Thursday, 1 June 2017

part 9 : Tera Mera Rishta By Sangeeta

After Anjali's attempted suicide, Armaan and Riddhima did not meet for many months except for casual hellos in the hospital hallways. Armaan passed the final MBBS exam at the top of the class. Anjali barely scraped through, thanks to the generousness of Dr Shashank Gupta's medical colleagues who were grading the exams.

Armaan was still looking for an opportunity to tell Anjali the truth but after the finals, Anjali and her parents had left for a month long US vacation (of course that is what they told everyone, they were actually going to meet world renowned psychiatrists in the US)

Armaan was now an intern and Riddhima was in 4 th year. SMI had a tradition, as part of their community service in the rural towns, they would send teams of 1 intern and 2 or 3 forth year students to different community clinics for a month long rotation. They would be responsible for running the clinic for a month, with the Intern acting as the supervisor for the 2 students. Adjacent to each clinic, was a small 2-bedroom house with a cook and a servant to help with day to day living. The clinic had 1 nurse and 1 compounder to help the young doctors.

As fate would have it, Armaan was assigned Sapna and Riddhima as his students for the month long rural rotation. They left for Madhupur village soon after they were assigned their rotations. Riddhima found out about Armaan after they reached their destination as he came separately after finishing some work in Mumbai.

Riddhima and Sapna had arrived 2 days back and had already settled in the cute little house. The house was surrounded by beautiful gardens with lots of flowers. There was a nice patio on the outside with a wooden swing and a table with 4 chairs. They had given a list of their favorite foods to the cook, Ramuji, an elderly gentleman who loved to please the students from "the big Sanjeevani hospital in Mumbai"

Riddhima and Sapna were sitting out on the porch in the evening, enjoying the sunset when they saw Armaan walk in with his bags. Armaan and Riddhima were initially pleased to see each other but soon froze as they remembered what had happened in the last few months.

"HI Armaan! Congratulations on topping the finals!" Sapna welcomed him.

"Thanks Sapna," he replied politely and glanced at Riddhima who just stood there silently. There was an awkward wall of silence between them; Anjali's suicide attempt had really affected their pleasant relationship over the past few months.

"Hum se zyaada kaam mat karwaana, please Armaan!!" Sapna tried to lighten up the air as she could sense some tension between her two colleagues. Riddhima had not told anyone about her feelings for Armaan or what had happened with Anjali the other night.

Armaan kept quiet and walked towards his room. "Ramu kaka, Khana tayyaar hai kya?" he shouted from his room. He was familiar with this center as he had spent his month in the 4 th year at the same place.

They all sat down to a delicious dinner but did not talk much. Sapna did most of the talking as Armaan and Riddhima just answered in monosyllables.

"Riddhima tumhein kya ho gaya hai?" Sapna asked when they were getting ready for bed. Riddhima and Sapna shared 1 room and left the other one for Armaan.
"Kuch nahin….bas thak gayi hoon." Riddhima lied.

"Armaan ko dekh karr hi thakaan shuroo ho gayi. Ab jab kaam karayega tho kya hoga?" Sapna laughed as she thought about working with Armaan, the "slave driver"

Riddhima then sat down beside Sapna and told her the truth….her feelings for Armaan….how they used to meet so often…how Anjali had warned her…..

"Humnein tumhein pehle hi warn kiya tha….wo Anjali crazy hai…..Armaan se door hi rehna…parr tumney hamari ek bhi nahin suni….chalo achha hai wo US gayi huyi hai….hopefully yahan uske koyi informers nahin hai," Sapna replied.

"Informers?" Riddhima was surprised.

"Yes, Riddhima, hospital ke aadhe students, residents, aur nurses uske informers hain… are safe here because I can't stand her….but how will you resist his charm my dear….yahan tho din raat ka saath hai…..achha hai main kabaab mein haddi hoon….warna tho……" Sapna teased her as Riddhima threw a pillow at her in return, "STOP IT SAPNA!"

The three of them started working the very next morning. Soon Armaan and Riddhima were sharing the same warmth and rapport as if nothing had transpired in the last few months. Armaan trusted her judgement with various patients and he gave her a lot of freedom in treating the patients.

Sapna enjoyed reading all the Xrays; she had her heart set on becoming a radiologist. Riddhima was sure she wanted to become a Pediatrician (child specialist); she practically took charge of all the young patients.

Armaan was amazed to see that Riddhima never lost her cool, was always calm and never panicked even in the most emergent situations. He just loved watching her all day- for him that was the biggest treat of this rotation. The three of them would work in the clinic all day and then retire to their 'house' in the evenings.

Sapna was pleasantly surprised to see a changed Armaan- no more attitude, no bossing around, he had become caring and sensitive towards his patients…..she guessed it was all because of Riddhima....hmm pyaar kya kya rang dikhaata hai she thought.

They would sit outside and talk for hours. Sapna could sense how comfortable Armaan and Riddhima were with each other; they could be with each other for hours and not even notice if a third person was there. She could tell they were madly in love with each other….just helpless!

Sapna and Riddhima would wake up early and take long walks into the open fields surrounding the house. Riddhima was very fond of flowers; she would often bring some back with her and arrange them throughout the house. Armaan observed Riddhima quietly, he was happy to see her so cheerful and full of live. She would always be humming a song and dancing around the house and gardens….how he wanted to hold her and kiss her and pour his feelings out for her. Riddhima was aware that Armaan's eyes followed her everywhere….how she also longed to be in his arms but ANJALI- even in her absence had become an invisible wall between them.

"Sapna, tumhara phone hai" one morning Riddhima answered a call as she was going in for a shower.

"Thanks," Sapna took the receiver as Riddhima went to shower.

When Riddhima came out, she saw Sapna packing her bags as she was wiping her tears.

"Sapna, kya hua?" Riddhima was concerned

"Mujhe aaj hi Mumbai jaana hoga…..mere papa hospital mein hai….he had a massive heart attack!" she started sobbing on Riddhima's shoulders.

Riddhima tried to console her and helped her pack. Sapna soon left by the hospital bus. Armaan and Riddhima were left alone to manage the clinic. Their work load increased but they did not mind that at all…..when they were together, somehow, they never got tired.


As usual Armaan was watching Riddhima pluck the flowers from the garden when he heard a loud scream and saw her collapse in the field. "RIDDHIMAAA!!" he ran to her rescue.

He found her unconscious and saw a long black poisonous snake slither away into the bushes. He panicked and carried her inside. He saw the fang marks on her left ankle, as her foot and leg were starting to turn grey…..he quickly got a cloth from the kitchen and tied it on her calf as a tourniquet to prevent the snake poison from spreading towards her heart. There was no one else to help; he called for the compounder and asked him for snake anti-venin (antidote for snake poison).

"Wo tho shahar jaakar laana padhega saahab"

Armaan took out a lot of cash and said, "Abhi issi waqt jaakar lekar aayo….paise ki chinta mat karo…..isski jaan mere liye bahut keemti hai….jaldi jao!" he was trembling with fear,

"achha sahib….1 ghanta tho lag jaayega"

"Jitni jaldi ho sake….." Armaan squeezed some more cash into his hand

Armaan sat down with his face in his hands…..he had never felt so helpless….he was always Mr. Confident when emergencies were presented to him……but today when he saw his love in danger….why were his hands shaking…….? He got up and knew that he was the only one who could save her in this remote village.

He suddenly remembered the old fashioned way of sucking the poison out. He bent down on her ankle and made a small incision around the bite with a scalpel and started sucking out the poison with his mouth…..he sucked as hard as he could…checking her pulses and breathing intermittently. Riddhima was still unconscious but still had life in her.

Armaan had never believed in God till now…..he looked up in the sky and prayed, "God, if you really there, you will be on my side today…I have never asked you for anything…please meri jaan ko bachaa lo" He had tears rolling down his eyes as he saw some blood oozing out from the bite wound ….that was not a good sign….it means the poison was spreading…..he sucked harder to get as much poison out as possible. Her pulse was becoming feeble….Armaan prayed, "Bhagwan yadi aapney isse nahin bachayaa tho main bhi……" he paused as he heard "sahib, yeh rahi dawa"

Armaan saw the compounder with the vials in his hand……it was like God had himself come to him with the only remaining hope…..he drew up the anti toxin in a syringe and injected into her veins. He waited for a few minutes and kept checking her pulse and breathing. His tears were constantly flowing……he was not sure whether it was too late……

Riddhima finally opened her eyes, "Armaan? Main yahan?" she looked around to see blood, scalpels, needles, gauzes all around her……Armaan could not believe his eyes…..

As she tried to get up, Armaan came and sat down on the bed,"leti raho…..main sab samjhata hoon" his tears were still rolling down.

"AAAHHH!" she cried in pain as she moved her leg. He put his hand on her ankle and said, "Riddhima mere zindagi kaa aaj sabsey badha imtihaan tha….mujhe laga maine tumhey hamesha ke liye kho diya hai…..aaj mujhey pata chala tum mere liye kya ho? Main tumhare bina bilkul adhhora hoon.....I can't live without you Riddhima….I love you…." He could not control his emotions.

She understood the gravity of the situation as she remembered falling in the garden after a painful sting. She gazed at him with tears in her eyes; his pain at the thought of losing her was obvious in his eyes. She could not control herself either and hugged him tightly, burying her face in his chest, "Armaan….I love you too……I can't help it….I am sorry….I can't live without you either."

Armaan lifted her face from the chin, "You don't have to be sorry….."he bent over her face and kissed her lips softly. Riddhima reciprocated and did not let go of him…..

That accident had changed their lives forever…..they both knew they could not live without each other…..they knew they were made for each other….even if they had to fight anyone…they were not going to part.

Armaan spent the whole night nursing her wound and taking care of her needs. He refused to go back to his room. Riddhima went off to sleep in his arms as he cuddled her all night.

He thought, "Riddhima, tum se pehle main jaanta bhi nahin tha ki pyaar kya hota hai….bus kitaabon mein likhi baat lagti thi….parr ab ehsaas hua hai ki pyaar sabse khubsoorat cheez hai" he kept kissing her face, hands and neck as she slept in his arms like a baby. He was no longer an atheist….he looked up and thanked God for his most precious possession!


Armaan was ready for the clinic when Riddhima woke up. "Aaj, tum yahin rest karo…main clinic sambhal loonga" he sat down beside her and kissed her hands.

"Parr akele kaise karr loge? Sapna bhi nahin hai…" she protested.

"Main kuch nahin sun na chahta…these are the doctors orders...understand?….Ramu kaka ghar par hi rahengey aur tumhey jo chahiye, wo le aayenge….you just rest…GOT IT!" she smiled as she remembered how he used to always say "GOT IT" when he wanted to be bossy. But today his 'GOT IT' had an endearing emotion behind it- she loved his 'pyaar ki daant'

When Armaan left, Riddhima saw flowers all around her room…Armaan had gone out early morning and picked her favorite flowers. He knew how much she loved the fresh morning flowers. She blushed and started humming this beautiful song:

"Rajnigandha phool tumhare" from "Rajnigandha"

rajaneegandhaa phool tumhaare, mahake yoo hee jeewan mein
yoo hee mahake pareet piyaa kee mere anuraagee man mein

aadhikaar ye jab se saajan kaa har dhadakan par maanaa maine
mai jab se un ke saath bandhee, ye bhed tabhee jaanaa maine
kitanaa sukh hain bandhan mein

har pal meree in aakhon mein bas rahate hain sapane un ke
man kahataa hain main rangon kee, yek pyaar bharee badalee ban ke
barasoo un ke aangan mein

….to be continued…

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