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Different Strokes

Different Strokes

14 mins

'Are you sure Rhea?' asks mother.

'Of course, I'm. Survival of the fittest, mother. I'm not going against Darwin. Also, I don't want unnecessary scars on my body.'

'But you told me something different last night.'

'Is it so! And what did I say?'

You were very upset about your friend's cousin, who is in need of a heart to replace his damaged one. You were eager to donate one of your hearts to save his life…'

'Me? Donating heart! Impossible. I don't remember saying such things. It's a known fact that we are all born to die. And frankly, I don't understand why it has to be made into such a big deal.'

If it were not for my mother, I would have said that to the bunch of people outside my house. Some of them with young kids shouting slogans, waving placards, literally wanting me to cut one of my beating hearts out. 'Save a life, Donate.' they shout.

'Donate? Donation is given to a good cause, I do understand. But, it's completely up to the donor's wish. How could anyone be forced to that?'

It all started the day when the article was published in the local newspaper and branched into a global issue, immediately.

'For someone who is one in billion, 7,125 billion to be exact, I expect to be treated better, maa. Scientists are still befuddled regarding my condition that gave me two hearts in my mother's womb.'

'So, don't you think your mother has some right over your heart too? I have never disclosed it before Rhea. At the early stage of my conception, I was detected to have conceived twins. I was extremely happy as I always have wanted to mother twin children. But, when I visited the doctor with a complaint of abdominal pain, the USG report showed that one of the twins had died and was absorbed into the other…may be that is the reason Rhea, you have come out with two hearts. I too request you to donate it. Donate it Rhea as an offering to your dead sibling…you can save one life.'

'Who cares maa, in this country with 1.277 billion- more than one-sixth of the World's population?'

I remember, when I was taken to the doctor as I was short of breath and sweating profusely…and was hospitalized immediately with the complaint of chest pain. The MRI report showed my two beating hearts. I had problems due to the difference of frequency in two of them. The case was on CNN and medical journals. But years of research and sticking needles into me have led them nowhere and they have labelled me as a freak mutation. It's so rare- literally one in all humankind- that they didn't even name the anomaly as they call it, I will call it awesomeness. I wanted to name the condition myself, something on the lines of Rhea's Heartsawesome but the doctors aren't thrilled with the suggestion. Instead, they wanted to cut one of them out and save a life.


I was a child, my parents didn't agree. By the prediction of the doctors, as I grew older my hearts got adjusted to my body and now an IQ of 180, increased concentration, exceptional athleticism and a phenomenal metabolism rate- are just a few boring benefits of increased blood circulation. Why should I give up?

I walked to the window to look at the crowd as the shouting had subsided. After my eyes got accustomed to the darkness outside, I could see the silhouette of two figures at the driveway.

What are they up to, why haven't they gone? I came out of my room, climbed down the stairs to go to look for the servants. I changed my mind and opened the main door to look at those moving figures, myself.

'Who's there?'

The figures stood up and moved towards me.

'Namaste Memsaheb!' A poorly clad couple came forward.

'Namaste, what do you want?'

'Our child is very sick Memsaheb…'

'Have you come for money? This is not the way to ask for alms…that too at this hour!'

'No, no memsahib, we are not beggars…' the female voice spoke out in a broken voice. She must be crying.

'We came here from khede-gaaon. The doctor there asked us to visit a city- doctor. We have no idea what has happened to him but it seems he is suffering from some heart disease.'

'So? Go to the doctors. We are not doctors.'

'As we were wandering on the road, with no idea where to go, I overheard some people talk about 'heart'. We followed them and reached this house. They all started shouting. We sat at the corner quietly. We don't know where to go Baaisaheb! Please help us save this child. We don't have money but I will repay you…ask me what you want me to do.'

'Wait here.'

I moved towards the servant's quarter.


 'Jee Memsaheb!' Raghu came out with his wife Geeta.

'Just go and look at those helpless people there…if you can shelter them for the night…tomorrow they will leave.'

'How could I Memsaheb? Some unknown people… we don't have any idea about, if they have some wrong intentions…' 

Raghu was aware of the different personalities of Rhea Memsaheb, the kind one was talking now.

'Ram Singh is there at the gate, call him if you want. Lock them in one room so that they would not be able to fulfil their wish if they have any.'

'Jee Memsaheb.'

My cell phone rang.


'Good evening ma'am. Sorry to disturb you at this hour. The Children's Foundation wants you to be the chief guest tomorrow…'

'Tell them I wouldn't be there, I am busy. Send them some money.'

'There's an invitation from Dr. Sebastian to be the guest of honour at a fund raiser for the Cardiovascular Trouble.'

'Send them a cheque.'

Mamma was waiting at the dining table with my favourite, kheer. After dinner, I kissed her goodnight and went to bed.

Papa was there in my dream.

'You are doing so well Rhea! I am proud of you.'

'Why did you leave me papa?' 

'I am always there with you Rhea. It's not a matter of joke betaa to be a successful real estate developer in this male-dominated world.'

'I want you by my side papa. We could have done much better together.'

'Take rest child, you have achieved everything. Now settle down, get married.'

'I am yet to meet my prince charming papa. Everyone tries to come closer because I am rich. They love my property, not me. I am not the so-called delicate darling…I am not fair. I am short and fat…'

'But you have reached the sky. People should not love you by your physical beauty- that's fake.'

I woke up to find my pillow wet.

I visited Dr. Sebastian with the couple and the child.

'I ask for your apologies doctor. I won't be able to be there at the fund raiser…I am flying.'

'Oh Rhea! It's alright.'

'Please take care of the child doctor, I will get back to you.'

'You need not worry, I will try my best.'

The aircraft was lost in the sea of dark clouds that played with it like a small silver fish amidst the rough ocean.

I was not afraid…in the past years, my life had spun wildly as I was at the verge of losing everything several times.

The pilot came out of the cockpit.

'I am so proud of you, dear passengers. Don't worry, we are out of danger and will soon be landing. But please keep your seat belt fastened.

'Excuse me ma'am…'

I looked back to find a handsome, young guy smiling at me.

'If I am not mistaken, I think I am talking to Ms Rhea of Gulatis and Gulatis.' The voice whispered.

'You are right Sir, but may I have the pleasure to have your introduction.'

'I am from The Good News Chronicle. Can I have a little chat with you?'

'Ah ha, so you are a reporter! You do chat and then replace the interviewee's statements with your own words. You know how to instigate and excite people and then make them dance to your tune.'

'You are not happy with journalism and journalists, it seems…'

'Sorry to interrupt…the yellow journalism.'

He chuckled and occupied the vacant seat beside me.

'How does it feel ma'am to be in your position? You are the role model for the women world.'

'You are flattering, I must admit. But I am too busy to have time to think about myself as a role model.'

'You are one of the most successful real estate developers, a domain usually considered men's. How do you make your mind where to put up a building?'

'I dream which my father had taught me to. I can visualize beautiful office buildings or comfortable apartments in a wonderful surrounding…'

The voice of the hostess was heard…'We will be landing at the Singapore Changi Airport soon. The temperature outside….'

The plane landed. I smiled at the journalist and headed forward with my cabin baggage.

I returned to Mumbai as a meeting was to be held at the Gulati Towers, Bandra. People interested to invest billions of rupees were ushered into the conference room. I could eye the young, handsome journalist at the corner of the hall. A beautiful female with camera was with him… must be the photographer. He smiled at me but I ignored. There were other journalists too, from different leading Newspapers. After all, it's going to be India's tallest building. I want people talking about it.

Dr. Sebastian called.

'The child is not doing well. He is not responding to medicines.'

'Which child?' I was lost.

An amazed Dr. Sebastian mumbled, 'The boy you have brought the other day…with cardiovascular problem…'

I couldn't recall.

'His damaged heart needs transplantation. I don't think his parents are in a position…

The connection was lost.

I thought about visiting the doctor in the evening.

I was thinking aloud…what has happened to me, am I getting forgetful? Too much of work pressure!

I was in Dr. Sebastian's personal room. A couple entered.

'Namaste Baaisaheb!'

'Who are you?'

They looked puzzled.

Doctor came near and whispered to me…'Are you alright? I talked to you about their child. A heart is needed for his transplant.'

'Et too Brutus! You are after my heart too, doctor? Forget about it, go ahead…try something else.' 

The young, handsome journalist came on my way.

'Madame, can you just give me a little of your precious time?'

My heart skipped a beat…which one?

The photographer started setting her camera. I stopped her.

'Please Ma'am…'

'Call my secretary and fix an appointment.'

I had a feeling that I have started liking that guy, though I don't know him. …Would he make a good husband and a father? I think I would like to settle down now, have a cosy home like my mother...

Anita, my secretary knocked and entered.

'The journalists are there, you have an appointment.'

'Send him in.'

He entered wearing a beaming smile followed by the photographer.

'You needn't come in, I don't like to pose for snaps.'

My stern voice stopped the girl at the door, she moved away. I was happy.

'May I talk to you on a different topic today?'

'And what's it…my heart?'

The young journalist sighed deeply.

'Don't look at it that way. I have read a lot about your hearts but I want to talk about the one which beats in kindness. I have just interviewed Dr. Sebastian. He informed me about your philanthropic activities…'

I snapped my palm at him.

'What about a lunch out, what do you like to eat?"

He looked puzzled.

'Don't bother, I will have it with my friend.'

'That photographer! Is she a special friend?'

He blushed. Such a lovely face…he is much younger to me, I felt.

'Let's go.' 

I picked up my purse and called for Anita.

'Ask maa not to wait for me over lunch. I will have dinner with her.'

We drove away ignoring those bewildered eyes of the girl at the portico. I enjoyed the sadistic pleasure.

I took his hands in mine in the lavish restaurant- cabin. He shivered.

'Are you in love with that photographer…oh, what should I call you?' 

The sweaty, shaky palm trembled into my strong ones.

'Call me Anand.'

'Nice name. You have brought happiness to my dull world.'

 I kissed his palm. I was dying to come closer to him. His strong masculine body odour mixed with cheap deo spray attracted me; it reminded me of my hard working father.

'I am flying to Bangkok tomorrow. Would you mind accompanying me?'

Anand was awestruck. He nodded in approval. He resembled the fly caught in the cob- web.

We were at Pataya, speeding to my favourite, coral island. He was a little shaky in the speed boat. I came closer and hugged him tightly. He reciprocated. I kissed him on his neck.

'What do you feel about me, my ugly body?'

He took me in his arms and kissed my lips. I was on the seventh heaven. The pleasure was more than the satisfaction I get on the completion of a high rise.

'I love you Anand, I want to settle down with you. Would you mind sharing my burden?'

Anand looked astounded.

Dr. Sebastian called and asked me to rush down to his clinic.

To my surprise, I found Anand in oxygen mask…gasping for breath.

'He was found unconscious at the lounge. After regaining his senses, I could hear him calling your name…do you know him? It's a case of dilated cardiomyopathy. He needs a heart transplant. He would be saved as he is young and healthy otherwise.'

'Can you arrange for one doctor? Money won't be a problem.'

'Very difficult! Availability of heart is rare. Let's see what could be done.'

…What would you do Rhea with two hearts? You have raced all your life. Take rest, settle down. One of your hearts could save him… your love… Someone whispered. Was it my second heart?

'Dr. Sebastian, please arrange for the operation soon… I am ready.

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