The next day, Abhimanyu gets a call from his help that she won't be able to come in and he would have to take care of Tia on his own. "Own.....oh well.....I've done it before......how hard can it be?" he muses and gets started.
Having showered and dressed her, he lets her watch cartoons and is feeling good about spending time with Tia when she bangs the remote on the table.
"Tia....what ......it will break" he explains.
"Bad cartoon" she hides her face in the sofa. "Bad....it's your favorite cartoon baby" he says perplexed.
"I hate it" she replies, her voice a mumble. "Ok ....you can watch something else." He offers. "No.... I hate cartoons" she repeats.
"H....Hate cartoons?.....when did that happen?" he wonders to himself. He sits next to her and tries to get her face out of the sofa. "Tiu look at me" he says. "No" she replies moodily. "Beta look here....what's wrong tell me." He tries to cajole her to face him but she swats his hand off.
"Tia.....behave ok.....look here" he says a bit sternly and she bursts into tears.
Amazed at what just happened, Abhimanyu shakes his head in disbelief. "Ok Ok.....Tia.....why are you crying?" he asks the little tearful girl giving up on solving the mystery. All he receives in answer is the increase in the pitch of the wailing and suddenly it strikes to him that he forgot to feed her.
"Oh my god.....she is hungry" he slaps his hand to the forehead and picks the wailing girl in his arms, who decides to use his shirt as her personal handkerchief. Making a face but smartly keeping quiet, he consoles her and tells her that if she stops crying, he will feed her a nice yummy breakfast. He sits her on the kitchen counter and hands her a banana. Her sobbing stops immediately and she smiles through her tears. "Thank you Daddy....I love nana" she informs him and starts munching on it. He takes that time to start making breakfast.
At 10 O'clock Nikita reaches Abhi's house and stands a little unsure in front of the door. Images of what happened last time when she was here flash through her mind and she feels uneasy. *I should just leave the file here and run.....Nikita, you are not four anymore....yeah yeah.....but I don't know when he will start the sadu act.....he is so unpredictable.....he tells me he hates me and then comes behind me to save me.....when I tried to help him in the hospital he kept ringing for the nurse.....but whenever I turned to leave he spoke in a hurt tone.....he shouted about the file and then he kissed me......he shouted about Tia and then placed my hand on her forehead....what does he feel for me?*
"Stop it....Nikki....you will go mad.....he is mad and he is making you mad.....just hand him the file and leave ....Ok....no need for you to stop here.....just tell him calmly that it is your day off and you have plans...and leave .....Ok." She lectures herself, takes a deep breath and rings the doorbell.
The door is opened by oatmeal covered Abhimanyu whose impatient dark eyes look into stunned big ones, which slowly look at him from head to toe taking in his appearance and the expression in them changing to surprise and then laughter. "Hi Dr. Modi" Nikita greets the scowling doctor, laughter sprinkling her tone.
"Nikita?.....what are you doing here?" he asks her in a bare attempt of civility.
"You asked me to deliver this file to you....so here you go" she forwards the file to him laughing openly at him.
"What is so funny Nikita...yeah the file" a big CLANG interrupts him and he rushes back inside forgetting the file in Nikki's hand. Curiosity getting the better of her, Nikki slowly walks inside the house not knowing what to expect. What she sees makes her burst into fits of laughter which she tries hard to control.
"Tia ....it is food....what have you done.....you are supposed to eat it not play in it." Abhimanyu scolds his daughter who simply grins at him for his admonishment. "Yucky Daddy" she smiles up at him.
"No it is not...it's yummy" he fights with her.
"Yuck.....gooey" she puts her hand in the food and lifts it up to show him.
"Tia....stop it ok....just eat it" he says tiredly all the fight going out of him. When he hears a snort of laughter behind him and he stiffens. He turns slowly to see an openly laughing Nikita standing there and a slow but small smile escapes him. Tia spots Nikita and shrieks with happiness. "Nikki" she jumps in her seat.
"Hi Tia" Nikki smiles and waves at the little oatmeal bathed girl, whose trying to jump from her chair but whose father's hand on her shoulder is holding her still.
"Tia....we need to clean you up and this mess....then you can talk to Nikki...Ok" Abhi explains to Tia.
"Am sorry Nikita, can you please give me a minute here" Abhimanyu lifts his daughter and heads towards the bathroom to clean her up.
Standing in the middle of his living room, smiling to herself, Nikita's thoughts wander to the events she had observed. *Abhi and Tia....just perfect....the love they had...the concern Abhimanyu showed to the little girl....everything now revolved around her ...and he was patient...Modi and patient....but he was....around his little daughter he was...loving and patient....he had been patient towards her also...had helped her during her first presentation....loving too....the way he tucked her hair behind her ear...but it was here he had told her to get lost.....but today the same place was welcoming and felt like home rather than a battleground* Her heart ached for what she had lost, aching to be a part of their perfect little family.
She snaps out of her musings when Tia comes running and hugs her leg and Nikki almost topples.
"Tia ..please ...slowly....why do you have to run and reach everywhere" Abhimanyu comes mumbling behind the happy and clean four year old. She looks at Abhimanyu, who too has changed out of his oatmeal splattered clothes. Ignoring her Dad, Tia tugs at Nikki's leg, "Let's play....come see my room Nikki....you can touch Winnie" she starts dragging her by hand.
"Tia..will you stop....Nikki is not here to play" he tells the little imp dancing near Nikki's leg.
"No ...No...Nikki play....Daddy you play too" she includes him generously in her plans.
"Tia...beta....I" Nikki starts to explain Tia when Abhimanyu addresses her. "I am sorry Nikita....thank you for the file....I think you are busy"he shrugs unsure.
"Busy...erm" she repeats after him, all sense to confirm it flying out of her head.
"Nikki...Winnie wants to play" Tia tries to catch her attention.
Abhimanyu goes near Tia and tries to release Nikki's leg from her clasp. "Tia please let her go....she has plans....don't you?" his dark gaze locks with hers and big innocent brown eyes looks hopefully at her. Looking at one hopeful and the other questioning gaze, Nikki's resolve to leave after giving the file wavers.
"P....P..Plan" she stammers and asks as if hearing the word for the first time in her life.
"No Plan" Tia claps and Abhi stops her from rejoicing.
"Nikita...you are off today....so must have some plans...you know ....friends .....something" he reminds the girl standing torn between her emotions.
"Off....yeah Dr. Modi...ummm plans...No...I don't have any plans" she blurts out her heart overtaking her head.
"Are you sure....I mean...we wouldn't want to bother you" he tells her formally.
"No'.No'It's Ok'..I mean'if it's Ok with you'..and I '.we could start the presentation too and get some work done" she hides between the excuse of work not wanting him to know that she craved to stay near him and Tia.
"It's great'.I mean sure'.yea'.we can get the work done'..that is important." He tries to keep his tone formal.
"Winnieeee'..Nikki come play with Winnie" Tia starts. Nikki meets Abhi's eyes and he nods his approval and Tia drags Nikki to her room to show her toys and play with her. They play together for sometime while Abhi gets some cleaning up and other important things taken care of. Finishing his chores, he heads to the table where the New Sanjeevani project file is laying and starts to go through it. Nikki and Tia's happy laughter floats in his ears and tugs at his heart.
*Abhimanyu why did you let Nikki stay'..you know that Tia is getting attached to her'..this is not what you want'.this only means pain for Tia when Nikki decides to vanish from her life'..why would she want to be with you now'..what do you have to offer her'..she has already rejected you once''all she has to offer you is heartache* He slaps the file shut and heads towards Tia's room and stops dead at the scene in front of him.
Nikki is reading a story to Tia who is almost asleep in her lap. Looking up at Abhi entering the room she lifts a finger to her lips to indicate the need for silence.
"She is asleep" Nikki mouths offering him his daughter to put to bed. He walks in and gathers Tia from Nikki's arms and her dupatta gets dragged with him. She tries to make a grab for it but lets it go when she sees that Tia is holding it follows him to get it back. He puts the sleeping child on the bed and gathers the dupatta to give it back to Nikki who is standing next to him looking lovingly at the sleeping figure oblivious of his caressing gaze on her.
On their own accord his hands rise to place the dupatta back on her instead of just handing it to her. At the touch of his hands on her arms, Nikki's eyes rise to meet his piercing gaze. He steps a little closer and after a long time he slightly touches her face tucking her hair behind her ear. Suddenly conscious of his nearness, Nikki whispers, "Abhi" and the soft chiming of his name snaps him out of his trance and he snatches his hand back and turns away walking out of the room.
She follows him and on reaching the living room she finds that the ever professional Dr. Modi had reappeared. "Let's get this presentation started but if you want to leave Nikki please feel free'..I don't want to impose on your free time." He offers her a way out. Nikita's mind urges her to take this opportunity and run but her wayward heart refuses to comply with sense.
"It's Ok Dr. Modi'..let's complete the presentation" she makes her choice.
They spend the next two hours working on the presentation, taking turns to peep in on Tia. Abhimanyu's cell phone starts to ring and when he looks at the number, color drains from his face. "I need to take this call" he excuses himself and moves away. Nikita works a little more on the presentation but her mind keeps wandering to Abhimanyu's expression on looking at the number. Unable to concentrate she gets up to check On Tia. She finds her asleep and places a kiss on the sleeping figure. *Beautiful'..you are lucky to have Abhi as your father'.he won't ever leave you alone''nor ever let anyone near you'..especially when you grow up'..he is going to guard if not lock you up* she laughs at her thoughts when she hears a vase breaking.
Nikita rushes out of Tia's room and sees an angrily pacing Abhi picking up the remote and about to fling it. "Abhimanyu'..stop it." She wrestles the remote out of his hand. "Are you crazy'..Tia will wake up" she warns him about the sleeping child. At the mention of his daughter all fight goes out of him. She holds him by the shoulders and looks up at him.
"What is wrong?" she questions worriedly "The call'..was it some bad news?"
He moves out of her hold and starts pacing the length of the living room shoving his hand in his hair in irritation. She stares at him unable to fathom what had unleashed his anger.