Serial Novel Destinys Daughter11
Destiny's Daughter - Chapter 11
By Eva Bell
Chapter 11 Read Chapter 10
Dr. Bhandari was in a quandary. To tell or not to tell? He didn’t want to alarm Margaret, but ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed,’ he thought. He had hinted to Ameesha about trouble brewing. But she had brushed it off lightly.“A spunky girl!” he thought, “Takes after her mother. But these are troubled times. The fundamentalists have made inroads into South Kanara. For as long as I can remember, our people have always lived in harmony – the rich and poor, the religious, irreligious and atheists; the high castes and the low castes, the Brahmanical gods and the hundreds or demon spirits. Each had their rightful place in the social order of the district.”
Of late, a group of fanatics was stirring up trouble against the minorities especially the Christians, who had done so much for the district in the way of education, employment and hospitals. They were fabricating lies and bribing people to spread false canards of forcible conversions. Dr. Bhandari had always thought that the hospital was immune to such attacks. The two ladies with whom he was so well acquainted were just too busy working around the clock, trying to save sick patients.
Margaret was in the kitchen preparing an English meal for Andrew when the phone began to ring.“Hullo Dr. Brent.”Though they were old friends it was fun to address each other formally sometimes.“Good morning Dr. Bhandari. How are you this morning?”“Do you have a minute to spare for an old man?”“Of course. What do you have in mind?”“How about inviting me for tea this evening? Is it too much to ask for some English muffins as well?”“Come along. I’ll see what I can do. I have a guest from home you know. A nice fellow! Used to be Amy’s Consultant at Nuneaton.”
Dr. Bhandari pricked up his ears.“Amy’s Consultant? Yes of course. It would be a pleasure to meet him.”
But when he arrived in the evening, Ameesha had taken Andrew for a drive through the villages.“You must see how the other half of the world lives,” she said. “I want you to take back memories of a simple hardworking people who are happy and content with the little they have.”Ameesha loved these people. She had grown up among them. And though a small section of them still looked down upon her as a foundling, things were much better now that she had proved her worth as a doctor.“Most of the people in the surrounding villages are our patients, and of the young people you come across most have been delivered by Mother.”She stopped the jeep by the side of a mud road.“We’ll have to walk through the fields through the next cluster of huts. Do you mind?”
Andrew had already jumped out and was following her. They walked single file on elevated mud paths, through the paddy fields. Square plots of green spread out on either sides like a soft patchwork quilt. Here and there were mango or jack fruit trees spreading out their shady branches. Then they came to a clearing with a cluster of mud huts. A few were larger brick buildings with tiled roofs.
“Now that you know so much about me I thought you should see where I was born. The actual hut must have collapsed a long time ago. Things were different in those days. These people were a despised lot. Untouchable, voiceless, penniless, they lived such hopeless lives, convinced that they were the scum of the earth. The place used to be filthy, and the men inebriated most of the time. But the missionaries worked among them, trying to make them understand that they too were precious in the eyes of God. There were no outcastes in God’s kingdom. They gave these people jobs as sweepers and coolies. Some of the nurses taught them how to keep their huts clean, how to care for their babies, even how to put some of their earnings by for a rainy day.”“Some success story!” said Andrew, “I take my hats off to these missionaries.”
Ameesha felt at ease in Andrew’s company. She had been starved of friends since she came back from England. She was afraid to form any deep associations with people.“After what I experienced in England, I realise that people can be very fickle. So why waste time cultivating their friendship? As for Love, it’s nothing but ‘a choking gall.’ It can only flourish in Mills & Boons novels.”
Andrew’s presence had initially brought back all those dreadful memories. The pain and desolation she had felt when the entire Indian community of doctors had blamed her for Shailaja’s death; the heartbreak she had suffered at Gopal’s rejection of her. But now she felt at peace with herself as if she had shed that burden of misery she’d been carrying around all these years.
She glanced at the man beside her. He had such a solid presence. He would have made someone a good husband if only he didn’t put on that ‘touch-me-not’ attitude which frightened all the girls away.“I can read your thoughts,” said Andrew, “They’re not complimentary to me.”“How did you guess?”“I have very sensitive antennae.”“If you must know, I was wondering why you never settled down to family life. You always behaved like a porcupine when women got close to you.”“Instinct of self preservation!” he laughed, “Look what a man did to your life.”Her face suddenly blanched.“I’m sorry. Thoughtless of me,” he said, as he took her hand and walked her back to the jeep.
By the time they got back Dr. Bhandari had left. Margaret sat huddled in her usual chair, deep in thought. She looked unusually worried.“Mother, what is it this time? I thought Dr. Bhandari’s visit would have cheered you up.”“On the contrary, he has me worried. He says that someone is trying to stir up trouble for the hospital.”“Who can that be? We don’t have any enemies.”“A few days ago, one of the sweepers had come to me. He said that a gentleman not from these parts, had been asking how many Christians there were among us, and whether they had been forced to convert, before they were given jobs.”“What did he tell the man?”“The men had surrounded the gentleman who was none the worse for drinks. He had dangled a bundle of notes before them. They asked him to leave them alone. They said they were employees of the hospital and would not tolerate anyone trying to harm their employers. Oh by the way, Dr. Bhandari would like to meet Andrew before he leaves. Amy, perhaps you could take him to the doctor tomorrow.”
The next day was busy. Ameesha was eager to show Andrew the facilities they had.“Would you like to join me in theatre today?” she asked.“Thought you’d never ask.”
They were scrubbed, gowned and ready. Ameesha passed the laparoscope to Andrew. The sheer pleasure of watching his long fingers move with speed and precision, brought on a sense of déjà vu. Andrew looked up and passed her the scope.“Do you see what I see, girl?”
Ameesha put her eye to the scope. All at once memories came flooding back. Andrew her mentor and her teacher! The way he had fine tuned her surgical techniques; the muttering into his mask when he was not pleased; the praise when she had done her job well. Her eyes began to blur. She knew she must control herself. She handed him back the scope hastily. “All yours Andrew.”
As they unscrubbed he said, “Thank you for inviting me into your theatre. It almost felt like old times.”“I wish you could stay.” The words had slipped out inadvertently.
As they made their way out of the theatre and moved towards the Out Patient Department, a crowd of people surrounded them. They were mostly strangers. Some bore flags which read “Down with the Mission Hospital” Others just read “Murderers.”Ameesha stood where she was.“What is your problem?” she asked, “And why this big tamasha?”A man stepped forward, and from what she could make out, he was sozzled. By his side was a timid woman, who refused to raise her eyes and look at Ameesha.“Your treatment made her abort our precious child. Who knows if she will ever conceive again? Now you must pay for your mistake,” he growled.“Down with the murderer,” the group shouted.
By then the security men had chased the crowd outside the gate where they still continued to shout. Most of them were drunk.“Come with me,” Ameesha told the man, “We will see if any inappropriate treatment has been given to your wife.”Seated in her cubicle, she called for the woman’s file. It was well documented and stated clearly that the woman had a spontaneous abortion before arrival at the hospital, after she had been kicked by her drunken husband. Ameesha had merely done a check curettage because she was still bleeding. All this happened six months ago.
Ameesha addressed the woman.“Tell me in what way has the hospital wronged you?”The woman burst into tears.“I told this man not to make false allegations against the hospital. But someone has been filling his brain with lies, and his pockets with money.”“Shut up,” shouted the man, “You’re lying. This doctor has aborted our precious child.”“Give me your name and address,” Ameesha said coolly, “We will soon discover who is lying, and who is instigating this lie?”She lifted the phone to dial the local police station and the man began to hem and haw.“Your name and full address? We already have it on your wife’s file. This is just for confirmation.”The man moved to the door just as Dr. Bhandari walked in. News travelled pretty fast in this small town.“What are you doing here?” he asked the man. “Ameesha, has he been bothering you? He’s one of my tenants, and I’ll get to the bottom of this,” he said, dragging the man out.The woman touched Ameesha’s feet.“I’m sorry Amma. I can never say anything bad about this hospital. It has saved me on many occasions.”
All through this fracas, Andrew could do nothing but watch.“Brave girl,” he thought, “Any other woman would have quit long ago.”He walked back to the quarters, his thoughts in a muddle.“I’ll soon have to pack my bags if I want to see anything of this country. Who knows when I’ll be able to come again.”But part of him was loathe to leave Ameesha.
Margaret was not yet home from wherever she had gone. But the ever watchful Umakka opened the door for him. He had not broken the ice with her. There was no smile of greeting on her lips.“Can’t trust this man,” Umakka thought, “Who is he and why has he come here?”She knew it was none of her business. She was just a domestic help.“But I’ve cared for Amy Baby all her life and I’m as good as her second mother. She is happy and content with her work. If this man has any ideas about taking her away it must be prevented at all costs. I must talk to Amma about it. I know she’ll tell me to mind my own business. But men are always trouble.”
Return from Serial Novel Destinys Daughter11 to Chapter 10
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