Adi continued relating Abhi's past to Nikki. "As the patient's life was in danger, the assistant surgeon had to complete the surgery. Later, inorder to find out the reason for Abs’ passing out, the hospital conducted blood tests on him while he was still in a semi-concious state. The results were shocking. There was abnormally high levels of valium, which you know is a control drug mainly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, etc. When Abs was questioned about the source of pills he was unable to give justifiable reasons.” Adi paused.
Abhi recalled being bombarded with questions about the drug in his system and his own confusion on how the drug got into him. He then recollected how the water tasted bitter, but, he ignored it because of the call from the hospital. He could not believe that Simi would do something like that. He could not prove his innocence, without bringing Simi into the picture. He just kept quiet right through the investigation.
Nikki looked at Adi in horror and disbelief. He shook his head in confirmation. "As vallium is considered a potential abuse, addiction and since Abs had access to the drug being a doctor he was considered guilty of substance misuse. He was suspended. A case of negligence and drug misuse was filed against him. Abhi just wouldn't give any reason for taking the drug while on duty. Even till today, since Chopra Uncle and Dad are good friends, he has not told Dad that it was Simi who had drugged his water”
Abhi recalls the day when Simi came to visit him at his place. The trial was still on. "How ? How could you do such a thing?" he remembered asking her.
"Please Abhimanyu, I am sorry. I never expected that this whole thing would backfire,” she pleaded . “All I wanted was to spend some time with you. I thought when you would wake up, I would somehow calm your anger. I never realised that the dosage was so high !"
" High?" Abhi bellowed angrily "it has ruined my career. I can't believe I was a fool to fall for your innocence. You are nothing but a schemer. All the while you played games with me!" He shook his head in disgust disgust.
"Please Abhi please don't say anything to anyone about me. I beg you. You see my reputation would be ruined" Simi continued to plead.
Abhi just couldn't believe the words were coming from the woman who always claimed to love him and would do anything for him. Shaking his head in disappointment he says "Don't worry, your reputation will not be ruined because of me. Now Just Get Lost !" He pointed his finger to he door. "Just get out of my Life and never show me your face ever." Simi left
"The trial went on for few months.” Adi continued. “Abs' prior clean record and reputation was taken into consideration. Finally, since Abhi had no long lasting effects of drug misuse, he was given a small fine for taking the drug while on duty. Though, he could perform his duties as a doctor he was banned from performing surgeries for a period of one year, since it was negligence to a patient’s life. Also during this one year he would have to give random tests for substance abuse.
Back to the present, The jury's verdict kept blasting in Abhi's ears. Blocking his ears with his hands, he hollered “STOP!” aloud.
Adi continued to tell Nikki "That really killed him and all of us too. The humiliaton, the discerning eyes suspecting his creditibilty, all, started eating into him. The random tests kept increasing his humiliation and he started getting depressed. Slowly, he started withdrawing into a shell. He just wouldn't say anything to anyone not even to us. It was painful for all of us to see him in that condition.
Three months later, unable to handle it anymore, one fine day, Papa decided the only way to get Abs out of his depression was to send him to India. A friend of his is a trustee in Sanjeevani. Papa convinced Abs to go to India and work in Sanjeevani. Considering Abs’ excellent record at Kings and referrels from a few reputed doctors, he was allowed to leave for India. However, his ban on performing surgeries still continues.”
"Oh My God! Abhi was hurt so badly. And even I did the same thing to him!" Tears streamed down Nikki's cheeks as realisation punched into her. "I let him down so badly. No wonder he was so angry and hurt"
Adi shot her an understanding look. "This is the reason I told you everything about him. After going through so much of hell if Abs willingly put his heart into you, then you can imagine how much he must love you to do so."
Nikki shut her eyes tightly. "And I destroyed all that love with my indecisiveness."
Burying her faces in her hands, she cried bitterly. Going to her, Abhi tenderly patted her head. He then took her in his arms seeing she was inconsolable. Clinging on to him she cried her heart out.
"Nikki I really don't know what went wrong between you and Abs, neither do I want to know. All I know is Abs loves you a lot and you love him too.” He looked fondly at her. Nikki shyly lowered her gaze.
“Don't let him withdraw into a shell once again Nikki,” Adi advised. “If he does that he'll never recover this time. The only person who can do something is You !” Nikki shook her head in agreement.
After a thought Adi said “Also, you must know Simi has come here and she is wanting him back in her life. Let me tell you that woman can do anything to win Abhi back,” He cautioned. “ So even though its not going to be easy, you have to fight for your love and I know you can do it !" He patted her head once again.
"But how?” Nikki asked in between her sobs. “He is always angry with me."
"Don't worry we will find a way.” Adi assured.
“You see we won’t be around for long. Soon it will be time for us to leave. We need to do something soon," he gave her a sad smile. Nikki was even more sad. She has grown very attached to Adi and Sheetal
Sensing her thoughts, Adi said "Nikki we've grown so fond of you. Its like I know you for ages.”
"Same here Adi, I feel the same."
"Nikki I am sure of your feelings for Abs, but its important you are sure of your feelings. Do you love him ?" He asked.
"I love him and I won't let him go away from me." she replied confidently. "I won't let anyone take him away from me."
"Thats my girl, I am with you!" Abhi grinned. When she returned a smile to him, he hugged her.
Next morning, an auto stopped opposite the entrance of Sanjeevani. Nikki got off the auto and began to cross the road. The road seemed deserted. She noticed Abhi was a few steps ahead of her. He was almost reaching to the other side. Happy to see him, a smile erupted on her face. Having reached midway, she heard a speeding bike roaring towards her. Having also heard the roar of the bike, Abhi turned and saw Nikki crossing the road. Frightened by the threatening bike, she tried to run ahead, but, the heel of her shoes twisted and she was about to fall. Abhi lunged forward and grabbed Nikki’s arm. He tugged her towards him and held her tightly in his arms.
"You idiot," he hollered at the biker as the bike zoomed past them.
"don't you know you are not supposed to speed like that!"
Shaken out of her wits, Nikki buried her head into Abhi's chest and clinged on to him. Fear of almost losing her made him clasp her even more tightly in his arms. Heart filled with fear and relief, they stood there for long moments clinging to each other.
Sometime later, they realised they are on the road. Looking down into Nikki’s eyes, Abhi slowly loosened his grip. Nikki, however, kept gazing love struck into his face. "Nikki," she heard him whisper and reluctantly loosened her hold around him. Abhi's eyes were burning with desire and feeling shy, she lowered her gaze. Slowly, they pulled away from each other.
“Are you alright?” He asked, pretending nonchalance. However, his trembling voice betrayed the fear he had just gone through. Nikki meekly nodded her head.
They enter Sanjeevani in silence. Abhi deliberately walked ahead of her, trying to avoid her..
"Abhi" Nikki called him softly from behind making him stop in his tracks. He turned sideways slightly but doesn't look at her.
" I mean Abhimanyu......” Nikki stuttered nervously “I ....I .....I am sorry for yesterday's comment"
Abhi stiffened. He inhales deeply
"why are you sorry?” he asked sarcastically. “you are absolutely right ! Not all surgeons perform surgeries." A guilty Nikki was unable to meet his icy eyes. Shaking his head in annoyance, he walked away while Nikki watched him with misty eyes.
"I love you Abhi” she whispered “and I know you love me too. One day you will come back to me. I know it"
Throughout the day, Nikki went about her work with a heavy heart. Whenever she was free, Abhi would hog up her entire thoughts. She kept pondering on how to get through to him. How will she remove the coldness he has for her. Some time later, Riddhima informed her that Sheetal is being discharged. Nikki tells her she’ll go to see her.
Entering Sheetal's room, she is surprised to see so many people there. Adi was standing beside Sheetal. Hands folded in front of his chest, Abhi was leaning against the wall behind Adi. An elderly man was sitting on a stool beside Sheetal and patting her head. Another elderly man and the same girl who was in Abhi's cabin, which Nikki guessed was Simi, were standing at the foot of Sheetal's bed.
"There you are Nikki," Sheetal exclaimed, her voice indicating her happiness to see her. "Come on in." Turning to the elderly man sitting beside her she said "Papa, this is some one special whom we would like you to meet"
Sr. Puri was a tall pleasant looking man. Nikki walked ahead and stood near him as he rose from his seat. She couldn't help notice that Adi is almost a replica of his father. He extended his hand to Nikki "Nice to meet you my girl! I am Rajiv Puri." With a smile Nikki shook his hand and replied “I am Nikita.”
“This is my friend Dr. Raj Chopra and his daughter Simi,” he indicated towards them. Nikki said "hello" to both of them. Simi gave her a cold look.
"Nikki, I am so happy. Finally, Abhi has decided to send me home." Sheetal’s voice was full of excitement. Darting a glance at Abhi, Nikki saw he was staring at her. Adi noticed them exchanging looks.
"Papa, this Abs has kept something hidden from all of us. He is a real Chuppa Rustom!" Adi’s eyes were dancing with mischief.
A stunned Abhi straightened up and looked questioningly at him.
"Now, What have you kept hidden from us Abhi?" Sr. Puri sounded worried.
Abhi shrugged innocently and mouthed "I don't know"
"He is hiding a special someone from us". Adi replied, enjoying Abhi’s confused expresions.
"Who is it ?" Sr. Puri prodded with urgency.
"NIKKI !" He declared, pointing towards her.
A train of loud "WHAAAAT?" passed from Abhi to Nikki, to Sheetal, to Sr. Puri, to Mr Chopra to Simi.
There was arresting shock on their faces while Adi blinked his eyes in innocence. Flashing his sweetest smile, he nodded his head in confirmation.