Ram lay unconsciously on the hospital bed for 20 days, the superficial wounds on his body healing magnificiently with each passing day. But the greatest injury that he had suffered was encapsulated inside of him and shattered into a million fragmented pieces, which as a whole used to be called his heart. His subconscious actively missed the prescense of Priya around him; she was the only woman who had the cure to his broken heart. Everyday the family would visit him in the hospital but she refused to be the cause of any further sorrow for him, giving in to a fools words and half-heartheartedly believing that she is a curse to her beloved Ram. Priya would excuse herself from the visits volunteering to take care of Kush and Pihu, a decision that she would later regret. Three weeks dragged on and there was no ray of hope that Ram was regaining conciousness. Soumaya had no other option but to become a harsh voice of reason that would kick some sense into a senseless, sacrificing Priya. She itched to know the meaning behind her avoidance of the hospital visits and was determined that she would not leave without an answer. She walked boldly up to Priya, who was sitting helplessly in the temple in their house with her head resting on the diya stand. Priya begged for a solution to Ram’s ill health, staring deeply into the gracefully flowing flame of the diya that would appear an emotionless beauty burning joyfully amidst the heartache. Those who don’t believe in superstition would label the rude-awakening conversation that was about take place between Soumaya and Priya a mere coincidence. However, to a devotee of the beautiful beyond words Durga Ma, Soumaya’s rage was a blessing in disguise to yank Priya out of her helplessness and awaken her abilty to help herself. Priya stood up at the sound of an enraged voice…
Soumaya: Stop all this drama…
Priya: Soumaya what do you mean by drama?
Soumaya: aur nahi toh kya hain yeh saab? Bhappa is in the hospital for three weeks now, unconscious and you are here praying?
Priya turned to face away from her, knowing very well that what she spoke was the utmost truth. But Soumaya would not be so eager to drag her to Ram if she knew that her bhabhi was a curse to her bhappa and by her presence his health could deteriorate.
Priya: please Soumaya I have a reason behind all this… trust me, it’s better that I don’t go…
Soumaya (walks in front of her forcing her to make eye contact as she spoke): It’s BETTER that you don’t go? Where is the logic in that? Wow! I feel so bad for Bhappa! All his life he has lived for everyone else and for the last five years he has only lived for you. Do you know bhabhi that I know everything about you despite barely engaging in any conversation with you? From the moment that I stepped into this house I would hear Bhappa incorporate you into every aspect of his life… Priya says do this, Priya says don’t do that, Priya likes this, Priya hates that… He lived life by your standards, the one you set in place for him before you “supposedly” died, which was also BEYOND selfish but khair we were all happy seeing how happy Bhappa was to have you back… Do you know that he would try to eat as unhealthy as possible, always saying that “Priya would always eat healthy and live well but today she is not with us so what difference does it make if I eat unhealthy? What’s the worse that can happen to me by eating all this? I will die? I wish that were true, than atleast I can finally see my Priya again.” Well today this wish might actually come true. But what do you care if Bhappa lives or dies…
Priya (shouts): SOUMAYA!!
Soumaya: screaming does not change reality. What’s true is true even god can’t change that…
Priya: please Soumaya I can’t live without Ram…
Soumaya: it doesn’t look that way…
Priya (says in a fast pace trying to get Soumaya to shut up): Soumaya, Ayesha said that since I came back Ram has only been faced with hurdles. And she is right, I am unlucky for him, so it’s better that I stay here than he has a better chance of recovering.
Soumaya toned down on her anger. She wanted to hear the reason behind Priya’s aloofness and she was shocked by the dumb reason that she provided. But reasons are strange; they only need to make sense to that one person who will transform it from theory into practice. Soumaya held Priya’s hand in hers.
Soumaya: bhabhi aisa kuch bhi nahi hain.
Priya: aisa he hain Soumaya. Why is it that as soon as I came all this has happened… First Kush’s kidnapping and than Ram’s big accident…I can’t take anymore chances, I can’t risk going there and than god forbid... (her mouth refused to shape out the words to complete the dreadful sentence. She pulled her hand out of Soumaya grip and turned her back to her so Soumaya could not see her cry. But Soumaya went in front of her again and with her palms she gently wiped the tears off her cheeks)
Soumaya: bhabhi, these unfortunate incidents are not in our control. Whatever is written to happen, will happen no matter how much we try to avoid it. When Kush got kidnapped, you risked your life to save him and bring him back. If you weren’t here than who would do it, even Ayesha, his own mother is incapable of that. She is too engrossed in this materialistic world to care about anyone and you know that by now. And you are saying that your bad luck is responsible for Bhappa’s accident and ill state? Think bhabhi, just like Kush needed you in order to be found, Bhappa needs you in order to recover. All these years this accident, which was meant to happen, did not happen until you came because even god knows that in these conditions only YOU can take care of Bhappa…
Priya felt reassured by Soumaya words of widom that were true to each letter. We are often told to act our age, but age can’t always be matched with the standard understanding. Sometimes elders do things that make us question their wisdom and sometimes youngster say things that leave us questioning our own perceptives. Soumaya words hurled Priya back into memory lane to a specific promise that she had made to her husband when he told her about his need to be dependant on tablets to support those people who are dependant on him. Her exact words were, “Bhagwan na karay, agar aap kabhie beemaar paar jhai, ya apko kuch ho jaye, aur apko kisike saath ke zharoorat ho… toh aur koi apka saath dhai ya nahi dhai Mr. Kapoor, mein apka saath humesha dhoongi… humesha apka saath rahungi…”
Priya (starts crying silently and breathing heavily as she speaks, her voice is unstable): Mu..mujhe Ram ke paas hona chaiye… Soumaya you are right, mujhe jaana hain Ram ke Paas please aap Kush aur Pihu ke… (Soumaya interrupted heaving a sigh of relief)
Soumaya: Bhabhi you don’t worry! Aapp baaas jaldi se jaaye Bhappa ke paas… he needs you!
Driven by desperation Priya reached the hospital in no time. The entire kapoor family was delighted to see her but she was only focused on Ram.
Krishna: Priya beta, you are here?
Priya (her face stiff, eyes filled with tears, she uttered): Ram?
Krishna pointed to a room on the left side of the hallway. Priya walked as fast as she could and swung open the door to see her beloved confined helplessly to the bed. The door slid of her fingers and closed as she stood there staring at the most heart wrenching sight. Outside the closed door Ayesha re-joined the Kapoor family after informing Mamaji about the situation and was alarmed when she was informed that Priya had come to see Ram. She clenched her fist, ashtonished by how quickly the tables had turned on her. She tried to reclaim some of her lost control by poisioning everyone’s mind against Priya, accusing her of not caring about Ram. But she had no such luck as Krishna and Dadi applied brakes to her evil intentions before it could accelerate into something uncontralable. Soumaya had already called Rishab and informed him about Priya’s reason for refusing to see Ram until he was better and Dadi and Krishna had also been caught up to speed. Ayesha tried to go into the room to interfere with Ram and Priya but Dadi held her hand quickly and said, “Ayesha, leave Priya and Ram alone for some time”. With no other trick up her sleeves she nodded with a fake smile plastered across her face and than excused herself to notify Mamaji about the sudden disturbance in their plan.
Priya slumped down on the chair placed next to Ram’s bed. She sandwiched his hand in between her hands, being careful not to dislodge the IV line positioned in his vein. Placing her lips against his knuckles, she pursed her lips together and kissed him deeply conveying all her love, guilt and longing. She loosened her lips, still grazing his knuckles as she whispered, “I am so sorry Ram main bahut buri hoon. Please mujhe saaza dijiye, apne aap ko nahi”. Tears rolled down her cheeks and fell on his hand striking a startling sensation that he felt instantly. She could have sworn she felt him squeeze her hand for a split second and in response she looked up at him but he remained unconscious. Not believing that what she felt was a fiction of her mind, she stood up and stroked his cheek with his fingers, “Ram wake up, please” she pleaded as she moved towards his forehead and planted a firm kiss on it. "Ram, do you know Pihu and Kush are missing you so much. Please ut jao aur kitna saatao gai hum saab ko? Ram yaad hain apne mujh se kaha tha that once I get better you will show me how much you love me and you did show me...I was just such a damn fool. Now it's my turn, please Ram get better so that I can show you how much i love you." she kissed both his eyelids and than looked at his lips yearningly, which were hidden beneath the clear oxygen mask. "Pata hain Ram aap chup hote hua bikul ache nahi lagte hain. Aap chilate waqt ache lagte hain. Zidd karte waqt ache lagta hain. Gussa karte waqt bhi ache lagte hain. But this silence apko bikul suit nahi karte hain. So wake up and yell at me Ram mein nay bahut taang kia na apko kuch dino se. Get mad at me so I can pacify you with my love. Aur zidd kijiye apne haaq ke liye and I promise mein apka haar zidd pura karoongi. Baas ab ut jaiye." He lies lifelessly on the bed almost purposely trying to irritate Priya and it was working. She says angrily, “Okay fine, if you don’t wake up that means that you don’t love me anymore. I will leave and go far from here and never come back. Than you will be happy Ram?” she shakes him...than steps back… “Thik hain, I have got my answer in your silence. I am going Ram so that you can be happy.” She turns around and begins walking towards the door. A thought stops her as she looks back once more and says, “oh haan I forgot to tell you something. Ram I love you so much, ho sakai toh mujhe maaf kardo for everything that I have done”. She wipes her tears begging in her heart for Ram to wake up atleast now. She closes her eyes tightly and turns around, her head hung down in defeat. As she slowly began walking towards the door she noticed the beeping on Ram’s moniter stopped abruptly. She looked at him, his body convulsing on the bed, running back towards him, she screamed, “DOCTOR!!!” the machine beeped slowly as the lines began flashing like sirens on an ambulance. Within seconds, 2 doctors and 4 nurses came rushing into the room with a cart, one of the nurses practically ripped Priya’s grip off of Ram’s body and forced her outside against her will before she went back inside and pulled the curtain around Ram’s bed. Priya crashed on the floor as Ram did on the bed. Rishab made her stand and sit on one of the benches. Ayesha slithered back into the scene, overacting as usual.
Ayesha: Oh god, what happened to Ram? Di I told you that you are a curse. Why did you come here? Krishna Aunty, Dadi... Priya killed Ram…
Priya: Nahi no no, Ram ko kuch nahi hoga.
Ayesha: c’mon di, he flatlined… He never flatlined before and than the one day you came... Aunty, dadi, mujhe bahut daar lag raha hain.
Dadi: no Ayesha, please mera golu ka kuch nahi hoga. Waheguru kuch nahi hone denga unhe. (Rishab comforted Dadi)
Priya: what have I done? Did this all really happen because of me? Kya ye saach mein meri waje se…
The doctor came out of Ram’s room, he had on his poker face making it hard to predict what he was about to say.
Doctor: I have some good news. Ram has regained consciousness.
Everybody’s face lit up like the streets of India on Diwali.
Doctor: you can go and meet him but one by one.
Just as Priya was about to go in, Ayesha pushed her out of the way to beat her into the room.
Doctor: (to Ayesha) umm excuse me if you don’t mind may I say something. (He walks towards Priya) You must be Priya, right?
Priya: yes main Priya hoon… how did you know?
Doctor: Before Ram lost consciousness he kept muttering your name… Looks like you are someone very important to him.
Rishab: haan she is my bhabhi…
Doctor: Apka bhabhi ke pyaar dekh kar Bhagwan bhi maan gaya aur Ram ko hosh dila diya… Anyways I believe that God is Love but in this world god and love are seen through different lenses. If god and love ek saath ho jaye toh miracles like this happen on earth… (he looks at Ayesha) If you don’t mind, I think it would be better for the patient if the first familiar face he sees is that of his wife.
Rishab: yes doctor you are right… Jaye Bhabhi… (She looks at Dadi and Krishna who give her a heads up for support).
Priya looks at Ayesha who moves aside, both sisters thinking in their heads, “I will deal with you later”. Ram’s eyes fall upon Priya as she walked briskly through the door and into his room. He tried actively to look away as she moved closer but his eyes obstinately maintained the gaze. She sat down on the chair next to him and leaned forward to run her hands through his thick hair. Finally he gained control of his movements and looked away avoiding her touch. She smiled as he childishly pouted. Slowly withdrawing her hands back to her side, she said,
Priya: Ram… (He is still not facing her. She knew that he was listening so she continued) Naraaz hain mujhse? (he is quiet) Jaanti hoon main, but apko pacify bhi karna ata hain mujhe.
Before she could finish her sincere apology a nurse walks into the room with Ram’s medication. Ram heaved a huge sigh of relief and began conversing with the nurse…
Nurse: Mr. Kapoor your medication. (she hands it to him, he grimaces as he sits up in bed, his body stiff from being in a supine position for nearly 3 weeks.)
Ram: Nurse it’s good that you came. Can you arrange my discharge papers? I need to get out of here by tonight; I have a very important meeting tomorrow morning. Oh and where is my phone?
Nurse: your discharge papers are ready; your wife Ayesha got them ready the minute she heard that you had regained consciousness. She is a very sweet girl, you are very lucky to have her in your life; from the day that you were admitted here she has visited everyday. Sometimes I would have to literally push her out of the door once visiting hours were over (she chuckled. She looked at Priya who was angrily glaring at her) I am sorry m’aam you must be the patient’s sister in law?
Priya: No I am Priya, (she looked lovingly at Ram) Priya Ram Kapoor.
Nurse: oh I am so sorry; I figured that Ayesha must have been your wife because of her dedication to your recovery. (to Priya) You must have had to travel a lot to get here since this is the first time that I have seen you here. I am so sorry once again sir, m’aam…
Ram: it’s okay (he looks down sadly; clearly this truth was not okay. Priya notices the change in his demeanor)…uh where is my phone?
Nurse: I gave it to Ayesha; you were getting many calls on it. (Saying that the nurse leaves the room and goes to her desk and just as Ayesha had promised, a fresh, crisp 100 rupees note was awaiting her arrival.)
That same evening Ram was successfully discharged from the hospital after the doctors ran a few more tests on him. He was told to rest completely for a week and to walk moderately, increasing the distance and duration of his walks each day. Ram took the doctors instructions in one ear and out the other; he planned on resuming work the next day. Dadi did aarti for Ram before the king entered into his kingdom with his queen right by his side.
Rishab: Bhai let me help you to your room you must be completely tired
Priya: good idea Rishab. The doctor told him to have complete bed rest for one week.
Ram: Bansi Kaka!! (To Rishab) nahi Rishab I am going to be staying in the guest room. Doctor said don’t do much walking and I really don’t want to take the chance going up the stairs(he looked directly at Priya, his eyes conveying another reason to her as to why he wants to stay in the guest room)
Priya’s heart sank; first Ram was giving her the silent treatment and now this… What was the need for all this, she thought. Bansi Kaka entered into the living room. Ram ordered Bansi Kaka to bring his clothing, laptop and files down to the guest room and with Rishab’s help Ram went into the guest room. Soon everybody cleared the living room, Ayesha looked at Priya and smiled at her misery before she went into her room to deliver the good news to mamaji. Soumaya put her hand on Priya’s shoulder trying to reassure her that everything would be fine once Ram knew the truth behind her decision to not visit him in the hospital. Priya requested Soumaya not to say anything about that matter to Ram just as yet because he might get stressed out. Soumaya told Priya that by keeping this from Ram, his anger would not subside. Priya agreed but told her that now was not the right time.
Pihu and Kush sat on the bed with Ram, on either side of him, totally engrossed in the moment. Priya smiled and thought, “Acha toh meri teeno baachay yahan hain”. She was about to step into the room with Ram’s dinner, which she had specially prepared for him, on a tray along with his medication when Ayesha came in front of her and blocked her entry.
Ayesha (speaking quietly so that Ram does not hear): di how can you be so selfish? You know that I love Ram and you are doing all this. Why don’t you care about my happiness? Why can’t you just leave? You claim that you love Kush but you can’t even step away from our lives for his happiness? You can’t give him the joy of having a complete family with Ram and I, for once in his life? (she extends her hand to grab the tray from Priya) Di give this to me and please please leave Ram. Pihu has lived without her dad for five years, she is used to it but Kush and I won’t be able to live without him.
Priya (pulls back the tray): Ayesha, when did you become so digusting? He is your jiju, maatlab meri husband. All my life I lived for my family and admist fulfilling every one of your stupid wishes I never got a chance to live for myself. And today when I finally got my share of happiness you want to snatch it away from me. Chalo, Priya Sharma shaayaad kar bhi lete apki wish pura but today I am not Priya Sharma, I am Priya Ram Kapoor. And this pyaar that you keep talking about is simply status, wealth, modeling deals, you know all the high-end stuff that Ram Kapoor’s name is able to give you. If you can’t love your own son than how will you be able to love my man? It’s high time now that you start living for yourself because Priya Sharma, the one who used to live for you is dead and in her place stands Priya Ram Kapoor who only lives for her husband, the only person who ever truly loved her unconditionally. The only time I will ever leave is if Ram himself tells me that he doesn’t love me, he loves you. When I feel that Ram loves you more than me, which is never going to happen, I will happily leave, but until than please move aside I have to go to my husband and my two kids.