Thursday, 12 July 2018

part 39 : Pehchan


"Mrs Malik…..congratulations. The surgery was successful." Dr Pathak came out of the OR and stretched his hand out at Riddhima. Shashank and Abhimanyu tried to shake the doctor's hand, but he just gave them a curious look.



Overwhelmed with relief, Riddhima grabbed Dr. Pathak's hand and thanked him profusely, "can I see him doctor? Will he be fine soon?"




"Yes, can we see him too?" Shashank interjected, "I am Armaan's father, Shashank Modi…and this is Abhimanyu, his brother. We are his closest family members here."



"Uh," the doctor raised his eyebrow, "right now I can only let one person in and that will be his wife! The patient is still in recovery and we don't allow too many visitors in there."



Shashank and Abhimanyu frowned at the mention of 'wife.' They had no choice but to withdraw and sulk.





"Then can Dr. Tripathi go in? He is a well renowned Neurosurgeon. He has flown in from Mumbai especially for Armaan." Shashank requested.





"Yes, of course. Dr. Tripathi can accompany me. I will be happy to show him the CT scans and operative notes. Mrs. Malik, why don't you go in with the nurse? Sorry Mr. Modi, you will have to wait till he is in a private room. Rules are rules!" The Doctor grinned at Shashank; he was still miffed with their phone conversation earlier and made sure that Shashank couldn't cogent him in person either.





"One thing Mrs. Malik. I have seen cases like Armaan take a while before they regain consciousness, so don't expect any miracles here."



"How long doctor?" She was disheartened as she was hoping to see him awake soon.





"Anywhere from one hour to one year…or longer," the doctor shrugged his shoulders, "I wish I was God…..or better an astrologer," he winked at her and walked back to the OR with Dr. Tripathi.







An anxious Riddhima followed the nurse to the recovery room. She couldn't wait to see Armaan again. The doctor's words, although discouraging, were laced with a silver lining. She was willing to wait- a lifetime if needed- just to have him back with her.



She was let in to the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) by the nurse. The monitors, beeps, the sterile smell of the hospital, drips, tubes and ventilators (artificial breathing machines) greeted her into the intimidating unit. She clenched her fists as she tiptoed behind the nurse.



There he was- laying still on one of the recovery room beds, covered with a hospital sheet, a large soaking dressing on his scalp, his eyes shut, lips slightly parted, arms infiltrated with tubes and lines, a feeding tube up his nose but his palm outstretched as if waiting to be clasped again,  just the way she had left him before surgery. The monitors around him flashed his blood pressure and steady heart rhythm- all signs of life, but he lay lifeless, unaware of his surroundings, or her.



Quietly, she approached his bed, her eyes hazy, mind in a daze, but heart lucid about her feelings. All her prayers, wishes, desires and hopes rested on the bed peacefully. She would do anything and everything to be his strength and protect him from any further dangers, fate had in store for him.



Riddhima sat down next to his bed and slowly slipped her hand into his outstretched palm. Even though, he did not flinch, her touch coincided with a slight dip in his blood pressure and heart rate on the monitor.



At first, she was startled as the monitor started beeping, but when she looked up, the nurse reassured her, "don't worry….slight dip in the heart rate is a good sign. It means he's happy you are here…you are his wife?"



"Y-yes," Riddhima replied hesitantly with a faint smile. She bent down and kissed his fingers gently; again setting off the heart rate monitor for a few seconds.



She sat still with his hands clasped in hers, watching his chest heave with each precious breath, his eyes shut but facing her.





"Armaan," she whispered, "mujhey nahin pata tum meri awaaz sun sakte ho ya nahin, lekin itna zaroor jaanti hoon ki mere dil ki har dhadkan par sirf tumhara hi naam likha hai. Jab tak tum theek nahin ho jaate ho, main tumhare paas yahin hospital mein rahoongi. Koi humein judaa nahin kar sakta. Armaan….meri har dua aur prarthna mein ab sirf tum ho." She bent down again and kissed his fingers again, this time a few tears dribbled on his skin. To her surprise, she noticed his finger flinch just a little, his heart rate quickening this time.



A startled Riddhima looked up at the nurse again, who just shook her head, "I don't think he liked that. His heart rate is much faster now. Any pain- physical or emotional does that."



"I know," Riddhima smiled, "he hates my tears….promise sister, I will not stress his heart out any further." She wiped her tears and chuckled, "Armaan…..you are too much. You know how to control me even when unconscious."



"You are very lucky to have such a loving husband Mrs. Malik." The nurse teased her.



"I know," Riddhima caressed his arm tenderly and cherished her few moments with her jaan….her armaan…



'tu meri jaan hai' by kailash kher



AR VM by Numera 89

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuB31_KUpZY&feature=related






ni main shagun manaava
ni main deva duwava...(2)
aa main kamlee naam dhadava
par ik koi ratan lagaava

tu meri jaan hai
tu mera armaan hai....(2)

duniya ko bhool jaaoo main tere pyaar mein(2)
tu nahi toh aag lage is sansaar mein
tenu dil da haal sunaava
aa main kamlee naam dadaava
par ik koi ratan lagaava

tu meri jaan hai
tu mera armaan hai....(2)

rabba mere pyaar ko nazar lag jaaye na(2)
mangiya duwava lakha
dukh ud sataave na
tenu dil da haal sunaava
ni main lakh lakh sukhr manaava
aa main kamlee naam dhadava
par ik koi ratan lagaava

tu meri jaan hai
tu mera armaan hai....(2)

ni main shagun manaava
ni main deva duwava...(2)
aa main kamlee naam dhadava
par ik koi ratan lagaava

tu meri jaan hai
tu mera armaan hai....(2)





……………………………………………………………….



MEANWHILE IN THE WAITING AREA: 



"Excuse me Mr. Modi," Yuvraaj held his hand, "I am inspector Saxena. Can I ask you some questions?"



Shashank gave a dirty look to Abhimanyu as his faux pas had probably landed them under the police radar, "what questions? Am I under interrogation for something I haven't done? Us Riddhima ki baat par aap mujhpar case kar rahe hain?"



"Aap galat samajh rahe hain sir," Yuvraaj was bemused by Shashank's question, "why do you feel that way? There are no charges against you. Aap itna ghabraa kyun rahe hain?"



"Inspector Saxena! My son's life is in danger. Do you understand what that means? Shayad aapki koi aulaad nahin hogi. Aap kya samjhein meri pareshani?"



"I understand your pain sir but I think you are over reacting," Yuvraaj shook his head with disbelief.



Naina, who had observed how rude the father and son duo had been to Riddhima, finally stepped in



"Inspector," Naina intervened, "he is not over reacting. It's his guilt that's bothering him. Mr. Modi, why don't you admit that the bullet was meant for Riddhima, but unfortunately, your gunman got Armaan instead?"



"Naina jee!" Abhimanyu finally spoke up, "how dare you accuse my father? Please stay out of our family matters!"



"Excuse me everyone. Aap log zyaada emotional ho rahe hain. Let me take all your statements one by one. Please take a seat all of you. Aaiye aap…kya naam hai aapka?" Yuvraaj asked.



"ABHIMANYU MODI!"



"Yes, Abhimanyu jee….come with me to a quiet corner. I will take your statement first."



Abhimanyu followed Yuvraaj and another sub inspector, who stayed with Yuvraaj as a witness to the interrogations throughout the proceedings.

……………………………………………………………………………………….



ABHIMANYU'S STATEMENT TO INSPECTOR SAXENA:



"Inspector! Neither I, nor my dad have anything to do with the shooting tonight. Yes, we knew that Armaan and Riddhima were together all day and yes, we were not pleased with this new development."



"Why?" The inspector wrote on his pad.



"Because Riddhima is my ex wife!"



"Oh….I see," Yuvraaj paused and then continued.



"How is your relationship with Armaan?"



"He is my brother- half brother-we are not the best of friends, but not enemies any longer."



"Any longer?" Yuvraaj looked up, "so at one point you were enemies?"



"That's all because of Riddhima. Once she was out of the picture, there was no reason to hate each other," Abhimanyu sighed, "I think that's enough Inspector. I need to go. My head is a little dizzy."



"Abhimanyu sahib…..but what happens now….Riddhima is back in his life…in fact married to him. Doesn't that change the equation between you brothers?"



"I HAVE RIGHT TO STAY QUIET INSPECTOR," Abhimanyu stood up, "THEY ARE NOT MARRIED…THAT MUCH I AM SURE! BAAKI AAP MERE VAKIL SE POONCH LENA!" Abhimanyu stomped away, infuriated at being prodded by the police.



"ONE MORE QUESTION ABHIMANYU SAHIB!" Yuvraaj followed him, "do you own any guns?"



"YES I DO! HAVE NOT TOUCHED THEM SINCE MY HUNTING TRIP IN COLLEGE! AUR KUCH?"



"Thanks….that will be all for now," Yuvraaj heaved a sigh and said to himself, "kya tevar hain?"



……………………………………………………………………….



SHASHANK'S STATEMENT TO INSPECTOR SAXENA:



"Inspector! That woman is lying! She has no basis to accuse me of plotting this crime." Shashank said irately.



"Sir…please don't get too excited. How's your relationship been with your ex daughter in law- before and after the divorce?"



"Before- excellent! After-I can't stand her!"



"Kyun? Divorce ki wajah se?"



"Partly….waise divorce mein galti mere bte ki thi. He was unfaithful to her. I don't blame her for wanting a divorce. I treated her like a daughter but she betrayed all of us."



"Betrayed?"



"Yes…she used Armaan and kept him away from me. She was aware of Armaan's potential as a superstar. She declined alimony from us because she knew with Armaan, she could have it all. She is a conniving girl….bholi dikhti hai magar hai nahin! After leaving Abhimanyu, usney Armaan ko apne pyaar ke jaal mein phansaya. I am glad Armaan separated from her two years ago. I know he was heartbroken but that's when he came back to me. I was glad that Armaan left her but I don't know how they got back together? Zaroor usney koi chaal chali hogi….and this shaadi business is all bogus! Aur agar shaadi kar li hai tho sirf Armaan ke paise aur shauharat ke liye….shayad Armaan par attack bhi Riddhima ne hi karvaaya hoga!" Shashank sat up, delighted at his own conclusions, "yes inspector….she could be responsible for shooting Armaan!" Once again, Shashank had concocted another set of lies, just to save his skin. By pointing fingers at Riddhima, he was hoping that the police would let go of him and not interrogate him further. He could just see the newspapers flashing his photograph on the front page: SHASHANK MODI ACCUSED OF MURDER ATTEMPT!



Yuvraaj was bewildered by the old man's reasoning. He couldn't help smile inwardly at the weird train of thought but like a good police man, wrote down Shashank's statement verbatim.



"Basically Inspector," Shashank paused, "she is bad news for my sons."



"Oh…I see," Yuvraaj wrote down what he was told.



"Now, I hope you all stop harassing me…..can I leave?"



"One last question sir….do you own a gun?"



"Yes, I do….but haven't used it in ages."



"Thanks sir…hope we will find the right perpetrator."



…………………………………………………………………….



After spending time with Armaan, Riddhima walked back to the waiting room reluctant, but hopeful. She was worn out and exhausted by the longest day of her life. As she walked back, she saw two women waiting along with Mrs. Saxena and Naina auntie. Her heart fluttered at the sight of seeing Padma after two long years. Padma was engrossed in a conversation with Naina auntie while Mrs. Saxena was engaged in an animated conversation with a younger woman.

                         



Padma turned around and spread out her arms for Riddhima. Both women couldn't hold their relief on seeing each other. Riddhima ran into her arms and hugged Padma fiercely, "maa…..I missed you"



"I missed you too beta," Padma caressed Riddhima's back, "itne din kyun milne nahin aayi apni maa se?"



"I am sorry maa," Riddhima sobbed on Gayatrri's shoulder, "galti meri hai…..lekin ab aap aa gayi hai….sab theek ho jaayega. Armaan ko kuch nahin hoga maa."



"Jaanti hoon beta….tere pyaar ke liye Armaan jab hum se ladh sakta hai, tho maut kya cheez hai?" She chuckled tearfully, "kaisa hai wo? Surgery tho theek ho gayi na?"



Riddhima nodded her head, "he is still unconscious, but they are all saying he will be fine…..bas ek baar hosh aa jaaye."



Mrs. Saxena smiled at the emotional reunion of the two women- not bonded by blood or any relationship- just love and affection for each other.



"Riddhima beta," Padma composed herself, "yeh Jiya hai…meri nayi bahu."



Riddhima wiped her face and smiled at Jiya, "nice to meet you."



"Nice to meet you. I have heard a lot about you," Jiya smiled back.



"Oh," Riddhima felt a bit uncomfortable by that comment as she was sure Abhimanyu must have painted quite a negative picture of her.



The two women felt an awkward wall between them- a wall called Abhimanyu that separated their past and present identities.



To thaw the tension, Mrs. Saxena interjected, "Riddhima…jaanti ho main Jiya ko bachpan se jaanti hoon."



"Really?" Riddhima and Padma were taken aback.



"Haan Jiya….tumney shayad apne sasural mein bataya na ho….Jiya was a student at Aashirwaad all along…she was a very bright girl…tabhie tho medical college bhi gayi wo…she is Aashirwaad's pride!" Mrs. Saxena patted Jiya's back.



"Oh really? What a strange coincidence. Looks like our paths have always meant to cross," Riddhima raised her eyebrows, "I am the assistant director there now."



"I know." Jiya replied.



"Aapko shayad mere baare mein kaafi pata hai," Riddhima replied awkwardly.



"Haan aur yeh bhi pata hai ki you are a very good friend of my childhood best friend," Jiya pulled Yuvraaj towards the center, "YUVRAAJ SAXENA!"



"What a small world?" Riddhima was taken by surprise again, "Yuvraaj…you never told me."



"I had no idea Jiya had married into the Modi family. We have not been in touch since she left Aashirwaad," Yuvraaj replied sheepishly.



"Chalo achcha hai….hamara parivaar aur badha ho gaya," Padma smiled, "Yuvraaj beta….tumhari buaji bataa rahi thi ki tumney hamari Riddhima ki do saal pehle jaan bachaayi thi," She placed her arm around Riddhima, "hum tumhara ehsaan kabhie nahin bhoolenge."



"Thanks auntie," Yuvraaj smiled, "if you don't mind, can I ask you ladies some questions?"



"Sure," Padma replied, "apne bte ke liye main kuch bhi kar sakti hoon."



"You mean Abhimanyu?" Yuvraaj was confused.



"Yahan Armaan ki baat kar rahe hain na?" Padma gave him a quizzical look.



"Oh yes…of course," Yuvraaj was amused by the difference in her reaction verses Shashank's. Even though her son was wounded and critical, Padma maintained a much calmer front unlike her frazzled husband.



Padma had not spoken to Shashank since her arrival to Nainital. His statement about Armaan not being her real son had hurt her feelings a lot. This time she was not going to forgive him that easily.



………………………………………………………………………..



PADMA's STATEMENT TO THE INSPECTOR:



"I am sorry Mrs. Modi, your son…uh…he is your step son, right?" Yuvraaj asked, "I have to ask you these routine questions."





"Yes he is….but dear to me as much as my other three sons. Poochiye inspector, kya poonchna hai?"



"Aapko kisi par shaq hai?"



"Nahin Inspector," Padma replied firmly.



"Oh..ok," Yuvraaj paused and wondered but then started writing, "so why do you think someone attacked Armaan?"



"Nahin jaanti." Even though Jiya had hinted at Abhimanyu's role in the attack, Padma did not want to point fingers till she had some proof or was convinced of the perpetrator's motive.



"Do you think the attacker came after Riddhima?"



"Riddhima ko koi kyun maarna chaahega?"



"Well…it seems like Riddhima has accused your husband for conspiring to kill her….any thoughts on that?"



"Shashank will never do that. He has always treated Riddhima as his daughter." Padma was stunned at Riddhima's accusation. At the same time, wondered if there was some truth behind Riddhima's statement. After all, Riddhima's sudden disappearance from their lives was still a mystery- did Shashank play a part in all of this? She shuddered at the thought but decided to find out for herself instead of dragging the police right away. If Shashank was guilty, she would not hesitate in turning him in.



"Oh, I see…..how about Abhimanyu, his step brother? Maybe some sibling rivalry?"



"No….Abhimanyu will never kill the hand that feeds him. Even if Abhimanyu has some personal issues with Armaan, his business is dependent on Armaan's career…..Abhimanyu is too selfish to kill his own source of income."



Yuvraaj, confused and perturbed by the varying statements from all family members, wondered how the police would ever crack this case?



"And Riddhima?" He asked.



"Pagal ho inspector?" Padma was appalled, "koi apni jaan leta hai kya?"



"Well…maybe because Armaan is a successful singer…and she is his wife, after all saari royalty ki haqdaar tho wo hi hain na ab?" Yuvraaj reiterated Shashank's theory.



"Wife?" She was confused but stayed quiet, "h-haan…wife…of course," she covered up for Riddhima, silently happy at the news, hoping they had married secretively in the last two days, "aise behooda sawaal karte huye aapko sharam nahin aayi?"



"I am sorry Mrs. Modi….I am just investigating all the angles."



"Inspector….I think I am done with you now. I have nothing else to say."







"That will be all Mrs. Modi. I am really sorry, I upset you….but I promise you that we will catch the right person."



"Thanks Inspector. I sure hope so….mujhey dono Armaan aur Riddhima pyaare hain. Jo bhi un dono ko aanch pahunchaane ki koshish kar raha hai, bhagwan kare usey badhi se badhi sazaa miley!"



"Yes ma'am….I agree," Yuvraaj stood up out of respect for the elderly lady.



Yuvraaj heaved a sigh and looked at his sub inspector, "what a family!"



"Poori soap opera hai sir!"



…………………………………………………………………





RIDDHIMA'S STATEMENT TO THE INSPECTOR:



"I am sorry Riddhima….at this time, I am not your friend, but a police inspector. I hope you understand." Yuvraaj apologized.



"That's okay Yuvraaj, I trust you more than myself," she smiled faintly.



"Thanks Riddhima," he smiled back and nodded his head, "did you see the person who attacked Armaan?"



"NO"



"What happened right before the attack on Armaan? Can you describe in detail?"



"I just recall that Armaan shouted my name and then pushed me to the ground. There was a loud bang….and then," she bit her upper lip, her eyes became misty and her voice cracked as the horrendous incident flashed through her mind like a movie.



"I am sorry," he touched her hand gently, "do you think the attacker was actually targeting you instead of Armaan?"



"Yes," she wiped her tears, "I feel Armaan took the attack on himself to save my life," tears rolled down her eyes again, this time incessantly, "why Yuvraaj? Kyun itna pyaar karta hai koi kisi se ki wo uske liye apna sab kuch daav par lagaane ko tayyar ho jaaye? Why did Armaan do that? Kaash goli mujhpar lagi hoti."



Yuvraaj became a little emotional and then mumbled softly, "shayad yahi pyaar ka junoon hota hai."



"I am sorry Yuvraaj," Riddhima wiped her nose, "please ignore my emotions right now…I know I am a mess. Ek Armaan ke baad tum hi mere achche dost ho ab."



"Riddhima…I am honored that you feel this way about me," he tapped her hand again, "coming back to the case…who do you think could have attacked you?"



"Mr. Shashank Modi!"



"Why?"



"Because he never wanted us to be together. I met him a year ago; he lied to me that Armaan did not love me any longer. He asked me to leave him forever. He never mentioned my visit to Armaan. Unke dil mein chor tha aur abhi bhi hai. He is a dishonest man Yuvraaj. Jo aadmi apni patni ka vishwaas thod sakta hai, wo kisi ka saga nahin hota. They way he flustered after I pointed fingers at him just goes to prove that he feels guilty."



"How about Abhimanyu?"



"He wouldn't kill me now…agar usey aisa karna hota tho pehle hi kar deta. He is a coward. Aapne tho suna hoga, jo garaj te hain, wo baras te nahin hai…I know Abhimanyu well. He is a paper tiger! But it's possible, he is an accomplice along with his dad, but Mr. Shashank is the main culprit in my opinion."



"Hmmm," Yuvraaj jotted down Riddhima's statement without making any judgmental remarks, "Ok…one last question. The doctors told me that they did not find the bullet in Armaan's head. Do you remember seeing it on the ground?"



"No…I am sorry…even if I did, I didn't pay any attention to the bullet." Riddhima replied.



……………………………………………………………………………………



Naina auntie and Mrs. Saxena were interrogated too, but both had no further clues about who the culprit could be. They both seemed to concur with Riddhima's statement.



"Jiya! I need to ask you some questions too," Yuvraaj finally approached his childhood friend.



"Sure Yuvraaj," she smiled, "you sound so professional now…..chalo kahan chalna hai? I know this hospital well….jahan chalna hai chal sakte hain."



"In that corner," Yuvraaj followed her along with his sub inspector, "Oh I forgot….you have trained in this hospital."



'Aur kya! Zindagi ke 5 saal is hospital mein training karte huye nikaale hain….I know every staff member, nurse and doctor here!" She replied proudly.



"So, Jiya..first of all congratulations!" Yuvraaj sat down across from her.



"For what?" Jiya's color faded momentarily.



Yuvraaj chuckled, "for your marriage silly."



"Oh…yes, of course," she smiled again.



"So…what do you think about the attack on Armaan?"



"It's very unfortunate," she made a sorry face, "achcha aadmi hai Armaan. Wonder why anyone would want him dead?"



Yuvraaj gave her a curious look and then continued, "do you know if Armaan had received any threats or did he have any enemies?"



"Not really….but…but," she stared at the sub inspector who listened to their conversation intently, "my husband does not harbor very pleasant feelings for his step brother."



"Oh really?" Yuvraaj raised an eyebrow.



"Kehna tho nahin chaahiye….aakhir Abhimanyu mere husband hain, but last few days he has been acting weird. In fact, I overheard him talking to someone on the phone yesterday….wo…wo."



"Yes Jiya…please go on….don't worry, your statement is safe with us….police record mein jaayegi sirf….aapki family ko pata nahin chalega kuch," Yuvraaj reassured her.



"I overheard him saying KILL HIM! KILL THAT bas***d! I HAVE LOST EVERYTHING BECAUSE OF HIM!"



Yuvraaj and the sub inspector jumped from their chairs.



"Are you sure he was talking about Armaan?" Yuvraaj asked.



"I think he was…because just after that phone call, my father in law told him that he had found out that Armaan was in Nainital with Riddhima. My father in law was very upset and worried about Armaan. Armaan had some recordings due and they had already been paid advance for it."



"What did Abhimanyu say?"



"He said-don't worry dad….I will take care of everything….AB IS PROBLEM KA MAIN HAMESHA KE LIYE SOLUTION NIKAAL DALOONGA! Then Abhimanyu left for some place in a fury. I have been worried about Abhimanyu since then. Uska gussa bahut tez hai. Gusse mein aakar wo kuch bhi kar sakta hai. I know he hates the fact that Armaan gets all the importance in the house. Abhimanyu was used to being the prince, but since Armaan's career has taken off, everyone just worships Armaan."



"Jiya…this is very useful. We also have previous police records from Mumbai that show that Abhimanyu has been in trouble with the law before….thanks Jiya…I am sorry." Yuvraaj apologized.



"Don't be sorry Yuvraaj. I love my husband dearly, but that's why I will never hesitate to get him back on the right track…agar uski galti hai, tho usey sazaa zaroor milni chaahiye," Jiya became emotional and wiped her tears.



"Sorry again Jiya….but thanks a lot for your statement."



"One more thing Yuvraaj," Jiya shuffled in her feet nervously, "h-his gun is missing!"

Yuvraaj's eyes popped wide, "how do you know?"



"You know I am a psychiatrist and always wary of potential weapons at home, especially around Abhimanyu. I had hidden it from his access, but after this incident when I checked- IT WAS GONE!"



"THAT IS VERY VERY USEFUL!" Yuvraaj smiled inwardly, "thanks again Jiya…I know this must be difficult for you."



"Anything for the truth Yuvraaj. Jaante ho na Aashirwaad mein humein hamesha yahi sikhaya jaata tha? " Jiya got up and left with a sullen expression.



"Sir…yahan tho sab hi ek doosre par ungli utha rahe hain….case kaafi paicheeda hai sir." The sub inspector whispered in Yuvraaj's ear after Jiya left.



"We need the bullet, Ramdev," Yuvraaj tapped his forehead with his pen, "if we find the bullet….we might be able to get the real culprit."



"Bullet tho mili nahin sir."



"Ramdev….chalo Ranikhet chalo mere saath….we should check the crime scene again…I know the Ranikhet police have already searched there, but you never know…chalo!" Yuvraaj departed with his sub inspector after having interrogated most of Armaan's well wishers and family.



……………………………………………………………………………….



LATER THAT NIGHT:



Towards the wee hours of the morning, Armaan was transferred to a private room in the step down unit. He was still unconscious, but as Dr Pathak declared, 'stable but not out of the woods yet.'



All the family members were given a chance to see Armaan. Rahul, Muskaan, Atul and Anjali were on their way to Nainital also. Aradhana didi was expected the next day as her train was running late.



Only one person could stay with Armaan overnight. As expected Shashank and Abhimanyu tried to push their way in as 'Armaan's closest relatives,' but Riddhima was adamant again.



"Armaan ke saath sirf mein rahoongi." She put her foot down.



"I think Riddhima is right," Jiya came to her rescue, pleasantly surprising Riddhima. Armaan had been right about her- she was a mysterious character-it was hard to gauge her intentions clearly, but her support for Riddhima's decision earned her some gratitude.

"Thanks for understanding Jiya," Riddhima nodded her head.



Padma was also pleased with the decision; she knew Riddhima was the only one who would be selfless in taking care of Armaan, "haan beta…kisi bhi cheez ki zaroorat ho tho humein phone kar dena…we are all staying close to the hospital."



Shashank and Abhimanyu were rendered wordless by their respective wives, and had to relent.



"Riddhima, I will bring some clean clothes for you from home," Naina auntie offered her help.



"Thanks auntie!"



"Dr Jiya! Kaisi hain aap? Itne saal baad yahan?" A senior nurse stopped by as they waited for Armaan to be transferred to his room.



"Hello Sister Lovely!" Jiya gave her a bear hug, "we are here because my brother in law got injured….here..this is my family here. Please take good care of  Armaan Malik inside."



"Oh…aap celebrity se related hai?" Sister lovely asked, "of course doctor…we will make sure he gets the best care here. Dr Pathak is one of the best here."



Riddhima was once again impressed with Jiya's willingness to help. She glanced at Abhimanyu with the corner of her eyes and thought, "I hope he has learnt to respect women now…he is lucky to have a wife like Jiya."





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



After everyone left, Riddhima walked into Armaan's room with a pair of new clothes given by Naina auntie. She had asked Mrs. Saxena to bring rest of her belongings as she was ready for a long haul at the hospital. As she had promised Armaan, she had no intentions of leaving his bedside till he was ready to come home.



He lay peacefully on the bed, still hooked up to various monitors and catheters. Gently, she caressed his arms and kissed his cheek, "you always wanted us to share living space…dekho maine tumhara kehna maan liya hai….now we will be together in this one room, just you and me." She chuckled tearfully, hoping the light hearted comment would reach him somehow. She had read recently, that even patients in the deepest of coma could hear everything around them, so she would make sure Armaan never felt 'lonely,' even when he was all alone in his unconscious world.



"Bas main abhi aayi jaan….I need to change into something clean. These clothes stink terribly; I bet you wouldn't want me near you in these," she smiled and then gently tapped his hand before she left for the bathroom.



Once in the bathroom, the horrendous incident kept flashing in her mind as she peeled off the blood stained clothes from her body. Being with Armaan was the only way to keep her mind off the crime; by talking to him she could stay distracted and hopefully, help him recover sooner too.



As she removed her bra, soaked in blood again, she heard something metallic fall on the floor.



'What was that?" She bent down and probed around with her hand. Quickly, she dressed into her clean clothes and brought a flash light from the cabinet.



There it was- a small, oblong bronze colored BULLET!



She recalled that Yuvraaj had asked her about the bullet after the doctors couldn't find it in Armaan's body.



"So, here it is…lekin mere paas kaise aa gayi?" She wondered, but then remembered what the doctor had said- the bullet had bounced off after hitting Armaan's head. What an irony of fate? The bullet, after injuring Armaan, had landed inside her clothes- that too well tucked in inside her bosom. Was it some kind of divine intervention or just a coincidence?



She knew that the bullet was important in reaching the real culprit. She wrapped the bullet in a napkin and placed it securely with the bag of her dirty clothes. "Kal Yuvraaj jab aayega, tho usey de doongi." She did not want to risk calling him on the phone, in case someone was tapping her phone.



Riddhima stepped out of the bathroom and placed the bag inside one of the drawers in Armaan's room.



She sat next to Armaan and whispered, "jaan…jaante ho, jis goli ne tumhein ghayal kiya tha, wo mujhey mil gayi hai…ab hum jald hi mujrim ka pataa laga lenge. Now just get well soon, so you can see the culprit getting punished."



After sitting with him for some time, whispering sweet nothings in his ear, she was assured that Armaan was comfortable – his heart and blood pressure monitor were rock steady at a smooth level- she decided to take some rest on the bed made out for her.



"Goodnight jaan…waise ab goodnight nahin…goodmorning hone waali hai, if you don't mind, I just need to rest  my body a little…promise after some rest, I will talk to you nonstop….aur jab tak tum khud mera mooh chup nahin karoge, main bolti rahoongi," she kissed him again and lay down on the bed next to him.



A few minutes later, or was it an hour later, she got up with a startle and saw a nurse in her room.



"Oh…it's you sister  Lovely," her heart pounded nervously as she felt someone was intruding in their room. It would take years to erase the memories of the nightmare that had injured Armaan.



'Sorry Mrs. Malik…aapko disturb kar diya."



"No…that's okay sister…..I am fine," she got up to drink water and then saw Sister Lovely preparing to give Armaan an injection.



For some strange reason, Riddhima, who had full faith in the doctors and nurses of this hospital, asked the nurse, "what medicine are you giving him?"



"Uh..oh," the nurse hesitated, "just a pain killer."



"Oh..pain killer?" She looked at the heart monitor and saw that his heart rate was still steady, and not fast to indicate he was in any pain.



"Haan…it's a routine after surgery."



"Oh…what medicine is it?" Riddhima was curious.



"Aap doctor ho kya?" The nurse was irate, "aap so jao Mrs. Malik….let us do our job."



Something about Sister Lovely's tone made Riddhima a bit uncomfortable.



"I am sorry sister…I don't need to judge your expertise….but Dr. Pathak had mentioned that Armaan is on a continuous medicine pump for pain relief….he would need extra pain medicine only if he was in more pain….but look at his BP and heart rate….they are not high…..aapko kyun lagta hai ki wo pain mein hain?"



"THESE ARE DOCTOR'S ORDERS!" The nurse was about to inject the medicine into Armaan's veins, but Riddhima held her hand.



"STOP SISTER!"



"MRS. MALIK! YOU ARE CROSSING ALL BOUNDRIES HERE! I WILL REPORT YOU TO SECURITY!"



Suddenly, Armaan's monitors started beeping as his blood pressure and heart rate started sky rocketing.



"See…look," the nurse pointed out at the monitors, "see how much pain your husband is in….once I give him this injection, he will be fine."



"NO SISTER!" Riddhima placed her hand over Armaan's vein, "he is upset because of all the commotion we are creating. Please page the doctor sister!"



"MRS. MALIK!"



"Sister, don't shout here….my husband doesn't like it….just call Dr. Pathak…I will not let you give him any medicine till Dr. Pathak approves it."



"Yeh Dr. Pathak ne hi order ki hai!"



"If that's the case, I want him to tell me personally because I don't trust you sister!"



The nurse jerked the syringe away and stomped off in fury.



She never returned again. Riddhima stayed vigilant and stayed up with Armaan. Meanwhile, Armaan's heart rate and blood pressure cruised along at peaceful levels with no signs of any pain- physical or emotional.



Riddhima's heart pounded anxiously as she pondered over the incident.

She came to some conclusions-

 -the nurse did not have good intentions

-she was trying to overdose him on pain medication

-overdose with pain medications could kill someone like it happened with Michael Jackson!

-that someone was after Armaan's life



- THAT ARMAAN WAS THE REAL TARGET, NOT HER!





…………………to be contd……………………..



 Bheegi

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