Monday, 25 June 2018

part 25 : Pehchan

RECAP: Armaan froze when he heard Shailendra's name, "so…it's Riddhima's own jijajee who has been an informant all along?"

"What? Asha women's hostel?" Abhimanyu asked with a frown, walking away to his car, "she better be there this time!"

Armaan panicked when he heard the hostel's name on Abhimanyu's lips. He ran after him, but was too late as Abhimanyu had already sped off.

He would have to warn Riddhima of the impending danger coming her way, but to his dismay, she never answered her calls, "Oh God Riddhima, why are you not answering your calls? That evil man is on the way. I can't let that happen."

With a fury of a hurricane, a bruised, black and blue from his altercation with Abhimanyu, Armaan jumped in his car. Defying all traffic rules, he maneuvered his way through the streets, becoming more nervous as his calls to Riddhima remained unanswered.


Abhimanyu bribed the security guard at the gates after he was denied permission to enter the premises as it was past midnight.

"Saheb….hostel ke rules ke hisaab se aap andar nahin jaa sakte," the security guard informed him. Adept at such situations, Abhimanyu pulled out a wad of cash, "abhi bhi nahin?"

"Jee…jee," the guard hesitated, smiled sheepishly and turned a blind eye as Abhimanyu's car rolled into the drive way of the hostel.

Next, Abhimanyu was stopped by another lady in the lobby.

"Sir…aap andar kaise aaye?"

"Lagta hai tumhari zubaan bhi bandh karni padhegi," He pulled out another wad for the young receptionist, "aur batao Mrs Riddhima Modi ka room kaun sa hai?".

"Sir I am sorry, but this is against the rules of the hostel."

"Do you know who I am?"

"Sir, wo….shayad aapki photo paper mein dekhi hai," the girl stepped back, intimidated by the bespectacled man with a swollen lip, bruised forehead and bleeding hand.

"Then you know I am an important man! I need to meet my wife right now! She is hiding here from my family…..kahan hai wo? Which room is she in? Office kahan hai tumhara? I will find out from there," Abhimanyu barged past the timid girl, flinging the door to the main office open in search for Riddhima's room number. Even he had tried to call her several times, but just as with Armaan, she never answered her calls.

Fortunately, Muskaan was still in the office, completing paper work from the day.

'Hello! Who is it?" Muskaan wrinkled her forehead and walked towards the man standing at the main desk of the office, "excuse me sir, who let you in?"

The young receptionist stood shaking at the door, bobbing her head guiltily.

"WHERE IS MRS RIDDHIMA MODI?" Abhimanyu stood up arrogantly and was stunned to see Muskaan standing there, "M-Muskaan? Aren't you Muskaan, Rahul's fiance?" With a smug expression, he flung his arms, "yes of course you will help me…kahan hai Riddhima?"

"Yes, I am your brother's fiance….thanks for recognizing me in the first place and secondly, you are not allowed here at this hour. Agar kisi se milna hai tho kal aana."

"Oh come on Muski!" Abhimanyu drawled and touched Muskaan's shoulder, "we are family…chalo chup chap mujhey Riddhima ka room number bataa do."

She yanked his hand off her shoulders, "stay within your limits Mr. Abhimanyu Modi! I work here and cannot break the rules of this place for anyone…not even you!"

"Muskaan….are you crazy? I need to meet my wife right now! How dare you stop me?"

"Sorry Abhimanyu! You cannot meet her tonight. Come back tomorrow."

"Muskaan…agar tumne mujhey roka na, tho main dekh loonga tum mere bhai se shaadi kaise karti ho?"

"Are you threatening me?" She stepped forward, making direct eye contact with him.

"I guess you don't realize what powers I have? Yes, I am threatening you, you stupid girl!"

"Anita!" Muskaan looked at the tremulous receptionist, "please call the police and let them know we have an intruder in the hostel who is trying to harass me!"

"Jee madam," Anita bowed and ran away from the scene, her heart palpitating nervously, thankful to get away from a potential scandalous situation.

"Muskaan! Are you crazy?" He pushed her out of the way and caught sight of the room roster on the desk. Reaching out for the roster, he flipped through the pages. Outraged by Abhimanyu's disparage, Muskaan picked a heavy book from the shelf and with both hands, aimed it right on top of his head.

'AHHH!" Abhimanyu lost his balance and held his head, "what the &@$$!!!!!"


In the meantime, Armaan parked his car outside the hostel but was disturbed to see Abhimanyu's car inside the premises. Riddhima was still not answering her phone. He knew, there was no way he could get into the hostel at this hour without threatening the guard, who stood at ease with his gun at the heavy irongate. Besides, if Abhimanyu had already entered the hostel, he was probably in Riddhima's room by now.

Armaan hid behind a wall and stared at the windows of the women's rooms. He sighed with relief when he saw her dupatta still furled outside her window. To his surprise, her lights were still on. He knew that Riddhima was not a night owl by any means; so why was she up so late? Did that mean Abhimanyu was in her room too? His heart leapt at the thought. An injured and intoxicated Abhimanyu was capable of doing anything. Armaan shut his eyes and recalled how his Boy scouts coach had taught him how to scale hurdles and walls. With all his strength, he clambered over the outer wall of the hostel, then quietly ran towards the building, dimly lit at that hour, and like an expert mountain climber, mounted his feet one by one on the pipes attached to the building wall. Fortunately, he was dressed in a black shirt, making him oblivious to pedestrians on the streets.

Like his primate ancestors, he was up by the fifth floor level within minutes. Resting his foot on the shelf beneath her window, his heart fluttered at the thought of climbing her window. He peeped through the foggy glass window, and was pleasantly surprised to see a very calm and focused Riddhima, dressed in her pajamas, leaning against her pillow, headphones in ears, listening carefully to something on her laptop. Next to her, on the bed lay her phone.

Armaan's eyes scanned the rest of her room; there was no one else there. Heaving a sigh of relief, he lifted his legs to the window ledge and knocked gently on the glass. She must be hearing something really engaging, he thought, as she ignored his soft knocks on the window.

Perturbed by her indifference to her surroundings, he pulled the glass window open and rolled into her room, somersaulting right in the middle of her bed like a superhero.

"AHHH!" she shrieked loudly, throwing her headphones away, but Armaan was quick to stifle her screams with his palm, "ssshhh! Zyada shor karogi tho koi aa jaayega yahan."

Like a deer caught under headlights, she stared at his face in disbelief, her eyes wide, jaws dropped to her knees. As she tried to catch her breath, she stuttered, "A-Armaan…..tum? Yahan? Kaise?"

"Why were you not returning my calls?" He released his palm from her mouth and sat back, "I got worried."

"Oh God Armaan," she rolled her eyes, "tumhare jaisa deewana kabhie nahin dekha maine."

"Aur na dekhogi," he smiled and scooted closer to her.

She looked at his face, and then stared at her open window, "tum wahan se aaye ho?"

"Nahin darwaaze se aaya hoon…in fact your warden invited me herself at 12.30 at night," he replied sarcastically.

"Armaan…that's so risky….and see you've already injured yourself," she touched the bruises on his face, inflicted upon him by Abhimanyu.

"It was my first time, that's why I got hurt," he downplayed his injuries, "next time I'll be more careful." He grinned mischievously.

"You are incorrigible," she clenched her teeth, "please go away from here…koi dekh lega tho mujhey hostel se expel kar denge."

"Wonderful! That's what I want," he chided, "then you can move back with me."

"Armaan! Please leave. I need to complete this lecture…..kal test dena hai mujhey." She pleaded.

"Oh…that's why you never answered my calls….too busy with those headphones..huh? Mujh se zyaada ab yeh computer pyaara ho gaya hai tumhein…haina?"

"Uffo Armaan….please, you really need to leave. Now I know why you wanted to see my window that day."

"Bahut samajh daar hoti jaa rahi ho," he lifted her chin and kissed her forehead, "ek pagal premi ka deewanapan samajh ne lagi ho."

Just like his melodious voice, his touch and his lovelorn eyes, his lips had the magical effect of thawing all her anger and apprehensions. Blushing, she lowered her eyelids, "let me clean your wounds….phir tum chale jaana." She touched the bruises on his face and caressed the wounds on his forehead gently, "kyun karte ho aisa? Why did you have to climb the window?" She asked tearfully.

"Because the forbidden fruit is always tastier," he winked at her and kissed her fingers, "Waise chot mujhey lagi hai, tum kyun ro rahi ho?" He stared into her hazy eyes.

"Because I am not used to it….no one has ever done anything like this for me." She looked away, wiping her tears, "and I can't bear to see you in pain."

"Me too," he whispered and cupped her face with his palms, "there is one pain I often feel, that is caused by the absence of you (anonymous quote) and I can't bear it," he kissed her eyelids and then smiled, "Ok…go get your first aid kit. Ghaav dene waala hi jab marham lagaaye tho jaldi heal hota hai."

She smacked his head playfully with her hand, "looks like you have come to Mumbai to become a hero, not a singer….dialogue baazi bahut karne lage ho," chuckling she released herself and walked towards her closet.

"Meri aashiqui ka mazaak udhaati ho?" With a pretend pout, he stretched his legs on the bed and placed his head on the pillow comfortably, "mmm….nice bed….really comfortable. I could just fall asleep here."

"I will inform the warden if you do that. They will kick you out of my room," she chided with him.

Sighing, he rested his hands under his head and shut his eyes, "duniya mein har sachche aashiq ka yahi haal hota….either he is stoned like Majnu or kicked out like Armaan Malik!"

"You are too much," she laughed and then sat next to him with her first aid kit, "Ok…stay there, I am going to clean your wounds with some peroxide. Ho sakta hai thoda dard ho."

"One minute," he lifted his head and then placed it on her lap, "now it won't hurt."

"A- Armaan," she smiled coyly, "you are incorrigible."

"Wo tho main hoon….it's your fault. Agar tumne mujhey nahin bataya hota ki tum bhi mujh se pyaar karti ho, tho main aaj khidki ke andar nahin, bahar hi latkaa hota."

As always, his love and caring attitude for her had prevailed, igniting a warm and sweet gush all over her body. At that moment, as he lay on her lap getting his wounds tended, she forgot all her miseries, her fear of someone walking into the room and catching her breaking the hostel rules or her test due the next day.


While Armaan's wounds had found solace in Riddhima's lap, downstairs the drama between Muskaan and Abhimanyu had intensified. The warden, Keerti Shah had also joined in the commotion while the police were still on their way.

"Mrs. Shah. She is my wife! I need to see her right now!" Abhimanyu was adamant.

"She has been away from home for the last two weeks, hasn't she?" Keerti asked, "why the urgency?"

"Because I just found out that she was living in with another man!" He scowled. Muskaan raised her eyebrows, conjecturing who that other man could be.

"Aahaa!" Keerti exclaimed, "male ego at it's worst! Meri biwi ghar chhod de, mujhey koi parvaa nahin, lekin kisi aur mard ke saath rahe, main bardaasht nahin kar sakta, chaahe main kisi aur aurat ke saath kuch bhi karta rahoon?"

"Mrs. Shah! You are crossing the limits. Do you know who I am?" Abhimanyu's eyes were burning with anger.

"Yes Mr. Abhimanyu Modi! Aap jaise bad mizaaz ameer ghar ka ladkon ko main achchi tarah pehchaanti hoon! Please leave, otherwise the police will be here any minute," Keerti snapped her fingers, "I'd hate to read headlines in the paper tomorrow morning about you breaking into a women's hostel. I'm sure, you'd hate it too….aakhir aap jaise log apni reputation bachaane ke liye kuch bhi kar sakte hain."

"YOU B%&*@!" He cursed her, throwing Keerti into frenzy. Her cool and calm composure had been challenged by this rich brat.

"The police is here Mr. Modi. Good bye now!" She replied irately.

Abhimanyu turned around and saw two well bodied cops facing him.

"Please arrest this man for breaking into our hostel, harassing my staff and abusing me," Keerti ordered. The policemen, without hesitating placed handcuffs around Abhimanyu's wrists. His protests, threats and bribes were of no use. Without any further delay, they hurled him into the police van and drove off to the nearest police station. The cops were used to such incidents and had learnt never to question the legitimacy of the complaints from the hostel. Mrs. Keerti Shah was an activist and a strong women's rights advocate. In the past, going against her had cost the police department their reputation and standing in the society. Even politicians feared messing with Asha Women's hostel or it's warden, Mrs. Keerti Shah. Some had even lost elections in the past for making derogatory remarks about her- such was her influence in Mumbai.


"Yeh police ki gaadi kyun hai neeche?" Riddhima peeped from her window after dressing his wounds, fretful when she heard the sirens and chaos downstairs. Her heart raced nervously at the thought, "ARMAAN…..PLEASE HIDE SOMEWHERE! Mujhey darr hai yeh police tumhein pakadne na aayi ho."

"OK," he stood up and covered his face with her dupatta, "will this work?" He teased her.

"ARMAAN!" She rolled her eyes, "yeh mazaak nahin hai…..look there is something going on downstairs."

He pulled the dupatta off his face and hid behind the curtain, "you are right….that is a police van…but look they are taking some guy with them."

"Kaun ho sakta hai wo?" She squint her eyes to get a better view.

"Some smart alec intruder who thinks he is invincible," Armaan gloated as he recognized Abhimanyu's shirt being shoved into the van.

"Tum please chale jao Armaan….what if they find you?" Her heart pounded at that thought.

"Ishq mein jail tho kya, main jahannum bhi jaa sakta hoon," he drawled romantically and pulled her into his arms. Hiding behind the curtain, he kissed behind her ears, "agar main jail chala gaya tho tum meri bail karne aaogi na?" He teased her.

"This is not funny Armaan," she flung her arms around his neck and embraced him snugly, "don't ever say one can take you to jail. Why don't you hide inside the closet?"

"That won't be necessary," he pulled her closer, "because the police just left."

"Really?" She pulled away and glanced outside the window. All was quiet and dark again, "thank God!" She sighed, praying silently.

"Is your closet invitation still open?" He asked with an impish smile.

"No you need to leave now," she pushed him back, "before the next police van comes back."

"I wish they would," he grinned, reassured and at ease now that Abhimanyu had been deposed off to his rightful destination.

Armaan kissed her forehead and before she could react, he leapt out of the window at lightning speed, crawling down the walls like spider man.

Riddhima stretched her hands protectively, hoping to touch him once more, but he was gone, "Armaan," she yelled back at him. He looked up and blew a kiss at her. Next, he scaled the hostel wall and was off in his car, less worried and more content than he was just an hour ago.

Riddhima stood at the window in daze; reflecting on his sudden visit and then disappearing without leaving any trace, "kyun aaya tha Armaan? Sirf mujhey dekhne ya koi aur wajah thi?"

As if on cue, her phone rang once again. This time, she heard the ringer and answered the call, "Hello! Muakaan?  Sab theek tho hai na?"

"Yes Riddhima…now it is. But I need to caution you."

"What happened?"

"Abhimanyu had come here and created quite a fuss. He wanted to meet you."

"Oh My God!"

"Yes, he was very adamant and extremely rude to the staff. He even abused Keerti ma'am."

"That's not surprising," Riddhima clenched her teeth, well aware of Abhimanyu's foul tongue, "but why did he want to meet me after all these days? Itne din tak tho khabar bhi nahi li," she replied sourly.

"Apparently, he found out that you were living with another man."

There was silence on the line, as Riddhima's fury grew at finding the real reason for Abhimanyu's desperation.

"Hello! Riddhima? You still there?"

"Haan Muskaan…..I am still here."

"You know he was all bruised and bleeding. Aisa lag raha tha wo kisi se  ladh jhagad ke aaya tha."

Everything fell into place now; Armaan's superman act to meet her, his wounds and his relief on seeing the police car leave with 'the intruder.'

"Where is he now?" Riddhima's voice cracked.

"The police took him away. I am sorry, we had no choice."

"Why are you sorry Muskaan?"

"I know you guys are separated, but he is still your husband," Muskaan said softly.

"Muskaan, you did the right thing. He deserves to be there especially after what he's done," without going into details about his possible fight with Armaan, Riddhima thanked Muskaan once again, "thanks Muskaan…you really saved me today."

"You're welcome Riddhima. Be careful. I'm sure he will come back again."

"No he won't!" Riddhima replied firmly, "I know how to handle him; after all I have been his unfortunate wife for five years…thanks Muskaan….Good night. Ab tum bhi ghar jao. I will always be indebted to you."

"I am glad I could help," Muskaan hung up, relieved that she had saved Riddhima from Abhimanyu's wrath that night.

After hanging up, a stunned Riddhima could not hold her tears any more. More than inflicting wounds on Armaan, Abhimanyu had scathed her already bruised soul by threatening the man she really cared about. She knew, Abhimanyu would be back, but this time more prepared and possibly more dangerous to Armaan's life than before. The wounded tigress had been jolted badly this time; she would have to attack Armaan's offender before Abhimanyu's reprisal.

Armaan had once again floored her with his love and caring attitude without making any fuss about it. There was no doubt Armaan had changed her life forever, by his unconditional love, his willingness to protect her at all costs, and be there for her whenever she needed him.

"Tune zindagi mein aake, zindagi badal di' from "Humraaz"

Tune Zindagi Mein Aake Zindagi Ho Zindagi Badal Di
Tune Zindagi Mein Aake Zindagi Ho Zindagi Badal Di
Tune Pyaar Yun Nibhaake Zindagi Ho Zindagi Badal Di

Tune Faasle Mita Ke
Tune Faasle Mita Ke Zindagi Ho Zindagi Badal Di
Tune Zindagi Mein Aake Zindagi Ho Zindagi Badal Di

…….Next…Riddhima's standoff with Abhimanyu in the jail….

No comments:

Post a Comment