18: Where the heartbeats lie together
watched from the corner of his eye. She had put her elbow on the window, her
fingers delicately playing with her hair that was bouncing on her face from the
air outside. She looked so beautiful, so serene. His lips unwantedly curved
into a small smile. Her eyes closed, she was a humming a tune almost inaudibly,
as if she was loving the ride and never wanted it to end.
shook his head to distract himself. As quick as he could, he hid a soft sigh to
himself. This was way different from what he had thought. He had thought, that
staying close by, even for a short time, would be weird, after all that had
happened. But with every moment he spent with her, he began to get these little
feelings of peace down him. Sometimes it felt so easy, to forget every bad
thing that had happened and just be happy, with these tiny moments carving
themselves in the book of memories.
cool air hitting her face was making her feel more ecstatic than she already
was. Her heart was beating ever so rhythmically, as if tuning itself with the
tune she was humming. It was her favourite tune- Armaan's first song for her.
Whether she'd be sad, happy, depressed, lonely or tired, she hummed this tune.
It did the trick for her- Amazingly, this had some magical effects that soothed
her and made her forget everything she was thinking previously and just indulge
in memories, of his voice.
here.", said his voice. Her eyes opened to the sight of darkness. She turned to
him, in the light of the car, to see he was getting out of the car. Taking a
breath, she opened the passenger door and stepped out. He locked the car with a
beep and then they both got out of the garage, with Armaan closing it with his
key. She puffed out some air, and rubbed
her arms. The air was chilly, and her knee-length dark pink evening dress
(which yes, was sleeveless) wasn't helping.
the owner of the house felt for the keys of his house in practically all his
pockets. Finally he found it, almost pressed in between the folds of his
wallet. Jingling it in his hands, he put back the wallet and tried one of the
keys out of the bunch. One after another, he frowned and tried all the keys,
but none of them seemed to open his main door. She hid a giggle and patiently
stood behind him, watching. At last the door opened, with him letting out a
sigh of relief.
he held out the keys to her, to which she raised an eyebrow.
just..a...put the car in the garage. You can open the rooms.", he said.
shrugged and smiled back, holding the cold steel keys in her hand. Air rushed
in again and she shivered a little, cursing herself for being so sensitive to
cold still, and then she rubbed her arm with one hand, walking to in front of
his room. Now she was the one confused as to which key opened the room. She
groaned as fumbled with the keys, and the jingling sound echoed in Armaan's
do it..", a gentle voice said as he placed his hands on the lock, which she was
holding. His touch made her look up to him, and very hesitantly, he looked back
at her. A moment of awkwardness swept through, they looked away, and he slowly
removed his hand.
he struggled to break the silence, "I..can open the door."
nodded absently and gave the keys back to him. Armaan in a jiffy put a key in
the lock and pushed the door open. Then he walked inside.
in the darkness, as moonlight flooded the room from the glass transparent door
of the verandah, the effect was tantalizing. A calmness spread over her, as in
still by his bedside, lay a picture of them both. His walls were covered by his
guitar, a clock, and a picture of his parents, a calendar, with his huge
almirah covering half of the space.
Surprisingly, even his bed was well made, and the white and light blue
bed sheet glistened in the moonlight. She smiled.
growling of clouds and the sudden darkness in the room brought her back to
earth. The wind was fierce again, and she was sure that it had to rain. But
rains in November? Weird. She looked
beside and all around her to notice that she was alone. Panicking, she held the door, and called out,
here. Coming!", came his reply from a little far away.
are you?", she called out, rubbing her arms again. Damn these cold winds., she thought. "It's kind of...dark in...here..."
reply didn't come. Instead she heard the jingling of his keys, the rustle of
his footsteps, and saw his face illumined in the emergency light he was
the current's gone off. It's going to rain, I guess. Quite chilly weather. I've
switched on the inverter, and gave it on charge. It'll come on in some 5 to 10
nodded as she looked at the main door, still open. Her body shivering with
cold, she clattered her teeth, and closed the door as quickly as she could. A
slight shiver of warmth spread through her.
were feeling cold?", he asked from behind. She turned as he corrected himself,
"Oh sorry, of course. How could I forget?", he muttered.
okay Armaan, I'll be fine.", she breathed out.
can't take a risk, Riddhima. We both know that you're too sensitive to cold,
and it even makes you faint. I won't let that happen to you.", the worry was
layered in his tone. She looked down, and sighed.
know you wouldn't.", she replied meaningfully.
ran a hand through his hair, "And erm...you might..", he pointed to her dress, "Need
smiled at his hesitant concern, and looked up. "Yes. So...Could you lend me
something out of your closet? Like your pullover or something?"
want to wear my clothes?", his tone
shrugged, "Is that a problem?"
shook his head. "Yeah, I'll just..", he pointed to his bedroom, "Get something."
wanted to follow him, the darkness was menacing. Yet she was hesitant.
yes, Riddhima.", he came back halfway, "You can take my room for the night. The
guest room is too..erm, dirty."
be comfortable on the sofa, so chill. I'll be fine."
that's not fair! It's your house, you sleep in your room! I'll sleep outside."
You know I can't do that. To you."
if I can let you sleep in your sofa!", she protested back.
Okay listen.", he came forward and held her shoulders, "I am used to it. When
the guys are here, we hardly go to the rooms. We always fall asleep on the
sofa. So It'll not be a problem."
Riddhima, trust me. I'll be fine. And can't you do this much for me?"
sighed, surrendering. Walking forward with her hands still crossed over her
chest, she muttered, 'he's too good.'
the inverter was switched on, and the lights were on in the house, except in
the living room. He gave her his (and hers) favourite purple pullover, and she
put it on her dress. He had to admit, even in that weird fashion, she looked
the most beautiful girl he'd come across. She casually put her palms inside the
arms of the pullover, and anyway it was long for her, almost covering whole of
her dress. She was finally warm.
smiled back, "Pleasure. Would you like coffee?"
her watch said 12:50 am.
actually I have coffee every day before going to sleep. No reason whatsoever."
left the room, and she sighed, looking all around. Holding the pullover closer
to herself, she closed her eyes and inhaled the musky smell that was just Armaan. It seemed as if she could feel
him. As if he was holding her. She wished he would. Pulling back her hair into
a bun, she looked at her image in the mirror for some time, till his call came
from the living room.
handed her a cup of steaming coffee, and lifted his own. The coffee was quite
well made, and it surprised her. Smiling to herself she sipped it cautiously,
taking care not to burn her tongue. Armaan on the other hand was busy in
collecting his thoughts and closing the garden side window from where the wind
was blowing fiercely, this time carrying a little wetness in it. Surely it was going
to rain. When he turned back, he was almost scared to suddenly find her
standing beside him. Her hand was in the pocket of the pullover, and another
hand was balancing her cup. And her eyes were twinkling with the faint
moonlight from the clouds, and that rustle of the trees.
he said, not knowing how to start.
turned and raised an eyebrow. "I mean...the coffee, its okay, right?"
looked skeptically at her cup, "I love it.", she whispered, "Just the way I
dimpled at that sentence, and raised his own cup to his lips.
fingers drummed on the cup, as she didn't raise her eyes to look at him, "Thank
you Armaan."He had just turned to take back the cup from her since they both
what?", he asked, genuinely surprised.
this. It's been ages since..", she looked up, and he became stiff, "Since I had
a coffee as good as this one.", she ended with a short quiet laugh.
breathed a sigh of relief and simply smiled at her. Deep down inside they both
knew what she really wanted to say, but didn't. He was thankful to her, but
still somewhere in his heart he had wanted to listen to her saying that she
missed nights like these, with him. The numerous nights like this, way back in
college. When they would be nothing but just coffee, whispers and giggles, and
should go to sleep, Riddhima. We both have duty tomorrow."
stood up, her locks falling over her face from the messy bun. Sleep was miles
away from her. In fact, she wondered if she would really sleep or not. She
thought for a while and said, "Well...I am not really sleepy."
think so.", he said, the rushing sound of the tap suddenly closing, "You'll be
asleep in a while if you lie down. You've worked so much today, and then the
party. You must be tired.", his tone was gentle.
please..I'm not tired. And right now this weather..it won't let me sleep."
though I'm sensitive to cold and all, I love this weather. Even the sight of it
is so soothing. Just makes me want close my eyes, sit in front of the window,
and listen to soft music."
like before.", he muttered.
said something?", she half-smiled while she asked.
raised his head quickly to defend himself, "No..nothing. Just, I mean it's
already 1am, you really should go to sleep."
be a bore!", she frowned, "We can do so many things!"
his eyebrows rose up, "And what really does Miss Gupta think we can do at
1am?", he crossed his hands in front of his chest.
took a breath, grinned, and walked to where he was. "Talk.", she said softly.
the flow of the moment, she took his arm, and said, "Anything! Have we ever run
out of topics since the time we became friends?"
stopped walking with her, which automatically made her turn back. He was
looking at her hand holding his arm. She
bit her lip.
you mind?", she asked, her heart suddenly picking up speed.
looked as startled by the question as she herself was. After searching her
eyes, he slowly dimpled and shook his head. Within a fraction of a second she
smiled and she was sure, the warm tingling feeling rushing down her spine was
having the same effect on him.
not that one! It was so embarrassing!"
laughed, holding his stomach this time, "No..That was seriously Classic!"
mean, I didn't even realize what I was saying! Sunscreen and all'"
he took a breath, as he laughed again, "We couldn't believe our ears when you
seriously told Daksha that 'Take this, it prevents skin darkening!' when her
skin was flawlessly dark!"
she giggled this time, "God..I can still remember her reply!"
coughed and sat up, "Yeah, she was like 'Prevents, but doesn't cure na!' And her face- the glare she gave you!"
was even worse was the way you guys laughed!", she shook her head.
teased you about that for about a week!", he grinned.
remind me of it, she and Nikki had got their new entertainment with this. You
remember your and Abhi's incident?"
dressing of the Skeleton contest?", he said.
it was her turn to laugh loud and clear, "Yes! He'd got..N-Nikki's dress to
dress up the skeleton!", she was in fits of laughter now.
was my plan.", he grinned, confessing and half-laughing at the same time, "The
beating he got after that was commendable..and you remember that wig that one of
our classmates got from somewhere?"
best..best part was, when you guys put it behind Atul to scare him, in the
dark..and he was like, 'Anjali! What's happened to you!' !"
laughed their hearts out. She was right- they hadn't gone out of topics. Since
they started talking, they just had been talking, remembering, laughing,
smiling and getting silent sometimes..but surely, it was one of the best moments
of her life. And that way, they didn't even realize, that almost two hours had
what really seemed a long, billion years that both of them had laughed
heartily. Armaan couldn't believe he was enjoying so much even after such a
long day. He felt so alive. He felt happy. And he couldn't ask for more. On
the other hand, she was living what would probably be one of the cherished
moments with him. Those dimples, that laugh, that alive nature, that twinkle in
his grey-blue eyes- she was bringing back her Armaan after such a long time.
wall clock made a sound, and they both turned towards it. Armaan was taken
aback to see it was 2:35 am, time had flown. It seemed like they had just
started talking a minute back. He stopped laughing immediately, and said, "I
think it's time we go to sleep.."
sighed, she couldn't argue with him anymore. "Right.", she said sadly.
didn't say anything while she stood up and in very slow steps, walked towards
the bedroom room. In an attempt to keep himself occupied, he started arranging
the cushions on his sofa where they were sitting. She looked back once, sighed,
and entered the room.
a while she debated whether to close the door or not. The room was dark now,
except for the rain she could see clearly outside. It made the room cooler, but
not so cold that she had to shiver. At
last when her mind said, 'It's just
Armaan. What's the big deal?' did
she climb into the soft bed without closing the bedroom door. She had left the
ceiling fan switched on at a slow speed, so that with the verandah door closed,
as well as wearing the pullover and taking a sheet on herself she wouldn't be
uncomfortable. And it wasn't long since her tiredness overpowered her.
"Please. No. You can't do this.
You promised, you promised...", she muttered on, trying to ignore what she
heard. She felt lost, helpless,
defeated, lifeless, all at the same time. The least she could do, was to press
her ear to his chest, and hear maybe what was the last faint heartbeat.
"Please, we can't stop trying.
His heart is beating.", her words were rushed and broken.
"It won't work, Riddhima.",
came a tired, helpless reply, "You know it's over."
"ITS NOT OVER! HIS HEART IS
BEATING! ", she could feel her warm tears on her burning cheeks, her throat
paining from the impact of the rough and sudden shout. "Once more please.."
A beep interrupted as she
turned around rapidly to the machine to see a clear green line running through
it, the loud sound piercing her ears.
"That..That..",she pointed and
shook her head, wiping her eyes hurriedly with her elbow, "Its-just-not
TRUE..Please, I-he-please!", she requested frantically again.
"PLEASE! I swear he'll be okay!
He promised me, PLEASE!"
"HE IS GODDAMIT DEAD RIDDHIMA!
That hit the nail at the point.
She could feel her knees wobbling as she brought her hands to her hair. Her
senses felt numb with shock as his body was carried out. Feeling something wet
in her hands, she brought them in front of her face to see it dripping with
blood, the same red blood colour that had stained her clothes. Her vision was blurring, and finally when she
heard a distant cry, she felt herself hitting the cold floor.
hadn't been able to sleep. He put down the novel he was reading to get a glass
of water. Maybe it was the sofa, and because he was so used to sleeping in his
soft bed, peacefully, full of dreams. As he shook his head, and poured himself
a glass of water, and automatically yawned. He gulped down the water, scratched
his head as he yawned again. Finally,
he thought to himself and looked at the watch. 3:05 am. Absently or
intentionally, his gaze diverted to his bedroom, and he wondered if she was
sleeping peacefully. If she was feeling cold.. He walked inside, quite surprised
to see the door open.
was tossing and turning furiously, muttering something, her face had
perspiration all over, and she held the sheet tight in her hands. Panic rose
through him, and he was unsure whether to wake her, or hold her, or comfort
him..please..s-save..", she muttered on incoherently and now he was getting more
panicked. It was a nightmare that was affecting her, and very badly. He had
just sat on the bed, when she sat up suddenly, her breathing quick, hasty, her
eyes bloodshot. For a second or two she sat like that, and then she checked her
hands. Frantically looked around. Armaan knew he had to speak up now.
he called gently.
didn't seem to hear him. Tears clogged her eyes and finally travelled down her
cheek, which scared Armaan further. Hesitantly, he forwarded his finger to wipe
them away. That certainly caught her attention. She looked at him, and he was
taken aback for a second. Her eyes were red and puffy, lost. She wasn't the
Riddhima who was talking to him so freely that same night.
couldn't save him.", she said in a hoarse whisper, her gaze unwavering.
he asked. She turned away, and sobbed furiously into her hands. He edged closer, and held her shoulders.
Riddhima everything's fine! Everyone's okay..Just look at me once, please,
Riddhima? It's me, and it was just a dream, a dream..", he muttered to her.
was not a dream, Armaan..Not a nightmare...You don't understand..", she replied
in a broken voice, her tears coming out furiously. He was desperate to comfort
her, and found no other way, but to pull her towards his chest and hold her.
rocked her like a child, and she held his shirt tight, almost digging her nails
into his back through the material of his shirt, and sobbed and cried
furiously, whispering in broken tones in between.
okay, baby..You're with me..", he smoothed her hair, and held her, not caring how
tight she was holding him.
all my fault..my fault..", she whispered back. He lifted her head from his chest
and cupped her face. She was still crying, in the hangover of that nightmare.
to me Basket. You're with me, and everything's fine. We had lots of fun today,
we talked. Nothing's wrong..I won't let anything to be wrong. And I Love you.",
he ended quietly.
hugged him again, sobbing softer this time, but still shivering. He didn't
hesitate to hold her this time, and rocked her hair again.
so sorry Armaan..", her almost unclear, broken voice whispered.
can tell me if you want.", he whispered back, "But only if you want."
stayed there like that for some time, and finally got up. Her cheeks were dry
now, and she looked in a far better state. "I'm sorry, I guess I
over-reacted.", she said in a tight tone. He knew she still wasn't alright, and
she wouldn't be, till she had it all out of her. But he was hesitating to ask,
if it would hurt her? He was unsure
whether to stay there, or to get up. A part of him was upset that she didn't
want to tell him what was bothering her, but then, as he had said previously,
it was her decision.
was my first child patient.", her voice made him sit down again, "The closest
thing I had to a friend in Delhi." She was looking forward, or nowhere, just
lost in her memories. But at least she's
speaking it out, he thought.
name was Gaurav, and he was a 15 year old school student. A brilliant,
intelligent student, a star in football, and also someone so quiet, shy, and
hesitant as a innocent school goer. He had brain tumor.", she stopped, probably
to hide another tear that was rolling down her cheek. Armaan wanted to hold her
again, but he held himself back, and saw her clutch her sheet tight.
didn't become friends at first. Gaurav was terrified of doctors and hospitals,
and he hated it there. But slowly and gradually when he began to understand his
situation, his attitude started to alter. From 'how are you' we started every
day, and when his time was coming near, we talked endlessly . I had seen a
different shine in his eyes then. The shine to do something. To achieve
something..and he did. He gave his board examinations there in the hospital,
because he still had that belief that he'd be cured."
we knew better. He was a 15 year old boy. If we operated his tumor, he would
die. If we didn't, he would die. He didn't have that much power in him to
resist death. He was just a child..",she paused and closed her eyes tightly,
running her hand through her hair to control herself. Armaan was looking away,
now maybe beginning to understand her situation.
didn't let him lose hope, and maybe that's why, he liked me best. I treated him
like he would go run about the football field the next moment. When we had
become friends, he wasn't the same quiet boy as before. He talked, so much. He
loved to talk about his friends and football. I had even met his friends. He
wasn't just a patient to me..he had become, maybe the little brother I never
had..", her voice broke at that point, and she couldn't stop her tears. He held
her hand and patted it.
began once more, "He had just asked one thing from me, just one thing."
"Didi, how long
will you look after me this way? One day.."
him a cross look, "I will never talk to you again if you talk like that.
Promise me you will never think like that? Promise me you'll keep your heart
He leaned towards
her, his spiked hair falling on his face, and his black eyes shining, "I
promise, if you promise me that you'll keep trying till the last minute."
She smiled, "I
promise." And they shook hands.
keep his promise, Armaan.", she said, "I kept trying, but he kept slipping
away. I couldn't believe he was gone. I couldn't look myself in the eye, nor
could go out of the OT to look at his parents. For two to three weeks, I didn't
sleep. I felt as if closing my eyes would make that memory of his death flash
itself in front of my eyes. It's been five years since that incident..it
suddenly came out of the blue tonight, and still, it gave me goosebumps."
was silence for some minutes when nobody spoke, and Armaan asked her, "Feel
better?" to which there was no answer. Her exhausted eyes had closed itselves,
and her head lay on his shoulder, her hand still laced through his. He breathed
a sigh of relief, and laid her down carefully, then tried to get up. He fell
back beside her, since she was holding to him so tightly, scared of letting go.
In a corner of his heart, he was scared too, what if the nightmare came again?
So he shifted her a little, and made place for himself.
a long time, he stared at her face, making sure there was no sign of
discomfort. And there was none. She slept completely peacefully now, and
slowly, his eyes closed too. Time ticked away, and as the rain outside ceased,
they were lost...Where the heartbeats lay together.
My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion
Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you, go on
Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you, go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never let go till we're gone
Love was when I loved you
One true time I hold you
In my life we'll always go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
You're here, there's nothing I fear
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on