My apologies for the delay in posting the update. I'll make up for it, by posting the next one tomorrow.
A cup of coffee is gently thrust in front of Abhi's face. He looks up in surprise and finds Riddhima holding it. Armaan and Sid are also with her.
As Abhi takes the cup from Riddhima, Armaan tells him, "We couldn't go home."
"Haan Bhai, with you guys here in this situation, its absolutely killing back home," Sid tells him
"Yes, we are too restless Abhi," Riddhima quips in " If we hang out here, atleast till Nikki wakes up, we will be less tense," Abhi understandingly nods his head.
"Listen Abhimanyu, lets take turns in pairs and keep a watch over Nikki," Armaan tells him "You need some sleep, even if its only some winks. But you need it, if you have to go through the entire day which hasn't even started properly as yet. Don't worry we are here."
After a lot of coaxing by the three, Abhi agrees. His body felt sore and his head was aching. It would do him some good to catch a quick nap. He goes to his cabin along with Sid and offers the sofa to him, while he settles himself in his chair. Reclining back, he closes his eyes. After his mind wandered for a good amount of time, he did fall off to sleep. However, he could barely manage fifteen minutes of it.
A terrified Nikki screaming for help and asking him to save their baby startles him into wakefulness, his body breaking into cold sweats.
His thoughts go to Nikki. 'Why does she have to go through so much pain all the time?' he wonders. Inspite of all his attempts to see no harm befalls on her, he somehow fails to prevent her from getting injured. His failure to protect her, gives rise to anger within him.
Shaking his head in annoyance, he looks at his wrist watch. It was 6 am. Rising from his chair, he goes to the washroom. Having showered and changed into a fresh set of clothes, he goes to Nikki, sending Armaan and Riddhima to his cabin.
An hour later, Nikki opens her eyes. As she blinks trying to focus more clearly, she finds herself looking into the concerned eyes of her husband. He looked tired, the graze on his cheekbone now had a dark scab and his chin had slightly darkened with a beardy stubble. Yet, inspite of it all, his face was strikingly handsome, a welcome delight to her hazy eyes.
"Nikki," he whispers, his eyes brimming with happiness as they pore deeply into her face. "How are you feeling sweetheart?
"I am okay," she tells him with a feeble smile. "Are you okay?" she asks him.
"I am okay only if you are!" he replies, smiling warmly at her. Nikki was able to see much clearly now. Her eyes scan the whole room, taking in her bed, the IV pump by its side, with its drips that was connected to her right hand, the fetal monitor on the left side.
Fetal monitor? Surprised, her eyes move back to it.
'Her baby,' she gasps with happiness seeing the hearbeats of the baby. Her left hand automatically moves to her stomach. She looks at Abhi, her eyes glittering with joy. Then after a thought a shadow of doubt begins to cloud her shining eyes.
"Is our baby okay Abhi?" she asks worriedly.
"Yeah the baby is fine. Can't you see the monitor? The baby is absolutely fine." Abhi assures her, even though his stomach was churning with slight fear.
"Thank God Abhi," Nikki shuts her eyes in relief. "I was so terrified, I thought we were losing the baby. Honestly, if anything happened to the baby, I would have surely died."
"Nikki for God's sake don't say that," Abhi snaps in irritation. "As it is I was dying right through the night with both your lives in danger!"
"I am sorry Abhi," Nikki tells him understandingly.
Her eyes then narrow in puzzlement. "Wait a minute, why is the monitor strapped on to me? Did I have a surgery?" Abhi shakes his head in confirmation.
Abhi had been preparing himself for this question, yet, he was finding it difficult to answer her.
"Is there a danger to the baby?"
Her question pierces right through his heart. Before he could muster a reply, Nikki questions him further.
"Abhi, why do I feel something is wrong? Tell me exactly what happened!" she demands.
"Nikki, don't you trust me with your life?" agitatedly he asks her. "If you do, then don't ask any questions, don't think about anything. I have gone through hell the whole night and I don't want to continue with it talking or remembering it, right now. You and the baby are fine and that is all that matters to me! Nothing else!"
Nikki feels a tug in her heart as she sees the lines of worry and frustration on his forehead. She lifts her hand and gently caresses his face.
"Abhi, how can I not trust you with my life when you are my entire world" she tells him, cupping his face with her hand "Okay if it upsets you, I won't ask you any such questions. Okay?" she assures, with the raise of her eyebrow.
With a feeble smile, he squeezes her hand. Noticing his eyes glistening with tears, Nikki looks remorsefully at him.
"Abhi, somehow, I always seem to give you a lot of pain na? I try my best not to hurt you, yet I don't know how, but, I keep making mistakes. I still can't forgive myself for distrusting you and running away from you."
"Shhhh Nikki, don't say that!" Abhi puts his finger on her lips. "We all react differently when faced with adverse situations. Now that the clouds of anger and pain has vanished from within me, I am able to understand how difficult it must have been for you at that time, especially in your pregnant state," he pulls her hand closer to his face. "We've both made a lot of mistakes, Nikki. We, both love each other and hurting the other is never our intention, but, we do! Sometimes, some things cannot be helped. Yet, inspite of it all, our love did not die. It only grew stronger." The truth of his words, brings a loving smile on Nikki's face
Returning a smile to her, Abhi continues, "Knowing both our natures, I am sure even after this, we'll still end up hurting and fighting with each other. The Good God above, also, will not be able to do anything about it! We are complete hopeless cases Nikki! Totally meant for each other! " Abhi exclaims wryly, spurting out laughter from both of them.
"The dreary dark phase has now passed," he whispers, looking intensely into her eyes. "Its a bright new dawn for us. Let's just put all the bad behind us and move on. All I know , without you, life has no meaning for me. You and the baby are my life. I love you," he kisses her hand.
"I love you too Abhi," Nikki tells him softly "I want to go home now. Even, I am tired of these constant distances between us. I want to be only with you. You and our baby," tenderly she caresses her abdomen. Abhi puts his hand over her hand on her abdomen and gently squeezes it.
"Me too Sweetheart," he replies lovingly. "Oh how I am dying to have you both back!"
"I guess I'll have to stay in the hospital for a few days," Nikki sighs. "Will you miss me ?" she teases impishly
"No, I'll be partying without you!" Abhi retorts sarcastically.
Deciding to ignore his taunt, Nikki smiles and questions him further. "Accha, then tell me what will you miss about me?
"Everything you silly girl! You are wonderful in every aspect especially your loving heart. You are also wonderful, when you look at me with those beautiful eyes, when you lure me with your enticing beauty," Colour creeps into Nikki's face as he brings his face closer and closer, his voice seductive. "When you fight with me," tongue in cheek, Abhi deliberately drawls on it. "When you........"
"Wait a minute," Nikki stops him from continuing further. "I fight with you? Me?" she questions him disbelief on her face. "For your kind information, you, you are the one who is the bigger fighter. Mr Khadoos, Mr. Grumpy!" Abhi who was clearly expecting it, twists his lips breaking out into a lopsided grin.
"See you don't need much effort to fight," he tells her dryly. "We've just gone through a harrowing night. Lack of sleep is giving me a headache, you've barely opened your eyes and still so weak from surgery, yet, we are already into our next argument! I was just complimenting you," mischievously, he blinks his eyes feigning innocence. "All I said how wonderful you are even when you fight with me, but I guess," he sighs deeply, "when it comes to me, fighting comes naturally to you!" he teases. An amused Nikki tenderly swats him on the face. "Yeah and its my right only!"
Sid, Armaan and Riddhima enter and are happy to see Abhi and Nikki smiling. Abhi gets up from his chair and offers it to Riddhima while Armaan walks over to the other side of the bed.
"What nonsense is this?" he admonishes her. "Is this right to scare us like this?" he bends and kisses her forehead "Next time, you do something like this, I'll give you a whack." He tells her, tears lurking in his eyes.
His words brings smiles on the faces of the others Riddhima then warmly squeezes Nikki's hand.
"You feeling okay?" she asks her. Nikki nods her head.
Abhi informs Nikki about Armaan-Riddhima and Rohit-Sonam postponing their trips for her. Her eyes well up with tears of gratitude and happiness.
Later she had early visits from Rohit, Sonam, Simran, Sid, Atul, Muskaan, Anjali, Jas and a tearful Kavita, who were unable to rest till they had a proper look at her. Kavita's tears kept flowing down her cheeks as she warmly kisses her daughter on her forehead.
"You scared us darling!" her mother chokes. Nikki mumbles her apology. She was happy to have her mother around. She also missed her father and mother in law and wished they were around too.
A teary eyed Simran apologies to Nikki for all that happened. Nikki affectionately chides her, telling her, she should not blame herself for it.
Later on Dr. Keerti made an appearance. She was also in tears as she warmly squeezes Nikki's hand, telling her how glad she was that she and the baby were fine. She was happy with Nikki's medical readings and told her she needed to rest well.
Through the day, Nikki was paid short visits by close family members and friends. The staff and even some patients of Sanjeevani wanted to visit her but, were requested not to, by the nurse, on instructions from Abhi and Dr. Keerti, so as to avoid the strain on Nikki. So they sent their fond get well messages through flowers, cards and smses to her. Nikki was completely overwhelmed with everyone's love and concern.
By the afternoon, Nikki was able to lie in a sitting postion with the head of the bed raised up. As she was wondering where Abhi was, she receives a message from him, telling her, he was caught up in an emergency and checking if she was feeling okay. Before she could reply, Riddhima enters and sitting by her side tells her Armaan and she, managed to get a good rest for a couple of hours. Noticing Nikki's sad face, she enquires what was the matter. Nikki mumbles about Abhi haven't come to see her, ever since he left in the morning, along with them. Riddhima informs her that there was an accident few metres away from Sanjeevani, a school bus collided with a taxi and there has been quet a few casualties, mostly kids. Hence Abhi and staff of Sanjeevani were busy attending to it.
She then tells Nikki how Abhi was unable to sleep at all and kept watchful eyes over her and her baby right through. She also tells her how he had planned a surprise for her that fateful night as he wanted to tell her how much he loved her.
"If only you could have seen it!" she tells Nikki, her eyes moist.
"You can still see it," Armaan tells her as he walks into the room. Both the girls look at him with surprise. He pulls out his cell phone and shows it to Nikki.
Looking at the pictures of their room so beautifully decorated, Nikki becomes emotional. She chokes back her tears. Riddhima looks gratefully at Armaan who smiles back at her.
"Abhi asked us to pull it all down, but, I thought you should know what he did and how much he loves you," he tells her. He then adds, "Sorry, I did not click the bigger surprise." Riddhima knew that he was referring to the picture. "I thought since it is still there, it should remain a surprise for you when you go back home."
Swallowing a lump in her throat, Nikki mumbles a thank you to him.
By late afternoon, a worried Rachna Modi finally reached Nikki's room, having started immediately from Pune as soon as Sid called her in the morning and informed her about Nikki. She was happy and relieved to personally see that Nikki and the baby were fine. Nikki, also, was overjoyed that her one wish was fulfilled as she warmly embraces her mother in law.
Having been caught up with the patients from the accident, about fifteen kids, Abhi and Dr. Keerti finally breathed a sigh of relief when the two kids who were critical, were now out of danger. It was 8 pm. They then make their way towards Nikki, both extremely tired, from the eventful happenings of the day and the previous night.
Chatting with her mother and mother in law, Nikki's eyes sparkle with joy when Abhi enters with Dr. Keerti. As they walk towards her bed, she makes an awkward attempt to sit up but Dr. Keerti tells her to continue to lie down. Going through the resident doctor's readings and checking with Nikki, Dr. Keerti was happy that she was much better. Nikki informs her that she was able to sit properly with very minimum pain. Dr. Keerti then tells Abhi the monitor could now be removed as Nikki and the baby were absolutely fine. Though his head was pounding heavily, Abhi felt the tension releasing from him. Mechanically, he rubs his forehead, his gesture, bringing concern on the faces of the women in the room.
"Everything is fine Nikki," Dr. Keerti tells her "Tomorrow you should attempt to walk about."
With a smile Nikki nods her head. Saying her byes to everyone, Dr. Keerti leaves the room.
"Did you have dinner?" Abhi asks Nikki and she nods her head.
Kavita and Rachna offer to stay with Nikki for the night. Kavita tells them since Rachna did a long journey and Abhi did not sleep the whole night, the day being also a rough one for him, both, should go home and catch up with some rest.
Abhi and Nikki look at each other. Pangs of parting fill their eyes. Nikki, however, realizes that her mother was right. No matter how difficult it was going to be, staying without him, he needed to rest.
Abhi begins to protest saying he would stay back.
"Mom is right Abhi," Nikki tells him. "I am absolutely fine now. You should go home,"
Argued fiercely by the women force, Abhi reluctantly agrees.
Planting a kiss on Nikki's forehead and telling her to take care of herself and the baby, Rachna walks out of the room along with Kavita who, decided to let the couple to have few moments alone with each other. .
Abhi sits on the stool beside Nikki and holds her hand.
"Why are you insisting I go home Nikki?" he asks wearily. "I don't want to go." After a thought, he shakes his head and says adamantly, "I am staying,"
"No you are not," Nikki tells him firmly. Then looking tenderly at him she tells him, "Abhi, the medication is already making me drowsy. So in any case I'll be sleeping through. Besides you've had a horrible night and day. So go home and rest well," there was imploring in her voice. Abhi sighs deeply.
Nikki's eyes begin to glint with mischief.
"You do need to be fit and fine to carry a heavier me around." she teases.
Chuckling, Abhi brings his face closer to hers.
"I can still do it," he tells her. "And I can do more than that too," he adds his eyes gleaming with mischief.
As she makes eyes at him, Abhi puts his lips over hers. Nikki happily returns his kiss.
Lifting his head, Abhi looks into her eyes.
"Please don't send me away," he pleads softly.
Nikki lovingly cups his face with both her hands. "I don't want to, but we both need a good rest to be with each other soon."
Abhi knew she was right. Reluctantly he nods his head in agreement. Once again he brushes his lips against hers.
"Abhi, the door is open," Nikki tries to alert him. "Anyone will walk in. The nurse........or......."
"No they won't, especially if I am here, no one will come!"
He bends his face to kiss her again.
"Abhi Darling, don't tell me you've changed your mind again?" Kavita's stern voice booms from behind.
Abhi's head jerks up and his startled eyes popping like marbles makes Nikki bubble with laughter.
Scratching his head in embarrassment, Abhi quickly stands up and turns to face Kavita whose hands were matron-like on her hips. "I don't know about you Son in law," Kavita tells him, trying her best to stifle her amusement . "My daughter needs some rest, I need some rest too and your poor mother is waiting outside for you. So you better go!" she warns
Squeezing Nikki's hand warmly, Abhi mumbles a "Bye and take care" to her. With a nervous and sheepish "Bye" to his mother in law, he walks towards the door. Reaching the door post, he turns and gapes lovingly at Nikki. A glaring Kavita puts herself in between the path of his sight. Shaken, Abhi quickly steps out. Amused, Kavita and Nikki burst into giggles.
In the middle of the night, on the edge of a deep sleep, Abhi's hands mechanically reaches out for Nikki, but, he could only feel the empty mattress. Frightened with his inability to feel her, he opens his eyes in panic and sits up. It then dawns on him Nikki was at the hospital.
"Damn!" he groans running his fingers through his hair.
Reaching for his watch, he sees it was five minutes to 2 am. The previous night events begin to flash in front of his eyes. He kept hoping Nikki was fine. When he reached home, he had called her, but, Kavita informed him she was so exhausted she fell off to sleep. He was wide awake now. The deep slumber did him a lot of good. He felt quiet rested, but, he was missing Nikki. He badly wanted her beside him. Dejected and unhappy, he pounds his fist into the pillow. Tossing and turning for a good five minutes, he decides to send a sms to her, knowing it would'nt disturb her since he asked Kavita to put Nikki's phone on the silent mode. She could read it in the morning.
Oblivious to him, lying on the hospital bed, Nikki too, had just woken up and was also missing him. The thought of him needing rest, prevents her from calling him. She, too, decides to send him a message, wanting him to know she was thinking of him in the middle of the night.
Just as they press the send button on their respective phones, they were surprised to see an incoming message.
Abhi reads the message
"Its 2 am now and I am unable to sleep. Missing you like crazy"
while Nikki was reading
"Its 2 am and I am wide awake. Missing you like crazy. Wish you were here!"
They grin widely at the almost synchronized messages. Excitement on their faces, they dial the other's number, but, are dejected to hear the engaged tone. After a couple of attempts, they decide to wait and let the other call, but then again, they end up waiting impatiently as they receive no call. After several attempts of both dialing and waiting, it was finally Nikki who manages to get through Abhi's phone.
"Which girlfriend were you talking to eh?" a frustrated Nikki asks him hotly, trying to keep her voice low, not wanting to wake her mother up, who was asleep on the couch nearby.
"Now for that, I'll have to pull out the list," Abhi drawls in reply. "Its fairly long,"
"Ha Ha!" Nikki mocks. "Don't forget I have long nails and you already have some pretty ugly drawings on your face, don't make me add some more," she warns.
"And then you claim you don't fight with me!" Abhi teases "What are doing waking up at 2 am? Even medicines can't curb your hyperness is it ?" his voice was filled with laughter.
"This bed is so uncomfortable, I cannot sleep," she grumbles, a smile on her lips, as it wasn't the truth. The truth was she was missing him.
"Me too!" Abhi tells her. "This bed is also very uncomfortable."
"Liar," Nikki retorts. "That's our bed and its so comfortable!"
"Exactly! Its our bed and its so uncomfortable without you," pat comes his reply. Nikki chuckles.
"Come home soon," he tells her, longing in his voice "I just can't live without you,"
"I am also dying to come home."
"Then rest well and get better soon. How is the baby doing?" Abhi asks, his heart beating with concern.
"Very Good, roaming all over the place. And why not? After all it's the mother's property!"
Abhi guffaws loudly.
For the next one hour, the two of them continue chatting, teasing and laughing, till Kavita calls out, "Hey you two night birds, save some chirpings for tomorrow too!"
Hearing her, Abhi and Nikki break into giggles. Reluctantly, they disconnect the phone, but, their faces glow with happiness.
"Do you ever sleep?" An amused Kavita questions her son in law who enters the room promptly at 6 am.
Abhi smiles sheepishly at her. He was clean shaven and looking much more relaxed. He was surprised to find Nikki awake.
"You are up already? I thought you would still be sleeping."
"She has been up since five and restless ever since," Kavita informs him.
Abhi and Nikki exchange amused looks.
It was another hectic day for Abhi but he managed to make a few appearances and check on his wife. He was glad she was making steady progress and was able to walk about the room all by herself. By the evening, Dr. Keerti tells him that it was important for Nikki to stay one more night at the hospital and even though, both, he and Nikki, were not too happy about it, Abhi agreed wholeheartedly as he knew she needed to be properly monitored.
Rachna insisted on staying the night with Nikki. "I must warn you," Kavita tells her darting an amused glance towards Abhi and Nikki. "don't be surprised if you hear some birds chirping in the middle of the night. There are a couple of night birds around." As Rachna laughs, having fully understood her hint, a red faced Abhi and Nikki look at each other.
And, in the middle of the night, Rachna did hear the chirpy bird, who was trying her utmost best to keep her tone as low as possible. Rachna smiles to herself recollecting Kavita's words about night birds and knowing the other one was at the other end of the line.
The next day while going through the discharge papers, Nikki was stunned to see she was operated for aneurysm. The fact that Abhi lied to her made her upset. She, now, realized why everyone from Dr. Keerti to the nurses and other staff were discreet about her surgery.
Wanting to confront him, she was about to dial his number, when Riddhima and Armaan walk into the room. A livid Nikki unleashes all her anger onto them for hiding the truth from her. Riddhima gently explains that they, especially Abhi, didn't want her to get stressed about it and worsen hers and the baby's condition.
"You are worked up just hearing about it Nikki, but do you realize the kind of hell, Abhimanyu and we went through as Dr. Keerti was operating on you?" Armaan tells her "You wouldn't be able to handle it and your stress would only have harmed the baby further."
"Yeah, Abhi was completely shattered. The thought he was going to lose either or both of you, numbed him completely," Riddhima told her. "Yet, he didn't want you to go through that kind of hell till the baby was out of danger and you recovered well to understand it better."
Nikki was moved to tears. Just then a cheerful and smiling Abhi enters the room, "Ready to go home?" he asks her. The smile on his face begins to fade seeing the tears in her eyes. Stunned he looks at Armaan and Riddhima and finds them looking grave and tense. "She knows about her aneurysm," Armaan tells him.
Abhi clenches his jaws tightly at the inevitable.
"Nikki, look........." he begins to explain.
"Abhi, honestly tell me, there is no danger to the baby?" Nikki pleads with him.
"No, the baby is absolutely fine." Abhi confirms
"Don't forget you are telling it to a Doctor, Abhi," Nikki tells him indignantly. "You know very well there are minor chances of some defects in the baby, especially the brain."
"NO!" Panic-stricken, Abhi, Armaan and Riddhima holler at her. They exchange looks with each other then look at Nikki.
"Nikki, it won't happen," Abhi tells her confidently, holding her hand as he sits beside her. "The baby is going to be absolutely fine and for a quiet number of reasons. Firstly as you said it's a very, very slim chance for any birth defect and the blood supply to the uterus was stopped for barely few moments which makes it even more miniscule, infact, not even a chance for it. Besides, you are going to deal with it positively Nikki which will work wonders for the baby's progress. This baby is meant to come to us Nikki and in perfect health, that is why it has survived against all odds. Now its barely a few steps to the end. I will always be with you, every moment, every step. It is now in your hands to wipe away all negative thoughts, all the bad memories and think positively for yours and the baby's progress. You will. Won't you?" he implores. "For the baby and Us!"
An emotional Nikki nods her head in agreement and rests her head against his chest as he puts a protective arm around her.
"Thank you Abhi for not telling me this before" she tells him looking up into his face. Her voice was heavy. "I wouldn't have been able to handle it then. You all are right. It would only have worked me up even more and worsen the baby's chances. Thank you," she whispers.
Armaan and Riddhima look relieved at each other.
Closing his eyes, a relieved Abhi tightens his hold on her. "I love you," he chokes as he kisses her forehead. "Lets go home!" He stands up and going through the discharge papers, signs it.
In the meanwhile, Armaan and Riddhima move closer to Nikki "I am sorry guys for yelling like that," she apologises holding Riddhima's hand. "You guys are wonderful. Thanks so much." Riddhima hugs her while Armaan puts his arms fondly around them. Abhi smiles at the tender sight they made.
PRECAP TO PART 38
(Which I will post tomorrow)
On his way to the kitchen, Sid was passing the living room when he saw Abhi, clad only in a bathrobe lying, on the couch.
He begins to laugh heartily.
Abhi glares "What the hell are you laughing for you Idiot!"
"Bhai you sleeping in a bathrobe?"
"Whats with you? I am not sleeping in the nude na?" an annoyed Abhi roars at him.
Sid continued chuckling loudly looking every bit like a clucking hen. It irritated Abhi more and more.
"Will you shut up you idiot or should I give you a good thrashing?"
"Bhai, you got thrown out of your room?"
Abhi looks daggers at him.
"The fact is you scare and rule over everyone but she rules over you! Right? Right?" he instigates.
A scowling Abhi gets up from the couch ready to chase him, but, Sid manages to quickly run into his room.