Tuesday, 12 December 2017

PART 53: Ehsaas


The 'Dr Shashank Misra Memorial Hospital' was almost built as Arnav turned 9 months old.

Armaan met with the local MLA of Ramgarh, "sir….humara project ab khatam hone waala hai, we would like you to attend the open house for this hospital and address the local people."


"Yeh tho bahut badhaa maan hoga mere liye…..hamare sheher ke log bahut khush hain ki aap sab doctor log milkar yeh hospital khol rahe hain, par yeh batao hamare yahan ke sab log wahan ilaaj afford kar paayenge?" the minister asked.


"Sir….this hospital will provide care to everyone….it will be a charitable hospital, there are enough people willing to donate for this project…..main bas chaahta hoon ki Dr Misra ki tarah yahan bahut saare honhar doctors aakar kaam karein aur yahan ke logon ki dekhbaal karein. That is my dream sir! Main chaahta hoon ki Ramgarh mein koi insaan is wajah se apni jaan na ganvaa de kyunki usey sahi waqt par sahi ilaaj nahin mila….jaise kuch saalon pehle us aag mein kitne log marr gaye the….," Armaan sad emotionally, as he remembered that horrendous week and the personal tragedy that soon followed for Riddhima and him. He shook hands with the minister and left.



Next, he swung by Padma and Riddhima's home. He had especially come to meet Padma, as he knew Riddhima would be at school.


Padma opened the door, "Armaan beta tum? Aaj itne dino baad? Yahan kaise?"

Armaan greeted her, 'Namaste maa…kya main andar aa sakta hoon? Aap se ek zaroori baat karni hai."



Padma let him inside and closed the door. She feared that Armaan had probably come to talk to them about a possible divorce or a formal separation. He had not shown his face since Arnav's birth. She was not aware that Armaan had secretly followed his son very regularly over the past 9 months- in the park, at the market, in the backyard, on the streets, while taking a stroll with Riddhima.




"Kuch peeoge beta? Riddhima tho abhi ghar par nahin hai." Gaytri asked.



"Nahin maa….I am fine….dar asal main aapse hi milney aaya tha," he smiled as he saw a little Arnav crawling on the floor and babbling 'dada..dada..dada,' as he looked up at Armaan.


Armaan's heart melted; he looked at Padma for permission.


Padma nodded her head.

Armaan picked Arnav in his arms and gave him a big kiss on his cheeks. He hugged him and then bounced him up in the air. Arnav laughed heartily and wanted more! Armaan could not resist and spent the afternoon roughhousing and crawling around on the floor with his son. Padma left the two alone and felt a little relieved that Armaan was fond of his son. She thought, "aakhir apne khoon se door rehna bahut mushkil hai…..kaash Riddhima aur Armaan phir se ek ho jaaye…..Riddhima tho uski baat karne se hi naraaz ho jaati hai."



Armaan carried Arnav to the kitchen, 'maa….aapse jo baat karne aaya tha, wo tho bhool hi gaya….is badmaash ke saath time kahan nikal gaya, pataa hi nahin chalaa….main bhi bahut badmaash tha bachpan mein……ab samajh aata hai meri maa ka kya haal hua hoga," he laughed out aloud, something he had not done in almost year and a half.



"Beta…tum jab chaaho, apne bete se mil sakte ho…..main Riddhima se kuch nahin kahoongi," Padma gave him a cup of tea, "aao baith kar chai peete hain, tumhey itne dino baad milkar bahut achcha lag raha hai."



Armaan followed Padma to the living room. He placed Arnav on one of his knees as he sat down. He bounced Arnav on his knees and spoke to Padma, "Maa….aapne shayad wo naya hospital tho bante dekha hoga."


"Haan…lekin abhi tak pataa nahin chalaa, yeh hospital banaa kaun raha hai?"


"Actually, main aur mere kuch doston ne yeh hospital maamaji ki yaad mein banaaya hai," Armaan said softly



Padma could not believe her ears, 'beta…tum itne dino se yeh kaam kar rahe the, aur humein kuch pataa hi nahin chalaa….yeh tho bahut nek kaam hai Armaan….sach much tum kitne badal gaye ho."


"Waqt ke saath badalney ko hi shayad zindagi kehte hain maa," Armaan reflected philosophically.



"Beta….mujhey tum par garv hai, bhaiyya ko is se achchi shradhanjali kaun de sakta hai?" Padma wiped her tears and said.



"Maa….is Saturday ko hamare hospital ka inauguration hai…..main chaahta hoon ki hospital ki ribbon cutting aap ke haatho se hi ho….aur aap Riddhima aur Arnav ko bhi please lekar aaiyega…..lekin Riddhima ko yeh na bataaiye ki main bhi involved hoon….warna wo shayad naa aaye," Armaan pleaded.



"Beta….is se badhaa samman hamare liye kya hoga? Hum zaroor aayenge," Padma reassured him. She went inside and brought something for him, "yeh bhaiya ke ghar ki chaabhi hai…..aaj se wo ghar tumhara hai…..yeh lo!"



Armaan bent down and touched Padma's feet, "thanks maa….bas aapke aashirwaad se yeh kaam theek ho jaana chaahiye. Main bhi chaah raha tha ki main usi puraane makaan mein rahoon….bahut yaadein judi hain us ghar se," he sighed and left.


SATURDAY AT OPEN HOUSE:



The open house for the hospital was held in the front lawn of the new hospital. The hospital was a 100-bedded multi-specialty hospital with state of the art facilities. Doctors from various specialties had agreed to work there on a rotation basis. A wonderful staff apartment complex was also under construction adjoining the hospital.



The inauguration event was open to all Ramgarh residents. There was a huge turn out for the event. A lot of doctors from Mumbai, including Rahul and Muskaan were also present.



Padma was offered the honor of cutting the ribbon. Riddhima, Tamanna and Arnav accompanied her at the ceremony. Riddhima was very proud of the team which had given such a big honor to her uncle; a person she had looked up to all her growing years-he was the only one in this world who understood her well…he had been her mentor, guardian, best friend and guide. She wondered if she had expected Armaan to fill those shoes in her life- that was her mistake-Armaan could never come even close to Dr Misra's stature as far as she was concerned.



Riddhima wore a beautiful light yellow chiffon saree at the ceremony. With her hair open and long dangling earrings, she looked very elegant. Armaan saw her from the corner of his eyes. He could not take her eyes off her. Riddhima glanced around and waved at Muskaan and Rahul. Keerti and Shubhankar were also sitting in the row behind them. Then she saw Armaan standing next to the minister. Her face fell at his sight. He was the last person she expected at this function.



After everyone was seated, the minister gave a little speech, "yeh hamare sheher ke liye bahut badhaa din hai. Mujhey aaj kal ke doctors par naaz hai ki wo itna nek kaam shuru karne jaa rahe hain, aur khaas taur se Dr Armaan Malik, jo is hospital ke chief medical director honge….yeh poora project bhi unhi ka idea hai…main unhey bahut badhaai dena chaahta hoon!"



There was a loud applause in the audience. The people were happy to get their favorite 'junior doctor sahib' back in town.



Riddhima sat still on her seat, shell shocked. Did she really hear what she heard? Armaan-the chief medical officer of this hospital in Ramgarh! That too a charitable hospital! There were no celebrities or rich clients here! Was he serious this time, or was it one of his usual ploys to win her over again? At one point in her life, Riddhima trusted whatever Armaan said or did blindly; but now she had reached a stage in her life that she mistrusted anything he did…..she was always skeptical about his actions…..she knew he loved her, but there was no guarantee he would hurt her or take her for granted once again, if she decided to go back to him. She knew that Arnav needed a father in his life, but she was prepared to face the consequences of single parenthood rather than be treated like a piece of furniture by Armaan again- jab chaaha istemaal kar liya, jab chaaha thukraa diya!




She had tears in her eyes- pataa nahin yeh ansoo kyon hain meri aankhon mein? Kya Armaan sach mein badal gaya hai? Yeh kaam mujhey jeetne ke liye kiya hai, ya phir sach much maamaji ko shradhanjali de raha hai?



She looked at him and saw that he was staring at her, hoping to get a nod of approval from her. She joined in the applause and nodded gently at him, as if congratulating him on his project.



The minister handed the mike to Armaan. Armaan gave a brief but heart felt speech, "Aap log shayad sab mujhey pehchaan te honge, main yahan kareeb 3 saal pehle apni training ke liye aaya tha, aur aap logon ke pyaar ki wajah se apna dil kho baitha tha," he looked at Riddhima as he said that, " phir kuch saalon ke liye ek bhatke huye panchi ki tarah Mumbai chalaa gaya tha is umeed mein ki wahan aur bhi zyaada khushi milegi….par aap logon ka pyaar ka rang itna gehra tha ki Mumbai ki chamak dhamak bhi uske aage pheeki padhne lagi, iss liye main us pyaar ke rang mein phir dhalne wapas aapke sheher aa gaya hoon aur umeed hai zindagi bhar aap logon ki sewa karta rahoonga," he finished the speech by gazing at Riddhima, hoping to see some reaction on her face. He thought he saw something glistening in her eyes.



The audience loved their 'junior doctor sahib.' They applauded and cheered for him, "DR MALIK KI ZINDABAD! DR MALIK KI ZINDABAD!"



Riddhima wiped her tears and felt happy for Armaan. Everyone was overwhelmed with his speech and a number of them came up front and garlanded him or showered him with blessings and 'duas' Armaan remembered what Riddhima had once said, "jo logon ki dua mein taqat hai, wo aur kisi cheez mein nahin hai!"




Armaan bowed to them and then announced, "aap logon ke manoranjan ke liye main ek guest ko pesh kar raha hoon….wo aapke liye ek gaana gaayenge….WELCOME SID!"



Riddhima was stunned and happy to see Sid on the podium after such a long time.

Sid took the mike and said, "main yeh gaana Dr Misra ki yaad mein gaa raha hoon, asha hai aap sab ko pasand aayega."



He sang this beautiful song from "Namastey London" – "main jahan rahoon" by Rahet fateh ali Khan.


Mein jahan rahoon
Mein kahin bhi hoon
Teri yaad saaath hai
Kisi se kahun
Ke Nahi kahun
Yeh jo dil
Ki Baat hai
Kehne Ko saath
Appne Ek duniya chalti hai
Per chupke is dil mein tanhai Palti hai
Bas yaad Saath hai
Teri yaad saaath hai 3
Mein jahan raho
Mein kahin bhi hoo
Teri yaad saaath hai
Kahin to Dil mein yaadon ki
Ek suli gad jaati hai
Kahin har ek Tasveer bhahut hi dhondhali pad jati hai
Koi nai duniya ke naye rango mein khush rehta hai
Koi sab kuch paake bhi yeh maan hi maan kehta hai
Kehne Ko saath
Appne Ek duniya chalti hai
Per chupke is dil mein tanhai Palti hai
Bas yaad Saath hai
Teri yaad saaath hai 3
Kahin to bete kal ki jade
Dil mein hi utar jaati hai
kahin jo dhage tute to
Malayen bhikar jaati
Koi dil mein jagah nai baaton ke liye rakhta hai
Koi apni palko per
Yadon ke diye rakhta hai
Kehne Ko saath
Appne Ek duniya chalti hai
Per chupke is dil mein tanhai Palti hai
Bas yaad Saath hai
Teri yaad saaath hai 3



Armaan and Riddhima could not help exchanging glances with each other as the song went on. What was it about Sid and his songs; they always stirred something in their hearts? The song reflected Armaan and Riddhima's feelings for each other; how they longed to be in each other's arms at that moment and cry their hearts out. The song was as if written and sung for them.



As the song ended, Riddhima came out of her trance and looked away from Armaan. She knew, if she kept on looking at him for some more time, she would lose herself…..she would not be able to resist him anymore and melt in his arms once again. Armaan, however, kept his gaze fixated on Riddhima with a soulful and expectant expression.



After the event was over, Riddhima and Padma walked to the front to meet everyone. Keerti and Shubhankar went up to Armaan and congratulated him.



Padma went up to Armaan and gave him a hug, "Bhagwan tumhey bahut khushi de beta!"

Riddhima congratulated Sid, "kahan chale gaye the itne din Sid? Na koi khabar na pataa?"


Sid figured that Riddhima still was unaware of all the gruesome details about his captivity by the underworld dons, "Bas Riddhima yeh samjho…aise mauke ka hi intezaar kar raha tha wapas aane ka….kaisi ho tum? Tumhara beta bahut pyaara hai….kya naam hai iska?" he pinched Arnav's cheeks and asked.



"Arnav!" she smiled at her son and held him close to her face.



Armaan's eyes wandered everywhere, hoping to catch a glimpse of Riddhima and Arnav again. His eyes finally met hers, as she was talking to Sid. He wanted to go and talk to her and look into her eyes again, hoping to see a flicker of hope for himself-perhaps she would finally forgive him and run back into his arms.



As he dreamt about Riddhima running into his arms, he was pleasantly surprised to see her actually walk towards him holding Arnav in her arms.



They came face to face for the first time in months. Armaan was breathing heavily, anxiously waiting to talk to her at last; he smiled at Arnav and wanted to hold him in his arms. Arnav just giggled and babbled, "mamama…dadadada…."



Riddhima smiled at Arnav and then looked at Armaan with a faint smile; she finally said softly, "Congratulations Armaan! I am happy for you."



"Thanks Riddhima! That means a lot to me…..I hope I can live up to everyone's expectations in this town," he lowered his eyes as he knew she understood what he really meant.



"This town needs good doctors like you Armaan….I am sure you will do a good job!" she said in a friendly tone and looked away towards Muskaan and Rahul. Armaan extended his hand, hoping to make at least some contact with her, but she just nodded gently, "excuse me Armaan…main Muskaan se milkar aati hoon." Armaan just stood there with his hand extended in mid air; he was heart broken as Riddhima had once again refused to forgive him. He pulled his hand back and looked at his palm, "kya ab hum itne ajnabi ho gaye hain ki haath milaane se bhi katraa te hain?"



Riddhima had purposely not shaken his hand; she knew the moment she touched him, the impermeable wall that she had constructed around her after being hurt by Armaan, would come crashing down like a fragile piece of glass. She had learnt to live within this self made wall; where no one could peek into her emotions or her broken heart. The wall was in danger of crumbling today, and unless she took control of herself, she would never be able to build that wall back again. She would become vulnerable once again to Armaan's whims and fancies.



Keerti saw the painful look on her brother's face. His earlier enthusiasm about his new project had come crashing down; he was once again pensive and torn like he had been over the last year and a half.



Keerti went up to him and touched his shoulder, "Armaan….never have any expectations in life…..expectations always lead to disappointment when they are not met! Agar wo tumhari hai, tho chhod do usey, sirf apna farz nibhaao, don't expect anything in return……wo zaroor wapas aa jaayegi….trust me Armaan…jitna mushkil tumhare liye hai us se door rehna, utna hi uske liye bhi hai….wo chot khaayi huyi hai, ghaav bharne mein waqt lagta hai….uski aankhon se aisa lagaa ki wo tumhare kareeb aana chaahti hai, par usney apne chaaron taraf ek deewar khadi kar li hai ab…..us deewar ko paar karna ab uska kaam hai, tum us deewar ke andar kabhie nahin jaa paaoge Armaan."



Armaan wiped a tear from his eye, "I know you are right di…par kya karoon? Is kambakht dil se pareshaan hoon….maanta hi nahin hai," he sniffed his nose and shook his head to compose himself as he saw several other people approaching to congratulate him.

…to be continued….

 Sangeeta

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