Sunday, 8 July 2018

part 35 : Pehchan


Armaan was back in Mumbai, a tormented soul. With Riddhima's bracelet in his pocket, he headed for his room without meeting anyone at home.



"Arre Armaan wapas aa gaya?" Padma conjectured when she saw his luggage and guitar lying in the foyer.



"Haan…he was supposed to take the evening flight back…why didn't he call?" Shashank was puzzled.





"Let me check," Padma took the stairs to his room. After a gentle knock, she let herself in. He lay on the bed, his legs dangling on the floor, staring blankly at the ceiling fan, the bracelet on his palm.



"Armaan?" Padma sat next to him, "kya hua?" She had received a call from Aradhana just a few minutes ago and was aware that his meeting with Riddhima did not go as well. Without revealing much, she touched his shoulder, "kaisa raha concert?"



"Oh mom?" He sat up, a little embarrassed by his disheveled and gloomy state, "yes…of course…dad ne bataya hoga. The concert was a big hit."



"Tho phir kya pareshani hai?"



"Kuch nahin mom…I am just tired. Let me jump in the shower." He tried to get up but Padma stopped him. She saw the bracelet in his hand, "yeh Riddhima ka hai na? Yahan kaise aaya?"



Armaan was stunned by her question, "Oh..wo…shayad yahin hoga….room mein…I just found it."



"ARMAAN! YOU KNOW HOW I HATE LIARS!"



He lowered his eyes, "yes…I met her there. I think this came with me accidentally. I didn't intend to pull it off her wrist."



"How is she doing?" Padma's face lit up, "kaisi hai wo? Us se shikayat nahin ki tumney? Hum sab ko bhool gayi kya wo?"



"Aisa hi samjho mom," he sighed, "I regret going back to Nainital. It wasn't a great idea."



"Armaan….I know two years ago, something big happened between the two of you. I have never asked, but I feel whatever it was, you still haven't gotten over her, and neither has she. Am I right?" She caressed the bracelet and glanced at him.



Armaan sat down, burying his head in his palms. After a few moments of silence, he revealed every detail of that momentous night- his first concert, Riddhima's surprise visit to Nainital after her divorce, their meeting with Dilip and Naina, their intimate moments at his ancestral home and then their argument leading to their two year long separation.



Padma was shocked to hear the complete story.



"You asked her to leave in the middle of the night?" She slumped on the bed with disbelief.



"I had no choice. She broke my heart. She used me for her own benefit and then threw this bombshell at me. I couldn't believe that this was the woman who claimed that she loved me. If she did not want to marry me, why mislead me?"





"Tum aadmi log aurat ko kabhie samajh hi nahin paaye," Padma shook her head, "How could you misunderstand her Armaan? You are doubtful about the intentions of a woman who walked out of her marriage with nothing but her pride, and then surrendered herself to the man she loved? Did it ever occur to you that it's only her faith in your love that made her make such daring decisions? I am appalled Armaan. Of all men, I thought you understood women better. Kya kahoon tumse? Aakhir tum bhi to Shashank and Abhimanyu ka khoon ho na!"





"MOM! YOU ARE BEING UNFAIR! I wanted to marry her. I loved her with all my heart. Did she ever try to understand my feelings? She betrayed me…she doesn't deserve me mom. She deserves to be alone! No one could love her the way I did…agar usey mera pyaar kam lagaa, tho wo jahan jaana chaahe jaa sakti hai!" Armaan tried his best to keep his temper under control in front of his step mother.



"I think at this point, she is better off alone Armaan. If you couldn't give her the time and space she needed after her divorce, I am not sure whether you really loved her. Marriages end up in divorces if there is no love, but true love should never end up in a divorce! Shayad tumhein bhi Riddhima se zyaada, apne aap se zyaada pyaar hai….men will be men." She got up and left his room.





"I don't believe it!" Armaan pulled his clothes out of his closet and walked into the shower to clear his head, "how can she blame me for wanting to get married? Riddhima never loved me. She just loved herself, and her freedom. God…please help me forget that woman forever." He soothed his sore muscles under the hot running water, resting his head against the wall, trying to make sense of Padma's words and erasing memories of his horrendous visit to Ranikhet.



………………………………………………………….



"Aradhana….don't worry, I think sab theek ho jaayega." Padma called Riddhima's sister from her room.



"Padma behenji…..mujhey pata hai Ranikhet mein kya kya hua tha. Aap abhi bhi keh rahi hain sab theek ho jaayega? He tormented my sister emotionally and then announced that he is getting married to someone else. I am sorry to say but your family and your sons have ruined my sister's life! Usey chain se kyun nahin jeene dete?" Aradhana sounded upset on the other line.



"Aradhana. Shanti se kaam lo…..I am sure things will work out. Armaan needed to vent out his heartbreak to someone…..it's only possible to vent out in front of your loved ones….and that's what he did. He hurt Riddhima because he was hurting. Now let's just sit back and watch Aradhana….don't do anything in haste."



"I hope you are right behenji. Mujhey bahut chinta ho rahi hai Riddhima ki. Kahin wo kuch ulta seedha na kar de."



"Nahin karegi….she is a strong girl…stronger than you and I," Padma sighed, "I am sure understand what I mean."



Aradhana nodded silently; yes both of the women on the phone had never mustered the courage to walk out on their spouses and secure lives like Riddhima had. They had resigned to their fates and accepted their less than perfect marriages to dishonest and immoral spouses.





……………………………………………………………………………………………….



After emerging from the shower, Armaan was more wound up than before. Whether it was his anger at Riddhima, her indifference, or his guilt- he was in desperate need of some mental peace. He picked the bracelet from the bed and on an impulse, zoomed down the stairs in search of his guitar.



"Only music can bring me back to my senses," he picked his guitar case and instead of returning back to his room, walked out of the house. He had no idea what he was doing; he loaded his car and sped off without looking back.





"Arre Armaan….kahan jaa raha hai?" Shashank ran after his son, but just saw the trails of smoke left over in the drive way.





"Jaane do usey," Padma stopped her husband.



"Mom….he can't leave like that. I have a new music composer coming over tonight. He wants to sign Armaan for his next big banner. They are going to pay well too," Abhimanyu joined them in the front porch.



"Abhimanyu….this is a question of your brother's life. He needs to go....leave him alone." Padma held Abhimanyu's arm.



"Mom! You don't understand business!" Abhimanyu was exasperated, "why do I have to keep moving things around based on Armaan's whims and fancies?"



"I don't understand business but I do understand people Abhimanyu," Padma retorted, "and yes, you have to bow to Armaan's whims and fancies because if it were not for him, you would not be here Abhimanyu, and neither would your telecom business!" She glared at both father and son and walked back into the house.



Shashank and Abhimanyu were taken aback by Padma's outburst, something they had seldom seen in the last two years.





……………………………………………………………………………………………..





AT AASHIRWAAD: NEXT MORNING



"Riddhima, are you okay beta?" Mrs. Saxena saw a solemn looking Riddhima with swollen eyes and no makeup, sitting at her desk, working on her computer.



"I-I am fine ma'am," Riddhima forced a smile, "aap kyun poonch rahi hain?"



"Wo…wo beta….kal ke baad kuch sust lag rahi ho tum."



"Nahin….bas thoda sar dard kar raha hai….I am fine ma'am….I was just running a report on our last month's financials…..just trying to tally the numbers."



"Ok beta….please feel free to talk to me when you want….I know you are a strong girl, but sometimes it's good to share your feelings with someone."



"I will ma'am," Riddhima nodded and buried herself in her work once again. Since her move to Ranikhet, Riddhima had worked hard to establish herself and move up the ranks at Aashirwad, but at the expense of shutting herself emotionally to her own desires and feelings. She had even kept her visit to Mumbai and interaction with Shashank a secret from everyone. Armaan's visit the day before had shaken her equilibrium . After a restless and sleepless night with a soaking wet pillow case, she had stepped out of her house with a resolve to not get perturbed by his hurtful comments. There was no doubt he had loved her with all his heart, but his venomous tongue had scoured her already bruised soul. If she ever saw him again, there was no way she would let him torture her emotionally. Rejecting his proposal did not give him the right to harass her like that.





Despite her best efforts to stay unruffled, her mind kept wandering towards his thoughts. As she kept making errors in her calculations, she finally shut her computer off and walked out to get some fresh air.





The kids were away at school; the playground was bare and quiet. She walked over to the basketball court and recalled how just yesterday, they had all played ball with Armaan. She picked the ball and ran her fingers where he might have touched the ball. When he was with the kids, he was her old Armaan- sensitive, caring and compassionate. Was it her fault that he had become so insensitive towards her? She couldn't help wonder if his anger was perhaps justified, "aakhir maine bhi tho uski baat samajhne ki kabhie koshish nahin ki. Armaan ko apni maa ke dukh ka sab se zyaada ehsaas tha. Why did I place my own need for freedom before his need for security?"





She wiped her face to clear her thoughts and threw the ball in the air. To her dismay, it missed the hoop and bounced off the rim.





"That basketball is smarter than me," Armaan's deep baritone from behind stunned her, "at least it didn't get caught in your hoop of false dreams."



"Tum?" Her face stiffened.




"Yes! Me! The ball you bounced around forever, and then threw it away once you were done playing with." He picked the ball and slam dunked it into the hoop.



Once again, his attitude cast a shadow over her remorse.



"Kya shaadi ka card baantne aaye ho?" She taunted him.



"Bahut jaldi hai meri shaadi ki?" He snapped back.



"Haan….kam se kam mujhey pareshan karna tho bandh kar doge phir," she clenched her teeth and flared angrily.



"PARESHAN?" He grabbed her wrist and pulled her forcibly, "pareshan main karta hoon tumhein?" Their eyes met, the fire perceptible in them, "tho phir yeh mere saath kyun bhej diya tha?" He pulled out the bracelet and held it in front of her eyes.



Her jaw fell as she saw her favorite ornament, "yeh kahan mila tumhein?"



"It doesn't matter, does it?" He wrapped it around her wrist and snapped it shut, "pareshan tho tumney kar rakha hai mujhey."





"AHHH!" She pulled away, her wrist bleeding from where he had forced the snaps, "ARMAAN! YOU HURT ME!" She ran as fast as she could; he was left stunned by his own action. He had inflicted physical pain on the woman he loved the most. Feeling rueful, he felt his fingers tremor with shame. He followed her down the winding pathways in the campus. Finally, he saw the sign outside her quarters, 'RIDDHIMA GUPTA.'



He barged through the ajar front door and saw her sobbing next to the kitchen sink, her wrists under the running tap water.



"Riddhima!" He approached her cautiously, "I-I didn't mean to hurt you."



She glanced up tearfully, "leave Armaan….just leave me alone. I don't need your sympathy. "



"Please….I really didn't mean to," he softened a bit, "it was an accident. Can I help?" He tried to touch her wrist.



She swallowed her tears, "just go away Armaan. I can take care of myself. JUST LEAVE!"



He turned around and left with a heavy heart once again. She was in no mood to converse, and he didn't want to bend either. Their bitterness had reached new heights. Friends, who once understood each other's unspoken sentiments, now were unwilling to give each other even the benefit of doubt.



Riddhima stared at the bracelet on her wrist. It was ironical that the symbol of their friendship and love had become the target of their pain and anger.



………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………



THE SAME NIGHT:



As if mirroring the storms in their hearts, Mother Nature descended upon Ranikhet and Nainital area with heavy rain and hailstorms that night.



Her wrist still throbbing with pain, Riddhima bandaged it with a gauze and agonized over the afternoon's traumatic incidence once again. She knew they were both hurting badly. By asking him to leave, when he was just showing signs of softening, she had widened the bridge between them even further. She kicked herself for being so harsh on him; why had their egos become so all consuming that neither could appreciate the true feelings behind their self erected barriers? They had failed to realize the love behind all those hateful confrontations. She had no doubt that he still loved her. If he didn't, he wouldn't have come back with her bracelet. She knew him well enough that he would never want to hurt her physically. She recalled how belligerent he would get at the thought of Abhimanyu's attempts at hurting her.



'Armaan chaahe job hi kar le….I know he can never physically harm me. Shayad mujhey hi pehla kadam uthaana chaahiye," she picked her phone and decided to call him.



"ALL LINES ARE CURRENTLY BUSY!"



The rains were probably responsible for the jammed lines.



She shut her eyes and sat down on the rocking chair, "Armaan….kuch tho baat hai jo tumhari bandagi mujhey chain se nahin rehne deti. There is something special about our bond that draws me to you time and again. Why do I feel more trapped without you than when I am with you?"



"teri bandagi' from "Drona' AR VM by

Mediaasiangirl1986

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mfG8beckU0



original song from movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALlzCG-pdj8



Palchhin Palchhin Ulajhi Ulajhi Ek Raina
Dhadkan Dhadkan Bikhari Si Chaina
Milo Chali Hai Gumsum Yeh Khaamoshi
Kitna Bhi Samjhaao Mann Yeh Maane Na
Teri Bandagi, Jeene Na, Jeene Na
Jeene Na De Teri Bandagi
Jeene Na, Jeene Na, Jeene Na De Teri Bandagi - (2)
Jeene Na Jeene Na, Teri Bandagi



The rains lashed against the windows and doors; the wind whistled noisily as the taps from the hail on the roof deafened her ears. She got up, a little apprehensive about the outdoor commotion, to secure all her windows and doors.



Iss Dil Mein Gunje Reh Rehkar Aur Bijuri Sagar Je
Hairaan Kare Par Reh Jaaye Baadal Yeh Bin Barase
Tode Jiya Mora
Tode Jiya Yeh Mora, Kaisa Jog Laaga Re
Tukado Mein Bat Jaau Phir Bhi Tutena
Kaisi Tadpan Hai Yeh Chhode Chhute Na
Thandi Pade Jo Yeh Sojaoo Main
Ek Raakh Ki Lakir Ho Jaau Main Phir Shaayad
Teri Bandagi, Jeene Na Jeene Na
Jeene Na De Teri Bandagi
Jeene Na, Jeene Na, Teri Bandagi



Her front door flew open as she tried to bolt it against the gusty winds. She pulled at the door with all her force and then a sudden bolt of lightning threw her off balance. The door was thrown wide open. She stepped out into the wet front porch to shut the door once again. As she pulled on the door knob, she saw someone standing in the rain- soaked from head to toe, his body shelled from all directions by the almost golf ball sized hail!



She didn't need to guess who that was. Despite the darkness and heavy rains, she knew there was only one man who could endure that much agony for her.



Armaan stood still, staring at her with soulful eyes. He had been there all evening. After being kicked out from her house, he had waited expectantly, unable to walk away from his heart's desire this time.





Bandagi..........
Teri Bandagi Ummid Ka Din Dhalate Dhalate Keh Jaaye Kabhi Mujhase
Woh Raasta Kyun Puchhe Jo Rutha Hai Tujhase
Chhup Chhup Kar Kehate Hai Mujhase Yeh Armaan
Dil Ki Sun Le Karle Khud Pe Yeh Ehsaan
Iss Aag Mein Jo Main Pighlu Agar
Khud Se Mila Saku Na Main Najar Phir Shaayad
Teri Bandagi Jeene Na, Jeene Na
Jeene Na De Teri Bandagi
Jeene Na, Jeene Na, Teri Bandagi



Riddhima could not hold herself any longer. She ran through the muddy waters, splashing through the puddles and collapsed in his arms, encircling his neck with her arms closely.



"Phir aa gaye mujhey pareshaan karne?" She complained as she sobbed forcefully on his chest, her fingers crushing the back of his soaked shirt, almost shredding it into pieces.





 Instinctively, his arms engulfed her thin frame in his embrace, "tumhein pareshaan kiye bina mere dil ko chain kahan milta hai?" He squeezed her with his strong arms.





They held each other snugly; not even the raindrops had a chance to flow between them. He kissed her ears and then her neck, "I didn't mean to hurt you."



"Neither did I….never," she buried her face in the curve of his neck, "I am sorry Armaan………I failed you."





"No…I failed you," he lifted his lips from her ears and gazed at her face, "I was selfish in love."



"So was I," she held him close, "let's go inside….bahar bahut toofan hai."



'Aur andar bhi," he finally let out his familiar smile, a genuine and heartfelt one. He pulled her closer and bent down to kiss her. Their lips ignited buried passions, sending a surge of warmth through their veins. The rains and hail bruised their bodies as their souls basked under the warmness of their love and yearning for each other.



The kiss was the perfect balm for their aching hearts. Neither wanted to let go, but a new squall of wind forced them to pull away from each other's lips.





They walked back to her place, arm in arm. Armaan helped her shut the door securely.



As they stepped inside, the rain water dripped all over the floor, making everything very slippery.



"Armaan….you need to change….tum bilkul bheeg gaye ho," she pointed out.



"Aur tum bhi," he held her bandaged wrist and gently unwrapped the soaked bandage. He bent down and kissed her wrist tenderly and then kissed her fingers one by one, "jahan jahan maine tumhein dard diya hai, wahan dawa bhi main hi doonga."




Palchhin Palchhin Ulajhi Ulajhi Ek Raina
Dhadkan Dhadkan Bikhari Si Chaina
Milo Chali Hai Gumsum Yeh Khaamoshi
Kitna Bhi Samjhaao Mann Yeh Maane Na
Teri Bandagi, Jeene Na, Jeene Na
Jeene Na De Teri Bandagi
Jeene Na Jeene Na Jeene Na De Teri Bandagi.....



She hugged him one more time and pulled him closer, "shayad pyaar jitna gehra hota hai, dard bhi utna hi deta hai."



"But from now on, no pain," he wiped the rain drops from her brows, "just love…lot's of love."



He kissed her forehead, "go change…you will get sick."



"Yes, I will," she pulled away, 'aur tum?"





"How about one of your sarees? One size fits all, isn't it?" He chided with her.



"I have a better idea," she let go and came back with a pink kurta and red towel with a floral design.



"That's quite a macho choice," his eyes widened as he unfolded the kurta, "that's yours? Tum beech mein itni moti bhi ho gayi thi?"



"Haan tumhare gham mein moti ho gayi thi!" She smacked him playfully, "someone gifted me this oversized kurta……I am glad someone will use it finally."





"Yes of course," he grinned, "I think this will suit my personality also."



"Only real men wear pink!" She pushed him towards the bathroom and ran to her room to change out of her wet clothes. She caressed her bruised wrist and kissed the bracelet, "thank you bracelet…I will always be indebted to you."



…………………to be contd…..AR finally sort out all their issues……………….lot's of romance….…..till the next big and final twist……………….

 Bheegi

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