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"Drugged??" Rathore shouted, as Shree rolled down her eyelids gently with his fingers, and confirmed "yes, sir." He was very quiet, Arjun could see, n from the front, Chottu called out in a small voice," Riya". He saw how these two were affected by the state of their best friend. He could see the fear in their eyes, of losing her.
Nonsense!!, he thought, she was going to be fine! He looked up at Rathore, whose face manifested a rage, the likes of which he had never seen before. "We need to take her to a hospital, now!!"
Rathore thought for a fraction of a second : The nearest hospital is 8 kms away from here. It would be easier and better to take her to Dr. Gupta's house.
He had already started the car as he said this, and they glided down the roadz swiftly. Everyone was quiet. Shree was holding on to Riya and wiping her damp face with his hanky, all the while muttering, "tumhe kuch nahi hogi.."
Arjun only then realized, that she was not in his grasp anymore. He looked at her pale face, n then looked down at his hands, covered in red. Her blood.. So much of it..He was transported back to the night when..when Roshni...there was so much blood then..as Roshni's face came into his mind, Rathore braked to avoid a hump. Riya fell sideways in the movement and Arjun quickly caught hold of her head, looked at her hard for a second n gently placed her head on his shoulder.
Shree: Sir, I am sorry...I will
Arjun: At least she won't fall this way.
Chottu n Shree were shocked n looked at each other.But they remained quiet, n just then, Rathore's fone rang. He pulled it out impatiently, n for the second time, braked hard.
Arjun held onto Riya to prevent her from rolling down and yelled at Rathore " Do u need driving lessons, Rathore??"
Rathore held up his phone n said, " Riya is calling."
Arjun stared at him, then the phone. Shree immediately said, "Shall I start a trace, sir?"
Rathore handed the phone to Chottu, shifted gears n went back to speeding along the road.
Rathore: No time Shree. Chottu, speaker mein dalo.
Chottu put the phone on speaker n held it close to Rathore " Sameer Rathore"
A terrified n flustered voice spoke from the other end " Rathore sir??..This is..Raihan"
Everyone was surprised. Rathore quickly asked, " Dr. Akhtar's son? How did u get this phone Raihan?"
Raihan: Riya di gave...gave it to me...is she..IS SHE ALRIGHT????
Rathore: She is hurt, we are taking her to get treated. Where r u?
Raihan: Oh my God!!!!! It's my fault, all my fault!!! She was trying to help me...and and..
Rathore: Raihan. Listen to me. Riya will be fine. But I need u to tell me where u are.
Raihan: At Aarti auntyz...Dr. Aarti...she...Riya Didi asked me to come here...
Rathore n everyone else heaved a sigh of relief: Give the phone to her, quick
There was a tiny second of silence as the phone was transferred to Dr. Gupta
Rathore: Dr. Gupta, Riya has been drugged. We don't know how bad it is, but we are bringing her to u. Will u be able to take care of her?
Aarti: I will do my best Rathore sir, but please hurry. The more time, the more it will mix into her bloodstreams..the more in danger..please hurry!!
Rathore didn't waste time saying goodbyez, n instead shifted to a higher gear.
Chottu carefully carried Riya into Dr. Gupta's house. When he had opened the door and lifted her out, Arjun didn't protest. The hanky he had tied around her hand to stop the bleeding was completely soaked through now. As Aarti indicated the bedroom n Chottu took her inside, she left drops of blood in her trail, which Arjun saw.
As Dr. Aarti attended to Riya, Raihan told them all that had happened, right from the time he went to the factory. He was sobbing and gazing at the closed bedroom door, while Shivam was trying to console him. The team listened to everything Raihan had to say, speechless. Then, when he had thrust the mobile with the video playing into Rathore's hands, he ran to a corner, knelt down for namaz. He was praying for Riya, they knew, n were touched, but when they saw Shivam hold his hands reverently n bow his heads in front of the Krishna idol, Chottu couldn't bear it anymore. Tears ran down his face. Rathore went up to him, put a hand on his shoulder n said, " Do not shed a single tear for her Chottu, she is a brave officer of this team. She deserves honour, not tears. She will come back n help us fight. She will be fine."
Chottu looked at him n nodded, while Shree too took of his specs n dabbed at his eyes.
Rathore: Letz c this video n understand what happened exactly.
And as they saw it, each member of that team saw what a remarkable woman Riya Mukherjee was. They saw the grit, determination, intelligence n the passion that made her the responsible officer she was.How she singlehandedly saved Raihan, n got this message across to them. They felt proud, proud to have a someone like her alongside them, as a comrade, as a friend. But each time Arjun saw the terrorists hurt her, he felt something more.
He gazed hard at the floor, how many drops of blood were there, 10,20, 30??? He gazed so hard, that he started seeing spots in front of eyes, bright crimson spots. He closed his eyes and tried to shut out the images, only to be replaced by images of her...lying in his arms...hurt...bleeding...
WHY!!!! WHY HADN"T HE BEEN THERE FOR HER??? His pride, his ego...what was responsible?? Or his mere over confidence of being good at his job??? Why had she been the one to suffer for that?? He had sworn to do his duty, he was supposed to work as a team, but he let his anger n hatred of something else let get in the way. N she had suffered. She had suffered because of him. She was in so much pain, because of him. She had been hurt, simply because he neglected to do his duty, simply because, he had decided, she was not good enough at her job. Simply because, he had judged her on his own terms. Simply because he was enraged at somebody who had wiped out the light n love from his life, he had punished everyone around him, his family, his friends, his team, but most of all...he had punished her...
He remembered the way she would smile, the way she would laugh, the way she would clean the rim of a cup extensively, the way she would look at him, half curious, half amused, he remembered the tears in her eyes when he had shouted at her, he remembered the way she had consoled Ruhi, he remembered the way she had apologized, the way she had stood upto him, the way she had stuck out her tongue at him, when she thought he hadn't seen, the way she had snubbed him, he remembered how he had left her there, using his superiority as a weapon..the way she had stood in that doorframe, the way she had crumpled into his hands, the way she closed her eyes...Arjun suddenly remembered each n every tiny thing about Riya Mukherjee but most of all, he remembered how she was alone there, when they had hurt her...
He remembered, and Arjun Suryakant Rawte...cursed himself.
Aarti came out of the bedroom, Rathore, Chottu, Shree, all looked at her apprehensively. Raihan n Chottu also stared at her, anxiously. Only Arjun didn't look at her. He was turned the other way, his fists clenched. He heard Aarti say something softly, then footsteps, rushing into the bedroom n finally Rathore's shocked voice " Riya!!!!"
Arjun could feel his heart beating rapidly in his chest. His breathing rose and he turned n ran into room, colliding into Chottu. He stared at the sight ahead of him for a full 30 seconds, n cursed himself again...
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