Monday, 30 July 2018

part 2 : To Err is Human

Dr Gupta ended his speech by reminding his interns of the famous Hippocratic Oath, a centuries old oath, first written in the 4th century B.C by the famous Greek scientist with the same name.

"To teach medicine to the sons of my teacher"

"To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them."

"Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else's interest."

"To avoid attempting to do things that other specialists can do better."

"To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority."

"To avoid sexual relationships or other inappropriate entanglements with patients and families."

The interns listened to the oath silently, some of them absorbing the in depth meaning of the sacred oath, others dismissing it as 'yada…yada…yada….'

"And now Drs Kartik and Shubhankar…senior physicians at the SMI will orient you to our institute and give you instructions on the day to day schedule of our hospital….thank you once again….and welcome to this family." Dr Gupta bowed gently and shot a parting glance at Angad and Armaan before he left the center stage. Both men sat on their seats without any overt expressions but broke out in a ear-to-ear smile as soon as the esteemed doctor left.

Riddhima and Kripa glanced at their new enemies with the corner of their eyes and cursed them silently. During that process of eyeing the two men scornfully, the two women exchanged glances with each other. Even though, they had never met before, their brief eye contact spoke volumes to each other. Perhaps it was their common abhorrence for the two young men behind them or relief on seeing another woman intern on the first day of their internship, both women smiled at each other and nodded their heads in acknowledgment.

Kripa and Riddhima were not the only women in the group of interns. As is always the case in most professional colleges, men outnumbered the women here too. One could count the number of women at the SMI on one's fingers. In fact this incoming class of interns probably had a larger number of women than one was used to seeing. Muskaan, Sapna, Anjali, Mishti, Hinna and Ouma were the other women in the group of 24.

"GOOD MORNING INTERNS!" Dr Shubhankar introduced himself, "Myself, Dr Shubhankar and Dr Kartik," he pointed at the other tall gentleman next to him, "will now divide your group into 2 and have you follow us as we orient you to the institute."

The interns got up and made a bee line for the door as they were led by the senior doctors.

"Hi…I am Armaan Mallik…..naam tho sun hi liya hoga." Armaan winked and stretched his hand towards Angad as they walked out into the hallway.

"Sirf naam hi nahin….tumhari tareef bhi sun li hai……and thanks to you….. I have even achieved some fame on my first day," Angad raised his voice slightly and shook his hand. He made sure the girl who had snubbed him in the auditorium about his outlook on life had heard his comment.

Kripa, who was standing in line behind Riddhima but ahead of Angad turned her face slightly at Angad's comment and then shook her head in disgust, "fame? Or notoriety? Some people will do anything for attention!" She muttered under her breath. Riddhima turned around and nodded in agreement.

"You are right….uh..uh?" Riddhima turned around and tried to read the name tag on Kripa's blouse.

"Kripa Sharma." Kripa smiled and replied, "from Rajasthan."

"Oh…nice to meet you Kripa….I am Riddhima Gupta…..from Mumbai."

"Are you Dr Gupta's daughter?" Kripa's eyes gleamed in delight. She had heard that Dr Gupta's daughter had been accepted as an intern this year, but that she would be her first friend at the SMI was a surprise. Riddhima seemed so different from what she had imagined. She had no airs about being the Chief's daughter and Riddhima's next statement rested any doubts Kripa could have about her.

"Well..I am," Riddhima whispered, "but papa does not want me to flaunt our relationship at the hospital….he wants me to be like everyone else….in fact wo shayad mujhey hi zyaada daante ge….tum logon ko kum daantenge," she chuckled and squeezed Kripa's hand in a friendly gesture.

"I really admire Dr Gupta…..kitne oonche khayalat hain unke," Kripa smiled and patted Riddhima's hand, "you are a lucky girl."

"LAGTA HAI YAHAN OONCHE KHAYALAT WAALON KO KAAFI BHAAV MILTA HAI! LAGTA HAI HUMEIN BHI OONCHI OONCHI BAATEIN KARNI PADHENGI." Angad purposely raised his voice after eavesdropping on the women's conversations.

Kripa glared at Angad and held her anger inside, "Riddhima….let's go ahead….Dr Shubhankar aur Kartik bahut aage nikal gaye hain."

Riddhima agreed and both the women held hands like little girls and hastened their footsteps.

Armaan noticed the two women hurrying up behind the senior doctors. He placed his hand on Angad's shoulder and smiled, "oonche onnche khayalat aur lambe lambe kadam! Dekho tho kitni jaldi mein hain professors ko maskaa lagaane mein!"

"Aise bhaag rahi hain jaise TRAIN choot rahi ho!" Angad sneered. Armaan gave him a high five, "chalo main aur tum tho bail gaadi mein hi chalte hain….wanna have some coffee first?"

"Sure!" Angad replied and the two men silently escaped the faithful followers of Drs Shubhankar and Kartik.

The groups were divided into 2 at the end of the hallway. As Dr Kartik counted the interns in his group, "hmm…I should have 12….how come there are only 11?"

Kripa and riddhima were fortunately in one group; they looked around and knew who the missing miscreants were, "sir….2 ladke hain…..unhein Dr Gupta ne punish kar rakha hai…iss liye wo nahin aayenge." Riddhima lied.

"Punish?" Dr Shubhankar joined them as he was perplexed at his missing intern too.

"Haan….wo unki speech mein bahut halla gulla machaa rahe the," Riddhima said with a straight face. Kripa was amazed at the ease with which Riddhima fabricated a story about the two mischief makers.

"Dr Gupta kabhie aisa karte nahin hain…..he would have informed us…this is an important orientation for all the interns," Dr Kartik replied.

"Sir….Dr Gupta was really upset today," Anjali, another intern came forward to join in the drama.

"Oh really?" Dr Shubhankar scratched his head. He was about to call Dr Gupta, when Angad and Armaan appeared from nowhere, "Hello sir! Aap hamari wait kar rahe the?" Armaan asked innocently.

"So there you are!" Dr Kartik sounded a little upset, "well gentlemen….punctuality is very important in this Institute… are forgiven today….but next time… will be unpardonable!"

"Sir…..hamari galti nahin hai…..hum tho aap logon ke saath hi aa rahe the," Angad wiped the drops of coffee from his lips with his tongue, "lekin raaste mein ek mareej mil gaya…..wo bechara behosh ho gaya tha….so Armaan and I had to help him till the Emergency Room staff could come and get him…..aur hum log yahan naye hain….tho…tho….ER ka phone number bhi nahin tha….and abhi abhi Dr Gupta ne kaha tha ki patients are our first priority sir." Angad lowered his head apologetically.

The interns were impressed with Angad and Armaan's heroic feat on their very first day at the SMI. Riddhima and Kripa however saw right through them as Armaan had a candy bar sticking out from his coat pocket. Riddhima was way too familiar with this hospital, and knew that candy bar was only available at the hospital cafeteria! Kripa too had noticed the foam from the coffee on Angad's lips which he had so cleverly licked while fabricating his story about the unconscious patient!

"Oh….we are sorry that we misunderstood you," Dr Shubhankar gave a sharp look at Riddhima for spreading false rumors about her co-interns. He made a mental note that he would talk to Dr Gupta later and complain that his daughter was spreading rumors about the new interns. Dr Shubhankar was a man of very high principles and just like Dr Gupta believed that their near and dear ones should not be considered privileged at the Institute and be treated like everyone else.

The interns obediently walked behind the senior doctors. Angad requested a tall handsome, but quiet man to exchange places with him as he wanted to be with Armaan in the other group. Armaan had quietly slipped behind Dr Kartik's group so he could follow the woman who had called him a 'scoundrel' in the auditorium.

The quiet man was Dr Ranbir Kapoor, a polite gentleman. He had no problem in obliging his fellow intern. After all, this was all about team work! Ranbir followed the other group where two young giggling women, Hinna and Ouma welcomed the company of this handsome doctor.

Armaan and Angad winked at each other and gallantly followed the two hot tempered women.

"Lagta hai train patri se utaar hi di humney," Angad chuckled.

"Jaante ho Angad…is TRAIN ka naam kya hai?" Armaan asked sardonically.

"Nahin yaar…..bataao kya naam hai?" Angad asked.

"Maskaa maaro train!…..Ab socho bhai….jitna maskaa maaroge…..utni hi phisal jaayegi na train? Serves them right! Accha hua train patri se utar gayi." Armaan mocked at the two women walking in front of them.

Riddhima and Kripa walked ahead with confused expressions. They had no idea what the men meant by the 'train' and 'patri' joke. They decided to give them a cold shoulder and marched ahead.

"Dekho…phir chal di dono maskaa maarne," Angad made fun of them.

Riddhima and Kripa froze in their sandals and turned around simultaneously.

"Maskaa maare hamari jooti!" Kripa retorted.

Angad came closer and stared at her name tag, "K..K..KRIPA SHARMA! Baap re…..jisne bhi naam rakhaa hai tumhara…..bilkul galat rakha hai."

"What's wrong with her name?" Riddhima interjected.

"No there is nothing wrong with her name…..but it does not suit her! Yeh kisi par kripa kar dein tho bahut badhi baat hogi." Angad scoffed.

"Karti hai na Angad…sirf professors par Kripa karti hain yeh dono….chamchi hain bilkul….no…no actually butterknife jaisi hain yeh dono…..professors par makkhan lagaati hain…..aur hum jaise bhole bhaale logon ko usee knife se maarna chaahti hain." Armaan slapped Angad's back and chuckled.

"Riddhima…let's go….aise logon ke mooh nahin lagte….just leave them alone," Kripa dragged her new friend away.

"R-I-D-D-H-I-M-A!!!!" Armaan sighed, "what a lovely name for such a non-lovely person… the way what does your name mean?" Armaan caught hold of Riddhima's dupatta from behind and pulled on it.

"AARGHHH!" Riddhima turned around as she felt her neck throttled by the tug of her dupatta.

"What's going on there?" Dr Kartik turned around as he heard a woman coughing and choking. Armaan let go of her dupatta and stood still with his arms behind him; his deep blue eyes looking oblivious of all the commotion in the hallway.

"Sir….wo ladies ko aadat nahin hai itna chalne ki….bechari thak gayi hain." Angad answered politely.

"Oh…I am sorry…I hope I am not walking too fast….actually this is a very big hospital….and we have to cover a lot of departments to cover… ladies….you will just have to get used to it sooner or later." Dr Kartik glanced at Riddhima and Kripa from head to toe and then turned around to lead the group once again. He made a mental note that he would let Dr Gupta know that his daughter was not used to the hardships of being an intern at the SMI. She was inciting other interns to break the rules too!

The women turned red at their insult and were about to respond when they heard, "OK everyone….let's take these elevators to the 6th floor." Dr Kartik stood next to the elevator buttons and waited for his interns to step inside.

Meanwhile, both Prithvi and Rahul stood quietly and observed the interactions between the four interns behind them. Prithvi felt sorry for Kripa and really wanted to whisk her away from the two horrible men. How could he? He had not even introduced himself to her. Rahul had a smirk on his face as he was relieved that at least these four interns would not be any competition for him in the coming months. They would probably be too busy killing each other by the end of the internship.

The interns squeezed themselves into the elevator along with the senior doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. Angad and Armaan tried their best to irritate their two enemies by standing close to them. The petite Kripa was able to find space in an opposite corner right next to Prithvi. Prithvi looked down at the sweet fragrance near his chest and was in seventh heaven to see Kripa next to him. He stared at her name tag and smiled silently, "kitna khubsoorat naam hai….bilkul uski tarah."

"Aapne kuch kaha?" Kripa looked up, sensing someone staring at her.

"Nahin tho," Prithvi gave her a friendly smile.

Kripa felt at ease next to this bespectacled Bengali man. "Hi…I am Kripa….and you…Prithvi Bose?" she enquired after looking at his name tag.

"That's right….I am from Calcutta."

"Nice to meet you Prithvi….I have never been to Calcutta before but would love to go there sometime," Kripa engaged herself in casual conversation with this polite and friendly man to avoid Angad's sneering comments.

"Riddhima Gupta?" Rahul, who was standing next to her asked, "I am Rahul."

"Hi!" Riddhima replied curtly as she was in no mood to start another conversation with another male intern. She looked around desperately for Kripa but she was far away talking to another man. Riddhima folded her arms and wished the elevator journey would be over soon.

Someone squeezed into the elevator on the 3 rd floor, pushing Riddhima close to Armaan who was right behind her. She was now sandwiched between Armaan behind her and Rahul in front of her. She had never felt so claustrophobic in her life and that too trapped between two men!

Armaan smiled as Riddhima's back gently brushed against his shirt. He came closer and whispered in her right ear, "do you want me to pay you back right now? Cash or kind?"

Riddhima was mortified as his warm breath caressed her ear and neck softly. She shut her eyes and clenched her fists tightly. There was only one way to ignore Armaan's unbearable comments-befriend the other man in front of her. At least, he seemed friendlier.

"Hi Rahul…where are you from?" Riddhima took a step forward closer to Rahul and away from Armaan. Armaan was not used to seeing women run away from him, especially after the flirtatious words he had just whispered into her ear.

"Delhi….you are Dr Gupta's daughter…aren't you?" Rahul smiled and gave Armaan a triumphant look. Rahul's ego definitely got a boost at seeing Riddhima stepping away from Armaan and showing interest in him instead.

"Well…yes…I am." She said hesitantly. All faces suddenly turned towards Riddhima as if she were some celebrity.

Armaan gave a quizzical look at Angad. Angad raised his eyebrows and whispered, "badhe baap ki beti hai….tabhie itne nakhre hain…..lekin uski saheli ki kya problem hai?" he gazed at Kripa chatting away with Prithvi, "wo kyun itna bhaav dikha rahi hai?"

Angad overheard Kripa and Prithvi talking about how they both wanted to go back to their hometowns and serve the poor and the needy. Angad rolled his eyes and thought, "baatein karte hain sab…..khud ko Mother Teresa se kum koi nahin samajhta…..dekhte hain aage aage kya hota hai!"

"Looks like we will have to tame these lionesses," Armaan whispered back, "tu Kripa ko sambhaal…..main isko sambhaalta hoon…kyun?"

Angad took a deep breath as the elevator finally came to a halt on the sixth floor, "sounds like a plan Partner!" They both laughed and gave a high five to each other. Riddhima and Kripa shuddered as they stepped out of the elevator. They knew Armaan and Angad were brewing some mischief once again.

…to be contd…..

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