On Monday, while they were in the locker room, Nikki related to Riddhima the happenings of the previous night.
“Riddhima, You must meet Sheetal” she said, dragging her to Sheetal’s room.
Sheetal was happy to see her. She thanked Nikki for her help on the previous night. With a smile, Nikki threatened to leave if Sheetal uttered another thanks.
“Ok, Ok, I won’t,” Sheetal laughed.
Nikki introduced Riddhma to her. As the ladies were chatting, Armaan entered as he had been looking for Riddhima. Nikki also introduced him to Sheetal. Armaan flirts and jokes with Sheetal who enjoyed his attention. Riddhima then dragged him out of the room. As he was leaving he blew a flying kiss to Sheetal.
“He is so sweet. They make a real sweet pair.” Sheetal said with a smile. “Its fun to have a handsome, fun, doctor in a drab place like a hospital. Reminds me of the time when I was hospitalised and Abhi was my doctor.”
Looking at Nikki's surprised expression, she said "Yes, I met Adi through Abhi. I was Abhi's patient. Adi was not around then as he was travelling. Abhi introduced us only much later.” Nostalgic, she continued “I remember how all the nurses, lady patients would swoon over Abhi, but, he was always shy with women. Besides, he had an excuse then, since he was already hooked by someone.” At that very moment, Adi entered the room and felt deep regret when heard Sheetal's words. He looked at Nikki’s face and saw she was shocked and upset with the news
"Hey beautiful women! how are you both today?" Adi cheerfully tried to calm the atmosphere.
"I have to go," Nikki mumbled awkwardly. Darting a weak smile at Sheetal, she left the room.
'Abhi had someone before? Was it the same lady we met last night ?' Nikki pondered as she walked down the corridor. "So what if he had someone before? Even I had feelings for Armaan too." She tried to reason with herself. However, she was feeling very unhappy from within. “Still, I am not liking it at all. Why is it hurting me to know Abhi loved someone else before me." She wondered, and also felt more miserable.
Abhi told the receptionist to ask Nikita to come in his cabin with the New Sanjeevani Project file. Few minutes later, he heard a knock on the door. He was in front of his desk, bending over some files on the table. Thinking it was Nikki, he turned towards the door and was stunned to see Simi entering his cabin.
“Now what are doing there?" Disappointment mingled with irritation.
"Abhimanyu, please don't behave like this with me.” Simi pleaded going closer towards him.
“Do try and listen to what I want to say. I know all I did to you was not right, but, then you see I did it all just to get your love. I really love you. I was afraid to say anything then because ......" . "
“The past is over for me...” Abhi snapped angrily at her. “ whatever had to happen, has happened. I have forgotten every bit of my past and I have moved on.... and believe me when I say I have forgotten everything about my past which includes YOU! Now please leave," He pointed towards the door. Then putting his hands in his pocket, he turned his back towards Simi.
Simi put her arms around him and putting her head on his back, pleaded, "Please Abhimanyu, please try to understand me." Abhi clenched his fists in anger. There was a slight knock which they do not hear. The door opened and Nikki walked in. She was shocked to see Simi's head resting on Abhi's back. Realising Nikki was watching them, Abhi quickly freed himself from Simi.
"Can't you just knock!" Angry with Simi, he roared at Nikki.
Jealousy and anger flashed in her eyes. "I did knock but I guess you were too busy." She swept a murderous glance first at Simi and then at Abhi. “I came because you called, but I guess it is the wrong time! I'll come back later." Filled with rage, she stormed out of the room.
Realising he directed all his anger he had for Simi, on to Nikki, he closed his eyes in exasperation. "If you are not leaving, I'll go!" he warned Simi. With tears in her eyes, Simi left the room.
Before leaving for the day, Nikki went to check on Sheetal. Adi and Abhi were there too. They were laughing heartily and stopped when they she entered. Sheetal and Adi welcomed her happily. Nikki smiled at them and glance at Abhi. Their eyes clash briefly.
"Nikki, tomorrow you'll meet one more family member of ours,” an excited Adi informed her “Dad is coming down tonight, to attend the Indo-UK Doctors conference.”
"Oh" Nikki smiled.
Sheetal held Nikki's hand "Well that will complete the men in my family,” she gushed fondly. “All three, very special to me and who I love so much!" Nikki smiled at her. "The only problem is, all three are good surgeons. I will end up being sidelined when they begin their discussions,” Sheetal glanced wryly at Abhi and Adi. “Thank God I have you here, Nikki! " she winked mischievously at her.
"Well I suppose not all surgeons perform surgery do they?" prompted by jealousy and anger, Nikki’s tone was laced with sarcasm.
She threw a smirk Abhi. The colour began to drain from his face till it turned deathly pale. There was acute anguish in his eyes as he stared at her for few moments. Swallowing a lump in his throat, he turned and left the room. There was a deafening silence in the room. Nikki looked at Adi and found sadness brimming in his eyes. She turned to Sheetal and saw the same sadness in her eyes too. Baffled, she mumbled an "Excuse Me" and left the room.
At home, the picture of Simi hugging Abhi kept flashing in front of Nikki's eyes, upsetting her immensely. Her eyes were filled with angry tears. The doorbell rang and she looked at the clock on the wall. I showed 8pm. Wondering who could it be, she opened the door and was surprised to see Adi. "Can we talk?” he sounded serious. With a nod Nikki invited him in. Once he was inside, he refused her offer to sit. Nikki realised he was upset.
"I presume the remark you made today was because you are ignorant of Abs' past?" Adi grimly questioned.
"What facts ?" Nikki countered.
"Nikki before I say anything I need to tell you why I have come to talk to you today,” he told her in a firm tone. "You see Abs and me have grown up together"
"yeah Sheetal told me !" Nikki nodded.
"Even though we are not related by blood we are almost like brothers," Adi continued. "We are so close that without confiding in each other we sense what the other is going through, be it pain, happiness, everything.” He paused and looked deeply at her.
“When I see Abs and you together I know that there is something more between you two and I know its LOVE!" Nikki blushed at his sudden and direct verdict. She lowered her gaze.
"Its..... not..... like that. It can't...... be love!" she stuttered.
"Really? are you confident about it ?" Adi asked with the raise of a brow.
Unable to look him in the eye, Nikki kept mum.
“There is something about Abs' past which I need to tell you and I am only doing so because its important for you to know it.” Adi confided. “Abs will be mad at me for telling you this, but, if it helps in bettering your relationship, I don't mind taking that risk.”
Looking at Nikki’s questioning look, he goes to the window. Looking out into the darkness he said, "After Abs and I finished our surgeon residency with the reputed Kings College Hospital in London, we were inducted by the same hospital as surgeons. However, around the same time, tragedy struck and Abs' parents died in a plane crash. It was a big shock for all of us. Abs was devastated. He buried his sorrows in work completely and started excelling in his work. Simi is the daughter of the Dr Raj Chopra. At that time, he was the Head of our team. She was in the final year of a fashion designing course. On one of her visits to the hospital, she saw Abs and was smitten with him. Abs being Abs, always shied from women and maintained a distance with them. It was me who had the roving eye!" Adi smiled recollecting his exploits.
"The more Abs paid no heed to Simi, the more she got obsessed with him. Yet, because of his good nature, he just maintained a friendly relationship with her. However, Simi wanted more than just friendship from Abs. So she did not give up her pursuit of him.” Nikki was not liking what Adi was saying.
Adi continued, “One day she asked Abs to meet her at a place outside her college but Abs was busy with work and told her he couldn't come. Simi stubbornly told him, no matter what happens, she would wait for him. Not taking her seriously, Abs ignored her. The next day we came to know Dr. Chopra was frantically calling everyone to find out the whereabouts of his daughter. Abs and I drove to the place Simi called him and found her lying there unconscious. She had turned blue for being out in the cold for the whole night. We were so worried that hypothermia had set in as her hands were icy cold and finger tips were totally blue. We got the scare of our life . Wrapping her in a blanket , we rushed her to the hospital where she was treated. Thank god her fingers were fine and she became better soon. When she regained consciousness, Abs was very apologetic and scolded her for her stupidity. Simi told him she thought that was probably the only way he would understand that she truly loved him. It was enough for Abhi's heart to sway towards Simi"
Nikki squeezed her eyes tightly. She did not want to hear anything more. Turning away away from the window, Adi looked at Nikki. He could see the distress on her face.
"Though Abs committed himself to Simi, I felt he was never too deeply in love with her. I guess he just went along with the thought that someone loved him so much. It was always what Simi wanted. The only thing where Abs put his foot down even with Simi was his work. To Abs his work was of prime importance and he would not allow anyone, no matter how close, to fool around with it." A feeble smile formed on Nikki’s lips "I know it only too well!"
Adi continued, "This didn't go well with Simi who childishly never understood the importance of his work. She would go through any lengths to have him beside her"
Abhi's place : Abhi is looking out of the window in his room.
"Not all surgeons perform surgery do they ?" Nikki’s words keep hammering into his head. His heart felt heavy. The pain he had suppressed for so long, began to surface again.
His mind wandered to that unfortunate day when after just having completed a surgery, he was in his cabin. The phone rang and it was Simi who was checking if they could have dinner together.
"Not today, I have quiet a load" Abhi declined her offer.
"Its ok, I understand,” Simi replied sweetly. Suddenly, she screamed in pain. Worried, Abhi asked her what happened, but, all he heard was the disconnected click at the other end. He rushed to Simi's place and found her toe bleeding. She told him she banged her feet against the couch accidentally. Abhi dressed the wound and bandaged it. When he felt she was better, he told her he should leave. Simi asked him to stay but he wasn't listening. Reluctantly, she conceded to let him to go. Apologising for pulling him out of his work, she persuaded him to have a drink. Abhi told he would only have for a glass of water. While Simi went to the kitcen to fetch the water, he told her he was going to the washroom. When he returned he drank the water Simi poured out for him. She grumbled how he never made time for her. It was only work and work for him. Having finished drinking the water, he felt a bitterish taste to his mouth. At that very moment, his phone rang. It was a call from the hospital telling him one of his patients had been admitted for inflammed appendix which was threatening to burst and needed surgery immediately. Abhi told them to prepare him for the surgery and he should be there in few minutes. When he finished the call, Simi, pleaded with him to stay. Annoyed with her indifference to the emergency, he angrily told her knowing that he is a surgeon, she should know the importance of his work. He then told her to think again on those lines before they proceeded any further with their relationship. They argued and realising he was getting late, Abhi left off in a huff. Inspite of trying his best, he arrived late for the surgery. The patient's inflammed appendix had burst. It turned out to be a major complicated surgery. While performing the surgery, Abhi's head kept zooming, till he could handle it no more and passed out on the floor.
Abhi's body broke out in sweats as he came back to the present. He clenched his fists and punched it hard into the wall.