Saturday, 22 September 2018

part 34: To Err is Human


"Armaan…..aaj kya baat hai? Bahut chup ho? Round par bhi khoye khoye the," a concerned Riddhima asked him as he scanned his after-rounds 'to do list' on his PDA.

"Hmm?' He looked lost, "can we talk?"

"Sure….we have half an hour before the morning case presentation…..mujhey bhi tumse kuch baat karni hai….let's go to the fire escape……yahan dum sa ghut raha hai."

"Mera bhi," he echoed her feelings and followed her to their favorite steps at the fire escape route.

As always, they sat next to each other, but not to hold hands, kiss or tease each other, but to discuss their precarious states of mind since their encounter with their dads.

"Riddhima…..tum bolo pehle," he sighed.

"Papa was very upset about our Goa trip."

"What's new….I expected that." Armaan replied dryly.

"Haan lekin unhone ek aisi baat kahi mujhse…..that's been knowing at me since last night…..I feel really guilty Armaan for letting him down."

"Guilty about what? Goa jaana koi paap nahin hai….we were not on duty…..we are adults……and if he is concerned that we might have done some hanky panky…then he just doesn't understand us!"

"Nahin Armaan….I don't think he is concerned about that….he just wants me to focus harder on my career…..he is right…after all what we do now will help determine our future…..and yes, I am ambitious like my father…..he even talked to the director of a prestigious program in the US….aur main hoon ki sirf masti karti rehti hoon."

"Masti? Come on Riddhima….you are one of the hardest working interns at Sanjeevani……your dad has unreasonable expectations from you," he lowered his eyes, "just like my dad."

"Did he say something too?"

"Yes…he did," he hung his head sadly, "sadly, I can never make him happy…..I told him I have decided what I want from my life….but he just pooh poohed my choice as always."

"Kya decide kiya tumney?" She asked curiously.

"I want to be a Psychiatrist Riddhima….Angad is right….I think I have it in me to succeed in that area."

"Really?" She gave him a friendly hug and kissed his cheek, "Yes…you would be the best Psychiatrist….tum jaante ho doosron ke dukh door karna…I am really happy for you Armaan."

"But dad does not think so…he thinks I am loser….."

"What's wrong with Psychaitry?"

"You don't know my dad….he was always at the top of his class….and all the toppers apparently become surgeons or high profile docs…..not Psychiatrists!" Armaan said cynically.

"What about your mom?" She asked

"Mom is fine…she was a bit disappointed as I would not take over her Gynaecology practice but she understands where I am coming from…unfortunately, dad does not listen to her in these matters…..unko tho Mallik family ka naam roshan karna zyaada important lagta hai…na ki unke bte ki khushi!"

"Armaan…with time your dad will understand," Riddhima reassured him.

"Nahin Riddima…main unhein jaanta hoon…unki ego ke aage koi tik nahin sakta…..the only good thing in my life is having you," he kissed her hand and gazed into her eyes, "jab tak tum saath ho, I really don't care what anyone else wants."

Riddhima caressed his face and smiled, "Of course main tumhare saath hoon…..lekin ab hum duty ke baad zyaada mil nahin paayenge," her smile disappeared into a disappointed expression.

"Kyun? Yeh bhi tumhare papa ka order hai?" he asked angrily.

"Please don't get angry Armaan…..I need to focus on my career…..I have to complete this project…..and then apply for training in the US."

"US? Tum sach much US jaane ki soch rahi ho?" the color drained from Armaan's face.

"Haan Armaan…..papa ka hamesha se yahi sapna raha hai."

"Aur tumhara?" his direct question forced Riddhima to ponder on her statement. Hesitantly, she nodded, "o..of course Armaan…..mera bhi yahi sapna hai."

"Kitne saal ki training hai?" he asked

"2-3 years…depending on the research project I take."

"2-3 saal? Main tumhare bina 2-3 saal kaise rahoonga?" Armaan's world was falling apart. Staring into nowhere, he sat frozen on the steps.

"Tum bhi chaloge na mere saath…..we will go to the US together….you can get into a good Psychiatry program there," she shook his arm vigorously to get a response from him.

He wiped his face with his hands and then smiled, "jaisa tum chaaho…..I know I have never thought about leaving India for further training…..lekin agar mujhey choose karna hi hai…tho tumhara saath nahin chhod sakta," he placed his arm around her and brushed his lips against her ear.

"So we will elope to the US?" She chuckled.

"Yes…we will elope to the US," he smiled and intertwined his fingers with hers, "so why don't we work on our parents…..let's convince them to get us married before we leave."

"Marriage? Lekin Armaan mujhey nahin lagta papa abhi marriage ke liye tayyar honge," she hung her head.

"Aur tum?" he asked.

"Shayad main bhi nahin…..mujhey galat mat samjho Armaan….lekin shaadi will be too distracting."

"Tho tumhara matlab hai main America mein bhi brahamchari bankar rahoonga? Phir tho main ek sanyasi hi ban jaata hoon….premi bankar kya faayda?" Armaan's eyes popped wide.

She slapped his hand playfully, "you have a one track mind silly!"

"Of course Riddhima…..agar tumhara saath chaahiye tho poori tarah chaahiye mujhey…aadha adhoora nahin," he complained, 'anyways….we are getting married before we go to the US…samjhi?" He snapped his fingers at her.

"Baap re! I have never seen you so adamant about anything….itna pyaar karte ho mujhse?" she blushed.

"Nahin….is galat fehmi mat raho Dr Riddhima Gupta," he teased, "ek ladki ke saath rehkar meri market mein value kum hoti jaa rahi hai…kum se kum shaadi kar loonga tho kuch tho kadar badh jaayegi meri."

"You rascal!" she hit him playfully as they stood up to walk back to the hospital wards.

"I have an idea Riddhima!" Armaan whispered into her ear as they headed to the elevator.


"Let me organize a party at my place….and invite all the Sanjeevani doctors….we will say that all the interns want to thank and appreciate all the staff of Sanjeevani……wahan hamare parents ek baar phir mil sakte hain….and we can drop some hints about our marriage plans…kyun?"

"Bilkul patience nahin hai tum mein…..abhi se shaadi ki baat karni hai?"

"Of course yaar Riddhima! Jis speed se hamare parents hamari baat maante hain….humein tho pichle janam mein hi shaadi ke cards chapwaa lene chaahiye the," he chuckled.

"Tum bhi na….theek hai….lekin mama papa ko main shaadi ke baare mein kuch nahin kahoongi…sirf party ke liye invite kar doongi….aur tumhare parents phir un se mera haath maang lenge….kyun?" she asked excitedly.

"Great plan! Dad and your father were friends in college….we can help rekindle that friendship too…and…." He winked, "and help them convert this friendship to a relationship."

"Kitna achcha hoga na phir Armaan," she said dreamily.

"Haan..." he hooked his finger around her little finger, 'aur phir main aur tum aisi duniya mein kho jaayenge jahan…jahan sirf hamare jazbaat ho….aur ek doosre ka saath ho…jahan koi baat baat par hum se khafaa na ho…..and not hover like a helicopter on our heads!"

She looked up and nodded gently. The two of them had managed to lift each other's spirits and looked forward to their new life together without any interference from anyone else….

Please listen to this beautiful song from "Jaane Tu" which reflects their feelings….

Kahin to.. kahin to.
Hogi woh
Duniya jahan tu mere saaath hain

Chaha mein chaha tu
Aur jaan bas tere mere zajbaat hain
Hogi jahan saba teri
Palkon ki kirano mein
Lori jahan chand ki
Sune teri bahon mein...

[Jane na kahan woh duniya hai
Jane na woh hai bhi ya nahi
Jahan meri zindagi mujhse
Inti kafa nahi > - [2>

Saasein kho gai hai kiski aahon mein
Mein kho gai hoon jane kiski baahon mein
Manzilon se rahe dhondte chali
Aur kho gai hai manzil kahin rahon mein
Kahin to kahin to hai nasha
Teri meri har mulakat mein
Hoton se hoton ko
Chumti o rehete hai hum har baat pe
Kehti hain fiza jahan
Teri zaameen aasman
Jahan hai tu
Meri hasi meri khushi
Meri jaan....

[Jane na kahan woh duniya hai
Jane na woh hai bhi ya nahi
Jahan meri zindagi mujhse
Inti kafa nahi >- [2>



Invitations were sent out to all the doctors and nurses at Sanjeevani. To Armaan's surprise, Abhimanyu and Gauri had willingly accepted the offer to host the party at their lavish bungalow. Abhimanyu had always loved to party and flaunt his wealth and success among his medical colleagues. This would give him a perfect opportunity to impress the crowd of his alma mater, Sanjeevani. He had not been in touch with a lot of his old colleagues and this was a good way to reconnect with a number of them. The one person, he really looked forward to meeting was Shanky- his old pal, his toughest rival throughout school, college and their Surgical training years.

As he read the invitation, Abhimanyu recalled his days with Shashank…..

Shanky had always been smarter and brighter than Abhimanyu since childhood. Abhimanyu respected Shanky's intelligence, his dedication to his profession and his integrity.

It was taken for granted that Shanky would be # 1 in class and Abhimanyu a close second.

A close second!

Initially, Abhimanyu accepted his # 2 position without any resentment and cherished the competitiveness with his rival but gradually, the competitive spirit changed into a bitter rivalry when they were both accepted at the coveted Surgical program at Sanjeevani. In order to outdo their opponent, the two friends soon became arch rivals although to an outsider they were still the best of friends. Shashank was a quiet and straight forward person who hailed from a modest background, whereas Abhimanyu was a wealthy, flamboyant and friendly man who had never met a stranger. His interpersonal skills made him a favorite among patients and colleagues alike. Abhimanyu was a smooth operator unlike Shashank, who let his work rather than his words speak for themselves. Somewhere, over the years, Shashank started harboring resentment against Abhimanyu's success and popularity.

It was not until, Abhimanyu was chosen to pursue further training at the world renowned Johns Hopkins Institute in the US, that their rivalry came out in the open. Both Shashank and Abhimanyu worked hard for the one Plastic Surgery position at Johns Hopkins. Even though they had equally glowing credentials, it was Abhimanyu's interpersonal skills and excellence in his interviews that clinched the position for him.

Shashank was devastated and humiliated as Abhimanyu had never surpassed him since they were kids. Secretly, Abhimanyu gloated as he had finally achieved the # 1 position. The two friends never stayed in touch while they were apart in different continents. Abhimanyu married his college sweetheart, Gauri, who trained in the US after their marriage.

After a few years, Abhimanyu came back to India and set up his own practice. Shashank, in the meantime had finished his training at Sanjeevani and was hired as a staff surgeon at the same Institute. Abhimanyu extended his hand of friendship to his old rival and let bygones be bygones. Shashank, at Padma's insistence, who he had married while Abhimanyu was abroad, re-established contact with his old friend.

Padma had always harbored a soft corner for Abhimanyu since his days at Sanjeevani where she was a nurse on the surgical ward. They had become good friends as Abhimanyu loved chatting with the nurses on his night duties. Their growing friendship irked Shashank, even though he was aware that Padma loved him and not Abhimanyu. His professional rivalry with Abhimanyu threatened his relationship with Padma, and if it were not for Abhimanyu's departure to the US, Shashank and Padma would have split a long time ago thanks to Shashank's insecurity.

Shashank and Abhimanyu became friends once again, but there was always a wall of cold, unsaid emotions between them. Shashank did not care for Abhimanyu's growing wealth, neither was he impressed by his state-of-the-art Plastic surgery clinic, one of a kind in Mumbai. Abhimanyu shrugged it to 'sour grapes' but continued to invite Shashank to his lavish parties, late night cocktail parties with the who's who of Mumbai and successful doctors in town.

Padma and Gauri got to know each other but Gauri, being a busy professional could not fathom why Padma had quit her job at Sanjeevani to be home with her daughter when Armaan was taken care of by nannies and dais. They could never connect at a level at which Padma and Abhimanyu could. Even after all those years, they were still good friends, but Shashank's insecurity prevented them from getting too friendly. Once again, the friends drifted apart till one day, in a slightly inebriated state after winning an award from the honorable chief minister himself, Abhimanyu blurted out in a roomful of people, "Shanky…..I am #1….whether it is in India…..or in the US….maine tujhey har jagah beat kar diya….I am # 1….and you are # 2! Ha…ha…ha!"

A humiliated Shashank walked out and pledged, 'aaj ke baad main Abhimanyu se koi rishta nahin rakhoonga….he means nothing to me….chalo Padma!"

The next day, Abhimanyu in a sober state, tried to call Shashank but his calls were never returned. Abhimanyu, himself a man with an inflated ego, no less than Shashank's, just shrugged his shoulders and decided to move on, "Fine Shanky…..if you don't care…I you don't care….life goes on….par ek din dekhna main apne bte ko tere hi Institute mein training ke liye bhejoonga…..aur ek din tu hi wapas mere darwaaze par aayega…..I will never go after you….you will come to me!"

Abhimanyu tapped the invitation card on his desk and revolved on his chair gleefully, "ab aayega asli mazaa…..come on Shanky….I have been waiting for you!"

… be contd… part will have the party and the big meeting between the two egoistic titans…..


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