Tuesday, 19 June 2018

part 19 : Pehchan

 AR feast today

Ban jaaiye is dil ke mehmaan…

Mehmaan ban jaaiye…

Ban jaaiye is dil ke armaan…

Armaan ban jaaiye…..


"Here you go Ms. Paying Guest! This room belongs to you now," Armaan placed her bag on the floor of a small, sparsely furnished guest room in his two bedroom apartment. The white walls, white bed sheets on the twin bed and the simple white lamp on the night stand all gave the room a rather 'clinical' than 'homely' feel.

"Thanks makaan maalik," she scanned the bare walls of the room, mentally making notes of how she could turn the room into a home rather than a hospital.

"You don't believe in colors, do you?" She asked him.

"I don't understand your question," he raised his eyebrow, confused by her question.

She twirled around, spreading her arms, "Looks like I will have to add some color to your life….I..I mean this room….I…I mean the walls….and and…..this bed….b-bed sheets," she bit her lip at her gaffe, "maybe a floral print or something," she shut her eyes, embarrassed by the trap of words she had just woven for herself.

Armaan smiled through the corner of his mouth, "I wouldn't mind either…..in fact I would love that."

"Ok…never mind," hiding her embarrassment at her not-so-innocent-unintended comment, "ab tum jao…let me arrange my stuff," she turned around, noticing the slightly mischievous grin on his face. Since she had known him, Armaan's mannerisms and smiles had had a benign friendly flavor to them, but the way he smiled at her after her 'colorful' comment, had shades of flirtatious playfulness, "and…and I need to change out of these wet clothes." She said awkwardly.

"Sure," he smiled again, sensing her discomfort after the slip of her tongue, "but before I leave, I have to familiarize you with the rules of my home." He cleared his throat authoritatively.

"Rules? Ghar mein kaun rules banaata hai?" She frowned.

"Main banaata hoon," he folded his hands behind his hips, nose in the air and head high facing the ceiling,

"Rule # 1: I love to drink tea at least 6 times a day, with very little milk but four spoons of sugar.

Rule # 2: I am a pakka non vegetarian, so I need some form of meat with my meals every day. I hate most green vegetables, so don't bother to cook them.

Rule # 3: Because I am a musician, I love to sing and play music at odd times of the day. I don't want any complaints from my paying guest if I decide to compose something at 2 in the morning.

And last but not the least, Rule # 4: the most important rule in my house is NO TEARS! One needs to have a sense of humor and willingness to laugh at odd times of the day, on all my jokes. Tears mean breach of contract and can be grounds for termination and all your privileges as a paying guest shall be revoked! ANY QUESTIONS?" Poker faced, he folded his arms for her response.

"Is this a military academy?" Riddhima's jaws dropped as she heard him rattle off the rules.

"No, this is Armaan Malik academy….take it or leave it."

"I didn't know you had a little Hitler hiding inside you," she glared at him.

"Ms. Riddhima, for your kind information, you don't know a lot about me," he teased her, "abhi yeh tho kuch nahin hai…aage aage dekho main kya rang dikhata hoon."

"Ok baba…whatever…..I have some objections to your rules."

"Objections? Not allowed."

"Ok," she sighed, "how about modifications, or rather negotiations?"

"You Indians are always trying to haggle….Ok bolo," He twisted his lips and raised his eyebrows, his eyes wide and curious.

"Rule # 1: Why do you drink so much tea? All that caffeine is not good for your tummy."

"Why do you care for my tummy?" He asked.

"Because…because," she pursed her lips again, "because I don't want you to develop an ulcer and bother me in the middle of the night with tummy aches……and no more than 1 spoon of sugar."

"Sugar par ration kyun?"

"All that sugar will make you fat."

"I work out regularly madam….wahan dekho….us corner mein poora gym hai mera," he pointed to a corner in the living area.

"How about I make masala tea for you with less sugar?"

"Ok…let's make it 4 cups with 2 spoonfuls of sugar then," he grumbled.

"How about 3 cups with 1 spoonful of sugar?" She negotiated.

"Ok..whatever," he shook his head and whispered to himself, "lagta hai yeh paying guest nahin khud maalkin ban ne aayi hai."

"Did you say something?"

"No…no….kabhie kabhie apne aap se baat kar leta hoon main," he dismissed her concern.

"Now with Rule # 2: I am sorry to let you know that I don't cook non veg. I am a PAKKA vegetarian and LOVE green vegetables. Agar mere haath ka khaana khaana hai tho ghaas phoos ki aadat daalni hogi."

"NO WAY!" He looked disgusted, "ghaas phoos? What's the point of having a paying guest if you can't cook what I like?" He raised his arms in the air.

"Sorry….no compromises here…mera dharam bhrasht ho jaayega." She was adamant.

"Ok baba….I will eat non veg when we go out…..you can cook all the vegetables you want," he replied morosely, "as long as you don't ever cook TINDA!"

"Oh…I love tinda…..aur main bahut achche bharnwaa tinda banaati hoon," she said cheerfully.


"OK baba….I can live without feeding you tinda," she sighed heavily, "coming to Rule # 3," she smiled this time, "it would be my pleasure to listen to your music at 2 am as long as it's melodious and not out of tune."

"What do you mean? Do you really think I can be out of tune?" He stared at her crossly, teasing her once again.

"How do I know? I have never heard you sing at 2 am," she chuckled.

With an impish smile, he rolled his tongue, "people who know me well, he cleared his throat, "especially women folk tell me that I am most melodious at 2 am."

"Let's stick to the subject, shall we? Hum yahan music ki baat kar rahe hain, tumhare aur skills ki nahin," she smiled back sarcastically, "and let me decide how melodious you are at 2 am."

"Mujhey us din ka….no..no I mean raat ka intezaar rahega," he murmured to himself.

"You said something?" She came closer.

"Kuch nahin…..any objections with Rule # 4?" He asked.

"NONE," she smiled, "but make sure the humor is clean and your jokes are really funny."

"Ok…will try," he laughed back, "now you better change, or else you will get sick in those wet clothes."

Their little barter of rules had lightened the heaviness in the air from the thunderstorm and her bold decision to leave home. Lowering her eyes, she replied softly, "Thank you Armaan….thanks for everything…..I am lucky to have a friend like you."

He touched her shoulder gently with soulful eyes, "RULE # 5: there are no rules in friendship except that our friendship will always rule over anything that might befall or come between us."

Smiling, unable to hold her tears, she hid her face in his shoulder, "and I will not negotiate on rule # 5."

"That's like a good girl," his fingers instinctively ran through her wet hair, "I promise you that rule # 5 will never be compromised." The touch of his fingers kindled a warm flush all over her body. Hesitantly, she withdrew from him and headed for her bag.

"I'll be outside," he got his message and shut the door behind him.


Riddhima stepped into the shower to clear the dampness of the rain. The warm water on her face triggered a faucet of pent up, confused, scared and apprehensive tears. She had taken the most daring decision of her life by walking away from her traitorous husband and his loving family. Every step she had taken away from his house had raised a doubt in her mind about the appropriateness of her decision till she had landed in Armaan's home. Being here, felt right for some reason- as if she had always belonged here. As she wiped herself and looked around the tiny bathroom, she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her tearful expression would have to go. She smiled as she recalled Armaan's rules, especially his NO TEARS rule. She picked her lipstick from her makeup kit and inscribed the words: NO TEARS on the mirror. Those words in red would serve as a reminder to her whenever self pity and fear would engulf her.

Quickly, she changed into a yellow churidaar suit, her damp hair left open, light make up, no sindoor, no mangal sutra, just an elegant jewelry set to match her outfit, and strode out of the room looking like a young college girl.

Armaan, although engrossed in his music with papers with guitar tabs and notes all over the floor, sensed her presence as soon as stepped out from her room. Her fragrance filled the room, making it impossible to concentrate on the notes he had just composed for his new song.

"Ek cup chai milegi?" He cleared his throat fretfully, "if you want you can join me too."

"I need to organize the kitchen first…..chai baad mein milegi." She walked away from him, leaving a fresh fragrant breeze once again.

"Organize?" Armaan jumped up, leaving his guitar on the floor and followed her to the kitchen, "what do you mean? My kitchen is perfect."

"It's not!" Her voice echoed in the kitchen as he tried to find her.

"Where are you Riddhima?" Armaan asked nervously.

"I am right here," her face buried in the top cabinet of the kitchen, legs dangling, barely touching the kitchen countertop.

"RIDDHIMAAA! ARE YOU CRAZY? ITNI JALDI OOPAR KAISE PAHUNCH GAYI?" He yelled, positioning himself below her in case of a misstep.

She looked down and grinned mischievously, "there are a lot of things about me you still don't know….aage aage dekho main kya cheez hoon."

"Come down Riddhima…..you will get hurt."

"When was the last time you cleaned these cabinets?" her voice echoed again.

"Oh God!" He buried his head in his palms, "for heaven sakes…..those top shelves are never used….don't worry about them."

"Hand me some newspapers," she stuck out her right hand.


"Haan baba," coughing as she dusted the thick layers of dust from the shelves, "at least let me cover the shelves with newspapers for now."

"I don't have newspapers," he sighed.

"Kaisa ghar hai yeh?" She frowned and looked down at him, "aise kya dekh rahe ho? Now help me come down ." She bent her knees and reached out for him.

"My pleasure Ms. paying guest," he grinned sarcastically and pulled her down to the floor. Their eyes and bodies communicated silently, as she brushed against him. Roused by her touch, damp hair and dust laden temples, his face turned red as he felt the sudden gush of blood through his veins. She had never looked so attractive and nubile before. Without the layers of her married woman faade, she made him fidgety, each time he glanced at her. Living with her as her friend was going to be the hardest challenge in his life, thought Armaan.

"Let's make a list," she tied her dupatta around her waist and looked away from his piercing gaze.

"A list?" He fumbled, hiding his uneasiness.

"Here you go….I have inspected all your cabinets….and we need all these things to make this kitchen more functional," she scribbled a long list on a piece of paper lying on the counter top.

"Such a long list?" He was horrified, "do we really need a grater? And a hand mixer?"

"Yes we do….ab jaldi jao…..wapas aaoge tho garam garam chai aur pakode milenge," she pinched his nose playfully and pushed him out of the kitchen.

"Wow…I had no idea having a paying guest is a full time job," he picked his car keys and headed out to the grocery store.


Riddhima had always been a neatness freak. As she surveyed the rest of his apartment, she was appalled to see his clothes including his boxers all over his bedroom floor and closet. The disheveled bed was an indication that he probably never bothered to make his bed since he had moved to this place. Like a good housekeeper, she folded his clothes, neatly stacking them in his closet, made his bed and started a load of laundry.

Next, she attacked the living room. After fixing the sofa and cushions, she lifted his guitar and placed it in a corner. Then, she stacked all the papers on the floor into a neat pile on his study table. She swept and mopped the floor vigorously till all the old bread crumbs and stains of food from the floor and rugs were wiped off.


Armaan was greeted with a shock of his life when he walked in with bags full of grocery.

"Yeh toofan kahan se aaya mere ghar par?" His eyes popped when he saw the spotless floor, his guitar and papers nowhere in sight.

"Welcome home Mr. Malik…..aaj ghar ghar jaisa lag raha hai na? Not a railway station anymore?" She grinned.

"But I love my railway station….I love my mess," he moaned, the grocery bags slipping off his hands, "aur mera guitar…mere papers…sab kahan gaye?"

"They have been stacked away carefully…don't worry, I didn't throw anything." She replied innocently.

"OH MY GOD!" He glanced at the papers on his desk, "you mixed all these papers? Now I have no idea what the sequence of notes and tabs are…..yeh kya kiya tumne Riddhima?" he fell on the ground with his head hung, "I have spent 3 nights composing this song….now you have messed up everything."

"Oh…I am sorry," she sat down next to him and touched his shoulder, "I had no idea….lekin how can you work in such a mess? Tumhara dimaag nahin ghoom jaata?"

"Haan…..ab zaroor ghoom raha hai," he made a dirty face.

Jumping up, she ran to fetch his guitar, "here….play something on the guitar….tumhein sab yaad aa jaayega."

"Aise nahin hota Riddhima…..an artist needs to be in the mood….he needs an inspiration…..I can't just compose something on demand." Armaan clutched his guitar and shook his head.

"I am sorry," she held her ears, "OK…please calm down….I had no idea you were so passionate about your work." She apologized profusely, "I was just trying to help."

"Remember…there is a system in my mess…..aur kuch tho 'organize' nahin kiya na?" He asked.

Riddhima withdrew into a shell and shook her head, "n-no…not really," afraid to spill the beans about her handiwork in his bedroom.

"Did you clean my bedroom?" He raised one eyebrow worriedly.

"Wo..wo…I just wanted to help."

"Riddhimaaa!" He snapped his fingers at her, "Rule # 6: Remember you are my friend, then a guest here…NOT A HOUSEKEEPER! This is not the Modi home. Let people clean up after their own mess…..warna mujh mein," he lowered his voice, "aur Abhimanyu mein kya farak reh jaayega?"

"I didn't realize you will get that upset," her voice choked, 'and please never compare yourself to…you know who."

"Ok….ab jo ho gaya…so ho gaya…now sit down in front of me," he pulled her down by her wrists, kicking himself for bringing the devil's name in their conversation. Even though absent, Abhimanyu was still a wall between them- a wall that would have to be shattered into pieces before it became a permanent fixture in their lives.

'Sorry," she apologized again

He shut his eyes and started strumming, "sirf sorry se kaam nahin chalega. You will have to make up for this BIG mistake."

"What do I need to do?" She asked hesitantly.

"Just stay here….and listen to this song." He smiled and started humming.

"Is it new?"

"Sort of," he opened his eyes and glanced at her dreamily, "as I said, an artist needs an inspiration."

She glanced at him quizzically as he started singing....

 Hm… Hm…. Hm…. Hm….
Aankhon Hi Aankhon Ne Pehle Kuch Din
Baatein Ki
Baaton Hi Baaton Ne Phir Kuch Din
Mulaqatein Ki
Aa Haan… Aa Haan
Aankhon Hi Aankhon Ne Pehle Kuch Din
Baatein Ki
Baaton Hi Baaton Ne Phir Kuch Din
Mulaqatein Ki
Yun Hi Chalti Rahe Baatein
Yun Hi Chalta Rahe Silsila
Karun Dua, Yahi Dua
Tere Liye, Dhadke Jiya
Karun Dua, Yahi Dua
Tere Liye, Dhadke Jiya
Yun Hi Chalti Rahe Raahein
Yun Hi Banta Rahe Kaafila
Karun Dua, Yahi Dua
Tere Liye, Dhadke Jiya
Karun Dua, Yahi Dua
Tere Liye, Dhadke Jiya
Khusboo Banke Hawa Mein
Mehke Meri Fiza Mein
Tu Hi Mere Jeene Ki Wajah
Tu Hi Meri Har Dua Mein
Haa… Ha…
Khusboo Banke Hawa Mein
Mehke Meri Fiza Mein
Tu Hi Mere Jeene Ki Wajah
Tu Hi Meri Har Dua Mein
Yun Hi Chalti Rahe Baatein
Yun Hi Chalta Rahe Silsila
Karun Dua, Yahi Dua

………………….to be contd…………….


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