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Ch22: Rights & Wrongs
Dutta tapped the key for the next slide on the laptop,"You see this here? Ye heart ka left side hai. Dil ke 4 hissey hotey hai, do left mein do right mein. Aur dil is tarah se dhadakta hai." He pointed out the slow animated pumping of the heart. Her sleepy head pillowed on his shoulder shook in negation. Taking his hand in hers she slipped it inside the warmth of the blanket wrapped around her and placed it on her soft chest," Dil to aise dhadakta hai, Dr.Tillu ji." Dutta sharp intake of breath turned into a fit of coughing, making the beautiful flight attendant rush beside him. "May I help you sir? Would you like something?" Her concerned voice made him groan in embarrassment. Dutta tried to smile politely," A glass of water, please!" As the stewardess went to fetch him a glass, he turned angry gaze at him. Her eyes sparkled with mischief all traces of sleepiness gone. As he narrowed his eyes threateningly at her, she moved in her seat like a lazy cat stretching from sleep sensuously, making his mouth go dry.
As she pulled the laptop towards her to see the slides for his first presentation in Budapest Medical Meet, Dutta felt relieved that at least she was not quaking in fear like a few days back. Convincing her to come with him for the meet had been a war in itself. He had used every card up his sleeve to get his way. He had made everyone join his cause Leela tai, Kala tai, her Kishore jiju, her nani, her babuji everyone. He had literally twisted her arm to get her to sign on passport application form. They had more quarrels in the two weeks after the party than they had had since they had met. Days were spent pretending to ignore each other. Cold nights were passed lying as far from each other as the huge bed would allow with a barricade of pillows in between as LOC even though the need to hold each other burned incessantly.
He was at his breaking point and was ready to let her stay back or even go to Rajnandgaon as she wanted, when she gave in. After another round of tug of war with the blanket, where he had let go in the end with disgust, she had turned to her side of the bed facing away from him weeping silently. Her hiccupping sobs had proved his downfall and he had swept away the flimsy barrier and reached for her trembling body. Pulling her in his arms, he had held her wordlessly for some time. She had cried a storm, clutching on to him for dear life. He had raised her face to his and let his eyes plead silently to hers. Her eyes had accepted as they watered with fresh tears and she had nodded her acquiescence.
The paper works came through easily enough with a little prodding from his mighty friends. And the entire time till the date of their travel Nakusha's reactions tittered between excitement and trepidation. She was had a million questions and thousands of fears about her first trip outside her little world.
"Humein kitna samay lagega wahan jaane mein?""Yahi kuch 13-14 ghante, shayad jayada."
"Wahan bahut than dhoti hai kya? Baraf girti hai kya? Roopatai ke ghar ke jaise?""nahi abhi baraf nahi hogi par thand hogi..garam kapade rakh le."
"Wahan log kya khatey hai? Maine sunna hai ki videshi log saap,bichoo, cockroach bhi kha lete hai..dekho main ye sab nahi kha sakti…bata deti hoon..achar, murabba pack kar loon?""Khabardar nahi..faltu ka weight nahi badhana..do haftey ke liye jaa rahe hai janam ke liye nahi.""To wahan kya khayenge?""Kuch bhi kha lenge…abhi mera dimaag mat kha!"
"Waha log kaunsi bhasha boltey hai…angrezi? ""Ha ha ha…wahan ke logo ki English tere hi jaisi hai…I come..u come type."THUMP. "AWUCH! What the..? aapne pati ko maarti hai?""Tum issi layak ho, Khadoos kahin ke!""Hey, naraaz mat ho, meetha! Accha, sun wahan ke log ek bahut hi ancient language boltey hai –Uralic. It's like a collection of 3 dozen old languages. But wahan ki main language is Hungarian.""Lo kar lo baat!Ek to meri bhasha paidal duji unki langdri..ho gaya satyanaash! "She concentrated on separating the colored and whites from the piles of clothes to be washed in the machine. He grinned at her look of annoyance as she turned her nose in disgust at his sock and pulled her around kissing her deeply till she was breathless and light-headed.
Nakusha stopped at a slide and looked up at him,"Ye kaun hai?" Dutta sipped his water before answering," That's' the record picture of Crown Street Women's hospital in Sydney. Sydney ke ek scientist Edward Booth ne pacemaker develop kiya tha, par aisa ajeeb sa device jo dil ko jhatka deta ho kaun aadmi aapne dil pe lagane dega. 1928 mein Crown Hospital mein ek garib tribal aurat ko stillborn..matlab maari hui beti huyi thi. Uski body ko lab mein le jaake uspe experiment kiya gaya tha…device lagane ke 10 minute baad uska dil bacchon ke dil ki gati se kuch 5guna kum raftaar se dhadak raha tha…raftaar control karne per it started beating like a normal newborns' heart…Imagine they actually created Frankenstein. Ek mari huyi bacchi jiska dil dhadakta ho." Dutta's eyes glittered with pleasure and excitement. Nakkusha looked at him with confusion in her eyes,"Uski maa ne us doctor ko aapni bacchi pe ye sab karne ki izzazat di thi." Dutta laughed,"No! In those times Science was still looked upon skeptically. Aur sabka superstition aare aa jata tha. Is liye jab maa behosh thi tab chup chap experiment kiya gaya..phir body lautatey waqt sab nikal ke de diya gaya." Nakusha- ye to chori se bhi ghatiya harkat hai.Ek maa se pouche bina? Kya kissine ek baar bhi ye nahi socha ki maari hui hi saahi wo us garib aurat ki bacchi hai? Dutta made a sound of irritation- Nakku, kya bekaar ki baat kar rahi hai? Tu jaanti hai ye modern medical science ki kitni badi achievement thi. Kitne logon ki jaan isse bacchi hai..aur bacchegi. Ye galat kaise ho sakta hai? It was for humanity. Nakusha shook her head- mana ki ye humanity ke liye wardaan tha, logon ki jaan bachane ka tareka hai. To kya jhoot ka shara lenge..maa ke ehsaas se khilward karenge..kuch aur kartey..koi aur lawaris lash pe experiment kar lete? Dutta- agar aisa kar saktey to kar lete. Par that's not possible. They needed a fresh heart, jiske muscles jam nahi gaye ho. Maut ke baad rigor mortis hota hai sharer thanda ho jata hai. We..I mean, they needed a body which had not frozen. Emotional hone ka waqt nahi tha..Emotions and science don't go together. Aur waise bhi wo log kaunsa baccha chura ke bech rahe the. Nakkusha- usse kuch kum bhi nahi kar rahe the. Maanti hoon bacchey ko maa se alag karne jaisa apradh nahi tha..par apradh to tha. Dutta-nakkusha, dekh sometimes means doesn't justify the end…sometimes it does. Agar ek jhoot se lakhon ki jaan bach jaye to kya wo jhoot hua. Jis Doctor ki hum baat kar rahe hai he dedicated his life to humanity and its betterment…ek legacy chod gaye hai wo. Ussey sahi ya galat tareke se istamal karma humare haathon mein hai. Nobel ne jab pahela atom experiment kiya tha..tab usse Hiroshima ka sapna to nahi aaya tha naa? Par Hiroshima-nagasaki hua..insaano ne khoon bahaya..nasal barbaad kar di. Par banana waalle ne to ye socha tha ki itni energy se logon ka kitna bhala hoga..electricity, medicine, industries ko faida hoga..garib ko aamir ke daya ka mohtaj nahi hona hoga. Har mahan avishkaar apne piche ek dhabba chod jaati hai. Agar tere Kanhaji hai aur agar insaan uska sabse badi den hai to kya insaan hamesha accha hota hai ya hamesha bura? Nahi dono saath hota hai..Science mera bhagwaan hai! Uske bhi blessings na puri tarah aachey hotey hai na burey…bas logon ke haathon mein hotey hai. Samajhi? Nakkusha nodded and looked at the slide again. The team of doctors of Crown hospital had a look of satisfaction and peace on their faces. A few looked on somberly, probably thinking about how that satisfaction was not achieved without a lie.
"Agar wo humara baccha hota to kya tum pita hotey huye bhi humare bacchey ko de dete?" the question was so low that he thought he had imagined it. Looking at her turned face he knew what he had heard. The night sky outside was dark and clouds formed a white silvery floor for the flight. Everything was so still that it was easy to forget that they were so high up and in such high speed. She had enjoyed the take off and the landing at Dubai. But had felt uneasy during the small turbulence they had run into. A thunder struck the clouds below, making the surrounding charge up in static soundlessly. He sighed,"Nakku….tu bhi na!" Nakkusha-please, bolo na! Dutta spoke matter of factly- haan de deta. Agar mere mare huye bacchey ke wajah se lakhon bacchon ka bhalla hoga to de dunga. Dard hoga, takleef bhi par sukoon hoga. Par tu ye sab kyun soch rahi hai. Tu abhi se bacchon ke bare mein kyun soch rahi hai..of course we will have lots of babies…but that's far in the future. At least not for next 4-5 years. Abhi toh I just want you for myself. Jaanti hai na main kitna possessive hoon? Abhi to tu khud bacchi hai.
Nakkusha looked at him with pained eyes- aapko lagat hai ki main abhi acchi maa nahi ban sakti. Dutta saw the hurt swimming in her brown depths- aisi baat nahi hai,meethu. Tu duniya ki sabse acchi maa sabit hogi. Main ye baat janta hoon. Tune kaise apne bhai-behen ko bada kiya hai ye bhi janta hoon…aur is liye abhi tuje ek aur badi zimedari nahi dena chahta..I want you to just live for yourself for few days, just be your age, you know! Aisa nahi hai ki mera sapna nahi hai ki meri ek chotti si doll ho tere jaisi badi badi aankhon waali..who will wrap me around her little finger and warm my heart. I want it as much as I need to breathe. But I want it when you are ready. Do you understand?
Nakku felt a huge block in her throat making her choke. She tried to say something but failed and nodded. He leaned and kissed her forehead without hesitation of any onlookers. She tried to remember who had ever tried to do things just for her, considered just her happiness. Apart from Kalatai no one had ever told her to be happy just for herself. Her babuji was a fair man yet he was never good at displaying open affection. After maa's death, he seemed at sea with three children and quite naturally his attention went more to the younger ones. Nakkusha herself had never dreamed a dream just for herself but here she was flying over the clouds with the only dream she had ever dared to see in her life. He didn't believe in Gods but then without Gods and destiny, how can her happiness be explained?
The first look of the city left her speechless. Budapest was a buzzing city stretched across both banks of the river Danube with beautiful bridges connecting them. As their cab sped on the Chin Bridge providing a panoramic view of the city and Buda Castle, Nakkusha tried to take in the vastness around her. They checked into Hotel Rubin. Nakkusha was awed by the spleandor of it all. Their bedroom's balcony overlooked the lush river and half the twinkling city. "Passand aaya?" Dutta asked her after tipping the busboy, who had carried their luggage. Nakkusha stood before the balcony for a second without answering. She then turned and ran into his waiting arms, letting him know how much she liked it.
The days were hardly the idyllic honeymooners days but the nights brought the splendor of love with warmth which melted them together. Nakkusha saw her husband in action doing what he was. He was not just good; he was the best in his field. She didn't understand most of what went around but she understood respect and reverence when she saw it. And she could see how much Dutta was revered for his work and dedication to his profession. He was the youngest Doctor researcher on board yet, everyone seemed to think that he would make it to the top in the summit. She received second glances in the evening dinners as she entered the hall on his arms. She heard the soft curious murmurs of women and felt the interested gaze of the men on her. Her fear of not being able to communicate with anyone was well founded as she fumbled with her high-school thick accented English but Dutta never left her side and eased the process with his translations. Unlike in Mumbai where people had started knowing and liking her for herself and her simplicity, here people noticed her for her husband and then try to draw her out with friendly questions, but noticing her unease they would let her be quiet like a wallflower. Nakkusha felt alone in the crowd but she hung on her husband's arm like a lifeline. She was proud of him, and prayed for his success all the time but for her it was an alien world.
On the third evening , Dutta was drawn away from her by another colleague. As she looked at him talking easily with a group of older men and women, she felt uneasy and out of place. "kvn, mint a hs szelet, asszonyom?(would you like meat cutlets,madam?)" Nakusha looked at the waiter who held a try of some fried cutlets garnished beautifully on the tray. She nodded uncertainly. But as the waiter was about to serve her a firm voice stopped the man in midway,"nem, Kozonom. She won't have it." The waiter looked skeptically at nakkusha. Nakkusha turned to look at the beautiful older woman who was tsnading beside her on the table with her hand curved on the chair,"Ye beef hai. Gai ka meat. I thought, tumhe beef se problem hogi?" Nakusha's eyes widened in horror as she looked in disgust at the offereing and shook her head vehemently at the waiter telling him to take it away. As the waiter moved on to others on the table, nakkusha turned to the woman to thank her for saving her from committing a sin. The lady pulled up the chair and sat with feline elegance. Nakkusha saw that she drew gazes from the men around. The evening dress in soft cream moulded her striking figure in elegant lines. Her face was lined with experience and graceful ageing, her eyes sharp and all knowing.Nakusha smiled tentatively,"Thanks. Aap ne sahi waqt pe bacha liya warna..""Tumhari jaat chali jaati? Dharam bhrasht ho jata?"She smiled mockingly. Nakusha nodded tentatively."Dutta ki biwi ho na tum?" She took out a golden case and lit a ciggerette. Nakusha smiled,"Ji, Nakusha Patil." Blowing a puff of smoke she extened her hand towards her,"Dr. Rakshanda Mehra. I was your husband's collegue friend." Colored drained from Nakkusha's face as she looked at the woman infront of her. She felt like snatching her arm away and slapping that knowing look off her face. She felt helpless and disgusted at her own jealousy of the older woman. Rakhshanda smiled,"If looks could kill...main to maar chuki hoti. Are you jealous of every woman who knows Dutta?" Nakusha bit her lips from giving her a scathing reply.
''what are you doing here?"Dutta bit out his question. Rakshanda gave him a cool smile,"I was invited too. Afterall,I am a doctor and a doctor's wife to,right? Relax! Was just introducing myself to your new bride. Tumne to milvaya hi nahi." Dutta clenched his hands,"Bakwas mat karo, Raksha. I think it enough. Please, this table is booked." Rakshanda got up throwing a pitying look at nakkusha,"So that is it. She is the perfect gharelu, sidhi saadhi si biwi. The little woman tucked away at home,huh! Never thought you'll go for the perfect innocent Indian bride,Dutta. But here we are, aren't we?" Dutta raised a cynical eyebrow at her,"Why not, Raksha? After all you went for the rich,old sugar daddy cliche, didn't you?" Rakshanda smiled,"You always were a sore loser Dutta. Game samajhety hi nahi the. It was just business. Nothing personal." Dutta- of course it was nothing. And I don't hold anything against you. He gave a apraising glance at nakkusha who was looking at him uneasily,"Till now. But that will change in a flash if you try anything with things that matter to me."
Rakshanda made a hissing sound,"Wow! The angry love-struck husband. This look suits you well,Dutta. More than the ruthless womanizer look. Anyways, i am off for the night. Ciao. Nice meeting you Mrs. Patil."
Dutta slowly sat on the table and began his appologies tetatively. Nakkusha shook her head smiling at him,"Koi baat nahi. Aap ki galati nahi hai. Kumse kum usne mujhe ek paap se to bacchaya." Dutta looked at her confused,"paap?" She smiled and told him about the waiter incident.
Dutta sighed,"Stay away from her nakku. She is one poison ivy that will leave rashes." Nakkusha looked at the woman sitting on the bar sipping her drink alone and shook her head,"Ghussa to aaya mujhe. Dil kiya ek dhar du zor se. Phir dil kiya tumhe aaj raat kaan pakad ke uthak baithak karaun..par.."Dutta-par...par kya? Mujhepe daya aagai. Nakkusha made a face- nahi, par phir uske aankhon mein kuch dekha..aapki us din flight waali baat yaad agai...sab kuch pura sahi ya pura galat nahi hota na..shayad insaan bhi sab purey burey ya purey acchey nahi hotey...thoda thoda unme sab hota hai..rakshanda ji, bahut akeli hai.
Dutta picked his fork and chewed on his prawns shrugging,"The top is normally a very lonely place, nakkusha. Khaaskar jab tum aapne saathiyon ke kaandhon pe pair rakhke us uchai pe pahuchtey ho. Don't waste your sympathies on her, darling. Save them for me...I am a poor hard working honest man, you know? Mujhe ter pyaar ki aur dekhbhaal ki jarurat hai. Lets loose this crowd. OK. I need you. Just you."
Nakkusha blushed and picked at her food losing her appetite.
...To be continued.
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