Sunday, 25 November 2018

Chapter 10 : Where Did I go Wrong

Muskaan's voice quivered with anger, "Argh, Riddhima, why didn't you tell him immediately then? It was such a wonderful opportunity"

"I guess I just went wrong over there" Riddhima said, simply.

All this while Rahul who had been quiet now spoke up "You still love him irrevocably, don't you?"

It was a challenging question; a question whose answer Riddhima had given away to Armaan so easily when he persisted her a while ago in the staff, a question no matter what she did she couldn't escape from, a question whose answer was "yes" and undeniable.

She looked at Rahul straight in the eye, "yes, I do, undying" she accepted.

"So it definitely means that you don't entirely blame him" Rahul probed into.

"I never entirely blamed him, he was under pressure, may be, but he did play a very important part, based on which I was forced to take a decision and leave. It was like a verdict, a conviction that didn't go well with me" Riddhima replied, heavily.

"Elaborate" Rahul demanded.

Riddhima closed her eyes recalling that day.

June 4th 2008

"Four days" Riddhima thought hopelessly, "Oh, I have to tell him now, if only he had some more free time" she went on, babbling to herself that early morning, after Armaan left for work. She wrung her hands, and nervously bit her nails. "I'm so bad at these things" she muttered, then she remembered that had never been pregnant before, grinning at her own stupidity she proceeded downstairs towards the kitchen to prepare lunch only to come across Armaan's mothers upcoming rant.

"Nice, isn't it? A boy coming into the family" she bored on.

Riddhima looked up at her, "It's a girl" she said, nonchalantly, "I was under the impression that you weren't interested"

"I'm talking about Anjali's baby" she said, sternly.

"Ah, yes" Riddhima replied politely.

"But you are having a girl? Aren't you?" she said, contemptuously.

"Yes, something wrong?" Riddhima answered, indifferently.

"As a matter of fact, everything is wrong Riddhima" she dragged.

"Carry on" Riddhima answered, bored.

"Armaan always wanted a boy"

Riddhima lit the gas and poured oil into the dish, she replied "You're misinformed. YOU want a boy. I'm afraid I can't do anything about that now, next?"

"Don't you dare use that tone on me"

"I'll do whatever I like, considering you never like anything I do, its hard to know what will please you and what won't, so spare me the trouble" Riddhima ignorantly replied. Me and my mood swings she thought. It was true, every small thing irritated Riddhima more than usual.

"I informed Armaan you're pregnant, just today morning". Her voice was testing Riddhima.

"I don't know why I get this gut feeling that you're lying mom" Riddhima replied, without looking up at her, concentrating on getting the ingredients mixed.

"Challenging me? Fine, why don't you go to meet Armaan during lunch then?"  She said, icily.

Riddhima's eyes narrowed for about a second. She was expressionless a moment later, scrutinizing her mother in law whose face remained nebulous. Inside her heart beats quickened, "What did he say when you informed him about my pregnancy?" Riddhima asked tentatively. The moment she asked that question, she knew she shouldn't have, she had waited so long; she could wait a few more hours for his reaction, though she wondered why Armaan hadn't got back to her if he knew that they were having a baby. Deciding that her mother in law was bluffing she calmed down, though not completely. She waited.

"Do you really want to know his reaction Riddhima? I must warn you, that it won't make you happy"

"Don't drag; I'll decide what to believe and what not too" Riddhima shot back.

"Suit yourself. To start with, he said how monotonous life was going, office to home and back to office, seems he isn't satisfied …" she prolonged and waited for Riddhima to retort.

Riddhima's jaw tightened, her hands stopped chopping the vegetables, yet she chose to keep silent and waited yet again. "… Of course, I didn't ask him in what context he meant when he spoke about satisfaction; it gets too personal for me to probe into, right?"

"Right, for once you're correct, so then…?" The curiosity in Riddhima's voice was evident.

"I like the eagerness. So then when I asked him whether he was happy about the baby, he obviously gave me the 'what?' expression, and when I provided him with the details, he gave me a much disapproved look and muttering something about being late to work, and he went off"

"You haven't finished yet mom, I can sense it" Riddhima fought to keep her voice strong.

"Smart. Yes I haven't, he asked me to inform you that he was interested in seeing you for lunch today afternoon, and he will be even more disappointed if you don't go to see him"

Riddhima swallowed hard, "Funny how such events take place on a day I don't see Armaan off to work, I wonder if he was trying to please you by his reaction mum, because I assure you, that we are perfectly happy the few hours we spend together in our room, and to elaborate, we are considerably spent most of the mornings, in other words, 'satisfied', and the monotonous office to home and back to office is to please you, remember how you don't allow him to absent himself from work?"

Riddhima started to exit without waiting to look at her mother in laws face, and then from the kitchen she heard the usual devilish voice, "Do you know how much you get on my nerves?"

"I know that mum"

"… and how much I intend to get you out of here?"

"I'm very much aware of that one too mum, thanks"

"Don't tell me I didn't warn you"

"I shall not, now if you would excuse me mum?"

"Certainly" she replied.

Without waiting for anymore of those rants Riddhima hurried upstairs and shut the door. Anger was bubbling inside her. Overwhelming anger!

That bloody bitch, her mind was screaming! Hatred she never knew existed was bursting within her, it wanted to escape. In frustration her hands bowled into fists and her nails dug into her palms so hard until her left palm began to bleed.

"Crap" she muttered and went on to clean her hand.

*Later that afternoon

Riddhima had reached Armaan's office, walking in she acknowledged the nods of recognition she got on the way to Armaan's cabin, stopping by at the receptionist Riddhima greeted the receptionist "Hi Roshni"

"Hi Ma'am" replied Roshni greeting back joyfully, "come to see sir?"

"Yes I have, is he busy now?" Riddhima asked, smiling.

"I don't think so ma'am, he is never busy for you, but however I'll give him a ring if you wish?"

"Yeah please do"

After a few seconds Roshini informed Riddhima that she could carry on. Before going Riddhima asked Roshni hesitating for a moment "Did his mood seem fine today morning?"

"Yes ma'am, he seemed ok, although I noticed some worry lines, but nevertheless it seemed negligible, is everything all right?"

"Yes, everything is fine, thanks" Riddhima replied, half smiling she walked the corridor to his cabin that was at a far end.

On reaching his cabin Riddhima was astonished when she heard voices issuing, and she was startled when she recognized that the other voice was Armaan's mothers. She stood carefully behind the door that was slightly ajar, every word coming from through was clear to her ears; she could see Armaan's head bent over his table his hands on his temples, and a silhouette of her mother in law standing opposite him.

"Armaan, do you understand the gravity of the situation?" she was saying.

"Yes I do" Armaan replied softly, his voice was so soft, the type whenever he was forced to do something.


"I'll convince her to abort the fetus" he said, heavily.

The world had ended, it was an empty hole, an unending deep tunnel, somewhere down the tunnel a never ending darkness loomed, darkness that engulfed Riddhima's thoughts, she was walking down the aisle, a quiet aisle, piercing silence, though she could hear the whirring of her mind, whirring mind that left everything in a haze, moments later there was silence, complete eerie silence, a subconscious mind guiding one feet ahead of the other. Then her mind began to spin uncontrollably, her subconscious mind yelled No-no, stop spinning, just go home .She was wondering why she wasn't dead, why was she alive? Perhaps she was alive for the one whom she was now living for. Was it that? The one and only part of her body that shouted sense into her, shouted giving her a reason for her existence, a reason so she wouldn't end her life.

She lived so the living soul within her wouldn't die. Her own soul had been shattered beyond repair. Her emotions were beyond description.

Before even she knew it, she was home, she walked slowly upstairs, not aware of her surroundings, not aware of anything she was doing, her mind worked as if on its own accord, it was only when she reached her room that she cried.

*Later that evening

A little handbag was now hiding under the bed, a few clothes, some necessities, passport, some money, priceless photos and presents was what that entire bag had contained. Yes, she had made a decision. She heard a faint sounder of thunder, somewhere far away in the clouds, it sounded like a warning, or it was as if danger was lurking around the corner, But Riddhima knew that it was no impending danger. The terror she feared had finally happened. There was nothing more to come.

Now holding an old photo in her hand she bent down to look at it, a young beautiful firm faced lady was holding a little girl – little Riddhima. Today Riddhima was missing her mother like never before, wishing that she had her mothers shoulder to cry on, to share her insecurities, to share her sorrows, her weakness, she wanted to share her childish fears that no one but her mother would understand.

She wasn't crying, now driven of all emotions she put the photo in the handbag and tucked it under the bed, out of sight. She bathed, knowing that in a few minutes Armaan would be home, she had to face him once before she left. She knew it, hoping it wouldn't be so bad; she waited, like she had done all her life post marriage.

When she was out of the bathroom, having bathed and now half dressed, she found herself face to face with Armaan moments later. He heart skipped a beat, and then thumped unevenly. He grinned, a young boyish grin, the one she always loved, and she hadn't realized until then that she was leaving behind a jewel she had forever treasured so precisely, so cautiously. She continued wondering about that grin, was he pretending, just that afternoon he was talking about killing an innocent fetus and now he was grinning? Infact just today morning he was informed that she was pregnant and was he actually grinning now? Had he always been that good in pretending? Why didn't she notice before? Was his love also pretence all along? Stupid, irrelevant, irrational questions flooded her mind. She heard a voice calling her name, coming from somewhere far it repeated, "Riddhima?" If she hadn't seen Armaan's lips moving she would have been there wondering who had called her?

It took her a while to realize that Armaan had been shaking her delicately by her arms, brining her out of reverie. She didn't know what crept into her, but the next moment making a move she was kissing him with a fierce sense of urgency. Her hands guided his over her body, wanting him to explore one last time. He didn't resist, but a few minutes later when he held her in his arms, close to himself he whispered, ragged "God, Riddhima, today was like we're never going to do it again for a long time"

She had chosen to remain quiet, and didn't respond, simply pretending that she was asleep in his arms.

Later that night she crept out of bed, dressed, grabbed her handbag from under the bed and proceeded to move out of the room, before going she paused and turned back to look at him peacefully sleeping, "How could you Armaan?"

Nevertheless she kissed him on the forehead, a tender kiss, the one she would give him every morning when he left to work, she lingered on a few seconds and then she was gone.

Unintentionally she had left behind her diary.

Next morning Armaan woke to find a note on the bed, it read,

"Good morning Armaan, this will be the last time I'll be wishing you so. This is a good bye note, when you receive this, I would be long gone. I love you.

P.S: If you love me, don't try to find out why left, also, never come looking for me"

*Present day

Riddhima was sitting on the floor of the class, her cheeks had been strewn with tears and it was only now that she realized so. Muskaan was hugging her from sideways, supporting her. Riddhima now comprehended that it was probably at that point of time she slide onto the floor when her feet had no strength to hold her.

Muskaan was at a loss of words, Rahul came and knelt in front of Riddhima and said "I'm sorry Riddhima, but I think your decision was hasty, you could have confided with him, contradicted him, anything"

Riddhima sniffed, "Its over, no use pondering over it now, what's gone is gone, his pretence and choice to ignore the pregnancy topic complimented my decision to leave, and so I did, I would have been fine if he hadn't chosen to contradict me in his staff" She fingered the hicky on her neck, winced and stood up suddenly. "I want to go home"

Rahul proposed to drop her home which she gladly accepted. After Riddhima was dropped home Rahul seemed to have a strange doubt lingering in his head, he confided it with Muskaan.

"I don't know why Muskaan, but my mind fails to accept that Armaan was talking about their baby, what if he was talking about Anjali's baby? What if it had been a well planned trick by Armaan's mother?" he said, slowly

Muskaan turned around to look at him, wide eyed.

"That's my intuition, I don't know if you can make sense of it" Rahul rambled on.

"You're reckoning that this was a planned misunderstanding?" Muskaan asked, still very wide eyed.

"It's possible, Armaan's mothers kind, you know…"

"If that witch was really getting Armaan to convince Anjali about aborting her baby then…?"

"…What happened to Anjali's baby?" Rahul completed, his mind working fast.

"Riddhima wouldn't possibly know?" Muskaan said, raising her doubts.

"I don't see how she would know? She hasn't bothered to keep in touch with them" Rahul declared.

"The intensity of the situation is more than what I estimated, it also raises another doubt; did Armaan really know Riddhima was pregnant if they had been talking about Anjali's baby in the cabin and before all along?" Muskaan replied dull and drained.

"I don't know Muskaan, I don't know, but I intend to find out"

And with a great U-turn he drove back to the college with a strong and determined face.



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