Joined: 28 November 2010
"Some more toast?"
"No, I am done!"
"No, I am running late...I have a surgery scheduled in an hour!"
"Oh okay...got to be going too...I am scheduled to speak at the Nephrologists Conference this afternoon...any chance of your coming?"
"Oh...wish you'd told me earlier...I have a game of golf scheduled this afternoon with the Chairman of KGH's management committee...doesn't look nice to cancel at the last minute!"
"Of course...I understand...with an opening coming up on the Board of Directors, you shouldn't displease them...!"
"I knew you'd understand!"
"Ofcourse...don't I always?!"
Ashutosh nodded his head as he stood up and picked up his coat.
"Should be home for dinner by eight...1"
"Oh...am sorry...I won't be around...have a dinner planned with the girls...what shall I ask Hiraman Kaka to make?""
"Don't bother...might end up going out for dinner myself...will call him and let him know if I need anything!"
"Fine then...and all the best with the surgery!"
"Thank you dear!"
Ashutosh bent down and pecked at Mallika's cheek before leaving in a hurry.
Mallika stared at his retreating back before she heaved a long sigh.
Twelve years of marriage, two successful careers, touted as the ideal couple in their social circles, a plush apartment in the heart of the city, two luxury cars, a farmhouse in the suburbs, Ashutosh and she had everything that they wanted!
Her parents adored Ashutosh while his Baba was fond of her too. Their decision not to have children had not gone down well with both families. But how did that matter? Ashutosh understood and accepted her decision and was happy with it even! It had been her dream to become one of the country's most sought after nephrologists. A child would have put paid to her plans and she had not been willing to let that happen. Ashutosh had been so madly in love with her that he was willing to accept any of the conditions she laid down.
She was now living her dream and how! Her appointment register was choc a bloc and patients had to wait for weeks before getting to see her. She was a most sought after speaker at conferences and conventions. Her glamorous and camera friendly appearance often saw her gracing panels on TV talk shows even. She had the perfect life.
Mallika set her cup of coffee down and got busy preparing for the gruelling schedule ahead!
Ashutosh rushed into the hospital. He was in a foul temper. The traffic had been crazy, he had got into an altercation with a cabwallah who had stopped just short of ramming into his car, and, the result was that he was running late.
Ashutosh hated it when things did not go as per plan. He hated it when things went out of control. He hated uncertainty. He hated surprises.
Ashutosh rushed through the day's appointments with his secretary before his assistant joined him and they ran through the case history of the patient whose surgery was scheduled next. They moved on to the OT where Ashutosh exchanged the usual pleasantries with the consultant anesthetist and the attending physician.
They were about to move into the OT when one of the nurses on duty whispered something into his assistant's ears.
Ashutosh looked at his assistant quizzically as he noticed him frowning. The assistant shook his head and gave him their usual thumbs up signal.
This was going to be a complicated surgery. The patient had been suffering from a cerebral aneurysm which had now ruptured, causing intracranial hematoma. The patient had been brought in early this morning into the emergency room and Ashutosh had been notified within an hour. It was a complicated procedure that required the skills of the best, and there was no better neurosurgeon than Ashutosh in the whole of Lucknow city. Such were his skills that he was often invited by hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai to come in and perform complicated surgeries.
Ashutosh greeted the team perfunctorily and got on with the job at hand.
Midway through the surgery, he sensed the discomfort of the scrub to his left. He could see nothing beyond her eyes, since much of her face was hidden behind a mask. She seemed to be gently swaying on her feet and muttering something pretty much inaudible under her breath. He had frowned at her twice before but she did not seem to have noticed. The muttering continued. He even wondered if anyone else had noticed. Not everyone had as keen a sense of sound as he did after all. If you did not notice the slight movement of the girl's lips beneath the mask, you could be excused for not knowing she was muttering even.
The hand that handed him the scalpel seemed to be trembling way beyond normal.
What was wrong with this girl? Who the hell was she and why was she a part of his surgical team?
Ashutosh's temper was rising but this was not the time for that. The surgery went through without any further complications and he left the OT after instructing for the suturing to be done.
He washed his hands clean and got out of his scrubs even while he was still preoccupied with the muttering he had heard. What had she been muttering? He felt like his head would explode if he did not know!
As he was about to leave the washroom, she stepped in.
Her eyes were a dead giveaway. Huge black eyes that looked at him like she was a deer caught in the headlights of a car!
"You new around here?"
"Yee..ees Sir...am an intern...joined here a few months ago!"
"What is an intern doing in my team?"
"I don't suffer fools gladly, Dr...what is your name?"
"Nidhi...Nidhi Verma, Sir!"
"So Dr Nidhi Verma, like I was saying...I don't suffer fools gladly...and bumbling interns have no place in my team...everyone around knows it...how did you manage to get in?"
"i bribed the junior doctor who was supposed to be in my place!"
"You what...you bribed someone...what the heck for?"
"I wanted to be on your surgical team, Sir!"
"Are you out of your mind?"
"Yes Sir...i mean ...No Sir...I just so badly wanted to learn from you, Sir..?"
"Learn from me...you think this is a bloody classroom?"
"No Sir...I mean...yes Sir...for us interns, it is a bit like that, Sir...!"
Ashutosh could not believe the nerve of the girl. She was talking to him this way? Did she even have a clue what he could do to her career?
"And what did you learn. Dr Nidhi Verma?"
"That today was a bad idea, Sir!"
"Do you always say whatever comes to your mind?"
"Yes Sir...I mean...!"
"And you don't care whom you are speaking to...?"
"No Sir...I mean...!"
"Take that bloody mask and cap off...I want to see who it is whose career I am about to destroy!"
"I said take the bloody mask and cap off!"
She removed them both with trembling fingers. A mass of luxurious black hair tumbled out as she clearly pulled out the pins too in her haste. Her doe like eyes were full of tears, her nostrils flaring and lips quivering!
There was something about her that struck him so to the core that he forgot everything for a couple of minutes.
It was the continuation of the muttering from the OT that brought him back to his senses.
"What is that...what is it you're muttering under your breath...?"
"What is it...some curse?"
"No Sir...on the contrary..!"
He barked out the word so harshly that she flinched.
She fainted right that moment and he was left with no choice but to hold her in his arms!
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