Friday, 13 September 2019

Chapter 10 : Dangerous Desire (AR)

Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

It was night time and Riddhima was in her room, writing in her diary.


Hey Pinky.

I know main bohat dinon ke baad tumse baat kar rahi hoon na.  Lekin kya karun?  Work load itna hain na, ki mujhe toh saans lene ka bhi waqt nahin hain.  You know what?  Mujhe mera pehla project mill gayya hain.  Kal maine Armaan ke saath usske ghar jaa kar ghar ka design ready kar diya hain and guess what?  Kal Mr. aur Mrs. Verma aa rahe hain, ghar ka design dekhne ke liye.  I just hope ki unhe ghar ka design pasand aa jaaye.


Pata hain?  Armaan na bohat khadoos hain.  Pehle toh mujhe bolta hain ki shaam ko chhe baje mujhe apna assignment usse dena hain aur phir baara baje mujhe bulaa ke kehta hain ki main Rohail ke saath baeth kar gossip kar rahi thi.  Can you believe it?  Aur toh aur, baad mein woh mujhse kehta hain ki ussne mujhe extra time diya kyunki main nayi hoon, warna toh yeh kaam ek ghante mein hi ho jaata.  Mujhe bohat gussa aaya aur maine usse keh diya ke mujhse bhi baaki experienced logo ki tarah kaam ho sakta hain.  Pata hain ussne kya kiya?  Ussne mujhe kam se kam paanch files di aur kaha ki main unhe shaam ke chhe baje tak complete kar loon.  Lekin achhi baat toh yeh thi, woh zyaada tough nahin thi aur maine unhe time pe finish kar diya.  Warna toh woh idiot mujhe kitna sunaata.

Lekin... ek aur baat hain, jo mujhe kabse pareshaan ki jaa rahi hain.  Aaj jab hum kaam kar rahe the na, toh pata nahin kyun, lekin... jab woh mujhe aise dekh raha tha, toh, mujhe bohat different feeling aayi.  I don't know why.  You know, woh jo shiverness jaisi feeling aati hain, bilkul waisi.  Aur usski aankhein... pata nahin kyun, lekin mujhe aisa lagta hain jaise maine usski aankehin kahin dekhi hain.  Lekin mujhe yaad hi nahin aa raha, ki kahaan dekhi hain.  They just seem familiar to me.  Those eyes... those electric blue eyes... I've seen them.  I know it.  I can... I can feel it.  Aur jab woh mujhe chhoota hain toh... toh bohat alag lagta hain.  I don't know.  I feel... safe?  Secure?  Kya main... bohat zyaada soch rahi hoon?  Haan.  Shayad yeh hi hain.  Aur waise bhi.  Main usske baare mein itna kyun soch rahi hoon?  Kal clients aa rahe hain.  I should go to sleep now.  Agar kal time pe nahin pohanchi, toh phirse Baba Armaan ka pravachan sunna padega.  Good night!

-Riddhima-


                                                                 ****

The next day was really important for Armaan and Riddhima. Their clients, Mr. & Mrs. Verma were coming to see the design of their new house. Since this was Riddhima's first project, she was slightly nervous about her work.

"Unhe sab kuch pasand toh aayega na?" Riddhima asked nervously. She had been pacing the conference room to and fro ever since she had arrived and the girls had been trying their best to convince her, but it wasn't really working.

"Don't worry Ridz. Tumne itna achha design banaaya hain, itni mehnat ki hain, toh obviously unhe yeh design pasand aayega." Said Anjali.

"Are you sure?" She asked unsurely.  Muskaan lost her cool and she stood up.

"Oye!  Agar tune achha banaaya hain, toh unhe pasand aayega aur agar nahin banaaya hain toh nahin pasand aayega!  Kyun bhau kha rahi hain?!"

"Toh kamini iss mein tera kya jaata hain?" Riddhima spoke in a same tone as Muskaan.

"Toh tu kabse humara sir kyun kha rahi hain?"

"Meri marzi!"

"Teri toh na main," She started to hit Riddhima and she did the same.  Anjali and Niki were left baffled with this.

"Guys!  Stop it!  Kya kar rahe ho tum log?" Niki tried to stop them, but it didn't work.  At the same time, the boys also entered the cabin and were hell shocked seeing the scenario in front of them.  Armaan was the first to recover from the shock and he immediately moved to Riddhima, which brought Rahul back and he moved towards Muskaan.

Both grabbed the girls by their arms and since the girls were next to being called 'feathers' it wasn't hard for them to separate the two.

"Chhodo mujhe!  Aaj main iss Muskaan ka keema bana dungi.  Chhodo!"

"Tu kya mera keema banaayegi?  Main tera kachumber bana dungi!" Armaan signalled Rahul through his eyes and both turned the girls around.

"Bas." He said sternly which immediately shut Riddhima up.  Both gazed into each other's eyes.  They forgot that others were also present in the room.  They just lost themselves in each others eyes.  They were so close they could feel their breaths mixing together.

They gang just stared at them with happiness.  They knew that if nothing, then at least they were feeling something for each other.  It was evident in their eyes!  Thought there was one thing that none of them were aware of.  Apart from them, two more people were present there, witnessing the scene.

The door opened and two people entered with a wide smile, bringing the couple back from their trance.  They found a middle-aged couple standing at the door with a wide smile on their face.

"Hello everyone!" The man said with joy.

"Mr. & Mrs. Verma?"

"Yes my boy!" He smiled slightly and shook hands with the couple.

"Arre yaar, yeh formalities mujhe bilkul bhi achhi nahin lagti.  Gale lag jao yaar!" Armaan hugged him and Mr. Verma spoke again.  "And don't call me Mr. Verma.  Call me Rocky yaar.  Mr. Verma makes me sound like a buddha!"

"Yes, and call me Nivi."

"Ok, Rocky."

"Better."

"Let me introduce you to everyone.  This is Atul, Rahul, Abhi, Niki, Muskaan, Anjali, and Riddhima." He introduced everyone and they all had a smile on their face.

"Please have a seat." Riddhima said with a smile which they returned.

"Manna padega Armaan.  Your wife is beautiful and very sweet." Everyone looked at her confused.

"Excuse me?"

"Yea!  Tumhari wife kitni beautiful hain."

"Who are you talking about?" Nivi chuckled at this.

"Arre!  Tumhari kitni wives hain?  I'm talking about Riddhima!  Who else?" Riddhima spluttered the water out of her mouth on the words.

"WHAT?!" Armaan and Riddhima shouted together in shock.  What on earth made them think that they were married?

"Arre!  Tum dono aise kyun react kar rahe ho?  Tum dono husband and wife ho, yeh dikhta hain.  Abhi kuch daer pehle kaise ek doosre ki aankhon mein kho gaye the?  Aur waise bhi.  Achha hi hain.  Hume humare ghar ko banaane ki zimmedaari ek married couple ko hi deni thi.  Woh kya hain na.  Married log zyaada matured hote hain.  In fact, humne toh decide bhi kiya tha ki agar tum married nahin hote toh phir hum kissi aur ko dhund lete.  But I'm glad ki tum married ho." The others were still in shock hearing the duo.  Though still in shock, Niki's mind worked faster.

Inhe lagta hain ki Armaan aur Riddhima husband and wife hain.  Isse zyaada achha tareeka kya ho sakta hain inn dono ko kareeb laane kya?  And they're right.  Dono sach mein ek doosre ki aankhon mein kho gaye the.  Agar pyaar nahin, toh dono ke dill mein ek doosre ke liye kuch kuch feelings toh zaroor hain.  Yeh toh zaahir hain.  Lagta hain yeh hi karna padega.

"Yes Rocky!  You're right!  Dono sach mein ek doosre se bohat pyaar karte hain." Armaan and Riddhima stared at Niki in pure shock, while the others understood her.  What the freak was wrong with her!  Niki looked at the couple and winked at them, telling them not to worry and Armaan thought it was better to go along with the flow.  "Aapko kaise pata chala ke yeh dono married hain?"

"Aa-ha.  Kya kaha tha maine Rocky?  Mera andaaza sahi nikla na?"

"Yes, you're right.  Aur tum dono saath mein bohat achhe lagte ho." Both smiled sheepishly.  Armaan circled his hand around Riddhima and pulled her close, indicating that they are a perfect couple.

"Thank you." Riddhima forced a smile on her face.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" She muttered under her breath so that only Armaan could hear her.

"I'm doing what you think I'm doing."

"Armaan.  Yeh sab kya ho raha hain?  Hum dono ki shaadi kab huyi?"

"Riddhima.  Just shut up.  Mujhe bhi nahin pata ki kya ho raha hain, but it's better that we go along with the flow.

"Hmm."

"So let me show you the designs." Armaan announced.  He left Riddhima and they all settled around the table.

"Um... Mr. Mallik."

"Yes?"

"If you don't mind, then can Riddhima present the designs?" He looked at Riddhima who was startled.  Their eyes met for a second and he nodded.  Riddhima got up and took Armaan's place.

The lights dimmed and Riddhima started the presentation.  Rocky and Nivi were impressed with the way Riddhima was presenting the designs with full confidence.  Along with the others, Armaan was also surprise. Well, a little more than just surprised.

He was surprised with the fact that Riddhima was behaving so sweetly with everyone, except him.  Till now, he had just seen the angry, wild Riddhima, but now he had seen a different side of her.  The sweet and caring side.

Kya hain iss ladki mein?  Yeh... sabse itni alag kyun hain?  Ek pal mein... yeh bilkul ek jungli billi ki tarah hoti hain.  Humesha mujhse ladti hain, chilaati hain.  Lekin andar se utni hi sweet hain.  Sabse itni pyaar se baat karti hain.  She's so nice and sweet.  Like, just perfect.  Sab ke saath aise ghul mill jaati hain, jaise sab ko itne achhe se jaanti hain.  Sab ko pyaar deti hain.  Bado ki respect karti hain, bacchon ke saath bacchi ban jaati hain.  Chhoti se chhoti cheez usske liye bohat maayine rakhti hain.

He kept staring at her.  Unknowingly, he started to admire her.  Her beautiful smile, that would brighten the entire world.  Almond eyes that would twinkle whenever she was happy.  She was beautiful- a word that Armaan would never use.  He was startled as he realized what he was thinking.

What the f*** is wrong with me?  Why am I thinking about this girl so much?  Why is she affecting me so much?  Armaan, you need to stop it.

He thought to himself angrily and glared at Riddhima.  The sudden sound of the applause brought Armaan out of his thoughts and he looked around.  He realized that Riddhima had finished presenting and most of the time he was in his own thoughts.  He got up with everyone else.

"Brilliant Riddhima!  Mujhe tumhare designs bohat pasand aaye hain.  I'm already in love with my new house model!"

"Thanks Ma'am!  I'm glad ki aapko yeh designs bohat achhe lage hain."

"Aww... you're such a sweet child!  Armaan, I'm very happy for you.  Aisi achhi aur talented wife milna bohat mushkil hain.  Warna kabhi kabhi toh..." He said the last part looking at Nivi and she turned to him with her hands on her hips.

"Kabhi kabhi toh kya?"

"Ku-Ku-Kuch nahin." They all chuckled at the couple fighting.

They all talked for a while and then the couple decided to have a tour around the office and Anjali decided to help them.  Once they had left the conference room, Armaan and Riddhima turned to Niki and glared at her.

"What?  Tum dono mujhe aise kyun dekh rahe ho?"

"Would you please tell us why you told them that we're married?" Niki wasn't scared because she had already thought of an excuse.

"Arre yaar!  Tum dono behre ho kya?"

"Matlab?"

"Arre yaar!  Tum dono ne sunna nahin tha?  Woh apne ghar ka contract ek 'married' couple ko dena chahte the.  I know it's very strange, but that's true.  Aur agar tum dono mana kar dete, toh yeh contract humare haath se nikal jaata.  Did you want that?  No na?  Toh phir?" Armaan and Riddhima finally understood what she meant and were glad that Niki had said that.

"Oh my God!  Maine toh iss ke baare mein socha hi nahin."

"Phir.  Tum dono ko toh mujhe thanks kehna chahiye.  Aur tum dono ho ki mujhe aise sunna rahe ho." She made a sad face and looked away.  Riddhima went to her and hugged her from the side.

"I'm very, very, very sorry Niki.  Hum itne tensed ho gaye the ki kuch samajh hi nahin aa raha tha.  Please hume maaf kar do." Niki didn't say anything and didn't look at her.  Riddhima came in front of her and held her ears very cutely.

"I'm cholly.  Pleash mujhe maaf kar do." She said in a baby voice, which brought a smile on Niki's face and they hugged each other.

"Lekin guys, husband aur wife ki acting, tum dono kar paoge?" Armaan and Riddhima looked at each other unsurely and then at Rahul and said together.

"Yes." They smiled widely.

"Great!"

"And Ridz.  You were so good in the presentation!  Mujhe nahin pata tha tum itni achhi presentation de sakti ho."

"Thanks Anj!"

"Any time!"

They all talked for a while and then went to their cabins.

                                                                ****

Armaan finished working on one of the files and then called Riddhima.  She came in the cabin and stood in front of him.

"Bolo."

"Iss file ko review kar lo.  Check for spelling and grammatical errors and then give them to me in 30 minutes."

"30 minutes?  Itne time mein kaise finish hoga?"

"Kyun?  Kal tum hi toh keh rahi thi tum doosre experienced logo ki tarah kaam kar sakti ho?  Toh aaj nahin kar paogi kya?"

"Oye!  Itni common sense toh mujh mein bhi hain ki koi bhi insaan itni badi file aadhe ghante mein review nahin kar sakta." Just then Julie barged into the cabin, surprising the duo.  Julie was panting badly.

"Julie?  Kya hua?  Tum aise haap kyun rahi ho?  Are you alright?" Riddhima took the glass of water and gave it to Julie.  She drank it and calmed herself down.

"Ri-Riddhima.  Mujhe tumse bohat zaroori baat karni hain.  It's very urgent.  Please mere saath aao."

"Lekin Julie-"

"Please Riddhima.  Don't ask questions.  Just come with me." She dragged Riddhima out of the cabin, which left Armaan extremely confused.

Aakhir aisi kya baat hain jo Julie mere saamne nahin kar sakti?

He saw Julie telling Riddhima something and Riddhima getting totally shocked.  Julie gave Riddhima a paper and she started to read it.  He could tell Riddhima was shocked even further reading it.  She thought about something and then placed the paper inside her purse.  She held Julie by the shoulders and said something which made her calm and smile.  Both gave each other a hug and then Julie left.  He saw Riddhima getting lost in her own thoughts and walking towards her cabin in a trance.

"Yeh Julie ne Riddhima ko aisa toh kya bataaya ki woh itni shocked ho gayi?  Jaise koi bohat bada jhatka laga ho.  Aur Julie itni tensed kyun thi?  Agar koi baat thi, toh mere saamne kyun nahin ki?  Zaroor koi problem hain."

He got up and went to Riddhima's cabin.  He saw her deep in thoughts.

"Kya kaha Julie ne?" Riddhima jumped in her seat and looked at him with wide eyes.

"Tu-Tum kab aaye?"

"Abhi, abhi."

"Oh."

"Kya kaha ussne?"

"Kiss ne?"

"Julie ne."

"Kuch nahin.  Nothing important."

"Iss liye itni pareshaan lag rahi ho?" Riddhima stood up and walked to him.

"Julie mujhse apne boyfriend ke baare mein baat karne aayi thi.  Woh phone nahin utha raha tha iss liye woh bohat tensed thi."

"Lekin tum itni shocked kyun lag rahi thi?"

"Kyunki usse abhi kuch daer pehle hi pata chala ki usske boyfriend ka chhota sa accident ho gaya hain and she's worried for him."

"Are you sure?"

"Tum yahaan yeh jaanne aaye ho?"

"No.  File dene aaya tha." Riddhima makes an 'O' face and takes the file.

"Aadhe ghante mein file ready ho jaayegi."

"It better be." He left the cabin and Riddhima sulked.

"'It better be.'" She mimicked him.  "Pata nahin khud ko kya samajhta hain." She looked at the file in her hands.  "Chal Riddhu.  Kaam pe lag jaa.  Warna phirse dimaag khane aa jaayega.  Humph!"

She sat down in her seat and started to work on the file.

                                                                       ****

Armaan was working on his laptop when he heard a knock on the door.

"Come in." The door opened and Atul came in.

"Hey Atul.  Aaj achaanak yahaan kaise?"

                                                                        **

At the same time, Anjali enters Riddhima's cabin.

"Hey Anj!  Come sit down!" She sat down and Riddhima noticed her swollen eyes.

"Kya hua Anjali?  Tum, tum ro rahi thi kya?"

                                                                        **

"Nahin yaar Armaan.  Kuch nahin hua."

"Jhootha!  Bata kya hua?"

                                                                        **

Anjali started to cry and Riddhima rushed to her.  She sat on the chair next to her.

"Kya hua Anjali?  Why-Why are you crying?  Kuch hua kya?"

                                                                        **

"Armaan... Anjali... she doesn't love me."

"Champ, what makes you think so?  Kuch hua kya?" Atul told Armaan everything and he was shocked.

                                                                       **
       
"Kya?  Atul kissi ladki se pyaar karta hain?" Riddhima acted like she didn't know anything.

"Haan.  He loves someone else."

"Someone, else matlab?  Aisa toh hum sirf tab hi bolte hain jab hum kissi aur ko bhi expect karte hain." Anjali looked away.  "Do you love him?"

                                                                         **

"Armaan... she doesn't love me."

"Tujhe aisa kyun lagta hain?"

"Kyunki main usse kuch kahun, usse pehle hi woh chali gayi."


                                                                         **

"N-No."

"Stop lying to yourself Anjali.  You do love him!"

"So what?  He doesn't."

                                                                        **

"Lekin kya ussne khud kaha ki woh tumse pyaar nahin karti?"

"Nahin."

                                                                       **

"Toh phir tum kaise keh sakti ho ki woh tumse pyaar nahin karta?"

"Ussne khud hi toh kaha ki woh kissi se pyaar karta hain."

"Lekin woh koi tum bhi toh ho sakti ho na?"

                                                                       **

"Just hope for the best ok?" Atul nodded.

"Thanks Bhai.  Tumne meri bohat help ki hain.  Ab main chalta hoon." He hugged Armaan and then left.

                                                                       **

"Dekho Anj.  Himmat matt haaro.  I'm sure Atul bhi tumse bohat pyaar karta hain."

"Pakka?"

"Pakka." They hugged each other.

"Thanks Riddhima.  Tum sach mein meri bohat achhi dost ho.  Thanks a lot."

"Oye!  Dosti mein no sorry, no thanks.  Ok?" She nodded and then left.

"Inn dono ko toh ab milaana hi padega."

                                                                       **

"Kuch bhi karke inn dono ko milaana padega."

                                                                     ****

Soon, it was lunch time and everyone gathered in the canteen.

"Hey guys.  Guess what?  Aaj Nivi aur Rocky humare saath hi lunch karenge." Rahul and Muskaan brought the couple in the canteen as the others followed them in.

"That's great!" They pulled up the chairs and sat down around the table.

"Wow Rocky!  Yeh canteen toh kitna achha hain na?  Mujhe toh humare college ke dinon ki yaad aa gayi.  Hain na?"

"Yup." He looked down and muttered under his breath.  "Aur yeh bhi yaad hain ki tum kaise meri jaeb khaali karvati thi."

"Kya kaha?" They all laughed at their cute bickering.  They ordered their lunch and drank their coffee until the food came.  Rocky and Nivi looked at each other and then at Riddhima.

"Riddhima?"

"Haan.  Kahiye." She took a sip out of the mug.

"Armaan kahaan hain?"

"Woh toh apne cabin mein hain."

"Kyun?"

"Kyunki woh apna lunch apne cabin mein karta hain."

"I don't believe this!  Woh tum logo ko chhod ke apne cabin mein akele khana khata hain?"

"Haan, woh toh usski habit hain."

"But that's not good!  Woh tumhara husband hain!  Lagaao.  Usse abhi phone lagaao aur yahaan bulaao." Riddhima choked on her coffee Muskaan rubbed her back.

"Are you alright?"

"Yea, I'm fine."

"Ab come on.  Usse phone lagaao."

"Uh... main jaa ke usse bulaakar laati hoon."

"Koi zaroorat nahin hain.  Mujhe pata hain.  Agar tum gayi, toh lautogi hi nahin.  Apne pyaare husband ke saath time romance karne mein jo busy ho jaogi.  Iss liye usse phone karo aur yahaan bulaao.  Aur haan.  Usse zara pyaar se baat karna.  Hume bhi toh pata chale ki tum dono ke beech mein kitna pyaar hain."

"Lekin main-"

"Bas.  Nothing doing.  Usse phone lagaao." She gave them a nervous smile.  Picking up the phone, she dialed his number with trembling fingers and placed it near her ear.  She waited for a few seconds and he received it.

"Hello?"

"Hey Jaan.  Kaise ho?" Armaan was surprised.  He looked at the caller ID and was shocked to see Riddhima's name.

"Riddhima?"

"Yea Baby.  It's me.  Tumhari Riddhima."

"What the f*** is wrong with you?  Jaan, Baby?  And what the hell do you mean by 'tumhari Riddhima?" Riddhima closed her eyes hearing him while the gang tried to suppress their laughter.  Glaring at them, she turned her attention back to Armaan.

"Jaanu.  Tumhe kya ho gaya hain?  Apne cabin mein humesha akele baeth kar khate ho.  Come on sweetheart.  Yahaan canteen mein aao.  Mere saath baeth kar khao.  Mujhe bohat achha lagega.  Please." She spoke so sweetly, trying to convey him the message, but it didn't work.

"Just shut up Riddhima!  Tum-Tum canteen mein ho na.  Just stay there.  I'm coming right now."

"Ok honey, jaldi aana." She quickly cut the call knowing what was coming.

"Kya kaha ussne?" She looked at Rocky and gave him a nervous smile.

"He's coming."

"Haan!  Yeh huyi na baat!  Ab maza aayaega." Riddhima gulped the fear that was forming inside her throat.

Maza?  Ab toh mera muraba banne waala hain.  Armaan ko toh kuch bhi nahin pata.  Aur maine usse honey, sweetheart, pata nahin kya kya bulaaya.  Ab woh mujhe chhodega nahin.  Ab kya hoga?  Hey Krishna, HELP!

                                                                   ****



-Medzi-

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