Saturday, 6 July 2019

Chapter 9 : Numb

Armaan stood outside the changing room impatiently waiting for Riddhima to come out. It had been a good 4 hours since they had entered the mall and Armaan wanted to leave. Ever since Armaan had brought Riddhima and Eva to live with him Riddhima hadn't been able to buy herself new clothes. She had been borrowing his. And today after coming home from an early emergency at the hospital Riddhima had asked him to take her shopping. Armaan had wanted to protest really bad but seeing the pleading look in her eyes he didn't have the heart to say no. And so he had like a good boyfriend agreed to take her shopping.

 God what is taking this woman so long? I mean how long does it take to change? Like 5 minutes for a normal person? And yet she has been in there for 20! Man she's lucky she's hot and I love her. If she was someone else dude I would have left! Fruitloop! Hurry Up!



 The irritation was starting to get the better of him and he was about to knock on the door when it suddenly opened and out came Riddhima dressed in a short white knee length dress. He stared at her in aw. He had never seen anyone look so beautiful. She looked like an angel that had been sent from heaven.



"So..How do I look?"



"You..You look amazing."





"Really? And it's not to short?"



"Absolutely not. It's just the right length."



"Okay then I'll buy it."



"So you're done then?"



 "Yeah. I think I picked up enough. Let's go."



He wanted to jump up and down as her words echoed into his ears. He was finally free! The torture was over. Sighing in relief he followed her towards the check out counter. He couldn't wait to get home.



Riddhima watched as the cashier scanned each of her items. She had never done so much shopping in her life. Growing up she had always been given her sister's old clothes. Her father had never allowed her to go out and buy what she wanted. But today just the feeling of being able to buy and wear what she wanted made her emotional. She hadn't even imagined that Armaan would even let her buy half the things she did. She was always a conservative kind of a person and didn't like to show too much skin. But today she had let all her inhibitions fly out of the window. She had decided after the incident with Rohit that she wouldn't let that ruin her life. She wasn't going to live in fear. She was going to live her own life on her own terms and she wasn't going to let anyone ruin that for her. After all she had Eva. She didn't want her daughter growing up in fear. She wanted her be a strong woman. She wanted her to be able to tell people that her mom was a fighter. That she didn't give up on herself. And so Riddhima had promised herself that she would start over. And today going shopping with Armaan had been the first step and she was glad she was able to do it.



"That will be $120.00."



"Oh. Okay."



"Don't worry about it Riddhima. It's on me."



"No. I can't let you do that Armaan. I'll pay for it."



"No you will not! Now move!"



Feeling Armaan push her to the side Riddhima couldn't help but laugh. He had been so against going shopping and now here he was paying the bill. I'm never going to understand this man. She thought as she grabbed his hand and began to walk out of the store.

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Muskaan sat in front of the t.v. watching the colours move around in different directions. To any person if you were to look at her you would think that she was actually watching t.v. and paying attention to what Monica was saying to Joey but that was far from reality. Muskaan's mind wasn't trying to process what she was seeing it was to preoccupied trying to understand why the show had just ended where it did. She couldn't understand why the makers had to make her wait until the next season. Why couldn't they just tell her what was going to happen next. Muskaan was a very impatient person when it came to her favourite shows. She never wanted them to end. Oh how she wished more then anything that she could speed up time. Muskaan sighed knowing that there was nothing she could do and so picking up the remote she was about to change the channel when she was interrupted by a voice indicating there presence.



"Wat doing?



"Oh..Eva. I was just finding something to watch."



"Why?"



"Because I wanted to watch t.v."



"Why?"



"Because I'm bored. And your parents aren't home yet."





"Why?"



Muskaan by now was starting to get annoyed. She couldn't fathom why this child was after her! Yes she had promised Armaan and Riddhima that she would babysit Eva while they had gone shopping but she hadn't agreed to being interrogated by a 3 year old. Muskaan was about to blow when the ringing of the door bell called for her attention.



Thank you God! That better be Armaan and Riddhima. I can't take this kid anymore!



"Wait here Eva. I have to go answer the door."



"Otay Mushi."



And with that Muskaan got up from her seat and ran to answer the door. As she neared the door she placed her hand on the door knob and turning it she opened the door hoping it was Armaan and Riddhima but as she looked towards her she was greeted by a tall older man who looked to be the age of her father with specks of black and white hair.Muskaan looked at him for a second trying to think if she had seen him before but failing to find an answer she decided to ask him.





"Yes. Can I help you?"



"I'm here to see Riddhima."



"Oh. Well she's not here at the moment. Who are you?"



"I'm a friend of hers."



"Oh she never mentioned you but I'll let her know that you came by."



"Oh no you don't have to do that. I'll just wait inside for her if that's okay."



"Oh yeah that's fine. Please come in."



Muskaan moved aside as the man walked into the house. She didn't know why but a dreading feeling was starting to arise in her. I hope I didn't just make a mistake she thought as she walked closing the door behind her and followed him inside.

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"HOW COULD YOU LET HIM INSIDE!!"



Muskaan stood with her head bent down as Riddhima yelled at the top of her lungs. She had never seen her so angry. Her body was trembling and her eyes where red. If it hadn't been for Armaan holding her back Muskaan almost felt like she would kill her. She hadn't meant to hurt Riddhima but because of her one mistake she had.





"Look. I'm sorry. I didn't know. If I had I would have never let him inside. I mean if I knew he was your dad...I



"JUST STOP! HE IS NOT! I REPEAT! HE IS NOT MY FATHER!"



 Riddhima had never imagined that she would come home with Armaan after a long day of shopping to walk into the house to see HIM. Her SO called Father. She had stood motionless as her mind had begun to race at 100 kilometers an hour. The bags that she had been holding dropped to the ground with a thud. What was he doing here? Wasn't he supposed to be dead? What did he want? 10 years had gone and all of sudden the man she had believed to be dead was now standing outside in the family room. She had wanted to scream and yell but before she could Armaan had grabbed her hand and dragged her into his room. Muskaan had then excused herself and picking up Eva had followed suit.



"And how could you let him near Eva! What if he had done something to her?"



"Ridzi I said I'm sorry. I told him to leave but he insisted on coming in. What was I supposed to do?"



"YOU COULD HAVE CALLED ME! How hard is it to pick up the ******* phone and dial a number!"



"Okay. Okay. Enough. Fruitloop calm down. Relax. Look you sit here. I'll go ask him to leave okay."



"No. Armaan I'll ask him to leave. You stay here with Eva."



"Are you sure?"



"I'm sure. I'll be fine. I'll be right back."



And with that Riddhima got up from the edge of the bed and walked out of the room to face her SO called father.



Riddhima walked back into the family room where he was still sitting on the sofa. Her body was shaking and her nerves where jumpy but she knew a day like this would come she had just never thought he would be alive for it.



"Da..I mean Mr.Gupta."



"Oh.Riddhima. I didn't think you would come back."


"First of all please don't call me Riddhima as I have no relation to you. Second I have no fancy being here infront of you. I only came here to ask you to leave before I call the police and have them drag you out."



"Okay. Fine. I can see you're still angry with me and I don't blame you. So I will just leave. I don't want any trouble. I only wanted to see if you were okay and I guess you are. Well it was nice seeing you. Take care of yourself. Good bye."



And with that Riddhima walked to the door and watched as he walked out of it.

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September 20th 2012



"Hum kis gali ja rahe hain... Hum kis gali ja rahe hain... apna koi thikana nahi...



This song is playing on the radio beside me as I am writing. I have heard this song many times before but never realized how much I relate to it. I had never really paid attention to it before until today. As the lyrics vibrate into my ears I am forced to think about my life. I'm forced to think about how my life has never been on a straight path. I have always been caused to turn in different directions against my own will. Ever since I was born until today my life has never been what I have wanted it to be. I have always been stopped at a cross road and pulled into a direction that I never wanted. There where times when I believed that I had finally found a permanent path only to be pushed into another. I have never had a path of my own and I guess I'm never meant to. Today was another example of that. The man who I assumed was my father decided to show his presence. It was like he was taking ownership of me. It was like he had suddenly realized that he had a daughter. If only he had been my father 10 years ago and maybe I wouldn't have had to treat him the way I did. If only he had been less of a cold hearted demon and more of a human being and maybe my relationship with him would have been like every other father and daughter relationship. I have to confess I had at one point in time thought that I would be able to gain my father back but now that seems like a far of dream. I guess I was never meant to have a father figure in my life. I guess Eva was never meant to have a grandfather.  But it's okay. We'll be fine. I have Armaan and my mom and that's all I need. I'm content with where my life is going now. I feel at peace. I hope and pray that it stays this way. I don't need anymore pain. I don't need my path to change.





Riddhima put down her pen and stared at what she had wrote. She hadn't realized how lost she had gotten. She had only wanted to write a few random words and somehow she had ended up writing what was inside her heart.





I can't believe I just wrote all that. I can't believe I just wrote what I have been holding inside of me for years. But for some reason I feel light. I feel as if a heavy weight has been lifted off of me. I feel happy. I know that sounds weird but I'm happy. And why shouldn't I! I have amazing people in my life. I deserve to be happy. Now stop being all sad and get up and have some fun Riddhima. Go live your life.



And so closing her diary Riddhima got up from her bed much happier then she had in the past few hours and went to live her life.

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He stood in front of the window looking out at the bright sun as it shone in the bright blue sky. His mind was reeling with a million thoughts trying to figure out what his next plan of action would be. Shanshank Gupta had never once thought that his own daughter would kick him out. He had never imagined that his once obeying daughter was now raising her voice at him. He was aware of the fact that she was upset with him after what he had done but he had never expected her to fight back. He had assumed that when she would see him alive that she would come running into his arms and forgive him. But that wasn't the case. His bubble had been burst. His daughter was no longer a weakling. She had a mind of her own. And that's what bothered him. Ever since he had returned from Armaan's house that thought hadn't left his mind. He couldn't fathom how his daughter had all of a sudden transformed. He had thought his plan was full proof and that everything was in his control but it seemed as if he was powerless.



How is this possible? How can she be so strong? She was never like this before? She always used to listen to me out of fear. And now it's like all the fear is out of her. I mean the way she spoke to me looking me in the eye. She never used to do that. She always used to have her head down. But then again it's been 10 years. Times have changed. She has new people in her life. And that stupid Rohit! I tell him to do one thing and he can't even do that right! Anyways forget him. I have more important things to worry about. I need to figure out how to make Riddhima come back to me. I need her to think that I have changed. That I want to be her father again. But how?



Shashank racked his brain for an answer and sure enough after a few minutes of thinking he finally got one. He knew what he had to do. And so with a renewed sense of hope he picked up his phone and dialed a number.

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Rahul sat on the sand and watched as Muskaan ran away from Riddhima who was chasing after her for splashing her with water. It had been Riddhima's idea to come to the beach and spend an afternoon in the sun. It was an unusually warm day and instead of being locked inside they were now having a blast outdoors. Eva was sitting in front of him and Armaan trying to dig a hole. She seemed to be very focused and unaware of what was happening around her. She didn't even notice that she was throwing sand into the air. Armaan who was sitting next to him was too busy listening to his iPod to notice anything. It had been a while since the whole group had done anything together and that too outdoors. It had been a pretty busy summer for Rahul, Muskaan and Armaan that there hadn't been an opportunity for them to just be with each other and have fun. But today after a long time and after everything that had happened with Riddhima the last few weeks they had greeted this time off with open arms. For Rahul it gave him time to sort out his thoughts. His mind had been preoccupied the last few weeks with discussions of when he was going to meet Muskaan's parents. Muskaan had wanted him to first meet her parents before anything went ahead but everytime a date was set for him to meet her parents something or the other would happen and he would have to cancel. But now that he had a few days off he was going to make an effort to go and meet them. It wasn't that he was scared or anything he just hoped that Muskaan's parents would like him. After all it was the first time in his life that he was actually meeting his girlfriend's parents. He had been in relationships before but they had never resulted in meeting the girl's parents. But then again Muskaan was special. She wasn't like all the other girls that he had been around. She had her own mind and she wasn't afraid of anything. And that's what had caused Rahul to fall in love with her. She was a strong independent woman.

And he couldn't wait for her to be his wife.



 Armaan on the other hand who looked as if he was listening to his iPod was far from doing that. His mind wasn't even paying attention to the lyrics that were flowing through his head phones as he was to busy preoccupied not only watching Riddhima but with what had occurred a few hours ago. He had been shocked to say the least when he had walked into his house to see Shashank Gupta standing in his family room. He couldn't believe the man who had caused so much pain in Riddhima's life had the audacity to reappear. He had thought the man would have some shame to never show his face to Riddhima and yet he stood there in front of them as if nothing had ever happened. Armaan had felt anger build up inside him and he had the itch to go and kill the man but when he had seen Riddhima's reaction he had somehow controlled himself and brought his attention to her. Even after he had left Riddhima had been silent and hadn't said a word. She had just walked back into the room and walked out to the balcony. He had wanted to go and comfort her but Muskaan had stopped him saying that maybe she needed some time alone. And so he had. He had given her some space. After all it wasn't everyday that your father who you thought was dead came back out of no where. But now as he saw Riddhima running around with a big smile on her face and laughing he felt the tension ease from his mind. He didn't know why but just watching her made him feel better knowing that she was happy and not letting what had happened with her father get in the way. But still somewhere in the back of his mind he still wondered what her dad wanted. Why had he come back after so many years? Was this some kind of trick? But before Armaan could rack his brain for a possible answer Eva who had realized that she needed help with her hole called for her father to help her out.



"Daddy Help!"



"Coming sweetie!"



And so putting his thoughts aside he got up to go help his little princess and decided to just relax and enjoy this fun filled day at the beach.





-Tashu

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