Friday, 28 September 2018

part 3 : Never let go!(ss)


"Why did you have to come along?" Armaan hissed at Rahul, while smiling at his onsite colleagues who greeted them in London office.

"I am committed to my profession, Armaan. If my company needs me, I will never back gown." Rahul replied back slyly, with a silly grin on his face.

"Oh cut the crap! Ankit told me that you requested him to put you on this project with me." Armaan snapped at him.

"Sanjana called me in the morning." Rahul added suddenly. "She asked me to tell you that she is fine and that she doesn't hate you anymore." He ended, with a genuine concern in his voice.

"I am glad." He replied with a sigh. "I messed up her life bad. She is a sweet heart."



"That she is," Rahul agreed. "She also asked me to convey her wishes to Riddhima when we meet her." He added.

Armaan stopped short at the mention of Riddhima's name and glared at him. "For the last four months, I have been trying to convince you Rahul. I am not here to meet that bitch. You may go to her Uni if you want to meet. But stop bringing her name up infront of me." He uttered before taking his seat in their cabin. "I don't want to be in a bad mood before we meet the new interns."

"How many are we assigned with, for this project?" Rahul asked, logging in to his laptop and simultaneously reading through the project status reports.

"Seven in all." Armaan answered, calling his manager on the intercom and discussing the tasks to be done for the day. "I heard there is one Indian among them." He added after he ended the call with his manager.

"Here is the list of your new interns, guys." Lisa smiled at them before giving the paper containing the list to Rahul. "And don't let the girls drool all over you. Teach them some work too." She winked at Rahul and left the cabin.

Rahul spared one look at the list in his hand and then his face broke out into a wide grin. Whoever has assigned these interns to them, he wanted to kiss the breath out of that person, be it a man or woman. For, that one person has just made the purpose of his coming to London damn easy. He just has to make sure that one particular intern was assigned to Armaan from among their team mates. And that was just a walk on the cake.

He then turned his attention to Armaan and sighed. Though a faint plan took its shape in his brain, he was not sure how Armaan would respond to it when he was face to face to it. After all, the guy has a temper that can burn the receiving person in his red and hot fury. And he was not sure if the receiving person would be able to withstand it, this time. Because he knew that one person has turned his friend's life upside down, intentionally or not.

"I'll go and discuss the interns and their mentors with Lisa. You carry on with the call." Rahul said hurriedly and fled from the room.

Armaan raised his brow at his friend's abrupt leaving. As much as he was irritated with his prying into his personal space for the last few months, he was glad that Rahul accompanied him to London for the project. If not for Rahul, he was sure he would have done something stupid with respect to Riddhima. Like throttling her, for example. Or going to meet her, his heart suggested the fact to his brain.

Ever since he had stepped down from the flight, there was a nagging feeling in him. That feeling hinted at him to go and meet Riddhima for once, but he pushed it aside for the sake of his ego. With days, his anger against Riddhima subsided but he still couldn't digest the fact that she had kept her feelings to herself for all those months of their togetherness and let them out just before flying out of India. He still couldn't understand why she let him know about her feelings for him, when she had decided not to keep in contact with him. For almost an year, he was going mad and he didn't even know if she still had the same feelings for him. And he still couldn't decipher why he was not able to forget her when he doesn't even love her.

The ring of his mobile broke the chain of his thoughts. "Yeah Rahul?" He spoke into the mobile.

"Come to the conference hall for the meeting with interns." Rahul told him.

Aramaan cut the call and headed towards the conference hall after collecting the CD which contained the project briefing that he has to present to the interns of his team. As he crossed the cafeteria, he stopped dead on his tracks on encountering the subject of his inner turmoil. He clenched his fists on noticing her laughing and hugging some guy.

Riddhima hugged her college mate Tom, before adjusting her blazer and moving to the conference hall, where she was supposed to meet her senior team mates. She was glad for securing the internship on the same company after her masters as she was well versed with the work culture of it, while working for it an year ago. She weighed the risk of meeting Armaan again while applying for the internship but dismissed it for the odds of meeting him are bleak as he was working in India and she in London.

Riddhima smiled at the practitioners present in the hall and greeting them with a polite hand shake before taking the seat with her name card. She was going through the contents of the folder placed infront of her when her eyes landed on the person sitting at the far end of the table. She hoped she mistook him for someone else and tried to find solace in that. But she knew she was wrong when he smiled at her warmly. Her heart stopped beating for a second and she searched around frantically for Armaan. She tried to calm down when she didn't find him and convinced herself that Rahul might have been here on the project and Armaan might be in India. She believed it, for she didn't have the energy left in her to meet him once again.

Armaan couldn't believe his fate. He wondered why God couldn't leave this one woman out of his life. But then it was all his fault. Why did he have to take up the London project when he was well aware of the fact that Riddhima was studying in Lodon. He should have guessed that she might be applying for the internship here. After all she had worked for the same company for three years before going for her masters. But why couldn't she be in some other project? He took a deep breath and took his seat beside Rahul without glancing at her or acknowledging her presence. All he could hope now was that she was not assigned to him.

Riddhima felt as if she had received a punch in her face when she watched him walk in to the hall and take his place beside Armaan. All the blood drained off her face and she felt her limbs shaking slightly. Her dread increased hundred folds when he didn't even spare her a glance. All she could hope now was that she was not assigned to him.

Rahul was the silent spectator of the building tension in the room that everyone was unaware of. After looking at Riddhima's pale face and Armaan's clenched jaw, he wondered if he had taken the wrong decision. But the deed was done one, he sighed. All he could hope now was that they wouldn't know that he deliberately made Lisa assign Riddhima to Armaan. He was not sure about Riddhima's reaction but witnessing the muscle ticking in Armaan's jaw, he was sure that his friend would burn him to death.

Rahul winced when Lisa read out the names of the mentors of the interns. Whatever blood was remaining on Riddhima's face, it was gone when she heard her mentor's name and Armaan's face turned red when he heard his mentee's name. He was sure that the hell was about to break loose in their cabin.

---------------

Riddhima took several deep breaths before knocking on Armaan's cabin. She was already dreading facing him for two reasons. One, she was left breathless in the hall one hour ago when she witnessed the cold anger in his eyes that was directed towards her. Two, she was already 20 minutes late to their meeting.

"Come in." She heard his deep voice and felt her heart beat escalating.

"I am sorry Ar- Mr. Mallik. I was held back due to-" She tried to explain the reason behind her coming late as soon as she entered his cabin but he cut her short.

"Ms. Gupta, I despise excuses and the people who use them to cover their mistakes. So save them for yourself." Armaan shouted at her and she was mortified when all his team members present in the cabin stared at her.

"But-" She tried again.

"If we are done with your nonsense, shall we get back to more important stuff?" He mocked at her.

All the team members, along with Rahul, gaped at Armaan for his lashing out at the intern. They all knew him as a sweet dimpled guy from India and never saw him in such a temper in their four months of working together. Even his manager was taken back and Lisa almost dropped the papers she was holding.

Riddhima blinked away the tears threating to spill from her eyes and swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat. She didn't understand why he abhorred her but she was shaken to the depth of the soul at the hatred she just witnessed in his voice. Of all the reactions she had expected out from him, this was not even on her list.

"Y-Yes." She answered weakly, lowering her face, trying to save her pride infront of others.

"Good!" He said sternly and turned to his manager who was explaining to them the ongoing tasks.

Riddhima moved aside and quietly took her seat while trying to focus on the discussion going on in the cabin. But all she could feel was emptiness inside her. She felt utterly exhausted and drained by the end of the meeting with Armaan throwing rapid fire questions at her face among all the interns present and indirectly insulting her for the lack of knowledge when she fumbled with the answers.

She excused herself quickly when the meeting was over and rushed to the break-out area. She shut herself in the washroom and let the tears free from her eyes. She didn't expect that one impulsive decision taken an year back would completely destroy the special relationship she had with Armaan. She was able to live with the fact that he didn't love her but she couldn't bear the indifference she was receiving from Armaan.

Rahul paced in the empty break-out area waiting for Riddhima to step out of the wash room. He had to give Armaan a piece of his mind but first he had to make sure that she was fine. He had noticed her pale face and watery gaze by the end of the meeting and knew she might be crying. He turned to her when he heard the door of the ladies washroom click. One look at her and he knew she had cried. What else did he expect!

Riddhima looked at Rahul and tried to put on a mask of smiling face but in vain. "I am fine." She whispered.

Rahul didn't speak anything for a moment and the next moment, his arms were around her holding her close to him. She tried to resist what he was offering but knew that she was in desperate need of someone to comfort her. So she obliged, hiding her face in his chest, trying to swallow the sobs that were about to break loose. But everything became too much for her and she broke down in his arms. The feeling of home sickness, missing her parents and the lack of good friends in her university to share her turmoil for the last one year combined with her broken heart lead to heaps of misery accumulated in her heart. And with Rahul, she didn't feel the necessity to put up with the plastic smile she had mastered, for she knew that he was aware of whatever had transpired between Armaan and her.

"Ssh Riddhima. He is just disturbed with the fact that you were in love with him when he thought of you as his friend." He said, patting her back when she hiccupped. "Just give him some time to come to terms with it."

"I-I didn't m-mean to d-disturb him. I c-couldn't let g-go of him w-without telling him that I-I loved him b-before leaving." She uttered in her broken voice. "I k-knew he didn't l-love me but I h-had to try."

"I know, Riddhima. You need not explain your actions." He consoled her.

Riddhima drew back and wiped her tears. "Can you help me get another mentor? I don't think he likes me anymore." She said.

"That will only infuriate him more, Riddhima." Rahul said, giving her a glass of water to drink. "Beside he loves you. He is just stubborn to accept it." He added.

Riddhim wanted to tell him that he was wrong but she found solace in the fact that atleast according to him, Armaan loves her. Illusion appealed to her when compared to the harsh reality, so she let him be.

Sushmita 

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