Monday, 15 October 2018

part 57 : To Err is Human

A jubilant Armaan returned home after spreading the good news in Sanjeevani. An impatient Riddhima paced up and down, wondering where he had disappeared.

"I am home sweetheart!" He announced as he walked into their room.

"Armaan….kahan chale gaye the? Kaam par bhi tho jaana hai….i was worried….phone bhi yahin chhod gaye the," Riddhima complained.

"Jaan-e-man…aisi halat mein itni chinta aur gussa theek nahin hai…..let me have a quick shower and we will be on our way….make sure you eat breakfast for the two of you," he grinned and jumped into the shower.

Riddhima took a deep breath and yelled back, "I can't eat for two yet….I get nauseated easily….achcha yeh batao kahan gaye the?"

"SANJEEVANI!" He yelled back, his voice drowning in the running water.

"Sanjeevani?" Riddhima was aghast, "Oh my God! That means everyone knows…..papa mama ko tho abhi bataya bhi nahin maine…..Oh no…..Armaan…Armaan….yeh kya kiya tumne," she was mortified and picked the phone to notify her parents before they heard it from someone else.


Before she could dial their number, her phone rang.

"Mubarak ho beta," Riddhima's heart sank as soon as she heard her mom's voice.

"Thanks mama….wo….main aapko phone karne hi waali thi." A frazzled Riddhima apologised.

An obviously hurt Padma swallowed her pride and replied, "beta….jaanti hoon ab tum paraayi ho lekin itni paraayi hoon kya… naani ban ne ki khush khabari bhi hospital ke staff se sun ni padhegi?"

"Mama….I am sorry….yeh sab Armaan ki jald baazi se hua hai….main…main," she almost broke down.

"Koi baat nahin beta….itni badhi khush khabri bhala chupani bhi nahin chaahiye……yeh lo papa bhi baat karenge," Padma handed the phone to an anxious Shashank.

"Congratulations beta…..looks like my daughter has really grown up and become very independent…..shayad parents koi maayne nahin rakhte uski life mein."

Riddhima sensed the sarcasm in her father's voice.

"Papa….aisi baat nahin hai…..I am sorry papa….main aapko phone karne hi waali thi…lekin Armaan ne.."

"That's Ok beta…after all Armaan is first priority now…..waise abhi abhi department join kiya hai tumne….achcha hota thoda settle ho jaati pehle… know how competitive the Oncology department is at Sanjeevani…….I hope you understand what I am saying beta… has a very small window to advance in one's career….you are still young…..bachche tho 2-3 saal baad bhi….khair… ho gaya so ho gaya….please congratulate everyone at home on our behalf."

"Jee papa….I understand…..lekin…lekin Armaan ki bahut ichcha thi papa…..yeh uski zindagi ki sabse badhi khushi hai papa," she swallowed her tears as she sensed that her father was not too thrilled about her pregnancy.

"Jaanta hoon beta….samajh gaya…..aakhir Armaan ki khushi hi tumhari priority hai….I just hope Dr Keerti jaisa haal na ho jaaye tumhara….she had a bright future….she could have been a Professor by now….but anyways….whatever makes you happy."

Riddhima shut her eyes to hide her tears. Her father's cynical words had pierced her like an arrow. She knew he was her well wisher, but why were his words laced with criticism about her choices? Wasn't she a married woman now? An independent woman who had the right to choose how to live her life with her husband? Why did her father not understand that? She knew her career was important to her, but so were Armaan's wishes.

Armaan walked out of the shower with a towel around his waist. He overheard the last bit of the conversation- yeh uski zindagi ki sabse badhi khushi hai papa- and beamed with pride at his wife's confession to her parents. He hugged her from behind and kissed her neck.

A startled Riddhima almost dropped the phone, but regained her composure, "papa….main aapse hospital mein baat karti hoon." She knew Armaan would get upset if he found out what Dr Gupta had said in reply.

"Kya hua jaan?" He sensed that Riddhima was a bit upset after the call.

"Kya tumhare papa khush nahin hain?" He lifted her chin and gazed into her misty eyes.

"Of course he is happy Armaan….aakhir wo nana ban ne waale hain."

"Hmm….I should have personally informed him….waise main unke office bhi gaya tha mithai lekar….but he was not there….why don't we both personally go and offer him the sweets in the hospital…..nahin hospital nahin…..aaj shaam ko ghar chalte hain….after all ghar ki baat hai," he winked.

"Ghar ki baat hai tho hospital kyun chale gaye subah subah?" She asked irately, her patience wearing off at last.

"Relax Riddhima! Come on….koi gunah tho nahin kiya na….I was just so happy….and khushi baantne se badhti hi hai….kum thode hi hoti hai…..after all Sanjeevani is our second home," he was surprised by her outburst.

"But you should have asked me first! What if I did not want anyone to find out till the end of the third month?"

"What's so special about the third month?"

She remained silent.

"Tell me Riddhima!" He shook her.

"Kuch nahin…..Kripa said it's a superstition," she replied softly.

"Come on Riddhima! I love Kripa….I know she is a doctor…..but you know she comes from a small town….not to be judgmental or anything but chote sheheron mein kabhie kabhie aise superstitions hote hain…..I don't believe in that crap… smile and let's go to work….warna tumhare papa hum dono ko fire na kar dein," he smiled and kissed her gently.

Riddhima nodded and picked her bag silently.

As they walked towards the car, Abhimanyu met them in the driveway, "Hey guys….I thought of a name for my grandson."
"Oh really dad?" Armaan grinned, "but what if it is a daughter?"

"It has to be a son…aakhir Mallik khandan ki shaan aage badhaani hai….aur dekhna mera pota hum dono se bhi badha doctor banega! He will be the best surgeon in the world!" Abhimanyu pounded his chest proudly.

Riddhima lowered her eyes as she was not used to talking back to her in-laws. Armaan just clenched his jaws and squeezed Riddhima's hand firmly. Without replying to Abhimanyu, he forced a smile and nodded.

They sat in their car as Abhimanyu yelled from behind, "arre…..naam nahin sunkar jaaoge?"

Armaan sped as fast as he could, "Riddhima…..I don't want any interference from anyone regarding our baby…..I thought dad had changed but he is back with his old antics once again!"

Riddhima remained silent and thought, "looks like our dads will never change."



Armaan and Riddhima were greeted with balloons, cakes, stuffed animals, gift baskets with baby toys and lots of good wishes at the hospital. The nurses and staff members were thrilled to know that their favorite doctor-couple were going to be parents soon.

"So Dr Riddhima….will the baby have eyes like Dr Armaan?"

"Dr Riddhima….aap kitni maternity leave lengi?"

"Dr Armaan…..kya aap beti chaahte hain ya beta?"

"Dr Armaan…..koi naam soche aapne?"

By the end of the day, they were both exhausted not from work, but from tackling hoards of curious minds and well wishers. At one point Armaan almost regretted making such a big announcement so soon. Perhaps, leaking the news gradually might have been easier to handle, but nevertheless, he was thrilled to see the number of well-wishers around him.

Riddhima had a headache by the end of the day, but after seeing the big smile on Armaan's face when he came to pick her up, her exhaustion and headache faded away.



They stopped over at the Guptas to personally deliver the sweets and receive their blessings. Riddhima's heart beat nervously as she rang the bell. For some reason, she had a sinking feeling that her father and Armaan might break out into an argument over her pregnancy.

"Arre wah!" Thankfully, Padma greeted them at the door.

Armaan and Riddhima hugged her and walked inside.

"Yeh lee jiye mama…..nani ban ne waali hain…mooh meetha kee jiye," Armaan offered her the sweets.

Shashank walked in silently and smiled at them, "welcome home beta."

Riddhima, hesitantly walked to him and hugged him.

"Congratulations to both of you."

"Thanks papa." Armaan smiled back in relief. Even though, the two men had mended fences at the wedding, there was still a thin brick wall that prevented them from completely being at ease with each other.

"Aao baitho," Shashank sat down and gestured them to do the same. The stern expression on Shashank's face did not seem that inviting but they both complied and sat down on the couch across from him. Padma sat next to Riddhima and placed her arm around her daughter, almost like a protective shield. Even though she had convinced Shashank that Riddhima and Armaan's decision to have a baby now was no business of theirs, she feared that Shashank might pass some snide remarks about the timing of their decision.

"Tho papa ….aap nana ban ne waale hain," Armaan tried to put everyone at ease.

"Haan beta…..I am happy about that…..but I hope you both are happy with your decision too."

"Of course papa!" Armaan was confused with Shashank's reaction.

"Well… know Sanjeevani is a competitive environment…..Riddhima is still a junior staff member…..and now that she has responsibilities with the baby……you know what I mean….kahin iske career par effect na kare."

Armaan turned red at his father-in-law's train of thought, "not at all papa….the baby is just not Riddhima's responsibility…..we both will be equally responsible….and Riddhima can work as much as she wants…..but be assured neither the baby's well being nor Riddhima's career will be hampered in any way."

"Good!" Shashank nodded, "as long as the baby is not taken care of by nannies and aayas." Armaan knew this was a direct jab at his parents as they had chosen to raise him through nannies and aayas. He remained quiet as he knew defending his parents would start another argument with Shashank.

"Papa……chaahe mujhey extended paternity leave leni padhe….hamare bachche ki dekh baal mein koi kami nahin rahegi."

Riddhima gazed at Armaan gratefully for handling her father so deftly.

Padma tried to lighten up the air, "aur nani kis din kaam aayegi bhai? Main hoon na beta," she squeezed Riddhima's shoulders and kissed her forehead, "tum log bilkul fikar mat karo…..main sambhaal loongi apni naati/naate ko."

Riddhima placed her arm around her mother and thanked her while Armaan nodded his head with gratitude.

After they left the Gupta residence, they both drove silently. The visit with Shashank had disappointed Armaan. The old man still cared more about his daughter's career rather than her wishes and aspirations in life. Armaan promised himself that he would not let Shashank's subtle pressure bog Riddhima down this time- she was his wife and he would protect her interests come what may!


MT ABU: (I wrote this romantic part at the request of AK fans so please bear with me as the story keeps extending)

Last day of their honeymoon:

"Angad…..aaj hamare honeymoon ka aakhri din hai….why don't we do something special?' Kripa asked as they cuddled in bed.

"You mean something different than staying in bed all day?" He grinned mischievously.

She nodded and pinched his nose affectionately, "precisely."

"Kya apne pati se itni jaldi bore ho gayi?" He removed the hair tendrils from her forehead and asked innocently.

"Dhatt!" She smacked him playfully, "maine aisa kab kaha? I just meant we should do something memorable."

"So you mean we haven't made enough memories in this hotel room?" He scanned the room with his eyes and recalled all the 'memorable spots' they had spent the last few days and nights at.

"I have an idea," she tapped his cheek, "why don't I plan a surprise?"

"Not a bad idea," he groaned, "but after I get my morning dues paid," and bent down to kiss her.

She slid into his arms and surrendered to his passion.

Later that afternoon, Kripa dressed in a beautiful pink saree tip toed out of their room while Angad was in the shower. She left a note for him on the dresser and walked out with her purse.

A freshly showered Angad walked out humming a romantic new song, "tujhey main pyaar karoon….Kripa? Kripa where are you?" He searched the room and to his dismay found her nowhere. Even though she was well now and his forever, any unexpected separation from her still made him anxious, "KRIPA!" Memories of his journey from Mumbai to Jaipur in search of Kripa disturbed him even now.

The note on the dresser glared under his eyes. Nervously, he picked the note and unfolded it.

Meet me in the lobby.

He heaved a sigh with a slanting smile, "uffo….I forgot you were planning the big surprise…..main bhi kitna pagal hoon." He kicked himself for being a worry wart for no reason, "Kripa kya se kya banaa diya hai mujhey…..ek befikr aadmi tha pehle….aur ab tumhari chinta main pagal sa ho jaata hoon….shayad isi ka naam pyaar hai." He grinned and dressed up as fast as he could.

Dressed in a black cotton shirt and denims, he dashed to the lobby to be handed another note by the concierge after he had searched for her behind every pillar and amongst all the people gathered around to have an afternoon cup of tea at the famous Palanpur Palace hotel.

Meet me at the sunset point.

Exasperated, he hailed a rickshaw to the famous sunset point overlooking the Rajasthan desert from the hilltop, "why sunset point? It's like 4 in the afternoon… waqt sunset kahan dikhega? Kaisa mazaak hai Kripa?"

As expected, she was nowhere near the sunset point either. A vendor selling marble statues walked up to the disoriented handsome man, "sahib…..aap Dr Angad Khanna hain?"

"Jee," Angad turned around, his heart racing against his chest as the strange man approached him with yet another note.

Meet me at the Dilwara Temple.

"Temple?" Angad took a deep breath and thanked the vendor. He was aware of the world famous Dilwara temple in Mt Abu, but at no point the sacred site had featured on his must-see list on his honeymoon.

"Kripa…Kripa…Kripa….Kripa ho tumhari jo honeymoon par surprise mandir mein dena chaah rahi ho….waise aaj ek din mein poore Mt Abu ki sightseeing karwa di tumne…..what a clever idea to get your despo hubby out of the bedroom!" He boarded the rickshaw again and ventured towards the famous temple.

Finally, he arrived at the all-marble 13 th century Jain temple. He was blown away by the overwhelming blend of simple beauty and exquisite elegance with an opulent entranceway.  The breathtaking architecture and serenity of the temple eased his anxious nerves as he walked bare footed into the temple. As he walked in, he was sure he would find her here. The back of a lady dressed in a pink chiffon saree with her head covered with the pallu in front of the deity caught his attention. He smiled and walked up to her and folded his hands in front of the statue.

Without looking at her, he shut his eyes and mumbled, "manta hoon tum hi meri bhagwan ho…..shayad iss liye apne darshan bhi mandir mein hi de rahi ho."

Kripa was startled to see him standing with his head bowed and hands folded. She smiled and answered softly, "koi tho bahana chaahiye tha tumhein mandir laane ka."

"Tumhein paa liya hai tho mandir aane ki kya zaroorat hai?"

"Mandir mein flirt karte huye sharam nahin aati?"

"Nahin aati….kyunki bhagwan jaanta hai mera pyaar sachcha hai aur mera dil bhi…..haan lekin aaj bhagwan ka shukriya zaroor karna chaahta hoon."


"Haan," he looked up at the statue and then at her, "apni zindagi ke liye…..ab mujhey tumhare bhagwan se koi shikayat nahin hai……he has given me more than I ever bargained for."

"Hamare bhagwan," she corrected him and held his hand to receive the blessings of the priest.

"OK Kripa jee….aapka surprise tho poora ho gaya…ab hotel chalein?" Angad asked as they munched on the Prasad outside the temple.

"This was not the surprise."

"What? Ab koi aur mandir reh gaya hai kya?"

"Nahin… we will go to my mamaji's Kesar bhawan….he has invited us for a special evening."

"Mamaji?" Angad flung his arms in the air, "Kripa rani….mandir tak tho samajh aata hai…lekin honeymoon par rishtedaar? Please apne ek laute pati par thoda tho taras khaa lo."

"Sorry….I have promised him….trust me you will love his hospitality."

"Does that mean another seven course rich Rajasthani meal with hoards of people fussing over me?"

"Don't make fun of our Rajasthani hospitality." She gave him a sharp look as they took a rickshaw.

"Kripa… know we have been married for a week…..but why do I feel I have already gained 100 kilos in these seven days…..please Kripa…..I just want you….no relatives….no rich food….no hospitality….please," he hid his face in her thick hair and pleaded.

She did not budge and got off in front of a beautiful old palatial house called the Kesar Bhavan palace, named after her deceased grandfather.

In the past, Angad would have given up anything to receive an invitation from such a grand place, but no amount of grandeur or opulence could lure him anymore. Reluctantly, he followed her into the ornate bungalow. To his surprise, there were no relatives, no mamaji and no family members. Mesmerized by the magnificence of the place, he felt like a prince in the palatial house.

"Kripa…tumhare mamaji yahan rehte hain?"

"Nahin ….ek zamaane mein rehte the…..mere nana yahan ke raja ke khaas mantri the…bas tabhi se yeh bhawan unka hai."

"Wow Kripa…..I never knew your family was so close to royalty."

"It doesn't matter anymore……mamaji wanted us to spend some time here…that's his wedding present to us…..jaanti hoon tumhein bhi aisi jagah pasand aati hain…haina? Shayad tumhara bhi khwaab tha aise badhe ghar mein rehne ka….tho wo poora kar rahi hoon."

Angad was touched by her gesture, "yes Kripa…it's true that at one time I would have done anything to own or be a part of a place like this……but you know….it really doesn't matter anymore," he held her hands and kissed each finger tenderly, "As long as I have you……I am the richest man in the world…..tum par aise hazaaron mahal qurban."

Tears rolled down her eyes; she hugged him securely and sobbed on his chest, "kitne badal gaye ho Angad."

"Tumhare pyaar ne badal diya hai mujhey." He held her firmly in his arms.

"Kab tak aise hi mujhey pyaar karoge?" her soft voice echoed against his chest.

"Jab tak jiyoonga tab tak…."

"Kya har janam mein mera pyaar banoge?"

"Har janam ka tho pata nahin….filhaal is janam mein tho poori tarah pyaar kar loon," he squeezed her waist against his firmness and then with a mischievous smile lifted her in his arms and walked up the stairs.

"Angad! Kahan le jaa rahe ho?"

"Apni rani sahiba ko unke shayan kaksh tak le jaane ka prayatna kar raha hoon."

"Itni shuddh hindi….baap re….kahan se seekhi?"

"Main apni class mein sabse achcha hindi student tha bhai!" He scoffed.

"OK baba……but what about the seven course dinner waiting for us downstairs?"

"We will work on that after dessert,' he winked at her and shut the door behind them as he carried her into the spacious and majestic master suite.

Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Ke jab talak main jiyun
Sirf tera intezaar karun
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Dilon ki baat nahi jaante ye sab zuban waale
Wafa ko jurm samajhte hain ye sab jahan waale
Agar ye zurm hai to ye zurm baar baar karun
Ke jab talak main jiyun
Sirf tera intezaar karun
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Ke jab talak main jiyun
Sirf tera intezaar karun
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Teri khushi na ho shaamil to fir khushi kya hai
Tere bagair jo guzre wo zindagi kya hai
Kai sadi main tere pyar pe nisar karun
Ke jab talak main jiyun
Sirf tera intezaar karun
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon
Ke jab talak main jiyun
Sirf tera intezaar karun
Tujhe main pyar karoon
Aur itna pyar karoon

…to be contd……….


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