Hey guys..thank you so much for liking my story..seriously did not expect such a great response.
I know many of you are upset with Lakshya..all i can do is request you guys to give him a chance, he’s not a bad guys, its just that the situation isn’t in his favor or in anyone’s favor as a matter of fact.
With that being said..here is the new update, this will give you guys an insight of Lakshya and Ananya’s relationship.
Link to previous episode : Here
Someone is removing my clothes. Who in the hell is removing my clothes?
I begin slapping away the hand that’s pulling my shorts down past my knees. I try to remember where I am, why I’m here, and how I got here.
Spilling Pine-Sol on my dress.
Drinking more Pine-Sol.
Lots of Pine-Sol.
Watching Lakshya love Ananya.
God, he loves her so much. I saw it in the way he watches her from across the room. I saw it in the way he touches her. In the way he communicates with her.
I can still smell the alcohol. I can still taste it as I slide my tongue over my lips.
I danced . . .
I drank more Pine-Sol . . .
Oh! The drinking game. I invented my own solitary drinking game, where every time I saw how much Lakshya loved Ananya, I downed a shot. Unfortunately, that made for a hell of a lot of shots.
Who in the hell is pulling off my shorts?
I try to open my eyes, but I can’t tell if it’s working. They feel open, but it’s still dark inside my head.
Oh, my God. I’m drunk, and someone is undressing me.
I’m about to be raped!
I start kicking at the hands that are yanking the shorts from my feet.
“Ragini!” a girl yells. “Stop!” She’s laughing. I focus for a few seconds and can tell the voice belongs to Ananya.
She comes closer, and a soft hand brushes back my hair as the bed dips down next to me. I squeeze my eyes shut, then force them wide open several times, until I finally begin to adjust to the dark. She puts her hands on my shirt and attempts to unbutton it.
Why in the hell is she still taking off my clothes?
Oh, my God! Ananya wants to rape me!
I slap at her hand, and she grips my wrist. “Ragini!” She laughs. “You’re covered in puke. I’m trying to help you.”
Puke? Covered in it?
That explains the massive headache. But . . . it doesn’t explain why I’m laughing. Why am I laughing? Am I still drunk? “What time is it?” I ask her.
“I don’t know. Tonight, I think. Like, midnight?”
She nods, then starts laughing with me. “You threw up on Sanskar.”
Sanskar? I met Sanskar?
It looks as if her eyes are trying hard to focus on my face. “Can I tell you a secret?” she says.
I nod. “Okay, but I probably won’t remember it, because I think I’m still drunk.”
She smiles and leans forward. She’s so pretty. Ananya is really, really pretty. “I can’t stand Radhika,” she says quietly.
Ananya starts laughing again, too, and tries to pull my shirt off, but she’s laughing too hard and keeps having to pause for deep breaths.
“Are you drunk, too?” I ask her.
She inhales again, attempting to pause her laughter, and then she exhales. “So drunk. I thought I took your shirt off already, but your shirt keeps coming back on, and I don’t know how many shirts you have, but”—she lifts the edge of my shirt sleeve, which is still on my arm, and looks at it in confusion—“oh, my God, I really thought I took it off already, and here it is again.”
I lift myself up on the bed, then help her pull my shirt off. “Why am I already in bed if it’s only midnight?”
She shrugs. “I have no idea what you just said.”
She’s funny. I reach to the nightstand and turn on the lamp. Ananya scoots off the bed and lowers herself to the floor. She lies flat on her stomach with a sigh and begins moving her arms, as though she was swimming on the floor.
“I don’t want to go to bed yet,” I tell her.
She flips over onto her back and looks up at me. “Then don’t. I told Lakshya to let you stay up and play because we were having so much fun, but you threw up in Sanskar’s lap, so he made you go to bed.” She sits up. “Let’s go play some more. I want more cake.” She pushes up on her hands and stands, then reaches for my hands and pulls me off the bed.
Ananya opens the door to my room and pulls me behind her into the living room. “Lakshya!” she yells. I laugh, because I don’t know why she’s yelling for him. He can’t hear her.
“Hey, Amit,” I say, grinning when I see him on the couch. “Happy Birthday.” Radhika is seated next to him, glaring at me. She’s looking me up and down, probably jealous because my I look really cute today.
Amit shakes his head and laughs. “That’s only the fiftieth time you’ve said that tonight, although it’s a little more fitting now that you’re practically in your birthday suit.”
Lakshya is sitting on the other side of Radhika. He’s shaking his head like Amit. “Ananya wants to know if you like my shirt,” I say to Lakshya. I pull on Ananya’s hand so she’ll turn around and sign to him.
“It’s a very nice shirt,” Lakshya says, staring at it with a cocked eyebrow.
I smile. Then I frown.
Did he just . . .? I yank my hand out of Ananya’s and turn back toward Lakshya. “Did you just speak?”
He laughs. “Did you not just ask me a question?”
I glare at him hard, especially when Amit bursts out into a fit of laughter.
He’s not deaf?
This whole time, he’s been lying to me? It’s been a prank?
I instantly want to strangle him. Both of them. Tears sting at my eyes, and the second I lunge forward, a strong hand grips my wrist and yanks my arm back. I turn and look up at . . . Lakshya?
I turn back to the couch and look at . . . Lakshya?
Amit is doubled over Radhika’s lap now, he’s laughing so hard. Lakshya Number 1 is laughing now, too. His whole face doesn’t laugh when he laughs, like Lakshya Number 2’s face does.
And his hair is shorter than Lakshya Number 2’s hair. And darker.
Lakshya Number 2 has his arm wrapped around my waist, and he’s picking me up.
Now I’m upside down.
Not good for my stomach.
My face is toward his back, and my stomach is slumped over his shoulder as he carries me back toward my bedroom. I look at Amit and the guy I now realize is Sanskar, and then I squeeze my eyes shut, because I think I’m about to throw up all over Lakshya Number 2.
I’m being seated on something cold. A floor.
As soon as my mind comprehends where he’s put me, my hands reach forward until I grasp the toilet, and then it suddenly feels as if I’ve eaten Italian food all over again. He holds my hair back while the toilet fills with Pine-Sol.
I wish it really were Pine-Sol. I wouldn’t have to clean it.
“Don’t you love her shirt?” Ananya says from behind me, giggling.
I feel a hand on my shirt. I can feel Lakshya pull her hand away. His arm moves, and I know he’s signing something.
Ananya huffs. “I don’t want to go to bed yet.”
He signs something else, and then she sighs and walks into his bedroom.
When I’m finished, Lakshya wipes my face with a rag. I allow my back to fall against the wall of the tub, and I look up at him.
He doesn’t look very happy. In fact, he looks a little angry.
“It’s a party, Lakshya,” I mumble, and close my eyes again.
His hands are under my arms, and I’m being carried again. He makes his way into . . . his room? He lowers me onto his bed, and I roll over and open my eyes. Ananya is grinning at me from the pillow next to me.
“Yay. A sleepover,” she says with a groggy smile. She grabs my hand and holds it.
“Yay,” I say, smiling.
Covers are pulled over both of us, and I close my eyes.
“How did you get yourself into this mess?”
Amit and I are both standing at the edge of my bed, staring down at Ananya and Ragini. They’re asleep. Ragini is spooning Ananya on the left side of the bed, because the right side of the bed is now covered in Ananya’s puke.
I sigh. “This has been the longest twelve hours of my life.”
Amit nods, then pats me heavily on the back. “Well,” he signs, “I wish I could stay and help you nurse them back to health, but I’d rather pretend I have something better to do and leave.” He turns and walks out of my room as Sanskar makes his way in.
“I’m headed out,” he signs. “Got my stuff out of Ragini’s room.”
I nod and watch as his eyes fall on Ragini and Ananya.
“I wish I could say it was fun getting to know Ragini, but I have a feeling I didn’t even meet the real Ragini.”
I laugh. “Believe me, you didn’t. Maybe next time.”
He waves and walks out of my bedroom.
I turn and look at them, at both halves of my heart, cuddled tightly together in a bed of irony.
• • •
I spent the entire morning assisting them as they alternated between the trash can and the bathroom. By lunch, Ragini’s vomiting had subsided, and she made her way back to her own room. It’s late afternoon now, and I’m spoon-feeding Ananya liquids and forcing her to down medicine.
“I just need sleep,” she signs. “I’ll be fine.” She rolls over and pulls the covers up to her chin.
I tuck a lock of hair behind her ear, then run my hand down to her shoulder, where I trace circles with my thumb. Her eyes are now closed, and she’s curled up in a fetal position. She looks so fragile right now, and I wish I could wrap myself around her like a cocoon and shield her from every single thing this world has left to throw at her.
I look over at the nightstand when the screen on my phone lights up. I tuck the covers more securely around Ananya and bend forward and kiss her cheek, then reach for my phone.
Ragini: Not that you haven’t done enough, but could you please tell Amit to turn the volume down on the porn?
I laugh and text Amit.
Me: Turn the porn down. It’s so loud even I can hear it.
I stand and walk into Ragini’s room to check on her. She’s flat on her back, staring up at the ceiling. I sit on the edge of her bed, reach to her face, and brush back a strand of hair from her forehead.
She tilts her face toward me and smiles, then picks up her phone. Her body is so weak she makes it look as if the phone weighs fifty pounds when she tries to text me.
I take the phone from her and shake my head, letting her know she just needs to rest. I set the phone on her nightstand and bring my attention back to her. Her head is relaxed against the pillow. Her hair is in waves, trailing down her shoulders. I run my fingers over a section of her sun-kissed hair, admiring how soft it is. She tilts her face toward my hand until her cheek is resting flush against it. I brush across her cheekbone with my thumb and watch as her eyes fall closed. The lyrics I wrote about her flash through my mind.
What kind of man does that make me? If I can’t prevent myself from falling for another girl, do I even deserve Ananya? I refuse to answer that, because I know that if I don’t deserve Ananya, I also don’t deserve Ragini. The thought of losing either of them, much less both of them, is something I can’t bring myself to entertain. I lift my hand and trace the edge of Ragini’s face with my fingertips, running them across her hairline, down her jaw, and up her chin, until my fingers reach her lips. I slowly trace the shape of her mouth, feeling the warm waves of breath pass her lips each time I circle around them. She opens her eyes, and the familiar pool of pain floats behind them.
She lifts a hand to my fingers. She pulls them firmly to her mouth and kisses them, then pulls her hands away, bringing them to rest on her stomach.
I’m looking at our hands now. She opens a flat palm, and I do the same, and we press them together.
I don’t know a lot about the human body, but I would be willing to bet there’s a nerve that runs directly from the palm of the hand, straight to the heart.
Our fingers are outstretched until she laces them together, squeezing gently when our hands connect completely, weaving together.
It’s the first time I’ve ever held her hand.
We stare at our hands for what feels like an eternity. Every feeling and every nerve are centered in our palms, in our fingers, in our thumbs, occasionally brushing back and forth over one another.
Our hands mold together perfectly, just like the two of us.
Ragini and me.
I’m convinced that people come across others in life whose souls are completely compatible with their own. Some refer to them as soul mates. Some refer to it as true love. Some people believe their souls are compatible with more than one person, and I’m beginning to understand how true that might be. I’ve known since the moment I met Ananya years ago that our souls were compatible, and they are. That’s not even a question.
However, I also know that my soul is compatible with Ragini’s, but it’s also so much more than that. Our souls aren’t just compatible—they’re perfectly attuned. I feel everything she feels. I understand things she never even has to say. I know that what she needs is exactly what I could give her, and what she’s wishing she could give me is something I never even knew I needed.
She understands me. She respects me. She astounds me. She predicts me. She’s never once, since the second I met her, made me feel as if my inability to hear is even an inability at all.
I can also tell just by looking at her that she’s falling in love with me. It serves as further proof that I need to do what should have been done a long time ago.
I very reluctantly lean forward, reach over to her nightstand, and grab a pen. I pull my fingers from hers and open her palm to write on it: I need you to move out.
I close her fingers over her palm so she doesn’t read it while I’m watching her, and I walk away, leaving behind an entire half of my heart as I go.
I watch as he closes the door behind him. I’m clutching my hand to my chest, terrified to read what he wrote.
I saw the look in his eyes.
I saw the heartache, the regret, the fear . . . the love.
I keep my hand clutched tightly to my chest without reading it. I refuse to accept that whatever words are written on my palm will obliterate what little hope I had for our maybe someday.
• • •
My body flinches, and my eyes flick open.
I don’t know what just woke me up, but I was in the middle of a dead sleep. It’s dark. I sit up on the bed and press my hand to my forehead, wincing from the pain. I don’t feel nauseated anymore, but I’ve never in my life been this thirsty. I need water.
I stand up and stretch my arms above my head, then glance down to the alarm clock: 2:45 A.M.
Thank God. I could still use about three more days of sleep to recover from this hangover.
I’m walking toward Lakshya’s bathroom when an unfamiliar feeling washes over me. I pause before reaching the door. I’m not sure why I pause, but I suddenly feel out of place.
It feels strange, walking toward this bathroom right now. It doesn’t feel as if I’m walking toward my bathroom. It doesn’t feel as if it belongs to me at all, unlike how my bathroom felt in my last apartment. That bathroom felt like my bathroom. As if it belonged partly to me. That apartment felt like my apartment. All the furniture in it felt like my furniture.
Nothing about this place feels like me. Other than the belongings that were contained in the two suitcases I brought with me that first night, nothing else here feels even remotely like mine.
The dresser? Borrowed.
The bed? Borrowed.
Thursday-night TV? Borrowed.
The kitchen, the living room, my entire bedroom. They all belong to other people. I feel as if I’m just borrowing this life until I find a better one of my own. I’ve felt as if I’ve been borrowing everything since the day I moved in here.
Hell, I’m even borrowing boyfriends. Lakshya isn’t mine. He’ll never be mine. As much as that hurts to accept, I’m so sick of this constant, ongoing battle with my heart. I can’t take this anymore. I don’t deserve this kind of self-torture.
In fact, I think I need to move out.
Moving out is the only thing that can start the healing, because I can’t be around Lakshya anymore. Not with what his presence does to me.
You hear that, heart? We’re even now.
I smile at the realization that I’m finally about to experience life on my own. I’m consumed with a sense of accomplishment. I open the bathroom door and flip on the light . . . then immediately fall to my knees.
No, no, no, no, no!
I grab her by the shoulders and turn her over, but her whole body is limp. Her eyes are rolled back in her head, and her face is pale.
Oh, my God! “Lakshya!” I crawl over her and reach for the door to his bedroom. I’m screaming his name so loudly my throat feels as if it’s ripping apart. I attempt to turn the doorknob several times, but my hand keeps slipping.
She begins to convulse, so I lunge over her and lift her head, then drop my ear to her mouth to make sure she’s breathing. I’m sobbing, screaming his name over and over. I know he can’t hear me, but I’m scared to let go of her head.
“Ananya!” I cry.
What am I doing? I don’t know what to do.
Do something, Ragini.
I lower her head carefully back to the floor and spin around. I grip the doorknob more firmly and pull myself to my feet. I swing his bedroom door open and rush toward the bed, then jump on it and climb over to where he’s lying.
“Lakshya!” I scream, shaking his shoulder. He lifts an elbow in defense as he rolls over, then lowers it when he sees me hovering over him.
“Ananya!” I yell hysterically, pointing to the bathroom. His eyes flash to the empty spot on his bed, and his focus shoots up to the open bathroom door. He’s off the bed and on the bathroom floor on his knees in seconds. Before I even make it back to the bathroom, he’s got her head cradled in his arms, and he’s pulling her onto his lap.
He turns his head to look at me and signs something. I shake my head as the tears continue to flow down my cheeks. I have no idea what he’s trying to say to me. He signs again and points toward his bed. I look at the bed, then look back at him helplessly. His expression is growing more frustrated by the second.
“Lakshya, I don’t know what you’re asking me!”
He slams his fist against the bathroom cabinet out of frustration, then holds his hand up to his ear as if he’s holding a phone.
He needs his phone.
I rush to the bed and search for it, my hands flying frantically over the bed, the covers, the nightstand. I finally find it under his pillow and run it back to him. He enters his password to unlock it, then hands it back to me. I call the hospital, put the phone to my ear, and wait for it to ring while I drop to my knees next to them.
His eyes are full of fear as he continues to hold her head against his chest. He’s watching me, nervously waiting for the call to connect. He intermittently presses his lips into her hair as he continues to try to get her to open her eyes.
As soon as the nurse answers, I’m bombarded with a list of questions that I don’t know the answers to. I give her the address, because it’s the only thing I know, and she begins firing more questions I don’t know how to communicate to him.
“Is she allergic to anything?” I say to Lakshya, repeating what the nurse is asking.
He shrugs and shakes his head, not understanding me.
“Does she have any pre-existing conditions?”
He shakes his head again to tell me he has no idea what I’m asking him.
“Is she diabetic?”
I ask Lakshya the questions over and over, but he can’t understand me. The nurse is firing questions at me, and I’m firing them at Lakshya, and we’re both too frantic for him even to read my lips. I’m crying. We’re both terrified. We’re both frustrated with the fact that we can’t communicate.
“Is she wearing a medical bracelet?” the doctor asks.
I lift both of her wrists. “No, she doesn’t have anything on her.”
I look up to the ceiling and close my eyes, knowing that I’m not helping a damn bit.
“Amit!” I yell.
I’m off my feet and out of the bathroom, making my way to Amit’s bedroom. I swing open his door. “Amit!” I run to his bed and shake him while I hold the phone in my hand. “Amit! We need your help! It’s Ananya!”
His eyes open wide, and he throws off his covers, springing into action. I push the phone toward him. “It’s the doctor, and I can’t understand anything Lakshya is trying to tell me!”
He grabs the phone and puts it to his ear. “She has CFRD,” he yells hastily into the phone. “Stage two CF.”
I follow him to the bathroom and watch as he signs to Lakshya while holding the phone in the palm of his hand, away from his ear. Lakshya signs something back, and Amit runs into the kitchen. He opens the refrigerator, reaches toward the back of the second shelf, and pulls out a bag. He runs with it to the bathroom and drops to his knees next to Lakshya. He lets the phone fall to the floor and shoves it aside with his knee.
“Amit, she has questions!” I yell, confused about why he tossed the phone aside.
“We know what to do until they get here, Rags,” he says. He pulls a syringe from the bag and hands it to Lakshya. Lakshya pulls the lid off of it, then and injects Ananya in the stomach.
“Is she diabetic?” I ask, watching helplessly as Amit and Lakshya silently converse. I’m ignored, but I don’t expect anything different. They’re in what looks like familiar territory for both of them, and I’m too confused to keep watching. I turn around and lean against the wall, then squeeze my eyes shut in an attempt to calm myself. A few silent moments pass, and then there’s banging at the door.
Amit is running toward the door before I can even react. He lets the hospital men bring in the stretcher inside, and I step out of the way, watching as everyone in the room around me seems to know what the hell is going on.
I continue to back out of everyone’s way until my calves meet the couch, and I fall down onto it.
They lift Ananya onto the stretcher and begin pushing her toward the front door. Lakshya walks swiftly behind them. Amit comes from Lakshya’s bedroom and tosses him a pair of shoes. Lakshya puts them on, then signs something else to Amit and slips out the door behind the stretcher.
I watch as Amit rushes to his room. He re-emerges with a shirt and shoes on and his baseball cap in hand. He grabs his keys off the bar and heads back into Lakshya’s bedroom. He comes back out with a bag of Lakshya’s things and heads for the front door.
“Wait!” I yell. Amit turns to look at me. “His phone. He’ll need his phone.” I rush to the bathroom, grab Lakshya’s phone from the floor, and take it back to Amit.
“I’m coming with you,” I say, slipping my foot into a shoe by the front door.
“No, you’re not.”
I look up at him, somewhat in shock at the harshness of his voice as I slip my other shoe on. He begins to pull the door shut on me, and I slap a palm against it.
“I’m coming with you!” I say again, more determined this time.
He turns and looks at me with hardened eyes. “He doesn’t need you there, Ragini.”
I have no idea what he means by that, but his tone pisses me off. I push against his chest and step outside with him. “I’m coming,” I say with finality.
I walk down the stairs just as the ambulance begins to pull away. Lakshya is standing with his hands clasped behind his head, watching as it leaves. Amit makes it to the bottom of the stairs, and as soon as Lakshya sees him, they both rush toward Lakshya’s car. I follow them.
Amit climbs into the driver’s seat, Lakshya into the passenger seat. I open the door to the backseat and pull it shut behind me.
Amit pulls out of the parking lot and speeds until we’re caught up to the ambulance.
Lakshya is terrified. I can see it in the way his arms are wrapped around himself and he’s shaking his knee, fidgeting with the sleeve of his shirt, chewing on the corner of his bottom lip.
I still have no idea what’s wrong with Ananya, and I’m scared that she might not be okay. It still doesn’t feel like my business, and I’m definitely not about to ask Amit what’s going on.
The nervousness seeping from Lakshya is making my heart ache for him. I move to the edge of the backseat and reach forward, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. He lifts his hand to mine and grabs it, then squeezes it tightly.
I want to help him, but I can’t. I don’t know how. All I can think about is how completely helpless I feel, how much he’s hurting, and how scared I am that he might lose Ananya, because it’s so painfully obvious how that would kill him.
He brings his other hand up to mine, which is still gripping his shoulder. He squeezes both of his hands around mine desperately, then tilts his face toward his shoulder. He kisses the top of my hand, and I feel a tear fall against my skin.
I close my eyes and press my forehead against the back of his seat, and I cry.
• • •
We’re in the waiting room.
Well, Amit and I are in the waiting room. Lakshya has been with Ananya since we arrived an hour ago, and Amit hasn’t spoken a single word to me.
Which is why I’m not speaking to him. He obviously has an issue, and I’m not really in the mood to defend myself, because I’ve done absolutely nothing to Amit that should even require defending.
I slouch back in my chair and pull up the search browser on my phone, curious to know about what Amit said to the doctor
I type CFRD into the search box and hit enter. My eyes are pulled to the very first result: Managing cystic fibrosis–related diabetes.
I click on the link, and it explains the different types of diabetes but doesn’t explain much more. I’ve heard of cystic fibrosis but don’t know enough about it to know how it affects Ananya. I click a link on the left of the page that says, What is cystic fibrosis? My heart begins to pound and my tears are flowing as I take in the same words that stick out on every single page, no matter how many pages I click.
Genetic disorder of the lungs.
Shortened life expectancy.
No known cure.
Survival rates into mid- and upper thirties.
I can’t read any more through all the tears I’m crying for Ananya. For Lakshya.
I close the browser on my phone, and my eyes are pulled to my hand. I take in the unread words in Lakshya’s handwriting across my palm.
I need you to move out.
Both Amit and Ragini spring to their feet when I round the corner to the waiting room.
“How is she?” Amit signs.
“Better. She’s awake now.”
Amit nods, and Ragini is looking back and forth between us.
“The doctor says the alcohol and dehydration probably caused her . . .” I stop signing, because Amit’s lips are pressed into a firm line as he watches my explanation.
“Verbalize for her,” I sign, nodding my head toward Ragini.
Amit turns and looks at Ragini, then refocuses his attention on me. “This doesn’t concern her,” he signs silently.
What the hell is his problem?
“She’s worried about Ananya, Amit. It does concern her. Now, verbalize what I’m saying for her.”
Amit shakes his head. “She’s not here for Ananya, Lakshya. She doesn’t care how Ananya’s doing. She’s only worried about you.”
I bury my anger, then slowly step forward and stand directly in front of him. “Verbalize for her. Now.”
Amit sighs but doesn’t turn toward Ragini. He stares straight at me as he both signs and verbalizes for us. “Lakshya says Ananya’s okay. She’s awake.”
Ragini’s entire body relaxes as her hands go to the back of her head and relief washes over her. She says something to him, and he closes his eyes, takes a quick breath, then opens them.
“Ragini wants to know if either of you need anything. From the apartment.”
I look at Ragini and shake my head. “They’re keeping her overnight to monitor her blood sugar. I’ll come by tomorrow if we need anything. I’m staying a few days at her house.”
Amit verbalizes again, and Ragini nods.
“You two head back and get some rest.”
Amit nods. Ragini steps forward and gives me a tight hug, then backs away.
Amit begins to turn toward the exit, but I grab his arm and make him look at me again. “I don’t know why you’re upset with her, Amit, but please don’t be a jerk to her. I’ve done that enough already.”
He nods, and they turn to leave. Ragini looks back over her shoulder and smiles a painful smile. I turn and walk back to Ananya’s room.
The head of her bed is slightly raised now, and she looks up at me. There’s an IV drip in her arm, replenishing her fluids. Her head slowly rolls across her pillow as her eyes follow me across the room.
“I’m sorry,” she signs.
I shake my head, not even remotely wanting or needing any type of apology from her. “Stop. Don’t feel bad. Like you always say, you’re young. Young people do crazy things like get drunk and have hangovers and puke for twelve hours straight.”
She laughs. “Yes, but like you always say, probably not young people with life-threatening conditions.”
I smile as I reach her bed, then scoot a chair close to it and take a seat. “I’m going back to Pune with you. I’ll stay a few days until I feel better about leaving you alone.”
She sighs and turns her head, looking straight up to the ceiling. “I’m fine. It was just an insulin issue.” She turns back to face me. “You can’t baby me every time this happens, Lakshya.”
My jaw clenches at “baby me.” “I’m not babying you, Ananya. I’m loving you. I’m taking care of you. There’s a difference.”
She closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I’m so tired of having this same conversation over and over.”
Yeah. So am I.
I lean back in my chair and fold my arms over my chest while I stare at her. Her refusal of help has been understandable up to this point, but she’s not a teenager anymore, and I can’t understand why she won’t allow things to progress with us.
I lean forward, touching her arm so she’ll look at me and listen. “You need to stop being so hell-bent and determined to have your independence. If you don’t take better care of yourself, these brief one-night hospital stays will be a thing of the past, Ananya. Let me take care of you. Let me be there for you. I constantly worry myself sick. Your internship is causing you so much stress, not to mention the thesis. I understand why you want to live a normal life and do all the things other people our age do, like go to college and have a career.” I pause to run my hands through my hair and focus on the point I want to make. “If we lived together, I could do so much more for you. Things would be easier for both of us. And when things like this happen, I’ll be there to help you so you don’t convulse alone on the bathroom floor until you die!”
Okay, that was harsh. Way too harsh.
I roll my neck and look down at the floor, because I’m not ready for her to respond yet. I close my eyes and try to hold back my frustration. “Ananya,” I sign, looking at her tear-soaked eyes. “I . . . love . . . you. And I am so scared that one of these days, I won’t be able to walk out of the hospital with you still in my arms. And it’ll be my own fault for allowing you to continue to refuse my help.”
Her bottom lip is quivering, so she tucks it into her mouth and bites it. “Sometime in the next ten or fifteen years, Lakshya, that will be your reality. You are going to walk out of the hospital without me, because no matter how much you want to be my hero, I can’t be saved. You can’t save me from this. We both know you’re one of the few people I have in this world, so until the day comes when I can absolutely no longer take care of myself, I refuse to become your burden. Do you know what that does to me? To know that I’ve put that much pressure on you? I’m not living alone simply because I crave independence, Lakshya. I want to live alone because . . .”
Tears are streaming down her cheeks, and she pauses to wipe them away. “I want to live alone because I just want to be the girl you’re in love with . . . for as long as we can draw that out. I don’t want to be your burden or your responsibility or your obligation. The only thing I want is to be the love of your life. That’s all. Please, just let that be enough for now. Let it be enough until the time comes when you really do have to go to the ends of the earth for me.”
A sob breaks free from my chest, and I reach forward and press my lips to hers. I grip her face desperately between my hands and lift my leg onto the bed. She wraps her arms around me as I pull the rest of my body on top of hers and do whatever I can to shield her from the unfairness of this evil, goddamned world.