After what seemed like an eternity, Armaan's sobs subsided. He realized what he was doing and slowly broke apart from the hug. She let go instantly and looked at his face which was only a few inches apart.
'I...I'm sorry Shilpa, I didn't mean to-', he began.
Shilpa quickly recovered from the strange feeling that the hug gave her and decided not to dwell on it any further. She switched back to her normal self and answered softly, 'That's okay, Armaan. It happens'. He shifted slightly away from her and once again, sat with his back against the wall.
Neither of them knew what to say, so they chose to be silent again. Armaan wiped away his remaining tears and kept staring ahead.
'I used to be in love with Ridhima Gupta', he said suddenly after a few minutes of silence. His voice held no emotion, he stated it as if he were talking about the weather, 'I don't know whether I still am'
Shilpa looked at his tear-stricken face and wondered whether this was the first time he was sharing this with anyone. She wasn't surprised though; she knew something existed between them. It was almost tangible.
She nodded and leaned her head against the wall, 'I guessed'
Armaan looked at her, 'How?'
Shilpa sighed and shrugged, 'It was a hunch', and then she turned towards him, 'I could sense the tension between the two of you'
He kept looking at her for a while and then turned away, 'I didn't want it to be so obvious'
She smiled and said, 'And I don't think anyone did notice. Or maybe they just chose to ignore it'
He nodded, 'Yeah, everyone seems different now. They're all out of reach, I feel detached from everyone'
'That happens more often than you can imagine', she said.
Silence fell again. Armaan had regained his composure, but a certain sadness still lingered in his gut. It was as if he couldn't let go; couldn't take a step ahead. He wanted to, but couldn't. He didn't know whether it was Ridhima's presence that prevented him from moving on, or it was her memories that made him go back and live in the past again and again.
He turned to look at Shilpa, whose eyes were staring into space. He couldn't put it in words, but he couldn't tell her how glad he was to get that heaviness off his chest. Maybe this is what he needed to do - to break down. Maybe this would be a turning point in his life.
Shilpa wanted to ask him about what happened. She wanted to know what drove them apart. Inspite of being a non-judgemental person, Shilpa thought of how Ridhima had her husband's support and Armaan had nobody. But then she looked at his face and realized that he wasn't ready, so she decided to drop the subject for the moment.
'Let's go downstairs?', she asked. Armaan nodded, 'Yeah, let's go'. He got up from the ground and offered his hand to Shilpa. She raised an eyebrow at him, 'Didn't know chivalry still existed'. He looked thoughtful for a moment and then shrugged, 'You're right. It doesn't, and then retracted his hand. Shilpa shook her head and got up, 'I'm never wrong'
They looked at each other and smiled. Atleast, something was normal. Shilpa started walking towards the door when Armaan said, 'Shilpa, I just...thankyou. For everything'
She stared at his face and saw how genuinely he had said those words. Smiling, she nodded in acknowledgement, and they both started walking towards the door. Just when they were about to walk out, Sid appeared out of nowhere infront of them.
Armaan and Shilpa stopped in their paths and looked at a bewildered Sid. He seemed to be surprised to see them together and mildly offended. A few moments passed before he said, 'Armaan? What are you doing here?'
Before Armaan could answer, Shilpa, sensing that her presence was a hinderance, turned towards him and said, 'Armaan, I think I'd better leave. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?
He looked at her and nodded, 'Yeah, okay. Bye', he said and smiled. She returned his smile and walked past Sid without a glance at him. Sid continued to stare at Armaan.
'Well..?', Sid said, gesturing him to explain himself. Armaan sighed and kept his hands on his waist, 'I'm sorry Sid. I didn't mean to miss the get together-'
'Then why didn't you? Armaan, we've been waiting for you for so long! We didn't start because we thought you'd turn up-'
'I'm sorry Sid-'
'-Infact I was beginning to get worried. I searched the entire hospital and you're here-'
'Listen to me, Sid. Let me expl-'
'-with none other than Shilpa. I should have guessed-'
'SID I'M SORRY OKAY?! I DIDN'T MEAN TO KEEP YOU ALL WAITING AND I'M SORRY ABOUT THAT. WILL YOU LET ME SPEAK?', Armaan burst out, having lost his patience.
Sid stared at him, dumbstruck at his reaction. His lips formed an 'O' as his reaction registered in his mind. Armaan closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Calming himself, he said, 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to burst out like that. But will you please let me say something?'
Sid looked away and crossed his arms across his chest. Armaan took that as a sign of approval and said, 'I had a..um, talk with RIdhima in the fire escape. She had to say something to me. We talked and it got a bit out of hand. I didn't want to come back with a bad mood so I came up here and found Shilpa'
Armaan realized that it was no point playing hide and seek with Sid anymore. He respected his feelings towards Ridhima but it was high time Sid also respected the fact that he and Ridhima had a past. Sid looked at him, surprised, 'But Ridhima didn't tell me anything...'
Typically her, thought Armaan. Ridhima had never been confrontational. She always tried to find a way around a messy situation, rather than facing it headstrong. He took a deep breath again and slowly said, 'Look Sid, there are unclear things between Ridhima and me and probably always will...but one thing's for sure and that's that Ridhima and I are over. She's moved on and -'
'And you?', interrupted Sid, 'Have you moved on?'
Armaan broke away from his gaze, suddenly finding the last step very interesting, 'I will', he said after a long pause.
Sid rolled his eyes exasperatedly, 'What happened between you and Ridhima in the fire escape Armaan?'
Armaan sighed, 'Maybe someday, I'll you what happened Sid... Maybe someday', he looked up, patted Sid's shoulder and then turned around and walked away. Sid didn't stop him. A topic that they had ignored so far had been finally unleashed - Armaan and Ridhima's relationship. Inspite of being very good friends, Armaan had never talked about his past details, and Sid never asked. Probably because he didn't want to know, but now, all the chips had fallen and everything was out and clear.
He had no idea how he was going to handle this situation. But before anything else, he had to have a talk with Ridhima. If they had to start a new relationship, then everything had to be clear before they took another step ahead.
'Doctor, here are the test results that you had asked for', said Sunita Varshney, extending the envelope towards Shilpa.
Shilpa nodded and took out the reports from their respective envelopes. She studied them for a moment and then froze. The reports were clear. The woman had breast cancer.
'Doctor? Is everything..everything okay?', asked Sunita hesitantly, noticing the anxious expression on Shilpa's face.
Shilpa took another look at the reports and put them down. She didn't know how to say this. Was there even a way of telling that would not shake the ground beneath this lady? She took a deep breath and looked up. By that time, Sunita had begun to show signs of panic on her face.
Shilpa steeled herself from inside, and slowly spoke, 'Mrs. Varshney. I have to tell you that-'
'I have breast cancer, don't I?', said Sunita, half shaking, half shouting. She was on the verge of hysteria. Shilpa's silence said it all. Sunita's face lost all it's colour and before she knew it, tears were rolling down her cheeks. She suddenly got up and started walking towards the door.
'Mrs. Varshney...Mrs.-', Shilpa began, almost getting up from her seat, but Sunita paid no heed. She numbly walked out of the cabin, and as the door clicked shut, Shilpa shut her eyes and tried to empathize with the woman. She felt no pain and no remorse, just an alien sense of sadness. Alien, because she couldn't identify with it.
'Damnit', she said to herself and leaned back in her chair. The only thing that was going on in her mind was, I'm going to cure this lady, she's my case.
Inspiration from this song:
I highly recommend everyone to listen to it. It's a bit long but worth your time - absolutely beautiful.
I want to thank everyone who has liked this fic, and has followed it inspite of PMs not being sent out. Means alot guys!
*Edit: Okay, there's going to be a PM list Whoever wants to be PMed, please send me a friend request!
Edited by CZ.. - 06 July 2010 at 4:50pm