Wednesday, 3 October 2018

part 45 : To Err is Human

RECAP: ARMAAN: (stunned and speechless stood with the phone in front of a sleepy but curious Riddhima) Main aa raha hoon Angad……I will be there as soon as possible…..yaar tu fikar mat kar…..meri behen ko kuch nahin hoga…

"Armaan? Angad se baat kar rahe ho? Kya hua? Kripa kp kya hua?" Riddhima interjected his conversation; the grave expression on his face worried her.

"Yeh le Riddhima se baat kar," a solemn Armaan handed her the phone and turned his face away. Angad's words were yet to sink in; his head still reeled from sleep deprivation, time zone changes and his heartfelt conversation with his friend.

"Angad! Kripa kahan hai? Kya hua usey?" the panic in her voice was palpable on both ends of the phone line.

"Kuch nahin hua Kripa ko…..yeh tho Angad ne khaam kha shor machaa rakha hai…..mujhey apne saath Mumbai le jaana jo chaahta hai," Kripa had walked into Angad's room by now and after overhearing the conversation, had snatched the phone, once she realized he was talking to Armaan.

"Kripaaa!" tears of joy rolled down Riddima's eyes after hearing her friend's sweet and husky voice after a year and a half.

"Jaa nahin bolti tujhse!" Kripa's voice choked with emotions, "America jaakar mujhey bhool hi gayi?"

"Aur tuney bhi tho kabhie phone nahin kiya!" Riddhima complained tearfully.

"Achcha baba….dono ki galti thi," Kripa wiped her tears and sniffed, "ab India kab aa rahi hai?"

"I still have six months of training……as soon as I am done….I will be right back…..tum sab logon ke bina yahan mann nahin lagta."

"Jhoothi! Angad tho Armaan se baat kar raha tha…..iska matlab wo tere saath hai…..aur Armaan se kehna uski behen ab kabhie baat nahin karegi….Sanjeevani chhod ne ke baad ek phone bhi nahin kiya!" Kripa complained.

Riddhima looked up at Armaan and blushed slightly, "wo yahan mooh latkaa kar khadaa hai….I am sure he is cooking some excuse in his mind… have a right to get upset with him…..mujhse naaraaz tha…..tho tujhey phone kyun nahin kiya?"

"Armaan ki har khushi aur har ghum tujhse hi shuru hota hai aur tujh se hi khatam," Kripa chuckled, "zaraa phone de bhaisa ko."

Riddhima handed him the phone. A guilty Armaan, forced a smile and took the receiver, "yahan sab log mujhey blame karte rehte hain…I am like a punching bag here… could have called me too! I had so many messages from Angad and Riddhima…..but none from you behnaa!" He tried to lighten up the air, purposely avoiding any conversation about her illness.

"Meri saheli ka dil thod kar bhaag gaye the…..main kyun bhalaa phone karti tumhein? Jaante ho kitna rulaaya tha bechari ko…..I will never forgive you for that!" she chided.

"Ok…how about I make amends? Riddhima and I will come to Mumbai soon…..and we will get married there…..Angad and you will make all the arrangements for our wedding…..and Angad has to sing at least a dozen songs for the sangeet party and you will dance on all of them! AND I DON'T WANT ANY EXCUSES! Aur shaadi Mumbai mein hi hogi….so you guys better get there fast…understand!" Armaan ordered.

Riddhima was stunned and stared at Armaan in disbelief as he planned their wedding as if they had discussed this a million times before.

"Baap re! Bilkul Hitler ki tarah order kar rahe ho!" Kripa chuckled on the other line, "badhe bhai ka hukum sar aankhon par…..ab jaldi wapas aa jao tum dono….waqt ka koi," she paused and there was silence on the line.

"koi bharosa nahin?" Armaan completed her sentence as the two of them understood the bitter truth behind that statement, "aur Armaan ka bhi koi bharosa nahin," he made light of the profound statement and added, "kahin koi doosri ladki par dil aa gaya tho?"

Riddhima glared at him and slapped his arm playfully, "kachcha chabhaa jaoongi usey!"

"Ahhh!" Armaan feigned discomfort, "dekho Kripa….shaadi se pehle hi maarna peetna shuru kar diya…..shukr hai khaana banana nahin jaanti….warna tho belan le aati maarne ke liye!"

Kripa chuckled at his banter and was pleased to know that he had not changed much in two years.

After they hung up, Riddhima frowned at him, "yeh abhi shaadi ki baat kya kar rahe the Armaan?…..I still have six months to complete my training…..why can't we get married once I return?"

"Nahin Riddima….hum abhi wapas jaayenge….aur abhi shaadi karenge….phir chaahe tum wapas America aa jaana training complete karne," Armaan replied seriously.

"How can you take a one sided decision? You walked out of my life on your terms….then came back on your terms…..and now insist on getting married on your terms? Do I not have a say in our relationship? Why is it all about you and your decisions?" A disgruntled Riddhima unleashed at him.

"RIDDHIMA! We can't wait!" He replied curtly.

"Why can't we wait Armaan?" she asked angrily.

"Because Kripa can't wait," he revealed the real reason, "because she is in kidney failure…..because she might not be with us in six months if she does not find a donor……we have to do this for her Riddhima."

The color faded from a numb struck Riddhima's face, "w…what? No way….Kripa ne kyun nahin bataaya mujhey? When did this happen?" She covered her mouth and collapsed on the bed. Flashbacks of Kripa collapsing at Armaan's party two years ago, her bouts of fatigue and exhaustion when they stayed up late in the hostel, and her visits to Apollo hospital to see the famous Nephrologist, Dr Mani came back to her. She recalled confronting Kripa about her visits to Dr Mani, but Kripa blew her off 'oh…I am just thinking of various career possibilities….I might want to purse Nephrology…Dr Mani is just advising me.' At a vulnerable time in her life, Riddhima had been so self absorbed in her own grief that she had dismissed Kripa's excuses at face value.

"Riddhima….calm down….Mujhey bhi abhi pataa chala hai….don't break down like this…..we need to be strong for her….and keep things as normal between all of us….I can sense Kripa does not want any sympathy or make a big deal about her illness…the least we can do for her is give her a reason to live …..and we both know she would love to see us married….Riddhima please," he caressed her back gently.

"I am such an idiot! I was so selfish Armaan….I am a very bad friend…..jaante ho tumhare jaane ke baad main apne ghum mein itni doob gayi thi kabhie socha nahin Kripa ko kya ho raha hai….all the signs were there…..she was not her cheerful self….she looked so pale and exhausted…..she visited Dr Mani regulary…..but she never complained……was always there for me when I missed you…or tried to end my life…..or cried all night on her shoulder….when she should have been resting and taking care of her own health…..aur dekho main itni door aa gayi….kabhie uski khabar bhi nahin li…socha wo Ajmer chali gayi hogi aur wahan khush hogi…..I can never forgive myself Armaan," her tears stung her as Armaan comforted her.

'Riddhima…we all made mistakes…..even Angad…..he was in Mumbai all this time…..not with Kripa until now….chalo wapas chalte hain…can you get a few weeks off?"

Riddhima nodded as she wiped her tears, "I have not taken any vacation since I started working here….I am sure the Program director would not have a problem…..main subah hote hi tickets book karwaati hoon."



Kripa hung up the phone and smiled at Angad, 'hum Mumbai kab jaa rahe hain?"

Angad smiled back and pulled her closer, "itni betaabi?"

She blushed and nodded, "wo baat nahin hai jo tum soch rahe ho. Armaan aur Riddhima wapas aa rahe hain…..shaadi karne…..aur humein saare arrangements karne hain."

"Really?" he was amused but not surprised after sensing the urgency in Armaan's voice about their 'need' to get married.

"I am so happy for them," she replied, "kitna ghum saha hai bechari Riddhima ne."

"Yeah and Armaan had a blast without her?" Angad asked sarcastically, "they are fools in love….just like us," he drawled in his usual flirty fashion, sending a flutter through Kripa's heart. He bent down and kissed her nose, 'mmm…you smell good…..ek kaam karte hain….hum bhi Armaan aur Riddhima ke saath shaadi kar lete hain….and the four of us can go on a long honeymoon."

Kripa wrapped her slender arms around his tall frame and rested her head on his chest, "hamari shaadi abhi nahin hogi Angad….transplant ke baad hogi."

"Transplant ke baad?" With his mouth agape, he pulled away, "aur kitna tadpaogi Kripa?"

"Angad," she lowered her eyes, "meri baat dhyaan se suno….main chaahti hoon hamari shaadi tabhie ho jab main poori tarah apne aap ko tumhein samarpan kar sakoon…..aur tum jaante ho abhi meri halat aisi nahin hai….you understand what I mean….don't you? I cannot be a good wife till I have recovered completely….."

He felt tears well up in his eyes; her illness stood like a wall between them, "Kripa…..I know what you mean….I understand we cannot take any risks when you are unwell….we cannot risk even an accidental pregnancy with you in kidney failure……I would never want to lose you Kripa……but I promise I won't touch you till you are healthy….bas main tumhein apna banana chaahta hoon." He kissed her hands fervently, his touch sending ripples and currents of sweet pulsations inside her.

"Wo tho main kab ki ho chuki Angad…..lekin…..har ladki ki tarah main bhi apni suhaag raat apni sabse khubsoorat raat ki tarah yaad rakhna chaahti hoon…..kya tum meri yeh khwaish poori kar sakte ho?"

Angad gazed at her lovely face with the earnest request written on it; he nodded silently, trying his best to not let his disappointment spoil her dream and fantasy of their first night together. He heaved a sigh and then smiled half-heartedly, "theek hai…aaj hi sadak par ek kidney dhoodne nikal jaata hoon….kya karey bechara Angad Khanna…..itni demanding premika jo mili hai…..usey na nau lakha haar chaahiye, na badha sa ghar, na naukar chaakar….bas ek kidney chaaiye….shukr hai chaand nahin maanga…..warna tho Angad Khanna kunwara hi mar jaata……I think I can manage a kidney." He teased her and grabbed her in his arms, "theek hai meri bhi ek shart hai phir."

"Bolo?" she laughed at his playfulness as his fingers circled sensuously on the curve of her beautiful long neck.

"Mujhey roz ek special kiss chaahiye."

"Special kiss? Can I have a live demonstration?" she flirted with him.

"Neki aur poonch poonch," he obliged her desire for a live demonstration and bent down to seek her parted lips. They groaned with pleasure as his tongue created mayhem like never before. They were captivated in an extended lip lock when a knock on the door disturbed their trance.

"Angad beta?" It was Gayatri, "Prithvi aaya hai….tumse milna chaahta hai."

'Aaya mama," Angad composed himself after the breathless experience.

"Kya hua beta…..exercise kar rahe ho?" Gayatri had walked in once before when Angad was doing pushups on the floor.

"Haan…wo….haan….bas abhi aaya…." Angad felt a bit flustered and peeked out as Kripa hid herself behind the curtains.

"Theek hai beta….waise Kripa ko dekha hai? Kuch der se dikh nahin rahi," Gayatri asked.

"Wo pata nahin mama….shayad Harshini ke saath ho," he took a big gulp as Kripa giggled behind the curtains with pursed lips.

"Achcha beta….main chalti hoon."

"Jee mama." He heaved a sigh and then turned around. Kripa stepped out of the drapes and feigned a frown, "jhooth bolte sharam nahin aati?"

"Theek hai aisi baat hai tho abhi jaakar unhein hamari special kiss ke baare mein bataa deta hoon!"

"Bataa do," she licked her lips as his lingering taste tingled on them, "main kisi se nahin darti."

"Ok…next time I promise to perform live with an audience then," he teased her back.

"Let's see if you can," she stuck out her thumb and ran away from his room.

Angad wiped his lips with the back of his palm and kissed it, "challenge mat karo Kripa…..I can do anything for you….and you know that."



"Hi Prithvi….sorry to keep you waiting man….what's up? Kisi ka match mila?" Angad apologized as he walked in to the living room.

"Yahan tho nahin…..but may be in Gurgaon." Prithvi replied.


"Yes…it's a town near Delhi…..there is a doctor there called Dr Amit Kumar….he has helped several people secure good matches."

"Really?" Angad sensed a ray of hope once again.

"Yes Angad… fact I have sent several patients to him recently."

"Tho chalo…Delhi chalte hain." Angad replied enthusiastically, "waise pehle kyun nahin bataya?"

"Oh wo," Prithvi turned his head away, 'I was not sure if you all would entertain un related live donors."

"Un related live donors? But isn't that illegal?" Angad was perplexed.

"Well…yeah….but what is legal and what is illegal Angad?……These are all manmade rules…..ek baar mere saath Delhi chalo….sab samajh jaaoge."

Angad reflected upon Prithvi's statement and then took a deep breath, "I will do anything for Kripa…..and she knows that too….theek hai kab chalna hai?"

"Aaj hi chalte hain….why delay?" Prithvi asked.

"Chalo chalte hain…let me get my bag."


As Angad walked out with his bag, Kripa stopped him, "kahan jaa rahe ho Angad?" Her color faded as she saw him walk out with his bag.

He flashed a smile and brushed her cheek with his fingers, "bhai apni hone waali patni ki farmaish poori karne jaa raha hoon…..shaadi jo karni hai," and winked at her.

"mazaak kar rahe ho?" she asked seriously, her heart pounded as the fear of Angad leaving her aroused anxiety.

"Nahin baba…..Prithvi and I are leaving for Delhi….we will be back soon with good news," he blew her a kiss and walked away. With a faint smile, Kripa waved back at him, concerned at his sudden departure and that too with Prithvi. Yes, she had forgiven Prithvi. He was a changed man, was obviously in love with her cousin and had helped her a lot since they came to Jaipur, but a nagging feeling bothered her to see him take Angad away from her, even if it was for a few days. The horrendous memories of his conniving plot to separate them in the past sent a shiver down his spine. She shut her eyes and prayed silently, 'hey bhagwan….Angad ki raksha karna."



Prithvi led Angad through the narrow streets in a seedy part of the town.

'Prithvi….ek kidney doctor aisi jagah kyun practice karta hai?" Angad was a little discomfited by the surroundings; it seemed as if they were going to visit a mafia Don rather than a transplant doctor.

"Uski clientale aisi hi hai," Prithvi explained.

"What do you mean Prithvi? A kidney transplant is an expensive procedure… can a poor person afford it?"

"No…I meant the donors…..wo zyaadatar locals hi hain."

"Are they selling their kidneys for money?" Angad was taken aback.

"Angad," Prithvi smiled, "yaad hai internship ke pehle din tumne sab ke saamne kya kaha tha? chhoti si zindagi gehri si jeb hai
baaki toh jaan-e-mann baaton ke seb hain

baatein hai sab saali baatein hain
kehte hain phir bhool jaatein hain

baaton mein na aana tu, apani karta jaana tu
matlab hi hai asali yaar….'

Angad scratched his head, "did I really say that? I was ignorant in those days."

"Nahin Angad….you were very practical….and worldly wise…..I remember how I used to look up to you…..envy you for your confidence and no-nonsense attitude…..socho Angad…..agar Kripa ki jaan bach jaati hai tho kya harz hai ismein?"

Angad was struck by Prithvi's words. Prithvi had certainly changed in many ways; there was an air of confidence around him as he walked into Dr Amit Kumar's dingy looking office. Everyone seemed to recognize 'Dr Bose' there. Prithvi's words buzzed repeatedly in Angad's mind as they took a seat in the waiting room- agar Kripa ki jaan bach jaati hai tho kya harz hai ismein?

A number of lower middle class young men and women waited patiently for their turn just like them. Angad looked around and related to their plight- they were probably jobless, moneyless like he was once upon a time. Were they here to trade body parts for money? The very thought nauseated him. Even when he was hungry and penniless for days, he had never entertained the thought of selling his body for money.

"Chalo Angad…hamari turn hai," Prithvi stood up.

"Nahin Prithvi….let's go back…..I don't feel right here."

"Jaanta hoon Angad…..I know how you feel….even I felt the same way when I first visited this clinic…..but trust me Angad…..hamare yahan aane ya na aane se yeh log wapas nahin chale jaayenge…..these people will continue to trade their kidneys for money……it's just a business Angad….like anything else…..we collect money from patients after treating them…..these people collect money after helping so many people in need…'s all a business….a barter system…..socho …..agar Kripa ki zaindagi hum bachaa sakte hain tho kya harz hai?" Prithvi tried to reason with Angad.

"But Prithvi…..yeh tho chori huyi na?"

"Angad yaar….tu kab chori se darne laga? Kripa ke dil mein bhi tho chori karke ghusa tha…I still remember the jhumka episode," Prithvi chuckled.

A confused Angad was at cross roads. Prithvi's arguments were forcing him to think about what he was venturing into. He recalled how he had broken into Dr Mani's office to reach Kripa. Why was this different in anyway? Prithvi was right- whether they walked away from here or not, these youngsters would continue to sell their body parts. Aur agar hum Kripa ki zaindagi bachaa sakte hain, tho usmein kya harz hai?

"Kya soch rahe ho Angad?" Prithvi patted his back, "remember you can do anything for Kripa? I am very confidant, we will find a match here…Dr Kumar has a large practice…chalo let's talk to him."

A dazed Angad followed Prithvi into the office. Dr Amit Kumar was a young man in his 30s, who looked more like a shady businessman than a physician. Angad felt a bit awkward as he took his seat.

"Can I get you some water or juice Dr Khanna? I am aware of your fianc's case…..she has a rare blood type and unfortunately no good HLA match in the family…..and her kidney function is fast deteriorating….am I right?"

Angad nodded and shuffled his feet nervously.

Dr Kumar explained the way his clinic worked, "yes Dr Khanna….this is not entirely a legal operation…..but from what I know, you really love Dr Kripa…..after all everything is fair in love and war…isn't it?" The dubious doctor flashed his gold tooth as he grinned at Angad.

"Well….how soon can we get a match?" Angad asked.

"May be a week or two…..we have collected blood samples of a number of potential donors in this community……once we get a patient, we are able to track the donor pretty quickly….we have a very organized system."

"And once you have the kidney…are you able to transport it in a timely fashion to the surgeon who will transplant it into the patient's body?" Angad asked

"Yes of course Dr Khanna….we have a list of reputable surgeons in the city who can operate within a few hours."

Angad inhaled deeply and shut his eyes; he knew Kripa would never agree to this underhanded deal, but did he really have to reveal all the details to her? He could just inform her that instead of Mumbai, they would move to Delhi. She had surrendered her fate to him and was keen on starting a new life with him as soon as possible.

"So, Dr Khanna? Should I proceed with the paperwork? Prithvi has already sent us Kripa's blood sample….I will call you as soon as we find a match," Dr Kumar continued, "and I guess if your answer is yes….we should talk finances."

"Aap paise ki chinta mat kariye……I can do anything for Kripa…..mera jo bhi hai….wo sab uske liye hi hai," Angad said emotionally, "I will wait for your call Dr Kumar."

"Good…isey kehte hain sachcha aashiq…..aaj kal ke zamaane mein kaun apna sab kuch ek insaan ke liye luta sakta hai?" Dr Kumar flashed his sparkling tooth once again. Although Angad had just consented to do a deal with this doctor, something about his demeanor and the way he flashed his tooth irked Angad.

After completing all paper work, Angad stood up to leave.

"Thanks for your business Dr Khanna," Dr Kumar extended his hand but Angad avoided a handshake with him. Instead, he asked, "waise aap donors ko kitna paisa dete hain?"

Amit Kumar laughed heartily, "smart man! Looks like your mind works like a true businessman….soch rahe ho mujhey kitna profit hoga? Haina? Well Dr Khanna….I wouldn't be doing this if it was not a lucrative business…..Dr Prithvi ko tho cut milta hi hai…aap bhi agar regularly patients bhej te rahe mujhey, I can fix a good commission for you too."

Angad cringed at the thought of doing any type of business with this suspicious character. He was disgusted that Prithvi had a business interest in Kripa's well being.

Prithvi noticed the repulsed look on Angad's face and turned to Dr Kumar, "Dr Kumar….please Kripa is a good friend….I don't want anything this time….her well being is all I want."

Angad felt shallow and a guilty party to the whole 'deal' but Kripa's smiling face convinced him that it was the only option to get her well sooner than later. The legal path could take years before a perfect match was available to Kripa. Visions of Kripa on the death bed with a dialysis machine, tubes and catheters dangling from her body were too frightening for him to even imagine. Yes, he would do anything for her, even if it meant treading on shifty grounds.

'Angad," Prithvi placed his hand on Angad's worried shoulders, "ab zyaada mat socho….just think about Kripa and your life together…..pyaar mein sab jaayaz hai."

Angad nodded and walked out of the clinic silently, albeit a bit befuddled after his decision.

…….to be contd………


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