Monday, 16 September 2019

Chapter 13 : Dangerous Desire (AR)

Party Time!

Both stared into each others eyes, trying to figure out what they felt.  Was it attraction?  Infatuation?  Or... or something else?  No.  It couldn't be attraction or even infatuation.  It was something else.  Something different.  Something pure... divine.  But what?

 Door raho usse Armaan.  Tum hi ne khud se vaada kiya tha na?  Ab uss vaade ko nibhaao.  Leave her!

 His brain shouted at him to leave her.  He blinked and then left her with a jerk.  Riddhima was shocked.  She was astonished at what just transpired between them.  What was wrong with her!  How could she just lose herself like that?!  She didn't dare to look up.  He walked out of the cabin and Riddhima ran into her cabin.  She sat down on the couch and held her head in her hands.

 "What the hell is wrong with me?  Why didn't I push him away from me?  Main toh in fact usski aankhon mein kho gayi thi.  Kyun?  Kya ho raha hain mere saath?  Main-main usski aankhon mein khud ko kho kyun deti hoon?  Why do I forget everything else when he's so close to me?  It's like... his eyes are a magnet which are pulling me closer to him.  Why?  Ugh!  Just stop it Riddhima!  It's just his eyes.  Usski aankhein hain hi aisi.  Zyaada matt soch Riddhu.  Ab kaam pe dhyaan de." She sat down on her chair and started to work on the file.

 Armaan was driving down the streets of Mumbai crazily.  The rain was fiercely pouring down from the dark sky, depicting his pain and agony.  He stopped at a bar and looked at it.  Memories rushed back.  Memories from a year back.

"One vodka on the rocks." The bartender filled up a small glass and gave it to Armaan.  Since it was day time, not many people were in the bar.  The sound of music and people conversing could be faintly heard in the background.  Armaan took the glass and gulped it down in one go.

"One more." The bartender filled up a few more on Armaan's order.  He felt something was wrong.

"Kya hua?  Aaj itne sad kyun lag rahe ho?" He spoke in a heavy Goa accent.  Armaan looked at him, but didn't say anything.  He was a guy in his late 50s, but had a really fit structure and a french beard.  The bartender smiled.

"Mujhe pata hain main ek stranger hoon, lekin sorrow ko agar share karna ho, toh ek stranger ke paas jao."

"Tumhe aisa kyun lagta hain ki main dukhi hoon?" He chuckled.

"Sir.  Day time mein jab sab log work kar rahe hote hain aur suddenly koi aata hain aur one after one vodkas peeta hain toh isska kya meaning hota hain?" Armaan stared at him for a second and a small smile broke out on his face.  He was really liking this guy.

"Kaafi experienced lagte ho."

"Obviously.  Almost sixty ka hoon.  Half century cross kar li hain toh itne time mein experience toh kaafi mill chuka hain.  Aur agar main wrong nahin hoon," he paused and looked at Armaan, "toh tumhara heart toota hua hain." Armaan froze for a second and looked at him.  "Itna difficult nahin hain.  Tumhare face par clearly likha hua hain." Armaan gave him a sad smile.

"I don't even have anything else with me except for a broken heart."

"No, no, no Sunny Boy, you still have a lot.  All you have to do is open your eyes and look at everything around you.  You'll find many things.  Try it.  And trust me.  Not everyone is lucky." Armaan could tell something had happened to him.

"What's your story Oldie?" He looked up.  His eyes held sorrow and pain, but he tried to mask it with a smile.

"You wouldn't want to know."

"Mujhe pata hain main ek ajnabee hoon, lekin dukh ko agar share karna ho, toh ek ajnabee ke paas jao." The bartender chuckled.

"Mera dialogue mujhi par use rahe ho?"

"Mere jaisi baatein mujhi se kar rahe ho?" Both softly chuckled.

"You know what?  I like you."

"Same here.  Ab batao." His expressions softened and he sighed.

"Forty years back... college mein ek girl thi... Sonya.  Bohat love karta tha usse.  She... she was a sweetheart.  College mein sabka heart  jeet leti thi.  A really, really good friend of mine.  College ke three years mein hume ek doosre se love ho gaya.  We even promised to marry each other.  Lekin usske father nahin maane.  He hated me.  Why?  Because I wasn't as rich as them.  Maine aur Sonya ne toh bhaag ke marriage karne ka bhi socha, but main nahin chahta tha ki Sonya apne parents ki blessings ke bina mere saath apni life start karein.  Maine usse kaha ki woh apne parents ke paas wapas chali jaaye and she did.  Hum dono bohat hurt the.  Lekin kahin na kahin hume trust tha ki hum wapas milenge." He had a slight smile on his lips.  Armaan could tell he was reliving those moments.

"Aur phir?  Tum dono mille?"

"Not yet son, not yet.  But I know woh aayegi." Armaan smiled at his confidence.

"Itna vishwaas hain usske uppar?"

"Uss par nahin, apne pyaar par.  Now your turn."

"For what?"

"What's your story?" Armaan stared at him.  For some reason, he knew he could trust him.  He won't break his trust and he could depend on him.  He just knew he could tell him anything.  He looked at his smiling face, which was urging him to tell him everything.

Armaan smiled at the memory.  Ever since that day, whenever he was upset, he would come to this bar and talk to him.  They didn't know each others real name.  They just called each other 'Sunny Boy' and 'Oldie'.  Armaan entered the bar, hoping to see that same face and fortunately he did.  He went and sat down in front of him.  Oldie saw him and immediately filled up two glasses of vodka and placed them in front of him.  Armaan gave him a tired smile and gulped a glass down.

"What happened now Sunny Boy?"

"How do you know something's wrong?"

"You only come here when something's wrong, right?"

"Can we go some place else?" Oldie smiled and nodded.  He called another guy and told him to take care of the place and they left the bar.  They went to a park that was near and sat on a bench.

"So tell me Sunny Boy.  Ab kya hua?" Their moment in his cabin flashed before Armaan's eyes and he closed his eyes.


"Riddhima... nice name I must say.  Is she pretty?" Armaan looked at Oldie and gave him a, 'Are-you-for-real' look.  "Just kidding yaar!  Ab come on.  What happened?"

"Pata nahin Oldie.  I don't know what's happening to me.  Jab se woh meri life mein aayi hain, sab kuch badal gaya hain.  With her, I just want to forget everything and live my life.  Lekin purani yaadein mujhe wapas kheench leti hain.  Jitna usse door jaane ki koshish karta hoon utna hi usski taraf aur kheencha chala jaata hoon.  Aur aaj toh..." He trailed off and closed his eyes.

"Aaj kya hua?" Armaan sighed.

"Main aur Riddhima humesha jhagadte rehte hain.  Main usse door rehna chahta hoon aur nahin nahin reh sakta.  Mujhe gussa aaya aur maine uss par chila diya.  Lekin jab woh royi, toh pata nahin kyun mujhse raha nahin gaya and I..."

"You what?"

"I kissed her."

"You mean lip-locks?"

"NO!  Just a peck on the cheek.  Meri toh kuch samajh nahin aa raha." He thought to himself.  Not getting any response from Oldie, he looked at him and saw a slight smile playing on his lips while he thought about something.

"Kya soch rahe ho?"

"Kuch nahin.  Aur jahaan tak baat rahi Riddhima ki... toh tumhe slowly sab samajh mein aa jaayega."


"Kaha na.  Wait karo.  Tumhe khud sab kuch pata chal jaayega.  And smile!  Smile karte hue tum bohat cute lagte ho." Armaan chuckled at his words.  Oldie patted his back and left, leaving Armaan wondering over what he said.


The next morning, Riddhima arrived at the office in a bit off mood because of yesterday's incident with Armaan.  She was trying not to think about the little moment they shared afterwards and was successful to keep her mind off of it, but she couldn't help but be angry at his outburst at her.  All she wanted to do was punish him for it and she knew exactly what she had to do.

Armaan, on the other hand, was pacing around his cabin, thinking of ways to apologize to Riddhima.  He knew he had been extremely harsh with her when it wasn't even her fault.  He knew he had hurt her and he had to apologize.  But no way in the hell was he going to say sorry to Riddhima.  He was way full of ego to let that happen!  But he knew that if he didn't then hell's gonna break out on him because Riddhima's no less than a tigress.

Oh God!  Kya karun main?  I know I should apologize, but I'm not!  After all, it's her that always provokes me to do something.  Ugh!  Why is this soo difficult?!  Armaan.  Ek baar sorry keh doge toh kuch chala nahin jaayega.  Lekin maine toh apni poori life mein kissi ko sorry nahin bola.  Riddhima ko kaise bolun?  Practice.  Haan.  Practice Armaan.  Practice makes perfect.  Kya time aa gaya hain?  Armaan Mallik ko kissi ko sorry bolna pad raha hain.

Armaan stopped and looked at the window in front of him.  The window reflected his strong physique and he made a straight face.

"Sorry." He said with full attitude.  "Sorry attitude se bolte hain?  Armaan.  Do it right!" He stretched the corners of his lips with his hand, making it look like he was smiling.  "I'm very sorry Riddhima." He said in a kiddish tone.  "Circus ke joker ho?  Come on Armaan you can do it!" He pouted like a child looked down.  "I'm sorry." He said in a babyish voice.  He groaned knowing he can't do this.  "Yeh itna hard kyun hain?  Chhodo.  Jab Riddhima aayegi, tab hi bol dunga.  Haan." He quickly went to his desk and took a deep breath.  He quickly called her and told her to bring the schedule for the day.

A moment later, she entered the cabin and told him his schedule in a very cold and formal tone.  He knew Riddhima was very angry at him and she's not going to melt so easily.

"Anything else Sir?" He looked up and saw her giving him a cold, murderous stare, daring him to say a word.


"Thank you." She turned around and walked towards her cabin when Armaan remembered he had to say sorry to her and abruptly stopped her.

"Ruko!" She turned around and looked at him.

"Yes Sir?" He walked up to her and looked her in the eye.  Riddhima waited patiently and didn't say anything.

"Woh... Riddhima... I... I want to say that... I... I..." He closed his eyes and breathed it.  "I'm sorry." He opened his eyes and looked at her.  She was looking at him with the same expressions.  She looked at him for a second and then moved towards her cabin.  Armaan was bewildered.  Here, he had just APOLOGIZED to her and she, instead of forgiving him, is just walking away without saying anything!?  Anger got the better of him.  He caught her hand and pulled her back.  Riddhima was taken aback by this.  She looked at his hand and glared at him.

"Chhodo mujhe."

"Maine abhi abhi tumse sorry kaha aur tum aise hi jaa rahi ho.  Bina koi javaab diye?"

"Sorry keh kar tum mujh par koi ehsaan nahin kar rahe ok.  Galti tumhari thi aur iss liye tumne mujhse sorry kaha.  No big deal."

"You think that's not a big deal?  Maine apni life mein kabhi kissi se sorry nahin kaha sivaaye tumhare and you think that's not a big deal?" Riddhima scoffed.

"Well Mr. Mallik.  That just proves how egoistic you are.  Tumhare jaisa arrogant aur ill-mannered ladka maine apni life mein nahin dekha.  Koi tumhare liye kuch kare, toh usse thanks tak nahin kehte.  Tumhari galti ho, toh sorry toh aise bolte ho jaise kissi par ehsaan kar rahe ho.  Agar ehsaan hi karna hain, toh sorry ya thanks jaise achhe words matt use karo.  And just back off!" She spoke with venom clear in her voice and jerked his hands off of hers.  Giving him a last glare, she walked back into her cabin.

Armaan thought about her words.  She was right, he knew it.  He was arrogant, egoistic, ill-mannered.  Every single word was right.  But his male ego was wayy to big to allow him to accept that.

"Yeh ladki khud ko samajhti kya hain?  Mujhe egoistic, arrogant aur ill-mannered bulaaya?  Man, forget you Riddhima!"

He said angrily and went back to his work.

"Good job Riddhu!  Achha sunaaya tune usse!  He... he deserved it!  Huh!  Sorry.  Bol toh aise raha tha jaise pata nahin kya ajuba kar ke aaya hain.  Ussko toh main... main... fry kar dungi!  Idiotic moron!"


Abhi was working on one of the files and was feeling very tired.  He hadn't slept the entire night because of the tender project and his head was paining bad.  At that moment, Niki entered the cabin with a wide smile.

"Hello Abhi!  What's up?"

"Hey Niki."

"Kya hua?  Itne tired lag rahe ho?"

"Haan yaar.  Woh actually yeh tender pe kaam karna tha na, toh puri raat soya nahin.  Iss liye bohat thak gaya hoon."

"Oh.  Lao main tumhari help kar deti hoon."


"Kyun?  Main tumhari help nahin kar sakti kya?"

"Nahin, kar sakti ho.  Lekin tumhe yeh sab aata hain?" Niki narrowed her eyes at him.

"Mr. Abhimanyu Mallik.  Jitna tum aur tumhare bhai padhe hain na, main bhi utna padhi hoon.  Toh mujhe bhi yeh sab aata hain.  Ab lao.  File do warna main gussa ho jaungi." Abhi laughed.

"Ok baba.  Yeh lo." Niki took the file and read it.

"Yeh toh kitna simple hain." She shook her head and started to finish up the work in the file, unaware about Abhi's gaze on her.  He had a slight smile on his face as he admired her.  She was often scrunching her nose when she found something confusing, and would biting her lower lip lightly when she got it.

For about 15 minutes, he did nothing but stare at her, not even feeling the tiredness anymore.  She finished the file and closed it.

"Aah.  Ho gaya." She looked with a wide smile, which slowly faded when she saw him looking at her with a lost look.  Both just stared at each other.  His eyes dropped down to her lips.  He was surprised at himself.  He had never looked at Niki in that way, but he didn't know what was happening to him.  He realized how beautiful Niki was.  Big eyes, long silky hair, tiny figure.  She was beautiful.


"Hmm..." He said in a lost tone.  He realized he was staring at her and immediately jumped out of his thoughts.  "Huh?!  I-I'm sorry.  Pata nahin main kya soch raha tha."

"It's ok.  Ab yeh lo.  Check kar lo." She smiled and he checked the file.  He was surprised at how well she had done her work.

"Waise Abhi.  Tum apne liye ek secretary kyun nahin rakh lete?  Tumhara aadha kaam kam ho jaayega."

"Haan, you're right.  And I think I've found the perfect one."


"You." Niki's mouth flew open and she stared at him in shock while he just chuckled.  "Mun band karo warna makhi ghuss jaayegi." She immediately shut her mouth.

"Lekin Abhi main-"

"No excuses.  Tum kitna achha kaam karti ho.  Mera aadha kaam toh tum hi aasaan kar deti ho!  Aur waise bhi.  Tumse achhi secretary mujhe kahin nahin milegi.  So you're up for it and I'm not gonna hear anymore excuses.  Alright?" Niki smiled and nodded.

"Ok.  Jaisa tum kaho."

"Great!  Main abhi Julie se baat karta hoon aur tumhare liye cabin ready karvaata hoon." Niki smiled at his enthusiasm.  She was gonna work as his secretary.  This thought made her very happy!


They all were sitting in the canteen, waiting for Nivi to come.  They were told by Nivi that only she would be coming today and that she had to discuss something very important with them.

"Arre yaar yeh Nivi kahaan hain?  Abhi tak aayi kyun nahin?"

"Pata nahin.  Koi kaam hoga."

"Yea.  And by the way guys.  Mujhe tum logo kuch bataana hain.  Kal se Niki bhi Mallik Empire join kar rahi hain, as my secretary." They all smiled widely and gave Niki a tight hug.

"OMG!  I'm soo happy!  Niki you're joining us!  Wow!" Riddhima said happily.

"I know yaar!  Ab saari gang ek saath.  Bohat maza aayega.  Kyun girls?"


"Hey guys!  How are you?" They found Nivi standing there with a smile on her face.

"Hey Nivi!"

"Ab batao.  Tumhe kya zaroori baat discuss karni thi?" Nivi sat down.

"Oh haan.  Woh kya hain na.  Kal Rocky ka birthday hain aur hum sab usske liye ek surprise party rakhne jaa rahe hain.  Aur main chahti hoon ki tum sab aao.  Will you all come?"

"Of course Nivi!  We'll come!" said Muskaan.

"That would be great!  Aur yeh ek theme party hain.  The boys need to wear black formals and the girls have to wear purple dresses.  Woh kya hain na, Rocky ko black pasand hain aur mujhe purple.  So be sure to wear that!  Ok?"

"Yes Nivi." Nivi handed out the invitations and then left stood up.

"Ok ab main chalti hoon.  Mujhe baaki sab ko bhi invitations dene hain.  Bye everyone."

"Bye." Nivi left the office and they all smiled.

"Wow yaar!  Party mein toh bohat maza aane waala hain!" said Atul.

"I know yaar!  I love going to parties!  Main toh jeeti hi party karne ke liye hoon." They all laughed at Muskaan's words.

"Muski, tu pagal hain." Said Riddhima.

"Kya yaar.  Kuch naya bol na." They all laughed at this.  They all were having a feeling that the party's gonna be really interesting for everyone and they were really looking forward to it.


The rest of the day had passed by really quick.  The next day was Saturday, so they didn't have to go to office and girls had already made their plans.  Since they had to go to office most of the time, they had absolutely no time to go shop and this was a perfect opportunity for them to take out time and go shop.  Since the party was at night around 7, the girls decided to go in the morning and come back before 2 so that they can have their little beauty sleeps.

"So?  Ready for shopping?" asked Anjali.

"Obviously Anji.  Yeh bhi koi savaal hain kya?" said Muskaan.  They chuckled.

"Toh wait kya karna hain?  Shuru ho jao!" said Niki.

They went inside the Infinity Mall and started to shop around in the stores.  From clothes to shoes, everything was just the best.

By 2:00, Riddhima and Muskaan reached home and immediately flopped themselves on the bed.

"Hey Krishna.  Maine toh kitne mahinon baad itni saari shopping ki hain.  I'm hell tired!" said Riddhima.

"Haan yaar.  Main toh ab chhe baje se pehle uthne nahin waali." Both chuckled at this.  The door opened and Shashank and Padma entered, appearing slightly hesitant.

"Riddhu, Muski.  Hume tum dono se kuch baat karni hain."

"Haan Mama.  Bolo na."  They exchanged glances and looked back at the duo.

"Beta, hum dono... hum dono Mumbai chhod kar jaa rahe hain." Those words hit them hard.  They were completely shocked.

"Lekin... kyun?  Aap... aap dono kahaan jaa rahe ho?" Riddhima stammered.

"Hum dono wapas jaa rahe hain.  Punjab."

"Lekin kyun?  Aap hume aise achaanak chhod kar kyun jaa rahe ho?" Muskaan and Riddhima got up.  Shashank and Padma made them sit down and they sat down beside them.

"Beta... ab hum dono yahaan nahin rehna chahte.  Hum yahaan sirf iss liye the kyunki hum paisa kamaana chahte the.  Tum dono ke liye aur hum intezaar kar rahe the ki kab tum dono ka college khatam ho aur tum dono apne pairon par khade hona seekho.  Hum dono ki bhi ab umar ho chuki hain.  Aur aakhir tum dono kab tak humare dum par jeete rahoge?  Kabhi na kabhi toh tum dono ko hume chhodna toh padega na." Padma explained.

"Lekin Mama... main aur Muski yahaan aap dono ke bina kaise..." Riddhima was on the verge of tears.

"Tum dono chinta kyun kar rahe ho?  Hum bhale hi yahaan nahin honge, lekin humara pyaar toh humesha tum dono ke saath rahega na?  Aur waise bhi.  Chandigarh mein tumhari Nani ki tabiyat bohat kharaab hain.  Woh chahti hain ki hum vahaan jaaye."

"Toh main aur Muski bhi saath mein aa jaayenge."

"Nahin Riddhu.  Tum dono ko yahin rahoge.  Humare liye."

"Lekin Papa-"

"Riddhima.  Zidh chhod do.  Kya tum humari itni si baat nahin maan sakti?" Riddhima said nothing.  She thought over what they said.

Nani ki tabiyat toh sach mein kharaab hain.  Aur Mama Papa bhi wapas jaana chahte hain.  I shouldn't hold them back.

"Agar aap dono ki khushi issi mein hain, toh theek hain.  Lekin aapko mujhe roz do baar phone karna padega." They chuckled and lovingly patted her on the cheeks.

"Ok baba.  Hum tumhe roz phone karenge."

"Aap dono kab jaa rahe ho?"

"Aaj raat."

"Kya?!  Lekin aaj raat ko toh hum party pe jaa rahe hain."

"Haan, lekin ticket aaj hi ki hain."

"Toh baad mein jaana." Muskaan immediately shut her mouth as she saw the glare.  "Sorry."

"Jab tum dono wapas aaoge, tab tak hum jaa chuke honge.  Lekin main tum dono ke liye khana banaake jaungi.  Aake kha lena.  Ok?"

"Theek hain Mama." They all hugged each other.

"Ab chalo.  Thoda aaraam kar lo.  Warna party mein thak jaoge."

"Ok.  Aur aap dono apna dhyaan rakhna.  Aere gaere logo ke saath bilkul bhi baat matt karna aur apni davayiaan time per lene.  Iss mein carelessness main bilkul bardaasht nahin karne waali!  Aur khana bhi time per lene aur-" Riddhima started her lecture which made everyone smile.

"Bas, bas, bas!  Hum humara pura khayal rakhenge.  Lekin tumhe bhi rakhna padega.  Ok?"

"Yes Mama."

"Good.  Ab tum dono aaraam karo.  Thak gaye honge."

"Haan Mama." They smile and start moving towards the door when Muskaan suddenly stopped them.

"Kya hua?" She ran up to them and hugged them while they patted her back lovingly.


"Haan Mama?"

"Muski ka dhyaan rakhna.  Warna bohat maarungi.  Samjhi?"

"Haan Mama.  Aap fikar matt kijiye."

They all talked for a while and then Riddhima and Muskaan took a nap.

The Mallik brothers arrived at the party looking as dashing as ever.  The girls pretty much stopped breathing seeing Armaan.  He was dressed in black jeans and a black button up shirt along with a black suit jacket.  His jet black shaggy hair was slightly messed up, but is just made him look breathtaking.

 "Kya baat hain Armaan?  Tu party mein aaya nahin, ke saari ladkiyon ki dill ki dhadhkan rukh gayi." Said Rahul.

 "Haan.  Isski vajah se koi hume dekhta hi nahin." Said Atul.

"Guys.  Stop it.  Aur waise bhi.  Agar yeh mujhe dekhti hain, toh dekhne do.  Mera kya jaata hain?"

"Haan.  Woh toh hain." Rahul and Atul laughed and high-fived each other.  They moved  inside and started to talk to others.  Many of their business associates were also present there as the Vermas had their own company in Delhi.  Armaan was talking to one of his associates when he suddenly felt a gush of wind pass through him.  He slowly turned around and looked at the door.  The sight in front of him left him mesmerized.


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