Wednesday, 8 August 2018

part 10 : To Err is Human


After a strenuous, hectic and nerve wrecking first day as an intern, the interns decided to pay their respects to the most sacred place on the campus- the SMI library! Short of a common lounge or recreation room for the interns and residents, the library served as a place where the young doctors met, talked, laughed, read, memorized, searched the internet, ogled and eye balled good and bad looking faces, gossiped about their professors, patients, colleagues, who-was-going-out-with-who and who-had-broken-up-with-who and OMG WHO-HAD-SLEPT-WITH-WHO?????? And who had contracted the most dreaded STD on the campus!!!

Kripa, Riddhima, Hinna, Ouma, Anjali and a bunch of women doctors walked into the library right after dinner. Kripa and Riddhima had briefly talked about their day with each other, leaving important chunks regarding their interaction with Angad and Armaan respectively. They were hesitant to admit that the men who they had resolved to hate on their first day were actually not as bad as they had thought. Instead, they just talked about their cases, patients and mundane stuff at the dinner table.

As Riddhima settled next to the Oncology rack, she spotted Rahul in a corner buried in a number of journals along with his laptop. She did not want to disturb him and sat with her back to him. She got the shock of her life when she saw Armaan religiously taking notes from a thick textbook at the next table. After their session in the cafeteria, they had really not talked the rest of the day. She had tried to approach him several times in the Oncology ward, but he seemed unusually busy.

"Armaan mujhey ignore kyun kar raha hai? Kahin meri baat ka bura tho nahin maan gaya?" Riddhima asked herself. She decided to ignore him in return and concentrate on her case instead. She powered on her laptop and searched a popular medical search engine for her patient's case – CHILDHOOD LYMPHOMAS…..

Even though her eyes were glued to the screen, her mind kept wandering in all directions- actually one direction-she tilted her head gently away from her computer screen and glanced at Armaan. He was still busy taking notes but intermittently shut his eyes, made funny faces, scratched his nose, rubbed his eyes, stretched his arms, shuffled his feet or tapped his pencil against the table. A bemused Riddhima found it very distracting but endearing at the same time. He was like a little school boy who had been forced to sit quietly in his classroom but she could tell, he was yearning to jump up from his seat and run away to some place more interesting.

Riddima, normally a serious and level headed girl who always thought twice before taking a step forward, surprised herself by suddenly getting up on an impulse and walked over to his table.

"Kya padh rahe ho?" she tapped his shoulder gently. Armaan looked up and frowned, "tum se matlab?"

Riddhima was taken aback by his tone; he had been so sweet all day. She still had her sketch in her purse. Each time she saw it, the more she liked it. More than her face, she loved the artist's strokes and his attention to detail.

"Armaan?" she asked, " upset?'

"Kyun upset hone ke liye bhi tumhari permission leni padhti hai? Us par bhi tumhara haq hai kya?" he asked sarcastically.

"Yeh kaisi behki…behki si baatein kar rahe ho?"

"Well Dr Riddhima….I have to prepare a case presentation for Dr Shubhankar tomorrow……after all you can't help me out everyday… could you kindly leave me alone!" He folded his hands angrily.

"Oh…samajh aaya," she rolled her tongue and folded her arms, "chalo…..looks like you need some fresh air….let's go get a cup of coffee."

"Jee nahin madam….coffee peene se mujhey neend nahin aati…..raat bhar uloo ki tarah jagtaa rahoonga…..jao….apne Raoool ke saath jao!"

"Gussa! Jealosy!" She chuckled, "bilkul tamatar jaise laal ho gaye ho…..achche nahin lagte aise."

'Achcha nahin lagta?" He raised his eyebrow. He cleared his throat and got up from his seat, "tho..tho kya waise achcha lagta hoon?" he bit his lip mischievously.

She giggled, "waise tho Bandar lagte ho….especially jab jealous hote ho."

"Jealous?" he chuckled nervously, "Why would I be jealous?"

"Yeh tho main bhi nahin jaanti…..haan itna jaanti hoon ki main is library se kahin door jaana chaahti hoon….ya tho coffee peene chalo ya phir icecream!"

"Ice cream? Mmmmm….I love ice cream….lekin campus par kahan milegi?" He asked.

She shut his book and went back to her laptop to power it off.

"Let's go…I know a great ice cream parlor….papa mujhey hamesha treat ke liye wahan le jaate the," she came back with her bag and led the way to the exit.

Armaan cheerfully started his car, as Riddhima sat on the passenger side. He stared at her as she buckled herself.

"Kya hua?" She wondered.

"Waise mujhey wo ladkiyan bilkul pasand nahin jo apni promises thod deti hain."

She was baffled, "promise?"

"Tumne promise kiya tha ki tum kabhie meri car mein nahin baithogi…..balki tumhari joo….." before he could complete the sentence, she placed her fingers on his lips.

"J..o..oot…i…bhi nahin….b-a-i-t-h-e-g-i…." Armaan's voice drawled as her delicate fingers rested on his lips. A tingle ran down his body as she gradually withdrew her fingers in embarrassment. Riddhima could feel his eyes bask on her face and then her lips. A sudden rush of blood flooded her face. She had never felt this way before. As she came back to her senses, she stepped out of the car.

"Yeh main kya kar rahi hoon? Ek ladke ke saath bahar akele jaa rahi hoon? Armaan ko main jaanti hi kitna hoon? What is happening to me? I should be studying…should be in the library……worrying about my patients…my cases….kya main bhatak rahi hoon?"

jaaniye heeriye
jaaniye heeriye
mere mann ye bata de tu
kis or chala hai tu
kya paya nahi tune
kya dhundh raha hai tu
jo hai ankahee jo hai ansuni
woh baat kya hai bata
Mitwa kahein dharkanein tujhse kya
mitwa yeh khudse toh na tu chhupa

Armaan followed her and stood beside her, "Mujhey promises thodne waali ladkiyan pasanad hain……main tho mazaak kar raha tha…….sirf ice cream khaane jaa rahe hain Riddhima…saath zindagi bitaane nahin…….chill……I was just kidding……you are welcome in my car whenever you want….please let's go."

mere mann ye bata de tu
kis or chala hai tu
kya paya nahi tune
kya dhundh raha hai tu
jo hai ankahee jo hai ansuni
woh baat kya hai bata
Mitwa kahein dharkanein tujhse kya
mitwa yeh khudse toh na tu chhupa

Riddhima looked up, hesitated and then sat down again. Armaan was right- she was probably over reacting. They were just going out for ice cream- nothing more, nothing less. Was she afraid a part of her slipping away from her control? Her life…her identity had always been under her own control….why did she feel at loss tonight? Na chaahte huye bhi main naa kyun nahin kar paa rahi hoon?

Before Riddhima could change her mind, Armaan roared off towards the exit gates of the campus.


Kripa looked up at the library clock, "Hey bhagwan….12 baj gaye! I should head back…kal subah jaldi jaana hai rounds par." She looked around and to her dismay only found a handful of semi-awake students yawning or stretching in front of their books, "Riddhima kahan gayi? Aur baaki friends? " She walked around but could not see any familiar faces, "Uff…lagta hai sab chale gaye…..main bhi na…..kuch zyaada hi apne cases mein lagi rahi….itni raat ko ab akele hostel jaana padhega….but Riddhima should have at least told me that she was leaving……she seemed lost today….lagta hai Oncology rotation mushkil rotation hai…anyways….I am not afraid to walk back alone." She gathered her bag and hung it on her shoulder. With her book in the other hand, she walked out of the library to be greeted with a deluge of Mumbai rains!

"Hey bhagwan…is baarish ko bhi abhi aana tha….uff…na jaane kab thamegi," she was about to turn around to borrow an umbrella from the librarian inside, but bumped into a tall, well built figure walking out of the library himself.

"EXCUSE ME!" She looked up and was mortified to see Angad towering above her with his usual sardonic grin.

"Darr gayi?" He grinned.

"Darr? Darr kis baat ka?"

"Baarish! Andheri raat! Akeli ladki! Main agar tumhari jagah hota tho zaroor darr jaata," he chuckled.

"Main darrpok nahin hoon…..aur wo bhi hospital ke campus mein? No way!"

"Looks like you did not hear about the woman intern who was molested last year by a hooligan? Wo bhi shayad raat ko akeli library se hostel jaa rahi thi," he folded his arms and stood tall, almost blocking her way.

"I can defend myself!" She retorted, "if I can face a hooligan like you…I can face anyone!"

With a wicked laugh, he stepped away from her path, "waise koi bhi aadmi tumhare paas aane se hi darrega….jao…..I think you are safe…..kaun 440 volt ka current khaana chaahega?"

"Tumhare liye tho khaas 880 volt ka lagaa rakha hai maine!"

"Yeah right," Angad leaned a little and lifted an umbrella.

She envied his protective gear but decided to ask someone else for an umbrella instead.

"Andar jaane ka koi faayda nahin hai…..librarian ka umbrella tho mere paas hai," he purposely snapped the umbrella open like a parachute.

"I am sure someone else can lend me one," she walked into the library.

"No one else has one," he yelled back.

"I don't trust you!" she yelled back and disappeared inside.

"Jhooth!" He said softly, "kehti hai jhoothe log usey pasand nahin hain….lekin khud sab se badhi jhoothi hai."

A few moments later she was back sans an umbrella. To her surprise, Angad was still at the door twirling his umbrella stem with his fingers.

"You can have it," Angad tried to pass the umbrella to her. It was still raining cats and dogs and Kripa was anxious to get back to the hostel. She stared at the rain…then the umbrella and then at Angad.

"Aur tum?" she asked hesitantly.

"I am used to it…..zindagi ki kai raatein aasmaan ke neeche, badal aur baarish ke beech mein guzaari hain…..this is nothing," He handed the umbrella to her. She was stunned to hear what he had just revealed about himself.

She had a puzzled look on her face, to which he replied, "awaara…mawaali…gunda hoon na…..hum jaise logon ko hamesha ghar naseeb nahin hota." The umbrella almost fell off her hand at his statement. She gazed into his eyes and knew he was telling the truth. She had not seen that soulful expression in his eyes to date. His heartfelt words definitely touched a chord inside her. She wanted to reach out to him and even invite him to walk with her under the same umbrella but his emotional expression vanished as fast as it had appeared.

He grinned and shook his head, "I thought you are smarter than this Kripa…..ladki pataane ke liye achchi line use ki maine…..just imagine……me….and HUM under the same umbrella on a dark rainy night? Ha…ha…ha."

"Why don't you keep your umbrella!" She dropped it on the floor, wrapped her book in her dupatta and ran out into the street with her bag, disgusted at Angad's ways. She ran as fast as she could, the blinding rain and dark streets making it almost impossible for her to see.

"Kitni tunak mizaaz ho! Naazuk ladkiyon ko zyaada baarish mein bheegna nahin chaahiye….bimaar ho jaati hain warna…aur agar tum bimaar ho gayi tho OB ward ka saara kaam kaun karega? Main tho kaam chor hoon….Prithvi kaam se darrta hai… what will we do Dr Kripa?" Angad caught up with her and held the umbrella above her head.

"NAHIN CHAAHIYE MUJHEY!" She yelled but before she could protest, a fast moving red sports car zoomed past them, splashing all kinds of muddy and rainy water on them.

'AHHH!" she yelled again, this time in an effort to save herself from falling, she landed in Angad's arms. The umbrella fell off his hand and was blown away by a gust of wind. Her book wrapped in the dupatta and her bag landed in a nearby puddle. It was just the two of them now, separated by a thin veil of her wet cotton kurta and his shirt. Just as they had crossed a bridge of trust and faith earlier in the day when they delivered the 'forceps baby,' their bodies exchanged an unspoken language of sensuous joy which neither had ever experienced before. They felt each other's heartbeats pounding against their chests. The warmth of his breath soothed her face from the cold and needle-like rain drops.

Angad's arm circled her thin waist as he supported her from falling. For a moment, they were lost in each other's eyes, oblivious of the thunder storm around them. Angad gazed into her big, expressive but beautiful eyes and then rested on her lips……

jeevan dagar mein prem nagar mein - 2
aaya nazar mein jab se koi hain
tu sochta hain tu puchata hain
jiski kami thi kya yeh wohi hain
haa yeh wohi hain - 2
tu ek pyasa aur yeh nadi hain
kaahe nahi isko tu khulke bataye
jo hai ankahee jo hai ansuni
woh baat kya hai bata
Mitwa kahein dharkanein tujhse kya
mitwa yeh khudse toh na tu chhupa

"Uh…huh…A..Ang-ad," she pulled away hesitantly and covered her chest with her arms. The wet kurta and no dupatta made her feel vulnerable and exposed in front of a man- a man she did not want to trust but in her heart knew that she could not be at a safer place at that moment. If there was someone out there who could protect her dignity that rainy night, it was the man standing in front of her whom she loved to loathe…..

teri nigaahen, paa gayi rahein
par tu yeh soche jaaun na jaaun
yeh zindagi jo hai naachti toh
kyon bediyon mein hai tere paanv
preet ki dhun par naach le paagal
udta agar hai udne de aanchal
kaahe koi apne ko aaise tarsaaye
jo hai ankahee jo hai ansuni
woh baat kya hai bata

Angad lifted her wet book, dupatta and bag from the street, "isey kehte hain sarr mundaa te hi olay padh gaye!"

She was amused by his comment, "matlab?"

"Internship ke pehle hi din saari kitaabein barbaad ho gayi!" He laughed and then wrapped her dupatta around her shoulders, "geela hai….lekin phir bhi dupatta hai." He gazed into her eyes and said softly, "aanchal ki sahi jagah yahi hai."

This man was indeed full of surprises. He walked with her rest of the journey, making sure he walked towards the center of the street to avoid any accidental splashes on Kripa once again. They walked in silence, each trying to make sense of the emotional upheaval in their hearts……

Mitwa kahein dharkanein tujhse kya
mitwa yeh khudse toh na tu chhupa
mere mann ye bata de tu
kis or chala hai tu
kya paya nahi tune
kya dhundh raha hai tu

"Tho woh teri car thi!" Angad slapped Armaan's back once they reached the women's hostel. Armaan stood at the gate with a hood on his head, waiting for Riddhima to safely enter the hostel entrance.

'Arre tu?" Armaan was startled by the slap on his back, "aur…Kripa?" He gave the drenched couple a mischievous smile, "aye hai…..bheegi bheegi raaton mein….bhari barsaaton mein…." Armaan hummed. An embarrassed Kripa ran through the gates and joined Riddhima at the door. The two women stared at each other sheepishly, both aware where and with whom they had just been.

"Uh…..uh….tum kahan chali gayi thi Riddhima? Main tumhara wait karte karte…phir…wo peeche peeche Angad aa gaya…..maine bahut manaa k…kiya…lekin…" Kripa tried to give an explanation, "PAR TUM KAHAN THI?"

"Wo…wo," Riddhima twirled her hair and looked away, "wo…Armaan ko bhookh lag rahi thi….kahin khaane chale gaye the….aur kuch cases bhi discuss karne the kal ke liye."

"Mujh se jhooth mat bolo Riddhima," Kripa smiled a little.

Riddhima blushed and glanced at a very wet Kripa from head to toe. She could see that Kripa would probably be a very attractive package in wet for any hot blooded man at that moment, "bechara Angad….sirf peeche peeche hi aane diya tumne? Kum se kum saath saath tho aane deti!"

"Main tumhari jaisi nahin hoon…jo ek hi din mein bhool jaaoon in ladkon ne hamare saath kya kiya tha," Kripa frowned.

"Jhoothi kahin ki!" Riddhima hugged her friend and walked arm in arm back into the hostel.

"Andar gayi dono!" Angad and Armaan sighed at the gate. By now, both men were soaked in the rain too. They looked at each other and jumped into Armaan's car.

Armaan and Angad sang old hindi movie songs as they drove back to their hostel….barkhaa rani…zara jum ke barso…..mera dilbar jaa na paaye…..rim jhim gire saawan…sulag sulag jaaye mann…..ha ha…ha…bheega badan jalne lagaa….mausam badalne lagaa……ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si……ha ha ha…..

…to be contd….


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