/*Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.*/
Looking into the horizon and the setting Sun, only one thought was lingering in my mind. “How did I reach here?” I found myself standing on a bridge that was built across the river. That bridge has always been my go to place, where I used to gather myself, to once again go back and battle with my life. But that day, I had lost all hope and there was no more energy left inside me. I looked across the bridge and there were not many vehicles crossing it. I slowly climbed onto the bridge wall, halfway, and I could hear my heart beat soaring high. It seemed that I needed lot of courage to do what I was going to do. As I was quivering from head to toe, I heard a sudden voice from my back, calling out my name, “Aaru betaa…”. It was my father’s voice. I turned back and found nobody there. It was just my imagination. I was his pet. I was my father’s little girl and I loved him so much. The love that he had showered on me and the sacrifices he had made for me throughout my life, were priceless. But I couldn’t give back anything to him and I got myself into this situation. I wished that I could go back to him, but the guilty feeling inside me was killing me and I thought that I was doing the right thing. I continued to climb the wall and stood straight on top of it.
My whole body was quaking because I had this fear of heights and also the fear of water. So I closed my eyes and was about to step forward. But again, a sudden voice screamed out my name, “HEYY…AARTiiii….!!!” And I recognized the voice. It was him. But it could just be my imagination. I opened my eyes and turned back, just to confirm. But I found him there. He was shouting my name and asking me to stop and was running towards me from the other side of the bridge. As I was still standing there in confusion, a speeding car had hit him hard, right in front of my eyes and he took a flight into the air and crashed down on the road, dragging himself for some 5 meters distance. Was it a dream? I thought for a moment. I closed my eyes and opened again, only to find him lying down with splashes of blood, spread across the road. I woke up, climbed down the wall, rushed towards him, sat down on the road, took his bloody head onto my lap, looked into his eyes that were seeing the sky wide opened, and said, “DHRUVV…Dhruvv…wake up…talk to me… Dhruvv…please…”. As I was speaking these words, tears were flowing down my face involuntarily, as I couldn’t feel his presence. He was still looking up into the sky and I couldn’t help myself from bursting into tears. Crying out loud and hugging him. I covered his head with my dupatta and was barely in my complete senses. I haven’t cried like that for anybody else in my entire life. That was the moment I realized how much I loved him. I hugged his head tight into my chest, covering my arms around him. I looked back at him like a mother who would look at her child that was asleep. And I saw his eyes were closed. There were many people gathered around us and an ambulance had arrived. The doctor checked the pulse quickly and told me, “He is Alive!!! He has got the pulse. Let’s get him to the hospital quickly.” I couldn’t move from where I was sitting because of the trauma I was going through. Some people lifted him from my arms and placed him on the stretcher in the ambulance. A lady helped me up and I sat in the ambulance, holding his hand as the doctors arranged oxygen mask on him. We arrived at the hospital and he was rushed to the ICU. The nurse over there brought a form and asked me, “Mam…? What’s your relation to the patient?” and without a glimmer of doubt, I replied, “Wife…”.
“Okay mam. Can you sign this form please?”, the nurse said while handing me the form and I signed it.
“He is being taken to the ICU in the 5th floor. Can you please go there.”, she said and I did as she told.
I sat down outside the ICU in one of the chairs. After 10 minutes my name was called by the attender, “Aarti?”
“Yes”, I replied and went close to him.
“The doctor wants to see you. Can you go inside?”, he suggested
I went in and met the doctor and he said, “Big injury on his head and multiple fractures on the body. Good amount of blood is lost. We will have to operate on him.”
I nodded my head saying yes and the doctor replied, “Please arrange the money. We will take care of him.”
But I didn’t have any money with me. I was just a student in a medical college who got her seat through scholarship. But him, he was rich, very rich, hailing from an affluent family. I just took out one of his credit cards and swiped at the counter. I came back to the ICU and sat there with my head down in my palms. I made a call to my close friend and roommate Mansi and she arrived after 30 minutes. She came to me, sat down beside me and asked, “How is he now?”
“I don’t know. He is getting operated.”, I said with a blank face.
“Why did he come to meet you? And why did you go without telling me? I called you so many times, you didn’t even lift my call?”, she asked me the obvious questions.
“I went to jump into the river but he saved me..”, I replied the truth and narrated what had happened.
Mansi got angry with my blunt reply and spoke with a harsh tone, “Have you gone MAD, Aaru?!!! Do you even know what you were doing? Is this why you came here? To kill yourself? Did you even think about your parents? Your father who loves you so much?”, and she started crying.
I couldn’t control my tears and hugged her and cried with her and confessed with a tear-filled voice, ‘I love him so much..I couldn’t control myself…” and to which, she didn’t reply anything. She just caressed my hair because she knew me…
Couple of years ago:
First day of my college. It was a dream for me. To become a doctor and serve my small village that was lacking basic medical facilities. I hailed from a farmer’s family. My father had sacrificed his entire life to take care of me and gave me everything I wanted and I loved him so much for that. It was his dream too, to see his little daughter in a white apron serving the villagers. We had less, but we were a happy family.
“Aaru beta, I paid your hostel fee. Here, take this receipt with you. Go to the hostel and they said that they will allocate a room for you.”, he said in a caring voice as always, cause he had never left me alone in all these years.
“Eat well and call me regularly. I will come and visit you once in a while. Be a good girl. Okay?”, he said keeping his hand on my head as a blessing. And I smiled.
“Okay papa..”, I said but I was feeling nervous and alone. I bid him goodbye with tears, as usual.
I walked into the hostel room and there I found a cute girl, lying down on her bed, having some snacks. She looked at me with those baby eyes and asked me in a stern tone, “Who the hell are you?”
“Your friend..” I replied confidently because somehow I found a small kid behind her serious face.
Hearing my reply, she got down from her bed, walked towards me, gave me a shake hand and said, “Welcome, dost…” with a warm smile. Since then, I and Mansi became best of friends. She was from the city but wanted to stay in hostel and study. She wanted to be free. She showed me how city life looks like. We used to go out together and have fun and knowing my financial background, she always used to pay for me. She always said, “Tu mere saath chal, bas..” and I used to smile and go along with her, wherever she took me. We helped each other in our studies and the whole class knew about our friendship and how close we were.
Towards the end of our second semester, one fine sunny day, as our professor was explaining about physiology, and as we were all listening to him in utter silence, a voice was heard from the entrance of the classroom.
“May I come in, professor?”, and the entire class turned its heads towards the voice.
“You are?”, our professor asked him.
“Lateral..”, he said…
That was the first time I had seen him, a handsome and stylish young man, was chewing gum and was in complete formals. He looked so perfect in his dark blue blazer. As he walked into the class, all the girls gazed at him with wide opened eyes. But him, he didn’t look at anybody, anybody except me. He met his eyes with mine until he crossed my seat. I felt shy and my heart beat rose in its volume. I turned my head down but couldn’t help looking back at him and he observed me and smiled cunningly at me. He walked past, went to the last row and sat down in one of the seats. Mansi poked me with her elbow and said, “Kya re? Acha laga?” and I replied her with a smile.
That incident had created an impact on me. I didn’t know how, but I had developed feelings towards him that very moment. Since then, each day was like repetition. He used to stare straight at me with those stunning eyes, without turning his gaze even a bit and I used to feel shy and bow my head down. This never seemed to stop. He had his way with friends. He used to chill around the campus and was found very less in the classes. Although he spoke to everyone in the class, he never spoke to me and neither did I. How could I? I was just a simple village girl.
It has been 1 year like this and finally, I got an opportunity to go and talk to him. Because it was his birthday. As usual, he was relaxing with his friends. But I felt shy to go amidst all of them and wish him and so was looking for the best opportunity. It was the lunch time and I was sitting in our classroom. I didn’t feel like eating and asked Mansi to go and have her lunch. There were no other people. I was staring at the blank black board, lost in his thoughts, and suddenly he appeared out of nowhere, walked straight towards me, sat beside me and said, “Hi..”, with raised eyebrows. I was still into the thoughts and felt that to be my imagination.
“Hello..”, he waved his hand in front of my face.
I blinked and replied, “H..Hi…”, grabbed his hand all of a sudden and wished him, “Happy Birthday Dhruv..”
“Thank you beautiful…”, he replied, took my hand and kissed on the tip of my fingers and I felt shocked. I quickly pulled my hand back and adjusted myself. Actually I got scared and he smiled, looking at the nervousness on my face.
He got up from his seat, looked at me and said, “Evening 7 PM, at the coffee shop..Will meet you there..” and left from there before I could say “No” or “Yes”.
I got up from my seat, ran to Mansi, dragged her back into our classroom and said in an excited tone, “I wished him..!!!”
“Dhruv??”, she asked
“Yes”, I replied with a huge smile.
“AAAnd?”, she asked me doubtfully as if she knew something more must have happened.
“He told to meet me at the coffee shop tonight at 7 pm..”, I replied and hid my face in my palms.
I slowly pulled down my arms and looked at her. She looked a bit serious. Really serious and no signs of baby face this time. I held her hand and asked, “Kya hua re?..”
“Do you know about him?”, she asked me back.
“About what?”, I asked her.
“He is not a good guy. His life is different. Completely different. You don’t know about him. Just stay away, as far as you can. Don’t do any stupid things..”, she said with a rather frustrated face.
I had never seen her so serious in these two years. Actually, I too had heard about him but I always thought that they were all rumors and there was no truth behind that. And he never behaved wrongly with me or anybody else in the college.
“Okay. If you say so. Main nahin jaoongi...”, I told her.
But that was not the end of the story. He had waved his magic charm on me already and as the clock was nearing 5 PM, my heartbeat started to rise and my good old friend, nervousness, had crept back into me. I was looking at the clock and cracking my fingers. But was acting calm because Mansi was there with me. The clock struck 6pm and that’s when Mansi said, “Shall we go out? Shruti and Divya asked us to accompany them to the mall.”
“I am not feeling well. Headache…”, I replied.
“Oh..shall I get you some medicine?”, she asked.
“No. You carry on with Shruti and Divya. I will get some rest. Bring something to eat for me when you come back.”, I told her, in a calm voice.
“Hmm..”, she said. Didn’t reply anything and left from there.
6:15 PM and I was still on my bed and actually developed a headache. But then all of a sudden, I jumped out from my bed, put on Mansi’s clothes, jeans and tee. Never wore those before and was feeling quite uncomfortable. Put on slight makeup and rushed out to the coffee shop. I arrived at 6:55 PM and sat down on one of the tables and was waiting for him..
I was much tensed and he came at exactly 7 pm. He looked at me, waved his hand, came and sat down in front of me. It was like a dream come true. As usual, he was looking handsome. He ordered ice cream for me and a dark coffee for himself.
“So, you came..?”, he asked me and I smiled.
“You are wearing jeans? I have never seen you wearing jeans.”, he observed and asked.
I felt happy that he observed me all the time and I just smiled at him.
“Do you like me?”, he looked straight at me and asked and I was taken aback by that question. I held my head down and didn’t answer him.
“Hmm…But you know about me right?”, he continued.
I looked up to him and said, “About what?”
“About my character. The kind of person I am..”, he replied.
“No. I heard some things but don’t exactly know about you.”, I told him.
“I play with girls. I lure them till they fall for me and after having fun for few days, I let them go..”, he told the exact words that I heard about him. Not sure why he revealed about himself to me. I didn’t answer him and was looking at his beautiful eyes all the while.
“So, do you like me now?”, he repeated.
“Yes..”, I answered this time.
“Really? And why?”, he asked doubtfully.
“Cause you like me too..”, I gathered courage and spoke.
“Of course I like you. You are a very pretty girl. That is the reason I always look at you. But that doesn’t change the fact about the kind of person I am…”, he said.
“You will change. People change. They realize and they will change. You too will change your ways. You too will fall in love and you too will go through that beautiful feeling…”, I spoke with confidence.
“Well, those were good lines but kinda old school. Never mind. You know how rich I am?”, he asked and I nodded my head gesturing a “No”.
“Rich. Filthy rich. You can’t even imagine. And that comes with a lifestyle. You buy things and you buy whatever you want. Even the girls. They just fall for you all the time. So, you tell me. When I am getting every damn thing in this world already, why would I want to fall in love with a single person? I would get bored in few days. I always get bored. I need variety in my life and I am getting it…”, he said.
“But you are not being loved..”, I said.
“I am. I get the girls you see. I told you..”, he said.
“Seems you don’t even know how it would feel to be loved…”, I replied him.
He smiled at me and said, “Really? Can you show me then?”, he asked.
I thought for a moment and said, “Yes. I will.” Because he was in my thoughts since the day he stared into my eyes.
“Cool then. Pack your bags and come down to my place tomorrow. You are going to stay with me for 2 weeks and show me how it would feel to be loved. I will send my driver to pick you in the morning..”, he said, got up from his seat and left, before I could say “Yes” or “No”.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I was going through mixed emotions. My mind was posing a single question all the while, “What have I gotten myself into?” but deep down, my heart was saying to go with my instinct. I fought a hard battle with myself, throughout the night. Couldn’t get to sleep even a bit.
It was morning and I didn’t get up from my bed. I felt sleepy and was drowsing.
“Aaru…, Aaruuuu….”, I heard a voice gaining on me.
I opened my eyes and it was Mansi.
“Are you not feeling well? How’s your headache?”, she asked me.
“I will go to my home today and come back in couple of weeks.”, I told her.
“What’s wrong?”, she asked me.
“I’m feeling homesick. Have to see my father.”, I lied to her so easy.
She sat beside me and said, “Theek hai. Jaao..But come back soon. Going to miss you..”, and she kissed me on my forehead.
Mansi left to college and I woke up after couple of hours, got ready and waited for his driver to arrive. By then, I had made my decision, to go to his place and stay. I was not sure about what I was going to do, but I packed my bags and waited downstairs in front of my hostel.
It was 10:30 AM and a big white car approached, made a slow turn and halted in front of me. The driver got down, opened the back door and said, “Please madam..”
I looked at him and said, “Dhruv…?”
“Yes madam. Dhruv baba has sent me to pick you up.”, he smiled and replied
He was an elderly person in his 50s and I believed him. But asked him a doubt. “How did you know it was me?”
“Dhruv baba has given me your photo…”, he showed me my photograph in his mobile phone.
I looked at it, smiled and thought, “He has taken my pic while I was delivering a seminar in the college.”
I got in and sat down. On the way I observed the driver looking at me from his top rear view mirror and smiling. I smiled back at him and asked, “What is your name, chacha?”
“Ramayya, madam..”, he replied
“How long have you been working here as a driver?”
“Very long.…since Dhruv baba was a small kid.”, he said.
“How is your Dhruv baba? Is he a good person?” I asked him.
“Him? He is the nicest person I have seen in my entire life. He treats me with so much respect. He grew up with such good values taught by his mom. I used to play with him when he was a kid. Even to this day, he asks me to play cricket with him. Haha…”, he replied and we both smiled.
“Acha laga aapse milke.”, I said.
“Thank you madam ji..”, he replied.
And I went back into my thoughts again. I somehow knew that he was good person. The way he behaved with people. Never crossed his limits with anyone. Although he seemed careless with himself.
After some time I asked Ramayya, “Ghar main kaun rehte hain?”, because I had to be ready to face them.
“Ji, Dhruv baba rehte hain..”, he replied.
“Aur?”, I asked
“Dhruv baba akele rehte hain..”, he replied
“Why?”, I asked him
“Madam ji, we have arrived.”, he replied, not answering my question.
I got down from the car, and found myself standing in front of a huge bungalow with wide open space and lush green garden in the front. There were different varieties of cars standing in line in a big garage towards the left.
“This way madam ji”, Ramayya navigated me towards the house. We climbed a broad staircase to reach to the main door. He pushed it open and asked me to come in and we entered inside. Ramayya, on top of his voice said, “Dhruv Baba, madam ji is here..”
The whole house was looking so eerie and silent, and there was no much sunlight entering in. I felt a bit scared looking at the humongous construction. There was again an internal staircase which led to next floor and the last time I had seen such construction was in some olden day’s movies.
A dark figure appeared on the first floor, looking down at us and I could recognize him to be Dhruv. He came walking down the staircase, towards us and was smiling at me. He was in his pyjamas and tee shirt. Was looking like he just got up. Yet, he was looking handsome and cute, all the same. He looked at me, smiled and asked, “So you came?”
And before I could reply, he looked at Ramayya and said, “Chacha, can you put her bags in the guest room? And it’s ready, right?”
“Yes baba. It’s ready. I will place them.”, he said and took my bags to the guest room on the first floor.
“I am quite surprised. I thought that you wouldn’t come.”, he said looking at me.
“I am here..”, I shrugged my shoulders and smiled at him. “Why is it so dark in here?”, I asked him looking around the house once again.
“I didn’t open the windows. I love the darkness.”, he said.
“Hmm…”, I said and thought of asking him to open the windows as I was feeling a bit scared.
He looked into my face and observed something. As Ramayya came down, he held his hand and said, “Chacha, can you open the windows please?”
Ramayya looked at him rather surprised, but with a huge grin on his face said, “Acha baba. Abhi open kar deta hoon…”
As he opened the windows, the sunlight filled the hall and I could see hoardings of paintings hanging all around the house and they seemed beautiful. Ramayya left the house, leaving us together.
There was silence between us. I was looking down with my hands folded. The very next moment, he grabbed my hand, unlocking the fold, and said, “Come let’s sit and talk..”
I didn’t pull my hand back as he held it safely, tucking it inside his arm as if I was his possession. He took me to the sofa and made me sit there and he sat beside me very close.
“So??.. Tell me now..”, he asked me with his raised eyebrows.
“You live alone here?”, I asked
He got up from the sofa, turned towards me and said, “haha…Behold, I am the lone emperor of this palace and there’s nobody else in my kingdom..” He stretched his arms wide and told this in a rather dramatic way. I smiled at him and he sat down.
“Where are your parents? Don’t they stay with you?”, I asked.
“My dad’s roaming around the world. His only principle, “Time is money”. Whatever you are seeing, is all his earning. It’s impossible for him to be at one place. The last I have seen him was 6 months ago..”, he said.
“And your mom?”, I asked.
“Mom? Come I will show you..”, he said, grabbing my hand again, like a small kid and pulling me along with him to the first floor. He opened the door of one of the many rooms that were there on that floor. Took me inside, towards the wall on which there were many photographs of an elderly woman, attached.
“There she is..”, he said, pointing his finger to one of the photographs.
I looked at the photos and turned towards him. “Isn’t she looking beautiful?”, he asked. Still looking at the photos and I said, “Yes..”
“But you know what? She doesn’t like me. And that’s why she left me alone and went away..”, he said with no signs of expressions on his face. He was so cold in his statements. He seemed calm, very calm, but I could sense an enormous surge of waves roaring inside him that very moment. He fell silent and I didn’t say a word. I stood there, speechless, looking at him.
He just turned around and walked back downstairs and I kept following him. He went back to the sofa, sat down and switched on the tv set that was attached to the wall. He was looking into the screen and seemed to have completely ignored my presence. I thought of leaving him alone, but not sure why, I wanted to be with him. I went beside him, sat down and held his hand. He turned his attention towards me, smiled, laid his head down on my lap and slept, cuddling himself like a baby. He really looked like a baby that time. And it seemed he felt safe. The innocence on his face made me embrace his hair. Before long, he fell asleep and I switched off the tv set. I didn’t know when I dozed off along with him. But when I woke up, he wasn’t there. I was lying down on the sofa with a blanket over me. I looked at the wall clock and it was around 2 PM in the afternoon. I looked around and couldn’t find him anywhere. I got up and called out his name.
“Dhruvv.. “ . There was no response and I felt alone.
“DHRUVV..”, I shouted
“I’M HERE..in the kitchen..”, he shouted back.
I rushed to the side from where his voice was heard and found him in the kitchen, dressed in his chef coat and hat. He was cooking.
“Give me 15 minutes and lunch will be served..”, he said.
I just stood there while he was preparing and arranging all the dishes on the big dining table to serve me. He was doing it with so much concentration that, any new person would actually think about him as some five star chef.
“Lunch is served…”, he said as he laid down a plate, spoon, fork and knife in front of me.
He placed all the items on my plate and said, “Please have it and tell me how the items taste..”
I tasted the food and it was so sumptuous and heartwarming. I just couldn’t resist and ate as much as I could as I was hungry and didn’t have anything since morning. He was looking at me all the while and smiling. But he didn’t disturb me. Once I was done, he looked at me eagerly and asked, “You didn’t tell me how the food was?”
I looked down at my cleaned up plate, looked back at him and said, “Look at my plate. I never ate like this before. The food was very tasty. Thank you. You are really a great cook…And do you cook every day?”, I asked him
“Naah..I cook only for my loved ones…”, he replied
I had come to his place to show him how it would feel to be loved but that moment I felt that he was doing it for me. Later in the evening he took me out and bought me a dozen lavish dresses which I never dreamt of even seeing them in my entire life. I kept on saying no but he kept on insisting I wear those dresses and show him, as if I was his Barbie doll. And I couldn’t reject him. There was a definite child in him, an innocent one, and all he knew was to love.
We came back home late in the night and were very tired.
“Chalo. Let’s sleep in my room..”, he said and suddenly I was taken back. I looked at him with confusion. He looked back at me, observed my nervousness and said, “Don’t worry. I won’t eat you. You don’t want to sleep alone in this big house, right? There is a king size..No..ultra king size…haha…bed in my room. There is enough space. Don’t worry..”
We slept together, on the same bed. I couldn’t sleep but he was fast asleep. I was observing his face up close beside me all the while. I didn’t know what happened to me, my heart got filled with mixed emotions. And I couldn’t resist myself. I went close to him and gave a slight kiss on his lips. He moved back a bit, then came towards me, put his hand around my waist and dragged me closer, hugged me tight and slept again. I could feel our breaths getting exchanged and I felt that I would lose my senses. I moved back, got myself released slowly from his grip, turned to the other side and closed my eyes. I could hear the beating of my heart, loud and clear. I had fallen for him, before I even noticed. I didn’t know where all this would lead to, but I was sure that I had fallen in love with him.
I woke up in the morning around 6 AM, and he was still sleeping. I went downstairs, outside the house, into the garden where there were couple of chairs and a table to sit. I sat down in the chair. I was looking around and Ramayya came to me and said, “Madam ji, coffee lijiye..and here’s the newspaper…”
“Ramayya, come here, please sit down..”, I said
“Tell me madam ji, it’s okay..”, he replied
“Are nahin, aap baithiye…”, I requested him again and he sat down
“Can you tell me something? …How did his mom pass away?”, I asked him
“She died 3 years ago, because of her critical medical condition.”, he said, took a pause and continued. “That was a big blow for Dhruv baba. He loved her so much and they were like best friends. He used to be so happy, but since the day she left him, he became alone, really alone. He locked himself up in this big house, in the darkness. He didn’t even speak to his father since then. Those windows in the house were opened after three years and you are the reason he is feeling happy again. Please don’t leave him…” he said. I could see his tears which he hid and he left from there.
I got up quickly, went back to Dhruv, went close to his ear, smiled and whispered, “I love you…”, and he just moaned. “Get up my sleeping beauty..”, I said in his ear a bit louder this time and he woke up.
“Goood morning…”,he wished me with a sleepy tone.
“Get up quickly. We have to reach there fast..otherwise we are going to miss it…”, I said.
“Where to?”, he asked me
“I will take you there. Come…”, I said and forced him out from his bed.
I took him to the place I loved so much. It was very close to my heart. To the bridge that was built across the river. There were hills on either sides and the river was flowing in between them. And the best part was the sunrise and sunset, amidst these hills, over the clear waters of the river. I held his hand and took him to the edge of the bridge wall and said,
“Look there…”, pointing to the rising sun.
“Isn’t He beautiful?”, I asked him.
He looked at me and said, “yeah…that looks awesome..”
“You are like Him. The rising Sun.”, I told him
“And how am I like Him?”, he asked.
“He has gone down yesterday, completely down, until he drowned into the river..But that doesn’t stop him from rising again in the morning. You are like Him. You are rising again. And I can see that…”, I said.
He smiled, pulled me closer, hugged me from the back, placed his chin on my shoulder, kissed on my hair and said, “I love you too…”
That was the happiest moment of my life and I never wanted him to let go of me from his hold. Days past by and we began understanding each other more. Everything was going fine and I completely forgot about my previous life. I was feeling strong that this was the new beginning that would lead to a beautiful life-long bond. He took me to parties and gatherings where he danced with me and I just joined him in his moves. We did everything together and never wanted to leave each other’s company. We cooked together and I used to feed him with love. I was completely lost in his world. The two weeks that he had asked from me were nearing an end and I felt that I had taken the right decision to come and stay with him. He was just an innocent kid who was a victim of circumstances. And I promised to myself that I would never let him feel alone again.
It was the final day and I wanted to surprise him. In the evening, I made him go outside for some time. Cooked for him, his favorite dishes, got ready, and waited for him to come back.
“Aaru…I am back..”, he said as he entered the house. He couldn’t find me in the hall and anywhere downstairs. He came upstairs, to his room that was opened a little. He pushed open the doors of the room and found me there, dressed in a white saree and clad in all the beautiful ornaments. He looked at me awestruck, for a minute he didn’t say anything. I had thought that he would come close and kiss me. I was waiting for him. I smiled at him but he seemed expressionless. I bowed down my head as I felt shy. And all of a sudden, I heard a big voice shouting at me, “HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY MOM’s BELONGINGS?? HOW CAN YOU EVEN THINK OF WEARING THOSE? REMOVE THEM RIGHT NOW. REMOVE THEM…”
And I looked back at him and was shocked with his reaction. He was furious. I had never seen him behave like that in all the time I knew him. I couldn’t stop my tears. But he kept on repeating his harsh words.
“TAKE THEM OFF RIGHT AWAY. RIGHT NOWW…”, he shouted at me again and I came out from the shock and replied, “Please go out and I will remove them….I am sorry…”, I said as I knelt down before him with tears flowing down from my eyes. He heard me, didn’t come close and left angrily from the room. I couldn’t understand why he had behaved like that. But I calmed down and felt that they were his mom’s possessions and he loved her so much. I controlled myself, removed all her belongings and placed them exactly where they belonged. I had promised myself that I would never let him be alone, because I loved him so much. I came out of the room and called out to him, “Dhruvv..”, but I couldn’t find him. Went into his mother’s room but I couldn’t find him there. Came downstairs and he was not seen. Searched outside in the garden but in vain. Came back inside and sat down on the sofa, thinking about what has happened. I closed my eyes and that’s when I heard a big sound. I opened my eyes and heard the sound again. It was a sound that kept on repeating. As if someone was hitting some object repetitively. And it was coming from upstairs. I got up from the sofa and ran upstairs, towards the sound, crossed his mother’s room and ran towards the corner of the floor where there was a room. I pushed open the doors and what I found there shocked me.
I saw him lying there on the ground and he was not in his senses. His leg was banging against a wooden box repeatedly that was making the sound. He was moving his head left and right at tremendous speed. He was uncontrollable. His whole body was quaking and his eyes, were half closed. As I looked around helplessly, I could see dozens of empty alcohol bottles and cigarette buds lying on the ground. There were many used syringes too. I felt scared, really scared but I went close to him and hugged him tight. He was still not stopping. I shouted to Ramayya, but in that big house, my voice felt feeble. I didn’t understand what to do. But looking at his condition, I held him into my chest and prayed to God that he would stop and become normal once again.
After a couple of minutes, I looked back at him and found him slowing down, but not stopping. His head was shivering and that very moment, I went close to him, held his head in my hands, closed my eyes, kissed him, and he fell silent. I moved back and looked at him again and he was calm and sleeping. The innocence on his face had returned and my heart calmed down too. I felt that I had hurt him a lot by wearing his mother’s belongings. I got myself up, lifted him with all my power, pulled his arm around my shoulder and slowly made him walk towards his room.
I made him lay down on his bed, lifted his feet and placed them straight, and sat there beside him, observing his face. He was sweating a lot and I cleaned his face with my hand. He was mumbling something and I whispered to him saying, “I am sorry. Please forgive me..”, thinking that he would listen like the way he listened to me when I said, “I love you..”. He was still mumbling, and then he slowly placed his arms around my neck, pulled me close and hugged me. He then kissed me on my ear and then on my neck and tears came floating down my cheeks. I lost myself to him that very moment. I surrendered myself to him and he played with me and loved me in the way that I could never imagine. He showered his love upon me and I fell silent. The drug that he had taken, I felt got transferred into me and we both completely lost ourselves in a dreamland for God knows how much time. It was the most beautiful and loving experience I had in my entire life. All the shock and trauma that I was going through, had turned into peace and happiness. That moment, I felt that he was my husband and I, his wife.
When I opened my eyes, he wasn’t there beside me. I turned around and looked at the wall clock and it showed the time as 12:30 PM in the afternoon. I had never slept for that long. I woke up from the bed, got dressed, walked downstairs and saw him sitting relaxed on the sofa, smoking a cigarette. As I walked close to him from behind, he said,
“Good morning…!!, You slept well?”, without turning his head
I went to his front, smiled at him and answered, “Yes…”. I then went close to him and sat beside him and tried to hold his hand. The very next moment he got up from the sofa, walked to one of the windows, and looking outside, he said, “Last night was awesome. Wasn’t it?”
He turned around and saw me and I was looking straight into his face. I felt shy and bowed down and smiled within myself. And he continued, “Haha..Damn…those drugs for sure give me a high. You know that always elevates the pleasure levels.”
I didn’t expect him saying that and I got a bit confused. I looked back at him and he continued.
“You know this little game, the game of love that I play, I enjoy it the most and I always win. It gives me another level of high. The game of luring innocent girls and making them fall for me and making them surrender themselves to me. I love every stage of this game that I play. And you, you were awesome, the prettiest girl I have ever been with but it’s sad that all this has come to an end today. That’s fine. But for the amount of love that you have shown me, for which you came here in the first place, is commendable. Wait a minute…”, he said as I continued looking at him with blurred eyes and a heavy heart. He reached for his wallet, opened it, pulled out some bank cards, threw them in front of me and said, “**** is the pin number for all these. Pick anyone and use it as you want. This is the price that I pay for you and you are worth every damn penny. And if you don’t mind, you may leave now because there is another guest expected to come in the evening…”
He looked at my face and the tears that were flowing down my cheeks and said, “Now..Now…please don’t start off with all the drama…It was you who came to me and kissed me..It was you who wanted to have good time with me…” And before he could say anything more, I got up from the sofa and ran outside the house without even turning back. I ran fast and I ran hard, in the hot sun, amidst the traffic, then I slowed down because there was no more energy left within me. I had lost all the hope because my entire world came shattering down the moment he spoke those words. I walked far, without getting concerned about anybody or anything around me. I walked slowly, till I reached the place that I loved so much. To the bridge, to the river and to the Sun. I looked at Him and thought that I had to go down with Him that day, into the waters and never rise back. I climbed up the bridge wall and closed my eyes…
In the hospital:
“Then why did he come back to you?”, Mansi asked me..
“I..I really don’t know. But I know for sure that he has come for me and I am the reason for his condition..”, I replied her..
“What are you going to do now?”, she asked me.
“I am going to stay with him. Till he comes back.”, I replied her.
“You sure love him…”, she held my chin, smiled at me and said.
6 days had passed and there were no signs of any movement from him. He was still in ICU with all the pipes and tubes attached to him all over his chest and head. I looked at his pulse and blood pressure readings whenever I went inside to see him. They were very low, but stable. I spoke to the surgeon and he said that they were doing their best to recover him. But along with time, my hope was slowly deteriorating. Mansi came to see me often, after the college. Ramayya brought lunch and dinner for me and he was there with me most of the time. I became noted to the nurses and the duty doctors in the ICU. Every morning and evening I used to go down and pray to Lord Ganesh for his recovery. I pleaded him to make him wake up from his sleep.
It was the 8th day, I came down, prayed as usual, went back to ICU and sat there, lost in my thoughts. I closed my eyes and the scene that flashed in my mind was the morning when I went to him and whispered in his ear saying, “I love you…” and he listened. I opened my eyes, got up from the chair, requested the attender to allow me inside the ICU. I went in, walked slowly towards him and sat beside him. He was sleeping peacefully, carrying the same innocent face. I smiled at him, went close to his ear and whispered, “Wake up now, my sleeping beauty…” and the next moment, I could hear the volume of the pulse beats going high on the computer screen. His eyes were opened and he was looking at me. He slowly opened his mouth and spoke these first words, “M..Ma….Maa…”, and I just held his hand and said, “…I am right here…”
It took him 27 days to get back to his senses completely. He was shifted to general ward. I fed him that day with my hands and he ate, without saying a word, and looking at my face innocently, all the while. I couldn’t look straight at him and was feeding him.
“Y..You know the first time I saw you?”, he asked.
I looked into his eyes and said, “Yes. Your first day in class, you stared at me. I remember..”
He smiled and said, “Nah re…I saw you standing in front of the hostel counter in college, along with your dad, on the first day. You were looking so pretty in your white dress and bangles. And your ear rings, they were looking so cute..and you looked like my mom…”
I stopped for a second and saw him with wide opened eyes. And he continued, “That was the day I fell in love with you. You know? ..But I didn’t join that day.. I went back.. But then I came back again, only for you…”
I was listening to him with utmost attention and surprise and he continued. “You know why I went back? Because I was afraid. Cause the last time I loved someone that much in my life, that woman, my mom, left me here in this world, stranded, alone and went away. And I hated her for that. I hated her cause I loved her so much. And I thought that someday you would leave me too and I have no more energy inside me to tolerate that. But I fought with myself and came back to you. It wasn’t you who was after me. It was always me, from the very beginning… ”
Tears rolled down from my eyes as he said those words. The last time he spoke, he broke my heart and with the words he is speaking now, he made my heart melt down.
“That day, I was angry when I looked at you in my mother’s saree. All my hate towards her, I had to vent on you. And my fear had crept back in. I wanted to go far away from you again. And the only way I could do that was to break your heart. Cause I know how much you loved me…”, he said.
I held his hand and he continued, “But I fought back with myself again, and came back for you. I knew where I could find you. On that bridge. I came back to plead to you, to never leave me again. To be always there for me…”, saying these words he looked around his bed, on the table, searching for something..
I questioned him with my eyes. He looked at me and asked, “My belongings…”, and I opened my bag and took out the things that were given to me by the hospital attender at the time he was taken inside the ICU.
“Can you spread the things out from the bag?” He asked and I did as he suggested, on to the table. Amidst all the things that fell out, there was a diamond ring.
“That ring, do you recognize it?”, he asked.
“Yes..It’s your mom’s. “, I replied. That was the ring I wore that day.
He took a pause and as I was looking into my hand and observing the ring, all of a sudden he said, “Will you marry me please?”, I looked up into his glittering eyes, paused for a moment and said, “Yes..” with all my heart. Cause it was not me who chose him, but him who chose me and I always bowed down to his will..
And today, after 7 years, I am writing this story, sitting in my consultation room of the Multi-specialty hospital that he has so lovingly gifted me on our marriage. It was his effort, he joined his dad’s business, earned every penny that went into building this hospital in my village. Not just any hospital, a hospital for 16 villages and towns that were around, with world class facilities, offering free services to each and every one. Today, is our anniversary and I wanted to gift him this story, the only thing that I could give him back, to convey how much he meant for me, to this simple village girl…And tell you what? He always takes an appointment and visits me every day…
“Mam, a special patient is here…”, sister Mary told me, as she smiled.
“Who is it?”, I asked her.
“It’s your playboy…”, she winked and said, and I smiled within myself. He sure was my playboy. He played with my heart but loved me all the same..
This is Dr. Aarti Dhruv Patel, signing off……
***************************** THE END ************************************
Through the eyes of Dr. Aarti Dhruv,
Story conceived and written by,