Thursday, December 13, 2012

But You'll Always Be My Hero

"So, you really love him, eh?" he said, sitting on a gray bench on a gray winter evening, out in their immense garden.

"Yes." she said simply, looking into his unreadable face.

"Are you sure about this?" he questioned umpteenth time.

"You know how I am always confused about everything?" she asked and he nodded, "Well, this is one of those few things that I am truly confident about. He actually loves me, tho' it has been really hard for me to believe it."

"Nonsense." he commented, "I mean," he began in reply to her raised eyebrow, "You are absolutely lovable. I don't think there's any guy who'd come into contact with you and not fall in love with you." he smiled, gently.

"You are biased." she chuckled, "Trust me, there are guys who don't love me. Brian, for example? He's such a good friend and thankfully, not in love with me."

"He's your friend, I know. And, I've always suspected him to a bit gay, anyway." he laughed.

"How can anyone be a bit gay!" she laughed along with him.

His laughter died down after a few seconds and she saw his eyes shining.

"Are you okay with this?" she asked, concerned, squeezing his hand.

"I am okay with every thing that makes you happy, honey." he smiled bravely, fighting the tears that were threatening to escape, "Well, not every thing, but you get my point." he laughed, again.

"I love him and I love you, too." she said, still holding his hand, her grayish green eyes boring into his light gray ones, "And, I want you to know something. I may meet anyone, I may go anywhere, I may love anyone; but,"

"But?" he prodded, when she paused.

"But, you'll always be my hero, daddy." she whispered, smiling, tears choking her voice and staining her cheeks.

He smiled the only honest smile of the evening and kissed his daughter's forehead, wiped away her tears and hugged her tightly, his eyes closed, letting his own tears fall freely.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Karva Chauth

"Fasting, eh?" Piyush asked, rhetorically, as he sat down at Kangana's table.

She smiled and nodded at him. It was around 11 in the morning and they were in the college library.

"Are you allowed to eat anything?"

"I had a sammich before sunrise. Can't eat or drink till the moon comes." she grinned.

"Aw. I didn't eat anything." he frowned.

"You WHAT?" she gasped, incredulous.

"Shhhh! Keep it down!" he warned her, as many people glared at them.

"You are fasting?"

"Yeah. You're just embarrassing me now." he tried to hide his face behind a particularly thick book.

"You're just scaring me now!" she exclaimed, disbelief writ large in her face.

"Aren't you fasting?" he accused.

"Oh, come on!" she rolled her eyes, "I fast every year."

"Ah, yes."

"For whom are you fasting?" she smacked him with his thick book.

"Ow!" he rubbed his arm, "Um, I don't know if I should tell you."

"Okay, your wish." she pouted.

"I thought you'd know." he smiled, "Will tell you tonight, as we look at the moon."

Kangana's heart pounded against her ribs. Far-fetched thoughts raced in her mind. Suddenly, her entire system had gone haywire. She blushed as she thought about their flirtations, his seemingly frivolous suggestions of dating each other. She always knew they had some sort of a connection, but neither was bold enough to make the first move. Until now, that is. He was apparently ready to take their flirtationship to a meaningful level.

"Helloooooo!" she heard him say.

He was waving his hand right before her face while she was lost in her reverie.

"Back to earth?" he smirked.

"Yeah." she smiled happily.

"For whom are you fasting?" he chuckled.

"I don't know if I should tell you." she winked at him.

"Touche!" he grinned back, his eyes lingering on her face longer than it was necessary.

She wasn't hungry or thirsty anymore as her stomach was full of butterflies. But, she was earnestly waiting for the moon to show up soon.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Hey! What's up?" she heard his warm voice over the phone.

"Moon's up! I am on the rooftop terrace, come quickly."


It was twenty minutes to nine. The moon looked hazy and a little red thanks to pollution, clouds and the advent of winter.

She was dressed traditionally, in a red lehenga with a golden blouse and a red dupatta. Her impeccable straight hair cascaded down her slender back, the beautiful henna on her hands visible in the general light from everywhere, her eyes twinkled and her face, pretty and bright as ever.

"Kangana?" she heard him call out.

She turned around and found him standing twenty feet away from her, near the door of the stairway. He was dressed casually in a black tee and a pair of blue jeans.

"Hi!" she couldn't help smiling.

"My God!" he said, as he walked towards her, "You look ethereal!"

"Ethereal?" she asked, amused.

"Yeah, I've learnt new words to impress you." he chuckled. "But, it's true. You look like an angel. There can be Indian angels in heaven, right?"

"With the number of Gods and Goddesses we have, I guess we must be having a separate Indian heaven." she laughed.

"You're funny." he commented.

"And, you're digressing."

"You distracted me." he said, now standing close to her.

"Oh, shut up!" she shoved him, playfully, "So, who's your secret girl?"

"You don't give up, do you?" he sighed, "I was with her on the phone right now,"

He is going to divulge his feelings, after all. Kangana nearly got a heart attack.

"You mean?"

"Yeah. I had called up Nidhi. She didn't seem very excited, though." he shrugged.

She nearly got another heart attack, for an entirely different reason now.

"Nidhi? Your ex?"

"Yeah. The fast was for her. Her happiness, her health. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want pity or sympathy."

It took her a lot of effort to prevent her tears from falling down, to prevent herself from fainting.

"Are you okay? You don't look so good." his voice was full of concern, "I'm sorry I'm keeping you from drinking and eating with my drama."

"No, no. It's okay." she gave a broken smile.

"No, you look ill. Here, drink this." he said, picking up her little pitcher of water.

"Don't!" she said, sternly, "Only husbands or the ones for whom we are fasting can feed us." she explained.

"Oh, okay. I am sorry." he said slowly, "So, for whom were you fasting?" he teased.



"Yeah, nobody. I fast each year because I like to. But, it's for nobody in particular. I have nobody to fast for and no one who'd fast for me." she tried to smile.

"Aw! One day." he caressed her face.


After worshipping the moon like she did, he gulped down a glass of water and ate the sweets that she had brought.

"Shall we go down, now?" he asked.

"You go ahead. I'm gonna enjoy the weather for a bit."

"Are you sure? You'll catch a cold in that dress."

"Yeah." she smiled.

"Okay, then. But, don't be long." he smiled, "And, thank you, for everything. Happy Karva Chauth." he hugged her before leaving.

Tears blinding her, she made sure his footsteps had faded away before she crumbled down, unable to stand any longer.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sex is not Love, and, No, I am not Fallin'

Rushing to see her, he stumbled and almost fell down in the middle of the busy airport.

"Stop laughing!" he chided her on the phone, "Where are you?"

"I can see you falling for me!" she chuckled.

He spun around, scanning the area, phone close to his ear. He heard the call being disconnected and almost simultaneously he was poked in his back.

He turned around, and there she was, all smiles. All laughter, to be precise.

"Finally!" he breathed out.

She nodded, shaking with laughter.

"It wasn't that funny!" he frowned.

"It was. You weren't watching yourself." she grinned, extending her hand to pinch his nose.

He embraced her as she did so.

"Nice to finally see you!"

"Aw!" she patted his head, giggling.

"Could've been more expressive." he muttered, pushing her luggage trolley and walking out in the general direction of his car.

She followed him, with a renewed round of laughter.

"Do you ever stop laughing?" he asked, stuffing her stuff on the backseat of his car.

"Nice drive!" she commented, checking out his massive SUV.

"Would you take a bit of interest in me? Or, at least feign it?" he said, leaning against the passenger door, his arms crossed against his chest.

"I wouldn't have come this far if I weren't interested!" she rolled her eyes, slapping him playfully.

Prateek and Arushi had been friends for long. They had been together through each other's hookups, breakups, successes, failures and everything. But since they lived in different cities, separated by thousands of miles, they could meet only rarely. This was one of those rare times.

"So, how's Loofah?" she questioned as he drove skilfully through the rush-hour traffic.

"She has a name, you know!"

"Oh, come on! She turns a little drop of anything into such a big issue. Loofah is perfect for her." she gave him a toothy grin.

"We talk infrequently ever since our breakup six months ago."

"You guys didn't talk much while in a relationship, either." she smiled, taunting him.

Her smile took his breath away, even though he had turned his head with the intention of making a witty comeback.

Instead, he took off his hand from the gearstick and squeezed her hand gently,

"Thank you."

"For being insane and keeping me sane." he answered the surprised expression on her face.

"Well, that escalated quickly!" she burst out laughing.

"Trust you to ruin the moment." he gripped the steering wheel with both his hands now.

She ruffled his hair and smiled at him, petrifying him momentarily.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"My room?" she asked, happily, as he ushered her into a huge guest room at his house.

"With your immense luggage, I think you'll have to sleep in my room." he guffawed.

"Keep dreaming! Anyway, I am hungry. Feed me." she stated, slumping into her bed.

"Yes, ma'am." he saluted as he left the room.

When he returned, she had already changed from her jeans and tee into a pair of loose shorts and a huge tee.

"Food?" she pouted as she saw him return with a glass of apple juice.

"I've ordered stuff for you. Have patience."

"Stuff?" she looked at him suspiciously.

"Yeah. Pizza and similar things that you like. Italian stuff."

"Aw. Thank you! And, where are your parents?" she asked, sipping her juice.

"They have gone out for a bit." he answered, sinking down into the bed next to her.

She studied his profile for a moment before placing her glass on the bedside table and hugging him tightly. He was taken aback at first but welcomed the embrace the next moment.

His body seemed to be on fire. It had been long since he had felt that way. He was surprised at its intensity. And, he was shocked. Because he had no idea why his body was reacting that way. He had never had any romantic feelings for her.

His hands rubbed her back softly and slowly, his head snuggled in into her tresses, at the base of her neck.

He felt her pulling away just as he was losing himself.


He was gazing at her, his grey eyes misty.

She felt his warm hand push away strands of her hair, tucking them behind her ear. His hands lingered along the length of her neck and she shuddered.

"Pr-" her sentence was cut short by his lips that had taken hold of hers.

Epiphany had taken place a hug ago. He had realized why Loofah did not matter to him anymore. It was Arushi's presence, her care, her affection, her selflessness... He had become attached to her without realizing it. He had moved on without knowing why it had become possible. He had thought that his heart was now his own, without knowing it had found a new home.

His train of thought was derailed by something that he hadn't expected. Somewhere deep down, he knew she would push him away, probably with a slap on his face. But, she was kissing him back!

She felt his lips curve upwards into a smile as her lips nibbled his.

"Aru," he whispered, his breath hot against her lips.

"Shhhhh," her right hand moved slowly through his brilliant black hair, her left hand on his nape.

He happily shut up, pushing her down to the bed, leaving a trail of kisses from her lips down her neck, across the collar bone and back.

He took off his shirt with some difficulty as he was reluctant to leave her lips.

Her delicate fingers dug into his skin making him wince.

"Sorry," she whispered, as she kissed his chest where she had hurt him, switching positions, climbing on top of him.

He let out a moan of pleasure. Before long, her lips had found his lips again while his hands fidgeted clumsily, trying to get her out of her tee.

"A little help?" he asked, his voice husky.

"Be a man!" she challenged, biting his earlobe.

So he yanked off her tee forcibly, messing up her hair. The sound of the seams bursting was formidable.

"Hey!" she frowned, "That was one of my favorite tops."

"Now? Really?" he raised an eyebrow.

She smirked.

"C'mon! I look better on you." he drawled, pulling her closer.

"Corny!" she laughed, kissing him nevertheless.

It had steadily gotten darker outside. Their bodies were faintly illuminated by the soft glow emitted by the fairy lights hanging outside the bedroom window, filtering in through the translucent white curtains.

"Arushi?" he asked, as they lay there beneath the summer blanket, her head on his chest, his arm around her waist.


"That was-"

"Unexpected, I know." she finished for him.

"Yeah, that too. But I was about to say something else. I realized something about Loofah," he began.

"Isn't the stuff late?" she asked, suddenly getting up, "It has been over an hour. And, your parents, damn it. They could be home any moment"

She looked flustered.

"Relax!" he rubbed her hand.

"We have to dress up. Take your clothes and get out." she ordered.

He did as he was told, bewildered. This was unexpected. Her reaction, that is.

"Aru!" he knocked softly at the door. It had been nearly fifteen minutes and she hadn't come out. She never took this long to dress.

"Stuff is here." he informed a little uncertainly.

"Did I hear food calling out to me?" he heard her voice from the other side and he couldn't help smiling.

He heard the soft click of the door being unlocked.

"Sorry, I was washing my face." she smiled.

She seemed normal now.

"Arushi," he started.

"Oh, and, I got a call from work. I've to get back tomorrow." she told him, unperturbed, perching on the edge of the bed, away from him.

"But you just came! And, you promised you'd stay for a week at least."

"Duty calls!" she shrugged, biting off a pizza slice. "Mmmm. This is good."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They drove normally to the airport next morning. That seemed abnormal to Prateek.

Maybe I am over-thinking. Maybe she's just shy to talk about last evening. It was unexpected, after all. He talked to himself.

She prattled on about unimportant matters as they reached the airport.

"Oh, by the way," she chuckled as he unloaded her luggage from the car.

I guess she's going to talk about it. High time!

"I messaged Loofah last night." she grinned.

"What the fuck! Why would you do that?"

"From your number, sweetheart, as you." she winked at him.

"Are you out of your mind?" he was seriously mad.

"Oh, come on." she laughed, "I know you're in love with her and all. So I thought why not. And, you're gonna thank me for this. I cleared up every thing. She did reply and said she wanted to meet. Voohoo!"

"Yeah. Thank you, for clarifying every thing."

"It was clear right from the beginning." she smiled, "Anyway, I gotta go now. Hope to see you soon. You take care, okay? All the best with Loofah!"

She hugged him but he was too puzzled to reciprocate. She had already let go before he could react.

"Bye." she waved at him, walking away.

Did I just get fucked? He stood there, wondering.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Still Feel You Like I'm Right Beside You

It was a gray winter evening. She held the coffee mug firmly with both her hands, deriving warmth, as she looked out the open window, not really seeing the present.

"But your mug is empty, Aunt." stated Maggie, as she settled close to her aunt, with her own cup of hot chocolate.

"Yes, dear, like my life. But, it's full of your Uncle's memories, again, like my life." she smiled gently at her niece.

Her husband had passed away, nearly ten years ago, in a fire that had consumed their home and her life. All their worldly possessions and her world, had perished; save this coffee mug that belonged to him. She had found it amongst the charred remains, a little chipped but somehow, basically intact.

It was the only tangible memory she had of him now, the only material thing which held all the other memories, the only physical connection to her past.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


One shattered life
One sharp knife,
One swift strike.

The blood from the veins,
The blood that drains,
The blood that stains.

The daughter they nourished,
The sister he cherished,
A mere body, now perished...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I'm Just Talking About Tonight

The drugs did not seem to be doing their job. I felt restless, mad, murderous, even. The anguish was ripping my insides out.

I glanced at the toolbar on my laptop.

1:17 am

The wild party that many of my friends had invited me to had already started three hours ago. And, I was still indecisive.

I shook my head and almost threw away the laptop as I sprinted towards my closet. A little black dress fell on my face from my overcrowded, unorganized wardrobe. It seemed to be a sign, though I had stopped believing in signs since long.

I slipped into the pretty little black dress, always termed as a ‘wardrobe essential’ by every girlie magazine.

Kohl for my eyes plus a little gloss for my pout was all I needed and I was ready, clicking the heels of my shiny new black stilettoes as I walked.

I drove rashly, scaring the shit out of the poor, cold, homeless people as I zoomed past them.

I entered the party and, boy, was it hot! The air conditioners were on full swing despite the cold winter night. The hot, drugged, dancing bodies made them necessary.

I looked ‘hot’ and I knew it. Several, actually, more than several approving male heads and jealous female heads, turned to look my way as I went past. I did not spare them more than a cursory glance and a fake smile.

What was I even looking for?
Not love, definitely.
Friendship? I had had my share of true as well as backstabbing friends. I could not afford to take more chances.

“Mistie!” someone called out, recognizing me.

“Krish!” I nodded, acknowledging his presence.

“Dance?” he asked and pulled me close to himself.

He was the kind of guy that any girl would be attracted to. I was too. And, the drugs I had taken a couple of hours ago now seemed to have finally woken up.

I danced like mad, close to him, closer to his breath. I felt slutty. But he knew me, and I knew him. We were just friends.

It was then I noticed Mohit, standing at the bar with a wine glass in his hand, noticing me. That was the best drug of that night!

He was a celebrity after having won a few modeling contests all over the country.

He smiled at me. Smirking, I turned towards Krish, put my arms around him and danced for a few more minutes before finally leaving him and strolling towards the bar.

Mohit’s eyes were still on me. It made me feel exuberant.

“Buy me a drink, Mr. hot-shot model!” I drawled, lightly touching his left hand with my right my index finger. I felt him shudder beneath my touch. It made me feel powerful.

“No, no! I don’t drink alcohol, silly!” I said, pushing away the vodka he had offered me with a smile.

That seemed to startle him.

“I seriously don’t.” I smiled genuinely. “A Fanta, please.” I giggled to the bartender.

“Why are you high, then?” he whispered into my ear and it was my turn to shiver.

“Drugs.” I breathed into his ear, my lips brushing against his earlobe.

He gathered me in his arms as I almost fell down, feeling giddy.

“Are you okay?” he asked, looking into my face tenderly.

“Would I be on drugs if I were okay?” I rolled my eyes.

It had been a while since I had rolled my eyes. It made me laugh out loud as I realized how fake, how very unlike me I had become.

“You need fresh air.” he suggested and almost dragged me outside.

I lay down on the cobblestone path that meandered in the garden and he sat down next to me.

“Fuck!” I laughed again as I could not stop laughing.

“What?” he asked, curious.

When I did not answer, he started laughing with me or at me, I’ve no idea. Laughter is contagious at times.

He surprised me by bending down and kissing my lips. My mind shut down, my dead heart seemed to beat dully, and, my body took over.

I kissed him back with all the passion, all the madness, all the restlessness, all the pent-up emotions that I had been feeling all night.

I did not remember how we had reached what room, but I did remember the intensity, the wildness, the excitement, the ecstasy, the heat of that cold December night. And, I remember his asking me,

“Why is your body burning?”

“Because I am hot.”

I had answered huskily before shutting his mouth with mine.

We fell asleep God knows when. The sun was almost overhead when my eyes fluttered open. He was still asleep, like the carving of Adonis, partially covered by a white blanket dotted with petite maroon flowers; his arm around my waist, his head on my chest.

I carefully removed myself from under him and tucked the strands of my hair behind my ear. Only then did I realize that I was actually abnormally hot.

Shrugging it off as fever, I got dressed, kissed his cheek just because he looked cute and stealthily left the room.

One of his one-night stands, I said to myself as I drove back home.
It was not as if I had fallen in love with him. But yes, it was the first time I had done something of this sort..

I felt remorse creep over me, not because the night with Mohit had not been beautiful but because I felt I had betrayed my mourning.

Piyush had dumped me, almost six months ago, but I had never been able to get over him. My pain, tears, anguish, bewilderment, listlessness, suicide attempts, depression, prescription drugs, last night, each and every damned thing; he was the reason behind all of it.

I unlocked the door to my lone house in the suburbs and slumped onto my bed. The clouds had taken over again- the sky as well as my mind.

I changed into a cotton nightie and stood in the now dark, misty balcony, looking over the vast empty meadows, letting the chill pierce my body and soul.

It was my comforter. Yes, I liked the cold. I always had.

It’s always there when the warmth betrays you.

I closed my eyes and slipped back into oblivion, back into the numbness that protected me from the warmth.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Can't Help It If I Wanna Kiss You In The Rain...

"Where are you taking me, Virat? And, I've been wearing this sleep mask for hours!" said Diya, exasperated.

It was a late winter night and they were in a private, chauffeur-driven, black Mercedes which was taking them to a destination that was a surprise for her.

"The flight was of forty minutes and we've been in this car for only ten minutes. Clearly, not even one hour has passed! You exaggerate a lot, Diya." Virat rolled his eyes, laughing.

She punched whatever part of his body she could blindly reach.

"And, I can barely hear what you're saying. Also, why am I wearing these earphones, again?" she fretted, trying to remove them.

"Oh, don't be ridiculous. You need to listen to some soothing music, Miss Psycho." he joked, pulling away her hands from the earphones. "Just trust me." he kissed her forehead.

It was almost midnight when Diya and Virat reached a tastefully decorated apartment after an actual hour.

"It's getting on my nerves now, Virat. This isn't funny." she said, unaware of where they were and why.

"It isn't supposed to be funny, love." he whispered softly.

He made her sit on a beige couch in the bedroom and opened the french window leading to a huge balcony.

"Can I stop this music, please? My head will start aching. Don't complain then and I won't let you fuss over me." she pouted, her arms across her chest.

"Don't open your eyes." she felt his warm breath on her right ear and a shudder ran down her spine.

She let out a huge breath of relief when he gently slipped off the sleep mask, making him laugh.

"If you cheat-" he began.

"I won't!" she cried before he could get all the words out of his mouth.

"Good." she felt his fingers linger on her neck before removing the earphones.

"Really?" she questioned, miffed, when he placed his hands firmly on her ears, shutting out only infinitesimally less 'natural music' than the earphones.

"Yeah." he said and she could see his sexy half-smile in her mind which was exactly his expression at that moment.

She just harrumphed in reply.

"Come." he guided her, carefully, still covering her ears.

"See, and hear." he said in his husky voice as he removed his hands from her ears and placed them gently around her waist.

She opened her eyes quickly and looked around.

They were standing in the balcony, dimly and beautifully lit by little aromatic votive candles, their flames dancing in the cold wind that was blowing.

He held out his hand, wordlessly and they quietly walked further towards the centre, beneath the velvety black sky. It was drizzling making her body tingle. Her just-back-to-work eyes hadn't noticed the rain before.

"Virat-" she began.

"Happy birthday, beautiful." he smiled his heart-melting smile.

Cupping her face in his warm, wet hands, he kissed her.

Even as they stood there, kissing, clouds thundered loudly and it started raining heavily.

Diya clung to Virat, her arms knot tightly in his hair; his arms snaked around her waist, pulling her as close to himself as possible.

She was reminded of a conversation with Virat that had taken place a couple of months ago. He had been out of town on the only day that it had rained there in the last two months and she had expressed her wish,

"I've heard so much about kisses in the rain. I wish I could kiss you in the pouring rain. I want to be kissed in the pouring rain..." she had said, disappointment and longing coloring her tone.

Virat could feel her smile as they kissed.

"You brought me to another city just for this?" she spoke, inches away from his glorious face, her eyes shining with tears of joy.

"It took a lot of planning," he laughed, "I've been following the weather forecasts of everywhere so damn minutely. And, then there's always the risk involved of the forecast being wrong. I am glad it did not happen this time, else, I would've looked like an idiot."

"What if it hadn't rained?" she asked playfully, still in his arms, both of them still getting drenched.

"I'd have kissed you anyway and hoped for the best." he grinned.

"This is the best." she stated, her head against his chest.

"Yes, I could've asked for no better day than your birthday." he smiled, rubbing her back.

"I love you." she whispered, gazing into his brilliant dark eyes.

"I'll always be there to fulfil all your wishes." he said simply, kissing the top of her head.

"And, when I have no more wishes?" she pouted.

"Silly, you always have more and more wishes." he chuckled.

"Can't you just play along?" she gave him a look that was akin to a child's whom someone refuses to humor.

"You're cute." he said, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear.

"Nevertheless," he began when she tried to push him away, pouting for not being answered, "I love you and I will always be there for you, I will always be there with you." he pulled her close, again.

She beamed and mussing his wet hair, kissed him lovingly.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


 She stood on her toes,
And kissed his nose,

"Won't you come back?"
"Thorns of lies surround you, rose."

"But don't you love me?"
"It isn't enough to be close."

"Don't you miss me?"
"Like a tumor that daily grows."

"Can't you forgive me?"
"This is what you chose."

"Won't you gimme a last chance?"
"Betrayal isn't a feeling that simply goes."

"I will wait for you."
"I'm gone like the wind that blows."

And, she was left, alone,
Remorseful, miserable and morose.


Friday, September 7, 2012


"I don't wanna go! You know how I feel about hospitals. They are so depressing." Ranbir complained.

"Oh, come on! Don't be such a kid. You need to get that knee checked." chided his fiancee, Nina.

Ranbir rolled his eyes.

It was a late foggy December evening. Ranbir had had an accident the previous day. There was no visible injury but his leg was stiff.

"Come on." she smiled at him and took him by the hand.

Nina was a psychiatrist and she was taking him to the multi-specialty hospital where she worked.

"Fine." Ranbir grunted.

"And, I want you to meet a very special patient."

"Why?" Ranbir asked as he sat in the passenger seat.

"She's such a poor little thing. I feel so sorry for her. She's actually very nice. She's not 'mental' in your terms. She lost her memory in an accident. There was a serious injury to her head and she now thinks that she's a kid." Nina informed as they drove slowly to the hospital that was merely twenty minutes away.

"Sad." Ranbir agreed.

Once at the hospital, Nina took him to Dr. Kumar, the orthopedic surgeon.

"You get yourself properly diagnosed. I'll be in the psychiatric ward. Bye." she smiled, as she left him outside Dr. Kumar's office.

Dr. Kumar ruled out any broken bones and Ranbir heaved a sigh of relief. He was prescribed some tablets and an ointment to be applied twice a day.

Ranbir went to the general psychiatric ward but Nina was nowhere. He decided to check all the private wards.

He reached ward no. 9 without any success.

"May I help you?" asked a nurse there, when he had opened the door and peered inside.

"Um, do you have any idea where Dr. Nina would be?" he questioned.

"She's with a patient. It was an emergency." the nurse answered.

Ranbir did not seem to be listening. He was staring at a pretty girl who looked twenty-five arranging soft toys on her bed.

"Sapna?" he walked past the nurse towards the girl.

The nurse followed him to the bed.

"Sapna?" he repeated, beside himself with bewilderment.

"Oh, hello!" Sapna smiled sweetly at him.

"What are you doing here?" he said holding her by the shoulders.

"Let go of me." she pushed him away.

"What's wrong with you?" he said holding her arm tightly.

"Pooja! Make him go away. He's hurting me." Sapna whimpered.

"Leave her, sir!" the nurse said sternly, loosening his grip on Sapna's arm. Ranbir let go reluctantly.

Sapna cuddled one of the big teddy bears and curled into a ball beneath the blanket.

"You must leave." the nurse ordered Ranbir.

But Ranbir was unable to move.

"Please." the nurse said, pushing him a little.

Ranbir came back to his senses.

"What's wrong with her? Why is she behaving like that?" he asked the nurse.

"Come outside, please." the nurse signaled.

They walked to a balcony in silence which almost gave Ranbir a heart attack.

"Please tell me what's wrong with her." Ranbir begged.

"She was brought here by an elderly lady, Mrs. Malhotra who had found her on the road covered in blood. Some vehicle had probably hit her. She had serious injury to her brain. It was a complicated operation since she was unconscious. When she woke up two days later, she did not remember anything. Moreover, she believed herself to be a kid. She's been here for three years. We know just her name, that too-"

"Because of the tattoo on her wrist" Ranbir finished.

"Yes. How do you know? Do you know her?"

"She's... a friend..." Ranbir whispered lost in thought.

His face was contorted with pain.

"There you are! I've been looking all over for you!" Nina exclaimed when she spotted Ranbir in the balcony.

"I've night duty tonight. Anyway, what did Dr. Kumar say?" she asked.

"Ranbir?" she touched his cheek when he did not reply, "Is everything okay? What did the doctor say?"

"Uh? Yeah."

"What's wrong with you? Pooja, what's wrong with him?" she turned to the nurse when Ranbir did not reply.

"I don't know ma'am. I just told him Sapna's story. I think he's just sad." the nurse shrugged.

"Aw!" Nina hugged him tightly, "Sapna is the same girl I told you about in the morning, the one I wanted you to meet. Isn't she a darling? But, poor girl. God knows why this happened to her."

"I've to go home. Gimme the keys." Ranbir said abruptly freeing himself.

"But your knee! How will you drive?"

"I'll manage. Just gimme the keys." he said curtly.

Nina handed him the car keys, a little hurt and really puzzled.

Tears clung to his eyelashes as he hurried down the corridor. His feet automatically stopped in front of Sapna's ward. He opened the door and looked inside. There she was, sketching in a notebook. She looked up at him when she heard the door being opened.

"You?" she pouted as she recognized him to be the one who had hurt her earlier.

Ranbir tried to smile at her but Sapna stuck out her tongue at him.

His anguish was killing him and it showed on his face.

"Aw. Are you sad, mister?" Sapna came running towards him, "I am sorry for being rude. Here, take this chocolate." she smiled at him.

His grief choked him. His chest tightened and he was blinded by the enormity of the pain.

"I am sorry." he almost broke down as he hugged her tightly.

"It's okay." she patted his head.

He wanted to scream. He let go of her and rushed to his car as fast as his injured knee would allow.

Once inside, he gripped the steering wheel tightly and let the tears that stung his eyes burn his cheeks.

Sapna was the love of his life. But, he had to leave her because his mother did not approve of her as she was an orphan. His father had died only recently and his mother was his only family. He could not bring himself to go against her wishes. They had moved out of Bangalore into Delhi and he had never tried to find out how Sapna was doing without him.

He had been in Delhi for three and a half years now. So Sapna had probably come to Delhi a few months after him and met this fate.

He wanted to kill himself. He was responsible for Sapna's plight.

"I will go mad." Sapna had smilingly told him when he had casually asked her what she would do if they were no longer together.

Her words resounded in his head and he covered his ears, wailing.