Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Part 10 : How to Kill your Husband

Padma's name was flashing on the phone.

"Hello mum? How are you? And why didn't you come to the reception yesterday?"

"We have to meet riddhima. It's urgent."

"Ab kya hua maate shri?" riddhima asked her mum sighing. Swear to god she don't have a single penny in her bank account at the moment!

"Shut up riddhima. It's not funny, tell me when are you free?" Padma asked impatiently and riddhima looked at armaan who was too busy reading business news.



"I'll be free this afternoon. How about 1 o clock?" that caught armaan's attention and he looked at her with a raised brow.

"Okay meet me at the local dock. We'll talk over a little boat ride"

"MUM! Yaha mere bank account mein phooti kodi nahi hai and you're hiring boats? Ab kya bank loota hai?" armaan chuckled and riddhima pressed her elbows in his ribs.

"Oh riddhima, just meet me sweety and I'll solve your financial problems while we're at it." Padma kept the phone down and riddhima looked at the phone indignantly.

Armaan moved her elbows from his ribs and sat straight putting the paper away.

"What's up? Why were singing your sob stories?" armaan asked folding his arms to avoid any unwanted injuries from riddhima. "and man keep your hands to yourself. Jab dekho maarti rehti ho."

Riddhima played with her hair. "Mum called me to meet her at the local dock. She wanted to talk about something urgent."

"Ab kya cherry ka khoon kar diya sasuma ne?" armaan joked while taking their coffee mugs in the kitchen and dumped them in the sink.

"Shut up armaan. Mum is proven innocent so no need for you to taunt any my family."

"I was just saying the truth" armaan rinsed the mugs and dried them with cloth. He looks like a househusband doesn't he?

"Do I ever butt in your family issues? Have I ever said how awkward your khandan makes me feel when you all involve me in your family feud WWE? Did I ever tell you what an ass hole you are for behaving so horribly with your dad? Did I ever ask you why your mum never came to visit you? You can't always blame your dad for everything! If she wanted she could've contacted you, but no. She left her small boy on his own and disappeared from his life." Riddhima finished with a frustrated sigh. "See I never interfere your life."

Armaan released his breath which he was holding for a while. "You brought this topic up first time. Make sure it would be the last time. I hate discussing about my family and you better keep your snide comments to yourself." He stormed out of the living room, sitting in his car and banging the door shut.  Riddhima followed his actions with equal ferocity with her car.

"Samajh ta kya hai apne aap ko? Khud meri family be bare mein kuch hi kahe aur meine zara sa aayna kya dikha diya, Mr Armaan Mallik got angry! Huh as if I care?" riddhima muttered furiously to herself as she pressed the gas pedal accelerating.

When she reached the office, she threw her key to the valet in frustration, then quickly apologised.

"It's Okay Mrs. Mallik. Having a bad day?" the valet asked riddhima politely.

Riddhima's head snapped towards him. "Haan haina mera vo kamina pati. Uski car bhi tum hi park karte hona? Aag laga dena kal uski car ko tum, promotion dilwa dungi" riddhima said seriously while going the building. The valet just gulped and parked riddhima's car meekly thinking, 'Bade log aur unki badi baate.'

The receptionist quickly ran upto to riddhima balancing a coffee cup in her hand as she gave it to riddhima. "Good morning Mrs. Mallik. Have a good day." She said sweetly.

Riddhima looked at her suspiciously as she sniffed the coffee. "Aaj tak to coffee nahi layi kamini? Aur jaise hi mein Mrs. Mallik bani you lot are hovering around me." riddhima snapped taking her anger out on random people. "And you didn't mix something in my coffee did you?"

"Besides coffee, water, milk and sugar. Nothing M'am"

"Err... Thanks I guess" she walked towards the elevator.

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

At half twelve she left the office in a foul mood and drove towards the dock. She rolled down her window to take in the hot salty air of the sea. When she reached the certain dock Padma called her, she saw her mum standing there with a summer dress and a large straw hat. Riddhima did a double take when she saw her mum! Did she go crazy after dad's death?

"Come come riddhima beta. And yeah first tell me how do I look?" Padma posed like a queen showing her summer dress. OMG SHE HAS LOST IT HAVEN'T SHE!

"You feeling okay aren't you? I mean if there's some depression problem tell me mum, I'll help you but please don't go around acting like a drunk maniac." Riddhima pleads indignantly.

Padma's bubbly laughter fills the summer air. She takes riddhima to the yacht. The yacht was had a big round table in the centre with a ice bucket and a champagne inside.

"It's time for celebration riddhima" Padma announced cheerily while popping open the wine bottle and poured in some for riddhima and herself.

"Kis cheez ke liye exactly?" Riddhima was confused. Really. Did she miss something? She must have!

Some people think optimism is problem. But riddhima's always the sunny side of the streeter. She always secrectly hoped that juliet's snooze alarm will wake her up in time before Romeo tries to be all hero types and quaff the poison potion. That in Titanic Rose the fatty would have lost some weight during her journey and made some place for Jack on her wood. That Mugal emperor Shah Jahan would have blown less money on Taj Mahal and instead given his wife some expensive treatment so she wouldn't have died. So when it came to her mum, she had high hopes of giving her the best mental treatment.

Padma comes on deck looking happy as ever and riddhima looks around in feeling slightly out of place. Oh who was she kidding, she felt bloody TOTALLY out of place! As if she didn't know this women at all who she'd been calling mum all these years of her life.

"Do I look fat in this dress? I am planning to join a gym class" Padma asks and riddhima's head snap back to her mum.

"No mum," riddhima say while muttering to herself. "Fat?! Jesus Christ. Military planes might mistake her for an aircraft carrier and land on her stomach."

"I am sorry if I am behaving strange but I have been through a lot and I can't cope with all this things happening around me." Padma sighs slumping on the deck chair.

"Oh mum." Riddhima looks at her mum in sympathy. "You have been through the most awful time of your life. I can't even imagine being put in the prison when all the time you've been innocent. At least your conscience was clear."

Padma slowly drags the wine in her mouth. "A clear conscience just really means a bad memory sweety."

Riddhima couldn't quite read her mum's eyes which was hiding in the shade of her straw hat. Suddenly riddhima's eyes darted towards padma's arm where there was patch attached.

"What's that on your arm? Is that a patch?" riddhima looked closely.

"It's an HRT patch darl" Padma said simply. "The thing women wear when they're going through menopause."

"You're menopausal?" riddhima was amazed. "Atleast it will cut down the winter heating bills." She joked with her mother.

"But these HRT patches didn't suit me, I started putting on weight so I gave it up. Haven't had period since last September. It's quite liberating actually!"

The ground beneath riddhima's feet shook and her heart missed a beat. "But...what about the blood soaked tampon in the back pocket of Dad's swimming trunks?" bewilderment written all over riddhima's face.

Padma went completely silent. Riddhima's mouth open and she shook her mum to go on. Padma demanded a cone of silence and riddhima reluctantly nodded in agreement. "Well I didn't say it was my blood. Losing a husband can be very hard and in my case, it was almost impossible! You have no idea how many filet steaks I had to buy on that Aussi trip. I found that steaks contain the most blood for soaking up into tampons. Loads of people have been eaten by sharks there. I would just paddle on the shore...you understand. Then at cape catastrophe in South Australia, a shark finally took the bait."

The sea even shivered at her revelation. Even the waves started crashing into each other with ferocious speed. Currents as treacherous as the sea, as treacherous as Padma Gupta. The reek of salt, brine and rotten sea weed makes riddhima sick and she rushes to the railing of the yacht. Felt as though she couldn't breathe. As if there is a knife in her windpipe. She hung her head towards the sea and heaved heavily. Eventually collapsing against the cold steel railing, she looked at the ocean with watery eyes. She looked around the ocean, tried to find a place on this continent where desperate housewives do not kill their husbands.

Riddhima turned around and tried to look at her mum's expression but it was hidden by her hat brim.

A food tray came and they both sat on the deck eating. Riddhima was silent but Padma went on and on about what happened on that day on the beach. How she married under parental pressure, an event which should be included in the Elite SAS survival course, how she had to give up on her career and be a full time slave who doesn't even get paid. How she devoted her life to become a house wife, to her husband, to her daughters. She talks about how her husband changed, became self obsessed, ruthless, craving prestige and then power. How he loved keeping people under his thumb. She talks about how she was scared of him, for her life and she only acted out of self defence. "I didn't kill him, I just increased the risk factor in his risky life."

Riddhima just aimlessly played with her food. Padma finally heaves a sigh.

"C'mon riddhima. A good daughter bails you out of the jail. A great daughter will be running away from the police with you, squealing "Good god that was bloody close!" what do you think riddhima?"

What riddhima thinks that after 26 years of worshipping her mother, Padma Gupta is no longer her role model. A fleeting thought came of turning her mother in but then what good would that do? She already emptied her bank balance to release her mother from the jail and not that her father was some great soul!

After an hour Padma pops open another bottle of champagne to proffer a toast to both of us, some kind of a life time achievement award for enduring all these years in that male dominated patriarchal family, all that infidelity, betrayal from family, in my case a contract marriage and living to tell the tale.

Padma announces that she's going to throw her ring in the sea on the count of three. There stood on the railing a Murderess also known as riddhima's mother as she slipped her wedding ring from her finger and dropped into the ocean.

"What are you going to do now? What was the urgent thing you called me for? I am sure it wasn't your confrontation." Riddhima asked.

"I am going for a holiday. A proper holiday this time. And from your dad's life insurance money, I am going to live a royal life. Also I'll pay you back all your money you spent for my bail and the lawyer." Padma said smiling excitedly as she swirled around the deck. "Then I am going to start my own restaurant and invest the rest of the money in it."

Riddhima just rolls her eyes. Now nothing could shock her more, absolutely nothing. She has taken the biggest jhatka's of her life and now there is no space or capacity for any more shocks and surprises. How could she be a daughter of a murderess? Not that her mum actually murdered her dad. Surely she loaded the gun but it was fate who pulled the trigger. Maybe one day...she could get over it. Yeah right!

"What about simin and sarina? If you're gonna go dance around holiday beaches, whose gonna take care of two poor sisters?" riddhima asked while folding her arms.

Padma gave her one of her best motherly smiles. "I think both of them needs a holiday sweetheart. You've just came back from your honeymoon. You have armaan but my other darling daughters are still in a shock. I'll take them with me. I might be the world's worst wife but I am the best mother" she smiles proudly and riddhima's heart go for her mother. Oh man why is life such a bitch? She could neither blame her mother nor forgive her mother. Time will heal everything...

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

She didn't had the heart to go back to the office. She even forgot that she and armaan were't on talking terms but it hit her like a rock as soon as she stepped in the house. OMG that means she has no one to lean on to? Right now she badly needed armaan, need his support, just wanted him listen to her, keep holding her. She suddenly felt the loneliest women on planet earth. Her mum and sisters are off to their 'well deserved holiday' after killing her father and her contract husband is angry at her. Does she have anyone?

Hold on a sec... she halted her thoughts, since when did armaan started coming under her family list? Since when she started needing armaan's support? She was an independent woman remember? She reminded herself bottling up all her emotions deep in her heart. She's a strong woman and don't need anyone or any man in her life to lean onto. Neither financially, and definitely not emotionally she stood her grounds.

She made a packet of microwave popcorn and slumped in front of the TV watching some old classic movie. She shoved popcorn in her mouth and tried to put all her concentration in the movie. She even forgot about everything happening around her and was just blankly watching movie when suddenly someone dies in the movie and a tragic scene comes.

All the memories come gliding back as riddhima sit up with a jerk. She felt like someone has punched her gut and all air swooshed out. She could feel herself dying from inside. OMG SHE HAS NO ONE IN HER LIFE NOW. Her mum killed her dad, she has a CONTRACT husband instead of a real one. The thought suddenly struck her and she bursted into tears. She hid her face with her palms and kept crying and hiccupping. She will let down all her guards tonight, she needs to take all her buried feelings out. She can't just bottle them up. She cried and cried and the funny thing was after a while she couldn't even remember the reason she started crying for.

Armaan came in the house, tired and miserable when suddenly he froze on his spot. There was riddhima breaking down on their living room sofa. The same riddhima who was always strong, brave, fierce, headstrong and self assertive was now looking a frayed picture of a broken girl trying to pick up her fallen pieces. His heart lurched.

"Riddhima..." armaan called out and riddhima lifted her head to look at him. "What happened?"

Riddhima got off from the sofa and pulled him in a tight hug, starting to cry all over again.

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

After riddhima's breakdown in armaan's arms, she kept mumbling I have no one, I am so lonely, Someone up there in heaven really hates me. must be my dad but I thought he went to hell and blah blah she kept self talking. Armaan just held on to her and let her cry as much as she wanted. After the water in her tanki finished, and her glands could make no more tears, she lifted her head and looked at armaan.

"I shouldn't have done that. I never let anyone see the weak side of me."

"Do you feel better?" armaan asked simply.

"As a matter of fact...yes" riddhima said honestly. "But that's not the whole point? The point is that now you've seen me all vulnerable and broken and now you can take undue advantage of this fact you know about me."

Armaan gawked at her thinking is she mad? As if he haven't got anything else to do in life!

"Riddhima the only thing that matters right now is..." armaan lifted her chin up with his finger. "that you're feeling better and crying in front of someone doesn't mean you're weak. Crying is just an act of flowing your buried emotions out."

"Dialogue baazi band karo. Suit nahi karti tumhe. Only snide comments about your opinions on marriage suits you" riddhima smiled. "and am hungry now."

Armaan sighed dramatically, "Ask any man, and he will tell you that any woman's ultimate fantasy is to have two men at once. While this has been verified by a recent sociological study, it appears that most men do not realize that in this fantasy, one man is cooking and the other is cleaning." Armaan chuckled going in the kitchen with riddhima following in his wake, her jaw dropped.

"Marriage is not a word, it's a sentence- life sentence." Even riddhima offered her kind words.

"Atleast it's not a death penalty, ab chup chap batao, what would you like to eat?" armaan opened the cupboards and started peeking in.

"koi chup chap kaise bata sakta hai?" riddhima teased and armaan rolled his eyes. She was back!

"There was a man once who said he never knew what happiness was until he got married...but then it was too late" armaan cracked up on his own joke and riddhima's mouth opened slightly.

"Means you're not happy with me?" she asked suddenly. "I meant in this contract marriage. I mean-" she stopped. What the hell is she saying? Why does she care whether armaan's happy with her or not?

Armaan looked at her intensely. He needs to find that answer himself. Lets take her out of her misery shall we?

"Ice cream or kulfi?" armaan asked ignoring her question as he opened the freezer.

"Nothing" riddhima huffed.

"Ice cream. Okay your favourite flavour" armaan asked while popping his head in the freezer.

"Nahi khana muje kuch bhi."

"Well we have chocolate flavour in the fridge at the moment."

"Zeher hai to vo bhi dedo"

"No sorry, poison's finished. You see my wife has this crazy habbit of mixing poison in my food every now and again." Armaan said rolling his tongue in his mouth and riddhima nearly smiled. Nearly.

"But I never tried mixing poison. Mein furniture polish se hi kaam chala leti thi" riddhima said indignantly.

"Ah now that's worrying. Okay back to the main topic. Will chocolate flavours do?" armaan asked taking an ice cream bucket out and gave riddhima a spoon to dig in.

"Par muje cake khana hai. Chocolate cake." Riddhima said adamantly folding her arms and armaan chocked on air. Memories, of his head in the toilet puking out...cake!

"NO!" armaan said with equal stubbornness. "Homemade cake is banned in this house."

"Kabse?"

"Jabse tumne mere cake mein furniture polish mila di thi"

"So according to the law, furniture polish should be banned right? Tumhe cake se problem thi ya phir furniture polish se?" riddhima tricked him and bursted out laughing seeing armaan's confused face. She really did got him there.

"Okay but I'll make the cake and you will keep your hands off it. And I want no furniture polish, pesticide, herbicide, shower gel, soaps or anything near my cake. Understand?"

"Yes sir."

"And I will not be a happy man if I'll have to spend another night in the bathroom puking out your...polished cake" armaan said sternly.

"Got it in one sir" riddhima replied like an obedient student. "waise bhi kamina kaunsa bohot khush rehta hai." She muttered sarcastically.

"did you say something?"

"KAMINE CHUP CHAP CAKE BANA" riddhima's lid blew off. Limit of obedience!

"There we are, back to square one" armaan sniggered while taking out the ingredients.

He was running around the kitchen trying to crack eggs, throw them in the bin, then cleaning the platform, took some flour out and added it into the mixture. Ooh platform got dirty again. He went to take a cloth and cleaned it again. Mixed cocoa powder and butter and stir stir stir. Ooh his shirt got dirty. He rushed towards the sink and tried to wash it off.

Riddhima just sat there giving him a look of bewilderment. Is he serious? Who cleans up the platform after every step?

"Oye cleanliness freako. Kuch nahi sikhaya maa baap ne, bas bhej diya" riddhima said while getting up from the breakfast stool as she came to the platform and looked around thoughfully.

"Don't you dare riddhima. You're banned from this kitchen"

"Chup kar. Aaj tak muje mera baap kisi cheez se ban nahi kar saka, tum kya karoge?"

"Whatever, then don't tell me I didn't warn you." Armaan said with cheeky smile.

He started preparing the batter and riddhima squeezed in between him and the platform surface started whipping the batter. Armaan could smell her hair which smelt of his shampoo but damn that didn't help. He was getting turned on. Badly!

"dekho aise whip karte hai batter ko. You don't stir it buddhu warna it won't get ready in 10 years as well" she chuckled and armaan dropped his hands to his side fisting his palms.

"Riddhima..."he said huskily and she froze. Was it her or did his tone really change into a seductive one? "I-"

"ARMAAN WE DIDN'T USE PROTECTION LAST NIGHT!!!" riddhima suddenly remembered and armaan's mind snap back in action.

"Oh no" armaan pushed his hair back from his forehead. "what time of the month you are in?"

"Are you talking about my menstrual cycle?" riddhima asked while scratching her head. What month what time?

"Yes Mrs Obvious!" he snapped back sarcastically.

"I don't know. I don't keep count of such things. As if I don't have enough things to worry about in my life"

"But every girl keeps count of her days" he said with shock written on his face.

"But I never had to worry about such things before in life. What have you taken me for? Some serial promiscuous?" she asked with her hands on her hips.

"Darling if you end up being pregnant, don't blame me!"

"TUMHE NAHI TO KAMINE KISE BLAME KARU? I can't believe you forgot to take protection. Like where was your bloody mind?" she fought back.

"The same place as yours" he said winking and riddhima tried hard not to go there. Last night...

After arguing pointlessly for 15 minutes both slumped on the sofa with arms crossed. Riddhima could feel her stomach rumbling. So she thought of breaking the ice.

"You know I want three children from this marriage." Riddhima said seriously while trying her best to keep her face straight.

Armaan's head snapped towards her. Heh? He saw her lips twitch. Ah wifey! Playing with the expert eh? "Well I only want two." Armaan played along.

"arey par muje 3 chahiye!"

They discussed this discrepancy for a few minutes until armaan thought he'd put an end to things by saying boldly, "After our second child, I'll just have a vasectomy."

Without a moment's hesitation, riddhima retorted, "Well, I hope you'll love the third one just as if it's your own."

"Riddhimaaa!!!" he stabbed himself with his fist dramatically.

"Can I have the cake now if the ice between us is broken?"

Armaan laughed while shaking his head.

saniya

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