Monday, 9 September 2019

Chapter 6 : Dangerous Desire (AR)

You and I, Together?


The next day, Riddhima was in Armaan's cabin, organizing all of his files and placing them neatly on his table.

"Hey Krishna.  Yeh aadmi apne cabin ko saaf kyun nahin rakh sakta?  Actually.  Not just him, but what's up with the entire male community?  Yeh log kuch bhi dhang se nahin kar sakte kya?" Riddhima mumbled to herself.

Just then, Armaan entered the cabin and was enchanted.  Riddhima wore a simple red long sleeved churidaar and her hair was slightly flying in the air.  She had a slight frown on her face as she organized the room neatly.  He could tell her hair was irritating her as she kept pulling her hair back.  His eyes dropped down to her stomach, which was revealed due to her dress.

"Beautiful." He whispered to himself and Riddhima stopped in her tracks.  She felt a presense in the room and turned around.  She saw him looking at her with an indecipherable look in his eyes.  She felt slightly uncomfortable under his gaze and lowered her gaze.  She faked a cough and Armaan came out of his trance.


Both were slightly embarrassed because of the awkward situation.  Armaan was the first one to recover and he walked over to his chair after clearing his throat.

"Meri coffee lao.  Quick."

"Hmm." She quickly made his coffee and gave it to him.

"Aaj toh coffee theek se bani hain na, Sir?" She asked in a sugary tone and he looked at her.

"It's alright." Riddhima's face dropped.

Humph!  Bol toh aise raha hain jaise koi ehsaan kar raha hain. Kunjooz-makhichooz.

"You said something?" Riddhima was caught off-guard.  How did he hear her?

"No."

"Better." Riddhima twisted her nose at his comment and went to her cabin.

After about 5 minutes, Armaan called her into his cabin to know his schedule and she took the file inside.

"Start."

"Aaj aapki theek pandra minute mein ek meeting hain."

"And what's that for?"

"Humare jo Delhi ke clients hain, woh humare saath jald se jald deal karna chahte hain.  Aur isske liye woh teen din mein aa rahe hain.  Ussi ko leke kuch discussion karni hain."

"Oh yes.  I remember.  Tum jao main aata hoon."

"Hmm."

"Waise Riddhima.  Tumhe formals ka meaning pata hain?"

"Huh?"

"Don't you think ke tumhe office mein yeh behenji waale kapdon ki jaga formals pehen ne chahiye?" Riddhima looked at her clothes and then back at him in anger.

"Main chaahe jo bhi pehnoon.  Isse aapko kya?"

"Arre.  Mujhe farak kaise nahin padega?  Main tumhara boss hoon.  Toh I think it's simple ki mere employees mujhe reflect karte hain and I don't wanna look bad."

"Excuse me?  Mein chaahe koi bhi kapde pehnoon, isse koi farak nahin padta.  Humare kapde nahin, humara kaam tumhe reflect karta hain.  So it'll be better agar tum mere kapdon par nahin, balki apne kaam par dhyaan do.  Alright?" With that, she went inside her cabin, cursing Armaan.

"Idiot, bevakoof, stupid, gadha, moron, kamina!  Khud ko samajhta kya hain!" She slammed the file on her desk and sat down on the chair. "'Main tumhara boss hoon.  Mere employees mujhe reflect karte hain and I don't wanna look bad!' Huh!  Boss meri jooti!  Jee toh karta hain ussko itna maaroon ki mere paer pad kar mujhse bheek maange." She mimicked him and then held her head. "Tu itna gussa kyun ho rahi hain Riddhu?  Tujhe toh pata hain na woh kaisa hain?  Chhod." She went back to her work.

In about 15 minutes, they were called for the meeting and they all gathered up in the conference room.  One by one, everyone entered the room and sat down around the big table.

"Hello everyone.  As you all know, humare Delhi ke clients ek mahine ke jagaa agle do din mein aa rahe hain aur iss waqt haumri compary ke paas koi plan nahin hain.  Aur unhe unke ghar ke designs jald se jald chahiye or else yeh project humare haath se nikal jaayega.  So does anyone have any suggestions?" Armaan questioned.

"Yes Sir.  Maine kuch din pehle hi Mr. Verma ke ghar ka ek sketch banaaya hain.  May I?" Maya spoke up and he nodded.

Maya was one of the employees of Mallik Empire, who always wanted to be Armaan's secretary.  She thought she'll get the position when they were looking for a secretary for Armaan, but was outraged when she found out that Riddhima was hired.  They don't really get along with each other.

Maya stood up and smirked at Riddhima, who just rolled her eyes.  She set everything up and started the presentation.

"Yeh hain Mr. Verma ke house ka design.  Yahaan front porch ke aage ek bada sa parking lot hoga jahaan par woh apni cars park kar sakte hain.  Ghar ke interiors ko hum ek classy look de sakte hain.  They'll have at least six bedrooms aur ek chhota sa kitchen." She finished up the rest of the presentation and everyone clapped for her.  Armaan's eyes fell on Riddhima, who was shaking her head in disapproval.

"One second." Everyone turned to look at him.  "Riddhima.  I think tumhe yeh presentation achha nahin laga.  Would you like to share something with us?" Everyone's attention was now on Riddhima, which made her slightly nervous.  Gathering her courage, she spoke up.

"Sir yeh design galat hain." As soon as the words escaped her mouth, everyone in the room got surprised and they started to talk to each other, while Armaan was amused.

"Explain." Riddhima walked over to Maya.

"May I?" Maya moved aside.

"Sir yeh design wrong hain.  Sabse pehle toh yahaan ek bade parking lot ki jaga, ek garden hona chahiye jahaan par unke bacche khel sake aur cars park karna ke liye ek chhoti si jaga honi chahiye.  Ghar ke interiors ko hume classy nahin, homely look dena chahiye.  Kitchen medium size ka hona chahiye, jiss mein mein sab ek saath beth kar khaha kha sake.  Aur bedrooms six nahin, four hone chahiye, aur ek chota se guest room."

"What rubbish!  Tum humari company ban karvana chahti ho kya?"

"Oh trust me.  Isse company ki reputation aur bhi zyaada achhi banegi."

"You're mad Riddhima.  Aaj ke zamaane mein aise outdated ideas work nahin karte.  Logon ko high profile cheezein pasand hain.  Lekin yeh tum jaisi middle class ladki kaise jaanegi?" Muskaan almost stood up, wanting to punch Maya for that comment, but Rahul held her back.

"Agar 'high profile' hone ka matlab roz ghoot-ghoot kar jeena hota hain, toh I'm glad main aisi nahin hoon.  Log classy cheezein show off ke liye use karte hain.  Ek insaan ko aisa ghar chahiye jo usse khushi de.  A house that makes you feel home, not some party or office."

"Theek hain.  Maan lete hain ki tum jo keh rahi ho, woh sahi hain.  Lekin iss mein humara kya profit hoga?" Riddhiam let out a small chuckle and looked at Maya.

"Kuch cheezein dimaag se nahin, dill se sochi jaati hain Ms. Maya Saxena." She pointed at her head and then her heart.  Everyone looked at her for a second and then stood, clapping for her.  They clapped loudly bringing a smile on her face.

"Thank you!" Armaan walked to the front of the room.

"Ab se iss project par main aur Riddhima kaam karenge.  Any problems?" This left Riddhima astounded.  There was no way she had thought that she's going to handle a project like this one!  At the same time, Maya was furious.  How could she just snatch her project like that!  She hated Riddhima even more, but kept mum.

Riddhima just smiled widely.

"And one more thing.  Aaj ek naya member humari company join karne waala hain.  Rohail Mehra.  He's going to be the CEO here.  Please be nice to him."

"Yes Sir." The meeting was wrapped up and everyone went back to their work.



                                                                     ********

As soon as the others left, Riddhima ran to muskaan and pulled her into a tight hug.

"OMG Muski!  I'm sooo happy!"

"Congratulations Ridz!" They jumped up and down in happniess, making Atul, Anjalli, and Rahul smile.

"Congrats Riddhima!"

"Thanks Anj!"

"Wow Ridz!  Kya sunaaya hain tumne Maya ko!  Usski toh sitti-pitti goom kar di tumne!"

"Seriously Riddhima!  Maya ka chehra dekhne laayak tha!"

"Thanks!  I know yaar.  I'm just too good na!" They chuckled at her comment.

"Tu nahin sudhregi Ridz!"

"Jab pata hain, toh kyun bol rahi hain?"

"Oye!  Zyaada ud matt!"

"Kyun na udoon?"

"Bas, bas, bas!  Kitna ladte ho tum dono?"

"Arre yeh toh kuch bhi nahin hain!  Kissi din ghar pe aana.  Full telecast milega.  Kyun Muski?"

"Yup!"

"Tab toh time nikaal kar aana padega." They laughed at Rahul's comments.  They all had forgotten about Armaan's presense in the room.

He just stood in a corner of the room, wathcing the group mingling with each other.  He was amazed at the rate they had become such good friends.  He was even more hapy to see his two brothers happy.  He always wished for it to stay this way.

He suddenly cleared his throat, gaining the attention of everyone.

"Agar tum sab ki party khatam ho gayi ho, toh kuch kaam kar lein?" They nodded once and went to their cabins.

                                                             ********

A young, tall man entered the office wearing pale jeans and a black t-shirt along with a black jacket.  He had an earing in one of his ears and was chewing gum.  He smirked at the girls that he passed by and walked to Julie.

"Ms. Riddhima?"

"Do you have an appointment with her?"

"Yes."

"Your name?"

"Rohail Mehra." Julie looked up at him an saw him smiling at her.

"Rohail Mehra?  Aren't you-"

"The new CEO of Mallik Empire." Julie just stared at him in shock and he chuckled.

"Ms. Riddhima?" Julie came out of the shock.

"Fourth floor."

"Thank you.  He fully turned around and smiled widely.



"Mallik Empire.  Here I am." He smiled and went to the fourth floor.

At the same time, Riddhima was heading to the canteen as it was lunch time and she suddenly bumped into Rohail.

"I'm sorry!" Both said at the same time.

"Um... tum kaun?"

"I'm Rohail Mehra, yahaan ka new CEO." He extended his hand as a smile broke out.

"Hi!  I'm Riddhima Gupta!" She shook hands with him.

"Well, main tumhe hi dhoond raha tha and hum yahaan mill gaye."

"Yea, I know.  Anyways.  Welcome to the Mallik Empire."

"Thank you."

"Come.  Let me show you around." Rohail smiled and nodded.

She showed him the entire office in a few minutes and finally came to the canteen, where the others were.

"Hey guys!" Riddhima said cheerfully and both went to the table.

"Hey Ridz!" They said together.

"Who's he?"

"He's Rohail."

"Oh hey!"

"Hello everyone."

"Baetho na!" They sat down and started to have their lunch.

"Well Rohail.  Main tumhe sab se introduce karva deti hoon.  Yeh hain Muskaan, Rahul, Atul, and Anjali."

"Hi."

"So Rohail.  Where are you from?"

"I'm from Delhi..  Turst me it's a really nice place."

"I know.  Main bhi vahaan gayi hoon.  It's really fun there."

"I hope tumhe yahaan bohat maza aaye."

"Hope so."

Very soon, they finished their lunch and Riddhima introduced Rohail toh Armaan.  He was quite impressed by him and was looking forward to work with him.

"Riddhima." Armaan stopped her as she headed towards her cabin.

"Yes?"

"Tum aaj raat mere ghar par rahogi." Riddhima was surprised.

"Excuse me?"

"Tum aaj raat mere ghar par rahogi."

"Uh, kyun?" He looked from his file.

"Kyunki hume Mr. Verma ke ghar par kaam karna hain.  Remember?"

"Lekin usske liye mujhe tumhare ghar par aane ki kya zaroorat hain?  Hum office time mein bhi toh kaam kar sakte hain."

"Riddhima agar hume iss ghar ke design ko do din ke andar finish karna hain toh we'll have work harder.  It's not easy to do this alright."

"Lekin-"

"Lekin, vekin kuch nahin Riddhima.  Tumhe aana hoga."

"Oye!  Main kya tumhari gulaam hoon?"

"Haan."

"Ha-ha-ha!  Very funny!" She said with pure sarcasm.

"I know it is."

"Look Mr. Mallik!  Main nahin aa rahi!  Do you get that?!" Armaan got up and walked over to her.  He kept advancing towards her while she retreated on an impulse.  Riddhima lowered her eyes, not knowing what he was up to.  Her back hit the wall with a 'thud' and looked at him with questioning eyes.  Giving him a glare, she moved to the side, hoping to get away, but he placed his hands on both sides of her.  He moved his face closer to her.  His breath hitting her face.

"What are you doing?  Jaane do mujhe."

"Ek baat kaan khol kar sun lo Ms. Riddhima Gupta.  Armaan Mallik ko na sunne ki aadat nahin hain.  Do you get that?" She did nothing, but glare at him.

"Toh ab usski aadat daal lo Mr. Mallik.  Riddhima Gupta kissi ki bhi, khaas kar ke tumhari gulaam nahin hain.  Tum mujhe kuch bhi karne ke liye force nahin kar sakte."

"Toh phir usska nateeja bhi bhugat lena.  You know I can fire you right?"

"Wrong.  Tum mujhe nikaal nahin sakte.  If you remember, maine ek contract sign kiya hain aur usske rehte, tum mujhe iss office se agle ek saal tak bahar nahin nikaal sakte. So it'll be better if you keep your threats to yourself." She pushed his hands away and was about to enter her cabin. Controlling his anger, he spoke again.


"Fine. Lekin hume seriously iss project par kaam karna shuru karna hoga. Sketching, drafting, in sab mein bohat time lagega, which we don't have." Riddhima thought for a minute.


Kya karun? Jaaon ya nahin? Itni raat ko usske ghar jaana... lekin kaam bhi toh zaroori hain na. Mujhe jaana chahiye.


"Fine. I'll come." She went inside her cabin, leaving an angry Armaan behind.


He hated it when she would prove him wrong. He was so used to being right all the time, that now it hurts his ego really badly.  Why did this girl have to be so different from the others?  Why couldn't she be like any other person and just bow down to what he said?  All he knew was that he was hating Riddhima and her guts.


On the other hand, Riddhima was seated in Muskaan's cabin, with her head in her hands.


"Yaar Muski, maine Armaan se keh toh diya ke main aaungi, lekin Papa nahin maanege."


"Try toh karke dekh.  Woh zaroor samjhenge."


"Aur agar nahin maane toh?"


"Toh matt jaana."


"Kya yaar Muski.  Tu toh mujhe abhi zyaada dara rahi hain."

"Arre yaar.  Hum ghar toh jaa hi rahe hain na.  Toh ghar jaate hi unse poochh lena."

"Haan.  Woh hi karti hoon."

Soon the time passed by and Riddhima and muskaan were in the parking lot, pulling out Riddhima's scooty.

"Tum kahaan jaa rahi ho?" She heard Armaan and turned around.

"Ghar."

"Lekin tum toh mere ghar aane waali thi na?"

"Haan lekin mujhe Mama, Papa ko bhi toh bataana hain na."

"Tum unhe phone karke bhi toh bata sakti ho na?"

"Lekin woh nahin maanege.  Mujhe khud hi unhe bataana padega."

"Hmm." He left the office in his car and Riddhima twisted her nose and turned to Muskaan.

"Pata nahin main uss din kisska mun dekh kar uthi thi jo maine iss jab ke liye haan kar di."

"Mera."

"Hmm.  Mujhe laga hi tha." Muskaan smacked her hand and Riddhima laughed.

"Ab chal.  Papa wait kar rahe honge."

They left the office and arrived at their house in about 45 minutes.

"Muski.  Mama, Papa maan toh jaayenge na?"

"My, my, my.  Riddhima Gupta ko darr lag raha hain?"

"Mujhe koi darr, vaar nahin lag raha."

"Yea right."

"Ab chal." They inside and ran straight to the kitchen.

"Riddhu.  Muski. Aaj daer kaise ho gayi?"

"Woh Mama, aaj na bohat kaam tha."

"Haan aur pata hain?  Ridz koi usska pehla project mill gaya hain."

"Sachi?!"

"Haan!"

"Yeh toh bohat achhi baat baat!"

"Haan.  Lekin Papa... woh..."

"Kya hua?"

"Papa, hum jiss client ke ghar par kaam kar rahe hain na na, woh do din mein mein aa rahe hain.  Aur Armaan ne kaha hain ki main aaj usske ghar par reh kar usski help karun."

"Kyun?"

"He wants us to finish the plan by the end of tomorrow."

"Lekin ghar par kyun?"

"Bola toh sahi.  Project ke liye." Shashank and Padma looked at each other.

"Theek hain.  Lekin Muskaan ko saath le kar jaana." Riddhima smiled.

"Ok Papa!"

After having their dinner, they went straight to Armaan's house.

                                                        ********

They went to the front door and were about to ring the bell when the door opened and they saw a woman in early 50s wearing a simple while salwar suit with the dupatta over her head.

"Namaste Aunty.

"Namaste Beta.  Tum dono kaun?"

"Main Riddhima hoon and yeh hain Muskaan.  Hum Armaan ke office mein kaam karte hain.  Bas kuch kaam ke liye aaye the."

"Oh, ok.  Andar aao na." They entered the house and saw Rahul and Atul watching TV in the living room.

"Kaun hain Bi?" Rahul asked with eyes glued to the screen.  A football game was going on and he was completely engrossed in it.

"Hum hain Rahul." Muskaan said aloud, making him jump.  He looked at the duo in horror as he realized his condition.  He only had baggy shorts on, which revealed his upper body.  He looked at Riddhima and Muskaan, who trying their best to surpress their giggle.  He grabbed his muscle shirt that was laying beside him and quickly wore it.

"Wow Rahul.  Mujhe nahin pata tha ki tumhare itne achhe muscles hain." Riddhima giggled at her own words, making Rahul slightly embarassed.

"Waise tum dono yahaan kya kar rahe ho?"

"Woh, Armaan chahta tha ki Mr. Verma ke ghar ka design banaane mein main unki help kar doon."

"Oh.  Lekin Muski kyun aayi hain?"

"Woh Papa ne kaha ki main Muski ko saath leke aaun."

"Oh.  Achha kiya tumne.  Hume bhi company rahegi." Rahul said looking intently at Muskaan, which she failed to notice, but Riddhima noticed it really well.  Biting back the smirk, she asked Rahul.

"Um, Armaan kahaan hain?"

"Woh usske room mein hoga."

"Ok.  Thanks." She said with a smile and went up to his room. 

                                                          ********
 Medha

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