Sunday, 7 July 2019

part 23 : The Green Blue Hues

"Ragz…come one na yaar….chor bhee…its such a small thing...itnaaa ghussa kyun ker ree hai!," Armaan rambled on as he followed her into the kitchen, where she dumped the dirty dishes into the sink and then turned around, her back resting against the sink, her arms folded and a look of utmost displeasure on her face. Armaan's voice died of it its own accord as he took in her raised eyebrows, the slight curve of her mouth to the right, her jaw-line more accentuated. He was seriously in trouble this time.

Riddhima tapped her foot and looked him straight in the eye. "Yeah, um listening….so, you were saying…..?", her voice dripping with sarcasm.

Armaan gulped and looked down for a mere fraction of a second, and unintentionally a smile came to his face as he thought of the many times she had gotten upset with him over something so trivial. Riddhima looked at him in disbelief as he stood there, looking down, having the audacity to actually grin back at her.



"You know what…just forget it!! You are not even worth all that care…!! You don't even give a crocodile's ass how hard I worked to get that presentation ready for you, and the day they have the presentation, you don't show up. Its not done Armaan, you just cant take everything so easily…I have so much work to do and yet I am here doing your stuff, that is three notches higher than what I have ever studied and still after taking care of the house all day, of the kids, of myself and then my own bulk of assignments, I wake up all night to make YOUR presentation and you don't even have the decency to show up for the bloody presentation in your class…I mean…you can…STOP SMILING ARMAAN!! ITS NOT FUNNY!!," Riddhima at last burst out at him, taking out all her pent-up frustration at him.

He had to give a presentation in the Macroeconomics class that day, and he had been busy with an emergency with a friend, as he had told her, and she had woken up all night, studied and gone through all the material and prepared the presentation for him till morning. However, when she had gotten to college, she had to got to know he hadn't shown up for the presentation, and worse still, he hadn't been in some kind of emergency, he had been on a date with his present girlfriend. He had lied to her because he knew she would have dragged him out of the restaurant to home so he could make his assignment himself. When it came to studies, Riddhima never compromised.

Now, he stood there, baring his teeth and cursing himself as she threw the duster down on the counter, turned towards the sink and started washing the dishes she had just thrown in. He sighed and shook his head, she could be so melodramatic at times. And yet he knew just the way to calm her down.

Walking over to the sink, he stood directly behind her and made his most adorable face, and then putting his hand forward, turned the tap off. Riddhima turned to look at him, her eyes bursting with anger. Her eyebrows curved questioningly at him in question to his act, and he just puffed his cheeks and then putting his hands forward, cupped her face in his hands while Riddhima let out a sigh.

"I am sorry na baby…I really am!! I wont do it ever again…promise..!!"

Riddhima put up her own hands and pushed his away from her face, rolling her eyes, folding her arms across her chest.

"Yeah right Armaan…just define 'sorry' and 'ever again' to me….cuz as far as I know, for you, sorry means doing it again and again and again, and ever again means the very next day…!" saying that, she turned towards the sink again.

"Tch…I really mean it Ragz…I know I did wrong…I shouldn't have lied to you….acha sorry naaa!!" he wailed out, his arms going out around her waist as he pulled her towards himself, her back to his chest.

Riddhima sighed impatiently and tried to budge. "Let me go Armaan, um not in the mood for your pranks..!!"

"Neither am I, sweetheart… just trying to show you I really am sorry…okay, promise, from now on, no compromise on studies..pakka!" Armaan ranted on, hugging Riddhima's tiny torso closely to himself. Riddhima just stood there, her arms still clasped tightly around her chest, and rolled her eyes.

Riddhima tried to break free of his hold again, but he wouldn't let her budge, and kept holding her for long till she finally relaxed in his arms and her arms gently went around his own, that were clasped around her waist. She shook her head annoyingly at him, turning her head towards him as he gave her a cheeky smile, and then kissed her warmly on her shoulder and then on her temple. Riddhima finally smiled.

"You always know how to get the better of me, don't you?" she said, as he turned her around in his arms and gave her a huge grin.

"Of course I do dumdum…you always give in, that's cuz you totally love me!!" he winked back at her, as she rolled her eyes, and they both broke out in laughter.

A strong bout if nostalgia hit Riddhima as the sudden remembrance of that memory ended, and she looked around once again to her surroundings. It had been ages since Armaan had soothed her down like that, hugged her like that, kissed her like that. She missed that platonic easiness to their relationship; now, everything he did, even a simple side hug would make her mind work endlessly into the most intricate details of it.

She now looked at Armaan, who was sitting on the sofa in front of her, his hands clasped under his chin as he was lost in thought. The clock ticked on, and the silence in the room was excruciatingly annoying, and Riddhima sighed loudly as she waited for a response. Armaan had barged into the room 15 minutes ago, and asked Muskaan to leave and to take Rhea along with her. What had followed was a session of him using his harshest voice ever with her and asking her about the details, questioning her of how she had been stupid enough to say yes to the totally bizarre request. Riddhima had been so intimidated by his loud tone, that she had been on the verge of tears when she had started explaining herself, how she had been helpless and hadn't known how to answer. How she had never dealt with families and grandparents and so she was clueless of what to say to them; she had explained it all to Armaan. In a moment of complete panic and recklessness, she had said yes to them.


Now he sat before her, deep in thought while she waited for his answer. They had no other way, they had to get through this because they couldn't possibly go up to his family now and tell them that it had been a lie all along. Apart from the fact that it would hurt them dearly and break their hearts, she couldn't fathom the fact that they would have to leave this absolutely wonderful place, which felt so much like home. It was the first time she had felt like she had a family in such a long time, and she wasn't ready to give it up so easily.

"We have to tell them."

Riddhima looked up in surprised, unsure whether he had actually spoken or she had dreamt of it. He looked up at her, took a deep sigh; then stood up and came to stand in front of her, his arms folded.

"What did you say just now?", Riddhima asked, uncertainly.

"I said, we have to tell them the truth. Everything. From the start. That it was a lie all along and we cant go through this wedding." Armaan explained to her, his hand nervously clasped under his chin.

"What? Armaan, have you gone mad?" Riddhima was shocked, this was the last thing she had expected him to say. "No, we cant do that!! We can't tell them the truth…that would be, like, a big disaster…!! We can't….we just CAN'T tell them Armaan..!!"

"Why? Why can't we tell them? That is the only sane and possible option to get out of this mess Ragz…we can't keep going on with this whole drama…!!" Armaan was confused at her reaction. He had thought she would readily agree to this only option they had left.

"Well, why can't we? What's the big deal? We have been keeping at it since the beginning, right, and no one got to know the truth…so we can…we can do this too Armaan…we can…" Riddhima ranted on, trying to find options for him to consider.

Armaan was supremely confused now. She wanted to carry on this drama, even at the expense of them getting married? He held her from around her shoulders and made her sit down on the sofa, and kneeled down before her.

"Look Ragz…it's not a small lie anymore…they want us to get married…like, in the real sense of the word…we can't do that!! IThat would be just…taking it way too afar….!!!"

"But Armaan, you are not understanding….this truth is gonna ruin them…they are so happy and excited for Shubhankar Bhai's wedding…if we go and tell them right now, it will just destroy the whole wedding for them…plus they will be hurt, especially after we have so convincingly told them that we are happily married…we just cant go up to them now and say, 'hey forget all that, it was a stupid lie, and we are sorry."

"Ragz, um not even saying we tell it to them that way…..we just go and tell them why we lied…I mean, why I lied to them…that I don't want to get married, and they cant force me into it…and that you are just a friend who helped me out….i know, they will be hurt for some time and all, but we will at least be saved from this new problem…"

Riddhima shook her head negatively, sighed and began again. He was just not understanding, was he?

"Armaan, honey you are not understanding what I am trying to say…."

"No sweetheart, you aren't understanding! I don't know what you are trying to say…," he stood up and started pacing... "Riddhima, this is no more a joke, its not fun anymore…this is about our lives…we cant get married just to make them happy…."

"Come on Armaan…its just a couple of rounds around the fire, what's the big deal in it? Its not like we'd be getting married..!!" Riddhima scoffed, trying to convince him for the deal.

Armaan turned to look at her with scrutinizing eyes, and looked at her disbelievingly. He couldn't believe she was actually saying all that to him. When he spoke, his voice was dripping with frustration and his tone was higher than usual.

"Are you frikking kidding me Riddhima? This is not funny, okay? Its not a couple of rounds around the fire as you say it…it's getting married in real..!! Maybe YOU don't believe in all these rituals and traditions…but they do, okay?? I do!!! And maybe even that doesn't matter to you, but it does to me…this is my family Riddhima, and I care about them..i cant fool them that badly, I cant lie to them like that…I am sorry!!"

Riddhima was shocked at the way he talked to her, as this kind of tone had never been used with her before, especially by him. Her voice quivered, thick with tears, as she spoke.

"I don't know why you think it doesn't matter to me what you think or what they think…because for me, they weren't just YOUR family Armaan….for me, you are not just a friend…you are my only family, and what matters to you, matters to me too…!! And they matter too, because in case you haven't noticed, I have come to love and care for them in the same way you do…All I am saying is, we can not tell them right NOW…"

"Then when do you want to tell them Ragz…? When the wedding is over…? When we are finally 'husband and wife' legally…?" Armaan put a hand through his hair and sighed. "Look, I didn't mean to hurt you or anything…but Ragz, we just need to tell them the truth."

"Okay..we go and tell them the truth. Then what? They get hurt, the wedding is ruined for them, they will give us the worst beatings of our lives, not to mention that I will be thrown out of this house. Its gonna be a major disaster Armaan, I don't know why you aren't seeing that. And what are we standing against? We just get through the rituals, and then after the whole wedding, we go off back to London. They never get to know the truth, cuz when we get there, we can pull off some lie saying we didn't work out and got separated…or…or we can…"Riddhima struggled to come up with any new ideas.

Armaan heard her through out with his mouth open, shocked at the bizarreness of her plan.

"Woaaah, that sounds like a complete Indian film rip-off….Ragz, honey, this is reality. We don't play around with people's feelings, not to mention or cultural traditions, like that. Okay?"

Riddhima sighed as she just gave up on explaining things to her. Armaan was getting extremely pissed off at her determination to not tell them.

"I don't think there's any more need for discussion. We are going to tell them in the evening today….okay?"

With that, Armaan called it a day and started walking towards the door of the room. He couldn't fathom the fact that she was ready to concoct any kind of lie to just keep going through this wedding. Riddhima put a hand through her hair, and when she saw his retreating figure, she finally shouted out.

"No Armaan…ITS NOT OKAY…AND UM NOT GONNA AGREE TO IT…AND UM NOT GONNA LET YOU DO IT…WHATSOEVER YOU SAY!!"

Armaan turned around, shocked at her sudden outburst as she felt tears erupt from her eyes. He stood rooted to the point, not able to understand what he was supposed to do. He wanted to calm her down, but at the same moment, he couldn't understand why she was so bent on keeping on with this lie. He saw her burst into tears in front of him, but the inner conflict he was going through was too much to say anything else.

Before either of them could say anything, there was a knock on the door and Rahul was at the door. He looked at both of them tentatively and took in Riddhima's tears, Armaan's aggressive face and he had not missed out on the sudden outburst that he had heard while walking closer to their room.

Armaan turned to look at him, sighing loudly as Riddhima just turned her back towards them, and barged over to the bathroom.

"Hey…everything okay…?"

Armaan nodded back at Rahul, after rubbing the back of his neck, frustrated from the whole argument.

"Umm…listen, your mom sent me to tell you guys to get ready asap…the function's gonna start in some time..!!"

"Yeah okay…" Armaan smiled at him and turned away.

Rahul stood there for another moment. He was sure something had happened between the two, and though he didn't want to intrude, he wanted to make sure everything was okay.

"Hey Armaan…?"

Armaan turned to look at him again, a questioning look on his face.

"Yeah?"

"I know I don't need to say this, but anytime you wanna talk, I am here, okay?"

Armaan smiled in spite of himself. Rahul was an exceptionally sweet person, he had always been nice and cordial towards him, and many a times had helped Armaan out in a couple of tight situations. Though the guy was three years younger than him, they still were pretty good friends.

Giving him a pat on the back, Armaan said, "Yeah man..i know…thanks..!!"

Rahul smiled back at him and left, wondering what had happened to Riddhima. What triggered his mind more was the fact that Riddhima had been crying and Armaan had just been standing there, unlike usual, when he would be calming her down. Pushing these thoughts out of his mind, he walked downstairs.

………………………………………………

Armaan sat down on his bed, his head in his hands, more confused than ever. He simply couldn't understand for his life why Riddhima was putting up such a fight. There was no sense in what she was saying; the whole prospect of going through the marriage irked him greatly.

His mind tried to focus on why he could even think of getting married to her; even if he considered the possibility, he couldn't fathom it. She was his best friend, he had seen her grown in the four years from an immature teenager to a wonderful grownup. Her stride to win over everything and her fire for life always intrigued him and of course he loved her loads, she was the only family he had in those three years of staying away from home. The way he had always perceived her had been platonic, he had thought of her like his baby, someone he could take care of and had to protect. She was the most beautiful person in his life, and on no account was he ready to give up their relation. The whole wedding thing was far away from being acceptable, for he had never thought of Riddhima in that league.

His wife. He didn't know why, but the words brought a smile to his face. He felt a thump in his heart as he imagined waking up next to her every day for the rest of the life, keeping him safe, in his heart and life forever. Visions of them sharing a life-time crossed his mind: the wedding, their nonstop bickering, their pranks, having fun picnics with Rhea and Ryan, teaming up with the kids against her, and then her having their babies. His mind constricted to that thought, their babies. He thought of all those times he would be able to spend with her, all those moments they would be together. For sure, life with her would be a fun roller-coaster ride, and there was so much to look forward to. Their wedding, all those rituals, their first night, the first kiss.

Armaan jostled out of these thoughts and cursed himself for even letting his mind wander away along those lines. Try as he might, he couldn't push away the thought of him kissing her, and for the first time ever, he felt an unknowing desire for her. Shaking his head vigorously, he tried to think of something else but the thought wouldn't go away. It wasn't the first time he had thought of her in a non platonic, sexual way but he had always reprimanded himself and instantly thought of something else. He was a guy, after all, and it wasn't unusual to think like that, but he had always kept things between them as normal as he could.

Before his mind took him to some unallowed territory again, he walked out of the room, trying to concentrate on the issue at hand. Talking to his parents at last.

...........................................................
kiran

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