Monday, 3 June 2019

part 2 : Come Back to Me

It surprised him on being greeted like this. Not that he had expected a warm welcome, but he certainly had not thought of being attended in such an impolite manner.

'This can't be her house, and it surely can't be her. I think I came to the wrong house.' With these doubts running all over his mind, he cross-checked the address written on the crushed piece of paper in his hand to make sure he didn't knock the wrong door.



Being positive about standing in front of the right house, he knocked the door once again to be attended with a reply just like before''.



'Who the bloody hell is it?'




Not sure what to do, he thought to speak out anyway, 'Hello, does Riddhima live here? I am her classmate.'



Waiting there patiently for almost 20 minutes in the hope of someone opening the door, he ultimately decided to leave from there. Spinning around to head back home, he heard a slight squeak as the door swung open.



'Who is it?' an inquisitive voice said.



The person he had come looking for, was standing in front of him. Those same sensuous grey-blue eyes that spoke volumes, long beautiful lashes, silky glowing skin, sexy strawberry-like lips, he contemplated. He could go on thinking about her pleasant features forever, he realized.



'I am asking you, ******' she swore all over again.



Realizing her physical presence, he came out of the trance yet again. This was the second time he had been taken over by her charming beauty.



'Uhhh'..Hi, I am Armaan. I am in your class, remember?' he said putting it in the friendliest way possible.



By this time, he had already realized that something was different with the girl he was talking to at this point of time. She was not the same he had met the previous day in the university. Dark circles under those innocent eyes giving them a dreary effect, messed up uncombed hair, wrinkled blouse above a shabby brown trousers, all made her look like a complete wreck.



'What are you doing here' she asked with a frowned look, and quickly turned around leaving the door opened, without even waiting for a reply from her un-invited guest.



It was hot, damp and grim inside, with ancient wallpaper peeling away from the walls and sparse, rickety furniture. A sagging single bed lying at the corner of the room that looked like a relic from the war years had the covers stripped from it. A naked bulb swung from the ceiling like a hanging dead body, illuminating the grimness all over. Armaan shuddered, thinking of the stark contrast between this and his posh, comfortable flat.



Noticing a cheap half emptied scotch bottle standing on the wobbly wooden table, he drew his eyes towards his only companion there. Sitting with a glass in her hand, she was gulping the intoxicating liquid, one glass after another.



'So, what the hell are you doing here' she asked with a deep voice, pouring some more scotch in her transparent glass.



6-7 glasses of Scotch had already had a huge impact on her. She was hardly able to sit in a stable position. Dangling from one side to another like a lifeless object, she asked him another time 'Who gave my address to you?'



'Anjalie gave your address to me and I came here to discuss our project as we have a submission tomorrow' he said in his calm voice.



Hearing this, Riddhima started laughing madly. 'Project? Who cares about it? Who  cares about a project huh? I don't''Do I? Do I?' Saying so, she banged the table making it vibrate even more. The Scotch bottle whose contents had been taken away from it a few minutes ago was now rolling over the top of the table, from right to the middle to the left, repeating the cycle all over again. Seeing its annoying movement, she hastily wiped it off the table making it fall on the floor, and crushing into pieces.



Observing her excessive drunken state, Armaan wanted to calm her down. He had never imagined seeing Riddhima in such a condition. There was definitely something that was eating her, he thought. She was a completely different person at this time. Her eyes like the previous day said it all to him. They acted like a transparent shield of all her inner emotions, showing her sorrows, her anger, her vulnerability, everything.



'Riddhima! Calm down. Sit down please' he said to her while holding her shoulders, pushing her softly on the chair.



'Leave me''..Who are you to ask me to shut my mouth''..huh? Its my house''..and I'll do what I want. I will do what I bloody want. Do you get it? Its my house''. Its my ********* house!' With this, she gripped the half-filled glass in her hand that had been witnessing the scene for a long time, and took another sip of that detrimental liquid. 



'Not another sip Riddhima. You have already drunk a lot.' He snatched the glass from her hand and placed it on the table.



'Give it back. Give it back Armaan. I want to drink more. You can't take it away from me''..you can't''.give it back Armaan' she shouted raising her hands to get a hold of the glass again.



Giving her appropriate amount of support as she couldn't stand properly, he softly placed her on the chair again, standing closer to her this time. 'Don't worry Riddhima, everything will be alright. You will be fine. Don't worry', he said in a composed tone while holding her head firmly against his chest with one hand, and stroking her hair with the other.



He knew she was unhappy. There was something that was disturbing her. But all he wanted to do at this point of time was to console her, to make her feel at ease.



Still trying his best to cool her down, he continued 'Don't worry, everything will be fine. You don't have to worry' when all of a sudden, he was interrupted with a crying voice. 'Why did she leave me? Why did she leave me Armaan?' Riddhima uttered with a howl.



'I miss her so much. I feel so lonely without her. Why did you leave me all alone maaaa, why?' she exclaimed moving her head away from Armaan's chest, looking in his eyes in search of all her questions. Her eyes were moist; pearl-like tears were rushing through her eyes, down the cheeks, taking the form of watery stains on her trousers.



Wanting her to relieve herself from this burden by talking to him, he asked her softly 'Where is she Riddhima? What happened to your mom?'



'She left me, she left me all alone' she blurted it out.



'She left me to live in this world all alone Armaan. Why didn't she take me with her? Why didn't I die with her? Why didn't that ******* cancer take me with her? She didn't even think about me before leaving, how I would live without her. I feel so lonely'..I feel so lonely Armaan'''..Pa left us before anyway, he never cared about us'.....He was always drinking, his drink mattered to him the most'''I remember ma crying day and night longing for pa's company'''But Pa, he never cared for her; he never gave her the love she deserved, and I hate him for that. I hate him''.for that''...I was so happy when he died''.He had to'''those b****** drinks wouldn't have let him live for long anyway''..He deserved it'''That bas******* deserved it' Riddhima's eyes were raging with anger.



'I remember those days clearly. Ma would practice classical music with me everyday. Everyday Armaan''..She would pen down her thoughts in the form of poems and then work on the tune'''.Music was the only ray of light in her life, it was the only source of joy in her ******** miserable life. And, she would make me sing with her as well.' With gleaming eyes, and a slight smile on her lips, she remembered those fond memories.



'I loved singing. I loved being on the keyboard''.I loved making rhythms out of scratch with her. She would make me sit with her the entire day and construct different types of musical tones. She would even teach me different notes; whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, two eighth notes, I remember everything'''.everything''She wanted me to study music. She wanted me to become a big singer one day''..And, here I am, studying music in one of the best universities'''..on a scholarship'''in the best university''..your daughter is studying in the best university ma' she faced the ceiling crying her heart out.



'I will prove my credibility to the world ma, I'll make you proud. I will make you proud ma, I will make you proud''..Come back to me ma, I feel lonely'''.Come back to me, please''.come back'..' she kept mumbling while laying her head on the table.



Seeing Riddhima fast asleep, Armaan picked her up in his arms and placed her gently on her uncovered bed. He could feel her pain; he could feel a thousand knives stabbing his heart while she mentioned her throbbing past. He wanted to hug her at that moment itself. He wanted to somehow relieve her from her miseries but he wasn't sure how.



Sliding a thin cushion under her head, and leaving a note on her bedside, he finally marched out of that gloomy house.



********************************************************



She reached the music theater at 8 am, and found him sitting on a high raised stool with his fingers continuously dancing on the keys of the piano. He was completely engrossed in his rhythm, running his fingers from left to right to left to right again, as if practicing for a marathon.



'Hi' she said politely with an embarrassing smile.



'Hello there. Good morning. So, you got my note huh' he said in his normal friendly tone, giving his fingers some rest.



'Yes, I got it and I came here sharp at 8' she said smilingly again.



Her smile was better this time, than their first meeting he thought. Unlike before, it had a sense of life in it.



'Listen, I am really sorry about last night. I shouldn't have behaved like that with you. I didn't really mean to blab all that out. I am really really sorry' she said with an embarrassing face.



'Hey, you didn't do anything wrong, trust me. You were absolutely fine. And'..there was nothing wrong in whatever you said. You needed a friend last night, and I am glad I could be of some help to you' Armaan said with a reassuring smile.



'Thank you Armaan' she warmly said.



'What for?' he asked in a surprising tone.



'For everything, that had happened last night. I was in a complete mess yesterday, and if it were someone else, they could have taken advantage of the situation, but you'''I don't even know how to thank you' she said with a shameful expression.



Realizing her nervousness and embarrassment, he reached out his hand on her arm and said in a comforting manner 'Riddhima, nothing wrong happened last night. Listening to your past made me respect you even more. I had no idea about your life and I am glad you opened up to me. Sometimes, its good to pour your heart out. It gives a lot of relief once you share your sorrows with your close ones. Though, I am not a very close friend of yours, but I am sure, with time, we can prove to be great friends' and he smiled saying that.



'And''.I am sure your mom would be very proud of you. Wherever she is, she will always have her blessings over you. All your achievements will always make her feel happy''..Always Riddhima' he added.



She was surprised to see a complete stranger understand her so well. Talking to Armaan made her relieve from her burden. She smiled genuinely for the first time, which she had not done for the past one year since her mother's death.



Seeing her smile full-heartedly, he cheerfully said to her 'You look much much better when you smile than when you don't. Don't ever let anything overshadow that beautiful smile of yours'



Hearing this, she couldn't help but smile timidly and say 'Thanks'.



'And''..listen, you don't have to worry about today's project submission either. I have prepared the rhythm and now we just have to hand in the disk to John, our 'Music Composition' lecturer. Then, we are done for the day' he stated.



'Oh yes, I forgot about it completely. I am such an Idiot. I didn't even work on it. You did it all alone? Oh my God, how can I thank you for that Armaan, how can I?'



She was so very shocked to see his caring attitude. He had first helped her out in her chaotic state last night, and had shown so much concern towards her even when she hadn't been nice with him at all. And now once again, he had gone out of his way to help her out with the project, without her even being there to do anything. He worked on the submission all alone, and didn't even hold any complains about it. She was very thankful to him, and felt blessed to find at least one person who cared for her in this world.



***********************************************************



The university was finished for the day. All the lectures were done. The project submission had also been dealt with; each of the groups had brought in their work in the class on time. Some of the compositions were even played by the lecturer. A good blend of different types of tracks had been presented from fast groovy beats to soft, slow music. John, the lecturer was particularly impressed by Armaan's and Riddhima's fusion music composition. He had even praised their work in front of everyone.



Heading out of the lecture theatre, Armaan and Riddhima exchanged some pleasantries discussing the happenings of their entire day. It was a very comforting day for both of them. They both had got along really well, first as friends and then as group partners as well.



'Okay, I better leave for home now. Its quite late. So''.I'll see you tomorrow then' she said in a friendly, relaxed tone.



'Okay'''See you tomorrow' he said with a dull, disappointed voice.



'Um'''Riddhima, would you like to go out for a coffee?' and he suddenly popped out the question to her.



Jia & Richa 

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