I am sorry for the delay everyone hope you'll forgive me
It was a wonderful dinner, Ashu and Baba both seemed to be having a wonderful time. Sitting at the table with her family, Nidhi was feeling really proud of herself. The dual Birthday party was an unequivocal success. She was still silently patting herself on the back, when, her phone rang. It was Anji. She excused herself from the table and went out so that she could talk to her without being interrupted.
Nidhi- "Hi, Anji. How are you? How's everything going?"
Anji- " yaar, mujhe toh shaadi hi nahin Karni chahiye thi. Yahan par aaye abhi do don hi hue hain, I don't know how I'll last the week. "
Nidhi- "kya baat hui kuch Bataa toh sahi"?
Anji- " aaj yahan par meri mooh dikhai hui thi. So, first I had to wear this lehenga, that my saasumaa got for me, can you believe it was twice as heavy as my wedding one, and on top of that it was full silk, can you imagine, iss garmi mein mera kya haal hua hoga. I mean , they have air conditioning but when there are 400-500people in the house, that doesn't mean anything, Phir mooh dikhai mein I had to wear a ghoonghat. Pataa hai, when you have nearly 200 or so women surrounding you and keep lifting your veil to look at your face, and pass comments how hard it was for me to keep quiet, ek do ka toh, mera man kiya ki wahin pe katal kar doon, yaar smile karte karte mera jabada hil gaya hai. Then on top of that, everyone was feeding me mithai, which after a dozen so bites, gets so sickening you feel like puking, and then I had to touch everyone's feet, that's called pair chuayi. And then har ek cheez involves the exchange of money, either you are giving it or accepting it, after a while it gets so that you don't don't know what's happening and you don't care, and are left with no idea, as to who came out on top. Bade toh bade, yahan toh bacchon ka bhi yehi haal hai, sab ko meri godi mein hi baithna tha. Yaar, Jahan poocho wahin saara badan dukh raha hai. Sar mein dard, kamar mein jhukte jhukte dard, pairon mein bachchon ko godhi mein baithate baithate dard, jaw mein smile karte karte dard, and to top it all off, I was sweating like a pig."
Nidhi, was having a hard time controlling her laughter. Poor Anji, she was feeling so bad for her, but yaar the situation was too funny, you only heard and saw such things in movies, yahan par toh her friend was going through it.
Nidhi- " Anji, ask Dr. Rangnath to help. Where is he, and what has he been doing to help you throughout all this. "
Anji- "yaar, he's the reason that I want a divorce, Saat phera liye the ke har museebat mein saath denge, but at the first sign of trouble he disappears. Wait till I get my hands on him! I am so glad my father's a lawyer! Khair, yaar, meri chod, tell me what's going on over there with you. You guys must be at the birthday dinner, right? I, actually called to talk to Jeejaji, and Baba, I wanted to wish them both a Happy Birthday. Oh, and by the way, how did Jeejaji like his birthday gifts. He must have been really surprised, na?"
Nidhi, talked to Anji, for a couple of minutes and told her all about the party and Ashu's reaction to the presents. Before ending the conversation, Nidhi advised Anji, to hang in there as it was just a matter of a 2-3 more days, and then she would be back home, and phir sab theek ho hi jaayega. After that Anji, spoke to Baba and Ashu, for a few minutes and hung up, promising to call again soon.
After dinner, when they got home, BB, her father, DB, and Arman, all pled tiredness, and went to bed, Nidhi was glad tomorrow was a Sunday and there would be no need to get up early. It had been a hectic 2-3 weeks for everyone, what with Anji's wedding, finding out she was pregnant, the bombing, and then today the birthday party. She was not surprised that everyone was exhausted.
Ashu, sent her to their room , saying that she also needed her rest, and that he would follow as soon as he made sure the house and grounds were locked up for the night. When he came into the room, Nidhi was lying on the bed, she looked tired but happy, she seemed to be laughing about something. Ashu went to the bed and lay down next to her and took her into his arms, and asked her what was so amusing. Nidhi went on to tell him all about her conversation with Anji. Ashu, found the whole situation really funny and laughed, but at the same time he also, sympathized with Anji.
Ashutosh- " Nidhi, we have to do something for those two, imagine being married for three days now and not being able to go near each other."
Nidhi- " Yes, I know, but hum kya kar saktein hain. By the time they come back, it'll be time for Dr. Rangnath to go back to work, and then they will not any time for a honeymoon."
Ashu-" Yes, I know. That is a problem. I can't extend his leave right now, he has already had 2weeks off, for his wedding. "
Nidhi- "But you have to do something. Please. Kuch bhi, even a couple of days will be better than nothing, at least they can have a weekend to go somewhere close by and have at least a short honeymoon."
Ashu, thought for a couple of minutes, then he said..
Ashu-" I have an idea, see, immediately I can't do anything, but you know how we are going to Kerala, next week for the medical convention, well how about we surprise the both of them, by having them both come to the resort, for the weekend before we come back. They can join us there and we can all fly back together. That way it will be an official leave. What do you think?"
Nidhi- " I think, that my husband is a brilliant man and its an excellent idea, and I know that it'll make Anji very happy, thank you."
He felt at peace knowing that he'd made her happy. It took so very little, he'd learned that over the past few months. As long as her family was happy, she was happy, and if she was happy, then all was right in his world. And that was the last thought in his head, before he fell asleep with his wife sleeping on one of his arms and his other resting on Nidhis' stomach were their baby was. And that was exactly how, they were when he woke the next morning also.
How beautiful, his wife looked in her sleep and how peaceful. He eased out his arm from beneath her, so that he didn't wake her up, she needed her rest. After getting ready he went down, and saw that everyone was already up, and having their morning tea. Ashu, wished everyone a good morning and joined them. They were all talking about the wedding and yesterday's party, reminiscing about the highlights, mostly they were all discussing the news of the baby.
DB-" Doctor, tum bhi uth Gaye, chalo achcha hai, aao, baitho, hamare saath chai peeyo. Nidhi uth gayi kya?"
Ashu- " Nahin DB, she is still sleeping, and I didn't want to wake her up. The doctor said that she needed to rest after the bombing ordeal. And I also thought that she should get plenty of rest, before our trip next week."
DB- " Achcha, kiya. Let her rest. Iss samay, jitna aram kar sakti hai uske aur bachche dono ke liye achcha hai. Ashutosh, beta, I wanted to talk to you about next weeks trip, you are sure that it's alright na, I mean after she fainted at the hospital, I am worried. "
Ashu-" DB, don't worry. The doctor said that as long as Nidhi gets rest she'll be fine, there's nothing to worry about. But the doctor asked me to bring Nidhi for a check up before the trip also, just to be sure. Isliye aap phikre mat keejiye, agar doctor kahegi ke sab theek hai, tab hi main usse apne saath lekar jaaunga, warna nahin."
That seemed to satisfy her and she smiled. Then the conversation turned to general topics. Ashutosh had almost finished his breakfast when his phone rang, it was Aditya, Mallika's brother. Ashu was surprised, he excused himself from the table and went aside to take the call, because there was too much noise at the table, and also because he did not want anyone to hear the conversation. He had no idea what Aditya want to talk to him about, but he was fairly sure that Mallika's name would come up, and just the mention of her name was enough to upset everyone, and he didn't want that.
Ashu- " Hello, Aditya, what a surprise. How can I help you?"
Aditya- " Hello, Dr. Ashutosh. How are you? I am sorry sir, to be disturbing you on a Sunday morning, but I just had a to talk with you. Do you have a few minutes?"
Ashu- " Yes, I can spare you a few minutes, and it's alright you did not disturb me, I had just finished breakfast, so what can I do for you?"
Aditya, was very hesitant, he didn't know where to begin, or how to even ask Dr. Ashutosh for such a huge favor. After all he did not owe him or his sister anything, lord knew that his sister had done enough damage, not to warrant any kind of consideration from anyone, even him, let alone Dr. Ashutosh.
Aditya- " Dr. Ashutosh, I just arrived here yesterday morning from Australia. My sister wanted me to meet with her, she has a request sir. I don't even low how to say this, let alone ask this of you, and no matter what but she is my sister, and she raised me, and I love her, I can't abandon her. I owe her too much to do that. Well, anyway sir, I met with her yesterday, and we had a long talk. Dr. Ashutosh, she wanted me to ask you if you could meet with her, just once. She knows that she has no right to ask anything of you, after what she did, but air, she is very remorseful. She really regrets what she has done, and she said that she needs to ask you for your forgiveness. Dr. Ashutosh, she is in bad shape, I don't think you will even recognize her anymore as the same person you knew as your friend. So sir, for the sake of humanity, if not for friendship, will you please go see her and talk to her, just once?"
Ashu- "Aditya, I do not owe your sister anything, not anything in the name of humanity and certainly not friendship. She killed our friendship, the day she tried to murder my wife. Actually even before that. The time when by her cruel actions she put my father in law in the hospital. So now if she is regretting her actions that is her problem. I have nothing to say to her, and I certainly don't have to listen to her apologies, but I do owe you. You stood in front of my wife, with me, against your own sister, and gave testimony against her, and helped me put her away in jail, so that she could not harm Nidhi ever again. For that I do owe you. And for your sake I will go see her, but after this, all obligations between us will be over, I will not owe you or your sister anything."
Aditya sighed in relief, he had gambled on Dr. Ashutosh's sense of right and obligation, and his gamble had paid off.
Aditya- " Thank you sir. And of course you do to owe me anything. What I did, in testifying against my sister, and standing with you, did not have anything to do you sir, or your wife. It was For me, I was trying to assuage my guilty conscience, for doing what I had done. So I need to Thank you. I need to return to my wife and children tonight, will be be able to meet me hear at the prison today?"
Ashu- " Yes, I'll be there in less than an hour. I'll clear it with my friend DIG. Roy. And I will also call my lawyers. "
After he hung up with Aditya, Ashu turned to see Arman standing behind him, and from the look on his face he had heard everything.
Arman- " Ashu Tera Dimag toh theek hai? Tu uss pagal aurat se Milne jaa raha hai. You know what everyone will say to that. And have you thought about Nidhi, in all this? Usse kaisa lagega when she finds out that you are going to go see Mallika. How can you even think about doing this?"
Ashu- " Arman, you are right, but I have no choice. Remember how Aditya, stood with us when Mallika tried to attack Nidhi in the jail? And also, he gave testimony against her for her part in the fraud against the bank and in the house deal. Arman, he had a big role in helping us lock Mallika away for a long long time. That's why I am going, not for Mallika, I don't owe her anything, in fact, I hate the very sight of her, but I owe her brother, and that is the obligation that I am going there, to repay. Please understand."
Arman- "theek hai Ashu, I under stand, but Nidhi, Uska kya? How will you explain this to her, you know she won't like it and she'll insiston going with you. And no matter what the doctor says but after everything she has gone through in the last few weeks, this will stress her out, and that will not be good for her or the baby."
Ashu-" I know that, and that is why, I am not going to tell her anything. And you have to promise me that you won't either. Arman, I don't want to do anything that will hurt or stress Nidhi out right now, but I have to do this, you know that.Right?
Arman- Yes, but, it's not good to hide things from her Ashu. These things have a way of coming out and then it will cause more problems later, you know that, na?
Ashu- Arman, I never said that I won't tell Nidhi ever, I'll just wait until after the baby is born. And besides Mallika is behind bars for a long time. She can't do anything. Say you'll help me, please?"
Arman- " Of course, I'll help you Meri Jaan. Main toh hamesha tere saath hoon. Theek hai we won't tell her now. We will Wait till after the baby come. But meri bhi ek shart hai?"
Ashu smiled- " I know teri shart kya hai. You're gonna come with me right? I already knew that. Chal let's go. I'll tell everyone that the hospital called, and I need to go there for a bit and I'll also tell them that ou have some work at your showroom, so ou can drop me off and the pick me up afterwards and we will both come back together? Okay?"
After they had both explained to the family that they would need to go out for a while, they went inside to house to get ready. Nidhi, had just gotten ready and was about to leave the room when, Ashu came in to get ready.
Nidhi- " Aapne mujhe uthaya kyon nahin? "
Ashu- " Tumhe aram ki jarurat hai, besides, you looked so cute in your sleep, I didn't have the heart to wake you up."
Nidhi- "Aap kahin jaa rahein hain kya? "
Ashu- " Haan Nidhi. There is a small emergency at the hospital, and I will need to go in for a bit. And you know that with Rangnath away, I have to be there to handle anything that arises also. And Arman, also has to do something at his showroom, so we are both leaving together, he'll drop me off at the hospital and then we'll come back together."
Nidhi- " that's not fair, Sunday ko bhi kaam. I understand but I don't have to like it na? Aur Aapke bina main ghar par kya karoongi?"
Ashu came up to her and hugged her, that adorable pout on her face was really irresistible.
Ashu- " Nidhi, aise kaise kaam chalega. Main saare time toh tumhari nazaron ke samne nahin reh sakta na. "
Nidhi-" kyon nahin reh sakte? Agar main itna miss karoongi aapko, toh rehna padega na? Aur agar aapne meri baat nahin maani, toh main apne bete se aapki shikayat kar doongi"
Ashu laughed and and bent down to kiss her stomach and then straightened up and put his hand there
Ashu- " You can complain all you want, sweetheart, my little princess won't listen. She her daddy's girl. Anyway, sweetheart I really have to go now, Arman will be waiting for me, I promise I'll be back quickly and then we will spend the evening together. And besides, how will you get bored, BB, your baba and DB all are here, they'll keep you company."
Nidhi- "Yes. But they all will also drive me crazy, trying to take care of me also. So, come back quickly, we'll both be waiting."
In the car, on the way to the prison, Ashu was very quiet. Arman looked at his friend in concern. He still wasn't very comfortable with the idea of hiding and lying to the family, specially Nidhi.
Arman- "Ashu, I know whats bothering you. Why don't you rethink your decision not to tell Nidhi, and the whole family, they will understand."
Ashu- " Arman, I know that Nidhi, will understand, but the rest of the family won't, and no one including her will like it. But, it's just something that I feel, I have to do. You understand right?"
Arman- " Yes, I understand, but I don't like it either. Chalo, we're here, let's get this over with."
They were met outside by a constable, who took them inside where the prison warden was waiting for them. Apparently, Ashu's friend had already called the prison authorities and made all the necessary arrangements, and had eliminated all the red tape. once again they were led to a visiting room, where they were met by Aditya, and Ashu's lawyer. The constable, opened the door, and gestured for them to go in. Nile they sat down to wait for guards to get Mallika, Ashu looked around and noticed that there were one guard inside the room also. He looked at his lawyer, who told them that the guard was there for their benefit. The last time they had been to visit her, Mallika had gotten violent, so the guard had been appointed to stand guard against any such incidents, at the request of the DIG himself. Then Ashu looked at Mallikas brother, and offered a tentative smile.
Aditya- " Thank you sir, for coming. I really appreciate it."
Ashu- " It's ok Aditya , I understand your wanting to fulfill your sisters wish, but it comes at a great price to me. Anyway, let's get this over with, and see what she has to say."
Right at that second, the door opened and Mallika was brought in. Ashu, looked at her in surprise. Aditya had been right, if he ,hadn't known that she was Mallika, then he would never have recognized her. SHe had lost a lot of weight, and her face had grown harder, and her eyes, Ashu could not read her eyes at all. It seemed that being in prison, had taught her a few things, but her smile, her smile was the same, even though it did not reach her eyes. And she had cut her hair, now it was as short as his. No, this was not the friend he had known and loved. He also noticed that she her hands and feet were chained, he supposed this was also a precaution, against her sudden outbursts of violence.
They brought her in and sat her down in the chair at the other end of the table, and the two women constables stood behind her. Mallika looked at Arman, then at Ashutosh and smiled.
Mallika- " Hello Ashutosh, how have you been? I want to thank you for coming here to meet with me today."
Then she lifted her hands and gestured towards the handcuffs,
Mallika- " Is this really necessary, Ashutosh? What possible danger could I be of to you? Can you ask them to remove these please, they are so unnecessary."
Ashu- " I had no part in that, Mallika. And the fact that you were brought in her chained indicates that maybe they are needed, after all you remember what happened last time don't you? And no i will not make any request on your behalf. Now, can you tell me why did you want to see me Mallika? "
Her face and eyes hardened at this statement of his. But then in the next second she smiled at him again.
Mallika- " I missed my friend. I also wanted to see, if you would come, and if you still cared about me or our friendship, even a little bit. My brother, didn't think you would, but you see he doesnt know you like I do, I knew that you could never set aside our friendship, no matter what I had done, or how angry you were with me. And I was right. Your being here is proof that you still care."
Ashu, looked at her with pity and disdain, and gave a her a hard stare,
Ashu- " You are mistaken Mallika, you are not the reason I came. I have explained to your brother that my only reason in coming here was in paying off my debt of obligation towards him. After all his testimony against you, was a huge help in proving your guilt and getting you put behind bars for a long time. I have no feelings other than hate and disgust for you, Mallika. And if you think otherwise then you are deluding yourself. Now say, what you need to so I can get the hell out of here and go back to my family."
Mallika- " Aah, yes. Your family. So, Ashutosh how are they? And of course how is your little wife? I hear that you are going to be a father soon. So, how is our little mother to be, in good health, I hope?"
Ashu, looked at her with surprise. How did she come to find out, he thought to himself in surprise. Mallika, laughed at his surprise,
Mallika- " Ashu, just because I am in prison, doesn't mean I don't know what's going on in the world. Oh and aren't you going to thank me, for giving you that house, that you are now living in. I bankrupted my self for that. I am sure that the wedding that you held there must have been a lot of fun. I am sorry that I missed it."
Aditya-" Didi, what are you talking about? You told me, that you wanted to apologize to Dr. Ashutosh, that is why you wanted him to come here. And now you are saying that you have kept tabs on him, and his family. Why are you doing this, I thought you were sorry, and we're genuinely regretting your action."
Mallika, looked at her brother with such hatred that he flinched visibly under her stare.
Mallika- " Aditya, you are a stupid fool. You were a tool, that I used to get Ashutosh to come here, so for now just shut up. I will deal with you in my own way later"
Ashutosh, just stared at this woman, and tried reconciling her with the person, friend, doctor that he had once known. He wondered how he had missed noticing this cruel side of hers. Of course, several people had pointed it out, over time including Nidhi, but he had never believed anyone, and now her true nature was staring him in the face.
Ashu- " Mallika, all you've told me so far is that you have been spying on me and my family, and keeping tabs on our whereabouts, and not saying sorry, like you had told your brother. Since, you got me here under false pretenses, I'll be leaving now. And rest assured that this is the last time we will be meeting for the rest of our lives."
As he got up to leave, Mallika stood up,
Mallika- " Not so fast Ashutosh. I have a few things to say and you will hear me out."
Ashu stood still, somthing in her tone had chills going through his body. It is better that I hear what ever she has to say, he thought, at least that way he would be prepared. Although what he was preparing himself for, he had no idea. All he knew was that he had a bad feeling, an omen, maybe.
Ashu-" Alright Mallika, have your say. But whatever it is, says quickly, I have no more patience for any more of your nonsense."
Mallika gave him a satisfied smile and looked at him straight in the eye and sat down, and gestured for him to do the same.
Mallika- " Thank you Ashutosh. "
Again her smile, pure evil. Ashutosh wanted to run, but...
Mallika- " Alright, I'll get to the point. Ashutosh, you betrayed our friendship, and I forgave you! You fell in love with another woman, I forgave you! You let me get married to a man I didn't love, when you could have stopped me, and I forgave you! You took the house I gave you. And when I needed a roof over my head you kicked me out and had me locked up, although I had not done anything thing wrong, beacause, in my eyes all is fair in love and war, I still forgave you. But now, now you have done something unforgivable, and for that I will never forgive you, not for as long as I live. "
Ashu- " And, just what, according to your twisted mind have I done to you that is so unforgivable, Mallika"?
Mallika- " Why getting Nidhi pregnant, of course. I had dreamed of having a life with you Ashutosh, of us being together and having children, and growing old together. I stuck by your side, through hick and thin, I sacrificed twelve years of my life for you, and what do you do? You take my life, my dream, and give it to someone else. That baby, your stupid wife is carrying, should have been mine. That was my dream! Well, I called you here to tell you that, I will not allow it. You can't do that to me and get away with it. I will make you sorry Ashutosh, and I'll make Nidhi sorry that she ever came into our lives. So unless, you want something to happen to that precious wife of yours, I suggest you get her to get rid of that baby, otherwise both of you will have to bear the consequences. I'll find a way of making both of you pay."
By, this time, Ashutosh had had enough, he got up abruptly and left the room, while she was still going on and on with her threats, and slammed the door of the visiting room. Ashu, was shaken to the core. Mallika, had gone completely insane. He was glad she was locked up, but still could not get over this feeling of apprehension, he was having. He started walking towards the exit, and did not even pay attention to Adityas stammering pleas of forgiveness for calling him here.
Ashu and Arman were both very quiet on the way back. Both lost deep in thought over what had occurred at the prison.
Arman- " Ashu, I think that Mallika has really gone insane, I am so glad that she is locked up."
Ashu- "You are right, Arman, but I have a really bad feeling, I don't know why."
Arman- " I know what you mean, and I don't blame you, but don't worry about it. She can't do anything. She wanted to rattle you and she succeeded. And Ashu, I am really glad that we are not telling anybody about this. Pareshan hone ke illawa, koi kuch nahin kar sakta. Aur bina baat ke sab ko tension ho jayegi. "
Ashu- " Haan yaar, tu sahi keh raha. "
Arman- " Of course I am right. NOw let's us forget Mallika and her insanity, and think of nice things like the baby, and your up coming trip."
That succeeded in making Ashu smile, just like Arman had known it would. Arman did not want to say anything to Ashu, but he was worried.
On the way home, Ashu, really got an emergency call from the hospital. So, Arman dropped him off and went home. Ashu told him that unless it was really late, he would call, so that they could send the driver to the hospital,to pick him up.
Back at home, Nidhi, was very disappointed that Ashu was going to be stuck at the hospital indefinitely. She missed him, and had been looking forward to having him home and spending the evening together. Ashu, had not come home even by dinner time. And even though Nidhi had wanted to wait and eat with him, DB did not let her, saying that it was not good for her to stay hungry for so long. And although, Nidhi had been determined to wait up,for him, it seemed that her body had a mind of its own nowadays, she fell asleep. That was how Ashu found her, she was asleep on the couch in their room with the lights on and an open book in her hands. It was very late, he also felt guilty, but at the same time he felt relieved that Nidhi was asleep. He was still unnerved by his visit with Mallika, and he knew that it would have been very difficult to hide anything from her. So he gladly took the brief respite that was offered to him, to get his feelings and thoughts under control, before he faced his wife the next morning. Ashu, was overwhelmed with feeling of tenderness and love as he looked at his wife sleeping there on the couch, and before moving her to the bed he changed his clothes and switched off the lights, so as not to wake her up, and then came and picked her up, and carried her to their bed, and then he too, went to sleep holding his wife in his arms .
The next morning, was Monday, so it was the usual rush to get up and get ready, and then rush off to work. Nidhi, was also adamant about working, even against DB's wishes. She said that she was not going to let her pregnancy become a hindering factor, and that women everywhere in the world worked during their pregnancy. But she promised DB that she would take it easy and would not over tax herself, come home early everyday. This somehow, became a trend for the next few days to come. Both Ashu and Nidhi, we're kept really busy, by their work schedule. Ashu, was busy trying to finish everything before their trip, and Nidhi, with her internship, as well as the PR work, with Rohan. Rohan wanted to do a small write up about the bombing and the role of the hospital and it's staff, regarding their respective roles, during this crisis. Although, opposed to it at first, Ashutosh reluctantly gave his approval to this suggestion, when both Rohan and Nidhi gave their presentation in front of the campaign committee. That, Nidhi, wanted to get her part in it done before their trip, was a big factor in keeping her schedule too busy, for her to spend time with her husband. Also a contributing factor, to the week's hectic schedule was the fact that, after Anji, who had come home from her parents in laws house from the village, had been genuinely upset, and had needed Nidhi's emotional support. Apparently all had not been well between the two newly weds. So, after a couple of nights, when Rangnath was on night duty, Nidhi had gone to spend the night with Anji.
When, Nidhi came home the next morning, Ashu saw her face, she looked upset, and when Ashu asked her the reason she said,
Nidhi- " Ashutosh, the situation is really stressed between Anji and Rangnath, apparently with one thing or the other, they did not get to spend any time together, during their time in the village, and Anji is really angry at Dr. Rangnath, she is not talking to him. I had a chance to talk briefly to him for 10-15minutes over the phone while Anji was talking to her mom, and he explained his side to me. He says that, that's what happens in villages, they are so steeped in traditions and customs, that sometimes after marriage the bride and groom do not even get to see each other for a week, and he also told me that that last two nights that they did have together, Anji had been so upset at him that she had not even talked to him. She says that he should have intervened on her behalf, and tried to explain to his parents that as she is not used to all the customs and traditions, having been born and raised in the city, that they should tone down all the festivities. Rangnath is angry with Anji, for not trying to understand his parents and him, and his feelings regarding this matter, and not adjusting with his family, even though she knew that it was only for a short time. He says that she should have tried to understand his feelings, that being the only child(son) he had wanted to fulfill all the dreams that his parents had had had regarding his marriage, since the day he had been born. So at present there seems to be a cold war going on between them. I don't know what to do, to make it better."
Ashu-" Nidhi, it's not up to us to make it better, they are the ones that need to understand each other, and each others feelings. That's what marriage is all about, loving each other enough to compromise. In my opinion we need to support them with out interfering in between their relationship, they need to sort out their differences by themselves. Now what we can do is provide an opportunity for them to do so. I know we had talked about it being a surprise for them from us, but why don't I talk to Rangnath at the hospital today and tell him about the weekend we have planned for him in Kerala with us, and he can tell Anji, or choose to keep it as a surprise for her, his choice. What do you say?"
Nidhi- " That's a great idea, but you will have to talk to him and tell him today. You know we are due to leave the day after tomorrow, and tomorrow, your schedule will be too busy for you to get any time."
Ashu- " Yes ma'am, as you command. I will talk to him at lunch time. Do want to join us for lunch, that way both of us can tell him together."
Nidhi- " No, sweetheart, I am sorry. I promised Rohan, that i would have lunch with him today, because I won't be going to work tomorrow, and we need to finish up some work before the trip."
Ashu-" Okay, not a problem, I'll handle it. So are you coming with me today, or not."
Nidhi- " I'll come a bit later, Armanji will drop me off, I need to get some work done before I go to work today and I also have my appointment with Dr. Kothari today. Oh and, she told me that since they already did a sonogram a couple of weeks ago, she wouldn't need to do one today, so you do not need to be there. I'll call and let you know how it went."
It turned out that she, didn't even get time to breath between the next two days, what with finishing up work, and getting the shopping and packing done for the trip. But she had gotten the breen signal from her doctor, regarding her health. They both finally sighed in relief in their way to the airport. They had managed to finish everything on their list just in time before leaving. DB had been giving her a running commentary on the dos and don'ts for the trip, all during the car ride,to the airport, and up untill it was time to board the plane, and had then bid her a teary farewell at the check in security gate. Nidhi, hugged her and promised to call as soon as they reached the resort, and Ashutosh reassured DB, that he would take good care of her granddaughter and her great granddaughter.
Nidhi, slept all during the 3hour plane trip. And was fresh, and filled with energy when they reached the resort. As they were driving up to the main building for checking into the resort, Nidhi saw, exactly where they were, her eyes were wide with wonder and tears, she turned from the window to look at her husband,
Nidhi- " Aapne mujhe pehle bataaya kyon nahi ?"
Ashu, smiled, took her hand and kissed it. He knew what she meant,
Ashu- " Nidhi, I was so busy, trying to get all the work done and arranging suitable replacements for staff and doctors inc,using myself, that I didn't pay attention, or even read the information packet for this convention. So, at first even I didn't know, then about 2-3 days ago, when I finally got down to opening the envelop with our tickets and reservations, I found out. I knew what this place represented for the both do us, heartache and separation I also knew that you would want to come here, at some point during our trip, so when I found out,I wanted it to be a surprise for you. For me it was like an act of god, being sent here to the exact same resort where we stayed, and were separated. Now that we are here we can erase all the pain that is associated with this place for us, and replace it with memories of love."
Nidhi- "aap bilkul theek keh rahein hain. I am so excited, I can't wait. Chaliye let's hurry and check in and then we can start with our second Honeymoon."
Ashu laughed at his wife's enthusiasm, her excitement, her zest for life.
Ashu- " Haan Nidhi, but you also need to remember that this is a still a working holiday, and I am one of the guest lecturers, so we will have to work around the schedule for the convention. So, now let's go in and get settled and get something to eat, and after that we can figure out what to do. Okay?"
After checking in, they were taken to their private little bungalow, near the beach. Nidhi, went in the opened the glass doors in the back. The back of their little cottage was completely surrounded by trees, giving the air of total seclusion, and there was a path that led directly to their own private part of the beach. That this was place was to be their own private little paradise for the next week, had Nidhi, sighing with pleasure and contentment. She could not wait to start their Honeymoon. It had been worth making the special request to get this cottage for her, and also spending a bundle for all the special arrangements he had made, just to see this happiness and pleasure on her face, Ashu thought. He went behind her and drew her into his arms with his hands resting on their baby, and nuzzled her neck.
Ashu- " Happy, Dr. Mathur "?
Nidhi- " Yes, Dr. Mathur, I am very happy."
Then she turned around in his arms and pulled him down so that she could place a kiss on his waiting lips. "Nidhi" he whispered her name reverently, as he grazed her cheeks and lips with his knuckles," look at me for a minute" he said. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, and he saw all the love he could ever want or need shining out of her eyes. Then suddenly his hands were in her hair and his mouth was on her lips, and Nidhi, embraced him with her heart and soul. After a while, slowly, reluctantly, Ashutosh, withdrew. Nidhi, murmured in protest, and started to draw him back into her arms, but Ashu stopped her by Kissing heron the forehead.
Ashu- " Nidhi, we can't start something that we have no time to finish right now, you know that. But tonight, my love, I promise you it'll be like the first time only better, I promise you".
He wanted her too. It was this place, almost as if it too, seemed to want them to erase all the past pain, that they had had to face the last time they were here. Ashu, pulled his wife into his arms, and just held her, and a peace the likes of which he had never experienced, settled into his soul.
Again it seemed that coincidence was following them, they were seated with the same two doctors that they had been seated with at the Mumbai convention, Dr. Achrekar, and Dr. Alamas. The only difference was that this was a table for six and not four, like the previous year. So apparently there going to be two other physicians that would be joining them. When they entered the dining area, Ashutosh was detained by a colleague, who had worked with him previously, and had wanted to catch up on old news and ask him about the lecture, that he was due to give tomorrow. Ashu, introduced Nidhi, and asked her to, proceed to the table, and told her that he would join her in a minute.
When, she got to the table, she saw that both the doctors, Achrekar and Alamas were already there. The welcomed her warmly, and told her that the other two physicians who had been assigned to their table would be joining them soon, as their flight had been delayed a bit. They were all talking, when Ashutosh joined them at the table 10 minutes later. He shook hands with the two doctors, and was about to talk to Nidhi, when Dr. Achrekar, interrupted him and said,"Dr. Ashutosh, you remember Dr. Nidhi Verma, from last year don't you? We were just catching up with her, and coincidently just like you, It seems that she also has just gotten married recently. That is so wonderful. Will your spouse be joining us Dr. Ashutosh? Dr. Nidhi, says that her husband has been detained, but he will join us shortly". Ashutosh, looked at Nidhi, and saw that she once again had 'THAT' look in her eyes. Oh My God, not again, he thought, yeh meri biwi, ek din mujhe pitwa kar hi chodegi, ab isska main kya karoon? Before he could intervene and say anything, she spoke up,"Hello, Dr. Ashutosh, how are you sir? It's a pleasure seeing you again. And congratulations on your marriage. Will be having the pleasure of meeting your wife"? Ashu, grinned, and shook her hand," Yes Dr. Nidhi, you will be seeing her soon. She's around here somewhere." Nidhi," Dr. Ashutosh, I was wondering, since my husband has been detained elsewhere, and your wife seems to have gone missing...well sir, I was wondering if you would give me the honor of dancing with me, you see the band is playing one of my favorite songs, and I would hate to miss it". Ashutosh, grinned, the little imp, he thought and looked at the stunned expressions on the faces of the two doctors sitting at the table with them, he had a hard time holding back his laughter, as his wife grabbed his hand and practically dragged him to the dance floor with her, where she proceeded to hold him close, and with her head resting on his shoulder, started dancing to her 'supposedly ' favorite song. Ashu, looked over at their table, where the two doctors were looking at them with shocked expressions on their faces. Ashu-"Nidhi, look at those poor people, I think,that you have managed to permanently traumatize them. They must think that we are either the most shameless people in the world, and are openly having an affair, to be dancing with each other like this. Come on sweetheart, let's go back, and put them out of their misery, and rescue our tarnished reputations before they have a heart attack or something". Nidhi-" Abhi nahin, please do minute aur, abhi toh dance shuru Kara hai, let them wonder a bit longer, I am having too much fun". Ashu-"Nidhi, please, Achcha nahin lagta, please, apna nahin toh at least meri reputation ka toh socho". Nidhi drew away and sighed,"fine, but you are a party pooper. Always spoiling my fun. Theek hai chaliye, let's go put them out of their misery". As soon as they reached the table, the two doctors who were also assigned with them also arrived. They were Dr.Satyajeet, and Dr. Sunil. Nidhi had worked with Dr. Sunil at city center holy hospital briefly last year, and Dr. Satyajeet, was a friend of his, whom she had also met with in Mumbai, last year. Well it looked like their game was going to be up anyway, so it's a good thing that they had returned to the table, Nidhi thought. As soon as they got to the table, both the new arrivals got up and shook hands with the both of them. Dr. Sunil-" Well Dr. Nidhi, it's good to see you again, and you too Ashutosh. And I wanted to convey my heartiest congratulations on your marriage. I am sorry I was not able to attend your wedding, I was out of the country then, and got your card only after I had gotten back. I am very sorry to have missed it. But I am very happy for you both and wish you a very long and happy married life". When he said that, Nidhi, looked over at Dr. Almas and Dr. Achrekar, and she burst out laughing, both of them were looking at her and Ashu, with their mouths wide open. Ashu, also could not resist laughing. Nidhi -" I am sorry, doctors, but I couldn't resist playing this little prank, it was too good an opportunity to miss. I hope you don't mind"? Dr. Alma's got up and came to Nidhi, and hugged her,"well, Dr. Nidhi, I hate to admit it but you got us good. We were both sitting here amazed, and wondering just what was going on between the two of you, we didn't know what to make of the situation.". Nidhi hugged her back, "Thank you for being such good sports about the whole thing. My husband was afraid that I had traumatized you irreparably. And he managed to convince me to come back, and end your suffering. I apologize once again,if my crazy sense of humor offended you". Both the doctors assured them that they were not offended at all, and should have guessed instead of jumping to conclusions. Dr. Sunil and Dr. Satyajeet, also had a good laugh, and admitted that a prank like that was like a breath of fresh air, as it had been ages since they had done, or had had anything like this done to them. After that all six of them sat down to lunch. After placing their orders, they all started chatting about various subjects, but the main topic of conversation was of course, about her husbands lecture the next day on his new surgical technique, in neurosurgery. The amount of respect in people's eyes and faces for her husband, made her so proud of him that she was nearly bursting at the seams. Although, the next minute she also felt like throwing up, because the food was being served, and all the smells from the different types of dishes, had her running out of there and straight to the ladies room. All four of the doctors were lookin at Ashu, with concern, but it was Dr. Sunil that spoke up,"Ashutosh, what happened, why did Nidhi, rush outof here like that? Is she not well, her face looked a bit on the green side, almost like she was going to throw up". Ashu, smiled at them sheepishly,"Uh...Umm... huh...well, you see, Nidhi, is pregnant, and rather touchy, about smells, I am afraid that anything and everything sets her off". All the doctors burst out laughing, and congratulated him once again. Then Ashu turned to Dr. Almas and said,"Dr. Alma's, I wonder if I could impose on you to come with me to the Ladies room to check on Nidhi, you see I certainly can't go in there, and I need to make sure that she is ok"? Dr. Almas-" of course, Dr. Ashutosh, I will go with you. It'll be my pleasure".
When they got to the ladies room, Dr. Alma's went in, and she saw that Nidhi was washing her face. Nidhi, looked up at her, and smiled,"I guess Ashutosh must have told you, huh? I am sorry for running out like that, but I couldn't help it". Dr. Alma's-"don't worry Nidhi, I understand, I am a mom too. Now let's go back, you need to eat something. And, also your husband is outside waiting for you, we need to assure him that you are fine, also". Nidhi, smiled at that and went out with her. When she came out Ashu, hurried over to her, Nidhi, reassured him that she was fine, but she didn't think that she could tolerate the smells in the dining room again, and she requested that maybe she could go and have lunch in her room, and also get some rest. Ashu, told her that he would join her and that he just needed to go to the dining room and inform the other doctors at the table about their plan, he had barely turned around to go inside, when they saw Dr. Sunil hurrying towards them,"Dr. Ashutosh, I hope you don't mind but I have arranged a table for us outside on the patio. There is enough of a breeze outside, near the ocean that Nidhi, will not have any trouble with smells any more, I hope that is ok"? Nidhi, and Ashu, were touched, but this gesture of thoughtfulness, and thanked him. After that, they all went outside and had a very pleasant afternoon and a wonderful lunch.. After lunch, Dr. Sunil told them that the rest of the day, was free. That all the doctors could spend the rest of the day, however they wanted and that the convention and all the events related to it would be starting tomorrow. After agreeing to meet up the next morning after breakfast, everyone said. Bye and went their ways.
Ashu, was glad that he had the rest of the day free, to spend with his wife. He also saw that she was looking a bit tired, so he walked her back to their cottage, and told her to rest and that he had some work regarding his lecture for tomorrow, so he needed to go talk to someone in that respect and that he would be back in a couple of hours, after which they would spend the rest of the day together. Nidhi, told him to hurry up and come back, but she was glad of the opportunity to have a small nap. And, Ashu, after making sure his wife was all nice and snug and comfortable, went off to take care of business, which was planning a surprise for his wife and making sure that she had plenty of happy, and exciting and loving memories, to take home, of a place where she had suffered unimaginable heartache and pain.
Nidhi, woke up a couple of hours later, to find her husband sitting at the desk in the small living area, working on his laptop. He looked up when she came in and smiled, then turned off the computer and stood up and opened up his arms to her. Nidhi walked into those arms and laid her head to rest on his shoulder.
Nidhi-"aapka kaam khatam hogaya"?
Ashu-" Haan, I told you that it would not take that long. After I was done, I came back, and have been here waiting for my sleeping beauty to wake up". Nidhi-"well, in sleeping beauty's story her prince wakes her up with kiss, so where's my kiss from my prince?"
Ashu-"well, I don't know that I am prince material, and as for your kiss, well you'll get that after you get ready. We are going out, and don't ask me anything else, it's a surprise".
Nidhi-"ok, I won't ask you anything, and I'll go and get ready. And Ashutosh, app agar apne aap ko meri aankhon se dekhoge to aap ko pata chalega ke aap mere liye kya ho. Mere liye aap mere sab kuch ho, aap se zyada perfect prince mujhe puri duniya mein kahin nahin mill sakta tha. Aur Jahan tak mere kiss ki baat hai, toh aapne diya ya maine diya ek hi baat hai". With that she went up on her toes and pulled his head down for a quick kiss and ran into the bathroom to get ready.
When she came out she found a package with her name on it, she excitedly ripped it open and found a beautiful white sari, with matching bangles, shoes and earrings. Nidhi had a lump in her throat, as she looked at the beautiful things her husband had bought for her, but then he was always doing these kinds of lovely things for her. Nidhi knew that Ashutosh loved her very much, and each day he proved it to her, and showed her in different ways, just how much.
When she had gotten ready, she went out and saw that he was waiting for her. She saw that he was wearing her favorite combination, a white shirt and navy blue pants(it was too hot to wear a suit), he was the most handsome man in the world, and she was so glad that he belonged to her.
As soon as Ashu saw her, he held out his hand, and when she came to him he pulled her into a gentle embrace. Then he looked at her and said,"Nidhi, I look at you and wonder, if there is any other woman in the world more beautiful than you are. Sometimes I can't believe my luck. And whenever you look like this, I feel like taking you out and marrying you all over again. Sweetheart you are breathtaking anytime, but even more so now, when our baby is inside you, adding to that beauty".
Nidhi-"well my darling husband, I also think that you are absolutely the most handsome man on the face of this earth, and that you are mine".
Ashu, laughed, although secretly he was thrilled at her possessiveness towards him, because he felt the same way. Then on a lighter. One he said,"Achcha ji, ab bahut ho gayi, ek doosre ki tarif. We should get going". Ashu, made sure that their cottage was locked and started walking back towards the beach. Nidhi looked at him puzzled,"I thought that you said that we were going out, so why are you taking me out back towards the beach, and that too in a sari"? Ashu-"patience, my darling wife, I have something special planned for us, for the whole of tonight. Trust me" ? Nidhi-"always and forever".
It was a beautiful evening for a walk, there was a beautiful breeze comming from the ocean and the sun was just starting to settle hind the horizon, And with her husbands arm wrapped protectively around her shoulders and her head resting on his shoulders, Nidhi, was willing to go wherever he took her.
Their first stop was a little chat dhaba, that was situated very cleverly
on one side of the beach, not hidden, but there for anyone to see. She looked up at him with a smile,"Thank you, and how did you know that I felt like eating chaat just now"? Ashu-"Nidhi, you feel like chaat all the time, nowadays. Sometimes I think that I should leave my profession and open up a chaat shop specially for you, and now apparently our little one is also taking after you in that respect. Also, I new you would be hungry, so I thought that chaat would be a perfect appetizer before our late dinner.". The chaat was absolutely to die for. Nidhi enjoyed every bit of it, she was afraid that she had made a glutton of herself, but she didn't care, and besides her husband didn't seem to have any problem with that, so why should she.
After the chaat, Ashu, once again pulled her close to him and put his arm around her waist and started walking towards the opposite side of the beach. There was no need for words, both of them were totally at peace just being near each other. After a while Nidhi, started to notice that the area seemed familiar to her, and when they had walked a bit further, she stopped abruptly, and looked around. She recognized this place, it was the place that Nidhi had asked Ashu for his promise to forget their love and never see each other again. She, turned around and threw her arms around her husband, and clung to him tightly. Ashu, was puzzled, and when he saw that she was crying, he got alarmed, "Nidhi, sweetheart, I am sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry. If I had known that you feel so sad I would never have brought you back here. I just wanted to help erase all the bad memories that you have of the place. Come on let's turn back, I can't see you cry like this". Nidhi, stopped him,"Ashutosh, aap galat samajh rahe ho. I am not sad at all, just overwhelmed that you would remember and take so much trouble to help me fulfill my desire, to make this a happy place for us. I love you so much, it hurts, but that doesn't mean that that makes me sad. You know that you and our love are the most important things in my life, you make me so happy, that sometimes I think I'll burst from sheer happiness. So, thank you for bringing me here". Ashutosh smiled And hugged her and led her over to the rock that he had sat on while waiting for her that day. He held her close to his heart while both of them watched the sun set on the most beautiful horizon that they had ever seen. Then Ashutosh, turned her to face him and kissed her with a passion and intensity that shook her to her soul. After it had gotten dark, they both started walking back towards their cottage.
On their way back, they ran into the doctors that they had lunch with. And they started up a conversation with Ashu and Nidhi. Ashu, noticed that Nidhi was having a rather intense conversation with doctor Alamas, somthing about pregnancies and deliveries and somewhere in the middle they even had a discussion about sarees and jewelry, it was so confusing, that Ashu had long since given up on trying to understand. Infact, he was glad of this opportunity to be able to go and make sure that his surprise was ready, so he excused himself from the group on the pretext of having to make a very important call, and hurried away. By the time Nidhi noticed his absence, Ashu was already on his way back. As soon as Ashu, got back they both said goodnight and went back to the cottage.
Nidhi, was so lost in her thoughts that she never even noticed that Ashu led her around to the back of the cottage. The scene that met her eyes, got her complete attention. The whole back had been decorated with flowers and there right in the middle stood a table with candles and had a cart near it which carried covered dishes of food, which smelled delicious, and there was beautiful music that was playing in the background somewhere, everything was picture perfect. It was then that she realized how hungry she was. Once again, her husband, had outdone himself in providing for her every need, and fulfilling her dreams of romance.
After dinner, which they fed reach other from the same plate, Ashu stood up and held out his hand, and said," Nidhi, will you dance with me"? As if in a dream she walked towards him and went into his waiting arms. They both danced together like that holding each other, then Ashu, drew back a little and kissed his wife tenderly but with increasing passion. Before it could get out of hand, Nidhi, withdrew from his embrace with the excuse that she needed to to use the ladies room. She knew that is was a stupid excuse and she had sounded really stupid, but she also had a surprise for ashutosh. When she came out again, ashu noticed that she was wearing the most incredibly sexy red night gown that he had ever seen her in. In the darkness he could not even see what was holding it up. All he knew was that the way it was designed, it made you want to just tear if off. But he stood there staring at her, for how long, even he had no idea. "Ashutosh" she said tremulously, and he saw that she was staring at him with a question in her eyes. "aren't you going to say something"? Ashu wasn't sure that he could say anything, even if his life depended on it. He smiled at her and trailed a finger down her cheek, Nidhi, caught his hand and brought it to her lips and kissed it. "Will you make Love with me," she said, and with her words, he felt an incredible tenderness and love washing over him, her simple words had moved him as nothing else could have. There was no way that he could have resisted her, and he drew her close to him. Ashu, buried his face in her throat, while his hands were busy getting rid of the night gown she wore. Nidhi whispered," Not here, out in the open like this, let's go inside". But he held her back," yes Nidhi, out here, exactly like this, in the open, underneath the skies, with nobody else but us, except the stars and the moon, and the heavens as a witness to our love for each other. I've waited a long time for this Nidhi, please, I want you so much, right here out in the open, please"? Nidhi-"you know very well that I can't refuse you anything, specially not when you ask me like this. As I told once, not so long ago husband mine, all you have to do is ask". Nidhi, drew him down to her, and Ashu couldn't speak, so overwhelmed was he by the strength of his feelings.
After wards, as she lay sleeping in his arms, he marveled at the fact that she was his, his wife, his woman, his partner in life, she belonged only to him .Ashu looked at her nestled against his shoulder, like that in the moonlight. Then his eyes came to rest on the small round bump, which had been previously her flat stomach, which was a clear evidence of the life that their of love had created, and in that instant he knew that his need for her, would always be like this, intense, basic, and as essential to his being, as his need for air.