A goddamn hard-on in a serious situation? Gaurav was annoyed with his lack of control before Ria. But her crying did it for him and he had to hold her. She felt good, he had to admit. But then what was he supposed to answer her? Her question had caught him unawares. Till then he had just been relieved that she wasn’t hurt badly considering the rusted junk strewn around the washroom area. If something would have happened to her then… Why the hell did she come upstairs? Just to use the stupid washroom…weren’t there a few downstairs? It was her good fortune that he was there albeit inebriated. He didn’t know how he had managed to get those stitches done…. But he had just lost it when he had seen her injured form lying on the floor. His heart had almost given away thinking about the worst…. he had checked her pulse and found her breathing. His relief had restored some of his faith in the unknown power up there… The rest of the night passed in a blur as he had tended to her. Every time she winced he felt something piercing his heart, she was in immense pain and he couldn’t give her more painkillers without knowing her medical history and the fact that she hadn’t eaten anything. But the brave young woman that she was, she had held up well given the circumstances.
As he stood in the old operation theatre where he had run downstairs to…to keep a distance from Ria, he looked at his hands holding them up. He had done up her stitches in pitch darkness with an occasional flashes of lightening for visibility… it was unbelievable but he hadn’t even realised it till he was done. His eyes filled as he looked around what used to be his favourite place in the whole wide world, as it lay bare today devoid of any paraphernalia except his old memories. He didn’t know doing mere stitches would rouse the subdued passion of his medical practise. He wiped his eyes… it was beyond stiches… in fact he could do it because it was Ria… he could do just anything for her… couldn’t he? As they had got talking he wasn’t getting a grip over his emotions. He had thought he had mastered the art well… and he actually had. Nothing bothered him anymore, neither his parents permanent rebuttal, Manek’s distancing because of his own family, hospital gossip where he was painted a Casanova… nothing. But when it was Ria in picture his greatly prided self-control went for a toss. He must have blurted out some nonsense before her… gauging her reaction. But the fact that she spoke about her fiance didn’t go down well with him. He had carefully guarded his personal life such that no one knew the real him, while they only speculated about him, based on his past. Only Manek knew everything but there were some aspects of his life he had kept well concealed from everyone, including his parents and Manek. He didn’t care what people thought of him but suddenly at 37 he felt like a teenager needing assurance… Ria’s assurance. Gauav rubbed his hands down his face… come what may Ria deserved better than a scarred soul that he was not to mention his dark past which could darken her life like it had done to everyone around him. He was meant to be a loner and die…a loner without any chance to be loved. He had warranted this punishment upon himself and he would assure Ria was left unscathed…
She was right with her accusation. He had been an asshole of the greatest order because he wanted to hate her. He hated that he was losing control and that was not like him. Her being around had this strange effect on him ever since the last day of her internship when he handed the certificate to her, Ria was the only person who ever got a smile on his scarred face….who lighted up the dark corners of his heart by her mere presence. She was the only one who made him feel those physical yearnings which his body had long forgotten. He had actually gotten a Goddamn erection after years… jolting his manhood from its slumber. He was full mast when he had been sitting or lying close to her last night and today morning. He had moved only to hide the bulge in his pants and she may have felt it too. He was semi hard even now….
He remembered looking out of his current office window three years ago. The new interns were starting work/training that day. There were six of them as per his reports all posted in their rehabilitation departments, but he could see only five tiny specks from his 9th floor cabin. As he was about to turn he saw a bright red dot running toward the group. He didn’t know what transpired in his mind but he quickly went to the security footage screening in his cabin. He saw a pretty Ria with bright red salwar kameez and a matching dupatta talking animatedly with the group with a radiant smile full of life. Something about her just struck his solar plexus and he didn’t know what got over him, the same morning, he got all their details. He had found that her name was Ria Narsimhan , she was her college topper and in the days that had followed he had found that she was the best intern they ever had. He never had been associated even remotely with new interns of any department. But somehow, he couldn’t stay away from this bunch…from Ria. He never directly spoke with her the entire six months they were there but kept daily tabs on her. It was like he looked forward to visit the hospital every day… feeling alive after years. his immediate staff had noticed the changes too and had welcomed it with open arms as he was a far cry from his grumpy self.
He still remembered the last day of the interns and he was to award them the certificates in a small ceremony. Ria was dressed in a beautiful silk saree… red again. She wasn’t tall or slim or very beautiful as such but she had a personality that made her stand out. She dressed simple but carried herself with an elegance he had not seen in anyone before or maybe he was the beholder with her beauty lying in his eyes. For him, Ria was stunning. When he handed the certificate to her, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She looked up at him from her height of 5 feet 2 inches or so as he towered over her at 6 feet plus. She had smiled as she had thanked him, her tentative smile doing something strange to his… heartbeats. But it also felt like a piece of him had died that day. He didn’t have the heart to come to hospital the next day knowing that she wouldn’t be around. He soon went back to being in a perennial foul mood like he was before the interns had arrived. He even indulged in a bar fight once with a patron for no reason whatsoever, a couple of days later, only to be separated by Manek who had been called upon by the security. His best friend was the only one to sense something amiss in him and on his persistence he revealed his attraction to Ria. He felt ashamed to have feelings for a twenty-one year old young lady then who was about twelve years his junior. Gaurav couldn’t compose himself this time as he drank his way to numbness after years of his rehabilitation. Manek then had suggested, he give in and face his feelings albeit from a distance and bind time… with a hope that he would forget about her soon. Why would a young bright girl be interested in a baggage like him? He was sure Ria would be history… and so after that, for the next two years he had followed Ria’s life through her college as she completed her post-graduation studies in counselling. Their hospital had a tie up with the college so finding how the interns were doing didn’t call for attention. He felt like a stalker but like always when it was about Ria his impulse control lay in shreds.
He knew everything about Ria… even the day she got engaged just before her final exams. He remembered that day very clearly. He was an emotional wreck and Manek had to stay back with him as he drank himself to stupor… as he broke his glass table. No amount of pacifying by Manek had helped him… in fact there was no plausible explanation to his kiddish tantrum over being rejected by a woman… who actually didn’t even speak with him… It was just plain stupid and Manek had given up on him. But he had eventually learnt to accept the situation… at least that’s what he had thought.
His emotions were slowly coming on track… when he learnt that Ria had applied for openings in their hospitals and had bagged it. His fragile control over his emotions were participating in a losing battle as he tried to get her to resign. He hoped it would be something like – out of sight… out of mind. It wasn’t of any use as Ria stayed on undeterred and it only made him feel more guilty about putting her through crap. After a few months, there were three positions for leads across departments and they had recommendations from all over their hospital chains. He had his way and she was one of those selected, of course and to everyone’s surprise he arranged for all three of them to be reporting to him. But no one could question him. He never bothered the other two leads and accepted their reports and suggestions without questions. But with Ria, he didn’t know what got into him, he was always angry…
Ria was quite popular among her colleagues, supervisors, department heads, patients and even the class four employees. She was soft spoken and went out of her way to help people around her. In between there were some rumors about her… where people gossiped about her been granted favours by the boss with vested interests? He felt like a dork but her engagement was still affecting him along with his huge snowballing attraction to her. He just wanted her to go away… Right from the time she was reporting to him directly, he would call her at God forsaken hours and keep her waiting outside his other cabin while watching her on the monitor in his cabin. He had, by now known her features by rote. The pretty almond shaped eyes which were always lined by kohl, the thick but shapely eyebrows, the stubby nose, short hair usually tied in a ponytail, the chubby cheeks which would turn red when she blushed, and the most attractive part, the cute cleft on her chin. The cleft would get more pronounced whenever she smiled as she spoke to his secretary Karuna while she waited for his summons.
He felt like a jackass for treating her like crap though she was an innocent in this totally. He was the culprit here responsible for his own misery, but he just couldn’t seem to let go. He had seen her blink back tears as he firmly rejected her reports without even a glance or yelled at her last week. But she never complained and did the needed work diligently. His attempts to hate her had backfired badly and he was…. falling for her. He was falling head over heels….
Gaurav sighed as he returned back from his memory lane and slowly made his way back to the third floor. It was then he heard her muffled cry, that was a kick in his gut. He deserved the capital punishment for tormenting her ever since she had joined the hospital. He kept staring at her slumped posture as she cried into his coat, wishing it was him instead of the coat in her clutches. He wanted to console her but knew he couldn’t hold it any longer if he did and it was best for both their sanities that he stayed away from her. Everything that had happened was his fault… always. His therapist would have a field day analysing him if he met him today, may be unravelling yet another of his defence mechanisms. He had enough of the psychobabble and it was time he did something for others…
Right then he made a decision to give over the charges of his responsibilities in the hospital to someone more capable and take a transfer to another branch. No more innocent lives to be lost on his hands… definitely not Ria…who he loved more than life itself… he was sure now.
He could do anything with his wretched life… maybe spend more time in Karma… who would miss him anyway? But for once in his life he was really … scared of the possibility.
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