Guys...please forgive me for any mistakes that I might have made in this chapter....
Even the best fall down sometimes
She dug her feet into the sand, the water splashing her feet lightly every now and then.
The rhythmic sound of the waves, crashing on the shore, instilled calmness in her.
Her mini vacation was almost over and tomorrow she would be back home.
The thought made her relieved and anxious at the same time.
She had assumed that these days away from everything would help get over this unusual fancy that she had developed.........she had hoped that by the time she got back, she would be back to normal.
But these last two weeks had taught her a very important lesson.......that whatever she was going through wasnt as simple as a fancy.
It wasnt temporary.........all these new feelings were deeply embedded within her.
They werent going anywhere.
All this time away from him
, she had undergone a life changing phase.......something so unique that she couldnt find words to describe it.
Not a moment had gone when she hadnt remembered him......his mere thought would invoke such unfathomable emotions within her......her heart would fill up with such an extraordinary feeling that she felt it would simply burst.
She couldnt remember feeling like that for anyone else before.
What she felt for Sid went way beyond what she had ever felt for Armaan.
If she wanted she could it give it a name....but she wouldnt.
She couldnt go there..........That would just make things more difficult for her.
She no longer fought with herself because she knew it was futile.
She couldnt fight something so strong and so real......in fact the intensity of her feelings scared her sometimes.
She took a deep breath, the smell of water and sand playing with her senses.
Of one thing she was sure...that she had not developed this feelings overnight.....they had been lying dormant within her since a long time......she was becoming aware of them only now.
But unlike before she wasnt ashamed of this new awareness within her.........she couldnt be ashamed of feeling something so wonderful for an even more wonderful man.
She knew that this had no future.......that it would always be unrequited.
But somehow that thought didnt sadden her.
She was sure it was going to be extremely difficult for her to restrain herself in front of him....which was the reason she had hardly called him ever since she had come to Goa.
She had dialled his number many times but had disconnected the line before he could pick it up.
She didnt know how she was to going behave normally in front of him......but she had to.
To protect their friendship, she had to.
Sid felt exceedingly bored.
He had been sitting alone in this extremely posh restaurant since thirty minutes waiting for his tardy friends to arrive.
Of course this was Naina and Yuvi.......thirty minutes was still too early.
His eyes scanned the room for the hundredth time......his mind preparing to count again.
To reduce his boredom, he had been playing a counting game in his head.
He had always been fascinated with numbers.
So far he had discovered that around ten women were wearing black.
Nine men were wearing ties.....four plain and five printed.
There were 10 children present in the room .....six girls and four boys.
There were forty tables in the room, ten of them reserved and nine were empty.
His eyes widened. He had to stop....he felt like a kindergarten kid playing number games.
But the real reason was simply to distract himself. The whole day he had been successful in not thinking about her
and the confusion that came along with the thought of her.
So far, he had not been attacked by any mind-stirring memories and he planned to keep it that way for the rest of the evening..
He was about to make a call when suddenly the aforementioned late friends quickly seated themselves before him.
"We are so sorry for being late Sid!....it is all Yuvi's fault!"
"My fault?! Woman you took one hour!.....one hour just to get your hair ready."
"Stop it Yuvi.....if you hadnt forgotten to get my dress form the dry cleaners we would have been on time."
"Well if you hadnt forgotten to remind me about it then...."
Sid found himself dangerously close to counting the number of women who were wearing red.
Naina and Yuvi quietened instantly, sheepish smiles adorning their faces.
They placed their order and Naina started talking about the upcoming pageant.
"Where is it going to be held?", Sid asked.
"You know the community center a few blocks away from Sanjeevani....there...I figured that would be a good place since its closer to the hospital. Who knows when an emergency might show up?
Their food arrived and the conversation continued but Sid found himself distracted again. He glanced at the empty chair next to him and instantly diverted his attention.No he would not think about her.........
Six ladies were wearing diamond earrings.
Five werent wearing any jewelry at all.
There were about twenty waiters in the room......
"......Shilpa." And just like that he lost count.
He blinked and tried to start again but he couldnt. A sudden wave of curiosity was drowning out his concentration.
"She called me today......told me they were returning tomorrow."
Shilpa called Naina.Shilpa called Naina....but she didnt call me.
She didnt inform him about her return.
The rest of the evening passed in a daze as Sid's mind was stuck on one question.Why didnt she call me?
She felt a presence behind her and turned to see a handsome man standing there.
He held his ears and pouted , his brown eyes dancing with mirth.
She smiled. "Meeting over?".
He sat down next to her. "I am so, so sorry Shilpa........it seems I just cant escape my work anywhere I go. Who would have thought my boss would be here too?", he said rhetorically.
With a brown leather jacket, blue jeans, hair slicked back and a chiseled face, he looked like he had just stepped out from a men's fashion magazine.
She watched him as he sat down next to her.
"Its alright Vivek...work is work."
They fell into a comfortable silence with the only sounds being the soft rustling of water and the excited chatter of teenagers having fun a few feet away from them.
Shilpa stared out the stretch before her.........the whole ambiance around her felt so relaxing that she didnt feel like leaving.
"Shilpa we are the end of our vacation now and I want to tell you something."
She turned to him and noticed that he looked hesitant.
"What is it Vivek?"
"I came to know today, through a friend of mine, that Priya has returned to Mumbai."
She didnt how to react.....she supposed as his fiancee she should feel insecure but she didnt.
"Okay...", she said slowly.
"Shilpa you have been extremely understanding of my past.....you know how much I loved her."
She nodded and mentally sighed.
"You know that I was a mess when she left....her absence affected me a lot....it still does."
She knew very well that her friends and family would not have taken this lightly like she did....which is why she had never spoken about this to them.
"Shilpa...I dont know how I am going to react if I come across her....I dont know what I am going to do...what I am going to say. i dont know anything. But I just wanted you to know about this......I didnt want to hide it from you."
She wished she could be that honest with him too......but she didnt have the courage.....not yet.
She smiled lightly and patted his hand.
"Its okay Vivek....I understand how this situation must be for you. I just want you to promise me one thing.....whatever happens, just be honest with me."
He pulled her into a side hug and kissed the top of her head.
"How can you be so calm and understanding?"
She elbowed him playfully and stood up.
"That's because I am truly the best ", she replied cheekily. "Now get me something to eat ...I am starving."
"Yes milady!". He got to his feet and offered his hand.
She linked her arm with his as they walked together.................both aware of a very important fact.
That while they had a very good relationship, something important was missing.
Sid stepped out of the ICU with Rohit in tow.
"Rohit.....inform Mrs.Sharma's family that she will be discharged within three days." Sid wrote something in the file he was holding and handed it to Rohit.
"Make sure these tests are done and the results shown to me before she is discharged."
Rohit nodded and walked away to carry out his orders.
Sid headed slowly towards his cabin, his previous glumness returning.She had called him only once since she had left.She didnt inform him about her return.She hadnt called him after returning.And now, she was in the hospital but she hadnt met him yet.
Irritation swept within him as he reached his cabin.
This was stupid.........she was under no obligation to keep him informed about everything she did.
She had taken this leave especially for her fiance and herself.
But he had gotten so used to being aware of every little thing she did that her non-communication made him feel very disoriented.
Stepping inside, he headed towards his desk.
He turned around and found the object of his moodiness right in front of him.
Shilpa stood quietly before him and without even a word Sid understood the "sorry" written on her face.
His gloominess was instantly replaced by relief.
She was back, she was here before him and that was all that mattered.
Wihtout a word, he pulled her into a hug surprising them both.He had never done that before.
He finally felt that peace return to him...the one he had been searching for since these two weeks.
The restlessness that had taken residence within him slowly ebbed away.
He eyes closed as he breathed in the soft fragrance of lillies that always surrounded her...................what? What was that?,
he asked himself.
He let her go slowly feeling very awkward with himself.
She smiled at him, "I missed you too Sid." And though she looked happy, he could detect an underlying tone of sadness in her voice.
But no.......he must be imagining it.
There was no reason for her to be sad now.
She was back and now everything would be back to normal.
The days passed in a cold blur and Sid began to notice that things were anything but normal.
He had assumed that the weirdness that had plagued him in Shilpa's absence would disappear now that she was back.
But it didnt.............if anything, it had increased.
Ever since she had returned, she seemed different.........quieter.
He missed her livliness, her constant chatter.
And when she did talk, it was usually about Vivek.
Vivek this....Vivek that.
He found that somehow all their conversations seemed to stir towards Vivek.
It was beginning to irk him....and he couldnt figure out why.
Why was the mere mention of Vivek putting him in such a disgruntled mood?
And because of that they seemed to be talking less to each other.
Sunday dinners had become a rarity now.......any time he planned something for them, she would come up with an excuse that usually involved Vivek......anytime he wanted to take her out for dinner, she would either excuse herself claiming that she was too tired or would end up inviting Naina and Yuvi too.
There never got a moment alone together.
He missed having her all to himself..........
He couldnt understand what the reason was for her sudden change of behavior.Had he done something? Was she angry with him?
All these years she had devoted her time and herself completely to him....... and now the thought of anyone else in his place didnt settle well with him.
Sid had always been her top priority......and now it seemed he wasnt.
Had a small vacation brought her close to Vivek that she didnt have time for him anymore?
But if only Sid knew what Shilpa was going through.If only he hadnt hugged her that day...........
Standing so close to him, engulfed in his arms, Shilpa had felt as if she had finally come home.....she felt like she had finally found that missing piece of herself that she had lost the day her parents died.
And that was when she knew that it wasnt going to be so easy to hide her feelings from him.
Sid could read her very well.
She had to distance herself from him.....if she didnt, he would come to know.What would happen then?Would their frienship be affected?
No...she couldnt risk that.
And so she had set out on this task of separating herself from him which was as painful as physically cutting a part of herself.
She deliberately brought Vivek in all their conversations as a reminder to herself that she was engaged to somebody else.
She had started spending lesser time with Sid........and whatever time they were together, she had made sure that either Naina or Yuvi were also present....it just made things a little bit easy for her.
But all this was taking the life out of her......each day seemed like new kind of hell.
And she doubted she had any more strength left in her.
---------------------------------------------------------------It was time to have a talk,
He couldnt tolerate this tension between them and he was going to find out what the real problem was.
He headed towards the recreation room where he knew Naina was making Shilpa and the other participants rehearse for the pageant.
Reaching the room he stood at the entrance, his eyes scanning the room for her.
Each contestant was supposed to have a male escort with whom she was required to have a formal dance.......various couples were scattered across the room practicing with each other.
He finally spotted her.
She was laughing heartily as Vivek twirled her round and round.
He felt as if somebody had punched him in the gut.
Something about the sight of her in Vivek's arms struck him hard.
Unknowingly his hands formed into tight fists and he felt animosity bubble inside him.
She hadnt laughed so freely like that with him since she had returned.
Lately, he hadnt even seen that smile in her eyes in his presence.
His gaze dropped to the floor.It was happening again, wasnt it?
Fate was playing its sadistic game again.
It had snatched away the one person he had truly loved and now Shilpa was going to leave him too.
He looked up and found Shilpa looking directly at him.
The smile was gone.
Her eyes seemed to be telling him something but his mind was too foggy to read them.
He slowly turned and walked away.
They stood quietly having watched the whole thing.
Naina grasped Yuvi's arm. "I need to talk to Sid...I need to..."
She took one step forward but Yuvi held her back. "No."
"But Yuvi.....did you look at his face? That's the first time he has looked like that in all these years.....he looked so upset. I dont know what's going on between them but they have not even been speaking properly to each other. We need to talk to both of them and..... "
"No Naina. Whatever this is, what ever is happening , Sid and Shilpa need to sort this out on their own."
Turning to Naina, he continued , " This is too delicate. As it is the chances, of anything other than friendship developing between them, are very bleak.....and even if it does, only they can figure it out......We cant do anything."
He touched her cheek. "Remember that was the story with us too.......time and patience sorted out everything for us without anyone's interference."
Naina nodded slowly and suddenly they saw Shilpa run out of the room.
Naina looked back at her husband who simply patted her hand reassuringly.
She thrust open the door to Sid's office.
He wasnt there.
She tried to quell the tears that were forming in her eyes.What was she doing??
She had been trying to protect her friendship by distancing herself from him but in the end she had done the opposite.
What kind of a friend was she? She had made a promise to never abandon him no matter what but what had she ended up doing?
The way he had looked at her....the questions in his eyes....the hurt in his eyes.......
.she couldnt get that image out of her mind.
She had to talk to him.
She stopped a nurse passing by.
"Sister....have you seen Dr. Siddhant anywhere?"
"Yes. Dr. Shilpa. I just saw him leave....."
She ran even before the nurse stopped talking.
Sid stood quietly next to his car, one hand resting on the roof.
There was something seriously wrong with him.
He was behaving so selfishly....this wasnt him.
Shilpa's happiness was the most important thing for him.
More than anyone else, it was Shilpa who deserved every bit of happiness that she could get and now when was she so close to achieving that, he wasnt happy??
Why did he have so much resentment within him?
Why did the sight of Shilpa and Vivek together trouble him so much?
It had never troubled him before....so what was different now?
In fact, Sid, himself, had assured Shilpa that Vivek was the perfect guy for her.
He felt so guilty.........he had gone searching for Shilpa to sort out the problem between but had ended up discovering that the real problem lay within him.
He ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath.
He looked at the hospital...he didnt have the energy to back in there.
He opened the door to his car and was about to get inside when somebody tapped his shoulder.
Turning around, he felt all his breath leave his body as he laid his eyes on a person he hadnt come face to face with since six years.Riddhima.
Edited by sidsk - 04 March 2011 at 2:13pm