Sunday, 9 July 2017

PART 1& 2 : Ehsaas



"I would like to welcome all the surgical residents to their final year of training. As you all know, our medical college takes pride in training the best physicians and surgeons in this country. As per tradition, all our final year students have to spend one year training in an underserved area of our state. This part of your training not only helps you hone your skills as a surgeon, but serves the people of these smaller communities. This year, we have selected some towns, where we have not sent our residents before. As a part of your training, you will get to work with one of the local doctors and be paid a monthly stipend of Rs 1000.00 per month. I know it sounds very meager, but as you know you all are still learning, and we want you to get a taste of working in a smaller and underserved community. I am sure you would all cherish this experience and fondly remember this year in the years to come. Here is a list of the postings for all of you. GOOD LUCK!"

"Yaar...maine suna hai, kayi shehron mein tho bijli bhi nahin hoti......main aaj tak AC ke bina nahin raha.apni life mein....." Abhimanyu Modi, a final year surgical resident complained. He was the son of a rich doctor, who basically went to med school on his dad's insistence. He wanted his son to take over his lucrative cosmetic surgery practice after his retirement.

"Abhimanyu! Aisa kar, apne saath ek generator bhi saath le jaana......tere dad arrange kar denge....," Armaan Malik, his good friend and colleague said sarcastically.

Armaan Malik came from a middle class background. His parents had died when he was 14 years old. His sister, Keerti and brother-in-law, Shubhankar had helped him get through high school and medical school. Keerti and Shubhankar now lived in Bangalore, where Shubhankar was a software engineer at a multinational company.

Both Armaan and Abhimanyu were popular in the campus, the former for his good looks, intelligence and charming nature; the latter for his good looks and fat bank balance.

Abhimanyu was a magnet for attractive young girls; he would rather spend his time flirting with them than focusing on his work. He knew that no one could stop him from graduating from this program, and he could join his dad whenever he was ready to practice.

Armaan, on the other hand, was very ambitious and focused. He knew this was his chance to prove his worth and make a name for himself. He was looking forward to his posting at a nearby small town called Ramgarh. He always imagined working in a small town, where his skills could make a difference to the kind of care people received. He excelled as a physician and surgeon and had always graduated at the top of his class. He knew a lot of his female colleagues were interested in him, but he limited his interaction with them to casual friendships. He did not want to get into a serious relationship, till he was ready to settle down and most of all- FIND THE RIGHT GIRL!

Armaan and Abhimanyu usually hung out with two other women, who they knew since the early days of medical college, Muskaan and Sapna. Muskaan was now training to become an obstetrician and Sapna, a radiologist. The four of them still took time to hang out together and go out for dinner or movies once in a while.

The four friends met at their favorite coffee shop before Armaan and Abhimanyu left for their year-long assignments.

Muskaan was almost like a sister to Armaan, "Armaan.....tho tum ek saal ke liye Ramgarh jaa rahe ho......hmm...kahin wahan koi gaaon ki gori na mil jaaye?" she laughed as she knew Armaan liked women to be modern, independent and well-educated.

"Gaaon ki gori kam se kam tum jaisi chaaloo tho nahin hogi," he punched Muskaan playfully

"Haan...par anpadh ganwaar tho ho sakti hai...." Muskaan teased him back

"NO WAY! No anpadh ganwaars for me! Don't worry Muskaan, Ramarh jaise sheher mein English bolne waali bhi mil jaaye na tho ganeemat hoga.....i have my doubts....main ek saal ke baad jab wapas aaoonga, mere liye ek ultramodern ladki tayyar rakhna...OK!"

"Abhimanyu...tera kya hoga kaaliya?" Armaan patted Abhimanyu's back

Abhimanyu sat with his feet on the table and blew smoke whorls in the air. He took another whiff of his cigarette and looked at the ceiling, "don't worry yaar! Mere dad ne meri saza kam karwa di hai....mujhey sirf teen mahine ek small town called Ferozpur mein kaam karna hoga.....the rest of my time will be spent in London..."


"London?" Sapna had a puzzled look, "how did you manage that?"

" dear donated 20 lakhs for the new surgical wing...that's can buy anything...." Abhimanyu replied proudly.

Armaan just grinned, "except ethics.....self-respect......hard work....."

"OH C'mon Armaan! Not need to go out in the real world, and then you will realize.....dekhtey hain ek saal baad tere iraade kya hote hain?" Abhimanyu scoffed at Armaan's self-righteous comments as usual.


"OK guys...main chalta hoon....i need to pack, meri train kal subah 6 baje ki hai....see you all in a year!" Armaan got up and hugged all his friends

"Phone tho karte rehna....." Muskaan said tearfully

"yadi gaaon ki gori ne ijaazat de di tho...," Armaan pinched her nose and they both laughed as he left.


Armaan arrived at the small, single platform train station and looked around, "Dr Misra ne tho kaha tha koi mujhey lene aayega'..yahan tho koi driver type aadmi dikh nahin raha'.lagta hai richshaw ya paidal hi jaana padhega'.,"

" Dr. Malik 'Dr Malik!" Armaan turned around as he heard his name. He was surprised to see a young, thin and attractive woman waving at him. He went closer and saw a cheerful girl, dressed in a salwaar-kameez, with big brown, but very expressive eyes, "Jee'main Dr Malik hoon..," he introduced himself.

"Oh HI! I am Riddhima Gupta. I have come to pick you up."

Armaan was startled and thought, "lagta hai yeh bhi Ramgarh ghoomney aayi hai'"

"Shall we?" Riddhima asked, flashing her innocent and cheerful smile.

"Sure!" Armaan picked his bag and followed the young woman.

"Riddhima jee'kaisi hain? Kya haal hai madam?.....Aaj bacchon ko school nahin bheja madam'..Namaste madam'.." a lot of people seemed to know Riddhima well. They all smiled and greeted her respectfully.

"Lagta hai aap thode he dinon mein kaafi popular ho gayi hain'" Armaan said

"Thode hi din? She was surprised by his question

"Nahin'mera matlab hai ki aap bhi tho ek visitor hai na yahan?"

"Visitor? Nahin..nahin main tho issi sheher ki hoon'..paida bhi yahin huyi thi aur maroongi bhi yahin''" Riddhima looked back and smiled at him.

There was something very enchanting about her smile; Armaan found himself staring at her lips and beautiful teeth intently.

Riddhima snapped her fingers, "Doctor sahib..kahan kho gaye?"

"Oh'kuch nahin'.I guess I figured you are a visitor because'because'." Armaan hesitated

"I am an English teacher at the local elementary school'..I hope that clears your confusion'," she laughed as she understood why he was so intrigued.

Armaan was really surprised again when Riddhima unlocked the door to a car, and let him in to the passenger seat.

She took his bag and put it into the trunk. He was amazed and just stared at her.

Riddhima sat in the driver'seat and started the car, "tho aap soch rahe the main aap ko taange mein lene aaoongi'..ab yahan Basanti ka raaj nahin hai'..this is the 21 st century doctor, ab Ramgarh mein bhi cars zyaada aur rickshaw-taange kam dikhte hain'.chalein?"


This girl was full of surprises! Armaan thought, "Muskaan'you need to meet this gaaon ki gori!"

"Kuch kaha aapne?" Riddhima asked as she turned at the stop sign.

"Nahin'.kuch nahin'tho aap English teacher hain?'hmm'.phir Dr Shashank Misra ko kaise jaanti hain?" Armaan asked

"Wo mere maama hain''main waise tho school mein padhaati hoon, par unke ghar aati jaati rehti hoon'wo akele hai na ab'..aur boodhe bhi ho gaye hain'..I like to hang out with him'.he is happy that you will be working with him'," Riddhima kept chatting and telling him about Dr Misra and his practice.

Armaan was amused to see how chatty this English teacher was. He just listened to her as she went on and on.

"Aap kuch bol nahin rahe doctor?" Riddhima finally asked

"Lagta hai Basanti tho chali gayi, par apni legacy chhod gayi hai'.," Armaan laughed. Riddhima joined him and laughed aloud, "you have a good sense of humor doctor!" be continued'.



Riddhima drove through the crowded streets of Ramgarh effortlessly. She was very familiar with every pothole and curve on the road.

"Arre'arre'watch out'aage ek bhains baithi hai!" Armaan warned her.

"Don't worry'..mujhey aadat hai'.mamaji ne car tho kayi saalon se le rakhi hai, par unhey drive karne se darr lagta hai'..tabhi main hi chalaati hoon unki gaadi'.aap bhi use kar sakte hain'.gaadi ghar par hi khadi rehti hai'.maamaji ka clinic ghar par hi hai na'.unhe yadi kahin jaana hota hai tho wo abhi bhi rickshaw hi bula lete hain'..kyonki wo drive karne se'," Riddhima rambled on

Armaan just nodded his head and rolled his eyes, "darrte hai na!" he completed her sentence.

Riddhima turned a little red-faced from embarrassment, "sorry Dr Malik'..main thoda zyaada bolti hoon'..," she looked at the visiting doctor from the corner of her eyes and noticed a faint smile on his handsome face. He had little stubble on his face from not having shaved today and she noticed that he barely had any leg room for his tall legs-she thought, "yeh sach much doctor hai kya? Mujhey tho actor jaisa lagta hai'."

Armaan glanced at her and caught her staring at him, "kya hua? Chup kaise ho gayi aap?"

"wo'wo'kuch nahin'..main soch rahi thi ki aap kaam aaj se hi start karenge ya aaj thoda rest karna chahenge?" Riddhima stuttered.

"Jaisa Dr Misra chaahe'." Armaan replied

They arrived at a cute little two-storey home surrounded by a tall concrete fence. There was a small garden with beautiful flowers in front of the house. The house looked old from outside and seemed like it had not been painted for years. There were benches and chairs in the front patio-probably a waiting area for the patients.

Armaan took out his bag from the trunk and followed Riddhima.

"Mamaji'mamaji'," Riddhima yelled as they walked in.

"Riddhima bitiyaa'..Doctor sahib abhi ek mareez dekh rahe hain'.," a middle-aged lady came out and said.

"theek hai maasi'.maasi yeh Dr Armaan Malik hai'.yeh mamaji ke saath kaam karenge'.," Riddhima introduced the visitor.

"Namaste!" Armaan said politely

"Jeete raho beta'..main yahan Dr Misra ki nurse hoon'..kuch bhi chahiye tho bataana'.chalo Riddhima main chalti hoon, Doctor sahib ke saath Raghuram ke ghar jaana hai'." The nurse said. Her name was Lovely and she had worked with Dr Shashank Misra for the last 25 years. She had not undergone any formal training to be a nurse, but her hands-on experience and dedication to Dr Misra had trained her very well. No one could tell that she had never been to nursing school.

"Yaad aaya Raghuram ki biwi ke baccha hone waala hai na?" Riddhima remembered.

"Haan'.Dr Malik aap bhi chalenge?" Lovely asked

"Sure'par main ek surgeon hoon'..bacche paida nahin karta'." Armaan hesitated at that suggestion.

Riddhima started laughing, "Dr Malik'..yahan aap sab kuch hain'.this is not Mumbai'..aap surgeon bhi hai aur gynaecologist bhi hain'.."

Armaan took a big gulp and wondered, "yeh kaisi training hai? Main apni surgical skills kahin kho na baithoon.."

"Aap chai peeyenge Dr Malik?" Riddhima asked.

"poonch kyon rahi hai'..banaade'.Dr Malik thak gaye honge'." Lovely intervened

"Nahin main chai nahin peeta'." Armaan added.

Lovely and Riddhima laughed, "tho aap yahan survive kaise karenge?"

"Kyon? Chai ke bina bahut log survive kar lete hain.." Armaan was puzzled at that comment.

"Nahin Dr Malik'..aap ko tho yahan din mein 10-10 baar chai peeni padhegi'..aap jis ke ghar bhi jaayenge wahan yadi aapne chai nahin pee tho wo bura maan jaayenge'.Ramgarh ke log mehmaanbaazi mein bahut vishwaas karte hain'..yadi aapne kisi bhi cheez ke liye na keh diya na, tho wo rooth jaayenge'." Lovely smiled and said.

"Oh really? Ok''par pehle aap mujhey mera room dikha deejiye, yeh bag rakhna hai'." Armaan wanted to get away from these two talkative women

"Chaliye'.mere saath chaliye'" Riddhima led the way upstairs.

Armaan was pleased to see his room- it was small, but neat with a twin bed and a desk in the corner, "Thanks Riddhima jee'"

"Riddhima jee?" she laughed out aloud, "aap mujhey sirf Riddhima keh kar hi pukaariye'..main aap se choti hoon'..kuch chahiye tho mujhey awaaz de dena'.main neeche hi hoon'."

Armaan smiled and nodded his head, "Thanks Riddhima!"

"You are welcome doctor!" she said cheerfully and disappeared.

Armaan freshened up and came downstairs to find a number of snacks and tea ready in a kettle on the coffee table, "itni jaldi sab kaise prepare kar liya?"

Lovely was still there, "Dr Malik aap yahan kuch din rahenge tho samajh jaayenge ki Riddhima ko aap ek kaam bolo, par wo dus cheezein ek saath kar degi'.wo hi sambhaalthi hai Dr Misra ka ghar'..unki patni kuch saal pehle hi chal basi, tab se Riddhima hi unki sab kuch hai'."

"Oh really? Par Riddhima school mein teacher hai na?"

"Haan'.wo bhi karti hai''par aaj schools ki chutti hai'." Lovely poured tea in a cup

" Hello Dr Malik! I am Dr Shashank Misra!" a tall, grey haired gentleman walked in with a slight limp.

Armaan got up and shook his hand, 'Hello Dr Misra! It is my pleasure to meet you.."

"Baitho'baitho'.aaj Riddhima bitiya ne kya banaaya hai hamare mehmaan ke liye'.oh samose aur Jalebi?" Dr Misra's mouth watered

"Mamaji'aap ki sugar kya thi aaj?Hmm' jalebis for you'" Riddhima walked in and brought a bowl of upma for Dr Misra, "aap ke liye yeh hai'..jalebi ki taraf dekhiye bhi mat!"

"Uffo'.tu tho mujhey aise hi maar degi''.kabhie tho apne boodhe mama par taras khaaya kar?" Dr Misra said dejectedly.

"Aap kitne mareejon pe taras khaate hain?" Riddhima fed Dr Misra the upma with a spoon like a mother.

Armaan was amused to see the dynamics in this house. Looked like Dr Misra and Lovely were both very dependent on this fragile looking petite girl.

"Dr Misra'..Raghuram ke ghar se bulaawa aaya hai'..daai keh rahi hai ki doctor ki zaroorat hai''" Lovely came back in with a message

"chalo Dr Malik'.aapka first case'..jao tum Lovely ke saath chale jao'..main kuch der aaram kar leta hoon'..aaj jodon mein zyaada taqleef ho rahi hai'" Dr Misra slumped into his rocking chair.

"Main?" Armaan took a big gulp of the tea

"Haan''it should be straightforward Dr Malik'..Lovely sab sambhaal legi'.."

Just as Armaan was mustering some courage to step out into the real world, a man came running into the house, 'dr sahib'sr sahib'..mere bete ko bachaa lee jiye'.uska pair tractor mein aa gaya hai'.."

Dr Misra jumped up from the chair, "chalo Lovely'..mere saath chalo'.aur Riddhima tum Dr Malik ko Raghu ke ghar le jao'."

Armaan was baffled, "Aap? Aap chalengi mere saath? But you are not a medical professional'"

Riddhima did not answer and went into the clinic. She came back with a bag and few other supplies, "let's go Dr Malik!"

Armaan just followed her; he had no choice.

They arrived at a small house in the middle of a crowded neighborhood.

"aayo Riddhima beti'..shakuntala bahut dard mein hai'." Raghuram met them at the door, "doctor sahib nahin aaye?" he was disappointed to not see Dr Misra

"Yeh, Dr Malik hain'Mumbai se aaye hain'" Riddhima gestured at Armaan

"Namaste!" Armaan folded his hands politely

"Naya doctor? Bitiya badhe Dr sahib ko bula lo'.." Raghuram sounded skeptical when he saw the young, inexperienced doctor.

"Tum fikr mat karo Raghu! Yeh desh ke sabse acche hospital se aaye hain.." Riddhima reassured him and walked inside the dimly lit room.

Armaan was horrified to see a lady on a small bed, crying out in labor pains with at least a dozen or so other women watching over her and giving her advise.

The room was very dimly lit, "yahan batti nahin hai?" Armaan asked as he took position to assess the pregnant woman

"Nahin dr sahib'..batti nahin hai'..kya lalten se kaam ho jaayega?" a lady asked

"theek hai' bhi ho.." Armaan put on his gloves and was shocked as he felt the baby's head was ready to deliver.

"Riddhima! Give me some instruments'..the head is stuck!"

Armaan was not prepared for this precipitous delivery. His only experience with pregnant women was his month long rotation in medical college and that too under strict supervision of the best gynecologists in the country. His head started spinning as he tried to recall his textbooks on what to do if the head was stuck, "FORCEPS! Forceps Riddhima! Lekin do you know what they are?"

Riddhima laid out a tray next to him with all types of instruments. He was surprised that Riddhima was so calm and collected when he was panicking like a novice.

She quietly gave Armaan the required instruments and helped him deliver the baby effortlessly. Riddhima took the baby and left Armaan to stitch the lady up where he had made an incision to aid with the delivery.

Armaan saw that the baby was still blue and not crying. Riddhima held the baby upside down with his legs and patted the baby's back vigorously.

Armaan was horrified, 'RIDDHIMA! DON'T DO THAT! THAT IS NOT SAFE!"

Riddhima was surprised, as that was the most common way she had seen dr misra and Lovely resuscitate any baby who was not crying. She gave him a quizzical look, 'Why doctor? The baby is not breathing"

Armaan was grinding his teeth in anger, "THAT IS TOO OLD FASHIONED'YOU CAN HARM THE BABY! THAT IS WHY I DID NOT WANT YOU TO COME WITH ME'.YOU ARE NOT A MEDICAL PERSON!" The mother was bleeding profusely and Armaan could not leave his place till he had finished stitching her up.

Riddhima was offended; she did not care for being reprimanded in front of so many people and that too by this stranger. Fortunately, the baby took some deep gasps and started turning pink to the relief of everyone in the room.

"Aaj tak mamaji aur Lovely maasi ne mujhey kabhie nahin toka'.maana main dr ya nurse nahin hoon'..I am just helping out''who does he think he is? This is not Mumbai'..he needs to learn how to work in these situations''pata nahin kyon aaya hai!" Riddhima had tears in her eyes as she handed the baby to the new mother and spoke to herself.

The family thanked Armaan and Riddhima; Raghuram was overjoyed to see a son, "doctor sahib'..chai peekar tho jaaiye'.yeh leejiye mithai khaaiye'..arre bhai logon yeh naye doctor sahib hain! In hone mujhey ek beta diya hai! Jai ho doctor sahib ki!"

All the family members and visitors came and thanked Armaan. They lifted him up on their shoulders and did a little dance.

"arre..arre'mujhey neeche utaar dee jiye'..maine tho kuch nahin kiya'..ladka tho hona hi tha'.wo tho 9 mahine pehle hi ban gaya tha'." Armaan got off their shoulders.

"Nahin'nahin doctor sahib'.yeh aapke haath ka jadoo hai'..ab aap sab gharon mein baccha paida karne jaayenge'" one old man spoke.

Armaan could not believe his ears; how could people be so superstitious and ignorant in the 21 st century!

He looked at Riddhima for answers, but she was packing the instruments and purposely avoiding his gaze. She was still upset, "chaliye Dr Malik'.." she said curtly.

On the way back, Riddhima drove silently. Armaan felt a little adrenaline rush inside him after the whole delivery experience-he could not believe what had just happened. He was dying to call Muskaan about his first real world experience. He noticed that Riddhima was unusually quiet.

"Riddhima'.thanks for all your help'" he said softly

"Next time, find someone else to help you! Main ek teacher hoon, medical professional nahin!" she said curtly

"Oh..yeh baat hai!'..Well Riddhima jo aap kar rahi thi wo galat tareeka tha' could have harmed the baby'.babies can get brain hemorrhage like that!" Armaan said angrily.

"How do I know? Mujhey aaj tak kisi ne bataaya thode hi hai'I just help out'.I have no desire to be a dr or a nurse!" Riddhima replied back angrily.

"Chote shehron mein yahi problem hai''no wonder there are so many quacks in these places'." Armaan said arrogantly. Armaan was very proud of his training at one of the premier institutes in India. He had worked with some of the best doctors in the nation and they all had a slight condescending attitude towards small town hospitals and doctors.

Riddhima tried to suppress her tears as they returned to Dr Misra's house.

Riddhima got off quickly and took all the supplies inside. Armaan followed her without noticing what affect his words had on her.

He followed her into the clinic and saw that she was cleaning the instruments and placing them in the little outdated autoclave for sterilization.

He went close to the autoclave and read the temperature gauge, "Yeh tho theek kaam nahin karta'..kab se use kar rahe ho yeh autoclave?"

Riddhima continued to clean the instruments and refused to answer his questions.

"Yeh kya kar rahe ho aap log? Is temperature mein tho kuch bhi sterilize nahin hoga!" Armaan yelled again, but stopped short when he saw tears rolling down Riddhima's tender cheeks. He felt really bad; he did not mean to hurt her feelings, "Oh Riddhima'I am sorry'"

Riddhima finished loading the autoclave and left the clinic, maintaining a cold silence.

Armaan kicked himself, "may be I was too harsh on her'..uski kya galti hai'.she is doing what she has been taught''galti Dr Misra ki hai'.i must apologise'."

Armaan looked for Riddhima everywhere, but finally found her in the kitchen.

He crossed his arms and observed her cutting the vegetables and making the dough.

He came closer, "can I help?"

"It is not necessary'aap jaaiye'.i will call you when lunch is ready," she replied coldly.

"Aap ne meri help ki, ab main bhi aapki help kar sakta hoon'." Armaan lowered his head and looked into her tearful eyes.

Riddhima smiled a little, "pehle daant the hain phir aap aap kar ke mujhsey baat karte hain'"

"OK'tho kya main TUMHARI help kar sakta hoon?" he smiled back

'to be continued'..


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