Friday, 28 September 2018

part 40 : To Err is Human

Angad swerved his car away from the train station and headed towards the airport instead. The fastest way would be a flight to Jaipur followed by a cab ride to Ajmer.

"Sir…the next flight does not leave till 6 in the morning," the clerk at the ticket counter informed him. Angad looked at his watch, "abhi tho sirf raat ke 10 baje hain….Oh God….I wish I had a private jet or something….Kripa…I wish I could be there with you right this minute….theek hai….de do ek ticket." After paying a hefty fare for the last minute ticket, he headed towards his car. He had no idea where Kripa's parents lived in Ajmer, "Kripa ke papa Mayo college ke principal hain shayad….maybe that's where I will go first……but what if Kripa does not live in Ajmer? Wo tho shayad kisi chote sheher mein kaam karna chaahti thi…Oh God…main bhi kitna pagal tha….na kabhie uske ghar waalon ka pataa maanga aur na hi kabhie poocha ki wo kahan jaa rahi hai…..I am such an IDIOT!"

As Angad repented his negligence and callousness, he recalled Shubhankar's words that Dr Mani had been trying to reach Kripa over the last few days, "Dr Mani…uh…he works at Apollo…hmm." He took a risky U-turn, and headed towards Apollo hospital.

It was late night; Dr Mani's clinic was closed for the day. After banging at the door for a few minutes, he stood dejected, ready to break the glass door of the office.

"Chor!" Kripa's words echoed in his mind as he recalled how he had once broken into her locker when they were interns.

"Haan Kripa….tumne ek baar mujhey chor kaha tha….tumhare locker mein chori se tumhara jhumka rakhte rakhte shayad tumhare dil mein bhi ghus gaya tha ek din….lagta hai aaj bhi ek chor bankar tumhare paas pahunchna padhega!"

He surveyed his surroundings and used his old skill of breaking through locked doors.

BINGO! It worked! The locked opened after his swift maneuvers.

Without hesitation, he walked into the dimly lit clinic. Fortunately, there were no security alarms or guards nearby. He tiptoed his way to the filing cabinet.

"P….Q….R…S….Sh….Sharma……Sharma, Kripa!" He found her file at last as he scanned the cabinets loaded with patient files. He shut his eyes and took a deep breath, "ho sake tho mujhey maaf karna Kripa…..I am breaking the law…..but I have no choice…..staying away from you is a bigger crime than breaching your confidentiality."

He took out a pen light from his pocket and flipped through the file.

Each page of her chart came as a bolt of lightning…..single kidney……dysplastic….poor kidney function……high blood pressure…..anemia……on transplant list…… siblings…..patient would prefer cadaveric donor (a person who can donate an organ after death)…..all communication to be directed to patient only……no family members or friends to be notified…..address…..Kishangarh Health Clinic… number……

The file almost dropped from his trembling hands, "kyun kiya aisa Kripa? Apne parents ko bhi nahin bataya?" His eyes welled up at the thought of all the pain she had endured in these 1 -2 years. He noted down her phone number and address of her Kishangarh (a small town near Ajmer) clinic on a paper. As he heard some noises outside the door, he shut the file and pocketed his pen light. Like an experienced robber, he swiftly walked out of the clinic with the most precious piece of paper in his hand.


After dialing Kripa's number repeatedly and staying up all night, he finally boarded the plane to Jaipur. To his dismay, her phone had been switched off. All sorts of scenarios about her health snowballed into worries as he paced up and down all night. By the morning he was a wreck, 'agar Kripa ko kuch ho gaya tho main apne aap ko kabhie maaf nahin kar paaoonga."

After numerous flight and weather delays, his flight finally took off in the afternoon. He could have strangled the airport personnel if there was one more flight delay announcement……Kripa tumhein jitni aasaani se maine jaane diya tha….utni hi mushkil se tumhare paas pahunch raha hoon….shayad meri yahi sazaa hai…..his self reproach made it harder for him to bear any more separation from her.

He took a cab after landing at Jaipur airport. After a dusty and rough six hour drive, he finally saw signs for the small town of Kishangarh. It was late evening, but the narrow roads to the city were still very congested. Every bump and hurdle on the road felt like a steep mountain! Each minute felt like eternity. His heart thumped anxiously as they got closer to the center of the city.

To his surprise, Dr Kripa Sharma was a celebrity in this small town; every passerby was aware of 'Doctor sahiba's clinic.' For the first time in 24 hours, he felt a sense of warmth and pride when he heard her name on the streets. As they parked outside the small building, cautiously he stepped out; his heart had almost stopped beating when he saw her name outside the door. After paying the cabbie a handsome tip, he walked to the door. He was prepared to face her wrath, her anger, her bitterness- he deserved it.

After mustering some courage, he knocked at the door.

"Aap kaun?" a middle aged lady answered the door.

"Dr…K..Kripa Sharma hain? Main unka….wo….wo," he hesitated, "dost hoon….Mumbai se aaya hoon…..mera naam Dr Angad Khanna hai," he replied, disappointed to see an unfamiliar face at the door.

"Main Leela bai hoon……madam tho nahin hain."

"nahin hain?" his face fell.

"Jaipur gayi hain…..ek hafta ho gaya."

"Jaipur? Kyun?"

"Unke mama-papa aaye the ek hafte pehle…..unhein ilaaj ke liye le gaye hain."


"haan doctor sahib…..pata nahin kya hua hai madam ko…..unke mama aur papa bahut naaraaz the…..bahut daanta Dr Kripa ko…..aur phir le gaye unhein zabardasti….shayad koi badhi bimaari hai….tabhi tho Jaipur le gaye hain."

Angad swallowed hard and shut his eyes to hide the burning tears from his eyes. The only reassurance was that her parents were now aware and she was with them.

"Theek hai main jaipur jaata hoon," he turned around to leave, "lekin jaipur mein kahan gaye hain?"

"Sahib….wo tho pata nahin….lekin aap kal subah se pehle nahin jaa sakte," the housekeeper informed him.

"Kya? Kal subah? Nahin….mujhey abhi nikalna hoga."

"Sahib…shaam ko 9 baje ke baad curfew hai….wo Jaipur mein kuch din huye bomb chala tha na terrorists ka… se curfew hai sahib…..aap nahin jaa sakte!"

Angad clenched his teeth and fists in fury; it seemed that the whole world was conspiring against him.

"Aaj raat ko aap yahin reh lee jiye sahib…..itni raat ko curfew mein arrest kar lenge aapko."

Angad nodded and followed the lady. As he walked in, he felt a strange familiarity with the place. Even though Kripa was not there, she was omnipresent in the tiny house and the clinic attached to the house.

Dekho chhodke kis raste vo jaate hain
Saare raste vaapas mere dil ko aate hain

Nahin saamne
Nahin saamne ye alag baat hai
Nahin saamne ye alag baat hai
Mere paas hai
Mere paas hai tu mere paas hai
Mere paas hai tu mere paas hai
Mere saath hai mere saath hai

"Sahib…..aap guest room mein rahenge?"

"Nahin….main Dr Kripa ke room mein reh sakta hoon?"

The house keeper gave him a strange look but understood that this man was perhaps the same man Dr Kripa was in love with. Every so often, she had seen Kripa lost in her own thoughts. On probing, the best the housekeeper could extract from her was, "Leela bai….koi nahin hai….achcha baba…..hai koi…..lekin ab nahin hai,' she would say softly and shut herself in her dream world once again. Leela bai's experienced eyes had sensed that the beautiful, demure doctor had been in love and the pain in her eyes was a sign that Kripa had been hurt deeply by this 'hai koi….lekin ab nahin' man.

Angad caressed and touched every inch of her room. Her lab coat, neatly hung behind the door reminded him of the several days and nights they had spent together in the hospital, in the cafeteria, in the call room where he would often cuddle and kiss her fervently till she turned red. He picked the lab coat and inhaled her sweet fragrance, "tum nahin ho tho kya….tumhari khushboo tho mere andar samaayi huyi hai Kripa"

Tera naam maine liya hain yahaan
Mujhe yaad tune kiya hai vahaan
Tera naam maine liya hain yahaan
Mujhe yaad tune kiya hai vahaan
Bade zor ki aaj barsaat
Bade zor ki aaj barsaat
Mere paas hai tu mere paas hai
Mere paas hai tu mere paas hai
Mere saath hai mere saath hai

Kripa was everywhere in this room. All those lonely nights he had spent in his luxurious apartment on Juhu beach, vanished from his memory, as he lay down on her soft bed in these modest surroundings. He had saved enough money to buy a large house in Mumbai; something Damini and Naina would be envious and resentful of, but tonight it really did not matter to him whether he could prove a point to those two evil women from his past. At this moment, he was willing to give up everything he had, just to get a glimpse of the most important woman in his life. No one else mattered to him, except Kripa. He knew she still loved him and always would but would she forgive him?

Bichhad ki bhi mujhse juda to nahin
Khafa hai magar bewafa to nahin
Bichhad ki bhi mujhse juda to nahin
Khafa hai magar bewafa to nahin
Mere haath mein hi tera haath hai
Mere haath mein hi tera haath hai
Mere paas hai tu mere paas hai
Mere paas hai tu mere paas hai
Mere saath hai mere saath hai
Mere paas hai mere paas hai
Mere saath hai mere saath hai
Mere paas hai mere paas hai

"Doctor sahiba kahan hain? Doctor sahiba kahan hain?" A man's voice interrupted Angad's thoughts.

Angad walked out of the door and saw Leela bai consoling a man, "bhai….doctor sahiba tho nahin hain….paas mein Dr Mishra hain…wahan chale jao."

"Nahin….meri biwi pait se hai…..par shaam se hi bahut khoon beh raha hai…..uski jaan khatre mein hai….mere bachche aur biwi ko bacha lo Leela bai…..humein sirf Dr Kripa par bharosa hai….Dr Mishra tho makkar hai….sirf paise khaata hai….meri biwi ko sirf wo hi bacha sakti hain…..unhein bulado….jaldi bulado please…."

"Wo yahan nahin hain bhai….kitni baar kaha!" Leela bai was losing her patience.

"Ek second!" Angad intervened, 'kahan hai tumhari biwi?"

"bahar seedhi par hai….aap kaun sarkar?" the man asked.

"Main bhi doctor hoon….jaldi le aao apni biwi ko….main dekhta hoon." Angad commanded, "Leela bai… ke liye instruments kahan hain?"

"Jee doctor sahib….aaiye main dikhati hoon."

The man carried his bleeding wife in his arms to the clinic. Angad was touched to see how caring that man was towards his wife and how desperate he was to save her life. Never before had he empathized with a patient as much as he did that night; he knew this man could do anything to save his beloved's life and he would leave no stone unturned to help this man in his mission.

After an hour of anxious anticipation, Angad came out and gave the man good news, 'jao apni beti ko dekh lo….dono maa aur beti sahi salaamat hain….. khoon zyaada beh gaya tha….lekin tum sahi waqt par le aaye apni biwi ko…..wo theek o jaayegi jaldi….jao andar jao."

The man fell at Angad's feet, 'aap mere bhagwan hain sarkar…..aap ne meri biwi ko nahin….meri zindagi ko bachaya hai aaj……main usey bahut chaahta hoon….agar aaj usey kuch ho jaata tho main bhi zinda nahin reh paata…..bhagwan aapko apke maqsad mein kaamyaab kare doctor sahib…..aapki har manokaamna poori ho…….aapki fees?"

Angad almost choked with emotions after hearing the man's words and good wishes; he nodded gently and patted the man's shoulders, "fees tho tumne de di mujhey….mujhey aur kuch nahin chaahiye." He walked away without waiting for a response.

The man was startled at the response; this new doctor was certainly different from the neighborhood Dr Mishra who collected his fees even before the patient was seen. The man smiled and blessed Angad again, "Doctor sahib…..aap bhi Dr Kripa jaise nek insaan hain…..kaash aap dono yahan saath kaam kar sakein ek din."

Angad looked behind and nodded with a tearful smile, "haan….aisa hi hoga!"



Angad searched all possible clinics, nursing homes and hospitals in Jaipur, but there was no Kripa Sharma anywhere. By dusk, the cab driver was about to give up when Angad finally suggested, "yahan ka purana medical college hai SMS college…wahan dekh lein kya?"

"Sahib…wahan kaun jaata hai? Wo tho government hospital jaisa hai…..bahut bheed hogi wahan."

"Koi baat nahin dekh lete hain….jaisa kaha hai waisa hi karo!" Angad was tired, worn out but had not yet lost hope. It had been 48 hours since he had learnt about Kripa's illness; he had not showered, shaved or eaten anything in 2 days, but he was not willing to give up till he found her, 'Jaipur kitna hi bada kyun na ho…..mujhey tumse door nahin rakh sakta Kripa!" His resolution and hope to find her had become stronger since he had spent the night in Kishangarh. He had connected with Kripa in her absence like he had never before. Perhaps he had come to understand her better…who she was….what she wanted….and why she was so committed to her dream, 'shayad Kripa…is se pehle maine tumhara sirf bahari roop dekha tha…tumhari khubsoorati par fida tha main…...lekin ab jaan paaya hoon ki tumhara asli roop kya hai…..tumhare andar ki khubsoorati se ab waaqif huya hoon main……..I promise I will give you back all the happiness you deserve and fulfill all your dreams you have ever seen….."

Angad searched the wards of the crowded medical college. No one was able to help him as he kept getting the run around by the hospital staff.

A crestfallen Angad was about to leave this hospital too, when a familiar voice tapped his shoulder, "ANGAD! TUM JISE DHOONDH RAHE HO…..WO YAHIN HAI!"

He turned his head and was shocked to see the man standing in front of him.

With fury and rage written all over his face, Angad clenched his jaws and mumbled, "PRITHVI…TUM?"



Riddhima wrote down her final orders for the day, stretched her tired hands from writing and typing all day and heaved a sigh, 'another day….almost over!"

She put her files down and cursed her pager as it went off for the umpteenth time that day. It was the end of her 36 hour sleepless night call; she was ready to scream and was in no mood to answer any more calls. To her surprise, it was not the nurses in the ICU or the Bone marrow unit who were paging her, there was a message instead:


Riddhima was stunned; she turned red and thought it was probably a mistake- a wrong connection. She ignored the page and kept walking towards the elevator.

Her pager went off again.


She was shocked; she looked around to see if anyone was playing a prank, but could not see anyone suspicious. Her heart was racing as she stepped into the elevator. She had heard of a resident who had recently been stalked by a man on the campus. He had been finally caught by the police, 'tho yeh kaun ho sakta hai? Mere saath kyun pranks kar raha hai?"

A frightened Riddhima stepped out on the first floor to exit the hospital. As she walked towards the train station, her pager went off again…


Riddhima was panicking by now but did not show any outward signs of fear in the train. She remained vigilant throughout the train ride and decided to call Rahul and Muskaan once she was off the train.

As she walked towards her apartment, she recalled Armaan's words, "Riddhima…tum itni darpok kyun ho?"

She resolved that she would be brave and face her fears instead of seeking help and shelter, "aakhir kya kar lega yeh stalker? Main kisi se nahin darrti! I am brave girl now!" She talked to herself and gathered some courage as she turned the lights on to her apartment. She shut the door tight and sighed with relief. Once inside, she was safe; the prankster could do nothing now. She was exhausted and was ready to jump into bed after a quick shower.

She took off her clothes and was about to jump into the shower when her pager went off again….


She was petrified; she threw on a bathrobe and picked her phone to call the police. As she tiptoed into her living room, she saw her hamper full of tennis balls and her racquet in the corner. She was yet to take any tennis lessons, but the equipment could come handy if the stalker was actually waiting outside her door. She remembered how Armaan had rolled his tennis balls towards her and managed to sprain her foot on the very first day of internship. She was going to use his trick, she thought.


Riddhima's heart stopped at the sound of the knock. Out of nowhere, she had a surge of confidence and the desire to face this perpetrator on her own. She called the police and kept her phone down. Instead of waiting for the police to arrive, she held the racquet with both hands and stood behind the door.


She unlatched the door and toppled the hamper full of tennis balls towards the door.

As soon as the door flew open, a man slipped on the rolling tennis balls and screamed 'AHHHHH'

Riddhima pounded the man with her racquet; the man's face was hidden in his arms.

"RIDDHIMA! RIDDHIMA! BAS KARO YAAR!" The man cried, "maar daala!"

Riddhima was stunned; she stopped hitting him and squinted her eyes to recognize the muffled voice and hidden face. Before she could figure out, the man had pulled her over him; the tennis balls made her lose her balance as she rolled over him and landed on his outstretched body.

Riddhima looked up and saw the familiar be-dimpled smile and blue eyes greet her lovingly.

"Mujhey nahin pata tha America mein guests ko aise welcome kiya jaata hai….no wonder the rest of the world hates America!" Armaan chuckled.

She was still in a state of disbelief and shock. Her body pressed against his as they lay amongst the scattered balls on the floor.

"But I don't mind this part," Armaan winked at her as she became conscious of their relative positions.

"FREEZE!" The cops had arrived but were amused to see a lady in a bath robe lying on top of a handsome Indian man.

The cop frowned and then withdrew his gun as he did not see any signs of resistance from the woman who lay on top of the man.

"Everything alright?" the cop asked.

Armaan winked at the cop and smiled, 'she is just a bit excited to see me…..we are fine officer…thanks for checking."

An embarrassed Riddhima gathered her now loosely tied bathrobe and got up, "thanks officer…we are fine….he is my…my friend from India…..thanks again….you need not worry."

The cops left with raised eyebrows. As they walked down, one of them uttered, "hey I like the way Indians welcome their guests."

The other cop replied, 'man….don't you know….India is the land of the kamasutra…I guess that's what they teach in schools there!"

"Hey…we were born in the wrong country man!" the cop chuckled.

"ARMAAAAN!" Riddhima was finally aware of her surroundings. She tied her robe securely and threw the balls at him one by one. Armaan ducked behind a sofa and yelled, 'bilkul badli nahin ho Riddhima…..kum se kum yeh balls surgical missiles se tho safe hain.'

Riddhima stopped throwing the balls and burst out in laughter; she remembered the incident in Sanjeevgarh when she had attacked Armaan with the surgical instruments. She had not laughed like this in two years. Armaan got up and could not help admiring her beautiful face glowing with her sweet laughter. She had tears in her eyes as she tried to control her hysterical fits. Slowly, Armaan walked towards her and stood in front of her, absorbing the most beautiful sight in front of him.

Riddhima wiped her tears and stopped laughing. They gazed into each other's eyes without saying a word. Unspoken words said volumes as they were lost in an eye lock….

Tum bin jaoon kahan
Tum bin jaaoon kahan - 2
Ke duniya mein aake
Kuch na phir chaaha sanam tumko chaahke
Tum bin, ay, jaaoon kahan
Ke duniya mein aake
Kuch na phir chaaha sanam tumko chaahke
Tum bin
Dekho mujhe sar se kadam tak, sirf pyaar hoon main
Gale se laga lo ke tumhaara beqaraar hoon main
Tum kya jaano ke bhatakta phira kis kis gali
Tumko chaahke
Tum bin, ay, jaaoon kahan
Ke duniya mein aake
Kuch na phir chaaha sanam tumko chaahke
Tum bin
Reh bhi sakoge tum kaise hoke mujhse judaa
Phat jaayegi deewaarein sunke meri sada
Aana hoga tumhe mere liye saathi meri
Sooni raah ke
Tum bin jaaoon kahan - 2
Ke duniya mein aake
Kuch na phir chaaha sanam tumko chaahke
Tum bin jaaoon kahan
Ke duniya mein aake
Kuch na phir chaaha sanam tumko chaahke
Tum bin

"Kyun kiya aisa Armaan?" she asked softly. She grabbed his collar and shook him vigorously, "kyun itni badi saza di mujhey? Bolo kyun? Mujhey kyun akela chhod gaye? Pata hai kya haal hua tha mera? Ek zinda laash ki tarah jee rahi hoon 2 saal se…..ek baar bhi….ek baar bhi khabar li tumne? Kya yahi tha pyaar tumhara? Meri ek galti ki itni badhi sazaa?" She started sobbing and trembling as her pent up emotions received an outlet after all those months.

Armaan held her hands and pulled her closer, "main bhi kahan jiya hoon in 2 saalon mein Riddhima?" He had tears in his eyes, "sirf yaadon ke sahare hi saans leta raha hoon….I am sorry Riddhima…..ab aisa kabhie nahin hoga…..ab main aa gaya hoon….hamesha hamesha ke liye tumhare paas…..mujhey apni galti ka ehsaas ho gaya hai ab."

Riddhima could not hold herself anymore; she collapsed in his arms and bawled like a little girl. Armaan held her tightly and caressed her back tenderly, "I love you Riddhima…..and always will…..shayad main apne pyaar mein bahut possessive ho gaya tha……tumhara pyaar kise se baantna nahin chaahta tha……yahan tak tumhare papa se bhi threatened feel karne lagaa tha…..yeh meri bhool thi Riddhima…..main jaanta hoon tum bhi mujhse utna hi pyaar karti ho jitna main tumse karta hoon…..ab kabhie tumhare pyaar par shaq nahin karoonga."

"Promise?" she cried on his chest, soaking his shirt with her tears.

"Promise," he nodded and then chuckled mischievously, "pehla pehla pyaar tha na…..galti ho gayi…..ab doosri baar pyaar karoonga na tho yeh galti nahin karoonga!"

"ARMAAAAN!" Riddhima punched him with her little fists, 'tum bhi bilkul badle nahin ho! Waise hi sataate rehte ho mujhey!"

"Achcha tumhein pasand nahin hai tho main serious ho jaata hoon," he frowned.

"Nahin…theek hai…sataate raho mujhey…..achcha lagta hai," she blushed and hid her face in his chest once again.

Armaan lifted her chin and bent down gently. His hands reached for the tie on her bathrobe as his lips descended on hers. She groaned with pleasure as his fingers crawled under the silken robe on her bare skin; his lips savored her sweet petals as the two lovers tasted each other after two long years of separation. He lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bedroom…..

….to be contd….


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