Horrified and shocked, Arnav hurriedly picked up Anya – dammit she hardly weighed anything – and put her on the couch. He looked around and found a bottle of water; he seized it and quickly sprinkled some water on her face – she jerked and slowly regained her consciousness.
Anya put a hand to her head, which was spinning like crazy, she moaned and kept her eyes tightly shut, “Anya!” a well known voice called out urgently.
Anya’s eyes flew open, she stared at her beloved CSR staring worriedly down at her – her face crumpled and she threw her arms around his neck as she let go of all semblance of self-control – huge shuddering gusts of sobs shook her slender frame as she wept out all the bitter tears of anguish, betrayal, rejection and self-imposed isolation.
ASR felt helpless and panic striken as he held her in his arms – he wished Khushi was here, she would know what to do, what to say – dammit Anya ko hua kya hai? Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead, “Anya,” he muttered ineffectually.
“Saab aap?” a voice questioned him suspiciously; Arnav turned around and he in turn looked Muniya up and down, then defensively, “Main Mama iska, dekho na roye jaa rahi hai, pata nahi kya hua hai,” he shook his head worriedly.
Muniya nodded her head, “She is not well, she has been having fever for quite a few days now; kab se bol rahi hoon doctor ko dikhao, par sunti hi nahi hai, hmmph,” she fussed and grumbled.
“Fever?” Arnav latched on immediately, “Anya?” he shook her gently and attempted to dislodge her from the stranglehold she seemed to have on his neck and tried to peer into her face, “I thought you had sprained your ankle? At least that is what the told me at the office?”
“Office?” the word pierced Anya’s consciousness and she stilled; she looked up at ASR tears streaking her face, “You went to office?” she whispered hoarsely, her throat raw from that emotional outburst.
Arnav nodded distractedly, “Forget that,” he brushed it aside impatiently, “What’s wrong with you? Kisiko pata kyon nahi hai ki you are so ill – tumne Di ko bhi nahi bataya?” his voice rose as he thundered accusingly – he would have shaken her in his frustration and worry but he was afraid she would snap into a thousand pieces – she looked so frail and fragile; a cold hand clutched his heart, “Come on we are going home,” he said decisively, “You are not staying here another minute.”
“Home!” Life seemed to flare into Anya’s eyes and then dimmed; she drooped, “How can I go home, my job is here and I have to join office by Monday,” she swallowed.
“Nothing doing Anya, main pooch nahi raha hoon, bata raha hoon,” snapped ASR instantly; he dug out his phone and barked, “Aman arrange for the copter to pick me up from Bangalore, now, within an hour, I don’t care how, now get to work,” he disconnected the phone.
“Maamu…” protested Anya feebly, “My job…”
“Shshh,” Arnav shushed her gently, “We are going home and that’s it.”
Tears began flowing down Anya cheeks again; she gave up protesting and gave in to the luxury of having the decision taken out of her hands, she suddenly couldn’t wait to be in Anjie’s arms, Daddy, Maami, Nani, Boo, Ankit, Guddu, Chotti – the ice around her heart melted, the blood began flowing in her veins, albeit sluggishly.
Arnav patted her head awkwardly; he couldn’t bear to see her in tears, kya hua dammit? Di ko phone karoon? “Kshitij? Yeah I am with Anya – she is in a terrible condition, how come you let her be in this state?” he lashed out, “What kind of a father are you? Don’t you care for your daughter?” he was on a roll.
Anya was horrified, she wrested the phone away from Arnav, “Daddy,” she whispered in a shaky voice; she steadied her voice, “I am fine Daddy, I was just so surprised and overwhelmed to see Mamu and suddenly felt homesick, I started crying and Mamu just panicked,” she tried to cover up.
“What rubbish! And I panicked?” Arnav took back the phone and put in on speaker mode, “Even a doctor will panic if he sees you, have you seen yourself? You are nothing but skin and bones, you look like death,” he said brutally.
Anya faltered, “Haan woh,” she muttered, “I have been having fever for a few days and am not feeling well, actually no appetite maybe something I ate must have disagreed with me, but nothing serious,” she hurriedly disclaimed.
“Nothing serious? Are you crazy? Just look at her Khsitij,” Arnav snapped an instant pic of Anya and forwarded it to Kshitij who had been silent so far, “Arnav,” his voice finally crackled as he stared at Anya’s picture in horrified surprise – was this Anya? “Please get her to Delhi, and bring her straight to the hospital, will you? She needs immediate medical attention and investigations, I will sms the hospital details to you,” he said with only the faintest of tremors in his voice. He too was shocked to see Anya’s photograph – Arnav had not been exaggerating, she did indeed look like death.
Arnav nodded, “Will do,” and disconnected the phone only to dial again, “Aman, any progress?” he demanded peremptorily, “This is a medical emergency dammit, speed it will you, I don’t care how you do it,” he put his phone down.
Anya was lying down quietly, exhausted and uncaring – she really wasn’t feeling well, she finally admitted to herself, it was tiring to even talk, even breathing was a chore, she wished she could just stop breathing – she closed her eyes, her heart fluttered, she was going home, they loved her, even if he didn’t; she suddenly couldn’t wait to see them all. What an idiot I was, she berated herself, I should have gone home earlier, she thought, oh but, she faltered, “My job Mamu,” she opened her eyes.
“Don’t worry,”Arnav shook his head curtly, “I will personally talk to your boss and besides, job toh tab karogi na if you are alive,” he bit out angrily.
“Saab chai, utho bitiya,” Muniya bustled in and helped Anya sit up.
“Thank you Bai,” Anya smiled weakly at her, “Pata hai Mamu, Bai is my self-appointed local guardian, she makes sure I eat.”
“Yeah I can see that.” Arnav grunted.
Anya sighed, “Bai, Maamu is taking me home and I will visit the doctor as well, ab toh khush?” she smiled wanly.
Muniya nodded her head and folded her hands in gratefulness to DM, “Achcha hua jo aap aagaye Saab, nahi toh today I was going to call the doctor here, in fact ek doctor se baat bhi kar li thi unhone,” she almost bit her tongue.
Anya looked at her questioningly, “Unhone?” she was only mildly curious.
Muniya was in a dilemma, dhatt tere ki, she thought, kar diya na gadbad, ab kya boloon, woh saab toh bahut hi naraaz honge; thankfully, Arnav’s phone rang – it was Aman, the copter would be ready within 45 minutes and it would be better if they started for the airport right away.
As you may have guessed, Sherry had been keeping close tabs on Anya and had been taking daily updates. Ever since Muniya had let slip that she was having fever, he was like a cat on a hot tin roof, jumpy and irritable, he nagged Muniya who in turn nagged Anya but to no avail. Finally Sherry had taken matters into his own hands and fixed up an appointment with a doctor for that evening and had put the responsibility of taking Anya to the doctor on Muniya’s shoulders. But with ASR’s arrival, that would no longer be necessary.
There was a flurry of activity, which consisted primarily of Anya freshening up and changing her clothes – even this was too much for Anya, she was panting and could barely stand straight or without support.
Arnav’s lips drew into a thin line, “No need to pack,” he said curtly and swung her into his arms, “Lock up will you,” he ordered Muniya who hurriedly complied and called for the lift. He gently put Anya into the car, generously tipped Muniya and instructed the driver to step on it.
Having matters been thus taken out of her hands, Anya was relieved but of course not as relieved as Sherry was. Muniya, his partner in crime, wasted no time in calling him up to inform him of the morning’s events – Sherry went limp with relief, thank God he muttered unknowingly. He had been terribly worried about her (aur abhi toh usne usse dekha bhi nahi tha!) and if the doctor had even suggested something serious he had decided he would inform her parents by hook or by crook – Aisha ko bhi abhi USA jaana tha! But bahut ho gaya natak he had decided, he would mail her, clearly Anya had not communicated anything to Aisha for otherwise for sure she would have called him up at least once, to blast him. But thankfully that hadn’t been necessary and ASR had landed up, now she was in safe hands, among people who cared for her loved her, tears pricked his eyes; he hastily swallowed.
Who knew better than him how important and crucial it was to have one’s loved ones in such times of crisis – he could very well understand Anya’s state of mind for he too had been in the same frame for weeks, before his mother had landed up and taken over the reins of his life – she scolded him, coaxed him, cajoled him and bullied him into breathing, eating and living, again.
Aur Anya toh akeli thi – guilt clawed at him and he cursed his destiny over and over again.
It was only once they landed in Delhi that Arnav called up Khushi – as expected Khushi was horrified and dashed off to inform Di and bring her to the hospital. There was a tearful reunion – Anya was too weak and exhausted to even cry but somewhere some corner of her heart melted, her breath eased as warm loving arms clasped her and gathered her close to their hearts transferring their life energies, boosting her self-worth.
Cutting short the tears and recriminations, the doctors whisked her away for intensive examinations and tests. Anjali couldn’t stop crying and Khushi too was very upset at seeing her beloved niece in this condition – but she grimly held on to her self-control – for if she collapsed who would support the others? Nani, Poo Chotti Guddu, Di and of course Arnav were all at their own individualistic breaking points – kisiko toh apna dimaag thanda rakhna padega hai ki nahi?
Yes even Kshitij – he had barely spoken a word since Anya had come – possibly he felt terribly guilty and held himself responsible for her condition (Arnav’s words had hit a raw nerve) or that being a doctor he feared the very worst.
Click here for Chapter 326