Gaurav looked into his glass of whiskey as he shook it to see the floating ice cubes. He felt like an asshole. He had made Ria cry last week. The poor girl was hard working and she was very good at it. But it infuriated him further. Why did she have to be so likeable? Why didn’t she fight back? He didn’t have any right to behave the way he did. Anyone else in her position would have quit ages ago or would have ousted him to HR. He knew she was paid well…he had personally seen to it. But it was not the money; it was something else which forced her to work here. He had seen her clothes. They were very simple unlike what she could afford with her salary. He knew there had to be a reason for this.
Hell… somehow all his thoughts would always come back to her.
Every evening he would rush to his lounge bar ‘Karma’ where he was the sleeping partner to his childhood friend Manik Chaturvedi. Manik was the only person who knew all the crap going on in his life… his past…well almost. There were somethings he had never told a soul though it ate him up from within. He was a bloody coward of the highest order and didn’t deserve the life he had. His routine would end many times with a bottle of his favourite whisky from the bar which he often replaced dinner with.. only to wake up next morning with a mother of all hangovers. He had a pad just above the lounge attached to his office where he often crashed in a drunken stupor. Other days he would go home where he had his trusted butler for company but would be in danger of facing his demons in his nightmare. He was indeed in between the devil and the deep blue sea. Manik was married for a year now and expecting his first baby. Like clockwork Manik stayed up in the bar till midnight after which Gaurav would take over for an hour or so till it was time to wind up. They had a very good handpicked staff which took care of everything and Gaurav would confine himself more often than not to his pad. These days his all in one butler too would join him making him drink less and more often than not he would be forced to go home… and then the appointment with his nightmares would begin. When would it get over? When he was no more? Not that it would make any difference to anyone… would it? He often wondered with a chuckle. what if he killed himself and ended the miseries… would Ria miss him? The way he had been treating her, she would dance a happy one on his grave he thought pensively.
Today he had run away from his situation and come to this old building. The now defunct hospital building was living its last days. This was the last weekend after which the building would be brought down. He looked around what used to be his old consulting room. Now it was a poor reminder of his past as a practising surgeon. He looked at his old glass cupboard that had housed his equipment…yes that’s what he called his surgical stuff. He never used anyone else’s or even those belonging to other hospitals when he visited but carried his own. He had a huge collection of surgical equipment procured from across the world during his short career. Most of it was in the storehouse of his home. He still had some boxes here though. He saw the I-V stand. He had kept it with him here… His first successful surgery patient had scribbled a thank you on it using a hairpin… He saw the box of unused syringes and remembered playing with similar boxes in his childhood, till his mother reprimanded him for damaging hospital property. Finally his roaming eyes rested on the First-aid kit. He had an obsession for the number of gauze and cotton swabs lined neatly in them. There were few minor procedures which he had carried out right in this room… like deep gashes or cuts. Aww good old days…he reminisced. He had strictly told the architect in charge of their project here, that he himself would be winding up his stuff. He didn’t like anyone touching them. He smirked…all the hopes and dreams… how the expectation bubble had burst.
This place was a treasure house of memories. As he moved around what used to be his once customised full-fledged consultation room, for one last time, he brooded about his past. He had literally grown up here amongst doctors, patients and nurses …among the smells of antiseptic fluids, soaps, laundry… blood. His parents and some of his uncles and aunts were all doctors. He had seen them build this empire from scratch. He was a mere child maybe around five years old when parents had moved their joint practise from their home clinic to a commercial gala. He used to hear dinner table talks between them on the increasing rents. Soon his uncle and aunt had joined the practise and they had got together four specialities under one roof, soon starting their first polyclinic. Within a year his other uncle and an aunt from his mother’s side joined the team and within another year they became the most sought after multi-speciality polyclinic in business. He must have been around ten- eleven years old when his parents sold their plot in their village, and his mother and aunts mortgaged their jewellery. This along with a loan had helped them buy the plot and build this first hospital building. It started off with just a ground floor with a small IPD section and a smaller surgical unit for emergencies. In the next few years they were joined by other cousins who came along with their monetary contributions and soon the building grew to the complete three storey-ed super speciality hospital. This was the first ever full-fledged hospital of the Chopra Group. From then on there was no looking back and as some of the relatives, mostly extended family that finished their medical education joined them, they started the expansion. He would often joke that their families had it in their genes to churn out doctors… like a factory of doctors. Some of his cousins who studied management or were CAs or lawyers were roped in the team to manage the running of the now emerged conglomerate.
As a child Gaurav never thought of becoming anyone else, but a doctor. He and some of his cousins who became doctors had taken over the reins of running the show gradually. He always loved working with patients and resented administration works… thank God they had efficient staff for that. He found that work or any paperwork too menial. Paperwork always bored him. He loved decision making…he loved the adrenal rush of being in the front line managing patients. He was a surgeon and was renowned to be best at his work. He had gotten his initial experience right here in this old, but their first hospital building…
Gaurav stirred the melting ice as he recalled his initial foray into the world of medicine. He was an achiever in school, an all-rounder, not just good in academics but an avid fitness enthusiast as well. As he finished his grade twelfth he started to drink. Initially what began as a part of social drinking in parties hosted by his parents soon bamboozled into a full blown drinking habit. He even appeared for his medical entrance exams completely sloshed to his parent’s utmost horror and it was then they realised the gravity of his situation. He failed the exams and spent a year in rehabilitation before appearing again for the exams the following year. Though he passed, it was water under the bridge. He couldn’t get a merit seat… His parents had to shell out a fortune to get him admitted via some quota. If he had thought he had left the alcoholic misery behind him… he was in for a huge shock. He struggled through the first year with withdrawal symptoms, almost failing the final exams. His parents gave him an ultimatum…either to perform or give up medicine all together and that was an unbearable thought. It was then he cleaned up his act and immersed himself into studies. He also attended his monthly rehabilitation meets and by the final year he was able to cope better. He got back into his groove, topping the final year. He appeared for the entrance exams for the MS and aced it securing admission in one of the top medical colleges in Mumbai to pursue the same. He had dreamt to be a surgeon and now was on the path to be one… He worked his guts out and whatever time he got in between semesters or rare holidays he spent them in this hospital under his mother’s able tutelage. She was a general practitioner but a Jane of all trades and obsessed with practising medicine… he probably got his interest from her. She was a great doctor but an absentee mother whom he barely saw while growing up, as he was shuffled between grandparents, which explained his lack of enthusiasm about what she thought of him today. His relationship with his father had strained when he was first caught driving under influence in his new car an 18th birthday gift…. He had never seen eye to eye with him anyways in those rare occasions when he had even actually seen him while growing up. He didn’t blame his parents for their lack of presence though…they had worked hard to give him a good life and he had been nothing but a disappointment…
As a young doctor with stars in his eyes practising medicine independently had been his dream which he wanted to fulfil right at this place…A sudden gush of memories flooded his thoughts. Memories of successful surgeries… challenging surgeries… He also remembered those whom he had lost on the table. Though the number was negligible in his short-lived career, he still grieved for them. He jolted back to reality as the condensation from the glass he held suddenly chilled his fingers. He hung his head as a lone tear escaped his eye. He had looked forward to make a difference in the life of people around him.
A good difference he did make, he thought sarcastically, as he stirred the liquid in his glass. He had ruined everything. One wrong decision had cost him everything he had given his life for. Five years had passed since but he had given up surgery and was into administrative responsibilities of the Pune branch of their Group of hospitals as well as Karma which helped him fund charitable surgical camps. He had to pay other surgeons since he himself wasn’t doing any. As he thought of the past, a lump formed in his throat. He had been huge a catastrophe to his parents, he could see it in their eyes. He had failed a lot of others who had depended on him i.e. his co-workers and mainly his patients from all those years ago. His parents hadn’t spoken to him for years now and he barely had friends anymore… at least not anyone close for comfort besides Manik. He was living the life of solitude and was terribly lonely. A social butterfly at one time that used to be the life of parties, he felt like a destitute…like an orphan.
Suddenly the heavy rain thrashed loudly outside his window and the dark emotions flared up inside his heart. The resentment bubbling into anger… he flung his glass across the dark room and stared at the broken pieces till his vision blurred. Well… as tears trickled down he realised he was broken too… his heart too was shattered into a lion pieces…
Gaurav had probably dozed off in his chair when he heard the loud horn of an arriving vehicle, startling him awake. He checked the time it was 7.30PM. It was still pouring heavily. Oh… the party was to start. He knew it was to be held here. He also knew Ria wouldn’t be coming. She never partied…. Of course he knew everything about her. He had kept tabs on her… for almost four years and the last year he had watched her… Someone would call him a stalker. But he couldn’t help himself, besides it was his little secret. Anyway her not attending the party was fine for him. No one would notice him or miss him anyways he thought with a heart clenching pang. He was on the third floor in a dark corner. He would have to bear the blaring music when the party would be in progress, but then they would all leave and he would drown in his whiskey. He got up to shut the curtains of his old office window. As he looked down he saw the bus that had got the staff for the party. It had probably taken the back entrance…Oh yes they had covered the front and main entrance by tarpaulin sheets to cover the equipment cartons accumulated there waiting for transport.
His eyes fell on the staff alighting the bus hurriedly trying to escape the drizzle and… his heart skipped a beat. Was it Ria? Yes it was her… Ria was here. He could identify her anywhere. She had worn a gown…A GOWN for God’s sake. The figure hugging beautiful gown she was struggling to contain along with her huge tote bag, definitely must have brought out the black in her almond eyes. She looked around and all over as she assessed her surroundings. It was then he saw her face under the compound light. Oh Lord… she was stunning. Those eyes… they were a killer set. The bulge in his pants was a live testimony to her alluring persona and she didn’t even know it. The rain intensity increased suddenly and she along with all the members rushed inside.
He hoped he could control himself… As it is, every day in the hospital was agonising enough to only look at her and feel her around him. And now when the angelic beauty swayed to the music down there, would he be able to rein it in? He had to stay in this room, probably tie himself to the chair.
Dr. Gaurav Chopra, the so called epitome of poise and dignity was now a mere spectator watching his self-control lying in shreds…. Something was terribly wrong with him…He downed another glass of the moonshine and hoped it would suffice for his raging libido and extinguish the burning fire within… but as he closed his eyes those sparkling pair of almonds shone brightly increasing the pressure in his loins.
He was a goner….
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