Thursday, 27 September 2018

part 39: To Err is Human

KASAULI:


Armaan was completing the paper work for discharge of one of their long term patients, Mr Tony Gonzalves, when a nurse approached him, "Dr Armaan….Mr Gonzalves ke bte aaye hain….he wants to thank you personally for taking care of his dad."


"Thanks sister…main aata hoon….have him take a seat in the waiting room."


"Yes doctor!"


Armaan picked his stethoscope and walked into the waiting room, where he was startled to see one of his favorite persons in the world.






"Sir aap? Aaaap….aap Mr Tony Gonzalves ke bte hain? Oh my god what a coincidence! But why Kasauli…and not Mumbai….or Sanjeevani?"



Josh Gonzalves grinned and embraced Armaan, "well….I wanted the best doc for my dad!"



Armaan had always held Dr Josh in high regard; by entrusting his dad's health in his hands, he had rewarded Armaan with the best compliment of his career. With moist eyes, Armaan thanked Josh profusely, "thanks sir….your words mean a lot to me."




"You deserve it Armaan….I am very happy for you….I always knew you had it in you….a real diamond will stand out even when it's not displayed in the jeweler's shop…….afsos…sigh…..Sanjeevani aur Sanjeevani waalon ne tumhari kadar nahin jaani."



Armaan lowered his head and stood silently.



"Tumhari khamoshi bataa rahi hai ki Kasauli mein rehte ho lekin Sanjeevani abhi bhi tumhare dil mein zinda hai…..kyun?" Josh placed his hand on Armaan's shoulder.


"Nahin sir," Armaan sighed, "aisi koi baat nahin hai….main bahut door aa gaya hoon Sanjeevani aur Sanjeevani ki yaadon se…..I have moved on in life."



"Hmm….lagta hai bahut kadvaahat hai tumhare dil mein….let's go get a drink….abhi dad ke discharge mein der hai."



"Why don't we go to my apartment….paas mein hi hai…I am off duty now….chaliye mere haath ki chai pilaata hoon," Armaan smiled at last.



"Sounds good!"



ARMAAN's APARTMENT:



"There you go sir…..garam garam chai," Armaan handed over a cup to Josh.


"Wow….lagta hai poore gharelu type aadmi ho gaye ho tum," Josh chuckled as he savored the hot cup of tea, "bas gharwaali ki kami hai……by the way how's Riddhima? Have you heard from her since she moved to the US?"


Armaan cringed at the mention of her name.


"No idea! Maine kaha tha na sir….main bahut door nikal aaya hoon puraani yaadon se," he snapped coldly.



Josh sensed the pain in Armaan's voice; he decided to not probe further. Angad had informed him about Armaan and Riddhima's break up, but he knew deep down that this separation was temporary, just a bump in the long road these lovers had to travel together.



Josh was about to say something, when Armaan's phone rang.


"Phone nahin uthaaoge?" Josh was puzzled that Armaan ignored the ring as if it was nonexistent.


"That's Ok sir…let the machine pick it up."


THIS MACHINE'S VOICE MAIL IS FULL AND WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY NEW MESSAGES!



Josh stared at the answering machine and then glanced at Armaan's face, "I get it…..so Angad was right….you don't believing in picking up the phone…..and neither return any calls……lekin lagta hai messages bhi erase nahin karte ho….why? Kisi ki awaaz aur yaadon se shayad door nahin hona chaate? Is this what you call moving on in life? Why are you fooling yourself?…..I know Riddhima has called you several times…..kyun aisa kar rahe ho apne saath? Kyun sataa rahe ho apne aapko….aur usey bhi?"




"Sir….aisa kuch nahin hai! I just don't have time to listen to these messages or clean up the machine….I am too busy with my work…that's it!" Armaan snapped back again.



"Oh yeah? Ok then….let me help you….let's erase the messages," Josh was about to press the erase button when Armaan yelled, "NO SIR!"



"Call her then!" Josh paused, "she deserves a call…..don't do that to her!"

     
"BUT WHAT ABOUT HER? YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE DID TO ME!" Armaan raised his voice. His pent up anger of the last two years had finally surfaced, "SHE INSULTED MY LOVE AND MY FEELINGS FOR HER! Wo pyaar karne ke laayak hi nahin hai…..she is a coward….darpok hai wo…..selfish hai…..wo sirf apne dad ki feelings ki kadar karti hai….she played with my feelings…..meri bilkul kadar nahin hai usey!"




"How long did you know her Armaan? Six months? How long did she know her parents? 21-22 years? So you expected her to abandon those 22 years of her life for a man she knew for a mere six months? Ab batao Armaan…..is she really a coward? Soch lo…..jo ladki apne parents ko chhod sakti hai….kya wo kuch saal shaadi ke baad apne pati ko nahin chhod sakti? That kind of girl would have no value for relationships…..because she would be really selfish….jo rishton ki kadar nahin kar sakti….wo pyaar ki kya kadar karegi?" Josh scratched his chin and confronted Armaan.



Armaan had no answer; he stared at Josh quizzically.



"Ek raaz ki baat bataaun Armaan…..if Simone would ever have to pick between her parents and me….I would never stand a chance……that's why I would never ask her to choose…….her parents are my best allies….not my enemies…..tumhein Dr Gupta ko pyaar se jeetne ki koshish karni chaahiye thi Armaan……lekin tum to sab chhod kar hi aa gaye….now who's a coward here? I know she hurt your feelings…..lekin tum tho ab Psychiatrist ho…..you know people say all sorts of things in anger…..and regret it later….Armaan…..jo pyaar karta hai wo maaf karna bhi jaanta hai….true love always forgives……by not forgiving her mistake, you are insulting your love! Kya tumhara pyaar itna kamzor hai?"



Armaan was stunned; he had never looked at things from Riddhima's perspective. Dr Josh had a knack of striking the right chord at the right time.




"Sir," Armaan replied softly, "…..isn't it strange…..everyone in my department compliments me at analyzing my patient's deepest feelings so accurately…..par apni feelings hi theek se analyze nahin kar saka? You are right……I miss Riddhima……and….and still love her a lot."



"Armaan….doctor bante bante hum kabhie kabhie bhool jaate hain ki hum pehle insaan hain…..phir kuch aur……we are not God Armaan…..we are human too…..chalo….main chalta hoon…..dad must be anxious where I have disappeared….let me rescue my dad from the hospital staff," he chuckled, "and you worry about rescuing your love."


"Thanks sir," Armaan smiled tearfully and hugged Josh.


"Anytime Armaan….and please return your calls…..people miss you in Mumbai…..there are a lot of people who care about you…..and love you."



After Josh left, Armaan picked the phone and dialed his best friend's number.



"Hey buddy….it's me Armaan……I know….I know….I am sorry…..achcha ab saari shikaayat Mumbai mein karna……main kal hi aa raha hoon…..please let mom and dad know……and ask them to get my passport and US visa papers ready…….haan yaar……I am planning to go and meet her…..I missed you all," Armaan hung up as warm tears of joy rolled down his cheeks.


He picked his car keys and headed off to the train station to book his tickets. He could not help smiling when the car radio played…..


shiqwa bhi tumse
tumse shikaayat
par yeh bhi sach hai
tumse mohabbat hume….

Dil maange more…..…………………………………………………………………………


MUMBAI:

Angad hung up his phone and after a long time felt a sense of warmth and happiness fill him. He had not experienced this feeling since their trip to Goa. He could not wait to give Gauri the good news; he was aware of how much she had suffered silently in the past 2 years since Armaan had left Sanjeevani. Even though she was strong and stoic lady, he had noticed how subdued and quiet she had become in the last 2 years. She had cut back on her hours tremendously and to his surprise often found her in the outhouse when he had to discuss a case or inform her about a patient. To his surprise, he often found Abhimanyu in the outhouse too. The couple would sit there for hours, as if trying to make up the time they had not spent with Armaan during his formative years. Armaan's presence in the outhouse was everywhere- his sketches, his paintings, his messy closets, his diary with numbers of his various girlfriends from the past, collection of race car posters and his pictures of himself with his dadi reminded the Mallik's of what their son was really like and who he was.




As expected, Gauri was ecstatic when Angad informed her of Armaan's visit. Abhimanyu, in his characteristic way, just nodded, but added, "I will pick him up from the station Angad…..you don't worry."


As Angad left their house, he remembered he was supposed to join Shubhankar and Keerti for dinner at her apartment tonight. Keerti and Kartik's divorce had finally been formalized by the courts, and she had planned this dinner in honor of her 'close friends.' He stirred his car towards her place.



"Hello uncle…how are you?" Keerti's six year old younger daughter greeted Angad at the door.



"Hi beta," he picked the young girl in his arms and gave her a friendly peck. He felt a twinge in his heart as he held the little girl. Flashbacks of his numerous conversations with Kripa on how many kids they would have….what would their names be…..how many boys….how many girls sent him down the memory lane.




"Hey Angad…how are you?" Shubhankar shook his hand.



"Thanks sir…..I am doing well."



"Ab yeh sir wir ka chakkar hospital tak hi rakho….we are all friends outside the hospital," Shubhankar smiled.



Angad chuckled and then gave Keerti a friendly hug, "congratulations! So today was the big day!"



"Thanks Angad….yeh sab tumhare aur Shubhankar ki help se hua hai," Keerti smiled.



"What did the judge decide on the kids?" Angad placed Keerti's daughter on the floor and followed them all to the kitchen.



"Joint custody," Shubhankar replied.



"Do you really think he will do justice to the kids?" Angad asked angrily. If Kartik could abuse his wife, he was very capable of abusing his kids too. Who else would know better than Angad?



"Angad….I think Kartik has changed…..I think he deserves a chance to prove that he can be a good dad," Keerti replied softly.



"Keerti….aap bhi na…..itna sahaa hai aapne….phir bhi usey maaf karne ko tayyar hain," Angad shook his head.



"Maaf karne se dil halka ho jaata hai Angad," she smiled, "aur ab tho divorce bhi ho gaya hai….ab mujhey Kartik se koi gila ya shikayat nahin hai…..I just want him to be happy in his own world."



"Why do you women like to be martyrs? Meri yeh baat aaj tak samajh nahin aayi. Forbearance is not a sign of strength…..it's a weakness!" Angad scoffed and sat on the sofa next to Shubhankar.



Keerti exchanged glances with Shubhankar as if silently nudging him to say something.


"Kya baat hai? Aap dono aise kya dekh rahe hain?" Angad looked at their silent faces.



"Angad…..Shubhankar needs to tell you something," Keerti sat across from him.



"Kya baat hai Dr Shubhankar?" Angad stared at him inquisitively.



Shubhankar cleared his throat and shuffled his feet nervously, "Angad….well….I know I might be breaching my doctor patient confidentiality……but I feel you should know something."



Angad sat up and sensed something ominous in Shubhankar's tone.



"Boliye Dr Shubhankar"



Shubhankar looked up at Keerti, "I don't know why women want to suffer silently……shayad Kripa bhi yahi kar rahi hai."



Keerti smiled tearfully and nodded her head. It had taken a lot of convincing on her part to make Shubhankar reveal the truth about Kripa. She herself had just found about Kripa's ailment a few days ago when Dr Mani had called Shubhankar's house about Kripa's whereabouts. She had overheard their conversation while cooking in the kitchen and then had forced him to tell her the truth. Shubhankar was reluctant but Keerti had convinced him that by not divulging the truth about Kripa to her near and dear ones was not in the interest of his patient, "Shubhankar…bhool gaye kya….humein yeh sikhaaya jaata hai ki patient ka interest aur well being sab se important cheez hoti hai…..even if it is at the cost of breaking your contract with the patient…..I know Angad well…..he would be devastated if you don't tell him the truth…..he loves Kripa…..and she needs him more than he needs her…..uski zindagi ka sawaal hai yeh Shubhankar!"



Angad was perplexed, "Kripa ka?"



Shubhankar heaved a sigh and tapped Angad's knee gently, "Angad….Kripa was my patient when she was at Sanjeevani."



"I know that….aap Hematologist (blood diseases specialist) hain…you were treating her anemia…..she told me about that."



"Well Angad….that's just part of the story…..Kripa did not have the typical anemia because of iron deficiency…..she….she," Shubhankar hesitated, "she has a chronic kidney problem."


"Kidney problem?" Angad's color drained from his face, "kaisi kidney problem?"




"She was in kidney failure Angad…..I sent her to Dr Mani…..her only treatment is kidney transplantation…..in fact Dr Mani had called me about her whereabouts…..lately, he has not been able to get in touch with her …..he was worried about her," Shubhankar swallowed hard as he spilled the beans.



Shubhankar's words hit him like a boulder; with disbelief written all over his face, he stood up and looked out the window to hide his guilt and shame.



Keerti stood up and touched his shoulder, "Angad…don't worry…I am sure she is fine…."




Angad clenched his fists and banged them against the window pane, "kitna pagal tha main Keerti…..saari duniya ka dard aur bimari samajhne ki koshish karta hoon…..lekin uska dard aur pareshaani nahin samajh saka…..I don't deserve to be a doctor…..kyun yeh samajh nahin paaya ki us din Armaan ke yahan jab wo behosh huyi thi tho wo koi aam bimaari nahin thi….why did I not put two and two together….I remember Dr Gauri mentioned that her blood pressure was high….why did I not probe further? Kyun usey ignore kiya maine? How can I ever face her again? I have failed miserably!" He buried his face in the curtains to hide the burning tears.




"Angad…..at that moment she needed a man who understood her…..not a doctor…..tum uske doctor nahin ho….tum uska pyaar ho Angad…uska sahara….her strength…..she needs you…..abhi bhi der nahin huyi hai…..I am sure her parents would know where she is….unhein tho jaante ho na tum?"


Angad shook his head and regretted silently. He recalled the week before Diwali when they were still interns…….


PAST

"Angad…main Diwali ke liye ghar jaa rahi hoon…..mama…papa chaah rahe the tum bhi mere saath chalo," Kripa had approached him when he was busy with some work.


"Hmm?" Angad looked up, a bit distracted by the papers of his new car.


"Main Ajmer jaa rahi hoon Angad." She replied.



"Theek hai Kripa…..that would be a nice change for you….waise bhi aaj kal bahut pale lag rahi ho……apni maa ke haath ka khaana khaaogi tho shayad pehle jaisi laali aa jaayegi tumhare chehre par."


Quietly, she turned to leave. Angad kept the papers down and walked towards her, "naaraaz ho gayi kya? Main tho mazaak kar raha tha…..tum jaisi bhi ho bahut khubsoorat ho," he kissed her cheek and then hugged her from behind. She did not reciprocate his hug, "Angad….i need to go…..tickets confirm karwaani hain mujhey."



"Ok baba….jao….apne parents se keh dena Diwali par meri duty hai Dr Gauri ke clinic mein…..I will celebrate Diwali with them next year…..waise bhi unhone hamari unofficial engagement tho kar hi di hai…..ab saare rishte daaron se milkar kya karna? I am not used to large families anyways…..shaadi tho sirf tumse karni hai….rishte daaron se mera kya lena dena?"



"Theek hai keh doongi." She left after a curt reply.



Angad just shrugged his shoulders and wondered, "kya shaadi ke baad bhi aise hi mooh latkaa kar rakhegi kya yeh ladki? Na jaane gussa kyun aata hai isey itna? Why can't she smile more? May be she is just overworked…..shaadi ke baad main usey kum kaam karne ko kahoonga…..she can take it easy if she wants." His beeper had buzzed and soon he had forgotten all about his conversation with Kripa.


BACK TO PRESENT:



"Nahin Keerti," he shook his head, "I just know she is from Ajmer…..kabhie wahan gaya hi nahin main." He kicked himself for being so negligent and self absorbed. Instead of trying to find why Kripa had been so morose and listless during her last few months, he had blamed it to work fatigue and her temperament. If he could sense Keerti and Gauri's pain so well, why did he neglect the woman he loved the most? He knew how secretive she was about her inner feelings; the woman who took forever to confess her love for him would of course never tell him about her own suffering. She had saved his life without thinking twice about her own well being, and he paid her back by letting her suffer in silence and letting her walk away so easily?



Angad picked up his keys to leave.



"Angad…kahan jaa rahe ho?" Shubhankar stopped him.



"Jahan bahut pehle jaana chaahiye tha mujhey," he looked back tearfully.



"I am sorry Angad….maybe I should have told you before….lekin Kripa ki icchaa ke bina kaise batata tumhein? I hope you understand," Shubhankar sighed.




"Nahin sir….galti meri hai…..afsos ki baat tho yeh hai ki Kripa ke liye na main ek achcha doctor ban paaya, na dost…..aur na hi pyaar……usey theek se samajh hi nahin paaya.....I hope it's not too late now."



"Nahin Angad…..have faith……agar tumhara pyaar sachcha hai," Shubhankar gazed at Keerti, "tho bhagwan bhi tumhein apne pyaar se alag nahin rakh sakta."


"Thanks sir…..and thanks Keerti for opening my eyes," Angad bid a tearful goodbye to them and headed to the train station.


He turned the radio on and smiled at the coincidence as Dr Josh's song from their medical camp played in the background…..


Jinko jinko bhi, milna hai likha
Ishq milwaayega,
Jinko jinko bhi, milna hai likha
Ishq milwaayega,
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
Maano ya na maano, yeh saari hi duniya
Isi ke dum pe chale……

……to be contd….

bheegi

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