Saturday, 11 August 2018

part 13 : To Err is Human

The two groups of interns, a handful of nursing and hospital staff were ready to board the bus to Sanjeevgarh next morning. The 100 km journey would probably take 4 hours or so, given the state of the roads and traffic around Mumbai. Without their lab coats and usual tense expressions, it looked like they were all on a vacation rather than work.

Riddhima had confronted Kripa about her statement about falling in love but as usual Kripa had pooh-ed pooh-ed her curiosity to, "maine kitaabon mein padha hai aisa….of course I am not in love…kisi pagal kutte ne kaat rakha hai mujhey?" was her reply.

"Riddhima," Kripa whispered, "do you mind if I sit with Armaan in the bus?"

Initially taken aback, Riddhima composed herself, "s..sure….why do you ask me….main kaun hoti hoon kisi ko rokne waali?"

"Do I smell someone burning?" Kripa giggled and pinched her friend's nose, "kal raat tumnein Armaan ki itni tareef ki tho mera bhi mann kar raha hai uske saath time bitaane ko."

"Why are you teasing me Kripa?" Riddhima was a little irked by her friend's enthusiasm to sit with Armaan, "mujhey koi farak nahin padhta!" and took her place near a window seat in the back.

Kripa rolled her tongue and smiled at her friend's irritability, "itna pyaar hai us se? Zara dekhoon tumhare Armaan ke dil mein bhi itni hi aag hai kya?" Kripa asked herself. She spotted Armaan with his iPOD and headphones on one of the seats in the back.

"Hi! Kaun sa gaana sun rahe ho?" Kripa plopped next to Armaan and startled him.

"OH! WOW! K…Kripa…aaa…aap?" Armaan moved away a little and removed his head phones, "you sure you wanna sit with me?" an obviously uncomfortable Armaan looked around and was reassured to see Angad outside, loading his bags in the carrier. How could he betray his friend? Even though Angad had never confessed to Armaan, he was sure Angad was crazy about Kripa.

"Any problem?" she asked and placed his headphones in her ears…

Break free gotta get some chhutti
Tod do deewaron ko..
Break free ab kholo mutthi…
Chheen lo duniya se more… (song from Krazzy 4)

She started swaying to the new number. Riddhima looked behind and was mortified to see her otherwise serious friend jiving to the music as a stunned Armaan stared at his headphones and then at Riddhima apologetically. Riddhima turned around and looked out the window, "HI ANGAD!" She waved. A confused Angad waved back, "yeh isko kya hua? Aaj tak hallway mein ya hospital mein tho kabhie aankh utha kar nahin dekhi…..Armaan maar daalega mujhey!"

As soon as Angad boarded the bus, Riddhima cornered him and invited him to sit with her. If Kripa could tease her, so could she!

Angad was bewildered to see Kripa nodding to the music with her eyes closed settled comfortably next to an ill-at-ease Armaan. Armaan just shrugged his shoulders in ignorance and raised his eyebrows as Angad gave him a curious look. A confused Angad sat down next to Riddhima.

Rahul and Prithvi looked lost and had no choice but to sit with each other.

As the bus took off, Kripa removed the headphones, "nice song…..but not my types….yeh lo Armaan…aise gaane kisi aur ko hi sunana."

"Thanks Kripa," Armaan stuffed his headphones into his pocket, "aapko kis tarah ke gaane achche lagte hain?" He asked hesitantly, making sure, he did not appear too friendly, especially with Riddhima just a few feet away.

"More traditional….and soft songs," she smiled.

"Oh…phir tho aapko Angad ke saath baithna chaahiye….he listens to those kind of songs," Armaan tried to get up from his seat. Kripa pulled him back, "Angad is so boring…..I want to sit with you Armaaaan!"

"Oh..Ok….if you insist," Armaan sat back obediently, his fingers crossed in the hope that Riddhima and Angad would not misunderstand them. Never before had Kripa crossed the line of friendship, "yeh aaj kya ho gaya hai Kripa ko? Kyun mujhey joote padhwaane ke kaam kar rahi hai? May be that is what she wants….darn…I should have known…she is still out to get us….kaash yeh bhi Riddhima se kuch seekh jaati." Armaan mumbled to himself.

"Armaan…why are you so uncomfortable? Maine tho suna tha ki tumhein flirt karne ka bahut shauk hai…..ab jab ek ladki khud tumhare paas aakar baith gayi hai….phir ghabraa kyun rahe ho?" she chuckled as Armaan turned red with embarrassment.

"Sorry Kripa…..main…main ab flirt nahin karta," Armaan looked down.

"Kyun? Main pasand nahin kya? Am I not pretty?"

"Aisi baat nahin hai… are very beautiful….lekin…I..I….wo…wo….I like someone else," Armaan finally blurted the truth.

"Oh…I see…..really?" She asked cynically, "Dr Armaan Mallik is serious about someone?"

"Yes Kripa…..I have never been this serious before….I really mean it," he looked at her with soulful eyes. Kripa knew Armaan was not faking. The earnestness and genuine look in his eyes were unmistakable.

"Does she like you too?" she asked.

"Pata nahin"

"Us ladki se poonch kyun nahin lete phir?"

"Darr lagta hai."

"Armaan tum kab se darpok ho gaye? Internship ke pehle hi din Dr Gupta ka cartoon banane waala …..ek ladki se darrta hai?" she mocked at him.

"Aisi baat nahin hai Kripa," Armaan was a little more relaxed now that Kripa was not coming onto him like before.

"Phir? I bet you have asked several girls out before…may be even said I love you to them?"

"You know when I never meant it, I must have said I love you to so many girls…but this time I mean it….and I don't have the courage to say it," he replied softly and looked away.

"Armaan bhaiyya," Kripa shook his arm.

"Bhaiyya?" his jaw fell as his eyes popped out in shock.

"You know I had sent our internship class picture home….mere ghar waale sochte hain main aur tum bhai behen lagte hain," she chuckled.

"Bhai behen?" Armaan smiled, more at ease with Kripa now, "hey I like that…I don't have a sister either."

"Me neither….brother nor sister," she looked up and rested her chin on her fingers, "tho bhaiyya…..ab jaldi se aage jaakar apne pyaar ka izhaar kar do….kyunki aag dono taraf barabar hai."

Armaan was pleasantly surprised, 'you mean….R..Ri…Riddhima se?" he stuttered anxiously.

"Nahin driver se!" She rolled her eyes.

"She likes me?" Armaan's eyes lit up.

"I would say she more than likes you," Kripa smiled and pinched Armaan's arm playfully, "mera kaam poora ho gaya ab….ab aap dono apni prem kahani sambhalo…..let me go back to my friend," she picked her purse and walked towards Riddhima's seat where Angad and she were engrossed in an animated conversation.

"Excuse me!" Kripa tapped on Angad's shoulder, 'tumhara dost tumhein yaad kar raha hai."

"Usey keh do main busy hoon…tho haan Riddhima kya keh rahi thi?" Angad pretended to ignore Kripa.

"RIDDHIMA! Jao tum jao phir Armaan ke paas….he does not like my company," Kripa sighed.

"Main kyun jaaoon? Pehle tho tumhee bhaag kar gayi thi Armaan ke paas!" Riddhima pouted.

"You really want me to go and sit with him again?" Kripa asked with a bored expression, "he is so boring yaar!"

"HE IS NOT! HE IS NOT BORING!!" Riddhima got up and walked out into the aisle towards Armaan's seat. Riddhima thought Kripa was definitely acting weird that morning, but she had no right to call Armaan boring! To Armaan's delight, Riddhima sat next to him as Kripa smiled back at them. Riddhima was startled by Kripa's warm smile and then understood what that expression meant. Kripa was looking out for Riddhima and she had been foolish enough to mistake her good intentions.

Riddhima kicked herself again for being so judgmental about her friend. She recalled how Kripa had warned her several times about Armaan's reputation; she was probably just trying to gauge Armaan's feelings on her behalf.

"Mujhey logon ke baare mein itni jaldi opinion nahin banana chaahiye," Riddhima said to herself as Armaan made room for her next to him.


"Please scoot over," Kripa ordered Angad.

"Itna drama karne ki kya zaroorat thi Kripa?" Angad asked as he moved over.

"Kaun sa drama?" she asked.

"Agar mere saath baithna hi tha tho saaf saaf keh deti…..itni jalebi ki tarah raasta kyun nikaala mere paas aane ka?" Angad teased her.

"Yeah right!" Kripa barked at him and settled on the aisle seat with her bag in her lap.

"By the way thanks for speaking up in my defense yesterday," Angad leaned over.

"I would do that for anyone….you are not anyone special," she replied coldly.

"Yeh hamesha khadoos tareeke se kyun baat karti ho?" Angad asked.

"Kyunki tum baat hi aisi karte ho!" she retorted.

Rahul and Prithvi witnessed the game of musical chairs between their four colleagues.

"I think they are all crazy!" Rahul closed his eyes and decided to catch up on his sleep as Prithvi swallowed a painful lump in his throat. He was sure Kripa liked Angad more than him; otherwise why would she want to sit with him for a 4 hour journey?

To Prithvi's delight, Kripa got up in fury after a few minutes and looked for an empty seat in the bus. Angad had obviously irritated her with one of his caustic remarks. In the past, Prithvi would have tried to bring peace between his co interns but now he prayed for their fights. He could not stand them sitting, talking, working together anymore. Kripa's statement in Angad's defense in front of everyone at the awards ceremony yesterday had evaporated any feeling of warmth he had towards Angad.


"Hi," Armaan said softly as Riddhima sat next to him.

"Hi….lagta hai meri saheli ko bahut bore kar diya," Riddhima smiled and nudged Armaan's elbow.

"Usey bore karne mein itna mazaa nahin aata jitna tumhein bore karne mein aata hai," he hooked his arm around her elbow and gazed into her eyes.

"Arrmaaan!" she exclaimed and tried to withdraw her arm, "koi dekh lega."

"Nahin dekhega," he covered their entangled arms with her dupatta and entwined his fingers with hers.

"What are you doing?" she clenched her teeth and mumbled.

"Sirf haath hi tho pakda hai…..chaaho tho aur kuch bhi pakad sakta hoon," Armaan leaned closer.

"Bahut badmaash ho tum!" she exclaimed.

"Sab yahi kehte hain…..ab 23 saal ki umar mein badalna mushkil hai," he smiled as she struggled against his firm hold.

"Kripa tumhein kya bol kar gayi hai?" Riddhima's efforts to free herself were unsuccessful as Armaan tugged her closer under the veil of her dupatta.

"That's top secret…..main apni behen ke baare mein kuch nahin bataa sakta!"

"Behen?" she was surprised.

"Behen keh lo ya saali," Armaan teased her. Riddhima blushed profusely at his comment, "aren't you being a little presumptuous Armaan?"

"Please keh do ek baar," he whispered in her ear.

"Kya?" she answered huskily.

"Wo hi jo har aashiq sun na chaahta hai," he whispered.

"Aashiq?" she turned red and tried to hide her face from everyone.

"SANJEEVGARH ABHI 50 KM DOOR AUR HAI!" The bus driver made an announcement, "kisi ko bathroom break lena hai tho le sakte hain abhi."

Armaan and Riddhima's little romantic session was rudely interrupted by the screeching voice of the driver on a microphone.

Riddhima pushed Armaan away and got up, "haan mujhey jaana hai."

"Mujhey bhi!" Armaan followed her out of the bus. The other passengers alighted to stretch themselves.

"Kripa…..naariyal paani peeogi?" Prithvi asked.

"Haan zaroor." She smiled; her eyes as always wandering for Angad as Prithvi left to make the purchase. Angad had already purchased a handful of coconuts and walked towards them, "any one for coconuts? The real ones!" He winked at Armaan as they both laughed at their old joke. Angad handed one coconut each to Armaan and Riddhima.

"You can have one too," Angad held one out for Kripa.

'Wo Prithvi bhi laa raha hai ek," she hesitated.

"Pehla haq mera hai," Angad placed the coconut in her hand, "Prithvi ka number mere baad mein hi aata hai," he stunned her with his statement and walked off sipping his own coconut.

Angad's statement had rendered her speechless once again; she placed the straw between her lips. She saw the vendor peeling the coconut for Prithvi as she sipped into the sweet nectar offered by Angad. Coconut was a strange fruit, she thought- hard and rough on the outside-one had to peel layers and layers of husk to get to the sweet and juicy part. Why did the fruit remind her of someone? He was as mysterious as this tropical fruit, dry and coarse to the casual observer but moist and succulent for the thirsty traveler who knew how to peel the layers……..was she ready to peel those layers and get closer to the core?


Armaan dragged Riddhima to a quiet corner behind the bus.

"Kya baat hai Armaan? Yahan kyun le aaye?" she asked.

"Ek baar sun na chaahta hoon please," he held her hand and threw his coconut away, "keh do na Riddhima."

"Armaaan!" she sipped her juice and looked away. Armaan pulled her closer, "achcha nahin bologi tho humari bus chhot jaayegi."

"Armaan….are you crazy?"

"Yes…I am…..I am crazy about you Riddhima," he cupped her face in his hands and placed his lips around her straw. She gazed at him in disbelief as he sipped her coconut water down to the core.

"Tumney mera jhootha pee liya?"

"Kehte hain jhootha peene se pyaar aur badh jaata hai," he smiled and turned around to walk back to the bus.

"Pyaar?" she asked.

"Haan pyaar," he winked.

Please enjoy this song from Aap ki khatir to convey Armaan and Riddhima's feelings as they board the bus…..

tum bin jee na paayenge
hum toh marr hi jaayenge
tumse reh na paayenge duur hum
tum bin jee na paayenge
hum toh marr hi jaayenge
tumse reh na paayenge duur hum
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam - 2
kar lo zara ikraar ae sanam - 2
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam - 2
tum bin jee na paayenge hum toh marr hi jaayenge
tumse reh na paayenge duur hum

tujhse mila toh yeh jana
ishq tishnagi hai yeh maana
tere liye paagal mera dil
tu meri mohabbat ki manzil
o meri saansen tere dam se
keh rahi hoon main kasam se
jeena kya tere bin
ho ho..
haal-e-dil kaha na jaaye
chain ek pal na aaye
sune sune mere raat din
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam
kar lo zara ikraar aye sanam
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam
tum bin jee na paayenge hum toh marr hi jaayenge
tumse reh na paayenge duur hum

yeh kasak yeh aalam yeh manzar
mere jasbon ka samandar
kahe beqaraari ki aahat
mujhe sirf sirf teri chahat
meri khwaahishon ki duniya
tujhse hi meri khushiyan
jaan le tu yeh jaan le
kisi gair ko na chaha
tujhpe hi jaan lutaaun
chahe jo bhi imtihaan le
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam
kar lo zara ikraar ae sanam
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam
tum bin jee na paayenge hum toh marr hi jaayenge
tumse reh na paayenge duur hum
keh do naa tumhen pyar tumhen pyar hai sanam....

…to be contd..

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