Saturday, 13 June 2015

Part 5 : DMG 3

2 yrs later

Sir, sir plz you've got to hold still, otherwise the stitches won't hold, I'm telling you your wife is fine she just has a sprained wrist: said the frustrated nurse.

Ok I'll hold still just let me check on my wife: said Armaan, the nurse for the last fifteen minutes had been trying to stitch the gash up on his forehead let him go and said: second bed from the door.
Armaan rushed to where directed. They were in the Emergency ward of the Panchgani Hospital. Armaan and Ridhima had gone to Panchagani on a medical conference on their way back they had an accident. For the past two years both have been working at Sanjeevani for their post graduation and specialization. Due to their busy schedules and ambition both had decided to postpone starting a



family until they had completed their specializations. Even though they loved each other but distance had started to creep up into their relationship. They hardly ever spent any time together as both kept very hectic schedules. They were rarely home spending most of time at Sanjeevani forgetting day to day things like payment of utility bills etc. Once they managed to get some time off together but as there was no electricity due to non payment of bill they spent all the time fighting. As both refused to change their life styles the problems continued. As a solution Dr. Shashank offered them to move in with them. Shashank and Padma provided them with separate upstairs portion so that they could have their privacy. This trip to Panchgani was not only for a conference but to send some time together but unfortunately the time was spent completely at the conference. As they were about to leave for Mumbai by road a slight drizzle had started. As they left the rain had turned into a downpour making the road treacherous to navigate. The accident happened as both were arguing whether to stop and wait for the rain to cease. Ridhima wanted to continue as she wanted to reach Mumbai as she had a surgery scheduled for the next morning and waiting for the rain to stop could be indefinite. As they were arguing  a car swerved out of nowhere in front of them making armaan jerk the steering wheel sharply towards the left which made the tires skid and as Armaan tried to control the car he braked hard and banged into a tree. Making Armaan smash his head onto the steering wheel and Ridhima banged into her side of the door.

As Armaan made his way to Ridhima he was relieved when he saw her sitting on the bed having her sprained wrist wrapped by a nurse. He walked to her and touched her hair and said: hey you all right!
Ridz looked up at him, seeing him exclaimed: Armaan! What are you doing? Why haven't you had that gash stitched up. (As her wrist was wrapped she immediately got hold of the nurse)and said: Nurse, plz aap inke stitches laga dein.

As the nurse stitched him up, Ridhima and Armaan kept quiet as they knew their plan for leaving that day were less. First the car needed to be checked out and second the doctor needed to give Armaan discharge as he had sustained head injury. He was asked by the nurse to stay in for observation for a couple of hours and the doctor would get to him as soon as possible. Knowing how the system worked they both decided to relax , they were directed to a room. Armaan was made to lie down and Ridhima made herself comfortable in the chair nearby. Soon both of them dozed off while waiting for the doctor, occasionally a nurse use to check in with them and take readings on the chart of Armaan. After something like 3 hrs had passed Armaan who was in half sleep state heard a familiar laugh.
He didn't know why but that laugh and murmur of voices made his heart beat a bit faster, his bodies strange reaction made him fully awake. He kept lying there and looked at Ridhima who was asleep in her chair. He again heard voices this time nearer and clearer. The first voice: yaar! You are killing me remind me never to place a bet against you next time.(a familiar female laugh)and then : yaar her baar yahin kehte ho per seekhte nahin ho, ab mein patient ko dekh loon phir shart ke paise letin hoon.

Armaan who was listening to the exchange didn't get a chance to react and suddenly the door swung open and in walked someone who he hadn't expected to see ever.  The lady who had walked in and greeted him unconsciously stood rooted to the spot with her eyes wide open. She stood there in a pale blue cotton sarree something he had never seen her in before and her hair pulled back in a loose braid. Her face was still heartbreakingly beautiful, she was still slender as before, it felt as only yesterday that she had left Sanjeevani  yesterday but looking into her beautiful hazel eyes he realized nothing was as it was the last time they met.

Shilpa couldn't believe of all the days how was it possible that he was in front of her. All these years no contact from their end and now suddenly out of the blue there he was. She immediately glanced towards the sleeping form on the chair and recognized Ridhima. Her eyes widened and the hope that she had suppressed all these years bloomed in her eyes and her hand lifted towards her on her own accord as if to touch her. She stopped herself suddenly and her gaze swung back to Armaan who suddenly lowered his gaze but not before she was able to discern the look of guilt in his eyes. That one look was enough for she immediately understood that he had never told her the truth and realizing that her joy at meeting them after 3 yrs died, hope that had risen in her of Ridhima coming to acknowledge her as a sister died, they weren't here to meet here, judging from the shock on his face they didn't even remember that she existed. She wanted to scream at him, punch him on his lovely face but years of practice made Shilpa rein in her emotions. Armaan looked up at Shilpa and saw the emotions play on her face. The involuntary way her hand had lifted towards Ridhima, the joy she had felt on recognizing them, the dawning of the truth that he hadn't told the truth, spark of an emotion both foreign and dangerous and then her beautiful eyes went blank, devoid of any emotion. Before both of them could say anything Ridhima opened her eyes and looked over at Shilpa. She initially didn't recognize her and said: Doctor, I'm so glad you are here, now if you'll check my husband ……(as she got a good look of her face she exclaimed): oh my god shilpa! I can't believe this (saying this she walked over and hugged Shilpa and continued): how are you ? my god its been three years the last we met.

Shilpa hugged her back not looking at Armaan replied with a smile: I'm good. How are you both? Long time no see haan. Yahan kaise panchgani mein.
Ridz: haan ek conference pae aye thae (looking over at Armaan )said: Shilpa after you left we I mean Armaan and I got married .
Shilpa: ya I know congratulations, I believe it has been two yrs now na.
Both Armaan and Ridhima were surprised b'coz as far as they knew no one from their circle was in touch with Shilpa, before they could ask her a nurse walked in and said: Dr. Shilpa, plz if you could check this patient we have kept him under observation for a couple of hours. Here is his chart if no problem could you plz sign his discharge papers we are in need of the room for other patient. Shilpa started going over the papers in the file. She then walked over to armaan, took out a slim torch from her lab coat pocket leaned over him and said: plz look straight. (She checked his  eyes by flashing light to see the pupils)
She was firm and professional, she asked him if he was feeling any pain or disorientation, he replied in negative. She quickly signed the discharge papers and handed them over to the nurse. She turned towards them and said: I've signed your release papers you are free to go. So are you people staying at a hotel or what.
Armaan stood up from the bed and replied: we just checked out and were on our way back to Mumbai when the accident happened.
Ridz: yes . I think we'll just continue our way back.
Shilpa: excuse me no wonder you guys had an accident have you looked outside it is raining cats and dogs and the sun has set  over an hour ago. Not a good day to start your drive back to Mumbai, in my opinion take your rest tonite and start your journey tomorrow morning.
Armaan: that does sound reasonable. I suppose then we better go and find ourselves some accommodation.
Ridz: Oh god! I just hate hotels, armaan can't we go somewhere else(she whined).
Armaan: where else am I suppose to get accommodation at …..
Shilpa interrupted: sorry to cut you but I wouldn't mind if you two would like and stay at my home.
Ridz: Honestly shilpa you are a life saver.
Armaan: if it isn't too much of trouble.
Shilpa: oh comeon I wouldn't have offered if it had been a bother, plus we are used to feeding extra set of mouths. (she ended with a smile and then added): why don't you guys end up here as I'm also getting off duty I'll meet you by the reception.
As they agreed she walked out the door quickly. Ridhima to Armaan: can you believe it after all these years we bump into Shilpa.
Armaan: yeah! She has changed na, shilpa in a saree who would've expected that
Talking together, they gathered their few belongings and walked out of the room towards the reception. As they reached the reception they saw a guy in white lab coat hand shilpa money. As they reached her they heard the guy say: you can count the money if you want but it is the agreed amount of Rs. 5000/- as decided for the bet.
Shilpa: I'm regretting agreeing to the bet for only this amount should have doubled it the least for all the bother of wearing this saree for two days. (sensing their presence she turned their way and said): hey you guys ready comm'on lets go. Your car is in a good enough shape so you'll be driving as I don't own a car. Waise bhi paas mein hi jaana hai.
As they walked outside the hospital it was actually raining very hard as they stood in the shelter both Armaan and Ridhima got startled by a shrill whistle blown by Shilpa. Before they could react she took the car keys from Armaan and handed them to a guard who had come running on hearing the whistle. Both Armaan and Ridhima just stared at Shilpa with their mouths open, in a minute the car had reached them. They all got into the car with Shilpa sitting in the back seat. As they got out of the hospital Shilpa directed Armaan towards her home. Soon they had reached their destination but instead of a house they had stopped outside Panchgani Orphanage. On being asked whether she had some business to take care here, she replied with a smile: no. this is home. I live here. (with those words uttered she got out of the car and rushed towards the main building).
Both Armaan and Ridhima were shocked none of them had known anything about Shilpa or where she lived. They also reached the main building as they entered they were met by an elderly woman with kind eyes and warm smile. Shilpa introduced her as the care taker of the orphanage and called her maasi. Shilpa: aur maasi yeh hain Dr. Ridhima aur Dr. Armaan Sanjeevani Mumbai se.
Maasi: acha to aap  ho ridhima aur armaan. Aapke bare mein shilpa se bohat suna tha. Aao ander.
Shilpa: maasi inko guest room mein le jaein.(turning towards Armaan and Ridhima): you two must be tired go and rest if you want anything someone must be around to help you.(that said she left for her room)

Armaan and Ridhima were shown to their room where their luggage had also been placed. Both were in a daze and didn't know how to respond. They changed into fresh clothes and laid down to rest, in no time they were fast asleep. The next when they woke up it was in the middle of the night around 12 or something, obviously they had missed dinner. But after a muffin in the morning and a salad for lunch at the conference their stomachs were rumbling with hunger. After debating the issue they decided to raid the kitchen. As they made their way outside, they tried to be as quiet as possible as everyone had called it a night. As both didn't where the kitchen was they were taking their time looking around. They walked towards a passage hoping to find something edible at the end of it, the passage opened into a courtyard where sat a lone figure apparently lost in thought. Even though they had been quiet something had alerted the person to their presence. As the person turned swiftly to their surprise it was Shilpa in a pair of blue denims with white tee. She exclaimed: finally awake! And let me guess hungry.(as of cue both their stomachs made rumbling sound, all three of them laughed)    

Shilpa: why don't you guys grab a chair and I'll get you something to eat. (as they got comfortable, Shilpa came out in a little while with a plate full of sandwiches three cups of coffee. As they all sat their munching away at the sandwiches, Ridhima remembered the question she wanted to ask shilpa: hmm.. shilpa earlier you said you knew that Armaan and I were married, where did u hear it from.
Looking at her Shilpa replied with a smile: Sid told me.(on hearing sid's name ridhima just froze). Shilpa continued as if she didn't notice anything: he also sent me your pictures, (before Armaan could interrupt, which he looked for all intents and purposes)apparently someone emailed them to him and he forwarded them to me. I must say Ridhima you looked ravishing on your wedding.
Ridhima forced herself to relax and thanked her with a smile. She then asked Shilpa another question: Shilpa how long have you been living here?

 Shilpa: since I was fifteen
Ridz: and before that?
Shilpa: before that I lived at another orphanage here in Panchgani.
Ridz: did you know your parents(to which Armaan sharply looked at Ridhima and then at Shilpa)
Shilpa: my parents and I use to live in America when I was 5 yrs old we shifted to India and they had accident and rest you know is history(she ended wryly).
Ridz: I'm sure they must have been wonderful people just like you. Your personality shows that they have instilled in you great set of morals and I'm sorry I was so inconsiderate when we met…..(she stopped abruptly when Shilpa who was sipping her coffee had coffee spewing out of her mouth and nose)
An equally astounded Armaan immediately got up and started thumping Shilpa on the back and said: are you alright.
Shilpa who was laughing now turned and got hold of Armaan's hand and said: enough! I'm alright now.
Armaan: but what happened
Shilpa: you've got to tell your wife to stop joking around (and continued giggling)
Ridz: but I wasn't doing anything I was sincerely apologizing and appreciating your parents ….(and shilpa again started laughing, bewildered Ridhima threw her hands up in the air and looked at Armaan and then at Shilpa and said: now what did I do
Shilpa still laughing said: sorry but the fact is that my parents had the morals of an alley cat and they couldn't be bothered whether I lived or died.(there was a silence at the end of shilpa uttering these words)Armaan who was looking at Shilpa utter these words nonchalantly said: what happened?
Shilpa: what happened? What happened was that my father was a flirt, a cheat a womanizer. He managed to trick a girl from Mumbai in love, had an illicit affair with her, knocked her up and ran away to America. There he got down to business again, managed to knock up a girl again but in this instance the girl had a father who had a shotgun so they had to get married and nine months later voila! I was born. The truth is there was no happily ever after for them, they hated each other. Even after the marriage they lived their own life, both having innumerable affairs, and both having no interest in my well being. I was the mistake both had to live with daily. (after a pause)He decided to leave America as he was facing loss in his business and came back to India. In Mumbai he purchased a house, the same one where you lived (gesturing towards Ridhima)his lawyer a friend of his was looking after his affairs. He took me and mother along for a business trip to Panchgani on the way back he was drinking, we smashed into a lorry they both died on the spot and I was handed over to the orphanage.
Ridz: so you don't have any relative in the world.
Shilpa looked at her intently for a second her gaze then swung to Armaan and then back to Ridhima and continued: my father had gotten a woman pregnant in Mumbai she was suppose to work in a hospital and had given birth to a baby girl.(she ended with her gaze on Ridhima)
Ridhima who was already feeling a bit discomfited with the conversation started to feel as if something was wrong. Armaan couldn't believe what was happening but stayed quiet. Shilpa continued: I found out that the woman had given her daughter up for adoption to a good family(Ridhima had started to feel as if someone was suffocating her , she didn't want to hear all of this but couldn't stop her either)The girl went on to become a doctor as her adopted father is also a doctor (by this time Ridhima's breaths were coming out in audible gasps) she found out that she was adopted recently a couple of yrs back, so yes I do have a relative I have a half sister.

Ridhima couldn't take it anymore and said: I think we should leave now its quite late (and started to walk away) Shilpa continued as if she had never spoken making Ridhima stop in her tracks: I came to Mumbai to search for her, I joined Sanjeevani so that I could be near her, meet her tell her about our relationship. Do you want to know her name?(on encountering silence from both of them she continued)her name is Dr. Ridhima Gupta or now that she is married Ridhima Malik.(Hearing this Ridhima closed her eyes and said to Armaan: I want to leave now
Armaan: per Ridhima….
Ridz: abhi!
Shilpa: kya hua ridhima di apni choti behn se nahin milo gi.
Ridhima ran away from there to her room. Armaan who was left behind turned and said to Shilpa: kya istarha batana zaroori tha
Shilpa: kyun tumhara intezaar karti ke shayad agle 5 saloon mein tum bata do gae ya phir kabhie nahin.
Knowing that he was in wrong Armaan walked away to his room where Ridhima refused to talk about it and kept insisting on leaving immediately. Considering every thing Armaan agreed and at 4 in the morning they both left Panchgani Orphanage without saying goodbye. As Armaan was driving he looked back in the rear view mirror and saw Shilpa standing at the door looking at them leave with an unreadable expression and he knew that nothing was ever going to be the same.

Amani

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