Read Part 1 here.
—Six years later—
“Really? ‘I think I’ve seen you before’? That’s the line you’re gonna use? Are you out of 90s’ Bollywood?” Nisha rolled her eyes at the man who had approached her a few minutes ago at the public library
“It’s not a line! I am sure I have seen you before!” the man protested.
“Don’t care. Not interested,” Nisha scowled and began to walk away, clutching a few books.
“I wasn’t asking if you’re interested!” the man exclaimed, too loud for the silent library. He got more than a few glares and several “Shh”s.
Nisha had moved to Chennai recently. She had no friends yet, except for her roommate, an old classmate from her hometown.
“I’m gonna have some friends over this weekend,” her roommate said one day, “It’ll be good for you. Meet some people, have some fun.”
Nisha was not really interested, but she did not have any other plans, nor did she know any places she could visit in the city. The evening of the party arrived, and while Nisha sat in a corner, smiling politely at her roommate’s guests, who should arrive but the flirt from the library!
Oh God! What’s he doing here? she thought.
Their eyes met, and the man smiled, a mischievous glint in his eye. He looked older than all the other guests. Nisha wondered about her roommate’s acquaintance with this man.
Presently, her roommate greeted him and dragged him towards Nisha for a round of introductions.
“And Nisha, this is Dr. Abhishek. He’s from our hometown. He did his specialization from the medical college there.”
Oh no! That’s where she had gotten her polyps removed, six years ago. Her nightmare came rushing back, and she wanted to run from the place. She must have looked pale, because the doctor asked, “Are you okay?”
Nisha nodded weakly. The doctor smiled at her, the mockery now gone from his eyes.
“I – I am sorry, I was rude to you the other day,” Nisha said after her breathing returned to normal.
“It’s alright. For the record, I wasn’t hitting on you. I remember now where I’ve seen you before.”
“Where?” she asked, her eyes widening a little at this bit of revelation.
“It was many years ago, when I was doing my specialization. I was Dr. Prashant’s assistant.”
Sometimes statements are delivered innocuously, but they land as blows on the recipient’s brain. Nisha’s temper flared without a warning when she heard the doctor’s statement, recalling her nightmares, and her sleepless nights.
“That was you! You’re the reason I get nightmares!” Nisha’s nostrils were flaring with anger.
Abhishek looked puzzled, “What?” He obviously did not know had caused Nisha’s sudden outburst.
“You! Spoke about a hollow, round blade! To this day, I get nightmares of you stabbing me with it!”
“Wow, you dream about me?” Abhishek chuckled at his own joke. This made her angrier; he threw his hands up in surrender, “Ok! Sorry! I don’t remember what I said, but I can assure you, there’s no such blade.”
Nisha felt foolish shouting at a total stranger – at a party filled with her roommate’s friends no less! She still glared at Abhishek, but her embarrassment was apparent in her eyes. Abhishek smiled kindly – a reassuring doctor’s smile. No, it wasn’t a doctor’s smile, it was something else.
“Look,” he said, “I don’t remember what I said all those years ago. But it wasn’t a blade. I might have been talking about a hollow, round toilet paper roll, I don’t know! Really! I was wondering though, would you give me the chance to erase all those nightmares?” he raised an eyebrow.
Nisha couldn’t believe his gall! “You arehitting on me!”
“I am not,” Abhishek shrugged boyishly, “I am not ‘hitting on you.’ I am asking you if you would be interested in going out for a dinner with me. Then we’ll see what we can do about those nightmares.”