Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Heart's A Mess Chapter Nineteen

"Would you like to present this one Dr. Gupta?" Danes asked, a slight smile playing on his lips.

Everyone around the room tried to hide their smiles, as they snuck glances at one another. The few medical student and interns accompanying Matt, Khushi, Oliver and Jahnvi on this ward round were none the wiser of what was about to transpire. Grabbing the chart from Danes, Khushi grit her teeth and smiled forcefully....

"With pleasure."

Arnav leaned back into the pillows, his hands folded behind his head, and grinned wolfishly.

This was going to be fun.

Khushi narrowed her eyes at the beautiful specimen of a man in front of her. Wearing a navy blue polo shirt, blue jeans and a breathtaking smile he was making it difficult for her to stay mad at him. Still, she wouldn't stop trying.

Turning to the medical students in the group, she directed her monologue.

"Patient Name: Asshole. Age: 5 years. Medical History: Delusions and Mental Instability. Presenting Complaint: Small penis."

Arnav had been grinning till she had made mention of his prized asset. It was impressive at the speed she had managed to wipe the smile off his face. At this point Jahnvi and Matt had turned to face the other way, holding on to each other, chests shaking with silent laughter. The students and intern in the room looked between and Arnav bewildered.

Danes bit back his own smile, eyes crinkling with mirth. "Had your fun?"

"Not really."

"Do you think you could present properly for the benefit of these eager young minds Dr. Gupta?"

Khushi sighed. Without even having to refer to his patient chart she began again. "Arnav Singh Raizada, 31 year old male admitted last night for a series of diagnostic tests to determine eligibility for heart transplant. Medical history includes repeated incidents of undiagnosed Rheumatic Fever that subsequently developed into Rheumatic Heart Disease compromising the Mitral Valve. Regurgitation is suspected to have now progressed to its decompensated phase ruling out possibility of repairing the valve. Results of recent ECHO's suggest the beginning of heart failure. He is also a Type 1 Diabetic."

The end of the monologue was delivered as a soft whisper, her eyes swimming with pain. Whatever humour had previously infused the air was gone. The mood turned sombre as everyone turned to look at the couple who only had eyes for one another. Arnav gently lifted his hand reaching out for hers. Rubbing his thumb across her palm, he squeezed tight trying to soothe her.

Swallowing hard, Khushi tried to blink away her tears. Oliver cleared his throat and turned to one of the medical students. "Can you tell me the kind of tests we would be running?"

Arya, in her fourth year of medical school, felt a little nervous but gave it a go. "A standard blood panel, urine testing, ECG, Chest X-ray, ECHO, stress tests, pulmonary function tests...." here her list petered off.

"Matt can you add on to Ms. Taheem's list?" Dr. Danes requested.

"We also need to perform a heart catheterisation, carotid dopplers, radionuclide angiography and an abdominal ultrasound."

"Since our approach is muti-disciplinary who else are we likely to involve Jed?" Oliver gave the intern a chance to use his knowledge.

"He'll need to have a psychiatric and social evaluation, meetings with an anaesthesiologist and endocrinologist. Since his currently appointed cardiologist is his sister we will have to find a more appropriate cardiologist as well."

The questions continued thus for sometime till the whole transplant team was fully informed of the case.
In this whole time Khushi kept holding on to Arnav's hand, her eyes fixed on the white lino of the floor, willing herself not to cry. This was only the beginning. She would have to be strong for him. Crying wasn't going to help anyone. Taking a deep breath she looked up at him and smiled weakly, her eyes still a touch watery. Arnav winked in return, making her heart soar and this time when she smiled it was more genuine.

"Any questions Arnav?" Oliver disturbed them.

"No. I'm all good."

"All right then. I guess we'll leave you to it. Jahnvi here is going to start the ball rolling and take some basic observations and talk to you in a bit more detail about whats going to happen today. I'll leave you in her capable hands."

The group made their way out of the room, shoulders jostling up against each other as they exited through the door. Khushi turned to leave and it was only then that Arnav noticed she was walking a touch gingerly. Not one to take anything lying down, he decided to give back some of the treatment he had been receiving since morning.

"Actually... I do have one question." Arnav called out.

The hoard of doctor's stopped in the doorway. "Yes?" Oliver prodded.

"I just wanted to ask if Dr. Gupta was alright. She seems to be walking a bit strangely."

Having said what he needed, he lay back and grinned, watching as Khushi's eye's widened in horror. It was only natural after last night that she be a touch sore. But for him to bring it up like this was just plain evil.

"Are you alright Khushi? Have you pulled a muscle or something?" Oliver asked concerned. Arnav chortled.

"'m fine."she mumbled.

A pink blush crept up her cheeks at the memories running through her mind. Matt who had caught on, indicated with gestures to Jahnvi, who giggled at the embarrassed and shy Khushi. Huffing, Khushi glared at Arnav and almost ran out the room, leaving everyone utterly confused.


Later that afternoon, Khushi managed to finish up a valve repair with Matt and went to the nurses station to do some post-operative follow up. An interesting situation awaited her. Jahnvi stormed up to her with a patient robe in hand. Shoving it into Khushi's chest she growled. "That's it! I give up! He's bloody impossible."

Khushi frowned. "What? Who are you...."

"Your damn boyfriend! That's who I am talking about. He is a nightmare."

Khushi tried not to laugh. "What's he done?"

"Uh it proably better to ask me what he hasn't done."

"Alright. What hasn't...."

"Oh god that statement was rhetorical woman!"

This time Khushi did laugh as she steered Jahnvi to sit on a chair. Pouring her a glass of water she instructed her to drink.

"Feeling better?" Jahnvi let out a big breath, still visibly annoyed. "Now tell me calmly what's got you so worked up."

"First of all he doesn't take his medications. I gave him the medications at noon telling him they needed to be taken. I walk in five minutes ago and they're still sitting there. Then he has the nerve to sheepishly grin and say he forgot because he was too busy working. On top of it he looks so damn adorable its hard to tell him off. Oh....oh....then I spend the entire day fending off female medical students who just have to get a medical history from him."

Khushi frowned at this piece of information, which made Jahnvi smile.

"It's actually hilarious. He looks so uncomfortable when they obviously flirt with him. He keeps repeating he has a girlfriend not that it stops any of them. Damn cute in my opinion."

Khushi shook her head. "Ok how has this driven you to breaking point though?

Immediately she scowled as if reminded of her terrible day. "He argues about everything! There is no discussion that doesn't involve me having to cajole him. Taking blood from him took 2 hours this morning because he's afraid of needles! My four year old patients are better than him. Not to mention he won't put away his laptop. Apparently his ECHO test can wait till he's finished talking to some investor in Japan or some company in Spain. And now he won't wear this damn robe! I have other patients you know! I'm not his mother."

Khushi tried not to smile, listening to her friend complain about the child man she was is in love with. Giving her shoulder a squeeze....

"Leave it to me J. I'll sort him out."

"Puh-lease. Five of us have tried to get him into this robe."

"It's true." Meg agreed.

"I can't wait till Shagun's on shift she'll have him sorted in no time. He's scared of her." Jahnvi grumbled.

Khushi ignored them and headed to his room, ugly hospital gown in hand. Arnav was sitting on the desk in the corner of the room, typing away furiously answering e-mails. Spotting her out of the corner of his eye he stated...

"Gupta don't even think about asking me to wear that thing. I refuse."

"I wasn't planning on asking Raizada."

He stopped typing and turned to face her. "Oh really?"

Propping herself up on the bed, she nodded, a mischievous expression on her face. "I was planning on ordering you."

Standing, he began to walk toward her with deliberate steps. "That"

"Whatever gets you to wear it..." Her breath caught in her throat, as he placed both arms on the bed, either side of her waist, effectively trapping her.

Blowing on the loose wisp of her hair, he huskily whispered. "Whatever it takes? Are you sure about that doctor?"

Khushi quickly stuffed the gown in his face, trying to put some distance between them. Arnav rolled his eyes and made his way back to the desk.

"I'm not wearing it and that's that."

"This isn't a movie set. No one cares what you look like. This is a hospital. You're driving the nursing staff mad."

"I know that!" he raised his voice. It was strange to hear, since she had very rarely seen him angry.

"Then what's the problem?"

"You! You're my problem!" He slammed his hand on the desk, and turned away from her, looking out at the city.

The room fell silent, as Khushi looked at his back wondering what she could have done wrong. Arnav turned around, took one look at her crestfallen face and felt like a jerk. Sighing, he walked toward her and held her hands.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean...."

Khushi looked up at him, still sitting on the bed. "What's wrong Arnav?"

With his palm, he placed it on her cheek and stared down at her, drinking in every little detail of her. She looked exhausted. Yet her skin still glowed, beautifully soft. A stray wisp escaped her messy bun, not quite long enough to be tucked behind her ear. Leaning down, he pulled on her bottom lip, rolling it between his teeth. He kissed her slowly, trying to express the depth of his love. But before she could even begin to respond he moved away and tried to catch his breath.

"I'm just frustrated."


Arnav ran his hands through his hair, trying to articulate his emotion. "We shared something beautiful yesterday. Yet here I am. Instead of being able to love and cherish you like I should, you're stuck taking care of me.  It's humiliating enough that you're with someone who has the body of an 80 year old but now you want me to wear this damn dress?"

Khushi didn't know whether to laugh or cry. For a man like Arnav, the idea of appearing vulnerable and helpless was emasculating. And in front of the woman he loved even more so. He was afraid that she would think of his as less of man. As less of a lover.

Hugging herself into him, she spoke into his chest. "Dress or no dress, you still make my knees go weak."

Arnav wrapped his arm around her and rest his head atop hers. Sighing, he asked to no one in particular...

"Why does it have to be so hard?"

Khushi looked up at him. "I keep asking myself the same thing." 


Anjali and Aman rushed from the elevators toward the nurses station.

"Raizada..." she barked out, slightly out of breath.

"Room 1202." The nurse pointed her in the direction of his room.

A call earlier in the morning from a hospital employee, was the first news Anjali Mathur had received about her brother's whereabouts in the last three weeks. Relief, panic and anger had been her intrinsic reaction to the information. However her highly efficient mind had realised that there was no time for such things. And so, hopping on the first available flight out of New York, she had been running non-stop to get to her baby brother. It was now nine pm and technically past visiting hours; protocol could go to hell for all she cared.

Sliding the door to the room open, the sight that greeted her warmed her heart. Arnav and Khushi were both fast asleep. The latter, in a recliner chair next to the bed, a magazine about to fall off her lap. Closing her eyes, she breathed a sigh of relief. He was alright. Her baby was alright. For the first time that day, Anjali held on to her husband and allowed herself to cry.


Khushi stirred in her sleep. The pain in her neck was bothering her. Cracking one eye open, she check on Arnav who was still fast asleep. She smiled. He had finally worn the stupid gown. Letting her eyes drift shut again, she remembered the wolf whistling the staff had erupted into when the back of his gown had drifted open, giving them an eyeful of his rather delicious behind. 

"I knew his arse was sexy!" Meg called out.

"That arse is mine! Go find one of your own to ogle Meg!" Khushi had growled protectively, to which Arnav had simply laughed. Later on though, when he had gotten up to grab some file or the other, she had got another eyeful and it was becoming increasingly apparent why the nursing staff was fixated about her boyfriends behind. She couldn't blame them really. It was perfectly round, with the dimples at the top. Her cheeks began to burn at the direction of her musings. 

The sound of a scraping chair, disturbed her thoughts. The lighting in the room was dim but she still had to squint to adjust to the light. Sitting across the room was Anjali, flipping through a magazine, sipping on a hot beverage. A table lamp to the side of her, threw a faint light across her face, highlighting her already stunning features. At that very moment she looked up, her eyes meeting her own. Immediately Khushi stiffened and began to get up.

"Khushi ...don't go. Not on my account. Aman's just gone to get some food, he'll be back in a moment." Anjali whispered, wary of her sleeping brother.

She ignored her and got up anyway. "The last time we met, my behaviour was unsavoury. But please try and understand."

Khushi gritted her teeth and forced herself to stay quiet for Arnav's sake. This was not the time or place. On her way out the door, Anjali held onto her wrist.

"Let. Me. Go." Khushi hissed quietly, making her anger apparent. As the grip on her arm slackened she heard a broken sob...

"He's my baby. Try and understand." she pleaded.  "He's my baby."

Khushi angled her head slightly. Anjali was looking toward Arnav with such maternal affection that it was hard for her to hate the woman. It had always been her problem. Khushi's heart was too big and too generous for her own good. Huffing in frustration she handed her the tissue box and took the seat next to her.

"You have five minutes and then I'm leaving."

Anjali wiped her tears, still staring ahead at Arnav.

"Arnav was so young when mumma and papa left us. Hardly five years old. Mumma had been sick for a long time. I can't remember with what but it must have been some kind of cancer.  Papa spent every last penny on her treatment. He loved her with everything he had and was with her every step of the way. As a result the family business suffered. Soon Nani had to sell her ancestral land to pay for the all the new and expensive research trials he was putting her into. When she finally died he was beside himself with grief. I didn't think it was possible to die from a broken heart."

Anjali paused for a moment, lost in her own thoughts. Khushi was breaking apart inside. These people had seen their own version of hell, no different from her own. Perhaps even worse.

"After papa died, our chacha kicked us out. Nani had no money to speak off and we ended up living in the slums. The pension provided enough money for our food and basic needs so Nani would do basic seamstress jobs to earn a little extra income on the side. It killed us to see her work so hard.  Both Chote and I worked day and night, studying as hard as we could. Chote would get sick often though. He would have high temperatures and aching bones but we just couldn't afford the healthcare. His diabetes mediation was expensive enough, so we had to let him ride it out. I guess that was what made me want to be a doctor. The long and short of it all is that we worked hard and made better lives for ourselves. But in all these years, I was the one who would stay up at night applying cold compresses, who would hear his screams and moans, who watched him graduate, who helped him tie his laces, who wouldn't eaten till he had. I may have Neha now but Chote will always be my first child."

Anjali turned to hold Khushi's hand. "He is my baby and always will be. Arnav always comes first. Something Aman took sometime to get used to. I am sorry that I didn't tell you. I am sorry I lied to you. I am sorry I blamed you. But I would do it all again. For him. Because of him."

Khushi looked between Arnav and Anjali. "I should hate you for what you did. But I understand. I don't want to but I do."

Anjali smiled and leaned forward for a hug. Khushi backed away. "It doesn't mean that I have forgiven you. I will in time. But for now I need some space."

Both women sat in silence, content with their own thoughts. Anjali looked toward Khushi...

"He'll be ok won't he?" Her voice held so much fear that Khushi felt her heart break all over again. How could she not understand this woman's actions. Would she have not done the same for her own child?

Khushi held onto Anjali's hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "He'll be ok."


Extra long update for extra special readers who give me so much love. Four more updates left in this story.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Heart's A Mess Chapter Eighteen A&B

Old habits die hard.

Khushi was learning the hard way.

Her dormant heart began to throb painfully as time slowed to savour the palpable tension gravitating them to one another.

Arnav Singh Raizada.

The man had tattooed his name across her heart, blue-black ink seeping from it's letters to stain every fibre...staking his claim. With each thrill, came the realisation that neither time nor distance would dilute her response to him.

Caus If I could see your face once more

I could die a happy man I'm sure

Even before the locks to her front door had given way Khushi had known it was him on the other side. Still... it had done nothing to quell the warm, breathy whisper that had escaped her upon seeing him. Arnav stood on the front step, drenched to the bone, his posture unyielding. A solitary raindrop hung on to his eyelashes, teetering upon the edge, unsure of it intent. Another sat upon the pillowy bed of his lower lip.

Time, an arbitrary concept at the best of times, fell away, leaving silence to communicate what words could not. Stormy swirling pools of caramel, hauntingly desolate, begged for her mercy.

He blinked, releasing the captive droplet; the spell broken.

The deafening roar of the torrential downpour was suddenly thrown into sharp relief. Three weeks of anger, confusion, love and disillusionment suddenly found flight, funneling into the vortex of a violent storm, erupting in a resounding slap. Relief translated into adrenaline that coursed through her petite frame, her trembling body barely standing upright.

Static filled the air in the aftermath of the event. A gentle sob diffused into the silence. The tension, unable to sustain itself, searched frantically for release and found its answer. Arnav fell to his knees, crumpled upon her doorstep, his head hung; a defeated man.

They remained like that for what seemed like an age, paralysed, incapable of movement. Slowly, Khushi looked down at him. For the first time she took stock of his appearance. His white oxford shirt, clung to his shivering form, so soaked it now appeared diaphanous. Dark circles teased tired eyes, sallow skin marring his complexion. It was the sight, however, of bloodshot eyes swimming with unshed tears that undid her. That squeezed her heart so painfully she felt afraid that it may burst.

You took my soul and wiped it clean

Our love was made for movie screens

Sinking on to the floor, she quickly gathered him in her arms, his head resting upon her chest. The position was not the most comfortable, but she held on to him for dear life as they both let go together. Strong, sinewy arms squeezed her close to him as his chest shook. Then in the softest of whispers he hoarsely lamented...

"I....I can't live with out you." Looking up at her, he tried to communicate his anguish.

Deep exaggerated breaths rattled noisily as he waited for her. Khushi looked into his desperate eyes and closed her own. How could she explain to him her fears? She was no god. It was not in her power to save him. Steeling herself, Khushi prayed for strength. And in one devastating statement, she managed to reveal her truth to him.

"But you can't live with me either."

The wretchedness of their fate rung loud.

So they did the only thing could, they lost themselves. Cupping her face in his hands, he kissed her tenderly, pulling at her bottom lip, revelling in its soft pliability. It's taste was salty, their tears having found a home. Khushi closed her eyes and let her head fall back, taking the liberty to memorise his touch, digging her nails into his forearms as the bristly hairs of his stubble caressed her cheek. Endless nights had been spent trying to keep him alive in her mind, his smell, his touch, his love....

Khushi was terrified of forgetting him.

But now here he was trailing slow kisses up her jaw and nibbling on soft flesh of her ear lobe. She would be damned if she didn't immerse herself in him. A warm whisper flew over the planes of her cheek.

"I missed you so much Gupta."

Usually the sentiment behind such a confession would have melted the heart of any girl. But to Khushi it was his endearment of her that managed to find its way past all her walls, unravelling her in his arms. Her hands fisted in his hair, she hid her face against his shoulder and sobbed. Arnav ran his hands up and down her back attempting to soothe her. With incredible dexterity, he managed to position her legs around his hips and slowly stood up, carrying her inside.

Sniffing, Khushi kept clinging on to him, managing to kick the front door shut as he walked into the foyer. With out so much as a word, he kept walking, entering the guest bedroom on the ground floor. Khushi looked toward the bed and back at him, her eyes full of questions. Lowering her to the ground, he stepped back a fraction and reached out to hold her hand.

"I came here to ask you to take me back. To ask for your forgiveness. To ask you to listen to my side of the story. To reassure that after that if you didn't want me in your life I would understand. But also to let you know that if you were to take me back it would have to be forever. I didn't think I had it in me to lose you again. The funny thing is though that standing in front of you now the whole idea just seems absurd."

Khushi looked at him confused. He smiled with a boyish innocence that left her breathless. Taking a small step forward leaned his forehead upon hers. "It seems absurd because its just become clear that its not up to you really. You don't get a choice in the matter. Even if you don't want me or you take me back and decide later that you can't handle it....I will keep coming back." Rubbing his thumb across her cheek he whispered...  "I love you Khushi and I'm not letting go."

Khushi felt herself go numb at his confession. "I'm never leaving you, not till the big man up there comes for me himself." Her eyes's widened and she rushed to put her hand over his mouth. He stopped her.  "I've never said it to you before but I'm not making that mistake again. I love you and I'm going to spend the rest of my life letting you know just how much."

Looking up at him, she could see nothing but his sincerity. Her voice having abandoned her, she buried her face in his chest. Trembling fingers reached out to unbutton his shirt, her inexperience making her painfully shy. Large hands engulfed her own and guided her, reassuring her of his promise. The material fell away revealing him to her; making way for something quite extraordinary. As her eyes roamed his bare chest, a realisation dawned upon her.

He was hers.

There was nothing to fear.

Clothes slowly fell away, as they indulged in themselves in the luxury of the time they had. The room was dimly lit, trace amounts light diffusing through the grey clouds as the pitter patter of the rain became their soundtrack. She fell back against the pillows, her hair splayed out majestically on the crisp white linen as Arnav came over her...cherishing her...adoring her...worshipping her...loving her. Skin to skin they lay, familiarising themselves as an extension of the other.

Trailing his hands up the length of her arms, his fingers interlocked with hers, holding on tight. Gentle kisses rained down upon her, blinding her vision. She responded with passionate vigour, fisting her hand in his hair and kneading the skin of his lower back; her back arching up off the bed. As he slid deep within her, pushing past her final barrier, Arnav looked into Khushi's eyes, laying his soul bare for her to see. And there he remained, waiting for her to adjust to his presence, to understand the cadence of her body. Minutes turned to hours, and the sheets snaked in between them, twisting and turning with the natural rhythm of their bodies.

They had found each other...they had found home.

If you loved me, why'd you leave me

Take my body, Take my body


Arnav propped his head up on an elbow and turned to face Khushi. Her face was turned the other way, as if determined not to see him. He ran his fingers through the long thick waves of her hair, marvelling its satin like texture. Then with the calloused pads of his fingers, he traced the line of her collar bone, tracing its dips and curves with great relish. Placing his hand either side of her chin, he tried to get her to look his way. She resisted, pulling the bed sheet higher up under her arms.

"Look at me Khushi...please"

Slowly the resistance became less determined in its intent and he got her to look his way. A solitary tear rolled down her cheek.

"You lied." she accused, her voice heavy with emotion.

"I did." he admitted in a small voice. Khushi waited for a proper answer. Arnav collapsed back onto his pillow, looking up at the ceiling. "I remember the day you stomped down the aisle of my plane. I'll never forget the look on your face." He smiled fondly. "At first you intrigued me. I thought it would be a bit of fun spending some time with you. But then after our date I knew I was in trouble. I tried to stay away. I knew it would only end in pain. I think I lasted about three days. It was selfish but I wanted a chance at happiness. The more time I spent with you, the harder it became to tell you. I didn't want you to pity me or look at me any different and I didn't want to loose you. I fell in love with you. You were and still are the best thing in my life."

"What about me? Did you ever think about me? What am I going to do! You've ruined me! I hate you!" Khushi banged her fist against his chest, crying.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so so sorry." Arnav took her in his arms and kept reitterating just how sorry he was. "I didn't for any of this to happen. I hate myself for loving you. For chaining you to someone who is dying. You deserve better than me. But I can't live without you. I just can't."

"I hate you. I hate you. I hate you." Khushi mumbled over and over again.

"I love you. I will never stop loving you."

Khushi fell silent, her palm resting above his heart. "Never leave me again. Even if I ask you to." she whispered.