Leaving him to digest that, she walked out of the room and sent in the male attendant to attend to Sherry’s needs. In the meanwhile she wheedled her way back into the good books of the Sister and arranged for tea and breakfast to be delivered to him. She loitered in the corridor till the attendant came out.
She sauntered back in and shoved her hands into her pockets, “So is your mum ok? Oh I need to message the address right?” she dug out her mobile.
Sherry, who was looking fresher and sitting up in a reclining position on the bed, nodded, “Yeah she’s ok, in any case she doesn’t panic that easily,” he paused, “At least not in front of me,” he looked at the wall clock, it was barely 6 am, “She should be here by 9-9.30 am – only a few more hours and you can be rid of me.”
Anya was inexplicably hurt, “Looks like you can’t wait to be rid of me,” she said through a suddenly tight throat.
“Hey come on Anya,” he coaxed softly, his eyes warm and tender, “You know that isn’t true.”
Anya shook her head adamantly, “You wouldn’t think something unless you were thinking so,” she firmed her lips and quoted, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
“Quite the psychologist aren’t we?” he mocked her and leaned back, his eyes closed, “I’m feeling sick and dizzy,” he mumbled.
Anya looked at him suspiciously, changing the topic was he? “You must be hungry, sugar levels may be falling,” she said practically.
Sherry grimaced and opened his eyes, “I thought you were studying to be an engineer not a doctor?”
Anya grinned despite herself, she scuffed her toe against the leg of the bed, “Yeah well, hazards of being a doctor’s daughter I guess,” she shrugged.
Just then the tea- tray arrived and Anya busied herself in serving him tea and biscuits. Since all his muscles were extremely sore and stiff, it was rather painful for him to even hold the cup and bend either of his arms. Ultimately after a couple of failed attempts accompanied by muffled curses, Anya gently pushed his hand away and fed him biscuits and held out the tea cup – not a very easy thing to do – to drink tea while somebody else is holding the cup, especially if you are stiff and bruised all over.
But finally Anya overruled his prudish sensibilities and managed to get Sherry to drink it by putting a supporting arm around his shoulder and holding the cup to his lips by the other hand.
They were both flushed and warm by the time the cup was empty; Sherry could always claim that the tea was hot that is why he was rather warm but Anya had no such excuse. She turned away and poured herself a cup and mumbled, “Feeling better?”
He nodded, “Thanks,” shrugged and winced, “Ouch! Damn I keep forgetting not to do that.”
Anya took a sip of the much needed cuppa, “Don’t keep saying thanks, there really is no need.”
Sherry grimaced, “I dunno about need but you are right, I can’t keep saying thanks, I mean what all can I say thanks for? The list is endless and in fact I owe you my life.”
Anya’s face turned a beetroot red, “Come on drop it will you? Or are you trying to get rid of me?” she challenged.
“Never,” he vowed his eyes boring into her; she blushed and lowered her head and concentrated on her tea and biscuit.
Sherry gazed at her bent head, rather helpless against the emotions stirring within him; his shoulders drooped, he was tired of fighting her, denying the connection, the bond that they seemed to share. He had taken all the steps possible to keep his distance from her and yet fate determined to bring them together.
He could have easily taken up residence in South Delhi where Anya stayed and in fact made better business sense, but he had preferred to move in with his mother at Dwarka, thereby removing him from her circles, and what had happened? Of all the colleges in Delhi, she had come and joined the one in Dwarka.
Didn’t that mean they were destined to be together? Or were they just fated to meet?
He shook his head as his head throbbed; he shivered, “Could you pull up the blanket please,” he mumbled, sorry to be such a bother, poor girl looked totally worn out.
Anya was up in a trice, she pulled up the blanked and touched his forehead worriedly, “I think the fever is returning, better go and tell the Sister, amazing how long it takes for the doctor to come,” she grumbled, “You know how much I had to request her last night to page the doctor? And shouldn’t there be a doctor right here?”
Sherry looked at her beat, “Ideally yes, but there’s such a shortage of doctors, besides there is only so much medicines can do, the rest will take time,” he smiled faintly and rather apologetically, “Till then I guess you will have to grin and bear it.”
“Yeah,” Anya said wryly, “This time I am taking no chances, I will warn them in advance and harass them till he comes,” she pulled up the blanket and turned to leave but he caught hold of her hand; she looked down in surprise, “What?”
“How did you get this?” he asked pointing to the bruises on her wrist, there was a deep gash on the inner side of her elbow as well.
“Kuch nahi,” she mumbled and gently extricated her hand from his; she went to warn the Sister.
“I did that didn’t I?” Sherry said as soon as she returned.
“The Sister said the fever wouldn’t go as high this time as she has already given you the medicine for it,” Anya reported, ignoring him, “Is your head hurting? Should I massage it?” she went closer to him.
“Anya,” he again caught hold of her hand, gently, tenderly, “I did that didn’t I?” he repeated.
Anya was silent, then, “I bruise easily,” she excused him.
“And that gash? Did you put something on it?” He asked.
Anya nodded, “Yeah the Sister put some antiseptic on it, nothing to worry,” she smiled, “And doesn’t even hurt now.”
“But how did you get it?” Sherry persisted.
“I…I stumbled and fell against the chair, there was a nail poking out and I hurt myself on it,” she dismissed it.
“And how did you stumble?” Sherry was determined to get the whole picture.
“Stumble? Oh I am a great stumbler, I keep falling all over the place, genetic disorder I believe,” she laughed and joked.
“Aanyaaa,” he said wearily, “Please just answer my question will ya, not feeling too good you know?”
Anya knotted her fingers and said hesitantly, “No…no it was just that… I think I must have hurt you while trying to hold you down while you were thrashing around, so reflexively you pushed me, I stumbled and fell, big deal,” she trailed off.
He looked at her regretfully, his lips twisted; he closed his eyes as guilt flooded him.
Anya’s heart went out to him, she reached out and gently touched his cheek, unconsciously imitating her mother, “Hey big guy, it’s ok, really; I can barely feel it,” he opened his eyes and gazed into hers.
The mood and tempo of the moment changed and awareness sprang between them as both became entangled in a complex quagmire of emotions from which there seemed to be no escape – that is until the attendant rudely crashed in with the breakfast – that broke the spell pretty effectively.
Cheeks flushed and her breath haywire, Anya busied herself in serving him cornflakes. He silently held out his hand, but Anya brushed it away and spoon-fed him, avoiding his eyes, not very successfully.
Anya felt shaky and warm all over; her glance fell on the drop of milk which spilled over and dribbled down his lips. She latched on to it like a life-line, she made exaggerated motions to wipe it away and twinkled mischievously irrepressibly as she was deliberately careless each time she spooned him and let the milk dribble down his chin.
Sherry rolled his eyes, “You are enjoying this aren’t you? Having me at your mercy?” he accused her.
She shrugged, “I can’t deny it,” she wiped his chin for the nth time, “mazaa toh mujhe aa raha hai,” she looked at him, “Can’t tell you how much I have yearned to repay you for calling me a kid,” she confessed softly, “But I never imagined that it would be like this – I guess that’s why they say, be careful of what you ask for you may get it,” she paused and said sincerely, “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to tease you for your hurt.”
He just blinked lazily at her – she was back to square one – shaky and warm all over.
She moved away and buttered a slice of bread and made a sort of a sandwich with the omelette and some sauce; he held out his hand, this time she handed the plate to him, “You aren’t eating?” Sherry asked her.
Anya shook her head, “I think I will make a move,” she said.
Sherry froze, “Move? You mean you want to go? Won’t you stay and meet Ma?”
Anya shook her head embarrassedly, “No, I have a project to do; Maybe I will drop by later,” she quickly cleared up the breakfast things and put them neatly on the tray.
He nodded his head; of course no matter how much he wanted she couldn’t stay here forever, she had already wasted too much time on him, “Sure,” he swallowed the bitter pill of disappointment and put aside the sandwich.
Anya looked at him and the sandwich but didn’t force the issue, busy dealing with her own conflicting set of emotions, “Ok bye then, take care, will see you later,” she held out her hand.
He reached out and clasped it tightly; after an initial hesitation he gently pulled her hand and placed a warm firm kiss on the back of her hand, “Thank you for everything, I don’t know what I would have done otherwise,” his gaze turned her bones to water; almost without any conscious thought she leaned forward to place a soft kiss on his cheek and whisper huskily, “Entirely my honor,” she blinked at him.
After an eon, she cleared her throat, “Call me for anything you might need,” she stopped short, dismayed, “Oh but you don’t have a phone! Maybe I should wait for your mum to come,” she worried.
Sherry shook his head, “No I am fine, in any case she would be reaching any moment now,” he insisted, “You carry on.”
Undecided, Anya hesitated, she called up his mum, thankfully the phone was ringing, she handed it to Sherry, “Yeah Ma, yeah I am fine, yeah ok you got the address right, yeah you should be here in another half an hour or so, ok bye then see you,” he gave her phone back, “Ok now you can stop fussing and leave, she’s got into a taxi and will be here soon, ok?”
She nodded and left, waving a casual hand. But then she wasn’t really comfortable, how could she leave him like this, all alone and helpless, he couldn’t even walk dammit!
She went to the sister’s station and called for the male attendant and sent him in; still not comfortable, she hung around in the corridor till she saw Sherry’s mother enter his room [You must be wondering why she didn’t wait inside the room with Sherry for his mum to arrive? Well, any guesses?]
Anya went back to the hostel for a much needed shower and change; even more importantly a nap. But first things first, she called up her mum.
Unlike one would expect, Anjie was not an overprotective mother; or possibly Anya didn’t encourage her in this direction and had made it clear right from the beginning that she wouldn’t entertain hysterical phone calls at all odd times. In the initial days of college, Anjie would call up every so often until Anya got tired of it and began responding with standard text messages, “In class.”
Anyway over the years, they had come to an arrangement, that it was Anya’s responsibility to send regular text messages, if she didn’t want her mother to land up with the entire Raizada parivaar in tow. So last evening, Anya had remembered to sms her mum, a bit guiltily – she knew her mum wouldn’t approve (like some of the other mums reading this eh?)
Feeling as if she had been out of touch with the ‘asli duniya’ for an eon, she called up and assuaged her conscience, with the truth – that is she gave an appropriately edited account of her activities since last evening only casually identifying Sherry only as an old friend since her school days.
An unsuspecting Anjie didn’t really push the issue as she was more taken up with exclaiming in horror over Anya’s foolhardy behavior, “Kya zaroorat thi aise heroine banne ki? Tumhe kuch ho jaata toh? Police ka wait kar leti, aa hi toh rahe the?” and all that.
Relieved that her mum didn’t ask anything (at least as yet) about her friend’s identity, Anya pleaded guilt and exhaustion to get off the hook.
Guess kiya ki nahi?
Click here for Chapter 304