Manvi's POV :
After celebrating a fabulous Anniversary, with just the two of us, me and Virat started back to India. There was a big welcoming party waiting for us. Dad was doing very well. Mom was in good spirits. Simmy was staying with them now. She seemed at peace with everything. We received a really big news at the party - Priya Bhabhi was pregnant. Rahul was ecstatic and soaring high in sky.
"Why are you always competing with me?" Virat asks him playfully, when only the four of us were around.
"Compete?" Rahul looks at him startled.
I nudge Virat and he shakes his head.
"Ohhh!" Priya Bhabhi exclaims, understandingly. "That's great! You guys are planning to have a baby !! Mannu!! This way we can crib and whine together about morning sickness. That would be awesome!! I am in!"
"In? In for what?" Rahul looks at her bewildered. "What can you do about that? That's Virat's job !!" he states matter-of-factually.
"Oh God!" I hide my face with my palm, embarrassed and Virat puts his hand around my waist, pulling me close, laughing. "We have got to get my bhai a speech-filter bhabhi..." he comments laughing.
"We are going to be Manvi Chachi and Virat Chachu." I tell Virat, beaming.
A big wave of happiness lights up his face. "Manvi Chachi and Virat Chachu.." he smiles back at me widely, and then at Rahul and Priya, raising his glass.
Rahul's face splits in a bigger grin as all of us toast to that. He pulls Bhabhi closer and pecks her cheek.
"Aw! Look at you guys!! Future parents and all !" I hug them both.
"I am going to spoil your kid so much !" I warn them.
"Then you are not allowed to play with her." Rahul tells with me.
"Woah!."Her"?" Virat raises his brows.
"Ofcourse I am going to have a daughter. Me and Priya's kid has got to be a girl. She is the dominating gene." he explains.
"God! That's not how it works! Jeeez! Oh Rahul! Please don't talk genetics. They will take away my medical license if anybody knows that I married you."
"Good. That way you will stop working. I don't want you to work in this condition, Priya." Rahul starts.
"I am going to talk with mom." I tell the gang and leave them in their serious discussion on whether Priya Bhabhi should or shouldn't work while she is pregnant.
On the other side of the room, Simmy was attending to some of the guests. Manvi walks upto her.
Simmy turns around and gives her a big smile.
"Hi Mannu. I never got a chance to say ' Welcome back'"
"Thanks. How are you doing?"
"I am good." she smiles. "Focusing on work these days. Its is nice. I am getting to spend a lot of time with mom and dad."
"Yeah...I can see that. I missed you, Simmy. Thanks for being with me when I was not well."
"Heeey..." Simmi hugged her. "I am just glad you are fine. I would not have forgiven myself if anything had happened to you that day, Mannu. And...I missed you too." She told her heart-fully.
"Woah! Look at that." Priya Bhabhi looks at Manvi and Simmy, surprised from the other end of the room.
Virat turns to look at Manvi and Simmy hugging, but does not react.
"Well they have been speaking with each other, even while we were away." Virat tells Priya.
"Oh Mannnu!!!" Priya shakes her head sympathetically.
"Its okay Bhabhi. Simmy is not like before."
"I see she had tapped on your heart's soft corner too. " Priya snaps.
"No. It's not like that. It's fine. We all have moved on. That's it."
"I am telling this to you loud and clear Virat. I do not want a repetition of what happened. She is your ex and you have a history with her. Those things never go away. And if anything goes wrong this time, because of that woman, it will only be your and Manvi's fault. You know what they say - It is human to get cheated once. But, you are idiot if you get cheated twice."
"Yeah." Virat looks back at Manvi. She was still chatting with Simmy. As Manvi was facing towards him, she catches his eyes.
But quickly enough she gets distracted by her parents. "Would you look at that?" Their dad and mom join them, smiling, looking at both their daughters all hugs and smiles.
"The invincible duo! God save us all." Manvi's dad comments.
"PAPA!" Simmy and Manvi roll their eyes.
"God bless you both with loads of happiness." her mom kisses both her foreheads affectionately.
Next day morning, Manvi was sitting in front of the mirror, looking at herself.
Virat comes out of the shower and looks at her curiously. "Hey angel ! You okay?" he pecks her face from behind.
"I don't think I can do it Virat."
"Mannu! What is wrong with you. You have to move on." he turns her around to face him.
"Everybody in the hospital knows what happened." She explains, looking down at her hands. "It is so embarrassing..and it has been a while that I have worked. I do not have as much focus as before. I will not be able to risk the lives of my patients. "
Virat sighs. He kneels in front of Manvi. He holds her hands while looking up at her fearful eyes. He cups her face. "You cannot give up. My Mannu will never give up. Now, I am not saying it is easy. It will take you a few days to get back into your old form. Bhabhi said she will be with you the whole day."
"Come on baby. You are stronger than this.."
Manvi pouts helplessly. "I don't want to."
"You know that is not true. Now get up and get dressed. I will drop you at the hospital." he tells her in a tone of finality.
"You are so mean !!!" she stomps her feet and goes inside leaving Virat shaking his head.
Once at the hospital, Manvi does not get out the car. She looks out of the window nervously. Virat was starting to get concerned.
"What are really scared of Mannu?"
"That I am in operating room and my hands will shake while holding the scalpel. That I am with a patient doing a check-up and they will be like '...hey..aren't you that girl who got almost raped by that doctor.." That they will not have that confidence in me anymore."
"Why do you think your patient will not have the same confidence in you?"
"Because of the image a doctor projects. A doctor is a healer who fixes up broken things. She cannot herself be broken or healing."
"Hmpph..Mannu. You are over-thinking this."
"You need to get over this. The only way to do this is to face your fears."
"While working or patients? by endangering their lives?"
"God! You need to do this!" He says frustrated with her and then looks at her worried. "I wish I can somehow help you on this."
Manvi looks at Virat's worried face. "Okay. I will do it. Only for you!" she warns.
"There you go. For me. Come here." he hugs her tightly. "Do you want me to come in?" he asks.
"No! What am I a kid going to the school for the first time?" she asks.
"You definitely sound like that."
"That was mean!" she flicks his shoulder.
"You go and rock that hospital, now. You know I love you." he gives her a kiss leaves her at the hospital.
Two hours later, he calls her. Manvi answers at the first ring.
"Hey sweetheart. You doing okay?"
"I am doing okay." she tells him.
"Got to see any cool patients this morning?"
"Yeah...Listen I got to go."
"Ofcourse. I will pick you up in the evening. Bye." he smiles.
"Bye." she hangs up with a sigh.
She felt guilty lying to him. She looks up at the hospital building sitting on the bench outside. She felt like crying. She did not feel like going in - facing those people again. Her confidence was at the bottom of the ocean. Images of the past flooded her mind and she could not get them out of her head. She had gone to Priya's cabin but she was dealing with a bunch of priority cases that morning while at the same time dealing with her morning sickness. She did not feel like unburdening her troubles on her too. She lied to her that she is fine and had clinic duty the whole day.
But she sat outside the hospital as she did not even feel like stepping into the clinic. She felt like a loser. Two drops of tears rolled down her cheek. She felt so helpless.
"Hey there." somebody stood in front of her. Manvi looked up and immediately wiped her face. "Oh..Hi Simmy.."
"Heeey...you okay?" Simmy kneeled in front of her, concerned.
"Manvi shook her head. "No. I am not okay. I cannot go inside. I cannot see a patient. I don't know what is wrong with me."
Simmy looked at her understandingly. She stood and pulled Manvi up. "That's okay. Let's go for a walk."
"I still wake up in the middle of the night, Simmy. I keep getting this same dream that they are going to come back for me. That what has almost happened will certainly happen this time. That is all I think all day. I am okay when Virat is with me. I feel safe. But, when I am alone...I keep..repeatedly..thinking the same thing. It is like a disease."
"You are not alone Mannu. I could not focus for some time too. But, then, I got some help and I am doing okay."
"Well..I got to talk to mom then.."
"Yeah..." Simmy laughed.
"Listen. Why don't you come with me. Just shadow with me today. I have a ped case anyways. This way..you can try to work by yourself and if you need back-up, I'd be right behind. And I will give you the number of my counselor - you can set up an appointment with her. There is nothing wrong with you. This is normal."
"Really? You'd do that for me?"
"Are you kidding? It will be fun. Come on..."
That evening when Virat came to pick her up, the sulky version of Manvi has like disappeared from the face of the earth. She was exuberant.
"You had a good day at school, kiddo?" Virat teased.
"Shutup! You have no idea. I scrubbed in on a surgery."
"Simmy was with me." she said. As if that explains everything.
"Okay?" Virat looked at her for an explanation to follow. It did not come.
The truth was that the whole day Manvi watched Simmy. It was the same Simmy who inspired her when she was growing up. When Manvi was in school, she had visited her sister at the hospital where she was doing her residency. She was mesmerized by her proficiency and the whole idea of saving a life. That was what had eventually inspired Manvi to become a doctor.
Today, after all those years, she watched her sister flawlessly perform a complicated surgery on a spinal cord. It was a difficult case with a slim chance of success. But, Simmy finished it with flair and every doctor in the hospital congratulated her. Seeing all this, instilled in her the confidence and inspiration to get past her fears. Simmy's skills amazed her in the same way that they did eight years ago.
Later that day, she mustered up the courage to take on a case. Manvi's hands did shake in the operating room and she completely blanked out and froze like a statue. Simmy took over for her and started the procedure. She slowly pulled Manvi in, guiding her with each little detail patiently. And soon enough, Manvi picked up and finished successfully. Just that much was enough to boost her confidence that day.
"Baby steps. You did a good job. A few more days and you will be sharper than ever." she told her.
"Simmy...you are awesome. Today in the operating room, you just blew me away.." she told her awe-struck.
"Well, thank you." Simmy smiled.
A few days passed and Manvi was enjoying her work again. Simmy had a big role in helping her back to her old self at work.
"Why are you not taking Bhabhi's help?" Virat asked Manvi.
"You don't like that I take help from Simmy?"
"No. It's not that. I just thought you and Bhabhi are tighter after everything that happened with Simmy."
"She has completely changed Virat. And Bhabhi has a lot on her plate. I should be helping her at this point, not taking her help. Hasn't she done enough for us?"
"Yes. I just don't..." Virat did not know how to react to Manvi and Simmy's emerging friendship. It was not just that. Things started changing rapidly. Simmy was more involved with their lives then ever. She was always there at Manvi's parents. She was taking good care of Mom and Dad and he could not help but be okay with everything. Surprisingly enough, she stayed civil and nice to him.
"What?" Manvi asked, breaking his reverie.
"Nothing sweetheart. Whatever makes you happy." he finally gave up.
He remembered what Manvi's mom told him when he was watching Manvi and Simmy chatting at her parent's place excitedly. They were laughing about something like little girls, totally unaware of everyone around them.
"I think that the fact that both of they faced the same incident, bound them back. It usually happens. They connect with each other and they feel like only the other victim can can understand and talk about that had happened. But, whatever the circumstances, looking at them reminds me of a simpler time, Virat. Are you sure this is not awkward for you?" she asked Virat.
"Well, honestly, it is a little awkward. But, I think that the fact that Manvi is happy is more important." he told Manvi's mom.
He was too busy to care about these things anyways, with his expanding company which was not a small one anymore. There were days when it was very stressful for both of them. And there was nothing more that he wanted than to move on. Let bygones be bygones - he rationalized.
Part 27 and 28 follow, scroll down.