Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Part 13 : Unleashing What Remained Unsaid

"I won't," he whispered in the same breath as her, his response so prompt it made one wonder if her barely audible confession had perhaps completely escaped him; then with the slightest of pause he added, "Never again Ridhima..."

The intensity of his whispered assurance was not lost to how briefly it was stated. It kicked within her the realization of what she had spoken, and claimed. And that led to a new rush of emotions. It should have been mostly a relief at having released her pent up self but there was a sudden physical exhaustion which seemed to be taking over her limbs. That could hardly be a consequence of relief alone...perhaps it was then a sense of resignation from being incapable of holding up against the inevitable anymore. Feeble in her head she wished to resist the weakness, at least stop crying. In a futile attempt she pursed her lips trying to hold back her cry and shut her eyes tight. Instead she choked, the tears still flowed. Shoving the back of her free hand onto her mouth as she hiccuped from sobbing, the phone slipped from her sweaty grip into her lap, away from her ear.


He whispered into the phone sensing a worsening of her breakdown, then getting no response he repeated, the desperation in his voice much louder,

"Ridhima?" She heard it this time and swallowing hard she raised her phone back to the ear wiping her face onto the sleeve of her sweater.

"Ar..Armaan..." was all she managed to stammer but in that single utterance he sensed the turmoil of her thoughts, a lingering distress, perhaps an inkling of persisting disbelief.

"Ridhima.." He started helplessly, wary of the distance between them, emotional and physical, then pausing he tried to steady himself and said, "Have some water Ridhima"

"Water?" She whispered hoarse and despite herself.

"Yes honey. You must have a bottle somewhere in your car, you always did keep one. Have it..."


"Drink it first Ridhima...please."

He urged interrupting her stuttering in a voice tenderly taking control; she resigned almost thankful to be too tired to argue anymore, bending in obedience to pull out a bottle from under her seat. Blinded by the suspended tears in her eyelashes and the hair falling over her face she frowned letting her hand sweep in search of the bottle, and for that moment, perhaps only that, she lost thread of the overwhelming emotions. He remembered the bottle in my car she thought. Wistfully through the tears as her hand felt around for the bottle, she recalled him asking her once with mock curiosity how she avoided getting drunk on water for the amount she consumed. It was an evening before a final and she had been stressed crazy, a condition which multiplied her caffeine and water intake manifold. Too much on her mind to respond to his attempted wisecrack she had just ignored, but he was a master at ticking her off in the worst moments. And so he had added in a matter of fact tone of a prude how the world was running out of essential drinking water supply and that she should try to conserve once in a while. With which she had slammed her book shut and looked up to glare at him, but then he had done what he always did to get his way with her; he had given her his best dimpled smile and she couldn't help but laugh at his lamest joke ever. Pulling out the bottle now she sighed unscrewing the lid with her teeth. That was another thing he was a master at, distracting her from the stress, making her forgive and forget and smile despite herself. Wiping her face again against the now damp sleeve she realized unbelievably she had almost smiled for a moment here.

Not a word in response from her but Armaaan straining for the slightest of sound heard the shuffling in the background, and then he thought he could hear her drinking. He closed his eyes sighing and for the first time in the past few minutes the suspended silent seconds allowed him to revisit her words of confession. She loves me...the words echoed in his head and that as he heard her crying gradually subside into sparse sniffing, eased out the crease of his frown, his eyes still shut as he let his stressed back go limp against the bed. The silence lingered a little longer becoming almost comfortable as they both tried to gather themselves.

"Armaan" She spoke finally hoarse from being a wreck despite the edge of calm to her voice but it was the hesitance in her tone to which he opened his eyes.

"I'm sorry Ridhima. " He stated, "Its worth more than a lifetime of repentence and I'll never quite make it but I'm sorry," unable to raise his voice over a whisper, he sighed.

"Armaan I..."

"You know I've been busy living the obligations so long that I can't remember when I lived a life of my own. They can possibly pass me off for a benchmark of ideals now."

He paused. It did not somehow occur to her that he had and that there was a silent moment wherein she could interrupt and say what she had to. Suddenly all she wanted to do was hear him talk, and hear the silent gaps when he paused.

"Do you remember the first time Ridhima - the photography class...?"

The words stirred to life further the ghosts of her past and she shut her eyes anticipating to feel the agony she always did when those memories returned, specially the moment which started it all. But for once in the past several years she did not feel the pain she had become accustomed to, infact she almost willed the flashing images to play like a running movie. She heard his distinct whisper and it sounded like a distant narration in the background of the movie.

"I had this urge to tell you in the moment I first set my eyes on you that you had a wonderful laugh and the warmth of it deserved to last forever." Her lips curved into the resemblance of a faint reminiscecnt smile. But then he sighed, she heard him and opened her eyes.

"We've come such a long way Ridhima, but instead of we, as you and I. And after those 6 long years I tell you now of my love, when I should have done it long ago." He paused before speaking again, another silent pause as she said nothing, "You possibly knew it all along, I'm inclined to think I sensed it myself from that very first moment. But I...I don't know how to explain this...its like suddenly all the logic that went into convincing myself to stay away from you seems to have evaporated, every cause seems absurd and..." He paused again as if searching words, "I have almost rehearsed every single night since the day I left London how I would explain my reasons to you in a confrontration I wished for and dreaded at the same time and I have lived in the grim conviction that you would understand. But tonight, this feels so unreasonable, I can't seemt to justify..." He paused again running his hand through his hair.

"Why did you leave me Armaan?"

She spoke at last and he sighed, looking up at the wall before him he saw the frame holding his Ma and Baba. He lowered his eyes fiddling with the nails of his free hand but looking at nothing.

"Did I ever tell you Ridhima...I was born an illegitimate child..." There was a sharp intake of breath on the other side of the phone, only very briefly but he didn't miss it. Looking at the photograph again he gave a tight smile.


"Gaurav you couldn't be kidding about this in any dim possibility could you?"

Gappu grinned at the obvious disbelief in Chirag's voice. The man couldn't be blamed, if anyone other than Armaan had narrated the confession to him he would have refused to believe it come to think of it.

"Would you rather I was?"

"Now you're definitely kidding me."

"I've never been more serious in my life Chirag, oh well I have been once, but just that once, this is the only qualifying second." He paused smiling wide as he had been since he left Armaan's room, "On my love for soccer. He called Massi and confessed. Just like that."

"What did he have for dinner? 21 shots, neat vodka on an empty stomach? Actually I suspect even that could disrupt the altruistic Armaan Malik's life of self denial. What could have eventuated this Gaurav, I can't understand for the life of me. And almost as badly as Ridzi, perhaps just a tiny bit less, I can't wait to hear the dam reasons he has kept to himself all these years. Whatever they were in the name of forsaken hell."

"You're losing it worse than the man himself. I haven't heard you swear that bad, not even when Ritu Di blows off your bank balance."

"That, Gaurav, can't qualify as a once in a lifetime event, it happens every other week!"

They both broke out laughing, it wasn't just at intended humor, life was suddenly peaking to an all time high. They were like the two men who had been on a mission labelled impossible by every inkling of hope, but they had emerged victorious beating the odds, the impossibilities, the logic. The mission had been accomplished so simply in one straight stroke. Almost accomplished.

"You're a miracle Gaurav. I don't know what you did and how, but I know it has happened with you being there." Chirag said in a solemn voice getting sober at last.

"I think its Minnie. She is the good luck charm in my life. It happened after we talked about her call."

"Whatever you say today dude," Chirag consented, then added, " Ridhima's take now. Would you bet?"

"Hmmm," Gappu said thoughtfuly, "In my fair speculation there will be some serious talking through between the two of them but it would take every pessimistic cell in my body to believe it could be anything other than a happily ever after. Perhaps not right away but eventually so, it can't be far away now that they've come to this."

"At least so I'd live to believe till it happens. Gosh Gaurav, I need something to confirm this call from you isn't a my deep slumber dream."

"Its as true as the my Gunners claiming your Stamford Chirag. It was a dream, now its coming true."

"Alright timeout on the soccer talks, don't remind me of that game." Chirag muttered. Then he resumed in the same dazed cheerful tone, "I can't wait for Ritu to get home. Oh God if this is how high I feel as a third, I wonder whats on with those two."

"I wonder the same," replied Gappu more solemn than Chirag, "I know it will be a confrontration Chirag, but I hope it doesn't get too nasty."

"On the contrary Gaurav, I hope it does. Ridhima needs to rid herself of the built up bitterness, and Ammy better face it like a man he called for no less." He paused and they were silent for several seconds both pondering over how the conversation could be going.

"It will work out won't it Chirag?" Gappu asked thoughtfully and it was one of those rare moments when Chirag saw the vulnerable teenager in him.

"It will Gaurav. They've come too far this time, there can't be a looking back."

"Looking back was unlikely even six years ago Chirag, and it should have been out of question a year ago, but it happened then, could it not..."

"Gaurav! Now you're overworking your pessimistic cells." Gappu smiled lightly nodding his head at that.

"You're right. No more looking back."

"Exactly and...hang on..." Gappu heard a distant chime as Chirag made him hold, then he heard him speak the excitement back in his voice. "Its Ritu. Gotta go dude. But its the best news I've heard in such a long time. I can't say thanks and ward it off. Just know I'll always pride my decision to have trusted you to be the one for this task."

"Humble me Chirag!" Gappu said laughing, "Go now. I bet Ritu Di will hit the roof when she hears this one."

"She will I guess, "Chirag replied grinning, "Later then!"

And they disconnected the long distance call. Gappu sat toying unconsciously with the cord on the landline for a while, looking at nothing in particular. Then breaking into a bright smile he got up ruffling his hair and taking two steps at a time to his room upstairs he decided it was time to hit the bed. He couldn't wait for breakfast, few hours to go and he would know how far the charms of the fateful night had worked...


"Oh My God" The words escaped her lips soundlessly and those he did miss. She frowned hard lowering her eyes as the tears in them suddenly felt as dry as her throat.  The whirlpool of thoughts and emotions which had occupied her until a moment ago were now replaced by a blank nothingness. She knew not what to think.

"Ma and Kaka were a couple in college, a secret which was known to mostly anyone who would welcome even the whiff of gossip. Of the greatly outnumbered mind-their-own-business people unaware of this bonding one unfortunately was Kaka's own elder brother. He kept himself busy in his books, and when he was not doing that he would let his thoughts wander to the beautiful Punjabi girl who was a charming polite friend for him in lieu of being a part of his younger brother's gang, occasionally also for their common study of Medicine. Little of course he knew and this for a fact no one did, that kaka and his Punjabi girl shared a commitment which was not limited to harmless dating."

Armaan paused swallowing a rising bitterness. From the day his mother had revealed facts to him he had worn an indifferent farce over his detest for his kaka. But much as he was devoted to his Ma, with passing years and fading away of the immediate shock of learning the facts he had always found himself unable to completely justify her relationship with him. In extremely low moments he had gotten close to blaming her for much of what he to face in the years after she left him orphaned. Shaking his head clear it of the creeping grudges again he inhaled deeply, the only response from Ridhima was her steady heavy breathing. In another state of mind he would have been taken aback by how reasonable a listener she could be when it really mattered. He spoke on in a low mechanical voice,

"Whatever promises had been made, if any, were broken before they were even given a chance. Thama, I mean Daadi, got a proposal for marriage from a traditional several generations old family in Kolkota. It was intended for Baba by the norms of being an elder son but  when he showed an inclination to politely decline the proposal keeping in mind his Punjabi girl Thama gladly projected the whole idea as a proposal for Kaka instead. She could have ordered Baba to obey and he would have had no choice as were the times, but Thama had harbored a soft spot for her spoilt younger son in the years of growing as he had charmed his way through the hearts of her expansive social circles while Baba remained the quiet one and the proposal appealed to her as best for Kaka. The family was wonderful, well based and traditional, the prospective bride was a beauty, rich and stylish. And so it was. The wedding was fixed, with an unobjectionable consent of the groom, who chose to severe all connections with his long committed girlfriend forever..."

Armaan dropped his voice at the last words and Ridhima frowned straining to sense his precise state of mind, an edge of uneasiness in his voice was unmistakable as he spoke quietly,

"Especially when she informed him of having tested positive on the pregnancy strips from her lab."

He stopped again and Ridhima was certain she could feel the weight of the toll it had taken him to say that sentence. She wanted to say something to make it easier for him, but she knew not what, instead she just licked her dry lips.

"The desperation of an infidel, she used her last option and went to Baba for help. It was then for the first time he learned of facts which had been glaring at him, and that which no one knew and the one who did refused to acknowledge her much less the facts.

"Armaan..." it was a faint whisper from her as he paused, but it brought him out of the narration as an outsider to the story not the integrally consequential part of it. Sighing he ran his hand through his hair looking at the picture of Ma and Baba on the wall again. Every word of that he said had played over in his mind in countless moments since he learned it all, and yet as he spoke out for real, he flinched at every thought like it was a fresh wound. He marvelled his mother like never before, she had narrated this to him, her twelve year old son, on her deathbed. He wished terribly to be able to know what Ridhima was making of this, then he shook his head again to stop giving in to deviating thoughts.

"Ridhima I have wondered from that day on and will continue to live with an insufficient appreciation of what an incredible man Baba must have been." She heard the distinct reverence in his voice, but the happiness was amiss and he continued

"He rebeled against the wishes of his mother to marry a girl who was not a Bengali, was heartbroken and used by his younger brother and carrying their child, and was disowned by her own family when she explained the whole situation to them. Daadu was his only support, and the family saw a double wedding in a single night only because of Daadu put his foot down for once against the wishes of Thama, one of the rare ocasions when he did. A distant cousin of Ma, one she had been closest to nonetheless solely represented her side of the family. He was Minnie's Daadu, a humble man and the only one who accepted Ma as family despite it all."

He paused again and with a smirk sarcastic and grim he said, "And I was born 7 months later, healthy and normal but declared premature to save the family grace. Daadu has known all along everything there was to know, Thama died many years later having known only complicated tales fabricated for the convenience of everyone excluding the Daadu."

Armaan paused again. A longer silent pause, as Ridhima struggled now to find the right words to say to him, unable to decide if there was anything she could say to him at all. What could she? It was hard to tell where this story was going to end but from the sound of it, this was only a start, to his life, justifications and reasons. She felt herself in two minds, far too intrigued to ask him to stop, but uncomfortably tongue tied wanting desperately to make it easy for him when her silence she feared was doing just the contrary. She mustered the wits to speak up, anything at all,

"Did Kaka ever...I mean they must have lived in the same house. Did that wasn't it..."

"It was hypocricy at its worst, "Armaan completed saving her further discomfort and Ridhima bit her tongue. She had implied something like that, only not in those blunt words. Before she could think of anything else to say he continued,

"Kaka and Ma lived lives of double standards, one stubbornly so and the latter resigning to fate, but they had deserved any discomfort they faced. Kaki remained blissfull unaware like the rest and Thama's favored daughter in law of course for obvious reasons. But Baba was undoubtedly the only one facing the brunt of it all on account of nothing but his love for Ma." Ridhima heard it again, the tone of gratitude this time there was an edge of it being blissfully so. She didn't realize she was speaking as she said,

"He must have been as incredible a father as he was a son and a husband Armaan." She stopped realizing she had expressed her thought out loud. Armaan gave a small wistful smile.

"He was Ridhima. I was closer to him than anyone else at all, not even my own mother" Then his voice was low again, "Perhaps he was too incredible for the world to survive it long. And perhaps again he was only in this world to rid those he loved of their problems as long as he lived" Armaan paused and Ridhima shut her eyes with a fair anticipation of what was coming, when he spoke however she realized her estimation was not even half way to where the facts stood.

"Baba and Kaka were coming back from a wedding, Kaka was inebriated but insisted on driving no matter what Baba said and the tradition remained unaltered. Baba gave in yet again as his arguments were of no avail, one last time as this once it cost him his life." As he paused this time Ridhima was certain he wasn't just silent in thought, she could almost feel his silent tears. In her desperation at bing no help from the distance she clenched her fists, one on the cell, nails of the other digging into her palm. It was happening too fast for her now, all reaction from her was lost and her mind drew a blank again.

"In the three years after that I got much closer to Ma, perhaps it was the loss of my father, or perhaps it was an innocent unerstanding within that we both needed each other. Until the cancer took her away as well, not before she narrated all of this to me." Ridhima was gripped by a rising sense now of hearing a man she had loved, hated, craved for and cursed and perhaps much more, yet never truly known. "Facts are sometimes so harsh that they make you wish you had remained ignorant of their existence. I have wondered in the years tha followed her death if truth would have been best left untold. I still don't see why I had to be told." He sighed. And then it struck Ridhima and she asked him at an impulse.

"So Muskaan and you are not just cousins?" She had intended it as a question, but since she knew his answer it sounded more like self realization.

"Step siblings, yes. She was four at that time, and I have let her live with the advantage of being eight years younger. She knows nothing, and I'd rather I never spoil it for her if I did not have to. Muski was the sole receipient of my affection in the years of growing up Ridhima, I would have loved her for what she was, but I loved her more I guess in knowing she was my only remaining immediate family. I could deny Kaka for what he is to me, but for Muskaan my knowledge of that relation has always biased a soft spot. Daadu of course has been the boulder support for me, as he was for my Baba, without him I would have had not guiding light."

"And Kaka Kaki, I mean Muskaan is their daughter so..."

Ridhima left yet another incomplete sentence to him, even if she was daring to speak her mind more now, she couldn't bring herself to state facts in completion, she dreaded his position of having to narrate it all in its entirety. She would have stopped him, but she sensed that it was vital not only for her to know these facts but also for him to tell them to someone as he was now. Unknown to her a sense of security was starting to engulf her, rising from knowing he was sharing it all with her. She presumed only with her without giving a second thought to anything otherwise.

"Kaka Kaki and Muski..." Armaan's expression hardened, and Ridhima sensed a change of tone, "They good as ruined her life Ridhima. Ruined it for her, gambled on me and..." he paused before adding quietly, "separated you and me..."

Ridhima eyes widened in sudden realization. She had almost forgotten in all of this...them. She had forgotten why they were discussing any of this, she had forgotten her own pain at what she had considered his betrayal, she had forgotten her bitterness, her agony, her helplessness. Now it all came back to her, the reason for this long distance call. Them. Armaan and Ridhima.


"Ritu Ritu Ritu, " he chanted whirling her round and round in circles as she screamed shutting her eyes.

"Chirag, stop it I'm getting dizzy. CHIRAG!" He complied at last, when he was too tired to carry on his crazy act anymore and putting her on her feet he grinned amiably rubbing his head slightly as he was dizzy himself. Ritu held on to the couch by her side getting back to herself before she looked up at him demanding silently an explanation.

"Guess what?" He said excited. His smile was infectitious but she somehow held onto her stern look.

"I can't. Tell me if you want to." With that she turned her back to him and smiled wide. Without knowing what it was that she had to be happy about. He raised his hands in 'oh common' before truning her around to face him him again. She could not hide her smile in time and narrowing his eyes ever so slightly he could see the makings of an idea forming in his head. Two could play this game, besides he was the psychiatrist here not her, mind games were his area of expertise and she ought to have known who's boss! Immediately he frowned hard.

"I've been dying t tell you something here, and this is how you reciprocate my excitement? Forget it. I expect too much from you. What's big for me doesn't necessarily have to be the same for you I guess." With that he walked off. Ritu stood shocked for a moment at what had happened. Then quickly she turned around to follow him. He quickened his steps hearing the same and smiled to himself.

"Chirag?" She caught up with him and walked over to face him, he wiped off his smile to replace it with a disinterested look of one who was offended. Inside he prayd she would accept defeat soon, it was hard to not break out laughing.

"Chirag..." she whispered softly coming closer and cupping his face in her hands gently, making him look back at her. Inevitably his indifferent mask faded into the hint of a smile. "Honey I'm sorry I was just teasing you. Tell me now baby, I can't wait to hear it, " pausing she added, "Please?"

"Me too!" he exclaimed grinning and arching her brows at him she moved to withdraw her hands from his face but he held them in his own firmly before she could. "I was teasing you too!" He hissed winking at her. She tried to look away to not smile but he tugged at her hands in his own and she looked at him straight in the eye putting on her best defiant look. He remained quiet just looking back at her with a provoking smile.

"Well?" she said at last giving up and he broke out grining. As she pulled at her hands still in his, frowning at him he held them tighter. Pulling her closer he gave her a light peck on her lips and she stopped struggling immediately at his unexpected move. Looking up into his eyes she would have spoken but he did before her.

"Ammy confessed his love to Ridzi!" She was stunned for several seconds before she squealed in delight and throwing her arms around Chirag and hugging him tight.

"OMG OMG OMG...Armaan...Ridzi...OMG..." She pulled back to see him beaming and said despite knowin g the answer, "You're serious about this one Chirag aren't you." He shrugged in response smiling wide still and she hugged him again, "You are...Chirag I'm so happy. I just...I don't know what...I don't know anything...I'm just...This is so amazing!" She ended going from a chirpy shrill voice to a low whisper but Chirag heard it all. Pulling her away himself this time he cupped her face and said looking into her eyes,

"It is sweetheart, it is indeed." And he bent lower to kiss on her forehead letting his lips linger on as she whispered,

"I love you Chirag." He backed to look at her but smiled on without saying a word. She made a face at him after several seconds and pushing him walked towards the kitchen.

"Alright fine, I love you too." She smiled to herself then turning around suddenly ahs asked,

"Is that what Ridzi said to Armaan as well?" Chirag knew what she meant, even if not literally as she had said it. He shrugged. "We don't know yet. Gaurav narrated only the half he knows for now. Ridzi's answer we can only guess or hope for." Pausing he looked up expectantly and continued, "What do you thin Ritu? What was she like at office today? Armaan had called her some 3-4 hours ago. Did you notice something diferent about her? Like..."

"OMG, " Ritu interrupted him talking more to herself but loud enough. "That's what. She was so unlike herself today she even...hang on you said he confessed few hours ago?" Chirag nodded And she spoke on, "How the hel did she go to sleep after that?"

"She what?" Chirag exclaimed in disbelief. Ritu nodded her head in thought.

"Yeh. Our meetin got cancelled, and I went to Ridhima's cabin after I was done with work to talk to her about Vivek but she had dozed off on her desk and..."

"Vivek?" Chirag frowned spelling the name. It rung a bell in some far fetched corner of his mind.

"Yeh. Its this guy we met at PF Chang's some days ago. Someone random, he bought us drinks, I mean they were for us, but Ridhima was the cause. And she didn't only turn him down but also walked out on him. But then Anji Di called yesterday about him, after he walked her home and..."

"Vivek..." Chirag interrupted again in a low voice and Ritu felt he wasn't quite listening to her. She would have told him off for it but he was deep in thought, seriously.

"Vivek...Vivek...dam...why can't I remember the link?" She heard him mutter. Tentatively she said,

"Vivek Khanna? You know him?"

"KHANNA!...Vivek Khanna...OMG...that's it of course..." He did not explain what was suddenly obvious to him and before she could ask him she saw him rush up the stairs two at a time. The look on his face was a rare disturbed one.


Sitting down on his desk he opened his diary. As usual he spent several seconds staring at her face. The light brown soft curls, the carefree smile oblivious to the camera which had captured her look of mischief. Smiling slightly he picked up the photograph and resting it against the pen stand he opened to the next fresh page his gaze lingering on her smile with a tinge of regret. Unscrewing his favorite fountain pen, she had gifted it to him in college, he wrote,

"Dearest Love,

Do you recall I mentioned the girl from Chang's last week? I met her again last night. I know I promised you I would not. But she just happened to literally get run over by my car...and I had to follow her to help her. You know how incapable I am of leaving damsels in distress :)

I told you last week how she had reminded me of you, in some strange way I couldn't figure out then but so I had bought her drinks. When I met her again last evening she accused me of stalking. Gosh, I could literally see you in her, the defiance, the posed confidence, the fiery eyes. When I finally clarified the misunderstanding she understood, I was almost surprised she heard me out so easily. But then there never was a dearth of the times you surprised me similarly right?

I walked her back home, she refused to take a ride, see what I mean? Even the adamancy was you, and when we walked those 4 blocks back honey I couldn't help but think of you for every single second. Sometime in life I would love for you to meet her, you both would make quite a team. She talks like you, avoids like you, last week she walked out on me, and I can just imagine you having done a similar something to a stranger buying you drinks!

Would you be jealous darling, if I said I am feeling the attraction once again in life, like I felt it for you several years ago. You are and will always remain my first love honey, and I can't ever forgive myself any less than you would forgive me yourself for having left you in the mess I did. If it had not been for that one blunder of my life we would be together today. Well my blunder and then the interference of that brother of mine I disowned the moment he dared to step into the position that was rightfully mine. No offense but your own brother was a catalyst to us parting ways. I always did believe your mum was right about him, he couldn't see your happiness without wanting to snatch it away. Instead of showing you the path to patience he supported my brother in his back stabbing endeavors.

If only you had understood me my dear, and if only you had trusted your love over your best friend Rahul...what would I not do honey to go back in time to own your middle name, to keep you in my house by my side as Mrs. Muskaan Vivek Grewal and not..."

Vivek paused his look hardening but then he glanced at her picture again and he gave a side smile of satisfaction before continuing to write, "Nonetheless sweetheart, I have found once again, a girl of your will. How I love the challenging girls and Ridhima is most certainly another you, I think I'm ready for love again. She will too fall in love with me soon, you did, she can't be far. I will take it at her pace, I know now she is not the one I can push. And perhaps its best this way, the slow intoxication of her charm taking over me gradually until the right moment comes, when I know she loves me like you did, and then I will marry her unlike you and me. This time darling I won't blunder in the name of money. Not again, never again. Wish me luck honey, to Ridhima and Vivek!..." He shut the diary putting in her photograph as the bookmark, then screwing back the cover of her pen he sat thinking. On an impulse he walked over to the bedside table and fingered through the city yellow pages book. Stopping at 'G' he ran his finger from top to bottom through several columns until he found it. Lifting the cordless he dialled the number.

"Hello?" He paused recognozing the voice on the other side he smiled and said, "Anjali Di...Hi! This is Vivek speaking..."



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