And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much.
And I have to close my eyes and hide.
I want to hold you till I die
Till we both break down and cry
I want to hold you till the fear in me subsides.
(Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill)
“Are you alright?” Armaan asked worriedly as Nikki rubbed her neck with a grimace.
She turned to him with the grimace firmly in place. “Yeah, just tired…”
“What happened to you?” Anjali asked and Muskaan laughed slightly as she commented, “Yeah Nikki, you look like a zombie.”
The rest of them tittered at her expense and she glared at them all.
“Shut up, you all!” she made a face.
“But what got you in such a state?” Armaan grinned.
“I hadn’t gotten much sleep this week and so I messed up in the Path Lab yesterday and Dr. Keerti gave me night duty…after that I had things to do on the New Sanjeevani Project and I didn’t sleep a wink last night.” She shrugged.
“Wow, you’re one busy lady!” Armaan’s eyes went as big as saucers. “But you need to rest. Otherwise you’ll fall ill.”
“Oh don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I can sleep properly tonight since I don’t have work to take home today…at least till now”, she added as an afterthought.
“That was just mean of Dr. Keerti, yaar…she knows that you have more work than the rest of us!” Atul added sympathetically.
“Yeah, even Modi is better than that!” Armaan exclaimed before glancing at Nikki with a sheepish grin, and got a small smile in return.
“Are you sure you’ll survive the day?” he smirked at her and she aimed a punch at his face, which he promptly ducked.
“Don’t worry, even if you don’t, I’m sure someone will be there to carry you home”, Riddhima whispered in her ear with a teasing but wary smile that made Nikki stutter as she giggled.
“Come on, don’t you have duties?” she glared at them, finding nothing else to say.
“Yeah yeah…we’re going, Ma’am!” Armaan winked at her before disappearing from sight.
“What do I do with him!” Nikki raised her hands heavenwards as the rest of them laughed and went about their work.
She finally fished out her pager from the locker before heading to duty, massaging her temple.
“Nikita, what are you doing? Pay attention!” his sharp voice made her hurriedly sit up on her chair and push her hair out of her eyes.
“Honestly, if you’re not interested, just tell me. I don’t like to see my interns dozing off on work”, he glared at her.
“Dr. Nikita”, he threatened when she didn’t say anything.
“You know something? You’re really rude!”
“What the…” he stared at her, flabbergasted, as she went on and on, her cheeks flushed with colour.
“Here I am, working so hard, in fact, working double the amount as the rest of my friends, and you don’t even appreciate all the effort I put in…you can only boss people around, nothing else.”
“Nikki, what is wrong?” he asked in concern.
“What is wrong?” she repeated his question with her eyes as big as saucers.
“What could possibly be wrong? There’s nothing at all wrong!” Her eyes shone.
“Nikki, I’ll appreciate it if you told me whatever it is that is bothering you”, he breathed deeply to bite back the anger that was boiling inside him.
“There is nothing bothering me! Nothing at all, except the fact that I’m drowning in all the work you’ve given me without even considering if I’d be able to handle it all”, she glared at him.
His patience gave way.
“Oh. So that’s the problem. You know what Nikki? If you can’t manage even this amount of work, I don’t know what will happen to you when you become a full fledged doctor. Life isn’t that easy, Nikki…I understand you had extra work, but so did I. We had to prepare for that sudden meeting…there was no way out! You didn’t have any extra work last night, so there’s no need to be so hyper about it!”
She looked as if she was about to say something, but then she took a deep breath and glared at a pen on the desk.
“You have anything more to say?” he taunted lightly.
Her eyes closed for a second.
“Have I told you how much I hate this thing about you?” she looked so calm when she looked up.
He frowned in confusion.
“From the first day I met you, I hated everything about you…your strut, your arrogance, stubbornness, rudeness, attitude, your temper, your guts, and God knows what else!” the calm was replaced by a storm that grew fiercer with every word.
She suddenly found herself standing on his side of the desk.
“Oh yeah? Why don’t you cut it short?” he stood up as well, fire burning in his eyes. “Just say it, you hate me.”
Her breathing deepened as she glared, her eyes unblinking, up at him.
It hurt to hear him say that.
Yet it didn’t hurt to say that she hated all those things about him…but then, they were also the things she loved about him.
It was complicated, unlike other things in her life. If she hated something, she hated it thoroughly. But despite all that she had said right then, at the end of the day these were also among the many things that attracted her to him. It was strange…they weren’t the best attributes…they were everything she disliked in people. But in him, everything had its own charm.
“Go on, say it! Let’s make it official. Do you hate me?” he closed in on her but she stood her ground.
It was nothing more than a whisper that escaped her lips, but it stopped him in his tirade of taunts.
“Why not? You hate everything about me…then why not me?” he lowered his head so he could see her properly.
She was still gazing at him quietly.
She moved her eyes away from his. “I just don’t.”
“I heard that. I asked you why.”
“It’s not important”, she replied, her voice barely audible, the emotion in them weighing the words down.
“It’s important for me”, he stated firmly but she maintained her silence.
She didn’t know why she avoided the answer. It was a scary concept. She wasn’t prepared to accept it till he did.
He cupped her cheek with one hand and pushed the hair out of the way with the other, pulling her face up. “Look at me.”
Something was broken in her big, red eyes as they stared unblinkingly up at him. It broke his heart.
He could tell she had been crying, but even as his thumb stroked her cheek, he could find no tears to wipe away.
“Do you want to tell me?” he asked quietly.
She didn’t answer.
“Can I get a hug?” her voice was so small he could hardly hear it. It was unsteady, like she was on the brink of losing control, but he chose to ignore her weakness as she would want him to and pulled her close with a small smile.
“Did you have a fight with someone again?” he asked quietly.
She gave a small shake of her head against his shoulder.
“Is it me?”
She didn’t react.
“Nikki…if…if you’re still thinking about what happened between us that evening…” he fumbled, searching for words. He was unsure of how to phrase it. “…I want you to know that I don’t regret it at all.”
She moved her head till it was resting right underneath his chin. Encouraged, he continued.
“We’re weird people, Nikki. We really care about each other but we still keep fighting…I’ve said things I’m not proud of, but if it’s affecting you so much, then I’m sorry.”
She shook her head. “It’s not you.” Her muffled voice came from his chest.
“Well, whatever it is, Nikki, it’s bothering you. And I’ve bothered you quite a bit as well. I can’t and I won’t say I’ll never hurt you again, because I know I will. I’m like that, Nikki, I say things I shouldn’t. I have a short temper and I have a hard time controlling it. I know myself. I won’t make you a promise I can’t keep but I can say that I’ll make it up to you. For all the things I say, at the end of the day I still care for you…and I care a lot.”
“Why are you saying all this?” she raised her head and looked at him. He couldn’t help but note how her voice still wobbled slightly, just hinting at how close to tears she still was.
“Because I feel I need to…I need to make some things clear. Maybe I can’t help much, but still…it would give me a lot of peace just to know that I tried to explain.” He sighed.
He stared at her for a while.
“I hate seeing you like this…your eyes are so red and I’m not used to it”, he answered quietly.
Her eyes softened.
“You’ve never asked me for a hug before”, he said in a strained voice.
“I’m just stressed out…” she sighed. “I didn’t sleep at all last night…I can’t even think.” She rested her head back down on his chest. “It’s not about you.”
“Maybe…but the fact that you had to ask for a hug makes me feel guilty.” He could feel her smile.
“I don’t regret it either, you know…if that’s bothering you in any way”, she told him quietly, and he didn’t need to ask to know what she was referring to.
“It’s not…it’s not bothering me. What’s bothering me is the fact that we let something as beautiful as that become a cause for conflict between us”, he sounded disturbed.
“I hate how straightforward you are”, she commented softly.
“I’ll just add that to the list then”, he said grimly, but his eyes twinkled above her head.
It was a while before he heard what sounded suspiciously like a sob, and he understood that she was finally letting it all out. Glancing down he saw she had her hand on his chest, under her face to stop the tears from wetting his shirt. He smiled in amusement at her adamant refusal to cry in front of anyone.
It wasn’t long before the tears stopped. It could have been hardly five minutes. He gave her some time to dry her eyes and pretend nothing had happened.
“You can yell at me all you like…” he spoke, lifting her face from his chest to look into her eyes. “You’re free to fight with me, argue with me, accuse me of being the worst person on earth…I’ll even be your punching bag if you want me to”, he winked.
“As long as you stay with me and trust me enough to cry into my chest, I’ll take anything you throw my way”, he smiled, and her eyes widened.
“Which movie did you pick that cheesy line off?” she frowned at him.
A wry smile played on his face.
“Just what I felt.” He took a deep breath and shrugged, and then sighed at the look on her face.
“Well then, if it disgusts you so much then I’ll just cut the frills and get straight to the point.” He took a deep breath. “I don’t care if you hate everything about me, fact is that I love you”, his eyes softened.
She looked at him, slightly taken aback.
“And I will continue to fight with you for the rest of my life. Don’t you dare object to it.”, he glared at her in determination.
“If you’re done, can I say something?” her eyes twinkled.
“Absolutely not! I said it and it is final. If I let you speak then you’ll just end up confusing both of us.” He gave her a hard stare as her eyes widened.
She blinked at him before bubbling with laughter.
“Well at least that took care of the tears”, he smiled.
“I still hate those things about you”, she informed him pointedly.
“Do you want me to change them?”
“Don’t you dare”, she threateningly poked her finger into his chest, and he leant in and touched his lips to hers.
“Shall I drop you home?”
“But the work?”
“That can be taken of later…I don’t think you’re in a sane state right now…rather than dozing off on my papers, better you be safe and sleeping in your bed”, he chuckled.
“Thank you! I learnt from the best”, he said pointedly.
“You…” he shut her up with a fierce kiss before she could even begin to say something properly.
She blushed at his loving assault but pretended to be angry at him for stopping her before she even began her rant. She had missed his touch.
He was right. They were weird people.
As he tweaked her nose, she threw a mock glare at him before he pulled her into another hug.
Riddhima was right too. Everyone hurts us in life.
He could feel her smile against his chest.
We just have to find the ones worth suffering for.