Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Part 1 & 2 : Chance Encounter


Part 1

 Riddhima ran a frustrated hand through her hair and took a sip of her coffee. That was like the 10th cup of coffee she had that day but it wasn't helping much. She had to finish the report by the end of her shift and it was already 1 a.m. Great! So she had just under 7 hours to complete the report, provided she didn't fall asleep or wasn't called on an emergency.

"God please! Please don't let there be an emergency tonight," Riddhima offered up a silent prayer.

"Beep'.beep!" Her pager beeped, 'Report to OT,stat!'

Riddhima made a face," Thank You, Mr. God, thank you so much!" She gulped down the rest of her coffee, grabbed her stethoscope and ran towards the OT. As she entered the OT side-room she saw Dr. Subhankar dressed in his scrubs trying desperately to explain something to a man clutching onto his arm. The man, she noticed was quite tall, well built and for a second she thought that maybe Dr. Subhankar was being attacked. She was wondering whether to call security or not when Dr. Subhankar noticed her standing at the door.


   "Ah, Dr. Gupta, I am glad that you are here. This is Mr. Mallik and I was hoping'"

 Before Dr. Subhankar could finish what he was saying, Mr. Mallik left him and hurried towards Riddhima.

   "Dr. Gupta, you have to come with me. Gappu is sick and I don't know what to do. Please," and before she could say anything he grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the OT. Riddhima didn't protest as he led her out of the hospital, not that it would have made any difference even if she had protested. The man looked so determined that he could probably convince an entire army platoon to follow him, without so much as a raised eyebrow.

She smiled to herself as he opened the passenger door of a black Mercedes for her and then moved to the driver's seat. Her one and half years experience was enough to teach her that when a loved one is sick, people generally do not remember or follow social norms. The situation becomes a hundred times worse if you are a paediatrician and the ill person in question is a child. The parents just don't know what they are doing. She had experienced similar situations a number of times but being dragged out of the hospital at 1 am was definitely a first.

    Mr. Mallik was driving quietly with his attention on the road. After about 15 minutes, Riddhima decided that she'd better ask what was wrong with Mr. Mallik's son so that she could be prepared.

" Umm'Mr. Mallik? What exactly is wrong with your son?"

Mr. Mallik looked at her as if he had suddenly realized that she was sitting in the car. He looked at her for a moment then turning towards the road again replied, "Gappu is not my son, he is my nephew. He threw up a couple of times since he came back from school and is now running a fever."

   Yes, just like she had expected, a minor case of stomach infection and the parents or as in this case the guardian goes ballistic. She shook her head and smiled.

   "So is it serious?" Riddhima turned to see Mr. Mallik looking very anxious.

   " Erm'what? I am sorry?" Riddhima asked.

   " Gappu. Is he serious? You were shaking your head, do you think its something bad?"

   " No Mr. Mallik. I don't think it is anything too bad. Probably just a simple case of stomach infection. I'll be sure when I see him though."

   "Great..we've reached, now you can be sure."

 Riddhima saw him driving into the driveway of a huge mansion and she looked in awe at the imposing structure. "God, these people are like filthy rich," she thought.

  Mr. Mallik stopped the car in front of the entrance to the mansion and she stepped out. The house was like something cut out of a Lifestyle magazine and she just had enough time to appreciate the dcor when she was ushered upstairs to presumably where Gappu was.

   Mr. Mallik opened the door of a room which could only have belonged to a child. The room was painted a bright blue with life size cut-outs of cartoon characters painted on the walls. Tintin, Asterix, Popeye, Dexter and a host of other characters. No girlie characters though, Riddhima noted with a grin. There were huge shelves filled with books and toys and in the middle of the room was a huge bed shaped like a car on which lay a boy of about 10. You didn't have to be a genius to figure out that he was Gappu. The entire household help seemed to be gathered around the bed but she was surprised as she noted the absence of any family member. She told herself to wonder about that later and moved toward Gappu's bed.

   " Gappu, this is Dr. Gupta she is here to do your check up," Mr. Mallik said, introducing Riddhima.

    Riddhima politely asked everyone crowding around the bed to leave as she checked on the patient and then turned towards Gappu and smiled.

  " Hey, Gappu'how are you doing?"

  Gappu didn't return the smile, infact he looked positively hostile. "Not everybody is allowed to call me by that name it is only those I' "

  " Shut up, Gappu!" Mr. Mallik interrupted, "Stop with all your nonsense and let Dr. Gupta check you."

   "It is okay Mr. Mallik, let me talk to him," Riddhima said and again turned towards Gappu. " I am sorry. What would you like me to address you by?"

   Gappu was a bit taken aback by her formal tone but replied nevertheless, " My name is Gaurav Joshi. You can call me Gaurav."

   " Thank you Mr. Gaurav, and now can you tell me how you are feeling? Your uncle told me you have fever and you threw up twice.."

   " Thrice," Gappu interrupted, " I threw up thrice."

   " Okay," Riddhima nodded, " I stand corrected. Now can you please open your mouth wide so that I may check your throat?"

    Gappu opened his mouth and the check up went on after that without a hitch. After making a thorough checkup, Riddhima was satisfied. It was just like what she had thought initially. A minor stomach infection which was also the cause of the fever. She wrote down the names of a couple medicines on a slip of paper and handed it to Mr. Mallik.

    " Do not worry, Mr. Mallik, it is just stomach infection. I have prescribed an antibiotic and a common digestive enzyme. You might have these at home itself."

   " I don't know about that, its better that I just get them from the corner medicine shop," saying this he went out of the room hurriedly, leaving Gappu and Riddhima.

   " Will I be alright Dr. Gupta?" Riddhima saw Gappu looking at her with a serious face.

" Yes, Mr. Gaurav, as soon as you have the medicines you'll be fit as a fiddle." The idiom was lost on Gappu and he still looked serious. Riddhima reframed her sentence, "You'll be perfectly alright. You just have a minor infection, probably because of something you had outside."

 Gappu looked down. 'Guilty as charged!'

 Riddhima smiled, "So what is it, that you had outside?"

 Gappu looked up, guilt shining in his large brown eyes. "Please Dr. Gupta, don't tell mama, I promised to him that I won't have outside food. He will get really mad and won't give me another rupee of pocket money for as long as I live!"

  Riddhima wanted to laugh out at his exaggerated comment but managed to keep a straight face. "Fine, I won't tell your mama but first you have to tell me what it is that you had, and also, you must stop calling me Dr. Gupta. Call me Riddima didi instead."

  "You promise na, Riddhima didi?" Gappu still looked in doubt.

  "Cross my heart and hope to die."

  Gappu smiled atlast and with a mischievous grin confessed his sin, "Bhelpuri, outside school."

   "Hmm.. Bhelpuri..tough to resist! You know, many a times we feel like doing things even though we know it is wrong, but we always have a choice and that's what make us what we are'our choices! Besides you also promised to your mama and one should always keep their promises. You think that your mama will get angry if he finds out, but you know what, more than being angry, he is going to feel sad that you broke his trust. Would you like that? "

   Gappu looked really ashamed. He shook his head and said, "I am sorry." Riddhima decided that he had learnt his lesson and let him off the hook.

   "It is okay, Gappu, but don't break anyone's trust again."

   "I won't, I promise," Gappu said earnestly.

  "Even if it is bhelpuri?" Riddhima inquired.

   Gappu didn't answer, he seemed to be in a dilemma. After a couple of seconds he looked up, "I really like bhelpuri'" He left the sentence unfinished.

   "Hmm..let's see, what if I make you a deal? You won't have outside food and I'll get you home made bhelpuri tomorrow when I come to see you. I'll also teach your cook how to make bhelpuri which you can have anytime you want and it won't make you sick. What say?"

   This time Gappu didn't hesitate, "You'll do that? Wow! Deal!"

   Riddhima smiled and shook hands with Gappu, " Deal!"

   "But Riddhima didi, please don't tell mama about'"

"Tell me what?" Mr. Mallik asked as he entered the room. Riddhima and Gappu looked at each other and but didn't answer. "Tell me what?" Mr. Mallik repeated, looking from Riddhima to Gappu and back.

   Finally Riddhima answered, "Nothing Mr. Mallik, its just about a medicine and besides its just between Gaurav and me!"

   It seemed that Mr. Mallik was going to protest but he looked at Riddhima for a moment and let the topic pass. "Okay, not a problem. Dr. Gupta, here are the medicines you prescribed."

 Gappu heaved a sigh of relief and gave Riddhima a grateful smile.

 Riddhima took the medicines from Mr. Mallik, made Gappu have a couple of them and then laying him down tucked him in. "Good night Gaurav, sleep tight and I'll come to see you tomorrow."

  "Umm..ah..Riddhima didi..?"

  "Yes, Gaurav?"

  "You can call me Gappu!" Gappu smiled sweetly.

  Riddhima returned the smile, "Good night Gappu."

  "Good night Riddhima didi, good night mama," saying this Gappu turned on his side and closed his eyes.

  Mr. Mallik ran a hand over Gappu's head and whispered good night. His affection for his nephew was hard to miss. He switched off the light and Riddhima and he walked out of the room. As soon as they were outside Riddhima found Mr. Mallik looking at her, his head tilted, a vaguely questioning expression on his face.

   "He let you call him Gappu? He never does that so soon. Are you a magician or something?"

     Riddhima smiled, "I am a paediatrician Mr. Mallik, we have to have a way with children."

    "Hmm..I can see that! You are awesome!!"

    Riddhima looked up suddenly blushing slightly. ( 'Oh my God'did he just call me awesome? Awesome as in'as in awesome?! What exactly did he mean by awesome?')

    "I mean, you are an awesome doctor," Mr. Mallik corrected himself, "You are really good at your job."

      ('Awesome Doctor? So that's all that he meant' damn!') "Thank You," Riddhima replied quietly.

    Mr. Mallik seemed to judge her for a moment, but before she could feel uncomfortable he smiled. Riddhima  thought, or rather knew for sure that it was like the best smile she had seen ..ever. She noticed that when he smiled there was a dimple on his right cheek and his eyes twinkled giving him an irresistible boyish charm. She also realized for the first time how handsome he really is. Something out of a Mills and Boon fantasy. And he just called me an 'awesome doctor'. Damn..damn..damn!!

   "Dr. Gupta, are you alright?" Mr. Mallik looked concerned and Riddhima realized that she had been staring at him for God knows how long. (Dr. Riddhima Gupta ..you are a 24 year old doctor'for God's sake..get a grip on yourself!!)

  "Yeah, I am alright, I was just thinking'"

  Mr. Mallik still looked at her skeptically.

  "Umm'.about a patient, not important'I mean'important for the patient but not just now,here.." Riddhima tried to explain. ( 'Right'now keep babbling so that he thinks you need psychiatric help. Shut up you idiot!!') Listening to her better judgement Riddhima stopped trying to explain and kept quiet.

   Mr. Mallik seemed to sense her discomfort, smiled and said, "Well, lucky patient!"

  ('Lucky patient? Now what the hell does that mean?) Riddhima decided to stop analyzing.

By that time, Mr. Mallik and Riddhima had reached downstairs, one of the many house hold help that Riddhima had seen earlier came towards them, "Armaan baba, doctor didiji  ke liye kuch'?"

  "Oh I am so sorry," Mr. Mallik's hospitality kicked in, "I was so worried about Gappu, I forgot ask. Dr. Gupta, can I get you something? Tea, coffee'?"

   "No, no Mr. Mallik. Thank you. I don't want to be any trouble."

   "No trouble at all Dr. Gupta, Mohan bhaiyya will get'"

   "No thank you Mr. Mallik. I am fine. Thank You." Riddhima nodded at Mohan Bhaiyya with a smile.

   "Dr. Gupta, you came all the way here to check Gappu, I wish I could do something for you'"

   "Well, Mr. Mallik, actually..there is something you can do for me," Riddhima looked a bit sheepish.

   "Anything Dr. Gupta, I'll be glad to help you."

   "Umm..well..it is quite embarrassing really," Riddhima said, looking down and fiddling with her stethoscope. "Erm'I am really bad at geography!" Riddhima looked up to find Mr. Mallik looking at her clearly surprised at her statement.

  "I mean..I am terrible at recognizing roads and when you brought me here..i didn't recognize. I mean, I have absolutely no idea where I am!" Riddhima finally confessed. "Mr. Mallik, I'll be really grateful if you could call for a taxi to take me back to the hospital. Please."

Mr. Mallik's face remained impassive. Riddhima didn't  know why but she felt that he was laughing at her. There was no trace of a smile on his face but his eyes seemed to twinkle.

   When he didn't answer, Riddhima continued earnestly, " I didn't want to be a bother but it would really help me out."

    "I am sorry Dr. Gupta, but I can't do that."

 Riddhima was surprised at his response but took it in her stride. "It's okay Mr. Mallik, not a problem. I,I'll manage. Good night." She turned around to leave.

   "Dr. Gupta, I said I was not going to call for a taxi because I cannot possibly let you leave alone. I brought you here and I am going to drop you back myself!"

   Riddhima stopped in tracks and then turned around to protest vehemently. "No Mr. Mallik, you do not have to do that. Just call a taxi for me'.I'll go on my own."

  'Did the man ever listen?' Riddhima wondered as Mr. Mallik led her to the car not paying the slightest heed to her protests. He opened the door for her and waited patiently for her to get in. Riddhima finally gave in and sat in the car. When they were seated, he started the car.

 After they had driven out of the gates, Riddhima turned towards Mr. Mallik and said gratefully. "Thank you, Mr, Mallik..this is very considerate of you. Thank you."

 Mr. Mallik looked at her and smiled, "I am not being considerate Dr. Gupta, I brought you here and it is my responsibility to take you back safely."

  'Handsome and a gentleman'did they make men like him anymore?' Riddhima wondered. "Yeah..but still.Thank you, Mr. Mallik!"

   This time Mr. Mallik grinned'an amazingly boyish grin, "Are you always this polite Dr. Gupta? You sound just like my secretary, and each time you call me Mr. Mallik  it feels like I am being late for a board meeting. Scares the hell out of me. If you don't mind Dr. Gupta, call me Armaan, I like that name."

  Riddhima laughed, "Fine, Armaan! But on one condition. You have to call me Riddhima. Each time you call me Dr. Gupta it feels like my father is seating in the backseat and you are talking to him!"

  Armaan smiled, "Done!"

  "So your father is a doctor too?" Armaan asked.

  "Yeah. Both my parents are doctors. Gynaecologists."

  " Three doctors under one roof? Two gynaecologists and a paediatrician? Oooh..that's almost like a small hospital," Armaan said with a grin.

  Riddhima smiled, "You grossly underestimate us Mr. Mallik. It is not three, but five doctors. My brother Rahul and Muskaan bhabi are doctors too. Rahul bhaiyya is a cardiac surgeon and Bhabi is a neurologist."

 Armaan lifted both his hands, palm up and bowed his head as a sign of surrender.

 Riddhima laughed at his actions and said, "Well, it's not really that bad. We do have talks sometimes which have nothing to do with medicine and once in a while we do have visitors who are neither sick nor doctors!!"

"Yeah..I am sure," Armaan rolled his eyes and laughed.

  Riddhima decided that she really liked his laugh,deep and heartfelt! Makes you want to laugh with him too. She smiled and slapping his arm playfully, said in defence, "No seriously Armaan, its not that bad. We hardly ever talk about anything related to the hospital at home. Papa and Rahul bhaiyya are like walking, talking encyclopaedias of cricket and football. I think they have watched every game ever played. Infact bhaiyya has this entire collection of DVDs of Maradona's games that even Bhabi is not allowed to touch. Bhabi on the other hand is a complete movie buff. She can recite entire movies, dialogue by dialogue. You should see her do a Shahrukh Khan impersonation, she is absolutely hilarious. And Mumma'she has her hands full trying to control our crazy family, and is cribbing all the time, but we all know that taking care of her family is what she loves the most. It's great fun." Riddhima stopped abruptly as she realized that Armaan was looking at her with a slight smile. 'Oh my God, I am babbling again,' she thought.

   "I am sorry Armaan, you must be getting really bored," Riddhima said, slightly embarrassed.

   "I am not bored at all Riddhima. It was great hearing about your family. It sounds like you all are very close."

    Riddhima sighed, "Yeah, we are, that's why I miss them so much."

    Armaan looked at her, "Miss them?"

    Riddhima smiled, "Yeah, they are all in Kolkata. I came here to complete my post graduation."

     "Oh, but why didn't you complete your post graduation in Kolkata?"

     "Are you crazy? In Kolkata I was always treated as a kid. Dr. Shashank Gupta & Dr. Padma Gupta's daughter, Dr. Rahul Gupta's baby sister,no one ever took me seriously! I realized that if I really have to be a good doctor, I needed to do it on my own. That is why I came so far away to Mumbai Sanjeevani. Here atleast, people didn't judge me by my family. Here I get to be myself, just Dr. Riddhima Gupta!"

  Armaan stopped the car and looked at her. Riddhima realized that they had reached the hospital. She was about to get out of the car when Armaan said almost in a whisper, " I am very glad that you came to Mumbai, Dr. Riddhima Gupta. I really am!!"
....................................................

Part 2

  Armaan didn't know why he said that, but it sounded so right. He really was glad that Riddhima had come to Mumbai, he was really glad that she was on duty tonight and he was really glad that he got to meet her. She had this easy familiarity about her, a warmth that put you at ease instantly, an undeniable charm and along with all that she had to be one of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Armaan watched her look at him with a slightly dubious look and for a second he wondered if she was angry at him but she put all his worries to rest as she smiled and said, "Me too!"

    Riddhima opened the door and stepped out. Closing the door she turned around to thank Armaan. "Thanks again Armaan!"

"You are welcome again Riddhima!" Armaan said with a grin and Riddhima couldn't help but grin back.

"Umm...Riddhima?"

"Yeah?"

"When do I come to pick you up tomorrow?"

For a minute Riddhima didn't know what he was talking about and then it all came rushing back to her. Gappu.....check up'..tomorrow!

"Oh, you don't have to pick me up Armaan, you just give me your address, I'll catch a cab or something. It won't be a problem'"

 Armaan listened to her tirade patiently and for the second time that day Riddhima realized that you couldn't talk Armaan out of anything, and for the second time that day, she gave up.

  "Pick me up at around six, if it's not a problem," Riddhima said, sighing.

  Armaan smiled like a kid who had got his way and said, "Six it is! Right here, in front of the gates, okay?"

  Riddhima smiled, "Okay!"

  "Great, see you tomorrow. Good night."

  Riddhima grimaced, "Good night?! Armaan, I still have around 4 hrs of duty left, along with a case study. Unfortunately, nothing too good about it. I hope atleast you have a good night."

  Armaan smiled sympathetically and said, "Fine, take care then!"

  Riddhima nodded, "You too," and waved as Armaan drove out of the hospital gates. She moved towards Dr. Subhankar's cabin smiling to her self, surprised at how much she was looking forward to the next day.

  Armaan on the other hand was driving back home. He caught a glimpse of himself in the rear view mirror and found that he was grinning. It was long time since he had smiled for no apparent reason and it felt great. He was replaying the past two and half hours in his mind in minute details and he remembered how Riddhima smiled, how she kept putting loose, disturbing strands of hair behind her ears, he remembered how happy she looked talking about her family. He laughed out loud when he remembered how cute she looked trying to convince him that she could go back to the hospital herself. She was such a contradiction. One minute she was this efficient, in-control doctor and the next minute she was like a petulant kid. She was probably the only woman in the universe who in the same breath could talk about the idiosyncrasies of her family and also her dreams of being a good doctor. He had never met anyone like her. He looked at himself in the rear-view mirror, ran a hand through his hair, smiled and said to himself,

 "Guess I was hanging around with the wrong crowd!"



      The next day dawned bright and warm. Armaan woke up with a smile on his face. He dressed quickly and went to wake up Gappu. Last night he had decided to let Gappu miss school that day to give him some rest and so when he entered Gappu's room he found him sleeping peacefully. Armaan checked Gappu's forehead and finding it at normal temperature couldn't help the naughty urge to irritate Gappu. He slipped into Gappu's bed and pulled him into the crook of his arm. He tickled Gappu lightly and finding him getting irritated grinned naughtily. Armaan tickled Gappu again and this time Gappu opened his eyes a fraction of a centimeter. He looked up at Armaan grinning and snuggled back into his arms.

  "Rise and shine, Mr. Gappu!"

  "Lemme sleep na Mama! Holiday!" Gappu mumbled.

  "It's already 10 o'clock Mr. Gappu."

"But I am sick!"

"You are perfectly alright. Get up and let's have some breakfast. It's a beautiful day!"

Gappu sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes groggily. He then surveyed Armaan with a watchful eye and commented, "You look way too happy for 10 o'clock in the morning. Are you alright? Don't you have to go to the office today?"

  Armaan grinned, ruffled Gappu's hair and got up from the bed. He picked the basket ball lying near the bed and executed a perfect basket in the hoop on the other side of the room! He bowed to Gappu and left the room singing, "It's a beautiful day!"

  Gappu rolled his eyes in disbelief and got out of bed. Armaan mama was good fun most of the time but not at 10 am and definitely not on a weekday! 'Something is definitely wrong!'

  Gappu got dressed and proceeded downstairs for breakfast. He could hear Armaan laughing with Mohan bhaiyya as he entered the dining room.

"Ah, Mr. Gappu. Welcome! What do you want for breakfast?"

"French toast..?" Gappu stated tentatively.

"French toast it is! Mohan bhaiyya get Gappu and me some French toasts please."

 Mohan bhaiyya and Gappu looked at each other. Gappu shrugged indicating that he was clueless about the reason behind Armaan's cheerfulness.

 "Umm..Armaan baba?" Mohan bhaiyya tried to put in a word, " woh actually Gappu baba was sick yesterday, don't you think we should not give him French toasts?"

 "Rubbish, Gappu is perfectly alright and besides Riddhima said'," Armaan stopped himself on seeing two pairs of eyes staring at him incredulously. He cleared his throat and said, "I mean Dr. Riddhima said that Gappu is alright and she is a very good doctor. She is a fabulous doctor. She is'" Armaan stopped himself again as he saw the two pairs of eyes watching him grow wider. "I mean, it's okay Mohan bhaiyya, just get us some French toasts, I'll see that Gappu doesn't  have too many of them. Okay?"

"Okay, Armaan baba."

Armaan grinned at Gappu and reached out to ruffle his hair. Gappu reacted, "Not the hair, Mama!" and tried to re-arrange it.

"Not the hair, Mama!" Armaan mimicked and then laughed. "Okay, Mr. Gappu, not the hair!"

Gappu watched with disbelieving eyes as Armaan took two spoons and pretended to play the drums on the table. He kept singing "It's a beautiful day" intermittently. His orchestra was interrupted when his cell phone rang. He handed over his drumsticks'cum-spoon to Gappu and picked up his phone.

"Helllloooo? Oh, hi Shikha! How's life? How's everything at office? Sikha? Helloo'you there?Yeah..its me Armaan. Everything okay at the office front?.....Great! No Sikha, I don't think I am coming today'spending today with Gappu. Let me know if you need me. Take care..toodleloo!! "

Armaan disconnected the phone and found Gappu staring at him, his mouth open with wonder.

 "What? Why are you staring at me like that Gappu?"

"Toodleloo? Did you just say Toodleloo? Toodleloo.... to your secretary?"

Armaan shrugged nonchalantly, "Yeah,so?"

"And you said that you are not going to go to office today?"

"Yep,and I am spending the entire day with you!" Armaan reached out to ruffle Gappu's hair and stopped midway, "Oh, sorry, not the hair!!"

"Mama? Are you sure, you are spending the entire day at home?"

"Yep..absolutely!"

"And what do you plan to do the whole day?"

Armaan seemed to consider for a moment and then shrugged, "I dunno,you say. Maybe we could rent a video and then I could challenge you to a game of Delta Force. The loser has to do 5 things that the winner demands!! What say?"

Gappu let the spoons he was holding drop to the table. He pushed back his chair and got up.

"Gappu? Where are you going?"

"Erm..Armaan Mama'.ummm'I'll Just be back!" said Gappu and raced upstairs to his room. He plonked himself on his bed, took the cordless phone out of the stand and dialed an overseas number. After a couple of rings a sleepy voice answered.

"Hello?"

"Hello..Mumma?"

"Gappu? Gappu are you alright? Where is Armaan? Isn't it a school day? Why are you not at school? Gappu tell me if'."

"Mumma,I did it."

"Huh? You did it? What did you do?"

"Mumma, you keep telling me that I can drive anyone crazy. Well, I think you are right. I have done it.I think I have driven Armaan mama crazy!"

"What? What rubbish! Put Armaan on the phone."

"No Mumma..seriously! Armaan  Mama has been singing since morning and he bunked office and he.."



   On the other end of the phone Gappu could hear his parents talking.

"Atul,get up. It's Gappu on the phone..he thinks that Armaan has gone mad!"

"Armaan? Mad? What are you talking about?"

"Gappu says that Armaan has bunked office and is singing since morning. Atul'do something."

"Hmm'Anjali, ask Gappu what song Armaan has been singing."

"What difference would that make?"

"It makes a lot of difference, give me the phone, let me talk to Gappu. Gappu? What song has Armaan Mama been singing?"

"It's a beautiful day!" Gappu informed his father.

"And is it a beautiful day?" Atul asked.

Though thousands of miles apart, but Anjali and Gappu, at both ends of the phone had the exact same re-action. They both rolled their eyes and sighed in exasperation. Atul had a talent for asking the weirdest of questions!

"I don't know Dad. I was too busy with Armaan mama, didn't really have the time to check!"

"Then check now Gappu and tell me. I'."

"Oh, shut up Atul. Give me the phone." Anjali snatched the phone away. "Gappu, please put Armaan on the phone. I am really worried, I need to talk to him."

"Just a sec..Mumma. I'll take the phone downstairs, but please don't tell mama about what I told you. You know, about him being mad and all.."

"Okay, but put Armaan online."

  Gappu took the phone and went downstairs.

As soon as Armaan saw him he said, "Gappu'.where were you? Are you alright? You didn't throw up or anything? Did you?"

"No mama, I am alright."

"Great. Riddhima said you'd be alright. Come here, French toasts are served!"

"Umm'Armaan mama'.Mumma is on the phone, she wants to talk to you," Gappu said handing over the phone.

Armaan took the phone with a wide smile, "Hey Di !! How's my favourite sister?"

"Armaan, I am your only sister!"

"Yeah.. I know, and I love you!"

"Armaan, are you alright?"

"Never better, after all 'It's a beautiful day'!"

"I know,I heard!!"

"You heard?"

"Yeah, Gappu told me. He also told me that you bunked office and have been singing since morning. Why did you bunk office?"

"Oh, come on Di ! I am 25 years 8 months old, stop treating me like a kid. I didn't go to office because I wanted to spend the day with my favourite nephew. Quit worrying."

"And why didn't Gappu go to school today?"

"Simple, because he wanted to spend the day with me," said Armaan and laughed at his own joke. However seeing no response from the other side stifled the laugh hurriedly.

"Armaan?"

"Fine.Gappu had a little stomach upset yesterday so I thought he should take the day off."

"Gappu had a stomach upset? Why didn't you tell me? Is he alright? Did you get Subhankar uncle to check him? Did '.."

"Di! Gappu is perfectly alright. Subhankar uncle was busy yesterday so he sent Riddhima'I mean Dr. Riddhima Gupta. She is a great doctor and she will come again today evening to check on Gappu."

"Are you sure Gappu is alright?"

"Perfectly!"

"Okay'.but still, when the doctor comes please give me a call. I want to talk to her personally."

"Done. Sis! Where's Atul bhaiyya? Put him on."

"Atul has gone back to sleep sitting up! He's had a long day."

Armaan laughed, "Okay Di'.talk to you later! Love you!"

"Love you too. Give the phone to Gappu, I hadn't said good bye"

Gappu took the phone from Armaan, "Mumma?"

"Beta, don't worry. Armaan sounded alright but do me a favour and keep an eye on him. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Thanks.  Love you."

"Love you too. Tell dad I love him."

"I'll tell him. Bye."

"Bye."

Gappu disconnected the phone and saw Armaan smiling at him affectionately.

"So, Mr. Gappu? You done? May we attack our French toasts now?"

Gappu nodded sitting down in front of his plate and Armaan and he 'attacked' the French toasts.



Mia

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