Sarah felt the unusual silence in her afternoon session quiet disturbing. The children at the Cancer Peace Foundation looked starkly distracted since morning. Sarah had been working at the Foundation as a Counselor from almost six months now and she could not recall a single day in her tenure when their beloved founder member had not paid a visit to her most treasured kin. She reached her mobile a couple of times to call Mrs. Mehra and check if she was doing okay but she was just an employee at the foundation and thought it would be inappropriate to question the whereabouts of her boss. Although her boss had a very approachable and caring persona, she did have her temperaments. She thought the better of her idea and fetched for a Tom & Jerry CD to entertain the children.
Juhi was surprised to see Dr. Sahani arriving late for his noon shift. He looked tired and very much lost in his own thoughts when he entered the reception area of the hospital.
“Rough night Doc, looks like you didn’t sleep?”, Juhi questioned handing the list of appointment sheet to Dr. Sahani.
“Email me the damn list Juhi, why the hell are you wasting paper?”, Dr. Sahani responded shrugging his shoulders and snatching the sheet from Juhi, “15 appointments? Am I the only doctor in this hospital?”
Juhi took a moment to register his abnormal temperament, she wasn’t the one to be intimidated by her senior.
“What can I say Doc, looks like they all think alike!”, she replied calmly.
Dr. Sahani realized he was being a pain for Juhi.
“Sorry Juhi, I think I have a bad hangover!”
“We all have our days Doc, you can return the favor someday”, she threw him a smile.
“How is the patient in the emergency ward doing”, he looked away from her to hide his concerned expression.
“Didn’t you hear? She is in the ICU”
“What?”, he almost yelled at Juhi, “Why? How?”
“She was poisoned last night via her glucose supplement, Dr. Talwar said she is critical”
“Holy cow!”, Dr. Sahani yelled and before Juhi could respond he ran towards the ICU.
Dr. Talwar was examining the latest reports handed over by the nurse at the ICU when Dr. Sahani entered.
“How is she?”, Dr. Sahani questioned his peer almost with teary eyes.
“She is stable now, but it will be a while until she recovers completely”, Dr. Talwar replied with a confused expression. Dr. Sahani looked unusually concerned towards a woman who wasn’t even his patient yet. He watched Dr. Sahani sink into a chair next to Mrs. Mehra’s bed. He quietly left the ICU.
“Preeti!”, Dr. Sahani whispered softly as he stroke her forehead gently.
Preeti felt an unusual sensation gripping her, the touch on her forehead was familiar, she slowly opened her eyelids.
“Aryan!”, she smiled weakly, “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for our sleeping beauty to wake up”, he replied still looking into her eyes.
“You have questions, don’t you?”, she queried looking at his curious expressions.
“I do, but we can discuss those later. Right now you need to get some rest”
“I know what you think of me, it’s what everyone thinks. Three weddings in 11 years! I don’t blame you if you have the same image as everyone does. I don’t know but everything has changed in the past 11 years”
“Jeez, you still talk a lot! Well something hasn’t changed”, he winked and moved to the monitor next to her bed to check her vitals, “The stats look good Pree, I mean Mrs. Mehra”, he corrected himself as his smile shrunk into a serious expression.
“Aryan you can call me Preeti, that surname isn’t going to stick around for too long”
“I heard, sorry about that”
“Are you really?”
“What happened Preeti? I know it’s none of my business but..”
“Ah, cut the formalities Aryan. He’s after my money, he married me for the same reason. But my father had his own beliefs. When my husband found out that I have donated everything to my foundation, he freaked out. I am pretty sure he tried to drug me last night”, she replied letting out a heavy breathe.
“Are you serious”, Aryan shrugged his shoulders at the information he received.
“Enough about me, I heard you’ve turned into a boring brilliant surgeon! How did that happen?”, she let out a chuckle remembering the reckless Aryan she knew in college.
“Exactly how you’ve become a Page 3 regular, now how on earth did that happen?!”
“Well money and alcohol, they help when you’re in emotional sh**! True story!”
“I know this isn’t a good time Pree, but I am here for you”, Aryan held her hand in assurance.
“I know Aryan, but I do know your views on marriage and they aren’t exactly similar to mine”, Preeti withdrew her hand from his, ”I haven’t exactly had success in it so far, but that doesn’t deter my beliefs in this institution. I have had heartbreak once Aryan, can’t go through it again”, she replied with an unfamiliar sternness in her voice.
Aryan knew exactly what she was trying to say. He still loved her but his opinion about marriage was still the same, he still did not believe in them. The fact that Preeti still kept her beliefs over his emotions was a little too much to handle.
“I can’t make false promises Preeti, but no matter what you believe in I need you to know that my feelings cannot be defined by this god forsaken institution of yours. I hope you feel better soon”, Aryan stood up from his chair to leave the room, “Good bye Mrs. Mehra”, he saw her for one last time and stormed out of the ICU. He realised the irony of the situation he was in, after all these years they were still poles apart.
Next Morning – Aryan’s cabin, 8AM
Juhi pushed the cabin door open to find her boss sulking at his laptop.
“Wow Doc, you’ve registered my knock pattern as well. Not bad!”
“You’re wasting my time with your small talk, do you have a purpose to see me?”
“I do, someone left this for you”, Juhi handed over a note to Dr. Aryan Sahani, “It looked personal so I refrained from emailing it you, I bet you are going to like paper from now on”, Juhi threw a smile and left from the cabin.
Aryan opened the note with apprehension:
Sorry for being such a sick head, coffee? – Pree