Monday, 22 February 2021

PART 4 : Heartbeat

"Two weeks to go…" thought Armaan as he switched off the TV. He was unrecognizable now. The once muscular body was now thin and week. Those twinkling blue eyes seemed to have lost the twinkle now. He was tired and exhausted. He never had the strength to do anything anymore. He waited for oblivion.

He walked to his room, shuffling his feet, wishing time would pass faster and he'd get to see Riddhi sooner. He'd fallen in love all over again with her these few months. She was stronger than he'd thought and although he'd given up on finding a donor and accepted his fate, she hadn't. He knew her. She wouldn't give up until absolutely everything that could possibly be done was done.


He entered his room only to be pleasantly surprised. "Riddhima? Tum?"

"Haan. Aaj school se jaldi aa gayi." she said, getting up and helping him on the bed and then sitting beside him.

Armaan saw her. She was the same yet a little different. Today for the first time in months he saw her eyes sparkle yet her face was pale. She didn't even talk to him like usual!



"Kya baat hai?"

"Nahi. Kuch nahi."

"Don't lie to me. I know you too well."

"I'll tell you. Pakka. But when the time comes, okay?"

He nodded not questioning her further. She looked a little weak to him. Had she eaten today?

"Riddhi? Tumne kuch khaaya hai aaj?"

"Haan. Aaj toh main lnch karkr aayi hoon. Kyun?"

"Nahi…woh bas you looked a little pale and weak. Are you sure you don't over work?"

"I'm fine Armaan. I'm just a little weak because I just donated my blood…they needed it for you and our blood types are the same remember?"

"Why don't you take care of yourself? I feel worried."

Suddenly her phone rang.

"It's done? Really?"

"Umm no, I'll tell him about it. Can we come right now? Yeah, thanks doctor!"

 "Dr. Kashyap?"

"Yeah that was him…I have good news."

He looked at her. She looked happier than she had in months but her tears were threatening to spill.

"If it's good then why are you about to cry?"

"Those are tears of happiness you moron! Ab chalo mere saath!"

"At least tell me what it is!"

"There's something called surprise. I'm giving it to you. Isliye chup chaap chalo!"

She helped him walk till Dr. Kashyap's cabin. They entered and sat down and while Riddhima looked ecstatic, Armaan was plain confused.

He couldn't take the suspense anymore. "Dr. Kashyap?"

"Patience Armaan. I have good news for you."

"What is it?" He felt a tiny ray of hope. Maybe they found a donor with the same blood type. But he quickly squashed it, not wanting o be disappointed.

"We found a donor for you."

It took Armaan a moment to realize what the doctor meant. They'd found a donor. He would live again. He could go back o being a doctor. But most importantly, he'd get his Riddhi back.

"You're very lucky, Armaan. Your blood type is pretty rare and without your wife's help we'd never have been able to find a donor. In fact she also donated her blood, just in case we need it because luckily she has the same blood type. I'll leave the two of alone for now then we can discuss when the surgery should take place, hmm?"


"Thank you Doctor. I'm a little overwhelmed right now; it's a lot to take in! But uh, can I meet the donor if possible?"

"I'm sorry Armaan, but the donor wishes to remain anonymous."

"Oh well. Its okay, I guess. I really wanted to thank him!"

"Or her!" Riddhima interjected.

"Always the feminist…" he murmured before trying to get up.

They went back to his room, not saying anything, just taking it all in. Armaan remembered the doctor's words. She did it all. His Riddhi did everything. She'd said he won't die no matter what and she managed to do it. He'd never loved her as much as he did right now. They hadn't been in love for too long, just 3 years since they'd confessed and 2 years of marriage. Their love wasn't like the love in books or movies. There were no great sacrifices that immortalized their love. It was just there, right in their hearts, a feeling that they both knew would never go away.


Her voice jolted him out of his thoughts. "Armaan? Tum theek ho?"

"Haan."  He wanted to tell her. He wanted to say it all. How much he loved her, how lucky he was to have her, how proud he was of her but the lump in his throat wouldn't let him speak. Instead he just opened his arms wide while she eagerly hugged him both of them crying because of the weight that had lifted of their shoulders.

He pulled away, not letting her go but making her sit on his lap.

"I love you, Riddhima. I don't know what I ever did to deserve you but I got you and you're the best thing that's ever happened to me and I promise you baby, I'm never letting you go again."

"I love you too Armaan. I wasn't going to let you die was I? Maine kaha tha na Armaan, tumhaari jaan main bachaakar rahoongi chahe mujhe uske liye apni jaan-"

He kissed her then, promptly shutting her up before she could complete what she was about to say. He kissed her slowly, tenderly, tasting her tears, inhaling her fragrance. He kissed away her tears and shook his head telling her not to cry anymore. She hugged him tighter.

"Kaisa laga surprise?" she asked him softly.

He didn't reply. For once he was rendered speechless.

They both jumped and readjusted themselves when they heard a knock on the door. It was Dr. Kashyap.


"Armaan? Riddhima? Actually, I'm about to leave so I just wanted to finalize the date for the surgery. Is this a good time?"

"Sure! We would like the surgery to be done as soon as possible!"

"Good. I was thinking of the same thing! We should do it before any complications occur. How about tomorrow? Is that okay?"

"It's absolutely fine!"

"Excellent. Riddhima, would you come with me and sign a few documents?"

Armaan sat on the bed, motionless. After three months of this pain in the ass hospital he would get to go home…to their home. A small smile played on his lips as he thought about their "homecoming". And that was how Riddhima found him when she came in.

"Kya soch rahe ho?"

"Humare ghar ke baare mein. I haven't seen it in so long! You remember he night we got married? I had to pay 20,000 to get into our room!" he chortled, reminiscing those times. They seemed a lifetime away…

"You paid 20,000? How come you never told me that?"

He laughed at her accusatory tone. "I would've told you, but as soon as I entered the room, I uh, forgot."


"All your fault! You were looking so heartbreakingly beautiful that I would've been unable to recite the alphabet if you'd asked me!"

"Flirt kar rahe ho?"

"Haan." he smiled mischievously. It was good to see his Riddhi back. She hadn't teased him in a long time.



"Woh actually…nahi kuch nahi."

"Arre. Bolo na!"

"Woh uh Armaan, the Principal at my school asked me to accompany 5 kids to spelling bee contest for 2 weeks because I'm their English teacher…starting tomorrow. Tumhaari surgery…"


"You're crazy Riddhi! Itni si baat? Just go for the spelling bee! Waise bhi doctor ne kaha tha na ki surgery se recover hone mein mujhe do hafte lagenge…and you've never been out after I got admitted here. You should go, I'll be okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely. Acha ab bataao, aaj kya karma hai?"

"Kya karna hai matlab? Armaan, shaam ke 6 baje hai. Ab tumhe kya karna hai?"

With a mischievous glint in his eyes, he said "Yeh." And kissed her.

He kissed her with complete abandon. He'd never been so happy since he came here. He kissed her, urging her to respond, and respond she did! He moved over to her neck and collarbone, leaving damp kisses and biting everywhere. She moaned softly and captured his lips again, kissing him softly, tenderly, pouring all her love for him in it. He kissed her back, knowing that after the stress of the last few months they both needed to let it all out. So he was surprised when he tasted tears.

"Riddhima? Baby, what's wrong? Tum ro kyun rahi ho?"

He looked at her. She was crying her eyes out! She clutched him, hugging him so tightly that he could barely breathe. He pulled away and cupped her face. "Kya hua?"


"I'm going to miss you Armaan. So much!"

"Riddhima, it's a matter of 2 weeks!"

"But I'll miss you! I'm never going to see you again."

"Riddhi, 2 weeks doesn't mean a lifetime! Ssh. Calm down and stop crying. You KNOW I hate tears!"

"Sorry. *sniff* Woh, I guess I was *sniff* feeling a little *sniff* melodramatic…"

He smiled fondly at her. "I love you."

"I love you too."

"Tumne packing kar li?"



"Ab jab tum theek ho jaaoge, toh tum kisme speciality karoge? I mean, jub tum yahaan admit hue the tab toh you'd just done your internship!"


And they both laughed. 

As she got up from his lap, he asked "Kahaan ja rahi ho?"

"Dinner lene."

"Oh shit. Phirse wahi boring khaana!"

"Armaan! Aaj nahi! Theek ho jaaoge phir acha khaana milega na! Toh aaj ke din khaalo, bina argument kiye!

Frowning, he nodded.

After dinner, they both slept.

Feeling someone wake him up Armaan opened his eyes.

"Riddhi…sone do na! Itni subah subah kyun uthaa rahi ho?"

"I just wanted to say goodbye..."


He remembered that she wasn't going to be there for 2 weeks. He would miss her. Pulling her close so that she was lying on him he kissed her with all his love…trying to reassure her. Trying to tell her that he'd be fine. She reciprocated it with equal passion and although he felt like she was hiding something, he brushed it away. She was probably just worrying about him.

"Goodbye Armaan." She said, pecking him on his forehead. "I love you. Don't ever forget that."

"How can I? Tum jo ho, remind karne ke liye! I love you too baby. Ab jaao and don't worry about me!"


She gave him a watery smile and looked at him for a while as if she was imprinting his face in her memory and then left.

Armaan sighed, thinking of the long day and the coming 2 weeks without his Riddhi. Was something wrong with her? She was behaving a little weird. Maybe it was just the stress of these few months. He decided not to worry.

The whole day passed in a flurry of activity. He had to undergo test after test to ensure that he was fit enough for surgery. This was by far his busiest day in a long time, he mused.

Finally it was time for his surgery. Suddenly, Armaan felt worried…nervous. He wished his Riddhi was here…she could always make him feel better…stronger. Now he knew how it felt to be a patient and just lie on the stretcher while your doctor talks in a foreign language. His heart pumped faster than ever, making him breathless and he was quickly put on oxygen support and asked to relax lest complications should occur.

They brought him to the operation theatre and gave him anesthesia and he shut his eyes and saw Riddhi's face while oblivion took over.










He was somewhere familiar, that much was certain although certainty was coming and going. The white sheets…white walls…sanitary smell…were all familiar. The room was dark but sunlight kept trying to creep in through the blinds covering the window. He closed his eyes again it was painful to keep them open. But curiosity took over him and so he opened them again and tried to keep them open and focus on the hazy world that threatened to disappear. He noticed a maze of tubes that pinned him down to the bed and a distant voice calling out to him. 

"Armaan? Are you awake?"


"Yes. Do you remember anything?"

"Where am I doc?"

"You're at the hospital, Armaan and you've been flitting in and out of consciousness all week."

"Yeah…I kinda figured that out with all these tubes and machines. Why am I here?"

"How do you feel Armaan?"

"Like someone cut out a part of my chest."

"Close enough" said Dr Kashyap, smiling a little.

"Oh God. I remember everything now. Is the hole gone?"

"Yep. What else do you remember?"

"Riddhima. Did she come back from that trip yet?"

"It's only been 13 days since she left, Armaan."

He thought he heard a catch in Doc's voice but he didn't try to figure it out. It was too much work.


He then made the mistake of trying to move. Just adjust his torso a little. Hot bolts of pain shot down his spine and he hissed in pain. Oh F**k. That hurt. A hell lot. "Doc, are you sure the hole's gone? It just feels like it grew ten times bigger."

"It's gone Armaan. Trust me."

He nodded noncommittally.

"Take rest for a while, Armaan. Once you feel better we can go through the tests."

"Sure. Uh when can I go home?"

"As soon as you pass the tests and the effect of the sedatives wears off. Which means tomorrow."

He smiled a little and shut his eyes…sleep taking over him again.


It was 6 in the evening when he woke up. He felt alert, something that he hadn't felt in a long, long time. It was like the fog on his brain was lifted and he could see clearly. He tried to get up. It pained a little but not too much. He managed to make himself sit on the bed without any help.

Soon he was accompanied to the examination room where he underwent a huge list of tests. He was almost exhausted when they were done with him although he had hardly done anything except for lying down.

They told him he could go home tomorrow once he passed his physical activity test and was fully recovered. He thanked them and went back to his room and lay down on the bed thinking of Riddhima. She was his life and he was glad he recovered.

He took her photo from his bedside table and kissed it, murmuring "I love you…" and then he slept, exhaustion taking over.



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