Armaan and Shilpa walked back to the locker room. Armaan didn't know why, but with Shilpa, he felt better than with the rest of the group. As they walked in the room, Shilpa saw Ridhima sitting on the bench. The moment she saw Shilpa enter, she walked upto her and said, 'Thanks for today Shilpa. I mean, you know, for letting me off. I really wasn't feeling upto it'
Shilpa stared at Ridhima for a moment and then walked past her. Armaan glanced from Ridhima to shilpa, and then walked to his locker too. Ridhima turned around and looked at Shilpa nonchalantly stuffing things into her locker. She took a deep breath and said, 'Shilpa, I really want to apolo-'
'It's okay, Dr. Ridhima. It's okay', shilpa cut in and said, 'I do not wish to speak to you any more'
Ridhima was quiet for a while before she nodded. She couldn't completely understand why Shilpa was so cold, but she understood that she was the way she was, and getting offended by it wasn't going to change things. Sid noticed Ridhima's fallen face but didn't say anything. Instead, he said, 'Ridhima, c'mon, we have to go. It's getting late'
She nodded and walked towards her locker to keep her lab coat in it. Meanwhile, Sid walked closer to Armaan and kept a hand on his shoulder, 'Armaan, I'm happy that you and Shilpa are becoming friends. It's nice to see you smile'
Armaan looked at him and sighed, 'It's not going where you think it is Sid'
Sid made a 'What-are-you-talking-about' face, 'I didn't imply anything'
Armaan smiled, 'I know what you implied. Just stop looking out for me, okay? This lonely time, it's given me a chance to think. Just let me be. Please', he patted his shoulder, closed his locker and walked towards the door.
'Oh damn', Armaan spat out and kicked his car, 'Amazing'
Shilpa was about to drive past Armaan when she noticed him angrily muttering something under his breath. She stopped next to him and said, 'Kya hua He-man?'
He stopped muttering and turned around to see Shilpa sitting in a sexy, blue sports car. Why am I not surprised?
'Um, actually my car's not starting. I think it's overheated or somethi-'
'C'mon, I'll drop you', Shilpa said, gesturing with her hand. Armaan was confused. He didn't know Shilpa was capable of offering help to anyone.
'No, uh, I'll mana-'
'I like you doctor, come on in. Or are you ashamed of being driven home by a lady?'
Armaan sighed. There was no winning from this gal. He locked his car, I'll fix this tomorrow, and walked to the other side of Shilpa's car, opened the door and sat on the passenger seat, 'Actually, I'm rather proud'
Shilpa grinned, 'Superb then'. He told her his address. The moment she pressed down on the accelerator, Armaan fell back into his seat. Her speed seemed to be increasing with each passing moment. Armaan usually loved speed, but only when he was driving himself. Now he understood what it was like to be above 80 km/hr and be sitting on the passenger seat.
He was about to ask Shilpa to slow down, but his male ego got the better of him. Instead, he pulled out the seat belt and fixed it in it's holder. Few moments passed, and his mind wandered off to Ridhima, and then consequently to Sid. He wished he'd stop trying to find a girlfriend for him. He was enjoying this silence in his life. Perhaps all he needed right now was a friend.
'Why are you so sad today?', Shilpa's voice brought him out of his trance. He missed what she said the first time, 'Huh? Did you say something?'
'Why do you look so sad today?', she repeated and looked at him.
He sighed and leaned his head back in the seat. Closing his eyes, he said, 'I don't know..It's alot of things...'
He trailed off. Shilpa didn't ask him any further. She just nodded and looked ahead. A comfortable silence settled in the car. Armaan was about to look outside the window when his eyes caught something. He picked up the familiar looking box.
'You smoke?', he asked with surprise and curosity.
Shilpa nodded, 'Used to', she replied matter-of-factly. When Armaan continued to stare at her, she sighed and said, 'I quit a while ago...apparently doctors aren't allowed to smoke'
Armaan wondered whether he had just had a glimpse of the vulnerable side of Shilpa. It was gone the moment it came, but he was sure he had seen something in her eyes. Something he couldn't pinpoint. He kept the empty box back in it's place while she continued to look ahead.
'Oh damn I love this song!', Shilpa exclaimed suddenly. Armaan jumped a little in his seat and said, 'Can you be a little more predictable please? It'll spare me from getting a heart attack!'
She increased the volume of the song and started singing, 'Chor bazari do nainon ki, pehli ki aadat jo hat gayi...oh c'mon, don't you like this song?'
Armaan smiled inspite of himself. He really did like this song, 'Actually, I do'
She continued to sing like a maniac, and Armaan didn't realize when he joined her in the singing spree. After a while, they both seemed like two drunkards who had been let loose on the streets of Mumbai. Every time a song that either of them loved came on the radio, they jumped like small kids.
For a moment, just for a moment, Armaan had forgotten about his sorrow. He felt light headed. And that moment told him that his road to recovery had started, and maybe he had found the friend he really needed.
'Thanks for the ride', said Armaan, after getting down from Shilpa's car.
'No problem Dr. D', she replied.
Armaan raised in eye-brows in a 'not-again' manner, 'You had said you wont-'
Shilpa raised her hands in surrender, 'Okay Okay I'm sorry. Like I said, old habits die hard'
Armaan shook his head and smiled, 'Good night Shilpa. See you on monday'
Shilpa sighed, 'All these 'good' wishes seem superficial to me. They sound more like an obligation'
Armaan leaned forward and placed his arms on her window, 'Why is that?'
She shrugged, 'I don't know. My experience says so'
'What has your experience been like?'
Shilpa smiled and looked ahead. She kept staring at nothing in particular for a while and then turned towards Armaan, who was curiosly waiting for an answer, 'Not now. I have to go somewhere'
Armaan who hadn't realized how tense the moment had become, relaxed in slight dissappointment and said, 'Oh. Where?'
'To my customary saturday daru night', she replied, winking at him.
'Daru night?', Armaan asked, incredulously.
'Yep. I go get drunk every saturday night. It's been a custom for 1 year now'
Wow, Armaan thought, 'That's...really nice'
Shilpa looked at him for a moment and said, 'You wanna come along?'
Armaan raised his eyebrows, 'Me? Uh, no thanks. I think I'll just-'
'Oh c'mon. You know what you need doctor? You need to get drunk and relax for a while. And maybe find a hot chick and get laid', Shilpa said in a teasing voice.
Armaan laughed, 'You're amazingly...different, you know that?'
She nodded, 'Very much so'
'You know what? You're right. I do need to get drunk', and then looked at her face, 'Yes. and maybe get laid too'
'Jump right in. We're gonna hit the best goddamn bar of Mumbai'
'Have you e-everrbeeninlove?', asked Armaan as he leaned forward towards Shilpa.
She put her head back and laughed, 'Yourree funny...me and what did you say? yes, love! me and lurve do not go together', she laughed again and gestured him to come closer, 'Hindi mein bolte hain na - 36 ka aankda hai yaar'
They laughed like she had just cracked the world's best joke. With his shirt out, hair disheveled and hair unkempt, it was obvious that Armaan was very, very drunk. His words slurred and vision blurred, but he was having the time of his life.
'Tu bata yaar. Pyaaaaar...ishqqq...mohabbat ?!', she emphasized on each word. She pointed a finger at his nose and said, 'Tujhe hua hai kya?'
Armaan laughed harder, and was about to fall down from his bar stool but Shilpa held his arm, 'Oye control yours-'
He held up his finger and stared at it. Shilpa looked at him confusedly, 'What?'
'Ek baar. Only once', he said waving his finger to and fro, 'Aur isi baat pe', he raised his arm higher, 'Ek vodka AUR!'
They both laughed again and yelled together, 'Ek Vodka AUR!'
Another one down, it seemed as though their level of craziness had gone higher.
'Doo youu knoww shomething?', Shilpa said with a mock-serious expression, 'I can p-provee that humanshave11 feengers'
'Chal jhooti', Armaan said with a wave of his hand.
'Abe ullu ke patthe, yeh dekh', Shilpa said indignantly. She held up her hands and started counting, '10..9..8..', she missed one finger as her vision blurred, 'ek second. 10..9..8..7..6..', waving the other hand she said, 'aur paanch? 11!'
Armaan's eyes widened, 'Chamatkaar! you-you should informm the-the science..scien-tists about thish science-scien-tificc development'
Suddenly the bartender said, 'Sir, Madam, I think you both have had enough. The bar is also about to close. I suggest you go ba-'
Shilpa banged her palm on the table and stood up, 'Kitne paise doo tera mooh band karne ke liye you mother-fff-'
Armaan stood up too, 'Abe maa ko gali nahi yaar', and held her from her shoulders. Shilpa looked at him and covered her mouth, 'Are haan. Thanks yaar', and before they both knew it, they burst into laughter again.
'I tthink we sshhouldgo now', Armaan said, staggering on his feet. Shilpa nodded, 'Youu'ree right! Let'sh go', and pointed her finger towards the exit. They paid their bill with difficulty and made their way towards the exit, falling and stumbling over each other, chanting 'Left right Left' like small kids.
Shilpa walked into the bustling locker room. She walked straight to her locker and spotted Armaan.
'Yo He-man', she said chirpily. Armaan looked at her and felt embarrassed. He didn't remember what had happened last night. He remembered having a bet with her about vodka shots and then all was blank. Shilpa noticed him looking here and there, trying to avoid her gaze and she guessed that he was embarrassed. She smiled inwardly and moved closer, 'Um, Armaan. Are you embarrassed?'
He just half looked at her and remained silent. Shilpa smiled even more and kept looking at him.
'What?', Armaan said
Shilpa wiped off her smiled and shrugged, 'Did I say something?'
'Will you quit staring at me?', he said
She moved even closer. Looking into his eyes, she whispered huskily, 'No'
Just then, an announcement was made, 'All senior doctors are requested to report to the nurse station'
'Time to go', she whispered and moved away. She quickly grabbed her lab coat and tied her hair and walked out. Armaan stood transfixed for a moment, a little fazed out by the proximity. And then he too grabbed his lab coat, shook his head and made his way towards the door.
'Dr. Shilpa, OPD', said Dr. Keerti, 'Dr. Armaan, emergency ward. Dr. Ridhima, general ward and Dr. Sidhant, you will be in the general award along with Dr. Ridhima'.
Sid smiled to himself and looked at Ridhima. She seemed quite unhappy about the duty. That will change, he thought to himself.
They dispersed for their respective duties. Armaan rubbed his forehead with his fingers, damn the hangover, he thought with annoyance. Suddenly, Shilpa appeared out of nowhere infront of him.
'Have this tablet. It'll help your hangover', she said flatly. Armaan looked at her, confused for a moment. She repeated, 'Take it. It really helps'
He slowly picked up the tablet. Shilpa was about to walk, when he said, 'Thanks'
'Not a problem. You're welcome..He-man', she said and winked at him. Armaan looked at her retreating figure and grinned to himself. He-man, not a bad name, he thought.
'So, what can I do for you?', asked Shilpa.
'Doctor, I was bathing yesterday when I noticed this lump in my armpit. I got a little suspicious so I decided to get a check-up done', said a middle aged lady. She seemed to be in her early 40's, short, plump with a thin face.
'Hmm, I see. Did you observe any other unusual symptoms in the past few days?', asked Shilpa.
'Not really, I've just been feeling itchy around the nipple area. That's it'
'Okay, Mrs. Varshney, let me take a look at it. Can you please take off your upper clothes and lie down on that bed?', Shilpa said as she put on her glasses. The lady nodded and did as she was told.
Shilpa studied the lump with her fingers and after a few moments, asked her to wear her clothes. Back at her table, she tore off a sheet from her paperpad and said, 'Look Mrs. Varshney, these things can often be quite frightening. But alot of times it just turns out to be a small cyst. Before your mind goes off to something else, I want you to get these tests done as soon as possible'
The lady nodded meekly as Shilpa wrote down the basic tests including an X-ray and a MRI. She signed the paper, tore it off and handed it to her, 'You have to get an X-ray and a MRI done. And the basics like blood test and an ultrasound. After you've got all of them done, please come and see me again'
She nodded and said nervously, 'Doctor, uh, are these tests..expensive?'
Shilpa kept looking flatly at the woman, then leaned forward and said, 'Look Mrs. Varshney, Sanjeevani is a private hospital. I cannot lie to you about the expenses. Yes, they are high. However, I can assure you that you will not find a better hospital in the whole of Mumbai'
The lady looked down and nodded, 'Thankyou Doctor', and then slowly got up and walked out. Shilpa kept staring at the door long after she had left, and then sighed and waited for the next patient.
Shilpa looked at her watch. She had a half an hour break before her duty started again. Deciding that she needed a little peace and loneliness, she made her way towards the one place she knew she would get those - The fire escape.
She had attended to almost 20 patients since morning, and all their problems seemed to be swirling in her head like a thick liquid. Even though each patient's story replayed in her head again and again, she felt detached. It was like looking at her a horrific event through a thick glass pane.
Shaking her head to get all those thoughts out of her head, she opened the door to the fire escape, only to notice Armaan already sitting there. His sight made her feel light headed for a while. She smiled and walked down the stairs to sit next to him.
'You mind?', she said softly.
He looked at her and shook his head. She nodded, 'Wanna talk about it?'
He sighed and looked down, 'Complicated surgery this morning. I don't know whether...whether I've done a good job..'
Shilpa just looked at him and lightly patted his hand, 'It's okay', she whispered. She then turned her head ahead and just sat there, enjoying the silence.
Armaan felt better after having taken off the thought off his mind. Shilpa's silent company made him feel better, and both of them just sat there looking at nothing in particular.
Edited by CZ.. - 26 June 2010 at 3:11pm