“Now come on try to sleep,” Anya said briskly, “should I lower the head of the bed?” she picked up the handle.
Strangely, he flushed a bit and he looked away; she looked consideringly at him, he was clearly uncomfortable; he appeared a little tense and helpless as well.
Rightly deducing his dilemma, she quickly left the room with her bag of goodies, “I don’t want you eyeing my food, so I will go out and eat; don’t worry, I will be back in a little while,” she called over her shoulder.
But first she went to the nurse’s station and made sure they sent in a male attendant to help him deal with nature’s call. She sat herself at a convenient chair facing his room door and attacked her cold dinner. After the attendant emerged, the sister sailed in to give him his medicines, monitor his vitals etc.
Anya doggedly plodded through her meal and returned to his room, brushing away the crumbs to find him resting comfortably, and looking more relaxed and confident, “Hey kid,” he murmured softly his eyes warm and appreciative of her sensitivity and maturity in dealing with a potentially embarrassing situation for both of them, “Did I say thanks? Nahi na? Well thanks for everything, don’t know what I would have managed otherwise.”
Anya stood with her hands on her hips, “You are welcome,” she said formally and a bit sternly, “But call me a kid once more and I won’t be responsible for my actions I am warning you,” she stated categorically.
“Oh but,” he sighed ruefully as he surveyed her trim jean clad figure, “Just look at you, you don’t look a day older than 14,” he said despondently, still stuck in the same old rut, “kiddo,” he repeated, unknowingly playing with fire.
She glared at him and walked over to him; she had had enough. All of a sudden it all seemed crystal clear – was that what was eating him all these years? That she was too young?
Well she would show him! Seething with the injustice of it, she looked down at him and slowly bent her angled head till their lips met for the sweetest kiss ever.
It seemed to go on forever yet was over in an instant. Anya was the first to withdraw and get a grip on herself, mostly because he winced as she pressed against one of his countless sore spots.
She hurriedly straightened and was able to catch a glimpse of the dazed and protesting expression in Sherry’s eyes as he opened them at the abrupt and rude end to his long awaited dream.
She viewed with satisfaction Sherry’s shell-shocked dumbstruck expression, “Next time you call me a kid, be sure that I will repeat my actions, no matter where we are,” she threatened convincingly; nonchalantly. Recovering, she grinned, “Or,” she murmured huskily, “If you want me to kiss you, you could call me a kid,” she winked at him.
Stunned, disarmed and completely besotted, a helpless Sherry just lay back and looked at her struck, definitely not a kid!
Having made her point, and suddenly embarrassed at her out of character behavior, Anya hurriedly switched off the lights, “Now try to sleep will you? Good night, sweet dreams,” her teeth flashed in the light streaming in from the corridor, “dream of me,” she said rather cheekily as she tried to cover up.
He grinned reluctantly, “Yeah but where will you sleep?” he looked around worriedly; there was of course a diwan in the far corner of the room.
Anya patted his hand and walked to the diwan and made herself comfortable, “I will sleep here, that is if you allow me to sleep,” she predicted, rather accurately as it turned out.
Anya sank back with a sigh on to the not too uncomfortable diwan. She was dead tired and her legs were trembling with exhaustion. She had been almost constantly on her feet for almost six hours now; stress and worry had only added to it. Yet she wasn’t restless or disturbed; it was if she were where she belonged.
She was home.
And she had kissed Sherry! She blushed and hugged herself – If I had waited for him to kiss me, I would probably have been an old maid by then, she snorted to herself.
Worn out, Anya fell asleep almost instantaneously, with a smile in her heart. She had been barely been asleep for about an hour or two when she was woken up by Sherry’s groans and moans.
Sherry too had laid back with a smile on his lips; he had been half afraid she was going to say ‘Good night, sleep tight and don’t wet your bed tonight’ – in fact he could have sworn she was going to say it, when she suddenly changed it – possibly because she must have realized that childish jingle may well turn out to be true given his current condition. His eyes crinkled and his heart warmed over, again.
And that kiss.
To say that he had been stunned would be an understatement. And not exactly how he had imagined their first kiss, not that he objected but still one thing was sure.
She was right, he thought his heart soaring – she certainly was no kid.
He felt light and free and a broad smile broke through and tried to turn to look at her – he groaned but he did manage to fix his eyes on her, all curled up like a little kitten.
He devoured her with his eyes and slowly unbeknownst to him dozed off a little while later only to dream of her.
The sound of their soft breaths filled their room, but then intermittently and with increasing frequency, the silence was broken by Sherry’s moans. These became louder as the effect of the medicines wore off; moreover he had fever.
Anya woke with a start and wondered only for a brief moment about where she was, “Sherry!” she was by his side.
He was really groaning a lot by now, Anya put a careful hand on his hand only to jerk it away; he was burning, and mumbling something.
Anya leaned towards his ear and after some effort managed to distinguish, “Water, paani, H2O,” he was chanting rather deliriously.
She hurriedly poured a few drops on his parched lips, taking care not to put in too much at a time. She rushed to wet a towel and placed it on his head before calling the Sister on duty. She came down rather sedately at her own unhurried pace and graciously agreed to page the doctor, as she wasn’t authorized to prescribe any medicine, though she advised her to continue sponging as it was important to keep him cool, and then she vanished.
Anya had no choice but to cope with a suddenly very cranky and unmanageable patient. No doubt she herself was quite the experienced nurse, having often sat through a sickly Ankit’s ailments, but then that was different.
Ankit was tiny compared to this giant who thrashed around and then groaned pitifully as he strained an already injured muscle or two. Anya was afraid to hold him down forcefully as who knew what was torn and what was broken, suppose she hurt him even more?
She turned her attention to sponging and even put on the fan to cool him down; perhaps if the fever came down he would be less restless, “Ma, maaa, maaa where are you maa,” he moaned, over and over again.
Anya regretted dissuading Sherry from calling his mother over, she probably would have known how to handle him best, “Shhh,” she muttered softly as she caressed his hand, “It’s Anya, relax, Ma will be here soon enough, you don’t want to be disturbing her at this hour do you, just try to sleep it will be morning soon enough and she will be here, till then I am here, Anya, did you hear me?”
She spoke to him softly reassuringly, continuously hoping to pierce his delirious consciousness.
Thankfully the doctor arrived and prescribed some medicines and advised her to continue sponging, Sherry would soon be comfortable.
Anya she sat beside him, tirelessly sponging him and after some time, he seemed calmer, more alert, “Anya?!” he called her, “It’s you? It’s really you! Did you fax the letter yet? And Mr Mehta when did he say he was coming? Don’t go away Anya? Promise me Anya?”
Relieved that he seemed to be recovering, she promised rather recklessly, “Yeah it’s me Anya, I promise not to leave you ever,” she clutched his hand tightly. He seemed to relax and doze off into an uneasy sleep. But every so often, he would startle and call out urgently, “Anya!” and clutch her hand.
The fever had broken soon afterwards but then his aches and pains revived and he began moaning and fretting, “My head hurts,” he complained, “I am hot! I want water,” he demanded, “I can’t breathe; I am feeling sick; Ooohh my leg,” he thrust her away and attempt to sit up growling, “What the hell are you doing here? Go away, leave me alone!”
He would then fall back weakly upon the bed, groaning even more.
All in all it was a very stressful night for Anya who had her hands full trying to hold him down without injuring him or letting him do further damage to himself. Moreover, she was terribly worried about his deteriorating health condition and wanted to burst into tears on more than one occasion. But then as there was nobody else to fall back upon and tears would be of no help to anyone, she gritted her teeth and hung on as well as she could.
She called the Sister twice who finally she relented enough to page the doctor. But then the doctor strolled in at his own sweet pace and was lucky not to get murdered by a thoroughly put out Anya who hissed at him about his insensitivity and callousness towards his patient, “Dammit kuch ho jaata toh?”
Seeing that she was really upset (besides she was pretty), he did bother to soothe her and reassure her that Sherry wasnt at death’s door as she feared and prescribed some more medicines– more for her sake than his 😉
Anyway, Anya had a very taxing night (giving her a taste of what an ill Sherry was like – as they say, never get married without seeing each other at least through one bout of illness even if it is a common cold) and she finally dozed off sitting on the stool by his bedside, holding his hand.
The hand moved protestingly, Anya sat up with a jerk, disoriented and confused, bleary eyed with her hair flying all over the place. She caught Sherry’s gaze fixed on her. She recollected herself to her surroundings, even as the insisting buzz of her phone dimly penetrated her foggy consciousness, “Err sorry to wake you, but your phone’s ringing.” Sherry said stiltedly.
She hurriedly pulled out her phone and stared at the unknown number, “llo?” she mumbled, “Sheru?” a distinctly worried but even tone queried.
She quietly handed the phone to Sherry and went to the washroom to freshen up. She stared at her reflection in consternation, no wonder Sherry called her a kid! She looked like a scruffy messy tomboy – what would Sherry’s mum think? She put her cold hands to her red cheeks she couldn’t meet her like this! She hurriedly dragged a comb through her rowdy curls, ohh one of those bad hair days, today of all days! She touched her shirt hanging in the washroom and sighed in relief, should be dry any time soon.
She came back in a little while to find him still talking and reassuring his mother, he laughed and joked with her making light of his condition, “Ok Ma, see you soon, yeah I will message you hospital name and room number, yeah bye, I am faaaine maaa, relax, you take care,” he disconnected the phone and handed it back to her.
Anya looked at him critically, he was looking better but still asked formally, “How are you feeling,” she paused, “Sheru?” she smirked.
He rolled his eyes but let it pass, he had other pressing concerns, he viewed her strange attire with suspicion, “What are you doing in that hospital gown?”
She flushed and bluffed, “Oh I was uncomfortable in my clothes so I borrowed the shirt from the Sister,” she casually brushed it away.
“Come on Anya the truth if you please,” Sherry wasn’t convinced, “These gowns are most uncomfortable and not the height of fashion either.”
“No no they really are comfortable, you are not well that is why…” he put up a weary hand and she trailed off.
“What’s the towel doing on the floor?” he asked keenly; Anya hurriedly picked it up and carried it to the washroom and dumped it in the bucket.
She came back wiping her hands on the back of her jeans, “How about some breakfast?” she said brightly.
But he wasn’t so easily distracted, “Not before I have had some answers,” he was adamant.
She was equally determined not to say anything; she crossed her arms silently and tapped her foot challengingly, “Work it out for yourself.”
He closed his eyes wearily and seemed to doze off; actually he was trying to recollect and put together the hazy bits and pieces of the night gone by- his eyes flew open, “Dammit! Don’t tell me I threw up all over you?!”
Her silence was answer enough, he shook his head disgusted with himself, “I am terribly sorry Anya, I really gave you a hard time didn’t I?” looking very guilty and shame-faced, “Sab tumhari galati hai,” he accused, but without much heat, “I did insist that you let me call Ma, but then you wouldn’t let me,” he paused and shrugged, “Ma always claims that I am the world’s worst patient.”
Anya crossed her arms and said airily, “Oh never mind, I have had worse,” she dismissed his claim to fame.
Sherry raised his eyebrow disbelievingly, “Oh really?”
Anya nodded her head vigorously, “Yeah of course! Actually you didn’t throw up all over me, just a bit of my shirt was caught in the crossfire,” she nodded to the towel within reach, “I was prepared you see, for Ankit often does,” she completed blandly.
Anya watched with satisfaction as her barb hit home and the tips of his ears turned distinctly red, “Are you comparing me with Ankit – your kid brother?!” Sherry was affronted – this was worse than his ignoble and unspeakable act.
Anya shrugged, “I may look like a kid, but you, you behave like a baby,” she declared, “An unmanageable one at that.”
Click here for Chapter 303