He had never expected that she would say ‘this’. Not even in his dreams. Neither did she ever imagine that she would speak like this with anyone. With him! But such words are not planned and articulated. They just spill out. Like emotions. Like tears. Like an overwhelming surge of a deeply felt pain. The way she didn’t think even for a moment before she ran towards him to ensure that he w...
Thank you for the lovely comments and likes for the last part. I read all, replied to a few and will keep trying to stay in touch in every way that I can.
Apologies for keeping you waiting. I wrote the update of my other story, TEAB, but wasn’t happy, so I deleted it. I will post it soon. I will post a schedule tomorrow about the updates, about other story and ‘my corner’ blog. It will become easier for you as you will know when to wait for the update. And I have a lot of things to share with all of you. So I will post about it soon.
Love you all.
Stay safe. God bless you people 🙂
Her questions were written all over her face. And he didn’t know if he would ever be able to skip any.
For that small moment, Anshuman’s eyes were fixed on her, as if waiting for her to react. But she was as clueless as he was.
He cleared his throat and went back to focus on the instrument tray. Raising his brows slightly, he tried to point out what he wanted. “Err… that is a monofilament suture…”
She looked down and saw a white paper carefully wrapped by a transparent sheet. Over that was a curved C shaped needle. She asked, “This one?”
“Yeah. Pick up the packet and tear it at the top, without touching the inside surface.”
Manasvi followed his instruction. She noticed that Anshuman had donned sterile surgical gloves and that is why he was not touching the unsterile surfaces. She tore the wrapper at the edge, didn’t touch the inner contents, and stretched it towards Anshuman. He picked up the suture with the first two fingers eased inside the wrapper. Then he said, “Open that sterilized packet.”
She picked up a green cloth wrapped by a green belt and spread it open on the table without touching the contents. The inside of the cloth had a steel kidney tray with sterile artery forceps, scissors and other instruments needed for minor surgery.
She was curious, “Are you going to perform…”
“Ssshhh!!” he shushed her immediately, interrupting her. Then he turned towards her, lowered slightly to her level and spoke in a whisper, “We don’t discuss the details of the procedures in front of the patient. We don’t want to make him nervous even before the needle pricks him.”
Manasvi nodded. “Okay. Got the point.”
Anshuman again turned to the patient and said, “The gash is oozing it seems and we can’t stop the bleeding just by applying pressure. Let’s see, what we can do best to make you better.”
The way he talked to the patient and assured him – his tone, his voice, his command – was awe-worthy. Manasvi was lost in admiring the grace with which he made the patient understand that there was an issue with him. His confidence that he could help was unmatched. The next moment, he was telling the patient that he needed to suture the gash and it was nothing to worry as both the needle and the suture were very thin. They were running short of injectible anaesthesia and he would have to put it under local anaesthesia and that worked only partially.
The patient agreed but was visibly nervous. Anshuman started suturing the wound. With every stitch, there was a lot of blood oozing out which he wiped using sterile gauze and with every wound the patient cried loudly, making a scary loud sound. Manasvi was scared and she shuddered. She could watch only 3 sutures one after the other. The entire gauze piece and Anshuman’s gloves were soaked red in blood, by this time.
She felt giddy and she immediately left the tent to walk out, panting heavily. Fearing a blackout and eventual fall on the ground, she sat down over a wooden bench outside the tent. Trying to forget the gush of blood, the man crying at the top of his voice, blood on Anshuman’s hands and cloth piece over the wound. Trying to shrug off the connection of these visuals to the bloodshed and massacre she had seen as a child.
Flashes of darkness and shiny patches of light alternated before her eyes. Maybe, it was sun alternating with moments of weakness. It was too hot outside as it was almost 12:00, mid-noon. The strong dust storm from nowhere seemed to brush through the camp, making people run for cover. Loud shreik coming from inside everytime a suture was applied made her shiver. Manasvi hugged herself tight and closed her eyes. She could feel her tears rolling down on her cheeks.
The patients standing in line to be seen by Anshuman had now followed another queue that went to Alex’s cabin as Anshuman was doing a procedure and no one knew how much time that would take. After few minutes, the noises stopped. Few more minutes later, the man walked out with a bandage on his wounds. Anshuman walked out after him and found Manasvi sitting on the bench outside the tent. He went inside and brought a water bottle with him.
He sat down next to Manasvi on the wooden bench and without saying anything, he stretched his hand in her direction. She looked at his hand with a bottle of water and took it. Slowly, she sipped from it.
What had just happened was inexplicable to her. Why suddenly? Why now? She was sure that she had learnt and practiced to restrain her emotions. But they suddenly went out of her control, surprising her. And that it happened before Anshuman was an added embarrassment.
She tried to redeem herself, speaking in short sentences, broken words and a low voice, “It never happens with me… I mean… I’ve been successfully controlling my reactions… I’ve seen bloodshed… I have heard people suffering…and crying…how can I react in such a childish manner?”
He didn’t say anything. He just looked at her, trying to understand her state of mind. And also, to let her continue what she was speaking.
She said, “I’ve seen accidents and blood before…and I’ve always managed to keep my mind calm… I’ve practiced hard to be able to do so… that day, even in the market, when there was a blast, Krish was hurt and bleeding… but I managed to stay well-composed. I tried to stay stable…but today…I don’t know what happened…”
He kept quiet for another long moment. Then he said in a low measured voice, “Stop being so harsh on yourself.”
“I’m sorry.” She said.
He shook his head side to side and spread his hands in air, without saying anything. As if saying – ‘Sorry again?!’
She closed her eyes and reprimanded herself for being such a weak, crybaby. Taking a vow that she will become stronger than this, she sipped more water and lowered her face.
He stood up, “I’ve gotta go.”
She stood up too, “Can I come with you?”
He went inside the tent, speaking while he walked, and thrust his cap, mask, stethoscope and phone in the pockets of his white coat. “I’m going to the Operation Theatre. We have some emergency operations lined up for today,” then he added after a pause, “And we are running short of anaesthesia. Do you still want to come?”
She squirmed at the thought of more blood and screams. “Nah!! It was enough for today. I’ll be fine here.”
She scraped the edge of her notebook with her finger nail, murmuring to herself, “Seems like, you finally found a way to dodge my questions.”
No matter how low it was spoken, he heard it. He replied, “The more we talk to people, the more they know about our weaknesses.”
“Is that why you speak so less?”
“So do you!”
“Professionally, I speak enough. I’ll make sure that I ask all questions that I have in my mind.”
He rotated his tongue inside his mouth, “I have an option to skip them. Remember?”
“Are you planning to skip all of them?”
He shrugged, “Depends on your questions.”
“Hmm!” She nodded, “Got the point.”
“Okay, then. See you in the evening.” He said and then, before he walked away, he asked, “Will you be fine?”
“Yup! I’ll go and sit with Amanda.”
“Amanda will be with me in the OT.” He replied, very casually.
It tasted like a bitter pill inside her mouth. Manasvi was immediately reminded of how comfortable Anshuman and Amanda looked with each other and how they spoke warmly about the other. She didn’t say anything after that. Instead, she simply nodded and said, “I think Dr. Alex is in the next cabin. I’ll go and observe his work.”
Anshuman nodded casually with not even a hint of envy or discomfort on his face. Manasvi didn’t find him uncomfortable with the idea that she was going to be with Dr. Alex for the rest of the day. Maybe, the change in his tone earlier when he asked about her visit to Krish was a misunderstanding that she took seriously?!
Nevertheless, she asked, before he stepped out of the tent, “Err… Can I ask you something?”
He stopped at the exit of this small cabin, made in olive colour tent, turned half-way and nodded, “Sure.”
“Why did you ask Amanda about me in the morning? Where I was? And whether I was visiting Krish?”
He wet his dry lips with his tongue and said, “Can I skip this question?”
She lowered her face, “You can! But I have something to say.”
He turned completely to face her, with a little stern, poised and straight posture. He asked, “And that is?”
She wondered if she had words to say what she wanted to tell him.
From dropping her to the airport in Delhi; to asking her to email him about her job; trying to look out for her in Afghanistan; stopping her from leaving this camp and arranging for an accomodation with Amanda; accompanying her to Jalalabad to take her to the Population Registry Office; asking her to seek him whenever she was in trouble; and then last night, making her comfortable by going out of his way and speaking warmly to make sure that she didn’t feel left-out or lonely because he had sent her away and noticed her leaving alone when he was with his friends – each of these moments and many more, told her loud and clear how he felt that she was his responsibility and he had to take care.
None of these actions were forced on him. No one asked him to drop her at the airport. No one asked him to bring chocolate for her when she was hungry. Not a soul knew that she was leaving the PBB camp but he found her and made her stay back. And no one asked him to accompany her to Jalalabad.
On their anniversary, he had told her very clearly that he wanted a divorce from her because he was going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.
Then why was he doing these things for me and raising the expectations, like he himself said last night? Why was he doing all this for me?
Just to get rid of the guilt feeling of divorcing me? Just to feel better before cutting off all the ties that he did everything he could to fulfill his responsibilities and there stayed no burden on his soul?
Was he asking about Krish to make sure that Krish was just a friend and I didn’t make a mistake of falling for Krish, after we are divorced?
She struggled with a lump of saliva stuck at the base of her throat, and paused for a moment as there was no better way to tell him to stop feeling responsible for her. But she had to. It belittled her and made her feel like a liability.
“I’m waiting.” He swayed his jaw, side to side, reminding her.
She cleared her throat, “Dr. Shekhawat, you don’t need to worry about me. I can manage myself. I’ve always done that, alone. All my life.”
He listened to her and didn’t make a move for few seconds. Then, taking a deep breath, he asked.
“Is this a request to not worry about you from here? Or a complaint, that you’ve done this all alone, all your life?”