This was a cruel joke. Why can't I remember him? A…Armaan…I …..I can't remember him. This couldn't be true. Abhimanyu looks up and stares into Dr. Shashank's discerning gaze.
"Armaan…..what is wrong with me?" she asks tugging at his hand and tries to get up but is unable to do so. Heavy silence fills the room as no one has the heart to tell the already confused girl, what had actually happened to her.
Armaan smiles gently and pats her hand. "Nikki…..you are fine….it's ok….don't panic" he tells her gently and Abhimanyu's heart pains at the fact that it wasn't him who was lending strength to her.
How could he? She didn't even remember him. Today his punishment was complete. She had relegated him to the position of a stranger, a non entity in her life. He takes a deep breath to clear his mind from the immense fog of pain which was settling in.
"Dr. Nikita" he says and Nikki turns fearful eyes in his direction, whose expression increase the guilt in his heart. "You will be fine….you are in the best facility in the country" he says in a professional tone and watches tears well up in her eyes.
"What happened? How did I come here?" she asks him and her eyes implore for the truth from his and his mind screams, "I am the reason you are here….I have landed you in this position….I deserve this punishment". He clears his throat and looks at Dr. Shashank who takes over from Armaan.
"Before we answer your questions Dr. Nikita……let me ask you some questions …ok" he asks gently and she nods. He checks her up, asking her what pained and how she was feeling. She answers to his satisfaction and then he deals with the question of her memory loss.
"Dr. Nikita…..who all do you remember in this room and points towards the interns and Abhimanyu standing around.
She looks at all of them one by one and smiles tentatively.
"Atul" and Atul beams at her recognition.
"Anjie" she says and receives a smile in return.
"Rahul" and Rahul gives a warm smile to her.
"Muskaan" and a smile lights up Muski's face and she throws her a kiss.
"Riddhima" she smiles and then looks at Abhimanyu and furrows her forehead trying hard to recollect the man whose presence gave an unfamiliar tug to her heart.
"A….Are you new?" she asks him and his eyes narrow at her question.
"No…..I am not" he answers his dark eyes trying hard to hide his pain but he is unsuccessful at doing so.
"I don't know him…..I don't think I have ever met him" she tells Dr. Shashank but her gaze refuses to turn away from his mesmerizing gaze.
"What are you saying Nikki….You don't remember Sadu" Muskaan starts but Rahul presses her hand to stop her from talking further and she stops realizing her mistake.
"How much do you remember?" Dr. Shashank asks her.
"I….I remember coming here for my first day and I gave a ride to these people and then I worked with them…..Riddhima received a few gifts…I…I don't remember much more" she replies massaging her head and closing her eyes as if remembering all that was making her head ache.
Dr. Shashank pats her head and asks her to relax. "You remember Armaan though….right?" he asks her gently.
"Of course….he is my best friend…I "and then she suddenly stops and looks at Armaan confused.
"But how are you here? I never met you here" she asks and he smiles. "I work here too…..the gifts Riddhima got..." he hints and Nikki looks at a blushing Riddhima.
"So" she asks and Dr. Shashank lifts his hand to stop Armaan from speaking.
"Ok Dr. Nikita….no problem…..this happens….I am glad that you remember what you do…..now don't stress yourself and rest okay…..we will shift you to a ward and then you can have your privacy and recover" he instructs all the interns to file out and they leave. A shocked and silent Abhimanyu looks at her and thanks god that she came out of harm's way without much complications.
"What happened?" she asks Dr. Shashank and then her eyes shift towards Abhi, seeking answers. "You got into an accident Dr. Nikita" she gets her reply.
"Who is he?" she asks Dr. Shashank not able to ignore the unfamiliar tug to her heart whenever she looked his way.
"He is Dr. Abhimanyu Modi…..the head of Sanjeevani" he introduces and Abhimanyu looks at her intently searching for signs of recognition on her face but there isn't even a flicker of it on her face or her eyes. All he sees is confusion cloud them.
"You are the head…..you said so in during my interview" she says and Dr. Shashank smiles.
"Yes I was….now it's him" he says.
"How much have I forgotten?" she asks and looks from one man to the other but both avoid looking at her.
"Nothing important" Dr. Shashank replies and Abhimanyu looks up sharply anger and then sadness clouding his eyes.
"Everything Nikki….you forgot how we met, how I fell for you, how we fought and how I am the reason for your pain….but most of all you forgot ME" he wants to scream but looks away.
Before she can ask any more questions, Dr. Shashank tells her that she needs to rest and they will talk in the morning and she nods. He instructs the nurse and ward boys to wheel her to an private ward and is leaving when he observes Abhimanyu watching the proceedings and standing in a corner keeping an eagle eye on Nikita.
"Dr. Modi…..can I talk to you for a second?" he asks and Abhimanyu follows him outside, his eyes not leaving Nikki till she was out of sight.
"Dr. Modi…..unluckily her memory is not all back" Dr. Shashank starts and watches Abhimanyu nod but his interest was all in what was happening inside the ICU.
He gently touches his arm and Abhimanyu looks at him abashed. "Is there something I am missing Dr. Modi?" he asks outright and ABhimanyu's first instinct is to refuse to acknowledge anything.
"Nothing important" he replies, changing his mind and not providing details on what the other man wanted to know.
"It doesn't seem so…..what happened in there" he nods his head towards the ICU "and the pain in your eyes is very real" he says and Abhimanyu smiles a humorless smile.
"Yeah real. …..forget it Dr. Shashank……do you think she will ever get her memory back….or is it dangerous for her to be reminded?" he asks his focus shifting back to Nikki.
" Her last scan did not reveal any danger for her but honestly I don't want to stress her……there is so much she is going through now…..trying to remind her will only put pressure on her and she doesn't need that at all" he tells him and Abhimanyu nods his understanding.
"It's Ok Dr. Modi……you can feel pain…..I know what you are going through….but I had no idea you and Dr. Nikita" he says shrewdly and Abhimanyu looks at him with half a smile.
"I will be fine Dr. Gupta…..right now my focus is her getting better….I'll deal with the pain" he replies and dr. Shashank turns to leave when Abhi adds as an afterthought, "Thanks for understanding" and receives a nod in reply.
To combat his pain he refuses to think about his situation and simply orders for her to be taken care of. They start doing her tests and tell him that she will be shifted to her ward in an hour and Abhi leaves to take care of work and calls in his cabin.
Fifteen minutes later, Armaan enters his cabin and Abhimanyu's heart almost stops at his serious expression.
"What Dr. Malik?" he asks agitated.
"Dr. Modi……I am sorry about how you feel but I had to talk to you" he tells him and Abhimanyu motions for him to take a seat.
"Sure ……tell me….is everything Ok with her? I hope no new complication?" he asks with his heat in his mouth.
"Stop worrying Dr. Modi….she is fine….I…I" Armaan chides him and turns his face away.
"What? You what?" Abhi asks.
"I thinks since she doesn't remember you…..you should stay away from her….so she gets better soon…..having you around has never been good for her" Armaan delivers a little hesitantly, resuming his old stance on their relationship.
"I see….so you are back to your pestering, imposing self" Abhimanyu sits back and tells him caustically.
"Look….Dr. Modi…it's for Nikki's sake" Armaan tries to explain but sees anger blaze his eyes.
"Actually forgetting you would have been very healing for her too…..but unfortunately the miracle did not occur" Abhimanyu takes out his anger at Armaan's interference "And I do know what is good for her Dr. Malik so honestly, I don't need your advice……don't forget you too are a cause of Nikki's situation …..So just don't butt in again….this time I won't be as nice" he warns Armaan whose lips form a thin line.
"I only care about Nikki and if I see your presence bothering her…..I don't care what you do….I will protect her" he answers back and starts walking away.
"If you cared about her….you would stay away from her too" Abhi throws at him and smashes his fist in anger on his desk.
"Why did you forget me Nikki…..I am sorry to have hurt you so bad that you don't even want to remember me" he talks to himself laying his head on the back of the chair.
"I love you…..for my mistake you have given me such a big punishment…..why Nikki?" he lets his pain take over, tired of hiding behind it. He sits there not wanting to believe that she remembered everything or better put ….everyone…. but him.
"Why me Nikki? I know I hurt you….but you just don't want to remember me?" he asks her talks to her, unable to figure out what to do to get his Nikki back.
"This is unfair Nikki……and stop fighting with me….stop" he says but then gets a grip on himself and to escape his miserable thoughts walks to see if she is settled in her new ward before heading home to loneliness and back to the dungeon of his troubled memories .
He reaches there to see the nurse switching off the lights to her room and stepping out and he walks fast to catch the nurse.
"Sister Rina…..listen….Dr. Nikita is scared of the dark….. Don't switch of the light ….ever…Ok" he tells her a little tersely, the worry for her coming to the forefront.
The nurse nods her understanding and he tells her to tell this to all who were going to look after Nikki and no one should make the mistake of forgetting.
He walks into the room switching on the lights and takes a seat beside her sleeping form. He gently caresses her face and when she leans into his touch a small smile graces his face after a long time. Unable to control himself he places a peck on her cheek and sits back, looking at her and trying to find his peace.
"I love you sweetheart and I will not let you forget how much" he says softly, his finger tracing the pattern of her beautiful face. Sitting for a while, he finally convinces himself to leave when Nikki starts to thrash wildly in her bed, in throes of a nightmare.
He rushes to her side and tries to calm her. He gently strokes her forehead, talking to her in a soothing voice, "Shhh Nikki…..It's ok sweetheart….you are fine….I am here" he says and she grabs his hand in reflex. Happiness courses through him at her action and he lovingly calms her down without trying to wake her up. She calms down gradually and goes back to sleep.
He watches her sleep for some more time and then gets up to leave. As he tries to detangle his hand from hers, her grip tightens. "No ….don't leave me please" she murmurs and he caresses her face.
"Ok….Ok Nikki….I will not leave you" he replies but her grip doesn't relax. He sits back and a slight smile covers her face and he too smiles seeing her happy….even if it was in her dreams.
"Thank you….thank you Armaan" she replies and breaks his heart into pieces….reminding him that though his touch made her feel safe, he was still a stranger to her…..albeit a stranger who loved her more than his life.