4: The Man in Her Dreams

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Khanak at long last pulled her Nano out of the hospital parking lot and started to gingerly inch towards home. The car had been a graduation gift from her parents. Her father who had always ridden his faithful old scooter to work had bought it for her. When she had hesitated to accept it, he had insisted with pride; "Doctor Khanak Agarwal needs a car of her own. These docs keep odd hours don't they? Isliye it is important you have your own means of transport and that should be a car and nothing else. Case closed." Fortunately, it was not expensive and her father could afford it, though he still continued to ride his scooter saying it was an old friend and a hard habit to break.

Though she was extremely tired after her long shift she couldn't relax right away. She cursed the rush hour traffic. The only difference was that she was travelling in the opposite direction. She had asked her mother to give her a missed call every five minutes to prevent her from nodding off on the wheel. Dr. Deepak had offered to drop her home but she had refused. For if he knew where she lived, he would drop by anytime and try to impress her parents. That wouldn't be too hard--a future cardiac surgeon who wanted to hook up with their daughter. She couldn't have that. For she disliked the man from the bottom of her heart. He was rude, irksome and worst of all inhuman.

SCREEEEECH! Khanak hit the brakes just in time. A young woman on a scooter with a little boy behind her had squeezed into the tiny space in front of her. As she tried to calm her racing heart down, she noticed that the boy was no older than the little girl in the ER--Megha. What a precious relationship they shared; Megha and her uncle. Just like a father and daughter. She hoped they were all right. She recalled Megha had clung to her arm then fallen asleep crying for her chachu.

Her family had finally arrived and created quite a scene. A woman who'd turned out to be her mother had been at the forefront screaming at the top of her lungs and scared the little girl out of her wits. Khanak had told her firmly to calm down. Then had gently persuaded Megha to go to her. She had albeit with great reluctance.

When Khanak reached home she found her mother beside herself with worry.

Sunita Agarwal was the loving wife of Pramod Agarwal and adoring mother of Khanak and her younger sister Palak. As a housewife she made sure their lives ran like a well-oiled engine. Though at times when it didn't her usual slogan was--its life after all! She was the one who had encouraged her daughters to follow their dreams. She had seen their dreams with them and worked tirelessly to make them come true. She was a hard taskmaster but Khanak loved her to death. Because she knew if it been for her mother, she may have never achieved what she had been able to so far.

So when her mother told her that she had perhaps chosen the wrong career Khanak retorted: "Mama please! Medicine is not just my career; it is a part of my life. Don't you remember how you used to encourage me to study late into the night telling me that I better get used to it? Do you want me to give up so soon?"

Her mother nodded reluctantly, "Yes but...your health?"

"Mom this is not going to be. Don't you want people to say Dr Khanak Agarwal is a wonderful doctor? Woh bunk nahin marti? (She doesn't bunk?)" Khanak persisted warming up to the argument.

"Yes, my intelligent baby. Tumse to koi argument nahin jeet sakta! Nobody can argue with you; your future husband will suffer. Then we'll all be spared;" Sunita smiled mischievously.

"Mom stop! Don't you dare talk about my marriage again. If you do; I will...!" Two blazing spots of red materilaized on Khanak's cheeks.

"Mujhe kaccha chaba jayegi. You will eat me alive;" her mother laughed and shook her head. "We are vegetarians my dear therefore I'm not afraid. Go on take a shower; have some lunch and then sleep. Or else I'll go mad."

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