Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Part 8 : A Burdened Love

The seven hour operation was finally complete. An exhausted Keerti made her way out through the glass double doors of the operation theatre.  She removed her surgical mask and gown, and dejectedly threw the surgery uniform in the disposal bin.  Subsequently she walked towards the stainless steel sink where she washed her shaking hands and splashed the cold water over her face as to soothe her down from what she had experienced in the OT. Keerti was known for her skills in the OT. She was a dexterous surgeon, competent and good at her job, no wonder she was so popular amongst surgeons in India. She had operated on hundreds and had faced many situations, where the outcome was not pleasant, but never had she felt the way she felt today.



The beads of water trickled down the side of her face as she crouched beside the sink. Keerti a women never to lose her composure and determination was today kneeling down as a wave of defeat overtook her body. Shubhankar quietly walked behind her and put his hands on her shoulder. He removed the face flannel from the rack and passed it over to Keerti. She took it and absentmindedly placed it on the sink surface. Shubhankar just stared at Keerti; he hated seeing her in this miserable state. He liked her dominating nature; at least she smiled that way. Keerti looked up at him.

Keerti: Why Shubhankar, why? Why must life play such a cruel twist like this on them? I mean what did they ever do? Armaan and Riddhima are two of the nicest people I have had good fortune to come across and now they must suffer these unfortunate consequences. Those who wish best for everyone must now suffer. It's not fair Shubhankar, it's not fair.

 Shubhankar could comprehend with Keerti's state of mind. If it weren't for Armaan Keerti and Shubhankar would never have come together. She was right, it wasn't fair.

Shubhankar: Keerti, I know what you mean it isn't fair, however you must keep in mind that we are not God. You did your bit; you tried your best, but now you must leave the rest in God's hands.

Keerti: What God Shubhankar? Which God? If there was a God then we wouldn't be seeing this day today. God has been said to be omniscient, but if he knows how much both Armaan and Riddhima have had to suffer, then why would he continue to make their lives more miserable.

Shubhankar merely nodded, he knew Keerti was not thinking and was just saying whatever came to mind.

Keerti (Tear Stricken): How will I tell them Shubhankar? How can I tell Armaan; who once brought us two together, that we can do no more to save his daughters life.

Shubhankar kneeled down to Keerti and she placed her head on his knees.

After some time Keerti raised her head.

Shubhankar: Keerti I think it's time we told them. It's unfair to keep them waiting.

Keerti nodded. She stood up, picked up the face flannel from the sink, dried her face and was ready to go and face Armaan and Riddhima. Shubhankar held her hand, and they both entered the ICU waiting area, where Armaan and Riddhima were sitting. Riddhima had once again fallen asleep on Armaan's chest, Armaan saw them enter. He gently placed Riddhima's head on the chair seat beside him and placed his jacket under her head. He then walked up to Keerti.

Armaan (Hesitantly): Maam...

Keerti (Not looking at Armaans face but at Riddhima sleeping beside him): Armaan,  the truth is that Aahana...Aahana....

She stopped midway through her sentence

Armaan: (Pleadingly): Maam please, I just need to know

Keerti (Now looking Armaan in the eyes): The truth is... (Allowing no tears to escape her eyes and taking a deep breath) Armaan, she is not responding to the treatment, she inhaled too much smoke which has caused tremendous damage to her developing lungs, she is in a lot of pain... and...and... she is currently on a Life Support Machine.

Armaan was stunned. Nobody spoke. Keerti began crying. She enveloped Shubhankar in a hug. Armaan looked at Riddhima sleeping who was unaware of the situation and then looked up at Keerti who had detached herself from Shubhankar.

Keerti: I am sorry Armaan

Armaan (Sincerely) : Thank You Maam, for trying your best. If it is of no problem, may I be excused?

Keerti and Shubhankar left the ICU waiting area.

Armaan went to wake Riddhima up. He wanted to take her away from the hospital to break the news to her.

Armaan (softly): Baby wake up

Riddhima: Hmm...

Armaan: Come on Riddhima we need to go outside. I want you to come to the temple

Riddhima (Rubbing her eyes): Armaan par Aahana. Aur toh Aur Armaan you don't believe in God? So why temple all of a sudden?

Armaan (faintly smiling): Please?

Riddhima: Sure Armaan we will go, but Aahana? Do you deem it right to leave whilst her operation is going on?

Armaan: We will only be gone for a short period of time, I promise. And look Niki, Atul, Muski, Rahul, Anjie and Abhi are all here.

Riddhima: Abhi? Armaan tum theek haun? Are you okay? When did Mr Abhimanyu Modi become Abhi for you?

Armaan thinking to himself how one experience can change everything... A relation which he himself never thought would change changed instantly.

Riddhima realised that Armaan must have found out that Abhi saved Aahana from the burning house, thus the removal of the wall which they had built between themselves.

Riddhima: Choro ye sab.. Armaan you're sure right? I'm scared... Leaving Aahana and all...

Armaan: Riddhima I am sure, we will be back soon. Everybody is here.

Riddhima: Okay, let's go.

Armaan and Riddhima both leave and go. Armaan starts the car and they drive off Riddhima puts her seatbelt on, and places her head on Armaan's shoulder whilst he drives. They pass the temple and Armaan is still driving

Riddhima (she jerks up from Armaan's shoulder): Armaan tum kaha jaa rahe haun? Mandir to piche chala gaya.

Armaan does not answer, he continues driving

Riddhima (panicking): Armaan stop the car and turn back, the temple is long gone. If you continue taking this road we will head towards the beach. She began crying.

Armaan still did not answer despite Riddhima's continuous chant of 'Please turn back' and her tears.

They finally arrived at the beach. Armaan got down from the car and headed out walking towards the sand.

Riddhima instantly jumped out of the car demanding to know what Armaan was doing. She followed him out of the car.

Riddhima (SHOUTING): What the hell Armaan!! Yeh kya batameezi hain? What the heck do you think you are doing!!

Armaan did not turn around. Tears were glazing his face. He did not know how he was going to tell Riddhima that they had to turn Aahana's life support machine off.

Riddhima: Armaan what on earth is your problem. Our daughter is fighting between LIFE and DEATH and here you want to spend time at the BEACH- she said sarcastically.

Riddhima: Armaan look at me when I am talking to you.

Riddhima was getting highly frustrated. Armaan was not replying any of her questions and nor would he turn around to look at her.

She went up to him, held his shoulder to turn him around and was about to continue shouting at him

Riddhima (SCREAMING): ARMAAN DO YOU HAVE NO....

She stopped her sentence midway, as she saw the tears vigorously falling from his eyes. His tears instantaneously brought a change to her voice.

Riddhima (gently): Armaan... Baby.

She had hardly ever seen him cry. It ached her seeing him in this state. She suddenly realised that not once in the duration of the whole situation had she seen Armaan cry. Come to think of it, not once had she asked him how he was feeling. She herself had been too busy crying and he had been her support. A surge of guilt overtook Riddhima.

Riddhima: Armaan, Baby I'm really very sorry, and saying that she instantly enveloped him in a hug.

Neither of them spoke. They just stood there hugging one another, forgetting the world outside. After some time they disengaged from the hug. Riddhima placed her palm to his cheek and said

Riddhima: Armaan I am really very sorry. It was selfish of me to forget how you must be feeling in this situation.

Armaan did not reply

Riddhima: Armaan are you mad at me? I'm very sorry, she began crying.

Armaan (hugging her once again): I am not mad at you. I can never be angry with you. But..

Riddhima: But what Armaan...

Armaan: Riddhima I brought you out here for a reason. You needed to clear your mind, because we need to make a decision... and that too very quickly.

Riddhima (looking up at Armaan): Kaisa decision Armaan? What kind of decision, and that too at a time like this?

Armaan: Aahana...

Riddhima: Aahana what?

She again detached herself from Armaan

Riddhima: What about Aahana? Tell me Armaan? Bolo!! Aahana ko kya hua??

Armaan could not look Riddhima in the face. Riddhima took hold of his hand.

Riddhima: Please Armaan tell me. You are scaring me. Please...

Armaan knew he would have to tell her soon, he began to look out at the sea, his eye fixated at the horizon.

Riddhima: Armaan...

Armaan: Riddhima, we have to make a decision; Dr Keerti tried her best, too much damage has been done to Aahana's lungs. Aahana is currently in a lot of pain and is on a life support machine.

Riddhima unceremoniously dropped Armaan's hand as if it burnt.

Riddhima: Yeh tum... Yeh tum kya kehrahe haun? Armaan what are you saying?

Armaan: Riddhima, we have to decide to switch off the machine, Aahana is in A LOT of pain.

Riddhima: Shut up Armaan. Just shut up. How can you say such a thing? Kill my daughter. You may not love her Armaan, but I do. She may mean nothing to you Armaan, but she is MY DAUGHTER. 

Riddhima turned around. How dare Armaan say such a thing? She turned around after some time to see what else Armaan had to say; but was shocked when she saw Armaan's pale face, as he stood there frozen. Riddhima could see the vestiges of pain on Armaan's face after what she had just said. She did not mean to say any of that. It was her anger speaking.

Riddhima: Armaan...

Riddhima (crying): Armaan I am sorry, I didn't mean too... Armaan.

Riddhima: Armaan Please...

Armaan: I know you didn't mean it. But remember Riddhima she is OUR daughter. And as much as you are hurting right now, so am I.

Riddhima: I know Armaan I am sorry. But Armaan I cannot do it. I just can't

Armaan: I know Riddhima it is difficult, but Aahana is in A LOT of PAIN. She is suffering.

Riddhima shook her head, Armaan I can't. I just can't....

Armaan just stood there motionless. He did not know how to respond. Riddhima rested her head on his chest and began crying. Minutes passed like this. Riddhima had come to terms with the situation by now.

Riddhima: Armaan we have to do this don't we? We can't let her suffer like this can we?

Armaan nodded.

Armaan: I think it's the right thing to do Riddhima. Keerti maam said we can keep it for as long as we need, but it's unfair to continue to make Aahana suffer, when we know there will be no change.

He enveloped his arms around her. Riddhima began crying. He let her cry to her heart's content.

After some time Riddhima's crying had lessened.

Armaan: I think it's time we headed back to Sanjeevani. It's time Riddhima.

Riddhima merely nodded.

The car ride back to Sanjeevani was one in silence. Riddhima looked out of the window and Armaan kept his eyes fixed on the road. Armaan opened the door to Riddhima's side of the car once they had arrived. She got down and tightly held his and. They both entered the main doors of the hospital and headed straight up. Everybody was already up there waiting. Keerti had already informed everybody else about Aahana's state and everybody sat there crying; their faces forlorn. As soon as they saw Armaan and Riddhima they all stood up and immediately wiped their tears. Riddhima couldn't take it. She immediately looked up at Armaan. Armaan and Riddhima walked up to Keerti and informed her about their decision. Keerti agreed. It was not fair to keep Aahana in so much pain.

Keerti: Armaan you will have to sign the papers.

The reality hit Armaan hard. He had to give consent to allow the doctors to turn the life support machine off. In other words 'Kill his daughter'

Armaan's hand began to tremble and the pen was shaking. Abhimanyu came beside him. Niki went and took Riddhima to sit with her and Anjali.

Abhi: Armaan, it is difficult, and right now you probably feel like you are killing her, but remember Armaan the amount of pain she is currently enduring is unbearable.

Atul and Rahul came towards him, and in unison said-

Atul & Rahul: You are doing the right thing Armaan.

Muskaan then walked over

Muskaan: Armaan nobody is judging you.

She then hugged Armaan.

Armaan signed the papers. He then walked over to Riddhima. She stood up and held his hand firmly.

Everybody looked up at the couple as they walked into the ICU. They had so much strength within themselves to take up such a decision, and everybody respected them.

Aahana's machine was switched off, and Armaan and Riddhima entered the ICU hand in hand. Keerti handed Aahana over to Riddhima and quietly left the trio.

Armaan settled down on the chair. Riddhima sat in his lap with Aahana in her hands. Aahana began playing with Riddhima's fingers,her angelic baby fingers grasping Riddhima's tightly. Armaan and Riddhima looked into one another's eyes and shared a watery smile.  Riddhima placed Armaan's hand under Aahana's head. They could hear Aahanas little heart beat slowing and her fingers began to slowly lose grasp of Riddhima's. She finally lost grasp of Riddhima's fingers and smiled. Riddhima quickly turned her head to Armaan's shoulder and began crying. Tears fell from Armaan's eyes and landed on Riddhima's shoulder.

Riddhima: Armaan she's gone.

Riddhima: She's gone Armaan... Gone...



Armaan: (Armaan shaking Riddhima) Riddhima wake up. Riddhima utho.

Riddhima: Tears pouring out of her eyes. Armaan, Aahana chaliygay. Armaan, the beach, and the car, and the forms and the life support machine. She's gone Armaan. She's gone....

Armaan: Riddhima tum yeh kya keh rahi haun? What beach, what forms? What machine? And these tears. Riddhima are why you crying baby?

Riddhima: But... but I saw... I saw...I saw...

Armaan: Baby you must have seen a bad dream.

He wiped away her tears and she began shaking.

Riddhima: It was horrible Armaan, really very horrible

Armaan: Ssshhhhh.... It was only a dream.

Riddhima nodded placing her head on Armaan's chest. He stroked her hair.

Riddhima (whispering): How long left Armaan till the operation is finished?

Armaan: Just over an hour left.

Riddhima: Armaan, I don't even know how any of this has happened. The fire...

As soon as Riddhima had said the word 'fire', there was a knock on the door. Dr Shashank entered the ICU waiting area. Both Armaan and Riddhima stood up.

Riddhima (Furiously): AAP!
............................................................................................
Hannah Sophia

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