Joined: 13 March 2011
Joined: 11 July 2012
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Joined: 12 April 2012
Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 18 April 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
Joined: 26 September 2011
Aman was preparing to leave for Bhopal that evening when Sneha came into his room. Handing him a box, she said "Give this to Arti after she gains consciousness."
"What is it?" asked Aman, curious.
"She will know – and understand", replied Sneha.
As he put the box into his bag, Aman noticed the sheaf of papers Sneha was carrying. "What's that?" he asked.
Sneha hesitated. "Aman….do you trust this man Arti has married, Yash Scindia?"
"Of course Ma, I told you about him and Arti together" Aman asked, eyes widening in surprise. What an odd question….
"Love is different beta, and money and business matters a different ball game by itself. Would you trust him as a business man? Is he trustworthy about business deals, money? Not what Arti's relationship with him tells you but what does your gut tell you about him?"
Aman looked at his mother and then thought back to Yash and his own interactions with him. Slowly, he nodded his head. "Yes, I trust him, even in business. If I were to expand in India, he would be one of the first people I would consult, I would actually even consider him as a business partner."
Sneha sighed in relief. Aman had a very keen business sense, just like his father. And she knew she could rely on him to make the right decisions when it came to business matters.
Handing the papers over she said "Arti does not know it, but she is a very wealthy woman. After her father passed away, your father and I opened a trust fund for her. The profit shares that were her parents' due went into the fund every year. And its grown over time – she has a very nice cushion of money to call her own."
Aman stared at his mother in disbelief. "And you never gave it to her? She doesn't even know about it?"
Sneha explained "She gains full control of the trust fund when she turns 35. She still has a few years to go. I kept track of her situation after her first marriage – if she had ever been in dire financial need I would have found a way to give her the money. But she was ok financially. Now – even though she doesn't need the money, she should know about it. She has four children now – and you tell me her husband is trustworthy. Its time they started managing the trust fund themselves till she gets full control. Once she is recovered, we can complete the necessary formalities, but I do want her to know that she has a legacy…a legacy that comes from the business her parents started."
Aman leaned back in the first class flight seat and let his mind roam back to the discoveries of the day. How little he had understood his mother!
He cringed internally as he recalled the numerous instances he had raged at his mother for what he had believed to be her ill-treatment of Arti. She would just sit there stoically, letting his enraged words wash over her, eyes downcast, not a single syllable muttered in reply. He had always believed her reaction to be one of guilt – and guilt was a part of it for sure. But he now understood that the reason she did not look at him was because her eyes would be filled with pain and unshed tears.
What a complex woman Sneha was….he had always loved his mother, but the respect due to her had come grudgingly, when it had come at all. But today….today he was overwhelmed with admiration and a tremendous sense of pride in the remarkable woman he was fortunate enough to call "Ma".
Pratik was waiting at Bhopal airport. As they gave each other a brief hug, Aman asked anxiously, "How is Arti?"
"Still in coma – its been nearly three days now. But the doctors say she is gaining some strength" Pratik replied with a worried frown.
Aman nodded. "Lets go. Can you drop me off at the hospital?"
He stood at the door of the ICU, peering in through the small glass encasement. All he could see was Yash's back as he leaned his head onto the bed. As Pankaj entered the ICU waiting area, Aman turned to him, almost in relief. "Pankaj Bhaiyya!".
"Aman – good to see you. How was the flight?", asked Pankaj as he put down the heavy bag he was carrying.
"Good. How is Arti doing? What's the prognosis?" Aman enquired anxiously.
"She is doing better actually – though she is still in a coma. In fact, the doctors say it's probably the best thing that could have happened to her – apparently the coma forces her body to relax and recuperate faster" Pankaj was spewing out what the doctors had explained and what he had to keep reiterating to both Yash and his mother.
Aman nodded. Neha had told him about medically induced coma – and though Arti had gone into coma herself, ironically the state could be beneficial.
"Aman – do you plan to be here for some time?" asked Pankaj hesitantly, knowing that Aman must be tired.
"Yes, actually I do. Do you need something Bhaiyya?"
Pankaj shook his head, "Not me. But I do have to force Yash out of the ICU so he can at least eat. He would feel better if you were there with Arti while he ate."
"Of course!" Aman exclaimed.
Aman looked on as Pankaj literally dragged Yash out of the ICU. Seeing Aman, Yash hurried over and the two men clasped each other tightly. Aman was shocked at Yash's appearance. He looked haggard – he had not shaved for a few days at least and he had lost weight.
Shaking his head he mock scolded his best friend's husband – "Yash this won't do. If Arti awakes now, she will get scared seeing you – you look like a scarecrow. Go home, take a shower, clean-up – look like a human again yaar".
That brought a smile to Yash's face. "Do I really look that terrible?"
Pankaj rolled his eyes at that "and have I been speaking in Latin for these last two days? Yes, you look a fright. Thank god the kids haven't seen you like this, though I dread to think what little Pooja thinks of her father!"
Yash's smile widened – "I'll have you know Bhaiyya that Pooja thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread….and I know she is!"
"Well, go on home Yash. I will be here. If you are out of the way, Arti and I can have a heart-to-heart chat" Aman prodded.
Yash looked at Aman and clasped his hands. Raising them to his eyes, he said softly "Aman, I know you don't want to hear this, or have me say this – but I have to. How can I ever thank you? You are the most wonderful friend I have known – thank you!"
"Chal yaar – go home now. Kya thank you laga rakha hai" Aman exclaimed, though his voice was hoarse with suppressed emotions.
Sitting with Arti, Aman gently clasped her hand. Pankaj had clarified that Arti could hear them, most probably she could understand what was being said – she was just unable to respond. It broke his heart, seeing her helpless, lifeless like this. How can Yash bear this? Aman thought, his heart going out to the husband who had to be strong in the face of such grief.
"Arti…yaar, when are you going to wake up? Do you know how far I had to come to meet you? I have been travelling for almost 2 days now – 48 hours Mrs. Arti Yash Scindia!! You better wake up and welcome me. Don't need a thali – but a smile will do". Was that a slight pressure from her fingers? Or did he just imagine it?
Aman continued talking to her – reliving happy childhood memories, incidents he had not thought about for years, but were burned into his memory. Each time he mentioned a moment that had been special to them, he could swear that he felt a faint whisper of a pressure from Arti's fingers. That faint pressure kept him going, as he spoke his monologue.
By the time Yash returned after two hours, Aman was exhausted. He couldn't imagine how Yash did this everyday, continuously, hour-after-hour. These two hours had been emotionally draining for him – his respect and admiration for Yash increased as he realized something of what Yash went through everyday, trying desperately to keep Arti connected to reality while she fought her battle to regain her health.
Over the next few days, Aman saw how Yash cared for Arti. He was the one who gave her a sponge bath everyday, helped the nurses turn her over so she wouldn't get bed sores. He spent hours with her, talking to her, taking care of little things, just holding her hand at times. The only time Yash left Arti was when he went to check on little Pooja.
The tremendous love and care Aman saw pouring out of Yash almost scared him. Can I ever love like that? Since I saw them together, I have wanted a love like theirs. But this much love? The pain he is going through? I don't think I have the strength to deal with that, love like that, lose myself so much in a relationship that I forget everything else. How does he do that? How do they do that?
He felt the urge to talk to Neha. When she answered he knew immediately he had disturbed her in the middle of a workout. "Hi Aman, how was your flight? How is Arti?" Neha asked breathlessly.
"Still in a coma. Sorry – did I disturb your workout?" Aman asked.
"That's ok. What do the doctor's say?" Neha prodded further. Aman filled her in.
As Aman waited for her to say something, Neha sighed. "Hang in there Aman. It must be difficult for you, but imagine how hard it is for Arti's family, her husband and children."
The breath caught in his throat. "Neha…..Neha, I am scared."
"Scared? About what?" came the puzzled question.
"I see the love Yash has for Arti. He is there the whole time, holding her, caring for her, talking to her. I bet he has not spoken as much in his whole life as he has in these few days! ….Neha – their love, its overwhelming. I…I…." Aman didn't know what to say.
"Why are you scared Aman? What frightens you?" Neha asked, very gently.
"Can I ever love like that Neha? Do I even want to love like that? Lose myself so much in one person? I don't know Neha – its terrifying me" Aman tried to sort through the jumbled emotions he had experienced in the last few days.
"Are you afraid of loving like that Aman? Or are you afraid of never being able to love like that?" Neha's question took his breath away.
A breathless "I don't know…." was his only answer as he hung up the call.
About a week after Pooja's birth, Arti finally came out of coma. The entire Scindia family celebrated the event – in the hospital itself! Aman's heart filled with happiness to see the love and acceptance Arti had from her family – the love and acceptance that she had always craved for, but never really received as her due.
Arti's face lit up as she saw Aman come into her room. He had waited till her family had gone home and only Yash was there. "Aman!" she exclaimed, holding out her arms to him.
He caught her hands – "you gave us a scare there Chutki" he said, using the childhood nickname he had given her out of affection.
Arti smiled at the nickname "sorry about that. But you know, I found out a lot of things during my coma – heard things that I would probably not have heard otherwise" she said, turning to give a loving look to Yash. Yash smiled at that, and taking one of her hands, kissed her palm.
"Arti, I brought something for you" Aman said, handing her the box Sneha had given.
Arti took the box with a puzzled look – "why?"
Aman shook his head "Ma sent it for you – she said you would understand."
As Arti opened the box Aman saw the stunned surprise on her face "What is it Arti?" he asked, as Yash hurried over.
Arti slowly took out the beautiful naulakha necklace. "Aunty sent this for me?" she asked looking at Aman with bewildered eyes.
"Yes, she said you would understand" Aman repeated.
Blindly Arti reached out for Yash. Holding on tightly to her anchor, she fingered the delicate filigreed necklace and said softly "Aunty had designed this necklace herself. She had shown it to me once. I….I told her it was beautiful and asked who it was for. And she told me it was for her daughter. I didn't say anything more…. I thought she had designed it for Sheetal" Arti said referring to Aman's younger sister.
"No, she had designed a different necklace for Sheetal – which she gave her when Sheetal got married" Aman said, smiling slightly to himself, waiting for the penny to drop.
Arti looked up at that, her eyes brimming with tears "She meant me? She thought of me as her daughter?"
"She has always thought of you as her daughter" Aman said, coming up to Arti, hugging her as he had always done when as children she would try to stop her tears from flowing out. He wasn't going to tell her about her mother and his father – but he had to make her understand that Sneha really did love her.
"She was never able to show you how much she loved you Arti, but she did. Do you remember when you lost your ball?" Arti nodded "yes, but I found it the next morning. Or…no…I didn't find it – it was there in its box. Do you mean Aunty found it?" Arti asked eagerly. "No. But she did search all the toy shops that evening and night till she found the exact same toy" Aman let her into the secret.
"Oh Aman….." Arti finally broke down and Yash cradled her as she cried her heart out.
"Why? Why did she always keep me away from her? Do you know, she has never called me after college? I called her a few times, but…..Why Aman?" asked a bewildered Arti as she tried to understand her Aunty's motives.
Aman shook his head. "That's between you both – you will have to ask her. She does need you to meet with her once you are recovered."
"She needs us to meet her?" Arti asked, as curious as she was confused.
Aman handed the papers of the trust fund over. "I will explain the details to you tomorrow – you are tired now. But these papers are for the trust fund Ma and Papa started for you – your parents' share of profits went into it for all these years. You get full control when you are 35, but Ma wants to hand over its management to you both now."
Arti sat – bewildered and lost. The Aunty she had always believed hated her actually thought of her as her own daughter? Her world was spinning…..
Yash took Aman out of the room. "That was too much for her."
Aman nodded apologetically, "yes, I am sorry."
"Don't be. Once she accepts what she has heard today, she will be ok. This was a shock to her – but in a good way" Yash said.
Aman smiled, "I hope so."
"And tell Aunty – thank you. Her love and aashirwaad mean a lot" Yash said as he bid his friend good night.