Joined: 05 June 2012
Tum se hi..
"Miss Nidhi? Mr Verma will see you now. Please go in."
Nidhi gets up from her seat in the main reception area of a spacious office. This is the second time she is here in as many weeks. She had come there the previous week as a last resort, despite her mother's strong opposition. For her, at that point, all that mattered was, keeping her mother alive for as long as possible. And for that, she needed money. Money beyond her earnings and savings all put together. But as soon as he realized that she is the illegitimate daughter of his only son..of his now dead son, she had been shown to the door before she could even complete her sentence. She was at a loss as to what to do and whom to approach next when this call had come. Mr Verma, her biological paternal grandfather, wants to talk to her again. today. So here she is! after a soft knock and a "come in" from the inside, Nidhi walks into the cabin of the CEO and Chairman of Verma Corporation, Mr Satyaraj Verma. A distinctive man in his late 60s, in a full suit, with a head full of thick grey hair, a pair of gold rimmed eye glasses, a slight moustache and a calculating look in his eyes. Hope is such a dreadful thing. It never really leaves you. and it has been making its presence felt ever since she got the phone call that morning. Did he change his mind? Is he willing to acknowledge and help? She braces herself and moves fwd into the cabin.
SV: have a seat..Nisha, isn't it?
SV: Nidhi..right right. Sit down. You want to have something? coffee? Tea?
Nidhi's grip on her handbag tightens: nothing. thank you. you..wanted to see me?
SV: no. if it was up to me, I would prefer never to set eyes on you or your mother. But..anyway, all that aside, you said you wanted money. For your mother's treatment, right? Whats wrong with her?
Nidhi: breast cancer. Advanced stage. Its now spread into other areas too.
SV: so she needs surgery?
Nidhi shakes her head as in a no, swallows down her pain and her tears before replying: no. its beyond surgery now. she needs hospitalization, chemotherapy and constant care.
SV: aahh..which is going to cost you. and you want ME to pay for it.
Nidhi: NO! (she immediately tones down her volume) no sir. I don't want you to pay for it. I am not here for charity. All I want is a loan. I will repay it back to you with interest.
SV raises his eyebrows sarcastically at that: and how do you plan to do that?
Nidhi ignores the sarcasm: I am a physiotherapist. A good one at that. I earn reasonably well. If you give me some time..
SV interrupts: but what will I get in all this? You know that I don't do anything out of the goodness of my heart. if I had wanted to do that, I would have done it when my son died in the army during one of the border clashes. I would have brought your pregnant mother home and made her as my daughter in law irrespective of the fact that my son NEVER married your mother. But I didn't do that. so don't expect me to be some kind of "mahaan" aadmi now.
Nidhi's temper sparks: then why did you call me here today? To make sure I knew you are NOT going to help me?
SV: no. to tell you that I CAN help you..IF you agree to a certain conditions of my own.
Nidhi's eyes light up with hope: wha..(she clares her throat) what conditions?
SV: you see, I am getting old. Will cross 70 this year. And I built this company with my own hands from the scratch. And made it a huge success. I thought I would one day pass in on to my kids and then their kids..a kind of a legacy..you know..but I had only one son, who despite his degree in business, went ahead and joined the army and got himself killed trying to serve the country. He doesn't have any LEGAL children of his own either..
Nidhi gives him a confused look: but..i don't know anything about running a business..
SV roars out a laugh: girl, you really think I would handover my multi crore business to you? a girl? And an unqualified one at that?
SV: I already have someone in my mind, who is a perfect candidate. I am 100% sure that he would take this corporation to a new level which even I haven't been able to achieve. (he gets up from his chair and goes to stand near the floor to ceiling glass window which showed the city of Pune as a backdrop) whether I like it or hate it, fact remains that you carry the genes of my son. Of my family. And now, what I want from YOU is this: I want you to marry this guy.
Startled, Nidhi gets up from her own chair: WHAT? MARRY?
SV: sit down Nidhi. yes. Marry. I will introduce you to him as my grand daughter. he will marry you and both of you should have kids of your own. That way, the legacy of my own flesh and blood would continue.
Nidhi doesn't know what to think. She asks the first question that comes to her mind: how do you know that HE will agree to this kind of marriage?
SV chuckles: oh yeah I know. He is brilliant, ruthless and ambitious. He will anything to get his hands on Verma Corporation. I have no doubts in that regard. So, Nidhi, here is the deal. You sign a contract stating that you fully agree to this marriage and will NOT back off under any conditions and I will transfer all the money that you require for your mother's hospitalization within the next 48 hrs. (he adjusts his sleeve and looks at his wrist watch) you have 5 mins to think about it.
Nidhi sees her mother's pain filled face before her and replies back: I will sign the contract Mr Verma.
SV: impulsive! Just like my son. I hope you realize that this contract is an ironclad one, drawn by the best lawyers of this corporation. There are no loopholes. Once you sign it, you have to go through with it. NO MATTER what happens.
Nidhi swallows, wets her lips and raises her determined eyes to him: yes. I understand. and I am ready to sign the contract.
SV settles back into his chair and takes out a thick manila folder: here it is. you have to read and sign at the end of every page. I have already signed it. A copy of it will be given to you. (Nidhi takes the folder and starts reading and signing at the end of every page just below his signature. Once that's done, she hands it over back to him and retains her own copy) good. Give your account details to my secretary on your way out. the money will be in your account by tomorrow evening. Your would be husband is..currently out of reach. I will contact you once I talk to him.
Nidhi gets up to go but turns back to him when she gets near the door: one question Mr Verma. What if I have problem conceiving? Or HE has some medical problem?
SV smiles: I am a business man Nidhi. and there is a small factor of risk in every venture that we take up. And I am willing to take that risk in this aspect also. But I am curious..don't you want to know more about this guy? Who he is? what he looks like? Name?
Nidhi faced enough things in her life since her childhood including being called a bas***d in front of the whole class. so entering into some kind of contract marriage in the current situation is the least of her worries. Jo hoga dekha jaayega. But out loud she replies: no. I am neither curious nor do I care. And since it's a business deal we just signed, I won't say "thank you". I will check with my bank tomorrow evening.
Saying that, she makes a dignified exit and closes the door behind her. lots of things to do before the next day evening. She has to talk to the hospital, the doctors and care takers, not to mention, her mom..she wished with all her heart that she could take care of her mother herself. But with the pain that she is going through and the chemotherapy that has to be begun, her mother would need care 24*7. she would need special diet, medication along with lots of pain killers and round the clock medical help. None of which were possible if she kept her in the single bedroom apt that she is currently renting. No. hospitalization is the only option and now the finances also were at hand. As per his word, her account has the stated amount of money by the next day evening. Nidhi breathes a sigh of relief and gets to work. the next couple of days are filled with fulfilling all the formalities required for the hospitalisation of Nandini, her mother. She just wished her mother had more desire to live. Had taken better care of herself. But that had never been the case. she felt the illness would get tired and go away if you just ignore it. and that's what she thought now too. she thought the lumps in her breasts would just go away if she ignored them. Nidhi didn't know anything until her mom started getting breathless even while lying down. Then she thought it was some heart related problem and took her to a cardiologist. That negated, she then consulted a chest physician who recommended an x ray and CT. but by then it was too late. The cancer had spread all over. There was nothing she could do. And now 5 days after her meeting with Mr Verma, Nidhi got her mom admitted without letting any of her tears come out in front of her..promised her that she would come and visit everyday, spoke to the doctors and the care taking nurse once again and left the premises with a heart heavy and eyes full.
Nidhi takes out her key as she climbs up the 3rd floor of her apt complex and notices that there is a man standing and leaning against the wall of her apt main door and talking on his phone. With a questioning look, she moves fwd. the man straightens his stance when he notices her and immediately cuts the call. "Miss Nidhi, I presume?"
Nidhi: yes? aur aap?
He extends his hand. "hi. I am Armaan. Dr Sharma said I could talk to you.
Nidhi's face clears and she shakes his hand: oh. Hello. Just hang on a second. I will open the door and we can sit inside and talk. (she inserts the key and opens the door) please come in Mr Armaan. Have a seat. (she puts her bag pack on the small kitchen table and pulls a chair for herself) what can I do for you?
Armaan gives a little smile: a lot actually. You could say that you are my last hope here. Dr Sharma said you are the best one to deal this case and..
Nidhi interrups with a tiny twinkle in her eyes: oh yeah..considering the fact that he was the one who trained me in the first place, he would say that..
Armaan huffs out a tired laugh: yes. he told me that too.
Nidhi: so, this is about a case I presume?
Armaan: yes. 3 different physiotherapists have already been tried and discarded.
Nidhi: discarded as in??
Armaan: as in figuratively kicked out or ran away themselves. So whatever your usual fee is, I will double it if you take this case (Nidhi gives him a startled look. He sighs and rubs his eyes with his fingers) this is about a friend of mine Miss Nidhi.
Nidhi: you do know that I mostly deal with children, right?
Armaan: I know. But I also know that you are very determined, knowledgeable, capable and cannot refuse a challenge.
Nidhi raises her eye brows: Dr Sharma shared my secrets, did he?
Armaan silently extends a large file: these are all the medical reports, CT scans, everything related to the condition pre and post his surgeries. According to the doctor, the last surgery was a resounding success. But..
Nidhi: then what seems to be the problem? Depression?
Armaan nods with a bleak look in his eyes: yes. he has completely given up. He doesn't believe he will ever walk again. He doesn't eat, seldom sleeps and refuses to leave the house. he is letting himself die.
Nidhi nods her head in understanding. Depression is some times the most difficult aspect of a patient's condition because it takes away their energy and their determination. A physiotherapist, no matter how successful, is helpless if the patient doesn't cooperate. And she IS successful. The last 3 years are a proof of that. she has dealt with various kind of trauma and accident related cases where the doctors were sceptical but she determinedly proved herself making a success out of those cases. And that's the reason she is now one of the most sought out physiotherapist not only in Pune but in Mumbai too.
Armaan continues: he is an extraordinary man. Has a brilliant brain. Designed the last software tech stuff, started his own company and made it public in just 3 years, even got patent rights for some of his technology, earned crores through his business..and not only that, he is / was physically very active too. always doing something or the other..mountain climbing, deep sea diving, bungi jumping..triathlon..
Nidhi looks up: and you are?
Armaan: I am his friend cum business partner cum legal advisor cum brother in law. I am married to his sister.
Nidhi: wow! So many roles! So which one of his interests was he pursuing when this accident happened?
Armaan: mountain climbing in Nepal. The rope above him snagged on a rock and his movements sawed the rope in two. He fell 42 ft to a ledge, bounced off it, then rolled another 140-150 ft. that's almost the distance of a football field but the snow must have cushioned his fall and saved his life. He said often enough that had he gone mountain climbing in summer or spring, he would have been spared of this crippled life.
Nidhi opens the envelope and studies all the x rays and CT scan reports under the light with excruciating detail. She winces she sees the damage that had been done to a strong, vital human body. It was a miracle that he hadn't been killed outright. But the X rays taken after each successive operation revealed bones that had healed better than they should have, better than anyone could have hoped. Joints had been rebuilt; pins and plates had reconstructed his body and held it together. The surgeon had been a genius, or the results were a miracle, or perhaps a combination of both. She could see no physical reason why he couldn't walk again, provided the nerves hadn't been totally destroyed. Beginning to read the surgeon's report, she concentrates fiercely on every detail until she understood exactly what damage had been done and what repairs had been made. This man would walk again; she'd make him! Dr Sharma knew well that she can't resist a challenge. And can't ignore the financial inducement either. At the end of all the reports, something slips through her fingers and falls on the floor. She picks it up and realizes that it's a photograph of a man. A very strikingly tall handsome man of about 30- 32 yrs of age, an athletic build and with a full fledged hearty grin on his face. He had his swimming trunks on, thick towel over his shoulders and the back drop was that of some ocean.
Armaan's voice brings her back: that's his snap of last year. You won't recognize him if you see him now.
Decision made, Nidhi gets up from her chair and extends her hand to Armaan: ok Mr Armaan. I am ready to take up the case. when can I meet the patient?
Armaan doesn't bother hiding his relief: right now if you prefer.
Nidhi: ok. just let me freshen up and change. I will come along. Oh and by the way, does he have any family here other than his sister? I mean you and your wife?
Armaan: no. his parents passed away when he was 15 and Anji, my wife, was 7. so both of them are super protective of each other.
Nidhi: ok. but I just want to tell you that I don't want anyone interfering the schedule that I fix for the patient.
Armaan: Anji is the only problem you will be encountering.
Nidhi: but doesn't she live with you?
Armaan: that doesn't seem to be making any difference to her these days. Ever since this accident happened, she spends most of her time there. so you see, Nidhiji, there is a selfish reason for me too behind all this. I want my wife back.
Nidhi smiles: then good luck to us both.
Armaan brings his CRV to a stop in front of a spacious well maintained bunglow with a beautiful garden out in the front, which is filled with all kinds of flowers and creepers. There is a hammock in the garden on the lawn between 2 trees and a couple of chairs with a round centre table are also placed nearby. As both of them get down and start walking towards the house, a woman of about 24 comes out of the house. she has curly brownish hair and Nidhi realizes that without the high heels, she would probably be about 5 ft tall. Her eyes were literally snapping fire at Armaan and that was the deciding factor for Nidhi. this must be Anji, Armaan's wife and the patient's sister. Looks like she doesn't take after her brother in the height dept. At that thought, Nidhi frowns and turns towards Armaan: whats the patient's name?
Armaan gives her a startled look: oh..i didn't tell you? its Ashutosh. Ashutosh Mathur. (Nidhi nods her head and just then Anji comes near them)
Anji: Armaan, where did you go off to? And you weren't even taking my call.
Armaan frowns a little at her tone in front of a 3rd person: I was in the middle of something Anji. You know I don't take calls when I am driving.
Anji's gaze falls on Nidhi and her frown deepens: and who is this..woman?
Nidhi covers her laugh with a cough and extends her hand: hi. My name is Nidhi. I am a physiotherapist.
Anji: oh. I am..sorry. Armaan, you know Bhaiya said no more therapists for him na.
Nidhi: apparently, your bhaiya is wrong. And so, here I am.
Anji: but he said he wants to take a nap now. so don't disturb him now. he sleeps so little as it is!
Nidhi locks her eyes with Anji: then it won't matter if we disturb him, right?
Armaan intervenes: I think Nidhiji is right. Please, come inside. My wife seems to have forgotten her manners.
Anji glares at her husband at that but all 3 make their way inside. The interior of the house is as beautiful as the outdoors with its dignified simplicity of brown tiles and white walls and ceilings. Ashutosh's room is on the first floor. Armaan taps lightly on a door that had been widened to allow a wheelchair to pass easily through it, then opens it at the low call of "come in". The enormous room is flooded with sunlight that streamed through the open curtains, though the sliding glass doors that opened onto the balcony remained closed. The man at the window is silhouetted against the bright sunlight, a mysterious and melancholy figure slumped in the prison of a wheelchair. Then he reached out and pulled a cord, closing the curtains, and the room became dim. Nidhi blinks for a moment before her eyes adjust to the sudden darkness; then the man becomes clear to her, and she feels her throat tighten with shock. She'd thought that she was prepared..Armaan had told her she wouldn't recognize him from the photograph that she saw. But until she saw him, she hadn't realized exactly how serious the situation is! The contrast between the man in the wheelchair and the laughing man in the photo she'd seen was so great that she wouldn't have believed them to be the same man if it hadn't been for the eyes. His eyes no longer sparkled; they were dull and lifeless, but nothing could change their remarkable color..a mixture of black and brown. He was thin, painfully so; he had to have lost almost fifty pounds from what he'd weighed when the photo had been taken, and he'd been all lean muscle then. His hair was dull from poor nutrition, and shaggy, as if it had been a long time since he'd had it trimmed. His skin was pale, his face all high cheekbones and gaunt cheeks. Dark circles lay under his eyes and his temples had become touched with grey hair. His once powerful body, now limply sat in the wheelchair and his legs awkwardly motionless. He looks at her without a flicker of interest. Its as if she didn't exist in the same room. And Nidhi continues to look at Ashutosh Mathur.
Joined: 06 September 2012
Joined: 01 July 2005
Joined: 27 December 2010
A big WELCOME back!!!!Never knew that a new story is coming up from your pitaara...wow loved the surprize factor!!Coming to the FF...a lot of new characterisations to be seen, digested n gradually be-friended... &Its interesting to begin with...i would love to read more about this Nidhi-Ashutosh...curiousity doesnot leave me...Who is Nidhi's would be husband? Is ashu the same as talked by grandpa Verma?????i know its too premature for u to answer that...but i cant keep from asking!Chalo, lets see how this one moves ahead!Thanks for the PM! update real soon!
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