Sunday, 8 February 2015

part 1:Life out of control(season 3)

Riddhima was broken. She had lost the will to live freely. It had barely been a month and Armaan’s absence was slowly killing her! Her whole day went in the hospital. Instead of the normal hours of 9am to 5pm, she worked longer from 8am to 7pm. Areas which reminded her of him were avoided at all costs. These majorly included the fire-escape, the store, the locker room and empty cabins. In the evenings, she went back home trying to keep herself busy by watching movies. But that just reminded her more of him. His scoffy remarks about Shah Rukh Khan, then their small fights over him, his dimpled mischievous face were just a few of the things that kept her awake at nights after trying hard to concentrate on the pictures flicking in front of her. The doors to her balcony were permanently closed, and the beach was a banned zone for her.

“Interns, I have a member of staff to introduce to you.” Dr Keerti announced about a month after Armaan had left. Riddhima looked up, hoping it would be him somewhere, out of thin air, appearing with his bright eyes and charming smile.
“This is Dr Siddhant Modi. He will be a junior intern here, as he’s joined half way through, and I expect you all to be grown up and help him out.”

Riddhima took a good look at him while Keerti continued her lecture about behaving seriously. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and she immediately disliked him. Riddhima how unprofessional can you get, she reprimanded herself. It wasn’t his fault he wasn’t Armaan. Neither was it his fault that he had Armaan’s style.

“So Siddy boy!” Abhi hugged him once Keerti had left.
“Bhaiyya!!! Abh main Doctor hoon. Zara toh izzat karo meri.” He pouted.
“Joh kuch bhi ho, mujhse toh zara chotte ho. Aur bachpan se tujhko yehi bulake aaya hoon. What makes you think I’ll change now, dear cousin?”

Riddhima eyed Sid. He had a cute, babyish face which no doubt may have made many girls melt under him. There was nothing wrong in him as such. Sid caught her staring and winked. Immediately, she felt herself get embarrassed for being caught.
“It’s ok, I know I’m irresistible.” He smirked. Riddhima eyes shot up. WTF? That was soooo Armaan! She lowered her eyes again, and sighed as the stabbing pain she was now used to, started up again.
“Whatever,” she muttered, and left the nurse station, pulling her labcoat over her jeans and t-shirt. Indian attire reminded her of Armaan too much. He loved seeing her in that. Why, because it made her stand out more. And that also in a beautiful way as it brought out her inner innocence and childishness. As a result, all was stuffed at the back of her wardrobe.

Her first step was her locker. When she finished checking her phone, no call from Armaan, she sighed in defeat and turned to see Sid troop into the room with Nikki and Muskaan.
“Waise bhabhi, agar Abhi se aap kabhi bore hogayi, toh main humesha aapke liye intezaar karunga.” Sid was saying as he winked at Nikki, making her blush.
“Intezaar karne ki koi zarurat nahin hai. It’s better tu koi aur dhoodle.” Nikki replied.
“Ouch bhabhi. Itni jaldi mera dil todiya.”
This just reminded Riddhima that Abhi and Nikki were now together for just over 3 months, and had the whole Sasha ordeal never happened (Riddhima found it hard to forget), her and Armaan would have been together for the same amount of time. Life had its own way of playing games with you.
“Heyy! Double O 7!” he exclaimed and Riddhima stiffened hearing that number. His voice however changed into a grumpy tone the next moment as he grumbled, “Booked. Meri kismat hi kharab hai!”

Riddhima’s fists clenched, as Muskaan and Nikki glanced at each other. Armaan was not forgotten amongst them. Not in the slightest. Riddhima felt herself fuming. The nerve of him! First he had Armaan’s attitude, then he wanted Armaan’s locker! No one had removed his name, and it still gave hope to Riddhima that he might return after his two month training. But he hadn’t called her in a month! Sometimes, she wondered, had he really loved her?
“Armaan Mallik,” Sid continued, reading from the locker. “Isn’t he the one who’s getting the free training from Dr Harold in Australia?”
“Haan,” Muskaan nodded.
“Kaisa hoga? Bohot boring types, serious kisam ka aadmi hoga na?” Sid laughed, trying to think of someone faceless with huge glasses.
“Don’t talk about stuff you don’t know,” Riddhima snapped at Sid, who’s eyebrows shot up into his hair out of clear shock. How dare he talk about Armaan like that!

Muskaan and Nikki stared at Riddhima. This was the first time she had shown any emotion over the past month, connected with Armaan. Of course, they avoided his topic if she was anywhere around them, but sometimes, things just slip up. And Armaan had been close to each and every one of them. If it was a 2 month training program, why on earth did Armaan and Riddhima split up? I mean, he was going to come back wasn’t he? Or was he planning to shift there forever. Who wouldn’t? It was Australia! But her standing up for him? Wow!
“Ooops. Stepped on a raw nerve didn’t I? Sorry,” Sid apologized annoyingly.

Riddhima on the other hand, rushed out of the locker room. Why did she care so much about him? Why still, couldn’t she get him out of her mind? What was it about him, that made her shrink into this shell she had made for herself?
“Face it Riddhima, HE was the one who broke up with you. HE didn’t trust you! You can’t love a guy like that!” she muttered to herself. Who was she kidding? For the first couple of weeks, she had denied that any feelings for him existed in her heart anymore. But after one fateful day when her emotions got the better of her, she had to admit to herself that whatever she thought was just to pacify and harden her heart. She had loved him immensely. And still did, as a matter of fact. Why did SHE miss him so much? A nurse walked by whistling the tune of Tera hone lagaa hoon, from Ajab Prem. Closing her eyes, she drifted back to their first date ever.
“Why, why, why?” she whispered to herself, feeling her heart sink lower. “It’s been a month Armaan! Not a single call. Did you forget me already?” she asked as though talking to him. “Urgh! Why should I care?!” she scolded herself, and indulged herself in work, like she had done for the past month.

It was 7 in the evening all too soon, and stuffing everything inside her locker, she turned to leave. As she did so, she was met with Sid lying down on the bench.
“Yaar, itna kaam toh maine MBBS study karke waqt bhi nahin kiya!” he groaned, making her smile involuntarily.
“Well, Mr Siddhant Modi. Welcome to medicine.” She replied in a firm tone.
“Heyy tum mera naam jaanti ho, aur main tumhaara nahin jaanta.” he stated. She sighed.
“Riddhima Gupta. Now if you will excuse me, mere paas bohot time nahin hai waste karne ka.” She replied in a strict, over polite tone.
“My pleasure.”
As soon as she was close to the door, he added,
“Nikchdi. Junior Hitler.”
Riddhima heard that however.
“Tumne mujhe kya bulaya?”
“Kuch nahin. Meri itni himmat?” he asked.
“I heard you Mr…Modi!”
“Oh excuse me…I didn’t say Riddhima tum Junior Hitler ho. I just said ‘junior Hitler’. Now if you want to be called by that name, be my guest.”
“You can take your big head, and go to hell!” she turned and left, but not before she heard him shout out,
“Raasta toh batati jao!”
“Idiot! Jerk! Moron! He’s using such a cliché dialogue on me! Saala kuch original kyun nahin sochta?” she muttered to herself in anger. She got into her car, her father was out of town again, and bumped her head on the steering wheel. Truth was that Sid reminded her of Armaan through and through. And she couldn’t bear to see the way in which he took Armaan’s place in the hospital, in people’s hearts. She remembered the time when Armaan was being chased by Rahul at Atul and Anjie’s house, during their get together.
“Damn it Armaan! I HATE you!” And calming herself down, she finally drove home.

“Dr Sid, you will accompany Dr Riddhima to the Lonavla orphanage next week for the children’s monthly check up.” Keerti informed them. Anjali and Atul had left for South Africa where they were advertising Sanjeevani, with Shashank, to Multi Millionaires for donations, and see if they could open up a branch there as it was the country with highest percentage of people suffering from HIV/AIDS in the world. When they would be back, was not predictable.
“Junior Hitler ke saath school trip?” Sid grumbled. Riddhima took a deep breath, but refrained herself from saying anything. In any case, with Keerti, it would fall on deaf ears.

“Heyy Junior Hitler! Kabhi muskuraana seekha hai?” Sid asked as he dumped himself down next to her. She had not joined in the laughter at the joke Muskaan had just made.
“Sid tu chup reh!” Abhi warned him.
“Maine kya kaha…”
“Aur stop this Junior Hitler nonsense.”
“Rehne de Abhi. Bachcha toh hai sirf.” Riddhima intervened directly looking at Sid.
“Hey Ridz, truth or dare khelna hai?” Nikki asked trying to lighten the atmosphere.
“I’m not in the mood…” Riddhima started, but Muskaan interrupted her.
“Oye tu chup reh! And because you’re being even more of a grouch today than usual, your turn!”
Riddhima’s mouth dropped open.
“Kya? Muskaan tu na..maar khayegi!”
“Uski main baad mein fikr karlungi. Lekin abh, truth or dare?”
Riddhima glared at Muskaan, who was sitting across her from the table.
“Fine, Dare!” she replied.
“I have one!” Sid vouched, and Riddhima shut her eyes. Couldn’t this idiot shut up for once?! PLEASE?
“I dare you to…Smile!”
Riddhima looked at him. Was he insane? Everyone else looked down. Once upon a time, Riddhima’s smile wouldn’t leave her face. Everyone noticed how the absence of Armaan had changed her completely. And poor Sid, who hadn’t been there to see it, was just opening the gate to hell for himself.
“Dekh Junior..sorry..Riddhima.” Sid pursued, unaware of the tension that filled the table. “It’s a simple 3 part process. 1, 2, 3…” Riddhima narrowed her eyes. She had had enough of his constantly moving mouth!
“Don’t use Shah Rukh Khan’s dialogues on me!” She snapped at him. Sid, however, clearly unaffected, smiled.
“Wow, Jr Hitler movies bhi dekhti hai?”
“Sid chup reh!” Rahul said as he made his way out of the canteen, after Riddhima, who had excused herself.

“Ridzy!” he called as he chased after her. But Riddhima continued walking at brisk pace until she reached the locker room.
“Ridzy, meri baat toh sun.”
“I’m sorry Rahul, I don’t know what’s over coming me. I shouldn’t act…I’m so sorry!” She stuttered over her words, putting her face in her hands. He immediately went over to hug her.
“Look. There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” He whispered. “Jo hua, so hua. Either you move on in your life, and be happy for others around you, or be miserable and cry over something that won’t change.” Yes, Rahul knew the entire story. He had accosted Armaan just before he left, to know the real reason behind everything. As they split apart, Riddhima spoke in a low tone.
“I used to have the same thoughts before, Rahul. Lekin how can I ignore the fact that the only person I was properly myself with, was Armaan! Humaari shuruat ladai se huwi thi aur issiliye I didn’t have to try hard infront of him. Papa ke saamne I have to be a good doctor and work hard. Mumma ke saamne I have to be a good daughter. Anjali and Atul jeeju have no such demand, lekin I don’t want to upset them ever. Phir I could only really be myself, when Armaan was around. Aur abh, mujhe lagta hai, jaise I’m back to square one. Somewhere I don’t want to be! Before I was used to living like that. Lekin abh, I want to breathe freely again. And Sid is constantly reminding me of Armaan over and over…”

Rahul knew that once a person tried hard to please others around them, it would be impossible to change. Especially considering Riddhima had grown up to do that. She had to find someone else to be that free with.
“Ridzy, can I help in any way?” he asked, knowing the answer would be in the negative.
“Rahul,” she smiled. “I’ve got to get through this myself. I’ll be fine.” She assured him. “Just be there, like always for me. And please don’t tell anyone.”
He smiled at her. Somewhere, she had found a best friend in Rahul. She had told him things she couldn’t tell her sister. Because her sister was very down to earth, and though she sympathized with Riddhima, she didn’t want grief to take over. Hence Riddhima put a stop to her tears after a day or two, and decided to act normal for everyone’s sake.

They all, sans Rahul, thought she was taking the break up hardly. How wrong they were. That was an understatement to describe her true condition. The distance was killing her! Every wish in her to live and love had gone. But no more tears, she had promised herself.

In Lonavla
“Great, here we are!” Sid said enthusiastically as he got off the bus, after Riddhima.
“Hmmmm…” She replied, as she slowly took in the details of her surroundings. The bus journey had passed with Riddhima listening to music on her tattered ipod (hey atleast it was working!) and reminiscing her times with Armaan in Lonavla. Their stupid pranks, the adoration in his eyes…nothing left her.
“Riddhima you’re such a bore!” Sid complained as they sat in the cab. It was long past evening.
“Good for you Sid. I’m here to work!”
“Seriously! I’ve been here for two, wait, almost 3 weeks, and I’ve never once seen you behave like a human.”
“You’re point?”
“My point. Is something bothering you?”
“None of your business,” she replied, in a monotonous voice.
“You know, you look like you hide everything in yourself. Seriously. IF you want to tell me, I don’t mind listening.” He said in a caring voice.
“Look,” Riddhima was getting irritated. Though this was the first time she had seen the mature side of Sid, it looked like he was trying to piece together a puzzle, and she did not want to compare herself to this complex puzzle! Even if she was, she didn’t want Sid to be the one to try and put it together. “That’s nice of you. But really, I’m fine as I am.”
“” Sid shut up and looked out of the window, and Riddhima did the same on the other side. They finally got to the orphanage, and Riddhima regretted coming here, as the kids ran up to her, and asked about their ‘Armaan Bhaiyya.’ She felt nauseated when she saw the place. It almost felt as though Armaan was with the kids, winking at her, with that adorable smile of his playing on his face. Her heart burned for him, as the caretakers/volunteers, who had been extremely fond of him, asked after him. Smiling at them, she felt a lump form in her throat. Sid was already introducing himself, and before she could break down in front of everyone, she got a call. Excusing herself she ran away, and realizing it was an international call, picked up the phone. Probably her dad, or Atul, or Anji.
“Hello,” she spoke into the phone, to be met with no answer. Weird, she had expected a ‘RIDZY!!’ or ‘Riddhima beti!’. The lump in her throat was stuck as she forced it down.
“Uhmmm…hello?” her heart started beating faster as she thought she could recognize the silence. She took her phone away, and looked at the number. The code said +61.
“Armaan?” she whispered into the phone, feeling her heart shatter into a million pieces then and there.
“Kuch toh bolo…” she begged him. She had been dying to hear that voice of his for AGES!
“Kaisi ho Basket?” At that she closed her eyes, letting his voice sink into every part of her body.

Armaan had not had the easiest times all alone in Australia. True, most people would give an arm and leg to get training form the world’s best cardiologist, but Armaan couldn’t care less. Being away from his Basket was murdering him every single living moment. It hadn’t taken the women a day to know that he wasn’t interested in dating.
Heck, they didn’t even know he had dimples! The moment he landed in this place, it felt as though all his life had been sucked out of him. He had a new life ahead of him. But he didn’t want it. He ended up skipping meals, and like Riddhima, drowning himself in work. But that didn’t help. Waking up early and sleeping late was a habit he was used to. He felt insomniac. Every single thing was about Riddhima. How he loved her so much. How he ended up hurting her. And there was no way to explain the eternity of love for her in his heart! He hadn’t done anything that proved it. He felt like another man around her. She hadn’t forcefully changed him! He had changed to suit her! Her picture was now his wallpaper on both, his laptop and phone. He hadn’t yet felt anything for any other girl that he had felt for his Basket. He now even lost the right to call her his. He had lost every single right on her. Many a times, he just stared at numerous pictures of hers, or her name on his phone, trying to find the strength to call her. But to no avail. He always pictured her having a wonderful time without him, and if he called her, the recent past would probably ruin her mood or day. But today, he had been feeling especially tortured, though he couldn’t put in a reason for this. Finally, after a million hours of contemplating, he called her, just to hear that beautiful voice of hers that would heal the deepest wounds in his heart. And unlike the other thousands of times, he didn’t cut it before the phone even connected. Hearing her voice again just made him loose his mind. He could listen to that melodious tone for ages! How he had missed it.

“Zinda hoon,” she said slightly bitterly, as unknown tears fell down her cheeks.
“Tch…gussa abhi tak naak se nahin utra?” he asked, hearing his own voice break. She couldn’t believe her ears. Why was he even trying to sound so casual? She sniffed once feeling like she wanted to scream out. There was silence on both ends.
“Basket…” he started off, knowing that she was crying.
“Not basket..” she said furiously, wiping off her tears. He laughed very slightly.
“I… I miss you,” he whispered into the phone involuntarily.
“I don’t miss you,” she replied, in her tearful voice.
“I don’t deserve it.”
“Armaan…this long?” she questioned him, indirectly asking why he hadn’t called earlier.
“uhmm…busy tha. Kaam mein.” He wiped away his tears. “Lots of demands from the world famous cardiologist.”
“Riddhima mujhe jaana hai. Bye…” he suddenly informed her, and before she could reply, he cut the phone.

He couldn’t hold it anymore. He had craved to hear her voice, and now he craved to see her, to hug her, touch her even. But it was nearing impossible. He had a choice in front of him. Choose to stay in Australia, or go back to Mumbai. But what life would he give her if he went there? She hated him, and if he wasn’t there in front of her everyday, she would forget the past and move on. Not to mention the fact that he wouldn’t be able to see her with someone else. He thought he would hear a cheerful voice at the other end. How wrong he was. Even as soon as she answered the phone, he knew her well enough to know she wasn’t herself. If only she could find happiness somewhere. He wished he was the one who could give it to her, and had it been so, he would put it all, himself included, down at her feet.

Upon hearing the beeping when the phone was cut, she broke down into fresh tears. Finally she had heard his voice. And along with eons of pain that the call brought, it made one thing clear. Armaan still loved her. She was still on his mind. He missed her! And he said that. But she had known him more than enough to figure out his real meaning behind the ‘I miss you.’
“I still love you Armaan,” she whispered in a voice that was barely audible to herself even. She checked the time. It was going on to 9pm. So, that meant if Australia was 4 hours ahead, what was Armaan doing awake till past mid-night? Her heart was thudding against her chest. Would he call her again? Would she hear from him? If things got desperate, she now had his phone number! For the first time, she felt the ice wall she had built around herself thaw.
She felt someone hug her around her legs. It was a small four year old boy called Viraj. Viraj pulled Riddhima down, and wiped her tears. He then pointed to her phone, and raised his hands in a ‘where’ sign. She smiled at him, and said,
“Voh kaam kar raha hai. Bohot bada Doctor banna hai usko” she smiled at him, and he hugged her, smiling back.

Viraj was especially attached to Armaan, because before, when no one took any notice of him, Armaan gave him the most attention when ever he came to Lonavla. This naturally resulted to the other kids being more interested, to see what their hero saw in him, and hence invited him in their games. The children were normally very welcoming. But unfortunately, Viraj was mute, and they all judged him for that.

She hugged him to herself, and finally smiled through her heart after a long time as the other kids came and pounced on them, wanting to be given the same attention. Kids were a treat to be with. They were the naughtiest ones she knew, but the most innocent ones as well. And they all ranged from the ages of 14 to 3. One person was watching her with an interested look on his face. So this woman did smile, Sid thought to himself. And she had one of the most beautiful smiles ever on her face. Then what happened?

“You should smile more often.” He advised her as soon as the kids had left to go to bed. Her conversation with Armaan was still running through her head.
“I can’t fake a smile.” She replied, still lost. After her answer, she jerked back to reality, and looked at him seated next to her on the porch. The moon was out, and Riddhima was recalling each and every moment with Armaan she had ever spent. True, it added to the weight in her heart, but she couldn’t help it.
“Life is weird huh?” he asked, looking directly at her.
“Not if you understand it, its not.”
“Well, you definitely don’t seem to.”
“Look Dr Modi.” She said getting irritated again. “I’m in no mood for these riddles. Why are you bent on trying to be the ‘good guy’?!”
“Kyunki koi khaas mujhse kaha tha, don’t lose hope in life. A smile can make the worst of all problems in your life seem pointless.” Sid looked out into the grass.
“Well, I’m sorry I’m not interested right now, as much as I’d love to meet the person.” She answered back, clearly not meaning it.
“You can’t.” Sid said simply, and Riddhima’s brows scrunched up in confusion. Sid pointed up at the sky after passing her a small smile, and her mouth hung slightly open as she realized what he meant.
“Kaun tha woh?” she asked in a slightly softer tone.
“Thi. Preeti. Meri bachpan ki dost. And the one girl I loved the most.”

Riddhima felt her heart go out to him. Wow! He had also loved someone dearly. Someone, who had actually left, not to ever return! And here he was, smiling and spreading happiness like there was no tomorrow. She had been drowning in her sorrows over someone she loved, who had left her, not trusted her, but atleast he was alive!
“Did you…uhmmm manage to tell her?”
“Oh I did. During college. We went to the school dance together then. And after one year of being together, she had an accident. A teenage boy disobeyed the traffic signal after ‘borrowing’ his father’s car, and she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in the front seat like her mother was. Apparently, she was thrown through the windscreen. Minimal chances of survival. She died less than a week later.” Sid, staring into the same spot, repeated his whole story, in a monotonous voice. But Riddhima could hear the grief behind each and every syllable.
“Sid..I’m so…I’m so sorry.” She was flabbergasted. How did that babyish face, annoying as it was, manage to make everyone else smile around it, but hide gallons of tears inside it. He wiped a small tear that dropped down his cheek. He laughed once.
“Why are you sorry? Things happen beyond our control.”
“Did you find out who the kid was?” she asked.
“I never wanted to. I knew that I’d take revenge. Probably beat him senseless for what he did to me. To her family.”
“How long ago was this?”
“This time next month will be her 3rd death anniversary.” Riddhima looked at him. How could he be so calm about everything?
“I guess compared to what you’ve been through, my life seems like a joke.” Riddhima found herself saying.
“Everyone has their share of grief. So you mind telling me? Dill halka hota hai. I feel so much better after telling you. I had actually kept it inside for some time, until I talked to her elder sister. It helped. Abhi Bhaiyya bhi nahn jaanta.”
Slowly, Riddhima recounted all the happenings in her life, since her time at college, up to this very day, to Sid.
“I don’t know if I can forget everything that happened. Lekin main ek baat jaanti hoon. Uske alava kissi aur ko pyaar karna namumkin hoga.”
“Riddhima, you have a choice. I didn’t. No matter how much I cursed life. One can never change the past. They can choose to learn to live with it.”
“How do I trust him? To trust me?”
“Well, what would a life be without chances? Taking a risk is the best part of life. If you come out of it in victory, then no one will be able to take that away from you.” Sid smiled at her. He then added in a casual interested voice, “As for Sasha, is she hot?” Riddhima laughed.
“Sid, I absolutely forbid you go near her ever in your life!” Sid’s face dropped.
“And why would you do that? I KNEW you always had something against me!!”
“Because you are my friend!”
“Eh hello! Maine kab agree kiya that we’re friends.” Riddhima’s mouth dropped open, but she closed it, and narrowed her eyes.
“Nahin kiya hoga. Lekin I still consider you as my friend! And under that right, you are going no where near Sasha.”
Sid sighed in defeat.
“As you say ma’am. Abh gyara baj chuke hain. Andar chalein?”
She smiled and got up. This evening had given her a lot!

Sid and Riddhima became good friends. Obviously, not remotely close what Armaan and Riddhima had been. But that must have been only because Riddhima acquired no feelings for Sid as she did with Armaan. She wondered if she would ever get over him. If she would be able to move on. These thoughts circled her head since the day they had come back from Lonavla, for two weeks. Finally a Friday, and finally she could head home, and be by herself at home. Her mum and Dadi had gone to Delhi to see close relatives, and Shashank and his crew, it consisted more than just Atul and Anjali, hadn’t come back as yet. She saw a crowd gathered at the entrance of the hospital. What the hell? Sid must have left already, but she was sure the others were around. And yep, she recognized Muskaan’s hair and Nikki next to her. Both had their backs turned and she made her way towards them. As though her wish came true, someone else turned around, smiling lightly at the welcome he was getting. Riddhima felt herself freeze in her tracks as she saw his face. Her heart started thudding loudly in her chest as she couldn’t remove her eyes from that one person. The world started spinning ten times as fast around her, as though it was making up for the times it had stopped. He also, after he saw her, couldn’t stop staring into her greens. Just one word managed to escape from her lips,

p.s by punam

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