Friday, 6 July 2018

part 33 : Pehchan


THE LIBRARY AT THE MODI HOME:



"Dad….I have accepted the advance from the organizers. You have to convince Armaan to perform in Nainital." Abhimanyu sounded frustrated.



"Abhimanyu, you know Armaan well. If that boy doesn't want to do something, no one can convince him!" Shashank shrugged his shoulders.





"Dad….it will be a packed show. Nainital loves Armaan….he is their blue eyed boy. Main jaanta hoon ki aap hi Armaan ko convince kar sakte hain. You know we need this cash desperately. Our telecom business is not what it used to be. Armaan's music sales and his concerts are imperative to keep our company afloat."



"You are right beta," Shashank sighed, "I'll see what I can do."



……………………………………………………………….



SHASHANK & PADMA'S BEDROOM:



"Padma, hum log kal Nainital jaa rahe hain…zara mera bag tayyar kar dena."



"Nainital? Kyun?"



"Armaan has agreed to perform there."



"Really? Dilip bhaisaheb ki death ke baad wo wahan kabhie nahin gaya. Aapne convince kaise kar diya usey?" Padma was surprised.



"Beta kiska hai?" Shashank beamed with pride, "wo meri baat kabhie nahin taal ta." Shashank recalled how he had spun an emotional web in front of Armaan- tumhari maa aur mama ki aatma ko shanti milegi agar tum Nainital mein apne logon ke beech perform karoge. One thing Shashank had learnt about Armaan was- he was a very sensitive man, easily hurt but easily reigned in by emotions and sincerity.



"You never cease to surprise me," she chuckled, "I am glad Armaan is going to Nainital….shayad Riddhima ki bhi koi khabar mil jaaye wahan."



"RIDDHIMA? Padma, you are still hopeful that ungrateful girl will come back? We treated her like a daughter, and she took advantage of our love…dekho divorce ke baad ek baar bhi contact nahin kiya usne….mere bte Armaan ka bhi dil thod diya….balki do do beton ki zindagi kharab kar di! I am glad Abhimanyu moved on. Armaan definitely deserves someone better than her!"



"Shashank! Galti hamare bte Abhimanyu ki thi!"



"Jaanta hoon baba jaanta hoon….lekin ab Abhimanyu sudhar gaya hai…anyways, I hope Armaan moves on with his life too….Mehra saheb ki ladki ka proposal ka kya hua? Did he like the girl?"



"Shashank," she sighed, "Armaan is not interested in any other girl…..you will never understand…..any ways…kitne dino ki packing karni hai?"





"Just two nights," Shashank walked into the bathroom to change for the night while his wife packed his bags. Padma pondered over Shashank's statement. Yes, Riddhima had walked out of their lives, but why did she not keep any contact with them? Was her relationship to them limited to Abhimanyu only? Why did she break Armaan's heart? Armaan had never spoken about what had happened in Nainital between them. Through Aradhana, Padma was aware that Riddhima was alive, well and happy somewhere in the Nainital area. Lately, even Aradhana had stopped calling her. At times, Padma had wondered if she should try and locate Riddhima herself- perhaps there was more than met the eye. She knew Riddhima's feelings were genuine for Armaan, then why the separation?





Padma picked her phone and after ages, dialed a familiar number, "Hello Aradhana?"

……………………………………………………………………………….



AT ASHIRWAAD ORPHANAGE:



"Riddhima! I have great news for our kids," Mrs Saxena, Nishant's bua and director of the place, barged into Riddhima's office, all excited next morning.



"Kya hua ma'am?" Riddhima stood up.



"The mayor of Nainital has donated 150 tickets for our center for this evening's show."



"Show?" Riddhima was confused.



"Arre bhai Riddhima! Tumhara wo favorite singer…jiske saare CDs tumne collect kar rakhe hain…ARMAAN MALIK is finally performing in his home city tonight!"



Riddhima's face lit up at the news, "really?" As she realized the repercussions of her excitement, the color faded, "lekin ma'am….aap log jaaiye…someone needs to stay back here…after all some kids can't go for the concert."



"Don't worry dear….uska intezaam bhi ho chuka hai….I have hired temporary sitters for tonight…we are both going….bus ka intezaam bhi ho chuka hai…I DON'T WANT TO HEAR A NO! Samjhi?"



Riddhima relented, albeit anxious and eager to see him perform live once again. "I am sure, he will not see me in that large crowd…I can't wait to see him again….2 saal…it's been two years since I saw him." Her heart fluttered at the thought, "door se hi sahi, usey ek baar dekh tho paaungi."





…………………………………………………………………………………….



OUTSIDE THE ARENA:



There was a familiar stampede like ambience outside the auditorium. Riddhima smiled nostalgically as she relived the moments from two years ago- her excitement at surprising him, the scalpers, the young crazy women, their celebration after the concert…and then….that fateful night that changed their relationship forever. From a passionate union of souls and bodies to a heart wrenching separation, all within a span of few hours.



"RIDDHIMA!" Mrs Saxena hollered at her as they lined all the kids outside the auditorium, "bachchon….apne group ke saath hi rehna….Riddhima didi ka haath pakdo Rimjhim!" She ordered a young girl, who stood mesmerized staring at Armaan's giant poster outside the arena.



"DIDI! KITNA BADHA POSTER HAI NA YEH? AISA LAGTA HAI MAIN ARMAAN MALIK KE SAAMNE KHADI HOON! MAIN BHI MILNA CHAAHTI HOON INSE! KYA AAP MILI HAIN INSE?" Rimjhim asked an innocent question as she caressed the poster with her little fingers. Riddhima placed her fingers on the girl's hand, "aao beta…yeh superstar hain…inse milna bahut mushkil hai….inhein door se hi admire karte hain hum…jaise aasmaan ke sitaare," she gazed lovingly at his familiar smile, the twinkle in his eyes, teasing her like they always did.



As Riddhima looked around, she was pleasantly surprised to see that the last two years had also changed Armaan's fan base- not only were there hordes of young women around, but a lot of families, elderly and kids stood impatiently outside the doors. Armaan's voice had definitely won the hearts of all age groups; perhaps his whole hearted acceptance by the Modis played a big role in his success. She was happy for him and silently wished him the best of luck in his endeavors.



……………………………………………………………….



THE CONCERT:



Ashirwaad kids and their care takers were assigned a special section, not too far from the stage. Before the show started, Riddhima was thankful when the lights were dimmed. It would be too awkward, if he spotted her in the crowd. Yes, she had promised to surprise him at his concerts, but unfortunately, she had not kept up with her promise till today. It was best to stay oblivious.



Two years ago, he was a rising star, but the moment he arrived on the stage, there was no doubt that he was no longer an aspiring newcomer- he was THE STAR, THE STAGE, THE CONCERT and THE NIGHT. Riddhima was awestruck by how much more handsome and striking he looked two years after his first concert. The familiar boyish looks had been replaced by a rugged and chiseled masculine persona.



"HELLO NAINITAL!" Armaan's voice drowned the mad screams of the crowd, "JAISA AAP SAB JAANTE HAIN, NAINITAL SE MERA BAHUT PURANA RISHTA HAI. THIS CITY HAS GIVEN ME EVERYTHING I HAVE AND I AM IN LIFE. YEH SHEHER MERI PEHCHAN HAI. IT'S GIVEN ME MY MOST CHERISHED MEMORIES AND MOST HEARTBREAKING ONES ALSO."



Riddhima held her breath at his last statement; averted her eyes from the stage, biting her lips to hide her tears. She looked up at the giant flat screen monitor and saw the pain in his eyes as he uttered, 'HEARTBREAKING ONES ALSO.'  She wondered if he had moved on in life; there was perhaps another woman in his life - he must be married by now- at least that's what she expected.



Did she still hold a special place in his heart?

"LEKIN AAP SAB KA PYAAR HAI JO MUJHEY AAJ PHIR YAHAN LE AAYA HAI. I WOULD LIKE TO DEDICATE THIS SONG TO ALL MY MEMORIES LINKED TO THIS WONDERFUL CITY…HERE YOU GO."

hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo
hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo


Rab Na karein ke yeh zindagi
Kabhi kisi ko daga de

Kisiko rulaye na dil ki laagi
Maula sab ko dua de


Rab Na karein ke yeh zindagi
Kabhi kisi ko daga de

Kisiko rulaye na dil ki laagi
Maula sab ko dua de


More than ever, his voice and the lyrics of the song pierced her heart, making hard for to control her tears. There was a lot more pain and emotion in his voice than she had ever experienced before.



hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo
hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo

Tere phelu mein jo raatein gurajri
Shab-e-mohtab mein nazrein utari

Tere pehlu mein jo raatein guzaari
Shab-e-mohtab mein nazrein utari



Hum bhi ruke hai us mod per
koi Humko sada de
Hum bhi ruke hai us mod per
koi Humko sada de


As he sang the above lyrics, she felt as if his gaze was resting on her, the lyrics mocking at her, reminding her of their last night together.




Rab Na karein ke yeh zindagi
Kabhi kisi ko daga de

Kisiko rulaye na dil ki laagi
Maula sab ko dua de



She had heard all his songs in the past two years; his voice always brought back memories of their sweet moments together, but tonight's live performance had surpassed her serene faade.



Salamat rahe taki owau na lage
Teri hizjr mein koi sare raat jage

Salamat rahe taki owau na lage
Teri hizjr mein koi sare raat jage



As his voice enthralled the audience, she quietly slipped away, excusing herself for a bathroom break.




chain se soye jaan meri
Sukh vaade sa vade


chain se soye jaan meri
Sukh vaade sa vade

Rab Na karein ke yeh zindagi
Kabhi kisi ko daga de

Kisiko rulaye na dil ki laagi
Maula sab ko dua de


Even in the lobby, his voice floated and chased her conscience.





Kaise chukaun tere ehsaan mein
Rakh dun yeh gir bhi din -o- imaan mein
Har saans meri naam tere
rab mujhko kaza de


Yes, she had broken his heart the other night, but since then, had paid penance for rejecting his heartfelt proposal- she was equally broken and discontent after she had been asked to leave him and his life forever…..




Har saans meri naam tere
rab mujhko kaza de

Rab Na karein ke yeh zindagi
Kabhi kisi ko daga de

Kisiko rulaye na dil ki laagi
Maula sab ko dua de


hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo
hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo

hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo
hmmm ummm hmmm ummm
o hooo hoo hoo





After a drink of water and washing her face, she walked out of the restroom, ready to face the rest of the concert with a more valiant effort on her part- at least for the sake of the kids.



As she walked past the pillars in the lobby, she overheard a familiar voice. She hid behind a pillar as she recognized Shashank's voice. He was talking to someone on the phone.



"Haan Tiwari saheb….aapka hukum sar aankhon par sir…….Armaan aapki party mein kal zaroor perform karega….aakhir aapki beti ki sagai ka sawaal hai….jee haan…advance mere account mein deposit kar dee jiye…..I will have Abhimanyu contact you with the details…..yes sir, Armaan and I will be there at 10 in the morning….thank you sir….you have made our Nainital trip more worthwhile sir….Take care!" With a triumphant look on his face, Shashank hung up the call and walked back to the auditorium.



Riddhima shuffled behind the pillar awkwardly, a bit disturbed by the conversation she had just heard.



"I know, it's none of my business, but why do I feel that Armaan's music is being showcased more for their business than his own career?" She walked back hesitantly, Shashank's words still ringing in her head. After her accidental meeting with Shashank a year ago, she had pledged that the Modis and their lives were of no significance to her.



FLASH BACK:



RIDDHIMA (FIRST PERSON)



Did I ever go back to Mumbai?



Yes, I did. One year after Armaan and I parted ways, I went back to Mumbai.

Wahan jo hua, wo ab main aapko bataati hoon.



A year had gone by since Armaan and I had separated. Even though I was happy and satisfied with my life and career, a part of me felt incomplete and restless without Armaan. I realized the folly of my rejection of his proposal. Yes, I was not ready for marriage, but Armaan was not Abhimanyu. Why had I transferred my fears of marriage to a relationship which was based purely on honesty, truth, faith and love?

Mujhey us waqt yeh ehsaas hua ki ek shaadi shuda aurat ki pehchan mangalsutra ya maang ka sindoor nahin, balki uske saathi ka pyaar aur vishwaas hota hai.



Armaan had given me both- love and trust in our relationship, then why could I not agree to his wish of us getting married? We were both committed and could not fathom a life without each other, so why all the fuss about not getting married? If that's what he wanted, I was ready to wear the tag of a married woman again- it didn't matter whether I was Riddhima Gupta or Riddhima Malik- I belonged to him and that was the truth.



With hopes and dreams in my eyes, I went back to Mumbai. I was ready to apologize, even propose to him in a role reversal of sorts.



Armaan was busy at a recording, I was told.



"Namaste daddyji!" I spotted Shashank jee outside the recording studio.



"Uh..oh…R-Riddhima?" He gave me a faint smile. I was half expecting to receive a fatherly hug from him, but he stood back, stiffening at my sudden appearance.

"Kaise hain aap? Mummyji kaisi hain? Maine aap sabko bahut miss kiya tha….par ab main wapas aa gayi hoon."



"Sure…sure," he smiled awkwardly, "you..you don't have to call me daddyji any longer."



"Oh," my face fell, "yes uncle….I am sorry….aadat jaate jaate hi jaayegi."



"Mr. Modi," his face hardened, the smile disappeared, "would be more appropriate now."



"Jee?" I was stunned.



"Excuse me…I have to go now."



"Jee uncle…I mean Mr. Modi, can I meet Armaan? Main Armaan se milne yahan aayi hoon."



"Sorry…he is busy with some recordings."



"Theek hai, main yahan wait kar loongi."



"RIDDHIMA! I think you should leave."



"Jee?"



"Armaan has moved on, and so have we. Ab hamara tumse koi rishta nahin hai. The divorce happened a year ago. We don't want to create any problems with our past relationships and I hope you understand what that means."



"Lekin daddy…I am sorry Mr. Modi….Armaan and I love each other and want to marry each other. I just needed some time after the divorce to sort out my feelings."



"Armaan is going to be engaged to a girl soon….it'd be better if you stay out of our lives Riddhima. Ek divorced ladki ko shobha nahin deta ki wo ek itne badhe ghar ke bte ke peeche padhi rahe."



"Mr. MODI! You are being unfair here." I had tears in my eyes, "Armaan and I love each other."



"Please use the past tense here Ms Riddhima Gupta! Armaan loved you, or so he thought he did. Now he is happy with us, his real family…don't ruin our lives again. Abhimanyu and Armaan are like buddies now….tumhare aane se wo pyaar aur bhai chaara jaa sakta hai dono mein…you understand what I am saying? Don't be selfish in love….learn to give and let go! For once, let Armaan be happy in his life! STAY AWAY FROM ALL THE MODIS! Paise chaahiye tho mil jaayenge!"



I couldn't believe what I had just heard. Just a year ago, this man claimed to be my father-figure; I was appalled and insulted to the core. Like son…like father. I ran as fast as I could, tears of anger and pain rolling down my eyes as I caught the first train back to Nainital.







PRESENT:





FOR ONCE, LET ARMAAN BE HAPPY IN HIS LIFE…

FOR ONCE, LET ARMAAN BE HAPPY IN HIS LIFE…

FOR ONCE, LET ARMAAN BE HAPPY IN HIS LIFE….



As Riddhima sat back in her seat, Shashank's words rang clear in her head. She had returned to Nainital without meeting anyone else. If the divorce had snapped her relationship with her ex husband, her meeting with Shashank had brought closure to all her past relationships. Initially, it had felt strange- the favorite daughter-in-law had become the outsider; the trouble maker, the home breaker, the snag between the brothers. It was ironical, that the victim had become the culprit. Her self respect tainted, she had no desire to stay back in Mumbai after that incident. From the looks of it, the media reports and television coverage always showed the Modis as one big happy family. Armaan was always accompanied by his father, and or brothers. Riddhima did not have the heart to tilt that balance away from Armaan's life. She stayed away from him, just collected all his music and stored all magazine articles about him. There had been no mention of his marriage or engagement in the papers, but he was a musician, not a film star- people cared about his music more than his personal life- perhaps that's why there was never any mention of a woman in his life.



Shashank's phone call with Mr. Tiwari made her wonder if all was really well at the Modi household? Was Armaan really happy there?



Riddhima and the Ashirwaad crowd thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the concert. Like him, even Armaan's voice had become richer and more arresting, each note more heart piercing and alluring than the previous. He was a versatile singer and kept the audience engaged with fast, slow, romantic and fun filled numbers. Lost in his voice, Riddhima hugged Rimjhim sitting next to her, shut her eyes and transcended into a dream like state, hand in hand with Armaan.



Small VM on "tum ho tho" on AR: thanks Pragati 2895

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LijELIXkEgk



original song from "rock on'



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5ONgfdDnUU&feature=fvw





…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..



AFTER THE CONCERT: THE DRESSING ROOM



"Armaan saheb….aap se koi orphanage ki director milna chaahti hain," one of the organiser's knocked on the door.



"Orphanage? Oh…must be those cute kids in that corner section….they were really enthusiastic….ek baar tho mera mann kiya tha, wahan kood ke unke paas chala jaaun," Armaan chuckled as he tucked his shirt into his trousers, "yes…please send her in."



Shashank came forward, "orphanage ki director? Why? Koi chandaa chaahiye tho hamare office mein phone kar sakte hain."



"Dad! Let them come in….it was such a pleasure to perform for those kids…reh reh kar mari nigaah us corner par hi jaa rahi thi…kuch tho baat hai un bachchon mein….there was something very magnetic about them."



"Ok..whatever son….make it quick as we have to go to bed on time…tomorrow you have a busy day."



"Tomorrow is a busy day? I thought we just head back to Mumbai in the evening," Armaan put his belt on and wiped off the stage make up from his face.



"Well….we have a little stopover…Mr. Tiwari has requested us to attend his daughter's engagement in the morning."



"Oh…who is Mr. Tiwari?"



"An old friend and business associate of mine….he wants you to sing at her engagement."



"What? No way dad! I am not that kind of singer!"



"Aisi baat nahin hai beta….it's not like a shaadi ka band waala….there is quite an illustrious crowd getting together for the function….and they are going to pay us handsomely too."



Armaan was perturbed by the thought of singing at a private party for money; he remained silent as he washed his face.



"Sir…yeh hain Mrs Saxena!"



"Oh…hello Mrs. Saxena," Armaan wiped his face and shook her hand, "thanks for bringing those cute kids along."



"It was our pleasure son….you are really gifted….I just came to invite you to our orphanage tomorrow."



"Oh really? Koi khaas wajah?"



"Nahin…bas bachche aapse itna impressed hain ki wo chaahte hain aap unke orphanage ka tour lein aur unhein kuch gaane wahan sunaaye….some of the kids who are handicapped could not accompany us…..they would love it if you stopped over for an hour or so."



"Sure…it will be my pleasure….what time and where?"



"Here is the address….how about 10 in the morning?" Mrs. Saxena handed over a piece of paper to him.



"10 it is! Ranikhet..huh? My mom used to talk about this place. I have never been there….but I'll definitely come….thanks for stopping by."





After Mrs. Saxena left, Shashank controlled his anger and politely asked Armaan, "kal 10 baje tho Tiwari ke yahan jaana hai."



"Sorry dad!" Armaan zipped his bag, "I never committed to Tiwari's function…you did…I have no desire to perform for them…aap wahan chale jaaiye…main Ranikhet jaaunga."



"Beta, but we have taken an advance from them!"



"Sorry dad…that's between you and him. I 'd rather perform for some genuine smiles than those fake ones at people like Tiwaris….good night dad…I am tired…have to go to bed early." Armaan placed his bag on his shoulders and walked out of the auditorium, leaving an aghast Shashank behind. He knew, this time, no amount of emotional blackmail would work in his favor. Armaan was a stubborn man when it came to things like this.



"Tiwari…sorry yaar…Armaan just came down with the Flu…" Shashank called his friend and apologized.





…………………………………………………………………………………………..





NEXT DAY AT ASHIRWAAD:



"Aaj koi mehmaan aane waala hai kya?" Riddhima strolled through the freshly decorated hallways of Ashirwaad.



"Jee haan ma'am," an excited Gauri placed the last of the flower garlands around the doorways.



"Aao Riddhima….tumhein raat bataana hi bhool gayi ki aaj ek khaas mehmaan aa raha hai Ashirwaad mein," Mrs. Saxena pulled Riddhima into her office, "aane ke baad tum so gayi thi….aur Nishant aa gaya tha….main uske saath busy thi."





"Oh…who is it?"



"Arre wo hi…rockstar superstar," Mrs. Saxena did a lively jive, "tum ho thoooooooo"



"What? A-Armaan…Armaan Malik?" Riddhima's jaws dropped to her knees.



"Jee haan….chalo get ready…wo aata hi hoga….it's 9.30 already."



"Ma'am….but…I have some work…why don't you handle this visitor….I don't think I can do it." Riddhima turned red and fumbled nervously.



"Yes…you can…and you will my dear. Tumse achcha organsier koi nahin hai yahan….come on girls…let's get to work…I am so excited." Mrs Saxena snapped her fingers.



"Armaan….….kyun aa rahe ho yahan?" Riddhima whispered to herself, "lekin tumhein to kisi ki sagai mein gaana gaana tha?" She recalled phone call from last night.



A part of her felt relieved, "Armaan, it's good to know that you are still the same….koi tumhare talent ka be wajah faayda nahin utha raha hai."





She took a deep breath and composed herself, "I can do it…of course I can do it….just be yourself Riddhima….just be a professional…..he is just another celebrity visiting our premises….just another visitor."



…to be contd….
Armaan and Riddhima meet after two years….

Bheegi

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