Hey everyone. sorry sorry sorry sorry. I know that I have kept u guys waiting for a long time, but i just had so much to do. Its been pretty busy. i apologize one again. I have made this chap extra long, as promised, and i only hope that its meets your expectations. I have been so strapped ofr time, and wrote it in a hurry. didi not even get time to edit it. so here it is.
Nidhi looked at the mangalsutra, and then back at him, and smiled.
--I want you to hold me in your arms again!
--Par yeh kaam toh sirf Pati ka hi hota hai. Are you sure you want me to hold you in my arms, even though I am not your husband.
Nidhi looked up at him, with her heart in her eyes
--But aapne hi toh kaha that you are. So...
--Theek hai, par meri ek shart hai.
She looked at him puzzled,
--Shart! Kaunsi shart?
--Yahi ke tum mujhe Dr. Ashutosh nahin keh kar bulaogi. I feel like I am in the hospital talking to one of my interns.
--But, I don't know what else to call you.
--That is your headache. You can use any name you wish. Waise sirf Ashutosh bhi keh sakti ho.
--I don't think that I can do that.
Ashutosh put his hand under her chin and lifted her face
--Not even if I want you to?
Nidhi lowered her eyes shyly and in a soft voice said,
Ashutosh put his arms around her and pulled her close to him, and whispered in her ear,
--Kya kaha, zara phir se kehna. Mujhe sunai nahin diya.
Nidhi burrowed her face in his neck
He laughed and pulled her even closer. Her shyness delighted him. But there was no way he could keep holding her like this, and be able to hide his desire from her at the same time.
--Nidhi,... bahut der ho gayi hai. Ab tumhe sona chahiye. Kal subha baat karenge. Hmmm?
He drew back a little, and when he noticed the little pout on her face, he chuckled softly, and kissed her forehead,
--Nidhi, I would like nothing better than to hold you like this for the rest of the night, but if we don't get any sleep, we are going to be too tired to take advantage of your day off tomorrow.
--Hum kahin ja raein hai kya?
--Well, if I am going to do this whole 'getting to know each other' thing, I might as well do it right. Don't you think?
--You mean dating/courting?
--Yes Dr. Nidhi, if you want to get technical, I mean dating.
and he laughed softly.
--Well, jahan tak mujhe pata hai, dating involves asking someone out first. Aur I don't recall you having asked me yet.
This was another side of her that he had not seen. The light hearted side, which he found was equally adorable. He loved that she already felt comfortable enough with him, to be able to tease him like this.
--Ab, mujhe aapse poochna bhi padega?
--Well, you are the one who is insisting on this whole courtship business. So, dating ke norms bhi toh follow karne padenge na? Iss liye pehle ask me if I will go out with you first, then Maybe I might say yes.
Hearing her reply, Ashutosh pulled her dangerously close to him, and bent his head close to hers, looking into her eyes,
--Dr. Nidhi, kya aap mere saath kal bahar chalengi?
Nidhi could hardly breath, having him hold her so close to him. Never in her wildest dreams had she even imagined that it could feel so wonderful, and at the same time disturb her so much.
--Theek hai. Then we will go out tomorrow evening, just the both of us. Fine?
-- Ji, theek hai. Ab...well...ummm...Good night.
She started to walk away, she had barely gone a few steps, when
--Dr. Nidhi, apne pati ko iss tarha good night karte hain kya?
She turned around to find him smiling teasingly at her, and from some where inside her the devil in her arose in response.
--Pati, kaunsa pati, kiska pati. Mujhe toh aisa koi nazar nahin aa raha hai. All I see is my would be suitor.
And with that she turned and ran inside, and all the way up to her room. Nidhi closed the door softly and leaned back against the doors with her eyes closed, and a happy smile, as she waited for her breathing to return to normal. Then she slowly went to her bed and sat down, and picked up her Baba's photo.
--Baba, aapne jo mere liye sapne dekhe the, woh sach hone ko hain. Main bahut khush hoon Baba. Baba, jis cheez ka mujhe bachpan se intezar tha, aisa lagta hain ke woh jald hi mujhe mil jayegi. Baba, shayad Ashutosh mujhe pasand karne lage hain. Abhi pyar toh nahin karte, par mujhe poora poora bharosa hai ki woh bhi ho jayega. Aur aapne suna na Baba, unhone kya kaha, woh hamare rishte ko ek chance dena chahte hain. Mujhe waqt dena chahte hain, apna mind make up karne ke liye. Woh chahte hain that I am sure about us before we go any further. Isska matlab to yehi hua na Baba, ke unko meri parwah hai? Bas, Baba ek aapki kami reh gayi hai. I wish you were here with me to share this moment with me. Baba, mujhe aashirwad dijiye, ke ab hamare beech mein kuch bhi na aaye, aur jaldi hi woh din aaye, jab woh mujhe poori tarha se apna lein. Kaash Baba aap bhi yahan hote, I miss you so much. Par mujhe pataa hai ke aap jahan bhi honge iss samay apni beti ko khush dekh kar aap bhi khush ho rahe honge. Good Night Baba, I love You, I miss you!
Then she placed a kiss on her Baba's cheek, and hugged his photo to herself, before setting it next to the one of both her parents together, and the one of Ashutosh. After a slight hesitstion, she picked up his photo also, and stared down at it, then as if making up her mind, with a soft blush riding her cheeks, Nidhi,said
--I love you! Aur mujhe pataa hai ke apne pati ko kaise Good Night karte hain, Dr. Ashutosh.
and then she bent down and placed a soft kiss on his picture also. She could hardly wait for the day when she would have the right to do that to the real man, instead of just his image, but for now, she decided, his picture would do nicely also.
She was about to nod off when her phone signaled an incoming text. She picked it up to read, and smiled, and with the phone clutched close to her heart, fell asleep.
--Aaj toh jaane diya, but you won't always be able to get away that easily.
The next morning, as always, she woke up early. So she got up and got ready and came down. She saw that Dadi Bua had also already gotten up and was in the kitchen, busy preparing for breakfast. she looked up and smiled when she saw Nidhi,
--Beta, tu itni jaldi kyon uth gayi? Aaj toh teri chutti hai meri bacchi, thodi der aur so leti.
--Nahin Dadi Bua, aankh khulne ke baad neend hi nahin aayi. Aadat padi hui hain na jaldi uthne ki. Dadi Bua...aaj nashta mai banaoon.
Dadi Bua looked at her for a few seconds, then got a teasing glint in her eyes,
--Kya baat hai? Aaj meri bitiya badi khush nazar aa rahi hai.
Nidhi blushed--Dadi Bua! aisi koi baat nahin hai. Mera man kara bas, iss liye maine aapse pooch liya. Aap toh bas...
Dadi Bua chuckled--Par beta maine toh saari tayyari kar li hai. Aisa kar agar tera man kar raha hai, toh tu dopeher ka lunch bana dena. Main tujhe Ashutosh ki saari man pasand cheez bataa dungi.
Nidhi looked up at her startled. Was she that transparent? she thought, as she looked at the knowing expression in Dadi Bua smiling eyes.
--Par Dadi Bua, aapko kaise, ...mera matlab hai, aapko...
--Beta, teri Dadi Bua ko tere chehre se, aur teri aankhon mein jo khushi hai na, ussi se pataa chal gaya tha. Tere aur Ashutosh mein koi baat hui hai na?
--Woh Dadi Bua,...woh...
--Theek hai beta, mai samajh gayi. Ab ja aur apne Baba se bol de ke nashta tayyar hai, woh bahar lawn mein baithe akhbaar padh rahein hain.
--Theek hai Dadi Bua, mai abhi keh kar aati hoon. Phir main aapko help kar doongi table par saari cheezein rakkhne mein.
She was just coming out of the kitchen when she ran into something hard. She looked up to find that she had run into Ashutosh, who had been on his way into the kitchen, while she had been on her way out. So here she was standing out in the hall with his arms around her
--Well well well, look what I caught first thing in the morning. An early bird. So ma'am, what are you doing awake so early, aren't you supposed to sleep late on your day off?
--Acually, I am so in the habit of waking up early, that I couldn't sleep in even if I wanted too. Par aap itni jaldi kyon uth gaye? Aapka toh abi tak jetlag bhi nahin khatm hua hoga.
--I never suffer from jet lag. I don't know why, but it seems that my system adapts almost instantly to the time changes. And I can't just keep lying in bed,once I am up, any way, either. So where were you going in such a hurry?
That question brought her back down to earth, and made her realize that she was standing in the middle of the hall, where anyone could come in, with Ashutosh holding her so close.
She tried to struggle out of his hold, but Ashutosh only tightened his arms, and brought her closer,
A his glare, she cleared her throat softly, and blushed,
--Ashutosh, please mujhe chodiye. Baba, Dadi Bua, CS koi bhi aa sakta hai.
--Toh aane do. Kal tumhi ne toh poocha tha na, if we have to hide our relationship. Well, my answer goes for me too. Why should we hide anything. Besides, I want everyone together used to seeing us like this, 'cause its going to be happening a lot in the near future.
She blushed even more
--Par abhi to chodiye na please. I am feeling very odd. Mujhe sharm aati hai. Aur waise bhi Dadi Bua ne mujhe Baba ko bula ne ke liye bheja hai.
--she wanted me to,go tell him that breakfast is ready, and that he should come inside. Ab toh please chodiye na?
--Theek hai,par ek shart par.
--Yep. Phir se.
Ashutosh was about to speak up, when Dadi Bua called out
--Nidhi beta... Tune apne Babako abhi tak bulaya hai ke nahin.
Please tell him to come fast, nahin toh saara khana thanda ho jayega.
Nidhi yanked herself out of his arms, and ran outside. And Ashutosh looking at her retreating back, smiled. What a beautiful start to a beautiful day, and whistled as he went to join Baba outside.
Breakfast was a pleasant affair. Dadi Bua had made Nidhi's favorite Gobhi paranthe, since it was her day off. Ashutosh and baba were discussing Ashutosh's return to the hospital as chief of staff. That Baba was very proud of his son was plain for everyone to see, and Nidhi was also secretly very proud of his accomplishment. He was probably one of the youngest doctors to hold that position, and the fact that she was his wife, tickled her no end.
Breakfast was almost over, when she was brought out of her thoughts by Ashutosh's
--Baba it is alright if I take Nidhi out this evening?
Baba and Dadi Bua looked at each other in surprise and joy, pleased at the turn of events,
--Ashutosh beta hum se poochna ki kya zaroorat hai, teri biwi hai,
Jahan chahe le ja.
The fact that this was the first time that their relation had been acknowledged openly between the four of them, was not lost on Nidhi, and she blushed, as three pairs of eyes stared at her.
--Baba, biwi toh hai, but abhi sirf technically. Nidhi and I have decided to spend some time getting to know each other first. Besides meri patni hone se pehle toh yeh aapki beti hai,so I thought I should get your permission.
--Ashutosh beta, yeh aapas mein ek doosre ko janane ke baat kuch samajh mein nahin aayi mujhe. Tum dono ki shaadi ko ab 6 saal ho gaye hain, to yeh sab janne pehechanne ka kya matlab hota hai? Kyon Nidhi beta main sahi keh rahi hoon na?
Nidhi didn't know how to answer that. Trust Dadi Bua to put her on the spot.
--Dadi Bua mujhe kya pata. Main apne kamare mein jaati hoon, mujhe kuch kaam hain.
And with that she beat a strategic and hasty retreat to her room.
But once there she couldn't figure what to do. That is, she did have work, but that was mostly outside errands. And normally she spent her days off helping Dadi Bua around the house, or going over to Anji's house and spending the day with her. Well there was always lunch, and she wanted to prepare that herself for Ashutosh, but there was still plenty of time till then.
In the end she decided to get caught up on her emails, and after that maybe she could work on the paper she had been writing on the adverse affects of some childhood vaccines and their long term effects on children. Once she got started though, Nidhi totally lost track of time, and was so engrossed, that she did not hear the knock on her door, nor did she hear the door open, and was totally oblivious to the fact that Ashutosh had come into her room, and stood watching her.
So, she was really startled when she heard Ashutosh speak,
--So, you were not making excuses, you really did have work to do. And here I was, thinking that maybe you would be getting bored up here all by yourself, so I should come and give you some company.
She looked up at him startled,
--Aap Yahan kya kar rahein hain?
--Why, Am I not allowed to come into your room? You have some secrets you are hiding here?
Nidhi lowered her eyes, incase he read the guilt there. There were indeed several things in her room, that she was not ready to share with him just yet. But, then something perverse made her say,
--Yes, I do in fact. But, why should I tell you? After all we are only dating, and woh bhi abhi shyam ko pehli baar shuru hogi. Toh abi toh we are strangers na. Aur anjane logon se main apne secrets nahin share kar sakti.
She said teasingly. Nidhi also deliberately exited out of the page she had up on her Lap top and shut her computer down, as she also didn't want him to see what she had been working on. She got up and was about to turn away, when he caught her and pulled her into his arms.
--So now I am a Stranger, Dr. Nidhi?
--Yeh toh aap ne hi kaha tha na...
--I don't care what I said.. I want to hear it from you Nidhi. Am I a stranger?
Nidhi smiled and laid her head on his chest,
--Iss baat ka ka jawab toh aap ke paas already hai na.
--Nidhi tum mere sawal ko avoid kar rahi ho.
--Not really. And I know that you are teasing me.
Ashutosh drew back a little, and brought her face up , so that he could look int her eyes,
--No Nidhi, I am not. For some reason, I can't explain, I need reassurance from you. You know it's strange, but I have always prided myself on being very self sufficient, and independent. I have never needed anybody, until now. Now I find myself, looking for you all the time. I know that I am the one who insisted that we act like strangers and get to know one another, but I don't think I can act like a stranger with you for very long. I just can't explain it, Nidhi, I have barely been back for a little over 3 days now, but already I feel that I have known you for a long time. I am sorry, I guess that I am not making too much sense right now huh?
Nidhi slowly, wound her arms around his neck, and gave him a very tender smile
--I know exactly what you mean. Although I have a bit of an advantage in that department, since I have been here with Baba and Dadi Bua in your home for the last six years, so I know more about you, than you know about me. But, as far as I am concerned, I have never for a second thought that you were a stranger, and you know that. I was just teasing you, and you know that too. Aur aapko jitni reassurance chahiye mai doongi, and you know that also.
Ashutosh kissed her head and rested his chin on top of it
--Nidhi I hope you know what you are getting into with me, because lord knows that I can't seem to keep away from you. Also, one more thing. I shouldn't have to be telling you this, but, I didn't like that you said,'your house'. It's our house! And I don't ever want to hear anything otherwise.
--I am sorry, I don't know why I said that. I have certainly never thought that way, and I promise ke main phir kabhi aise nahin bolungi. Moreover, I have not asked you to keep away from me, woh toh aapka hi idea tha, mera nahin.
--What am I going to do with you, you little imp.
Nidhi pulled back and smiled cheekily,
--Take me out tonight, and start getting to know me!
And jerked out of his hold and ran, Ashutosh ran after her to try and catch her, but stopped near her bed when he saw the pictures near her bedside. And looked at her, as he picked up his photo, and raised his eyebrow in a teasing gesture.
--I am flattered,
and then he looked at the other two pictures,
--and honored. I didn't know that I would mean that much to you.
--That much, and much much more. I don't think that you will ever have an idea of how much.
--I am beginning to Little one, I am beginning too.
They could not continue their conversation, however, because at that second, they heard Baba calling him downstairs, saying that he had an important phone call.
Ashutosh looked at her regretfully,
--I am sorry...
--Don't be. We have all the time we need. and I am certainly not going anywhere now, am I? Aap jayiye. Waise bhi hum shyam ko toh bahar Jaa hi rahein hain na.
Ashutosh walked closer and caressed her cheek with one hand, and reluctantly turned and left.
Nidhi came down about 15 minutes later, and was told by Baba, that Ashutosh Had been called to the hospital, for an emergency.
Apparently they had a head injury case come in, and since Ashutosh was the best in his field, the family requested the hospital to ask him if he could preform the surgery. And even though she was disappointed that he had to leave, she was also very proud that he was so well known in his field. The rest of the day passed very slowly. Ashutosh sent a text around mid afternoon, informing her that he would not be able to keep their date, and apologized for disappointing her. Nidhi replied and told him not to worry, and that she understood, that it was an emergency, and that the patient and his family needed him right now more than she did. He replied saying that he appreciated her understanding, and that he would see her later, but also asked her not to wait up for him, as it was going to be a complicated surgery, and he might be very late coming home.
Nidhi spent the rest of the day working on her paper, and talking to Anji about the wedding plans. Anji asked her if she would go shopping with her the next day, as it was also her day off. Nidhi agreed. She did not know what if any, plans Ashutosh had for tomorrow. Plus, he would be very tired after he came home, and God only knew when that would be.
That evening during dinner, she told Baba and Dadi Bua of her plans, and asked if it was alright with them. She told them that she would be back towards evening. And since, the both of them had no objections, she confirmed with Anji that she would be there shortly after breakfast. After dinner, Nidhi tried reading for a while, but gave up as she had trouble concentrating on the book and its plot. She was missing Ashutosh too much. It had only been four nights since his return, and already she had gotten used to him that not seeing him for so long bothered her.
Nidhi knew that, with every second that she spent in his company, she was falling deeper, and deeper in love. Ashutosh had surpassed all of her fantasies. He was everything that a girl dreamed of when she was growing up, and more. He was handsome beyond belief, but more than looks, Nidhi was falling in love with his compassionate, and loving nature. She just hoped that she would manage to live up to his expectations as well.
Nidhi had been looking forward to their date, and she knew that Ashutosh would have been disappointed as well. But well, she thought, the life of a doctor was never easy, and emergencies were a part of their lives.
SHe could not believe how much life had changed in the time since her husband had arrived back home. At that point of time she had not even known what the future held for her, as far as her marriage to Ashutosh was concerned. And now here she was waiting eagerly for the day that she would become his in the truest sense of the word. And she was equally certain that Ashutosh was also on his way to falling in love with her, SHE HOPED. This and many other thoughts, and also dreams for her future with Ashutosh filled her mind as she fell asleep.
It was very late, or very early, depended on how one chose to look at things, when Ashutosh finally arrived home. He was so tired that he could barely see straight. He was glad that the patient whom he had just preformed the surgery on had survived. He was also glad that the family had insisted that their driver drop him home, otherwise he did not think that he could have made it back. He probably would have had to get a few hours of rest back at the hospital, before even attempting to drive. Any way here he was now, back home, and looking forward to a few hours of sleep.
Yesterday, had certainly not ended that way he had planned it. He had been really looking forward to his date with his wife...If anyone heard him saying that they would surely think that he had gone mad. Dating his wife, well it certainly was a novel concept, he thought with a smile. But whatever, he had certainly been looking forward to it. He new that Nidhi must also have been very disappointed. Ashutosh, was willing to admit that he was falling more and more in love with her with each minute he spent in her company. If he had known what awaited him back home, while he had been away all those years, he probably would have tried to come back sooner. He was happier than he had ever been in his life. Even happier than when he had been...Well that story was for another day. Although, he knew that he had to tell Nidhi. But the time had to be right for him to do that. He knew that what he had to say would probably hurt her, but that could not be helped. If they were to have any sort of life together, then she had have to know and accept the truth, and his past. Because lord knew that his past sins were bound to catch up with him at one point or the other, he was a firm believer in karma. And as long she knew, and understood that whatever had happened, happened very long ago, and had nothing to do with their present or their future, than everything would be alright. At least he hoped that she would understand. He would have to tell her soon, he decided. This could not be put off for very long. Maybe tomorrow...
On his way to his room, he made a detour and went up to hers. He had to see her. He had been missing her so much, that there was no way he could go to sleep until he saw her beautiful face, he had to reassure himself that she was real, and not some dream that his tired brain had conjured up. Ashutosh knew that she would be sleeping, so he opened her door as quietly as he could, and walked softly over to her bed and knelt down beside her. She was beautiful even in her sleep, and so very innocent. And, as he was staring at her, a wave of desire so intense over came him him, that he had to literally close his eyes to try and fight it off. The fact that she was his wife was a factor that he had to fight every minute. He realized that he had to give her time, to get used to idea of being married. He did not want to cloud their relationship with the physical aspect of marriage. Although, the physical part was a very important part, it was not the only thing. They had to also respect each other as individuals, and accept each others faults along with the positive factors. That was the only way that their marriage was going to have any chance at succeeding. He would not let his desire for her over rule his good sense, he vowed to himself. So, with one last rueful look, and also because there was no way he could have resisted that sweet innocent smile that she had on her face, he placed a soft gentle kiss on her lips. Then he got up and left as quietly as he had come. Well he decided as he closed his eyes, before falling asleep, today was another day. And today he would make it up to her for disappointing her yesterday. Yes, Sir! He was going to take her out for their first date today!
The next morning when Nidhi got up, she was told by Dadi Bua that apparently Ashutosh had not come in till the very early morning, and hence was still asleep. So, she finished her breakfast and called Anji to tell her that she was on her way. But right before she left, she went out into the back lawn and cut a beautiful red rose from one of the bushes and borrowed a small vase from the kitchen, to put it in, and along with a note telling him where she had gone, and to call her when he was free. She then carried them to Ashutosh's room. She was hoping that the door would not be locked, and she was in luck, it wasn't. She entered the room quietly and placed the rose and the note, where she knew that he would not miss it. Near his phone on the bedside table. Then she looked down at him. He was incredible even when he was sleeping, was all she could think of. And then bent down to place a soft kiss on his forehead, before quietly walking out of his room, and heading out to Anji's house.
She and Anji had a wonderfully fun day. They went from one shop to the other, buying things for her wedding. Anji seemed tireless, and her enthusiasm was so infectious that by the time they were done, Nidhi's head was spinning just thinking about the number of shops they had been too. Nidhi had no idea what Anji would do with everything she had bought. But, boy could she shop. Nidhi had not known that there were this many shops in Lucknow. Anyway, the purpose of today had been to get some work done, and at the same time enjoy themselves. So in between at lunch time, they had gone to their favorite South Indian place, and had South Indian food, before they resumed shopping.
By the time Anji was ready to call it a day, Nidhi noticed that it was getting dark. She had not realized that they had literally shopped the day away, and she had not once heard from Ashutosh. She was very disappointed, but she understood that he was probably at the hospital once again, maybe to follow up on his patient's post operative progress. So, when Anji wanted her to go with her to eat Gol Gappe and chat, Nidhi agreed.
By the time she got home it was almost 9 pm, and she was exhausted, all she wanted to do was take a nice bath, and go to sleep, after spending a little time with Ashutosh, of course. Surely he must have come back home by now, she thought.
When she got home, she saw that Baba, Dadi Bua, and Ashutosh, all three of them were sitting in the living room talking. Baba and Dadi Bua smiled as she entered the room and sat down.
Ashutosh, though, as yet had not even glanced in her direction. He was busy doing something on his laptop. He didn't look too happy, she noticed, and then hoped that everything was alright.
Before she could ask him how his day was, Dadi Bua spoke up
--Aur beta, lagta hai ke tune aur Anji ne khoob masti kari aaj.
--Haan Dadi Bua, aaj toh Anji ne mujhe saare din baithne bhi nahin diya. Bas ek shop se doosre shop par lejaati rahi. Dadi Bua uss ne itne saare kapde aur pata nahin kya kya kharida hai, pata nahin kab pehnegi, sab kuch. Agar uss ka bas chalta, toh woh abhi aur shopping kar rahi hoti, par kya karein, shops bund ho gaye the isliye ghar jaana pada.
Dadi Bua laughed, she was also delighted that Nidhi had had fun.
The girl was too serious, and hardly did these types of crazy things, like other girls her age. So, she was glad that, even if it was in the name of preparing for Anji's wedding, she had fun.
--Beta, tune kuch khaya ya nahin. Kahe to main khana garam karva doon chote sarkar se?
--Nahin Dadi Bua, Anji aur maine gol gappe aur chat khaali thi. Issliye mera pet bhara hua hai. Bahut thak gayi hoon, bas.
--Nidhi beta, saare din Anji ke saath sirf ghoomi, aur usski shopping hi karvai, ya apne liye bhi kuch kharida.
--Dadi Bua, mujhe abhi kuch nahin chahiye tha.
--Lo! Iska matlab yeh hai, ke tune kuch nahin liya apne liye. Dekha Bhaisahab aapne, main na kehti thi, ke khaali haath wapas aajayegi. Kabhi apne liye kuch nahin leti. Mujhe hi zabadasti kheenchke le jaana padta hai, tab hi yeh baaz aati hai.
Nidhi could see that Dadi Bua was about to go off on one of her tirades, and also, she was bothered by Ashutosh's silence. He had not spoken one word to her, not had he so much as spared her a look. So she, hastily collected her bag, and said,
--Dadi Bua, main sone jaoon plz. Main bahut thak gayi hoon, need bhi aa rahi hai, aur kal kaam par bhi jaana hai.
After she had changed and gotten ready for bed, Nidhi wondered what was the matter with Ashutosh. What had happened that was spoiling his mood enough for him not to be talking to her. Nidhi did not want to go to his room as it was too late, so she texted him, and waited for his reply. When she didn't get one, she was even more worried, so she texted him again,
--aap so gaye hain kya?
this time she got one, but not the one she was hoping for
--Yes. almost asleep, really tired. See you in the am.
Nidhi was really disappointed, she had been hoping to get some time with him before bed. He was probably very tired, she consoled herself, and lay down after she said good night to her father.
In his room, Ashutosh stared at his phone. He was waiting for Nidhi to say something. When several minutes went by and she hadn't responded to his last text, he knew that she had taken his words at face value, and assumed that he had really gone to sleep. Well, he sighed in anger, if that was the way she wanted it. then it was fine with him.
Ashutosh woke up around mid morning and the first thing he did was look for her, but he had been told by Dadi Bua that she had gone out shopping with her friend. He was surprised that she would just go like that, without saying anything to him. He had waited all day for her to call him or even message him.
And he had been surprised, and disappointed, and even a bit hurt that she had not tried to contact him in any way. Apparently her friend was more important to her then he was, Ashutosh decided. He had been very disappointed, but he had still waited all day for her. At the very least, he thought, she would come in time for them to go out. And when she had not, he had gotten really angry. Ashutosh had known that she was waiting for him to talk to her when she had finally come home, but he was so furious by that time that he simply had not been in any mood too. And, when she had texted him, he had calmed down a bit, but still had been waiting for her to at least ask him why he was not talking to her, and why he was angry. And, all she had done was ask him if was asleep, and apparently had gone to sleep herself. So, basically the fact that he was angry, and not talking, did not seem to matter to her too much, was his conclusion. He did not know how to react, this was a first for him, where he was so bothered by some one's actions , that he couldn't just shrug it off like he always had in the past.
Ashutosh spent a very restless night, and woke up even more cranky then he had been yesterday. Today was also his first official day of work, at the hospital, and also his first as the Chief of staff. When he got ready and came out to the dining room, he saw that Nidhi was not there yet. Just as well, he thought, he was not in any mood to deal with her just yet. He had finished his breakfast, and was about to leave when Dadi Bhua asked him to wait and take Nidhi with him. She said that it would be easier if they just went to work together. But, he made an excuse that he had some early morning meetings, and hurried off.
Nidhi was really disappointed to learn that she had missed him again. She really needed to talk to someone about this, so she called Anji, and asked her to pick her up on the way. In the car, she told her about his strange behavior, and the fact that he had not spoken to her at all since last night.
--Anji, tere ko kya lagta hai, woh mere se naraz hain kya.
Kal se baat tak nahin kari hai, aur raat ko bhi jaake so gaye. Aur phir aaj subha, itni jaldi chale gaye, mere liye wait bhi nahin kiya. I was really hoping that we could go to the hospital together.
--Nidhi, teri aadat ho gayi hai pareshan hone ki. Yaar tu soch, ke woh kitne bade surgeon hain. And he was called in to preform and emergency surgery the day before, aur phir kal bhi saare din hospital mein hi rahein honge. Toh tired hona hi tha. And then today It is his first official day at the hospital. I am sure that he had stuff lined up that he needed to get done. Tu sochti bahut hai. Don't worry, dekhna shyam tak sab theek ho jayega.
--Tumhe sach mein aisa hi lagta hai?
--Aur nahin toh kya. Now don't worry, and cheer up. Tere chote chote patients tujhe aise mood mein dekhenge to kya sochenge?
Nidhi felt much better after talking to Anji, and was in a cheerful mood by the time that got to work.
It was a fairly busy morning, so she did not have much time to think about any thing else. Around lunch time, she wondered if Ashutosh was free, and if she should ask him to have lunch with her. But then had second thoughts. She did not want to disturb him, in case he was busy, being his first day in his new position. So, when Rohan asked her for lunch, she agreed.
She and Rohan had barely started eating, when Rohan said,
--Nidhi, don't look back, but your husband just came in with the head of neurology.
--Ashutosh yahan aaye hain?
--Now that is a really stupid question. When I just finished telling you that a second ago. And ...UH OH!
--Uh Oh! Kya? What happened?
--Uh,... Um...Guess who doesn't look to happy seeing the two of us here.
--Rohan, you are being silly. Why would he be jealous? He knows I love him.
--Nidhi, its different. Aur phir tum dono ki relationship toh abhi nayi hai. Thodi bahut insecurities toh hoti hai?
--Rohan, you are just imagining things. Don't worry. Trust me! Besides, he is busy, nahin toh woh khud yahan aate, to see me.
Rohan did not look too convinced, but he decided to take her word for it, to forget about it. And after a while, both of them were engrossed in a conversation, where Rohan was telling Nidhi about an elderly patient of his. By the time Rohan had finished his story, Nidhi was in stitches.
At the other end of the cafeteria, Ashutosh could barely concentrate on what the HOD of neurology, Dr. Bhatnagar was saying. All he could see was Nidhi, and she was again having lunch with the muscle bound wrestler, that he had seen her with last week. And to all intents and purposes, she was having a ball, while he was sitting here fuming. He knew that she knew, he was here. But she had not acknowledged his presence even with a nod.
He had been missing her all morning, and had regretted his hasty departure from home. He knew that she did not have her car with her, cause Dadi Bua had called him and told him that, and had asked him to bring him with her when he came home in the evening. He had been looking forward to their ride home together, he had hoped that they would get a chance to talk, and maybe he could sort out exactly what had gone wrong yesterday. He wanted to ask her why she had not called him all day, and even gone to bed without even asking him if anything was wrong. He had also been hoping that she had and was missing him as much as he had been missing her. But here she was, and it looked like she did not have a care in the world. Well, he would see... Ashutosh excused himself, telling Dr. Bhatnagar that he remembered that he needed to talk to one of the residents about a disciplinary issue, and started walking to where she sat
Meanwhile, at their table, Rohan suddenly looked up and saw Dr. Ashutosh approaching their table with angry strides. Well he had warned her, but she had not listened.
--Nidhi, tumhare pati aa rahein hain. And he looks kinda mad. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Before Nidhi could respond, she heard Ashutosh's voice from behind her, and he did sound sort of furious.
--Dr. Nidhi, I'd like to have a word with you in my cabin. If you could come with me please.
And when she turned to look at him, he kind of looked furious also, she acknowledged.
After a few attempts to ask what the matter was, Nidhi kept quiet.
As soon as she had stepped into his office, Ashutosh closed the door and locked it. Nidhi looked at him puzzled.
--Yeh app kya...
--What do you think you were doing down there?
--Downstairs, in the cafeteria?
--Dr. Ashutosh, I have no idea what you are talking about? And why did you ask me to come up here with you, if all you were going to do was shout at me?
--You are my wife, I don't need a reason to talk to you.
--Problem is that you are not talking, you are shouting at me.
Aap ko kal se koi problem ho rahi hai. agar maine kuch kara hai toh I wish you would tell me.
--Agar? Nidhi are you dense or what? Why do you think that I have not been talking to you?
--I don't know...I thought that you were too tired to talk...
--Too tired...what exactly do you think I was doing all day yesterday? Other than waiting for you that is.
--Ap kal saare din mere liye wait kar rahe the?
--Nidhi why are you repeating everything I say? Of course I was waiting for you. Kal saare din tumhare liye wait kar raha tha. Lekin iss baat se tumhe kya farak padta hai? You were having a good ole time shopping with your friend. You did not think to call me even once. Then last night, you went to sleep!
--Par mai toh aapke liye note chod kar ke gayi thi, aap ne padha nahin. I left it underneath the rose I left on you bedside before I left yesterday.
--Nidhi I did not see any rose, or any note. What are you talking about?
--Ashutosh, yesterday morning I came to see you before leaving, I thought I would say bye to you. But you were sleeping so peacefully, and looking so cute, that I didn't have the heart to wake you up. So, I left a rose and a note where you wouldn't miss it. But I guess I was wrong, cause apparently you did. If you had read the note you would have known that wrote, I would be waiting for your call. And that if you free to let me know. I was waiting all day with my phone in my hand. I automatically assumed that you were probably busy. If you had called even once, I would have come home immediately. I had already told Anji, that the only way I would go out with her would be if you were busy, and she was OK with it.
Ashutosh seemed to calm down a bit,
--Nidhi I didn't get any note and there was no rose in my room.
--But yeh kaise ho sakta hai, i left it there my self? Anyway, main saare din wait karti rahi. But I assumed that you might have gone to the hospital again to check up on your patient, and probably got caught up in something or the other. I am sorry, I guess I should have tried, at least.
Ashutosh looked at her bent head, and heard the tremble in her voice, and felt really ashamed. He should have known that she had to have had a reason for not calling him. Apparently he had let his past influence his thinking. He should have known that Nidhi was not like that. He went to her and tried to take her into his arms, but she would not let him, and backed away.
--OK, I guess I deserve that. I am sorry sweetheart. Its just that I missed you so much the other night. I had been really looking forward to our date. Then when I woke up the next morning and found out that you had left to go shopping with a friend, I was really hurt. and then as the day went by and you didn't call, I just got angrier and angrier. Phir raat ko bhi you never came to me. You just sent a text asking if I was asleep? Well I guess that I just sopped thinking. I am really really sorry, Nidhi. Please forgive me.
--But Ashutosh, how could you think that I would do that. I was missing you too. Don't you think that I wanted to spend the evening with you? I had been looking forward to it also. And last night, I really thought that you were tired, I had no reason to assume otherwise.
--I know that now. But Nidhi, I swear I never got your flower or your note. I am going to go home and see what happened. But, first tell me, do you forgive me?
--Pehle aap yeh bataiye, ke what happened downstairs that got you so angry with me. I have not been able to understand.
Ashutosh was really embarrassed to admit it, but..
--I was Jealous.
--Excuse me! Yo were what?
--I was jealous, dammit!
--Because this was the second time I have seen you having lunch with that young hulk, and both the times it looked as if you were totally immune to me. You were laughing and talking to him and enjoying yourself, while I was sitting across the room, and you were not even caring to acknowledge my presence, almost as if I did not matter to you. Nidhi, I could not stand the fact that I was being ignored, while you were responding to someone else's flirting. The guy is young and handsome, and looks like he could wrestle a gorilla and come out the winner, and then he is closer in age to you than I am. And apparently you have a nice time together. So, I was jealous.
--Ashutosh, I need to tell you two things. First I was not responding to any flirting, I was merely enjoying lunch with a good friend of mine. Rohan, and I have been FRIENDS for the last two years, and he and I have a good time together. We are only friends, nothing more. And He and I frequently have lunch together, along with Anji. Its just that today she was busy and could not join us. Same thing last week. You just happened to be there both times, is a really big coincidence. You have nothing to be jealous about.
--And the second...
She took a deep breath---The second thing is, that whether you are there or not, I do not see anything or anyone else other than you. You should know by now that as far as I am concerned, you are everything. Don't you think that if I had wanted somebody else, I would have really waited for you for six years.
Ashutosh hated to hear the hurt in her voice, and know that he was the one who had put it there.
--I am sorry Nidhi. I don't know what I can say, except that I promise that I will not let anything like this happen again. Please. I cant bear it that you are hurting, and I am the one who hurt you. Won't you forgive me.
--You promise that you won't get angry like that again, and also promise that you will not be jealous?
--Nidhi, i promise I wont come to any conclusions without talking things over with you. But as to feeling jealous, that I cannot guarantee. You see, I find, and it surprises me to no end, I am very possessive as far as you are concerned. I cannot stand to even think of you with anyone else, let alone see you with anyone. Also I don't like the idea that someone besides me can put a smile that in your eyes, and on your face.
--Ashutosh No one put that smile in my eyes. That smile was there because of you. And Rohan is my friend. He is my best friend. You have nothing to be jealous of as far as he is concerned. He knows about you, and my relationship to you. But I will not give up my friendship with him, not even for you. Its not fair. And I hope that you are not going to ask me too. When you were not here, my friends Anji and Rohan were the ones who helped me. They kept me smiling and also gave me hope. So please...
--Nidhi, I was not going to ask you to give up your friends. I know that true friends are hard to find. On the other hand I am going to ask you to introduce me them, maybe they will be willing to take me on also. And I promise that I will not get jealous of Rohan again, although I would request you to please make sure that Anji accompanies you to lunch, one in a while. Hmmm? And once again I am sorry.
Nidhi looked at him, he really did seem like he was sorry. But he had hurt her a lot today, so she hesitated...
Ashutosh could see her indecision and hurt. Some how he had to find a way to make it all right. So he smiled and held out his arms to her, and said
--Dr. Nidhi, will you give me the honoring of going out on a date with me tonight?
That made her laugh just like he had meant it too. And she went into his arms at last, and sighed with pleasure and contentment, as his ams closed tightly around her.
--So, Doc, you haven't answered my question.
--There is only one. The other you answered, the minute you came to me.
--In that case Yes I would love to go out with you, Dr. Ashutosh.
--You Call me Dr. Ashutosh again, and I will tan your hide.
--Yes Dr...i mean Ashutosh.
Ashutosh laughed--Cheeky little madam aren't you? So, I will come and get you After I finish and we will go out. I'll let Baba and Dadi Bua know that we wont be home for dinner?
--Is that all you have to say.
--OK you imp I get the message. Theek hai phir. I will see you later.
And with that they reluctantly drew apart, and went about their respective jobs.
As Luck would have it, Ashutosh ran late, again. Nidhi had sent him a text long ago letting him know that she was off duty. He had apologized and told her that he was running late, and that If she wanted to she could go home, and he would catch up with her later. But she had replied that she would wait, and catch up with some paper work that she had pending, and to let her know when he was free. When he came out, he saw that she was waiting for him near his car, he hurried over, and kissed her cheek,
--I am so sorry sweetheart. Its just that...
--Ashutosh, you don't have to apologize to me. You forget, I am a doctor too, and I know that things come up when you least expect them too.
She said as she slid into her seat, and put her seatbelt on.
--Thank you sweetheart. I really appreciate that. And now bolo kya karna hai tumhe. Its really very late, so I will not be able to take you out on the kind of date that I have been wanting too. But, jo bhi tum kahogi, waise hi hoga.
--Are you sure/
--What kind of a question is that nidhi? Of course I am sure!
--Theek hai. Toh phir Ghar chaliye. I will cook something for the both of us, and we can have dinner outside in the back yard, and spend some time together.
--Wow! A girl after my own heart. Thats a brilliant idea, and sounds absolutely perfect, except for one thing. I will cook for the both of us.
--Aap cook karenge?
--Nidhi, I would thank you not to doubt my abilities. I assure you that not only can I cook, I can cook very well.
--Theek hai doctor sahab. Its a deal.
Ashutosh, laughed and reached out to take a hold of her hand, and held it all the way home, and once or twice, even brought it up to his lips to place a soft kiss on her knuckles.
Once they got home Ashutosh told her to go freshen up while he got everything ready and told her to meet him in the back yard.
Nidhi hurried upstairs to her room, and rushed to take a bath and get ready. But before she went downstairs, she sat on her bed and looked at her father,
--Baba, I am so happy. Baba, mujhe aashirwad dijiye ke meri khushiyon ko kisiki bhi nazar na lage. Baba, abhi main neeche jaati hoon. Woh mera wait kar rahein honge. Wapas aake aapko sab kuch bataungi. I love you Baba.
And after placing the photo back in its place she hurried out to meet her date.
As she stepped out, the sight that met her eyes, stopped her in her tracks. Ashutosh had put a couple of candles, in the center of the table along with flowers. And had also set the table for two. It looked beautiful. She could not believe that he had gone to all this trouble for her. She was still admiring everything when she felt a pair of arms sliding around her waist from the back, and Ashutosh rested his chin on her shoulders, after placing a soft kiss on her neck.
--Hmmm, you smell so good.
--I can't believe you did all this.
--Tumhe accha laga?
--Its beautiful. Just perfect. I could not have asked for anything more perfect. Mujhe yeh hamari, first date hamesha yaad rahegi.
--Nidhi this is not our first date. This is just a stop gap, a trial run, basically. Our first date is going to be a lot better.
--No. No.. This is perfect. And for me this is our first date. Isske baad jo bhi hoga that will be the second date.
He Turned her around, and looked into her eyes. He could not believe that he had found someone so perfect. Dadi Bua had been right, the simplest of things brought her pleasure.
--Theek hai sweetheart, whatever makes you happy. If this is going to be our first date, then we should have music also, right? --But dinner ka kya hoga? Aap ko bhook nahin lag rahi hai kya? --Nidhi bhook se bhi important kuch cheezein hoti hain. Besides Noodles hi toh hain, they can wait.
--Noodles? she laughed
--Aur nahin toh kya? I told you na I can cook. I never told you what, though.
--This really is the perfect date. I don't think that you will ever be able to top this.
--Never say never sweetheart. I am full of surprises. So you never know!
He whipped out his cell phone, and selected a song from his play list. It was a beautiful piano rendition of "SomeWhere My Love" from Dr. Zhivago. This happened to be one of her favorite songs, she thought with a smile. How appropriate! Ashutosh looked at her and held out his hand in a silent gesture. Nidhi placed her hand in his, and was drawn into his arms, and held close, as he stared down into her eyes. Nidhi lifted one of her hands and cupped his cheek, and smiled at him with her heart in her eyes. That was the signal he had waiting for, and he knew that he could not wait another second. He slowly lowered his face towards hers, looking into her eyes, and giving her plenty of time to stop him, if she wanted. But Nidhi too, had been waiting for this, and had no intention of stopping him. In fact, she closed her eyes and tilted her face up to his, showing him that this what she wanted also.
Ashutosh closed his eyes as their lips touched for the first time(of course this was really the second time, but he wasn't about to tell her that. At least not yet), and her arms went around his neck, and she stood on tip toes to bring herself even closer. His wife had been right. This was indeed PERFECT!