Wednesday, 11 October 2017

PART 33:Ehsaas

Over the next few days, Riddhima gave a lot of thought to Abhimanyu's proposal. She even spoke to Muskaan, Keerti and Padma about her dilemma.

They were all her well wishers, and also aware how busy Armaan was. Muskaan even suggested that she work with her at her clinic.

Armaan was always in a hurry these days, especially now that his training period was cut short by the board and Dr Modi's recommendation. Days would go by before they talked to each other. They had not been intimate with each other either in a long time either. Riddhimalonged to be held by Armaan; she missed his passionate hugs and kisses, his mischievous smiles and the burning, desirous look in his eyes. He was so buried in his work and quest for fame and recognition, that he did not see the angst and pining in Riddhima's eyes.

Riddhima knew that Armaan missed her too; but his drive and ambition were too strong; he had no time to slow down. Riddhima never said anything to him, as she did not want to distract him from his goal. She really missed being with him, "shayad mujhey hi initiative lena padhega, Armaan ke paas tho waqt hi nahin hai…"

So one day, Riddhima went to Armaan's office to surprise him. She wanted to take him out for lunch. "Dr Malik kahan hain?" Riddhima asked his assistant.

"Aap kaun madam?" the assistant asked her.

"Main unki wife hoon," Riddhima found it strange that no one knew who Armaan's wife was. She blamed herself, "main bhi tho kabhie yahan pehle aayi nahin….tho in logon ko kaise pata hoga," she fondly remembered her days in Ramgarh when Armaan could barely function without Riddhima's presence at his clinic; even his patients knew her there.

"Madam, Dr Malik tho bahar lunch par gaye hain," the assistant informed her.
Riddhima had an idea, "kahan gaye hain?" She wanted to surprise Armaan wherever he was.

"Madam wo Oyster Club mein hain….Oberoi hotel mein restaurant hai."

"Theek hai main dhoondh loongi," Riddhima rushed out of the plush office. She had never seen a doctor's office like this one- it looked more like a hotel than an office. She just shrugged her shoulders and walked to her car, "shayad Mumbai ka yahi kaayda hai."

Riddhima arrived at the 'Oyster Club"

She was stopped at the entrance, "madam aapke paas reservation hai?"

"Nahin…lekin mere husband andar hain…main unsey milne aayi hoon"

"Kya naam hai aapke husband ka?"

"Dr Armaan Malik!" she replied proudly

The attendant checked the guest list, "madam, Dr Malik ek guest ke saath hain….main unki permission ke bina aapko andar nahin jaane de sakta."

"Oh really? Aap poonch lee jiye unse, wo kabhie manaa nahin karenge." Riddhima said confidently.

"Yes, madam….let me find out."

The attendant came back in a few minutes, 'madam, unka lunch khatam ho gaya hai, wo log bahar aa hi rahe hain"

"Thanks, main yahin wait kar leti hoon," Riddhima said politely

She was curious to see Armaan's surprised expression on seeing her there. She stood with her back to the restaurant and tapped her feet impatiently.

She heard Armaan's voice as he thanked the waiter and the attendant at the exit.
Riddhima turned around to surprise Armaan, but instead saw a shocked expression on Armaan's face.

"Riddhima tum yahan? Yahan kya kar rahi ho?" Armaan was startled, but finally smiled to see the unexpected guest.

Armaan was walking out with Anjali Rai!

Riddhima's heart sank as she saw Anjali with a smug expression on her face, "Hello Riddhima! So you have a lunch date with someone too?"

Riddhima swallowed a lump in her throat and tried to brush off her tears, "sorry, if I interrupted your lunch date!" she gave Anjali a cold looked and then at Armaan with pain in her eyes. Armaan averted his gaze and stuttered, "Riddhima….aisi koi baat nahin hai…..Anjali main Riddhima ke saath jaata hoon…..I will catch up with you later," Armaanput his arm around Riddhima and tried to walk out of the restaurant.

"Sure Armaan! Tho aaj shaam ko ROZ ki tarah mere hi ghar par milte hain! Bye both of you!" Anjali put on her sunglasses and walked out with an evil smile on her face as if saying THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE!

Riddhima shrugged her shoulders and pulled away from Armaan's hold, "sorry Armaan…..shayad tumhey galat waqt par milne aa gayi main," her voice quivered.

Armaan followed her as she walked to the car. He grabbed her wrist, "Riddhima! Meri baat tho suno….you are misunderstanding everything…..this was purely a business meeting…..aisa kuch bhi nahin hai jaisa tum soch rahi ho."

Riddhima wiggled out of his strong grip and sat inside the car. She turned the ignition on and tried to reverse the car.

Armaan forced himself into the passenger seat, "D*** it! Give me a chance to explain Riddhima! I have to meet Anjali for business contacts."

Riddhima accelerated the car and kept her gaze on the road, "tum tho doctor ho na? Business man kab se ban gaye?" she taunted him.

"Riddhima, you don't understand….these days medicine is a business too! Ab main staff member ban jaaoonga, then I have to be responsible for bringing business to the Center….my salary will depend on the clients I bring and the surgeries I do…..I have to market my skills and Anjali has so far been very helpful in that respect….that's it! Try to understand Riddhima, tumhare alaawa main kisi ka nahin hoon…trust me!" Armaan tried to defend himself.

"Armaan, maine yeh kab kaha ki main tum par shaq kar rahi hoon…..mujhey apne pyaar par poora bharosa hai, par mujhey yeh dukh hai ki tumney mujh par bharosa nahin kiya," Riddhima said tearfully.

"Bharosa? Of course I trust you Riddhima, yeh kaisi behki behki baatein kar rahi ho?" Armaan replied angrily.

"Tho mujhey aaj tak yeh kyon nahin bataaya ki tum shaam ko iss liye late aate ho kyunki Anjali ke saath hote ho?" Riddhima was trembling as she drove.

"Riddhima! Wo bhi tho kaam hi hai na? Now if you want me to give you my appointment book everyday, I will be happy to do that… you can see who I meet everyday!" Armaan's nostrils were flaring as he tried to suppress his anger.

Riddhima stopped the car in front of the surgical center, "tumhara office aa gaya hai," she said in a shaky voice, without looking at him.

"Riddhima…please naaraz mat ho…meri baat samajhne ki koshish karo," Armaan grabbed her elbow and shook her gently.

Riddhima pulled her arm away, "Armaan….please leave now! Ho sakta hai koi aur tumhari wait kar rahi ho andar!"

Armaan clenched his jaw and fist and got out of the car in anger, 'you small town girls! Tumhari mentality kabhie change nahin hogi!" Armaan was capable of saying the harshest things in anger. He did not realize what he had just said and walked to the center, leaving a very heart broken wife behind.

Riddhima buried her head in the steering wheel and sobbed silently for a while. She was a shattered woman- she was not upset about seeing Armaan with another woman, but was hurt by his lies and deception; she couldn't believe that her Armaan could treat her like this. Why did he hide the fact from her that he met with Anjali every evening? She would never doubt his intention if he had told her the truth, was he hiding something more from her? And his parting remark about her "small town mentality" tore her into pieces.

She wiped her tears and drove off.

Armaan got back to his office, but was very disturbed. He could not focus on his work and was very irritable all afternoon. His nurses and assistant had never seen him in such a foul mood. He finished up his afternoon surgeries and decided to head home as soon as possible. As usual, he was regretting saying those harsh words to Riddhima, "main kitna pagal hoon…gusse mein Riddhima ko kya kya bol diya….par usey bhi tho samajhna chaaiye ki main usey koi dhokha nahin de raha…OH God!"

As he was leaving, he received a call from Anjali.

"Anjali, sorry, I cannot come to your place this evening….I need to go home," Armaan said on the phone

Anjali had a vicious smile on her face, "kyon biwi se darrte ho?"

"Nahin Anjali darrta nahin hoon….I just need to clarify some things with her….she really misunderstood what she saw this afternoon."

"So you are afraid of her?" Anjali challenged him.

"No Anjali….I am not afreaid of her, I LOVE HER! And I need to be with her…BYE!" he hung up. He knew he was a little abrupt, but at this moment he could care less. He had only one mission that evening- to be with Riddhima!


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