Saturday, 12 August 2017

PART 21:Ehsaas


Armaan woke up at his usual time, but was surprised when he saw no signs of his 'wake up call,'  

 "yeh Riddhima aaj chai nahin laayi? Kahan gayi?"

He got out of bed and put his shirt on. He heard some noises from the bathroom.

Armaan let himself in, as the bathroom door was unlocked.

"RIDDHIMA!" He saw Riddhima bent over the sink, retching and dry heaving, "kya hua? Tabiyat theek nahin hai? Mujhey batao kya baat hai?" he stroked her back to comfort her.

Riddhima shook her head and tried to look up. She started feeling dizzy and turned pale as soon as she lifted her head. Armaan caught her before she collapsed on the ground. He carried her to the bed and placed her on the sheets. She quivered a little as color started coming back to her cheeks.

"Riddhima!" Armaan shook her gently, "kya hua jaan?"

Riddhima opened her eyes, "pata nahin…zara chaakar sa aagaya tha/"

Armaan got a little suspicious, "when was your last period?"

"Hmm??" she looked at him, mentally trying to recall when she had her period, "yaad nahin"

"What? Yaad nahin? Riddhima, you are a responsible woman… should remember these things!" That was so typical of Riddhima - she could remember each and every appointment on Armaan's clinic schedule, but could not recall when she had her last period!

Riddhima was a little tearful. As it is she did not feel well, had not eaten a morsel in the last 12 hours and Armaan was upset with her, "Armaan…..I don't remember…please leave me alone! Mujhey ab tayyar hone do!" she tried to get up but felt dizzy again.

 "Just lie down! Khabardaar yahan se uthi tho! Main abhi aata hoon!" Armaan said firmly.

Riddhima just dozed off as the whole room kept spinning in front of her eyes.

Armaan came back and ran some tests. He had a faint smile on his lips as he checked the strip in his hand. He turned around and saw that Riddhima was still fast asleep.

He sat down beside her, kissed her forehead and covered her with a blanket, "Congratulations Mrs Malik! Tum maa ban ne waali ho! My heartiest congratulations to your lucky husband also!"

He could not contain his happiness and jumped up in the air. He went down and prepared 2 cups of tea and toasted some bread slices. He placed them beside Riddhima, who was still fast asleep. He did not want to disturb her, so he decided to get ready in the meantime. He danced his way into the shower and could not wait to share the good news with Riddhima.

When he came out of the shower, he found Riddhima awake and ready to start the day. She had not touched the tea or breakfast yet.

"RIDDHIMA! Chup chap baithi raho….aur yeh chai aur toast kha lo"

"Mujhey bhook nahin hai!" she said indignantly, trying to get up from the bed.

"Doctor ki advise nahin maanti! Maine kaha breakfast kha lo!" he pretended he was still upset.

"Armaan…please…bahut kaam hai….mujhey jaane do!" Riddhima protested as she staggered out.

Armaan grabbed her wrist and pulled her back, "Doctor ki report tho sunti jao."

 "Report? Mujhey kuch nahin hua hai….bas thodi kamzori aa gayi thi….shayad raat ko soyi nahin theek se…. thodi der mein theek ho jaaoongi."

"Theek hai! Lekin pehle breakfast kar lo par yaad rahe ki do logon ke hisaab se khaana…Ok?"

"Do? Kya matlab?" she stared into his eyes for answers. She did not need to ask any more questions, as she found her answer in his eyes, "Armaan… that true? Kya main? Kya tum? Kya hum?"

"Yes madam! HUM TUM ab HUM TEEN ban ne waale hain!" he smiled and took her into his strong arms. Riddhima's eyes welled up with tears of joy, "tum sach bol rahe ho na?"

He squeezed her tighter, "I am so happy Riddhima……ab mujhey kahin nahin jaana….I just want to live here….with you….and our kid…..we will live here forever!" He hugged and kissed her passionately.

 The news of Riddhima's pregnancy spread like wild fire. Padma was in seventh heaven, as she would be a grandmother soon. She had already started counting days to her daughter's expected date and mentally making a list of things she needed to get ready.

Dr Misra was ecstatic, "ab main retire bhi ho gaya tho mere saath koi khelne ke liye full time hoga!"

Armaan became more caring towards Riddhima. He made sure she ate properly and rested adequately. He started relying on the ancillary staff instead of dumping every little project on Riddhima. His life did indeed become more hectic as his work and preparation for his boards took up most of his time. In the evenings, he would lie on Riddhima's lap and study his textbooks, memorizing facts and figures loudly, "main chahta hoon mera baccha pehle hi sab seekh kar aaye….tho phir exam ke liye padhna nahin padhega!" He patted Riddhima's tummy as he spoke.

"Lekin tumhey kaise pataa wo doctor hi banega ya banegi…..ho sakta hai kuch aur karna chahe?" Riddhima asked as she stroked his hair.

"No way! Apne baap ki tarah hoshiyar hoga tho doctor hi banega!" Armaan said proudly.

Riddhima just stayed quiet and picked up a book to read.

Armaan grabbed her book and put it aside, 'Riddhima…please mujhsey yeh questions poonch lo…..i need to memorize these facts well," he just handed his book to her authoritatively.

Riddhima was a little taken aback, as always he just assumed she would do what he asked her to do. Over the last few months, she had learnt that Armaan was Armaan- there was no way she could change him! That was his way of expressing his 'haq' or his 'right'on her. That was his way of showing that she belonged to him. Anyways in the end, she would end up doing what he wanted, so what was the point in arguing- as long as they loved each other….nothing else mattered.

Soon, this became a routine over the next six weeks. Armaan would lie on her lap and Riddhima would quiz him like an instructor on various surgical topics. Riddhima felt she could take his surgery boards herself at the rate they were going.

One day, when they were preparing for his exam, they received a frantic call from someone, :Doctor sahib! Doctor sahib! Jaldi aa jaaiye! Ramgarh ke mandir mein aag lag gayi hai….bahut log ghayal ho gaye hain!"

Armaan jumped up from his bed and quickly got ready.

"Armaan main bhi chal rahi hoon!" Riddhima insisted, as she guessed there was a real emergency.

"Nahin Riddhima! Wahan tumhara jaana theek nahin hai…..wahan kya haal hai mujhey pataa nahin…aisi halat mein tumhey yahin aaram karna chaahiye"

Riddhima, of course, did not budge. She was ready in no time and just followed Armaan with his medical bag. Ramgarh was her home, and any crisis at home was an emergency for her, whether her husband approved of it or not! She was not going to listen to Armaan on this one-come what may!

They drove as fast as they could and reached the mandir. Looked like the fire had been controlled, but the smoke from the massive fire hovered over them as a thick smog. Firefighters and policemen were busy rescuing people from the temple.

Armaan, with the help of a few other locals, quickly set up a make shift first-aid center near the mandir. Riddhima helped triage and initiate treatment for all the burnt and injured patients. They soon realized that this was a major fire; with 100s and 1000s needing urgent medical help. They did not have enough hands. Phone calls were made to the other local hospitals, but it would take time for the aid to arrive.

Riddhima and Armaan worked with the sick all night and all next day. Some local volunteers, Dr Misra and Lovely were their only help for the next 24 hours. They were able to get some tents set up in the neighborhood with beds and chairs for patients.

They worked non-stop for 24 hours, till they were finally able to get some help from the Red Cross and other local agencies.

Armaan was disheartened to see so many people die from lack of adequate medical care.

He thought, "agar yeh sab Mumbai mein hote, ya yahan par thodi aur facilities hoti, tho main kitne logon ko bachaa leta…..I feel helpless here…..I know I could have saved so many lives, but that is not possible in this place! Main kya kar raha hoon yahan? Is jagah ka kuch nahin ho sakta…..this place is still in the 19th century, when the rest of the world has moved on!"

Armaan and Riddhima got a little respite when some doctors and nurses from a neighboring town arrived to replace their shift.

Armaan and Riddhima were exhausted. After a quick meal and a little rest, they were back in the field nursing, dressing, saving people from the devastating effects of the burns. A lot of disgruntled relatives camped outside their make shift hospital. Some would hurl verbal abuses to the medical staff, "jab jaan nahin bachaa sakte tho doctor kyon bane? Humein apne rishtedaar poori tarah theek chaahiye…..kaise doctor hain aap log?"

Armaan turned a deaf ear to the complaints; he was doing his best under the circumstances. He just clenched his jaws and kept quiet as he worked on the victims. Some of his frustration also arose from the incompetence of the other doctors from the local hospitals. They were being offered money by the government to work here, and it seemed they were more interested in earning some extra bucks rather than helping the sick.

Riddhima, of course slogged as hard as Armaan; she ignored some warning signs of her pregnancy- she had been spotting some blood the last couple of days, but she did not want to bother Armaan with her complaints, or for that matter distract herself from taking care of the burnt victims.

After a week of hard, non-stop work, the burnt victims were either sent home to continue further out patient treatment, some passed away, some were transferred to Pune or Mumbai.

Armaan's surgical board exams were barely 2 days away.

"Main soch raha hoon ki exam agle saal hi de doon….abhi yahan se jaana mushkil hai," he said to Riddhima.

Riddhima sat down beside him and caressed his sore back, "Armaan…yahan situation ab control mein hai….aur waise bhi tum sirf 3 di ke liye hi tho Mumbai jaaoge…..agar exam nahin liya, tho tumhey apni MS ki degree kaise milegi?"

"Jaanta hoon Riddhima…par tumhey bhi akela kaise chhod kar jaaoon….mann nahin kar raha."

"Armaan…..tum agar nahin gaye tho main tumse naaraz ho jaaoongi…..yeh tumhare jeevan ka sapna hai…..isey aise adhoora mat chhodo…..phir hamara baccha bhi hoga, tho settle hona bhi tho zaroori hai….please Mumbai jaao, aur mann lagaakar apna exam de do…..hum log yahan sab sambhaal lenge." Riddhima reassured him.

Armaan hugged Riddhima, "I know Riddhima, tum sab sambhaal logi……tum bahut achhi ho….please apna dhyaan rakhna… mein 3 din bilkul kaam mat karna, aur ghar par baith kar sirf TV dekhna…OK?"

Riddhima nodded and hugged him back, "tum paas ho jao, tho phir hum ek celebration karenge"

So, Riddhima convinced Armaan to leave for Mumbai. She did not mention anything about the spotting. She thought she would rest for 3 days and everything would be fine.

Armaan got busy as soon as he reached Mumbai. The surgical boards were tough and competitive, but Armaan being a bright student aced his exam.

The day Armaan left, Riddhima had a shooting pain in her tummy. She woke up in the middle of the night and could not bear the pain any longer.

Shashank, Padma and Lovely reached Riddhima in no time.

"Hum Armaan ko khabar kar dein? Riddhima tumhari haalat bahut kharaab hai." Shashanksaid.

"N…Nahin maamaji…p..please aapko meri kasam hai…..please Armaan ko mat bulaaiye….uska exam poora hona zaroori hai," she winced in pain.

She gave out a loud scream as Lovely and Shashank took her into the exam room.


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