Thursday, 17 June 2021

part 6 : Forbidden Love

"Riddhi, papa doesn't like me anymore?" Sunny asked with tears battling to come out of his eyes. His wavering voice struck a deep cord in her heart. He had asked this question a hundred times before.

"No baby.You know thats not true. Your papa loves you a lot." Riddhima tried to console him.

"Then why doesn't he talk to me anymore. He doesn't even come to tuck me into bed. And I don't even ge to see him anymore" he continued. And the eyes lost the battle as tears came jumping out.

"Oh my poor baby," Riddhima hugged him tight. They were at the dining table with Riddhima trying to feed him. Sunita had retired early and Atul and Anjali had not returned from work. Armaan, as usual, was locked up in his bedroom with alcohol in his hands. It has been a month since Nikita's death and nothing has changed in Armaan's behaviour. He still shut everyone out of his life and even worse, became a drunkard. The rest of them had moved on as much as they could, but Armaan is still stuck on his past.



"Sunny beta. Your papa is really sad that your momma left you guys. That's why he isnt talking to anyone. But when he's happy again, he'll come and play with you"

"But Riddhi, you said that momma is with me always. Because she's an angel. Doesn't papa know that?" his voice quivered.

"I'm sure he does baby. But its still taking him time to think of her as an angel with God" Riddhima answered, very angry at Armaan. She knew that he was mourning his wife's death. But that did not mean he should forget his son in his grief. Events such as these, usually brought families together. But Nikita's death had left every bond broken. A once thriving Malik Mansion had become a souless broken building.

"But Riddhi, why is it taking so long? I think he doesn't know that she's an angel. If he did, he wouldn't be sad anymore. Please Riddhi, could you go and tell him that momma is an angel. And that I miss him, " Sunny requested looking down at the last sentence. Poor baby. He feels as if missing his father is a crime. Armaan Malik had a lot to answer for, Riddhima thought in rage. Maybe she should go and talk to him. Everyone in the house had tried and failed. Riddhima had wanted to too. But she had been afraid that she might not be able to look at him in this state. Seeing him so heartbroken, broke her heart too. But this was getting out of hand. She can't let Sunny lose both his parents. She loved him like her own and she could not see the poor child so hurt.

"Ok..i'll tell your papa. Now you have to stop crying and finish eating. ok?" Riddhima promised wiping his tears and feeding him the rest of his dinner.

Atul and Anjali returned home just when Sunny finished his dinner. By the time Riddhima had taken Sunny to get washed up and tucked him into bed, Anjali and Atul had freshened up and came downstairs for dinner. Riddhima joined them.

"Di, I'm really worried about Sunny. He's missing Armaan a lot," Riddhima shared her concern.

"I know Ridz. I can see it in his face. Poor baby. But what can we do? Armaan just isn't ready to come out of that room. How many times have we tried" Anjali said.

"But phir bhi Di..can't we try again? He can't stay locked up in his bedroom forever."

"She's right Anji. Armaan needs to become normal again. This family needs him. so does the business. I can't handle both the fashion house here and the one we're opening in Delhi. And it WAS his idea to expand into Delhi, " Atul agreed.

"Ok fine. But what are we going to do? Everyone has tried to talk to him," Anji reminded.

"Let me do it this time di," Riddhima volunteered. "Sunny wanted me to talk to his father and well, Im the only one who hasn't tried." They all agreed to her wish. And Riddhima prayed for courage to accomplish this task and the strength to see Armaan in pain.

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Armaan was sitting in a chair near the window with a half-finished bottle in his hands. Was this one whiskey? He doesn't rememeber anymore. He had gone through all the hard liquor in his home bar that he could get his hands on. Sometimes the servants refused to serve him. But he reminded them who their employer was and what their duties were. He cradled a picture of Nikita in his chest. Why doesn't the pain lessen? The numbness he wanted to experience was slowly ebbing away from him. It seemed as if no matter how much he drinks, he could still hear her laughter in the room. Still see her in the room next to him. Whether it was at the dressing table getting ready. Or in the bed, reading her favourite book with the bedside lamp on.

tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin

Armaan closed his eyes and thought of smiling Nikita.

lekar yaad teri raaten meri kati
lekar yaad teri raaten meri kati
mujhse baaten teri karti hai chaandani

He looked out at the moon as memories of her rolled infront of his eyes. He rememebered the first time he had seen her in college. She had been walking with her friends laughing. It was that laughter that had first caught his attention. He rememebered how her whole face had brightened when she laughed.


tanha hai tujh bin raaten meri
din mere din ke jaise nahi
tanha badan tanha hai ruh namm meri aankhen rahe
aaja mere ab rubaru
jeena nahi bin tere
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin

He slugged down the whiskey. As his body got heated up with the drink, he shook his head to drag it from the memories. But the memories just did not want to leave him. She had been the most positive person he had met in his life. Though she had been through hardships like losing her parents, she had kept the optimism alive in her heart. Anyone who met her fell instantly in love with her. He was no exception. It had been love at first sight for him too.


kabse aankhen meri raah mein tere bichhi
kabse aankhen meri raah mein tere bicchi
bhule se hi kabhi tu mil jaaye kahi

He knew it was futile. But the hope in his heart that she'd open the door to the bedroom or the bathroom door and ask what is he doing here moping refused to die down. He remembered how she had always hated tears. Therefore, he had not shed any since he came back from the hospital

bhule na mujhse baaten teri
bheegi hai har pal aankhen meri

He got up and paced the room. He ran his fingers through his hair trying to pull it out. Maybe that pain will overshadow the burning pain in his heart. He remembered his wedding and the birth of his son. Nikita had been ecstatic when she had discovered that she was having a baby. Losing her parents early had left her thirsting for a complete family. And she always thanked him for giving her a new family.

kyun saans loon kyun main jiyu
jeena bura sa lage
kyun ho gaya tu bewafaaa mujhko bata de wajah

He rememebered the accident, when he had come running to the crossing. He had known in his heart that something was very wrong. When he had heard the crash on the phone, something inside his heart had yelled something bad had happened. He rememebered his shock at seeing the slightly overturned car and his precious wife's lifeless form. He had probably known in that very moment that she is no more. But his heart had refused to believe it. He did not rememeber a whole of about the incidence. He rememebered his attempts to take her out of the car. And he remembered Riddhima. Riddhima was trying to drag him from there and telling him that Nikita will be alright. But she had lied. Nikita will never be alright again. And neither will he. Armaan took a large swig and finished his bottle.

tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin ...
tere bin main yun kaise jiya
kaise jiya tere bin ...

He stopped facing and stood looking out the window. He did not want to live with this pain anymore. There's a large emptiness where his heart used to be and his being is surrounded by loneliness. He threw the empty bottle at the wall and watched as it shattered into pieces. Just like  his heart.

"Armaan, are you ok? What happened," Riddhima asked scared. She had been just about to knock on his door when she's heard the glass shattering. So she had barged in forgetting all her manners. Armaan was a pathetic sight to behold. His blood-shot eyes and couple of days worth beard on his unshaven face told of his state. He had lost some weight as well. Riddhima's heart cried looking at this Armaan. What grief does to a man?

"What happened Armaan?" she asked again touching his arm when Armaan showed no reaction.

He violently shook her hands off him. "Nothing happened! Why are you here?"

"I just wanted to see how you were. And I wanted to talk to you."

"Well, I don't wanna talk to you. You lied to me!" He grabbed her by both her arms and yanked her towards him. "You told me that Nikki will be alright! You lied! She left me..SHE LEFT ME!!!! I don't wanna live anymore. Just go and leave me be!!" he pushed her away and she hit the bed post. He again walked over to the window while she stood up. The pain she had felt at seeing his desperate state dissolved and was replaced by anger at his words. He didn't want to live anymore? Well, he had no choice but TO live!

"What the hell do you mean you don't wanna live anymore! When did you become soo selfish!" she went up to him and slapped him. "She's gone Armaan! She's not gonna come back and wipe your tears. You have to accept the truth. She's dead dammit and you are NOT!" Riddhima shouted and grabbed him by his collar and shook him.

"SHUT UP!!!!" Armaan pushed her away and raised his hand to hit her but stopped in time when he saw the tears in her eyes. He couldn't believe that he was almost about to hit her. He put his hand down and went down on his knees crying, "shut up...shut up"

Riddhima seeing her love so helpless and broke, kneeled on the floor and hugged him tightly crying. Armaan wept long hidden tears holding on to her. He cried for the long-gone memories, he cried for the lost future, and mostly he cried for Nikita.

"SSHHH...its ok Armaan..it's gonna be ok," she tried to console him. "It's gonna be ok," she caressed his head cradling it in her neck. And patted his back as he took deep breaths, sobbing.

After awhile, his weeping subsided. He took shallower breaths and broke away from Riddhima's embrace. "She is gone forever, isn't she?"

"Armaan. I know that it's very hard. But you have to start living again. If not for yourself, then for your son. He missed you. Do you think it's fair that he has to lose his father, along with his mother?"

Armaan looked shocked at her statement. He had  forgotten Sunny in his grief. What kind of a father was he? His poor child must've felt like an orphan. He felt ashamed of himself. He had never considered how his son must be feeling this past month. Oh God, who had taken care of him? Did anyone tell him that his mother is gone? He yelled at himself in his head for his negligence. Armaan buried his head in his hands.

"I know what you must be thinking. Sunny is ok. He is dealing well with Nikita's death. But he is really missing you. He's asked me countless times if you had stopped loving him even though he is being a really good boy," Riddhima's voice quivered at the last part.

"I have been a very bad father. Haven't I?" Armaan looked at Riddhima in desperation.

"well..a little bit..I know that you are dealing with grief but the best thing to do when your heart is broken is to get busy in something. Not sit around and mope. And definitely not get drunk," she looked at the broken glass distatefully.

"Riddhima, I don't think I can do it. Get back to normal I mean. It hurts too much."

"I know it's hard Armaan," She held his face in her arms. "But you are not alone in this. Atul and Anjali are there. So is your mom and Sunny. And me. You have to do this for your son. And I promise I won't leave you by urself. We'll take care of everything together."

"You promise?" Armaan grasped at last straws. The truth was, he did not want to get back to normal. But for the sake of his son and his family, he needed to do it. He needed to come out of his mourning. And he needed someone to support him through all this.

"I promise Armaan. We are friends right? Friends are always there for each other. So I will always be with you." She smiled looking forward to a new beginning.

Hiranya

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