This is in continuation to previous post. You can read it here ----------> The twist in the tale!
To be continued .....Don't forget to provide your valuable feedback :)
The night was not that easy. The hospital that remained calm and quiet the last night again became busy with people rushing in and the corridor was filled with doctors and nurses. Patients were brought in on stretchers and wheelchairs. Ashima woke up from her half sleep. She saw that Rahul’s father, Praveen had already arrived there.
‘Hello Uncle,’ she said and rubbed her eyes.
‘Hello Ashima! How was the night? Did you sleep? It would have been really tough for you I know!!’ he sighed.
‘How’s Rahul now? Have you had any word with the Doc?’ Ashima asked.
‘Yeah, he is improving and he is conscious now. You can meet him if you want to.’
Ashima was excited from inside that Rahul had gained consciousness and wanted to meet him.
‘That’s good news!!’ she exclaimed in joy and moved inside to see him. Rahul was in his bed, propped up.
‘Thank you, Ashima!’ said Rahul. His voice was weak and shaky. He was deeply thinking, why is she doing all this?
‘For what, Rahul?’ she said.
‘You saved both of us and brought us here. I am grateful to you.’ Ashima wanted to tell him that not her, his father had brought him here but she decided that it was not the right time.
‘O c’mon Rahul, it’s completely fine.’ She smiled.
Praveen was looking from the round glass window outside the main door. He was happy to see his son saved from the hands of death. A police inspector came for the investigation. The doctor had called him informing him about Rahul’s gaining consciousness. Ashima stood up and went outside the room.
‘How did it all happen?’ he asked Rahul.
Rahul was in anger again as he recalled memory about his father. They were talking about him only when this accident took place. He was silent outside, but inside he was shouting.
‘It was nothing much just we were driving on the wrong lane and the things just got hay wired’ he tried to explain it to him. He was busy making notes on his pad. After a few minutes of questioning, the inspector came out of the room and left. Ashima stepped inside the room and sat on the stool beside him.
‘Rahul, why did you leave from my house in so much hurry that day?’ she enquired from him. She wanted to ease her curiosity. Rahul closed his eyes and let his head sink back on the pillow. What should he tell her, that he didn’t want any favor of his father? He wanted people to recognize him as Rahul, not ‘The Rahul Chopra’. He opened his eyes. ‘It was just that we had to complete the project’ he said wearily. ‘Nothing else.’
‘Hmm……’ Ashima was not satisfied with the answer he gave. But she realized that she can’t force herself on him. It would make his condition even worse.That night again, Ashima stayed in the hospital. She cancelled her photo shoots and all her appointments for one week. Praveen just came for one hour every day to see his son. Some days, he didn’t even visit the hospital, just enquired from Ashima about his condition. Busy man he is!! Ashima mumbled, raising her eyebrows as she ended the call. The time went on, days converted to nights and nights converted to days. Ashima stood there not as their friend but as a human being. Gaurav’s parents had come to take care of him but Rahul was alone with no one beside him. Somewhere she felt her own shadow in him. A lonely heart can only understand the feelings, pains and sorrows of other lonely heart. She stood with him firmly, and the day came when they were discharged.
Several weeks had passed after Rahul and Gaurav were discharged from the hospital. The time was very tough for both. The project which was assigned to them had been now handed over to some other team in the office. Rahul lay in his bed recalling the faint memories before accident. It all had screwed up. Damn!! Why did I go that crap party? His head was pounding again. They were assigned a new project this time, after a lot of pleading with their boss.
‘Where have you two been these three weeks? Do you have any sense of responsibility or not?’ he shouted from the other side of the table.
‘Sir, we told you we had an accident, a serious one.’ said Gaurav sheepishly. ‘We couldn’t contact you and we apologize for that too!!’ Rahul said apologetically.
‘Please sir, give us one more chance. This time we promise that we won’t let you down’.
‘Alright, but that project is now assigned to some other team.’ He said. ‘so……’
‘Sir we would work on some other project. Please sir…..’ Gaurav was just on his knees now. He didn’t want to lose this job.
Rahul stood their quiet, not uttering a single word in the boss’s cabin. He looked at pleading Gaurav on his knees and then glanced at the boss on the other side of the table. After few minutes of begging, boss agreed and handed over to them a project file.
‘Study about it and I am giving you both a week’s time. I want the presentation to be ready by then.’ He sneaked from behind his spectacles.
‘Sure sir, we will complete it by then.’ Gaurav gave an assurance. They took the file and moved out of the cabin.
Rahul had never faced such humiliation and embarrassment in his life as far as his work was concerned, all because of that crazy stupid night. His headache was turned into throbbing agony now. Just as he was shouting at Gaurav and was just about to slap him in his thoughts, he was disturbed by the message tone on his mobile. He picked up his mobile to see the message. He had invited Ashima for lunch. He was regretting that he shouldn’t have left her house like that. Ashima had tried to convince him to dig out what was troubling him but all her tries had fallen apart. Somewhere she felt that Rahul and she were sailing in the same boat. She had invited him to join her for lunch at her home but he always refused claiming some office work all the time. She was busy with her photo shoots as she had already cancelled them earlier so work load was at peak. She didn’t have time for having dine out. Rahul thought for a while, recalling that how she had helped him in there worse time. Though, that time came because of her only. She had told him that it was no big deal. She stood in the hospital because there was no one with them that time. After two weeks of prodding, she had agreed finally to come for dinner. He had called up Gaurav to join them for dinner. He refused claiming that he was going to meet Ankita. Rahul was surprised to hear that. Gaurav told him that he had played enough with Ankita’s emotions. He missed her like anything. He had realized that what he had done with Ashima that night was not right. He didn’t want to repeat that again.
‘Hey don’t you want to thank Ashima? She stayed in the hospital for around a week to take care of us only. We are strangers to her!’ Rahul said.
‘Yaar, I would be busy. I will not be able to come. I am thinking of meeting Ankita.’ Gaurav said.
Rahul was happy from inside. Alas! He realized his mistakes.
‘That’s really great news, man!’
‘Yeah! It’s been so long. She is not replying to my messages even. So I am thinking of meeting with her up.’
‘So what’s the plan?’ asked Rahul.
‘Umm… I haven’t thought about it. I am confused.’
‘Buy a beautiful present for her. Anything she likes the most. Just kneel down before her like you did when you proposed her. I am sure she will accept it. She would be missing you too I bet.’ Rahul said.
‘Who knows? She is not even talking to me. Every time I call her she cuts the phone.’ Gaurav was almost about to cry out.
‘Don’t worry buddy! Just try it out. I am telling you it’s going to be fine.’ Rahul comforted him.
After few minutes Gaurav agreed. He asked Rahul to give his best wishes to Ashima. Rahul wished him all the best and hung up. Clock struck eight. Rahul was all set to go for the dinner.
‘So… how are you now?’ asked Ashima looking at a plaster tied on his left hand.
‘I am fine now.’ Rahul said hiding it under the table.
‘How is Gaurav now? He didn’t come along?’
‘He is fine now. He was coming with me but at the last moment an important call…’
‘Okay, no problem.’
‘Are you always like this or you are doing it in front of me only?’
‘I mean why are you behaving so hideous?’
‘O c’mon, we don’t know each other and…’ he was staring at her.
‘And…?’ Ashima interrupted.
‘Nothing. You are always like this only?’ he counter questioned her.
‘Yeah I am like this only. We have to be. It’s our professional demand.’ She spoke out instantaneously.
Rahul was gaping at her. He was not believing what he was hearing or seeing. The waiter had come and gone. The talks were going on. Rahul felt like he had committed a crime and was being interrogated for it. She was throwing questions at his face one after the other like bullets leaving the gun.
‘Alright, now you tell me why you left my house that day?’ she asked directly to him this time.
‘It was we both had to complete the project work, I already told you.’ He said gushing down the last sip of water.
‘Tell me the real reason…’ Ashima said as she twiddled the glass.
Rahul was now sure that the girl sitting in front of him is a police officer. He could see himself being dragged to jail by two fat hawaldars.
‘What?’ he asked preventing an eye contact with her.
‘I know you went away when you heard about your father…’
This one word again raised tension in Rahul’s mind. He could feel a sudden adrenaline rush through his blood. All the memories again occupied his mind.
‘No you have a misunderstanding I guess’ he coughed.
‘Well I don’t think so…..’ Ashima glanced with confidence.
‘I am not here to discuss personal matters with you….’ He coughed again.
Ashima could see him turning uncomfortable with the talk about his father. She wanted to know the reason somehow. She had seen his father in the hospital. She knew this was her only chance and she didn’t want to lose this one. She wanted to know why a rich person like him is living away from his home.
‘Alright, I am a stranger for you right?’ She asked. ‘Friends?’ she smiled and she stretched her palm for a handshake.
Rahul was quiet. This is the girl who stayed maximum time in the hospital. C’mon go for it. His heart was screaming. No, this is the girl because of whom I landed in the hospital, his head shouted.
‘Friends!’ he smiled back, outstretched his hand and shook her hand. They continued the food and the talks. Guys really become stupid when they are with a girl! He had read in some newspaper article. He had no doubts that he was experiencing the same happening with him. They talked about several things ranging from likes, dislikes to parents like who all type questions. Ashima had changed the topic of their discussion so that he may become comfortable with her. Been in the fashion industry, she had learned to make friends easily, especially with the boys. They had been strangers about one and a half hour ago but now they were talking like they had known each other since ages.
‘Rahul, I met your father…’ Ashima touched his nerve again.
‘Ashima, please it would be better for you not to discuss him.’ he said firmly. He meant it this time.
‘But why? What’s the matter with you two guys? He comes to the hospital but is not willing to meet you. You don’t want to talk about him. Huh!’ she sniffed. ‘Why do you always have to freak out when I talk about him?’ she asked giving him a cold look.
‘What did you say? He, He came to the hospital?’ He guffawed.
‘You must have met someone else. He has no time for me.’ Rahul said.
‘I know whom I met. For god’s sake he’s your father….’ Ashima exaggerated.
‘He killed my mother……’ Rahul blurted out.
‘What? What did you just say? You mean his wife is….’ Ashima was shocked to hear it. the truth had pulled earth from beneath her feet
‘She is not my mother…..’ Rahul bellowed.
Rahul didn’t want the past feelings to spoil the mood. But he was helpless now. Ashima sank in her chair. The lady who is his wife is not his mother. Rahul told everything about what had happened, his life till he left his home at sixteen to live separately. She started to feel pity for him.
‘Rahul, I- I am so sorry…’ she held his hand on the table to soothe his agony. She felt how it must have been so terrible for him to lose his mother at such an early age.
Rahul was quiet, speechless. He wondered why he had to tell all this to her. The biggest secret of his life which he hid from everyone has been told to two people now, Gaurav, who was his best friend and Ashima who was known to him but still a stranger. Ashima looked at him sympathetically. She kept her hands over his. She had seen Praveen in the hospital. Somewhere she didn’t believe what Rahul was saying. She knew how it is to lose someone after Rohit who had left her. She came out of all that pain now. It took time but she had realized that she had to move on.
‘I think you should meet him, once at least.’ She said.
‘Ashima, No not again please…’
‘He is worried for you, he cares for you.’ She said. ‘I have seen him in the hospital.’
‘No, I don’t want to see his face ever in my life and that’s final.’ He said sternly.
‘Everybody makes mistakes, nobody is perfect.’ She tried to convince him.
Rahul was amazed. All the things he had thought about her in the beginning were proving wrong. Is she really like that? His perception about her changed as they chatted. Why does she want me to meet him? Why she so concerned? The questions were pounding his head hard. He was a little disoriented. The girl who is an upcoming star in a world full of heartless bastards was very different from them. She has a heart!
‘Well I guess it’s your life, I just said what I felt. But think about it.’ She said closing the bill book.
The dinner was over. The time had flown away. Rahul was surrounded by the air of skepticism. He gained senses, fiddled with his wallet to pay the bill but he realized later that she had paid the entire bill. Guys should pay the bill always when they are with a woman especially if it’s the first time. He scolded himself.
‘Well thanks for the dinner. You have lifted a huge burden from me.’ she smiled as she stood up to leave. She outstretched her hand for the handshake.
‘I too had a great time with an upcoming star! Hope we meet up again soon!’ He shook her hand.
They both exchanged smiles. Ashima turned around and left the restaurant in her Maybach.
Rahul stood there for a while before leaving, thinking about the conversations they had. No wonder she had played up with his mind. Left surprised, he drove back home.