Joined: 05 June 2012
Ashu: agar aap ko koi aitraaz na ho toh mein yahaan bait sakta hoon?"
Nidhi's startled pain filled eyes look up at him for a moment before helplessly glancing away: hotel ka coffee shop public place hain. aap kahi bhi bait sakte hain."
Ashu sighs in relief at the small victory: thank you.
Both become silent..looking at each other..yet trying NOT to look at each other. So much pain. So much loneliness. Each trying to hide their love from the other. But are they being successful? Her once sparkling laughing mischievous eyes now contain a wealth of sadness..a constant sheen on tears covers them almost all the time. "you betrayed me! why? What did I do?" they seem to be asking him the question again and again. he quickly averts his eyes as if unable to answer that question. The waiter in the meanwhile places the burger and French fries in front of them on the table and leaves.
A small sad smile flashes in his eyes as if he is recalling a fond memory: yeh..yeh wahi burger hain na..extra cheese, extra mayo, lettuce, onions aur French fries ke saath? Jo aap ki kamzoori hain? (For once, her expression is easy to read. Startled surprise, quickly followed by a thoughtful look as if recalling her own so long ago said words before once again looking back at him with accusing pain filled eyes. God! Why is all this happening?!) Dr Nidhi agar aap gaur se dekhengi to hiss extra cheese, extra mayo, lettuce, onion wali burger mein meri sorry bhi lipti hain.
Ashu's helpless eyes take in her reaction. As if something has snapped in her and she didn't want to face him anymore. Wordlessly, she gets up and rushes out of the coffee shop leaving the burger and his sorry behind. Have I really broken her so much? Will I ever see her smile again? will I ever see her smile at ME again? I can't stay like this..i can't go after her..what do I do! He raises his eyes to look at his life long friend sitting in front of him..a friend who understood his conflict and pain..a friend who knew that he is crazily madly in love with a girl 18 yrs younger than him and is trying to resist it for her own good with everything in him. yet, he is helpless against that force of that love. It is like a flooding river and the dam is already weak at the foundation. A fact which Armaan knows and that the reason he has been pushing and pushing him to confess: I miss Nidhi!..I miss Nidhi Armaan!
Armaan: Ashu, tu zindagi BHAR aise hi miss karta rahega. Yahi sahi waqt hain. keh de usse jo bhi tere dil mein hain. keh de usse jo tera dil kehna chaahta hain.
Armaan knows what his friend's answer is going to be even before Ashu utters a word: wahi toh mumkin nahi hain Armaan! wahi toh mumkin nahi hain.
That night is yet another sleepless night with thoughts and dreams of Nidhi haunting him. her laughing eyes, smiling lips, cheerful nature, her Raja Titli story to the kids in paediatric ward, the way she bites her lower lip when she knows her mischief has been caught, the way she frowns when she thinks there is something wrong with his logic, the look of anticipation on her face and then finally the shock when he had told her that she has been fired from KGH! as if he had walked up and stabbed her right through the heart. will he ever be able to forget that look? No. not in this life time. at that point of time, all that was ruling him was his own guilt and shame about the fact that he has fallen for a girl half his age. Mallika threatening to quit was just an excuse and he had seized that excuse, hid behind it and fired Nidhi..destroyed her career and future. All because he was a coward! but the last few days with Armaan..talking to him..listening to him..esp ever since both of them have come to the Mumbai conference together and his constant chant of "himmat nahi hain toh himmat paida kar! Tujhe bhi khush hone ka haq hain!" ..they are once again pushing him..pushing him towards Nidhi. and fate also decides to lend a hand in that push the next day evening.
Ashutosh walks into the after conference dance party and goes to his table to greet Dr Ajrekar. His eyes instinctively look for the only person whom they want to see. And after a couple of moments, they find her and he can't help but sigh in relief. He tries to avert his gaze from that vision of loveliness a few tables away but its beyond him. She is sitting there with Dr Almaaz in an off white modern sleeveless dress with her shoulders covered in sheer white gauze, neck bare and a pair of long dangling ear rings. Her lush lips are covered with light pink lipstick and she is wearing more make up than usual. Why? To cover the shadows under her eyes or in hope of masking the pain IN her eyes? If so, then the make up is not doing its job. Just then the announcement begins for the dance and the lady gives out the names of the pairs. "Dr Ajrekar ' Dr Manjula, Dr Sunil Singh ' Dr Almaaz aur teesra naam hain..Dr ASHUTOSH!" his startled eyes look at the announcer and then back at Nidhi only to find her also looking at him before quickly averting her gaze. The announcement continues: aur Dr Ashutosh ke partner hain..Dr NIDHI!
Armaan wildly gestures him to go ahead and dance and after giving him an angry glare at his obvious meddling, Ashu gets up and goes to Nidhi's table and stands beside her. Nidhi closes her eyes for a moment and quickly blinks them in rapid succession as if trying to prevent the tears from trailing down on to her cheeks. "what do I do? Shall I ask her for the dance? SHOULD I ask her for the dance or politely smile and slip away?" "so he can't even bring himself to dance with me in public? He is going to reject and humiliate me here again?" she swallows and decides to spare herself more pain and makes a move to get up when his open palm is extended in front of her and his deep voice resonates within her: May I have this dance Dr Nidhi?
Nidhi keeps looking at his extended palm until he decides that may be this was a bad idea..that he should just have kept his mouth shut and resisted the temptation. But honestly..he just wanted to feel her in his arms once. Just once! Even if it's a polite social dance that he knew nothing about, he wanted to know how it feels like to touch her and hold her..feel her touch..her breath on him..her gaze on him..just once. But he should have known! He should have known she would refuse. He all but kicked her with his boot and now here he is asking her to dance with him! just when he comes to that conclusion and is about to withdraw his hand, she tentatively places her fingers in his palm sending a jolt of electricity coursing through his body. She tightens her grip for a moment and gets up from her place to stand beside him all without once looking up at him. Armaan by now is almost doing a jig all on his own!
I'll be your dream, I'll
be your wish I'll be your fantasy.
I'll be your hope, I'll be your love be everything that you need.
I love you more with every breath truly madly deeply do..
I will be strong I will be faithful 'cause I'm counting on A new beginning.
A reason for living. A deeper meaning.
I want to stand with you on a mountain.
I want to bathe with you in the sea.
I want to lay like this forever.
Until the sky falls down on me
And when the stars are shining brightly in the velvet sky,
I'll make a wish send it to heaven then make you want to cry
The tears of joy for all the pleasure and the certainty.
That we're surrounded by the comfort and protection of
The highest power. In lonely hours. The tears devour you
Tentative steps carry them to the dance floor where they turn towards each other..then as if not knowing what else to do, just keep looking at each other..lost in a world of their own. One of the couple jostles Ashu and he jerks a little and gives Nidhi an awkward tentative smile: mujhe..yeh sab nahi aata. I mean..this dancing and stuff..i never did it befo..
Nidhi takes a step forward and places her left hand on his shoulder before taking his right palm in hers all without looking up at him. both start swaying slightly to the music although their movements are too stiff and awkward. Ashu closes his eyes in bliss and breathes her scent in. so close..in his arms..he is touching her! he is actually touching her..has his arm around her waist and one of her hands is in his. His breath hitches out with a small hiccupping sound making her raise her eyes to his. At that moment..in that second..the time comes to a stand still. Neither of them blinks..all their feelings..their loneliness..their painful longing for each other is plain in their eyes for each other to see and read. They lose themselves in each other and the dance becomes something else. A way to bring out all their suppressed emotions and desperate helpless love for each other. The arm around her waist tightens and he brings her closer. the arm on his shoulder move up to his neck and they lose their stiffness and their movements pick up the speed. He twirls her once, twice, a small smile flashing on his lips and she whirls around him before facing him once again and placing both her hands on his shoulders..he automatically places both his arms around her waist to pull her even closer..closer..until their faces are inches apart..until his breath touching the tendrils of hair at her forehead..until hers is touching his neck..until the dam of their mutual passion bursts, setting them on fire!
A loud round of applause brings them back to the world and with a soft, almost silent cry, Nidhi tears herself away from Ashu's arms and runs outside. Out of the party..out of the resort..on to the adjacent beech. She runs until there is no breath left in her any more. she runs until she can't run any more and her legs give away beneath her and she collapses on the wet sand before finally crying her heart out. long moments pass before her cries tone done to soft hiccups. She raises her eyes to look at the crashing waves and shouts: why? Why are you doing this to me? WHAT are you doing? Which side of you should I trust? The one I saw that day in KGH or the one I saw today? Did I really see anything today? Or am I just deceiving myself? aakhir kissbaat ki sazza milrahi hain mujhe? BOLIYE! KASOOR KYA HAIN MERA? HAAN?
a deep voice answers: I miss you Nidhi! I miss you! ek mulaayam ehsaas ki tarah tumhaari yaad mujhe chaaron taraf ghere rehti hain..jaise December ki tand mein shawl ne mujhe chaaron taraf se dhak rakha ho. Dhoop ki tarah tumhaari yaad mujhpar utarti hain..hawaa ki tarah meri..meri saason mein behti hain. paani ki tarah boond boond mujhe bhigoti hain. tumhaari aankhon mein dekhta hoon toh lagta hain ki ghana jungal hain. jahan jaane mein darr bhi lagta hain aur jaaye bina reh bhi nahi paata. Mein kya karoon Nidhi! I miss you! real bad! and I love you.
Nidhi swirls around to face Ashu at the first sound of his voice and her face first registers disbelief which slowly turns to unspeakable happiness and then finally boundless love. For Ashu, it is like watching a sun rise. The dawning of joy, the brightness of her smile and the shine of love in her eyes. before he realizes what is happening, her feet take wings and propel her into his arms. As if unable to believe whats happening, he just stands there as if tuned into some stone. That it indeed is happening. That Nidhi really is in his arms. She really is hugging him. he slowly raises his arms and puts them around her tentatively at first and then they firm and then tighten in their hug.
"I love you too Dr Ashutosh!"
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