Thursday, 2 August 2018

part 4 : To Err is Human

Jinko bhi milna hai likha…..Ishq milwayega,
Door door se dhoond dhoond ke……paas le aaye ga

Kahin bhi jaake chupo…… ishq wahin aayega,
Kitna bhi NA NA karo…… uthaa ke le jaayega

BANQUET HALL AT THE SMI:


If one walked into the large ornate banquet hall of the SMI, it would come as a surprise that this place was part of a hospital and not a five-star hotel. Sanjeevani had a tradition of honoring it's out going batch of interns with a lavish party organized by the staff of the hospital. At the same time, the incoming batch was welcomed into the Sanjeevani family the same evening. The outgoing interns were ready to embark their careers into various specialized areas of medicine after their year stint at the SMI. A large number of them chose to stay back at the SMI to specialize as Surgeons, Internists, Pediatricians, Obstetricians, Radiologists, Anesthesiologists, etc etc. Others went out into the real world to practice as General physicians, or went to other prestigious institutes in the country, and the really ambitious ones went abroad to pursue further training.






The new interns hesitantly walked into the banquet hall in groups of twos and threes. They were all dressed in their best outfits they had carried from home for this special occasion.



Riddhima had invited a group of women including Kripa, Anjali, Ouma and Hinna to get dressed at her parent's home for the special occasion. Although, Riddhima had a room in the dorm like the other interns, she wanted her new friends to have the luxury of getting dressed in front of a real mirror and dressing table instead of their tiny little dorm rooms.
Padma and Shashank were pleased to see that their daughter had managed to make good friends on the first day itself.



Riddhima wore a beautiful red, knee length dress to reflect her more westernized tastes in life. Kripa wore a beautiful blue and pink lehnga which her mother had specially gotten tailored by their faithful "Ramu kaka' in Ajmer. Rajasthan was still a very conservative state and having lived there all her life, Kripa was more comfortable in her Indian-ness rather than the beautiful black dress Riddhima had offered her to wear.




Anjali wore a pair of beautiful silk black pants with a pink blouse. Ouma and Hinna, bright young girls from Hyderabad, wore beautiful salwaar kameez's.



As the five women walked into the banquet hall, all heads turned towards them to welcome and acknowledge their presence.



Prithvi sat in a corner with a soft drink in hand. He wore a maroon silk kurta pyjama set which his mother had neatly packed for him especially for occasions like this. Being the only one dressed in ethnic wear, he felt a little out of place but was relieved to see the women, especially Kripa in her lehnga. Rahul looked dashing in black slacks and navy blue shirt, tie and jacket. Ranbir, always the gentleman, wore a black suit.




A beaming Dr Shashank and his wife, Padma dressed in a beautiful green kanjivaram sari welcomed all the new interns at the door. Drs Kartik and Shubhankar mingled with the outgoing and new batch. Dr Keerti, Kartik's wife sat quietly on a sofa and talked to some of the older nurses and staff of the hospital.



"Kripa…wo dekho…..cream sari mein wahan Dr Keerti hain," Riddhima whispered.



"Oh….Dr Kartik ki wife?"



"Haan…..wo bahut kum bahar aati hain…..maine unhein sirf saal mein 1-2 parties attend karte hi dekha hai…..lekin bahut chup rehti hain…..kisi doctor se baat bhi nahin karti…..I don't know why though…she was a very good doctor but wonder what happened." Riddhima shrugged her shoulders.




"You mean she is not practicing anymore?" Kripa asked.



"No…..I have asked mom many times…but she always evades my question…..mom kehti hain ki Dr Keerti sirf apne bachche aur ghar ko sambhaal ti hain…..what a waste of a bright career!" Riddhima sighed.



"Why do you say that?" Kripa was surprised at Riddhima's judgmental comment.



"C'mom Kripa! Doctor ban na koi aasaan kaam nahin hai…..imagine itne saalon ki padhai….sab barbaad kar di….aur wo bhi apne husband aur bacchon ke liye?" Riddhima found that unfathomable. She had always pestered her own mom, an ex-nurse to go back to work, but Padma had always declined. Riddhima knew that she would never want to be a Padma or a Dr Keerti in her future. How could women do that?



"I guess you have a point," Kripa nodded, "but may be that gives them happiness….after all isn't it all about what makes you happy rather than what one should and should not do?"


Riddhima smiled back, "I guess you have a point too…..but I will never let that happen to me." The women let out a chuckle and walked towards Rahul and Prithvi.




As was expected, Angad and Armaan were the last ones to enter the party. To their dismay, no one greeted them at the door as everyone was too busy munching on hors d'oeuvres and getting refills on their drinks. Even Dr Shashank, who normally waited at the door till all the new interns were formally welcomed, gave the two late comers a royal snub by walking away when he saw them strolling in casually, as if it was a park rather than a formal welcome party for the new interns.




To add to the insult, Angad and Armaan realized that they were the most under dressed men at the party- Angad more so than Armaan! Dressed in his torn and faded jeans with an equally faded white t-shirt, Angad thought he would be the coolest one at the party- the vagabond-look was considered hip in high societies he thought. The waiters and the attending staff at the party were reluctant to let them in. It was only after they flashed their new IDs from SMI, that the two were granted permission to join the party. Armaan also wore a pair of denims and a red shirt but looked more presentable than his new buddy.




"Armaan….tu tho keh raha tha ki is party mein humein sab chief guest ki tarah welcome karenge….lekin yahan tho koi palak uthaa kar bhi nahin dekh raha hamari taraf!" Angad whispered.



"Don't worry yaar…..dekhna jab dance shuru hoga…..tab sab humein hi dekhenge…..we will be in demand…..aaj tak kisi dance ya night club mein Armaan Mallik ignore nahin hua hai…..tho yeh Sanjeevani kya cheez hai!" Armaan said confidently; his eyes wandering around searching for one person. There she was- dressed to kill in her red dress. He almost lost his step when he saw the lady in red!


"Hello gentlemen!" Dr Shashank finally walked towards the jean clad men. He glanced at them from head to toe, disapproving of their less than casual attire. Dr Shanshank took pride in the reputation of his Institute. He felt that the way his interns presented and conducted themselves reflected the quality and the stature of the Institute. More than Angad and Armaan's impolite behavior in the auditorium earlier that morning, it was their utter disregard for the dress code listed on the invitation that irked Dr Shashank more. Dr Shashank considered that interns who could not follow the rules and code of conduct of the hospital were unworthy of being at the SMI. He took a deep breath and gave them the benefit of doubt. After all Armaan was his old friend Abhimanyu's son! And Angad was a bright candidate as was evident by his transcripts!




"Hello sir!" Armaan shook his hand nonchalantly, "looks like we are a little late…aren't we?"



"Punctuality is very important at the SMI…..bhool gaya tu Armaan? Apne saath saath mujhey bhi late karwaa diya….kya zaroorat thi kisi aur ki help karne ki," Angad glared at Armaan and elbowed him gently.




A confused Armaan returned the glare and then smiled once he understood Angad's lead, "sir….raaste mein ek bus ka accident ho gaya tha…..hum log bas tayaar hone hi jaa rahe the….lekin itne saare passengers ko ghayal dekh kar hum se raha nahin gaya…..so we decided to help them instead and therefore had no time to change into something respectable…..ab dekhiye na hum baaki interns ki tarah achche kapde tho nahi pehen paaye lekin kayi logon ki jaan bachaa paaye." Armaan bowed his head innocently as his voice cracked with fake emotions.


"Nahin nahin beta….tum logon ne bilkul sahi kaam kiya….jo tum ne kiya uske liye mujhey tumpar garv hai….come join in….enjoy the party sons." Dr Shashank almost felt guilty about snubbing the two interns. "Yeh dono sach much achche ladke hain….shayad maine hi samajhne mein galti kar di." Dr Shashank thanked them for their self less-ness.




Armaan and Angad gallantly strode into the crowd but were again surprised to see no Hi…no hello….no welcomes from the other interns.



"Zaroor….in ladkiyon ne hamare khilaaf sab ko bhadkaa diya hai," Angad said angrily.



"Shut up Angad….have some confidence yaar…..dekh tho sahi meri waali kya tamatar jaisi lag rahi hai laal dress mein…..uske gusse ka rang uski dress mein utar aaya ho jaise," Armaan could not take his eyes off Riddhima. She looked as glamorous as a supermodel and as innocent as a little girl at that moment.




"Aur meri waali…poori behenji ki tarah dressed hai," Angad's eyes were glued to Kripa as he mocked at her. The pink and blue shades of her lehnga enhanced the glow on her face. She was having a great time chatting with a group of new interns. Angad could not help noticing the twinkle in her eyes as she smiled and laughed heartily. There was something magnetic about her smile too, he thought. He shook his head violently to distract himself from such sickening thoughts.




"Behenji?.......Lekin tu usey behen tho nahin manta na?" Armaan chuckled.



Angad shuddered at that thought. He definitely could not have brotherly feelings towards Kripa- CERTAINLY NOT! Why did he vehemently want to deny that feeling?



"Main us ladki se itni nafrat karta hoon ki wo behen banane laayak bhi nahin hai!" Angad replied haughtily and walked towards the bar area.



Armaan joined Angad too and ordered, "one beer for me….arre Angad….tu kya pee raha hai?"



"Nimboo paani!' Angad replied.



"Nimboo paani?" Armaan was surprised, "the beer is on the house yaar…..this is the only time you are allowed to drink alcohol on the premises……take advantage of it man!"



Angad turned around and saw Kripa standing behind Armaan. She was ordering a soft drink for herself, unaware of Angad and Armaan's presence.



"Mujhey logon ki kadvi baaton se hi sharaab ka nashaa aa jaata hai…..tho sharaab peene ka kya faayda?" Angad raised his voice on purpose so that it would reach the ears of the petite frame behind his friend's back.




A startled Kripa recognized the deep husky voice. She detested that voice but at the same time did not know why it sent a twinge down her spine. Kripa walked off with her drink but could not help giving him a dirty look as she turned around. Even though she had pledged to herself that she would not talk or respond to Angad's remarks that evening, an impulse inside her got the better of her self control, "kai log khud hi itni kadwaahat se bhare hote hain ki shayad sharaab bhi unse zyaada meethi ho chakhne mein!"




Angad took offense at that statement and got up from the barstool in frenzy. He grabbed Kripa's wrist, forcing her drink to spill from her other hand onto her lehnga.



"How many times have I told you to mind your own business?" he clutched on her wrist forcefully.



Kripa stared into his eyes hatefully and muttered under her breath, "leave me alone! Tum jaise sadak chaap waalon ko main khoob samajhti hoon…..you have ruined my lehnga too…BACK OFF RIGHT NOW! Warna main shor machaa doongi!"



Angad jerked her wrist away and made a sour face, "aur kar hi kya sakti hain besahara ladkiyan…..shor machaane ke alaawa!"



"Dekhte hain…..kaun besahara reh jaata hai aaj party ke baad!" Kripa retorted and walked off towards her friends. The marks from Angad's fingers were imprinted on her wrist as she tried to massage it against her lehnga, "gunda kahin ka!" She shot him another look and cursed him for the nth time that day.



"Angad…tu ne tho apni waali ka haath hi pakad liya yaar…..maan gaye ustad!" Armaan patted Angad's back, "waise kaisi hai choone mein?"



Angad smirked and shook his head, "440 volt! Sirf current se bhari hai!Us jaisi cheez ke tho mooh bhi nahin lagnaa chaahta…..haath tho bahut door ki baat hai."



"Boss…..shuruat tho haath pakad kar hi hoti hai," Armaan winked at his friend as he guzzled down his beer.



"Armaan….take care of your LALIMA! And don't get any ideas," Angad said smugly.



"Oye Angad….udhar dekh….Rahul ka bachcha kaise chief ko maskaa lagaa raha hai," Armaan nudged his friend. Rahul and Dr Shashank Gupta were engaged in a serious conversation.



"Why do you think yahan sab maskaa lagaate rehte hain?…..May be they are just introducing themselves to each other," Angad replied.



"I hate his guts! He is trying to impress HER dad! " Armaan clenched his teeth.



"Looks like your shirt color has changed from red to green," Angad chuckled.



"Matlab?"



Angad sniffed around Armaan's back and neck, "kuch jal raha hai."



"What do you mean? Ambulance bulaaoon kya?"



"Boss…..I am not sure that would help," Angad laughed and slapped Armaan's back, "looks like someone is getting jealous."



"Jealous my foot! Ek din Rahul ki band zaroor bajaaoonga main…..apne aap ko samajhta kya hai? Wo dekh ab kaise Riddhima se hans hans ke baat kar raha hai," Armaan's fists turned red hot just like his shirt and Riddhima's dress.



"Band tho ab bajne waala hai…..look the DJ is walking towards the mike….lagta hai dance wance shuru hine waala hai," Angad pointed towards the other end of the hall.


"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN……I WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME YOU ALL TO THIS WONDERFUL EVENING OF DANCE…..MUSIC AND CELEBRATION…..I AM DJ JOSH…..ALSO AN ALUM OF THIS GLORIOUS INSTITUTE……NOW A PART TIME DR AND FULL TIME DJ!"



The crowd roared with laughter and cheered for Josh.


"AS IS THE TRADITION AT THE SMI…..WE WILL FIRST INVITE SOME OF THE WOMEN INTERNS FROM OUR NEW BATCH TO INITIATE THE DANCE…..THEY WILL HAVE THE LIBERTY TO CHOOSE A DANCE PARTNER FROM THEIR GROUP OF INTERNS…..IN THE END…..WE WILL SELECT THE BEST COUPLE IN THE WESTERN DANCE CATEGORY AND INDIAN DANCE CATEGORY…..SO HERE WE GO! LET'S START WITH A SALSA-ISH NUMBER!"



Josh placed the headphones on his ear and gave a thumbs up sign to everyone.



"Angad…..tayyar ho ja….no woman can resist our charm tonight," Armaan came forward and stood amongst the crowd with an air of arrogance.



"I hate to dance…..any ways I have two left feet…..tu hi ja," Angad sat down on a barstool and munched on some pakoras and nimboo pani.


"Ghabraa mat…..style hona chaahiye….dance apne aap aa jaata hai," Armaan said confidently.




"Ok…let's start with the lady in RED!" Josh announced. A petrified Riddhima was forced into the spotlight.


Kripa pushed Riddhima into the center of the floor, "YAY RIDDHIMA!!!!"


The music started playing beats of a desi-salsa number ,"touch me" from 'Dhoom2'



To everyone's surprise, Riddhima was not only a good sport but a proficient dancer. Padma was proud to see her daughter in the center of the floor. All her years of waiting outside Riddhima's ballet and hip hop dancing classes were definitely worth it.


Riddhima swayed to the beats of the music and quietly danced her way into the heart of a young blue eyed man dressed in matching colors. Armaan was in a trance as his heart fluttered with every hip swinging movement of hers.




teekhi teekhi teri akhiyaan,
chhooke chhooke behkati hai,
dekh dekh naa yun mujhko,
hosh hosh le jaati hai,
deewaanaa dil kahin kho jaaye naa,
humse khafa koi ho jaye naa
touch me don't touch me don't touch me soniyaa – 2



It was time for her to select her partner now. She shot a glance at all her male counterparts from her batch. Her gaze stayed a few extra seconds on Armaan as their eyes exchanged an inexplicable dialect with each other. She swung close to Armaan and smiled at him. Armaan gave her the 'ye-tho-hona-hi-tha' look. After all how long could she resist him?



Riddhima gave him a contemptuous 'bhaad-mein-jaa' look and grabbed Rahul's hand and invited him to join her. With a slanting smile on his face, Rahul looked at Armaan triumphantly and joined Riddhima on the dance floor.




chhod chhod meri raahon ko,
taubaa taubaa dar lagtaa hai,
aisi vaisi teri baaton se,
ishq vishk saa jagtaa hai,
deewaanaa dil kahin kho jaaye naa,
humse khataa koi ho jaaye naa
touch me don't touch me don't touch me soniyaa - 2

roke naa ruke, mere yeh kadam
tute naa kahin, jaanaa har kasam
rehne de zaraa, thodaa paas laa
paagalpan kare mann hai manchalaa
deewaanaa dil kahin kho jaaye na,
humse khafaa koi ho jaaye naa
touch me don't touch me don't touch me soniyaa – 2


Rahul and Riddhima made a formidable pair on the dance floor. All the women and men cheered for the couple. Armaan's face was flushed with anger, humiliation, resentment and above all JEALOUSY! He had never felt this way before. No woman he had shown interest in, had ever snubbed him the way Riddhima just did.


"DON'T TOUCH HER YOU RASCAL!" He muttered angrily as Rahul and Riddhima danced like a Latino couple on the floor.



naa main hosh mein, naa tu hosh mein
behke naa kahin dono josh mein
sine mein kahin sholaa saa jale
yaaraa ishq pe kiskaa bas chale
deewaanaa dil kahin kho jaaye naa,
humse khataa koi ho jaaye naa
touch me don't touch me don't touch me soniyaa - 2

teekhi teekhi teri akhiyaan,
chhooke chhooke behkati hai,
dekh dekh naa yun mujhko,
hosh hosh le jaati hai,


A man who had joined Sanjeevani to fulfill his forefather's dreams, now had a dream and goal for himself at this Institute- Riddhima! He resolved that by the end of the year, Riddhima would be crazily in love with him and Rahul would be the one going through all the emotions Armaan was experiencing that night. A man who had never been serious in his life, was now very serious……very serious about his goal at the Sanjeevani.



chhod chhod meri raahon ko,
taubaa taubaa dar lagtaa hai,
aisi vaisi teri baaton se,
ishq vishk saa jagtaa hai,
deewaanaa dil kahin kho jaaye na,
humse khataa koi ho jaaye naa
touch me don't touch me don't touch me soniyaa
............................

Us ne ghoor ke dekha tho..

Fadak fadak kuch fadka hai,

Mujko kachcha khaa gayi,

Chaunka hai…..na tadka hai…

Pehli baar hua aisa,

Dhadka nahi ……dil dhakda hai…… (U, Me aur Hum)







"Bhool ja usey Armaan," Angad consoled a red faced Armaan after Riddhima and Rahul concluded their dance.



"Angad…..tu abhi Armaan Mallik ko jaanta nahin hai….main sab kuch bhool sakta hoon lekin ek ladki ke haath apni be izzati nahin seh sakta," Armaan replied.





"Tu ne bhi tho uske dad ka mazaak udhaaya tha yaar…..it's just tit for tat…..relax man…..she's just one girl…..aur tu hi tho keh raha tha ki ladkiyan tujh par marti hain….tho is ladki mein aisi kya khaas baat hai?" Angad asked. Armaan was surprised with Angad's sudden change in attitude.



"Partner…..yeh dal kab se badal liya tuney?" Armaan questioned.





"Yaar dal nahin badlaa…..I just don't want you to get too serious about this girl…..I don't know why…. but I have a feeling you are actually falling for her," Angad smiled.







Armaan had a crooked, half-mocking smile on his face, "Falling for her? Naaaa……she is just a challenge for me…..that's it…..nothing more …..nothing less…..Armaan Mallik can never fall for anyone…..naa aaj tak aisa hua hai…..aur na hone waala hai…..aur khaas kar us nak-chhadhi ke saath…NAAA!!! I just wanna have some fun at her and Raoool's expense!" He sneered and gulped down his beer.





Angad gave him a, 'I-don't-believe-you' look. "Theek hai….tu apni challenge ko handle kar…..I really don't care."







"What's up buddy?" Armaan grabbed Angad's elbow, "what about taming those lionesses?"



Angad had no answer. Kripa was indeed a challenge for him too- or rather a thorn! Like a thorn which had gotten stuck under his finger nail- had been nagging and gnawing at him all day.







Even though she had irritated him like no one ever had, why was he less keen about a show down with her anymore? Was it her constant barbs at him, or he hated being called a 'gunda?' After all, he had heard that word many times in his life-landlords, teachers, sahebs, shopkeepers, taxi owners had all addressed him as a 'gunda' at some point in his life. He had never cared about other people's opinions, and still didn't, but why then was he particularly offended when she had called him a 'gunda?' If it were not for Dr Dilip Agarwal, Angad would have indeed become a professional 'gunda' or a crook. To date, only Dr Agarwal's opinion had mattered to him, then why did Kripa's remarks have such an effect on him?







A confused Angad was about to walk away from the heart of the party but his foot steps froze the moment he heard the DJ's voice:



"NEXT….I AM GOING TO PLAY AN OUT AND OUT DESI NUMBER….DHOLNA…BY SHUBHA MUDGAL….A RAJASTHANI FOLK SONG!" Josh announced.





"Hey Josh! Kripa is from Rajasthan!" Riddhima yelled enthusiastically. Kripa pulled Riddhima back, "Riddhima! Kya kar rahi hai? Mujhey nahin dance karna."





"Mujhey kisney dhakka diya tha?" Riddhima grabbed Kripa's arm and waved at Josh again.



"Alright Ms Kripa….let's see your Rajasthani ghoomar! There you go!" Josh raised the volume as he changed the CD.



The beats of the familiar folk song emboldened Kripa's enthusiasm. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and said a silent prayer to her favorite goddess Saraswati before she walked onto the dance floor.





Angad instinctively walked closer to the dance floor as the music started. He had just convinced himself that he was not interested in seeing the dance, but as soon as Kripa started swirling with her chunni clipped between her fingers like a typical Rajasthani dancer, Angad found himself floating in a different world…..almost a dream like state where he glided and swooped in vacant space…….a dream he had often seen as a child when he was hungry, frustrated, angry at the world. At times like those, he would close his eyes and imagine he was swimming through space following a fairy…..an angelic face with no name……just an enchanting smile……and twinkle in her eyes. Watching Kripa dance brought back memories of his childhood dream. As a boy, he always dreaded opening his eyes as he knew the dream would come to an unkind end at that moment.





Tonight…..he was dreaming with his eyes open for the first time…….dreaming of the most beautiful angel he had ever seen…….her thick black waist line hair enhanced the creamy white complexion of her skin……the glow on her face had lit up the whole room like a luminescent ray of light……..she was like an oasis ready to quench the thirst of desert full of doctors and interns…..





With his gaze fixated on the elegant folk dancer, Angad's expression changed from his usual scornful and mocking look to a warm and gentle one. For a fleeting moment, he thought Kripa smiled at him fondly but as had always been the case in his life-his dream ended as they always had!





Kripa pulled Prithvi onto the dance floor to join her with the dance.







Rangeelo maaro dholna

dholnaaaaaa vee - 2



a ra ra ra ara ra ra

aayo re maaro dholna



aayo re aayo re aayo re maaro dholna



a ra ra ra ra a ra ra

aayo re maaro dholna



ooooooooo - male



Rangeelo maaro dholna dholna dholnaa vee



a ra ra ra a ra ra

aayo re maaro dholna

a aayo re aayo re maaro dholna



male:

pyaar ke geet zara sunle

mein aaya reeeee



female:



o mare aag na tu vaare

aisa mohat rup saja re

neele peele lal gulabi

ho gaye nain gajara re



are gaare gaare gaare koi gaav aaya bhare







dholi jhamke dhol baja re - 2



hooooooooooooooo - male



rangeelo maaro dholan dholna vee



a ra ra ra a ra ra ra

aayo re maaro dholna

a aayo re aayo re aayo re maaro dholna



chorus:

gori aaye hain aaye hain sajan

dekho kaisa milna ho gaya hai

tere chehre se lagta hai jaise

ek naya he chaman ho gaya hai



heee sajanaaa



ho pardesi hamar - 2

aayo babu jivan ke

pardesi hamar



arre baar baar baar tera sola sikar

vo hai baji mera, mein hoon ganga ki dhar



hooooooooo - male



rangeelo maaro

rangeelo maaro dholna dholna vee



ar ra ra ra ra aayo re maaro dholna

aayo re aayo re aayo re maaro dholna







Angad looked away, his expression back to a condescending and contemptuous one. Kripa noticed the derisive look on Angad's face when she had pulled Prithvi onto the dance floor. For some weird reason, she felt tickled to see Angad turn red at that moment….it was a moment of triumph for her. The dynamics of her group with the two men had been laid down in those few seconds when she had invited Prithvi to dance with her.





Angad walked away from the crowd as Kripa and Prithvi danced the ghoomar. Prithvi was a good dancer himself, thanks to his exposure to dance and music from an early age in his artistically inclined Bengali family. Strangely, she completed the dance sequence with Prithvi but her eyes wandered everywhere else in search of one person. There was no reason for her to want his attention but strangely, she did…..even though he irritated her like no one ever had……for some unknown reason she wanted him to see her dancing and enjoying herself despite his presence.





Angad walked past Dr Shubhankar and nodded at him gently. Did Dr Shubhankar just ignore him or was he so engrossed in his conversation with an elegant lady that he did not see Angad nod at him? Angad stood a few feet away from the twosome and over heard them murmuring softly to each other.





"Keerti…..tumhein yeh parties pasand nahin hain…tho kyun aati ho yahan?" Dr Shubhankar asked



"Shubhankar….tum tho Kartik ko jaante ho…..wo…wo bahut ziddi hai," Dr Keerti replied.



Angad was intrigued with their conversation and hid behind a pillar in the hall.



"Jaanta hoon Keerti………lekin tumhari khushi? Kya usey tumhari khushi ka bilkul khayal nahin hai?"



"Shubhankar…..meri har khushi ab Kartik ke saath hi judi hai," Keerti replied softly.



"Galat Keerti…main tumhein aise ghut ghut kar marte huye nahin dekha sakta….let me get a drink for you….you look really pale….main abhi aata hoon," Shubhankar stepped away.



Angad cleared his throat and emerged from behind the pillar, "Hello….uh…Dr Keerti?.....I am Angad Khanna……a new intern here."





"Oh…Hi….uh…welcome to the SMI," Dr Keerti forced a smile.



"Aapki bahut tareef suni hai," Angad smiled back.



"Tareef?" she was surprised



"Haan aaj hi Dr Kartik aapke internship ke groups ki baatein bataa rahe the…..he has very fond memories of the group."



"Really?" Dr Keerti seemed surprised," kya kaha Kartik ne?"



"Yahi ki internship ke groups ne unhein apni life ke sabse khubsoorat saathi deeye hain….his life partner and his best friend!" For some reason, Angad felt like cheering up this sad lady sitting away from the crowd. Having seen a good share of miseries in his own life, Angad had learnt to ignore other's plight but for some reason the web between Kartik-Keerti and Shubhankar had intrigued him from the moment he had heard about them.



"Oh….wo tho aise hi," Dr Keerti lowered her head and paused her sentence.



"Tho aap kis field mein kaam karti hain?" Angad asked.



"Jee….well….I don't work anymore…..I mean….I am not a doctor anymore…just a wife and mother," she said softly. Dr Keerti never opened up with strangers but for some reason, Angad did not seem a stranger to her. She felt like she had known him for years…..almost like an old friend…..or…or a brother she never had.



"JUST a mother and a wife?" Angad asked and mocked, "that's a lot Dr Keerti….aap jaanti nahin hain ki aap ke bachche kitne lucky hain…..they are the luckiest kids in the world," Angad almost felt a lump rise in his throat as he said that.







She gave him a quizzical look, "yeh tho har maa ka farz hota hai."



"Haan Dr Keerti….har maa ka farz hota hai…..magar har bachche ka naseeb nahin hota," an almost tearful Angad turned around and was about to walk away when Dr Shubhankar came back with drinks, 'Hi Angad! Not interested in the dance?"







"Oh Hi Sir….no…not really," Angad blinked his eyes a few times to hide the dampness in his eyes.



"Come…sit here….get a drink….did you meet Dr Keerti?" Dr Shubhankar asked



Keerti smiled tearfully, "Yes of course….we met…..Dr Angad seems like a sensitive man." Angad's words had given a new meaning to her life. For the first time in her life, she had met someone who had applauded her for the choice she had made and not ridiculed her for giving up her career for her kids and husband. Kartik, of course took her for granted and at this point was comfortable with the way his life was-he had never appreciated Keerti's sacrifice. Shubhankar was her only true friend, her well-wisher, her soul mate……. he supported her in every decision and really wanted her to get back to work as he felt that would make her happier. But it was Angad, who actually made her feel good about her choices in life and she would always be grateful to him in the years to come.



"Sensitive?" Angad laughed sardonically as he saw Kripa and Prithvi walking towards the dinner tables, "ask them…they know the real me!"





Keerti looked behind and noticed Angad's gaze on the beautiful young intern and her kurta clad dance partner.



It was almost a cosmic connection between Keerti and Angad. Keerti sensed that there was some tension between the young intern in the blue and pink lehnga and Angad, "do you know them?" she asked.



Angad was startled at the question, "who? The Indian folk dancers?" he mocked.



"Yes….she is beautiful…..kya naam hai uska?" Keerti asked.



"Kripa…Kripa Sharma…..aur wo Prithvi…Prithvi Bose….we are all in the same group…..the three of us," Angad replied casually.



Keerti looked at Shubhankar and said softly, "door se dekhte mat reh jaana Angad….warna," she lowered her eyes and looked away, "warna…..bahut der na ho jaaye," she picked her purse and walked towards her husband to join him at the dinner table. A stunned Shubhankar just gazed in her direction and then looked at Angad, slightly embarrassed, "I..I….don't know what she meant…ch..chalo…let's get some dinner."



Angad smiled back at Dr Shubhankar, "I think I know what she meant."



"What?" Dr Shubhankar was a little petrified at the possible interpretation of Keerti's statement.



"Yahi ki first choice is not always the right choice!" Angad smiled and walked towards Armaan. He felt a strange sense of elation after his conversation with Drs Shubhankar and Keerti. He glanced at Kripa and Prithvi with the corner of his eyes and thought, "I am pretty sure…..he might be your first choice…….but he is not the right choice." Angad and Armaan joined a group of interns at one of the tables and ordered their dinner.





…to be contd….



bheegi

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