedside.

'Nurse Dr Riddhima abhi tak sowi nahi hai. Unko boliye ki main hoon yaha pe aur aap bhi todhi der rest kar lijiye.'


'Thank you for coffee kya Dr Riddhima ko bhi aap ne coffee de di.'


All these gestures warmed Riddhima's heart but did not give her much solace knowing that Sid still beyond her reach.


Finally in the wee hours of the morning Riddhima gave in and went off to sleep. The child would need constant monitoring through the day and Sid also needed to rest. Riddhima thought of relieving Sid in the morning but Sid remained stubborn.


The tension was growing as the fever refused to subside . Sid visibly tiredness increased Riddhima's anxiety. 


Towards afternoon things started coming under control and Sid retired for a brief nap.


By evening things seemed much better. 'Shielaji Sachin ko Sanjeevani shift karwana theek rahega. Kuch tests karna zaroori ho gaya hai.'


'Jaise aap dono theek samjhe.'


'Good main ambulance ka intezam karta hoon. Kal subah hum Mumbai ke liye nikhal jayege.'


That evening understanding he might be required by Sachin Sid dropped his plans to visit his favorite evening hangout. He planned to make an early start next morning so he decided to fetch his stuff back from the guesthouse. He informed the nurse to buzz him immediately if Sachin's health deteriorated and took his chance to sneaked out fearing Riddhima would come following. But his absence did not go unnoticed. Riddhima worried for Sid incessantly called him. Since the nurse hadn't called him he gauged the real intension behind Riddhima's calls and he promptly ignored all of them.


Otherwise she would have been miffed by the non response but now the situation was different.This was a different Sid whom she could nor recognise nor predict. Would he be on a drinking spree even though his patient lay sick in bed? Her heart refused to believe but now her mind had started deriving on its own accord. There seemed greater possibility which angered her to no extents  She paced the porch anxiously pondering on possibilities of what Sid was up to and this was Riddhima for whom jumping to conclusions was like second nature.


So when Sid arrived she threw an accusing glance towards him blaming him for all that he had not done.

'So not only you drink but also drink and drive. Do you know how dangerous it is? Why are you doing this? Do you even care?'


Sid chose to ignore even though irritated at Riddhima's boring blaming eyes which were screaming accusations at him. He was here for Sachin and that's what he intended to do. Walking into Sachin's room he cooly to check on him. Riddhima seeing this got more agitated. 'I have done that he is fine.There is no need for you to check on him now.' she said spitefully.

'There is no need for you to check on him now.'  That ticked off Sid. Still he managing to keep his cool to complete his checks and walked away in a huff.

He felt used yet again.'So now you are not required. I told you all this was a bloody farce. Concern for you was just a farce but you did not listen.' his mind mocked him as he paced the porch. 'Actually I don't know why I came back. Keeping everything aside. I am not required. I was never good enough for her. And now my services as a doctor are also not required. Why would they? I don't know why I alter my life thinking of others. I should have gone ahead with my routine not thinking about anybody Not even Sachin. Now Riddhima  No Dr Riddhima is there finds me inadequate as a doctor too. I think I better go and live my live.'



Riddhima watched him from far first not feeling like approaching him. She was still angry. But as time passed his discomfort was became more and more evident. Sid had been abusing alcohol for the last four months. Immediately leaving it for day was taking it toll on him. He felt uneasy and irritated. Not only from the lack of alcohol but also what Riddhima said back in the room. His insides cringed.  He felt nauseated and was profusely sweating. He finally settled down on the easy chair and tried to ease himself.

Seeing him such was confirming what Riddhima heart said. 'Sid would never leave his patient to go and drink' . The symptoms Sid experienced proved that Sid had not been on a drinking spree. She felt ashamed of inferring. She knew well sudden alcohol abstinence after prolonged abuse could cause severe damage or even be fatal.

Knowing Sid's stubborn nature, she did not have much hope that Sid would do any self medication. It was imperative that he eased himself. Usually, he would have popped his regular but tonight this pain seemed like his best friend. It was helping block out that spiteful comment which announced his uselessness.

This pain was testing Riddhima's patience. The miserable sight was bad but worst was her fear for Sid's life and soon she soon found herself standing in front of his resting form with medicines and glass of water. Setting it down she contemplated if she should wake him up.

The questions which hassled him every evening had returned to haunt him. He was already a little delirious and his sub conscious mind fighting those questions made matters worse for him. He murmured sometimes helplessly at times agitated.


Seeing him disturbed her hand moved on its own accord wanting to sooth him. His vulnerable state was making her vulnerable. Her hand slowly inched a little more closer to him and he sensing it got up with a jerk.

'Main tumhare liye dawai layi thi.' she said trying to help him make sense of her presence and proximity. 

'As if she really cares.' that the only thought that could come to his mind. He looked at her with disgust and got up to walk away. He was extremely hurt and she felt it essential to make amends for her folly.

'I am sorry' she said tearfully. She was indeed ashamed of misunderstanding him. But it was not to have any effect. The wall of distrust was too strong to be broken even with such gestures. Not cause they were not genuine but they came from a person who every genuine gesture had been negated by her own act of deceit. And so all seemed only a deceit. But she would try, try until she succeeded.

'Baat nahi karni toh dawai toh kha loo. Please …Please dawai kha lo'

'Tumhari halat dekhi nahi jaa rahi mujhse. Please …Acha dawai nahi khaani toh baat toh kar sakte ho na.' she suggested hoping that would deviate his mind. 'Mujhe baat karo.'

Her efforts were went waste as they met with his silence. Every nerve in his body was retaliating at her persistence thinking it was a pretense but he was a gentleman who would not want to create a scene. He felt suffocated standing there so he walked passed her. He strode away briskly in the garden in an effort to avoid her.

She could sense the suffocation. She had to get him out of it and for that she needed to get him to talk.
She ran forward to catch up with him. 'Ruko Sid. Tum gussa ho main jaanti hoon. Baat karo mujhse.'

'Sid tum chup kyu ho ... Mujhe maloom hai tum pareshan ho. Tumhare dil mein hazar sawal hai. Maine sunne hai. Un aadhe adhoore sawalo ka poora jawab dena chahati hoon. Kuch toh bolo aise chup na raho. Acha …theek hai … baat nahi karni toh mat karo dawai toh kha lo … yeh theek nahi hai. Tumhari halat aur bhi bigad ,,,,,.'

His killer look had her voice stuck in her throat. Taking a deep breath she steadied her thumping heart and again tried.

'Tum khud ko hi nahi mujhe bhi saza de rahe ho.' she said using her strongest weapon. Her pain made him restless and it worked but not the way she wished.

He was agitated and it added to his withdrawal symptoms. He was again sweating profusely and his limbs shaking. Yet he held his ground. Not uttering a word he shirked her helping hand and turned to walk back.

'Sid ruko tumhari halat theek nahi hai tum girr jaoge. Tumhe chot lag jayegi. Agar dawai nahi lena chahate toh … theek hai just go have a drink.' She suggested out of sheer frustration. A low dose gave better results in the detoxification process than medication and now in Sid's case would ease the symptoms. 'please aise mat raho. Chahe toh main chalti hoon.'

Sid was completely thrown off balance. Was this lady for real? The previous evening she intending to stop him sat down to drink along knowing well he will not continue and now herself was suggesting accompanying him to a bar so that he could have a drink. All in all he now knew that the lady in front of him was not going to relent. She was on a mission -  mission to break his defenses. Somewhere deep down he also felt a little scared. His mental and physical state was vulnerable and his defenses might just get shattered. He might just end up doing something he may just regret. He allow this lady to get through her ends of bringing him out of his comfort zone. He might just open up the doors to his heart which he had locked that fateful evening at the basketball court.

'Ek dost ki nahi toh ek doctor ke haisiyat se meri baar maan lo.'

'Dr Riddhima you are not my consulting physician. Your services are not required. Thank you very much.' Finally he spoke leaving Riddhima battered with his judgement.  

That was the last he spoke. He never left the orphanage for a drink but finally in the wee hours of the night he did finally take the medicines left for him. He needed to be there for Sachin if not for anyone else. For Riddhima Sid having the medicines finally was enough. She had to make do with only that. The following morning they moved Sachin to Sanjeevani. The entire journey Riddhima just kept searching for the slight ray of hope, the tiniest chance but ended up only disappointed. 


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