Thursday, 4 October 2018

part 46 : To Err is Human


CAR RIDE FROM GURGAON TO JAIPUR:


The two men drove quietly on the Delhi-Jaipur highway after their emotionally charged meeting with Dr Amit Kumar.


"Angad….don't think about this issue too much…..trust me this is the best option for Kripa at this stage," Prithvi looked over the driver's seat at his glum co-passenger.


"Hmm?" Angad looked up absent-mindedly, "may be."



"Yaar Angad!" Prithvi chuckled and patted his shoulder, "cheer up man! Pyaar mein tho log chaand churaa kar bhi le aate hain….aur tum ek kidney churaane se darr rahe ho? Come on man! I thought you were more gutsy than that! Lagta hai Kripa ke pyaar ne tumhein kamzor banaa diya hai….darr pok tho main tha pehle…..lekin ab tum bhi darrne lage ho…kuch nahin hoga….kisi ko pataa nahin chalega…..in fact, don't even mention it to Kripa, or to anyone for that matter….I know Kripa would never agree to it….in fact, that's why I never brought it up before….but I know you will and can do it for her."






A cold silence fell between them; Angad did not respond to his accusations of 'kamzor' or 'darrpok.' Instead, he shut both his eyes and Prithvi out of his mind.




"Excuse me Angad," Prithvi halted the car, "need to get some water bottles….can I get you something?" He got off near a convenience store. Angad shook his head and rested his head against the back of the seat. On an impulse, he took his phone from his pocket and dialed Armaan's number in the US.




"Angad? What's up buddy? Aur yeh hamesha raat ko kyun phone karta hai?" A sleepy Armaan answered the call.



"Teri shaadi ke baad nahin karoonga…OK!" Angad snapped.



"Shaadi ke baad main waise bhi saare phones disconnect kar doonga….jis se mere dost raat ko mujhey disturb na karein," Armaan chided, "bol kya baat hai?"



"Ek baat bataa." Angad sighed.


"Bol"


"Kya tu Riddhima ke liye chaand churaa kar laa sakta hai?'



A bewildered Armaan sat up and rubbed his eyes, "Itni raat ko iss liye phone kiya hai? Kripa ke liye chaand churaana chaahta hai kya? I thought my sis didn't care for all this worldly stuff."



"Jo sawaal kiya hai uska jawaab de saale! Don't beat around the bush!" Angad sounded irate. Armaan knew there was something more serious to the frivolous question put forward by Angad.



"OK Mr aashisq!  Do you want a romantic answer like what women want to hear or a practical answer what a guy really thinks?"




"Armaan…….I just want an honest answer."




"Well, in that case…NO! Main kabhie Riddhima ke liye chaand chura kar nahin laaoonga…..that would be unfair to all the other people in the world….haan usey chaand par le zaroor jaaonga," he grinned mischievously and entered Riddhima's room, who was still packing for their departure to India the next day.



"Thanks buddy….I knew you would have an answer." Angad relaxed a bit and hung up. He shut his eyes again as Prithvi walked back to the car.


……………………………………………………………



RIDDHIMA's ROOM:


"Yeh kis se baat kar rahe the? And what is this chaand churaane ki baat? Were you having a dream?" Riddhima chuckled as she folded her clothes neatly into her suitcase.


"Angad ka phone tha…..he was just wondering what wedding gift to get for us.' Armaan winked at her as he hung up, still wondering why his friend had called him with such a weird question.



"Don't tell me he is suggesting getting the chaand," she giggled, "tum dono bilkul deewane ho! Waise wedding gift ki chinta kyun kar raha hai wo…..he should be taking care of Kripa…..why is he worried about getting a chaand for you?" She was perplexed.



"Nahin Soniye," he circled his arms around her waist, "chaand tho mere paas hai…..iss liye maine usey chaand laane se manaa kar diya."




"Achcha mujhey ab chhodo," she blushed as his lips grazed the curve of her neck, "tumhein tho sirf mauka chaahiye."



"Sher ke mooh ab khoon lag chukaa hai jaaneman!" he growled huskily and nibbled at her ear, "ab yeh sher tumhara peecha nahin chodega!"


"A-rmaaan!" She murmured, "mujhey packing karne do."


"Aur mujhey pecking karne do," he smiled wickedly and showered her with his kisses. Riddhima turned around and hid her face in his chest, "bahut shararti hote jaa rahe ho tum."



"Wrong! Main tho paidaishi shararti aur badmaash hoon!" he laughed aloud and picked her up in his arms, "chalo saath saath pecking karte hain." Riddhima could not control herself at his jest and chortled along with him.


……………………………………………………………………………….


BACK IN JAIPUR:



Kripa stood in front of the mirror and gently covered her head with the red odhni from the Hanuman temple. Her imagination took her into a different world as the decorative red cloth, symbolic of 'suhaagan' woman graced her head. Visions of her wedding to Angad as she sat in a red sari next to him in front of the sacred fire delighted her senses. She imagined Angad lifting her ghunghat from her face as they sat on the bed to celebrate their first night together. Goosebumps and a fluttering heart at the thought of what would happen next flushed her face with heat and joy.


This song expresses Kripa's intense love and dedication for Angad and her desire for a life together with him….


jaise raadha ne maala japi shyaam ki - 2
main ne odhi chunariya tere naam ki
tere naam ki ho piyaa, tere hi naam ki
raadha ne ...

preet kya judi
preet kya judi, dor kya bandhi
bina jatan bina yatan ho gayi main nayi
bina mol ki main biki, bina daam ki
raadha ne ...

kya tarang hai
kya tarang hai, kya umang hai
more ang ang racha pi ka rang hai
sharm aayi, kaise kahu baat shyaam ki
raadha ne ...

pa liya tujhe, pa liya
pa liya tujhe, paai har khushi
chaahu baar baar chadhoon teri paalki
subah shaam ki ye pyaas bade kaam ki
raadha ne ...


Angad walked into the house and strode towards her room. The sight of Kripa singing and dancing with the odhni in her room overwhelmed him. He hid behind the door and stole glances as she pranced around like a girl with dreams of her beloved in her eyes. This was the first time he realized how deep and pure her love was for him. Yes, she was as pure and untainted like 'Radha,' but was he really worth being a 'Shyam?'He questioned himself.




As he pondered guiltily behind the door, she caught sight of him and ran to greet him, "Angad…. Tum kab aaye?" Beads of perspiration on her forehead and her neck sparkled on her milky white skin, as she tried to catch her breath after frolicking around in the room.



"You look beautiful," he pulled her closer and kissed the beads of sweat from her forehead, "itni exercise karne ki kya zaroorat thi?"


"Aaj na jaane kyun mann naachne ko bahut taras raha tha….kitne din ho gaye mujhey….jaante ho pehle school aur college ke harr function par dance karti thi main," She wiped her neck and face with her dupatta and smiled at him.


"Kripa….wo din door nahin jab tum phir pehle jaise dance kar sakogi…..I promise I will make that happen."



"Jaanti hoon," She hid her face in his chest, "ab yeh zindagi aur meri har khushi sirf tumhare haathon mein hai Angad."



He placed his arms around her and held her snugly, "tho iska matlab main jo bhi karoonga….aur kahoonga….wo tum karogi?"



She nodded her head and sighed, "haan Angad…..ab meri zindagi ke saare raaste sirf tum se hi hoke jaate hain…..aur tum par hi khatam hote hain."



Angad's heart pounded nervosuly in his chest as he thought about his decision at Dr Kumar's office. Did Kripa really mean what she was saying? Would she be as receptive to him once she found out the truth?



She looked up, confused to see him lost in his own thoughts, "kya hua? Achcha Delhi se khush khabri laaye kya?"




Her question threw him off a little. Flustered, he answered, "Delhi….you mean Gurgaon….wo…." he paused and then chuckled, "Naaaa! I was not impressed with their facilities…..I think Mumbai is still the best option!" As soon as he uttered those words, he felt a sudden pressure off his chest. In an instant, he felt such a feeling of relief and comfort that he knew right away, he had made the right decision- THEY WERE NOT GOING TO USE DR AMIT KUMAR's SERVICES! The five hour journey back home from Gurgaon had been the most painful and longest journey in his life, even more onerous than his quest to find Kripa after she had left Mumbai. He silently thanked Armaan for guiding him via the 'chaand' analogy and Kripa for opening his eyes inadvertently through her display of intense love for him.




"Chalo…phir jaldi Mumbai chalte hain," she smiled, "Armaan aur Riddhima bhi 1-2 din mein pahunch te hi honge."



"I will make the arrangements right away…..but after my special you know what?" He grinned mischievously. Kripa blushed and pulled away, "abhi nahin Angad…..mama doosre kamre mein hain….kabhie bhi aa sakti….." Before she could complete her sentence, he had lifted her in his strong arms so they were face to face. His lips crushed hers as her protests were soon muffled to pleasurable moans.



……………………………………………………………….



PLANE JOURNEY FROM US TO INDIA:

"Armaan…..please Mumbai airport par pahunch kar mere saath saath mat chalna," Riddhima leaned on his arm as they sat snugly on their seats.



"Riddhima?" He scowled and sat up, "India pahunchte hi mujhey alag kar dogi? Chee chee…..aaj tak tho suna tha ki Indian ladkiyan America jaakar badal jaati hain….yahan tum India jaate hi badal jaaogi……dekho yahan kaise chipak chipak kar baithi ho….chalo wapas America hi chalte hain," he sniffed, 'kum se kum meri wahan kuch kadar tho thi."



"Uffo Armaan…can you please be serious for a change?" An exasperated Riddhima shook her head.



"Ok," he gazed into her eyes and came closer, "ab main bahut serious hoon….seriously in love…..seriously want to kiss the hell out of you right now….seriously want to have an action replay of my first night in the US as soon as possible."



"Armaan," she blushed as he hid his face in her tresses, 'dhyaan se meri baat suno….mama papa know I am coming back…..but they don't know you are here too."



"Achcha hai saath saath dekh lenge tho sab samajh jaayenge…..actually," he sat up and pulled out two airplane pillows and lifted her shirt.


"What are you doing?" She was aghast as his fingers lifted her silk shirt from her naval.


He winked at her and then stuffed the pillows under her shirt, "now when we walk out of the plane, hand in hand, and you with a full tummy….they will not ask any questions."



"Armaan!" She scolded him and threw the pillows on the floor, 'it's not funny!"


"Kyun ek na ek din tho aisa hoga hi…..after all," he came closer and mumbled, "Armaan Mallik and Riddhima Gupta will make a very fertile couple." He grinned from ear to ear.



"Please Armaan….meri baat dhyaan se suno."



"Ok baba…bolo….after all shaadi ke baad ghulami tho karni hi hai….why not start right away….hukum kee jiye Riddhima devi."



"Mama papa should not know we were on the same flight….ghar jaakar main papa se baat karoongi….phir tum ghar aa sakte ho."


"What if he does not agree?"


"He will Armaan….I know my dad…he might be stubborn but he is not unreasonable…..he will never want his daughter to be unhappy."



"Jee devi maa," he folded his hands and bowed in front of her. She hit him playfully and let him rest his head on her lap as the plane continued it's journey forward.



………………………………………………….

BACK IN JAIPUR:


"Mama…papa….hum sab kal subah hi Mumbai chalte hain," Angad suggested at the dinner table.


"Hum sab?" Suryabhan looked up.



"Haan papa…..Kripa aur main chaahte hain aap dono bhi hamare saath chalein."



"Beta….humm…Mumbai mein?" Gayatri was a bit baffled, "Kripa ka operation jab hoga tab aa jaayenge."




"Nahin mama," Angad said authoritatively, "aap logon ke wahan hone se Kripa aur mera hausla banaa rahega…..aakhir hum dono aapke bachche hain."



"Angad theek keh raha hai…..maa baap bachchon ke kaam nahin aayenge tho kiske kaam aayenge?" Suryabhan interjected, "haan beta….hum chaaron Mumbai jaayenge…..subah ki pehli train se."




Kripa looked up from her plate and was amazed at how Angad had convinced her parents to accompany them. She had asked them a few days ago, but they had declined as they did not want to be a burden on Angad. Silently, with her eyes, she thanked Angad from across the table. He acknowledged her thanks with a glimmer in his eyes which Kripa had learnt to read very well.


"Angad jee…aapka phone," a servant walked in and interrupted their dinner.


"Thanks," Angad walked out to the courtyard to receive the call.


"Hi Angad…I have good news…Dr Amit Kumar has found a match!" Prithvi gloated on the phone.


Angad clenched his jaws and took a deep breath, "sorry Prithvi….we don't need that match."


'Why? Did you find another donor?"



"Not yet….but we don't need Dr Kumar."



"Angad! Tum bahut badhi bhool kar rahe ho!"



"Bhool karne jaa raha tha…..iss liye sambhal gaya time se."



"You are being foolish….I guess you don't love Kripa as much as I thought you did."



"Kripa se main kitna pyaar karta hoon…iska certificate mujhey tumse nahin chaahiye Prithvi."



A stunned Prithvi scoffed, "Kripa made the wrong choice Angad! You were never the right guy for her! I..I was!……Aur main hota tumhari jagah tho Kripa ko is tarah tadap tadap kar marte nahin dekh paata….kamzor ho tum Angad…you are a coward!"



"So that's what it is all about? You are still obsessed with Kripa…huh? Harshini ko kyun beech mein laaye phir? Haa…I guess…..you thought this way you could get closer to Kripa….right?" Angad asked sarcastically.



"Angad…tum…tum.." Prithvi was trembling on the phone.



"Haan ek baat aur…..Kripa ke pyaar ne mujhey kamzor nahin…..ek behtar insaan banaa diya hai….i am a stronger and better man than I ever was…..lekin yeh baat tum nahin samjhoge Prithvi….once a weak man…always a weak man….goodbye Prithvi….and please never try to contact us or any of our family members…understand?"



"Harshini? Lekin Harshini loves me," Prithvi pleaded.



"I will make sure she stops loving you….aur agar kuch bhi gad badh ki tumney tho mujhse bura koi nahin hoga! GOODBYE!" Angad hung up in a fury and walked back towards the dining room.



"Angad…kiska phone tha?" Kripa asked worriedly when she sensed the tension on his face.


"Nobody important!" Angad replied curtly and looked around, "Harshini kahan hai?"



"Haan jiju…yeh rahi," she emerged from the kitchen.



"Harshini….agar mujhey apna badha bhai samajhti ho tho…..tho Prithvi ko bhool jao."



The Sharma family was stunned at Angad's statement.



"Angad…yeh kya keh rahe ho?" Kripa asked hesitantly.



"Agar aap logon ne mujhey is ghar ka beta maana hai tho meri baat ka vishwaas kee jiye……Prithvi does not deserve a wonderful girl like Harshini!"


………………………………………………………………………….


MUMBAI AIRPORT:



"Mama! Papa!" Riddhima ran towards her parents and hugged them tightly.



"Beta…..kitne din ho gaye….America jaane ke baad pehli baar ghar aayi hai," Padma kissed her daughter's forehead.



"America jaakar meri beti ke chehre par kitni raunak aa gayi hai," Shashank beamed and patted his back for convincing his daughter to forget Armaan and focus on her career. Little did he know that the glow on his daughter's face was all because of Armaan. Had he seen her just a few days ago, before Armaan's visit, her plight would have shocked Shashank.



From a distance, Armaan watched the Gupta family reunite and exchange hugs and kisses. He smiled and blew Riddhima a silent kiss as he walked towards the taxi stand, "see you in a few hours sweetheart…..mom ke saath shagun lekar aata hoon."


On the way, Riddhima informed her parents about Kripa's illness. They were both horrified and sad for their daughter's best friend.


"I am surprised we never found out about it," Shashank replied.


"Bechari ke parents par kya guzar rahi hogi," Padma lamented, "Riddhima bte….jab Kripa Mumbai aaye tho usey kehna kuch bhi help chaahiye ho tho humein bataaye…..wo bhi hamari beti jaisi hi hai."



"Haan Riddhima….Kripa is a good girl…I like her….I will help her in any way I can."


"Thanks mama…papa…..we all just want her to get well," Riddhima said tearfully.



……………………………………………………….


THE GUPTA RESIDENCE: AFTER DINNER


Shashank probed and questioned Riddhima about her work experience in the US. He could not hide his pride when he found out that his daughter was a star performer at the Hopkins Oncology (cancer) program. Once she was sure her dad was in a cheerful mood after hearing about his daughter's success story, she mustered the courage, 'papa….aap se ek important baat karni hai."



Padma walked in and sat next to Riddhima. She caressed her head and smiled, 'bolo beti….kuch apne mann ki baat bhi kaho….jab se aai ho sirf kaam ki baat hi kar rahi ho."



'Padma….kitni dedicated hai hamari beti…..bilkul mujhpar gayi hai….pehle kaam phir kuch aur,' Shashank had a wide smile on his face.



"Riddhima ko bhi tho bolne deejiye," Padma intervened, 'bolo beti…kya baat hai?"



"Papa…mama," Riddhima hesitated, "main…main aur Armaan shaadi karna chaahte hain."



Shashank turned pale like a ghost, whereas Padma's face lit up.



"Sach beti? Kahan hai Armaan?" Padma asked.


"Mama….wo aata hi hoga," Riddhima answered.


"What? Kya kaha tumne?" Shashank jumped up in fury, "Armaan…aur yahan? Wo tho Kasauli mein tha na?"



"Yes papa…he was in Kasauli….but we both have realized that we can't live without each other…..hum yahan India aapka aashirwaad lene aaye hain papa," she replied confidently.



"India aashirwaad lene aaye hain?" Shashank's jaw dropped to his knees.



"bahut achcha kiya beta," Padma kissed her daughter's forehead, 'meri beti ab badhi ho gayi hai……apni zindagi ke decisions khud lene lagi hai……aur aap isey kuch mat boliye…..ab padhai bhi khatam hone waali hai…..shaadi ki umar ho gayi hai iski…..Armaan se achcha ladka kahin nahin milega."



Shashank Gupta was dumbstruck; he did not know who had insulted him more in his life- Abhimanyu or his own daughter?



KNOCK! KNOCK!



"Lagta hai darwaaze par koi hai," Padma ignored Shashank's bickering and answered the door.


Riddhima stood with her head lowered, unable to meet her dad's fury.



"Gauri! Armaan beta!" Padma welcomed her guests. Gauri walked in with a large 'thaal' as a number of servants followed in with baskets of goodies, sweets and fruits. Armaan, dressed in a crisp white shirt and black slacks obediently followed his mother inside.



"Hello Shashank," Gauri smiled, "apne bte ka shagun lekar aayi hoon……tum sab se badhe ho yahan….tho tumhein hi saunp rahi hoon." A stunned Shashank had no choice but to accept the baskets and goodies.



Padma and Gauri met like long lost friends and got down to business as Armaan and Riddhima walked up to Shashank, who was still in a corner, frozen from shock.


"Abhimanyu  nahin aaye?" Padma asked.


"You know Padma….these men will never grow up….he was thrilled about the wedding but refused to come to Shashank's house," Gauri sighed.


"Gauri….ek baar shaadi ho jaane do….dono theek ho jaayenge," Padma giggled.


"Let's hope they finally grow up," Gauri chuckled back.







Riddhima covered her head with her dupatta and then gestured to Armaan to bend forward. They bent down and touched Shsahank's feet. His hands instinctively touched their heads; he had no choice but to say, "khush r…raho beta." His daughter had never defied him so openly before, but she had done it in such a way, that he was word less and had no way to counter her decision. He realized, it was her decision now- not his anymore- Riddhima was firm about her resolution- Shanshank's views did not matter. The best he could do is assent to the alliance. Even though, he had been coaxed into agreeing for this marriage, he was sure that his relationship with Abhimanyu would never change. He would still keep his distance from his rival-so what he was his daughter's father-in-law-to-be!


"Sir….main jaanta hoon aap is decision se khush nahin hain….lekin Riddhima aur main ek doosre ko bahut chaahte hain…..2 saal door rehkar bhi ek doosre ko kabhie bhool nahin paaye," Armaan said politely.


"Bhool?" Shashank scowled, "bhool tho mujhse huyi jo mujhey laga Riddhima badal gayi hai."



"Sir….think about it…..if Riddhima has not changed…..that means her love is so strong…..you will be depriving your daughter of her happiness by not accepting what she really wants," Armaan continued.



"Whatever!" Shashank scoffed, "ab agar tum logon ne decision le hi liya hai tho main kya kar sakta hoon….by the way, what are your career plans after Kasauli?"



"Sir….the Psychiatry department at Sanjeevani is very keen I join them after my training is over."



"Really?" Shashank was surprised as no one had mentioned anything to him at the hospital. The Psychiatry department at Sanjeevani was a very competitive place and a lot of good doctors from all over the country vied for the few spots. Armaan must have done something right to be sought after by his Institute.


"Papa….main bhi training ke baad Sanjeevani wapas aana chaahti hoon," Riddhima looked at her father.



Shashank nodded and then walked over to the women, "kya karna hai shagun ke liye? Jaldi karo….mujhey hospital jaana hai."



Padma and Gauri smiled at him, "hum jaisa kehte jaayein….aap karte jaaiye….aur shaadi ki date bhi fix karne hai….Riddhima yahan sirf 2 hafte ke liye hai….tho jaldi sab karna hoga."



"Itni jaldi kya hai? 6 mahine baad shaadi kar denge….abhi sirf roka kar lo," Shashank replied.



Gauri cleared her throat and whispered, "hamare bachchon se sabr nahin hua…..iss liye abhi shaadi karna hi behtar hai….aap samjhe?"



How many shocks could Shashank handle in one evening? Riddhima's assertive behavior, Armaan and Gauri walking in with the shagun, Armaan being offered a job at his prestigious Institute and now Gauri just threw a bombshell- his innocent daughter had taken an irrevocable step towards her relationship with Armaan. May be sending her abroad was not the wisest thing he had done in life. The damage had been done- it was time for damage control.


Shashank looked up and saw Armaan and Riddhima's embarrassed faces; he sighed and said, "ab jab tum dono ne sab kuch kar hi liya hai….tho aa jao…hum formalities poori kar lete hain."



"Thank you sir," Armaan smiled and walked towards the parents with Riddhima's hand in his hand.



………………………………………………………..



MUMBAI CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION:


"Aap log yahin wait keejiye….main taxi lekar aata hoon," Angad placed the bags down on the crowded platform. The arduous 24 hour train journey had worn all of them out. Kripa was exhausted but tried her best to stay composed and unruffled in front of her parents.


"Taxi wallah haazir hai!"


They all heard a familiar voice from the crowd.

"Yeh tho Armaan ki awaaz hai," Kripa's face lit up as she looked around.


And there they were- Armaan and Riddhima in front of them with their outstretched arms, big smiles and tears of joy in their eyes.



………..to be contd…………….

bheegi

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