PS: This is an episodic romantic story. Every week, a new episode will be published.
First Part. Second Part. Third Part. Fourth Part. Fifth Part. Sixth Part. Seventh Part. Eighth Part. Nineth Part. Tenth Part. Eleventh Part
Simmi was tense as a high-strung horse. She feared she was going to snap anytime. She had never seen so much of hospital in all of her 18 years and now she can’t seem to avoid it. She knew she didn’t need to be there but she had promised uncle. She knew she wasn’t obligated to be there because she wasn’t Arpit’s friend but still she wanted to help. Although Darpan uncle was surrounded by relatives, it still seemed he was alone. Darpan uncle had already asked her several times to go home and rest but she felt guilty. For what, she didn’t know. Maybe it was something to do with Arpit taking care of her when she was hit by a ball. Or maybe it was because of the odd relationship she seemed to have with Arpit. Whatever it was, she had decided to stick throughout the whole thing, and she was going to do that.
“Mamaji, don’t you worry. Everything is going to turn out fine. Trust God. He always have better plans for us humans.” Simmi saw some young man trying to comfort Darpan uncle.
At least he wasn’t telling uncle to let go of Arpit even before he was dead, Simmi thought with disgust. In last one week, she saw too many shallow and vain relatives visiting Arpit. There was one aunty – whose name she didn’t know – who had cried buckets after hugging Darpan uncle lamenting the death of Arpit. It didn’t matter to her that Arpit was still alive in ICU. She was already completing his last rites. And the irony of the entire situation was, Darpan uncle had ended up comforting her instead of the other way round.
Who could blame her for disliking Arpit’s relatives so intensely when she saw the same aunty laughing whole-heartedly after 15 minutes when some young woman cracked some inappropriate joke? May be it was her who had displaced sense of right or wrong.
She badly needed coffee and to eat something. She thought of dragging Darpan uncle to the cafeteria that was located in the basement of the hospital but thought better of it when she saw the same aunty talking with the uncle. She decided to go anyway. She needed some time away from Arpit’s boisterous relatives to calm down.
“Simmi beta, please come here,” called Darpan uncle just when she was about to leave for the cafeteria.
“Will you sit in the ICU with Arpit? Now he’s stable enough to have some company. I don’t think I’m in fit state to see him hooked up with so many machines.” Darpan uncle’s voice cracked while making the request.
Nodding to uncle, she entered the ICU. As soon as she saw Arpit, she was bombarded with cacophony of feelings. Pity, anger, sympathy and affection warred with each other. She no longer knew what she felt for Arpit. Maybe some feelings didn’t need name. Maybe some relationships didn’t need to be defined. Maybe someday she will be able to look back at this time and would know what it was.
Just when Simmi was falling into a trance, Arpit groaned. At first, she thought it was her imagination because Arpit was supposed to be unconscious for few more hours. Or so the doctor had said.
Thinking it was her active imagination, Simmi tried to think about some pleasant things. The continuous dose of hospital environment had started giving her jitters. Again she heard something like a moan.
Looking at Arpit, she still wasn’t sure if it was indeed him because his eyes were still closed and he was still as dead. Dead. Maybe she shouldn’t think of such a word when Arpit had nearly lost his life yesterday.
“Uhhhhhh……” Simmi actually saw Arpit moaning. She was ecstatic. He was going to be fine. He was going to live. She rushed to the nurse’s station and informed the on-duty doc about Arpit’s groaning. The doc as well as the nurse rushed to Arpit’s bedside and started prodding him.
“Ma’am, can you please wait outside? We will call you within few minutes.”
Although Simmi didn’t want to go, she doubted she had any choice. She wanted to stay and see what they were going to do. She also knew it was absolutely the wrong time to get curious.
Quietly she went outside and sat beside Darpan uncle, who was now slumped on the scarred wooden bench. He was alone, looking tired and dejected.
Simmi couldn’t contain the excitement in her voice. “Uncle, it seems Arpit has gained consciousness.”
As soon as the words flew out of Simmi, uncle jerked upright with shock. Simmi could totally understand uncle’s reaction because she knew that uncle had given up any hope of Arpit surviving.
“Really?” Looking at the tears streaming down the uncle’s face, Simmi threw herself in uncle’s arms.
“Yes, uncle. It seems our Arpit is quite stronger than what everybody expected. He’s really going to live and harass you for more years to come.”
Darpan uncle returned her hug and cried harder. He was grateful to God. All his prayers were answered. He won’t have to go through the nightmare of outliving his own flesh and blood. He was given a second chance of becoming a good father. He won’t waste this chance.
Arpit glared at Simmi ferociously. He was bloody hungry and all they gave him were medicines. When he asked Simmi to get him something, even toast would do, she just shook her head and went back to reading magazine. Stardust at that! If she was so much interested in Bollywood gossip, why was she sitting beside him? Didn’t she have anything better to do?
“Where is Dad? I want him. Not you.”
Simmi barely looked at him and went back to reading that infernal magazine! How dare she ignore him! And who allowed her to sit here?
For a minute, Arpit considered calling out for the nurse’s help but then he remembered the ill-tempered shrew of a nurse he had been assigned. It seemed it was a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. That didn’t mean he liked it. Just for the heck of it, he continued glaring holes at Simmi. Maybe he could shame her into giving him something. The Simmi he knew would get intimidated in few minutes. But then, the Simmi he knew wouldn’t be ignoring him so blatantly. It seemed he had lost the ability to scare Simmi in this fiasco.
Growing tired of glaring, Arpit grudgingly closed his eyes for few minutes. He decided to give her hell once he was out of the hospital. Maybe he will re-instill the fear of him in her, Arpit thought with a smile. Generally, he couldn’t care if anyone was scared of him or not but he liked the idea of Simmi being nervous in front of him. Because when Simmi was nervous, she would do everything he asked without voicing questions. The bottom line was, he liked Simmi following him blindly. It didn’t matter even if it was out of fear.
Man, he missed kissing her. Even though he had only kissed her couple of times, he missed it. He missed the feeling of her in his arms. He missed teasing her. Most of all, he missed making her angry. He never thought he would ever feel these things for anyone, least of all a timid girl. Who unfortunately seemed to have developed guts overnight, he added to himself after opening his eyes to give Simmi a brief scathing look. She was still engrossed in Stardust!
What was there to read so much in Stardust? Or was she ogling half-naked men in the advertisement the magazine tended to publish? The last question gave a jolt to Arpit. He again looked over Simmi.
Deciding to find answers for his questions, he took another approach.
“What are you reading?”
Simmi looked at him suspiciously. Even though Arpit was irritated by the way Simmi was looking at him, he doubled his efforts to look innocent. He wanted answers and he knew the new Simmi wouldn’t reply him if she decided he didn’t ask politely enough.
“What’s so interesting?” Arpit asked again, trying to keep impatience out of his voice.
Simmi couldn’t find any logical reason why Arpit was suddenly so interested in knowing what she was reading. To know where the matter was going, she decided to answer honestly.
“I’m reading a short story in the magazine.”
“What’s the story about?”
Simmi couldn’t contain her incredulity at Arpit’s questions. Throughout the morning, Arpit had been rude to her. Demanding for junk food that clearly wasn’t allowed and growling at her every time she refused. She still had to put up with Arpit for an hour or so before Darpan uncle could come from the bank.
“Why do you want to know?”
“You won’t feed me. You won’t answer any of my questions. What am I supposed to do? Stare at the ceiling? Which, by the way, must be just 7 feet high.”
“Well, you can use this time more productively.”
“By doing what?”
“Thinking on your erroneous ways. Thinking how you can become a better son, a better man.”
Arpit wasn't in the mood to listen to any lecture. He knew his days of LSD were over. He had seen his father suffering and surprisingly, he didn’t want to put him through that again. However, it didn’t mean he will admit this to this chit of girl.
“I have also thought about something else.”
“What?” Simmi was instantly wary. She hated the way Arpit drawled out the sentence.
“How I am going to kiss you.” Arpit wasn’t kidding about it. In last 3 days, he had ample of time to think about Simmi. When he wasn’t thinking about his relationship with his father, he was obsessing about Simmi.
Of course he didn’t love Simmi. Lust? Now that was another matter. Maybe he should just kiss her. At least that will give him some temporary relief.
“You are out of your mind. And if you continue to harass me like this, I will tell uncle.”
Hearing the outrage in Simmi’s voice, Arpit’s eyes glinted with amusement. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. The little girl doesn’t know how to fight her own battles. How long will you hide behind someone? Don’t you think it’s time to grow up and act your age?”
The last question did it. Simmi exploded like a ticking time bomb. She no longer cared that she was in hospital and Arpit had just escaped death few days back.
“First you learn how to act your age and then tell me. You advising me of picking my own fights sounds like a pot calling a kettle black. You can’t even face your own issues with your dad and you are calling me coward! You know, I’m here for Darpan uncle. Not you. You don’t deserve 5 minutes of my life, let alone kissing or coddling with you. You can rot in hell for all I care.”
Simmi somehow managed to walk out of the room without physically assaulting Arpit. She really pitied Darpan uncle.