Saturday, 14 October 2017

PART 35:Ehsaas

The alarm buzzer kept going off  in the morning. Neither Armaan nor Riddhima were in a mood to get out of bed. After pressing the snooze button for the umpteenth time, Riddhima finally whispered, "aaj kaam par nahin jaana Armaan?"

"Mmmm…..nahin aaj ghar par hi kaam karne ka mann hai!" he groaned and pulled Riddhima on top of him; he looked into her eyes and said, "I am going to call in sick today….all surgeries cancelled…aaj poora din sirf tumhare saath hi rahoonga."

Riddhima laughed as she traced her finger on his face and lips, "OUCH!" she screamed as he nibbled her finger with his teeth, "tumhare patients ka kya hoga doctor sahib?"

"Aaj doctor khud bimaar hai…..iss liye kaam par nahin jaa sakta," he quipped.

Riddhima rolled off his chest and said, "mazaak chhodo….main jaanti hoon tum aisa kabhie nahin karoge."

Armaan got up and stretched, "tum mujhey bahut achhi tarah jaanti ho, you are right….aaj bahut badhi surgery hai, I cannot miss it…..chaah kar bhi chutti nahin le sakta," he got up and hugged Riddhima from behind, "chalo saath saath tayyar hote hain."

"Armaan….doctor ki zindagi mein chutti naam ki koi cheez nahin hoti…..jao jaldi tayyar ho jao, main naashta banaati hoon," she pushed him towards the bathroom and headed for the kitchen.

Armaan just whined and groaned at the thought of separating from Riddhima. As he showered, he fondly thought of their wild and passionate night. He felt an unusual sense of calm and peace this morning. He felt liberated and ready for another action packed day in the OT.

Riddhima also hummed and smiled as she prepared breakfast that morning. She blushed as she remembered the beautiful moments with Armaan last night, "Armaan…..tumhare pyaar ne mujhey is tarah baandh rakha hai, ki chaah kar bhi tumse door nahin reh sakti….," she said to herself.

Riddhima reminded herself that she had to call Abhimanyu that morning. Yesterday, while running errands after their big fight, she had decided to take the plunge. The humiliating encounter with Armaan and Anjali that afternoon had inspired her to prove her worth to herself. Even though, Armaan had made peace with her, she knew her husband really well. She was afraid, that however much Armaan loved her; he was beginning to take her for granted, so it was important for her to have her own identity once again. After her marriage, she had become so absorbed by Armaan, to the point of worshipping him; that she had left herself behind somewhere. After yesterday's incident, she knew things could get worse unless she stood up for herself; joining Abhimanyu was a step towards her quest to prove her self worth.

Armaan was ready to start the day; he inhaled his breakfast as usual, but gave Riddhima an unusually long and passionate good-bye kiss before he left, "Good luck with Abhimanyu today! I will catch up with you later jaan!"

Armaan walked into his office, looking relaxed and happy that morning. His assistant was relieved to see that he was in a better mood this morning, "Dr Malik…aapke liye Anjali ji ka message hai….abhi thodi der pehle hi aaya tha unka phone…wo keh rahi thi ki aapka mobile nahin mil raha tha."

Armaan nodded his head, "hmm…Ok…I will call her later," and stayed focused on his computer screen. He did not pay heed to Anjali's message; sub consciously shutting her out of his system. After reviewing the cases for the morning, he headed to the OT for his morning surgeries.

At home, Riddhima got ready and picked up her phone, "Hello! Abhimanyu! Mujhey aapka offer manzoor hai…..main aapke saath gaane ko taayar hoon!"

"Yahoo! Really? I am so glad…..why don't you come to our studio right away….let me give you the address," Abhimanyu replied cheerfully. Riddhima wrote down the directions, picked the car keys and left. Riddhima arrived at the studio and received a warm welcome from Abhimanyu and his music group, 'Sukoon'

"Aao Riddhima….pehle tumhara audition le lein…I know it is just a formality, but we have to follow the rules," Abhimanyu led her to the audition room.

Riddhima sang several songs- geet, ghazals, light classical- she was a versatile singer with a very melodious and steady voice.

Abhimanyu and his partner, Sid were thrilled with her talent.

"Chalo…aaj hi ek gaana record kar lete hain… nayi movie mein ek nayi awaaz ki zaroorat hai……imagine you will sing your first song for a movie, and that too for none other than Anjali Rai!" Sid commented.

Riddhima froze at the mention of Anjali's name. She was always aware that Anjali disliked Riddhima for some strange reason, but after yesterday's incident, the feeling had become mutual.

"Abhimanyu are you sure? Why don't I sing on a small scale first….may be non filmi albums or on stage……movies mein abhi se? I don't feel comfortable yet," Riddhima said politely.

Abhimanyu and Sid looked at each other. Sid finally spoke, "OK Riddhima….we will not insist, you are right….you should get your feet wet first….why don't you accompany us on our next stage show…..we can present you as the next rising star of our group…..I understand your hesitation."

Riddhima thanked Sid. Sid seemed like a warm and friendly chap. Riddhima took an instant liking for him.

Abhimanyu was not too thrilled with Sid's decision, but relented, as he knew it would be hard to convince Riddhima. He knew that the wisest thing would be to wait for Riddhima to accept the offer herself.

Riddhima filled out her contract papers later that afternoon. It was a one-year contract and they were offering her a handsome salary for the contract. She checked her watch and tried to call Armaan, but he was in surgery. She really wanted Armaan to read the contract. She finally signed the papers, without paying much heed to the details, "jab soch hi liya hai ki mujhey yeh kaam karna hai, tho contract ki details se kya farak padhta hai?" she reasoned with herself.

Riddhima had an inner sense of satisfaction today. She had enjoyed the audition and singing always gave her a strange sense of comfort and inner peace. She was really happy today- Armaan had made up with her and now she was venturing into something she really enjoyed doing.

'Theek hai Riddhima, tumhari pehli recording kal karenge…OK?" Abhimanyu informed her.

"Main chahti hoon ki meri pehli recording mein Armaan bhi shaamil ho," Riddhima replied, "kya kal shaam ko kar sakte hain?"

Abhimanyu did not like the idea very much, but Sid intervened, "of course….I would like to meet the great Dr Malik too…aakhir un hone kitni ladkiyon ko apna diwaana banaaa rakha hai Mumbai mein…Anjali sings a lot of praises about your husband." Sid was unaware of any hostilities between Riddhima and Anjali; he just made an innocent remark.

Riddhima just stayed quiet and said politely, "Thanks Sid!"

That evening, as Armaan was leaving work, he saw Anjali talking to Yuvraaj, one of the other trainees in the program. He remembered that he had not returned her calls that day. He knocked on Yuvraaj's door, "May I come in?"

"Hi Armaan!" Anjali greeted him with a sardonic smile, "lagta hai apni personal life mein itne busy ho ki kisi ka phone bhi nahin return kar rahe?"

"OH sorry Anjali! Aaj poore din OT mein hi tha….I must have missed your call….koi khaas baat thi?" Armaan asked

"Well, khaas baat tho thi…..I wanted you to come and talk to a few of my friends tomorrow evening about some new cosmetic procedures……but I think Yuvraaj will do that now…tumhari personal life bahut busy hai na ab? Puraane clients ko kahan time de sakte ho?" she remarked sarcastically.

Armaan was a little taken aback; he was a very competitive and ambitious person and he did not like the idea that Yuvraaj was being asked to oblige Anjali and her celebrity friends.

Anjali, of course knew how to throw her bait at Armaan.

Armaan hesitated and looked at Yuvraaj, "Well, I am sure Yuvraaj would do a great job, but I will be happy to meet your friends too….Anjali you know I am always at your service."

Anjali smiled triumphantly and said, "well, why don't you both come tomorrow evening, there are plenty of women who want cosmetic surgery…I am sure both of you can have a fair share of the pie!"

Armaan nodded and shook hands with Yuvraaj, "Is that Ok with you Yuvraaj?"

"Sure! Why not?" Yuvraaj was just thrilled to be considered for this opportunity. So far, he was just considered a mediocre surgeon and was dying to prove his worth at the Center; this could be his big opportunity.

"Thanks Anjali! I will see you tomorrow," Armaan said and walked out of the cabin.

Anjali followed Armaan and caught up with him, "wanna come home for a drink? Ya aaj bhi biwi ki sewa karni hai?"

"Oh…aaj? Actually, I was planning to take Riddhima out for dinner," Armaan said.

"Bahut high maintainence biwi hai tumhari!" Anjali sounded a little annoyed.

Armaan just laughed, "Nahin aisi koi baat nahin hai….I just feel bad for what happened yesterday….I will see you tomorrow Anjali….Bye!" he took the elevator, looking forward to his evening with Riddhima.

Riddhima was about to leave the studio, when Abhimanyu came up to her, 'Riddhima…let's go and celebrate this evening…why don't you join us for dinner tonight?"

Riddhima hung her bag on her shoulder and said, "Thanks Abhimanyu, par aaj main Armaan ke saath hi shaam bitaana chaahti hoon….I would like to celebrate this with him tonight…..aapke saath kabhie aur chaloongi."

Both Anjali and Abhimanyu were furious at their rejection that evening.

Anjali called Abhimanyu, "Abhimanyu…..ab Riddhima tumhare saath kaam karegi….I want things happening in full gear now! Understand? You still have 4 more contracts pending!"

Abhimanyu replied, "Don't worry Anjali…abhi tho khel shuru hua hai!"

Armaan and Riddhima reached home around the same time. They were both happy to see each other. Riddhima was her usual chatty self; she filled him with all the details about her auditioning, her contract and her first recording scheduled for tomorrow, "please meri pehli recording par zaroor aana kal."

Armaan was just admiring her talk non-stop like she used to when he had first met her.

He cupped her face in his hands and looked into her eyes, "ab bolti hi rahogi ya in hothon ko kuch aaram bhi dogi?" He stared at her parted lips and bent down to kiss her. She just moaned and embraced him tightly, "tum aaram kahan karne doge?"

Armaan carried her in his arms as they spent another wonderful evening in each other's arms.

Later they both went out for a cosy Chinese dinner and a long drive along the beach....


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