Joined: 11 October 2006
Chapter 5 Part A
Kripa woke up with a chipper mood. She looked outside and smiled. Everything was going right. She hoped that like all the other times, something wouldn't go wrong. She shrugged and got up. She had a quick shower and wore a white tee and blue jeans. She tied her hair in a ponytail, grabbed her bag and went to the hospital.
'Hi Ms. Mary. Long time no see,' she said hugging the nurse. 'You look very pretty today. What's the secret?'
Ms. Mary laughed and hugged her back. 'Nothing much. Just seeing your bright face makes me look pretty. I heard about you meeting the patient in room 113. That's very nice of you. You here to see him today?'
'Yup, I'm here to see him. I brought some jazz music with me today. I hope he enjoys George Benson as I do. Anyways, I'll see you later.'
She walked to her friend's room and saw another stranger in there talking to the doctor. 'I can't afford to keep him here any longer. I don't know what to do, Doctor,' she overheard the tall man talking.
The doctor sighed, 'you have been very generous when you don't even know him. I don't know, I'll talk to the hospital administration and see what they say.'
Kripa burst in. 'Would you mind telling me what's going on?' She walked to the man with brown eyes and shaggy black hair. He looked exhausted, she thought.
'And you are?' the man asked.
'Kripa. I come to the hospital everyday to see the patient. Who are you?'
'I'm Kartik. I was the one who saw him in the car wreck and pulled him out. I was paying for his hospital bills because I felt really bad for him. But I can't afford it anymore. I've always been on a tight budget, as it is.' He looked weary to the bone and he pulled his fingers through his hair.
Kripa mulled over this for a little bit and brightened up. 'I know, if it's OK, I can take him to my place. That way we won't have to worry about the hospital bills and nobody will be in a tight spot. Is that OK, doc?'
'I don't know. I'll have to talk to the hospital administration. It's against the rules that a non-relative takes the patient home. There's a board meeting in thirty minutes. I'll go talk to them. If you want, you can stay here till then. We'll see what they say.' The doctor didn't even know if what he was doing was right or not. But he had to take a chance.
The men left the room and Kripa turned to the patient. 'Hey again, it's me. I hope you don't mind that I volunteered to take you home. But you seem like a nice guy and I don't want anything bad to happen to you. Cross your fingers that they let me take you home. Hmm, I didn't even think about it but my landlord might have a problem with it. Oh well, I'll figure it out. And there is an elevator in my building. But I'll have to hire a nurse, that's for sure. I don't know how I'm going to afford this either, but I'll find a way.'
She chattered with her friend till the doctor came back with a huge smile on his face. 'Alright, since nobody has come to claim him and you've been coming everyday to check on him, they said they don't have a problem as long as you sign some papers that say that he is going to be your full responsibility.'
'Yay! Alright, I'll take you home today! Thanks Doc. Could you please tell me all that I need to know about how to take care of him. I will hire a nurse for some time but it'll be nice if I know what I'm getting into.' Kripa quickly went and gave the doctor a quick hug.
After the doctor explained everything to her, she got some help from the nurses and put him in the wheelchair. She took him outside and gave a huge smile. 'I can't believe I'm going to have a roommate. Wow, this is so cool. Well, I live in a one bedroom apartment, so you can have the bedroom and I'll sleep on the couch in the living room. It's pretty comfortable so it's not a big deal at all. Anyways, I think the Mogul Empire was such an interesting phase in the Indian history.' She reached her building elevator and got in with him. 'Did you know that Akbar apparently had three hundred wives? Three hundred wives! How did he keep track of them? Did he spend a night per wife in a year? Jeez, it's complicated to even think about it, forget actually doing it.'
The elevator dinged and she got off on her floor and continued with the monologue, 'Anyways, Aurangzeb was the last powerful Mogul ruler.'
'Kripa, who is this?' Kripa jerked up and saw her landlord. Oh crap, she thought, now what am I going to do? I'll have to wing it.
'Um, hi Mr. Shah. This is.. this is.. this is my friend's brother. Ya, he's my friend's brother' Zaib. Ya, he is not well so I brought him over. She's a very good friend of mine and she's not in India. I have to take care of him Mr. Shah. I have to because she's my very good friend and if I had a brother who was in this condition, she would take care of him as well. Please be OK with it Mr. Shah. He's a very good man.' Kripa crossed her fingers and looked at Mr. Shah with imploring eyes.
He sighed. It was impossible to say anything when a girl used her eyes like that. 'Fine, but make sure that there's no problem.'
She gave a huge sigh of relief. 'Oh Mr. Shah, don't worry at all. There'll be no problem at all. You know I always pay rent on time and make no noise at all. See ya Mr. Shah.'
She walked to her apartment and locked the door. 'Yes! Everything's fine. I hope you don't mind that I called you Zaib. We were talking about the Mogul Empire and Aurangzeb, I had to come up with a name, so I shortened Aurangzeb to Zaib. Please don't mind OK. And anyways, we had to name you right? Until you tell me your real name by yourself. So Zaib you are from now. Let me take you to my room. The doctor's going to send a nurse for today, just to make sure that you settle down, and they can hang the drip and all that. I really hope you won't be angry with me when you wake up.'
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'Kripa, how could you just take him in? How are you going to afford his care? You can hardly pay your own bills,' Mishti said concerned. She knew that Kripa had the softest heart she had even known, but this was going too far.
'Oh Mish, don't worry about it. I'll figure something out, you know I always do.' Kripa sighed. Her friends were too worried for nothing.
It was Sunday morning and the gang was at Mishti and Prithvi's place. Prithvi put his hand on hers, 'Kripa, we know how much you feel for others. But really, how are you going to take care of all this? You always have some financial crisis going on. I know, I know, you always figure something out and you have too much damn pride that you won't even take money from your friends. Kripa, we're worried about you.' Aaliya nodded in her direction.
'Seriously, you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. He's lonely! I couldn't leave him there. Would any of you leave me in hospital if I was in that condition? No right? I've seen him every day for the last God-knows how many days. I care about him. I don't why, but I care about him. And if you care about me at all, you'll leave this alone. Just accept my decision and be happy for me.' Kripa got up and walked to the window.
Aaliya went behind her and put her arm on her shoulder. 'Kripa, we're always there for you. No matter what path you take in life, you know we'll always be behind you just as you're always there for us. We're just worried about you. That's all.'
Kripa turned back and held Aaliya's hand, 'I know. Please let me do this. I just need to do this. And don't worry about me. Things always work out for me. You know my book is coming along well, a few more weeks and I'll be done with it. I have a very good feeling about this book. I do,' she smiled and they dropped the topic.
After the brunch, Kripa walked back to her apartment, thanked the nurse who left and took Zaib outside. 'My friends really do mean well. They're just concerned about me. They're not happy that we're roommates. But Zaib, I couldn't leave you in the hospital. I just couldn't. You're my friend.' She shook her head and smiled.
'Don't you just love this time of the year? It's warming up and it feels great to be outside. Zaib, I'm picking a second job in the mornings. It's at a local cafe. A friend owns it and she said that they are always short-staffed and always need help. She said that I could join it any time. I called her last night and she was OK with it. I'm sorry but I won't be able to spend much time with you what with my afternoon job and all. But it's just for a few more months. When my book gets published, everything will be fine. There might be everything I doubt about myself; if there is one thing I cannot doubt about, it's my writing. I know it'll be published. I feel it in my bones. Anyways, let's head back.'
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'Zaib, how do I look?' Kripa asked twirling around slowly. She wore a snug short black dress that reached her mid-thigh. She had made her eyes smoky and mysterious and curled her hair into a fountain. She had painted her mouth a siren red and wore killer black heels. 'Do I look hot or not? I can't believe that I'm going out with Manek. He's so hot! And he's very well mannered; the chivalrous type. I think I'm going to have such an amazing time with him tonight. We're going out to this Italian restaurant that just opened last month. Mmm, just thinking about it makes my mouth water.'
She bent down to his wheelchair and sighed. 'It's been so long and you still haven't gotten up. It's been almost three years, Zaib. Please get up. You've lost so much weight,' she looked at his hollow face. He didn't look like the man from the hospital anymore. 'I can't stand seeing you like this. My books are being published and I'm very successful. I just want you to wake up now. We moved to this fairy tale house almost two years ago. I thought that a change in scenery might help you, but you're still sitting. I feel like you don't even want to get up.'
She gave him a quick peck on his cheek and smiled, 'I'll keep waiting till the day you get up Zaib. I won't lose hope on you.' The door bell rang, she got up and smiled. 'Well, that's Manek. Wish me luck. And don't wait up roomie. Nurse Aisha is here to take care of you. So you'll be fine. If you need anything, just give me a call. My phone numbers on the mantle so that shouldn't be a problem. See ya!' She grabbed her purse and dashed outside.
'Hi, let me get this out of the way first. Wow, you look gorgeous!' Manek gave her the while calla lilies he had bought for her.
'Oh thank you. One minute, I'll just put them in the vase. I'll be out in a second.' Kripa breathed in the scent of the flowers and sighed against the door.
'He's so sweet. But I'm not letting a guy come to my place like this. A girl has to be cautious. You never know. But wow, I love these lilies.' She arranged the flowers in a vase and went outside.
They went to Cucina Italiana, the new Italian restaurant. 'Isn't this place just gorgeous?' Manek said pulling out a chair for her.
'Thanks, yeah, it's beautiful. I love their dcor. It looks like we are in Italy. I love the feel of the old walls and the bougainvillea hanging on the trellis. Oh I know, it resembles an agora. This is beautiful. Thanks, Manek,' Kripa smiled at him.
'No problem at all. Would you like to have something to drink? Some wine? Champagne?'
'Yeah, sure. I'd love a Cabernet.'
'The lady would like a Cabernet.' Manek told the waiter. The waiter discreetly poured some wine in their glasses and left them so that they could make their selection.
The evening passed very quickly. Kripa couldn't remember a time that she had enjoyed so much. Conversation flowed easily. They talked about everything from their past to what they hoped to do in the future. She had to keep reminding herself not to dream too much. She still didn't know him that well.
Kripa excused herself and went to the restroom. She closed the door and leaned against it with a grin. She couldn't help it and she shot her hand in the air and said, 'yes!' She couldn't believe her luck. He was so attentive and courteous. He was even polite to the waiter. You could always tell how a man was by how he treated the waiter.
Kripa went to the mirror and refreshed her lipstick. She knew she had to look her best. She remembered that her purse was still in the bathroom stall. She went to collect it when she heard some voices.
'Did you see that bas***d, Manek?' a tear-filled voice said.
'Yeah, I wonder which poor girl he was with now. He'll ruin her life just as he has ruined so many women's lives. What a sick bas***d! Do you think we should warn her?' another female voice asked.
'I don't know. It's none of our business. What if she doesn't mind having a loser like Manek?'
'I think we should tell his tricks to that woman. He ruined your life but you were courageous enough to rebuild it. What if the other woman can't take it?' Hearing this, Kripa's heart hammered. What had Manek done?
'It was partially my fault. I slept with him when he told me how much he loved me. I should have waited till I got a ring on my finger. As soon as he was done sleeping with me, he told me it was all a game. Then he told everyone that I had seduced him. But I'm glad he broke my heart. How else would I have met Ketan who is the most sincere guy ever?'
'You are lucky that way. Even knowing your past, he accepted you as you are. That's how a real man should be. Men have skeletons in their closets as well. They should accept women with baggage as well,' her friend said.
'How do we tell her though? If we go in front of that chameleon, he'll tell that woman lies and turn her against us. I think we'll just have to let it be and hope that the other woman sees him through his mask.' As the voices faded away, Kripa got out of the restroom and went towards their table. She didn't know what to do or what to think. Manek's back was turned to her and she saw that he was on the phone.
'Yeah, she's totally bought it. I can't believe that paying attention to a few details can make such a difference. Be nice to the waiter, act like a gentleman. Uh huh, I think I'm going to get lucky tonight. Why else would I spend so much time and money on a woman? She sure was a hard one. But now she's in. Yo, I'll call you back. I'll call you after and give you details.' Manek shut his phone with a smirk.
Kripa just stood behind him in shock. He wined and dined her so that he could bed her? That bas***d. She kept herself calm. She would not create a scene. She would not create a scene, she reminded herself. Scenes are bad. Scenes are awful. Didn't she always hate it when people created a scene? Anger coursed through her veins and her heart pounded, she would not create a scene.
Kripa marched up in front of him and grabbed her wine glass. She tossed the wine on his face. 'You bas***d! What do you think I am? You put up this act so that you can get me in bed?' At Manek's shocked face, she gave a dry laugh.
'Yeah, I've heard everything. You're the cheapest person I know. Don't ever think about playing any other girl this way again or I'll chop your balls into such tiny pieces, that you'll regret all your actions for the rest of your life. Freak!' she shouted and left the restaurant in a huff.
She called for a cab and went to her house. She let the nurse go and threw a tantrum at her house.
'What does he think of himself? What a sick, sick man.'
Zaib was still in the living room and she went to him to continue the tirade. 'Zaib, I'll never trust another man again for as long as I live. The evening started out so perfectly. All I could think was what a sweetheart that bas***d was. Then I went to the restroom and overheard some stuff. I wasn't sure what to think of it. I went to the table and heard him say that all he wanted to do was get into my pants. That bas***d!'
She cooled down a little bit. 'You're a nice guy Zaib, you always listen to me.'
The doorbell rang. Thinking it was Aaliya who wanted to hear all the details about the date, she opened the door without looking in the peephole.
Manek strode in livid. 'Well well, you're going to chop my balls, are you? We'll see about that.'
He grabbed her and shut the door with a bang. Kripa felt herself going backwards and fear rose in her throat. 'That's the invalid you're housing?' he asked glancing at Zaib.
Kripa tried shoving him but his arms were like that of steel. 'Manek, leave me or I'm going to kill you!' she all but shouted in fear.
'Kripa, this is to teach you a lesson. Never ever mess with Manek.' With that, he tore the sleeve of her dress and Kripa struggled against him.
'Manek, leave me alone. Leave me,' she heard herself sobbing as he pushed her to the couch.
He smirked, 'I just wanted to show you who's boss over here. You threatened to chop my balls. Let me use those now. Let's see how you get around to that particular task.'
Kripa felt his lips on her throat and she shuddered with disgust and terror. She would not be raped, she would not be raped! She tried kneeing him on his groin but she had no room. She couldn't feel herself crying and begging him to let her go. She didn't feel herself calling for Zaib either.
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