Friday, 24 November 2017

Part 5 : Remember this (Arsh ff)


Shilpa sat on the sofa in armaan's living room and looked at the seconds arm in the clock complete its turn and the clock strike 10 at night. In the background the television droned on without her even looking at it she just kept it on for the sound. She put her head down on her knees and thought that it had been three weeks since she walked in this house.

She couldn't believe how different she felt from the day she had entered this house. It had been a bright day, the fear that had plagued her had been absent and she had felt strong and confident that she would be able to handle the coming days. She was wrong now the fear was her constant companion. She lived in this house like a shadow, everyday dr. armaan left in the morning for the  hospital she made breakfast for him but didn't indulge in much of chit chat. After he left she did the housework.
He was not a slob  so there wasn't much to do. Her first day she made dinner but he never came home, when he did he looked surprised as if he had forgotten she was here. For shilpa it had been a promo of the coming days, day by day her optimism of reclaiming her life diminished. What was left was a shadow of a girl full of fear and insecurity,
She heard the key in the lock and quietly moved to sit in the corner of the room which was filled with shadows. Armaan entered the house and locked the door, he made his way to the stairs and then stopped and turned around. He walked back to the living room and peered into the shadows: hey shilpa!
Shilpa looked at him from the shadows: yes!
Armaan: can I get something to eat I'm hungry!
Shilpa looked at him not sure what to make of his sudden interest: of course! What would you like to have?
Armaan: anything? I'll just come!(he left to change clothes)
Shilpa moved to the kitchen and opened the fridge and looked at the contents of the fridge, it was empty besides eggs. She picked the carton of eggs and decided to make omlette. When armaan came down was to the smell of omlette and toasted bread. As he sat shilpa place a plate heaped with omlette and another one with toasted bread.
Armaan digged in as shilpa poured him a glass of orange juice and as she was about to leave armaan stopped her: come sit with me!
Shilpa looked hesitantly and then sat down. Armaan looked at her: so what did you do today?
Shilpa who had been tracing circles on the table looked up at him: oh nothing! Just the usual household stuff
Armaan continued looking at her then asked: have you eaten?
Shilpa shrugged: I'm not hungry!
Armaan got up and got a plate and started to dish some omlette out for her and placed it infront of her: now eat!
Shilpa looked at armaan who continued to eat and after a while started to eat. Armaan looked at her eating and sat back after finishing: shilpa! I'm sorry, I've been busy and I have neglected you. But now things are going to be different so what do you want to do tomorrow.
Shilpa had been looking down while armaan talked, she looked up: have to get groceries tomorrow.
Armaan smiled at her: ok we'll get groceries and you think about what you want to do.(shilpa smiled back at him)
Shilpa rocked herself as she sat in the darkened room, the sun had set but shilpa did not get up to switch on the lights. A week had passed since armaan's late night talk with shilpa. Shilpa had felt her spirits lift and she had woken up the next morning with a new zest, but found a note from armaan saying an emergency had come up so he had to leave early, he left money behind for shopping. She had tried to remain positive and had gone grocery shopping, she had taken interest in the people around her. She had taken her time selecting vegetables and buying fresh fruit, trying to make an experience out of this outing.
She had remain upbeat as she returned home and prepared the meal for armaan and herself. She wasn't hungry so she put the food in the oven to keep it warm and decided to wait for armaan to come back home. As the light shifted into evening and then into night so did shilpa's mood. Her morning optimism ended replaced by the same dejection she felt before.
The same pattern started all over again shilpa tried to remain positive but she felt as if she was disappearing as if she didn't exist. She was starved for company but didn't know whom to talk to armaan when he used to come back would smile absently, eat if he was hungry and then go to bed. Shilpa was scared she had started to come into armaan's room at night and sit there looking at him, then go to sleep on the floor near his bed.
Today had been the final straw, she could feel the shudders shake her body as she continued to rock herself. She had called the police to inquire about the status of her investigation but all her hopes had come crashing down. They had found nothing, there was no eye witness to the crime and no one had come forth with any information relating to her, it was as if she never existed.
She closed her eyes against the pain those thoughts created in her, she had been sitting in that position since she made that call. She had crumpled to the floor near the phone, she had no one she could share her pain with, her eyes filled with tears born of fear and desperation. She wanted to open the door and run out of the house but didn't know where to go.
How long she sat there rocking herself trying to find solace and comfort by hugging herself she didn't know. She wanted to scream at the gods who had kept her alive only to be killed every minute by going through this torture. Her tortured mind brought the picture of armaan in her mind and fresh tears started from her eyes. She knew he had brought her here as she didn't have anywhere to go but she wished he hadn't b'coz living here was worse than living on her own.
She got up shakily as she had lost feeling in her left foot, as she stumbled she managed to overturn a vase making it crash and shatter into a million pieces. She leaned down to pick the broken shards and managed to cut her finger on a shard, she winced but as the blood oozed from her finger she felt relief. She stopped as a thought occurred to her, her eyes widened and her breath shuddered. She dropped the remaining pieces to the floor keeping one big shard in her hand made her way to her room. 
Armaan stood at the nurse station and rubbed at his breastbone as if rubbing a pressure away. He didn't know why but he felt oppressed, he felt like a storm was building and it was going to blow up any second. He took a deep breath and shook his head as if to dispel his fanciful notions. He started to scribble in his file but stopped as  he knew what was bothering him. He was worried about shilpa but what bothered him more was his reaction to her.
He had taken shilpa to his home to help, to give her a place to recover fully so that she could go out and then tackle the world. A feat that had been easy enough as she was spunky enough when they left the hospital but the girl he had dinner with a couple of days back was not the same girl. He knew he was to blame for the change in her, he had literally acted as if she didn't exist. He had no excuse he was insane and an idiot.
He remembered when the next day after he had taken her home he told rahul about shilpa, rahul had exploded: what are you insane?
Armaan had been surprised at his response and asked his problem: you are asking what my problem is(rahul had exclaimed) you don't take strange women who can't remember their names home especially those who might be involved in some criminal activity.
Armaan had frowned: shilpa is not like that, she's a nice girl who needs some care and attention so that she recovers fully
Rahul looked at him amazed: you've got hots for her! what part of anatomy are you thinking with? What am I asking?ok fine ! if that's the way you want it but explain it to her first that its not serious. Otherwise she'll be planning your wedding before you know it.
Armaan glared at rahul: shut up!
Rahul lifted his hand as if in surrender: hey man! I'm just trying to help! You're the one who are bent on playing house with a woman. Don't come crying to me when she demands to have a ring on her finger.
Rahul had left but apparently so did armaan's brain, he reacted foolishly like a man instead of a doctor which was the reason he had volunteered to bring shilpa over. But that day at night he had realized how wrong he had been, he had hardly recognized shilpa she had shriveled up into herself. She looked jumpy all the time her hands fidgeted in the nervous way and when he had offered to spend some time with her the glow in her eyes had made him feel like a heel.   
 Armaan closed the file with a smack and threw the pen on the counter and stalked off in the direction of his cabin. For the past week he had actually been very busy with the shortfall of doctors everyone had to do double duties but that didn't mean he wasn't worried about shilpa. He slumped in his chair and was sulking when muskaan knocked on the door and walked in.
Muskaan: hey! Just wanted to ask you about shilpa. How is she?
Armaan sulking: I don't know!
Muskaan clearly surprised: last I remember she was leaving with you to live at your place did she change her mind.
Armaan had the grace to look ashamed: no she lives at my place its just that I haven't been much home lately.(Armaan looked up at muskaan after the silence stretched between the two)
Muskaan: armaan I hope you know that shilpa was in a very fragile state of mind when she left here. She had been putting up a good front but having amnesia and then realizing that you've been a victim of violent crime is not something very easy to comprehend. Generally a person needs a lot of time and attention insuch cases or at least a secure environment so that they can recover from such an experience.
Armaan actually wanted to kill himself at that moment hearing muskaan say the words out loud which he knew in his mind. Armaan lifted his guilty gaze to muskaan's face: I know! But still I acted like this which is completely unforgivable considering I'm a doctor. If you want to know I feel absolutely wretched and to top it all I have a sense of foreboding as if something is going to explode.(he told her about shilpa's behavior and mental condition)
Muskaan urgently: armaan! Have you talked to shilpa today?
Armaan looked down with shame: I never call her!
Muskaan grabbed armaan's arm and pulled: then I suggest that you take yourself home and on the way try calling her. Move it armaan maybe I'm wrong but what you've told me I don't think you should wait.
Hearing those words armaan ran, he ran through the corridors and towards the car park as if there was a fire in the place. He managed to get through the worst of the traffic and through out all of this he kept calling home but there was no response. He drove like a mad man and managed to get to his house in 15 minutes, he burst through the door calling shilpa's name. The house was eerily quiet, for a second armaan thought that she was not home it was so still, then he saw the broken vase.
Armaan started to go through the house calling her name: shilpa! shilpa! answer me where are you? Shilpa! (he looked in the kitchen, in his bedroom, outside on the back lawn and finally in her room)
He stood inside her room and thought to himself where to look next when he heard a sound coming from her bathroom. Armaan was next to the door in a second pounding on it: shilpa! open up! Are you alright?
There was no response but he could hear some movement armaan turned the knob an it opened under his hand. The sight that greeted him was one he had been praying never to see. Shilpa sat on the floor near the tub which was filled with hot water, one of her hand was submerged in it while the other held a shard of what he could presume to be of the broken vase. Armaan walked slowly inside and sat down infront of shilpa keeping some distance not wanting to spook her.
Armaan keeping his voice calm and his gaze level: shilpa! what are you doing here? I've been looking all over the house for you!
Shilpa not looking up from the shard: why ? do you need something?
Armaan: yeah! I wanted to ask if you would like to go out for dinner with me today?
Shilpa without looking up: why?
Armaan: well I've been a terrible host and I want to make it up to you. So what do you say are you going to give me a chance!
Shilpa finally looked up: I would've loved to but I sort of have other plans.(she placed the shard next to her wrist in the warm water)
Armaan continued: can't you postpone your plans for another evening?
Shilpa looked up with eyes filled with pain and despair: I think I've delayed them long enough, its time I a carried on with them.
Armaan felt rather than saw shilpa slit her wrist, he had been looking into her eyes when she did it and the emotion in them was hard to describe. Her eyes which had been full of despair and pain after the initial cut had looked as if they felt relief then followed by shock. She slid toward the tub and armaan scrambled towards her to get hold of her. The tub was full of blood her wrist continued to spurt out her life with each pump of her heart. Armaan grabbed her in his arms and brought her out of the bathroom he lay her on the bed and tried to slow the flow of blood by fashioning a tourniquet by his belt below her elbow.
He quickly tore a sheet and wrapped them around her wrist, he picked her up again in his arms and rushed to his car he deposited her in the back seat and then running all the red lights and breaking traffic rules got to the hospital. He entered the hospital on a run with her in his arms shouting order at the orderlies and nurses. Dr. Keerti took shilpa in the theater where her wrist were stitched and bandaged.
Muskaan showed up and saw armaan in his bloodied clothes glued to the door of the theater.

Amani

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