Thursday, 10 August 2017

part 19 & 20 : Ehsaas

PART 19:

The next day, Armaan and Riddhima returned to Ooty, and took the train back to Bangalore.

As they were about to bid adieu to their paradise, where they had spent the most memorable 7 days of their lives, Armaan remembered something, "main abhi aaya."

"Kahan jaa rahe ho? Kahin phir train bhaag kar na pakadni padhe!" Riddhima held Armaan's hand as he left the train.

"Don't worry….abhi time hai…main yun gaya aur yun aaya." Armaan snapped his fingers.

"Phir main bhi chaloongi…tum hi ne kaha tha na ki kabhie intezaar mat karna," Riddhima accompanied him and got down at the platform.

Armaan headed for the samosa stall and was lucky to be the first one in line. He purchased a plate with extra chutney and pickle, "yeh lo….ab raaste mein yeh mat kehna ki bhookh lagi hai…OK?"

Riddhima smiled, "tum bahut achhe ho Armaan…..mera kitna khayal rakhte ho," she touched his face and smiled at him.

"Don't get used to this…..honeymoon is almost over Mrs Malik!" Armaan teased her as they headed back to the train.

They met Keerti and Shubhankar at the Bangalore station.

"Dekho tho….Riddhima kitni khil rahi hai….aur Armaan tumhey kya hua…itne patley kaise ho gaye?" Keerti teased her brother and sister in law.

"Di! Kya Shubhankar jiju ne apne honeymoon ke baad weight lose nahin kiya tha?" Armaan asked mischievously as Riddhima and Shubhankar both turned red from embarrassment.

"Armaan! Bahut badmaash ho gaya hai….kam se kam hamare saamne tho sharafat se pesh aaya kar!" Keerti gave him a dirty look.

"Kya karoon di? Shubhankar jiju bhi jaante hain ki sharafat hamare Malik khaandan mein door door tak nahin milegi," Armaan grinned and winked at Shubhankar.

"Accha hua ab tumhari didi Saxena khaandan ki ho gayi hain….mujhey tho bechari Riddhima par taras aata hai," Shubhankar put an arm around Riddhima. Riddhima smiled and lowered her head.

Keerti came and hugged Riddhima too, "meri bhabhi bahut bholi hai…..wo tho is badmaash ki baaton mein aa gayi," she kissed Riddhima's forehead affectionately and said, "chalo ab tum dono jaao…Ramgarh ki train platform par lag gayi hai…..ab apni nayi zindagi ki shuruaat karo….Ok..Bye!"

Riddhima and Armaan hugged both Keerti and Shubhankar and thanked them once again for their wonderful honeymoon, "Di….I strongly recommend a second honeymoon via Love Express!" Armaan yelled back as their train left the platform.


Padma and Tamanna received them at the at the Ramgarh station.

Padma was pleased to see the glow on Riddhima's face; she was reassured that her daughter had married the right person. Padma blessed the couple as they returned to Dr Misra's residence.

"Beti…aaj se yahi tera ghar hai…..jahan Armaan…wahan tu," Padma explained to Riddhima.

"Par maa….aap akeli rahengi? Aap bhi yahin mamaji ke yahan hum sab ke saath reh leejiye,"Riddhima tried to convince her mother.

"Nahin beti….ek aurat ke liye aakhiri saans tak uska pati ka ghar hi sab kuch hota hai…..ab tere papa nahin hain tho kya hua…..mera ghar tho wohi hai….aur tu bhi tho aati jaati rahegi…main jaanti hoon, apni maa se mile bina tu ek din bhi nahin reh sakti!," Padma hugged Riddhima and left the couple to settle into their little nest upstairs.

Armaan helped Riddhima move all her belongings from her mother's house.

Armaan and Riddhima just had the tiny room at Dr Misra's, large enough for the two of them. They did not mind if the one little closet in the room overflowed with their clothes and other belongings. They were happy with the one queen sized bed in the room-it still had plenty of room to spare!

Riddhima, the efficient girl that she was, quickly transformed their little nest into a cozy, cute and neat place to live.

Armaan decided to resume work the next day. Riddhima had a whole month off from work, so she decided to spend time in settling their "grahasti"

Dr Misra was happy to have them back, "chalo Armaan ab tum aa gaye ho….ab tum clinic sambhaalo….main kuch din light kaam hi karoonga…Lovely bhi apne bete ko milne Pune gayi hai….main bahut thak gaya hoon."

"Koi baat nahin sir…..Riddhima ki school se abhi chutti hai….she will help me," Armaan grinned at Riddhima. Riddhima knew Armaan would not leave any opportunity to be with her, even if it was at pretext of work! She just blushed and shook her head as she headed for the kitchen.


Riddhima woke up early at the crack of dawn. Armaan was still asleep; he was probably exhausted from the journey and of course, he did not spare Riddhima last night either.

Riddhima showered and dressed up in a cream sari with red border. She prepared tea and breakfast, as she knew Armaan would have to start work early that morning.

She came upstairs to find her hubby fast asleep, "Armaan! Armaan! Utho…chai tayyar hai!" she whispered in his ear; her wet hair stroked his face gently.

Armaan opened his eyes and grabbed her wet open hair with both hands; he pulled her face on his and gave her a deep, passionate kiss.

Riddhima tried to free herself, "Armaan…kya kar rahe ho? Subah ho gayi hai…..tumhey clinic jaana hai."

Armaan did not let go of her hair and pulled her closer, "promise karo…ki mujhey roz subah aise hi jagaaogi….aur baal aise hi geele aur khuley rakhogi…..aur aise hi sunder lagogi……aur aise hi kiss dogi. Please be my morning wake up call for the rest of our lives."

Riddhima whispered, "theek hai….par promise karo ki raat ko time se sone doge."

"Jo mere bas ki baat nahin hai….wo promise main nahin kar sakta!" he gave her one last kiss and reluctantly got up.

Riddhima handed him his cup of tea and said, "apni baat manwaa kar hi rehte ho…..meri bilkul nahin sunte," she took out his clothes and left him alone to get ready.

Patients were already queued up outside the clinic. They had all heard that "chote doctor sahib" was back. Dr Misra had decided to take a few days off work as he was tired from being the only doc when Armaan was away.

Riddhima got down to business; she had the patients prepped and lined up depending on their complaints. When Armaan got down to work, he was efficiently able to see all the patients in reasonable time.

Riddhima accompanied him during house calls and even assisted him during minor surgical procedures.

Over the next few weeks, Riddhima's life became even more hectic than it used to be before her marriage. Armaan and his needs became her first priority. Armaan, on the other hand became entirely dependant on her-right from his personal to professional life was taken care of by his wife.

Finally, Riddhima went back to work and that is when Armaan sorely missed her presence around him. Lovely was back from Pune and took over most of the nursing duties from Riddhima. Armaan was not satisfied with Lovely's way of working; he had trained Riddhima the way he wanted and Lovely was set in her old ways.

Armaan and Riddhima were very popular with the patients too. Armaan's modern ways of treatment and Riddhima's tender and healing touch attracted patients to their clinic from far-flung areas.

Lovely could sense Armaan's frustration, but did not say anything. As Dr Misra had cut back on his hours, Lovely had more downtime on her hands. She managed to irritate Armaan often; out of respect Armaan never yelled at her, but his cold silence and frown were proof enough of his annoyance.

One day, Lovely said to Armaan, "Dr Malik….ek baat kahun?"

"Haan boliye?" Armaan replied curtly

"Aap Riddhima se baat kariye ki wo apne school ki naukri chhod de….aur aapke saath full time kaam kar le."

Armaan loved that idea, but he knew Riddhima well- she loved her job and above all cherished her identity separate from her husband's. He thought she would decline his offer, but it was worth a try.

That evening, when Riddhima was cooking dinner and simultaneously talking to Padma on the phone, Armaan came from behind and grabbed her. He started nibbling on her neck and shoulders.

"Maa….main rakhti hoon…..dal mein tadka lagaana hai," she lied as she could not concentrate once Armaan started fooling around with her.

"Kitna kaam karti ho jaan? Mere liye bilkul time nahin nikaalti." he complained as he snuggled with her.

"Armaan! Chhodo…mamaji ghar par hi hain….bolo kya baat hai?" Riddhima had learnt that Armaan usually became more lovey-dovey when he needed something from her.

"Suno…..main chahta hoon, tum hamesha mere paas hi raho," he drawled romantically

"Rehti tho hoon…tumhare dil mein!" she quipped

"Jaanta hoon…..lekin main chahta hoon ki tum sirf mere saath kaam karo….apne school ki naukri chhod do….kya kar sakogi mere liye yeh?" Armaan snuggled his face into her hair.

Riddhima paused and turned off the stove; she needed to think about this.

Riddhima gazed into his eyes and saw his genuine plead in them. She loved Armaan a lot and was very grateful to him for being so understanding so far-he had decided to stay back in Ramgarh for her sake, pampered her like a princess, loved her with all his heart- there was no way she could say NO. She knew this was a big decision; her identity would now always be tied to her husband, but she was so much in love with him that she did not care……tumhee mere sab kuch ho Armaan…..

"Kya socha?" Armaan looked at her expectantly

Riddhima just smiled and turned around to resume her cooking. She hummed, "aap kahe….aur hum na maane…..aisa kabhie ho sakta hai?"

Armaan jumped up in the air; grabbed her by the waist and twirled around with her in the kitchen, "I LOVE YOU RIDDHIMA!" he shouted and showered her with his kisses. He was relieved that Riddhima had agreed, without much hesitation or fuss- she was the best thing that had happened to him since his move to Ramgarh.


PART 20:

Armaan was very pleased with Riddhima's decision to work with him exclusively. Riddhima was glad that Armaan considered her capable for the job. As she finished cooking dinner, she remembered how upset Armaan used to get with her initially and inadvertently pass derogatory comments about her and her work. Lately, he had been more understanding, compassionate and patient with her. Her heart would skip a beat, each time she thought of their blissful days in Ooty. Armaan's love had transformed her completely. Things which bothered her about Armaan, like his arrogant attitude, did not irritate her anymore……kya yahi pyaar hai? Jab ek insaan doosre insaan ke andar poori tarah samaa jaata hai….kya usi ko pyaar kehte hain?

That night, Armaan noticed that Riddhima was in a very jovial mood. Armaan was settled in bed, trying to catch up on a current article about a surgical procedure. Riddhima was decorating their bedroom with flowers from their garden.

"Kya baat hai? Bahut khush ho?" Armaan asked.

Riddhima came and sat next to him and caressed his face, "mujhey aaj bahut khushi hai ki tum ne mujhey iss laayak samjha ki main tumhari help kar sakoon…..Lovely maasi tho mujh se kahin zyaada qualified aur experienced hain."

"Kyonki main unhey daant nahin sakta! Iss liye!" he pinched her nose.

"Kya kaha? Tho iss liye mere saath kaam karna chahte ho?" Riddhima hit him playfully.

"OK..OK….," Armaan ducked her assaults and laughed, "lekin pyaar bhi tho phir tumhey hi karoonga," he pulled her into his lap and kissed her face.

"Theek hai….har daant ki 2 kisses! OK?" she asked

"No! No! I am not that cheap…..ek daant ke 10 kisses….how about that?"

Riddhima smiled mischievously, "phir tho roz roz daantna mujhey!"

Armaan squeezed her in his arms, "badmaash! Jiju theek keh rahe the…ab Mrs Malik bhi badmaash ho jaayengi!"

Riddhima became a little serious and looked into his eyes lovingly, "Armaan….jo tum kahoge…main wo ban jaaoongi…..main tumhari umr bhar puja karoongi….main bas tumhari hoon aur tum mere….zindagi mein ab aur kuch maayne nahin rakhta," she buried her face in his chest and hummed this beautiful song to express her dedication towards her beloved:

"Dil mein tujhey bitha ke" from "Fakira"

for lyrics:

Dil mein tujhe bitha ke
Kar loongi main bandh aankhein
Pooja karoongi teri
Hoke rahoongi teri….

Armaan threw the medical paper on the floor and pulled his wife under the covers. He turned the lights off and gently made love to his wife.


Padma was pleased with Riddhima's decision to join Armaan as a full-time assistant, "ek patni ke liye is se bhaagyashaali cheez kya ho sakti hai ki uske pati ke wo kaam mein bhi sewa kare?"

Dr Misra, on the other hand was not sure. He did not say anything to Armaan or Riddhima, as he'd rather stay out of their personal matters, but he did mention it to Padma one day, "waise main jaanta hoon ki Riddhima jo bhi kaam karegi, mann lagaa ke karegi, par mujhey lagta hai usey school ki naukri nahin chhodni chahiye thi….mere saath bhi tho clinic mein haath bantaa ti thi….par maine usey apna kaam karne se nahin roka."

"Bhaiyya…..aap uske maama ho….aur Armaan pati! Kuch tho farak hai na aapke rishte mein? Mujhey tho lagta hai Riddhima ne jo kiya theek kiya…accha hai aadmi hamesha apni nazron ke saamne hi rahe….warna kuch bharosa nahin hota aadmi logon ka!" Padma countered his argument.

"Padma! Agar apne pyaar par bharosa ho tho kisi aadmi par itni nazar rakhne ki zaroorat nahin hoti…..jinhey bhatakna hai, wo aapki nazron ke saamne hi sab kuch kar lete hain…..mujhey lagta hai ki Armaan aur Riddhima ka pyaar saccha hai…..un dono mein kabhie aisa nahin hoga." Shashank replied confidently.


After the initial excitement of working together died down, Armaan and Riddhima settled into a more or less monotonous life.

Riddhima's day started off early at 6 am. She made sure breakfast and lunch arrangements were done before the men woke up.  Her routine of  being Armaan's 'wake up call' continued religiously. Armaan looked forward to his wake up kisses and usually lazed around in bed with his tea and newspaper.

Armaan had made some changes in the clinic- he preferred to schedule patients rather than encourage walk-ins. He kept better records of all patients, unlike Dr Misra's scribbles on few scraps of paper.

Riddhima had helped Armaan set up his scheduling roster and maintain legible records of patients.

Riddhima would get his clinic ready before Armaan started seeing patients. She would then assist him wherever he needed her. She would get so busy with work, that some days would forget to eat breakfast or lunch! Riddhima made sure Armaan never missed any meals. If he were really busy to come home for lunch, she would personally take the lunch to his clinic and feed it to him with her hands, in between patients. He always appreciated her caring for him, "tum kitni achhi ho…meri har cheez ka dhyaan rakhti ho," but he would invariably forget that even Riddhima had not eaten all day. He just assumed that Riddhima took good care of herself, just as she did for others. Little did he realize, that Riddhima was the kind of girl, who would go hungry all day, but make sure her loved ones were well-fed and taken care of. Her needs were always secondary to other's needs and especially Armaan's needs-be it physical or emotional.

If Armaan had a pounding headache after a long day, she would have him rest his head on her lap and massage it till he was fast asleep. Armaan never needed pain pills as long as Riddhima was there to take care of him.

Riddhima made it a point to visit Padma everyday and also took care of Dr Misra's needs.

Armaan did hire some ancillary staff to help out on the clinic, but Riddhima was responsible for managing that staff too!

Armaan had little patience for inefficiency and sloppy work. He would often get irritated with the new staff and had already fired a few employees. Riddhima was a good manager and was able to keep the staff happy and extract more work from them than her impatient husband.

Riddhima had noticed that Armaan was easily frustrated these days. He even got upset at patients and their families for non-compliance with treatment, missed appointments, and delaying seeking medical care. The patients in Ramgarh were mostly illiterate and respected Dr Malik like God. Riddhima tried to keep a human touch at the clinic and made sure she talked and explained everything to the families properly.

One day, when Armaan was busy with some paper work in the clinic, a tired Riddhima went up to him, "Armaan….mujhey kuch baat karni hai."

"Hmm….bolo?" he asked without looking up.

Riddhima took his pen from his hand and lifted his chin, "meri taraf dekho Armaan"

Armaan leaned back on his chair and sighed, "haan bolo kya baat hai?"

"Armaan…..tum yahan khush nahin ho kya?"

Armaan was taken aback by her question, "kyon? Aisa kyon sochti ho?"

"Pataa nahin….kuch din se tum baat baat par naaraz ho jaate ho….yahan ke mareez bechare unpadh hain….unpar gussa kyon nikaalte ho?"

"Riddhima! Wo baat hi aisi karte hain! What can a doctor do if the patient does not follow his advise? Apni mann-maani karte hain….then they go to ayurvedic and other voo-doo doctors for their treatment…..mujhey aisa lagta hai ki meri saari training yahan waste jaa rahi hai! I feel I am stagnating here Riddhima! I cannot perform half the procedures I am trained to do."

Riddhima was a little taken aback by his answer, "Armaan….par yeh bhi tho socho tumhare ilaaj se kitne logon ka bhalaa hua hai….kitne log tumhey roz duaayein dete hain…..logon ki dua seedha bhagwan ke paas jaati hain."

Armaan got up and left his desk, "par Riddhima……duniya sirf logon ki dua se nahin chalti…..I am used to more action and challenge in my work….i feel I am not getting it here……I think I am capable of much more….but…but….," he sounded more frustrated and left for their bedroom.

Riddhima felt a lump in her throat; she had no idea Armaan had been hiding all these feelings from her all these months, "hamari shaadi ko 6 mahine ho gaye hain….par aaj pehli baar Armaan ne mujhe yeh sab kaha hai," she followed him upstairs.

Armaan was seated at his desk, buried in his surgical textbook.

Riddhima went and stroked his head, "kya ek cup chai banaa doon?"

Armaan was feeling bad for what he had just said downstairs; he shut his book and hugged Riddhima by her waist, "Riddhima….I am sorry….I should not have said all those things…..I think I am just a little stressed out…..meri training ke ab sirf 3 mahine bache hain….and I have to prepare for my Surgery Boards also…..exam mein sirf 2 mahine reh gaye hain….I really need to get prepared……please bura mat maan na meri baaton ka," his apology sounded so genuine, that Riddhima had tears in her eyes, "Armaan…..mujhey nahin bataaoge tho kise bataaoge? Chalo main tumhare liye chai laati hoon…tum raat ko der tak padhai kar lo….main disturb nahin karoongi…I will sleep downstairs in the guest bedroom…OK?" she kissed his forehead and went to prepare tea.

Armaan studied late into the night, but soon started missing Riddhima. He was so used to having Riddhima around him all the time and that too at this time of the night. He shut his book, stretched his muscles and went down to the guest room. Riddhima was fast asleep after another tiring day. She had skipped dinner again, as Armaan's words echoed in her head…..I am stagnating…. I think I am capable of much more…… duniya sirf logon ki dua se nahin chalti……

Armaan noticed that Riddhima was a little restless in her sleep. He sat down and kissed her lips; then he carried his sleepy wife in his arms to their bedroom.

He placed her on the bed and snuggled in with her under the covers. He buried his face in her hair and kissed her neck. Riddhima moaned a little, but was still fast asleep.

Armaan caressed her softly and whispered, "Riddhima….utho…..mujh se baat karo please."

Riddhima tried to open her heavy eye lids, "Armaan? Main oopar kaise aayi?"

"Main laaya hoon….please so mat….I need you jaan!"

"Armaan…..I am tired," she said sleepily, but Armaan knew what buttons to press and within minutes, had Riddhima surrender herself completely to his passion once again.

…to be continued…

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