Tuesday, 25 September 2018

part 37: To Err is Human

RECAP: "KRIPA!" Angad yelled.


The dance had just finished and even before anyone could catch their breath, they saw that the lovely intern in a green saree had collapsed in Angad's arms……


A pale and very limp Kripa hung from Angad's arms as onlookers gathered around them. A frightened Angad shook her gently, "Kripa….aankhein kholo!" Her lips quivered a little and eyes fluttered as she gradually came back into consciousness. With her hand on her aching head, she clutched Angad's arm and tried to get up.



"What happened beta?" A concerned Gauri came forward, "let's take her to my office…..I will check her out."



"Nahin …..main theek hoon aunty," the color on her cheeks was still indiscernible, "bas zara chakkar aa gaya tha."





"Are you sure?" Gauri asked.



"No….I think Armaan's mom is right Kripa….let me take you to her office," without giving her a chance to protest, he followed Gauri with Kripa in his arms.


"Angad…main theek hoon…apne aap chal loongi," Kripa whined sleepily.



"Sshhh!" He shushed her and walked into Gauri's office.




Armaan and Riddhima rushed behind Angad.



Angad helped a reluctant Kripa on the exam table , "ab zyada zidd mat karo…..I want aunty to check you out."




"Angad….kuch nahin….bas thoda dance zor se kar liya tha shayad." Kripa felt light headed again and agreed to lay down.




With a mischievous smile, he held her hand and whispered, "bahar sab soch rahe honge kahin pregnant tho nahin hai? Kum se kum yeh shaq tho door ho jaayega sabka….iss liye check up karwa lo," and chuckled. A faint smile fell on her face; her listless hand gently smacked his hand playfully.




"Dekho….mujhey maarne ke liye bhi jaan nahin hai tum mein….ab chup chap leti raho….aunty is here….I will wait outside," he kissed her hands tenderly and brushed his finger against her lips, "I love you….see you in a bit." He stepped out to face the curious expressions on his friend's faces.




"Nahin baba….main baap nahin ban ne waala…..meri itni khush naseebi kahan?" he raised his arms in surrender. Armaan punched Angad's chest, "saale….one track mind hai tera……kaisi hai Kripa? What happened?"




"I think I must have twirled her a little too much…..mujhey tho dance karna aata nahin hai….shayad Kripa ko hi zyaada ghuma diya," Angad tried to downplay the incident so no one would get alarmed.




"Main andar jaati hoon," a concerned Riddhima interrupted.



"Riddhima…mom can take care of her….let's go back to the party…..kahin tumhare papa bhaag na jaayein….itni mushkil se tho Hitler ke face par thodi smile aayi thi....Ok Angad…let us know if you need anything," Armaan held Riddhima's hand and dragged her back to the party.


Riddhima pulled her hand away and clenched her jaws angrily, "why are you so disrespectful towards my dad?"



"He deserves it!" Armaan said absent mindedly.



"Armaan! He is my father!" Riddhima's nostrils flared with anger.


"Sorry baba….mazaak kar raha tha….OK Hitler nahin…..……bhagwan Ram swaroop hain tumhare papa….main hi shayad Ravan jaisa lagta hoon!" Armaan grinned and crossed his eyes.



"Uffo Armaan! Tum bhi na!" She could not help giggling at Armaan's animated expression, "you are too much!" As always, Armaan had his way of amusing her and managing to wipe out the angry expression on her face with his tactics.


……………………………………………………………………….


BACK IN DR GAURI MALLIK'S OFFICE:



"Kripa…..tumhara blood pressure…mmm thoda high hai…..zyada nahin….130/90…..considering you are so tiny….it's a bit surprising," Gauri took the stethoscope off her ears after confirming the reading twice.


Kripa was a bit startled, as far as she could remember her BP had always been on the lower end of normal.



"Shayad wo dancing aur excitement se ho gaya hoga," Kripa tried to underplay the reading.




"Ho sakta hai….make sure you get it checked again……..you still look a little pale…..let me at least check your hemoglobin …," Gauri took the sample to the adjacent room.



An impatient and anxious Angad could not wait any longer. He let himself in and poured a glass of orange juice for her, "yeh lo….thoda juice pee lo."




"Thanks," her parched lips welcomed the cool drink.



"Kya kaha Dr Gauri ne?"



"Kuch nahin….everything is fine….I think I just got a little light headed," she gulped down the juice quickly.




"Oh good…..mujhey bhi yahi lag raha tha ki kuch zyaada hi dancing ho gayi thi shayad…..is Dr Gauri next door…..I will be right back," he caressed her cheek and headed for the next room. He was impressed with the facilities Dr Gauri had managed in the small home clinic. With a state-of-the-art ultrasound machine in the corner and a small operating room attached to the clinic, he was sure Dr Gauri Mallik never had dearth of business, "jab ghar ka clinic itna well equipped hai tho regular clinic kaisa hoga?" He recalled Dr Dilip Aggarwal's home clinic. There was always a constant flow of patients at home after regular clinic hours. He remembered how grateful those patients used to be and how easily they would empty their wallets to be seen at odd hours of the day. Angad knew that he was ready to work as hard as Dr Aggarwal and Dr Gauri Mallik as long as there was a constant influx of cash in his life.



"I am impressed!" He commented as he surveyed her clinic.


"Oh Angad!" She exclaimed, "Armaan told me you are interested in Gynaecology?"



"Yes ma'am….I am," Angad beamed.



"Mere saath kaam karoge?" She asked.


"What?" He was taken aback as he didn't think he was qualified yet to do so, "lekin main tho intern hoon abhi…I still have to undergo 2 more years of training for that."



"I know…..but you could be an assistant….work off duty….and I will pay you well…..I know internship stipend does not pay much." Gauri had done her homework regarding Armaan's friends. She knew Angad was very capable but above all he was the hungriest of the lot!



"But…" he was pleasantly surprised, "but why me? You can get some senior residents to assist too."



"Let me be frank with you…..I had always dreamt of passing on my hard earned practice to my son…..par dekho wo tho is line mein interested hi nahin hai…..aur Armaan tumhari bahut tareef karta hai…..I would like to train someone like you at this stage….that way you will be ready to take over my practice once you finish your training…..kyun?"


"Are you planning to retire? You are still young."



"Not retire-retire….but semi-retirment…sach boloon tho mujhey ab apne aap ke liye…apne ghar ke liye…apne bte ke liye waqt chaahiye….par wo abhi nahin kar sakti….after all I have worked so hard to establish myself in this city…..I can't just leave it like that."



Angad could not believe his ears. It would take him years to establish himself in a practice as successful as Dr Gauri's. Here, she was offering him a partnership to one of the most prestigious and successful practices in town even before he had completed his training. …..Yes, I am luckier than Armaan, he thought…. does Armaan realize what he is losing?



"Kya soch rahe ho? Haan…ya naa?" Gauri asked as the hemoglobin count was ready on the machine.



"I still can't believe this….mere saalon ka sapna jaisa jald hi poora ho raha hai ……I have always wanted to be a successful doctor like you and Abhimanyu uncle….aapne tho mere dil ke baat keh di," Angad was almost tearful.


"Aunty….main wapas party mein jaa rahi hoon," Kripa startled them by her announcement. She was at the door. Perhaps, she had overheard their conversation too.



"8.0!" Gauri checked the hemoglobin result, "that's low Kripa……kya khati peeti nahin ho theek se?" Gauri asked.



"KRIPA!" Angad was upset and walked towards her, "have you been taking your vitamins and Iron?"



"Wo…wo….nahin!" She lowered her eyes and lied. A girl who hated lies and always spoke the truth, lied that she had not been taking her iron pills. As a matter of fact, she had doubled her dose recently as she had felt less energetic over the last few weeks. It did not make sense- if she had doubled her Iron dose than why was her hemoglobin falling? When she had donated blood, it was about 10.0! That was an ominous sign; she remained silent as she did not want to alarm anyone.




"Kripa! Tum bachchi nahin ho!" He scolded her. Gauri was amused at how Angad was upset with her as if she were a little kid- he really cared for her she thought, "kabhie Abhi ko aise mere liye chintit nahin dekha….he has always been so busy."




"Angad is right Kripa," Gauri smiled, "you better take care of your health…..bimaar doctor ke paas koi nahin jaata…..aaj se Iron leni shuru kar do…OK?"



"Yes aunty," Kripa bowed obediently, "ab chalein?"



"I will make sure she is taking her Iron…that's my responsibility….aur isey zabardasti non veg bhi khilaana shuru kar doonga," Angad chuckled and placed his arm around her and walked out of the room, "Thanks aunty!"



'Sure guys….and remember my offer," Gauri smiled at him and then yelled from behind, "Aur wo BP bhi check karwa lena Kripa! And get more detailed blood tests too!"



'Yes, aunty…" Kripa looked behind and thanked her.



"BP?" Angad asked.



"Kuch nahin….I think I was a little overexcited," Kripa downplayed the reading once again.



"Mere saath sirf dance karne mein itni excited ho gayi tho….ehem…ehem…shaadi ke baad mein kya haal hoga tumhara?" He teased her and kissed her cheek.




With a sullen expression, she rested her head on his shoulder and stroked his arm, "tab ki tab dekhi jaayegi Angad."



"Arre….itni depressed kyun ho rahi ho?" he lifted her chin, "should I take you back?



"Nahin….main theek hoon….chalo Armaan aur Riddhima hamari wait kar rahe honge," she walked into the living room ahead of Angad. A confused Angad shrugged his shoulders and followed her. Although, Kripa had just passed out into his arms, her health report was less than spectacular, but more than worry, he felt an inner sense of elation after his conversation with Gauri. Angad had never heard so much good news in his life- he had been accepted with open arms by Kripa's parents and now Dr Gauri had sprung the biggest surprise in his life.


Ironically, when Angad's dreams were elusive, he was perceptive about Kripa's feelings; he could hear her unspoken words, but tonight when he was closer to his own dreams, he missed that disappointed expression on her face after she overheard his conversation with Gauri; he ignored that fact that she did not meet his gaze when she lied about the Iron pills, and he did not make anything of her statement….tab ki tab dekhi jaayegi…..


………………………………………………………………………………………




THE DRIVE BACK FROM MALLIK'S



The Gupta's drove back shortly after midnight. Not a word was exchanged between the three of them as Shashank drove back as fast as he could. If it were not for Riddhima, he would have never gone to Abhimanyu's place to be humiliated once again; this time more by his daughter than the hosts themselves. His heart ached as he recalled how Riddhima had danced arm in arm with Armaan-how Armaan had mocked at him by holding her possessively and his friend had challenged him through his song selection. Yes, he had danced along with the youngsters as a courtesy, not because he enjoyed himself!



And then as if to add salt to his wounds, the interns had awarded Josh with the 'best senior doctor award.' Josh barely spent a month with these interns, but had managed to stay popular with his over friendliness rather than his capability. The other senior doctors like Shubhankar, Kartik and himself were sidelined by this group of interns, "na jaane kahan kahan se chun kar aaye hain iss saal yeh log!" He slammed the brakes just in time to avoid a cow sitting in the middle of the road.



"Dhyaan se Shashank!" Padma broke the wall of silence as she saved herself from hitting the dashboard.




A nervous Riddhima sat in the backseat, well aware of her father's anger. Her father was a very careful driver; his carelessness was a sign that the whole party at the Mallik's had upset him more than she had thought.



"Papa….please dheere chalaayie…..meri galti ki saza car par tho mat nikaaliye," she hesitantly offered her advice.



"Chalo…apni galti tho maan li tumne," Shashank stared at her in the rearview mirror.



"Wo…sorry papa…..aapko kuch baat kharaab lagi ho tho," she peeled her nails nervously, unable to meet his gaze even in the rear view mirror.



He remained silent and continued to drive. Padma extended her hand and squeezed Riddhima's knee in the dark to reassure her daughter.


…………………………………………………………



GUPTA RESIDENCE:



After changing into her pajamas, Riddhima tiptoed into her parent's room, "Goodnight papa….goodnight mama."



Shashank looked up; he was skimming through a medical journal, "Goodnight! Kal subah……I want to see you and Armaan in my office!"




"Jee papa? Office? Main jaanti hoon aap naaraaz hain….lekin office mein kyun?"



"Riddhima……kya tumhein har baat bataani zaroori hai kya? Jab tum sab baatein mujhey nahin bataati tho mujhse kyun expect karti ho?"



"Papa…wo…main…wo," she hesitated.



"Shaadi ki baat un logon ne ki thi Shashank…..Gauri ne mujhse aakar Riddhima ka haath maanga tha…..is bechari par kyun naaraaz ho rahe ho?" Padma defended her daughter.




"Haath kisi ne bhi maanga ho…kya farak padhta hai? Baat tho yeh hai ki Riddhima jaanti thi wahan iski aur Armaan ki shaadi ki baat chalegi….yeh interns ki party tho bahana tha…..haina Riddhima? The main purpose was to talk about your marriage with Armaan…haina?" He asked sternly.



"Nahin papa…haan…na….haan," she said tearfully, "yeh….yeh Armaan ka idea tha."



"Very good Riddhima! Kal Armaan kahega ki mere saath ghar chhod kar bhaag jao…tho shayad tum bhaag bhi jaaogi…haina?" His nostrils flared in anger, "yahi values di hain humney? Armaan ka kya hai? He is the only son of wealthy parents, who could care less what their son does…..they think they can buy anything for him….and looks like that is what his son has done too…..usney hamari beti ko cheen liya hai humse!"



"Nahin papa," she was sobbing, "he is a nice man….Armaan sach much mujhey pyaar karta hai…..he really loves me and wants to marry me…..wo apne parents jaisa nahin hai papa."



"Riddhima! This boy has really brainwashed you…..warna meri beti mujh se aise baat nahin karti! Anyways….go to bed….I will see you both tomorrow! GOODNIGHT!" He walked to the bathroom and slammed the door behind him.


…………………………………………………………………………………..



NEXT DAY:


"Sir….may I come in?" Kripa knocked at Dr Shubhankar's door. After a sleepless night, she had resolved to take care of her health first thing that morning. Angad was pleased when she told him that she was off to see Dr Shubhankar for a check up that morning.



"I am happy Kripa……main nahin chaahta meri hone waali biwi kisi bhi tarah kamzor ho," he winked at her as she handed him the patient files for the morning rounds.


Kripa did not mention anything about what she had heard in Gauri's office last night. It was clear, that Angad's dreams and goals in life were very different from hers. He had every right to dream his own dreams, just like she did. But before she could fulfill her dreams, she had to make sure her health was intact. She could not burden her aging parents with her ailment, especially after they had lost her sister years ago. She was their only hope and she felt responsible for their happiness and their future.



"Yes…yes…come in Kripa…kaisi ho ab? Kal raat ko kya hua tha?" Dr Shubhankar asked.



'Wo sir….thoda chakkar aa gaya tha."


"Pehle kabhie aisa hua hai?"


"Kabhie kabhie sir…..lekin mujhey laga anemic hoon….iss liye shayad."



"Well lesson #1 Dr Sharma…never assume anything in medicine….and lesson #2…doctors are the worst patients! So never diagnose your own ailments…..samjhi!" He chuckled and put her at ease before he went over her history and physical exam and ordered some tests.




"Ok Kripa….let me order some tests…..if they all come out normal…..don't worry about anything…..we will just start you on some BP medicines kyunki tumhara BP abhi bhi 130/85 hai….it's a little high for a young lady like you."



"Aur agar abnormal aaye tho?" she asked hesitantly; why did she have a hunch that things would not be normal?



"Then I will page you urgently!"


"Thanks sir!"


"You are welcome Kripa!"


"And sir…..please keep my records confidential."



"Goes without saying Dr Sharma!"


…………………………………………………………………………………..


MORNING IN THE DOCTOR's LOUNGE:



"Riddhima….tumhare papa kyun milna chaate hain mujhey?" Armaan asked irately as he stirred his coffee, "last night it was pretty obvious that he was upset with the whole party thing and especially upset with me!"


"I have no idea Armaan….please chalo na," she pleaded.



"Main bhi pagal hoon," he shook his head, "your father's faint smile after the dance raised my hopes…..but later I knew it was just an illusion!"



"Armaan…..seriously I have no idea why he wants to meet." Riddhima was confused. She had not slept all night, fearful of why her father wanted to meet them in the office. Fears of suspension or expulsion from Sanjeevani haunted her all night.



"Riddhima! He knows what we want…..We want each other! Tho main ab kyun unke paas jaaoon?….Aur apne pyaar ki bheekh maangoon? We are adults Riddhima! Kal raat apni beti ko aashirwaad dena chaahiye tha unhein…..lekin tumhare papa shayad apni beti ki khushi hi nahin chaate hain Riddhima!"




"NAHIN ARMAAN! He loves me….he wants the best for me! Aisa kaise keh sakte ho tum?"



"I know Riddhima…he loves you….but…but he loves himself, his ego and his dreams more than anything else….jaanti ho Dr Josh ne mujhey kya bataaya tha? Our fathers have some old professional animosity against each other…iss liye wo mujhey pasand nahin karte hain!"



"I don't believe that Armaan……mere papa aise nahin hain….he is a well respected man….he would never mix his professional and personal life…..unhone hamesha meri bhalaai chaahi hai."




"Riddhima…..kya tum mujhse pyaar karti ho?" he came forward and kissed her hands, "bolo Riddhima…..do you love me?" The tender look in his eyes melted Riddhima's resolve to not get carried away by emotions that morning. Her father's words had pinched her all night. Had she really been disrespectful towards him? Had she really gotten carried away by Armaan's love?




"Of…of course I do," she replied softly.



"Tho chalo bhaag kar shaadi kar lete hain."



Riddhima was stunned. Her father's words echoed from last night- Kal Armaan kahega ki mere saath ghar chhod kar bhaag jao…tho shayad tum bhaag bhi jaaogi…haina?


"Armaan….yeh kaisi baat kar rahe ho?" She looked away, unable to meet his gaze.



"Haan Riddhima…..I don't think our parents will agree…..our fathers will not budge…..let's get married….ek na ek din wo humein accept kar hi lenge!"



"Nahin Armaan," she was trembling, "I can't do that….main apne parents ke saath aisa nahin kar sakti."




A heartbroken Armaan grabbed her elbow and forcefully pulled her closer, "tho kya apne pyaar ke saath aisa kar sakti ho?"


"Wo maan jaayenge Armaan….give them some time….lekin main aisa nahin kar sakti."


"Aur nahin maane tho?"



"Tho…tho," she was at loss for words.




"Tho hum zindagi bhar alag alag rahenge Riddhima?" he swallowed painfully, "kya hamara pyaar adhoora reh jaayega?"

"I DON'T KNOW ARMAAN!" She yelled and turned away from him.



"THEN WHO DOES? DAMN ** WHO DOES?" He grabbed her wrist and forced her into his arms, "main apne pyaar ko kabhie adhoora nahin rehne doonga Riddhima." He was about to kiss her lips but she pushed him away with all her force, "STOP IT ARMAAN!"


Armaan was stunned. Riddhima had never shunned his love this way.


"Pyaar…pyaar…pyaar…Armaan….is there anything else in your life?" Riddhima's eyes turned red with anger.


Her words hit him like boulders from all sides. Armaan felt his world had just come to a screeching halt. All his dreams had been shattered by that sentence. Tears welled into his eyes; Riddhima was no different than anyone else in his life. She did not really understand him the way he had thought. She had no idea about the depth of his love. Perhaps, it was always him who loved her more than she ever did. Her father's shadow was too long and too overpowering; he had been under an illusion all these months that perhaps their love would be strong enough to face any adversity in life but he was wrong…..he had been wrong in judging her……she was not strong enough for their love…..she did not deserve his love.



Armaan crushed the paper cup in his hand; the hot coffee scalded the skin on his hands.


"Armaan? Tumhara haath?" She tried to touch his burnt hand to soothe it.




"Main apne ghaav khud bhar sakta hoon Dr Riddhima Gupta," he threw the empty cup in the trash and walked out of the lounge in fury. He paused and turned his head sideways, "and Dr Riddhima Gupta…..to set the record straight….the only thing I don't have in my life……is love."



"Armaaaan!" Riddhima tried to call him, but he did not stop.


…………………………………………………………………………………….



ANGAD & KRIPA ON THE WARD.



"BEEP! BEEP!" Kripa's pager went off later that afternoon.


"Kiska page hai?" Angad asked, "let's go get some lunch…ignore that page yaar….mujhey tumhein ek khush khabri deni hai." He was dying to tell her about Dr Gauri's offer.




"Nahin Angad….this is important….it's about a patient….tum chalo…main cafeteria mein milti hoon tumhein." It was Dr Shubhankar who had paged her with abnormal results.


"Ok dear," he pinched her cheek affectionately, "see you in a bit."


She nodded and smiled, "ok."



…………………………………………………………………..



DR SHUBHANKAR'S OFFICE:



"Yes sir…..aapne bulaya."



"Haan Kripa…please have a seat," Dr Shubhankar had a grim expression.



"It's bad…isn't it?"



"Well….hard to say," he scratched his head, "we need to get some more tests."



'More tests?"


"Haan Kripa….your kidney function is not that great….in fact it looks like you might have early signs of kidney failure." He sighed as he spilled the bad news.



"Tabhie….mera BP high hai…aur anemia bhi…haina?" She hid her tears from him.



"Yes Kripa…..that is why the Iron pills did not work…..as we all know kidney failure can cause intractable anemia."


"Jee sir….lekin yeh baatein tho textbooks mein padhte hain sir…..kabhie socha nahin mujhey hi aisi bimaari," she sniffed and wiped her nose with a tissue.



"Kripa….please go and see Dr Mani….he is the best Nephrologist (kidney specialist) in town….you need to do it soon….before this condition deteriorates."



"Jee sir….Dr Mani Sanjeevani mein tho nahin hain na?"


"nahin….here is his phone number."



"Thanks sir…..and please keep this confidential."


"Goes without saying Kripa….I will honor my word to you……I hold doctor patient confidentiality above anything else in this world….good luck beta."



Kripa was surprised to hear the word 'beta' from his lips. She glanced at his face; he had turned his head away as if hiding his emotions.


At that moment, she knew things were worse than he had painted in front of her. She did not know how much time she had with her deteriorating kidneys, but whatever time she had, she would make sure her childhood dreams would be fulfilled. No one would find out about her silent disease. How could she burden Angad with her illness when he was close to achieving his lifelong dream? She knew he loved her enough that he would be willing to sacrifice his own happiness and dreams. But she would never want him to take pity on her and do that for her. Her parents would be devastated too; so she would not say a word to them. Armaan and Riddhima would spill the beans too, so she would keep it a secret from them too……



Kuch hua aisa saath humaare ke bayaan karna bhi mushkil hai,
Jo rishta abhi bana hi tha, woh ab beeta kal hai
Baaki ki fazaa puchiye in behtey ashkon se,
Ashq bhi kahenge, aankhon se nahin……….. beh rahein hain hum dil se.

…………………to be contd…………

bheegi

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