Saturday, 14 July 2018

part 41 : Pehchan


RECAP: "I have some news Riddhima," Jiya bent down as Riddhima lay in a daze on the bed.



"I have some news too Jiya." Riddhima murmured.



"Sister Lovely is dead!"





"Abhimanyu was the mastermind behind the murder attempt on Armaan. It was his gun. He is in jail now."



Both women were stunned on hearing each other's news. They stared at each other, disbelief written all over their faces.



They couldn't believe that the same man had deceived them…..this time both of them….





Jiya slumped on Riddhima's bed and buried her face in her palms. Soft sobs soon turned into a hysterical bawls, "you lied to me Abhimanyu! Why? You had promised that you would never lie again! I would have understood your frustration if you had just confessed the truth to me. I know insanity can drive a person into the most heinous of crimes, but why did you have to lie?"



Riddhima wanted to console Jiya; she stretched her arm to reach her, but refrained. Was Jiya genuinely upset or was this an act also? Having lost faith in everyone, Riddhima sat still, in a daze, confused and angry. Despite running from it, her past had managed to catch up with her and once again, ruined all her happiness.



The flashing light on her phone reminded her of the unopened text message.



She pressed the TEXT MESSAGE button:



FROM ABHIMANYU:



FOUND FIR. LODGED BY ARMAAN ON NOVEMBER 18TH, 2007, 5.00 AM. CASE CLOSED NOVEMBER 20TH.



Her worse fears had been validated by the text message.



Riddhima recalled the unforgettable moments of that stormy night in Ranikhet between Armaan and her:



His eyes were inches away from hers, his lips too close for comfort, "after my divorce, you were my only connection to Mumbai, it was too painful to go back." She whispered, "agar tumhein meri itni hi fikar hoti, tho tum kyun nahin aaye mujhey dhoondne? Kya yahi pyaar tha tumhara?"



"I did," he replied, his eyes softening a bit, "once you left, I realized what I had said but was shocked to find you gone. Main tumhare peeche peeche gaya….lekin tum kahin nahin mili. I even called you, but there was no answer. I reported to the police but you know how efficient they are. I couldn't believe that the woman I loved more than myself could be so heartless to leave me all alone. Mujhey ek mauka bhi nahin diya tumney?"









Case closed November 20th! Riddhima remembered those few days after Armaan and she had separated. How she had spent those days in anticipation of Armaan tracking her down, hoping that he had reported her 'missing' to the police. So, it was not the inefficient police, but the corrupt police that had kept them apart for so long.



The ominous nature of Yuvraaj's innocuous comments came alive in her mind:



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



"Riddhima…har pyaar karne waale ko duniya ne hamesha pagal hi samjha hai," Yuvraaj had smiled wryly.



Jiya's impression of Yuvraaj had sent shivers down her spine; now they gave her goose bumps and a sense of impending doom:



" Haan Riddhima..Yuvraaj has this implosive anger inside him. He found that this other boy had sketched my pictures all over his house. In rage, Yuvraaj set his house on fire."



Even though Abhimanyu was the most obvious suspect, given his history of animosity against his half brother, but this time Riddhima felt he was innocent. Yuvraaj, on the other hand, her trusted friend had managed to con them all. She hated the day Yuvraaj had accidentally bumped into her- or was that a set up too?



"Jiya," Riddhima touched Jiya's shoulder softly, "I think you should go to the police station. Abhimanyu needs you."



Jiya lifted her face, gave Riddhima an incredulous look, "I have always been there for him Riddhima, but this time he has betrayed my trust in him."



"Jiya, I know Abhimanyu is very capable of betraying his near and dear ones," Riddhima sighed, "but I have a feeling he is being framed this time."



"Framed?" Jiya sat up, wiping her tears, "but you just said they found his gun…and he is in jail."



"Look at this text message Jiya," Riddhima flashed the message at her.



"What does this prove?"



"It proves that there is more to the story than meets the eye. There is someone else who wants to keep Armaan away from me. Someone who might be capable of doing anything for his or her obsession," Riddhima replied angrily.



"Oh My God! Y-Yuvraaj?" Jiya's jaw dropped, "so…so YOU are the new woman of his dreams? OH NO! Sister Lovely ko bhi usney hi phir?"



"I think you need to arrange for a good lawyer for Abhimanyu and also warn Sister Lovely's family," Riddhima shut her eyes, kicking herself for placing so much trust in Yuvraaj over the past two years.



"I..I agree Riddhima, we will have to do everything to save our men….that means Armaan is still not out of danger."



"Jaanti hoon," Riddhima shuddered and bit her lip, "I am really scared now Jiya."



"Dad has contacts with the Police Chief here; I will ask him to arrange for more security here and look into this case…stay here with Armaan till then."



"Thanks Jiya…and sorry," Riddhima lowered her eyes.



"Sorry?"



"I misunderstood your intentions."



"Same here Riddhima. I should say sorry too. I had been painted a very negative picture of you by Abhimanyu and dad….but the moment I met you, I knew you were a very genuine person…..and highly misunderstood…..after all, you wouldn't defend the man who betrayed you and then almost killed the love of your life. I am happy I know the real you now," Jiya gave Riddhima a friendly hug and left.





………………………………………………………………………………



Riddhima held Armaan's hand and caressed his face with her fingers, "jaan….I am about to do something that you would never approve of, but I need to find the truth- for us….please forgive me and don't worry about me…aur agar mujhey kuch ho jaaye tho yaad rakhna, maine is zindagi mein sirf tumhein sachche dil se pyaar kiya hai, aur is pyaar ke liye main kuch bhi kar sakti hoon," she bent down and kissed his hand tenderly. To her surprise, she felt his fingers flicker and strengthen their grip around her hand.



She couldn't hold her happiness as his body demonstrated first signs of responding; his toes curled up a bit as his lips quivered. She held on to his hand firmly and smiled tearfully, "Armaan! Main jaanti hoon tum mujhey sun sakte ho. Mujh se baat karna chaahte ho na? Main tumse vaada karti hoon ki zindagi bhar itni baatein karoongi tumse ki tum meri baaton se parshan ho jaaoge ek din. Ab mujhey apna kaam karne do please….don't make it difficult for me jaan…..I promise we will be together soon," she released her hand reluctantly and picked her phone. Armaan's body continued to show signs of twitching and movement. The nurse came inside after the monitors warned her of some activity in the room.



"Great news Mrs. Malik! I think your husband is trying to wake up." The nurse checked his pupils and reflexes.



"Thanks sister….I can't wait for that day."



"It will happen sooner than you expect," she smiled, charted her observations and left the room. Armaan calmed down after a few minutes of struggle, as if giving way to Riddhima to complete her mission.



"Thanks jaan," she caressed his arm, "I love you," she said tearfully and then dialed the number she had been dreading to call. One thing that she had learnt about relationships, especially after her separation from Armaan was to confront friends and foes directly; not let a third person create any barriers or misunderstandings. Whether Yuvraaj was a friend or a foe would hopefully be obvious after she talked to him directly. As always, it was a struggle between her mind and heart, a struggle between trust and distrust. Deep down, she wanted Yuvraaj to be innocent, but her mind could not deny the fact that Yuvraaj had more of an incentive to kill Armaan than Abhimanyu at that point in their lives.





Thanks to Shashank's contacts, the police Chief and his team had been notified of the potential threat from one of their own officers.



"Hello Yuvraaj?"



"RIDDHIMA? ARE YOU OKAY?"



"Haan main theek hoon Yuvraaj, but I need you right now," she panicked, "please jaldi se hospital aa jao."



"Kya Armaan ko kuch ho gaya kya?" He asked loudly.



"Please jaldi aao Yuvraaj…please," she hung up and mumbled to herself, "I need you."



"Ok, I will be right there Riddhima," as he had always done in the last two years; he left what he was doing and rushed to be with her. The police Chief summoned him but Yuvraaj had disappeared without telling anyone at the police station.





………………………………………………………………………………………….



Meanwhile, Aradhana, still delayed because of her tardy train schedule, bent down to pull her cell phone from her bag.



"Let me call Riddhima….pata lagaaun Armaan ab kaisa hai," she tried to dial her sister's number but was surprised to see another phone- her husband's- in her bag. In her hurry to leave home, she had accidentally picked Shailendra's phone from the table.



"Arre, yeh tho Shailendra ka phone hai…hey bhagwan, yeh kaise aa gaya mere paas? I don't even remember Riddhima's new cell number. I wonder if it is logged in Shailendra's contact list," frustrated, she scanned her husband's phone list, but was stunned to see several missed calls from someone called 'BULBUL.'



"BULBUL?" She wondered and then checked the number, "yeh tho jaana pehchana sa number hai?" She scratched her head in frustration as she tried to recall the familiar number.



Just then, a text message popped on the screen, 'JAANU KAHAN HO? AAPKA KAAM THO HO GAYA, MERA ADHOORA HAI! CALL ME ASAP!!!!!'



The phone almost fell off Aradhana's hands, "BULBUL? JAANU? KAAM? ADHOORA?"





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





BACK AT THE HOSPITAL:



"Riddhima? Are you okay?" A worried Yuvraaj walked into Armaan's room where Riddhima sat solemnly next to his bed.



"Oh..Yuvraaj," Riddhima stood up slowly. She was still in denial that her friend of two years, could be a ruthless killer behind the faade of a kind man. She kept her calm and composure.



"What happened? Kya hua?" He came forward and touched her shoulder gently, "Is Armaan okay?" He glanced at the bed.



She stepped back, repulsed by his touch. "Can we talk in that corner?" She pointed to the waiting area just outside Armaan's room, "I don't want to disturb Armaan."



"Armaan theek hai kya?" A very curious Yuvraaj touched Armaan's arm, almost ignoring her request to leave Armaan alone.



"YUVRAAJ!" She jerked his hand away, "HOW DARE YOU TOUCH HIM?"



Yuvraaj was taken aback, "Oh..I am s-sorry. I-I was just checking to see.."



"Checking to see why he is still alive?"





"Riddhima?" Yuvraaj had a wounded expression on his face.





"Sorry Yuvraaj, your game is over!"



"Game?" Yuvraaj was flabbergasted, "what are you talking about Riddhima? I think you seriously need to get some rest."



"Yuvraaj…do you love me?" She asked with an expressionless face.



Yuvraaj almost collapsed at the bombshell hurled at him, "R-Riddhima?" He turned various shaded of red, caught unaware by her question. He averted his gaze, his cheeks still flushed with embarrassment.



"Yuvraaj, do you love me?"



"Y-yes…I do," he answered softly, "I have loved you since the day I met you."



Riddhima's heart sank as she heard his reply. Somewhere, in a corner of her heart, she was hoping Yuvraaj would say 'NO' and she could reaffirm her faith in her friend again. Their conversation was being tapped by the police Chief and his team outside the hospital. They had followed Yuvraaj to the hospital.



"I wish I had never met you Yuvraaj," she cried out, "I thought you were a friend….but you are worse than a foe."



"Riddhima?" He had tears in his eyes, "I couldn't help it Riddhima. Pyaar par kisi ka bas nahin chalta hai…kya karta main?"



"Lekin kisi ka khoon karne ki koshish karna? Kya us par bhi bas nahin tha tumhara?"



"RIDDHIMA!" Yuvraaj shook violently, "you are insulting our friendship! I could never hurt you…are you implying that I tried to kill Armaan?"





"Yuvraaj, you are a devil in the garb of a friend. If you could burn down someone's house for your obsession, I am sure you could aim a bullet at an innocent person too. Waise Armaan ko maarne ke baad kya tum soch te ho main tumhari baahon mein daud kar aa jaati?"







"Oh My God!" Yuvraaj swallowed painfully, shaking his head, his bruised heart too overwhelmed to reply, "s-so..Jiya told you about my past. Riddhima, Jiya knew me as a child, as a teenager, but you have known me as an adult…kya tumhein sach much lagta hai ki maine tumhein paane ke liye, Armaan ka khoon karna chaaha? Oh My God," he ran his fingers through his hair, "Riddhima…I am really hurt. I can't believe you would accuse me of something so cruel. I agree I love you…love with all my heart, but if you have ever loved anyone, you would know that they could never hurt the person they love the most….kya tumse tumhari khushi cheen kar main khush ho paaunga? Aisa tumne soch bhi kaise liya Riddhima? Would you ever accuse Armaan of such a crime? Wo bhi tho tumse jee jaan kar pyaar karta hai!

AND  NO, I NEVER EXPECTED YOU TO RUN INTO MY ARMS BECAUSE I KNEW YOU LOVED SOMEONE ELSE!"





Riddhima stared at him, still not convinced by his tearful act. At another moment in her life, she would have been swayed by Yuvraaj's heartfelt confession, but at this instant, she could not believe anyone, but herself.



"Yuvraaj, it's your friendship that has prevented me from reporting you to the police. Please confess to your crime….tum jaante ho tumhari bhalai isi mein hai."



"Love is not a crime Riddhima….and if it is, I have already confessed to it. Waise, Abhimanyu ko kyun bachana chaahti ho tum? He is your ex husband. Do you still harbor some feelings for him?" Yuvraaj sneered at her. His stance changed from a soft spoken friend to that of a tough police officer. Riddhima's accusations had hurt his feelings more than the fact that she loved another man.



"Yuvraaj! Abhimanyu is innocent. He has been framed."



"Ok, if I am the culprit, why would I want to frame Abhimanyu? You know every crime has a motive….agar Armaan ko maarke mujhey tum mil jaati, Abhimanyu ko jail bhejkar kya milega mujhey?"



"Badla! Tum ek zamaane mein Jiya se bhi pyaar karte the na? You knew that Abhimanyu had always harbored a grudge against Armaan, so no one would think twice about Abhimanyu's involvement in the crime…you are a clever man Yuvraaj!"



Yuvraaj chuckled sarcastically, "not as clever as you Riddhima. You have quite an imagination! Pyaar sach much logon ko pagal bana deta hai…haina?" He tried to hide his tears as he averted his gaze.





"Yuvraaj…the police Chief is outside the hospital….waiting for you."



"Oh, so this was a trap? Mujhey iss liye bulaya tha yahan? What proof do you have Ms Riddhima Modi…sorry Malik?" Yuvraaj snarled his tongue at her.



Riddhima sensed Armaan's body stiffening restlessly as Yuvraaj launched an aggressive tenor on Riddhima.





"Sister Lovely's death!"



"What? Sister lovely is dead?"



"Bano mat…tumne hi marwaaya hai usey."



"Sure…yes of course," he laughed sarcastically, "Do you have any other proof?" Yuvraaj threw his arms in the air.





"How do you explain this text message then?" She flashed the message at him, "you cancelled this F.I.R  two days after it was lodged…didn't you? Main soch ti rahi ki Armaan shayad mujhey bhool gaya hai….lekin tumhari chaal thi yeh…haina? Tum kabhie chaahte hi nahin the ki Armaan mere paas wapas aaye…aur jab aaya, tum se sahaa nahin gaya."



Yuvraaj became a little serious, furrowing his brow, he stared at the text message and checked his pocket calendar to verify the dates, "uh…well…yes, I did meet you on the 18th ….but I-I was not in Nainital from the 19th to the 22 nd….I was at a police training camp in Hyderabad. In fact, I recall leaving you with b-ua-ji," he paused and turned pallid as he tried to put two and two together. He shoved his calendar back into his pocket and dashed out of the hospital room.



Riddhima called for hospital security and dialed the Police Chief's number, "he has escaped sir."



"Don't worry Riddhima…we have surrounded this hospital…he can't get anywhere. We have recorded all your conversations too. If he is guilty, he will be punished!"





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



Aradhana sat staring at the text message on her phone. She went back to the old text messages and was horrified to read the exchange of messages between the 'jaanu' and the 'bulbul.'



Message dated from around 8 pm last night:



BULBUL: LAGTA HAI NISHAANA LAG GAYA HAI



JAANU: GOOD



A few minutes later:



BULBUL: LAGTA HAI NISHAANA POORI TARAH NAHIN BAITHA



JAANU: I HAVE A BACK UP PLAN. ACT AS IF YOU ARE SHOCKED. SYMPATHISE WITH HER.



A few hours later:



BULBUL: THEY ARE TAKING HIM TO SURGERY



JAANU: DON'T WORRY. BACK UP PLAN HAI. NURSE HAI. USKA BHAI JAIL MEIN HAI. SHE WILL DO ANYTHING TO SAVE HIM.



BULBUL: I HAVE NOTIFIED YOUR MRS.



JAANU: GOOD! HER SISTER NEEDS A SHOULDER TO CRY ON. SHE IS GETTING READY.



Then there were several text messages from Bulbul only:



BULBUL: SURGERY SUCCESSFUL :(



BULBUL: BACK UP PLAN URGENTLY NEEDED!!!!!!



BULBUL: PLEASE CALL ME ASAP!!!!!!!!



Then there was a text message from this morning…



BULBUL: BACK UP FOILED! AB KYA KAREIN? CALL ASAP!!!!!!



Then there was a final message from this evening:



BULBUL: 'JAANU KAHAN HO? AAPKA KAAM THO HO GAYA, MERA ADHOORA HAI! CALL ME ASAP!!!!!'



A stunned, shocked and horrified Aradhana sat still with the phone in her hand. She re read all the messages again and again. 'Notified your Mrs' was the big clue to her. That message was probably sent around the time she had received a call from Mrs. Saxena. She recalled Shailendra's parting remark: He is serious? Not dead, huh?" Shailendra had a smug expression on his face, "saari fasaad ki jadh hai wo. Jab se India aaya hai, sab kuch barbaad ho gaya hai."





Aradhana shuddered in her seat and curled up into a ball.  An innocent mistake done in hastiness- swapping of cell phones-had turned her life upside down within a span of a few cryptic text messages. She had always doubted Shailendra's fidelity, but 'Jaanu' erased all her trust in her husband's faithfulness. Bulbul's phone number was no doubt very familiar- she had called Mrs. Saxena several times in the last few weeks. If her views about her husband had hit rock bottom, the back stabbing, treacherous Mrs. Saxena was right down there in the same pit as him.





Aradhana gathered her thoughts silently but tearfully, "mere saath jo hua so hua…lekin iski saza meri behen ko kyun mil rahi hai? Aur Armaan…us bechare ka kya kasoor hai?" She still couldn't fathom why Mrs. Saxena and her good-for-nothing-evil-unfaithful-husband wanted to kill Armaan.



As the train halted at a local station, she saw hordes of people gathered around a local TV screen. The news flashed information on Abhimanyu's arrest: INDUSTRIALIST ABHIMANYU MODI ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER OF HIS STEP BROTHER!



Aradhana recalled the last text message from 'Bulbul'- AAPKA KAAM THO HO GAYA, MERA ADHOORA HAI



So, Abhimanyu was Shailendra's victim and Armaan was Mrs. Saxena's?



Over the past two years, Shailendra's relationship with Abhimanyu had soured to an all time low. The last election had been the final blow when Abhimanyu had refused to contribute to Shailendra's campaign any further. After losing the election, Shailendra had sent several feelers to the Modi's but they had ruthlessly declined any offers of friendship or amity. Their symbiotic but pathological relationship had snapped after Abhimanyu and Riddhima's divorce.





Why Armaan? Aradhana gasped at that thought and cursed herself for initiating the reunion between her sister and Armaan. Who knew, she had endangered Armaan's life in exchange for happiness for her sister.





With the train showing signs of further delay, she couldn't hold herself any longer. She got off the train and rushed outside to get a taxi, "NAINITAL!" She ordered the cab driver.



At last, luck was by her side. As soon as she left the station, a couple of men hounded the train in search of Aradhana- or rather Shailendra's cell phone. A few hours after Aradhana had departed, once shailendra was more coherent, he discovered his missing phone and right away sent his goons after his wife.



Shailendra was furious at his men. His only hope was Aradhana's ignorance- hopefully like she always had in the past, she would not dig deeper into his cell phone contacts and messages. News of Abhimanyu's arrest came as a relief to him. He felt vindicated at last- agar main barbaad ho gaya hoon, tho Abhimanyu tumhein bhi barbaad hona padhega!



He tried to contact Mrs. Saxena regarding Armaan, but was unable to get hold of her. His frustration drew him back to the scotch bottle, his escape in times of despair and helplessness.



………………………………………………………………………………………



NAINITAL HOSPITAL:



Aradhana rushed to Armaan's room as soon as she arrived. Riddhima gave her sister a warm and affectionate hug and apologized for being so rude to her in the past, "didi….I am sorry…maine aapko kya kya nahin sunaya….aap tho sirf mujhey aur Armaan ko saath dekhna chaahti thi."



"Jaanti hoon Riddhima. Galti meri bhi thi, jo kabhie tujhey theek se samajh hi nahin paayi."



After getting an encouraging report about Armaan's progress, Aradhana expressed her desire to see the police regarding the case. Aradhana revealed the details of the phone messages to Riddhima. Mrs. Saxena's involvement in the case came as a thunderbolt. Her head spun as she recalled how she had accused poor Yuvraaj of such a horrible crime. Unable to bear any more shocks, Riddhima collapsed in her sister's arms. Aradhana and the nurse helped Riddhima to the bed. After reassuring herself that Riddhima was safe, Aradhana dashed outside to report her side of the story to the police.



Police and press surrounded the premises of Nainital Hospital. A profile murder attempt coupled with a high profile arrest had the whole city glued to the media and the hospital.



Yuvraaj was being interrogated by the Police Chief in the police van when they were interrupted by ' a lady with vital information regarding this case,' as the sub inspector put it.



Aradhana was summoned inside the van. She came as an angel in disguise for Yuvraaj, although she reaffirmed his doubts about his bua.



"Hmm…interesting," the Police Chief pondered, "this case gets complicated by the minute..well Aradhana jee…your evidence is definitely solid. We will send a message to Dehradun police right away. I am sorry, looks like we will have to take your husband into custody for more investigation."



"Please officer….don't be sorry. That man deserves to rot in jail all his life! This was the last straw….mujh se zyaada usney meri behen ki zindagi mein aag lagayi hai…pehle ek galat insaan se uski shaadi karwaakar aur ab uska pyaar us se cheen ne koshish mein." Aradhana became emotional but suppressed her tears in front of the policemen.



"Aradhana jee….my bua is equally responsible," Yuvraaj swallowed his tears.



"I am sorry Yuvraaj. Looks like even you were not spared the agony of this case." Aradhana





A few minutes later, they looked up and were stunned to see a handcuffed Mrs. Saxena being dragged into the van.



Apparently, after failing to contact Shailendra, Mrs. Saxena had taken upon herself to influence one of the pharmacists to prescribe a deadly combination of medications for Armaan. She had promised the pharmacist a quick promotion as she had 'high level contacts' in the government. The pharmacist, an intelligent but honest man had conned her by accepting her offer but had promptly reported the incident to Dr Pathak.



Mrs. Saxena stood quietly with her head hung in shame.



"Bua…kyun kiya aisa?" Yuvraaj asked, his voice quivered but his eyes burnt with anger.



"Tere liye beta. Teri khushi ke liye. Bhaiyya ko maine promise kiya tha ki Yuvraaj ki har ichcha main poori karoongi- chaahe mujhey apni jaan hi kyun na gavaani padhe. Main jaanti thi tu Riddhima ko jee jaan se chaahta tha…iss liye mujh se saha nahin gaya ki wo kisi aur ki ho jaaye."



Yuvraaj just stood there in silent anger.



"Mrs. Saxena….mere saath natak kyun kiya aapne?" Aradhana asked.



"Shailendra ke kehne par. Wo nahin chaate the ki mujh par koi shaq kare."



" Tho yeh sab unki chaal thi?"



"Haan…Shailendra ki dushmani Abhimanyu se thi aur Abhimanyu ka sab se badha dushman Armaan tha. Wo chaahte the Armaan ko maarne se hum dono ko apni apni manzil mil jaaye."



"How about Abhimanyu's gun?" Yuvraaj asked curiously.



"The gun was used by Shailendra's man who posed as a trusted employee of Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu wanted to kill his jockey with that gun. Isey kehte hain gun gun par likha hai shikari ka naam," the Police Chief chuckled.



"Oh God!" Yuvraaj shook his head, "Abhimanyu was definitely framed here. Riddhima was right."



"Mrs. Saxena, kya rishta hai aapka Mr. Shailendra Sareen se?" The Police Chief asked.



She hung her head, averting her gaze from both Aradhana and Yuvraaj, who were both ashamed and disgusted at her implied silence.



"Bua…..2 saal pehle wo F.I.R kisne block kiya tha?" Yuvraaj finally asked.



Mrs. Saxena remained silent again.



"Yuvraaj," the Police Chief came back with some records, "it was closed by the old Police Chief," he gave Mrs. Saxena a probing look, "he was quite close to you Mrs. Saxena, isn't it? Very close indeed!"



Mrs. Saxena had been trapped from all directions; she had no recourse but to nod her head gently.



Yuvraaj was repulsed by his bua, "aapko bua kehne mein bhi sharam aati hai mujhey!"



"Yuvraaj beta….lekin tumhare liye kiya tha maine yeh sab. Tujhey bachpan mein boarding bhejkar bahut pach taayi thi main. I felt so guilty about keeping you away from Jiya. I couldn't do that the second time beta. I knew you had fallen in love with Riddhima the moment you met her. I loved Riddhima too. I really wanted you both to end together…lekin na jaane kahan se Aradhana ke mann mein Armaan aur Riddhima ko milaane ka khayal aa gaya!" Mrs. Saxena gnashed her teeth angrily.





"Mrs. Saxena….baaki baatein ab court mein hongi," the Police Chief called a woman inspector, "please take her to the police station."



The Police Chief picked his phone and called Shashank, "Congratulations Mr. Modi!"





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



BACK IN ARMAAN'S ROOM:



A bleary eyed Riddhima with a throbbing headache rubbed her eyes and tried to get up from the bed. She looked up at the clock and was surprised that it was past midnight. She must have slept for 5-6 hours perhaps, "hey bhagwan…main kitni der so gayi!"



"Mrs. Malik! Please don't get up. Your IV will come off," a nurse held her shoulders and settled her back on the bed.



"IV?" Riddhima stared at the clear tubing running from her arm to a bag full of fluid on a hook next to her bed.



"Jee Mrs. Malik. You are my patient too. When you had passed out, the doctors started this IV on you. Thoda glucose aur saline hai ismein."





"Sister….I need to be with Armaan," she tried to get up again, "I am not a patient here!"



"No Mrs. Malik! The doctor has ordered that you stay on full bed rest. Your husband does not want you to play neither detective, security guard nor nurse here. Your BP, sugar and electrolytes are all out of range. Aapko rest ki zaroorat hai." The nurse was adamant.



"My husband?" Riddhima was dumbfounded, "where is my husband?" She tried to pull herself up to glance at Armaan's bed.



"He is right here…at your bedside, watching over you." The nurse pointed to the other side of her bed.



Riddhima almost fell off her bed when she saw Armaan sitting on a wheel chair next to her bed, a large bandage still around his head, his arms loaded with catheters, his eyes barely open, but his smile fixated on her.



"A-Armaan?" She gradually got up and extended her hand towards him.



He lifted his arm with a lot of effort till his fingers were inches away from hers.



Tears of joy rolled down her cheeks; her fingers brushed against his. For a moment, they sat still, their magnetic gazes locked into each other. Slowly, their fingers intertwined with each other till their hands were interlocked in an embrace of heavenly bliss, an almost surreal meeting of their souls and hearts that had defied the gravest of all adversities and misfortunes.



"Mrs. Malik!" Armaan's muffled voice was barely audible, "this is not fair. Tumne shaadi bhi kar li aur apne pati ko invitation bhi nahin bheja!"





…………….to be contd…….
happy reunion with resolution of all misunderstandings in next part……..

Bheegi

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