Tuesday, 16 October 2018

part 58 : To Err is Human

There's one sad truth in life I've found
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.

We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest.

And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.

                                     ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox


After the honeymooners were back, Riddhima and Kripa decided to catch up one morning over a cup of coffee.

"Sorry…no coffee for me Kripa….Armaan ne dekh liya tho bahut naaraaz ho jaayega…..I will just have some juice."

"Good girl! I am glad Armaan is taking care of you….he is making sure his wife does all the right things for his baby." Kripa chuckled.

"Exactly Kripa! But you know Kripa….he is taking it to the extreme…..ek cup chai bhi nahin peene deta mujhey! You know how much I love my bed tea."

"Pehla baby hai na," Kripa laughed, "I bet he is doing it by the book."

"Tell me about it….ghar mein poori library khadi kar di hai…..he is always reading books about pregnancy and parenting….but in a way it's good….I don't have to worry about anything," Riddhima laughed as she munched on her sandwich.

"Why am I not surprised Riddhima? Armaan hai hi aisa….jo kaam karta hai….jee jaan se karta hai…..jaise tumse pyaar." Kripa teased her.

"Aur gussa bhi!" Riddhima rolled her eyes.


"Yes Kripa…these days he is really upset with our fathers."

"Ab kya kiya unhone?" Kripa bit on her biscuit and sipped her coffee.

"Kya bataaun Kripa," she sighed, "papa is not very thrilled about the timing of my pregnancy…..and Armaan's dad is already dreaming of another Dr Abhimanyu on the way."

"Just ignore them Riddhima! Yeh decision tumhara aur Armaan ka hai….aur Abhimanyu uncle ke chaahne se kya hota hai…..every child is born with their own fate."

"Koshish tho kar rahi hoon," Riddhima paused, 'lekin I feel papa is right in a way….shayad bahut jaldi kar di hum dono ne."

Kripa was taken aback by Riddhima's reply, "Riddhima….somethings don't have a right or wrong time in life….and kids are God's gift to us………remember your father did not approve of your love for Armaan either….he thought it was not the right time to fall in love with a man like him…..do you regret that decision too?"

"You are right Kripa….I should be happy."

"Should be happy? What does that mean?" Kripa could not believe what she was hearing.

"Kripa…..honestly…..I did this for Armaan…..tum tho jaanti ho usey bachchon ka kitna shauk hai…..in fact he is a kid himself…uski khushi ke liye main kuch bhi kar sakti hoon. If it were left to me, I would have waited a few years and established myself in the department first."

"Kya uski khushi tumhari khushi nahin hai kya? Why do you sound like you have done a favor to him?" Kripa put the cup of coffee down and stared at her friend in disbelief. She knew it was none of her business but she knew how sensitive Armaan was, and if he ever found out, he would be deeply hurt.

"Of course Kripa! Yahi tho main keh rahi hoon! I want to see him happy." Riddhima replied irately.

"No Riddhima…..you are trying to make him happy but why do I feel you are not that thrilled about this decision?"

"Kripa." Riddhima shut her eyes, "let's drop the topic…obviously you don't understand me."

'Why don't I understand you?" Kripa asked.

"Because…because…you…you…are just not that ambitious Kripa…your career has never been that imp….sorry……wo..wo," Riddhima regretted saying those words as she saw the color fade away from Kripa's face.

Taken aback by Riddhima's reaction, Kripa dismissed it to hormonal turbulence from her pregnancy, but she replied softly, "Riddhima….I know I am not that ambitious…..but I am happy with what I have……shayad zinda hoon…..mere liye yahi bahut hai." Kripa hid the mist in her eyes by looking away.

"I..I am sorry Kripa…I did not mean it that way….please look at me," Riddhima forced a smile, "I am happy….very happy with my decision….bas khush?"

"Mujhey kyun khush karna chaah rahi ho Riddhima?" Kripa looked up, " Shayad tumhari yahi problem hai…..hamesha doosron ko khush karna chaahti ho…kabhie apne papa ko….kabhie Armaan ko….aur ab mujhey…..I hope you will learn to be happy for yourself one day."

Riddhima was not used to such personal confrontation with her sweet friend; she dismissed it to Kripa feeling a bit low after all the wedding and honeymoon excitement. She felt guilty about her insensitiveness.

"I am sorry Kripa….I didn't mean it that way," Riddhima apologized.

"That's okay Riddhima," Kripa reassured her, albeit a bit troubled by Riddhima's comment.

They both dropped the topic and discussed Kripa's wedding and honeymoon instead.

"Hi ladies!" Armaan joined them with a thick album, "sis…I have a surprise for you."

"Surprise?" Kripa smiled excitedly.

"Wedding album!" He placed the heavy book down and sat down with them. He peeked into Riddhima's cup and her plate, "Kya khaa rahi ho jaaneman?"

"Armaan! I am not a kid! Har waqt meri plate mein jhaankte rehte ho!"

"Hello! I need to make sure my baby is getting all the right nutrients samjhi? Tumhara bas chale ho sirf Maggie noodles hi khaati raho har waqt…..I don't want my baby to be like a noodle!"

Riddhima frowned and shook her head, "uffo….poore 9 mahine tum aise hi policeman ki tarah mujhey pareshaan karte rahoge kya?"

He grinned and raised his eyebrows, "poori life jaan-e-man….sirf 9 mahine kyun?"

Kripa laughed at their banter, "Armaan…..how about I take care of Riddhima's food from now on….main roz apne haathon se iske liye swad aur nutritional khaana banaaungi…..you stay out of it."

"Yes I love that idea! I love Kripa's cooking." Riddhima smiled, relieved that Kripa did not harbor any grudge about her insensitive remark.

"I am good cook too…remember?" Armaan was offended.

"Lekin shaadi ke baad ek baar bhi mere liye khaana nahin banaaya." Riddhima complained.

"Ok baba….aaj se ek time ka khaana Kripa banaayegi…aur ek time ka main…done deal!" Armaan turned the pages of the album as they poured over the beautiful and glossy images.

'Armaan….jaante ho shaadi mein mere sab bhai tumse bahut naaraaz the." Kripa grinned.

'Kyun?" he was surprised.

Before she could answer, a group of nurses and staff members surrounded them and congratulated the pregnant couple. As if a celebrity couple had just been spotted, soon there were hoards of people around them wishing them for the big news. Kripa was surprised to see the number of people who walked by and wished them.

"Wow guys…you really did advertise this news in a big way," Kripa glanced at Riddhima with a 'why-did-you-do-that-so-soon-when-I-had-warned-you' look.

Armaan, who had been a bit sensitive about this issue from day one, shut the album and looked at Kripa seriously, "why should we hide the good news?"

"Of course you should not hide it," a flustered Kripa became defensive, "lekin itni jaldi kyun? Teen mahine tho poore ho jaane do."

'What's so special about three months Kripa?" he challenged her.

"It's just a superstition," Kripa shrugged her shoulders.

"Well…I don't believe in these small town superstitions Kripa….aur please meri wife ko bhi aisi baatein mat sikhaya karo…..we don't believe in such things," Armaan held Riddhima's hand.

"Armaan….I..I was just trying to help," Kripa was a little affronted by Armaan's words, "mera iraada Riddhima ko daraana nahin tha….I am her well wisher you know……main nahin chaati tum dono par kisi ki buri nazar padhe."

"Yes I understand Kripa," he said coldly, "buri nazar nahin…..buri soch hoti hai……I hate these kind of negative thoughts……..and I don't want any negativity around this pregnancy…..and especially no superstitious stuff….I know tum log aisi cheezon mein believe karte ho….hum nahin!"

Slighted by her best friends twice that morning, Kripa decided to leave them alone for awhile. Obviously, they were stressed out about the whole pregnancy and were behaving very uncharacteristically.

'Excuse me guys," she got up, "I have to go back the newborn nursery…I think they are paging me." Without waiting for their response, she rushed to the elevator with moist eyes and a heavy heart.

'ARMAAN!" Riddhima pulled her hand away, "yeh kya keh diya tumney? How insensitive of you Armaan?"

Armaan realized what he had just done- hurt the sweetest woman he had ever known, his sister and one of his best friends.

"Oh god….mujhey kya hota jaa raha hai Riddhima? Why am I over reacting to this whole pregnancy issue? Humein tho khush hona chaahiye…..lekin na jaane kyun mujhey aisa lagta hai sab log hamare against hain….papa…dad….and I don't know why I accused Kripa of being so negative….let's go and apologize to her Riddhima….I am such an idiot."

"Chalo!" They ran after Kripa but were greeted by shut elevator doors. They took the next elevator to the newborn nursery in search of Kripa.

They both halted outside the window of the nursery and admired the perfect tiny newborns in their small cribs. The nurses bathed, combed and fed the little cutie pies. Armaan held Riddhima's hand and held it firmly, "Riddhima….aren't they cute? Ek din hamara bhi ek aisa baby hoga na?"

"Haan Armaan," her hear melted at the sight of the babies. She kicked herself for having misgivings about her decision. Her eyes welled up as her maternal feelings overwhelmed her, washing away all doubts she had, "Kripa was right….babies are God's greatest gifts…..chalo Armaan…let's go and meet her inside."

"Sorry…Dr Kripa tho ek complicated delivery attend karne gayi hain…..she just left." The nurse informed them.

Disappointed, they both retraced their footsteps and stood outside the window to admire the newborns once again. Unfortunately, duty took precedence as they were both paged to their respective wards and had to leave without meeting Kripa.


"You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger."
                                                                                                                                   Gautam Buddha

Due to everyone's hectic schedules, their paths did not cross all day. By the time Armaan and Riddhima went back to talk to Kripa that evening, she was gone.


Angad and Kripa sat across from each other and silently ate their dinner. He knew something was bothering her.

"Are you upset about something?" he asked.

"Hmm?" she looked up and then shook her head.

"kya baat hai Kripa?" he was concerned, "kya phir se honeymoon par jaana hai?" he teased her but to his dismay, she was not amused.

"Kripa…why are you not eating anything?" Angad asked as she nibbled on a few bites absent mindedly.

"Bhookh nahin hai," she replied.

A concerned Angad got up from his seat and pulled out his stethoscope and blood pressure machine from his bag to check her out.

"Kya kar rahe ho Angad?" she was annoyed as he wrapped the cuff around her arm.

"Sshhh….let me make sure you are well."

She tore the cuff off her arm and got up from her seat, "Angad…I am your wife….not your patient….please don't do this."

Angad placed the stethoscope down and confronted her, "precisely! If you are my wife then tell me what is bothering you?"

"Tumhein har baat bataani zaroori hai kya?" she yelled back and took her barely touched plate back to the kitchen.

"Haan hai!" He followed her and pulled her by her arm, "I have a right to know what is bothering you….kya mujh se koi galti huyi hai?"

"Angad….please leave me alone for now."

"Kripa…tumhari yahi baat mujhey pasand nahin hai….why can't you share your feelings with anyone?" He was frustrated, "kya kaam par kuch hua hai?"

"Haan," she cut a sharp reply.

Her conversations with Armaan and Riddhima had occupied her thoughts all day. She had tried her best to reassure herself that her friends were a bit stressed out with the big news ahead of them and all she needed to do was to give them some time and space. The more she tried to forget about their hurtful words, the more they nagged her mind. She had always assumed they were all one big family, but for some reason she felt that within a span of few minutes in the cafeteria, a wall had been erected between them and her. Why did memories of all the good times they had spent together fade in comparison to the two perhaps unintentional- but hurtful statements by Armaan and Riddhima?

"shayad log theek kehte hain…..ek baar baan se teer nikal jaata hai tho wapas nahin jaata." She thought to herself.

Angad knew Kripa was a stubborn woman, and however hard he would try, she would not open up till she was ready to talk. He helped her clean the kitchen and dining table and then settled on the couch with a medical journal. Absent mindedly, he flipped through the pages as Kripa walked out to the balcony to be alone.

After tossing the journal away, he got up and joined her in the balcony. He circled his arms around her from behind and planted a kiss on her cheek, "andar aa jao please….I'm lonely without you."

"Please Angad….main abhi mood mein nahin hoon." She whined.



A flustered Armaan paced restlessly at home as Riddhima tried to get some rest after dinner. His fast paced, rapidly shuffling footsteps disturbed her as much. She knew what was bothering him and there was only one solution- face the issue, not avoid it!

She wrapped her dupatta around her neck, picked her bag and car keys, "let's go Armaan."

"Go? Kahan?"

"Jahan tumhara is waqt dil khoa hua hai." She held his hand and dragged him downstairs with her.

"Kahan Krip….I mean Riddhima?" He asked irritably.

"You just answered the question yourself Armaan," she started the car and waited for him to join her in the passenger seat.

"You are right Riddhima….I feel such a jerk….aaj jo maine Kripa ke saath kiya……uske liye bhagwan mujhey kabhie maaf nahin karega." He lamented.

"Hum dono ne kiya hai Armaan….let's hope she is more forgiving than God," Riddhima drove as fast as she could till they arrived at Angad and Kripa's apartment complex.



As Angad tried his best to cajole his distressed wife with hugs, kisses, songs and romantic sweet-nothings, the door bell rang.


"Arre tum log? Itni raat ko? Sab theek tho hai na?" Angad answered the door.

"Kripa kahan hai?" Armaan walked in without answering Angad's question.

A bewildered Angad stared at Armaan quizzically, "what's up buddy? Looks like you and Kripa have the same ailment tonight."

"Ailment?" Riddhima asked.

"Haan meri baat ko taalna aur mere sawaalon ka jawab na dena……both have the same problem tonight" Angad quipped.

Riddhima held Angad's arm and shushed him with her finger, "let him go and talk to her….it's serious."

"Oh really?" Angad held back, "she is in the balcony."

Armaan nodded and walked out to the balcony.

He cleared his throat to get her attention. Kripa was surprised to see Armaan at the balcony door, "Armaan…tum?"

'Nahin….mera bhoot hai," he tried to lighten the air between them.

Her lack of smile told Armaan, she was not amused and probably still- and rightly so- upset with him.

"Wo tum aaj din mein ek baat keh rahi thi na?" he scratched his head hesitantly.

"kaun si baat?"

'Yahi ki tumhare saare brothers mujh se upset the? You never told me why."

Her eyes welled up as she recalled what she had intended to say, but turned her head away silently.

"Please…I need to know….why were they upset with me?"

"Sirf yeh jaan ne aaye ho itni raat ko? Riddhima needs more rest these days…..you should be with her."

"Nahin….wo…wo bhi aayi hai," he swallowed hard, "please tell me why they were upset?"

She heaved a sigh and looked away to hide her tears, 'because….because I insisted you perform all the rituals a brother normally performs at my wedding…..unhein lagaa tha unka haq hai kyunki mera unse khoon ka rishta hai….lekin….khair rehne do…." She bit her lips to hide her choking emotions.

"I think your brothers are smarter than this mooh bola bhai of yours…..usey yeh bhi nahin pata ki chote log nahin-choti sirf soch hoti hai…..ek badhe sheher ka choti soch waala mooh bola bhai…they were right…..that jerk from the big city never deserved that honor on your wedding." Tears rolled down Armaan's eyes as his eyes burnt with shame and disgrace. He looked up at the clouds and wished one of the large ones would swallow him at that very moment.

Kripa could not control her sobs any longer; she leaned against the pillar in the balcony to stifle her tears. Armaan walked up to her and placed his hand on her shoulder, "Please don't forgive me for this Kripa…..bas apne bhai ki naadaani samajh lena."

She lifted her chin and wiped her tears with her dupatta, "bhai-behen mein man mutaav na ho tho wo rishta adhoora sa lagta hai…..shayad aaj tumney wo kami bhi poori kar di." She smiled through her tears and wiped her dripping nose with the back of her hand.

Armaan smiled back tearfully, "kaash main bhi Angad ki tarah singer hota tho main bhi ek gaana gaata abhi."

"Kaun sa?" Angad and Riddhima joined them in the balcony. Riddhima hugged Kripa snugly; her warmth conveyed her apologies better than her words could.

'Abbe saale….wo gaana tu nahin gaa sakta!" Armaan gurgled.

"Kyun bhai….I can sing all types of songs…even bhajans!" Angad laughed.

"Ok then sing….phoolon ka taaron ka sabka kehna hai….ek hazaaron mein meri behnaa hai!" Armaan laughed and placed his arms around the two women jovially.

Angad looked away sheepishly, "absolutely NOT! Yeh gaana mujhey nahin aata!"

"I told you man….you can't sing everything…..you are not as perfect as you think you are!" Armaan walked towards the living room with each woman hanging on his side, "we all have limitations….aakhir chaand mein bhi daag hai….tho hum kaise perfect ho sakte hain?"

"You are right Armaan….we are not perfect," Riddhima held Kripa and Armaan's hands in each of hers, "but together….all four of us are PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER!"

Angad clapped and joined the huddle, "that's right….we are like the four wheels of a car…..aaj Kripa ka tire punctured tha….iss liye hum mein se koi bhi khush nahin tha……lekin Kripa tumney abhi tak bataya nahin….why was your tire punctured?"

"Because of me…..me…the jerk that I am….I said something I should not have." Armaan pursed his lips together, "it's all because of my impatience and impulsive behavior….na main Riddhima ki pregnancy ki news sab jagah blast karta……na Riddhima ke papa hum se itne naaraaz hote…..na main Kripa ki baat par over react karta….aur na bina soche samjhe Kripa ka dil dukhata…..I have learnt my lesson…. My impulsiveness can hurt so many people…..I had no idea."

"Tho Psychiatrist saheb…..aap logon ka dil dukhana bhi jaante hain?" Angad placed his arm around Kripa protectively, "pehle bataya hota tho meri shaam itni kharaab nahin nikalti."

"You know guys….we need to have a pact….whenever one of is down because someone said something…..we have to all sit down together and talk it out instead of playing guessing games with our poor spouses….what do you guys say?" Riddhima asked.

"I say….we never hurt each other…..because it is a ripple effect…..if one of his hurt….all four of us are hurt in one way or another," Armaan interjected.

'Agreed!" Angad raised his arms, 'anyone for dessert?" Kripa just smiled and nodded her head silently and leaned her head on Angad's chest.

"Sure….I am hungry now." Riddhima blurted out.

"No no….no dessert for Riddhima…too much sugar is not good for the baby," Armaan announced.

"Abbe saale! Small doses mein kuch nahin hota….achcha hai sweet sa baby paida hoga," Angad slapped Armaan's back.

"Nahin yaar…..books mein likha hai." Armaan protested, "sugar is not good for the baby."

"Ok Armaan….have you stopped drinking since Riddhima has been pregnant?" Kripa snapped her fingers.

"Main pregnant thode hi hoon….why would I stop drinking….and anyways I just drink socially….you make me sound like an alcoholic or something." Armaan scoffed.

"Dessert please!" Riddhima grinned as Angad heaped scoopfuls of chocolate ice cream in four bowls.

"Ok…Ok…got the message…..once in a while dessert is fine….and you are right Angad….I would love to have a sweet sweet baby like his mama," Armaan pinched Riddhima's cheeks playfully and then settled down to finish his ice cream.

Kripa snuggled next to Angad and polished off the ice cream in minutes. Angad was relieved that Kripa was her cheerful self once again and silently thanked his friends for ironing out whatever differences they had had earlier in the day.

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.

                              Bernard Meltzer

…………………….to be contd.


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