Abhimanyu gets up rubbing the back of his neck, indicating his tiredness and walks around his table coming to stop in front of Nikki. She looks up at him, ready to listen.
*Do you want to tell her? What if she lets you down like last time?.....It's a risk I need to take…..for Tia's sake….just for Tia……Do it Abhimanyu….she is the only one who might be able to help*Thinks Abhimanyu, still a bit unsure.
"Yeah" he asks questioningly. "Talk" she replies. "Ummm" he rubs the back of his neck debating and unsure where to start and what to tell her. He suddenly remembers Nikki's call to Armaan. "Don't you have to go….I mean your friends are waiting. …..you told Armaan…." he trails.
"Yeah I do" she nods "but I still don't know anything….I mean why do you need a wife and what does Tia's grandfather want?" Nikki reverts back to the topic.
"Tia's grandfather wants Tia" he replies choosing to ignore the first half of the question.
"Yeah I gathered….and wife?" she questions softly not understanding how to ask about the thing that was bothering her most.
"Her grandfather has a wife and she wants Tia too" he replies deliberately misunderstanding the question.
She waits for his answer but when none is forthcoming and Abhimanyu looks down again with a frown on his face, Nikki decides to let him stew in his own problems. "Fine…..don't trust me….do whatever you want…I am leaving" she says giving up and turns to leave, when his hand shoots out to grab her arm.
She sighs and turns back to face him. "Nikki" he utters softly and looks into her beautiful big eyes. "Yes" she prompts. "I….umm…I don't know how….but ….if you have time" he begins a little unsure and hesitant. "Dr. Modi, I do have time….it's you who doesn't want to tell me anything " she comes closer, "maybe I can help….if not maybe talking about it will help" she offers reasonably.
His eyes search hers and she stands unflinching returning his stare. "Ok….fine….sit down Nikki" he decides to tell her. He motions her to take a seat on the sofa and sits next to her. "I don't know where to start "he shrugs "you know about Tia's parents from my files so you know they are no more" he reminds her about what she had read in Tia's file which she had found in his office. Nikki flushes a little at the mention of her quest in his office. "Yea…I do" she replies.
"Well, Tia is Aarti and Jai's daughter. Jai was my childhood friend, we shared everything; there were no secrets between us." Sadness fills his eyes and he gets lost in his thoughts.
Nikki gently touches his arm to get his attention back. "We met Aarti when we were in medical school. Tia looks a lot like her" he informs her, a soft look crossing his face. "Did you like her too?" Nikki questions, as a pang of jealousy hits her at that look on his face. He laughed softly. "She was my friend and loved Jai" he replies looking into her eyes. A sigh of relief escapes her and she nods at him to continue.
"They both fell in love and were together on and off for a long time. Jai's father did not approve of Aarti. She was not good enough for his only son as she did not fit into his society" his tone turns bitter."Anyways, that did not deter them but eventually Jai moved away for his post-graduation and they were apart for some time. When he came back, they started seeing each other again but his father's disapproval did not help and he broke it off with Aarti. Unfortunately for the senior Mr. Bakshi, Aarti got pregnant and decided to keep the baby in spite of all the temptations he threw his way" he tells Nikki who is listening spell bound, amazed at the story but more surprised and happy that finally Abhimanyu was sharing something with her.
"I offered to help her but she refused my help too" he confides smiling a little. "What offer?" Nikki asks curious. "To help her during pregnancy. Well, eventually Jai found out and did right by the woman he loved" he reminisced.
"I shouldn't have let Jai drive" pain fills his eyes and tone. "Abhi" Nikki holds his hand which he unconsciously grips, as if seeking strength. "Tia was with Aarti's mom and the three of us were coming back from a party. It had been a long time since we had met and it was an enjoyable evening. Jai had been drinking and got into an argument with Aarti and refused to listen to reason and lost control of the car. They died on spot." His voice drops to a whisper. Silence reigns.
"You….you were there….you…"Nikki is stunned at the revelation. A contemptuous smile appears on his face, "Yea….I was there…..just my luck that I was in the back and survived with some injuries" he throws at her. "Y…your shoulder" she remembers the doctor telling her outside the ICU about his shoulder injury. "Yes…my shoulder" he shrugs. "So, because of my stupidity, I lost my friends and Tia her parents" he blames himself and stand up agitated. Nikki stands up and too and touches his arm. "Don't blame yourself. It is not your fault" she reasons.
He shrugs her hand off and paces the office, "Well so everyone says but I wish it was me and not them" he states. "Abhi" Nikki's heart breaks for him. "That is why you adopted Tia?" she asks. He turns to her. "No. Not out of guilt. I was her godfather since she was born. Aarti's mother had her for a while but she too passed away soon after and Tia went to live with Jai's parents. His father could not stand her as she represented the loss of his son. He could never accept her and didn't contest my adoption" he tells her the whole story.
"Until now" Nikki reminds him.
"Relationship? That man does not know the meaning of that word……all this is to satisfy his ego" Abhimanyu tells her annoyed.
"Maybe you should talk to him" she suggests.
He laughs sarcastically, "Talk to him…..I tried Nikki…..he is contesting my adoption on grounds of my being an unfit parent" he tells her the problem at last.
"What?" Nikki takes a step back in surprise "unfit? How ….why….what does he mean" she asks shocked.
"Well, according to him I am too busy to look after Tia whereas he has more to offer" he tells her heatedly.
"Oh…I see…..he can offer her a father and motherfigure" Nikki understands and he nods his affirmation. "But you love her and Tia loves you……can't you ….can't you do anything about it?" she asks. He turns his back to her shoving his hand in his hair and resumes his pacing.
"Well the only way to deal with this is to beat him at his own game. I have to provide what he is offering to Tia" he states. Turning slowly and coming closer to her, he looks into her eyes and says "That is why I need a wife."
"W…Wife" Nikki repeats. "Who?" She can't help asking.
He comes closer to her, " I need someone who loves Tia.....she is my top priority here….I need someone who I can trust around Tia…..will you ….will you help me Nikki?" he asks her softly.
Astounded at the question, Nikki's mouth falls open but no sound comes out of it. Abhimanyu looks at her for answer but a parody of emotions seize her speech. "Nikki?" he asks softly.
"M…M…Marry…..you" she squeaks hardly able to believe her ears. "For Tia's sake" he replies but a stunned Nikki is only able to repeat her words, "Marry you?" she tries softly. He looks at her closely, taking in all the emotions flitting across her face and she sees disappointment creeping in his eyes and shakes her head.
"I am sorry Dr. Nikita……this was a stupid idea…..just forget it that I ever mentioned this ……look am sorry…..I don't know what I was thinking……sorry" he apologizes and withdraws his request for her help and starts to turn away.
"No" her rushed denial stops him and he turns to look at her "Yes" she states.
"No….no…I...I…yes …I will help you" she tells him softly. Shock overrides confusion and then a smile lights up Abhi's face when he understands that Nikki just said yes to marry him.
"Tia" says Abhimanyu "I…I should get Tia" he breaks the silence.
"We should…I mean you…you should" Nikki agrees awkwardly and looks away.
"Well" Abhimanyu starts unsure of what to say. "You ….friends….I mean you have to" he reminds Nikki of her meeting with Armaan. She nods her head and looks up into searching dark eyes.