Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
Her hands were cold and clammy by the time he finally limped towards the car after having beaten off the goons, hurt and bleeding, clutching his ribs and panting like he’d run a few miles.
She ran out immediately and caught him just in time to break his fall and set him down gently on the ground. She could sense that he was really hurt, but he continued his heroism, urging her to let go and get inside the car.
“Shut up!” she glared at him, hitting him lightly on the head.
His anticipatory wince told her that he had been expecting the blow to be much harder.
“But-” he spluttered.
“I told you to shut up!” she bellowed back at him, her voice cracking. It took all her strength to bite back the lump that was forming in her throat and keep those tears at bay.
“Come on, get up…let’s get out of here”, her tone softened as she tried to help him up.
“Abhi…” her tone told him not to speak anymore. He was about to get into the driver’s seat when she pushed him away and led him to the passenger door.
“I can drive, I’m okay…” he tried to explain.
“Yes I can see exactly how ‘okay’ you are. Sit here…be careful!” she gingerly placed him on the seat, ignoring his impatient tone and remaining stoic.
She drove in silence, and he sat there quietly, wondering what to say. He was completely bewildered at her calmness in the situation. His insides were raging, and here she appeared so unperturbed. It hurt.
An unpleasant feeling filled his chest and he glared out of the window moodily. His physical pain seemed to have increased double fold and he could hardly breathe.
He recognised the streets…staring blankly ahead, suddenly it struck him that they were driving to his house. Not to Drs. Keerti and Shubhankar’s wedding venue.
His brows furrowed and he looked sideways at her. “Why are we going to my house? We should be going to the wedding.”
“You’re hurt”, was the only answer he received.
She helped him inside the house, giving him her support even though he insisted he was fine. He was clearly upset. She felt like she was punishing him and surprisingly, it gave her a good feeling.
She led him into the bedroom and turned, intending to go somewhere.
“I’ll get the medicines”, she murmured and started to walk away but he grabbed her arm to stop her.
“You don’t have to…I’ll take care of myself. You should go to the wedding. Everyone’s waiting for you”, his tone was laced with bitterness.
She stood there with her back to him, frozen to the spot for a few moments. Suddenly something snapped inside her. The emotions she had been trying hard to control just broke through, and she turned back at him, her eyes blazing.
She pushed him hard on the chest, and he fell backwards onto the chair, brows furrowed in shock and confusion.
She turned around, her hair whipping back sharply as she did, and stormed in the other direction but he managed to gather his senses in time and get up to grab her wrist from behind.
He tried to whirl her around, but it didn’t happen. She jerked back, her back hitting his chest but even though he attempted to turn her around, she was solid as a rock, stiff and unmoving against him.
He could feel her uneven breathing against his body, and could sense the tension that resonated in every fibre of her.
For some reason unknown to him, she was livid. And it showed. He could almost feel her anger burn through his skin. A slight tremble was all of the feeling that she gave away, something which dropped a hint that perhaps he was affecting her in some way. The realisation was unnerving.
He closed his eyes.
“Why are you so angry with me?” a powerful and rough jerk was all it took to throw her off balance and get her to turn around. Her small hand bunched his vest in its palm, and he winced as the long nails dug into his skin even through the cloth.
Her face was still emotionless. Except her eyes which burnt more fiercely than anything he had ever seen before.
“What did I do?” he questioned, anger building up inside him as well. He fought hard to control it, but it coupled with that familiar feeling he had when he was near her, equalled a deadly combination that made him ready to burst at the slightest provocation.
“Don’t you know what you did?” she asked him quietly, looking him directly in the eye. Her voice was calm. Dangerously calm.
“No I don’t. And I’d be glad if you enlightened me”, he snarled, jerking her towards him again. They were pressed so closely against each other that he felt they’d melt any moment.
She continued to stare back. The fire in her eyes burnt through him. It sent an odd coldness through him that literally made him shiver. What he saw in them caused way too much discomfort.
“Nikki…” his hot breath fanned her face, and his grip loosened as her eyes closed. She freed her hand in his moment of weakness.
“Don’t do that again”, she pushed him away a few centimetres. He could feel her shallow breathing.
“Do what?” he inched closer again, their bodies touching.
She closed her eyes and breathed deeper.
“Do WHAT damn it?” he shouted as his control finally gave way. He pushed her roughly back into the wall, and placed his arms on her either side.
“I asked you something. Answer me”, he closed in on her till there was no more space to move, and pressed against each other, the heat emanating from both their bodies sent a rush through them, and he felt as if he was drunk in her scent.
“Nikita”, he growled quietly only to have the fire in her eyes intensify. He was being rough, he knew. But that was the last thing he cared about then. They were equals at that moment, he understood that. And the proximity was killing him.
“I don’t want to see you jumping in front of me like that. Ever.” She spoke, her voice barely audible but unnervingly steady. There was no trace of emotion in it and he knew she was hiding something.
Her statement had been short. And clear. He knew she had meant what she had said, but something about her tone made him want to dig deeper, find out why she was so furious.
“I saved your life. I rather imagined you being grateful for that.”
She tried to push him back but he grabbed her wrists and pinned them to the wall.
“Things don’t always go the way you imagine them to go, do they?” she shot back. “Clearly, I’m not impressed.”
“Why so? Isn’t your life worth a try at saving?”
“Not at the cost of yours”, she replied.
He had never seen her answer him back so frankly and so steadily. She hadn’t broken eye contact, and somewhere, she was dominating the situation. Her voice didn’t even quiver, but he felt as if he was on the verge of jumping off a cliff. His hands were trembling and his palms hot to the extent of burning, his voice cracking and his heart pounding.
He wanted to scream back at her, tell her that he would risk all he had to save her life but the mere look in her eyes stopped him. He knew that any more heroism was the last thing she would appreciate right now.
The tension between them built up like a time bomb. They remained pressed against each other, staring – one in anger, and the other in confusion.
It wasn’t her fury which scared him; it was the intensity of her feelings for him that caused her to behave in such a way – a realisation which hit him so hard that it knocked the wind out of his lungs.
“What would you have done?” he challenged.
“Then why are you so mad?”
“What would you have done?” She threw back his own question at him.
He simply stared back. He knew he had no answer. There was no answer. Suddenly he was so tired he felt he would collapse.
Her chest heaved against his as she breathed deeply, trying to control herself as he knew very well. He could feel her heartbeat…he could feel her warmth even through her clothes…he could sense how she had no intention of moving from there, trapped between him and the wall. He couldn’t let go.
Today, he needed hold her close and feel her…he wanted, he needed to hear her breathe, feel her heart beat, bathe in her scent and lose himself. He was raging inside for some reason. He needed to know why. And he knew she had the answers for him today.
They kept eye contact, hardly blinking. He let go of her wrists to weave his fingers through hers instead. The strength of her grip once he did so surprised him.
Her emotionless face began to soften. He delved even deeper into her eyes, searching. She was still hiding the answers.
Leaning closer, he pressed his lips to hers in a sudden surrender to the storm inside him. There had been no beckoning from her side. But there hadn’t been any resistance either.
He held the kiss, waiting for her to respond. She did, and he kissed her with bruising intensity, unable to resist himself of something he had been denying himself for months.
He tasted of the blood that still oozed from the cut on his lip. She desperately wanted to heal him, make him understand that she was livid for a reason. And they were experiencing that reason at the moment.
They broke the kiss after an eternity, and he gazed at her swollen rosebud lips, amazed. He never realised when he had let go of her hands and had started caressing her waist…and her fingers seemed to have been weaved in his hair.
She suddenly let go and the shuttered expression returned.
Her finger touched his bleeding lip and he grabbed her hand to twist it behind her back. He didn’t want her to feel his weaknesses anymore. He didn’t need her to affect him so much.
She struggled, but his strength won in the end.
“What’s wrong with you?” her tone was accusatory.
“I’m fine”, he breathed.
“No you’re not”, she reprimanded.
He moved a step back in silence after a pause, observing her minutely. She stood there for a few seconds, looking as if gathering her breath, before swiftly making her way out of the room.
He pressed his eyes closed and sighed.
She led him to the bed by his arm, and he walked blindly, his thoughts jumbled up. It felt as if he was confined in a very small place with no room to even breathe. Suddenly he felt almost claustrophobic.
Her soft hand on his cheek made him look up with tired eyes.
“You look scared”, she spoke in an honest whisper.
Her eyes told him she couldn’t quite understand why he looked so frightened, so tired.
A blink and the fear was gone.
“Nothing. Just…” he let the sentence hang. He didn’t know what more to say, so he played with the corner of her kurti that was lying near his fingers. Anything to avoid that cold, yet caring gaze. It unnerved him.
She started cleaning up the wounds, and her fingers were gentle as they pressed the medicines to his skin, cleaning up and dressing the cuts and bruises. He winced every now and then, unable to hide the pain.
His grip on her kurti tightened as she moved to his shoulder, brushing her fingers every now and then on his skin. He knew it was unintentional. But it did things to him.
She believed she was done, but as she sought to undo his death grip on her kurti, the wounds on his hand caught her eye.
His knuckles had become bluish, and a soft gasp escaped her lips. He looked up. Finally some emotion.
She tried to take his hand but he wouldn’t let go. He couldn’t.
“Abhi, let me see…” she urged, trying to free his hand with all her might but he didn’t give in.
Finally she looked at him. “Let me…please”, she asked, her eyes worried.
In an instant his hand was limp. She took it and cleaned it, looking at him every now and then. He stared unblinking, hundreds of thoughts running chaos in his mind.
“You need some painkillers. I’ll bring them”, she placed her hand on his chest as she attempted to get up, and the slightest of a grimace formed on his face.
She sat down again. “Let me see that”, she pulled at his vest, trying to lift it but he took her hand.
“It’s nothing Nikki. Leave it”, he told her.
“No. I want to see what’s wrong”, she insisted.
“Abhi…I’m a doctor”, she used her trump card to defeat him.
“So am I. I know it’s nothing”, he promptly replied.
“Abhi don’t be a child, let me see”, she didn’t wait for him to answer. Before he could resist, she pulled the vest over his head.
He was right. It wasn’t anything serious, just a minor cut.
The sight of his bare chest itself was doing things to her. As she did her best to clean it up even though it needed none of it, her fingers trembled. She loved the feel of his skin under her fingertips. Cleaning done, lazily she moved it round the cut, deliberately drumming her fingers on his skin and feeling him shiver under her hand, medicine forgotten.
She stopped as she reached his heart. She pressed her palm against the skin, feeling his heartbeat. It shocked her how fast it was.
His breathing was shallow and suddenly he pushed her hand roughly from his chest.
“Stop it”, there was something in his eyes that spelt danger for her if she pushed him any further.
His tone was sharp, and she knew she was affecting him. It brought an unknown joy in her heart.
“You should be at the wedding”, he went back to his current favourite topic, breaking eye contact.
“You want me to leave?”
“You shouldn’t be here”, he shook his head.
“Why not Abhi?” her eyes had softened, he noticed on looking up. She wanted to stay here.
He couldn’t think of an answer. She was doing things to him. The blaze in her eyes, the touch of her fingers on his bare skin, the feel of her lips on his…they had him majestically confused about his emotions.
He was trying to think straight, but she was messing everything up. It was getting more complicated by the moment.
“I don’t know. Just go”, he turned away. “Everyone will be worried for you.” His voice was hard and brittle.
He thought he heard her sigh, and pressed his eyes closed. He needed her to leave. He needed to think.
“Why do you always hurt me so much, Abhi?” the vulnerability that exposed itself in her voice had his eyes snapping back to her face.
She appeared tired, her eyes hurt and questioning. She looked so feeble…just so breakable.
He let his mind wander about in the pause that prevailed after her question, searching for the perfect words to convey his answer to her. What had jumped to his mind the moment she had asked that seemed just too blunt, too hurtful. He didn’t want to say that.
But his severe need to be honest to her won out. He answered in a voice that was laden heavy with emotion and fear at her possible reaction.
“I love it.”