Hope you guys read the note I posted above. And please excuse any mistakes I made in this chapter...I am emotionally drained right now and my mind has simply stopped working.
It was almost sunset as Sid trudged back to his cabin, his muscles screaming for some rest.
He entered his office and took a relieved breath...finally he could be alone.
A surgery very early in the morning, followed by four long appointments, monitoring the patient on whom he had conducted the surgery and finally an impromptu meeting with Shashnak.
Suffice to say he could really do with some silence around him.
But the busyness had been advantageous for him in a way...he hadnt gained any chance or moment to see or think about her.
Except for that darned lift which seemed to gloat at him whenever he had used it today...
That's it... I am definitely going mad, he thought.
His eyes fell on the table and spotted a fluorescent yellow note stuck to a green folder.
His gaze traveled over the neat and precise handwriting, recognizing who had written it even before reading the note.Yuvi asked me to give this file to you...couldnt find you so leaving it here.Shilpa
Picking it up, he could still feel the warmth of her hands where she must have held the file...that meant she had just been here.So?
So he could have just stayed in his office.
He really didnt know why...later when he had thought about it, he realized it was pure instinct that had made him quickly leave his office...he questioned himself how he had instinctively known which direction she had gone in...there wasnt really answer to it...he had just known.
His instinct proved right when he found her sitting on a waiting chair a few rooms away from his cabin.
She was bent over something, her tresses falling over and obscuring her face.It oddly felt as if he hadnt seen her since ages.
He jammed his hands into his pockets fighting the urge to touch her hair.
Moving to see her face clearly, he saw her features scrunched in pain.
He then noticed the reason she was bent was because she was tightly clutching her ankle.
She looked startled to see him there especially since she hadnt heard his footsteps.
"I...I think I twisted my ankle..."
She couldnt tell him that she had been nervous to see him considering what had happened between them in the lift. She had placed the folder on his table, quickly written a note and left the room in a hurry.
And in her haste she tripped over her own feet.
She stood up and as soon as she did that, a screeching pain shot up her leg.
She gasped in pain and had almost fallen down when a hand circled her waist preventing her fall.
"You are so clumsy ", he reprimanded softly, shaking his head," really Shilpa you are a doctor and you should know better to than to put pressure on a twisted ankle."
She oddly felt like a little child being scolded for something that wasnt her fault.
"Now can you walk towards my office with my support or do you want me to carry you?"
"NO!", she exclaimed too loudly which did not go unnoticed by him. "I mean", in a softer voice,"you dont have to do that ...I think I can walk..."
And so leaning on Sid, who held her by the waist and one of her hands, she limped towards his office.
By now, they both had come to deal with the odd butterfly sensations in their chests that occurred every time they touched.
While Shilpa had learned to accept it, Sid resolutely ignored it.
They entered his office and Sid made her sit down on one of the plush couches that inhabited one of the corners of his office.
He searched the glass shelf that was situated just adjacent to his desk while Shilpa tried to make herself comfortable but just couldnt because of the agonizing pain in her leg.
Finding the ointment he was looking for, he came and knelt before her on one leg.
"What are you doing?", she asked with her wide eyes wide.
"I am proposing to you Shilpa...", with a deadpan expression,"with this Celadrin ointment. Do you accept?"
She rolled her eyes at his dry humour.
"Very funny...and by the way that was a rhetorical question. I meant what do you think you are doing? Just give me the tube and I will apply the ointment myself."
He royally ignored her and gently took hold of her injured leg.
"Really Sid! I can do it myself...you dont have to..."
"Quiet", he murmured and she sighed knowing it was no use arguing.
She shut her eyes and braced herself for the pain as his fingers touched her ankle but a few seconds later as he started to massage it, she realized that she hardly felt anything.
All she felt was his gentle touch as his hands tenderly alleviated the pain.
She opened her eyes and her gaze rested on him, his attention focused on his current task.
The concern and care in his eyes tugged at her heart strings and an affectionate look came over her eyes as she resisted the strong urge to run her fingers through his hair.
She didnt even realize when her pain began to subside.
Something knocked on the precipice of his mind.
His mind started recollecting an old, abandoned memory.
He had done the same thing for Riddhima once...he had soothed her pain too when she had climbed a hundred steps of a temple to make their marriage work.
His heart had ached so much for her that day especially because he had been nothing but rude to her since the day they had gotten married.
No one had ever done anything like that for him before and he had been touched by her eagerness to set things right in their marriage.
And then it struck him.
That it just didnt compare...it didnt compare at all
to the amount of trouble, the girl sitting before him, had endured just for him through all these years.
The harshness that Riddhima had faced from him in the earlier days of their marriage was nothing compared to the bitterness Shilpa had silently absorbed in the days following his divorce.
She had never complained...she had bottled her up her own pain and had given more importance to his sorrow.
The amount of effort she had put in just to see a hint of a smile on his face...
His heart suddenly filled up with so much emotion that his hands paused in their work.
He looked up at her and spotted something so tender in her brown gaze that his breath stopped.
It was something so foreign
...no, not foreign. Just not something he had ever expected to see in anyone's eyes for him...specially not her.
And what was for the first time ever, surprising himself, he held her gaze with his own not wanting her to look away.
A few long seconds passed and then she blinked...and the shutters came crashing down.
But he had seen enough...enough for him to start believing his suspicions.
He moved back and got to his feet.
She nodded with a small smile and said, "Thank you", her voice suspiciously shaky.
Later that evening, he dropped her back to her place.
He made sure she got in safely and was about to leave when he saw her looking at the stairs with trepidation.
Of course...why didnt he think of that before?
"Shilpa...how are you going to..."
"Oh dont worry Sid...my ankle's not at all hurting now...", and saying that she took her first step upwards and though she hid her grimace quite well, Sid did manage to see it.
He took a deep breath and walked towards her knowing what he had to do.
She was about to take another step when he stopped her by holding her elbow.
"No really Sid I can...", and before she could complete her sentence, she had been swept off her feet...literally.
"Sid!...This is unnecessary! ", she protested uselessly even as he silently started moving up the stairs.
Her arms round his neck, her fingers clutching the folds of his shirt, she willed herself to remain calm...which wasnt easy at all as his familiar aromatic and woodsy scent was doing a fine job in ensnaring her senses.
Somehow the distance from the stairs to her bedroom seemed to take forever to complete.
She gingerly raised her eyes to his face and found him gazing at her pensively.
Something about this particular moment produced a sense of deja vu in him...he had done this before.
He had carried Riddhima down the stairs of that temple because of her bruised feet.
Of course it was another story that their marriage had also gone downhill.
But now as he climbed up the stairs with Shilpa in his arms, he strangely felt as if things were reversing themselves.
He looked away from her and mentally shook himself for coming up with all sorts of weird theories...he was too tired and just needed some rest.
Finally entering her bedroom, he set her down gently on her bed.
He about to move away when suddenly he was tugged back and looked down to see her hand near his chest...one of the charms of her bracelet was caught in his shirt.
And there it was again...that uncanny feeling...this too had happened with Riddhima.Why was his history repeating itself? What was fate trying to tell him?
The tangled shirt and bracelet held them close together and he looked up to find that there were only a few inches between their faces.
If he moved just a little closer, he would be able to...
He froze.No, he couldnt think like that...not about her.
Unable to stop himself, he gazed into her eyes and found that look again...that 'foreign' one.Really...what was happening with them?
He glanced down and tried to untangle his shirt but only managed to twist in further.
A soft laugh escaped her lips and his eyes moved up to see her shaking her head at him.
"Well...you do it then", he said in a low voice wondering why his voice sounded so deep all of a sudden.
She deftly unfastened the clasp and moved her hand away, holding up the now free bracelet.
His eyes widened as she innocently mirrored the same gesture as her older sister had once done.
The same situation with two vastly different women.
That was then and this was now.
He was surprised to discover that while his mind was remembering Riddhima, his heart, soul and body was completely drawn to the woman in front of him.
The colour left his face and he looked away from her trying to collect himself.
"I...I should go now...is there anything else you need?"
Shilpa looked intently at him wondering why he looked so disturbed.
"No Sid I am okay...you
should go home now...you look like you need some rest."
He nodded and with a small goodbye, he left the room not having the courage to look at her again.
----------------------------------------------------Later that night...
He didnt know how he wound up on this beautiful beach.
There seemed to be no one in sight...he gazed at the water, rippling before him, illuminated by the moonlit sky above.
Suddenly he felt a presence beside him and turned to see Riddhima.
Dressed in a white saree, she seemed to glow with an ethereal light.
"What are you doing here?", he asked softly, unable to look away.
She smiled at him and his heart tugged at the familiarity of it.
"To show you what you did...why did you let it happen, Sid?"
"That ", she answered pointing down.
He looked down and saw water lapping at their bare feet.
And in between them stood a small, sand castle...he could tell it had been built with a lot of delicacy and care...but then he noticed that a part of it had begun to dissolve into the water.
He looked up at her. "I didnt do that Riddhima."
"Oh yes you did Sid."
He frowned. "No I didnt Riddhima...it was you who destroyed the world we had so beautifully built around ourselves."
A meloncholic smile came over his face. "Our story was just like this sand castle...never meant to be. It was always meant to flow away with time."
"Yes...maybe it was me...maybe our story was never meant to be. But you had promised to always love me..."
"What makes you think I dont Riddhima? I have been living a mourner's life since the past six years! What makes you think I still dont love you?"
She looked at the dark stretch of water pensively for a long time.
Turning back to him, she peered into his eyes with her head tilted.
"The waves Sid...you are letting the waves consume you. That is how you destroyed our sand castle..."
"No Riddhima I didnt...", he suddenly noticed that frequency of the waves had increased slightly.
He found himself moving backwards to escape them but they kept crashing over and over trying to reach him...
He looked back at Riddhima and found to his shock that her image had turned hazy and he couldnt see her properly.
His vision blurred and he heard her faint voice, "You let her
in Sid...you let her touch your soul..."
At that exact moment, his eyes shot open and he sat up in his bed, breathing heavily.
For a few seconds, he looked around disoriented and a few beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
He grabbed the glass of water standing on his nightstand and gulped the liquid down.
As he kept back the glass, he knew he wouldnt get any more sleep now...not after what he had just dreamt.
It had seemed so real.Why had he dreamt that? What did it mean?
If he was honest with himself, he would admit that he was scared...scared of the inevitable change in direction his life was taking.
Long back, with a lot of difficulty,he had buried that part of him that could feel
...but now it seemed as if someone had cleared all the rubble and let it free.
Riddhima was the only person he had loved with all his heart...and the day he had walked away from her, his heart had forgotten how to beat.
But now after so many years, why had it come alive again?
Raking his fingers though his already messy hair, he closed his eyes and tried to think of Riddhima...he tried to conjure up the most beautiful memory of her that he had.
But a different image danced behind his eyelids...he saw Shilpa in his arms, looking at him with a tell tale blush on her cheeks, as he had carried her up the stairs.That damn bracelet and my stupid shirt!
He shook his head disbelievingly as he recalled what he had felt when her face had been merely inches away from his...how he had glanced at her lips and how he had wanted to close that forbidden distance.
His eyes shot open.That's it...he had to stop this.This was madness!
There was no other explanation for this uncontrollable pull towards her.
Maybe the reason he was feeling like this was because they hadnt been spending much time together lately...they both lead such busy lives as doctors.
Maybe he just missed her a lot and that is why he was going through this weird phase.
Whatever it was, he had to stop it..he simply
She stared out the window of the cafe she was seated in, watching the people passing by them.
A quiet place with a cozy interior,it was usual favorite hangout spot where she usually had lunch with Sid or Naina and Yuvi.
Sid had brought her here for lunch hoping that, by spending more time together, his fixation with her would stop.
But that didnt happen...in fact it just deepened.
Sid watched her as a sea of thoughts swept through her eyes, feeling restless that for the first time he was unable to perceive them.
Over the days, he has discovered that he wasnt able to read her as easily as before.
While on the surface she seemed her usual perky self with him, he got a distinct feeling that she was hiding something...and whatever that was, it was troubling her a lot.
He never showed it to anyone but it unsettled him deeply whenever she was upset or worried.
When she was happy, everything seemed all right with the world.
But one grim look in her eyes was enough to cause him extreme unease.
He focused on her again as her nimble fingers played with the ends of her hair.
His gaze travelled upwards to her eyes...reminding him of melted chocolate as the sun rays filtered through the window and shined on them.
He had always thought that she had the most expressive eyes...not to mention a bit mysterious.
They always shifted between various shades of browns depending on her moods and emotions.A rich chocolate whenever she was excited or content, a fiery brown whenever she was angry...and a dark liquid coffee when she was sad...and...
He stopped his train of thought right there and froze...he had never realized how every little detail about her was imprinted so deeply in his mind.When had that happened?
And then bit by bit he realized the random little things about her that he knew like the back of his hand...the way her eyes twinkled when she was upto some mischief, the small curve that appeared at the corner of her mouth when she smiled...and that happened only when the smile was directed at him, the way the soft curve of her jaw tightened if she was displeased about something, they way she pursed her lips whenever her attention was focused on something...
The only person he had known so thoroughly had been her
All at once, his mind evoked a memory of last night's dream.
Feeling very uneasy about it all, he decided to simply stop thinking...which was easier said than done.
"Your food is getting cold", he said softly and she snapped back to attention.
She glanced down at the half eaten sandwich on her plate.
Pushing the plate away, she said, "That's okay. I am not really hungry anyway.'
Sid nodded, "So are you planning to attend tomorrow's night event?"
She shrugged. " I dont know...I dont feel like it. And you?"
'You know I go there only you because you force me to...if you wont go, I wont go."
Her eyes glowed with affection for him but she masked it well.
"I dont know...but maybe I will go...Naina has been pestering me to attend it."
Just then a waiter appeared next to them,"Would you like to order something else or will that be all?"
"Two black coffees please", Shilpa answered for both of them and went back to staring out the window.
Sid had never been fond of the various other categories of coffee that everyone else usually preferred...frappuccinos, mochas,lattes,etc.
He scoffed at himself as he remembered how he had pretended to like cappuccino, which he absolutely hated, just to impress Riddhima...he had been so naive to think that she might love him if he adopted her likes even if they were his dislikes.
He had always preferred a simple, regular coffee but over the years he had developed a liking for black coffee.
He liked it bitter with less sugar and had been amazed to find that Shilpa too drank her coffee the same way in contrast to the sweet beverages most women, that he knew, preferred.
Their coffees arrived and they sipped slowly for the next few minutes in silence.
Glancing at her from underneath his dark eyelashes, he asked," So I assume you are going to attend with Vivek this year?"
She turned and looked at him searchingly.
"No Sid...if I go, I am going with you. We have always attended this event together and this year shall be no different. I have already informed Vivek about it and he understood."
He didnt acknowledge the odd exhilaration that leapt in his chest.
Edited by sidsk - 24 April 2011 at 3:37pm