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FF. UNBREAKABLE BONDS Written By : Vinnie R CHAPTER 28 PAGE 9
#31
Nice chapter,

sugni wanted to help her child, she would do anything to get the money and can't blame her, after all a mother would do that, a woman won't but a mother yes.

vikram loves her he won't do this stuff, he will help her anyway. Nice chapter.

looking fw to read the next chapter.
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#32
CHAPTER 10


 Sugni opened her eyes suddenly, startled, for a moment wondering where was she? This bed was not hers, she noted the darkened room. She remembered falling asleep on Vickram's couch...Oh My God..! How did she end up here?. She sat up the drapes were drawn, the room was semi dark, she wondered what time it was.

 Feeling in her pockets, she found her phone six A.M. She slept all night!!! Belatedly she wondered if she was here where Vickram was. Looking on the other side of the bed, she found it empty. She had no idea why she expected to find him there.

As she looked around she spotted him asleep on the sofa, that was at least a foot shorter than his length, that could not be comfortable..

The phone in her hand reminding her of more pressing matters she called Rita.

She answered on the second ring sounding groggy.

"Sugni...are you alright?'

"Yes...I -I am so sorry I fell asleep and just got up." She said that was the truth. "How is she?"

"It's ok...I know you are tired...she is good and was asleep all night. "

"Rita I am sorry to leave you...'

"hey..it's alright Sugni...did you get through?" She asked

"Yes.. I'll tell you later. I'll be there soon.I promise.! " She assured her.

"Ok no rush, but can you bring me a cup of that special coffee you make please?" she asked.

"Of course...Thank you so much Rita you are a God send!" Sugni said gratefully.

"Don't mention it... see you in a bit."

"Yes." She answered. As she ended the call. Sugni looked up to see Vickram stirring, as he too woke up. He looked at her.

"I am sorry!" They both said in unison , then stopped.

"You fell asleep, and I did not want to wake you. I brought you here because the couch isn't that comfortable." He said.

"It's Ok...I am sorry I woke you...and put you out."

"No you did'nt " he said. "I guess you are anxious to go na?" he said. She nodded.

"Ok give me 10 minutes; I'll take you to the hospital." He said.

"Actually I need to go home and change." She said.

'Oh yeah, right, sorry" he said..."Ok I'll take you home then to the hospital..."

"you don't have to go to all that trouble." She said.

"Sugni...it is no trouble...I am going there any way, it only makes sense we go together."

She nodded, as she got off the bed. "I'll wait downstairs..." she said as she made her way to the door.

"hmmm" he answered as he too got up shaking off the remnants of sleep. Sugni had to fight the urge to stop and stare at him she quickly made her way downstairs.

Last night she did not notice much about the apartment; now that she looked, she could see it was simple but elegantly furnished. The Walls were painted a soft green color. There were simple works of art on the walls. The apartment itself was a huge contrast to the Haveli he had in Mawhari that looked like a palace. This apartment was small and simple, not what she imagined him in, but somehow it suited him.

Sugni realized she forgot her phone on the bed after making her call. Oh darn! She went back upstairs as she knocked on the door, no answer. She opened it to find the room empty, but she herd water running. Vickram was still in the shower. Going to the bed she retrieved the phone, and straightened out the bed.

As she turned to leave she notice the room was lighter now, apparently he opened the drapes. Her eye caught sight of the wall as she stood in shock looking at a collage of pictures, all of her, in varying sizes covering the entire wall. "Oh My..." Suddenly it was hard to swallow. As Vickram's words from the other night played in her head:

"Sugni I spent the last six years hoping praying for a miracle, that one day, one day you would find it in your heart to forgive me. What we have together, what we had is something that happens once in a lifetime. From the moment I met you, until now no matter what happens my heart is bound to you forever irrevocably, undeniably, and it always will be."

The sudden silence told her he was finished in the shower, as she quickly retreated down stairs, before he could see her in here. She had no idea how was she supposed to face him. Seeing that further enhance the feeling she had of shame and unworthiness.

"Hey!" she found Vickram who was snapping his fingers in front her face startled her. "You alright?" he asked

"Huh? Y-yeah..." she said in a daze.                                                           

"Sugni...I know you are worried, but don't be. She'll be ok...be brave!" he said. She nodded.

"Let's go..." he said grabbing his keys. Silently she followed him out.

Soon they were out at her house. They entered her apartment. "Oh Nice set." He commented looking at it. He had to hand it to Chan she had good taste.

"I won that! Can you believe it!" She said with a smile.

"Hmm..nice." He replied. Vaguely.

"Have a seat I'll be right back." She said as she went into the kitchen. She came out a few minutes later with a steaming cup of coffee.

"Thakur Mallick...here you go." She said holding out the cup to him. Vickram looked at her. She called him Thakur Mallick. Since he came back in her life, he had been Thakur Saab, something that everyone else called him. Thakur Mallick was reserved to her alone, and with the exception of that night she told him goodbye...he never thought he would hear it again.

"Take it!" She said snapping him out of his thoughts.

"Ah..Thanks...where is yours?" He asked noticing only one cup.

" I'll take it with me...you have it...I'll just go change by the time..." she said . he nodded .

 Fifteen minutes later, they again left her apartment making their way into the hospital.

"Mummy!" Shanti said as her mother walked in the ward with Vickram in tow.

"Hi baby!" She said making her way to her daughter and hugging her. "How did you sleep?"

"Good...! Am I going home today?' She asked, it was a question she asked every morning.

"I don't think so...but soon ok." Sugni answered.  Shanti made a disappointed face. More than anything, she wanted to go home. .

"Look who came to see you!" Sugni said indicating Vickram.

"Uncle Vickram!" Shanti said her face breaking into a bright smile.

"Hello...how are you feeling?"

"Good I want to go home, but they won't let me!" She complained

" You'll be out soon." He answered

"They all say that...when is soon?" She asked

"Soon is soon!' he answered. She laughed. As he took a seat next to her. He noticed the storybook she had at her bedside.

"Hey , you read it...did you like it?" he asked

"Yes...mummy reads it to me every night..." she replied.

"hmmm..." Sugni looked as they struck up a conversation about the book. Struck by how easy her daughter took to Vickram. It took her weeks before she would talk to Rita when they first got here. But from the time Vickram brought her home, she was not shy at all in her interactions with him. Like now, who would think this was actually their third meeting and that too after just a few minutes.

Sugi walked outside the ward to find Rita as hospital policy   stated no more than two visitors on the ward . Rita staring at her with a million questions on her face. Clearly, he was the last person she expected to see this morning. She could literally see all the questions running through her mind.

"Rita ...here is your coffee...thank you so much again." Sugni said handing her the now warm cup.

She pulled her aside in the corridor, and out of earshot. Rita looked at her.

"Forget that, why is he here? What is going on ...? She asked

"Rita...I'll tell you...but not right now please. He is going to help me. I will explain it later I promise. Why  don't you  go  get some rest  hmm?" She said.

"Ok Ok...well I am going . We will definitely talk later!" she said, as she turned to leave.

"Sure" Sugni said. Not a conversation she was looking forward to.

A short while later Sugni and Vickram were sitting in the Doctor's office.

"So Dr. Sha what is the procedure now?" Vickram asked him. He was in his total take control mode asking questions even Sugni did not think of. What were the risk factors, the after care, her life after the surgery, even asking for a second opinion.

Sugni was relieved he was here,, his presence making her feel better in this whole situation.

"Well Mr. Singh we will schedule her surgery in a few days. It is a major procedure but we do have very competent doctors here and I assure you we will do our best. In fact, we have the country's top cardiologist on hand. A few days recovery and she will be released in your care, with detailed instructions on how to take care of her." Dr. Sha assured.

Vickram nodded.. "Alright...thank you Doctor. Just take good care of her. It seems she will be here for a little while more can she get shifted to a more private room" He said as they made their way out of the office. "Cost is no option."

"Of course...right away sir" The doctor said.

"Thakur Mallick all this, she is fine in the general ward." Sugni said.

"Sugni you asked for my help and I will do everything I can. Now she can't be all that comfortable with a bunch   of strangers who are also sick around her. She is already   scared the least we can do is make it a bit comfortable and private where you will be able to rest with her as well. No arguments!" He said when he saw she was going to protest. "Excuse me..." He said, stopped to answer his phone. After he completed the call he turned to her. "Um Sugni why don't you go back to the ward and I'll be back in a while ok...I need to run to the office." He said.

"Oh Ok." She said

"Don't worry it will all be fine. I will be back. "He said as he left, with Sugni staring after him. There was so much she wanted to say to him. Thank you, I am sorry, I love you! However, she could not find the right words.

Watching him walk away had her feeling worse about herself. She was selfishly using him again to save her child's life. Why did this have to be so complicated?

Sugni was at a cross roads, a part of her was saying this is her second chance, he still loved her , he would take her back. They could be happy again. Another part of her told her she lost all the rights to that happiness.

Vickram was always there for her, and still here for her, and all she has ever been was a burden on him. All she ever gave him was grief and unhappiness. What right had she to continue to do that? She had no doubt he would accept her back with open arms. He, however deserved so much more. And now she made it worse as walking away now after everything he was doing for her did not sit well with her.

" Haai Sita miya what should I do??" She asked.

"Maa'am?" A nurse calling her attention brought Sugni out of her musings. How long was she standing here she wondered.

"Yes?"

"If you would come over to the reception area we need you to sign some papers, giving permission for the surgery." She said

"Oh Ok." She said she followed her out to the reception area. Sugni was brought back to reality as she took the pen knowing that now it was literally in god's hands that this operation went successful. Her hands shook, she could not believe she was doing all of this. She stared at the papers trying to gather her strength.

"Ma'am " the nurse said quietly, Sugni looked at her with watery eyes. She smiled softly reassuringly..."It will be all right, she is in good hands. Look pretty soon you will have your little girl back home where she belongs." Sugni nodded. She was right. It was going to be ok ...it had to be.

Sugni signed the papers quickly as she handed it back to the kind looking nurse. "Thank you , you can start gathering her stuff now we will shift her to her room shortly."   She said.
Thanking her   Sugni turned back to her daughter's ward she began walking, effectively forgoing her complicated love life to more important matters. She would think of all that at a later time, right now all she was going to worry about was Shanti and do all she could to make sure she was happy and healthy. That was all that mattered in her life at the moment.




 Vickram walked into his office building with the intention of finishing off the meeting he was supposed to attend to as quickly as possible. He totally forgot about the new client he was supposed to meet, until his secretary called him.

Even though he left to come here, it was the last place he wanted to be. He wanted to be back in that hospital with Sugni. He knew she was scared and alone.

Looking at his watch, he saw that it was 10:A.M. he was late! As he walked into the office, he was met with Adi, Amrita and his secretary.

"Hey ...I thought they were here already?" Vickram asked.

"They just left 5 minutes ago!." Adi said

"What...why did'nt you tell them to wait I was on my way! Did they reschedule?' he asked

"No." Adi said looking over the file in his hands.

"Oh damn it..." Vickram said.

"Relax Mamaji...they signed the contract...we are now the new suppliers of wheat to Bran incorporated for the next year at least!. I told then you were indisposed and I was representing you!" He said handing Vickram the file with the contracts to look over.

"Oh thank you Adi." Vickram said.

"It' ok. Mamaji. I would not let them leave so easily. Although they do know we do produce the best naturally grow wheat crops money can buy. You know what this means right we are going to have to increase productions which means planting more. I will contact Rattu in Mawhari and let them know what we need..." Adi continued. Vickram's wheat exporting business was doing well, and he put his ancestor's lands to good use by planting the crops and harvesting it. Since the lands and conditions were perfect.

His city office was meant to deal with companies and new clients interested buying the products. Since he left Mawhari, the overseeing of the crops was left to Rattu one of his most trusted employees who was Vickram's eyes and ears when he could not be there. In the six years, he was yet to find fault in that arrangement.

Now that the meeting was over Vickram was anxious to return to the hospital "Chan is there anything else important for today?'

"No sir."

"Good I have to leave...call me if you need anything." He said as he got up.

"Mamaji!" Adi called "What's the rush? I mean you left early this morning but did not show up here, you forgot your meeting which is highly unlike you...is something wrong?" he asked.

"Nothing I can't handle Adi. Great Job today you handled it well. I will see you later." He said tapping him on the shoulder, he smiled and left as Adi looked at him in utter confusion.

 

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#33
Nice progress in chapter 10,
good vikram sugni progress, nice meeting with shanti and adi handling the meeting was nice 2 read.
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#34
Chapter 11

Shanti was shifted to a part of the hospital that was much different from the ward. Here each patient had his or her own room, with a bed and a couch. It was much more comfortable than the ward, more private.  The nurse told Sugni that this part of the hospital was reserved for VIP's and paying customers. It was true, she thought, money made things easier she guessed.

After Shanti was settled in her room, they took a walk around the corridors to explore a bit and came back to rest. Sugni did her best to be cheerful in front of her child.

They explained to her that her heart was sick and that she had to be in here. She seemed to have understood a bit. However, she was anxious to get home.

A little after lunchtime a nurse came in to do her vitals get some blood work done for Shanti. This required her drawing the blood with a syringe. In her entire stay here, she was co-operative for the most part, but the sight of the needle sent her into a panic stage as she kicked , screamed ,and yelled and hanged on to her mother for all she was worth.

"Shanti...baby you need to be still it' won't hurt much. . Shhh calm down baby." She said.

"No ..No It hurts and I don't like it...Mummy tells her to go away please..." She pleaded

"Shanti dear...be a brave girl...I'll be gentile I promise...and after...I'll bring you an ice cream how about that." The nurse said, placidly.

"No...that's what they said the last time... no !!!" She said.

The monitor she was hooked up to started beeping more frequently letting them all hear just how scared she was. The nurse looked at it worriedly.

"Please..." Sugni said "She is really scared." Sugni said.

The nurse nodded. " I can see that...but I have to get these to send it to the lab. Can you try to calm her down and I will check back in a few minutes?" She asked. Sugni nodded. The nurse left them alone as Sugni tried her best to calm Shanti down.

"Mummy I want to go home...I don't want to stay here anymore " She cried.

":Shanti...honey listen...you need to calm down ok..."

"No...she is going to come back lets go home please ..." She said getting more agitated.

"Shh Shhh...relax, relax I am here na...nothing will happen ...just relax hmmm..."

The door opened making Shanti jump and hide her face in her mother's bosom, clinging to her thinking it was the nurse back with the needle. She began to cry again

"Hey..."Vickram greeted them smiling. His smile fading as he saw how upset they both were.

"What's wrong?" he asked

Sugni explained about the blood work and her fright. "Oh"... he nodded.

"Can I try?" He asked.

"I don't know if that will help but sure." She said.

Walking to the corner of the room Vickram took one of the metal chairs and placed it at the side of the bed where he sat.

"Hey Shanti...How are you?" he said softly.

She continued to cry paying him no attention.

"Oh you don't want to talk to me..." He sighed disappointedly

"You know I did bring a surprise for you...but if you don't want to see it it's ok... I guess I'll leave," he said.

She still did not respond.

"But what ever will I do with this surprise?...I think I have to find someone else to give it to...hmmm Sugni?" he asked

"Maybe..." She said catching on..."She is to upset..."

"What is it?" Shanti asked softly peeking up at him.

"You want to know?" he asked. She nodded.

"Ok it is in this bag..." He said indicating a shopping bag he had in his hand. She looked at it her eyes lighting with curiosity. .."Now if you want to know what it is you have to sit up , and give me a smile..."

She sat up releasing Sugni as she smiled.

"Hmm Now that is better. He said. "Here you go..." he said handing it to her.

She took it and began opening it eagerly.

"Hey...Shanti...What did you say?" Sugni said, embarrassed.

"Thank you!" She said looking at him.

"You are welcome ... now open it..." he did not have to ask twice.

"Oh My more books...Look mom, WOW..." She said in awe. As she looked at the assortment of books, coloring books story books, puzzles.

"Thakur Mallick you didn't..."

"Please Sugni...I wanted to... it can't be easy for her being coped up in here all day, and since she can't go out and play the least we could do is make sure she is somehow occupied...hmmm..and she does seem to like these books." He said...

"She dose...thank you..." She said. Touched that in such a short time he picked up on Shanti's most favorite thing in the world, books..

Shanti closed the bag as she leaned forward.

"Uncle Vickram?" She said.

"Yes?..." He said she motioned him to come closer. Vickram leaned forward towards her, when she shocked him by putting her little arms around his neck hugging him. "Thank you ! it was the best surprise ever. You are very nice." She said rapidly reminding him somewhat of the old Sugni who would say everything fast. He sat there with his arms at his side as he looked at Sugni who was looking on surprised as well, but saying nothing..

"Ahhh...It's alight...I am glad you liked it." he said awkwardly. He placed his arm around her tiny frame in a one armed hug. After a moment she sat back looking at him. He noticed her face was much brighter now and she seemed to have calmed down to normal.

"So are we friends now?" he asked as he drew his chair a bit closer so he was eye level to her."

She nodded.

"Really?" he said.

"Yes." She answered.

"Well lets shake on it then." He said extending his hand toward her. She giggled as she returned his hand shake . Taking out one of the books from her bag, she started flipping through it admiring the pictures, after a few minutes. Vickram said.

So...Shanti...tell me do you know why you are in here?" he asked

"Hu-Huh...cause my heart is sick." She said still flipping through the pages. "Ohh how pretty!" she said looking brightly colored pictures of the princess.                                      

"Hmm.Hmm'

"I bet you can't wait to get home right?" he said conversationally


"NO...it's taking forever..." She said.
"Oh I bet But you know something Shanti...you can get out of here faster if you want." He said.
That caught her attention from the book.
"How?" She asked. She looked at him, wanting to know.
"Well see the doctors and the nurses are all here to help you. And for them to make you better they need to give you medicine, and other things that you might not like or might look scary but it is the only way they can make you better. Now only if you co -operate with them, and help them, will they be able to do this. You are going to have to be brave even if you are afraid, because if you don't then you will be stuck in here and you don't want that do you?" He asked. She shook her head.
"Do you understand what I am saying?" he asked.
"Yes...I should not fight the nurse?" She said
"He chucked as he nodded.
"No you should not..."
"but it hurts, and the needle makes me scared...I don't like it..." She said her eyes welling up.
Taking her little hand in his he said. " I know it does, but your mum is right here with you And she would never let anything bad happen to you. Even though it hurts a bit, it will be over soon and you will be as good as new...you can go back to school see your friends again...hmmm be that fairy you wanted to be in the play...And that can only happen if you be strong and brave and help. It is ok If you are scared, but know what ever we are doing is to help you...Hmmm" She looked at him then back at her Sugni who was now sitting next to her with her arm on her shoulders.
"Yes baby... we just want you to get better honey. I know it is hard for you...but you have been so good so far ..Just a little bit more please." Sugni said.
"O-Ok...I'll help..." She said after a few minutes of thinking about what they told her.
"That is a brave girl." Vickram smiled.
 The door opened and the nurse came back in with the little silver pan with the needle.. What timing! Shanti looked at her mother, then at Vickram once again beginning to feel scared.
"It is ok...your brave right..." he said as he winked. She shook her head no.
"Uh..would you like to leave for a until I am done." She said to Vickram. She began preparing the needle.
"Sure." He said as he made to get up.
"No!...don't go please." She said holding on to his hand. "Mummy ask him to stay...Please..." she looked at her mother.
":Shannu..."
"Please..."
The nurse looked at them... "it's Ok her dad can stay .! If it will make her comfortable." She said
Sugni and Vickram both looked at her dumbstruck
"He's not her dad"
"I am not her dad" they said together
"Oh! I am sorry, she just seemed so attached to you I assumed." She said Akwardly. "It's alright you can stay." She said kindly. He nodded.
The nurse requested her hand, which Shanti extended reluctantly but without a fight. By the sound of the monitor though they could tell she was still nervous, as she watched the nurse began probing her arm for the appropriate vein.
"Hey!" Vickram said calling her attention to him. "you know there is a magic spell you can use when you get scared , it's a secret but I can tell you."
"What?" she asked.
Vickram leaned forward and whispered something in her ear.
"Hey mummy says that!." She answered
"She dose?...See then it must work." He said, "How about we say it together hmm..."
"Dagad Magard Hatli pakkad jaan jaan ke saamaye!" They chanted slowly.. Sugni's head shot up at that as he stared at him, her eyes began stinging with  tears. He remembered that?
 "Ok shanti need to keep your arm very still ok...don't move it" the nurse said as she tied the band around her arm.
"Here hold my hand..." Vickram said. "You can squeeze it as tight as you want when it hurts too much. " He said.
The nurse stuck the needle in.."Ahh..." She exclaimed
She began to cry as she squeezed his hand as tight as she could. " Shh.It's alright you are a brave girl right... come on say it with me..." He said as she did haltingly.
"All finished..." the nurse said a as she dressed the area. "Thank you Shanti...you were a very brave girl" She said as she patted her head. " I will bring you your ice cream ok" She said as she left.
"Wow ice cream!" Vickram said. "See I knew you were that brave" he said as she looked at him blinking her eyes to stop crying..
"I was not too scared." She said, as Sugni wiped her eyes. "Only a little bit."
"It's alright to be scared ...we all get scared...but what makes us brave is when we do something even if we are scared. And that is what you did..." He said to her. "It's what I wish I did once..." he said as he looked at Sugni. She looked at him as they stared at each other over the top of Shanti's head, the profound meaning of that statement hitting her.
"You got scared?" Shanti asked. Breaking the moment.
"Yes...Yes I did" He said.
"How come...?" She asked.
"Shannu!...you can't ask him that..." She said suddenly the room felt awkward
"It's alright..." he said. " "See I was not as brave as you, when I got scared instead of doing the right thing like you did, I didn't .Because of that I lost something that is very important to me."
"That is sad." She said
"Yes it is...but you did not do that...you were very brave" he said.
" Now I think you had enough excitement...why don't you lie down and get some rest hmmm" he said.
"Yes Shannu!" Sugni said coming off the bed and making her lie down.
"Uncle Vickram?" She asked him
"Yes"
"Will you read me a story?" She asked
"Sure I will." He said as he opened the book and began reading to her.
After Shanti fell asleep Vickram closed to book, as he looked at Sugni who was sitting at the corner of the room staring at them.
"I am sorry," She said
"For what?" he asked.
"if she made you uncomfortable. She is normally very shy around new people, I don't know.. she seems to like you" She said.
"it Ok ...not at all ..she is a very precious little girl." He answered.
"Yes she is. Thakur Mallick I don't know how to thank you...you've done so much ...if it wasn't for ..." She began
"Hey...no ...Please don't Sugni..." He said getting up and going to where she was seated on the couch. Placing his chair next to the couch, he sat.
"Sugni don't...you don't need to thank me, nor do you owe me anything. I helped you because I had to...and it is not because I want anything in return." He said. The reminder of her earlier behavior stung a bit.
"Thakkur Mallick...I:" she began...
" Sugni wait...I know what you are thinking..." he said cutting her off.
"You do?" she asked, even she did not know what she was thinking. Except she loved him it was impossible not to.
"Yes...and please don't think like that. I know you are feeling as though I did you a big favor, maybe indebted to me. And think that you owe me and should somehow repay me. I know you are under a lot of stress right now, and I am not going to put any more on you. I know times like this people say things and do things and then realize after they did not mean it." He said , as she looked at him confused.
 He knew she was probably going to say she was going to give him another chance, but what he wanted was her love, not her feeling she had to just because she thinks she owes him big. Unless she really forgave him and genuinely felt that way, he did not want it.Sugni came to him because she felt she had no choice, he still could not forget she was willing to sacrifice her body for this. And now she is probably in the process of convincing herself to accept him in exchange. He wanted her love, her heart, her happiness. He did not want her living with a man she thinks trampled on her heart and that she secretly hates.
 "You already told me how you feel, and I know that I overstepped somewhat and said things I should not have. You wanted me to respect your wishes and I will. I am going to leave you to live your life together with your child the way you want it, peaceful and happy, so please don't taint that by feeling you have to accept me. I told you I am always here if you need me and I mean it. "
Sugni looked at him not sure how to respond to that.
"I just have one request...if you will..." he said
"What?" She asked
 "Can I visit until the operation is successful and she is well enough to leave? I just want to make sure it all works out fine."
"Of course...you don't have to ask..." She said.
"Thank you."
"It's getting late...I better go...I'll see you tomorrow." He said.
"OK..." she nodded.
After Vickram left Sugni sat for a long time pondering his words. He was going to walk out of her life again after her daughter was well. Respect her wishes. He wanted nothing in return. She loved him but now she was afraid. If she told him he would think she was just compromising herself all because of her foolish actions. However, when he walked away after Shanti was discharged, she might never see him again.This was truly the end. Wrapping her arms around herself, she let the tears fall, as her heart broke to pieces again.
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#35
Shanti n vikram bond is so nice, she is shy to strangers but with vikram, it feels like they are not strangers at all. so that is beautifully written.

Sugni does want him back but his decision is also right, what if it is a result of his helping hand for her? so yea

lets see what happens next.
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#36
CHAPTER 12

"WOW it took me forever to find here! Nice!" Rita said as she came into the room that evening. As she she placed the small bag she brought with her on the bedside, as she always did bringing Sugni something to eat.

"Oh she is sleeping." She said watching Shanti for a moment softly.

"Yes she had a long day; I guess she was tired out." Sugni said.

"So what's going on?" Rita asked coming to sit next to her.

"Her surgery is in a few days. "

"Thank God. You must be really relieved now." She said.

"I will be only when the doctor says she is healthy again. But yes I am so thankful it is happening now!' she said.

Rita nodded.

"So? What's the deal with you and Mr. Vickram. What's going on with you two Sugni..."

"Nothing now..." Sugni sighed. Rita has been a rock to her through this time, and Sugni knew she owed her. She never talked about her past with any one since leaving Mawhari. Taking a breath Sugni looked at her.

"But at one time we were about to get married." She said. Rita looked at her wide eyed.

"Huh?...you mean he is Shanti's...?" she said looking at the child.

"No ..no he is not." She said noting her confusion. Sugni said.

"I come from a small village called Mawhari... a village of bedni's Thakurs and the ancient practice of raai and Sardakhi..." She began as she told Rita about her life before Shanti, how she met Vickram how they fell in love broke up her Sardakhi and how she got Shanti.

After she finished her story Rita was staring at her in disbelief.

"Hmm...and you meet him again after so many years, that is just...fate. This is really an amazing love story If I ever heard one. You really are lucky." Rita said smiling..

"No...there is no love story, Rita...after she gets better he will go on his way, he said it." Sugni told her.

"What...what do you mean?...You just told me he doing all of this, he loves you...and now he is going to walk away...and you are going to let him. WHY?" She asked looking at Sugni as if she lost her mind.

"It's for the best, what else can I do...!'

"STOP him...Sugni I don't understand this? Is it that you don't love him? Is it you are still hurt and holding it against him?. Look around you Sugni...after everything he has done for you, and what you just told me. it seems to me that he made a mistake yes, but I don't think the reason was because he wanted to hurt you. People in love sometimes dose crazy things. Life is throwing a second chance at you and you don't want to take it?" She asked.

"No Rita, I don't know why he did not tell me , but I don't think it was to hurt me , or because I was just some conquest. I think I realized that after my Sardhaki. Last night when I went to him, he didn't hesitate , not even after..." She wanted to forget her embarrassing proposition. "And he always did that, no matter what I asked of him always he was always there." She said, as tears spilled from her eyes. "He dose love me." She said sadly.

"So what is the problem?" She asked

"The problem is Rita I don't deserve it. Ever since we met, he has always been fighting with every one, his family, my family, the community, always in front of me like some sort of shield. He faced taunts, curses, hatred , bad name all because he refuse to treat me and show me as a bedni. What did I give him in return?, nothing! I even I joined in in humiliating him when I said I would go to the one who bid one cent more than him. I am not worth it, Rita. I feel ashamed of myself. He deserves much more than me, someone who he won't have to defend, someone who he can be proud of. With no trouble. He's had enough." She said. "What do I have to give him except more of it...His family never accepted me then, how do you think they would react to Shanti. No ..." She shook her head.

Rita looked at her for a few moments . then very seriously said. "Do you believe the crap that is coming out of your mouth? Because I sure as hell don't!?"

"What?" Sugni said shocked by her reaction and tone.

"Why don't you just say it Sugni , you are a selfish coward, cause that is what you are sounding like right about now.!" She said.

 Sugni stared at her.

"Tell me something Sugni ...six years you've been apart from him right?"

"Yes."

"That is a long time, where is he today ?is he married , does he have kids? Is he living it up?"

"No he is not. " She said. Not from what she has seen.

"And the moment you were in trouble he is here, even though you told him to get lost! He is helping you treat a child that is not his. Clearly, Sugni if he wanted to move on, and start over he could have. If he has not done so yet , I don't think he will any time soon."

She sighed. "What are you afraid of people and what they would say, who cares? Everyone deserves a second chance, so dose he and you. Maybe you did not understood what he meant then, but you do now. Look at her," she said pointing to Shanti " this is a tough world, especially for a single mother you have a man who is willing to accept her and you. She needs a father, and doing this alone is no easy task. "

"Isn't that being selfish...?" she asked

"Maybe part of it is, no more that you asking him to help hmm. You say you have nothing to offer...answer me this, Do you love him Sugni despite everything that happened do you still feel the same way about him."

Sugni nodded. "Yes I do."

"And that is what you can give him, you can be there for him, you can love him, you can give do everything to make him happy. You know there is not a day in the last two years that I don't wish my husband and child were here. That I could see them Hug them cherish them. You are getting that chance and if you waist it by some feeling of unnecessary guilt or because you think you do not deserve it...that is just stupid.' She said frankly.

Sugni looked at Rita. She was right, if she let him go now she would have no one to blame but herself. Slowly her hopes began rising. She nodded.

"You're right"

" I know I am ." She laughed, "Seriously though...don't lose it."
"But Rita what if I already have I mean I messed it up, and now he thinks if I accept him if is only because I think I owe him. He won't believe me, especially not after the fool I made of myself last night"


"What do you mean?" She asked

"Well I went over to his house a-a-nd I "Sugni looked down at her lap as she recalled her indecent proposal. "I sort of told him I would do anything for his help..." She said giving her a knowing look.

"You did not!" Rita said. "Ohh Sugni...!"

"Ok Ok ...all is not lost..." Rita said thinking... She was quite for a few moments. "Well there is only one option. " She said finally

"What?" She asked

"Convince him...you have to convince him that you really do love him and that you are not just doing it out of indebtedness."

"But how he won't believe me now..." she said worriedly.

"Oh he would ...Sugni you just said that he loves you right...well this is your chance to do something to convince him that you feel the same way to. It does not matter what he says, I do not think you will have much of a fight. All he needs is assurance that this is what you want from your heart. Once he sees that he will agree. "

Really?"

"Yes!"

Sugni leaned forward and hugged Rita.

"Thank you so much Rita, you really are a great friend."

"You are welcome, honey.. And you can thank me later when you tell me that you are back with him." She smiled. The ties of friendship grew stronger with this conversation. Sugni now had one other person other than Vickram she could call her true friend.

"Well I better get going. I will be back tomorrow. You take care Ok...don't worry it will all work out" she said smiling.

 Sugni spent the rest of the night pondering over Rita's words. Despite the gloomy situation, she was in somewhere, deep in her heart the light of hope began to ignite softly. Tomorrow looked much brighter, her child was on the way to getting better, and maybe just maybe she could get a fresh start with her Thakur Mallick.

"Four and two? Hmmm seven?" he said as he pretended to think hard about it.

"No..." Shanti laughed "six! I win again," She said

Six? You sure?" He said.

"Yes ...see" She put u both hands one upholding two fingers and the other four see six!" She said as she counted.

"Ohh you are good at this...very smart!" he said.

Sugni smiled as she looked on at the game Vickram and Shanti was playing. He was so patient with her and for some reason beyond her understanding, Shanti treated him as though he was a long lost friend. As soon as he walked in the room , she told him all about her day as he listened indulgently , she then insisted that he play a game of sorts, where he came up with the counting game, and let her win all of them, by deliberately " guessing" the wrong answers.

He was really a natural with her. Sugni hardly got a word in to him except when he asked her about Shanti's health and about what the doctor said. She had a feeling he was trying his best to be neutral here, but she could see in his eyes on an occasion where he would look at her he was not as neutral as he was trying to let off. That gave her hope.

It also looked like Rita was right if she wanted a chance with him this time she had to be the one to make the move and convince him. How was she going to do that she had no idea. Vickram was always the one who was better at these things at expressing himself, all she was a fumbling fool especially when it came to him.

Well maybe she would think about it later tonight, she thought. She knew she was procrastinating, but she was sure a few hours alone at home would give her a way to approach this. Sugni got up and started gathering some clothes into her bag. Her movement caught Shanti's attention.

"What are you doing mummy? Are you going ?" She said. She knew whenever her mother started packing her clothes it was because she was leaving.

"Yes baby, you need some clean clothes and so do I" She said.

"You're going now?" she asked worriedly.

"No No..Rita Aunty is coming she will stay with you until I get back alright."

"O.K" She said. "but you will be back to read me my bed time story?"

"I'll try my best." She said.

 She could feel Vickram's eyes as they followed her around the tiny room as she painstakingly concentrated on her task.

"Uncle Vickram?" Shanti said.

"huh?" Vickram said looking at her.

"Wanna help me color?" She asked.

"Sure" he said , reaching for the plastic bag with the books and supplies he got her. He picked it up from the wrong end causing the contents to spill to the floor. Sugni and Vickram bent to gather the books , both reaching for the box of color pencils at the same time, grabbing onto the others hand instead of the box. Sugni's breath caught at the unexpected contact she lifted her head to find him looking at her as her eyes made contact with his. For a short moment it felt as though time has stood still as they stared at each other.

 "Sorry" he whispered letting go of her hand and picking up the box of colors.

"it's ok." She said as she got up and replaced the rest of the books in the bag. The sensation of her hand tingling still lingering..

 Vickram turned back to Shanti as they found a picture from the book to color, Sugni continued to pack the bag. The atmosphere in the room had a tenseness about it, both of them acutely aware of the others presence. The spell was broken by the arrival of Rita.

"Hey Rita!" Sugni said as she went up to her and hugged her. Rita returned the hug them pulled back and looked at Sugni; she looked at Vickram and silently asks if any progress was made. Sugni shook her head no. Rita rolled her eyes giving Sugni an exasperated look effectively saying without words "get on with it already."

"Hey Shanti... hello Mr. Vickram...Sorry I did not get a chance to talk to you yesterday." Rita said as he walked over to the bed.

"Hello, that is ok."

"Thank you for all that you are doing for this precious girl." She said as she caressed shanti's head.

"Oh please no need. I just want her to be well again," he said.

"Well she is on her way there!" Rita smiled.

Vickram looked at his watch noting the time.

"Well Shanti...I think I am going to leave you hmmm so you and Rita aunty can catch up." He said.

"Ohh don't go. Mummy is leaving to." She protested.

"I'll be back tomorrow, promise but visiting hours are over...and my mummy is waiting for me." He said.

Shanti pouted.

"Oh come on, be a good girl smile you want me to come back tomorrow?"

She nodded. "Well?" he said

She looked up at him as she smiled. She Sat up and gave him a hug which he returned more easily this time.

"That is better. Get some rest. Bye bye.' He said as he turned towards the door.

"Sugni "

"yeah?" She said looking at him. "I can drop you home if you like." He said.

"Ummm Well..." She said...

"OF course...that would be perfect with all the bags. Hmm? Sugni that is great! " Rita jumped in giving Sugni a loo k that said go.

"Ok ..can you give me a few minutes." She said.

"Sure"


 Sugni gathered her bag and wished her daughter farewell, with hugs and kisses, promising to be back soon.

Before she could leave however Rita , took her out of earshot of Vickram. "Listen this is your chance, make the most of it. Don't worry about Shanti I am here with her everything will be fine. There is no need to hurry back. ! " She said.

"Rita!" Sugni said.

"Hey you are working against time here, if the surgery gets done and she is home, it will be more difficult. So you don't have time to dilly dally. Ok go go!" She smiled as she shooed her out.

Sugni walked out staring at Rita, who was looking at her as though she was that child being sent off to face the world by her mama!. She had to smile at Rita's tenacity.

"is everything alright?" Vickram asked as they walked down the corridor towards the elevators'

"HuH !? Yeah." She said "Why?"

"Nothing, She just seemed a bit worried about something is all?" he said.

"Oh no she is ok. She was just telling me I don't have to hurry back"

" Ohh that is sweet of her."

"Yes...she has been a great friend and support to us." Sugni said fondly.

The ride home was spent in silence, both lost in their own thoughts. Soon she was home and she did not realize it. "Would you like to come in?" She asked

"No...I need to go home, mother will be waiting for me" he said.

"Ok..." She said. She could here Rita in her head urging her to do something but she had no idea what.

"I'll come back in a few hours to take you to the hospital if you don't mind." He offered.

"Sure...I mean if it is not too much trouble." She said

"Not at all...Well I'll see you in a few hours?"

"ok"

Sugni stepped out the car and watched as he drove away. Now what?
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#37
So finally I have read this chapter,
finally someone giving sugni some "gyan" letting her understand that vikram is her love n she got 2nd chance, A bit slow chapter but okay maybe a slow way was needed.
looking fw 2 read the next chapter.
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#38
Chapter 13

Sugni went inside and started her laundry, as she looked for a fresh blanket and some clean clothes for Shanti. She straightened up her apartment for a while until she began to feel hungry.. Since she skipped dinner, she decided to see what it had to eat.

For the past week Rita had been the one doing the cooking, for Sugni as well as herself since Sugni was not at home much. So naturally, her fridge was empty. Deciding she would have to make do with coffee, until she could get the canteen and the vending machine at the hospital Sugni pot of coffee to brew.

The knock on the door came indicating Vickram was back. Sugni answered the door.

"Hey!" She said

"Hi...Am I early?" he asked. He had been gone for two hours.

"Not at all the laundry is done. I just need to grab quick shower and I'll be set." She said as he came in sitting in the living room.

He placed a small bag on the center table.

"This is for you." He said indicating the bag.

"Me? What is it?" she asked looking at the bag.

"Dinner. I know you are hardly at home and I was not sure if you had anything on hand." He said

Sugni stared at him. Speechless it was as though he read her mind. He always did know her better than she knew herself.

"I am sorry" he said when she did not respond. "I just figured you did not eat!."

"No No...Thakur Mallick Thank you, you were right...and I am hungry!...excuse me." She said as she went into the kitchen and brought two cups of coffee and some plates. She handed him one of the cups then began dishing out the food.

"Oh Sugni I already had dinner at home." He said before she could dish out the second plate.

"Oh."She said a bit disappointed.

"You go ahead...I'll have the coffee." He said.

"Sure?" She asked..."This is way more than I can eat." She said.

"I am sure. You can leave the rest in the fridge. It'll keep." He said

Ok." She said as she sat and began on her meal.

The meal was finished in silence as they were both lost in their own thoughts, there was so much she wanted to say to him but she had no idea how to start, least he think worse of her again.

Afterward Sugni got up and cleared away the dirty dishes and placed the left overs in the refrigerator. "I'll be right back Just let me change". She said.

"Take your time" He said .

What are you doing Vickram? He asked himself after she went to get dressed. Why did he offer to come pick her back up.? Like a drug addict, he kept coming back for more even though he resolved to stay away from her after this was over. He should be putting distance between them, but he could not.

 Vickram wandered the room looking at the few pictures she had of her and her daughter. They were both beautiful, and the more he was around Shanti he could see she was a lot like her mother. He could not help but enjoy her company. He could see that Sugni was doing a good job in raising the child. She was polite, smart, respectful and good-natured child.

Oh how he wished he were the one to share this with her, a bond of a child, a life together. He thought sadly, there was so much he wanted to do with her, for her and none of it happened. Life really was cruel sometimes.

Sugni came out of the bedroom with her bag in tow. She looked at Vickram who had his back to her apparently staring at her picture. This was her chance. They were here alone. Sugni could not remember the last time she felt this nervous. How do you start a conversation like this? She opened her mouth to say something but shut it again having no idea where to start.

"Sugni?" Vickram said taking her out of her thoughts. "Ready?" he asked

"Umm..ye..yeah..." she said as she stepped forward, flustered. For some reason she was shaking. She walked over to the shelf where she kept her house keys, Vickram was standing right there , as she reached for it Vickram turned to step aside when his hand accidently tipped over a vase to close to the edge as it came crashing down to the floor, shattering into pieces.

"Oh I am so sorry..." He said,

"It's ok Thakur Mallick..." Sugni said as she bent to start clearing the shards of glass.

"Careful!" Vickram said. "Where is your scoop?" he asked

"It's Ok I'll take care of it!" She said as she got up. She turned to make her way to the kitchen; she returned with the boom and scoop and cleaned up the pieces.

"I guess we should go now." Vickram said when she returned.

"Hmm" She said. She grabbed the keys and began following him out.

"Ouch!" She exclaimed, as her bare foot met a hidden piece of glass from the broken vase. "Oye Maaa! " She said.

"Sugni!" Vickram turned as she exclaimed.

"What happened?"

"I got stuck by a broken piece of glass," She said. Hopping to the chair where she sat.

"Let me see..." Vickram said as he knelt in front of her. Taking her foot he saw that indeed there was a fairly large piece of glass embedded in her foot"

"Oh Lord! " He gently pulled it out.

"OW!" She said

"Sorry...you have a first aid box?" he asked.

"I'll get it" She said as she made to get up.

"Stay...where is it? ...I'll get it." She pointed to a shelf in the corner.

Retrieving the box Vickram came back as sat on the floor and began to tend to her foot.

"Thakur Mallick I can..."

"Shh..sit!..." He said as he applied the antiseptic to the area. "I always told you don't run around barefooted, but you never listen do you, see..."

"It's comfortable! "she said.,

"hmm it's comfortable... having glass stuck in your foot is very comfortable I am sure."He retorted.

"hey I was not the one who knocked it over!" She said. "Ahhh!' She said as the liquid began to sting.'

"Easy ..Easy.., shhh its comfortable..!" he grumbled under his breath.

Sugni stayed quite as she looked at him, she had to fight the urge to giggle. How easy it was falling into that old banter pattern they both shared once, without either of them even realizing it.

"There all done...but stay off it for a while!" he said as he closed the box.

Vickram turned to look up at her she was staring at him with a slight smile on her face.

Thank you!" she whispered.

"Welcome!" He said softly as he looked at her. Their eyes connected as they stared at each other for moment, each lost in the other, and slowly as though pulled together by some invisible force they both leaned forward as their heads coming together, as their lips met in a kiss that was as natural as breathing.

 Vickram wrapped his arms around her neck as he deepened the kiss, as she returned the gesture running her finger though his hair. It was a kiss filled with passion, longing, and love. Everything that words failed to express was said at that moment.

The beeping of Sugni's phone broke the moment, as Vickram's brain kicked in. What was he doing?

"Sugni I am so...sor..." He bagan as he moved to back away.

"Shhh! ": She said placing her fingers on his lips; her other hand still around his neck unable to let go. Not that he put up much of a fight to move. Her eyes was closed as she said... " love you." She finally said a silent tear running down her cheek, "I love you !" Finally she said it, after all the contemplating she was doing on how to say it, it was now out. A part of her was relieved, but another part of her was scared of his reaction.

Vickram looked at her, her eyes were closed those were words he dreamt of hearing for six years now. Words he said he would give anything to hear again. But no, he did not want words that were compelled or forced. He knew she was running on some sort of emotional trip right now, and when it was over a she would go back to hating him. He did not want that.

"No Sugni! You.. Don't do this...I should not have done that...I...I..." He stood up turning away from her...

Sugni held on to his hand before he could walk away.. He stopped but did not face her.

"Thakur Mallick ...Please...I do mean it...I swear..." She said

Do you?" he said as he finally looked back.

Sugni bent her head as she nodded. "Yes I do."

"No Sugni, you probably think you do but you don't. All of this is just your emotional stress talking..." He said. She shook her head.

"Sugni...look at you, you can't even look at me. No Sugni...this is not what you want and I don't want to be a compromise for you. I can't do that." He said. As the words came out of his mouth , a part of Vickram was asking him if he was crazy! He could finally get what he wanted. In the end though he knew if he looked at her and saw her unhappy being with him well that would be worse than if they were separated.

Sugni looked at him. Wondering what she could say or do to convince him she meant it. Gingerly she stood up in front of him. 


"Don't stand!" Vickram said she ignored him.

"You are right! I can't look at you." She said. "Because when I do, I am reminded of how unfair I have been towards you, of all the mistakes I made. I know I am not worthy of your love. I can't look at you because I am ashamed of myself." She said as she stared at the front of his shirt, her tears falling as she said what she was feeling . "Thakur Mallick you tried everything to stop me, but I did not listen. You always saw more in me than I saw in myself. I know I am probably all wrong here again for saying this, but I also know that I don't want you to go away..." She finally looked up at him as he was staring at her, as she looked into his face, "I don't know how else to say it that would convince you that I mean it with everything in me except..." She looked towards the shelf where she had pictures of Shanti and looked back at him. "I swear on Shanti that if I loved any one it is you, it has always been you and it always will be." She stood there quite, there was nothing more to say now. If he did not believe her, she had no idea what would make him.

"Oh Sugni!!!" Vickram said as he gave into her words and his heart. He enveloped her in a hug. " I love you so much" He said his own voice cracking with emotion.

"I am sorry" She said hugging him.

"I am sorry to!" he said . They stayed there just holding each other for a few minutes. He took a seat on the couch as he remembered her foot. They sat facing each other as he wiped her tears, shaking his head silently telling her not to cry.

Unable to stay apart from each other she hugged him again.

 "I missed you so much " he said

"I missed you too!" she replied.

Sugni noticed the blinking of her phone and remembered she got a message a few minutes ago. Taking the phone, she checked the message. It was from Rita hoping everything was going well and informing her that Shanti was asleep after receiving her medication.

"Everything OK?" he asked after she read it.

"Yeah, it's just Rita saying she is asleep." She told him.

"Hmm...we should go and relieve Rita." Vickram said.

Yeah." She said getting up .

Vickram picked up the bag as Sugni locked up the apartment and made her way out to the car. Reaching over he took her hands in his as he drove to the hospital. He looked at her as he smiled slightly.

It began to sink in that they were back together, in each other's lives. Sugni knew there was a lot for them to talk about and resolve but for now she just wanted to savior this moment. They would deal with the rest as it came.

They made the drive in silence just enjoying the others company, for once not feeling awkward or uneasy with each other. They got to the hospital , where Rita was reading a magazine as they walked in. 
She looked at them, Sugni knew trying to figure out if they made any progress in their situation.


"You are back already...I told you you did not have to rush." She said to Sugni.

"I did not...besides I did not want to keep you long." She said.

"Hmmm. Ok Well I'll leave you then." She said. "Good night"

"Good night!" they said as she walked out.

"Is she always that busy?' Vickram asked as he noted the speed with which she made her exit. She was weird that was for sure.

 Sugni smiled, as she walked over to check on Shanti. She was sound asleep.

"No...she is just trying to give us time alone." She said.

"Really?" he said.

She nodded. "She knows about us, in fact she said I would be crazy if I let you go." She explained.

"She did...hmm smart woman." He said taking a seat on the couch. Sugni joined him. Reaching over he took her hand in his again, just to reassure himself she was actually there with him and this was not some dream.

"You should get some rest," He said

"Hmmm I will. Will you stay for a while?" she asked not wanting him to leave yet.

"Of course ." He said as he settled more comfortably on the couch.

Sugni leaned back as she rested her head on his shoulder; he placed his arm around her as she sighed. She closed her eyes for the first time in a long time she felt complete.

 
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#39
Very nice chapter
I enjoyed reading it, finally sugni n vikram story is progressing, yea it is not easy to be the 1st to start but when it happened, it happened naturally.
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#40
CHAPTER 14


The hospital room was quite except for the beeping of the heart monitor. Both Sugni and Vickram were sitting quietly her head resting on his shoulder.

"Thank you!" she said softly.

"For what?" He asked.

"Everything...but for staying. I know you probably have other things to do," She said.

"Not really...my evenings are mostly spent at home staring at the walls." He said.

That reminded Sugni of the collage she saw in his room of her. She still could not believe he did that. Sugni straightened as she looked at him. Again, she wondered how she blessed with this man in her life.

"What?" He asked looking at her.

"I - I don't deserve you." She said her eyes welling up. " I really don't . I misjudged you so much and yet you still.. I am sorry." She bent her head feeling so small in front of him.

"Hey ...no! Sugni... don't..." He said raising her head to look at him. "Don't say that. Whatever happened Sugni it was my fault. If I had not been so stupid...I was the one that pushed you in that direction...

"Shhh...please no!" She said cutting him off. "Don't go blaming yourself, please Thakur Mallick. I know now, that whatever did happened it was not because you wanted to hurt me. I realize that now, in fact I realized it the day you came looking for me afterward..." She said...As rested her head on his chest...
 Sugni remembered it was the next day after her Sardakhi, she was sitting upstairs in a room in Vijay Singh's haveli curled up feeling horrible and disgusted about herself and what happened the night before. She felt sick. Part of her was cursing herself for not listening to Vickram when he told her not to do this.

This was not what she wanted. Another part of her was saying so what? He is back there with his wife, he is just upset because Vijay won the bidding instead of him. All his false concern was for nothing.' But she showed him...somehow she could not find satisfaction in that.

 She looked into the mirror as she passed her hands over the marks on her arms that were turning blue, images of what transpired here last night flashing though her head.

A commotion downstairs caught her attention as Sugni herd Vickram's distinctive voice calling her name.. First, she thought she was dreaming but no he was really calling her name...

Getting up she came to the corridor where she had a view of the hall downstairs. Standing behind a pillar so she was hidden, she looked on, as Vijay made his way downstairs.

"What are you doing here at this God Forsaken hour Thakur Saab!." Vijay asked.

"Where is she?" Vickram asked.

"Who?" vijay said .

"Sugni...?"

"Tut tut tut! Where are your manners Thakur saab." Vijay said.

"You come into my house unannounced, walk in here and now instead of showing me the proper respect t you are enquiring about MY BEDNI... have some class man... wait your turn... when I've had my fill you can have her back!" he said

VIJAY SINGH..."

"AH AH AH ...Thakur Saab.. Lower your voice. This is my house not yours...What is your problem? I won her fair and square ...she came with me...She is mine. Although. I will say you are a real fool to have such a willing thing and not go for it...What's the matter ...are you having problems in that department...hmmm is that it I mean you wife did leave " He said eyeing Vickram insultingly.

Vickram stepped forward about to hit him ... "You would not dear touch me in my house you won't be so foolish...unless you want to return home in a coffin. Now tell me why you are here?" he asked firmly.

Where is Sugni? I want to see her..." Vickram said.

"I am afraid that is not possible! She had a long night. She is resting." Vijay replied. "As I said wait your turn.'

"Vijay...let her go...Sugni is not one of them...this is between you and me...leave her out of it. She does not want this ." Vickram Said.

"Excuse me? Are you mad? I did not show up there unannounced...She was the one who proclaimed she wanted to do her Sardakhi, You are telling me she did not want this? Come on man...get a grip...you are making a fool of yourself for a Bedni who clearly does not want you! Now do yourself a favor get out!'

"Not without seeing her." Vickram said.

Sugni looked on as Vickram asked to see her. For the first time since the incident happened listening to him, Vickram she knew was a proud man, he was not one to bow down to anyone .  A Thakur would never go to another one to ask for anything, yet here he was looking disheveled; perhaps there was more to the story, she began to think.

She turned to go downstairs but stopped as she caught sight of herself in the mirror. She was not the same as she was before. She was no longer his. It was over. He had a wife and she well she was now some one else's property. Sugni went into her room where she lay on the bed crying. She made a decision and she had to stick by it.

Soon it got quite. He was gone the door to her room opened and Vijay came in..

"Ohh I did not think this would be so much fun...Seeing Vickram Singh like that feels so good!" He laughed

"All thanks to you! " He said as he pulled her up to sit.  Sugni cringed away but he tightened the grip on her arm. "You know what he said? He said that If I hurt you...he'd kill me...I'd like to see him try..." He laughed menacingly as shoved her back on the bed...
Sugni shuddered at the memory.

"cold?" He asked, wrapping his arms around her.

"No... I'm fine." She answered. Thank God, those days were behind her. There was something she needed to know though.

"Thakur Mallick..." She said.

"Hmm..."

"Why didn't you tell me about your marriage? Didn't you trust me?" She asked.  She heard him sigh.  She waited. Vickram made to move his arms but she stopped him.

"Stay..." She said she lifted her hand resting it on his shoulder. Silently telling him it was not an accusation any more but a curiosity. What went wrong?

 "Why didn't you tell me about her?" She asked.

Because I forgot...Until my mother reminded me one day..."

"What?. How can you forget you had a wife?" she asked sitting up looking at him. Vickram looked at her, her expression was one of confused disbelief.  Maybe he should start this from the beginning...

"Reva and I had an arranged marriage..." he began. " We were married for about a year before she left. But in that year we hardly saw each other...she had her friends, I was working. She loved the glamor world molding, acting, the nightlife. Someone told her she had the potential to be a top model. And it was what she wanted. " he recalled.

I told her my family was a bit conservative and would not allow that...late nights out away from home weeks at a time. We argued a lot about it, because she thought I would change my mind. Then one day she left, with a note saying she was going to pursue her dream. She was gone...years passed and no sign of her. five years had  passed by  the time I came  back to Mawhari. I met you...I swear Sugni in all the time we were together I did not even think about her . I had been alone for so long I did forget. Then one day my mother and I got into an argument about us, and she asked me what I was doing with you...I told her I was going to marry you. She reminded me then I already had a wife..." He said. "It was a shock realizing it...but I was sure I was going to marry you. So contacted my lawyer who said I could get a divorce on grounds of desertion / abandonment. I told him to handle it. I was going to tell you but before I could, you came to me that day scared and crying ...
Sugni ran into to haveli, barefooted ...

"Thakur Mallick!!!..Thakur Mallick!!!" She cried

"Sugni?" Vickram came down the steps looking at her in alarm. She was very upset. Before he could ask what was wrong she ran to him as she hugged him crying.

"Calm down what is wrong?" he asked.

"I don't want to do it...they are going to make me do it...Thakur Mallick I don't want to please..." She said

"What?" he asked before she could answer her uncle walked into the foyer...

"Sugni...What are you doing here... come on let's go!" he said as he came up to them. Vickram raised his hand to stop him.

"Hukum!? What are you doing?" He asked As Sugni moved to stand behind him her hand was still clinging to his shirt.

"What am I doing? What are you doing Thakur Saab?"  He said boldly causing Vickram to do a double take at his tone. Where was all this braveness coming from all of a sudden?. Vickram noticed then the three Thakurs that walked in behind Hukum standing by the doorway like an army.

"What is going on here?" he asked.

Sugni's Sardakhi is what is going on!" Hukum said.  "Sugni come on let's go home. Enough of this foolishness!" he said as he moved to hold her.

"Stop it.! " Vickram said. "Sugni is not doing her Sardakhi!'

"Aare Wah!" Hukum Said. "Very good Thakur Saab...you know for the past few months I have been patiently waiting for you to make an offer for Sugni...but you have not. Instead,...I don't know what is going on here...but suddenly she does not want to go out and dance, she is refusing offers...and all because of what you have been putting into her head. This is Mawhari...we make our living by these girls doing their Sardakhi. I have had enough of it. Sugni I have three very good offers for you and you will take one of them now!."

"Hukum!!"

"Vickram Thakur..." One of the other Thakurs stepped forward. "Why are you being so difficult? She is of age...if you do not want her then step aside and if not join us and make an offer. You have no right to stop her...You know these bedni's are just here to entertain us nothing more...being that invested in one is not becoming of a Thakur as yourself..."

"Thakur Pratarp mind your own business Sugni is not for sale..." He said.

"I am minding my own business... and it is for Sugni's uncle to decide. Which he has..."  Thakur Partap said angrily...

"You do it...please you do it..." She said softly behind him so only he heard her. Vickram turned to look at her. He could tell that she was scared, this was serious as it was obvious Hukum was about to make the choice if she did not.

"I don't want to go with them...you do it." She pleaded crying

"Sugni? What...no!" he said.

"Why? You said you loved me." She said confused.

"Yes I do..."

"Then? I don't want to go with them...you do it!"

Vickram took her hand in his as he stepped forward with her at his side.  He looked at every one standing in his foyer watching them. He looked over at Sugni who was standing with her head bent looking at the floor.

"NOBODY is going to be doing Sugni's Sardakhi..."he said clearly.  "I love her and she loves me... and in a month from now we will be married. You are all invited.  As of this moment, she is my fiance..., SHE WILL BE treated with the respect, and dignity as any other Thakurine around here is that understood?"  He looked around as everyone looked at him in shock. Sugni's head shot up as she stared at him wide eyed.

"Now I suggest you three carry on with your business and get out of my house."  He told the other Thakurs who left no doubt to go spread the word that he had gone mad.  Releasing Sugni's hand Vickram stepped in front of Hukum, who had suddenly lost all his confidence it seemed.

"You listen to me and listen good...Sugni may be staying under your roof for the next month, and you will no longer try to sell her off or make her do Raai. If I see her upset one time, you'll see the worst of me you understand?"  He said.

Hukum nodded. "Yes Thakur S-Saab..." His bravado disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.

"Good ...now get out!"  He said as Hukum made a hasty retreat.

 Vickram turned to look at Sugni who was standing in the same spot he left her.

"Hey Sugni?" He said going up to her. Suddenly she dropped to her knees in front of him as she tears still running down her face.

"Hey what is wrong?" He said alarmed kneeling in front of her as she looked at him

You...you will marry me?" She asked in a dazed voice. "You just said that so they would leave. Right?" She nodded.

"No...I said it because I meant it." He said. "I will marry you Sugni." He said looking at her.

"Thakurs never marry bedni's ...," she said.

"Well you are not a bedni to me are you?" He answered as he smiled.

"You really mean it?" she asked still in disbelief. He nodded.

Sugni hugged him as she buried her face in his neck as she cried.

"I thought you'd be happy with that!'"  He said.

"I am ...I just can't believe it."

"Why? I said I loved you didn't I ... what did you think I was going to do?"

"I don't know..." She said.  "I  love you...and I promise...I'll be a good wife...I'll cook  and   take  care of  you a-and I  promise I'll do whatever you say and you won't have to complain if you don't  like it I won't do it . But you won't take it back   na? She said quickly pulling back to look at him.
Vickram chuckled at her whirlwind speech. "No I won't take it back. I promise you as long as I am here; you have nothing to worry about Sugni.  Now you can stop crying hmm? smile...there is a lot you have to do... prepare for this wedding," he said as he wiped her face.  This time her smile was genuine as the fact began to sink in she was going to get married.  She nodded.

"Good that is better. Everything will be alright," he said...
"It  was supposed to be  alright...my  lawyer was seeing   about the divorce he put the notices  up in the papers and  by  that  month if she did not show up the divorce  would have gone through  smoothly.  She saw it, her modeling career did not take of as she hoped and now she saw she was about to lose her marriage so she came back here and saw that I was about to get married." Vickram scoffed. "She could never do anything without drama, so she came in and made a show about being repentant and wanting to get back with me. When I told her that it was too late it was over the date was set my hearing was the day before the wedding it should have gone smoothly. "

"But no...she   did not want to accept it so she came at the Mehendi ceremony where she made a scene about being my wife who I left behind in the city.  She convinced every one that I was the one who wronged her, including you. ..." He closed his eyes as he remembered Sugni's face after she heard Reva's sob story. Her heart broken expression as she realized he was already married.  Vickram sighed as he   took her hand in his and looked at her.                                                                                                       

"It was not that I did not trust you Sugni...I guess I somewhere thought I could handle it and do the right thing. You were so happy I did not want to spoil it. I thought I would get the divorce before the wedding and it would all work out. I was wrong! I should have told you from the beginning. There is not a day I have not cursed myself for that. " He said.

She shook her head. Listening  to  his side of the story  for the first time.

"No...we both made mistakes, we both made the wrong decisions. You were right that was not me, but I was to hurt and angry to hear anything you were saying when you told me not to do my Sardakhi.. I have a lot of regrets." She said as she looked at the bed..."but she isn't one of them, Thakur Mallick ...I just have to know one thing..." She said looking back at him.  She knew Vickram was not the type, but she needed that reassurance as all her decisions impacted on Shanti's life, and the maternal instinct in her to protect her child.

"What is that?"

"You know who her father is, and I know you two have a history. He lost not chance in saying how much he hated you.  I  mean ...I- I  know you're nothing like him...but still she has nothing to do with any of tha..." She stopped when he put his finger on her lips.

"Sugni... I know what you are trying to say. There is nothing like that from my side. Believe me all she reminds me of is you. And I am not one to hold an innocent child for something she has no control over."

She sighed. "I know you're not. I just wanted to let it out. It is a new start for both of us. From now on the past is  in the past Hmm?"

"Yes a new start.."  He said.

"I love you."

"I love you." They embraced each other, making a pact  to start over afresh.

They sat in silence for a while, holding each other both feeling much lighter now after that conversation.

 The arrival of the nurse coming in to check on Shanti and informing them that it was against hospital policy   to have two overnight visitors.

"I better get going then..." he said after the nurse left.  "Get some rest alright"

"Ok ...you too." She said

"I'll see you tomorrow."  He said as he left.

Sugni looked at him as he disappeared into the elevators, then making her way back to the couch where she lay down. She closed her eyes   where she managed to fall asleep with a smile on her face for the first time in a long time.

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