Monday, 31 July 2017

PART 12: : Ehsaas

The next two weeks went off in a breeze. Padma, Tamanna and Atul put all their efforts in the wedding preparations. Dr Misra assured Armaan that he could take some time off work after the wedding, "Don't worry Armaan, ab tum hamare damaad ho, main tumhare chief ko kuch nahin bataoonga…..waise bhi tumney in 3 mahino mein itna kaam kar liya hai, ki you can afford to take 7-10 days off for the wedding and honeymoon…..haan waise kahan jaa rahe ho tum log?"


"Sir, mere jijajee ne humein ek package gift kiya hai…..it is a surprise for Riddhima….after the wedding we will go to Ooty…." Armaan replied.


 Riddhima's school principal was equally understanding, and granted her a month off for the wedding. Riddhima made sure all her lesson plans were complete for the substitute teacher.



Armaan made sure Riddhima kept her promise regarding the kisses. He would land up at her school, at her home, at Tamanna's house, at the bazaar-wherever she was- and collect his "tax" from her.


'Tum mujhey sab jagah kaise dhoondh lete ho?" Riddhima asked one day when she was alone at home.


"Ghode ko jab pyaas lagti hai na, wo kuan dhoondh hi leta hai," Armaan groaned and tried to kiss her again.


"Cheating mat karo Armaan! Aaj ka tax bhar chuki hoon main," she laughed.

"Bahut zaalim tax collector ho tum….dekhna shaadi ke baad main tumhey kaise tadpaata hoon," Armaan wiped his lips, fixed his hair, picked his stethoscope and stomped away.



THE WEDDING:



Atul had made wonderful arrangements at his friend's farmhouse on the outskirts of Bangalore. Shubhankar and Keerti had invited a lot of their friends. Armaan's colleagues and classmates had flown in from Mumbai. Abhimanyu could not make it as he was still in London. A few of Riddhima's friends and colleagues also joined them from Ramgarh.



Riddhima wore a beautiful red lehnga for the wedding. Armaan looked dashing in a black and gold sherwaani.



The good-looking couple mesmerized all the guests. Everyone was ga-ga about the 'jodi'


Padma and Shashank were very proud of their "Riddhima" and their "damaad"

The wedding took place as per traditional Hindu rites.

After the pheras, Tamanna and a bunch of Riddhima's friends stole Armaan's shoes as a part of the tradition.


"Jiju…aap tho bahut badhe doctor banoge ek din….ussi hisaab se paise bhi dene honge..kam se kam 5000 tho dene honge…." Tamanna led the pack of thieves.



"5000? Sirf jooton ke liye?" Armaan's eyes popped out, "bhai saali ji abhi tho meri stipend bhi itni nahin hai….."


"Hum kuch nahin sun na chahte jiju…..paise do aur joote lo…." Tamanna held her palm out

"Aisa karo saali ji…..aap joote kya mere kapde bhi le lo," he looked at Riddhima mischievously, "tumhari behen ka kaam aasaan ho jaayega!" and winked at Riddhima.


Riddhima turned red at Armaan's naughty comment and looked down.


Tamanna and her friends all giggled, "jiju….aap bahut chaalak hain….aap Riddhima ko tab tak nahin le jaa sakte jab tak paise nahin diye…"



Keerti was laughing at their bickering; she slipped the 5000 Rs in Armaan's pocket and whispered, "abhi tho joote wapas le lo…..kapde abhi se mat utaarna….kahin police tumhey indecent exposure ke liye arrest na kar le!"



After a few more ceremonies, Padma, Tamanna, Atul and Shashank formally bid farewell to their darling Riddhima. Although, they knew she would be back in Ramgarh in a few days, they knew it would never be the same. Riddhima was very tearful and sobbed as she hugged all her family members. Armaan reassured Padma, "Maa…aap befikr rahiye…main aapki beti ko itni khushi doonga ki usey kabhie kisi cheez ki kami mehsoos nahin hogi…"



"Jaanti hoon beta….issi vishwaas par tho tujhey Riddhima saunp rahi hoon…..jeete raho beta….bhagwan tum dono ko bahut khush rakhe…" Padma said tearfully.



After the bidaai, Shubhankar came up to the newly married couple and handed them an envelope, "Congratulations! Yeh tum logon ka suhaag raat and honeymoon package combined hai….aaj raat ki train se hi tum log Ooty jaa rahe ho…"



Riddhima looked at Armaan quizzically, 'Ooty? Wo bhi aaj raat ki train se?"

Armaan raised one eyebrow and whispered in her ear, "how does suhaag raat on Love express sound?"


"Love Express?"


"Haan Riddhima….yeh ek nayi train shuru huyi hai…from Bangalore to Ooty…just for honeymooners….you will have the most luxurious one night travel tonight and tomorrow morning you will be in Ooty!" Shubhankar explained.


"Kaash yeh 5 saal pehle bhi hoti…" Keerti looked at Shubhankar and winked.

"Di! It is never too late…aapke liye bhi ek cabin book karwaa lein?" Armaan teased his sister.


"May be next year….aaj tho tum dono enjoy karo…." Keerti blessed the couple as they sat in the car to leave for the station.


"LOVE EXPRESS" was a well-decorated train with just a dozen or so compartments. It looked like a fantasy train- it was decorated colorfully with hearts, balloons and musical notes. All the compartments were loaded with luxurious first class facilities. Each compartment had 4 private cabins for the honeymooners. Each cabin had a queen-sized bed, decorated with flowers and garlands. There was a wet bar in each cabin with a private shower and bathroom. There was tight security on the train and one had to show various proofs of IDs and a valid ticket to board the train.


Shubhankar and Keerti dropped off Armaan and Riddhima at the station. Armaan helped Riddhima with her luggage as they bid goodbye to Shubhankar and Keerti.

After settling down in their cabin, Riddhima looked out of the window, "Armaan! Mujhey bhookh lag rahi hai…..mujhey station ke samose bahut pasand hai…please le aao…"


"Arre….we can order something on the train….this is just like a hotel…" Armaan said


"Nahin…..mujhey platform ka khaana zyaada achha lagta hai…please abhi tho time hai na train chalne mein…" Riddhima pleaded.


Armaan knew that Riddhima had not eaten anything during the wedding celebration-she was either too nervous, too tired, or too excited-either way, he wanted Riddhima to be happy and her usual cheerful self for that night, 'OK…Veeru apni Basanti ke liye agar samose nahin laaya tho wo usey saccha pyaar kaise kar sakta hai? Main abhi aaya…"



Riddhima kissed his cheek as he left, "thanks Veeru…you are the best!"


"Itney se kaam nahin chalega….main wapas aakar poora tax loonga….Ok?" Armaan kissed her back and left.


Riddhima settled down and was about to remove her jewelry, but then stopped. She blushed at the thought of what might happen over the next few hours. She just took off her sandals and settled down with a magazine. It was a bollywood magazine with a cover story on the latest heartthrob, "ANJALI RAI!" She was the new sex symbol and was being cast in every other movie these days.



Armaan waited impatiently for the samosas, but the stall was teeming with passengers. He kept glancing at his watch and the train, making sure he was still in time.


As soon as it was his turn, the halwai said, 'sahib aata khatam ho gaya hai….zara 10 minute aur lagenge…"


Armaan sighed and said, "theek hai jaldi se jaldi karo…warne train choot jaayegi…"


Armaan wanted to make sure his dear wife did not go hungry and he kept tapping on his feet impatiently as the halwai took his sweet time to knead the dough.


Just as the samosas were in the pan, turning a golden yellow, the train whistle went off and before Armaan could grab his plate of samosas and pay the halwai, the train was leaving the station.


Armaan ran as fast as he could in his uncomfortable wedding outfit. With samosas in one hand, he chased the train with all his might. He finally boarded the train about 2 compartments behind his and Riddhima's. He took a sigh of relief and tried to catch his breath.


Riddhima was in the mean time looking out for him; she was worried about Armaan missing the train, but was relieved when she saw him run and board the train. She could not see him on the platform anymore, so she knew he was in the train. She sat down and cursed herself, 'kaash maine usey baahar samose ke liye nahin bheja hota…chalo ab tho wo aa jaayega…" she settled down with the magazine and waited for him to show up.


Armaan was stopped by the ticket collector, "aapka ticket? Aur ID?"


"Wo tho mere compartment mein hai…mere paas nahin hai….meri wife hain 12 # compartment mein…aap unsey poonch lee jiye…." Armaan tried to reason with the ticket collector.

"NO! No exceptions! Ticket ke bina aap aage nahin jaa sakte….waise bhi compartments ke beech ka raasta next station tak band hai…"


'What? Iska matlab main yahin baitha rahoonga tab tak? Kitni der mein aayega next station?"

"Yahi koi 2-3 ghante mein…" the TC informed him

"Aap mazaak kar rahe hain? Meri aaj hi shaadi huyi hai…I need to be with my wife!" Armaan yelled


"Sorry sir! Rules are rules….Laloo ji ke strict rules hain is train ke liye….yeh unki special train hai!" the TC said firmly.


Armaan was fuming, "yeh kya mazaak hai? Aap kehte hain ki yeh Love Express hai, par aap mujhey love karne ka mauka bhi nahin de rahe hain….yeh tho saraasar naa insaafi hai!"


"Aap ko report likhni hai tho yahan likh dee jiye…Laloo ji saari complaints khud dekhte hain…" the TC said


"Yeah right! Agle janam mein!" Armaan was panting with anger. He was worried about Riddhima also. Riddhima, on the other hand knew that Armaan would show up sooner or later and decided to wait for him patiently.


Armaan took out his wallet and decided to bribe the TC, "yeh lo….mujhey ab jaane do…."


The TC looked at the money, "Nahin sahib…main aapki help nahin kar sakta…aap aaraam se baithiye…ek cabin khaali hai…wahan chahe tho so bhi sakte hain…."


"Tumhey lagta hai main yahan soney aaya hoon? D*** it! Main ek doctor hoon…ek shareef aadmi hoon…please mujhey jaane do…" he pleaded this time as he could see that getting upset with the TC was not getting him anywhere.


"Doctor ho?" The TC's eyes lit up, "achha yeh bataaiye doctor sahib, mujhey kai saalon se damaa hai….lekin theek nahin ho raha…."


Armaan shook his head and sat down with the TC. He listened to the TC's story patiently and prescribed some medications to him. The TC was pleased, but then remembered, "haan sahib…mere do bachhe hain…..ek ko tonsils ki taqleef rehti hai aur doosre ko pait ki….kya karna chahiye unka?"


Soon, Armaan was prescribing medications for the TC's whole neighborhood.


Finally, after an hour or so, the TC took pity on the newlywed doctor and said, "main aapke liye exception kar sakta hoon….aapke liye darwaaza khol deta hoon, agar aap wo paise bhi….."


Armaan shook his head and took his wallet out. He stuffed the TC's pockets and sarcastically said, "aap chahe tho agle station par chemist se aapki saari dawaaiyan bhi laa sakta hoon…."


The TC felt a little ashamed, "nahin nahin sahib….dawaai nahin…par wo samose bahut swaadisht lag rahe hain…" his mouth was watering at the sight of the samosas


Armaan reluctantly handed him the samosas and pointed to the door, "Ab mujhey jaane denge? Mere paas ab dene ko kuch nahin hai…"


The TC stuffed the samosa in his mouth and opened the shutter between the compartments.

Armaan escaped as fast as he could and knocked on his cabin door.

"Kaun hai?" it was Riddhima

Armaan, who had been frustrated with the whole TC experience, just said dryly, "Doodhwaala!"


"Maine doodh tho nahin maanga tha," Riddhima opened the door and smiled at her frazzled husband, "samose kahan hai?"

…..to be continued….
.............................
Sangeeta 

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