I hope you are all doing well. Happy Sunday 🙂
“Now, Gaurvi has nothing to worry about her pregnancy and delivery. Nandini will take care of her. Right?”
“Wrong! Nandini is NOT Gaurvi’s doctor,” Manik replied to her in strong words, before anyone else could speak a word. And added –
“She is not THAT experienced!”
Nandini’s hand, that was serving the vegetables in Manik’s plate, halted. She was standing so close to him that she couldn’t have mistaken hearing him. He had said exactly what she would hate to listen to.
Furious and disappointed, she turned her eyes towards his eyes and raised her chin up in a defiant stare. She lifted one eyebrow to ask if he really meant what he said, but she didn’t speak anything to refute him. He blinked his eyes once to assure her.
Then, he shrugged when he found everyone else focused on him too. Adding more to clarify, he said, “I mean, she has just completed her post-graduation, right before our marriage… she is new to surgical practice… Gaurvi’s first pregnancy had lot of complications too…so… I don’t think Nandini will be able to…”
Latika was excited, instead. “But that’s a wonderful, idea! Why didn’t I think like that? Who else will take care better than family… and Nandini will be perfect for Gayu…”
Manik was nervous. He said, “No mom, Gaurvi is in the hands of an experienced doctor already… ‘her’ doctor… the senior doctor in Lucknow…why Nandini…”
Nandini frowned and continued to look at him, “Manik…”
Manik stubbornly stared back, pursed his lips for a moment and then stressed again, trying to explain it to her, “Nandu…You…are… NOT…experienced… you CANNOT handle independent, complicated cases…”
She whispered, “But…”
He didn’t want the family and guests to pay undue attention anymore. He dismissed any further discussion with a firm nod, without speaking loudly but making a lip movement that said – “NO!!”
“Err…” She opened her mouth again to request him.
This time, he whispered, apologetically and painfully, “Please! … Please??”
She pressed her lips and nodded to accept his sincere request and didn’t speak after that. The guests finished their lunch and were given gifts, cash and boxes of sweets. Nandini quietly fulfilled her duties, without speaking much, Manik finished his lunch and was back to his laptop to reply to official mails.
The guests made a move after blessing Nandini.
After the guests left, Nandini picked up the litter while Manik was on the living room couch, reading official mails. Latika and Manoj had gone down the building to see the guests off till the cab they had hired. Gaurvi and Trisha were with them, mingling with girls in the group. Manik and Nandini were alone in the living room. Nandini kept putting the used cutlery one over the other to be carried to the kitchen sink.
Since the last discussion with guests about her being Gaurvi’s doctor had ended, she hadn’t spoken a word. She raised her eyes and looked at Manik, who stood up to go inside to get his hard drive to save some files. When he threw a glance at her, he found her looking at him.
He knew that she was upset but he didn’t have any other choice to protect her from shooting herself point-blank. He huffed a small bout of air and spread his hands sideways, speaking lovingly, “Nandu…don’t be upset…please…”
Hurt and teary, she asked, “Do you really think that I’m inexperienced? Don’t you know that three years of PG are counted as experience. I’ve been handling difficult cases…and…”
In an extremely soft voice, he chided her, in a desperate and sad tone, “Stop it, yaar!! Please…stop! You don’t need to tell me how efficient you are… but don’t you know why I said that? You know it so well… that there was no other way to refuse. What else could you have said to avoid them, or stop making you Gayu’s doctor? There was no other excuse…”
“But why do we even need to turn it down?” She asked firmly, “I know that I can handle her case. Ma was happy too… she was right…why to go to another doctor when you have family?”
He had a sarcastic smile for her as if talking to a baby. He rolled his eyes, “Ma? The same ‘ma’ who is not mentally normal according to you? The same ‘ma’ who was telling everyone that you forgot to make chutney?”
Miffed, she said, “At least she didn’t say that I don’t know my job!”
“Yeah! Sure… I said that! But you tell me what else would have stopped ‘you’ and ‘ma’ both from being ecstatic about this HUGE prospect. I had to burst your bubble and make you angry and speechless so that you don’t go ahead and accept the proposal hands down. At the same time, telling them that I don’t trust your experience means that henceforth I can take a firm stand against you, even if ANY of you wants to go ahead with this stupid idea.”
“But…Manik… I CAN…” She tried to assert, only to be interrupted by Manik.
“I KNOW….sweetheart…I know you CAN…” He spoke in rapid sentences, “But…you can’t tell them that you can and still won’t do… why don’t you understand that mom will roast you and fry you if you even try to handle Gayu’s case? She is happy right now, coz it looks cute – the family has a doctor, personalised care blah blah – but think about yourself, you will be deemed responsible even if Gayu sneezes. It’s another 2 and half months to go… they will stay here if you begin to take care… how will we manage?”
Nandini thought about it and then speculated, “In fact, I think it will be a good decision…I can take care of Gayu and also, one of the consultants at the hospital is wife of a prominent psychiatrist in the town. I can take his appointment for ma…”
Manik huffed and rolled his eyes, “You started again?”
“I have to… I am observing her closely and all her traits are just like a bipolar would have…it’s not BPD only…there are thousands of other psychiatric disorders who have overlapping features. Only a psychiatrist will be able to diagnose it…”
“Stop it, Nandu!” He was irked and supremely pissed off. “Don’t talk like that…”
She crossed the table and came to face him, “Don’t you notice her changing statements – On one hand, she hugged me in the jewellery shop and said that you are fortunate to have a wife like me… she bought expensive jewellery and wrist-watch for me… on the other, she doesn’t hesitate to insult me as if I know nothing… she praises me before guests and at the same time, lies that I forgot to make chutney… on her first day here, she asked me to help you while you were getting ready for office…yesterday, when you said the same thing, she said that you are a grown-up now, why do you need your wife’s help in everything??”
Frustrated, he shrugged, “She IS like that… She HAS BEEN like that….always!”
“That is how we normalise difficult behaviour! Like your dad said that we can’t say anything to her as she is too sensitive and can’t accept her flaws… she gets depressed…she gets high blood pressure if someone corrects her… normally, we don’t get so anxious when someone points out the wrong…she is different”
He nodded frantically and angrily, “I don’t want to discuss all that…”
He started going away towards the room but she quickly held his hand, “You can’t leave it like that… Why are you running away? Like you always run away from every difficult situation… Who will understand, if you don’t…who will make them understand… you need to first accept that there is a psychiatric issue, it’s okay to have one, and it’s okay to seek help… I’m sure it must be very difficult to think like that about your mom but you have to think with a calm, focused mind… because the bigger problem is telling her and convincing her that she needs medical help… it won’t work like that if you always try to escape like you have always done since childhood…running away from them and staying distant and you asked me to stay away too…you want everyone to be on their own and stay aloof to avoid colliding… you think that she will be mean to me because she loves Gayu di more than you… more than anyone else…”
“Oh! I didn’t know that I love Gayu more!” Latika’s terse, broken voice distracted them and they turned around at the same time, only to realise that they had been arguing with their back towards the main door and they didn’t realise when the family had arrived, all four of them, quite unceremoniously and had heard every dark opinion that they discussed in their absence.
Nandini was embarrassed for she had been louder and slightly harsher. Manik was frozen like a wax statue, as if someone had drained all his blood out of his body. He didn’t know what his mom and rest of the family had heard but the shocked, disheartened look on their faces was enough to say that they had heard sufficient to hate him for the rest of their lives.
He didn’t speak anything. Just stood still.
Nandini started to speak, with an awkward voice, as low as a whisper, “Ma…I’m sorry…I…”
Latika stopped her with her hand in the air and in a saddened, choking voice, she said, “I don’t want any explanations or excuses. Anyway… I’m a retard who needs a psychiatrist, obviously…”
Almost teary-eyed, Nandini said, “I didn’t mean like that…”
Gaurvi said, “Bhai, do you really think…”
“Leave it, Gayu…” Latika stopped her too and in a bitter tone, when she said, “You are new, Nandini, so I am not shocked that you made opinions about us, based on your experience. But I’m stunned to know that Manik thinks that I love Gayu more than him… that I torture people if they don’t behave as per my wishes… and that is why he stays away from us…”
Manik nodded disbelievingly, hopelessly and turned his face away for a moment. He didn’t know what to do. What to say. How to revert what had already happened. He huffed, “Mom… please listen to me…”
Latika had tears in her eyes, “Oh yes! I would have listened to you, had you talked to me. But you ‘decided’ to stay away from us and advised Nandini to be distant too… I still can’t believe it that you think like that about us… and THAT you told HER…not any of us…”
Manik could barely speak, “Mom… I’m so sorry…”
Latika marched away, “I don’t need your sorry… I can’t stay here anymore…”
“Mom…” He held her hand to stop her but she jerked his hand away, “I’m amazed… you believe that I am some kind of a monster who loves troubling people and your wife thinks that I am mental patient…”
“Ma…” Nandini stepped ahead, but Latika stopped her.
“Stop! You have no right to defend yourself. Or, your husband. You have said enough, already!”
No one tried to talk to Latika as she had tears trickling down her cheeks and almost everyone was scared to speak anything.
They had no tickets. They had planned to stay for a week. But after the unfortunate showdown, it wasn’t possible to stay back anymore. The family packed their bags, didn’t speak anything to Manik and Nandini and within an hour, they called the cab.
Manik was in the living room, with his face buried in his palms, eyes reddened and stinging due to the tears now glistening in his eyes… tears that hadn’t fallen in years.
He didn’t talk to his mom. There was no point in explaining anything to her. Explanations neither came easy to him nor he believed that trust and love once broken can be corrected by explaining. He didn’t know what to say anymore.
Manoj kept a hand on his shoulder. Manik stood up. Manoj patted on his back, “Don’t worry son! I’ll talk to your mom. She is angry right now. But once the dust settles, I’ll make sure that she forgives you.”
Trisha and Gaurvi were sad. They hugged Manik and then they hugged Nandini, who was shocked beyond words for the sudden turn of events.
She was shaking when Manoj kept a hand on her head. She whispered and stammered, “I’m so sorry…papa…we didn’t mean any of it…it’s all because of me…”
“Forget it. Such things happen… we’ll come back…” Manoj attempted a small smile.
Gaurvi and Trisha held Nandini’s hand to console her for they knew what she must be going through. Gaurvi said, “Don’t worry, Bhabhi… Mom has extremes of responses… She will be fine.”
Nandini tried to struggle with her tears but she couldn’t stop them. They rolled down in a continuous stream.
The family left.
Manik was left broken and disheartened. He didn’t know how to react. Nandini was scared to talk to him. She went near him and touched his arm before she spoke in an extremely saddened voice “Manik, I’m sorry! So…so…so….sorry!!”
He didn’t reply to her. He was too numb to speak anything.
Next Update : Tuesday – 31st December
Update Schedule – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
(I’ll try my best to keep up 🙂
PS – I have tried to simplify the blog all over again as some people find it difficult to navigate. I’m trying to remove clutter and keep it simple.
I’ll be posting more about it in a new post on ‘My Corner Blog’ update today… stay tuned in case anyone is interested 🙂