"Di!! When can I leave this godforsaken place? It is so suffocating here!" Manvi whined, as Jeevika adjusted her pillows. It had been a month since the transplant and she had responded very well to the treatment, but was still weak. That, however, did not keep her from trying to leave the hospital.
"You know I'm completely fine now", she resumed, as Jeevika shook her head. "Kya? It's the truth. I am fine now. Yesterday the nurse tried to give me an injection again and I ran around the room for ten minutes before she could catch me, pata hai?", she said, grinning proudly.
"First of all, you really shouldn't trouble the nurses so much, Mannu. And second, you tried to run around, and you got dizzy again. If Virat hadn't been around to catch you, you would have been nursing an ugly bump now. I know that you are better, but you still haven't regained your strength and you are staying here till the doctors tell you to." Jeevika said sternly. "I don't want to hear another word from you", she continued, as Manvi tried to say something. "Just take your medicines on time and rest and you will be out soon. Now sleep quietly and I will be back in ten minutes. Your nephew wants some chocolate ice-cream and I need to find your jeeju", she said, waddling towards her phone awkwardly, her hand on her swollen belly.
Manvi lay back with a sigh. Another attempt to leave the place, failed. How could she tell her di that a certain pair of eyes would never let her rest in peace? She hadn't spoken to Virat since he had said those hurtful things to her, but she knew he was around here somewhere, even if he didn't actually come to meet her. She could feel his presence around her and it unnerved her. And yesterday… Yesterday she had expected to fall and had instead found herself safely ensconced in his arms. It had felt so right. She would've happily stayed there forever, warm and safe and at peace. She shook her head to try and clear it. "Stop it Mannu. He doesn't love you, remember?" she told herself. "You need to move on." But how could she do that when he was around, gazing at her with those soulful eyes when he thought she wasn't looking? She sighed, frustrated. What was going on in his mind?
Virat was in hell. He knew he loved Manvi, but he just couldn't bring himself to approach her. Each time he tried, he saw himself yelling at her, scaring her away, breaking her heart… He didn't dare speak to her now. That didn't mean he could stay away, either. As she slowly limped her way to recovery, he watched from the sidelines, rejoicing in her returning health and laughter. It was scary, how much he loved her, really… In his previous relationship, it hadn't been this easy to lose himself, to surrender. "Maybe that wasn't love at all", he mused, "but this is definitely the real thing." If only he could pluck up enough courage to actually go and tell her that… But guilt flooded him each time he tried, and for now, all he could do was wait and hope that his idiocy hadn't cost him the love of his life.
A footstep nearby brought him out of his reverie. His brother was standing there, laden with what looked like chocolate ice-cream and potato crisps. He raised a questioning eyebrow at him, smirking when he heard Viren mutter "Cravings", in a long-suffering tone. "Enough said, bhai! I have to say ice-cream and crisps sound normal enough, though", he teased. Viren sighed again. "She wants an ice-cream, crisps and mint sandwich, Virat", he said. Virat pulled a face. "Exactly. And when I try to object she says it's my shaitan offspring who wants all that…"
"Your kid and shaitan? Imagine what any kid of Manvi's and mine will be like", Virat said absent-mindedly, biting his tongue when he saw the devious smirk on his brother's face. "I mean, um," he began, trying to cover up, but Viren just laughed. "I can't believe you are actually thinking of kids! Have you thought out their names too?" he asked, innocently.
"Oh stop whining! Okay, I won't mention it if you do me a favour."
"What? I am not giving you my xbox, so you can just…"
"Oye! Baat sun pehle. You need to watch Manvi tonight, ok? I want to take Jeevika out. A bit of fresh air will do her good" Viren said.
"Bhai, I don't think that's such a good idea."
"Come on Virat. You can't avoid her forever you know. I know you made a mistake, but isn't it time you mended things?" Viren said seriously.
Virat sighed. "I want to, bhai. I'm just so scared that she might hate me now" he admitted quietly.
"Are you serious? Mujhe pata tha ki tu gadha hai, par itna bada gadha hai, yeh nahin pata tha. She loves you. She misses you. She keeps looking for you even though we haven't told her you're here. Now shut up and listen to me for once. Talk to her this evening and sort everything out. There will be enough problems trying to convince the family. Don't add to them" Viren advised, getting ready to leave.
"I think you are right, bhai. I really should speak with her." Virat agreed, smiling. Viren smiled back, hugging him as best as he could with his arms filled with food.
"Um bhai? You better have an uber-romantic date planned for bhabhi. Her ice-cream has melted." Virat sniggered at the look of horror on his brother's face.
That evening, after Jeevika had left the hospital giving up about a million instructions concerning her sister, Virat paced the hall outside Manvi's room agitatedly. He desperately wanted to go inside, but was terrified at the same time. How could he spend a whole evening in the same room as Manvi, with each glance at her reminding him of what he had done? How could he tell her he loved her, when he had hurt her so badly? How could he even begin to apologize?
He was pathetic.
And had possibly turned into a girl.
He thwacked his forehead. "Come on dude, man up and speak to her. You can do this." Reassuring himself, he took a deep breath, opened the door and stepped into the room quietly.
The next thing he knew, a flying pillow had hit him square in the face.
"What the…", he sputtered, as something warm and soft collided with him in the next minute. Manvi. His arms went around her, gathering her close as she slipped. She held on tightly for a moment, burrowing her head under his chin. "Manvi…" he said softly, hands moving to grip her shoulders. She immediately stepped back, turning away from him nervously. He cleared his throat as she walked back to her bed, ignoring him completely.
One look at the nurse brandishing an injection told him everything he needed to know. "Madam needs to take her injection now, sir, but she won't let me. Not good for her health at all, this running about", the nurse muttered, huffing as Manvi batted her away yet again.
Hiding his smile, Virat walked over to the bed, and took Manvi's hand. "Let the poor woman give you the injection Manvi", he said gently, making her sit back. "I promise it won't hurt." He trailed his fingers up her arm and bared her shoulder to the nurse. As she put the syringe to her skin, Manvi clutched on to his arm tightly, whimpering in pain. "Ho gaya… now relax", he murmured soothingly, looking into her eyes. He saw her let her guard down for a minute and sat down next to her, ready to tell her how he felt, but in the next minute, her face closed off completely and she looked away, letting go of his hand as if she had been burnt.
"Madam needs to sleep now. I will come back after two hours to check up on her", the nurse said as she left, oblivious to Manvi sticking out her tongue at her. Virat bit back his laughter, assuming a serious expression as Manvi glared at him. He smiled at her sweetly, almost forgetting his guilt in the process, but suddenly her large eyes filled with tears, bringing it back ten-fold.
"Manvi, I…" he began, but she cut him off with a curt, "I'm going to sleep", turning her back on him.
****Next part will have more VirMan interaction, I promise.