"Dr. Modi, I want to speak to you."
"Sonali, what the hell are you doing here ?" Abhi was flabbergasted. "Weren't you in prison on charges of forgery and abettment"
"I got released yesterday. The first thing I wanted to do is to apologise to you for all that I did. Also, I would appreciate if you could help me get a job, I want to start my life on a fresh and clean note."
"You really have the nerve to call up here." Abhi tells her angrily. "Normally, I am all out for giving people a second chance and helping them out, but, you are the kind I can never trust again. So don't ever, try calling me up or else I'll send you back to prison. I am warning you!" he growls
He then slams the phone down.
At the other end, Sonali looks down into the phone. "Dr. Modi, I can see you are a very shrewd man. You do have a good judgement of people. You are right, that is not the reason I called you up. Two months back, when I was being sent to prison, I heard your wife was not around and who better than I to know, the reason for it." She has an evil smile on her face.
"I wanted to see if you were still lonely and blue Dr. Modi, so that I could console you, but, looks like your stupid wife is back. Well, after what I just said to her on the phone, I don't think she'll stay for long. Its that womanly thing you see, where a woman may forgive a man once, but, the needle of suspicion will always remain with her and if she sees or hears a repeat of it, then that is the end of everything," she sneers.
"You sent me to prison, Dr. Modi!" there was malice in her eyes. "Well I am not going to leave you in peace. I won't do anything much. Just these little kind of butting, once in a while, in your life is enough to send your whole world topsy turvy." She laughs aloud.
"Where have you been Love? How much longer do I have to wait for you?" Sonali's voice keeps playing on Nikki's ears.
She puts both her hands to her ears hoping to shut the voice that kept playing over and over again. She leans against the bathroom door, tears trickling down her cheeks.
"Nikki, open the door," she can hear Abhi banging softly against the bathroom door.
Seething inwardly, Nikki straightens up and washes her face.
This time she is not going to fall into the same trap again.
"Nikki for God's sake, please open the door." She can hear Abhi's irritated tone.
She quietly opens the door and finds Abhi looking at her with concern.
"Nikki, don't get worked up with Sonali's call. I really don't know why she......,"
"Abhi just leave it." Nikki snaps at him. "I don't want any explanations. You are a very smooth talker and I just fall into your sugary talk everytime."
"Nikki, do you know what are you saying? I can't believe one call from that woman and you go all hyper. Why don't you just listen?" Abhi pleads
"What do you want to say Abhi? that you have nothing to do with Sonali ? that you are not having an affair with her on the sly?"
"Whaat?" Abhi's face turns ashen pale. "What did you say?" Have you gone mad ? How can you even say such a thing?" He looks at her in disbelief.
"Just leave it I said. I don't want to say anything further, I've said what I wanted to." Nikki tells him angrily. She tries to move past him, but he stops her by holding her by the shoulders, anger blazing in his eyes.
"Dammit, Nikki, you can't hurl accusations at me and walk away like that. For once just listen to me, Let me tell you about Sonali!"
Pushing his hands away, Nikki says "Don't try to use boorish ways to force me to listen to you. I don't want to hear anything about her or you. Keep your disgusting hands off me, Don't touch me." Hearing her hyper words, Abhi was aghast. He feels his heart tearing and piercing at every hurl of her insults. He is choked into silence
"You are right Nikki," he finally manages defeatedly. "there is no point in forcing you to listen. If you think I could have anything for someone like Sonali, then you can go ahead and demean yourself, but, I am not going to to disrespect myself by giving any further explanations to you. You can believe what you want to believe, I don't care."
He dashes off into the bathroom and slams the door angrily.
Upset and angry, Nikki leaves the room and goes outside into the lawn. Its there, that her mother finds her, some time later, sitting on a chair lost in thoughts.
"How are you darling?" She asks handing her a glass of orange juice.
Nikki smiles feebly at her.
"Where is Abhimanyu?" Nikki keeps mum.
"Ah here he come," she says cheerfully seeing Abhi walking out of the house. Nikki stiffens.
"Would you like some breakfast son?"
"No thanks, I am not hungry." He says not looking at Nikki
"No thanks Mom, I am getting late for work."
"Will you be coming for Sonam's haldi ceremony Abhi?" Kavita asks him.
Sorry Mom, I have to go to Rohit's place." Abhi tells her. "I'll go directly after work,"
"Mummyji, can you check the porridge. I think its done," Pushpa tells Kavita.
"Ok I'll come. I'll see you later Abhi." she says dashing off inside.
After she goes in, left alone, Abhi and Nikki avoid looking at each other. Going to the car, Abhi flings his bag in the back seat, then sitting in the car he drives off without a glance at Nikki.
Sometime towards the evening, a sad and upset Nikki, is in her room lost in thoughts, when the phone rings. It was Dr. Keerti, who tells her , that Abhi and her blood tests results are clear and she need not worry about any danger to the baby.
After a thought Nikki casually asks Dr. Keerti when and why did Sonali leave Sanjeevani.
"We really don't know Nikki. Abhimanyu never spoke about it. All I know that she did something real bad which angered Abhimanyu and he threw her out of the office. Didn't he tell you know about it ?" Dr. Keerti asks
"I think......." Nikki strutters.
"Oh yes, I remember it was around the same time you had gone to see your aunt," Keerti interrupts. "So perhaps he didn't want to burden you about it."
"I think so," Nikki mumbles feebly.
After disconnecting the phone. Nikki is lost in thoughts. "Why did Abhi remove Sonali? What made him angry with her and why did she call him today saying all those words thinking Abhi had picked up the phone?
Her mind is a plethora of questions.
"Why do you always take everything at face value Nikki, Why don't you make that little effort, no matter how painful, to go to the root of the problem."
Abhi's words rings into her hears. She begins to realize what he said was true. Jealousy and anger, just doesn't allow her to think properly. Sonali's voice brought back the bitter memories of the hotel room.
"What about all the wonderful things he tried to do, for you Nikki ? How easily you forget all that!" her inner voice questions her. "You think all the love he showered on you these past few weeks is fake, then what about him bringing your family and friends closer to you? What did he get out of it? Only your happiness Nikki. If he was really bad, he could have isolated you from them. Yet he didn't and what did you give him in return? All those insults?" Nikki is shamefaced.
"but then I did see him and Sonali in the hotel room together and why would Sonali say all those things. It was obvious she thought it was Abhi at the other end.
"Then why don't you question him about it Nikki. Before pronouncing anyone guilty, you need to give the person a chance to speak." Her inner voice explains.
Yeah, there seems to be something more to Sonali's story. I need to find out the real truth.
She goes to Sanjeevani and goes into Abhi's cabin. She quietly opens the door and is shocked at the sight in front of her. Abhi whose back is towards the door, has his arms around a woman, who is crying into his chest.
"Don't cry Dear. Its only for some time. Once Nikki delivers the baby, then we'll take the baby from her and go."
Nikki is aghast. She can't believe its her Abhi speaking. Her world keeps spinning around her. Tears stinging in her eyes, she retraces her steps backwards, watching them, till her back hits against the door making a sound. Abhi and Sonali turn and are shocked to see her.
"Abhi, you can't do this," Nikki shakes her head disbelievingly. "You can't take the baby away from me. I won't let you."
Abhi walks towards her and says "Nikki, I want the baby for Sonali and me. So, I am asking you nicely just give it to me."
"No, Abhi you can't do that! Please don't take the baby away from me."
"Nikki calm down!" Abhi pleads.
"Please Abhi," Nikki begs burying her head in his chest. "Please don't take it away, please, please I beg you. Please, Please Please."
"Nikki calm down, wake up !" Abhi shakes her.
"Please don't do that, please I beg you,"
Nikki cries into his chest wrapping her arms around him tightly.
"Nikki, Nikki, wake up!"
Nikki opens her eyes. She finds herself in Abhi's arms. He was bare-chested. He seemed to have just come out from the shower. His hair was damp. Droplets of water from his hair splash against her face as she clings on to him, her whole body quivering with fear.
"Are you okay Nikki?" he asks worriedly, looking puzzled at her. His voice is full of concern.
Nikki looks around and finds they were in their room, on their bed. Not in the office and no Sonali. It was only Abhi and she.
"Looks like you had a bad dream Nikki." Abhi explains.
"God that was a dream" Nikki heaves a sigh of relief.
"Looks like it. When I came home, I found you sleeping, so I decided to change. I have to go to Rohit's place. Just as I came out of the shower, I found you mumbling in your sleep."
"Oh," Nikki mumbles, feeling conscious of his bare chest on which her face was resting. Nervously her fingers drum against his back. Slowly she pulls away from him.
Thank God it was a dream!" she mutters closing her eyes in relief.
"You really have lost all your trust on me, Nikki, Right ?" There is pain in Abhi's eyes as he questions her. "You think I am going to take the baby away from you? Its worrying you so much that you are even having bad dreams about it!" He looks incredulously at her.
Nikki shakes her head trying to deny it but Abhi doesn't give her a chance to speak.
"I thought because of your dislike for Sonali and the pregnancy hormonal changes in you, you have reacted like that in the morning. I felt bad I spoke to you the way I did and that is why, I came home to talk it over with you." He pauses and takes a deep sigh.
"but, now I realize its of no use. I really can't figure out how and what caused you to have such negative feelings against me. If the beautiful moments, we shared these past weeks hasn't helped in removing those feelings you have against me, then you won't believe in anything I say," he shakes his head dejectedly. " You know, it is not good for you to harbor any negative thoughts and feelings inside you. It will effect your health and the baby."
"Abhi its not ......."
"You see Nikki, I do want to be a part of the baby because it is a part of me. I desire to see the birth of my baby" he chokes. "but then not at the cost of harming you!"
"If it helps, let me assure you that I won't take the baby away from you. If you want, take a lawyer's help. I will give it legally written down that I will never try to take the baby away from you, no matter what happens to us. Now will you wipe away all those negative thoughts that keep playing on your mind?"
Nikki stares blankly at him, completely at a loss for words.
"And I hope some day Nikki, as the years have flown, you are able to, give your child the answers, that you were seeking all these years, from your mother. I hope you have a proper explanation to give your child, for the bitterness and resentment you have held against its father.
"Abhi........." Nikki chokes, her heart breaking as his words begin to torment her.
He stops her with the raise of his hand.
"Let me finish Nikki," he says, picking up the pink shirt, he had flung on the bed, when he ran to rouse her out of her bad dream
Putting it on, he begins to button up the shirt.
"And if it is worrying you so much, I promise you. If these hands ever touch you again, it will only be for the mother of my child, NOT," his heart is piercing as he says it. "Not a man's touch for a woman."
Nikki's heart sinks as she hears it . "If you still don't trust me, you can also take that legally from me. I will sign it."
There is an unbearable pain in their throat as they stare wordlessly at each other. Their eyes cloud up with distressing tears threatening to spill over. Swallowing a lump in his throat Abhi walks out of the room.
Nikki cries bitterly burying her face in her hands. Sitting in his car, Abhi grips the steering wheel with all his might hoping to release the excruciating pain coming from within him. He stares out into the dark road ahead. The stinging tears he had stubbornly held on to, begin to gush down his cheeks.
to be continued....
PRECAP TO PART 17
Then, in a dazed stupor, he slowly walks up behind her and looks at her through the mirror. Nikki turns to face him. "You look even more ravishing than what I had imagined," he tells her, raising his hand to caress her face. A sudden thought alerts him and he pulls his hand away.
"Do you know what, the most difficult part, living with you is ?"
Nikki looks questioningly at him.
"You are so enticing and no matter how much I try I just can't stay away from you. Yet, I have to"