Posted: 01 February 2008 at 5:07am
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ARMAAN'S ROOM AT THE HOSTEL
Armaan was busy at his desk, when he heard a knock. "OH, Anjali tum?…..oh yaa…..main bhool gaya tha tum shaam ko aayogi…bolo kya dekhana hai?"
Anjali came in and plunked herself on his twin bed, "Yeh dekho….brochures…..main soch rahi hoon MBBS graduation ke baad tum aur main in mein se kahin bhi jaa sakte hain. Look….so beautiful…Mauritius, Maldives…..aur yeh dekho…."
"Anjali, pehle pass tho ho jaayen aur phir uske baad mujhe Neurosurgical program ke liye bhi exam dena hai…you know how competitive that is….suna hain agle saal sirf 1 opening hai……I can't think of vacation for a while…tumhein jaana hai tho jao…but not me…." Armaan interrupted her.
Anjali started throwing a tantrum like a 3 year old child, "Armaaaan….tum meri koyi baat nahin maante……main tumhari hur baat maanthi hoon…..I don't think you love me anymore…" she got up, stomped her feet and walked to the door.
He got up from his chair, "Anjali….Anjali….kaisi baatein karr rahi ho….you know how much I want to be with you…..main yeh thode hi keh rahaa hoon hum kabhi nahin jaayenge, main tho bus thode din wait karne ko keh raha hoon….please understand" he gave her a hug and kissed her forehead. Anjali looked up and kissed his cheek and said, "Armaan….you know that is why I love you….you always make me feel good….parr tumhein exam se darne ki zarrorat nahin hai…you know dad will never let his future son-in-law down…...samjho wo neurosurgery residency sirf tumhaari hi hai…."
"Whatever!" said Armaan as he opened the door to let her out…."ab jaao, mujhe tho padhne do…" Armaan never took Anjali too seriously; he knew he did not love her the way she thought he did but he played along as it served his purpose.
"OH, jaane se pehle, mera yeh paper likh do ge…kal gynae class ke liye due hai….please!" she handed him her class folder.
"OK, of course sweetheart" Armaan grinned and thought he would rather do her assignment than listen to her all evening. "Tum abhi jao, warna tum mujhe distract karthi rahogi…kal subah class mein de doonga tumhein" he pretended to look at her lovingly and gradually nudged her out of his room.
NEXT FEW DAYS
Riddhima continued to work hard on the surgical floor. She would show up on the floor at 5 am so she could complete all the pre rounds work on time. Armaan did not care as long as all the patient information was ready for Dr Jain every morning. Dr Jain had learnt to respect Riddhima's views on some of the patients and often asked for her input regarding their personal issues, which could be interfering with medical treatment.
One day, Armaan asked Riddhima, "Why don't you join us in the OT today." Riddhima smiled and said, "thanks, but Dr Jain has already asked me this morning!" Armaan just sulked and looked away. Riddhima thought, " why does Mr Armaan feel that he needs to call the shots everytime…? Lagta hai iske ego ko bahut chhot pahunchi hai ki Dr Jain ne mujhey khud invite kiya hai....serves you right Mr know-it-all!" She felt that she had won that round of battle this time.
IN THE OT:
Riddhima was fascinated by the surgical case. She had not seen too many surgeries so far but after seeing Armaan assist Dr Jain in this case, she knew why Armaan was what he was! There was a reason why he had such a swollen head.
Dr Jain seemed to rely more on Armaan than his senior residents. Armaan's fingers handled the surgical instruments and sutures like a paint brush….he was a painter, an artist in the operating room. Till now, she had seen Armaan as an arrogant, narcissistic senior medical student who took pleasure in bullying his juniors but at this moment her respect for him multiplied many fold……he was better than the best…and he was just a medical student! Her face was hidden behind the surgical mask but her eyes followed his hands everywhere…..she was mesmerized….she finally looked up and saw Armaan's eyes staring at her. They both were like frozen in an eye-lock! It was as though the surgical masks had hidden their external persona from each other....the only thing they could see were each others eyes.....the gateway to their hearts.....
Armaan had looked up to ask for an instrument but got distracted by the pair of eyes on him……he thought he was in a different world at that moment…..he almost forgot why he had looked up. Her almond colored eyes and his blue eyes spoke volumes to each other....more than their harsh words they had exchanged so far.
"Yes, sir, kaun saa instrument chahiye?" the scrub nurse tried to get his attention.
After the surgery, Riddhima and Armaan walked out together to the post-op area with the patient. They did not speak to each other but it seemed that they had developed some sort of deeper connection today- something totaly inexplicable and out of this world; neither had ever experienced anything like that before.
"Aisa kyaa hai uski aankhon mein?…..unmein doobney ko jee kyon chahta hai….???" Armaan thought as he wrote orders on the post surgical patient…..by accident he wrore Riddhima on the chart and was about to leave it for the nurse when he realized what he had done. He looked around sheepishly and scratched her name off, "thank God...kisi ne dekha nahin!" he shook his head and walked off.
NEXT FEW DAYS ON SURGICAL FLOOR
Since the day in the OT, when Armaan's eyes caught Riddhima staring at him, his attitude towards her changed…he unknowingly started paying extra attention to her and her whereabouts…it was like his eyes followed her wherever she went. Once he caught himself staring at her when she was talking to a patient; he was thinking, "how would she look without that long white coat?…..yadi wo baal khule rakhe tho?……" he shook his head as he was ashamed that he was getting distracted by her. The next moment, he could not help noticing how beautiful her smile was…. "yeh tumhey kya ho raha hai, Armaan Mallik?" he came out of a trance.
The patients seemed to particularly like Dr Riddhima as they called her. A few times, patients had refused to show their post op wounds to him, "Nahin, hum tho wo lady Doctor Riddhima ko hi dikhayenge….wo bahut aaram se dekhti hai…." He was shocked when he heard this from a patient.
Riddhima noticed that Armaan had stopped bullying her too much. She even saw him talking more to his patients, in fact she was surprised that he sat down beside Mr Verma's bed and explained his biopsy results, his stage of cancer and the treatment that would follow, in detail.
She overheard the nurses, "Wo…..apne Dr Mallik ko kya ho gaya hai?" "Aajkal patient ke saath itna baat kaise karne lage hain?" The two nurses then gave Riddhima a naughty smile.
"Sister, wo hamesha se aise nahin hain kya?" Riddhima acted ignorant.
Riddhima had already struck a rapport with all the floor nurses. She had figured out that they knew the patients better than anyone else; it was in her interest that she befriends the nurses early on. A lot of students and doctors tended to show a lot of attitude towards the nurses but then the nurses could also make life hell for them.
"Dr Sharma……wo tho nurses aur students se bhi theek se baat nahin kartey hain….patient tho bahut door ki baat hai" one of the older matronly nurses added.
As Riddhima was chatting with the nurses, her pen accidentally fell down.
She bent down to pick her dropped pen and as she was getting up, she bumped into Armaan who was talking to someone on his phone with a cup of coffee in the other hand.
"OUCH!" she screamed as the hot coffee spilled on her crisp white coat and her hair clip fell to release her thick waist long hair. Riddhima immediately took her white coat off as the coffee was very hot.
"Uffo, dekh kar nahin chalti!" Armaan screamed back but paused when he saw his wish come true……he saw a slim figure in jeans and a sleevless blouse with her straight hair falling on her face and neck down to her waist…….he stood still unable to take his eyes off……
"Arre, Dr Sharma, apna coat mujhe do, main abhi wash karke laati hoon. Fresh stain jaldi nikal jaayega" one of the nurses took her coat as Riddhima could feel her face turning bright red from Armaan's piercing gaze!
The two nurses went inside a room and whispered to each other, "lagta hai apne surgical floor parr hi ek soap opera shuroo hone waala hai…..ab Madam Anjali ka kya hoga?" they both giggled as they like everyone else on the campus was aware of Anjali's possessiveness regarding Armaan. Anjali had her informants everywhere and the daily updates from the ward would be wired to her in no time!
EVENING IN THE MEDICAL LIBRARY
The SMI boasted of having one of the finest medical libraries in the country. A lot of students and residents would come to the library in the evenings after their daytime rotations to study, research or purely socialize as one would run into practically anyone from the Institute at that time.
Riddhima was busy with a bunch of surgical textbooks when Armaan approached her. He sat down beside her, "Kya padh rahi ho…..hmmm …..pancreatic cancer?"
"Haan, wo kal Dr Jain Whipple procedure karne waale hain naa….tho main kuch fundae clear karr rahi thi"
"I know that is a difficult procedure" He took out a pen and started drawing something on Riddhima's notepad. In a few minutes, he had drawn sketches of the various stages of the surgery and explained them in a simplified manner. They were both engrossed in the drawings and textbooks; they did not even notice that their heads were touching each other; Armaan would take the pen from her hand when he had to explain something as their hands kept brushing with each other……both seemed to enjoy studying the details of the operation together as this was a challenge for Armaan also. Armaan was pleased that Riddhima was showing so much interest and asking all the right questions. Riddhima was impressed at his depth of knowledge and his ability to simplify the most complicated subjects……that was a sign of a very smart person!
He suddenly looked up and stared at her as he remembered the coffee incident, "Wo…wo….I am sorry I got upset about the coffee accident today…."
"OH, wo? Don't worry, it was my fault. I should have looked up before standing." Riddhima almost blushed as she remembered how Armaan had been staring at her.
Armaan thought, "Kaash aise accidents roz roz ho" as he remembered her image from the morning and smiled wickedly.
"Tumnein kuch kahaa?" she asked
"Nahin, kuch nahin…..OH NO!….MARR GAYA!" he suddenly changed his expression as he saw Anjali entering the library. That was a rare sight; there were few places on the campus Anjali never ventured: the library was one of them!
Armaan got up and hid behind a bookshelf.
Riddhima looked up and was disappointed to see the figure walking towards her; she muttered, "Darpok kahin kaa!"
"Riddhima, tumnein Armaan ko dekha hai?" Anjali asked rudely
"Maine subah ward mein dekha tha" Riddhima lied as she knew Armaan was still hiding behind the shelf.
Anjali frowned, "Riddhima, I don't want you hanging around with my boyfriend….UNDERSTAND!."
"I don't understand Anjali, he is just my senior this rotation, why are you upset?"
"Never mind! If you see him…keh dena main aayi thi yahan" She turned around to leave but was stopped by Armaan who magically appeared in front of her.
"Anjaliiiiii…..tum yahan ho?…..main kab se tumhey dhoondh rahaa hoon….let's go….I will drop you home….raat ho rahi hai" Armaan put her arm around her and walked out of the library. Riddhima was confused when she saw them walking out of the library, "inka relationship kuch ajeeb hai…..kahin kuch gadhbadh hai….."
Anjali lived at her parent's house on the campus itself. Her parents were very particular that she come home on time, "she needs her full quota of sleep….warna uski tabiyat kharaab ho jaati hai" PAdma Gupta would say. Anjali was not allowed to take any night call either for this reason. There was something mysterious about Anjali and her parents which Armaan was yet to figure out….why were they so protective?….after all she was a final year medical student and soon would be expected to take night call once she was an intern and resident……he never dared ask as he held both Shashank and Padma Gupta in high regard; they were practically his parents in Mumbai-they had taken care of all his needs since he had joined the college.
He still remembered how devastated he had been as a first year student when he heard of his father's death from a brain tumor. He had almost quit medical college but Dr Shashank Gupta had encouraged him to continue and even granted him full scholarship for the entire course of MBBS. It was during that period that Anjali had become close to him; she took care of all his needs and he in return started helping her out with her studies. He was never attracted to her as a lover but cared for her as a well-wisher and friend.
….to be continued….
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