Sunday, 10 June 2018

part 10 : Pehchan


Riddhima walked back to her room, clutching her new laptop between her hands and chest. At that moment, the gift was more precious than any she had received in the past. Abhimanyu was fast asleep when she walked in. Instead of lying beside him, she hung onto her gift and settled on a couch in the bedroom. His snub at her homemade kheer had hurt her more than she had ever felt. Abhimanyu's action had not been unusual, but Armaan's reaction to his heartless behavior had as if lifted a hazy screen of self-sacrificing dedication towards her husband from her eyes. Carefully, she removed the laptop from it's case, wiped it gently with her dupatta, offered a silent prayer to Goddess Saraswati and dozed off with the her gift on her chest.



"RIDDHIMA! MERI SHIRTS DRYCLEAN HO GAYI?" Abhimanyu's voice startled her early morning.



"Arre aap?" She sat up, her laptop still snug in her arms.



"What's this?" He frowned, "why are you sleeping with a laptop? Kahan se aaya yeh?"



"Oh," she rubbed her eyes sleepily, "aapki shirts aaj aayengi…..kal driver nahin laa saka."



"That's not a good excuse Riddhima! You know I have an important board meeting today. I need to look my best. How could you be so callous?" He glared at the laptop once again as she placed it down on the table. He was obviously unhappy to see his submissive wife sleeping on the couch, and that too with a gadget rather than attending to his needs.





"Abhimanyu…..you have other shirts in the closet….why can't you wear something from there?" Riddhima asked irately, an emotion she had never before displayed to her husband before.





Infuriated and taken aback, Abhimanyu snarled, "Itni akal mujh mein bhi hai! Agar saare kaam mujhey hi karne padhenge tho tum kis kaam ki ho?"





Slighted by his insult, she swallowed hard and walked towards the closet, "here you go," she pulled out a clean shirt and handed it to him. Still upset, she refused to look at him, "baaki shirts aaj aajeyngi."





"RIDDHIMA!" He grabbed her elbow, "what's all this attitude about?"



"Abhimanyu," her voice cracking, "kya main aapki zindagi mein sirf kaam karne ke liye hoon? Meri yaad sirf kaam ke time aati hai?"





"Riddhima! You know what's expected of a Modi bahu, so don't ever ask me this question again! I am sure I don't have to remind you of your responsibilities!"



"I..I am sorry," she replied tearfully and walked away, "I'll bring your tea and newspaper."



 "Riddhima!" He stopped her, "What's this laptop doing here? And why did you sleep on the couch last night?" His real reason for anger prompted him to ask. Even though, sharing the bed with his wife had been a mere formality over the last three years, her snub had jarred his male ego.





"I..I want to complete my B.A degree online, and I didn't want to disturb you last night, that's why I slept on the couch." But in reality she wanted to scream, "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE TO YOU? DOES IT MATTER WHETHER I SLEEP ON THE BED OR THE COUCH?"



"B.A degree?" He scoffed, "are you crazy? Why do you want to waste your time? Aisa kya milega degree kar ke? You have everything right now; a degree is useless for you."



"Abhimanyu, if you are afraid that I will not be available for my wifely duties, be assured, my education will not interfere with my responsibilities."





"Dimaag kharaab hai tumhara! Any woman would give up everything to enjoy her status and luxuries as a Modi bahu, and you are interested in a B.A degree?"





"Please Abhimanyu, I need to do this….for myself," she replied softly and walked away. Abhimanyu gnashed his teeth, shocked at his wife's assertiveness, a first in their five years of marriage.



………………………………………………………..





LATER THAT EVENING:



DING DONG!



The doorbell was answered by Ramu kaka.





"Arre Armaan saheb? Aaiye aaiye saheb."



"Namaste kaka….baaki sab kahan hain?" Armaan walked in with a bouquet of flowers.



"Kaun hai Ramu?" Padma heard the voices at the main door but froze as soon as she saw Armaan walking in with the flowers and his guitar.



"Hello aunty!" Armaan's effusive greeting forced Padma to smile, "hello…b-beta." She hesitated.



"These are for you aunty," he handed her the flowers.



"Mere liye?" she was surprised.



"Yes aunty, because you are one of the most wonderful women I have met in my life. I believe in expressing my appreciation for people I admire. Yeh ek chota sa tohfa….sirf aap ke liye." His ear to ear smile was contagious.



She held the flowers in her hands, a genuine smile lit up her face, "and why do you admire me?"



Armaan shrugged his shoulders and grinned impishly, "well….I think you are a very courageous woman and the pillar of this household. Mujhey lagta hai ki aapne hi sabko yahan ek saath baandh kar rakha hai….that's a sign of a very strong woman, and I don't know why I feel that behind this stoic exterior, you have a very tender and loving heart…..aisa lagta hai ki aap koi dard apne andar chupaati hain lekin sabko khush rakhti hain…..haina aunty?" The earnestness and innocence of his question astounded her.





A stunned Padma was amazed at this young man's perceptiveness. She felt her anger and bitterness towards him melting like a glacier does as it approaches the warmth of the sun and deforms into a free flowing stream of river.



"Andar aao beta…..itni choti umar mein itni badhi badhi baatein kahan se seekhi?" She blinked her eyes to hide her tears.



"Mom se!" He replied proudly.



For a moment she lost her composure as she thought about Damini, but then couldn't help but admire her 'souten.'



"Looks like you were very close to your mother?" She asked as she placed the flowers in a vase.



"Yes I was," he pursed his lips and looked down.



"What did she say about your father?" Padma asked curiously.



"That he was a good man and loved me a lot," his voice cracked.



"Did he ever try to contact you in all these years?" Padma was nosy.



"Nahin aunty….unki koi majboori thi." He replied softly, "mom did not want to interfere in his life…..she was just happy to have me…..main hi unse apne papa ke baare mein sawaal karta rehta tha."





Padma wanted to scream: MAJBOORI NAHIN KAMZORI! She remained silent and felt her heart tug for the motherless boy. It was no fault of his that his dad was a coward and despite knowing the existence of another son from an illegitimate affair, had never tried to give Armaan's his rightful place in his life. By lying to his son about the existence of his father, Shashank had once again demonstrated his weakness. Not only had Shashank dishonored his marriage, but also his responsibilities towards his sons, both legitimate and illegitimate. For the first time, she felt a strange bond with Damini. Damini was obviously a strong woman who had raised her son single handedly in a foreign land. She had never tried to break Padma's marriage, or claim any rights for her or for her son. Her bitterness towards her 'souten' faded in comparison to her anger towards her legally wedded husband.







"Armaan beta…..tum sach much apne papa se milna chaahte ho…haina?" She asked.



"Yes aunty….that's why I came to India….but as uncle said my father is no more…"



"Beta….uncle and I are like your parents now….don't consider yourself an orphan anymore," she caressed his cheek affectionately as tears rolled down his eyes.



"Thanks…thanks aunty," he bent down to touch her feet but she pulled him back into her arms, "aise nahin….aaj mujhey achcha se ek gaana sunana….that would be your thanks."



"Sure…..in fact I just composed a new one," wiping his tears, he took out his guitar from the case.



"Neki aur pooch pooch?" She grinned and slumped onto the sofa in the living room.



Just as he hummed and strummed, a bright eyed Riddhima walked in with a bunch of freshly dry cleaned shirts wrapped in plastic hanging from her hand.



"Mere bina gaana kaise gaa sakte ho?" She ran in cheerfully, settling next to her mother-in-law. She placed the shirts on the sofa beside her. Armaan felt a warm flush through his system, as Riddhima's presence further lifted his spirits. He noticed the shirts slide down the sofa as Riddhima tried to hold them back.



"Let me help you," he got up and picked the shirts. Grabbing the hangers with his finger, he placed them carefully on a table adjacent to the sofa. Turning around, he picked his guitar and played another wonderful song.



Please listen to one of the most beautiful songs of this year: Dil gira dafatan from Delhi-6



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2CgR1r5oko&feature=fvw

Dil mera dil mera dil mera
Dil mera…aaaaaaaaaaaaa
Dil mera dil mera…

Dil gira kahin par dafatan,
Dil gira kahin par dafatan,
Jaane magar yeh nayan,
Teri khamosh zulfon ki gehraaiyaan hai jahan,
Dil mera uljha hua hai wahin kho gaya,
Tu magar hai bekhabar, hai bekhabar,
Dil gira kahin par dafatan,
Kyu gunj rahi hai dhadkan,
Jaane magar yeh nayan..

Sipiyon ke honth se,
Moti chalak rahe hain,
Gazlon ki sohabat mein,
Geet bhi behek rahi hai,
Samunder lehron ki lehron ki,
Chadar odh ke so raha hai,
Par mein jaagu, ek khumari,
Ek nasha sa, ek nasha sa ho raha hai,
Tu magar hai bekhabar, hai bekhabar..
Dil gira kahin par dafatan,
Kyu gunj rahi hai dhadkan,
Jaane magar yeh nayan,
Khushbu mein lipte mausam,
Teri khamosh zulfon ki gehraaiyaan hai jahan,
Dil mera uljha hua hai wahin kho gaya,
Tu magar hai bekhabar, hai bekhabar,
Dil gira kahin par dafatan..



Padma and Riddhima applauded is soulful performance whole heartedly.



"Bahut badhiya!" Padma exclaimed, "Exquisite!"



"Hmm….who is this girl that's inspired you to compose this song?" Riddhima pulled his leg, "don't tell me one meeting with Nikita has you all floored? Kya ek mulaqat mein hi us ajnabi ladki ko dil de baithe? Hai," she sighed, "dil gira kahin dafatan…..aur tu magar hai bekhabar…..hmm?" She tapped her fingers on his guitar and sat up gazing at him.



"Kabhie kabhie ek mulaqat hi kaafi hoti hai," he blushed, lowering his eyes away from Riddhima. A twinge of disappointment knocked at Riddhima's heart at his confession. She sat back on the sofa, withdrawing her hand from his guitar, her color a shade paler than before. She had no business to interfere, but a little possessive part inside her felt disheartened.





"Arre wah….kaun hai yeh Nikita? Humein bhi milwaao bhai," Padma teased him.



"Rahul se kehna padhega mummyji," composing herself, Riddhima forced a big smile.



"Rahul bhi chupa rustam hai…..apne liye tho ladki dhoondh li, ab doosron ki gaadi bhi aage nikaal raha hai," Padma chuckled, "kahan hai Rahul?"



"Muskaan se milne gaya hai."



"Achcha bhai, ab tho hamare laatsaheb ke liye Muskaan hi sab kuch hai," Padma chuckled.



"Mummyji, ek problem hai," Riddhima curled her lower lip, "Muskaan shaadi nahin karna chaahti."



"Arre kyun bhai?" Padma was surprised. Riddhima explained Muskaan's reservations about getting married into the Modi family in detail as Armaan heard their conversation patiently.



"That's not true…..Muskaan needs to know that our daughter in laws are chosen on their merit rather than their status…..ab tumhein hi dekho Riddhima, tumhare sanskar dekh kar hi tho tumhein pasand kiya tha…..yaad hai us din mandir mein achanak kaise mil gayi thi?" Padma caressed Riddhima's chin. Riddhima nodded silently; well aware of the circumstances under which she and Abhimanyu were married. Her parents had been thrilled when Padma had knocked on their door with a proposal for the middle son. Relatives and friends had wondered what had prompted the Modi's to insist on a middle class girl for their son?





Intrigued by their marriage details, Armaan could not help asking, "waise aunty, Riddhima tho graduate bhi nahin hai…..aapne phir bhi Abhimanyu jaise padhe likhe aadmi se shaadi karvaa di?" Riddhima gave him a cold glare, but soon realized that he was just teasing her.



"Arre Abhimanyu jaise ladke ke liye Riddhima hi chaahiye thi humein," Padma placed her arm around Riddhima, "shaadi ke baad bahut sudhar gaya hai mera beta," she replied proudly.





"Really aunty?" Armaan was surprised, but not really surprised. He sighed inwardly and thought, "of course, anyone would be lucky to have a wife like you….even that ba****d!"





Padma did not elaborate more; neither Armaan probed further. Riddhima just wondered what Padma meant by that statement. She had never questioned about Abhimanyu's past life, nor had asked anyone what her husband was like before their marriage. There were always fleeting references to Abhimanyu's late night partying and his obsession to succeed, but beyond that she had no clues about his philandering ways which unfortunately predated their marriage, and were still very much a part of his life.





"Waise mummyji, ab main jald hi graduate hone waali hoon," Riddhima gave Armaan another sharp look, reminding him indirectly of his promise to help her with the online course. Armaan smiled mischievously and pretended to pack his guitar in the case. The fact that she was looking forward to the computer lessons was a heartening thought in itself. He had no expectations beyond that; just little pleasures were enough to warm his heart.



"Achcha?" Padma was pleasantly surprised, "wo kaise?"



"Aunty….I have promised to help Riddhima get her degree online," Armaan intercepted.



Padma thanked him profusely, "bahut achcha idea hai beta….har aurat ko apne pairon pa khade hone laayak hona chaahiye," a hint of disappointment in her voice faded quickly as Kavya barged into the room demanding his guitar lessons from his 'guitar hero.'



………………………………………………….



LATER THAT EVENING: IN THE GAME ROOM



After a fun filled, not-so-serious guitar lesson for Kavya, Armaan turned his attention to his new student, "Ok Ms. Riddhima Modi, I hope you're ready for the toughest lesson of your life."



"Of course I am Armaan sir! I love challenges," she smiled and removed her brand new laptop from it's case.



"Yeh kya kiya tumney?" He was surprised to see a 'OM' sign imprinted boldly on the laptop.



"Yeh OM hai…..kisi bhi shubh kaam start karne se pehle bhagwan ka aashirwaad lena chaahiye," she replied innocently.



A bemused Armaan smiled and turned the computer on, "Ok Ms. Pujaran jee….I never knew you were so religious…..I hope your God can help you get a degree too."



"Don't make fun of my God!" She gave him a cross look.



"Sorry baba," he touched his ears and apologized.



"Don't say sorry to me…..apologize to God," she reprimanded him.



Clearing his throat, he bowed in front of the OM sign on the laptop, "sorry Godji…..I am beginning to wonder who the real teacher is? Am I learning a lesson here or teaching one?"



Riddhima burst out laughing, "you are quite a drama baaz, aren't you?"



"One of the many skills I possess student saheba…..aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya," he chuckled and started working on the computer.





 She stared at his fingers as they effortlessly typed on the keyboard. Just as dexterous as on the guitar strings, his fingers had a mesmerizing effect on her. She had never seen a more attractive set of fingers in her life. He was a musician in the truest sense. Those fingers could instill harmony and melody into anything they touched.



"Excuse me! Where are you lost madam?" He snapped his fingers in front of her eyes.



"Oh…sorry," she fumbled, turning crimson at being caught staring at his fingers.



"Don't say sorry to me….apologize to this computer," he teased her to be greeted by another glare. He then pointed at the screen, "OK….now I want you to learn how to log on to this screen….chalo apna naam type karo."



Carefully, with her index finger, she typed R-I-D-D-H-I-M-A at a snail's pace.



"You don't know how to type?" He was amused, "you are really ancient my dear. Galat time par paida ho gayi ho." He teased.





"Now don't be a brag Armaan. Just because you can type that fast, doesn't mean you are better than me!" She was offended, "give me some time and I will learn how to type faster than you…..it's not rocket science, samjhey?" She smacked his hand gently, pursing her lips in anger.





"Wow! I like that attitude Riddhima," he chuckled, "where have you been hiding it all this while? I didn't realize you could be assertive too. I want more!"





Once again, she could not help comparing Abhimanyu and Armaan's responses. They were like night and day, like chalk and cheese. One hated her guts that morning and the other could not get enough of it. Strange were the ways of the world. Was it her bad luck that the qualities she had always wished for in her husband were present in the wrong man? The eventful afternoon that Padma had spotted her in the temple, Riddhima had been offering prayers to God Shiva so he could bless her with a mate with virtues and qualities like Shiva. After her marriage, she had placed Abhimanyu on her imaginary pedestal where God Shiva used to reside previously, but why did she have a nagging doubt about her husband's status now that she had met another man in her life. Dismissing any more unpious thoughts, she acted nonchalant, "OK Armaan…..now don't waste anymore time, can we start the lesson? I have other things to take care of, just not sit here with a not-so-humble computer teacher."





"Yeh srudent tho bahut tough hai! She is very demanding," he laughed and resumed the preliminary lessons on computing.



"Yeah….now hold the mouse gently, and move that cursor around," he diverted her attention.



"What? Mouse? Cursor? Can you talk in simple English?" She snapped.



"Main koi pharsi nahin bol raha hoon madam," he slapped his forehead, "you are really computer illiterate!" Without hesitation, he pulled her hand into his palm and helped her navigate the cursor with the mouse in their hands. Sometimes a simple gesture like teaching how to maneuver a mouse could be a turning point in one's life. An inexplicable sensation filled her senses, a vortex of emotions, a tumultuous current of sweet and overpowering calm like she had never felt before. Armaan's heartbeat quickened as he felt her clammy hand in his palms. Gazing with the corner of his eyes, he staggered as the flush on Riddhima's face was more than just a beginner's anxiety on learning a new skill. Riddhima's shoulder gently brushed against his thumping chest. Her heart reciprocated the gallop; his parched lips and piercing gaze as she looked up at him sent a quiver through her. Both had just felt an out of body experience that had instantly connected them at a different level; above and beyond their friendship and fondness for each other. Almost simultaneously, their hands parted from each other, they pulled away; an awkward silence fell between them.





Dil mera uljha hua hai wahin kho gaya,
Tu magar hai bekhabar, hai bekhabar,
Dil gira kahin par dafatan,
Kyu gunj rahi hai dhadkan,
Jaane magar yeh nayan..





"Can I make some coffee?" she asked, her throat dry, her heart still racing against her chest.



The bounding pulse on her neck shook Armaan's conscience. Feeling guilty for rousing such feelings in both of them, he cleared his throat, "I would love that…..black…no sugar," he stated matter of factly.







"I'll be right back," she ran away, clutching at her mangalsutra, her reminder of the truth about her identity and life.



After the strong cup of coffee, Armaan and Riddhima sat down to work once again, this time maintaining a distance between them, a perfect student and teacher team, physically apart but connected at a deeper level which both had decided to bury and never let it surface or acknowledge ever again.



…………………………………………………………………



AFTER THE CLASS:



"Hi Nikita!" Armaan called her on his way back to his hostel. It was a call in desperation, a need to escape from the turbulent emotions of his computer lesson with Riddhima. It was the first time he had seen any signs of attraction from her side. IT WAS WRONG, he reminded himself. He had no right to break someone's family. His mother had suffered all her life after her one 'mistake.' He would never repeat the mistake, and never put Riddhima in that precarious situation. It was time to move on, and Nikita seemed like the obvious answer at that time.



"What a surprise….Armaan?" Nikita answered her phone.



"Yeah…..any plans for dinner?"



"Uh," she looked at her watch, Abhimanyu was away at a client meeting all evening and had not called to inform her that he was on his way. The line was clear and since meeting Armaan at the restaurant, she had been intrigued by the American musician. He was fiercely handsome and was perhaps more open minded than most Indian men she had been out with. He would have no expectations from her, and could be her new fling on the side.



"Why don't you come over? We will order some take out," she drawled.



Armaan hesitated; an invitation by a woman to her place was a bold move, even in the US. After some thought, he agreed, "sounds like a great idea…..give me your address….I will take a cab right away."



…………………………………………



NIKITA'S PLACE:





"HI HANDSOME!" Nikita, dressed in a strapless, mid thigh length blue dress, gave him a friendly hug at the door.



"HI!" He gave her a cautious hug and handed her a bottle of wine.



"Wow…how did you know I love wine?" She asked.



"I figured that a pretty woman like you must have good taste," he chuckled.



"Hmm…clever….you know how to make a woman feel good."



"I am an honest man," Armaan grinned and walked into her spacious and upscale apartment. As his eyes scanned the luxurious surroundings, he couldn't help wonder what position did she hold in Abhimanyu's company? At such a young age, she was obviously a successful career woman, or perhaps she had rich parents.



"Like my place?" She asked once she noticed how his eyes admired her dwelling.



"I must say Indian companies are doing really well….you must hold a good position in the Modi Enterprises," he asked directly.



"Good observation," she remarked, "I am in the marketing department….we are the driving force of the company; that's why we get the perks too," she grinned, lying through her teeth as this was Abhimanyu's apartment that he had 'gifted' her on her last birthday.



"Wow! I am in the wrong profession then," he laughed.



"Well…..you can taste success quickly if you want," Nikita poured wine in two glasses.



"Really? How?" Armaan asked curiously.





"Our office has it's 25th annual function coming up. I am in charge of the entertainment and marketing for this grand silver jubilee event. We could hire your services for the entertainment part. Budget is not an issue. You take care of the entertainment….cheers," she handed him a glass of wine, "and I'll take care of you…..I hope you understand," Armaan stumbled, spilling his wine on his white shirt, as she winked at him suggestively.



"Uh…uh," he grabbed a napkin to wipe off the wine stain from his shirt.





"Oops…sorry….did I startle you with the proposal?" She asked.



"No….not at all," he made the wine stain worse by rubbing the napkin against his shirt, "can I use your bathroom? I should take care of this stain while it's still fresh."





"Sure," she smiled and pointed at a door at the end of the hallway, "there are a few spare shirts in the closet there. If you want you can change," she came closer and then whispered huskily, "or you can leave the shirt inside and choose not to change……there is a handy dandy drawer in the bathroom filled with some goodies….just for hunks like you." Nikita was pleased as she thought Armaan too was trying to seduce her by using the clichd technique of spilling wine on his shirt.





"I am ready," she blew him a kiss.





With a perplexed look on his face, Armaan walked away from her and shut the door to the bathroom behind her.



There were a number of shirts hanging in the closet for sure. They were obviously not new, but were all starched and dry cleaned, neatly hanging in a row.





"Why does she have so many shirts here?" He wondered and took one out. Holding it against his chest, he resigned to the fact that even if it was ill fitting, he was better off with a shirt on than without a shirt once he emerged from the bathroom. Nikita's body language had been titillating; she was obviously flirting with him openly and despite his need to distance himself from Riddhima, he was not ready to jump into a physical relationship with Nikita. He removed his stained shirt, washed it thoroughly with soap and water and hung it on the towel rack to dry.





Before he left, he was curious to see the 'goodies' in the drawer. To his horror, the insides of the drawer were full of all types and brands of condoms. Quickly, he shut the drawer tight, disgusted at Nikita's overtures.





He buttoned up the borrowed shirt and took out the drycleaner's tag from the cuff: COMET DRY CLEANERS. Where had he seen the sign before? Scratching his brain and memory, he recalled the shirts sliding off the sofa when Riddhima had sat on the sofa earlier in the day. The plastic cover on the shirts had the same name imprinted on them: COMET DRY CLEANERS. It was probably a coincidence, he thought. Comet drycleaners was probably a popular dry cleaning place in the city. He was about to throw the tag when underneath the printed store name on the tag, there were initials scribbled in ink. Armaan stared at the tag for a few seconds to make sense of the initials: AM. His heart started beating furiously as the only one with those initials he knew, besides him, was ABHIMANYU MODI!





The luxurious flat, the shirts in the closet, the condoms all added up to a frightening scenario. Anger and rage riled inside him as the possibility of Riddhima's husband cheating on her dawned upon him. He was about to confront Nikita, when she banged at his door in panic, "ARMAAN! COME OUT QUICKLY! YOU NEED TO LEAVE!"



A confused Armaan unlocked the door, "what happened?"



"You need to leave right now," she grabbed his hand and dragged him to the door.



"Kya hua Nikita?" he felt slighted.



"My…my dad is on his way…..he will get upset if he finds a man in my apartment," Nikita lied.



"Oh..Ok….lekin meri shirt tho andar reh gayi…..so those other shirts belong to your dad?" Armaan asked.



"Oh yeah….yes," she stuttered, "dad often stays over when he visits Mumbai….now leave….I'll send your shirt later," she literally pushed him out and slammed the door after him.





Armaan was not convinced that a girl like Nikita would be petrified of her dad's visit. Even if the shirts belonged to her dad; the contents of the drawer sure did not belong to him. With a nagging suspicion of the worse possible scenario, he hid behind a plant in the hallway to see who the real visitor was.





In the meantime, Nikita wiped away any traces of another man's presence in her apartment. She dumped Armaan's shirt in her own closet, threw away the wine and hid the bottle in the back of the refrigerator. She cursed Abhimanyu for giving her such short notice. Just because he was her boss, why did that mean he controlled all aspects of her life? Did she not have the right to have a fun filled evening without him hovering over her? After cleaning up, she took a deep breath and composed herself. Even if Abhimanyu was a pain at times, he deserved her unconditional attention. After all, he had given her everything she had: a great job, high salary, this upscale apartment, all the luxuries she could have just dreamt of when she grew up in a poor neighborhood of Mumbai.



The lock at the front door unatched.



"HI SWEETHEART!" Abhimanyu walked in authoritatively.



Armaan cringed behind the tall plant; his fears had proven true. He detested Abhimanyu more than ever. How could he ever reveal this harsh truth to Riddhima? He could not fathom seeing the hurt on her face when she would find the reality behind her husband's faade. He was in a fix; would she believe him if he told her the truth? She was too dedicated to her husband and family; she could even doubt Armaan's intentions. If he was a true friend, it was his moral responsibility to take her out of this treacherous situation.



How? How was he going to do that without breaking her heart or seeing tears in her eyes?





…………………..to be contd…………….

 Bheegi

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