Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trouble in paradise.....chapter 1.

“Oh my God, what’s wrong with you, Anuj ? Who do think I am? A machine? A computer? I am sick of running around like this. I am sick of trying to balance my work and home. I am sick of getting up early cooking for you guys, getting kids ready for school, rushing to office and handling all the stress there, helping kids with their studies , cooking and serving you guys again… oh, the list is endless, and forget about appreciating what I do, you have the heart to keep nitpicking?”

Throwing the bundle of clothes in her hand on the bed, Anjali stormed out of the room. Anuj was still trying to fathom what just hit him, when he heard her bang the main door and walk outside.

‘What is with these women nowadays? Why do they have to make a big deal out of everything? I only asked her why my clothes are still not ironed. What’s wrong with that?’

He walked out wearily like an injured soldier who has had no chance of defending himself at the enemy camp. As he walked into the kitchen to have a sip of water, his eyes popped out of their sockets as he read what she had written in bold words on the kitchen door,

(p.s. everything)
(p.s. I am on a holiday, don’t call me for anything)

‘Is that woman crazy? How can she just go away somewhere? Let me guess…where could she go? Office? Hmmm.. I’ll check out on my way to office.’

“Hello Mr. Anuj, you need not have come to inform personally, Anjali called me and told me she is sick and will be on leave for a week. Take care of her. And tell to get well soon because we’ll miss her here.”

“Thanks Mr. Bhattacharya. I’ll tell her .

‘Creepy boss, why is he going to miss my wife? I’ll have to tell Anjali to be wary of this guy.’

As soon he reached office, he walked to the cafeteria, and ordered some breakfast.

“Hey, fought with your wife old buddy?”

He saw Shashank his closest friend since college looking down at him and giving him an ‘I know it all’ look.

“Is it on the front page of the newspaper today? Or did Anju call you too? Has she put a notice on my cabin door?” said Anuj with sarcasm spilt over his words.

“Whoa, someone’s in a pretty foul mood today. What happened?”

Nothing really Shashi. Just the regular stuff that marriages are made of. Fights, fights and more fights. Your Bhabhi got angry because I asked her why my clothes are not ironed and she left home and went to ‘god knows where’.

“What? So go find her buddy ,check on her workplace.”

“ I did, madam had the decency to tell her boss she is on leave for a week.”

“Check out her Mom’s  place.”

“There’s no need to do that. She’ll regret her decision and come back by evening. I know Anjali and her silly ideas.”

“Oh, man, how could you not be bothered? What if she did something stupid, you know, like hurt herself…?”

“I know she won’t, she’s too gutsy for that.”

Anuj was busy preparing the minutes for the client meeting the next day, when he received a call from the crèche.

“Mr. Anuj, can you please come and pick up your kids, it’s already past closing time. We called your wife but her phone’s switched off.”

“Oh I see. I’ll be there in 30 min. Sorry for the inconvenience”

Anuj decided to complete his work at home and rushed to pick up his 7 year old twin boys Adiyta and Arjun.

“Dad where’s Mom? Why didn’t she come to pick us up?”

“Dad, I am hungreeeeeee.”

“Aditya, Arjun, Mom will be back soon and as soon as we get home, I’ll get you guys something to eat, ok?”

Anuj prepared noodles, the only thing he knew how to cook and called out to the kids.

“Noodle time champs….come on and raid the table…”

“Dad can we go out and play?”

Anuj was happy to have the kids out of his space so that he could concentrate on his work.

“Sure. Be careful, ok?”

It was almost 8 pm and there was no sign of Anjali. Now he began to feel a little worried. He decided to call her parents.

“Hello Ma, is Anju there?”

“Yes, beta, What’s up between you guys, She won’t tell me anything and she doesn’t want to go back.” (‘ah, the rat has its usual hiding place…!’ he smiled)

“Can I talk to her?”

“Anjali, Anuj`s on line, talk to him beta.” he could hear her mom calling out to her. And then after a few seconds, he heard the click of the phone.

“Dad I am hungry.”  H e looked up and saw Aditya and Arjun covered in mud and looking like they had just wrestled with a bunch of pigs in a swamp.

“Holy god, where have you two been?”

He had completely forgotten about the kids!

(‘hungry again? I just gave them some noodles! What do I make for dinner now ?’ )

“Champs, let`s go out for some pizza….what say?”

“Hurray!!! Dad you are the best.”

He gave them a quick shower and took them out for dinner.By the time they returned, the kids were fast asleep in the car.

 (‘peace at last. Let me complete my work.’)

Anuj got up at 7 in the morning and realized, the kids were still in bed. He woke them up and by the time he could get them ready for school, the school van arrived and honked crazily. He told the driver off and decided to drop the kids to school himself.

“Dad, breakfast, I am hungry. What did you pack for lunch? Dad, remember you have to pack two lunch boxes…for each of us. I want sandwiches for short break and aalu ka paratha for the long break. ” Aditya was dictating.

‘oh, there they go again. Why are these kids perennially hungry?’

“Dad, I want poori and sabji for the long break and….where’s mom?”

“Kids, Mom is over at Granny`s place. There`s no time to prepare anything now, You`ll have to make do with bread and jam for both your lunches. What do you eat for breakfast?”

“Milk, Chocos and egg.”  

While the kids had their breakfast, Anuj finished packing the lunch and hurried to get ready for office. By the time they reached school, they were late and he had to send a letter for late attendance. He was late to office too and he had just a few minutes before his client meet. He had just finished his meeting, when he got a call from his kids school.

“Mr. Anuj, please pick up your kids from school. They will be waiting near gate no.3 .”

He had completely forgotten to call up the van driver and tell him to pick them up after school. It was 3pm, too early to leave office. He asked his boss for a break and rushed to pick the kids and drop them at the crèche. The class teacher was waiting for him and complained that the kids had not done their homework the previous day. As this was the first instance she had chosen not to punish the kids. He apologized and ferried the kids to the crèche. There he realized he had forgotten to pack the change over clothes for the kids and they would have to remain wearing the school uniform till he came to pick them up again at 6pm.

“Mrs. D`souza, please buy some proper lunch for the kids, they have eaten only bread and jam all day” , he requested the caretaker giving her a Rs.100 note.

“Don’t be late today, Mr. Anuj.”  Mrs. D`souza shouted out as he was running back to his car.

When they reached home, Anuj decided to help the kids out with their homework first and then try to cook something.

“Dad, can we go out to play”

“ No, homework first.”

(‘why is dad becoming like mom?’)

“Aditya, did you say something?”

“No Dad.”

All Anuj could manage to cook was some soggy rice and the kids reluctantly ate it with curds.

After the kids went to bed he sat down to complete his work that was pending as he had left office early. He picked up the phone to call Anjali, but his ego came in the way and he dropped the thought. He kept a 6 am alarm just before he dozed off to a sound sleep.

( to be cont..)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Down memory lane.....


                     Ah! Those were the days of  pure unadulterated fun. The days before TV became a household necessity. When just a few neighbours had the privilege of owning a colour TV and would happily accommodate the less privileged ones in the homes for the favorite shows. When at exactly 5.30pm on Sundays we would hear “washing powder nirma..washing powder nirma…dudh ki safedi….” on our neighbours TV and realize its time  for the Sunday movie on Doordarshan and rush to finish our chores and run to their house just in time for the movie to begin and watch it over animated talks and cups of steaming hot coffee. When the whole family would wait for “chayageet” on Wednesdays on Doordarshan with no difference of opinion over which program to watch. When siblings did not have to fight over whether they should watch “pokemon” or “tom and jerry” and then decide to watch what each wants on two different TV`s in two different rooms.

                      When we would wait to reach home after school and go out and complete yesterday`s game of “lagori” with our friends and our parents did not have to worry about watching if we were safe. When we did not need anything more than playgrounds to keep us occupied. When we could play in the rain and not worry about being scolded for the fear of falling sick. When carom boards, chess boards, ludo and snake and ladders did not gather cobwebs in some fancy cupboard but played everyday with siblings and friends. 

                     The days before there were more people in houses than electronic gadgets. When there was so much time for dads and mums to spend with their children. When they taught us virtues and good habits by telling us little stories thus shaping our thoughts and actions. When we felt listened to and important by our parents. When parents did not keep themselves so occupied with their mobiles and laptops that they could not even hear what their little one was trying to say.

                     The days when we had family get togethers and dinners and the talk would revolve around who was doing what in the family rather than meet on networking sites and discuss scams, fake swamijis, and all irrelevant details. When cousins would plan little events during family time, enact funny plays and sing songs, bringing out all latent talents out of the closet. When first, second and even third cousins would bond over planning and arguing who got which part to play and practicing the “script” with so much effort. When the whole family would plan picnics together, and hire a bus, carry home made food and all necessary staples for the outing, instead of just one family simply driving out to a mall in their fancy cars and eating all the junk that money can buy. When we carried badminton rackets, cricket sets and volley balls to play during our outings, not video games and i-pods. When we carried a radio instead and tuned in to listen to Amin Sayani`s deep throated voice and the latest movie songs.

                     When festivals meant, meeting families and friends, eating great food and relaxing. When Diwali meant getting up early, taking oil baths and wearing new clothes. It meant visiting all elders of the family and taking their blessings. The greatest joy was getting a princely Re.5 coin from grandma which she would have planned and kept ready for the entire army of little children who would visit her that day.
                     When entire families of our apartment would gather after Lakshmi puja during Diwali and burst crackers together. When during Holi, eating “gujiyas” and applying gulal was the most awaited event after the ladies in the apartment had finished praying and dancing around the bonfire lit to signify the burning of “holika” .
                     When Sankranti saw kite flying competitions on every terrace and the sky would be adorned with kites of every make and colour. When every lady of the house would greet her family and neighbours with til-gud and say “til gud ghya goad goad bola” meaning ,have this ladoo of sesame seeds and jaggery and always speak sweetly.
                     When Ganesha Chaturthi was far less commercial and much more fun. When dancing in the “sandall” while installing the Ganesha idol was fun and not disgraceful. When the entire society got together and sang “sukh karta dukh harta” with utmost devotion and the prasad “gopaalkaala” that was distributed was a mixture of offerings from all the houses.

                     When we could solve any problem by just discussing them with our friends while chatting on the terrace of the apartment. When no heartbreak seemed permanent, because friends would help heal the scar. Being scolded by parents did not signal the end of the road and 10year olds did not commit suicide even after being beaten by the parents, because we had friends to share our misery and give guidance.

                     When board exams of std.10 and 12 were treated as battles, where neighbours would come to our houses and wish us luck and give us gifts like a pen or a small chocolate bar , all aunties in the apartment would feed us dahi-sakkar as a good luck charm and inquire how we had written the exam after we came back. When we distributed sweets to everyone in the apartment after the results were announced, receiving advice on what we should do next. When we felt happy in others achievement and sad in their failures.

                    When neighbours could ask each other , “I am going to the market, do you need anything” and the favour would be returned without asking, in taking a sick child to the doctor or babysitting or rolling out papads.

                    These days seem like they were light years ago….I wonder what memories my children will have? What tales will they carry forward to tell their children? Will their cousins be some distant galaxies whom they might not even meet more than once in their entire lifetime? I am pondering over all these thoughts and just then I am shaken awake by an ensuing fight, and a request,

                      “Mamma, can I see the TV in your room, Chikku will not let me see “Mighty Raju” on POGO, he wants to see “mickey mouse”.”
(Pic cou

Thursday, November 10, 2011

chapter 4: The Dusk lamp- the final goodbye.

Read part 1 part 2 part 3 here

The Rishab who was once so full of life, was now lost somewhere. He hardly smiled, and looked like a pack of bones. He always had a faraway look in his eyes, and cheering him up was getting to be difficult each day. She had never seen him so depressed before. They had just come back from one of the satsangs, when Rishab asked Aaratrika to get him his files.

"Here Aaratrika, These are some documents of our house, keep them carefully. These are certificates for Fixed deposits, mutual funds and Life insurance. This is our locker document. These are my cheque books and bank account details. You are my nominee for all my accounts, so keep these papers safely."

 “Rishab, why are you telling me all this?"

 "I don’t want you to run around when I am not around, my love".

 " Stop talking like this Rishab",she cried,"you are not going away anywhere, we have a whole life ahead of us. You have to take me to Khandala  , remember? We have to raise our children, put them through college, get them married. How can you even talk of leaving me alone?''

 "I don’t want to ever leave you, but I know, my time has come." 

Aaratrika held on him in a tight embrace, like she would never let him go, and they both cried at the fate that await them.

Rishab was in bad shape and the pain was intolerable, he had to admitted again. The doctor confirmed their worst fears, when he told them,

" I am sorry to be saying this, but you have no longer than 6 weeks to live. The relapse is acute and no amount of chemotherapy will do any good. The body has also become too weak to tolerate this high amount of radiation." 

It was a heart wrenching moment when Rishab held on to Dr.Ravi`s hand and begged,

"Doctor, please do something, give me some strength and extend my life for another 6 months. I want to spend the time with my wife and family. All these years I have kept working myself without taking time out for them. I had always thought, there will time later for all this. I wanted to pay off my home loan, get a promotion, get a hike in salary, do everything but spend quality time with my family. I had the energy, but no time. Today I have neither the time nor the energy. And yet my heart craves to do all that I always wanted to do, but never did. I want to take my wife on a long holiday, I want to do some adventure sports together with her, I want to have my own children, I want to sleep on my mother’s lap and hear her sing, eat delicacies that she so fondly used to cook up for me....."he said chocking under his own tears.

Dr.Ravi was visibly moved and patted Rishab`s hand softly unable to say anything hopeful. Aaratrika was surprisingly calm, as if in a trance. She was making up her mind to give Rishab at least some happiness in his final days, so that he would not be so overburdened with guilt for a life lived less. When she went home that night, leaving Rishab in the hospital, she felt an overwhelming sense of loss, looking at her empty house, and cried till her eyes were so swollen and red, that they looked bit by a bug. 

She called her in-laws and Saurabh so that they could be near him in his last moments. They all arrived the next day, before she could leave for the hospital, and on her insistence, her mother-in-law prepared some almond kheer, some biryani and carrot halwa for Rishab. He was extremely happy to see his entire family, especially his mother.

"Rishab, beta, see what I have cooked for you, your favorite kheer, halwa and biryani. Come let me feed you some."

He tried to eat a little of everything, looking gratefully at Aaratrika. His dad read out few chapters of the Bhagwad Gita to him, while Saurabh updated him on worldly matters. They had all vowed to remain as cheerful as possible when with him, so that he did not feel additionally burdened by their grief. They stayed by his side all day long each day, taking turns to keep him cheerful, bringing him food cooked by his mother, Aaratrika wearing clothes of his choice, his father and brother spending quality time with him .The doctors time line of 6 weeks got cut short by 4 weeks, as Rishab passed away sleeping on his mother`s lap, just 2 weeks after being admitted.


This temple had brought back a lot of old memories, she remembered the dozens of times she had come here seeking divine intervention, every time Rishab had been admitted in the hospital.

'Why didn’t you ever listen to my prayers? Were my prayers not worth answering? Rishab passing away at such a young age, he was not even 30.And me being widowed at 25, how can you explain this god?'

Aaratrika sobbed softly as if it all this had happened just yesterday. But a whole lifetime had passed between that time when Rishab had left her and today when she was leading a normal life with Avinash. Life indeed goes on and tough times don't last forever. She wondered whether she should let go of those memories that continued to haunt her. But then, those times had made her stronger and more prepared to face the world. It had given her the courage to face life with a renewed determination. She was glad she had found Avinash who had been a pillar of support during her mourning. She was grateful that she could let go of Rishab and marry him.

"Aaru, why didn’t you pick up my call, I must have called you a dozen times, hey, what happened? Are you crying? Are you ok?''

 Aaratrika wiped away a tear, and looked at her husband not answering his questions. He was holding two packets of food and handed over one to her. He placed an understanding hand over her shoulder and they ate in silence.

 "Aaru, we’ll try to get back home at the earliest, we’ll go to Bandra some other day, ok?"

 " That’s fine by me ,Avinash, I am not in a mood to shop today anyway." 

They finally got a cab and went back home, she was silent for most part of their journey and Avinash presumed it had something to do with their shopping being cancelled for the day.

"Don’t be so upset, we’ll go tomorrow.” he said.

Aaratrika gave him a wry smile.


chapter 3: the dusk lamp- memoirs of the days of happiness

Read part 1 part 2 here

Dr. Ravi wanted to continue with chemotherapy and radiation as surgery was not enough and so he told Rishab he was leaving the sutures on for some more time and not removing it before discharging him. He told Saurabh,

"For the first three months, Rishab should avoid bending, twisting, or lifting. he may do general conditioning exercises, such as walking or cycling on a stationary bike, or swimming. He should limit lifting to no more than five pounds to allow time for the bones to heal." 

They went home together after what seemed like a lifetime in the hospital. The hospital bills were enormous and in the absence of a medical insurance, Saurabh had paid it off with his savings. Reality struck them when they took stock of the situation and realised that Rishab would not be able to work for quite a long time now. After a prolonged discussion they decided to sell their penthouse and buy a smaller apartment near to the hospital .It was an emotional moment when they looked at their home one the last time and thought of the wonderful moments they had shared together.

Rishab had named their home, 'The Love Nest.' It was a cozy 3 bedroom penthouse, on the top floor of an eight storied apartment. There were 10 such blocks, all blocks having penthouses on the top floor. The view of Mumbai from above was astounding, especially at night. Rishab loved spending time with Aaratrika in the beautiful terrace garden which she had converted into a mini garden plush with a lawn and several bonsais, not to forget the umpteen varieties of roses and chrysanthemums. Both of them shared a common love for greenery and Rishab admired Aaratrika for the loving tenderness with which she looked after her "children" as she called them. She had always wanted children of their own, but Rishab thought it was too early to have any.

"It’s not even a year since we got married, what’s the big hurry? Let’s enjoy our freedom, once we have children, you will devote all your time to them"  "Oh Rishab, I promise, you’ll always be the first love of my life, don’t be so selfish!" Love, let`s get settled first, I have a huge loan on this apartment, you are just 22, I am just 26,we are too young to take the responsibility of a child now. Things will happen when the time is right." 

One night Rishab was completing his project report, when he suddenly had a shooting pain in the neck and back, followed by numbness of the arms and legs. "Aaratrika", he called out in pain,

" I can’t move, come help me"

" See, this is what happens when you are working all the time. Don’t push yourself so hard, Take some rest." 

She helped him get into bed and went to fetch some spray for the pain.

"Ok, madam, point taken, let’s go out tomorrow night, we’ll spend a long weekend in Khandala. Hey, kya bolti tu..."

and broke into the song,"

....arre hey kya mei bolu..." she giggled back.

They spent the night making grand plans for their weekend getaway. Of course the plan had to be shelved the next day, as Rishab`s boss put him in charge of a prestigious project and Rishab had to brief his team that weekend, so that the project could be started "asap" as the boss had reminded.

Many such moments came, where plans made for vacations never materialized. Either Rishab`s appraisal was due, or, his promotion was due, or there was a last minute request from the client to hasten the project or the boss had made Rishab in charge of the office(in his absence!)Or his parents had come over to stay, or the endless other things that came in between. Somehow, they had to be content making plans rather than the actual enjoyment of it! It was not difficult to pacify Aaratrika, because she always understood his problems. He made it up with a trip to the shopping paradises that made her so happy in a childish way. A bag load of goodies, a hearty dinner and that was enough to soften her heart. He loved this child-like quality in her, free from all egos and so understanding.

It was Rishab`s birthday and he had just opened his eyes. The entire room was decorated with flowers, beautiful blue orchids, that he loved the most. Overhead he saw a huge balloon, and at that very moment Aaratrika burst it to send thousands of little red paper hearts showering on him.

"Aaahhhh...."he screamed."

You are such a dramatist, Rishab" ,she giggled.

 But he continued screaming, and it took a while for her to realize that he was in acute pain. She bent over to help him and he felt warm. He had some fever too.

"Let’s go to the doctor, Rishab."

No my love, I’ll be alright, just get me those painkillers, its nothing, maybe its the workload".

He looked ok after almost an hour.

"Darling, the decorations were awesome, when did you do all this?"

 "Last night after you slept, how are you feeling now?"

 "fine...hey what’s that?"  

It’s a gift for you, open it...but first come here, cut this cake"

Fresh cream pineapple, yummy, "and he cut his birthday cake.

"Happy birthday sweetheart" and she kissed him tenderly.

He opened the box to find a gold chain with a heart shaped pendant and a miniature picture taken at their wedding stuck to it.

 "It’s beautiful, thank you”, and bent over to give her a kiss.

The pain came shooting back and he couldn’t move again and was promptly sent back to rest by Aaratika. Over a period of time, the pain kept worsening on exertion, he felt weaker, and sometimes the pain would be accompanied by bouts of nausea and vomiting. Back pain was worse in the mornings. It was during one of those shopping trips that Rishab had collapsed and had to be admitted to the hospital. But when he finally saw a doctor it was too late. That was where the agony had all begun. And now as they were leaving their "love nest" it was even more painful. Memories of Aaratrika entering the house for the first time, her sweet smile and unadulterated giggles at almost everything he said, Aaratrika running down the steps at his one call, the time spent together in their garden which she had tended to with so much love and devotion, looking at her waving him goodbye in the mornings when he left to work, there was so much their home had been witness to, and now leaving it ,he could take away nothing more than beautiful memories.

The surgery, the loss of job and house, and the mental agony of it all started taking a toll on Rishab`s health and he started experiencing shooting pain within 6 weeks of the surgery. The chemotherapy, radiation and medications were of little help. It was agonising to watch him in pain everyday. With each passing day, he looked weaker, the rich ,luxurious hair was slowly giving way to a bald pate, he could not sleep and did not want to eat. Aaratrika tried her best to look cheerful and to cook something good to cater to his palate everyday. She took him to satsangs of their guruji  and that helped a great deal in overcoming the pain. This continued for two years, but the physical condition kept worsening.

Read concluding part here


Sunday, November 6, 2011

chapter 2: the dusk lamp- hit by a hurricane

Read part 1 here

Aarartika and Saurabh returned to the house leaving Rishab behind in the hospital.

"Bhaiyya can we eat outside, I don’t know if I’ll be able to cook tonight."

“Sure my dear", said Saurabh sensing her distress "what would you like to eat?" 

They walked into an eatery near her house but she hardly ate anything and waited for Saurabh to finish his meal.

 "Bhaiyya, I am so scared .Should we tell Mataji and Pitaji", she asked, referring to her in-laws.

"Not yet Aaratrika, lets wait till we get the reports, they might become anxious ,who knows whether they will have the courage to bear the news or not." 

That night, Aartarika could not get a wink of sleep.

"Bear the news? What did bhaiyya mean by that ?Did he know something that she did not?"

 She chanted the Hanuman Chalisa and asked Hanumanji for strength.

The next morning they were having tea, when they got a call from the hospital, asking them to come over and collect Rishab`s report. They rushed to the hospital without even finishing their breakfast, all the while uttering a silent prayer. When she saw Rishab at the hospital, he looked as if he had suddenly lost a lot of weight overnight.His eyes looked sunken and he looked too weak for comfort. Dr.Ravi Chatuvedi walked in ,his face not giving a clue as to what he would say next.

"Mr.Saurabh,I am sorry to say ,the tumor is malignant. Not only that, it is metastasizing. The pace at which it is growing  is faster than I expected and..."

 " Doctor, Can you please explain in common terms?" ,Aaratrika interrupted ,"I do not understand medical terminology"

 "Sure madam, let me explain. Tumors are of two types, they may be benign or malignant. Benign tumors may grow but do not spread to other parts of the body and their treatment is comparatively easier. On the other hand, Malignant tumors spread to other parts of the body. Malignant means that the affected cells in the body are cancerous. The tumors which are malignant can attack the tissues lying the surrounding region and spread in the body. When I say metastasizing, I mean that it is also spreading to various other locations. The malignant tumors grow faster than the benign tumors and cause major health concerns.” he continued, "Mr. Rishab is already in stage 3 of the disease and is rapidly moving to stage 4, as the cancer is spreading to other organs. I suggest that we have to perform a surgery. Patients with cancers that cannot be cured or completely removed by surgery, usually,  we start with a combination therapy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy." "It is also my duty to tell you that Mr.Rishab will be experiencing some side effects of the treatment, like loss of appetite, loss of sleep, pain, vomiting, hair loss....and the prognosis...that is the outcome of the treatment may also not be as desired..."

 Aaratrika looked as if she had just been hit by a hurricane. She looked at Rishab and caught the pain in his eyes. Saurabh looked too distraught to say anything except,

" saab, please do what you consider best for my brother,give him the best of treatment...please make him well again."

 The doctor nodded and left and the both of them sat next to Rishab`s bed and the three of them held hands, closed their eyes and sat silently for what seemed like eternity,  no one speaking a word. It seemed like each one of them was trying to pass their strength to the other two and also trying to take away the others grief. Their peace was disturbed by a nurse who came in to call Saurabh to the doctor’s chamber. Saurabh left the couple alone and went to see the doctor.

 "I did not ever think we were fated to be together for such a little time, my love.." 

Aaratrika put her hand on Rishab`s mouth, tears rolling down her cheeks,

"...don’t ever say such things ,Rishab ,you will be fine, I promise."

But somewhere deep down, she realized he could be right, after what the doctor had told them , she wondered if Rishab had a chance.

‘Would he survive this fight against cancer ?No, not him alone ,she would be his pillar of support, they would fight it together. And one day he would come out of all this successfully. All this would seem like a bad dream then. ‘

Saurabh walked in and announced that Dr.Ravi wanted to start the treatment right away and so Rishab could not be sent home. Then he called their parents in Rampur,

"Pitaji , pranam,....,no I am in Mumbai.....yes with Rishab and Aaratrika, ,nothing to worry,......,can you and Ma come down to Mumbai for some days?, its nothing really,....ok Pitaji, I’ll courier you your tickets tomorrow , ,don’t worry ,I’ll come and pick you up......ya they are fine., they are not here, they are out shopping,...ya sure ,I’ll ask them to call back...pranam."

"Its better to tell them when they are here" ,he said ."Rishab  ,don’t worry ,everything  will be fine"

"Bhaiyya ,thanks for being here with us."

" Don’t be silly ,Rishab, get some sleep."

Saurabh had been a great moral support to her and Rishab in those trying times. She closed her eyes, as if doing so would erase all that grief. But coming to this temple today, even if by chance, had brought all those memories back.


"Aaratrika, you are dozing off again, are you? It looks like this rain is never going to stop .I am hungry, aren’t you?"

Aaratrika looked up at Avinash and nodded," get me something to eat .I am very hungry too"

"Ok let me see what I can get. You be here and don’t move till I come."

"Ok, I’ll be here .She looked at the idol of the elephant god and exchanged some unspoken words with him.


Just like she did that day when Rishab was being wheeled into the operating theater. She stood before the black granite idol of Ganapati Bappa in the hospital lobby, and strangely felt the lord was communicating with her

Be strong my child, don’t lose hope, whatever may happen, you must go on....She came out of her trance.. whatever may happen?......why would the lord say that?

 She didn’t realize that it was almost night time when she saw Dr.Ravi emerging from the OT.

"Mr.Saurabh,the patient has tolerated the surgery well, but we have to monitor him because there is a huge possibility of wound infection or the tumor recurring or any other complications arising out of it.”

 Saurabh knew what the doctor was talking about as he had been briefed before the consent for surgery was taken. He silently prayed Rishab would not have a stroke, paralysis, or heart attack as the doctor had said that these were the risks of the surgery. Rishab was in the hospital for a week more and in the meantime his parents arrived from Rampur. There was a lot of drama and tears and Aaratrika felt more burdened than ever. In a fit of emotion, her mother-in-law began accusing her of not taking proper care of her son. Luckily , Saurabh intervened before the matter could go out of hand and spared Aaratrika further humiliation.

"Ignore it Aaratrika, Ma is shattered, as you can see, she doesn’t mean what she’s saying."

 And then, "Ma come here and sit down, let me explain Rishab`s condition to you." 

Read part 3 here

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