"Would you stop that!?"
"Hmmm?" came her absent minded reply
"That incessant drumming. It's diving me up the wall." Continuing to writeup observation charts, Shagun complained.
Khushi sat up. "Oh! Sorry..." her reply was a distant mumble.
It was now 8.00 pm and most of the patients had been settled in for the night. The only staff on call included two nurses, two interns and Khushi. The occasional shrill ring of a phone or beep of a pager disturbed the otherwise quiet ward. It was a good time to catch up with neglected paperwork. Shagun who was attempting to do just that, kept being distracted by the odd forlorn sigh from her friend. Giving up on the charts in front of her she swivelled her chair around to face Khushi.
"You should call him you know." she said fiddling with a pen.
"Arnav...you should call him."
"Why the hell would I do that?" she bit back a little harshly.
Shagun raised her eyebrows. "Because...you like him?"
Khushi turned away to face the computer screen again. "I'm not humiliating myself. He's obviously not interested."
Shagun laughed. "Well at least you didn't deny you liked him."
Khushi turned around with indignation written all over her face, ready to protest.
"Don't bother." she waived her off and continued..."Khushi you know what I've discovered over the years? The terms love and relationship are equally interchangeable with the words humiliation, embarrassment, denial, heart ache and pain... to begin with."
Khushi frowned in confusion.
"What? You thought it was an easy ride? Gaurav and I drive each other nuts."
"But you guys seem perfect. I mean you married him. He couldn't have been that bad."
"He isn't. But he isn't perfect either." Shagun sighed trying to find the right words to explain what she meant. "What I'm trying to say is that no one is perfect. Everyone has to compromise. I married him because what we have together is a good thing. Better than all that other negative stuff. But you have to learn to take the good with the bad. Do you know how many times we have humiliated ourselves in front of one another? But that's what brings you closer. What bonds you."
"Wouldn't he have called he have called if he liked me though?" she asked petulantly.
"Khushi don't irritate me. He bloody chased you. Sent you coffee, flowers, grilled us about your every like and dislike not to mention his outrageous flirting. I mean this is when he is multibillionaire entrepreneur who had no time for anyone. Do you really think he's not interested? Have you ever thought that maybe he's waiting for you? Trying to see if you're interested?"
"That's not how it's supposed to go! Guys are supposed to ask you out...they're the ones that are meant to call."
Shagun stood up abruptly, frustrated by her stubbornness. "Fine! Then live in your damn fairy tale world all alone."
Khushi felt a little blindsided by Shagun's outburst. It was unlike her. Reclining back in to her chair she closed her eyes replaying the scene on a loop.
Arnav stood at the foot of the stairs, kicking up some loose gravel; his jacket folded over his forearm effortlessly. The night had inevitably come to an end and they stood outside her door looking at one other. For the first time that night he smiled a genuine smile. There were no traces of smug confidence or amusement. Just a smile. Khushi gulped unsure of what to do next.
"So Gupta...I had a nice time tonight."
"Me too." she said softly.
He grinned. "You sound surprised."
Climbing up the stairs he now stood directly beside her. "I'm glad." he muttered, brushing away a tiny wisp of her hair, grazing her cheek with the back of his hand. He stood ever so close to her, scanning her eyes, searching for something impalpable. Struggling to control her traitorous body, she pursed her lips as her lids instinctively fluttered shut. It seemed like forever, the tension prickling her skin.
Unexpectedly she felt her hand enveloped in warmth. She watched as he gently kissed her, his lips lingering, brushing against her knuckles. Even this innocent touch, sent a warmth washing over her. Gently dropping her hand back to her side, he straightened up and looked in her eyes again.
"Good night Khushi." his voice caressed her.
Khushi had replayed this scenario in her head god knows how many times. Trying to dissect every detail, every nuance....trying to figure out where it went wrong. She groaned in frustration. What was it about him that turned her into a dithering idiot? Maybe Shagun was right. Perhaps she could call him? It was the 21st century after all. Girls didn't have to wait to be rescued by prince charming.
Picking up her mobile she scrolled down to his last message. She still hadn't saved his number. Chewing down on her bottom lip she pressed dial. The dial tone rang once and she quickly disconnected. Looking around to make sure no one else had witnessed her humiliation she dialled again. This time she managed to get to two rings before hanging up as if her mobile was on fire. Irritated by her own fickleness she decided to concentrate on her own work.
Minimising all the lab reports that had come back from pathology, she opened up the internet browser hoping to read a recent article looking at the efficacy of a bronchial biopsy in determining the chance of rejection for a heart-lung transplant patient. Safari loaded and Google stared back at her, the cursor blinking in the search bar.
God Khushi! This is pathetic! You can't stalk him! Her mind was a tizzy as she battled with her ethics and her curiosity. It's free information! Anyone in the world has access to it! What if I was researching him as a potential endowment? It wouldn't be weird then. Ethics bit back. Yes but that's not why you're doing it. You want to know about him for your own selfish reasons.
Deciding to smother the voice of ethics she quickly typed in Arnav Singh Raizada and hit enter before she could change her mind. A wealth of information arrived at her fingers tips. Scanning the vast volumes written about him she picked up bits of detail that interested her. AR corporations was more an investment firm than an actual manufacturing entity. They held stakes in minerals and resources, high end fashion labels, Formula 1 teams, agricultural technologies and surprisingly medical technology focussed on applied research.
Now that was...interesting.
It was an area which had foreseeable future economic growth but not something she would have necessarily associated with him. Reading on further she came across articles citing his long list of alleged affairs but none with sufficient evidentiary proof to support the claims. Frowning she ignored the snuff pieces and went on to read about his personal life. Apparently Mr. Raizada wasn't the snotty brat she had assumed him to be. Having risen from obscurity he had made a name for himself in the business world rather swiftly; adversaries lauding his work ethic and good instinct.
The only known relative was a sister who went by the name Anjali Raizada- Mathur. She was a cardiologist currently residing in New York with her husband and child. Khushi tried to recall if she had ever heard the name. Perhaps she had referred patients here? Surely as a cardiologist she would have? Quitting out of the browser, Khushi opened the hospital's data bank and typed in her name. The search results took up a couple of pages.
It seemed Dr. Mathur had referred several patients here. As Khushi scanned the names she realised that she was not personally familiar with any of these people. About to log out for the night, one of the results grabbed her attention. She felt herself freeze as she read the name. Anjali Singh Raizada. Her maiden name. Except for she wasn't the referring doctor. She was the patient.
Her eyes widened. Should she click on the patient file? Her palms began to sweat at the thought. Is this why he had invested in applied research? To find a cure for his sister? People were not patients at Cleveland Clinic unless they were acutely ill. She could feel her heart rate increase as the stress of the decision weighed heavily on her. Should she or should she not? It wouldn't be right. She wasn't her patient and it wasn't any of her business. Yet the search result taunted her, daring her to peruse through the contents.
Her pager went off.
The decision had been made for her. There was an emergency AAA on its way. She had to scrub in as the only resident on call. Looking at the clock she started. It was 11. 07 pm. Where had the time gone? Pushing herself away from the desk she ran as fast as she could to the operating theatre, getting ready to scrub in.
Half an hour into the surgery and things were a mess. The aorta had ruptured just as they had opened the patient up, spilling blood all over the surgical gowns and gloves. Despite hanging up now almost the equivalent of his whole body volume of blood, the bleeding was still not under control. Clamping the aorta top and bottom, Khushi managed to get the patient on to by-pass. The surgical team simultaneously sigh in relief, catching their breath for a second.
"He's one lucky son a b**ch" The anaesthesiologist laughed, slightly in shock .
"That he is." Khushi murmured in agreement. There was about a 50% survival rate for ruptured aorta's and that was when those patients were in the hospital. If it happened to rupture outside a hospital it almost meant certain death. Though how such an aneurysm could have been missed was beyond her. The pulsatile mass should have been palpable and visible to the naked eye. Still, they were only halfway home. The actual repair work would start now.
The phone in the O.R rang and the scrub nurse went to attended the call.
"Dr. Gupta. There is a man waiting for you outside. He says he wants to meet you."
"Oh good. Is it the patient's family?"
"No. Well Linda doesn't seem to think so. She doesn't know who it it but she told him you were in surgery and he asked how long you would be."
"Does he have a name?"
The scrub nurse shrugged, holding her hand over the receiver. "Fine. Tell him I won't be done for another 5 hours or so. Book him in an appointment for tomorrow sometime whenever I'm free. But if he's really desperate he can wait."
She nodded and relayed the message.
Khushi yawned and twisted her back and rotated her shoulders, trying to work out the knots in her muscles. The patient was stable for now but he had to be monitored to see if the graft would hold. It was home time. Praise the lord! Taking off her pager, she handed it to Linda.
"I...am going home!"
Linda smiled at her. "Not just yet unfortunately. Your visitor's still here."
"Yeah you know the one I called you about?"
"Oh I forgot." she said more to herself than anyone else. Pausing for a second she turned to Linda. "He waited?"
"Mmmmhmmm. He's in the visitor's lounge."
"Thanks" Grabbing her coat and handbag she went to see the mysterious man. Turning the corner into the lounge, her knees almost gave way. From the shock of seeing him or exhaustion she could not determine. Uncomfortably lying with his feet dangling over the edge of a one seater arm chair was Arnav Singh Raizada...fast asleep.
He looked exhausted. Vest and suit jacket lay discarded on the floor next to his small travel suitcase. His shirt sleeves had been rolled up to his elbow and the few top buttons were undone letting a few wiry chest hairs peek through. Khushi slowly made her way toward him, bending down on her knees so he was at eye level.
On closer observation she noticed the dark circles around his eyes and the few day old stubble. An errant lock of hair fell over his forehead painting him with boyish innocence, as he his slightly parted lips pouted noisily inhaling and exhaling. A surge of affection took her by surprise seeing him thus. A bouquet of pink and white frangipani's held loosely in his hand, threatened to fall on the floor.
Gently she tried to pry them out of his hands so as not to wake him.
His eyes fluttered open and his body stiffened as he tried to place his surroundings. Upon seeing her, relaxed back in to the supine position he had earlier occupied.
She smiled, her eyes slightly moist..."Are these for me?"
He nodded, his eyes smiling and huskily asked..."Come closer Gupta."
Khushi leaned forward, and he placed a soft kiss on her cheek. "Good morning."
Unable to help the blush that graced her cheeks she looked down shyly. Getting up from the chair, he stretched and yawned loudly. Khushi looked at him expectantly, waiting for some sort of an explanation.
Throwing up his hands he looked sheepish. "I know. I know. But I have a good reason."
"Jesus woman! I just waited seven hours for you and didn't even have dinner. Cut me some slack."
Surprisingly both him and herself, she leaned up on her tip toes and very gently kissed his jaw whispering "Thank you."
Arnav smiled so tenderly she felt her heart skip a beat. It was as if she had given him all the happiness in the world. He reached out to hold her hand and gave it a squeeze. "There was a family emergency. I was stuck. I swear otherwise I would have been stalking you the very next day."
Khushi felt slightly nervous as she remembered what she had discovered earlier in the night. Squeezing his hand back she replied..."It's ok." After a second she added. "You could have called or texted at least."
He raised an eyebrow. "You could have as well. Plus texting is really not my style. Don't you prefer flowers?"
"I thought as much. So... will you do me the honour of accompanying me to breakfast or will you keep this diabetic hungry?"
Grabbing her handbag she looked up at him. "Let's go Raizada."
Surprise! Bet you weren't expecting another update so soon! What did you guys think! Hope you liked it!