If she was lost before , now she was devastated as she went about her work like a ghost . Were these days diffrent from others? she was doing the same thing meeting patients , chatting with friends ,but why did it feel so hollow? There was no fun in this ,on top of that she felt an unknown pain which could not be explained .. She went around like a ghost till she bumped into someone , surprise turned to shock when she saw who it was. Shock turned to smile…… to embarrassment…. to depression.
Why did you go to Pune ? was her first instinct to ask him but she stopped herself, why should she care if he did.
I missed you so much, was her next instinct but of course she wouldn't say that !
I am so glad you are back , tell him and see him die of shock …. She kept thinking and suppressing her urges to blurt out.
" Kaise ho Nikkita ?" He asked , looking down at her from his red spectacles.
" I .. I'm fine .." You ? hope you are well she though inside but still wouldn't say it …
This girl was behaving strangely today , acting all dumbstruck ,finding no further response from her , he left shaking his head and went to his cabin
She was looking pale !, he was concerned about her . She hadn't answered any of his questions , maybe there was something wrong . He decided to find out and called her to his cabin .
" How's work going on the project Nikita ? " he asked from behind his desk as she stood in front of him , her hands on his desk .
Was this all he cared for …. Project.
" Umm did you update those files I called about…?"
" Need my help in .."
" No "
" Should we call Shelly to …"
"NO! … I mean I'll manage it" she replied and ran out from his Cabin, leaving a puzzled Abhi behind.
A flustered Nikki collided with Ridhima in the corridor. " Nikki what's wrong "
"Everything is going weird Riddzi" Seeing that there was something badly troubling her friend , Riddzi decided to solve the matter by finding out what was happening.
" What's happening Niki ?"
"Riddhima … I … I don't like this Shelly "
" Shelly " Ridhima was surprised to find Shelly as a topic of discussion , but decided to probe anyway.
" Why what happened Nikki , is she bossy with you "
" No "
"Then ? "
"Bas aise he .."
" humm " Ridhhima tried to make sense of the discussion and probed further .." aur Nikki ? "
" Aur …yeh Abhi …."
"Ya what about him ? You don't like him also ?"
" No ! No I mean Yes … I mean… "
"What Nikki , any problem ? …… you don't like working with him ?"
"No , no I do ….."
" ..then he didn't take me to Pune …"
"He went to Pune but he didn't take me . …………. Why does he ignore me ?"
"Haan , doesn't talk to me , always busy with Shelly !"
" Shelly ………… humm , but why does it bother you Nikki ?" Now Riddhima was understanding everything that was happening with her friend .. But how to break it to her ?
"Nikki, how do you find Dr. Modi ?"
" Modi …akdoo , sadu , stupid, idiot , Hitler…"
"Ok OK, but how do you really find him ……………… You know he is a nice guy"
" Ya , he is ok not that bad…………………………
"He is very helpful .." Riddhima said trying to take the conversation in a particular direction.
"Haan he is helpful , he helped me on numerous occasions……… and … and his decisions are not that bad , he is hardworking , ………. he is nice and … and I hate it when he ignores me!"
That you are saying for the past half hour, but why don't you like it? " Ridhima probed ahead.
"Cause I want to be liked by him ………………….. I want him to pay attention to me and not to that stupid Shelly"
"I think you are in love with him " taking courage in her hand Riddhima let it slip very softly.
"What !" Nikki's eyes popped open wide." WHAT … what are you saying Ridzzi…………"
Ridhima's pager buzzed at the same time " Sorry Nikki , gotta go " and she moved to attend her patients.
Love it was a big word, no this could not be ! Ridz was mistaken and she would prove it to her. She decided to avoid Abhi. Surely avoiding him would help clear the confusion she felt whenever he was around and staying away from him would prove how wrong Riddzi was. Nikki avoided Abhi successfully till evening , in the evening she got a pager reading it : surprise turned to a small smile 'maybe he was missing her'. Then she remembered her resolve to ignore him she made a determined face as she left for his cabin and knocked. Abhi started as soon as Nikki entered " Are the file ready , we have to leave for the meeting .. ". Nikki stared at him surprised " Abhi meeting ? me ? "
" haan I called you , I told you we will be going for the meeting have you forgotten" , he asked exasperated "… bbut I thought Shelly"
" Shelly ? why will she go for the meeting? Nikki , she is not a representative of Sanjeevni." Here he went again shouting at her but she was happy.
" You will drop me back home ? " she asked her eyes wide and childlike .
" Y Ya .. " Abhi replied hastily.
" Theek hai main abhi tayaar hoke aati hoon .."she said with a wide smile and sprinted out from the room like a kid , Abhi stood puzzled at her changing moods since morning.
Abhi and Nikki sat in a restaurant , they had ordered dinner and as they waited for the order Abhi noticed that Nikki sat with a soft smile on her face lost in her thought.s
The meeting had gone well but this time round it was Nikki who sat silently in the car.
" Things look more promising by the day" Abhi broke the silence
" He seems genuinely interested in the project"
" His response is encouraging , I think we can plan ahead seeing that we are getting the right response "
What was with Nikki and her sudden maun vrat ? He thought as a sniffle sounded in response ," Nikki kya hua ? " Abhi asked worried concern lining his face.
" Abhi mujhe bahut bhook lagi hai…." She wailed.
Thus they found themselves sitting in the restaurant . Suddenly Nikki rose from her thoughts " Abhi this project is very prestigious right ? It will change the future of Sanjeevni right?" Abhi answered her questions with a soft smile and nod of his head.
"Thank you Abhi for choosing me for this project….." she gave him a big smile and he couldn't stop his own smile in response, this girl was so unpredictable and she looked so cute just like a little kid who had got all the candy had he ever noticed how sweet she really was ,maybe she had always been this sweet , but with their mutual dislike of each other , he had never been at the receiving end of this sweet side of her. Mutual dislike ……….. where did they stand on that right now ?
Energized by the food Nikki ranted in the car but getting no response from Abhi she had finally fallen silent. As Abhi stopped the car in front of her house he was surprised to find she had fallen asleep . Abhi slowly took in her profile , she was so beautiful , she looked almost ethereal sleeping like that . Invariable his hand rose and he wanted to touch her cheek but he came to himself and tapped her on the shoulder instead.
"A..Abhi yeh tum kya kar rahe ho…" she almost shrieked in his ear.
"K K kya kya kar raha hoon matlab? Nikki tumhara ghar aagaya" he struttered.
She looked out her window at her house and shrieked "A..Abhi ! Abhi "
" Oh ho yahi pe to baitha hoon chila kyun rahi ho , Nikki why are you shouting in my ears"
Nikki continued to panic "Abhi my porch light is off I always keep it lighted .. please come with me till the house to see if everything is alright."
Taking in her scared denamour he nodded and got out of the car Nikki ran upto him as they walked towards the house . Nikki came close to him and held his hand, together they went to the door, Nikki opened it and stepped inside ,still holding his hand tight she switched on the light switch. As the light filled the room she finally let go of his hand.. as the light illuminated the room Nikki stood smiling at him, as Abhi smiled back her smile became bigger. Abhi and Nikki kept looking at each other…Nikki was so sweet and innocent and scared like a kid, so venerable, she needed to be protected from this harsh world , to be looked after, nourished and humoured… realising where he was he came to himself yet retaining his smile he mouthed Goodnight to Nikki , Nikki smiled back and kept watching as he left.
She went up to her room and lay on her bed a long time, all the moments spent with Abhi played in her mind. The first flutter of her heart when they had collided in the valentine's party ,the tenderness she felt for him when he had helped her home after the Holi fiasco , had stayed by her all night and had even let her go lightly for all the trouble she had caused him by getting him drunk . The beautiful fun filled time spent with him in the medical camp and then at Armaan's roka . The fond feeling in her heart since she had come back from Panchgani , working with him , dinners, wanting to be always near him , missing the fights with him , missing him when he was not there………
" I love you Abhi" escaped her lips. She wasn't surprised anymore nor was she sad, realisation gave her power. 'She loved Abhi' and she was going to fight Shelly for him . With this determination she lost herself to sleep.