Wednesday, 28 February 2018

part 2 : Belonging (AR Mini ff)

She chewed the top of the pencil vigorously as her mother had a one sided conversation with her. In the past 30 minutes that she had been on the phone she had only been able to get in 2 sentences. She was excited to tell her mom about her meeting with Gayatri but her mom could have cared less instead she went off about how Rahul had come over with flowers and chocolates to cheer her up. The next 20 minutes had only and only been about Rahul "Rahul this and Rahul that" Riddhima swore under her breath as her mother mentioned his name for the umpteenth time.

"Armaan is not there is he?" After what seemed like ages Padma had cited someone other than Rahul, Riddhima sat up immediately at the mention of is name; yes even the slight mention of his name was enough to put her senses on high alert.

"No Mom.."

"Good then catch the first train back tomorrow, Rahul was telling me that he was missing you like crazy"  Riddhima felt the anger rise to her ears, why couldn't her mother let her finish what she was going to say and why the hell is she bringing up Rahul again.

"Mom, if you would have just let me finish I was going to tell you that Armaan is coming back tomorrow, hence my darling mother I will not, and I repeat I will not be returning tomorrow. And will you please stop bringing up Rahul!" She yelled the last bit hoping her mother would get the point and shut up about Rahul, one more mention of that name, she knew she would puke.


"I am sorry Ma, but please can you just leave me alone for a while. Look Armaan is coming tomorrow and I really don't know what to expect and I have promised you I would return as soon as I?please Ma, try to understand."

"I am sorry beta, I?"

"It's ok Ma why don't you go to bed now and I will do the same, and Ma until I am here, please don't call. I will call you if I need anything. I love you Ma, Goodnight"

As she lay in bed she couldn't help but think of him. It had been 15 years and she had no idea how the man looked, yet she didn't know why she felt nervous and shy at the same time. On one side she was worried about their meeting and on the other she was excited just as much; if not more. She didn't know what to expect, what to say, how to greet him. She didn't even know what she would do when she finally came face to face with the only man she ever loved. Turning to her side she smiled feeling the butterflies in her stomach, she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep tonight; even if the sleeping fairy herself would come to sprinkle her magical dust, nothing would work on her tonight.

"Parnaam Kaka"

The old man smiled despite the stinging tears as he felt the boy touch his feet in respect. "Armaan" he whispered, happiness clearly visible in his eyes.

Armaan, stood up and quickly engulfed the old man in a tight embrace. Naren Kaka had been with them since before he was born and for Armaan the man held more respect than his own father. Kaka had stood by them through thick and thin, refusing to leave them even after his dad had expired. Though Kaka had never married, he had siblings who were more than willing to take him in but Kaka had refused to leave Armaan and his mom. It was because of Kaka that Armaan had been able to move from this town without worrying about Gayatri. He owed his life to this man and he had vowed that he would take care of him like a son. Now the time to make that happened had come. He had come back so he could take his mom and Kaka with him to Mumbai forever.

Armaan's expressions sobered as he saw the town passing by, it was a place that he could never come to hate; no matter how hard he tried. He had been born and brought up here; he had met her and fallen in love here; how he could possibly hate this place. Smiling now he stepped out of the car to stare at his mother who stood at the threshold holding a pooja ki thaali. He could already make out the tears and couldn't help but chuckle. It was a norm with his mom, she would cry when he came and cry when he would leave.

"Ma, can you please stop crying" he wiped her tears as she trailed his face and body, trying to convince herself that he was actually here.

"They are tears of happiness beta, it's hard to stop them from flowing" she sobbed now as he held on to her, trying his best to sooth her.

"Oh really what about when I leave, are those tears of happiness too?" he chuckled as Gayatri hit him lightly on his shoulder. It was good to be with her again, he really missed her. His mother had been the only one who was supportive and sympathetic towards him, she was always the one who tried to control his father when he punished him, she was always the one who would come pacify him, even when he would yell at her and push her away. Yes, it was good to be with his mother again. "I love you Ma" though it had barely been audible he knew his mother heard it when she kissed his forehead.

"That's enough Ma, I am full." He whined like a smile child as Gayatri tried to feed him more roti. Lightly shoving her hand which had been feeding him, he picked up the jug to pour himself more water.

"What do you mean you are full, I swear you youngsters living in the city hardly eat a thing, even that Riddhima barely eats?"

His hand stopped in mid-air as the name rung in to his ears. He looked up to see his mother who looked like she had just swallowed a karela.

Gayatri cursed and cursed her wretched tongue for having slipped Riddhima's name out. She had wanted to tell him about her, but not in this way.

"Riddhima?" The name brought back a flood of memories as well as questions.

"Uh actually Armaan?" before Gayatri could continue and perhaps cover up for her mistake of revealing her name, Naren Kaka walked in looking jovial as ever.

"You remember Riddhima Armaan beta, she used to be our neighbor, you and her were always at it with each other, yet you were inseparable. They had moved away 15 years ago remember? Well, the girl came back yesterday and had even come to see your mom. My what a beauty she has turned out to be. Isn't that so bibi ji?"

"Uh, yea yea, she is very beautiful, very beautiful indeed" Gayatri fumbled and felt uncomfortable with the way the news of Riddhima's return had been revealed to Armaan. It only made her feel worse when Armaan abruptly walked out of the room and eventually out of the house.

"Riddhima? Riddhima?"

"In here Mausie" Riddhima looked at her bed hopelessly. She had emptied both of her suitcases and could not find one decent outfit. Armaan was to be arriving today and she was eager to meet him. The sooner she spoke to him, the soon her mind would relax.

"Hey bhagwan, Riddhima what is this? Are you planning of opening a shop?" Seema looked around the room disbelievingly; the room was a mess, especially the bed which had piles of clothes; western and Indian mixed.

"Mausie, please can you help me, I have absolutely nothing to wear!" Riddhima pouted childishly as Seema chuckled.

"Wait here a moment I will be right back, and don't throw any more clothes around!"

Plopping herself on the bed Riddhima looked on irritably waiting for her Mausie to return, who did just as quickly as she had left.

"Here why don't you try this"

She stared at the box Seema had just handed her, along with some accessories

"What is this Mausie?"

"I had bought that for you when Padma had told me about your arrival; I thought I would give it to you on the day you were heading back. In our culture we don't send the daughters away empty handed, hence I had gotten this suit and some accessories for you. I don't know if you'll like it."

Riddhima opened the box to find a white georgette churidaar. The suit was elegant yet simple with light sequins embedded in the suit and duppatta. The jewelry consisted of a pair of white gold Jhumkas along with some matching choodiyaan. Riddhima smiled at her Mausie and threw her arms around her neck with appreciation. It was perfect!

"By the way beta, I didn't know if you had heard that Armaan is back!"

Riddhima; who had been busy playing with the duppatta by now stopped dead in her tracks, turning around she looked questioningly at her mausie. No she hadn't heard, and if he had been here since morning then why didn't he come to see her. Obviously Gayatri would have told him about their meeting. 

"He arrived early this morning, Sukanya; their house help was telling me that he is planning to leave with Gayatri with in a day or two, so.."  Seema saw the lost look on Riddhima's face and decided it was better if she stopped talking. Walking over to where the girl stood, Seema lightly caressed the girl's face. "Acha, listen your Mausaji and I are going to a jagrata tonight at the Jhanak's if you are in the mood you can come later on if you want" It was a lame attempt but it brought some movement into Riddhima. Seema was beginning to worry when Riddhima had not reacted to the news.

"Thank you Mausie, for everything!"

"Pagal" Seema lightly slapped Riddhima's cheek and walked out smiling

Armaan sat staring aimlessly at the lake, he didn't know why he had so rudely left. The mention of her name usually did something to him, but knowing the fact that she was actually here, in the same town as him after 15 years, had emotionally taken him to a new level. He didn't know what to think, what to do. Why was she here? That too now; just when he was about to break all ties with this town and its people; she had come back.

Beautiful; Kaka had mentioned that she was beautiful. He wasn't the least bit surprised; Riddhima was always beautiful, even as a child. He remembered the numerous fights he had with the boys in his class when they would say something about her. He smiled remembering her innocent face and those large green eyes. He always loved her eyes, they were gorgeous and her long lashes were like the icing on the cake.

He felt a sudden urge to see her, especially now when she was so near. NO! NO! NO! His mind repeated incessantly. He would not see her. It was SHE who left him! It was SHE who never wrote to him or kept any kind of contact with him. Why would he see her now? He had promised himself that he would forget her, he hated her! He hated her for breaking his heart, for never coming back for never keeping in touch. In these 15 years she had not even written him one letter; she knew where he lived. She chose not to keep in touch, she chose to forget him then why should he go running to see her. He would forget her and move on, enough was enough. He came to this town to get his mom and Naren kaka, he would speak to them today about leaving ASAP. He did not want to risk having to come across Riddhima Gupta.

Getting up to leave he looked up at the grey sky as a tiny drop of water hit his face. It looked like a storm was fast on its way.

Surprisingly, Riddhima mused it didn't feel awkward to be walking around in his home. Gayatri had gone to the jagrata and much to her chagrin Armaan was not at home. The house help Sukanya having recognized her had let her in and told her she could stay as long as she wants. Riddhima knew it was rude but just couldn't help but wander around the house. She smiled as she saw the rain starting to fall, she had this sudden urge to just run out and play in the puddles just like she had done as a child, but this was no age to be playing in the rain. Rahul would be mortified if he found out, "Think of the germs Riddhima" he would say.

"Sukanya, where is ma?"

"Bibi ji has gone to the jagrata sir, she won't be back till tomorrow morning. I am headed there myself, they have invited the whole town sir, you can come if you like."

Armaan frowned and nodded his head. There goes his chance to talk to his mom and there was no way he would go to the Jagrata, if the whole town was invited then there was a high chance that Riddhima would be there too.

His thoughts were broken as he heard the clicking of heels. It seemed as if someone was in their house. Walking towards the garden he saw a girl dressed in white. She was playing with the rain drops and trying hard not to get wet. He stared at her in anger until her laughter shook him. Before she turned around, before she uttered a word; He knew it was HER!


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