Sunday, 23 September 2018

part 35: To Err is Human

EVENING OF THE PARTY AT THE MALLIK'S

KNOCK! KNOCK!


"Aai baba," Kripa pinned the pallu of her deep green saree, glanced herself in the mirror, brushed her long open hair and headed for the door, "bilkul patience nahin hai tum mein…" She knew it was Angad at the door as he had promised to pick her up for the party. She almost gasped with pleasant surprise as she saw a very handsome Angad dressed in a black suit at the door.



"Ab tho bilkul bhi patience nahin hai," he returned her admiring glance and checked out his gorgeous fiance from head to toe. Hurriedly, he shut the door behind him.



"Angad….. jaana nahin hai kya?" She stepped back as she sensed the blazing intensity in his gaze.





He grabbed her waist, "itni khubsoorat lagogi tho kahin jaane ka mann nahin karega," and traced his finger on her face, "you are beautiful," he groaned and kissed her forehead, "kahin nazar na lag jaaye tumhein…..kaash main shayar hota…..tho tumhari khubsoorati par abhi ek sher keh deta."




Turning crimson at his flattering comments, she hid her face in his chest, "agar sher-o-shayari shuru kar di tho kahin doctori na bhool jao."



"Bhool bhi gaya tho kya hua," he whispered huskily as his fingers crawled gently on her bare back and moved up to caress the nape of her neck. He kissed her ears and neck tenderly, "is waqt mann kar raha hai ki sab kuch bhool jaaoon." His lips and fingers aroused a sweet throb inside her; with her heart racing against his chest, she embraced him snugly, "please Angad…..kya kar rahe ho?" She whispered against his chest and shut her eyes in a sweet and soothing pleasure.




"Kripa…do we really have to wait till we get married?" His dexterous fingers worked on her blouse hooks one by one. As soon as she realized what was happening, she pulled away, "Haan Angad….abhi nahin….let's go…..sab wait kar rahe honge," averting his intense gaze but out of breath after their brief but intense intimate moments.




"Kripa….tum meri ho….ab tho tumhare parents ne bhi haan keh di hai…..kya itna haq bhi nahin hai humein ek doosre par?"



Kripa stepped away and lowered her gaze, "nahin Angad….abhi nahin hai." He sighed dejectedly and nodded, "theek hai chalo…" and snapped back the couple of open hooks on her blouse.



After adjusting her saree, she picked her purse and then noticed something weird, 'Angad…tumhari pant?"



"Kya hua pant ko?" He looked down.



"Tumhare pant ki cuffs ki hemming nahin huyi hai," she chuckled, "yeh suit wohi hai na jo mama ne diya tha us din?"




"Of course it is….warna mere paas suit kahan se aata?" He answered irritably, "lekin kaun dekh raha hai hemming huyi hai ya nahin…chalo chalte hain."



"Nahin Angad…pant utaaro!" She ordered. For a second, he was taken aback by her command, "yeh main kya sun raha hoon? Kuch der pehle tho mujhey kuch aur suna rahi thi….ab keh rahi hai pant utaaro! Tum ladkiyon ki baat samajh nahin aati….main tho kab se tayyar hoon pant utaarne ko," he drawled romantically and gazed into her eyes.



She gave him a playful smack on his head and snapped her fingers, "jaldi utaaro….main Riddhima ke room mein jaakar iski hemming kar deti hoon…..tum yahin wait karo."



He complied like an obedient spouse and handed her his pants. Kripa avoided eye contact with him and walked out with his pants, "stay in my room….I will be right back."




Angad rubbed his chin and came up with a mischievous idea, "I know one way she will not be able to resist me!" He took off his jacket, tie and shirt and hung them on a chair. Then he slipped into the covers and lay comfortably on her bed.




"Hmmm….Dr Kripa Sharma….lagta hai aaj hum dono kuch khone waale hain….aur bahut kuch paane waale bhi hain," he whistled and gloated at his wonderful seduction plan. With his hands resting under his head, his eyes shut, he hummed romantic songs to himself, "jal jal ke dhuan ho rahe hum…nas nas mein…"


Suddenly, he heard the door unlatch. He pulled the blanket to cover his face and waited for Kripa to walk in. His plan was to grab her as soon as she came closer. He had sensed her arousal when they were in each other's arms; now he was confident that she would not be able to resist him once she saw him disrobed in her bed.


The footsteps came closer and then she pulled the covers off his face and chest, "Kripa……so kyun rahi ho abhi? Chalna nahin hai kya?AHHHHHH!"




"AHHHHHH!" Angad yelled back when he saw a horrified and stunned Riddhima standing with the edge of the blanket in her hand, "TUM?"




"RIDDHIMA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" He pulled the blanket from her hand and covered himself up to his nose.



'WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" Riddhima's eyes scanned the room and almost collapsed with horror when she saw Angad's clothes hanging on the chair, "I can't believe it ki tum aur Kripa...and I am sorry to barge in like this" she shut her eyes and ran out of the room as fast as she could. She was sure Angad and Kripa had taken their relationship to a whole new level and felt guilty for walking into Kripa's room without knocking or any warning. The two friends had developed an understanding over the past few months- they had a duplicate key of each other's rooms and were used to barging in unannounced. Angad rarely visited her in the dorm, and finding him in that bare state in Kripa's bed had shocked her out of her wits!




Trembling, she walked into her room and was surprised to see Kripa sitting on her bed, giving final touches to the cuffs of a man's pants.



"Kripa…tum yahan?" She was still confused.



"Haan Angad ki pant hem karni thi…I knew you have a sewing kit in your room," Kripa got up and placed Riddhima's sewing kit back in the drawer.



"Oh god!" Riddhima held her head.


"Kya hua?" Kripa was perplexed.



" Kripa….main tumhare room gayi thi….apni pink saree ke saath matching jewelry lene……aur wahan….you know……I should just return your room keys back to you….tumse bina pooche nahin jaana chaahiye ab."



"And you saw Angad there without his pants?" Kripa laughed.



"Without pants hi nahin…without any..," Riddhima bit her lip with a mortified expression.



Kripa's jaw fell to her knees, "without anything?" The two horror-struck friends stared at each other and then burst out laughing. They were in splits and could not control their laughter. In their hysterical state, they did not notice Angad dressed in his shirt, tie, jacket and a towel around his waist at Riddhima's door.



"Excuse me ladies….can I have my pants now?" he grinned sheepishly.



Kripa and Riddhima were silenced by his voice for a few seconds but the moment they saw him draped in a towel and suit, they were in splits again. An embarrassed Angad snatched his pants from Kripa's hand and walked out of Riddhima's room. He looked behind and yelled, "please return your duplicate keys to each other….yeh ek doosre ke kamre mein taank jhaank ki aadat achchi nahin hai!"



The girls popped their heads out and yelled back, "yeh taak jhaank zaroori hai….hamari izzat ka sawaal hai! We will give the keys back with our wedding presents to you guys!" The women gave each other a high-five and smiled at each other. As long as they were together, they were confident that it would be hard to give into temptation. Kripa hugged Riddhima and whispered, "thanks Riddhima….Angad ki khabar leti hoon ab."



"Nahin…bechara bahut sharminda hai…..leave him alone," Riddhima defended Angad.



Kripa chuckled and went back to her room.



Angad had changed back into his suit and pants, and stood outside Kripa's room with a hung head. He stood motionless and did not respond to her presence.


"Plan achcha tha Dr Angad….shukr hai Riddhima time se pahunch gayi," she chuckled and snapped her fingers in front of his eyes.


"I am sorry Kripa," he looked up guiltily, "tum soch rahi hogi main kitna gira hua insaan hoon….aur Riddhima kya soch rahi hogi?"




She squeezed his hand reassuringly, "Haan yeh sach hai ki mama papa ne hamara rishta kabool kar liya hai……lekin ek vishwaas ke saath…..Angad chaahe kuch bhi ho meri zindagi mein…..main apne mama papa ka vishwaas kabhie nahin thod sakti…..aur na unhein dukhi dekh sakti hoon……aur main tumhein bhi jaanti hoon Angad…..yaad hai ek baar raat ko baarish mein hum library se wapas hostel jaa rahe the…..tumney mujhey mera dupatta wapas kiya tha….wo tumhara asli roop hai Angad…..I know you were just having fun and teasing me this evening…..and don't worry about Riddhima…..she is in love with an equally impatient man….chalo ab chalte hain."



He sighed with relief as he was fully expecting her to unleash out at embarrassing her in front of her friend. He placed his arm around her and gently touched his head with hers, "thanks Kripa….…..shayad kuch cheezein mujhey der se samajh aati hain….bina maa baap ke jo badha hua hoon," his voice cracked with emotions but then smiled, "I promise I will never do anything so ….so…so….cheesy Kripa."



She pinched his waist and whispered, "shaadi ke baad bhi nahin karoge kya?"



He felt more relaxed and laughed it off, "filhaal….taxi lekar aata hoon…warna Armaan sochega hum late kyun ho gaye….I will wait for you and Riddhima at the hostel gate."



……………………………………………………………….


THE MALLIK RESIDENCE:



Armaan had spent a lot of time and money in decorating his house with lights, flowers and welcome signs everywhere. It almost seemed like a wedding, rather than a party for the hospital.



"Hey guys….mujhey tho lagne lagaa tha ki tum log aaoge ya nahin," Armaan greeted his best friends at the door. The moment he set his eyes on Riddhima dressed in a pink saree, he was speechless and at loss for words. She had never looked so breath taking before. He froze at the door with his mouth wide open. Riddhima could not help noticing how dashing and handsome Armaan looked in his black jacket, white shirt and casual jeans. She wanted to run into his arms at that very moment but lowered her gaze shyly, in case Armaan had read her thoughts.


"Now you know why we got late," Angad snapped his fingers and winked at Armaan after he caught the two lovers staring at each other.



"I can understand buddy," Armaan heaved a sigh and then complimented both the gorgeous women at the door, "Kripa….Angad will have a hard time staying away from you tonight."



"Just like you will have a hard time staying away from Riddhima," Angad patted his friend and walked into the lavish living room, "wow….Armaan….this is really grand! Tera outhouse tho is ghar ke aage kuch nahin tha." Angad surveyed the grand interiors like a kid who had suddenly entered their cherished candy land.



The two women smiled at Armaan and walked in behind Angad.



"Armaan….aisa lag raha hai ki aaj kisi ki shaadi ho rahi ho," Kripa commented, "are you sure you are not planning to surprise us all with your wedding….waise Riddhima pink mein dulhan jaisi tho lag rahi hai." The four of them burst into laughter and stepped into the main hall.



"Waise iraada bura nahin hai Riddhima," Armaan whispered into her ear.



"Pagal tho nahin ho Armaan….you don't know how hard it was for me to convince papa to come for the party tonight…..sirf Sanjeevani ki wajah se aa rahe hain wo!"



"I can just imagine," Armaan rolled his eyes, "but you know, I was surprised….my parents were more than happy about this party….aur jaanti ho unhein hamari shaadi se koi aitraaz nahin hai….in fact they are happy for us!" Armaan scrunched his nose joyfully.



"Sach Armaan?' She reacted gleefully, " I hope papa will accept your father's offer then….pata nahin unhein kya ho gaya hai….he kind of overreacted to this whole invitation thing….keh rahe the ki hospital ki party hospital mein hi honi chaahiye….kisi ameer zaade ke ghar par nahin."




"Well….he has a point….after all this is the first time a Sanjeevani related event is being held at someone's house…..par aisi party kabhie pehle huyi kahan hai? Interns never throw a party for their seniors….so we are trendsetters….aren't we?" Armaan raised his eyebrows and grinned impishly.




Meanwhile, the other 20 interns trickled in twos and threes. To everyone's surprise, Rahul, looking dashing in a blue jacket was accompanied by the very vivacious Punjabi girl in a salwaar suit, Muskaan chaddha!


"Oye hoy! Apne Raoool puttar di tho kismet khul gayi yaaaaarrr!" Armaan commented as the two walked in hesitantly.




"Isey kehte hain Kismat Konnection!" Angad chuckled.



"Don't make fun of Rahul….he is a decent guy," Riddhima defended her 'dependable friend.'



"Bhai humnein kab kaha Rahul indecent hai?" Armaan laughed.



"Wo title tho sirf Armaan aur mere liye banaya gaya hai," Angad joined in the laughter and then suddenly remembered the hostel scene from a few hours ago. He caught Riddhima smiling at his remark and exchanging glances with Kripa. He shut his eyes in embarrassment and looked away, "let me get some drinks for the ladies…."


"Yeh kya secret hai?" Armaan saw the girls whispering and chuckling amongst themselves.



"Apne dost se hi poonch lo," Kripa sat down on a sofa, "come Riddhima….let's relax here."


A confused Armaan walked away, "women….kaise koi samjhe inhein….na jaane ishaaron ishaaron mein baat kyun karti hain?"



The senior doctors started trickling in soon afterwards. Abhimanyu and Gauri were delayed because of some last minute emergencies and were getting ready in their bedroom.


…………………………………………………………………….


ABHIMANYU & GAURI's BEDROOM



"Abhi….yaad hai na Armaan ne kya kaha tha?"



"Haan yaad hai…kaise bhool sakta hoon?" Abhimanyu grinned as he knotted his tie, "hamare sahib zaade ne career baad mein chuna ho lekin apni biwi pehle chun lee hai….achcha naam roshan kar raha hai Mallik khandan ka!"



"Come on Abhi! As if you were not the same….yaad hai medical college mein mere hostel ke kitne chakkar lagaate the tum?" Gauri chided with him.




"Haan bhai….lekin saath saath apne career aur life ke baare mein bhi bahut clear tha main….I always knew what my priorities were darling!"



"Uffo Abhi….give him a break….he has told us what he wants to do….ab bas aaj Dr Gupta se unki beti ka haath maanga hai tumhein….remember that..OK?" She padded her nose with some make up and applied a light shade of lipstick to match her light colored saree.



"Yup! Gupta…ahaa…Shanky is coming back….after all these years…..lekin ladki ka haath main nahin maangoonga…..wo maangega mujhse mere bte ka haath….the ball is in his court now!"



"Abhi! Tum bhi na….itni puraani baat ko abhi tak nahin bhule?" Gauri shook her head in disbelief.



"I never forget Gauri! I can forgive….but never forget! Mere bte ka haath Shanky hi maangega….why should I ask for Riddhima's hand….waise bhi aisi koi khaas baat nahin hai us ladki mein….very ordinary looking girl….mere hero jaise bte ke liye tho line lag jaayegi!"



"He loves her Abhi!" Gauri rolled her eyes; she knew how stubborn and thick headed her husband could be at times.



"Fine ! Fine! Whatever….pata nahin is ladke ko pyaar ka matlab bhi pata hai ya nahin…I bet she is just a fascination for him like all his previous girlfriends."



"But he never wanted to marry any of them," Gauri helped Abhi with his jacket.


"Dekhte hain….waise I am really looking forward to tonight's party….Shanky and me face to face….after all these years….look at him…wahin Sanjeevani mein hi sadh raha hai…aur main….kahan se kahan aa pahuncha hoon," Abhimanyu put his steel rimmed glasses on and admired himself in the mirror before walking out.



"Whatever!" Gauri rolled her eyes again and followed her husband to the living room.


……………………………………………………………………………..


BACK AT THE PARTY:


The Mallik's greeted everyone affectionately. They could be the warmest hosts when needed. Abhimanyu personally attended to their needs and served them the best drinks from all over the world.



Kartik and Keerti were present too. Shubhankar entered alone and could not help admiring Keerti clad in a yellow saree. He was sure Kartik would have never paid attention to how beautiful his wife looked that evening, but it was not his place to compliment her, although Keerti sensed by Shubhankar's gaze that he was admiring her. She nodded gently and accepted his silent compliments.



Angad approached Keerti, 'Hello Dr Keerti….nice to see you again…remember me?"



"Of course I remember you….Dr Angad Khanna!" Keerti smiled. How could she forget the intern who had left a lasting impression on her on that opening night?


"Kaisi hain aap?" Angad asked.



"Kya baat hai meri biwi par line maar rahe ho intern sahib?" Kartik grinned sarcastically.



"Meri line tho kahin aur atak chuki hai sir," Angad replied and glanced at Kripa, who was chatting with Muskaan and Rahul.



"Ahaa! Good choice…..achchi ladki hai Kripa……She will make a good wife……just like me and Keerti….hum bhi internship mein hi mile the," Kartik grinned and then excused himself to meet someone else.




"Sorry Angad….Kartik ki baaton ka bura mat maan na….he has a habit of saying things without thinking," Keerti was embarrassed by her husband's remarks.



"Don't worry Keerti ji….I have worked with Dr Kartik….I know him well," Angad pursed his lips.



"Oh!"



"And trust me….I have more admiration for you since I have worked with him."



"I..I…didn't understand you," Keerti hesitated.



"Well….I will just say that you are a remarkable woman…and not everyone is aware of that……excuse me Keertiji….looks like Armaan needs me," Angad bowed gently and took leave. Shubhankar took the opportunity and walked over to talk with Keerti.


"Kya bata hai boss?" Angad asked Armaan, who looked a bit worried by then.



"Yaar….Riddhima ke parents kyun nahin aaye abhi tak?"



"Aa jaayenge….maybe they are stuck in traffic."



"I hope so," Armaan said impatiently, "I don't want to start the program without Dr Gupta…after all he is the chief."


"Program?" Angad was confused.



"Haan…tu gaana gaa raha hai….aur Kripa dance kar rahi hai." Armaan informed him.


"What? Yeh kab aur kisne decide kiya?"



"Maine….abhi kuch 5 minute pehle," Armaan chuckled and patted his friend's shoulder, "guitar bhi available hai."



"Yaar…I have not practiced in days."


"Koi baat nahin….Kripa ko dekhta rahega tho gaana khud yaad aa jaayega," Armaan grinned.


………………………………………………………………….


THE GUPTA'S ENROUTE TO THE MALLIK'S


"Padma….I really don't want to go there tonight," Shashank drove as slowly as he could, letting everyone else pass their car easily.



"Shashank….aap baar baar usee baat ko kyun discuss kar rahe hain?" An exasperated Padma was about to give up now, "aur car bail gaadi ki speed se kyun chalaa rahe hain?"




"Padma! You know I am not in favor of these big parties outside Sanjeevani….aur wo bhi…uss…uss…Abhimanyu ke ghar mein?" an enraged Shashank clenched the steering wheel firmly.



"Aapne Riddhima ko promise kiya tha….yaad hai na?"



"Haan jaanta hoon….iss liye tho jaa raha hoon…..I hope she will keep her promise too," Shashank shook his head dejectedly.



"Kya Riddhima ne kabhie aapki baat taali hai? Aur ab tho usney promise kiya hai ki agar aap party mein jaayenge tho wo Johns Hopkins ke program director ko kal hi letter likhegi ki wo unke program mein bahut interested hai," Padma reminded him of the father-daughter discussion from last night.



"I know I know Padma…..that is why I am swallowing my pride tonight….warna uss Abhi ke yahan tho kabhie nahin jaata….yaad hai?"



"Haan….haan yaad hai," she tried to console him, "aap nazar sadak par rakhiye……aur gussa thook dee jiye…..behave as normal as possible…..purani baaton ko beech mein mat laana please." Padma pleaded.



"Ok Padma….koshish karoonga….as long as he does not provoke me!"



…………………………………………………………………….



BACK AT THE PARTY:



"Papa is here!" Riddhima peeked out of the window nervously. Her heart was racing in anticipation of their arrival.



"Oh Dr Gupta is here?" Kartik and Shubhankar came forward to welcome the chief. Abhimanyu got up from his seat and smirked silently, probably trying to hide his own apprehension from the upcoming meeting.




"Good evening sir…Good evening madam!" The interns and other doctors surrounded the guests of honor.



Shashank smiled and nodded at everyone. Padma glanced at a distance and saw the two familiar faces- Abhimanyu was still as handsome, his youthful looks hidden behind his glasses but the few gray strands on his side burns was evidence of the time that had elapsed since they had all met years ago. He was dressed as impeccably as ever but now looked like a successful and distinguished doctor. Gauri had not aged at all- she was still as elegant and beautiful; no wonder Armaan had been blessed with Greek God like looks himself but fortunately had only inherited their good looks and not their temperament.



Shashank avoided eye contact with Abhimanyu and waited for him to approach him. In the mean time, Padma went ahead and hugged Gauri, "kaisi ho Gauri? Kitne saal baad mil rahe hain."




Riddhima and Armaan were in seventh heaven as they saw their respective moms exchange pleasantries and warm hugs with each other. Armaan came closer and held Riddhima's hand, "50% kaam tho ho gaya…..now let's keep our fingers crossed."


Riddhima squeezed his hands behind the sofa and crossed her fingers on the other hand as the two dads stared at each other.



Shashank walked in with a stern expression; Abhimanyu stood still expecting Shashank to walk towards him to shake his hand……


….to be contd…

bheegi

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