Wednesday, 26 September 2018

part 38: To Err is Human


kitna pyar karte hain tumhe sanam
mere dil se pooch lo na

bina saans kaise jiye jaa rahein hain hum
mere dil se pooch lo na


"Great job Dr Mallik…..that was brilliant…..the way you handled that difficult Schizophrenic patient is really commendable…..considering that you are only a final year Psychiatry resident….lot of senior doctors have a hard time with such complicated cases."

"Thanks sir….I owe it to you…..aaj se do saal pehle agar aapne mujhey yeh chance nahin dia hota tho shayad mujhey yeh mauka kabhie nahin milta."

" I know I broke protocol by accepting you as an intern during the mid-year…..but I was impressed by your persistence….anyways son….why don't you take some time off….go back to Mumbai…..visit your family…..jab se yahan Kasauli aaye ho….ek din bhi chutti nahin li tumney….you know all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!"

I have high regard for Dr Roy, the Chief of the Kasauli Psychiatric Center; had he not accepted me two years ago, I would have not found my calling in life. I loved this place. No one judged me for who I was or who I was related to. I did not have to prove myself to others, just to myself, at my own pace.

Dr Roy: 

I nodded and thanked Dr Roy for his confidence in me. As I walked back to my one bedroom apartment in the hospital complex, I could not help comparing Dr Roy to Dr Gupta. Dr Gupta's parting words to me outside the elevator, "first make yourself worthy of Sanjeevani…..then worry about my daughter…..apne baap ke paison ki wajah se aaye ho Sanjeevani tum….na ki apne merit par!"

After turning the lights on to my apartment, I threw my keys on the desk, and pressed the flashing button on the answering machine. There were always a lot of messages for me. Like always, I listened to all of them, knowing that I would not call anyone back.

"Armaan beta….it's mom…..kaise ho beta? I hope your residency is going well….kabhie ghar aao beta…we miss you…bye…" Mom has changed a lot; I wish she had shown this concern years ago when all those nights I missed her when she was away, too busy to 'miss' her son.


"Hey buddy….Angad here…'s life in Kasauli? Kabhie waqt mile tho apne purane dost ko bhi yaad kar liya kar…..sigh…..well….hope to hear from you soon…." Angad sounds really tired these days. Why does he have to work for my mom while training to be a Gynecologist at Sanjeevani? Kya paise kamaana itna important hai uske liye? Aur Kripa kahan hai aaj kal? How come she never calls? Kya main sirf chand dino ka bhai tha?

Yes, I sound bitter. I am not the old happy-go-lucky Armaan anymore. Riddhima and her dad have changed me forever!

I was about to turn the machine off, when I heard a hesitant voice on the machine, "H..I….A…rmaan….it's me," Why does Riddhima's voice still pierce through my heart? I covered my face with my palms and sank into a chair, "Armaan….I know you will never call me….lekin tumhein bataana chaahti thi ki America mein mera bas 6 mahine ka kaam aur hai…..uske baad main wapas India aa rahi hoon…..kya hum…kya hum ek baar mil sakte hain?"

"NEVER!" I turned the machine off. Why did she keep calling him when she knew I would never return her calls? Ab kya chaahiye usey mujhsey? I have nothing to give her…..mere dil mein ab kisi ke liye koi jagah nahin hai……jitna pyaar tha…..wo sab tho de diya usey….now what does she want da** it! Enraged, I walked to the refrigerator and pulled out some leftovers and a can of beer.

It had been 2 years since I left Sanjeevani, Riddhima, my friends and my family. The events of that fateful morning when Riddhima had insulted my feelings and my love for her are still crystal clear in my memories. To add salt to my wounds, Dr Gupta's parting shot outside the elevator had convinced me to leave Sanjeevani forever.

As a courtesy, I had left a small note to my parents- PLEASE DON'T LOOK FOR ME…..I WILL CALL YOU ONCE I HAVE FOUND MY OWN IDENTITY.



Why did I come to Kasauli, of all places? I have always loved this place since childhood. I used to visit this place with my dadi during my summer vacations. My dadi's family, who are no longer alive, belonged to Kasauli. I wanted to go as far as possible from Mumbai, to a place I could call my own and find peace.

Yes, I love this place, but why do I still feel restless and incomplete? Even though, I have buried myself in work and my patients, why do I feel there is still something missing in my life? Why do I still crave for Riddhima? She should not mean anything to me, but why does she haunt me every night? Kyun aisa lagta hai ki wo mere andar aise samaa gayi hai ki chaah kar bhi usey bhula nahin paata main?

Please watch this awesome VM by Munni to sum up AR's state of affairs at this point in the story….dil nahin lagda…


It's the month of June here in Baltimore. It's the middle of summer; all my fellow residents and interns from Johns Hopkins are enjoying the beautiful summer. No one, except me, is indoors; they are all biking, walking, jogging, skating, or just out for a stroll. Rahul and Muskaan are here too. They are happily married and live a block away from my apartment. They have tried their best to cheer me up over the last 1 years that I have been in the US, but even they know I can never be happy without you, Armaan. Tumse milne se pehle main hansna nahin jaanti thi….aur tumhare jaane ke baad hansna bhool gayi hoon.

Armaan…..kabhie tho phone uthaa liya karo? I stare at my phone and clutch it in my hands tightly. I have left so many messages….I know you have heard them….mera dil kehta hai tum mujhey abhi bhi utna hi pyaar karte ho jitna pehle karte the……kyun meri choti si galti ki itni badhi sazaa de rahe ho? Kum se kum ek baar apni awaaz hi suna do mujhey. I thought my tears would have dried in these two years. But whenever I think about you, they just find their way out of my eyes.

After you walked out of Sanjeevani, I was devastated. If it were not for Kripa, I would have runaway too. I even contemplated ending my life at one weak moment. Kitni bikhar gayi thi main tumhare jaane ke baad. Gauri aunty was a big help at that time. She told me that wherever you were, you were safe and secure. That you needed the separation from all of us to find yourself, was the reassurance I gave my heart. I know I had insulted our love, but I wish you would forgive me for my one error in our relationship. Kya wo saari pyaar ki baatein bhool gaye tum? Bas meri ek wo baat yaad rahi tumhein?

Separation from you has made me understand you better; made me realize that the most important thing in life is love…..and I was foolish enough to humiliate and shun it. Tumhare paas sab kuch tha Armaan, tha nahin tho sirf pyaar….you wanted unconditional love from me…..but I disappointed you…..I don't deserve you Armaan….I hope you will forgive me one day. I rested my head on my pillow, trying to catch on sleep after a 36 hour shift at the Hospital. But as always, my thoughts and memories kept me wide awake despite being sleep deprived for so long.

I never completed the WHO project while I was at Sanjeevani. Fortunately, Muskaan stepped into my shoes and became the co author along with Rahul. Papa was upset, but for the first time in my life, I told him I was not interested in research or publishing papers. He was disappointed in me, but mama helped calm him down. I still admire my father for who he is. I have tremendous respect for him but I think somewhere in the last two years, I have stopped fearing him and following him blindly.

So, why did I come to Johns Hopkins? Wasn't that my father's dream too? Yes, it was, but it had always been my dream to train at this world renowned center. I am glad I came here; I have learnt a lot in these 1 years. Just like you, I had to prove myself. After internship was over at Sanjeevani, I decided to focus my life on my career, instead of brooding over our lost love.

Why do I feel that after these two years are over, we will meet again….may be it's just this hope that has kept me alive in this foreign land? Hum phir milenge Armaan…..main jaanti hoon….tumney likha tha ki WE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE TOGETHER…..par main jaanti hoon tumney wo gusse mein likha tha….you never meant that….just like I never meant what I said to you in the doctor's lounge on your last day at Sanjeevani.



"Doctor sahiba….jaldi aaiye….meri biwi ke dard shuru ho gaye hain!"

I picked my bag in a hurry and followed the young man to his house. After walking half a mile on a dusty and uneven road, we were at his small house in the middle of this small town near Ajmer. I helped his wife deliver their third child, and congratulated the couple.

"Aap bhagwan hain doctor sahiba….aapne humein phir ek beta de diya," the man fell on my feet. We were in the 21 st century, but the wide spread ignorance amongst the common man and their bias towards the male child never ceased to annoy me. Normally, I would yell at such men and give them a lecture on gender equality, but this was a joyous occasion for the family and I was too tired to argue with anyone today. Was I resigning to this ignorance like millions of people in this country have, or was it my gradually deteriorating health making me more subdued?

I should be used to this idol worship by now, but why do I feel awkward every time a patient elevates me to that status. I am just doing my duty like anyone else on this planet, working in this small town where we lived years ago, where my sister lost her life due to a greedy doctor's negligence. I am just paying my dues to my bereaved sister. Isn't that why I became a doctor? Isn't that why I left Mumbai, I left Angad and moved here soon after my internship.

As I walked back to my clinic, I recalled how devastated my parents were when I told them that Angad and I were no longer together. I had returned his ring to him, and so had he on that last day of our internship.

Our parting words to each other still haunt me day and night.

"Angad….jaate jaate yeh anghoothi wapas kar rahi hoon tumhein…..tumpar is rishte ka koi bandhan nahin chhodna chaahti hoon," my voice had cracked as I had slipped off the ring from my finger.

I can never forget the expression on his face; yes, I could tell, he was deeply hurt. He had swallowed his tears and taken the ring in his palm, "agar anghoothi wapas karne se tum mujhey apne bandhan se mukt kar rahi ho Kripa…..tho tumney hamare pyaar ko kabhie samjha hi nahin….theek hai main yeh anghoothi rakh leta hoon….aur yeh lo," he had removed his ring and returned it to me, "aaj se tum bhi mukt ho mere bandhan se….lekin yaad rakhna yeh bandhan dil se shuru hua tha….aur jab tootega tho wo bhi dil se hi tootega……aur main jaanta hoon jab tak main zinda hoon….tum mere dil mein hamesha rahogi…..main intezaar karoonga tumhara Kripa….I will wait for you to come back…..I know you will come back…..I know you love me as much I as I love you…..jao apne ideals ko poora kar lo….I will not stop you…after all you are trying to fulfill your dream, just like I am fulfilling mine…..but one day when your illusion of idealism will break, I know you will come back….Good bye Kripa." He had turned his head away. I knew he was crying, just like me. We both had always been good at hiding our feelings, but at that moment, we knew our hearts cried for each other. We were physically separating, but our hearts were still one and could only break into a million pieces at this point, as I walked out of his life forever.

I was back at my clinic. There were no more patients waiting for me. I walked back into my house attached to the clinic and decided to eat my cold lunch. Yes, I am supposed to eat small but regular meals to preserve my kidney function as much as possible, but my work always takes precedence and I end up neglecting my health once again. I do go back to Ajmer once or twice a month to meet my parents and meet the kidney specialist in Ajmer. One day, mama-papa told me about my 'single kidney' I was born with, but they have no idea that it has already started failing me at this young age. They would be shattered if they found out that their only surviving daughter was that ill. I had resolved to tell them if Dr Mani ever called me with a miracle kidney.

As I bite into the cold dal-chawal, my house keeper has cooked for me, I remember how secretive I was about my illness at Sanjeevani. After my appointment with Dr Shubhankar, I had visited Dr Mani, a kidney specialist at another hospital in Mumbai. After running a number of scans and tests, he had told me that I was born with a single kidney. In most people with this anomaly, the sole kidney continues to function very well all their lives, but I was an exception. Even my single kidney was not normal. It was smaller than usual- it was 'dysplastic' as he called it. That meant it functioned at sub optimal levels and unfortunately, at the age of 22 had already started showing signs of failure. My only treatment was a kidney transplant!

A kidney transplant is no piece of cake. Finding a matching donor with my rare blood type, would be a challenge. It's not only blood type that matters, unless it is a perfect match based on other genetic tests, it would fail miserably. I had no siblings and I would never expect my parents to undergo painful surgery to donate their kidney to me. Dr Mani placed me on the transplant list, waiting for an anonymous donor to 'rescue' me one day. I knew that was a shot in the dark. I did not refuse, but I knew I had limited time in my life. My resolve to complete my dream and avenge my sister's death became stronger at that point. I would have to break all my bonds in Mumbai, and move back to Ajmer as soon as my internship was over. I had no time to complete a full residency program like all my colleagues and friends at Sanjeevani. My training from the internship would have to suffice if I had to achieve my goals.

Dr Mani placed me on a number of medications to slow the deterioration of my kidney. I visited him once a week while I was at Sanjeevani. I wonder if Angad ever got suspicious about my whereabouts? He never questioned me. I am grateful that he never asked me questions or doubted my love for him. May be he was too busy with his 'new job' at Dr Gauri Mallik's clinic. He was too excited and always away when not on duty at Sanjeevani. We spent very little time with each other. His hunger to make more money by increasing his hours at Dr Mallik's clinic kept him away from me during my last few months at Sanjeevani. I missed him sorely; how I wish I could tell him about my ailment, but I did not want his sympathy. If he left his dream job for me, it would be out of sympathy, not love I thought.

I remember how upset he was at my indifference when he pulled up his new Honda City in front of my hostel.

Angad tumhare sir par ek junoon savaar tha- kamayaabi ka aur paise ka. Main tumhein tumhare junoon se alag kaise kar sakti thi? I had no right to ask you to leave everything for me. That's when I decided to leave you forever, but did not tell you till the last day of our internship.

I missed my friends during the last few months at Sanjeevani. Armaan had left Sanjeevani; I think he needed to get out of the shadow of his Mallik name, so I never stopped or called him. I knew he would always there be for me when I needed him. A heartbroken Riddhima buried herself in work and her applications to go to the US. I would always have fond memories of our friendship at Sanjeevani, but all good things come to an end and so was my time at Sanjeevani…..and perhaps in this world. I had limited time and a lot to do….

"chalte chalte' by Angadiq (thanks for ur wonderful VM) to express Ak's plight



"Dr Keerti….main kal nahin aaoonga….can you please handle these appointments?" I asked.

"Sure Angad…..kal Sanjeevani mein duty hai?"


"Kyun itna kaam karte ho Angad? Ek baar apni training poori kar lo…..phir aa jaana Dr Gauri ki clinic mein…..ab main bhi tho hoon yahan unki help karne ko."

"Nahin Dr Keerti… is worship for me….I need to work….to keep myself sane."

"To keep Kripa's thoughts out of your mind? Is that right?" Dr Keerti hit the nail on the head once again.

"DR KEERTI….I HAVE TOLD YOU SEVERAL TIMES THAT SHE DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING TO ME ANYMORE! Please Kripa ki baat karke mera mood mat off kariye," I yelled at her for no reason. She was a bit taken aback. I had treated her like an older sister since the day I had rescued her from her abusive husband, Dr Kartik. I respected her a lot and had helped her procure this part time job at Dr Gauri's clinic.

"I..I am sorry Angad," she said tearfully.

"Nahin….I am sorry….aap theek kehti hain….I can never forget Kripa…..chaliye chhodiye purani baatein….ab tho 1 saal ho gaya usey yahan se gaye…..maybe she will realize her mistake and come back to me….I will see you later Keerti ji," I picked my bag and was about to leave, when Dr Keerti called my name.

"Angad…..kahin intezaar mein der na ho jaaye…..tum kyun nahin mil kar aate usey?"

"She left me….I did not Keertiji….bye!" I was short and snappy again, and left as soon as I could.

As I drove back to my new apartment in a luxury apartment complex off the Juhu beach, I remembered how Kripa had thrown the bombshell on me that last day of internship. I knew we had drifted apart since my job at Dr Gauri's, but I thought Kripa understood me and had accepted the fact that I had a dream to fulfill. What was wrong in working hard and earning some extra money during internship? Only I knew how painful it is to grow up with nothing- no parents, no family and no money. Kripa and her ideals finally became a wall between us. I had no problem with her ideals; she was free to work anywhere with or without money. I could easily support both of us, but why did she have to leave me, end our relationship, return the engagement ring?

Main agar mehnat kar raha hoon tho kya kharaabi hai usmein? I was not robbing a bank or cheating someone, I was just being paid for my hard work. At least, she could have shown some happiness when I brought my first car with my extra salary. Yeh kahan ke ideals hain jo insaan ko apni zindagi bhi aaraam se jeene ka haq nahin deta? Why was she so stubborn? Kya jaldi thi usey Ajmer jaane ki? After my training was over, we could have both gone there for some time. For her satisfaction, we could work there a few weeks in a year, but why did she leave me and Mumbai forever? Why was she in such a hurry? Kya mera pyaar uske sapno ke aage koi maayne nahin rakhta? Kya Maya aur uski yaadein hi uske liye sab kuch hai…aur main kuch nahin? Maya would also want her sister to be happy….so why did she leave all this happiness and break both our hearts?

I entered my plush apartment and threw my bag and jacket on the sofa. This was a dream….I had everything in this apartment…..a great view, fancy gadgets, plasma TV, great stereo system to listen to all my favorite music, my little music studio to record my songs when I had time…..but why did I still feel so lonely? I still had a long way to go. I had to prove that I was more successful and richer than Naina maasi and Damini Aggarwal could ever imagine!

Is that all I wanted in life? To prove a point to the two women who had tortured my soul throughout my growing years.

NO! I wanted something else…..there was something else which would still be missing even if I managed to become the richest man in this city. I sat down on the floor and leaned against a wall….I missed my friends….I missed Armaan….he never returned my calls…..I missed Riddhima…..she was away in the US with her own bag of sorrows……and I missed Kripa…..I missed her the most…..her smile, her fragrance, her warm hugs…..her kisses and her love…….Kripa please wapas aa jao…..come back….tears rolled down my cheeks as my heart cried for her once again…..

….to be contd…


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