Shiv was packing in his room.Inspite of ira’s pleading he did not stop. He was determined to go away from everything. That was the only way to forget his guilt.
His phone beeped and he was surprised to see anandi’s calls. He took the call.
“It’s not Anandi Swati here” said a panicked voice.
“Swati!!! When did you come? How are you?”
“We don’t have time for niceties Shiv. Anandi needs you”.
A fear gripped his heart “What happened? Where is Anandi? Is she ok?”
“No Shiv there’s bad news Anandi met with an accident”
“WHAT!! When? How is she?”
“Yester…Please come here fast”.
“I will take the first available flight to Bangalore. She is in which hospital?”
Swati struck her head “Ummm…You just come to her home I will take you there ok?”
“She is fine right….please tell me she is out of danger”
“She will be once you are here”.
Shiv cut the call and collapsed on the bed shaking with grief. He wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
Anandi walked into Swati’s bedroom. She had a Cheshire smile on her face.
“What have u been up to Swati?”
“You will know soon Anandi. Btw tomorrow let’s not go anywhere”.
Next day Anandi was pacing around the room restlessly “Did you talk with Shiv? He is staying back na? What did he say?”
“Cool down Anandi. Just have patience”
“I can’t…just tell me he will stay back”
“That depends…btw will you stop walking around my head is spinning looking at you”.
“I can’t sit…I am too nervous”
“Ok then take Sparsh for a walk….meanwhile I will take nap”
Anandi was out in the campus pushing Sparsh’s stroller while the baby gurgled in happiness. She was lost in thoughts Did Shiv leave or he stayed back?
She noticed a familiar looking car a jaguar rush into the campus. “It’s Shiv’s car!!”
Excited she rushed towards her home though she couldn’t be fast enough due to the stroller.
As soon as she entered the house a peculiar scene awaited her. Shiv was almost in tears and Swati was with a sad sullen face. As soon as she saw Anandi her expressions changed
“Why did you come so soon” She said irritated.
Shiv who had been sitting with his head in his hands looked up and his eyes widened in shock as if seeing a ghost. He then looked at Sawti then at the baby who had now started wailing coz her trip outside was so rudely cut short.
He looked back at Swati again.
She shrugged “Don’t worry she’s mine” and took Sparsh in her arms to pacify her.
Anandi came in “What’s happening here? Why are you upset Shiv?”
He didn’t respond he just took her in a bone crushing hug “I thought I had lost you Anandi. Thank God you are fine. I can’t live without you”.
Anandi felt rush of familiar emotions “I missed you Shiv”.
“Don’t ever leave. Don’t even think of that” He said
“Never Shiv never…..”
Swati coughed and they broke apart. Anandi said “will anyone care to explain what’s going on here?”
Shiv said “Swati called me saying you had an accident I rushed here to meet you and when I reached here she said you were in coma. I couldn’t take in Anandi. I thought I had lost you”.
Anandi looked at Swati with incredulous expression “Why did you do that Swati?”
“Oh well to make him realize how it will be to live without you. And sorry for the bad joke but he made you cry for 4 years I deserve at least 5 mins of revenge”. She grinned.
“Swati it’s not correct. Why did you lie?” Anandi said
“Hey I got you two back together and you are yelling at me!!”
Shiv said “Its ok Anandi don’t say anything to her.”
Swati said “Well this little tyke needs feeding you two continue and please when I come back I want to see happy faces”.
She went in and Shiv and Anandi looked at each other. Their faces full of emotions. They kept staring at each other as if their parched throats found water after a long time.
He said “If something had happened to you I would have killed myself”
She kept her finger on her lips”Don’t talk like that. I am sorry Swati made you upset. I shouldn’t have allowed her to talk to you. I was anyways going to call you” She said.
“Call me? But why Anandi?” he asked
“To stop you from leaving without me”.
He looked surprised “what do you mean Anandi?”
“I love you and can’t live without you so better live with you”
His face turned sad “No Anandi all I have ever given you is pain and sadness. You won’t be happy with me. I will keep reminding you of my betrayal and I can’t face you to”.
“Why are you carrying this guilt Shiv? It was not your fault. Maybe a mistake but it was due to the circumstances. I have forgiven you Shiv”.
“But I can’t forgive myself Anandi. I can’t let go of my guilt. How can I forget how much I have hurt you”?
“Can you live without me?”
“No Anandi each moment without you is excruciating, But that is my punishment. I deserve it”.
“Punishment for what Shiv? We both suffered equally. Your mom told me everything. And this way you are punishing me too”
“I gave you mental trauma due to which you…you lost our baby. I can’t forget I am responsible for that”.
“But I didn’t decide your punishment” he looked puzzled “You have wronged me so I should be the one giving you punishment right?” She said.
He sighed “Ok tell me what I should do. I will agree to whatever punishment you will give me”.
“Since you hold yourself responsible for my lost baby then your punishment is give me another baby”.
He looked stunned “WHAT!!”
“Give me another baby Shiv. I want your baby, that will even things”.”
“Anandi do you realize what you are asking? Are you in your senses?”
“yes I am in my prefect senses now.I want a baby your baby that’s it. Thts the solution for everything our guilt our pain.”
“I can’t do that”
“You promised you will do whatever I say”
“yeah but not this. Please”
“Why not ?”
“Because this will have repercussions. I can’t abandon you and my kid again I just cant do this to you”.
“Isn’t that what you are doing ? abandoning me again ok this time without the kid but it’s the same thing”.
“No Anandi !! is that how you feel?? For god sake I am not leaving you. I have not looked at another girl since you came in my life. I will continue doing so”.
“Then why are you going away from me? Is it because of your guilt? I feel guilty too. Can’t we overcome our grief and make a fresh start? I want to forget everything Shiv. What’s the point of pondering over painful memories when we can create newer happier ones and I can’t do that without you.”
He looked at her intently as if getting a new perspective.
“Can’t we let bygone be bygones and make a new start? I want to be with you. I have wasted enough time missing you don’t want to waste more years. We are destined to be together”.
“Is this really possible Anandi?” He said.
“As long as you are with me anything is possible. You had been saying this for long today I’m asking you please come back to me”.
His eyes turned misty and he grabbed her in a hug “I love you Anandi. I love you so much. Without you I felt as if my soul was being ripped off. I will never let you go again”.
She clutching his back tight as if she would never leave him again.
“I love you too Shiv I am sorry I hurt you. I took me so long in forgiving you. I didn’t realize that I was punishing you. I am sorry Shiv”
“No Anandi I have hurt you. I will never hurt you again ever I promise”.He said
He broke the hug and cupped her face. He kissed her forehead and cheeks. Soon he was raining kisses on her face. When he reached her lips he stopped…..They caressed and nibbled each other lips. Melting into each other. After a long kiss they slowly came back on Earth.
Her anger and guilt everything was gone. She was wrong all along the best thing for them was to be together not apart. Too overwhelmed to talk they simply stared at each other. Their happiness shinning in their eyes.
“So you still want that baby?” He asked.
Blushing she nodded.
“I would love to oblige” He said with a naughty smile.
“Planning babies already wow that was fast” Swati who had arrived few mins ago said.
They turned around to look at her.
“Please continue and ignore me”.
Anandi went up to her and hugged her “Sorry I yelled at you. Thank you so much you are the best”.
“I know that. What would you do without me. And Shiv sorry for lying”.
“No worries Swati. I owe you a big one” And he winked at her.
She made a face “Shut up Shiv I am a married woman now”.
Sparsh’s wail was heard from inside “Oh God this girl never sleeps” She said looking harassed.
Then turning towards Shiv she said “I hope you get babies soon. That will serve you right”.
She went inside.
Shiv laughed and Anandi smiled.
He got up and came to Anandi. He walked with that predatory prowl. She backed till she touched the wall. For some unknown reason she was blushing. He placed his hands on either side of her gazing at her.
She stammered “Swati might come”
“Let her….I don’t care. I have missed you so much that I need to compensate for all those moments.You are right we can create many more happy moments and few other things too”.
Understanding his implication she blushed and looked down….She had demanded a baby just to stop him and make him understand now her previous brashness was making her blush.
“I need to say something very important to you Anandi” He said
“what is it Shiv?”
He took away his hands and stood straight….”Actually…”
“Anandi I need that diaper bag could you please bring that in” Swati called out.
Shiv gave a frustrated come annoyed look. Anandi giggled and ran in. She came out and said “So you were saying something?”
“Ummm yeah… I…Not here come with me” He grabbed her hands and proceeded towards the door.
Anandi said “Wait Shiv Swati is alone. I can’t leave her like this”
He said “I just need 10 mins Anandi. Please”
“wait I will inform her” She went to talk to Swati.
Swati said “I am fine Anandi…Go with him. I think I know what he wants” she gave a wink
Anandi came out with her purse and said “Let’s go”
He took her to his car and drove out….after an hour of driving. Anandi said “Shiv where are we going?”
He replied “I am not sure…I didn’t think where we would go when I left”
“Shiv !! what are you doing?? If you don’t know where we are going why did you dragged me out? Swati is alone at home what would she think….”
He said “Relax Anandi I am not kidnapping you. I just need to collect my thoughts”
“what do you mean Shiv?”
He suddenly pulled up. It was dusk and they were on a highway with fields and mountains on both sides. He came out of the car and asked her to come out too…She came out and for miles she couldn’t see a single soul.
“Shiv why are we in middle of nowhere?”
“Because I have to say something very important to you and I better say it as soon as possible”
“You could have said at home too right?”
“No Anandi I wanted to be alone with you”
“Anywhere” he was barely listening to her…he had a mesmerized look… The golden setting sun gave an orange hue to everything.
She looked at him curiously.
He took out a jewel box from the inside of his jacket and out came the biggest diamond ring she had ever seen.
“Anandi will you marry me ?”
She blinked at the ring then his face. He had a huge grin on his face.
“You came all the way here to say this?”
“That’s not important Anandi just answer me”
“Why didn’t you say this at home itself?”
“Anandi please “ He almost pleaded.
She smiled “Of course yes, I will marry you”.
She looked at the beautiful diamond ring “When did you get the ring?”
“I have always carried it since the day I saw you in that meeting room in a hope that maybe someday you will come back in fact I wanted to propose you in Coorg itself until…..I had lost all hopes and had forgotten all about this ring until now. Seems like it was destined to reach its rightful owner”.
“And you were nervous about this? Did you really think I would say no?” She said
“Ummmm no..but proposing someone is nerve wreaking don’t ask why. Its a guy thing. Did u like the ring?”
She looked at the sparkling blue stone “It’s beautiful Shiv. Thank you. I love you Shiv” She melted into his embrace while he rested his chin on her head. They remained in that position for don’t know how long. Then he rested his forehead on hers and whispered “I love you too Anandi”.
It was a new beginning for them leaving behind all pain and hurt they were treading on a new path together.