Tuesday, 15 June 2021

part 4 : Forbidden Love


Armaan woke up with a sense of contentment. He turned on his side to look at his beautiful wife sleeping next to him. He slowly moved close to Nikita to kiss her on the forehead. At the contact, she opened her eyes and smiled. "Good morning husband.."

"Good morning my gorgeous wife. I missed you."

"mmm..I missed you too..why did it take soo long for you to come home," she pouted, snuggling closer to him.

"well..You see..there was this really hot girl at the meeting that i just couldn't tear myself away from her and.."

"ARMAAN!!!!!!!" she hit him on his chest pulling away from him. He laughed not letting her move away and embracing her tight.



"Papa!! Papa!!! ur home!!!!!!" Sunny came running into the room and jumped on the bed excitedly. Armaan moved one arm from Nikita to hug Sunny to his chest. 'His family' he smiled thinking. He adored them to bits. They spent the rest of the morning in bed sharing the details of the passed week. Sunny told his dad all about his new best friend Riddhi and how much he loved her. And of course his desire to marry her. Armaan had burst out laughing at this, joined by Nikita. And well Sunny, he was very perplexed as to why such a serious thing always brought laughter to the ones around him. Ahh..grownups..they never get it. grrr...

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Several weeks had passed since Armaan's return. Riddhima had now adjusted to a routine living with the Maliks. Armaan and Nikita are always gone by the time she gets up. She breakfasts with Sunny and Sunita in the morning, occasionally joined by Atul or Anjali, unless they too have left with Armaan. Then of course the traditional hours at work, though depending on the workload, she sometimes stays till later. Her parents had dropped off the rest of her things so now there is no turning back. After work, she rushes home to play with little Sunny, who has by then returned from school. The one thing that she has noticed living at the Malik Mansion these past weeks is that Armaan and Nikita are very very busy. They adored Sunny and spent every possible moment with him, but since their busy lives don't allow many periods of leisure, Sunny is set to spend many lonely moments at the house. Sunny of course doesn't realize that fact as he had not experienced it any other way. But Riddhima, who had a homemaker for a mother knew the importance of having a parent around 24/7. Though, she never thought ill of sunny's parents for this fact. She knew about their lives and also their love for sunny, but she still spent as much time as possible with him. And Riddhima had seen grateful thanks in Nikita's eyes whenever Sunny describes what he and Riddhima had been upto. But dinner was the time where everyone got together. And she had a lovely time each night spending time with everyone. Maliks' love and devotion to each other is certainly evident during dinner. Sunita had kept a tight rein in getting everyone together for dinner. She always says dinner time is family time.

Maybe spending all this time with the Maliks had eased her into a comfortable relationship with Armaan as well. She was able to converse with him, laugh with him and behave normally around him and it had made her feel really good about herself. She wanted to thank god for that but she had forced herself to remember how God had broken her faith in him. So she didn't. But still she was happy that everything is normal with Armaan. And that is why she found herself right now being in the family room with him. Armaan working on some work files and she and Sunny watching cartoons. It was a saturday afternoon. Atul and Anjali had taken the day off to be with each other while Sunita had gone to visit some friends. Nikita had some last minute surgeries but is to return soon. Armaan had wanted to play with Sunny but Sunny had put his foot down. This is the time when his favourite cartoon Tom and Jerry came on TV and he is not willing to compromise on that! Armaan had laughed ruffling his hair saying how he has become stubborn just like his father.

"Riddhi, did u see that!!!!..hahahahahaha...Tom got flattened!!!..hahahahah" Sunny said whooping in delight. He was a devout believer in  besting the evil with good and whenever that happened, it was cause for him to be excited.

"ya!!..and did u see his face just before that cupboard fell on him..hahahha" Riddhima joined to the laughter.

Armaan looked up at the delight shared by his son and Riddhima. "I personally don't think its fair." Riddhima and Sunny looked at him puzzled. "I mean, Tom can never win. Whatever he does, no matter how much he tries, he can never get Jerry. It's sending the wrong messege to kids."

"Papa, what do you mean? Tom's the bad guy. Of course he can't win!" Sunny tried logic with his father.

"And what do you mean the wrong messege? Good winning over evil is wrong?" Riddhima added her two-cents.

"No..what i mean is..we are trying to teach kids that if you want something. You must work at it. Try and try again if you fail because trying is the only thing that will make you successful in reaching your goal. But here they show that Tom cannot be successful no matter how much they try," Armaan added his reverse logic with a smile making Riddhima roll her eyes.

"Sunny beta, All the very best for you having Armaan as your father, " she teases while Armaan grins. Sunny joins in with giggles not really understanding her sarcasm.

"Hey wait till you have kids. Then we'll see how your logic works!" Armaan says and just then the phone rings. Armaan crossing over to where the phone is never saw the grimace that crossed over Riddhima's face at the mention of her having kids.

"Hey honey. When are you reaching? And why are you talking on the phone while driving??" Armaan questioned with a frown. Riddhima saw the worry on his face that cleared at Nikita's answer.

"oh..hands free..of course..sorry.You know na..im obsessed when it comes to you and sunny's safety." Armaan says releasing a deep breath. "So whereabouts are you? How long will it take?..oh ok..just reaching the crossing (it was a railway crossing that was at the major turn to the Malik mansion)..oh ok..nikki, nikki!!..why are you shouting... helloo..hellooo..NIKKI!!!!!!!" Armaan dropped the phone on the floor running towards the door looking scared.

Riddhima shouted at him.."Armaan what's wrong?" But Armaan didn't hear her. He just continued out the door running. Riddhima quickly called the resident cook to look after Sunny giving him instructions to contact Sunita and Atul and ran after Armaan.
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Riddhima ran upto the crossing to see a huge crowd surrounding something. They were all shouting for police and ambulance and other help. With a feeling of dread, Riddhima shouldered her way to the front of the crowd only to stand shell-shocked. In front of her eyes was a scene that she would never forget. Armaan trying to get a bloodied Nikita out of the car which had smashed into the railway gates and half turned on side. Armaan was crying and shouting to awaken Nikita and trying to drag her out of the seat belt which prevented her from moving. He couldn't reach the  seat belt as Nikita was sprawled over the dahboard. and also it seemed as if her feet had been stuck on something which was not letting her move even a bit. Riddhima could see that Armaan was angry and kept hitting the car when all his efforts went in vain. But with an absent-minded concentration, he tried again. Again and again. He tried to take his wife out of the car. And he wouldn't let anyone else touch his precious wife. Hugging her, getting angry and yelling at everyone who was trying to help him, he was inconsolable. Looking at what is going on, Riddhima could only cry. She tried to reach Armaan but he had only pushed her away harshly. Then the police reached along with the ambulance.

The police forcibly dragged Armaan away from the car while Armaan yelled, "NO!!! lemme see her. I want to be with her. Let me go! Let me GOO!!!!!!" Riddhima rushed to where the two policemen were holding Armaan to help handle him while the paramedics tried to get Nikita out of the car.

"Riddhima, tell them to let me go! Tell them that Nikki needs me! She always wakes up when I am near her! Riddhima please!!!" The pleading anguish in Armaan's voice was heartbreaking. Riddhima could not stop the tears falling no matter how hard she tried. She hugged Armaan to stop him from running towards the car. The paramedics had been successful in getting Nikita out of the car and laid her down on the stretcher. Armaan bolted from her arms and cops' hold and ran to the stretcher. Riddhima ran after him.

"Nikki..please darling..open your eyes..its me..your ammy. Please darling.. please.. Sunny..Sunny is waiting for you at home.. Come nikki. Get up! We have to go home!! Nikki..GET UP!!!!" he pleaded caressing Nikita's face.

"Sir, please step away! We need to take her to the hospital. She is very critical" the paramedic said fed up with Armaan who wasn't letting them move Nikita's stretcher.

"Armaan..Armaan please. Let them take her. You want her to come home right. Let them take her so they can make her well. Armaan please..listen to me," Riddhima begged as if she would to a child.
"They can make her well right? Because I can't hear her breathing Riddhima. I don't feel her breathing!" Armaan  asked with a broken voice after putting his head on Nikita's chest.

"yes Armaan. They will cure her. Now let them take her." Riddhima said trying drag Armaan away from Nikita's stretcher.

"I want to go too. I want to go with my wife. We always do things together. I WANT TO GO WITH HER!!!!" Armaan  was commanding.

Looking at the faces of paramedics, Riddhima tried to change Armaan's mind. "Armaan.. Armaan we'll go in the car. We'll go behind the ambulance."

"NO! I want to go with her!" he was adamant.

"It's ok ma'am. He can ride in the back with her," the paramedic decided looking at the desperate state of Armaan knowing that he had no other choice. They loaded the stretcher in while Armaan climbed in the back behind the stretcher. As the ambulance doors closed, Riddhima could see that he went and sat down next to the stretcher holding Nikita's hand.

"Ma'am," paramedic addressed Riddhima with a grave face, " I am sorry to say that the lady is no more. I just said critical to ease her husband. But really We are just taking her body to the hospital. There is nothing that could be done. But please if you could come to the hospital to take care of him. We'd really appreciate it."

"yea I'll come to the hospital," Riddhima said wiping her tears. They had refused to stop falling. But at this moment, Armaan needed her strength, not her tears. And Sunny..oh gosh!..and Sunita and Atul..how could she tell them what had happened! How could she tell them that the most beloved person in the Malik Mansion is no more! This brought a fresh round of tears. But she controlled herself. "umm..No one at home knows what happened.. I'll tell everyone and come," she promised with a broken voice and watched as the ambulance drove away.

She took a last look around her, as if carving the accident spot in her mind. She saw that the crowd had scattered away now. Only a few remained who were giving statements to the police. She looked at the crashed car, hating that vehicle more than anything in the world. The truth was, she had come to love Nikita like a sister. Now she felt as if a significant part of her had been taken away from her. Feeling empty inside and with a renewed hatred at God, she stepped towards home to share the most terrible truth of life with her loved ones.

Hiranya

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