Neapolitan City

Chapter 39: Grooving Up

Ishaani woke up with a start, almost sure that she has screamed out loud. She looked around and felt disoriented for a couple of minutes, before she rubbed her temple nervously and looked to her left. Ranveer was staring at her wide-eyed, worry etched upon his face.

"Are you alright? What happened?" Ishaani felt her heartbeat irregular and realized that her forehead was sweaty in spite of the weather being chilly. She gulped down her fear uneasily and replied.

"Bad... bad dream." Ranveer looked worried and switched on the lamps. Ishaani propped herself up and stared at Ranveer in shame.

"Sweetheart, drink some water. You look green." Ishaani quickly took the glass of water beside her and sipped on it slowly, letting her nerves calm. Ranveer stared at her with concern and waited to her to ease up. Ishaani kept the glass aside after some time and looked at Ranveer, a strange consolation spreading through her heart like a balm. Ranveer caught her hand within his own ones and asked her carefully. "Better now?"

"Yeah." Ishaani gave Ranveer a reassuring look and the latter smiled slowly. "Sorry for interrupting your sleep."

"Oh no, that's alright. Wasn't quite asleep." Ishaani stared at Ranveer intently and understood instantly.

"Nightmare?"

"Something like that, yes. And then you shrieked." Ishaani gave him an apologetic look and he sighed. "This is going to take some getting used to now, isn't it?"

"Well, this certainly wasn't going to be easy." Ranveer nodded his head and lied back down again while Ishaani did the same. Both of them remained silent for a few minutes before Ranveer spoke softly.

"Want to talk about it?"

"No... And I don't even remember about it now." Ishaani knew that she failed miserably in sounding convincing and Ranveer smiled in amusement.

"You could have done better than that."

"I know. I just... it was horrible reliving everything in my nightmare without having to speak about it again."

"That's true enough, I admit. It's okay. Take deep breaths and go off to sleep. Hold my hand, if you want." Ishaani looked at him unsure for a minute, before she caught his hand. Ranveer pulled her hand over his chest and kept her fingers over his heart. Ishaani felt the steady rhythm of his beats and felt her mind ease off steadily, the rhythm eventually helping Ishaani to fall asleep.

Ranveer heaved a deep sigh once he saw her fall asleep, her face blank and her breathing steady. He let her fingers remain where they were and gently shut off the lamp, making sure not to disturb his wounds or her hand in the process. Giving her one final look, he looked outside the window and saw the sun's first rays enter the room, hitting Ishaani's face and making it glow in its golden bask.

He smiled softly as he saw the frame glittering strongly in the raw sunlight and shut his eyes, the quote reaching out to him much more than it had ever done in that one year.


Ishaani took Ranveer to the doctor a week later. The doctor had removed the stitches two days after Ranveer was discharged and had asked him to have a full body checkup after five days to check the wounds. Doing a full body checkup, the doctor asked Ranveer to stop his painkillers and have it only when it was very necessary. Ticking off rapidly on his notepad, he finally turned to report his observations to Ranveer and Ishaani.

"Mr. Vaghela, you have made satisfactory progress. Your wounds have nearly healed and as you've told me, the pain has nearly subsided as well. The bruises have faded away and the gashes have healed well. Just make sure to keep applying the ointment so that the scars don't remain. Your shoulder seems perfectly fine as well. Don't strain your arm too much though, atleast for the next ten days, given that the skin is still slightly raw and damaged. Apart from that, you have a clean chit from my side. You can start working again, but I will still ask you not to strain yourself out a lot."

Ranveer nodded satisfactorily and Ishaani gave the doctor a relieved look.

"Thank you so much, Dr. Phillipe. For everything that you have done for the two of us." The doctor smiled and replied courteously.

"It's my job, Mrs. Vaghela." Ishaani smiled and both she and Ranveer took his leave and headed back to their respective jobs. Ranveer took the driver and headed to his office and Ishaani went to the library to help her out. Ishaani had found a new way of returning to the library each day under the pretense of coming over to read.

Martha was more than happy to have her company for the day and this trend continued for the days to come as well. Ishaani would either spend the whole day with Martha in the library or with Claudine, who was now entering her seventh month of pregnancy. Martin and Claudine would try to cheer her up and time would pass away quickly. Once Ranveer would be back home, the four of them would have hearty conversations. Things seemed normal enough to Ishaani during the day time, even though she knew that they weren't.

She realized that even though Ranveer and she kept assuring each other that they were on terms with this, they knew that they weren't. In the days that proceeded, she realized that Ranveer would often wake up in the night with cold sweats and remained uneasy for quite some time after that. Several nights, she would remain unaware of her own actions but Ranveer would always tell her the next day how she moaned and cried in her sleep that made her uncomfortable.

She noticed that Ranveer involved himself fully into his work, perhaps a tad bit more and she suspected that he was trying to combat his stress by channeling it through his work. Ishaani however, was out of that option too. She could not deny that the accident had somehow shaken up their false sense of security bad and had given both of them a harsh slap of reality and uncertainty.

She knew that the relationship between the two of them that grown even more spiritually post the accident, but Ishaani knew that it was not enough. Not enough to heal them this time. Ishaani felt a strange run of emotions through her veins every time she tried to figure it out, but this new and foreign emotion had confused her. She couldn't place her finger on what this emotion was, but she knew that it was the key to helping both of them heal.

Ranveer on the other hand felt a strange distress in his heart. He couldn't understand what had gone wrong with him, but he knew that he was not the only one facing the issue.

He felt a strange awkwardness in the air whenever he was around Ishaani and the unwarranted emotion that bubbled within him at her sight was something that bothered him immensely. He felt something separating the two of them from being themselves and a strange yearning in his heart, but he didn't know what it was that he yearned for.

If his worries about his relationship with Ishaani occupied his mind in the day, then memories from his accident tormented him in the night. Now that three weeks had elapsed post his accident, he felt certain portions of his memory unlock itself and those memories disturbed him and distressed him. Several nights, fragmented parts of reality and fiction fused itself together and trapped him in its vice-like grip, until screaming out loud for help was the only option he had.

On those nights, which were nearly every day, Ishaani would look at his pinched complexion and speak soft soothing words to him or else when he woke up, he would see Ishaani murmuring in her own sleep, fighting her own demons. She would then wake up suddenly and stare around the room frantically before her eyes would meet his own and she would hug him.

The next hour would pass by in consoling each other and would fall asleep eventually either by holding hands or by cuddling each other. Some nights, they would simply choose to remain awake, frightened to fall asleep lest the freak show begin and lure them into it.

Ranveer and Ishaani both felt their strength being tested in its own way, where both had to be strong for each other and weak for themselves. They couldn't understand why the accident affected them like the way it did, but they knew that it was much less the accident and more the incidents after that that had scarred both of them.

They had gotten used to falling asleep and succumbing to their fears in their dreams, knowing that there was no escape. They knew that the answer to their problem lied with each other but they felt afraid to entrust their guilty secret to the other, knowing the battle the other was fighting already.

One night after three weeks, Ranveer entered his room and saw Ishaani fast asleep, her expression peaceful. He had returned from work late and had told Ishaani to go off to sleep. He smiled slowly and changed himself out of his work clothes quickly. Lying down on the bed, he heaved a sigh and turned himself against Ishaani, shutting his eyes. He made up his mind to talk to Ishaani openly about his nightmare and to get the burden off his chest for he could no longer handle it.

He knew they needed each other more than ever in these days and he was happy that they could give each other that solace. But he also knew that there was something extra between them this time, something that wasn't there before and that this extra veil between them was the thing that would heal them both and help them move on.

Before Ranveer knew it, he felt himself fall asleep, his mind blank for once and his sleep uninterrupted.

He knew that he was walking along the road and a woman had slipped and fallen down and was sobbing in pain. He walked up to her and tried to console her, but she would keep throwing his hand away.

Finally tired of trying to help the mysterious woman, whose face was hidden by her hair, he got up and made to walk away when he heard her shriek. He turned around to see what happened, but before he could understand what had happened, he felt everything go dark before his eyes. He tried to blindly navigate his way through the darkness and suddenly felt his finger trail along something and a louder shriek could be heard.

Ranveer felt his eyes snap open and realized that the scream of the woman was still resonating in his ears. He looked around disoriented for several moments before he realized that his hand was still over something. He looked to his side and saw Ishaani staring at him panic-stricken and his fingers were on her shoulder.

Ranveer quickly retracted his hand away and got up, shaking his head to rid himself of the scream that still kept ringing in his ears. He heaved a sigh and propped himself up and saw Ishaani staring at him, her face mingled with fright and embarrassment.

"Sor... sorry. I didn't mean to yell, I just..."

"No, it's fine. I think I frightened you." Ishaani nodded her head and coughed slowly, but before Ranveer could say anything, she rolled over to the other side and shut her eyes. Ranveer felt disgruntled for a moment, before he got the clue that Ishaani didn't want to talk about it and rolled to the other side as well.

Five minutes later, Ishaani rolled back and asked softly.

"You awake?" Ranveer 'hmmed' in reply and she slowly cleared her throat. "Want to talk about it?" Ranveer rolled to sleep on his back and turned his face towards Ishaani.

"I don't mind giving it a shot." Ishaani nodded her head and spoke again after a few minutes, her voice shaking.

"It’s sick. Every night, it’s the same dream that goes on and on. I'm standing, seeing your life seep away from you, and your blood keeps trickling from my hands. I... I try to hold on to you, urging you that things are going to be okay, but I know I'm lying. You're bleeding and bleeding and there's too much blood. And it keeps trickling away. I... it just... it's sickening." Ranveer sighed and spoke softly, holding her hand within his."

"Is this from the time you were in the ER with me?"

"Yes... yes. It was... grotesque. You like that... and all I could do was see." Ranveer remained silent for a couple of minutes while Ishaani got up and sat crossed-legged, her eyes blazing. "God... what did you put us into, Ranveer? Wasn't it bad enough that we had issues to handle without you going and getting yourself nearly killed?" Ranveer gave Ishaani a guilty look and got up, resting his head on the headrest of the bed.

"I... don't know what to say." Both of them stared at each other for a few minutes before Ishaani spoke again, her voice weary.

"Never mind that now. Tell me about yours."

"It's... I... uh..." Ishaani glared at Ranveer and he fell silent.

"Ranveer. I kept up my end. It's time you kept up to your word." Ranveer stared at Ishaani's determined look and huffed.

"Alright, fine! My dream usually begins on a random point. You know, trivial things that we keep dreaming about," Ishaani nodded her head in understanding and Ranveer continued. "But somehow, at the end of all those dreams, there comes the part where a pair of strong lights hit my eyes and I feel excruciating pain hit me the next moment. My mind feels suspended in the moment, knowing nothing except torturous agony. I feel myself hit something concrete and I can feel the breath taken away from me. Except, the next moment, I am standing again. You are in front of me, smiling and I... I'm just staring at you. But I'm in pain. My heart hurts, and I can't meet eyes with you. And suddenly, my chest feels on fire and I feel this sharp pain..."

"Like you were shot?" Ranveer's eyes widened for a moment before he replied queasily.

"Yeah. And then, I feel suspended in this limbo, like there is no escape and all I can feel is excruciating pain and I feel I would suffocate of it any moment."

"And that's when you get up, yelling." Ranveer nodded his head and sighed. Now that he had spoken about his dream, he had expected to feel better. He didn't. He only felt a strong urge to hurl something in despair, and to drown himself in remorse. He looked at Ishaani and noticed that her expression was identical to his own.

"Ishaani, what have we gotten ourselves into?" Ishaani looked at her palms, finding them very interesting suddenly, and replied truthfully.

"We ended up giving each other our lives' biggest nightmares." Ranveer felt a strange fire spring up in his heart and spoke swiftly, his frustration evident.

"And the thing that irks me the most is that I don't know how to help us. I've spoken to both Claud and Dr. Phillipe but both of them only keep telling me that such incidents take time to heal from. I feel helpless. It's like I see us both as two people who face their worst nightmares every night and all we can do is console each other. And we both know that it's not good enough." Ishaani heard him out patiently and spoke enigmatically.

"I don't know, Ranveer. It’s like there is this veil between us. Every time we are around each other, I don't know why, but there is this air, as though there is the solution to our problem. But it's like it more got to do with the other person, and not solely me or you. Do I make sense?"

"If you ask me, the closest I could come to describe that feeling was to 'yearning'. But what exactly was I yearning, I don't know." Ishaani frowned and her brows contracted in concentration.

"Like yearning for security?" Ranveer gave it a thought and nodded his head slowly.

"Something like that, yes. But it's stronger than yearning. I... don't know how to describe it." Ishaani let out a sigh and patted his hand.

"It’s alright. Atleast we know that the two of us are on the same page." Ranveer nodded his head, still sulking at the prospect of these torturous visions and spoke in a jaded tone.

"I feel tired. I've racked and racked my brains, yet I feel the answer walking away from me rather than towards. It’s frustrating." Ishaani gave him a consoling look and breathed out.

"I know. But trust me, we'll figure it out soon enough."

Ranveer smiled at Ishaani sadly and she gave him a reassuring nod. Yawning softly, Ishaani laid back on the bed once again, Ranveer's hand still within her own. Ranveer too laid himself comfortably and shut off the lamps, before speaking away, his tone suddenly pacified.

"This does seem like a good alternative for now, doesn't it?" Ishaani gave Ranveer a mollified smile before she spoke.

"The best security that I can think of."


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