Vansh: After that day, I didn’t know her whereabouts. Later everyone in our house got to know about my feelings for her and they always had this hope that someday she’d come into our lives again. And years back when Mom and Dad passed away in an accident, I took over the responsibility of family and businesses, and later Aryan too joined me. In all these years none in our house forgot Riddhima. She was an ideal daughter for my Dadi, a never met sister for Siya, a long-lost sister for Aryan and my life, my love, my everything for me!!!
Me: I always knew that Vansh had feelings for me but till today I didn’t have the knowledge that his feelings never faded with time. Though I never had any feelings for him but yea I did like him back then and in these years neither did I forget him nor Aryan. They always were a part of my life. But our reunion would be in that way was something neither they nor I could ever expect
Vansh lends me his support as he saw me choking over my words, I laid my head on his shoulder and was caressing my arm trying to console me.
Vansh: Shall I continue?
I nod at him as I still have those worse memories of my life and am sure I may not be able to tell them as he has seen that with his eyes. If needed, I’d give him my voice too, but for now, it’s better if he continues
Vansh: Where did you stop?
Wiping my tears, I break from his soothing arms which help me in realizing am not a burden to this world as I used to feel, am loved, am cared for, am adored, and admired.
Me: Till I was thrown out of the moving vehicle in the middle of the night
Vansh hums and holding my tiny hands in his huge hands, he gently presses them and assures me that he is always there for me, I give him a slight smile as those memories flood my heart once again
Vansh: So, that day I had a bad day so, I decided to get myself relaxed and went to my farmhouse and was returning late at night….
Mumbai’s traffic was at peaks even during odd hours like at midnight too. As I was driving in that chaotic traffic, I saw something moving in the middle of the road and saw people ignoring and moving away, I expected it to be some roadside dog or any other animal, but when my car neared the spot, I was aghast to find a person and in those vehicle lights it was being difficult to identify the persons’ characters and seeing how inhumanely everyone was moving away even after seeing the struggle the person was trying to live. I expected it to be some accident case and with the thought to help the person, I stopped my vehicle and as I took my large steps towards the person, I gape in my position to find a nude women breathing heavily trying to get some help. Her body had many bruises and this made me realize that she was raped and when I approached her and turned her towards my side, she jerked and with that bruised body she tried hard to move away. That’s the moment my eyes fell on her doe-shaped hazel brown eyes which were flushing her tears and my eyes opened wide open in shock. She …. She was my Riddhima!!! Now I fell back to see her after years in that situation, half-dead, nude, in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night with bruises all over her body. My heart forgot to beat, my nerves turned numb, my blood supply stopped. I felt the world around me vanish. The earth beneath me was collapsed and I felt myself drowning. The constant horns and lights bought me back to reality and I once again checked the surroundings and realized where I was and who was in front of me. I could feel my tears making their way as my cheeks turned wet. I wiped them off and once again approached the afraid Riddhima who was trying hard to move away from everyone.
I could feel myself breaking over my words. I was shocked to even react. I could feel myself dripping to the reality. But then I realized that this isn’t the time to break as my Riddhima needs me. I once again tried to touch her but she gathered all her courage to push me away. I understood her state of mind and her fear of letting an unknown person come near her in this state.
Me: Riddhima… it..s… it’s me Vansh!!!
Her those lifeless eyes as if recognizing me, turned into some other emotion which I wasn’t able to understand and then I saw many tears falling off her eyes and the last thing she uttered before losing her consciousness was
Riddhima: Va……. n…..shh!!!
My eyes welled up listening to her angelic voice which was now filled with pain and anguish. My heart was pierced with number of objects seeing her in this condition. But even in this chaos if there was something that found solace to my heart was that she identified me…. brushing all my thoughts, I took my blazer off and approaching her unconscious self, I covered her with my blazer and lifting her like a glass doll, I took her to my car, adjusting her on the passenger seat and buckling the seat belt I ran towards the driver seat and starting the ignition, I drove swiftly towards a hospital. My mind was drifting towards our past and present. The Riddhima who had life in her eyes was now beside me half dead with total lifeless eyes. In all this I realised that I have to make some arrangements in the hospital so, called Angre. He never misses any call of mine and even in that odd hour he picked my call in 2 rings
Angre: Boss? (worried)
Me: Angre, listen to me carefully. Am reaching URS (Uma Rai Singhania) Hospital, I have Riddhima with me (Angre is aware of her relationship with me and my feelings for her too) she… I …. She… (I was so out of the state that it was getting difficult trying to frame a sentence to describe her condition) I guess… no, … am … am sure she has…. Has been ra…. Raped!!!
I closed my eyes unable to digest the bitter reality and I came back to sense when I heard a gasp over the phone and I understood what Angre might have felt and also understood that he got the picture of the present situation and before I could speak anything, he spoke
Angre: Boss… I … I …
I heard him trying to fetch words and he was mentally strong unlike me so he cope with the situation in seconds and taking a long breath
Angre: Boss… don’t panic. I’ll arrange everything in the hospital. You get her.
I just hummed and drove fast towards my destination while I kept on trying to get Riddhima back to senses by soft slapping her bruised cheeks which had dried out tears and even in her unconscious state, her eyes were letting her tears flow. Wiping them I felt my blood boil to see her in that condition after years. Not even in my worse dreams did I expect to meet her in that state, brutally raped and left to die in the middle of the road nude. I soon reached the hospital where Angre was already present with a team of doctors. Stopping my vehicle abruptly, I ran towards her side and picking her up gently, I placed her on the stretcher while the doctors rushed her in and I couldn’t handle my inner turmoil anymore and I collapsed in the entrance of the hospital yelling my pain and hatred for myself for not being able to save her. Angre rushed to me and hugged me trying to help me soothe but even he is aware that it’s impossible.
Angre: Bhai you need to be strong to face this. We aren’t aware of what exactly happened with her and after she opens her eyes, she’ll be not the same person she was. In this phase of her life, she needs the support of her family and friends. You have to be strong to handle her, you need to give her emotional support, she needs that. Please bhai control yourself, you can’t break. You got your Riddhima after years, I…. I know the situation isn’t right but still, you got her after years so will you let her break?
I understood what all he meant and after a lot of struggle with myself, I agreed that neither he is totally wrong nor is he totally right but still she needs me for her mental balance and emotional support. With heavy heart and tears overflowing, I entered the hospital with Angre supporting me. As soon as we reached, we were directed towards OT by receptionist. As I was waiting there, which seemed like hours, I could see the OT door not even opening an inch. Angre wasn’t there and at that moment nothing bothered to me except Riddhima. My eyes were laid on the OT expecting it to open asap and give me some good news of my Riddhima’s safety. I felt a hand over my shoulder, turning around I found Angre with a cup and he was forwarding it towards me while I raised my eyebrows
Angre: Bhai, have some coffee. You need it
Me: Angre have you gone mad! Vaha pe Riddhima is in OT and you want me to think of myself!!
Angre: Boss, am asking you to drink so because you need to strength to face all this which is going to take hours or days. So, what are you planning to starve and hurt yourself all this way? Don’t you think to give strength to that person in the OT, you need to be fit?
I didn’t argue with him because I know he’s totally right. So, taking the coffee I drank it steadily with my eyes still on the door of OT. After some time, Angre spoke breaking the silence filled in the corridor,
Angre: Boss, don’t you think we need to inform the Police?
I gave him a dangerous look before digesting his concerned glance and he is right, it’s a matter in the hands of police to search who dared to hurt my Riddhima, though we didn’t officially get the confirmation of rape but still, her bruises and her condition spoke much than needed and to get her justice am supposed to include police in this and now they’d take care of the justice with me behind. Taking a deep breath, I nodded my head and Angre got his answer and before he could call the cops, I gave him another work
Me: Angre, I want even your men to work on this case secretly and everything…. Everything in the sense even a miniature detail shouldn’t be missed. In fact, I want to know everything about her for the past 12 years. I hope you understood
Angre: Boss, I got it. You’ll get all the details soon. I’ll appoint my most trustworthy persons and the report will be shared with you asap.
I nodded before he left to get the work done. And my focus once again shifted towards the OT which wasn’t even opening giving me negative thoughts and then my thoughts drifted to my Riddhima
Me: Riddhima!!!! Your name is enough to give me solace in this chaotic world. The girl who was the angel in my life is laying on the death bed half dead. What happened Riddhima? What happened that I found you after years in this condition? 12 years back you cited you are shifting to Kashmir, then how come you here? Am sure after Kashmir you might have traveled to many other places but… but what happened which bought you back to Mumbai? And if you are here then where are your parents? Are they with you here? If yes, then I need to inform them about your this condition right! But how do I find them!! I don’t even know anything about them…. And first of all, what happened which bought you on the road!! Were you …. (tears) were you raped? Who is that bastard who dared to touch you? (anger) Just tell me his name and I swear I’d get you his head with his parts disembodied for his filthy behaviour towards you. I’d do whatever you want me to but please stay safe, stay alive….. I ….. I …. I can’t (tears) lose you once again after getting you after years. I need you Riddhima!!! I need my Riddhima back to that bubbly, chirpy full of life back in my life. With you, my life is easy and full of enthusiasm but without you I missed myself. I was in search of myself but now you are back, I won’t give you the permission to leave me again! You have to live to get yourself justice for whatever happened with you, I know the Riddhima who was strong enough to stand for something which was not right for her, so, you can’t lose this battle. We both will stand together against this and should win. Please stay by me!!! Please!!!!!!!!!
I was totally broke to even have a track of time, as that seemed to be never ending. I face-palming myself, bent my head trying to understand the situation, and reminiscing all our old memories. After a while, I felt a hand on my shoulder and assuming it to be Angre again, I didn’t even take a look at his side
Me: Angre, what now? Don’t ask me to eat or drink anything anymore! Just tell me if you have informed the Cops and what about your team?
That voice… that voice isn’t Angre’s. That voice had pain and was broken …. And I know the owner of this voice….. Aryan!!!! I swiftly lift my head to find a broken Aryan! What the hell!! How did he know!!! I know his state of mind when it’s about either Siya or Riddhima. Because Riddhima was the only person whom he adored after Siya. She was his only sister after Siya and he always was emotional over the matters which concerned either of them and now… now how the hell is here and how do I handle him when am unable to handle myself!! He’d definitely lose himself if he sees Riddhima in this way!
Me: Ar… Aryan….
Aryan: Bhai!!! Bhai… where is she?
He was broken, so was his voice. I could see the tears his eyes were trying not to shed. Taking a deep breath, I gathered the courage to speak something but it went on to appear as a whisper
Me: In the OT
He almost fell back when Angre came over to help him before I could do it. His tears made their way and he hugged Angre and was crying to get her information in this way. I couldn’t help but collapse myself on the chair, then reality struck me as how come he is here, turning towards Aryan I broke my silence
Me: How come you here?
He broke his hug with Angre and wiping his tears, he stared blankly at Angre and I got my answers. I gave a dangerous look to Angre for which he gulped before replying me
Angre: Am…. Am sorry boss but when I went to get your coffee, I received Aryan’s call asking about your whereabouts and accidentally I spilled the beans of you finding Riddhima and getting her here and her condition. You know him right! He ran to see his darling sister whom he has been missing for years.
I had no point to argue, I know Aryan and his feelings for Riddhima so, just hummed in response and sat down when Aryan knelt before me with tears in his eyes which had pain and longingness to see her.
Aryan: Bhai, she’ll be fine right!
Now, what do I tell him!!! When am myself am confused over the same question? Being his elder brother am supposed to give him courage but at that situation I need some confidence to stay put, which I wasn’t getting and my heart was pondering to know the condition of its mate. In all this chaotic discussion my heart and mind were having, I felt something wet over my cheeks and as I rubbed my hand over it, I realized am weeping. Wiping my tears, I saw Aryan still sitting before me waiting for my response, I had nothing to say and I can’t let my brother just weep in front of me. I just pulled him into a hug and we both were crying our heart to find our long-lost love and sister respectively in this condition.
After a while, which felt like years, the OT was opened and meanwhile even cops arrived and were waiting for the doc’s to pop up and give us some good news of her safety. As I saw the doc’s coming out, I instantly stood and ran towards the doc ……….