Friday, 10 November 2017

PART 46:Ehsaas

After another sleepless night, Armaan went back to work the next day. Dr Modi summoned him to his office, "Armaan! I am very disappointed in you….I did not expect you to be so irresponsible.....jaante ho kal Malaysia ki top film actress ki surgery thi? You stood up on her? Wo tho shukr hai ki Dr Banarjee and Yuvraaj came to the rescue…how can you do that? If you have any personal problems, leave them at home! You should be grateful to us that we promoted you at such a young age; your position is guaranteed as long as you do your job and bring business to our center… are not the only surgeon in town…bahut mil jaayenge….now you may leave and consider this your last warning!"

Armaan was devastated; this was the first time in his life that he was reprimanded at work. His life was falling apart- his wife had left him and now his boss was threatening to fire him!

"Kya ek insaan ko itni si galti karne ka bhi haq nahin hai? Maine is center ke liye kitna kaam kiya hai, kitna business laaya hoon yahan ke liye….kitni raatein apni biwi se door raha…and they can't even cut me a little slack?" Armaan realized that he was not indispensable; all this talk about him being the best of the best and the next star in the world of surgery…was it all hogwash? Did they really mean it?

Armaan decided to focus his energies back into his work and try to move on in life.

That evening Anjali insisted that Armaan accompany her to one of the society parties. Armaan thought that a change might do him good. The party was held by one of the rich producers of Bollywood. Anjali made a grand entry into the party arm in arm with her rich doctor companion. All her Bollywood friends commented on how good they looked together. Armaan was not too thrilled about being seen as Anjali's 'significant other'. He decided to keep his distance and made small talk with other people. He was very bored throughout the party; the hovering actresses did not excite him any more. He felt smothered in the glamorous, smoke filled, alcohol infused environment.

He went out to get some fresh air. He stood alone with a drink and felt so alone. Riddhima had left him, his best friend Muskaan was upset with him, his boss was upset with him….and Anjali, who claimed to be his friend was least concerned about his sorrow….she was worried that he had lost so much money yesterday, as he did not operate…..she seemed very cheerful and happy at the party…..did she even notice once that he was not enjoying the party? Kya main bhi Riddhima ke saath aisa hi nahin karta tha? Main usey kitni parties mein le jaata tha, wo bahut bore hoti thi, par main us par dhyaan bhi nahin deta tha…..may be I am responsible for Riddhima drifting away from me…..maine shayad usey kabhie samjha nahin…..hamesha apni zarooratein poori karta raha….kabhie uske baare mein socha hi nahin….shayad Muskaan theek kehti hai….

He could not take it any longer. He threw his glass of whisky on the lawn and was ready to go back home. Suddenly, he heard a familiar voice. He went inside and saw the DJ playing a song by the latest sensation, "Riddhima Malik" from her new album:

"Gehra gehra" from "life mein kabhie kabhie"

dekho jo gaur se
chehre ke peeeche bhi , chehra hai
socha to jo gaur se
parde ke peeche bhi parda hai
gehra, gehra, razz gehra bada
kiske dil mein hai kya, kise pata
o o o o o o.......
dekho jo gaur se
chehre ke peeeche bhi chehra hai
socha to jo gaur se
parde ke peeche bhi ... parda hai
gehra, gehra, razz gehra bada
kiske dil mein hai kya, kise pata
o o o o o o......

dooba koi soch mein, koi dhan daulta se yahan magroor hai
koi fasha chal mein, koi to shauhraat se yahan mashoor hai
juda sab ki manzilen, juda hai raahein
juda sab ki chahat, hai juda
(gehra gehra razz gehra bada
kiske dil mein hai kya kise pata
o o o o o o......

tuta nasha pyaar ka, jhilmil shama jo jal rahi benoor hai
jhootha yakin yaar ka, logo zamaane ka yehi dastur hai
zara se hai beasar dilko ki aahein, wafa mein bhi to hai jaba??
(gehra, gehra, razz gehra bada
kiske dil mein hai kya, kise pata
o o o o o o......

That song brought tears in his eyes. That song was so appropriate….har chehre ke peeche ek doosra chehra chupa hai…..har parde ke peeche ek parda chupa hai……

He went to Anjali, "Main ghar jaa raha hoon."

"Ok…Bye! I will get a ride later honey!" Anjali waved bye to him. Armaan cringed at the sound of "honey." He did not say anything and walked out to leave.

The next day, Armaan was furious at Anjali when he saw the papers, "yeh kya hai Anjali!" The page 3 of all the papers had Anjali's picture with Armaan: "Bollywood superstar's latest love- Dr Armaan Malik, plastic surgeon, soon to be divorced etc etc….." the article read.

"C'mon Armaan! You know how these journalists are? They like to make news and sensation sells!" Anjali pooh-poohed him while filing her nails.

"Tho kya Abhimanyu aur Riddhima ke articles bhi aise hi likhey gaye the?" he asked angrily

Anjali fumbled and stopped filing her nails, "well..well Dr Malik….there is no smoke without fire….isn't it? Aakhir hum aur tum mein bhi tho kuch kuch hai na?" she drawled.

"Listen Anjali! There is neither any smoke nor fire between us! You are just a friend….I am just helping you out because you helped me….so tell your journalist friends not to publish fake articles." He walked away, leaving a fuming Anjali. Her plan to trap Armaan had reached a plateau at this point; she had not been able to penetrate any further into his life. In fact, since his separation from Riddhima, he had become particularly unpleasant and irritable.

A few weeks went by; Armaan just buried himself in work. He tried calling Riddhima several times, but she never answered his calls. Even Padma refused to call Riddhima on the home line. Muskaan warned Armaan to stop harassing Riddhima, as it could affect her pregnancy, "she does not need any more stress in her life!"

Anjali's frustration level rose with every passing day.

One day, Armaan received a statement from the "Sukoon music studio" It was a check stub for Riddhima's earnings from her first album. The amount of 1 lakh rupees had been directly transferred to their joint account in Mumbai. Armaan called the bank and immediately wired the 1 lakh to the Ramgarh address. He was happy for Riddhima; at least she would have some source of income in Ramgarh. Riddhima had resumed teaching as an English teacher in her old school and had also started private music lessons at her home. Her first album had made her in instant star, and people came from neighboring towns to learn music from her.

Riddhima had resolved to keep her past aside and focus on her pregnancy and health at this point. She made sure she got enough rest, ate healthy meals, went out on walks with Tamanna and Padma. She spoke very little though…it was almost like she had become mute. Padma tried to cheer her up by recalling her childhood memories, but Riddhima just expressed a faint smile each time. She went to Mumbai regularly for her check ups with Muskaan. They still were the best of friends and never discussed Armaan when they were together.

A few days later, Armaan was going over his bank statement after work, to make sure that Riddhima's money had been transferred from their account. As he was looking over the statement, he saw a large withdrawl- 20 lakhs to a bank in Switzerland!

"20 lakhs? Yeh tho maine Anjali ko diye the….tax bharne ke liye….tho yeh Swiss bank mein kaise transfer ho gaye?" Armaan got up from his desk immediately and left for home.

He looked for Anjali everywhere, but she was not there. Finally, he found her in his bedroom, emptying his closet.

"What are you doing Anjali?" Armaan asked

"Oh…Armaan…tum aa gaye? You know, as a good friend I thought I need to help you move forward in life, so I decided to get rid of all Riddhima's clothes and belongings…that way you will not be constantly reminded of her and not be bound by your past!" she smiled.

Armaan snatched Riddhima's saris from Anjali's hand, "don't you dare touch Riddhima's things! Riddhima is still my wife and will always be! Wo yahan nahin hai tho iska matlab yeh nahin hai ki wo mere dil mein nahin hai…..just leave Anjali!"

"Armaan! How dare you talk to me like that? You are still hopeful that woman will come back? She betrayed you and your trust….kisi aur ke bacche ki maa ban ne waali hai, aur tum abhi bhi uski aas lagaaye baithe ho?" Anjali flung the hangers on the floor.

"I don't care wo baccha kiska hai! Lekin wo patni sirf meri hai….aur main aakhri saans tak uska intezaar karoonga…..and I need to talk to you about something important…come with me," he pulled Anjali away from his closet and showed her the bank statement, "yeh Swiss bank account kiska hai?"

"What are you talking about? Leave me alone Armaan…..tumhey kya matlab kiska hai? You just gave me the money to help me…..ab main usey jahan deposit karoon wo meri marzi hai!"

"But why did you lie to me?" Armaan asked

"A..Armaan….actually the IT people forgave my tax as I approached a politician….so I deposited it safely…don't worry you will get a good return on this investement…..I did for you…I wanted to surprise you on your birthday….tumney tho mera plan kharaab kar diya!" Anjali lied.

Somehow, Armaan did not believe her anymore. He just clenched his teeth and put the statement away, "You may go now!" His mind was now planning to investigate a few more things before he threw her out of his life!


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