(Author's note- A kind request to all those who have added this book to your reading list-please leave your comments and reviews to let me know what you think. It will be really, really helpful!)
“I’m truly sorry”, he said, “For being such an idiot and almost letting you go. I’m not going to let that happen again, ever.”
“Hmm.. Don’t say things you don’t mean. I have heard these words way too many times before.” Came my reply.
“Trust me baby, give me a chance!” he persisted, now holding my hand.
“Its not that I don’t want to. But the fact is I have been broken too many times..” I trailed off, the bitter memories causing my stomach to churn.
“I know, so have I. But I finally know now why it never worked out with anyone else. It has always been you……”
Before I could get kissed (and maybe even get to second base), my rosy dream was interrupted by Taylor Swift singing, “You belong with me” from my phone alarm. Damn got to change that tone, I thought, as I woke up to another day of saving lives. Yep, you guessed it right. I am a Doctor and a Surgeon at that! Taylor swift usually cheered me up, no matter what. Today however, her magic didn’t work. The dream had just brought back a string of memories which I had kept buried for three years. That face in my dream made my heart ache, as though it had just happened yesterday. Everything had been just perfect. He had indeed, been the guy of my dreams-handsome, sexy, loving, charismatic, and a friend, philosopher, guide and support system, put into one. In short, he had been too good to be true. Maybe, that was why he had been wrenched away from me-because I didn’t deserve anything good. Or was it because all good things ought to come to an end, some day?
“Shwetha, time for breakfast! Come fast, your food is getting cold!”
Damn, she had interrupted the flow of sad nostalgia, before I could start reminiscing the more savoury parts of our two-year relationship!
Meet my Mom, Meenakshi Sundaramoorthy, fifty-three years of age (but I swear she looks not a day older than thirty-five, maybe younger, but definitely not older!), a dedicated gynaecologist, bustling home-maker, a lip-smackingly awesome cook, Carnatic music enthusiast and (to my chagrin and bad luck), a stickler for rules and old customs and traditions. She obsessed over pretty much everything, starting from the crease on my Dad’s shirt collar (which she irons herself, as she felt the Dhobi ie., the ironing guy wasn’t ‘good enough’), to the crispness of her cotton sarees, my brother’s monthly school tests and my everyday food intake (which, in her opinion, was never sufficient). She was also the emotional sort, more so, whenever she had the rare fortune of seeing her first-born (the great me, obviously) step into the kitchen. My dad, in stark contrast, was a cool-headed, take-life-as-it-comes guy, who could always be counted on to save the day, especially when Mom was in one of her ‘moods’.
Hi by the way! I’m Shwetha Sundar, twenty-eight, a doctor by profession and still single. I stay with my parents and younger brother, Shankar, in Chennai. I’m a full-time blogger (and part time consultant surgeon lol). I also am an avid reader, foodie and till my last breath, a loyal Potterhead. Therefore, I apologize in advance for all the Harry Potter references! I can’t help it, it’s more like an addiction, which I share with millions around the globe! Sometimes, I felt that I was really a Hogwarts girl living in the muggle world! Now, coming to my blog-My blog is full of my thoughts on anything and everything under the sun. Every morning, before I even brush, I post on my blog. What I post depends on how I feel. Thus today’s entry said: Memories.. They are like waves.. They keep re-surfacing, sometimes gently caressing.. Sometimes striking you down with unexpected force.. Some filled with love.. Some with tears.. Some precious ones where your heart skipped a beat for the first time.. the memory of your first love.. First kiss.. Priceless..
“Message from Avinash ” my phone pinged, just as I finished writing.
“I’m sorry about yesterday night.. Hope you slept well.”
Yeah sure.. For two whole hours.. After you said that I was the biggest mistake you ever made.. That I was an arrogant know-it-all.. And that no wonder my boyfriend left me.. And with that, made me dream about him.. After all this, is this the best apology you can come up with? If only someone hadn’t exited my life, three years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught in the claws of an ‘arranged’ marriage, with a guy who barely knew me. The other way around was also true. I was equally ignorant, about him. Sometimes, I supposed I just wasn’t really interested in ‘getting to know’ him. Or maybe, my heart wasn’t ready, just yet. Maybe, I still compared every guy to the one who had swept me off my feet and made me believe in love.
“It’s high time I stopped letting my past dictate my future! Maybe it won’t be such a bad idea to give this Avinash a chance.” I thought aloud, as I rinsed off the last bit of shampoo from my hair.
“It’s okay, forget it ”I replied to him in a text, after about ten minutes, over breakfast. Damn, why do I forgive so easily? That’s my biggest flaw, I guess. I always try to look at the tiniest positive thing about someone, even if they are akin to Voldemort. It’s not that I don’t realize what they are. But I don’t want to make myself miserable by dwelling on the negative things in life.
“Shwetha, your hair has become so thin, dear! Has your hair-fall not reduced?”
Thank you, mom, for bringing me back to reality!
“And look at all these dark-circles under your pretty eyes!”
Okay, I will take that as a compliment.
“Ma, I have to go. I am going to be late. If you need anything from the departmental store, please let Dad know! I won’t be back until eight or so.”
“When are you ever going to learn how to run a house, Shwetha? What will your in-laws say, when they know that you don’t know the difference between various types of lentils?”
“I slogged for ten years to know how to treat different types of diseases and swellings, Ma, not to learn about different varieties of lentils, for heavens’ sake! If that’s what they are going to use, to judge me, then it’s better they get their precious Avinash married to a five-star hotel Chef!”
“Why do you always..”
She was cut off by a sharp glance from my Dad.
“At least today, let her finish her breakfast, Meena. She has a long day ahead.”
He then turned to me.
“Have you submitted your research paper for publication, dear?”
“I have, but God knows if they are going to reject it or..”
“Stay positive, Shwetha! Even Rome was not built in a day, right? Never give up, dear!”, He said, ruffling my hair. I responded with an affectionate peck on his cheek. I was a complete Daddy’s girl. I always knew that, despite what happened in my life three years ago, I would surely find my prince, one day. But then, my Dad would always be my king! It was not that he held me back from making my mistakes. But he would always be there to pick me up and dust me off, whenever I fell. That did not mean my Mom wasn’t there for me. Despite her talk of making me a ‘perfect’ home-maker, she was invariably the first person to listen to my rants and lend a supportive shoulder. Whenever I felt low about what I had lost, a few years ago, I would always remind myself to be thankful for the wonderful family I had.
I would be failing in my duty, if I don’t mention my dear little baby brother, at this juncture. I still reminisce the day he entered this world, fifteen years ago, a scrawny looking, pre-term, two-kilogram baby, wrapped in many layers of white cloth, much like a frail doll.
“What a cute little bundle of joy! He is going to be my best friend!”, I had cooed close to his face, then. The kick I got on my face, in response to that, was a mere sample of what I was to face in the coming years. There was never a moment’s peace in my life, after he came. It was beyond me why all my possessions and toys suddenly became his. It was not that I didn’t want to share. But I never even got the chance to offer him anything, for he always took it all, by force. Many a time, I would get reprimanded for hitting him, while he put on his cute, innocent baby face and hid behind Mom, who never bothered to ask him why he had scribbled over my home-work. Nevertheless, he had, in his own little way, always been there for me. His witty remarks and taunts always made me laugh inside, no matter how angry I seemed, externally.
“Ah, wow! Don’t you look like a perfectly fluffed up cotton candy in your hot pink dress, my dear sister!”
Okay, maybe I had commented on his goodness, too hastily!
“Shut up, Shankar! Pink is so girly.. I mean womanly. I don’t think your future wife will be as kind as I am, with you, if you keep talking nonsense like this!”
“Remind me never to let her meet you! Anyway, please don’t hit any poor old women on the road, today! You still ought to drive with an L- board, you know!”
“Says someone who hasn’t even sat behind the steering wheel in his life!”
“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t be knocking down frail old people, like you did!”
“Will you stop it?! She merely got alarmed by my horn and sort of tripped! Okay, I don’t have time for all your stupidity. See you all, bye!”
I put my old faithful Santro (which I wished had been pink instead of white) into gear, and zoomed off. As usual, I switched on the car radio to keep me company. I loved music, like anything. As I finished humming along to a famous A.R Rahman number, trying my best not to dwell on the other person who had also loved that particular song,
“Hey, Chennai! What a beautiful sunny day it is! And what better way to start it, than with a Rahman hit! Let’s play you some more fantastic numbers, after a short break! And as soon as we come back, we have an interesting topic for today-Destination weddings: A necessity or an extravaganza? Stay tuned..”
As the radio jockey droned on, I reflected sadly on the humongous amount of money that we Indians wasted on weddings. It was just unbelievable. Imagine the number of poor children one could feed, with that money! But ironically, despite my oppositions, I knew that my own wedding would be nothing less than a grand gala. I had no idea whether that was how Avinash would want it, too. But I knew for sure how someone would have screwed his bespectacled eyes in disgust, at the very mention of a Grand wedding.
Okay, shut up, Shwetha! Stop living in the past!
“Good morning, doctor!”, Greeted our receptionist, half an hour later, as I strode into the hospital lobby. Responding back to her with a smile, I began the two-floor climb to my Consultation room. It was not that I couldn’t take the lift. But then, I felt a tad guilty about the two scoops of ice-cream that I had ingested the previous night. After about five minutes, I paused outside my cabin, catching my breath, as my eyes ran over the silver plaque outside saying:
DR. Shwetha Sundaramoorthy MBBS., MS., FRCS
Consultant General Surgeon
Like every day, I scoffed at the word ‘General’. It made my profession sound so dull and boring.
“Oh, General Surgeon? How come you never specialized, doctor?” Was something I was tired of hearing, day in and day out. Why had the world become like this? Why was it that the number of degrees behind your name mattered more than the number of times you relieved someone of their pain? Why had it become a must that even ten years of slogging wasn’t just enough, if you didn’t ‘specialize’? In retrospect, this pressure to stand out among my cut-throat competitors had probably pushed me to do my FRCS.
Sorry if I became too philosophical! Sometimes I wonder what happened to that little girl who only needed pizza and chocolate to be happy in life. That really seems like aeons ago, when I would go all, “Ew!” at the mention of love and romance.
“Love marriages are so against our traditions! I would never even dream of ‘falling in love’!”
I had declared to my bosom buddy Lalitha, in school.
“So how do you plan to find your prince charming, Madam?”
“Oh, my parents will do that for me!”
I had wondered, then why she had laughed for nearly ten whole minutes, at my response. But today, I reflected on how right she had been, to scoff at my miss-goody-two-shoes attitude. It was amazing how much I had changed. The catalyst had definitely been my Medical school. It showed me the reality of life, and also, had made me realize the sweet happiness of love, friendship and trust. In a lot of ways, it had made me wiser, for the better. Oh yes, I am wise but its wisdom born of pain! What pain, you ask? Let me take you back briefly, by twelve years, when my heart was still a virgin...