Sunday, 16 June 2019

AR os : The Battle of Their Hearts


 "Shoot, Riddhima."
His voice came out flat and even, without a single emotion mixed in it. He stood there as firm as a stone, his eyes unwavering. For the first time in her life, she didn't know what to do. Her hands trembled and she put her dry lips together as she took in deep breaths, trying to calm herself. This wasn't going to be easy.

"Come on, kill me."
This time the voice scared her. Even in the heavy darkness that had fallen over in the old tunnel, even in one of the coldest winter nights of December in Delhi, she could feel herself watching those blue eyes-those dangerous eyes, those beautiful eyes, the eyes belonging to the person who had killed thousands of lives. Today, she was afraid. CID officer Riddhima Gupta was afraid. Not of the man standing before her, but of her own self.


Her hand still was outstretched towards his head, with her revolver in it. She wanted to, she knew she had to- but she couldn't shoot. He was standing there waiting for his death. He wasn't running away. After so many struggles, when she had finally him in her grip, why wasn't she doing the deed she had to, why? The worst part, she knew why. But of course, that reason was a damn excuse. There was more.

Armaan gritted his teeth. They were standing in that old tunnel from a long time in that chilly night, and today he wasn't going to run away. He wanted to die. He wanted everyone to think that he had killed the Police Commissioner , that a criminal could not change. He wanted everyone to think that Armaan Mallik was back. Armaan Mallik- the shooter, the killer, the dangerous criminal, the ultimate gangster was back in action and had killed one of the most important people in the country for Money. And she wasn't getting it, damn.

She took a hasty breath before lowering her revolver. "You haven't killed him."
It wasn't a question, or doubt. It was a statement. His startled eyes fixed itself upon her. And he saw what any other man would see- a perfect, a beautiful stunning and appealing, a confident and admirable woman standing before him. Feeling himself getting carried away, he tensed himself again, back to form. So she knew.

"I have killed him. And you know it.", he said firmly.
She almost laughed as she said, "I know you haven't. Who are you trying to protect, Armaan?"  The confidence in her eyes spoke it all. She wasn't here to kill him, because she knew it all. She Trusted him. And he hated that.
Deadly silence enveloped them. The wind gushed by, fast and mysterious, and a chill rose in her throat. She knew what he was thinking. Because she was thinking the same.

Armaan Mallik was a criminal, a gangster, ten years back. Chasing the people who killed his family because they couldn't repay their loans, he became a ruthless killer. But after years of shedding innocent people's blood, his hands stopped. His conscience set in, late but firm. He surrendered himself and later offered to use his shooting skill for the CID. The Government gave him a chance. And he changed himself. Riddhima was a CID officer herself, and both being undercover agents, became good friends. But she knew better. It was much more. It wasn't the happy ending right there. The Commissioner of Police was shot dead in his home and was robbed. It was a typical style of Armaan..the old Armaan Mallik, the criminal. And he gave in. He ran, he hid, and showed the police that Yes, he was the one who'd done it. He'd taken advantage of the trust. He had broken it all..He was the same. He wanted her to believe it and fulfill her deed, kill him. However, she wasn't doing so.
He felt suffocated standing there. He wanted to pull her revolver, put it on his head and just shoot. He wanted to die. Because everything was Wrong, and everything was against him. Everyone thought that Armaan Mallik was emotionless, heartless. And he knew he had to, he wanted people to believe it. But she didn't. She knew him. In two years, she knew him more than anyone else. And it was a bitter fact.

"I have done it. I told you I've killed him." , he said in a deadly, even tone.
She repeated her sentence like he had, coming closer to him, "Who are you trying to protect?" He breathed and tried to calm his pulsating heart.
"I Don't have anyone to Protect.", he said in between gritted teeth.
She sighed, "I won't kill you, Armaan. If that's what you want."

Fury rose through him and he pulled her to him, her back facing his chest, and held her hands in a tight grip. She didn't even wince. He laughed a sarcastic laugh, and brought his mouth to her ear, whispering in his dangerous tone, "Riddhima, Riddhima. Senior CID officer Riddhima Gupta. You are so Fragile. So DAMN Breakable."
Her voice came out clearly, in between gritted teeth, "I know you haven't killed him, Armaan Mallik. I know you have changed. If you're trying to protect Alekh, it is NOT going to work. And for your information, I Don't kill innocent people."

She was as adamant as he was. She knew about his brother. She knew ' that he was doing all this just to protect his only family, his little brother Alekh. He had changed. He was not the criminal. Alekh had come to him one day saying that in greed of money, he had killed the Police Commissioner, and that it was a mistake. And he had forgiven him. He had made sure no one would know that he had a brother. How had she known everything?

There was another reason he wanted to die. Having a bad past, Armaan never wanted to fall in love. He knew relationships would terrify him, he didn't know if he could give commitment. But he did. He had fallen badly in love with her, and she knew it. Because she was in love with him too, and that had made a hole in his heart how she would suffer if the bad name came upon him. Working together was fine, but he could not let his name be mixed with hers. Never. She deserved happiness- which probably he could never give her.

"I have killed thousands of innocent people, Officer." , he wasn't going to give up, " And therefore I deserve death." She turned her head to look at him, even in that position. His grip on her arms loosened and she turned to face him, with a peaceful, calm yet worried look on her beautiful face. In the moonlight his handsome features struck her..his tall and well-built frame, his perfectly cut out face, his dark hair glistening as it fell on his head, and his blue eyes turning a deep shade of grey.

"You have got your punishment, Armaan. You stayed seven years in jail for that. Then you deserved it. Now you don't. Alekh does.", she said firmly.
"You're making a mistake.", he said in a hoarse whisper, "He hasn't done anything."
"He is your brother and I know that. But he is a Criminal."
"I AM THE CRIMINAL DAMMIT!", he shouted, " And you..Shall Kill me. No matter what you feel for me."
"He shall die, Armaan.", she continued.

He pulled her hand up and placed the revolver point on his head again, "Shoot." , he said.
She stayed still and didn't move, breathing rapid again as his hand gripped hers. "I shall die, Riddhima."

"YES YOU WILL DIE!", came a loud familiar voice and before Armaan could react, a bullet hit his arm. Just missing his heart. Without wasting a moment, Riddhima turned and fired, her bullet fires breaking the silence of the place as the other screamed in agony.
"RIDDHIMA NO!",came his plea. She looked at him once and whispered, " He was never your brother, Armaan. He tried to kill you. And I'm not going to spare him."

Her second last bullet fired and there was deadly silence again. Armaan helped himself and got up, unsure how to react. Holding his injured arm, he walked to the body lying in front of him and kneeled down. His brother's chest lay breathless, his dead body raging a fire inside him. A tear slipped down his eye as he lay his hand over his brother's heart. Wiping the tear with his elbow, Armaan stood up. His brother deserved death. And he knew that.

"You can still kill me if you want.", she said as he turned to look at her. He walked towards her, his face hardened. Her face did not have any flicker of fear in it, nor any doubt. Her hand outstretched, she raised it to the level of his face with the revolver laid on her palm, ready for him to take it. "It still has the last bullet left."

Armaan watched the revolver for a long time, not caring for his injured arm. He was used to those and just had tore a piece of his shirt to bandage it. He stared at her then, his face devoid of any emotion. It was almost as if he could hear the rhythm of their hearts beating rapidly in that silence. Almost suddenly, he pushed off the hand and pulled her to him.

"You won the battle, Riddhima.", he said in a whisper.

And before she could react, or retort back, he had placed his lips on hers, sealing the deal with a kiss. Snaking her arms around his shoulders as his strong hands gripped her waist, she realized that she indeed had won the battle. The Battle of their hearts.

***

Maitree


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