Tuesday, 7 November 2017

PART 45:Ehsaas

"Arre Riddhima? Itni subah subah…..bina koi khabar kiye kaise aa gayi? Aur kya halat banaa rakhi hai apni? Sab theek tho hai na?" Padma was worried to see Riddhima at her doorstep early in the morning, "Armaan kahan hai? Beta kya hua? Kuch bol tho sahi," Padma shook Riddhima. Riddhima just looked at her mom with a blank expression. Padma read the sadness in her daughter's expressive eyes. "Kahin Armaan ko kuch…kahin usey kuch ho tho nahin gaya?"

Riddhima bit her upper lip and burst into tears; she dropped her bag and hugged her mother, "Maa…maa," she sobbed, "main..main…mainey Armaan ka saath hamesha ke liye chhod diya hai."

Padma was stunned, "kya kaha tuney?" she pulled back and looked at her heart broken daughter, "aisa kya hua? Chal andar tho aa ja," Padma shut the door and helped Riddhima with her bag, "yahan baith jaa…main chai banaati hoon," Padma virtually carried her little princess to the couch. Riddhima had not eaten anything since the day before; her body was worn out from hunger and heartache. Only she knew how she had managed to complete this journey from Mumbai to Ramgarh. Now that she was in her mother's arms, she felt a sense of relief; a feeling she would have even when she was an eighty-year old woman.

Over the last 2 years, she had found comfort in someone else's arms also-but that was nothing in comparison to the eternal comfort of a mother's cradle. She was going to be a mother herself now, and she hoped that she would be able to provide the same sense of comfort and love to her child till the last day of her life.

Padma brought a toast and cup of tea for Riddhima. She sat down beside her and stroked her hair, "Ab bataa….Armaan se kisi baat par ladai ho gayi kya? Mia-biwi mein khat pat tho chalti rehti hai….aise sab chhod kar nahin aate."

Riddhima felt a little stronger as she sipped her tea, "maa…kya main nahin jaanti ki choti moti ladai tho har rishtey main hoti hai, par agar rishtey mein aapke charitra (character) aur swaabhimaan (self respect) ka apmaan (insult) ho tho wo rishta toot jaata hai maa," she said in a husky tone.

Riddhima explained what had happened between her and Armaan. Padma was visibly upset, but like a good mother tried to reassure Riddhima, "Beti….aadmi log kabhie kabhie gusse mein kuch bhi bol dete hain…..Armaan tujhse pyaar karta hai, aur main jaanti hoon wo tujhse zaroor maafi maangne aayega….aur waise bhi ab tu maa ban ne waali hai….wo zyaada din tujhsey door nahin reh paayega…..tassali rakh beti."

Riddhima was shocked at her mother's response, "MAA! Yeh aap kya keh rahi hain? Main aise aadmi ke paas kabhie wapas nahin ja sakti…..usney meri pavitrata (purity) aur pyaar ka niraadar (insult) kiya hai …..maa aap bhool kar bhi kabhie wapas jaane ka naam nahin lena….agar aapko main ab bojh lagti hoon, tho main yahan se bhi chali jaaoongi!"

"Nahin mera yeh matlab nahin tha….bhala apni maa ke liye koi beti kabhie bojh hoti hai kya? Jaa ab thoda aaraam kar le….ab ki baar kuch tension mat lena, aur apna theek se khayal rakhna…..aaj Atul bhi aa raha hai….main kuch tayyari kar loon," Padma got up and left for the kitchen. She was also upset with Armaan, but she knew her daughter's happiness lay with Armaan. She hoped that matters would get sorted out in time.


Armaan got to work early after another sleepless and restless night. Anjali slept in the guest bedroom overnight, but he was in no mood to interact with her in the morning and left her sleeping. He wanted to bury himself in work and try to forget the inner turmoil in his heart. His bed, like his home and heart felt so cold and lonely without Riddhima. He missed her smiling face in the morning; the flowerbeds in the garden seemed lonely without her healing touch. He skipped breakfast, as he was not hungry.

Armaan had some time before his first surgery, so he sat down at his desk to complete all the patient charts.

As he finished signing the last chart, he saw an envelope on the desk, "yeh kahan se aaya?"

He unsealed the envelope and started reading the note. It was the note Riddhima had left for him the other day. He could not believe what he had just read. He got up and went to his assistant's office, "Mary….yeh letter kab ka hai?"

"Oh sir…yeh tho aapki wife chhod gayi thi 2-3 din pehle….aap jab surgery mein the na, she waited for an hour or two, but remember you had that major surgery which lasted a few hours?" his assistant reminded him.

Armaan looked at his watch, 'Mary…I have to go somewhere….just delay my first case by an hour….I will be back soon."

Armaan reached Muskaan's office. She was busy with a C-section.

He tapped around for about 45 minutes and was relieved to see Muskaan approaching the office.

"Armaan tum? What are you doing here?" Armaan was surprised at Muskaan's unfriendly tone.

"Muskaan…I know you are busy…but I need to know something," he said

"Bolo?" Muskaan kept writing in her chart without looking up

"I know Riddhima is pregnant…can you tell me, how far along is she? How many weeks is she pregnant?"

Muskaan gave him a sharp look, "I am sorry Armaan! That is confidential patient information, I cannot tell you!"

"Muskaan…Riddhima is my wife, I have a right to know," he yelled.

"Sorry Armaan….Riddhima ki marzi ke bina main tumhey kuch nahin bataa sakti."

"D*** it! I am her husband! You can't hide this information from me."

"Armaan….have you ever fulfilled any duties as a husband? Whenever she needed you the most, you were never with her….whether it was her first miscarriage, her uncle's death, her first recording…..kabhie the tum uske saath?" Muskaan yelled back.

Armaan lowered his eyes, "yeh kya keh rahi ho Muskaan? Mainey usey bahut pyaar kiya hai….we were very happy with each other."

"Yes, she always tried to MAKE YOU HAPPY, did you ever try to make her happy? Uski kaun si ichha poori ki hai tumney? Aur ab jab usey zindagi ki sabse badhi khushi mil rahi thi, tumney uspar itna ghatiya ilzaam lagaa diya….she is too nice…she just slapped you, if Rahul did that to me, I WOULD KILL HIM! Just because you are a hot- shot doctor, does not give the right to you to keep hurting her feelings time and again. Now if you would excuse me, I have patients waiting for me." She got up and left. Armaan was left speechless by Muskaan's remarks.

Armaan got up and left. He was upset with Muskaan's taunt, but also felt a little guilty. There was some truth to what Muskaan had just said, but he shook his head and reasoned, "Riddhima has brainwashed Muskaan!"

He forgot about his surgery and drove to the music studio.

"Mrs Riddhima Malik kahan hain?" he asked the receptionist arrogantly.

"aap kaun?" the receptionist asked

"Main Dr Armaan Malik hoon…she is my wife!"

"wo tho sir kal subah aayi thi…ab shayad yahan kaam nahin karengi….she resigned yesterday."

Armaan was stunned, "What? Is Abhimanyu here?"

"Jee…wo shayad apne office mein hain," she pointed.

Armaan walked into Abhimanyu's office authoritatively, "Where is Riddhima?"

Abhimanyu hung up his call and was surprised to see Armaan barge in, "Hi Armaan. Riddhima? How do I know…she is your wife."

"Bano mat! I heard she has quit this job, so where is she? Is she living with you now?" Armaan grabbed Abhimanyu's collar and pulled him to his feet.

"Hey..hey relax man!" Abhimanyu pulled back, "apni wife ko sambhaal nahin sakte….tho mujh par kyon gussa nikaal rahe ho? Sit down, have a seat."

"Main yahan baithne nahin aaya hoon….I need to know where Riddhima is?" Armaan yelled

"She does not work here any longer….I think she has left Mumbai….lagta hai tujh se pareshaan ho gayi thi…aisa kya kiya tuney? Bechari itni sweet girl hai." Abhimanyu smiled slyly.

"Don't talk like that about her! You have ruined my life!" Armaan grabbed Abhimanyu's collar again

"Hey…I just had some fun…you know me Armaan…I am never serious about women….you can have her back." Abhimanyu mocked at him

Armaan punched Abhimanyu in his face and shoved him away. He clenched his jaws and left.

Abhimanyu gathered himself and caressed his face where Armaan had punched him, "it is too late Armaan….she will never go back to you," he laughed.

Armaan dialed Padma's number, "Hello maa! Main Armaan bol raha hoon….kya Riddhima Ramgarh mein hai? …..please ek baar baat karni hai us se…..kya wo baat nahin karna chaahti? Sirf ek cheez poonchni hai…please maa…." Padma hung up on him.

"Tho wo Ramgarh mein hai….lekin kab gayi? Kal raat ko tho wo music launch party mein thi….raat ko akeli drive karke gayi is haalat mein? Ya wo party mein gayi hi nahin? Oh God…..I need to talk to her," he jumped into his car and in his typical manner drove to Ramgarh like a maniac. He was confident that Riddhima would not be able to resist him once he was face to face with her. He would then convince her to come back with him; after all they still loved each other. But first, he needed some answers- how many weeks pregnant was she? Did she actually sleep with Abhimanyu? Did she go for the music launch party last night?

His patients were left high and dry that day, as the famous Dr Armaan Malik forgot about them completely. Dilip Modi was furious at Armaan's unprofessional behavior.

Armaan reached Ramgarh by afternoon.

"Beta tum yahan?" Gayati was not that surprised to see Armaan; that was so typical of him to come chasing after Riddhima.

"Maa…Riddhima kahan hai?"

"oopar hai, main bulati hoon…tum yahin thehro," Padma said

"main chalaa jaata hoon," Armaan started climbing the stairs, but heard a booming voice from above, "KOI ZAROORAT NAHIN HAI OOPAR AANE KI!" Armaan looked up and saw Atul.

Atul walked down and came face to face with Armaan, "Get out Armaan! Riddhima does not want to meet you."

"Atul…wo meri wife hai, mujhey poora haq hai use milne ka!" Armaan retorted

"Tho mujhey bhi uske badhe bhai hone ke naate haq hai ki usey tum jaise aadmi se protect karoon!" Atul said

"Protect? What the h***?" Armaan was furious and tried to push his way through the stairs.

"Armaan! Yahan se chale jao, warna main domestic abuse ke ilzaam mein tumhey police se arrest karwa doonga…..I am sure the famous and respected Dr Malik would not like that on his resume!" Atul taunted him.

"Atul…please mujhey ek baar Riddhima se milne do….phir main chalaa jaoonga…I promise I will not hurt her….please Atul." Armaan pleaded, as the thought of being behind bars was not very pleasant. In these matters, the man was always guilty unless proven otherwise.

"Jao…try kar lo," Atul let Armaan go upstairs.

As soon as Armaan reached Riddhima's room, he saw her slam the door on his face and heard her bolt it from inside.

"Riddhima…please I need to talk to you….please jaan…aisa mat karo…I need you…" he begged and pleaded with her, but she did not open the door. He wanted to bang and break the door, but resisted the temptation, as Atul was standing right behind him. Riddhima just stood with her back leaning against the door, suppressing her tears as she heard the familiar apologies from Armaan. She was not going to give in; she would not melt again-no matter how hard he tried.

Armaan felt humiliated and left without saying a word. He drove back with a sad heart.

It was night by the time he got back. His phone had several messages from his nurses and staff regarding his scheduled surgeries. He turned the phone off and arrived home. Anjali was waiting for him in the living room, "kahan chale gaye the Armaan….clinic se kitne phone aaye the…how could you leave your patients? You know how much money you lost today? They had Yuvraaj perform all your surgeries….kya ho gaya hai tumhey?"

"Anjali..please leave me alone! I don't want to talk to you right now!" Armaan burst out

"Armaan! How can you talk to me like that? I am your friend and a guest, not your wife!" Anjali said angrily

"Exactly! So, don't try to nag me like a wife!" Armaan walked to his room in rage and bolted his door, and said to himself, "Riddhima never nagged me like a wife…she did whatever I said….she never questioned me about anything."

Armaan went to the balcony and stood there watching the moonlit backyard. His thoughts kept wandering to what had happened earlier in the day. He reflected upon what Muskaan and Atul had said to him…kya main sach much itna bura hoon? Riddhima ne bhi mujhse baat nahin ki….kya maine sach much uska itna dil dukhaya hai? Par usne bhi tho mujhey chot pahunchaayee hai…..Abhimanyu ke saath na jaane kya kya kiya hai?….lekin kya proof hai mere paas ki Riddhima bewafa hai? Kahin main over react tho nahin kar raha?

Armaan looked at the flowers and trees in the backyard. They looked so different in the moon light-so serene and pure….why do they remind me of Riddhima? He remembered how just a few days ago he had grabbed her in the backyard and carried her to the shower after smearing her with his shaving cream. A faint smile fell on his face, as he started recalling all the pleasant memories with Riddhima.

Song in background as Armaan reminisces his life with Riddhima…

dard Mein Bhi Yeh Lab Muskura Jaate Hai
Beete Lamhein Hamein Jab Bhi Yaad Aate Hai
Beete Lamhein

Chand Lamhaaat Ke Waaste Hi Sahi
Muskuraakar Mili Thi Mujhe Jindagi
Teri Aaghosh Mein Din The Mere Kate
Teri Baahon Mein Thi Meri Raate Kati
Aaj Bhi Jab Woh Pal Mujhko Yaad Aate Hai
Dil Se Saare Gamon Ko Bhula Jaate Hai
dard Mein Bhi Yeh Lab Muskura Jaate Hai
Beete Lamhein Hamein Jab Bhi Yaad Aate Hai
Beete Lamhein……….

He remembered his childhood and adolescent years without his parents; how his sister and brother in law had helped him over the years. How he met Riddhima, the love of his life and fell madly in love with her….how they moved to Mumbai….how he became a successful plastic surgeon….his dreams had all come true….but now they were slipping away….kiski galti hai? Kaun doshi hai? Main, Riddhima…ya koi aur? He felt something wet splashing on his face….yeh baarish hai, ya mere aansoo?

mere Kaandhe Pe Sir Ko Jhukaana Tera
Mere Sine Mein Khud Ko Chhupaana Tera
Aake Meri Panaahon Mein Shaamo Sehar
Kaanch Ki Tarah Woh Toot Jaana Tera
Aaj Bhi Jab Woh Manjar Nazar Aate Hai
Dil Ki Viraaniyo Ko Mita Jaate Hai
(dard Mein Bhi Yeh Lab Muskura Jaate Hai
Beete Lamhein Hamein Jab Bhi Yaad Aate Hai
Dard Mein…. Beete Lamhein .................


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