Joined: 05 June 2012
Joined: 05 June 2012
Stupid senseless idiot! Incorrigibly besotted fool! Nidhi continued to curse herself as she stabbed the key viciously through the keyhole and thrust the main door of her apartment open. She banged it shut behind her and swiped an angry hand over her flowing eyes. What was the point in crying? She was the dumber who despite knowing better had succumbed to temptation. When she had heard that Raja titli story from him, something in her broke and against all her best lectures to herself, hope had risen in her. Despite the loud warnings her mind had been screaming at her, she hadn't listened. Maybe this time it would be different. He did regret his decision, didn't he? He did want her back, didn't he? He still loved her, didn't he? Nidhi threw her handbag viciously across the room. Love was just not enough. She had known that. Yet, what did she do? Did she stand on her word to keep things on a professional level? No. One smile from him, one please out of his mouth, she had been falling all over herself. She shouldn't have accepted the ride. She shouldn't have gone with him to the orphanage. She shouldn't have talked in the car. She shouldn't have laughed. And to top it all off, she had to go and dance around him like..like some..insane fanatic.
The lyrics of some long forgotten song suddenly popped up in her mind. Ranjha Ranjha karte karte..Heer deewani hogayi.. Lyricists probably wrote such songs after seeing people like her, she thought. And as if that was not enough, she had taken one look at Dr Mallika and fled the scene like some criminal. Why? Why did she do that? Why couldn't she have stayed and acted indifferent? Smile a hello and walk off with her back straight? What had got into her that she had run all the way from that orphanage like a raving lunatic?
Nidhi ignored the ringing of her cell phone. It stopped only to start again almost immediately. With another muttered curse, she pulled it out of the handbag and sighed. Anji.
"Hey Nidhi. Function hogaya? Are you back home? How was it? Sorry yaar I couldn't come. Did you take snaps of all the kids in their cost.." Anji's question trailed away as a soft hiccupping breath reached her ears. "Nidhi? Hey, Nidhi..what happened? Nidhi? Kuch toh bol. Nidhi? Where are you? Answer me damn it!" By then Ranganath also came and stood beside Anji with a worried frown on his face. Anji turned her face away from him. She had listened to him and let her friend down. She should've been with Nidhi. Something went badly wrong. All because of her. And her interfering husband.
Anji sighed in relief. "OK. You stay there, I'm coming."
"N-no. I-I'm f-fine."
Nidhi hastily wiped her eyes and breathed deeply to steady her voice. "No. Really. I'm fine. I was just..tired and.."
"Nidhi, out with it. What happened? Tujhe meri kasam."
"Dr Mallika is back."
Nidhi nodded. "I saw her..at the function."
"Did she see you?" Ranganath came to stand in front of Anji and frowned in serious concern. Anji mouthed Mallika. He looked dumbstruck for a moment before shaking his head and walking away.
"Your friend is a damn coward Anji. I saw her and ran away before she could see me. How stupid of me na?"
"You're the bravest person I know Nidhi."
Nidhi shook her head. "No. Not brave at all. What I'm is silly and stupid. I knew joining in KGH was a mistake. But I did it. I knew working along with him was a mistake. I did it. I knew I shouldn't have listened to my silly heart and agreed to go with him. I did that too." Now that she started talking, Nidhi realized that she couldn't stop. "But I love him so much Anji. So much. I thought I'll shore up some more memories..you know. I couldn't let the chance go."
Anji tried to reason. "Nidhi, he loves you too. Mallikaji can't change that no matter how much she tries. She might have feelings for him but she doesn't have his love."
"But she has his trust Anji. Something that our relationship lacked from the beginning and theirs hadn't. Trust. And now she is back." She sighed. She felt tired. So so tired. And weary to the bone. "I never stood a chance Anji.."
"Nidhi.." Anji had never felt so helpless.
"I'll talk to Ranganath tomorrow and see if KGH can let me go despite the contract. I'm no martyr."
"Just hang on a sec."
Armaan left his food midway through and walked into his study and banged the door shut. He made it a point to control his language in front of his kids and the current situation definitely called for some colourful words.
"What the f**k are you talking about? Where the hell did Mallika come from?"
Ranganath winced and rubbed his ear. "I don't know the details sir. All I could get was that Dr Mallika had been there in that function and Nidhi left midway through. She is..upset Dr Armaan."
"Please don't tell me this guy put his foot in his mouth the moment he saw his buddy. And why the hell did she have to come now? Couldn't she wait for five bloody weeks? These two would've gotten married by then and left for their honeymoon too."
"With all due respect sir, I don't think marriage would change anything or take away their issues with regard to Dr Mallika."
Armaan shrugged and looked thoughtful. "You're right. But don't underestimate the power of physical intimacy either Ranganath. Combine that with the kind of love that these two share.."
Ranganath agreed silently but said, "So, what do we do now?"
Armaan smirked. "Nothing. Our plan is already in motion. Bhargav left for his vacation as of tonight. Nidhi will take up the slack from tomorrow morning. Dr Mallika, for all her friendship, is a gynac. And our Nidhi here is.."
Ranganath nodded sagely. "I get it sir. I'll make sure Nidhi gets the duty chart first thing tomorrow morning along with the news that she is the new assistant for Dr Ashutosh Mathur for the next two weeks. At least."
Armaan chuckled. "Fantastic. Oh, wanted to ask you about something else too. What is the KGH grapevine saying?"
Ranganath cleared his throat. "Uh..the interns are talking sir. And most of the seniors already know from the previous time.." and left the sentence hanging.
"Hmmm..have anyone said anything to her directly? I know no one would dare to breathe in front of Dr Heartstone but.."
"I don't think so sir. She doesn't exactly invite a friendly chitchat these days."
"Hmmm. OK, chal, see you then. Goodnight." He mentally hummed a few bars of do dil milrahe hain..magar chupke chupke.
"Kaka, kaka, breakfast milega?"
"Aaya aaya. Baito Ashu beta. Abhi laata hoon. Saath mein ek aur cup chai peeyoge?"
"Ji." Ashutosh sat at the dining table and fiddled with the knife and fork.
The question was not leaving him. Why did Nidhi leave so suddenly the previous night? Did something happen? Or..did she see Mallika and didn't want to face her? Were her issues with Mallika that deep? Or was it his friendship with Mallika that had that effect on her? Why hadn't he seen this insecure side of hers before? She knew he had no feelings for his friend. So why did it still impact her to the extent that she would run away from the function rather than face Mallika once again? An unbidden memory came into his mind.
"I ignored the taunts of Dr Mallika. I never told you about them as I know how this would hurt you. And whenever you sided and agreed with her without even hearing my side of things..do you know how much that hurt? How much you hurt me?"
"Beta, kya sochraha hain?" Hirman kaka placed the plate with two paratas and achaar in front of Ashutosh.
"Kuch nahi kaka." As HK turned to go, Ashutosh asked, "Kaka aapko Nidhi yaad hain?"
Kaka smiled. "Arre usse mein kaise bhool sakta hoon. Kyu beta? Aaj achanak.."
Ashutosh shook his head and started to eat. "Kuch nahi. Buss aise hi. Woh ab phirse KGH mein kaam kar rahi hain."
"Arre waah, yeh toh bahut khushi ki baat hain."
"Neurologist. She is a neurologist kaka. Usne apna PG karliya hain..Neurology mein."
Kaka smiled, pleased. The pride in Ashutosh's voice was so obvious that HK's smile turned into a grin. He had known all those years ago that they had feelings for each other. Felt very strongly for each other. He had hoped for so much but.. Maybe there was still a chance.
"Yeh toh double khushi hogaya. Kabhi bulao na apne ghar. Chai pe ya khaane pe?"
Nidhi at his home again? Would she ever come? After last night he doubted even the contract would hold her back in KGH. What should he do now? "Dekhte hain kaka." He frowned as his phone started ringing. He glanced at the caller id before answering. "Yes Ranganath?"
"Good morning sir."
"Good morning. Everything OK?"
"Yes sir. I just wanted to give you a heads up on something. Dr Bhargav has taken off for a couple of weeks sir."
"Personal time off sir," came the hasty reply.
"And you agreed?" Ashutosh frowned. That was not like Ranganath.
"Sir, Dr Bhargav hadn't had a single day off in the last six months so I couldn't refuse."
Ashutosh sighed in irritation. "But my team needs an assistant Ranganath. You know it."
"Yes sir. Uh..you're going to have two assistants. Dr Madhusudan will take care of the surgical side and..ummm..Dr Nidhi Verma will be your assistant on the clinical side."
Everything fell into place like three cherries in the slot machine. Ashutosh's frown cleared. "Aaah..OK. That's fine then. I trust you informed Dr Verma of this latest..development?"
"Yes sir." The tone implied that Ranganath had faced an uphill battle and barely managed to succeed.
"Thank you Ranganath." He couldn't resist adding, "I'm sure Bhargav appreciates your..large heart. And Dr Armaan's too."
Mallika and Ashutosh entered his cabin in KGH later that morning. Mallika smiled as she took her usual place in front of Ashutosh. "So, how are things Ashutosh?"
Ashutosh smiled ruefully and shrugged. "Same as ever. You tell me. How is your bhabhi doing now? You took a sabbatical because she was not well, right?"
Mallika nodded with a grimace. "Yeah. She is better now. The treatment worked and she is able to move around the house a bit and take care of herself and her son. Of course, Aditya helps a lot but still.."
Ashutosh nodded in understanding. "That's good to know. So you're not going back?"
"No. I'm cutting my sabbatical short. That is..if the dean permits?" Her eyes twinkled mischievously.
Ashutosh gave a small grin and opened the file to scrawl his signature. He closed it and gave it to her. "Here you go Dr Mallika. You're back on duty from today on."
Mallika bowed a little. "Thank you sir," and laughed softly before adding, "I'm feeling hungry and I skipped breakfast. Want to come along to the canteen?"
"No. You go on. I'll catch up later. Need to check on the post ops."
Mallika nodded and got up. "I missed you Ashutosh. Really."
Ashutosh didn't respond and if the lack of response disappointed her, she didn't show. With another nod, she walked out of the cabin towards the bank of lifts that would take her to the top floor canteen but stopped midway as she heard a voice that she had thought she would never be hearing again. Bewilderment, shock and anger coursed through her face. What the hell was going on here?!
Nidhi pushed the conversation she had had with Ranganath that morning forcibly out of her mind and tried to concentrate on the reports in her hand. Bhargav was on leave? And she was the substitute until he gets back? A hospital of this size didn't have another neurologist other than the temporary one? It was as if fate knew what she had planned and checkmated her before she could move a single step in that direction. Not only fate, she had her own suspicions about Ranganath too. But she would deal with all that later. Now was definitely not the time.
"Dr Nidhi, what is wrong with my son? Why is he behaving like this? For a few days he seems absolutely normal and suddenly this.." a fiftyish worried father wrung his hands as he exchanged perplexing looks with his frantic wife.
Nidhi guided them to the nearby chairs and made them sit. She dragged a chair for herself and sat facing them. "Mr Acharya, ma'am, your son is suffering from what is medically termed as Multiple Sclerosis." She tried to explain in simple terms. "The nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. So the nervous system is not able to communicate properly with the rest of his body."
"But there is a treatment, right? He can be cured, right?" The battle of fear and hope was obvious in the mother.
"But why this disease? What's the cause?"
Nidhi decided to address the father's question first. "There are many reasons sir. It could be low immune system, infection from the environment, internal malfunction..sometimes it could be genetic too."
The couple exchanged glances. "My father used to..behave oddly. A few days of being completely normal followed by extremely erratic behaviour. He..he is no more now of course but.."
Nidhi nodded. That explained a lot. "There is no known cure of MS ma'am but.."
"What is going on here?"
Even though she had been subconsciously waiting for it, the voice of Dr Mallika still caught her unawares for a moment. Taking a deep breath and giving what she hoped was a reassuring smile to the elderly couple, Nidhi stood up and faced her nemesis head on. "Good morning Dr Mallika. Welcome back to KGH."
Mallika blinked at the formal greeting but recovered fast. "May I have a word with you Nidhi?" Nidhi nodded and both of them stepped aside, away from the earshot of the worried parents. "What the hell are you doing Nidhi?"
"I was talking to the parents of a patient ma'am," came the deadpan reply.
"You bloody well know that you're not supposed to do that. Your job is to handover the reports to the concerned doctor and he will explain. You have crossed the line Nidhi Verma and come to think of it, why are you even here?"
"Any problem?" Ashutosh's low firm voice startled both women.
Nidhi decided to remain silent. After all, there was no point in trying to defend herself, was there? Mallika shook her head and replied, "There is a case and Nidhi crossed her line. She.."
Ashutosh looked at Nidhi. "I trust Ranganath already gave you the news?" Nidhi nodded. Ashutosh could feel the reluctance leaping out of her. He looked at her straight shoulders and impassive face. It was as if she was bracing herself for a blow. He nodded. "Please go back to your duty Dr Nidhi. We'll discuss about that later."
Nidhi waited as if expecting him to say something more. When nothing was forthcoming, she nodded and left without a backward glance. But she could feel his eyes boring holes through her back with fervour. She willed herself to ignore it. Ashutosh waited until she was out of the room before turning back to face Mallika. With a look that made the staff of KGH quiver in terror but one which he rarely had directed at her. The same question zapped through her mind once again. What the hell was going on here?!
"What was all that about Mallika?"
Mallika shrugged and smiled. "Nothing serious Ashutosh. Relax, will you? I told you she was crossing the line and I tried to set her straight. Two years and she is still the same rule breaker that she ever was."
"Are you by chance talking about Dr Nidhi Verma?"
Mallika rolled her eyes. "Of course about Nidhi."
Ashutosh nodded and removed his glasses. He wiped them with a soft tissue and said, "Not Nidhi Mallika. Dr Nidhi. She completed her internship, wrote PG entrance and did her PG." He put his glasses on once again before looking at her squarely in the eye. "In Neurology."
Mallika felt the ground shifting under her feet. Did she hear it right? Why didn't anyone tell her about this? Why hadn't he told her about this before? Sure, she had been out of the country but they had been in touch through email. Agreed that his were less frequent than hers, but still..
Ashutosh nodded. "You've come here after a long break. Don't jump to conclusions without getting your facts straight. It would cause misery to anyone. But for a doctor, it would be catastrophic."
"I'm..sorry. I didn't.." she stammered.
He gave another nod but was prevented from adding anything else as his phone rang. "Dr Ashutosh here?.. oh hello Sunil. How are you?... sure tell me..Hmmm..oh..OK..yeah. I'll be there right away.. yeah. No problem. Any time. Yeah..see you."
With a distracted look at Mallika, Ashutosh went back to the corridor and called the staff nurse passing by. "Please call Dr Nidhi. Urgent." The nurse nodded rapidly and hurried away.
"What happened Ashutosh?" Mallika frowned in concern.
"Accident case at City Centre hospital. Their neurosurgeon is not available."
Mallika nodded just as Nidhi walked up to them. "Yes sir?"
"A major accident case has been brought in to City Centre hospital. A pregnant lady with extensive wounds and head injury. I want you to come with me."
Nidhi nodded. "Do we need to shift the patient here? City Centre has only two OTs."
Ashutosh nodded. "Good thinking. Tell our guys to be on standby. You can call and confirm with them once we get there." Nidhi nodded and sent the message through her phone.
"Ashutosh wait." Mallika interrupted. "If it's a pregnant lady, I'll also come na. A gynac might be more useful than a junior neurologist. I can.."
Ashutosh shook his head before she could complete her sentence. "Their OBG is already there Mallika. For the next couple of weeks Nidhi is my assistant here so I need her with me. You go on. We'll see you later." That said, he started walking with ground eating strides. "Nidhi come on!"
Nidhi's feet were barely touching the ground as she ran to keep up with him.
And.. That was chapter eight for you!! Hope you all LIKE it!! Will be looking forward to your comments / criticisms. Have a great Monday
Joined: 02 November 2010
Joined: 02 November 2010
Joined: 02 November 2010
Joined: 27 December 2010
Joined: 05 June 2012
Joined: 13 February 2012
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