Again sorry for the delay guys...my childhood friend's wedding functions got ever two days back so was tied up in that.
I am glad you guys liked Armaan's scene in the last chapter...he needed to realize the damage his actions have caused and that could happen only when he himself would experience it...
That Thing Called Love
The warmth from the ceramic mug, held between her hands, spread though her whole body, beating the chill that was in the air.
Seated on the porch steps, she gazed at the freshly washed world around her.
The storm had passed and things were much calmer now.
The lovely smell of damp earth played with her senses as she noticed the leaves shining with twinkling dew drops.
It was seven am and she just did not feel like going to work today.
That didnt mean she was in a bad mood. In fact she was strangely tranquil. She just wanted to be alone with herself.
Just an hour back,she had received a hysterical Naina's call apologising that Sid had heard her conversing about the now off engagement.
Shilpa had calmed her down and told her to relax.
He had to know someday.
Shilpa was relieved in way that Sid knew...he knew everything now.
And she knew something too.
That she was there somewhere in his heart too.
Somewhere behind all those barriers that he put up around himself, she effected him.
Other wise, he would not have said all that he said yesterday...he wouldnt have held her the way he had yesterday...he wouldnt have touched her the way he had yesterday.
She closed her eyes and shook her head as another batch of butterflies ran haywire within her.
It happened every time her mind flashed with images of what had transpired between her and Sid...which was almost all the time.
Every where she turned, she could only see him.
Every time she closed her eyes, she could see an image of his heavy lidded eyes as they had stared into hers last night.
She could feel him all around her even in his absence.
Yes, she knew she was in love with him since a long time but after yesterday it felt as if he had touched her soul...and the mark was so deep that it couldnt be undone.
Was this what he had felt for Riddhima...this mind boggling, all consuming feeling that seemed to haunt you at all times?
It was scary in a way...yes it was...but it was addictive too.
Having experienced it now, she couldnt imagine not being in love with him.
But she couldnt ignore the reverse side to all of this.
What if yesterday had just been a passing moment for him...a mistake?
What if he was repenting it now...she wouldnt be surprised.
Because he can only love Riddhima...
Whatever it was, she was certain of one thing.
She knew him very well and she was sure that after yesterday, he would distance himself even more from her.
Their lives would go back to running in circles around each other.
Sighing she got up when an idea struck her.Yes this was the perfect time
, she thought and stepped back inside her house.
His fingers tapped in an absent minded frenzy against the dark ebony table.
It distracted him from remembering the sensation that had sparked at his fingertips when he had held Shilpa...when he had caressed her skin...
Yuvi was seated in front of him talking about...something
. He didnt know what since he hadnt paid attention for a single minute.
He was so shocked at his actions last night that he couldnt focus on anything else.
He had not been drunk...he had not been drugged...and yet he had behaved exactly that way.
Why had he lost control like that?
How could she effect him so strongly?
As much as he didnt want to admit it, he didnt have the courage to face her...at least not until he thought he was ready.
Too much had happened between them.
He had crossed that fine line between them and he didnt know how to undo it.
But the real reason he didnt want to face her was because he was scared of seeing that...that thing again.
That thing that had never been his...
That thing that had only brought him pain and suffering...
That thing in Shilpa's eyes that should have been there for someone else...
That thing that had never shone from Riddhima's eyes for him...That thing called love.
Shilpa Malhotra was in love with him...with Siddhant Modi.
It was all wrong, not what it should be...but strangely it sounded wonderfully right in his mind.
He mentally shook himself.
Why had he seen love in her eyes for him
? Out of all the people?
They were friends...best friends...companions even...love was never in the list.
It would do no good.
He had tried so hard to make Tamanna fall in love with him...it had only caused her problems.
With Riddhima, he had only loved. He had never expected or wanted anything from her...just her happiness. But it hadnt been enough. His presence in her life had only caused her even more pain.
Shilpa knew all of this...she knew no one could ever be happy with him.
Then why had she set herself up for something that had no future?
He glanced back at Yuvi.
"You alright mate? You looked zoned out there."
Sid pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Just tired I guess...tired of everything", he rested his head against the back of his chair.
"Anything you want to share?", Yuvi asked.
Sid remained silent for a few seconds.
"Why do we take chances Yuvi? When we know they will only bring us pain? "
Yuvi knew this had something to do with Shilpa so he chose his words carefully.
"Well...that's because we never know anything for certain. We assume that we will fail at something but there is always an inherent hope within us that we just might succeed. We assume we will only find pain but at the same time we hope to find what we are truly looking for..."
Sid let his words run through his head and then spoke, "I made a mistake Yuvi...and I think it is too late to rectify it. I think I have lost something good."
By giving into his feelings for her, he was sure he had lost Shilpa's friendship.
"As clichd as it sounds Sid, it is never too late. Hiding from something will not rectify your problem, it will only intensify it. Go out there and face it. How do you know whether you have lost something or not till you havent faced it?"
Yuvi was right...there was hope.
Hope that maybe they could put this all behind them...hope that maybe they could get back to normalcy...hope that maybe she could move on from him.
Whatever it was, he had to talk to her. He had to face her and explain things.
Quickly getting up from his seat, he threw a grateful smile towards Yuvi and rushed out of the room.
Watching him go, Yuvi removed his cellphone and dialled his wife's number.
"Yes Yuvi ?", she answered.
"You were right", he informed her,"Something did happen between them last night."
-----------------------------------------------------The next day...
When Sid had gone to her cabin yesterday, her assistant had informed him that Shilpa had not come to the hospital and had cancelled all her appointments.
He had toyed with idea of going to her house but in the end had decided against it. Things were still too tense between them.
He had let one day pass to build some much needed courage to face her.
But today was a no show again.
Where was she?
She wasnt in her cabin, nobody else knew where she was and she wasnt picking up anyone's calls.
It wasnt normal for her to be absent from Sanjeevani for more than one day.
Sid was still hesitant to call her so he had made Naina and Yuvi call her but it was in vain.
She wasnt even at her house.Had he offended her so much?
His worry kept increasing by the minute as the day passed.Where could she possibly be?
Grabbing his car keys, he left his house and headed towards his car.
He didnt know how but he had to find her.
She couldnt have simply disappeared into thin air.
He first drove straight to her house where he had already been twice.
A huge lock hung on the front door which meant she still hadnt come home.
He shook his head and looked around.
He had already checked her usual hangouts with no luck.
Yuvi and Naina had assured him that they would contact him the minute they would come to know anything about her.
As was usual with human nature, his mind started springing up the worst scenarios increasing his anxiety even more.
Driving away from her place, he willed himself to calm down.
She was a smart girl and he was sure she wouldnt do anything stupid.
He was about to head back home when something caught his attention.
A small travel agency with a huge poster of a beach on its front door.
Suddenly he knew where to find her.
Pulling her shawl tighter around her, she rubbed her hands to fight off the chill that was settling in them.
After an impromptu visit to Panchgani, she had returned to Mumbai earlier that evening but hadnt wanted to go back to her empty house.
So she had headed to her favourite place - the beach.
Her aunt had been ecstatic to see her and had not left her side for the whole time Shilpa had been there.
She had wanted to stay longer but two days was a long time away from her job.
She had tried to confess to her aunt about her and Vivek but hadnt been able to gather the strength to do that.
Her aunt had been talking with such enthusiasm about her marriage that words had simply eluded her.
She felt guilty.
And so, she had left early.
Her phone rang for the umpteenth time again and she saw Naina's name flashing on the screen.
She looked away from her phone and towards the small waves crashing on the shore.
She didnt have the patience to answer Naina's questions right now.
She didnt want to think about the fact that Sid hadnt called her even once.
She had been right...he would go further away from her now.
She had not been to the hospital for two days and he hadnt even called to check on her even once.
She was so busy wallowing in self pity that she didnt notice the silhouette of a man walking briskly towards her.
Her phone rang again and but she didnt even look towards it.
"You know...it wouldnt kill
you to answer your phone."
She stood up suddenly at hearing his voice and turned to see Sid standing behind her...looking very angry.
He took her phone from her hands and answered the call.
"Yes Naina...I found her...no she seems fine...yes you can strangle her later after I finish with her."
He disconnected the call and looked at her to find her staring at him with her eyes wide...as if she couldnt believe he was there.How did he know where to find me?
, was the thought that crossed her mind.
He held her shoulders and shook her lightly.
"Do you have any idea how terribly worried I have been?". he asked, stressing on each word.
She looked down at the sand beneath her feet, suddenly feeling like a little girl being scolded. "Uhmm...I had gone to Panchgani."
"Wherever you had gone Shilpa, you could have informed someone about it...you havent shown up at the hospital since two days, you werent at home, you are not picking up your phone...just what exactly are we supposed to think?"He was right
...now that she thought about it, she realized she should have informed someone at least.
Seeing the concern in his eyes, an odd feeling welled up within her which suddenly lifted her spirits.He cared
...despite everything, he still cared for her.
"I am sorry Sid...I should have told you...its just that I was missing Massi a lot so I paid her an impromptu visit."
Realizing he was still holding her, he quickly moved his hands away. He had been so upset with her disappearance that he had forgotten his reluctance to face her...but now that she was in front of him, all of it came rushing to the fore.
He nodded his head and cleared his throat. "Dont do that next time, okay?...How is Maasi?"
"She is...she is good."
A cold breeze tickled his arms and he looked towards the wide stretch of water ahead of them.
"Did you tell her about Vivek and you?"
She took a deep breath and shook her head. "I tried to but...I just couldnt. I didnt know if it was the right time or not..."
"There is never going to be a right time for that kind of news..."
He turned back to her. "Look Shilpa...you dont need to tell her anything. It still isnt too late for you and Vivek...you can put this all behind you and..."
"Do you really think it is that easy Sid?", she frowned at him."To just put everything behind me like it never happened?"
He looked at her quietly for a few minutes. "I wont let you spoil your life over me Shilpa...least of all, over me..."
"Its too late for that Sid...you cant control what I feel for y..."
"Dont!", he shook his head, "Dont say it."
She swallowed the hurt that rose within her.
"Fine I wont...but it doesnt change anything."
He looked at desperately. "How can you Shilpa? How can you ruin your life over me of all people? Whatever you feel...whatever you think you feel for me is not real. Its just..."
" I'll be the judge of that Sid...dont you dare tell me that my feelings arent real...you have no idea...no idea how it is...", her voice caught in her throat and she stopped talking. She turned away from him so that he wouldnt see the tears in her eyes.
"Maybe its just a phase...an infatuation...maybe a passing fancy..."
"Oh really? And what makes you so sure?"
"Because its just not possible!", he exclaimed, his eyes glaring at her.
She remained silent for a few minutes and just stared at the water pensively.
Turning back towards him, she replied, "It is possible Sid", her voice had gone very quiet, "I have spent six years with you", he could detect out the slight tremors in her voice, the very slight dampness in her eyes, " Every second, every minute, every day, every week, every month of my last six years was spent beside you. Believe me, you are not some passing fancy."
He was struck hard by the brightness in her eyes and the conviction in her voice as she uttered those words.
No, he had to try harder to discourage her.
"Its about that night, isnt it? Look that should have never happened...it..."
"Stop", she whispered and prevented him from completing his sentence by putting her fingers over his lips.
He resolutely fought the urge to lace his fingers with hers and hold them close to his chest.
"I know that night must have been a mistake for you...but it wasnt for me. So please dont utter the word 'mistake' in front of me..."
She moved her hand away and sighed tiredly.
"I know very well you'll never love me Sid...so you dont have to worry about me expecting anything from you. In fact you were never supposed to know anything...this was always supposed to stay within me forever."
He shook his head and chose his words carefully, hoping she would understand.
"Shilpa...this is me. Any person who has been close to me or... ", he swallowed hard, "or even liked me has never been happy. Tamanna...Riddhima...anyone who has gotten close to me has only found pain."
"You honestly believe that Sid? Tamanna and you were never meant to be...you didnt love her...not as much as...as Riddhima. You and Riddhima were meant to be...I always believed that you both were soul mates...in fact I still believe that. "
She took a shaky breath and shook her head. "Riddhima was blind...she could never understand or appreciate what she shared with you...only few people are blessed with a soul mate who loves them so unconditionally..."
"Then why Shilpa? Why did you break your engagement because of me? For something so uncertain...you know I...that I am never going to settle down..."
"Sid...I didnt do it because of you. Vivek clearly loves Priya a lot and if he has that chance to be with her then I am not going stand in between them. As for you and me...like I told you, I dont have any expectations from you. I dont expect you to be with me or love me now that you know how I feel."
He pursed his lips. "So are you just going to stay the rest of your life alone, suppressing everything inside you?"
She let out a sad laugh. "That's the way I have lived most of my life Sid...its nothing I am not used to."
His heart shattered at her words. He was struck again by the sheer amount of emotional strength this girl had within her.
Shilpa's eyes wandered to the glittering sky above them. "You know Sid...every since I was a little girl, nothing has ever been permanent in my life. I lost my family very early, I didnt have many friends...nothing was ever certain. Whenever I was upset or lonely, I always used to sit under the sky and look at the stars and talk to them. Unlike the others, there was this one star that never moved...it was somehow always there...it never left me like the others."
Her gaze returned back to him.
"You are that star for me Sid...even in your worse times you never left me, even back then when you hardly knew me, you always supported me inspite of Riddhima's dislike for me... you held my hand through all these years, always giving me unconditional care and support even when I didnt ask for it...what I am trying to say is that I simply cant move on from all this. What I feel for you is very much real, deep and strong."
He stood silently, absorbing her words, feeling as if the whole world was spinning around him. No one...no had ever said anything like that to him. There was so much intensity in her words, her voice, her eyes that it overwhelmed him in a way he couldnt explain...not even to himself.
He felt as if he was seeing himself in her...because that is the exact way he had felt for Riddhima.
He didnt realize that he had just thought about Riddhima in the past tense.
"Shilpa...how are you going to live the rest of your life like this? Every time you see me or talk to me is going to be difficult for.."
"No Sid...its not going to be like that."
"Yes it is going to be...and I will not be the cause of your agony. If you cant stop...feeling
all this for me then..."
"Can you ever stop loving Riddhima?", she interrupted.
He was stunned into silence as that was the last thing he had expected her to say.
He looked away from her truly not knowing what to say. No, he could never stop loving Riddhima but he couldnt deny that fact that what he felt for Shilpa was something equally intense.
"See there...you cant. Same way I cant either."
"Fine", he nodded, "But I am not going to cause you any more pain that I already have."
"What are you going to do? Distance yourself from me again?"
"Yes", his face took on a determined look, "That is exactly what I am going to do. You think you can be strong but it is going to torment you every time you look at me or even talk to me...believe me I know. I have been there. And I will not let you suffer like I have since all these years...at least not intentionally."
She didnt say anything because she knew he wouldnt listen anyway.
He picked up her duffel bag lying next to her feet.
"But before that, I am going to drop you home."
She followed him quietly looking at his back. She relieved that she had finally gotten her secret off her chest but she also knew that it was going to bring her more loneliness.
The drive back home was quiet...for the duration of the ride, she rested her head against the cold glass of the window, completely unaware that he kept glancing at ever now and then.
Reaching her place, he took her bag out of the car and placed it on her doorstep. As he always did whenever he dropped her home, he took the keys from her and opened her door while she watched him quietly knowing he wouldnt come back here for a long time now, knowing she was, in a way, going to lose him again.
He moved down the porch steps and stopped suddenly.
Turning back towards her, he looked at her with an inscrutable look in his dark eyes.
He knew he probably shouldnt utter the words that were going to come out of his mouth but he also knew that she deserved to hear them more than anything else.
"Just one thing Shilpa...that night wasnt a mistake for me. It was real...its true that whatever happened that night should not have happened. But it was never a mistake..."
He turned away from her and felt his chest tighten.
"Everything I did...everything I felt for you in those moments...was real..."
And with that, he walked back to his car and got inside it without a backward glance knowing that if he looked back, his resolve would weaken.
He drove the car away leaving her standing stunned at the doorstep, a lone tear escaping from her eyes.
And there you have it...a confession. Well sort of...lol.
Edited by sidsk - 16 July 2011 at 7:30am