Sunday, 8 September 2019

Chapter 5 : Dangerous Desire (AR)

New Place, New People

Riddhima entered the kitchen in anger and held the counter to control her anger.

"That Armaan Mallik.  Khood ko samajhta kya hain?  Jo jee mein aayega woh hi karega?  No ways!" She started to make his coffee and then waited.

I wish main yeh job chhod kar jaa sakti.  Lekin maine toh already contract sign kar diya hain... aur main agle ek saal tak quit nahin kar sakti aur naa hi Armaan mujhe nikaal sakta hain.  Oh God!  Ab main kya karun?

Riddhima looked at the coffee and realized it was done.  She added 2 spoons of sugar and stirred it.  She took it to his cabin and placed it on his desk.  Armaan, who was working on his laptop, took a sip of the coffee and made a disgusted face.


"What's this Riddhima?  Tumhe ek dhang ki coffee tak banaani nahin aati?  Yeh toh ek dum thandi pad chuki hain.  And have you ever heard about sugar?  Jao mere liye doosri coffee bana kar lao!" Riddhima was surprised.  She was sure he had made the coffee correctly.

"Lekin Sir, maine toh coffee baraabat banaayi thi."

"Oh!  Toh ab tum mujhse zabaan ladaaogi?  Don't argue with me aur jao." Riddhima left the cabin in confusion.

"Aisa kaise ho sakta hain?  Coffee toh maine baraabat banaayi thi.  Toh phir... taste kar ke dekhti hoon."

She took a tiny sip out of it and was shocked.  The coffee was just a little below 'hot' and even the sugar was fine.

"Oh!  Toh Mr. Mallik ne mujhse jhooth bola, mujhe tang karne ke liye.  Ab dekho main kya karti hoon." She placed the coffee in the coffee maker and set the temperature on full.  She carefully took it out and added 20 spoons of sugar into it and stirred it.  Holding the mug carefully in her hands, she smirked.

"Ab maza aayega."

She entered the cabin, wiping the smile off her face.

"Le lijiye Sir.  Aapki coffee.  Maine bilkul baraabar banaayi hain.  Garam bhi hain aur iss mein sugar bhi hain." Armaan was surprised at her sweet behavior.

Iss kya hua?  Itne achhe se kyun baat kar rahi hain?

"Yahaan rakh do." She kept the coffee on the table and went inside her cabin, excited for the blast that was to come.

Sitting on the chair, she looked at Armaan.  He was working on his laptop and took the mug in his hands.  Riddhima started the countdown.

"10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5..." Armaan brought the mug to his lips.  "...4... 3... 2..." Armaan took a drink out of it.  "...1!" Armaan screamed over the top of his lungs, while Riddhima laughed insanely.  Her plan had finally succeeded.  She decided to have a little fun.

Controlling her laughter, she fixed herself and went out.  She put on a worried expression and ran to him.

"Kya hua Sir?  Aap chila kyun rahe ho?" Armaan looked at her in anger.

"Tumne yeh sab jaan mujh kar kiya na?"

"Maine kya kiya?"

"Yeh coffee!  Itni garam hain... aur isske andar tumne kitni shakar daali hain?"

"Sir aap hi ne toh kaha tha ki coffee bilkul thandi thi aur ussme bilkul bhi shakar nahin thi toh maine usske andar bees (20) chamach shakar daali aur coffee ko high temperature par banaaya." Armaan almost fell out of his chair listening to her.  His eyes had widened and his mouth was slightly open.  This girl was insane!

"Tum pagal ho kya!"

"Kyun?"

"Bees chamach shakar kaunsi coffee mein hota hain!?  Mujhe diabetes karvaaogi kya?" Riddhima crossed her arms and smirked.

"Toh jab maine pehle coffee banaayi thi, usse kyun nahin pi?" Armaan was astounded knowing that Riddhima knew about his lie, but didn't let his face show it.

"Meri marzi.  Mujhe woh coffee achhi nahin lagi, toh maine tumse doosri banva di."

"Toh ab yeh hi piyo." Riddhima turned around to go back to her cabin, but his voice stopped her.

"Tumhe mere liye doosri banaani padegi." She turned around and faced him.

"Listen.  Main tumhari secretary hoon, koi naukrani nahin ki tum mujhse koi bhi kaam karva sakte ho.  Maine tumhari coffee banaayi kyunki yeh meri duty hain.  Lekin tum toh isska fayeda utha rahe ho!  And I'm sorry, lekin main tumhari kutputli nahin hoon jo tumhare ishaaron par chalegi.  So agar tumhe ek achhi coffee peeni hain, toh ya toh khood banaao ya kissi aur ko bulaao.  Samjhe!" With that, Riddhima went to her cabin.  Armaan looked at the door for a second and he felt another presense in the room.  He looked at the door and saw Rahul and Atul standing there in pure shock.

They had encountered the entire scene between Armaan and Riddhima and were just shocked.  No one EVER dared to mess with Armaan, and here, Riddhima-who was 4 years younger to him- HAD ACTUALLY TOLD HIM OFF!  That was no less than a shock for both of them!

"Tum dono vahaan kyun khade ho?" Armaan's voice brought them back to the world.

"Yeh Riddhima Gupta hi thi na?" Atul asked as if in a trance.

"Haan.  Kyun?"

"Dude!  Ridzi ne tujhe, yaani Armaan Mallik ko sunna diya!  Can you believe it?!"

"Aur taajhub ki baat toh yeh hain, ki issne usse kuch kaha hi nahin!  Bas chup chap sunta raha!"

"Toh yeh kya karta?  Isske paas bolne ke liye kuch tha kya?  Ridz toh isse kacha chaba rahi thi."

"Just shut up guys!  Chhodo iss baat ko!  Waise tum dono yahaan kyun aaye ho?"

"Oh yea.  Woh... main tumse Lonavla waale tender ke baare mein baat karna chahta tha.  Mr. Ahuja iss tender ko paane ki poori koshish kar raha hain."

"Don't worry.  He won't do anything."

"Don't underestimate him Bhai.  You know how dirty he can get when it comes to money."

"Yes, I know.  Lekin woh kuch nahin karega."

"I don't know why Armaan, lekin mujhe bohat ajeeb lag raha hain.  I got a gut feeling ki kuch bohat galat hone waala hain.  Something very wrong.  I can feel it." Armaan looked at Rahul and Atul and closed his laptop.

"Tum dono fikar matt karo.  Main kuch bhi galat nahin hone dunga.  And by the way, what was the date of the meeting?"

"June 2nd."

"Hmm... June 2nd... and today's May 5th.  Really less time, but I'm sure we can crack the deal."

"Hope so."

"Anything else?"

"Nope."

"Let's go."

                                                         ********

A big black car arrived at the office, turning a few heads.  The door opened and a young man clad in dark jeans and a midnight blue button up shirt came out of the car.  He smirked as he saw good looking girls ogling at him and blew them a kiss, making them blush.  The other side of the door opened and a sweet looking girl in a yellow skirt and purple tank came out as her long hair flew in the air.  She looked at him and placed her hands on her waist.

"Will you ever stop that?"

"Stop what?"

"Flirting!"

"Come on Niki!  Not my fault if they find me all hot and dashing."

"Yea right Abhi!  Ab andar chaloge ya kheench kar le jaaun?"

"Coming baba." Both entered the office and went to the receptionist.

"Hey Julie!  What's up?" Niki asked cheerfully.

"Nothing Ma'am."

"Kya yaar!  Maine kitni baar bola hain ki mujhe Ma'am nahin, Niki keh kar bulao!"

"Sorry Ma-I mean Niki."

"Better." They chuckled a little when Niki asked her again. "Where's Armaan, Rahul and Atul?"

"Woh toh apne cabin mein hain."

"Good!  Waise, maine sunna hain ki Armaan aur Rahul ne ek secretary rakhi hain?"

"Yea.  Aaj hi dono ne join kiya hain.  They're really nice and sweet."

"Oh really?  Kya naam hain dono ka?"

"Armaan Sir ki secretary ka name Riddhima hain, aur Rahul Sir ki Muskaan."

"Really nice!  Waise, woh Riddhima kya unn doosri secretaries jaisi hain?"

"No ways Niki!  Riddhima toh booohat achhi hain!  She's really nice!  Ek hi din mein ussne hum sab se dosti kar li hain." This caught Abhi's attention and he looked at her.

"Really?"

"Yes Sir!"

"I gotta meet her then!"

Just then, Riddhima came to the reception in a very happy mood.

"Hello Julie.  What's up?"

"Good morning ma'am."


"Tum mujhe ek baat bataao man. Mera naam kya itna kharab hain?"


"Matlab?"


"Mtch! Arre yaar! Itna achha naam hain mera. Riddhima. Toh tum kya mujhe Riddhima nahin bula sakti? Aur chalo Riddhima nahin, toh kam se kam Ridz toh bula sakti ho na!"


"Sorry Ridz." She held her ears and apologized.


"That's like my Julie!" The two chuckled when Riddhima's eyes fell on Abhi and Niki and her laughter came to a stop.


"Um... aap dono kaun?"


"Hi. I'm Abhi. Abhimanyu Mallik. Main Armaan aur Atul ka chhota bhai hoon." Abhi said nicely and forwarded his hand, which she shook happily.


"And I'm Niki. Nikita Malhotra. Main inn Mallik brothers ki bestest friend hoon!" She said chirpily and held out her hand. Riddhima smiled widely and shook her hand.


"Aur main hoon Riddhima Gupta. Armaan ki secretary."


"We know."


"How?"


"Julie ne bataaya."


"Oh!" Abhi and Niki looked at her from head-to-toe and were completely surprised. Riddhima was completely different from others. She wore a simple peachy pink salwar suit and had her hair pinned back. Unlike others, she didn't wear excessive make up.  It was only subtle.  She was simple, yet beautiful.

They were really surprised seeing her.  Usually Armaan's secretaries were the ones that would show off as if there was no tomorrow, but Riddhima was no where close to them.  She was different. 

"So Riddhima.  Are you enjoying here?"

"Yep.  Bohat mazaa aa raha hain.  Everyone is really nice here!"

"Really?  And Armaan?" Riddhima's expressions changed, but she covered it immediately.

"He's also very nice."

"Oh, is he?"

"Yea!"

"Oh come on Riddhima!  Mujhe pata hain ki Armaan is not nice.  Jhooth bolne ki zaroorat nahin hain."

"Sorry yaar.  Woh, mujhe laga ki-"

"Ki hum Armaan ke dost hain toh hume bura lage ga?" Riddhima nodded.

"No problem yaar.  Hume bhi pata hain ki Armaan kaisa hain.  Chinta matt karo." Riddhima smiled widely.

"Ok.  Um... abhi lunch break hain.  Will you two eat with me and Muskaan?"

"Sure!" Both said at the same time and chuckled.

"Ok then!" Riddhima saw Muskaan and dragged her along to the canteen.  They sat themselves down in the canteen and talked about many things.

"Riddhima and Muskaan.  I gotta tell you two something.  Tum dono bohat khoobsurat ho."

"Thanks!" Both said together and Abhi widened his eyes, making the trio confused.

"What?"

"Hello!  Maine tum dono ko compliment di, toh even I deserve one!"

"Oh!  Toh tumne hume compliments iss liye diye taaki tumhe bhi compliments mille?" Muskaan said in disbelief.

"Nauw duh!"

"Muski, yeh isska roz ka hain.  Issko na, zyaada bhau matt do." The girls chuckled, while Abhi rolled his eyes.

"Yea, yea, yea.  Whatever!  Tumhe kya lagta hain?  Sirf tum ladkiyon ko hi taareefein sunni achhi lagti hain?  Even we boys like it!"

"Shut up Abhi!"

"Kya yaar Niki!  Tum humesha mujhe 'Shut up, shut up' kyun bolti rehti ho?"

"Toh kya tumhari aarti utaaroon?" Niki raised her eyebrows.

"Guys!  Tum dono humesha ladte kyun rehte ho?"

"Main kahaan ladti hoon?  Yeh ladta hain mujhse!"

"Kya!"

"Haan!"

"Tum dono phirse shuru matt karna please!"

"Sorry."

"Ridz, ek baat bolun?"

"Haan, bolo."

"Tum na, Armaan se thoda sambhal kar rehna."

"Kyun?"

"Tumhe Armaan ka gussa pata nahin hain.  Woh bohat jaldi gussa ho jaata hain.  Aur jab usse gussa aata hain na, toh usse kuch hosh nahin rehta.  Woh apne aape mein nahin rehta.  So, ho sake toh usse gussa matt dilaana."

"Main usse nahin, woh mujhe gussa dilaata hain.  Mujhe toh na, usse nafrat ho gayi hain."

"Kyun?"

Riddhima narrated their encounter angrily and the couple was shocked.

"Kya!"

"Haan!  Mujhe toh usse itni chid ho gayi hain na!  Poochho hi matt.  Mann toh karta hain ki main usska gala dabba doon." Abhi and Niki looked at each other and then back at her.

"Riddhima.  Matlab tumhe, Armaan mein koi interest nahin hain?"

"Interest!?  Interest ka 'I' bhi nahin hain."

This was a shocker to both of them.  This had to be the first ever person that didn't have an interest in Armaan.  In fact, she was the only one that hated him!  What the hell was up with this girl!?

"Lekin tum log mujhe itna kuch kyun bata rahe ho?"

"Ku... kuch nahin.  Bas aise hi." Riddhima nodded once.

"Waise Muski.  Tum bataao.  Rahul ke saath kaam kar ke kaisa laga?"

"Bohat achha laga.  He's a really nice person."

"Oh really?"

"Yes.  Usske saath kaam kar ke bohat achha lag raha hain."

"That's nice!"

"I know!"

"Hey guys!  What's up!" Atul, Anjali and Rahul entered the canteen with a smile and pulled up a few chairs for them.

"Arre Abhi?  Niki?  Tum dono aaj yahaan kaise?"

"Bas aise hi.  Mann kiya tum sab se mill loon.  Bohat din ho gaye hain na?" said Abhi.

"Haan."

"That's awesome!  Chalo.  Aaj hum bhaiyon ka milan ho jaayega." They all chuckled at Atul's statement.

"Haan Bhai, woh toh hain."

"So.  Kya baatein ho rahi thi tum teeno  ke beech mein?"

"Nothing special Anji.  We were just getting to know each other more.  Hain na?"

"Haan."

"That's cool!"

"Yaar main ek baat bolun?"

"Bolo Muski."

"Hum log kal hi millein hain, lekin hum toh aise ghool-mill gayye hain jaise hum humesha se hi achhe dost the.  Hain na?"

"Haan. Yeh baat toh sahi hain."


"So friends?" Riddhima held her hand out.


"Of course man! Friends!" They all joined hands with her and Riddhima smiled widely.


She was delighted after making new friends. It was hard to believe that the people she was working with were treating her like their friends and not employees. Isn't that what you would usually see? The boss throwing tantrums and the employees keeping mum? But here it was completely different. Here, no one was the boss and no one was the employee. All of them were equal, just like a big group of great college going friends. This was just how she wanted her work place to be like-friendly and sweet. She was loving everyone.


Like Muskaan, Anjali was also like a soul sister to Riddhima. They would share everything and anything, just name it. Atul, Rahul and Riddhima were best buddies. She had found out that Atul loved Anjali, but had promised him not to tell her. As far as Rahul was concerned, she had caught him staring at Muskaan during lunch, but didn't say anything because she wanted Rahul to figure out his feelings by himself and if he couldn't, then she was there. Talking about her two new friends, she was just loving Abhi and Niki. Abhi was the best friend you could wish for and Niki was no less than Muskaan. Though they acted like besties, Riddhima had the gut feeling that their friendship, wasn't 'just' friendship. The only person that she was hating was Armaan. She was hating his arrogance and bossy nature, but was determined to break it into pieces.


Just like Riddhima, even Muskaan had fallen in love with the place. It was like her second home now. Atul and her would always get into a fight and they would argue crazily, which was a big surprise for Rahul. He had always seen the sweet and chirpy Muskaan, but he had absolutely no clue about THIS Muskaan. He and Muskaan also became good friends, but even they started to fight on small things, though both enjoyed it a lot. Anjali and her were also really good friends. To her, Anjali was no less than Riddhima.


The day passed by in no time and soon it was time to go home. Riddhima headed to her scooty and was pulling out when suddenly a car came in front of her, making her hault to a stop.


"What the hell!" She exclaimed. "Andhe ho kya?" The window pulled down and she saw Armaan there, looking straight ahead of him.


"Tum!"

"Yeh mera office hain. I can be anywhere I want."

"Toh dekh kar gaadi chalaane mein koi problem hain kya?" Armaan looked at her.

"Tum dekh kar apni scooty nahin nikaal sakti?" Riddhima jaws dropped to her knees in shock, but recovered soon.  She closed her eyes and made some movement with her fingers.

"Listen.  Bohat raat ho chuki hain aur mujhe tumhare saath koi behes nahin karni.  Alright?" Armaan just smirked as Riddhima looked around for Muskaan.

"Yeh Muski ki bacchi kahaan reh gayi?" She realized that Armaan was still looking at her with a smirk.

"Kya hain?"

"Tumhe pata hain tum kitni badi cartoon ho?"

"Say what?"

"Zara mirror mein toh dekho." Riddhima looked in the mirror and her eyes widened.  Her hair was flying EVERYWHERE and her nose had gotten completely red.  Quickly, she took off her helmet and tied her hair into a messed up bun and rubbed her nose a little.  She wore the helmet back and took out her phone and called Muskaan.

"Muski ki bacchi.  Tu kahaan hain?  Kabse tera wait kar rahi hoon."

"Arre aa rahi hoon.  I swear yaar.  You're one impatient soul!"

"You just found that out?"

"Not really!"

"Toh jaldi se aa warna yeh impatient soul tujhe kheench kar le jaayegi."

"AA RAHI HOON!" Muskaan yelled into the phone and Riddhima put it up.  She saw Armaan shaking his head at her with no expressions and he drove away.

Soon, Muskaan came out and both left.

                                                               ********

Riddhima and Muskaan arrived at their house and ran into the house.

"Mama!  Papa!" Riddhima yelled and both came out of the kitchen.  They ran and hugged them.

"Riddhu.  Muski.  Tum dono aa gaye?" Riddhima separated from Padma and looked at her.

"Nahin.  Abhi hum office jaa rahe hain.  Kyun Muski?"

"Badmaash!" Riddhima and Muskaan chuckled.

"Sorry.  Lekin aap savaal hi aisa poochhti ho."

"Habit pad gayi hain."

"Achha chalo bataao.  Office ka pehla din kaisa raha?"

"Mast!" Both said at the same time.

"Great!  Achha hua!  Betho na.  Main abhi tum sab ke liye khana laati hoon.  Bohat bhook lagi hogi na?"

"Haan Aunty.  Bohat bhook lagi hain."

After freshening up, both came down and flopped themselves on the dining table where Padma was serving the food.

"Mmm.  Mama, khana toh bohat tasty hain.  Mann karta hain ki bas khaati hi rahoon." Padma just smiled at her.  Padma looked at Muskaan and saw her not eating much.

"Muski.  Kya hua?  Tu kha kyun nahin rahi?  Khana achha nahin banna kya?"

"Nahin Aunty.  Khana bohat achha hain."

"Toh phir?"

"Woh... Aunty... mujhe Mama ki yaad aa rahi thi.  Unnke guzar jaane ke baad, main bilkul akeli ho gayi thi.  Agar mujhe Ridz nahin milli hoti, toh pata nahin mera kya hota.  Aapko, Ridz ko, aur Uncle ko saath dekhti hoon, toh mujhe mere Mummy Papa ki yaad aati hain... aur mujhe realize hota hain ki... mere parents nahin hain. " She said with tears in her eyes.

"Khabar daar jo tumne kabhi bhi aisa kaha toh.  Tumse kisne kaha ki tumhare parents nahin hain?  Hum hain na.  Tum kya humari beti nahin ho?  Jitni Riddhu humari beti hain, utni hi tum bhi ho.  Aur tum hume baar baar Uncle Aunty kyun kehti rehti ho?  Hume Mummy Papa kaho.  Samjhi?" Muskaan smiled through her tears and hugged her.

"I'm sorry.  Aaj ke baad aisa kabhi bhi nahin kahungi Mummy." Padma smiled and patted her head.

"Koi baat nahin.  Ab jaldi se khana finish karo.  Main wapas aaoon usse pehle mujhe tum sab ki dish saaf chahiye.  Ok?"

"Yes Teacher." They all said together.

"Dhatt!"

                                                                   ********

Riddhima was standing at her window in her blue sleepwear.  She was looking at the moon with a slight smile playing on her lips.  It was a full moon night and the night was gorgeous.  She didn't know why, but she was feeling an unknown happiness bubbling inside her.  As if she had found something very precious, very important in her life.

She went to her bed and took out her dairy and started to write in it.

Dear Pinky,
    Aaj office ka pehla din tha.  Bohat maza aaya.  New place, new people.  Maine vahaan par bohat saare dost banaaye hain.  Atul, Anjali aur Rahul bohat achhe hain.  They're really, really, really nice.  In fact aaj toh main Atul ke chhote bhai, Abhi aur usski dost Niki se bhi milli.  Both of them are really nice.  Tumhe pata hain, Atul na, usski secretary Anjali se bohat pyaar karta hain, lekin kehne se darta hain.  But I think Anjali bhi Atul se bohat pyaar karti.  I can see the admiration in her eyes.

    Tumhe pata hain?  Rahul aur Muskaan bhi ek doosre ko like karne lage hain.  Isn't that so cool?  Ek baat kahun?  Abhi aur Niki hain na, mujhe lagta hain ki woh dono ek perfect couple bann sakte hain.  I think they're just perfect for each other.  Unn dono ko dekh ke aisa lagta nahin ki dono ek doosre ke liye kuch aisa feel karte hain, but I don't know why.  Mujhe lagta hain ki unn dono ke beech mein kuch na kuch toh zaroor hain.  Mano ya na mano.

    Aur pata hain?  Mera boss, Armaan hain na usse toh mujhe itnii chid hain na, ki poochho hi matt.  Poore din mein mujhe kitna pareshaan kiya hain.  I feel like killing him!  Lekin hain toh woh mera boss hi na.  Pata nahin aage kya hoga?  I just hope ki woh mujhe itna tang na karein otherwise main usse gandi, gandi gaaliyaan dungi, by God!

   Pata nahin kyun, lekin woh stranger baar baar mere dimaag mein aa raha hain.  Aankhein band karti hoon, toh mujhe woh meeting yaad aati hain.  Jee karta hain ki bas ussi ke baare mein sochti rahoon.  Lekin, woh aakhir tha kaun?  Aur main usske baare mein itna kyun soch rahi hoon?  Why?  Kahin Muski ne jo kaha, woh sach toh nahin?  Nahin.  Aisa kaise ho sakta hain?  Main na, bohat zyaada soch rahi hoon.  Mujhe na, so jaana chahiye.  Good night!

-Riddhima

She put her diary back and closed her eyes.  She suddenly saw those gorgeous pair of blue eyes and jerked her eyes open.

On the other hand, Armaan was sitting on the rocking chair near the window was looking at the moon.  He always liked the silence of the night.  After coming back from the office, peace was the only thing he needed, which the night pleasantly offered.  The cool breeze that would always caress him would put him to sleep.

Hoping for a dreamless sleep, he closed his eyes.  The gorgeous green-eyed girl flashed before his eyes and he sat up.

Both looked at the moon at the same time, which seemed to be smiling at them.  The tranquil, silentious night was beginning to turn into an incoherant, mystical one.  The night was a puzzle, waiting to be unravelled...

                                                             ********

Medha

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