When Jagat had left Gauri at the aisle, she had been angry and humiliated. When she came to know of her pregnancy, she had been positively livid. It had always been Jagat's wish to have children.. She had wanted to focus on her career. Now why should she raise his child alone at the expense of her freedom? Her irrational anger made it impossible for her to recall how much pain she had gone through when she lost her first child and what a big mistake she was now about to make. She decided to abort the baby.. But there were complications in the operation which led to her losing her fertility. It had been a huge blow.. You would think that it wouldn't matter, it had been her decision all along.. But for Gauri, the world came crashing down. Sure, children were not a priority but everyone wants exactly what they can never have. She knew it was all her fault, there was no one to blame and she had failed once again. This was a dark phase in her life.. She was very depressed.. It felt like her life was a never ending abyss of pain that she just couldn't find her way out of. When her work began to suffer, she was asked to try therapy. Though this angered her, she had no choice in the matter. She was referred to Dr Rahul Gill by her senior doctor.. Her first session was just after Diwali on Nov 15.. The day that marked the beginning of a new phase for her.
Dr Rahul Gill was everything you would expect a therapist not to be. Though his office was serene, it was really bright and cozy, like the room itself wanted you to be happy. Though he was very qualified, his walls were adorned with his favourite action figures instead of his medals of honour.. It just showed that he valued the little joys of life more than anything. Roguishly handsome, there was a childlike honesty in him which made him seem much younger than his 30 years of age. Only his piercing dark eyes spoke of the wisdom of his years. Gauri had begun to dress in formals these days. Today was an exceptionally hard day for her.. She had discovered through her mother that Anandi was to wed the respected Collector of Jaitsar in a fortnight's time. Furthermore, Jagat (who was now working and studying at Jaipur) was cordially invited. It seemed that he had been forgiven.. Shallow as she was, she felt like everybody was moving on.. Leaving her in the past. She was in a bad mood as she sat down on the couch in Rahul's office.
R: So Gauri-
G: Its Dr Gauri! Aap pehle hi samajh lijiye ki mujhe aapki help ki koi zarurat nahi hai..! I have been forced to come here and i am not mad!!
R: (calmly) And you cannot yell. Yeh mera office hai aur yahaan ek hi gunda.. (chuckles) I mean ek hi doctor hai and that is... You! (laughs) I'm just a guy who wants to get to know you, be your friend and who likes to talk to pretty ladies like you.
Gauri has to give in and smile.. What a guy..!
G: I'm sorry.. You can call me Gauri.
R: And you can call me Bond.. James Bond! (he laughs while Gauri sticks out her tongue)
G: That was a very lame joke, Dr Rahul.
R: Its just Rahul for the ladies, Gauri..
That was quite the icebreaker. In the beginning, Gauri told Rahul only an edited version of her life- that she was separated from her husband and had lost her unborn child and how her infertility had left her depressed. All her friends and colleagues knew how Jagat had dumped her and so she avoided them.. She couldn't face the humiliation. Rahul became her only friend and confidante.. She began to look forward to their sessions which were almost everyday. The day that Anandi and Shiv were to wed, Gauri broke down in Rahul's office and began to narrate the truth.. Not in detail but in essence. Rahul had sensed a lot suppressed guilt and defensiveness in Gauri. The wall that she had built around her feelings was finally crumbling. With his help, Gauri realised that her anger stemmed from her guilt. Anandi did not really matter to her, but she knew in her heart that she had unnecessarily hurt her... It was a long session in which she realised how similar her journey was to Anandi and how she had taken all the wrong routes.. It now seemed so obvious. As she left her session that day, she felt positively lighter. She messaged Anandi-
I'm sorry.. For everything. Congratulations for your new married life. - Gauri.
Anandi was stunned but happy to see Gauri take the first step towards her. As she was getting ready for her wedding, she replied-
Its ok. Thank you. Be happy.
At their next session, Rahul and Gauri discussed how her child marriage had devastated her hope for education. Everywhere she went, insults followed. It had hurt that young girl to be rejected by her parents (when she was left at the Singh's doorstep) and then to be rejected by the Singhs in favour of Anandi. An unconscious resentment for Anandi had begun then itself. She had immersed herself into studying and achieved a lot.. Her studies were the one place she felt secure in, everything else, her personal life, was a mess. This was one of the reasons why her career was so important to her, because she could control it.
She had been a liberal woman but when she realised Jagat's true identity, the insults and rejection of her childhood hit her again. She accepted him and felt like that was her first victory over her past. In retrospect, trying to take over Anandi's place had been a terribly selfish thing to do. But at that time, only her own happiness had mattered. But the Singhs rejected her again and her insecurities grew. As life plowed on, she realised that Jagat wasn't exactly the ideal husband for a career oriented girl like her. But she had to make her marriage work. Failure was not an option. It made her sick to remember all those terrible things she had done to Anandi and the Singhs out of her arrogance.
But Rahul was always there, to wipe her tears and assuage her guilt. He told her that she must seek forgiveness from everyone. You might think that Gauri must have punched him for even suggesting that! But this was a depressed, friendless, one-year-into-therapy Gauri, who saw the truth of his words. The guilt was painful but she couldn't face all those people.. She wrote letters to them but never expected a reply.. But suprisingly received one from all of them including Jagat (she was guilty about their child). Little did she know that it was Anandi who had convinced everyone to write to Gauri. Though Anandi was the only one who completely forgave her, the others were polite and gave her blessings that she felt she didn't deserve. She had not so felt good for a really long time. Jagat's letter had been a big surprise. It read-
I'm sorry to hear about our baby.. I'm broken really. But if I've learnt anything in the past year then that is not to cry over the past and to forgive. I wish you happiness and the very best in life. I'm sorry for all the times that i hurt you and also for leaving you.. But as you said, it was for the best. Hope you can forgive me too.
Though she had come quite ahead in life, she continued her sessions with Rahul. Her career as a cardiac surgeon had improved by leaps and bounds, all her legal troubles with Jagat were over and she had learnt to make friends again. Everything seemed to glow with Rahul at her side. But one day-
R: Gauri.. I can't have any more sessions with you. I'll refer you to my esteemed colleague, Dr-
G: What?? But why? We're doing so well and I-
R: There's a rule, Gauri. I can't date my patients and I can't fall in love with them. I've already done the latter and would really like to do the former.
Gauri's heart had wings that day.. It had been six months since then; she was now engaged to Rahul. She was almost out of the deep hole that she had crawled into.. The only festering sore was the fact that she couldn't have a child. This feeling only got stronger when Gauri spent the next Diwali in Delhi with the Gills.. All those nieces and nephews! But Rahul's parents were delightful, you could see where Rahul came from. Gauri and Rahul were to shift to Delhi soon as Gauri wanted to leave behind her Mumbai memories and Rahul wanted to stay close to family. She was already on call at SNG, New Delhi. The day after Diwali, on the second anniversary of her first session with Rahul, she got an urgent call from the hospital.
Retd. Major Shekhar a.k.a. Daddu had suffered a heart attack! Gauri didn't know any of the Shekhars and Shiv and Anandi were on their way from Jaitsar. Her skill and resilience as a doctor saved Daddu's life and when Anandi and Shiv arrived, they wanted to thank her themselves. Rahul had come to pick Gauri up and they were holding hands when Shiv and Anandi entered. Gauri turned around to yell at the intruders (yes, some bit of her happy nature survived) but when she saw who it was, she had to hold on to Rahul for support. Anandi also grasped Shiv, who was already holding their six month old daughter, Anshika (credit to some other forum writers for the name, I used it coz it seems perfect!). After what seemed like an eternity, both women moved towards each other and hesitantly regaled the going-ons of the past year and a half. Shiv thanked Gauri profusely for saving Daddu's life and the men subtly left the ladies alone, to talk.
A: Main tumhare liye- aap dono ke liye bahut khush hu.. And thanks a lot, jo tumne aaj Daddu ke liye kiya..
G: Its my job, Anandi. But thank you, main bhi tumhare liye khush hu.. Tumhare baby ke liye congrats.. (she smiled)
Shiv and Rahul instantly hit it off. When they returned, talking of sports and politics, they were surprised to see the two women holding hands and laughing with teary eyes. Shiv was happy to see Anandi smile but Rahul was overjoyed as he knew what a big step this was for Gauri. As Gauri cuddled Anshika and was surrounded by the joyful chatter of the Shekhars and Rahul, she felt the last of her pain ease away.. Maybe there was hope for her, after all.
A year later:
"Kabir, Piyali! Bahut ho gaya beta.. Bahut dhoop hai, chalo gaadi mein baitho baba! Piya!! Kubby ke baal chodo!!" Gauri was yelling at their two year old adopted twins while her husband laughed his heart out. "Rahul, samjhao na inhe!!"
"OK, OK...", he scooped up both kids and headed towards their rental car. "Gauri, this week long trip was for you to de-stress, not for you to turn into Momzilla!", Rahul laughed as his wife hit him playfully on the head.
They had spent a few days with Gauri's parents at their village home and the rest in Jaipur. The kids were having a ball while Gauri and Rahul enjoyed the break from work. They were to leave for Delhi that very evening. For a cardiac surgeon, a therapist was a great husband to have as he was not only great with the kids but also helped in quelling her tension. But Gauri wasn't an absentee mom either. Her twins were much more important than her job, something that she had really realised only when she had held them for the first time and felt a warmth in her heart that had long been missing. But Rahul's flexible timings and loving attitude definitely helped.. Gauri fell more deeply in love with him everyday and never took him for granted. After losing everything three years ago, she had found love again.. And she was never going to let it go. In the car-
G: Oh my God, Piya, kya hua baby... (the child is vomiting.) She needs a doctor.. Oh God..
R: Honey, calm down. (To the driver) Bhaiya, yahaan paas mein koi hospital ya clinic ho toh uss taraf le lo...
Little did they know, that the resident pediatrician in that hospital was Jagya! Though his relationship with his family was much better, he continued to work with diligence in Jaipur and was doing quite well in a job that he loved. Although he was alright, his personal life was lonely. Though stunned to see Gauri and her husband, Jagya treated Piyali with care. The trio sat down for tea for old times' sake and Jagya caught up on the past few years.. Nothing much had changed for him though. The situation was awkward but Rahul's hand in hers was like a talisman for Gauri. As she was leaving with her family-
G: Jagat- I mean, Jagdish- Don't give up hope... tumhari zindagi main bhi khushiyan aayengi.
Jagdish could only smile and marvel at the change that love had brought over Gauri. He hoped for their happiness as the Singh-Gills walked away, hand in hand. He was still dazed as he walked towards the canteen for a late lunch... And bang-
J: I'm so sorry.. Aap theek toh hai?
He had walked right into a young lady.. She was pretty and sweet.. But there was something in her eyes.. Eyes that seemed to look into his very soul.
Girl: Its alright..
As she walked away, Gauri's words hit Jagya stronger than ever.. could he dare to hope? Or would he just assume rejection..? He called out to her-
J: Excuse me.. Hi.. I'm Jagdish.. Jagdish Singh.. Could I give you a more heartfelt apology over some coffee?
Girl: (blushing) Sure.. I'm Hope by the way, Hope Monteiro...
J: (smiling that the coincidence) Nice to meet you, Hope..
And they walked towards the beginning of a new life.. maybe it would work.. maybe not.. Atleast they had 'Hope'!!!