Thank you once again everyone for being so awesome and leaving me such good feedback. I will never be able to express how much your comments mean to me.
And wow! We reached 100 pages! All thanks to you guys.
Onto the next chapter...we have been too serious for a while so this one is a comparatively light chapter.Just wanted to give a little break to all that angst. Hope you like it!
Hold me Close
For a few days Sid's mission "Stay away from Shilpa's Life" went along smoothly.
A few critical surgeries and preparation for the upcoming conference in London kept him pre-occupied.
Even though, it was going to be difficult for him to be so far away from her in London, he was grateful that at least he would be away from her eyes...the lesser she would see him, the more easier it would be for her to get along with her life.
But what he didnt know was that Shashank, with some clever meddling, had asked Shilpa also to attend the conference.
She had of course tried to refuse but there was not much she could do when it was the main head of Sanjeevani who was giving her orders.
She hadnt seen or approached Sid after that night when he had dropped her home.
She knew he was probably blaming himself already for losing control and she didnt want to make things more difficult for him than they already were.
Though there were times when she would have a sudden urge to just see him...even if it was from afar."Everything I did...everything I felt for you in those moments...was real..."
Her heart would leap in exhilaration every time the words would echo in her mind...even though she knew this story of theirs really had no future.
Sid...Siddhant Modi felt something for her...something more than friendship...something strong enough to make him want to keep away from her...
His words were enough...enough for her to bravely spend her whole life without him.
Naina and Yuvi were completely bewildered at their friends' behaviour especially since they didnt know what exactly had happened between Sid and Shilpa.
Two weeks passed in the same manner when fate decided it was time for a change of scene.
Shilpa was currently having lunch in her office when suddenly she received a call...the number belonged to Sid's landline.
Surprised, she answered the call to find Sid's caretaker on the other end, Nirmal Kaka.
"Betiya ji, how are you? You havent visited here since a long time..."
Did he call her just to ask that? No there had to be something more...
"Yes I have been quite busy Nirmal Kaka...is everything okay?"
"Actually no...things are not okay...since morning Sid beta..."
Shilpa's eyes widened as he continued to speak on the other end.
"He isnt listening to me or anyone else...I dont know what to do. He only listens to you...if you can, please come home for at least a few minutes beti."
"I am on my way Nirmal Kaka...", she disconnected the phone and stood up.
Her lunch still unfinished, she quickly grabbed her purse and walked out of her office.
"Miss Shilpa", her assistant called her from behind her, "Are you going somewhere?"
"Yes though I will be back soon. Its still lunch time anyway...just let me know if anyone comes."
And with that, she hurried on her way to Sid's home.
Even before she could ring the bell, the door was opened and there stood a visibly relieved Nirmal Kaka.
"Thank you so much for coming, Shilpa beti."
Nirmal Kaka had been working for Sid's family in Houston even since Sid was ten years old. When Sid had refused to return to Houston after his divorce, his mother had sent Nirmal Kaka back to India to take care of her son.
"Where is he?", she asked.
He gestured towards the stairs. "In his room."
She bounded up the stairs , temporarily forgetting everything about her decision of being away from him.
Stopping at the entrance of his room, her heart cringed at his sight.
It was something that rarely happened to Sid, but whenever it did, it would be really...bad.
Siddhant Modi had ...fallen sick.
Which meant people around him would have to deal with an extremely irritable, whiny and stubborn person...actually there wouldn't be much difference between him and a five year old child.
Placing her purse on a nearby chair, she edged near to his still form lying on his bed.
He couldnt remember the last time when he had woken up in so much pain.
His head was throbbing incessantly, his body was aching terribly and he felt chilled to the bone.
Nirmal Kaka had, in his usual every day routine, pulled apart the curtains of the room allowing the sunlight to flood the room.
Sid had placed the covers over his head to prevent the sunlight from increasing his headache even more.
"Sid?". He couldnt make out the owner of the voice in his state but he assumed it was Nirmal Kaka.
The old man had been pestering him a lot since morning. Why couldnt he just let him be?
"Go away", he muttered gruffly. It was a great effort to even talk as it felt like somebody had placed a bunch of needles in his throat.
Suddenly he started coughing and couldnt seem to stop.
"Sid, are you okay?". Wait, that wasnt Nirmal Kaka.
Through the layers of blanket, the voice was muffled but he could make out it was a female.Shilpa
He continued to cough which made his head throb even more.Shilpa here? How? Why?
But truly he didnt care...he was just glad she was there. Now she would make his sickness go away.
The dark sanctuary of his blanket was suddenly stripped away from him and Shilpa stood before him, a concerned look over her face.
"That cough doesnt good..."
He quickly shut his eyes as the sudden light pained his eyes...slowly, very slowly he opened his eyes and tried to glare at her.
But of course, it didnt have the effect he was hoping for...she didnt even know she was being glared at.
"You look so pale...", she murmured.
Realizing his effort was useless, he curled up into a ball and closed his eyes.
He felt so weak...there was no energy left within him...and why did everything ache so much?!
Suddenly he felt her hand touch his forehead and calmed down a little...her touch was so soft, so warm and so comforting that he wished she wouldnt move her hand away.
"You're burning up!", she stated, "Okay now stay here...I am going to get a thermometer."What does she mean by stay here? Where does she think I am going to go in this condition?
He started shivering again when Shilpa came back and sat next to him on the bed, covering him with his blankets again.
Putting the thermometer in his mouth, she waited patiently, gazing at his weak face.
After a minute, she removed the thermometer and was shocked to see his temperature.
She felt his face again. "You definitely have a fever...39 degrees."
He didnt respond as his teeth was chattering from the way his whole body was shivering.
Her hands felt so warm on his face. "Oh you poor thing", she said,"Does any part of your body ache?"
He just nodded his head not wasting his energy in trying to talk.
"Then you definitely have the flu..."
"Does he need anything to eat Shilpa beti?", Nirmal Kaka asked from the doorway.
Sid shook his head vehemently and covered his head with the blanket again.
Shilpa rolled her eyes. That gesture usually meant he didnt want anything and he was definitely not going to eat anything.
"Yes...prepare some vegetable soup for him."
She ignored the angry grunt that came from beneath the blanket.
Nirmal Kaka nodded eagerly and went off to the kitchen, happy that finally he could do something
Sid partially moved the blanket away from his face and peered around.
"Is he gone?",he asked in a small voice.
Suddenly she jumped back as he shot out of the bed and ran to the bathroom.
She stood confused when she heard the sounds of him retching.
Instantly she went after him.
She saw that thankfully he had made it to the toilet and was now seated on the rim of the bath tub, holding his stomach.
She walked to the sink, took a small towel and soaked it with warm water.
Walking closer to him, she wiped his face hoping it would make him feel better.
"Are you done throwing up?, she asked and he nodded weakly, leaning into her warm touch.
"I-it is s-so c-c-cold."
She sighed. "I know Sid...lets get you back into bed."
He let her help him up, though inside he felt angry at himself for being so weak.
She walked with him to the bed on which he promptly collapsed and pulled the blankets around him firmly, grumbling about it being cold again.
"I will just be back Sid... I need to cancel all my appointments for today...again."
"Are you g-going to s-stay here?"
"But w-wont you f-fall s-sick t-too?"
A deep feeling of affection overwhelmed her at the fact that even in his almost delirious state, his first concern was her health.
"No I will be fine.", she smiled.
"Okay", he murmured, disappearing inside the blankets again.
She stepped out of his room to make her necessary calls and came back inside once she was done.
She headed towards his dressing table and pulled open one of the drawers where she knew he kept a few antibiotic pills handy.
Taking the necessary ones, she walked to the bed and lightly tapped on his still form.
He peeked from inside the blanket and spotted the medicines in her hand.
He groaned. "I will not take those! "
A few years back, Sid's mother had warned Shilpa that he could become the most difficult person when he was sick. But over the years, Shilpa had mastered the art of making him listen to her even if he didnt want to.
"Come now Sid...you know you have to to take these eventually. Otherwise, you wont get well and neither is your pain going to go away."
Does she think I am a baby?
"No." Came his answer again.
"Fine then...I am just going to stand here till you dont listen to me."
For a few seconds, there was no movement.
Then, he grumbled at her and sat up to take the medicines.
He noticed that she had removed a different shirt for him and gladly accepted her help when she helped him into it.
She noticed that his body was warm and yet still he was shivering.
Putting the covers around him again, she was went out of his room and headed down to the kitchen to see what was being prepared for him.
"Is this all okay, beti? Should I make something more?"
"No this is enough...just be careful not to make it too spicy..."
And with that, she walked back to his room to find the mountain of blankets still wrapped around him.
"Sid?", she called softly unsure whether he was sleeping or not.
"Hmm?", he replied.
"How are you feeling now?
"Everything still hurts", his faint voice answered from beneath the pile of blankets.
A rush of sympathy and protectiveness tore her insides and she pulled his blankets down to see his face.
Placing her hands on his cheeks,she was alarmed to discover that the fever had still not abated.
In fact, he seemed even more warm.
She also noticed the flushed look on his face and the sallow look under his eyes.
"Dont worry Sid...you will feel better soon."
He nodded weakly and leaned closer into her touch.
Her eyes widened slightly at his unconscious gesture.She knew it would be better for her to still keep her distance from him because she was sure once he started feeling fine, things would go back to how they were.
But she didnt have the heart to leave him so she sat next to him on the bed and stroked his damp hair out of his face.
She felt at a loss. Common sense told her she should go now...she had checked on him and that was enough.
But how could she leave when he looked so vulnerable and weak?
Her maternal instincts wanted her to wrap her arms around him and provide him the comfort that she knew he would appreciate at this moment but her rational side warned her not to.
So she suppressed herself and simply sat next to him.
The door bell rang.
As she got up to answer it, she felt Sid's hand clutch her wrist. She turned to see him looking at her with the most helpless look she had ever seen.
"Where are you going?",he whispered.
"The doctor is here..."
"But why did you call a doctor? Arent you one too?"
"Yes Sid", she answered patiently,"but you still need to be checked by a general physician too.I will be right back."
"Promise?", Her eyes widened and he breath almost stopped.
Sid had always been a man of few words. He rarely expressed himself openly. And he had never asked her something like that before, at least not in this manner. Maybe the fever was making him delirious.
She finally got the use of her brain back."Yes Sid... I promise."
She patted his hand holding hers and quickly left the room to head downstairs.
Reaching the front door, she opened it to find Yuvi standing outside with his usual half smile.
He stepped inside and tapped her head affectionately, as he always did, making her smile.
"How is he doing?", Yuvi enquired, already heading up the stairs.
"How do you think?", she asked following him.
They entered the bedroom and Shilpa walked over to Sid's side to find him fallen asleep in the few seconds she had been gone.
"Sid wake up...Yuvi is here."
"Uh-huh...no please I dont want to go back to Houston."
Shilpa looked at Yuvi and frowned.
Yuvi nodded and sat down on the bed next to Sid. She watched Yuvi as he proceeded with his check-up.
After a few minutes, Yuvi spoke, "He does have a bad case of the flu..."
Shilpa showed him the medicines she had already given to Sid.
"Yup those are enough...he should be feeling better by tomorrow."
Yuvi stood up and walked over to the door.
"Thanks for coming Yuvi..."
Yuvi raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Sid is my friend too Shilpa...no need to thank me. Now are you going to be with him?"
Shilpa looked around uncertainly. "I dont know Yuvi..."
"I think it would be better if you do...Nirmal Kaka is already a lost soul and Sid will literally eat his head off if he is left alone with him."
Shilpa chuckled at the image her mind conjured.
"Now make sure he stays warm as long as he feels cold, and when the fever starts to subside, dont let him cool down too fast even if he complains of feeling too hot."
She started walking behind Yuvi as he headed downstairs to the front door.
"Oh and it would also be better if he stays on a liquid diet for the next two days."
Shilpa nodded taking in everything Yuvi said even though being a paediatrician she already knew all that.
"Let me know if you need anything", smiling at her brightly,Yuvi left.
She slowly walked to the room on her right and sat down at the dining table, rubbing her forehead.
Her mind was a confused mess right now.
Nirmal Kaka came and silently placed a glass of water before her and left.
She gulped it down in one go.
She couldnt leave him alone in this weak state but she also knew that once he started feeling a bit better, things would go back to their normal state.
Both of them ignoring each other.
She pinched the bridge of her nose wondering if she was making a mistake in letting her compassion lead her at the moment.
She sighed and stood up. Heading upstairs, she suddenly felt apprehension gnaw at her.Oh stop it Shilpa...no need to take this all so seriously. Dont forget that that he has been keeping himself from you him all these days...
Yes but right now he is sick, lying there all alone, shivering,hallucinating, depending completely on me.
Dont feel so sorry for him. If you let your emotions overtake you now, it will only be more painful for you later...
But he's sick...how am I just supposed to ignore that?
Then are you going to let him get to you again?
No...I dont know! Maybe I will keep my emotions in check...nothing bad can happen then.
There's a smart girl! Dont let him beat down your defenses...Men are tricky that way...
Shilpa shook her head to dispel her clashing thoughts.
Sid was driving her crazy...making her argue with her own self.
Walking into the bedroom , she assumed him to be still sleeping. But when she walked over to his side, she found him awake staring sullenly at the opposite wall.
"You promised me you would come back?", he said, his voice all hoarse.
"I just went to get some water...and Yuvi just left."
"Yuvi was here?"
"Yes he came to check on you. He said you have the flu."
He nodded and tried sitting up but grimaced. Shilpa reached out to help him.
"Everything aches so badly", he whispered.
"I know Sid ", she reached for the cough tonic and analgesic on the small side table."But you will feel better by tomorrow morning."
He gulped down the medicines and drank almost two glasses of water.
She helped him back into a lying position and checked his forehead.
"You need to rest Sid...you should not get out of your bed till your fever has gone down."
"Will you stay with me?"
Damn!, she thought, How am I supposed to say no...
She sighed and said, "Yes I will stay with you."
She moved to pull a chair for her to sit but he caught her wrist again.
"Why are you going away again Shilpa? I cant stand the cold."
She looked at him confused wondering what he wanted her to do.
"Please dont leave."
She realized that he wanted her to sit beside him. Of course he would, since nothing provided warmness, in such conditions, as a human body did. And so , with a lot of hesitance, she sat on the bed and scooted closer to him.
"Better?", she asked.
Sighing heavily, she cursed him for having the ability to make her so weak.
"Sid please try not to go to sleep right now...you need to have something to eat. Your soup is ready..."
She stopped talking when she saw that he was already fast asleep, his hand still holding hers.Great
... now she would have to wake him up again to make him eat and she knew that was not going to be an easy task.
Glancing out of nearby window she noticed that the sun had already set. She had been so busy running up and down the house, she didnt realize it had gotten so late.
---------------------------------------------------The next morning...
The first thing he felt before he even opened his eyes was that he was extremely hot and his clothes were sticking to his body . It felt as someone had put him in an oven.And why were there so many heavy blankets on him?!
He opened his eyes sluggishly and stared up at the ceiling.
He was about to throw the blankets away when he realized that they seemed to be moving rhythmically...on their own.
The very next moment something tickled his chin and brushing it away, he realized it was hair.
He froze...somebody was lying on his chest.
And one of his hands was holding that person by the waist.
He raised his head to look down and was bewildered to find Shilpa's face nuzzled against his neck and her hand clutching the black vest he was wearing.Seriously what the hell?!
He then noticed that half of her body was still in a sitting position next to him while the upper half was reclining against him.
He moved his legs and slowly kicked away the suffocating blankets , all the while trying his level best to not disturb the sleeping woman in his arms.
He tried to think of all possible scenarios that would justify both of them ending up in this not-so-uncomfortable position. Then suddenly he remembered how sick he had felt when he had woken up yesterday morning.
Glancing at the bedside table, he noticed the medicines.
Blurry images raced through his head but he couldn't differentiate between reality and delusions.
He recollected being chilled to the bone, he remembered throwing up, Shilpa wiping his face with a cool towel, then feeling guilty that he had to depend on her to even walk to his own bed but after that it was all hazy again.
Shilpa must have somehow come to know about him being sick and must have come over to his home.
But that still didnt explain how had she ended up on his chest.
And why was he only in a vest? Where was his shirt?
He gazed down at her utterly peaceful face with not a frown of worry on it. His eyes travelled over her baby soft skin, running from her cheeks towards her neck and he clamped down the urge to run his fingers over it.
He then observed her rhythmic breathing against his neck and felt a flutter in his heart when he saw that it coincided with the rise and fall of his chest.
Suddenly he had a wish to wake up everyday like this.
He vaguely noticed how perfectly she fit into his arms.
But as always something had to come along and spoil his perfect moment. He felt a cough coming on and turned his head away from her to try and suppress it. But it only made the cough even more sharper and louder when it came.
Shilpa was startled out of her slumber and bumped into his chin.
Realizing where she and how she was, she immediately stood up, her cheeks flushing a bright red.
She remained silent to let him finish coughing and also to gather her wits.
She remembered dozing off every now and then during the night but how the hell had she ended up on his chest?
"I am sorry Sid", her voice still thick with sleep, "I didnt mean to...how are you feeling now?"
"Better", he replied quietly, "I am not shivering anymore and my head has stopped aching."
This was the first time they had come face to face after her confession to him (yesterday didnt count as he was totally delirious) and Shilpa discovered that right now she didnt have the courage that she did that night.
She suddenly felt embarrassingly shy and uncomfortable.
Timidly, she reached out and checked his forehead and cheeks.
"The fever has abated but you are still a bit warm."
He nodded, "When did you come?'
"Yesterday afternoon...Nirmal Kaka called and informed me that you were sick...and that you werent listening to him. He requested me to come so I did...Yuvi also visited to check on you."
He took in her words wishing he wouldnt have been so delirious to hardly even remember anything.
She moved away from his bed and he watched her as she collected her purse and stood near the door to leave.
He wanted with all his might to stop her, to ask her to stay with for some more time, but he killed that urge too.
"Can I ask you something Shilpa...if you dont mind?"
"How did we...I mean you and I...", he looked away awkwardly not being able to complete his sentence.
She knew what he was asking though.
"You wouldnt let me leave your side because you were extremely cold...And then when you had dinner, you dropped a little soup on your shirt. You removed your shirt but refused to wear another one. I sat up most of the night next to you but I dont know how I ended up...", she trailed off.
"I didnt do...anything stupid did I?"
She stiffled a smile as he thought of his delirious state yesterday. "No you didnt ", she lied but he had already seen her hidden smile.
"I need to go now Sid...I am sure you can manage on your own now."
"Thanks", he said awkwardly, for the first time not being able to express his gratitude to her.
She fought the disappointment that rose within her at the fact that for the first time, formalities were rearing their heads in their friendship.
"Its no problem...take care of yourself ", and with one last, quick look towards him, she left.
He watched her go with a heaving feeling in his chest and laid back down.
Shilpa had taken care of him...even when she could have easily left him to manage on his own. He had been sick many times before and had managed on his own without anyone to take care of him but Shilpa had still stayed with him, helped him, kept him warm and had even cleaned him up after his embarrassing vomiting episode.
Other than his mother , no one had ever taken such care of him...not even Riddhima.
Taking a deep breath, he turned on his right side...where Shilpa had been sitting. He realized that his bedsheets smelled like her.
He groaned and lightly hit his head...just when he had thought he had been doing a good job of keeping away from her, fate had entangled them yet again.
No...he had to work harder now...he couldnt just let her spoil her life for him.
All of a sudden he remembered the upcoming conference...yes that would be a opportunity. He would be away from her for a few days and he was sure things would definitely cool down between them.
But little did he know that upcoming trip to London would irrevocably destroy all his plans.
Edited by sidsk - 22 July 2011 at 10:34pm