Wednesday, 27 June 2018

part 27 : Pehchan


After spending the longest day and half in the jail, Abhimanyu was finally released to his family. Anticipating sympathy and tears of joy at his return home, Abhimanyu was shocked to get a cold reception from his family.



"Are you guys not glad I am back?" He asked.




"We are glad you are back, but ashamed of what you did," Shashank spoke on behalf of the family.



'Dad?" Abhimanyu was taken aback, "your son was in jail! That too because of that woman, Riddhima!"



"Tameez se baat karo Abhimanyu! Galti tumhari hai, Riddhima ki nahin!"



"I don't believe this," Abhimanyu jeered, "you have more sympathy for that woman who left me for another man?"



"She left you because of another woman in your life Abhimanyu. Please get the facts correct!"



Flustered, Abhimanyu scowled and picked the phone, "Times of India? Can I speak to your editor in chief? This is Abhimanyu Modi!"



"What are you trying to do?" Shashank asked.



"The press needs to know that my wife is having an extra marital affair. That's why she left me. Warna main ek mazaak bankar reh jaaunga."



Shashank took the phone from his son and hung up, "the press has strict instructions to not cover any more news on our personal affairs."



"Dad! Sab mujh par ungli utha rahe hain. Riddhima needs to bear the brunt also."



"We will sort out our personal issues ourselves. No need to involve the media."



"DAD!"



"ABHIMANYU!"



"Whatever!" Abhimanyu shook his head in anger, "theek hai main dekhta hoon Armaan kaise bach kar jaayega ab….I will make life miserable for that man! He has ruined me completely!"



"Armaan ko tum aanch bhi nahin pahunchaoge," Shashank stressed his words, "wo tumhara bhai hai. I will never let that happen."



"Bhai?" Abhimanyu sneered, "what bhai? Meri biwi ko bhagaa ka le gaya wo…..how can I trust him?"



"Abhimanyu, if you try to harm Armaan in anyway, I will make sure, you will lose all rights to your inheritance."



A stunned Abhimanyu glanced at the other faces in the room. No one spoke up; they looked away, unwilling to side with Abhimanyu this time.



"Bhaiyya aap?" He stared at Atul.



"Sorry Abhimanyu….sudhar jaa….abhi bhi der nahin huyi hai…..we all want to live peacefully."



"Rahul?"



"Sorry bhaiyya. I agree with dad. We don't want any animosity in this house."



"Mom?"



"Beta, I just want you to mend your ways and forget Riddhima forever."



Even though he had been released from jail, for the first time, Abhimanyu found himself a captive of his own misdeeds and wrongdoings. His arrogance would never let him admit to his offenses; instead, with an air of smugness and defiance, he walked away to his room, dejected and mortified by his family's segregation from him.



………………………………………………………………………………………….



SIX MONTHS LATER:



It had been six months since Riddhima had left the Modi home. If Armaan's entry into the Modi's family had shaken the foundations, Riddhima's exit had completely remodeled the face of the family.



Shashank had not only reinstated himself as the Chief Executive Officer of his company, but had also regained his identity as the head of the Modi telecom industry in the country. The company had not only salvaged it's reputation in the telecom world, but also recaptured most of the market share. To a father's dismay, Shashank had discovered how his blind faith in his middle son, Abhimanyu could have cost him the empire he had so painstakingly built over decades of hard work. Major errors in accounting and fraudulent deals could have brought them at the brink of another 'Satyam' style debacle had Shashank not ousted Abhimanyu from the chair.



Atul had started an upscale 'fusion restaurant,' thanks to a loan from a local banker, who had worked with Shashank years ago. Atul's natural talent in the culinary field gave him a natural edge and his restaurant soon earned the reputation of a happening joint amongst the affluent and elite of Mumbai. Anjali joined her husband as the chief financial officer of the restaurant. Her desire to be 'incharge' had finally been fulfilled. Atul was more than happy to hand over the reins of the finances to his wife, who was undoubtedly smarter than him in handling money. Work and Kavya kept her so busy, that she had no time to idle, complain or gossip with anyone.



………………………………………………………



Rahul had moved to Bangalore to join the MBA program at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management. Before his departure, the Modis had held a small private ceremony in honor of his engagement to Muskaan. Muskaan stayed back in Mumbai as the counselor at the Asha Women's Hostel. As was expected, Riddhima and Muskaan became the best of friends in these six months. Even though, Riddhima had severed all connections with Abhimanyu, she helped Padma with all the preparations for the engagement and even stunned everyone by attending the ceremony at the Modi house. Armaan, even though had been sent an invitation, stayed away from the Modi home. Instead, he took Rahul and Muskaan out for dinner at Atul's new restaurant along with Riddhima to celebrate their engagement.



"Hey brother, good to see you. Hope you can forgive us for what we did with you," Atul welcomed Armaan with open arms.



"Galti tumhari nahin hai Atul," Armaan placed his hand on Atul's shoulder, "but there are some people I can never forgive."



"You mean dad?" Atul asked softly, "I think dad regrets his actions too. He is really fond of you."



"Sorry Atul. Shayad mera dil itna badha nahin hai…well let's celebrate the big occasion, shall we? This one is on me," he raised a toast to Rahul and Muskaan, deflecting any more conversation regarding his father.



……………………………………………………………



Padma, happy that Atul and Rahul had established their own identity was still struggling with her emotions regarding her middle son, Abhimanyu. She wanted Abhimanyu to redeem himself by letting go of his ego and arrogance; instead since his brief stay in the jail, he had become more combative and oppositional to everyone. He barely stayed at home, and spent most of his time in hotels or elsewhere. He refused any help from family members or counseling in the form of a psychiatrist or psychologist. As his mother and well wisher, Padma tried her best to knock sense into him, but all her efforts fell on Abhimanyu's deaf ears, "MOM! I DON'T NEED ANY ADVICE FROM YOU! TUMNE MERE LIYE AAJ TAK KIYA HI KYA HAI?" Padma would be heartbroken at her son's merciless words; it was an irony that the son who had been most pampered in his childhood by both Shashank and Padma, partly out of guilt from their marital discord, had turned out to be the most selfish person in their family. Perhaps, by giving in to all his demands in childhood, they had made a monster out of him.





Since his release from prison, Abhimanyu had become the butt of ridicule for tabloids and late night TV shows. To escape from the negative publicity, he had isolated and drowned himself in a world of liquor, betting and womanizing. Nikita had conveniently bid adieu to him and her job at the company. One day she had disappeared with all her luggage from the apartment given to her by Abhimanyu, and latched onto another multi millionaire heir in the city. More than Riddhima's departure, Nikita's heartlessness had thrown him off the edge. He couldn't believe that the woman he had spent so much on could just walk away so ruthlessly. He spent many nights at her apartment pacing restlessly or getting drunk when the pain was too unbearable. There were times, when for a flash of a second, he would wonder that more that Armaan, was Nikita his main enemy? His ego would never admit to it, and once again he would curse Armaan and make plans on how to ruin his life forever. Riddhima and Shashank had prohibited him from harming Armaan physically, but day and night, his conniving mind chalked out the downfall of Armaan.





Despite finding out that his dad had changed the will in his favor, Abhimanyu refused to grant divorce to Riddhima.





"I don't care if she left me! I don't care if she loves another man! She is mine and will always be my wife! MAIN USEY KABHIE DIVORCE NAHIN KAROONGA!" For him, it was a battle of the egos and a battle for one-upmanship against his half brother, Armaan.

……………………………………………………………



Meanwhile, in Dehradun, Aradhana had turned a new leaf since her conversation with Armaan. Familiar with her husband's political and devious ways, she had threatened to expose his lies and crafty schemes to the public and the Chief Minister if he didn't stop interfering in her sister's life. Taken aback and annoyed by his wife's rebellion, initially he tried to soothe her ruffled feathers by his usual gift of sweet words that had always worked in the past to 'pataofy' her, but once he realized she meant business, he went into hibernation for a while, awaiting the right moment to attack again. Tables had turned in Mumbai also. Abhimanyu was no longer that powerful; Shashank was in charge of the business and was a tough nut to crack. Shailendra had no choice but to withdraw his support from a powerless Abhimanyu and try to work his charm on the senior Modi. Shashank was unimpressed, as Padma had already forewarned him of Shailendra's intentions.



…………………………………………………………………………….



Back in Nainital, Dilip's brain tumor had defied all logic and medical science by showing signs of spontaneous regression without any further treatment.



"Miracles do happen," is all the doctors in Nainital could comment after reviewing his latest MRI scans.



"My miracle is called Naina," Dilip placed his arm around his soul mate and now best friend. She smiled back at him and kept her fingers crossed behind her back, praying for Dilip's long and healthy life.



……………………………………………………………………………….



What about our main characters- Armaan and Riddhima?



In the six months, Riddhima had not only become an independent thinker, her new found freedom had changed her outlook towards her life. Gone were the days of trying to please others; it was more about her happiness and existence. Still in charge of the cafeteria at the hostel; her online B.A course was almost complete, thanks to her hard work and extra credits she had worked on. Armaan remained her source of moral support and strength, although lately, they barely saw each other except for weekends. His debut song, 'kaho ek din' had taken the market by a storm and even though he was still a student at the academy, he was inundated by offers to sing for various albums. They spent most Sundays together, with Riddhima spending her entire day with him. Armaan and Riddhima were like a real couple - cooked, cleaned, shopped and dined together. Thanks to Muskaan, Riddhima had developed quite a taste for style and fashion. Gone were the everyday churidaar suits.  Each weekend, she would surprise Armaan with a different outfit- short kurtis and jeans, long skirts and tops, long kurtis and tights, knee length sleeveless dresses. Armaan loved his surprises and made mental notes on what looked good on her and what didn't. Without her knowledge, he had started a collection of wardrobe for her based on her weekly demos. He even went a step further by purchasing coordinating shoes and purses with the outfits. Of course, Muskaan usually accompanied him on these shopping sprees, "wow Armaan….aashiq ho tho tumhare jaisa. Hope you can train Rahul one day to surprise me like this." She commented one day on their return from a shopping trip.





"You know I can't wait for the day when Riddhima will be the happiest woman on the world," Armaan sighed.



"You mean when she gets married to you?" Muskaan teased him.



"No, when she divorces Abhimanyu," Armaan replied seriously, "mujhey paane se zyaada uske liye Abhimanyu se sab bandhan thodna zyaada zaroori hai."



"You are so sweet Armaan. Do you ever think about yourself at all? Sirf doosron ki khushi ke baare mein hi soch te ho," Muskaan admired her new friend.



"Hey, don't get any ideas, huh?" Armaan chided, "I am not a Mahatma Gandhi…..just a crazy lover…..and can't wait for the day when Riddhima is mine forever."



"Of course she is. She is totally in love with you." Muskaan laughed.



"Really? Give me an example," Armaan prodded, "main bhi sun na chaahta hoon warna wo tho kabhie kuch kehti nahin hai."





"Poori duniya se ladhne ko tayyar hai tumhare liye…..aur kya proof chaahiye tumhein?" Muskaan smacked Armaan's head, "men can be so dumb at times!"





"OUCH!" Armaan winced, "jaanta hoon baba….lekin phir bhi sun na achcha lagta hai." He winked and then headed off towards his destination after dropping Muskaan home.



………………………………………………………………………….



Lost in his own world, he drove off towards his apartment with dreams and hopes for his future with Riddhima. He couldn't wait for the day when Riddhima's divorce would come through; he planned to propose to her the same day and then surprise her with her very own collection at his place, in his room- their bedroom. In his mind, he had rehearsed 'the proposal' a gazillion times. He wanted it to be special, unique and inimitable- the most romantic proposal to the most beautiful woman in the world.



……………………………………………………………………………





Even though, Riddhima kept herself busy with work and studies, deep down she knew her main short term goal was to convince the courts that she needed a divorce from her estranged husband. Lawyer's fees were still insurmountable, but she knew there would be some lawyer out there who would help her out of this situation. The Modis had offered services of their family lawyer, Mr. Chaturvedi, but after her last visit with him, she had decided not to pursue his services. He was keener on advancing his career through the high profile case rather than genuinely helping Riddhima. To her chagrin, Abhimanyu remained adamant and refused to sign the divorce papers.





The hostel warden turned out to be her God Mother, or rather God Sister in many ways. Keerti introduced Riddhima to her younger sister, Krina Shah, a recent graduate from Law school with noble intentions and a will to help the under privileged and battered.



"Riddhima….here meet my younger sister Krina…..she just finished law school."



"Hi Krina!"



"Hi Riddhima! Di has told me everything about your case. I would love to help you if you don't mind."



"How can you help me?" Riddhima was a bit skeptical initially but when Krina spelled out her intentions and earnest desire to help Riddhima, she consented.



"Don't worry about my fees….this is my first case out of Law school. I want to take it as a challenge. You can pay me after the work is done….no rush….and frankly, if I can succeed in helping a woman like you, I will take it as my compensation."





Riddhima and Krina hit it off instantly, and soon became the best of friends. Riddhima learnt a lot about the legal system and laws through her new friend. They often spent time studying old divorce cases in the library. It was obvious that when one spouse did not consent, divorce was difficult, but not impossible. As time went by, her time away from Abhimanyu and lack of any communication between them made her case easier. Krina did not want to leave any loopholes, and even took the help of her college professors while preparing Riddhima's case.





…………………………………………………………………….





ONE SUNDAY MORNING:



Swamped with preparation for her B.A. finals, Riddhima called Armaan, "sorry Armaan….aaj nahin aa sakti….I have tons of studying to do. Kal se finals shuru hain."



"Oh Riddhima….you can't do that…..you know how impatiently I wait for Sundays…please jaan aisa zulm mat karo mere saath…aur apne saath bhi," he whined.



"Jaan? Did you just call me jaan?" She blushed profusely.



"Kyunki tumne itni buri khabar sunaakar meri jaan hi le li," he teased her in his most husky and romantic drawl.



"Ok baba….I will be there for a short time, but promise that you will let me leave in a couple of hours," she couldn't resist the way his words tugged at her heart, "I don't want to fail tomorrow."



"Tum fail nahin hogi ja-aan," he stressed on the last syllable again.





"How can you be so confident?" She chuckled.



"Kyunki tumse zyaada main tumhein jaanta hoon….Ok now don't waste any more time….come here ASAP!"



"Yes jaan….abhi aayi," she teased him back and reflected on Armaan's statement. He had always been right about her; if it were not him, she would still be in the Modi home, oblivious of the truth and ignorant about her own self.



Their time together was always rejuvenating, but it was his wicked, desirous glances at her, that she looked forward to the most. For any self respecting woman, admiration from the man she loved, was the most invigorating sensation- something that she had never experienced before when married to Abhimanyu. Even though, Armaan and she had not crossed the limits on intimacy, his magical touch and alluring glances were enough to enliven her monotonous and busy life loaded with work, lawyers and books.



…………………………………………………………………………………….



An anxious Armaan, dressed in a loose white shirt and slacks stood in his balcony, restlessly pacing up and down in anticipation of Riddhima's arrival. Just being with Riddhima was enough to recharge his dreary life. Lately, he had been working extra hard to fulfill both his school and recording commitments. He had no idea, who had recommended him to so many good music composers. Even his teachers were stunned to see the number offers come his way; it was certainly an unprecedented event in the history of the academy.





Armaan's heart skipped quite a few beats when he first saw her step out of an auto rickshaw with a huge bag, rolling behind her.



"Is she planning to move in with me again?" The thought itself had him jumping with joy.



He ran downstairs to welcome her back with open arms, "am I dreaming or is it true that you are moving back?"



"Moving back?" She dragged her bag on wheels, "of course not! Don't get any crazy ideas. These are my books and laptop."



"Books and laptop?" His face fell, "kya tum yahan padhai karne aayi ho?"



"Armaan, I have finals….I need to be well prepared….ab khade khade kya dekh rahe ho….mera bag andar le jao please."





"Tum diva se geek banti jaa rahi ho," he frowned and shook his head, "I am really looking forward to this romantic Sunday now."



"Sorry Armaan. No romance this weekend. I am really nervous about my exam. What if I fail?"



"So what if you fail?" He raised his eyebrows, "if life can give you a second chance after failing, why can't the B.A examiners?"



"Tum mera mazaak udha rahe ho na?" Tears of stress and anxiety rolled down her eyes.



Her tears as always melted his heart, "Riddhima, let's leave this bag inside and go out somewhere." He shoved the bag into his apartment, locked the door and held her hand, "we are going to the beach."



"Beach?" She was mortified, "meri padhai?"



"I don't think you are in a state to study right now." He squeezed her hand and wiped her face with his other hand, "all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl."



"Armaan, you just don't understand!" She cried out loud.



"Yes I do!" Without giving her a chance, he lifted her thin frame on his shoulder, her dangling legs protesting against his chest. He dropped and belted her snugly on the passenger seat, pulled down the roof on his new convertible, with his dark glasses on and drove off in the fresh breezy afternoon.



The wind and speed had a calming effect on her anxious nerves. As they approached the salty air of the sea, she let out a sigh of relief and shut her eyes, "you are right Armaan. I was getting too wound up. Why are you always right about me?"



Glancing at her through the corner of his eyes, he held her hand, intertwining his fingers with hers, "kyunki jab koi kisi se itna be inteha pyaar karta hai, tho wo usey apne aap se zyaada pehchan ne lagta hai." He brought her hand close to his lips and kissed it passionately.



They had come to a halt in the parking lot at the beach.





His lips set her skin ablaze; she leaned and rested her head on his shoulder, curling her fingers around his strong arm, "Kyun karte ho mujh se itna pyaar?"



"Kyunki mujhey ek pagal kutte ne kaata hai," he chided, downplaying the seriousness of their conversation.



"ARMAAN!" She pulled her hand back and slapped his arm repeatedly, "you are too much."



"Wo tho main hoon," he leaned towards her, planting a kiss on her cheek, "aaj ke baad yeh kabhie nahin poonchna ki main tumse itna pyaar kyun karta hoon?" He removed his sun glasses, dropping his gaze from her eyes, lips and then the curve of her long neck. He bent down, gently brushing his lips against the abyss of her lower neck and whispered, "kyunki iska jawab koi nahin jaanta….main bhi nahin." The throbbing pulse in her neck and sweet twinge inside her overwhelmed her senses. She circled her arms around his neck and hid her face in his neck, "aaj jahan bhi tum mujhey le jaaoge, main jaane ko tayyar hoon."



"Jaanti ho kahan le jaana chahta hoon tumhein?" He kissed the tip of her ear and whispered again.



"Kahan?"



"Us neele aasmaan par….in hawaaon mein…..I want to fly with you, where no one can come between us…..neither your books, nor your laptop, nor anyone else."



'ARMAAN!" She pulled back and scowled at him, "yeh romantic baaton mein books kyun le aaye tum?"



"Now you know how it feels?" He raised his eyebrows.



"Sorry baba!" She grabbed her ears in apology, "got the point….now can we go to the beach. I am dying to touch the water."



"Me too…I am dying to touch you in the water," he winked at her mischievously.



"Don't get any naughty ideas," she blushed and ran out on the warm sand, kicking her sandals off, like a free bird, soaring in the clear blue skies with no worries and apprehensions. Armaan rolled his pants, removed his shoes and ran after her. Soon, they were both running hand in hand, defying the waves, their bodies soaked in the salty sea water, laughing and frolicking in their own worry free dreamland of love and freedom….



Pleas enjoy this beautiful song dedicated to the couple…





AR mix: Tu hi tho meri dost hai by Sonia 0044

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxVZT9-sH30&feature=related[/youtube]


original song: Tu hi tho meri dost hai from youvraaj





[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh60lctZ7gg&feature=related[/youtube]



After a long day at the beach, tanned, salty, sandy and wet, they sat down at a local restaurant to grab some lunch.



"I love the water," she panted, wiping off the sand off her face with a table napkin, "but I hate this sand…it just sticks to you."



"I wish I could be the sand," Armaan grinned mischievously.



Turning a crimson red, she gave him a dirty look, "dheere bolo….yahan restaurant mein koi sun lega."



"Did I say anything inappropriate? I was just trying to be the sticky sand," he pouted.



"As if I don't know what you mean," she shook her wet hair, running her fingers through it. Armaan was awestruck by the image in front of him; she had never looked so attractive before- the simple act of shaking her wet hair had him mesmerized. "Oh my God! You are so beautiful Riddhima," he whispered and then clicked her picture with his camera phone.



She blushed as his lovelorn gaze had her captivated, "Armaan…should we order some appetizers?"



"I have been ordering appetizers for almost a year now," he groaned, 'I am ready for the main course now." His gaze remained fixated on her radiant face as she turned a beetroot at his comment, "Armaan….sshhh….bahut badmaash hote jaa rahe ho."



"You have a dirty mind sweetheart," he laughed and sat back, putting her at ease by releasing her from his intense gaze, "it's all in your mind….maine tho koi badmaashi nahin ki….it was an honest and innocent comment……appetizers….appetizers…appetizers….lekin un se pait nahin bharta kya karoon?"



"Have patience sweetheart," she chuckled back, " main course bhi ek din milega," inwardly thrilled by all the attention and love Armaan had bestowed upon her all afternoon. He had once again managed to raise her spirits and relieve her off her worries.



They ate in silence, famished from all the beach activities. Finally, Riddhima broke the silence, "Armaan, can I ask you something?"



"Hmm?"



"Tum mere liye itna kuch karte ho, can I ask you do something for yourself?"



"Like what?"



"Daddy ji ko maaf kar do." She dropped a bombshell at him. His expression hardened at the mention of Shashank's name, "WHY?"



"Because I know he regrets what he said to you, and I know he really loves you."



"Riddhima!" Armaan said sternly, "shayad tum mujhey itni achchi tarah pehchanti nahin ho abhi," throwing his napkin on the table, he stopped eating.



"Armaan….I know you are a kind hearted man…please forgive your dad….he really cares about you."



"Sorry Riddhima….main har kaam dil se karta hoon….pyaar bhi aur nafrat bhi. I give all my heart and soul to the people I care about but if someone hurts me like Mr. Shashank Modi did, I never forgive them. Shayad mera dil itna badha nahin hai." He stood up angrily and walked towards the waiter, "can I have the bill? We need to leave."



"Armaan!" She followed him, "I am sorry, I brought this topic up. Mujhey laga shayad tum purani baatein bhool jao…he is your father……please give him one more chance."



"Sorry Riddhima. Agar ek baar mera dil toot jaata hai, tho usey koi nahin jod sakta…tum bhi nahin."



She was stunned by his response. She had no idea that a man, so tender and loving could harbor so much bitterness inside him. She understood Armaan's point of view but through Padma she had learnt how remorseful Shashank had been about his actions. Shashank was trying his best to redeem himself by watching out for Armaan at every step, but she decided to drop the topic for now, hoping that one day she would succeed in bringing the father and son close to each other.





….to be contd…..

 Bheegi

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