Sorry for the delay everyone...I had actually written this chapter even before the previous one but I felt that something was missing in it...hence whenever I edited it and thought it was ready, I kept on adding more to it...
I want to thank each and every one of you again for being so patient ad sweet with this FF and me...it truly means more than I can ever express.
Ok so there is a flashback in this part and I have combined two AR scenes- the farz scene and their reunion scene- I actually had to go watch these scenes to write them *shudders* Since Sid has witnessed both I didnt see the need to write them separately.
This is a pretty long chapter so I have divided it into two parts...the next part is posted below...
Chapter 23"I think we need a break Armaan...from each other."
Tearing up my heart
Armaan stared at her for the longest time, her words echoing over and over again in his head till it all turned into a jumbled noise.
She was avoiding his eyes, looking at the walls, the floor, her hands, anywhere but him.
Since when did a love theirs need a break?
"Look at me Riddhima," he said firmly.
Taking a deep breath, she raised her head...and her heart broke.
He looked completely shattered.
"Did I do something?...Something wrong?...Did I hurt you?...Is this because you think I was flirting with that intern?...I swear Riddhima I wasnt. She had some doubts and I was just helping her out. I.."
"Armaan stop! Please...", she shook her head, he was making this even more difficult,"You havent done anything wrong and I am not doubting you for anything. Its just..."
"Its just that I feel that we have drifted apart...things arent the same as before and you know it. Maybe...maybe we need some time away from each other."
"But Riddhima...we love each other. Why would we need time away from each other?"
"Armaan please stop living in denial...you know very well things havent been the same. Have you noticed how much we fight? We cannot have a simple conversation without it turning into an argument. And we hardly talk anymore...whenever we go out to a restaurant or for a drive, we spend half of the time in silence! This...this isnt normal Armaan! We werent like this."
"But we can work on it, cant we??"
She took a deep breath. "What have we been doing since the past six years then? No matter how much you try to deny it you cant ignore the fact that we have changed...you and me...we arent the same Armaan and Riddhima that we used to be."
A hard look came over his face even though his eyes still reflected his pain.
"Is this...is this because of him...because of Siddhant Modi?"
Her eyes widened slightly and he got his answer.
"No", she answered unable to maintain eye contact with him,"This isnt about him or you or anyone else. Its only me...I just need time to figure out a few things."
He didnt speak for the next few minutes that seemed like long hours...he just looked at her with an odd sort of look on his face...as if he knew something she didnt.
"Look Armaan...I am not breaking up with you...I am ot nsaying this is the end...all I am saying is that we need some time and space to sort ourselves out."
"And how much time do you need?"
This time she looked right into his eyes knowing fully well what he truly meant by that question.
"I dont know", she whispered and somewhere far off in the distance, a sharp clap of thunder resounded.
He turned away from her and walked slowly towards the door, his feet as heavy as stone.
Opening the door of her cabin, he was about to step out when he turned back to look at her, "You're right Riddhima...things have changed. You have changed and maybe I have too...but one thing that will never change is my love for you. It has and always be the same."
He stepped out of her office and closed the door behind him with a soft click.
Riddhima gripped her table tightly and sat down shakily on her chair.Yes Armaan...this is because of Sid...but I couldnt hurt you by confessing that.
She didnt know what she doing...she didnt know why she had made this abrupt decision.
All she knew that she wanted to get rid of the guilt that had been plaguing her since all these years.
All she knew was that she wanted to find that piece of her that had gone missing when Sid had walked out of her life...she wanted back that peace and serenity that he had brought into her life...
But most of all, she simply had to know whether she still had a place in his heart.
The cold wind swept inside his study, rustling the papers on his desk.
Standing at the window, goosebumps rose on his skin but he didnt feel them as he continued to look out into the night.
He didnt know how long he had been standing there...watching the cloudy skies, he wondered what storm was brewing in them.
And then suddenly, the clouds, shrouding the moon, drifted apart and the room was suddenly bathed in moonlight.
He was surprised at himself for not reading the signs earlier...they had been there all the time but he had been too ignorant to notice them...or maybe he had just not wanted
to see them.Something had shifted...something had changed
- how he despised that word - in him...between them.
He could no longer deny it...that he felt something
for Shilpa, something
more than friendship, something
more than the strong, affectionate attachment he had towards her...it went beyond physical attraction although there was quite a lot of that too.
He felt something in his soul
for her...something new, something scary, something that caused an odd stirring in his chest every time he thought about her.
He felt it every time she was near him...he felt it even more when she was away from him.
He couldnt explain it...this unusual urge to have her before his eyes all the time.
Shaking his head at himself, he turned away from the window.What did he think he was doing?
He couldnt feel like this...not for her...she belonged to someone else.And if she didnt?,
a voice inside him spoke up.
Even then...even then he had no right to feel anything for her.
He couldnt allow it...
He was meant to love only Riddhima...and with her exit from his life, the part of him that could feel
had died and been buried long ago.
Rubbing his face to clear his thoughts, he sat down on his desk and switched on his laptop wanting to go through the the details about the upcoming conference in London that Shashank had mailed him.
He tried hard...really
hard but just couldnt focus.
The vision of her, looking at him intently as Naina had taken her away, kept swimming in his head.
His fingers tingled with the memory of how smooth her skin had felt beneath them.Damn!
He got up furious at himself and stared pacing around the room.Why had she looked at him like that today?
That day in the lift...?That day when her bracelet and his shirt had played mischief...
Somewhere deep down he knew the answer...it was teetering from the precipice of his mind but he couldnt face it yet.
Facing it would mean crossing over the forbidden line.
And he just could not allow himself to do that.
Sh was his confidante, his reason to live, his reason for living...her happiness meant the world to him.
And her happiness lay with Vivek.Are you sure?
, that irritating voice spoke up again.
Yes...he was.He had to be.
This bizarreness had to stop...the odd moments, the awkward silences, the exchange of searching looks...it all had to stop.
And Sid knew what he had to do for that.
------------------------------------------------A few days later...
As the last few patients of the day left, Shilpa closed the door behind them and tiredly rested her head on the wooden door.
A killer headache had been torturing her since morning and even after two aspirins, it had not gone away.Maybe if you would stop tearing up every two minutes, it would go away
, her inner voice admonished her.
Walking to the right corner of her cabin, she laid on the couch situated there.What had she done? Why hadnt she controlled her emotions?
She sighed in frustration and pinched the bridge of her nose.
It had been a week since the annual gathering and they had yet to talk to each other.
As much as it pained her to admit it, she couldnt deny what he was doing.
It seeped into her slowly and filled every inch of her...sadness.
He always seemed busy, he hardly spoke to her except for a mumbled "Hi, How are you?" here and there.
Had he gone through the same disturbing feeling of isolation when she had been avoiding him?
She closed her eyes...she shouldnt have.
For she every time she did that, she saw herself with him on that balcony caught in a moment that would always spellbind her.
Till now there had been only one special moment in her life, she had been very small then but she could still remember very clearly...her fifth birthday which she had celebrated surrounded by the warmth of her loving parents.
And now there was one more...his touch and most importantly the brightness in his eyes that night had lit up even the darkest corners of her heart.
With the memory of that one moment, she could happily spend the rest of her life.
Because in that one moment he had seen her...for the first time, he had truly seen
But...maybe he had seen a little too much...maybe her eyes had told him something he should have never known.What would happen to them now?
Annoyance churned within him, at himself and the world in general, as he walked towards his car.
Actually...he couldnt even properly categorize the myriad of emotions that kept rising within him at regular intervals...wait, he didnt want to categorize them. Emotions were something he had stopped associating himself with...until now.
She was not just a part of his life...somewhere she had become a part of him too...distancing himself from her felt as painful as physically severing a part of his body.
She was that deeply embedded into him...into his soul.How had she managed to do that? And why hadnt he realized it before ?
The sheer dependence, that he felt on her presence in his life, scared the hell out of him.
And now that he had finally admitted and accepted her real
place not just in his life but in his heart too, he discovered that he really didnt have the strength to push her away...rather he didnt want to push her away.
He was so tired...he had been fighting with himself for six long years to reign in his emotions and just when that war had begun to end, another one had started.
His feet slowed and the winter chill made him shiver as he uncovered another undeniable fact...he couldnt live without her.
He tried to think of a life without her...tried to imagine his life without her presence in it...
An odd sense of panic and darkness seized his insides...as if somebody was holding his head in water, trying to suffocate him.
But the sooner he acquainted himself with it, the better it would be...for her sake
, he had to...
He had to acknowledge the bitter truth that one day she would leave him and go far away.
Something stirred in his chest and he realized it was his heart protesting against his mind.
Lost in his thoughts, he didnt notice the woman standing near his car.Riddhima.
And when he did spot her, his feet slowed down even more, his black pools looking at her with confusion and curiosity.
Why did she appear before him whenever he thought he was letting go of the past?
But unlike the last time, he somehow knew she wasnt here just to ask about him...there was something more.
He decided to get straight to the point.
"Is there something you need Dr...Gupta?"
"Dr. Mo...", she started but stopped herself. "Sid", she said firmly, "I...I wanted to talk to you?"
Riddhima looked around, "Can we go to a more quieter place?"
Sid threw a quick glance around the empty parking lot.
"No I dont think we need to...this is a quiet place too..."
Riddhima sighed knowing he wouldnt move from here...she was struck yet again by how much he had changed...the Sid that she had known wouldnt even think twice before agreeing to whatever she said.
"Fine Sid...as you wish", she wringed her hands together, her eyes darting back and forth wondering how to put her words forward.
"Remember you told me once...that if I ever needed a friend you would always be there for me...that I just had to turn back and you would be there watching me. You promised me once that no matter what happened to us, you would always come to me when I needed you...do you remember that Sid?"
He remained silent.
Of course he remembered that...he remembered every single promise he had ever made to her...he had not forgotten anything about that one year that he had spent with her.
"What are you trying to say Riddhima?"
She smiled faintly...at least he wasnt calling her Dr. Gupta...it meant she was getting somewhere.
"I am not going to beat around the bush anymore...I miss you Sid...I miss our friendship. I miss...us
. I was hoping ", her words caught in her throat knowing what she was going to ask would not be easy for him to do, " I was hoping we could start all over again...just as a friend, nothing more...please Sid...for me think over it, please..."
He looked at her in disbelief...after all these years, why ?
Why did she want to come back into his life again?
Why now when everything seemed to be healing?
Why now when he had finally started to make peace with everything...even his past.
He didnt know how to react.
He was being pulled apart in two sides...one part that had learned to live without her and the other frozen -almost dead- part that had not forgotten his love for her.
What was he supposed to say?...more importantly what did he want
Six years worth of bitterness, agony and loneliness stood between them. He couldnt forget that.
Did she think that this was as easy as it sounded...forgetting everything and becoming her friend
Even during the time they had been married, he had always been more of a friend than a husband...but that had not been good enough for her.
"I was always your friend Riddhima...but it was never enough for you...so why this sudden need
for me now?"
RIddhima winced at the sarcasm that came into his voice when he said the word 'need'.
"Sid...please", guilt gnawing at her, she looked down not knowing what else to say to convince him.
She didnt know why this was so important to her...why she wanted him in her life again.
An image flashed before her eyes...Sid staring into Shilpa's eyes, holding her close to him
...yes this was very important to her.
Sid had always been her anchor...even after they had drifted apart she knew if she needed him, he would always be there for her...even thought they had not spoken a word to each other since all these years, she always felt a sense of calm knowing he was nearby.
But lately she had felt that anchor slipping from her hands. And she couldnt let that happen...
Suddenly Sid's pager beeped and he felt relief flood through him.
"I need to go...'
"And what about..."
"I dont know Riddhima...I cannot talk about this right now..."
And with that he walked away, relieved that he didnt have to answer her question.
But as days passed, he discovered that he really didnt need to answer her...she had taken his silence for a yes.
She didnt lose any single opportunity to approach him.
Sometimes she would mysteriously turn up at the places where he liked to shop...or she would bump into him randomly at grocery stores.
That had never happened before...all these years even if they had come across each other, she would quickly look away and and walk in the opposite direction.
But now she didnt...
It really puzzled him...this strange behavior of hers.What had happened that she was suddenly so eager to want him back in her life?Was Armaan aware of this?
Their conversation were always one-sided with her doing all the talking.
How her day was, what she did, random things about Sanjeevani, her parents or just her life.
It was unnerving...the way she had strode back into his life without his consent.
He always found himself at a loss in such situations...all the while she talked to him, he would simply be looking at her with a lost look. He hardly spoke to her...he just didnt know what to say.
He was surprised to discover that he just couldnt find that connection with her...he couldnt find that pull that had always drawn him towards her, that had eagerly made him listen to each word she spoke, that had earnestly made him observe every gesture she did, that had made him stare at her dreamily for hours...no... a deep ache, a sense of tragic irony was all he felt when he looked at her.
What he did find himself doing was feeling Shilpa's absence even more in such situations...she always knew what to say or do whenever he felt lost. Things had simply changed too much.
At times he felt like confronting Riddhima and asking her to leave him alone, but he couldnt do that...he didnt have the heart to do that.
Even after everything she had put him through, he didnt have it in him to hurt her.
So he kept quiet...even though the mere sight of her, the sound of her voice opened up all the wounds the had taken so much time and patience to heal...that wounds that Shilpa
Edited by sidsk - 09 May 2011 at 3:01am