Friday, 29 November 2019

PART 10 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

All the three boys waited in the car for Muskaan patiently. As per the plan, Muskaan has to get dressed well as she has to go into Riddhima's house. "Why does it take time for the girls to get dressed?" Armaan whined impatiently. After a moment, they heard Muskaan's voice and turned to look at her. Their jaws dropped to the floor as they saw Muskaan in a purple saree with silver embroidery looking gorgeous. As she walked to towards the car, they gawked at her with their mouths still open.

Sanjay came out of his trance first. "You are already committed, remember. You have no right to stare at her." He smacked Armaan and Rahul chucked while Armaan glared at them. Soon Muskaan got into the car and they left for Riddhima's house.

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As soon as they reached Riddhima's place, Sanjay steered the car into the parking lot right under Riddhima's flat near to the garden. He turned towards a nervous Muskaan and said "Muskaan, Riddhima's flat is in second floor-207. So go there. Tell everyone on your way that you are her friend form hospital, came to attend her marriage and go to her. Convince her to get out of the place and come down. As far as Riddhima is concerned, ask her to come down through her balcony with the help of some saree or curtain. We are right beneath her flat. So all the best."

As he completed the lecture in one go, he looked at Rahul and Muskaan who were stunned and Armaan grinning at him shamelessly. "Muskaan, did you hear?" he snapped at her. "Huh? Yeah. Fine. I'll go." Muskaan replied back and rushed out. He turned to Rahul and said "Rahul, can you go and find a ladder at the gardener. Tell him that Mr. Gupta needs it in the wedding arrangement." Rahul nodded and left.

Sanjay turned to Armaan, who was still grinning. Armaan chuckled and said "I am impressed Mr. Sanjay." only to irritate Sanjay more. "Shut up. You should be doing all this. I don't understand how Riddhima fell for you." Sanjay shouted at him while Armaan pleaded him not to shout.

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After clearing a lot of investigation by everyone on her way, Muskaan succeeded and entered Riddhima's room. She noticed Riddhima sitting on her bed in her wedding attire, red Lehenga, hugging her knees, sobbing silently. She felt bad for Riddhima as her own eyes welled up.

"Riddhima" Muskaan called her slowly placing her hand on her shoulder. Riddhima's head popped up at the voice. She looked at Muskaan and felt as if her life came back. She immediately stood and hugged Muskaan tight, crying bitterly. Muskaan rubbed her back trying to calm her and said "Sshh Riddhima. Don't cry. Everything is fine. We are here to take you out of this mess."

Riddhima drew herself back and wiped her tears and asked "How?" Muskaan spun around quickly and closed the door of the room. She made Riddhima sit on the bed and herself seated beside her. She took a deep breath and explained everything to Riddhima.

"What? You want me to run away from my wedding? No way I am doing that." Riddhima declared after listening to the stupid plan of her friends. Muskaan knew it would come. "Riddhima, try to understand. We can't get you out of this by any other way." Muskaan tried to make her understand. But Riddhima was adamant.

After pleading her for half an hour, Muskaan's patience just vanished out. "Fine Riddhima. You stay here and get married to some stupid. Don't say later that we didn't help you." Muskaan stood and turned to leave but stopped as she felt a hold on her wrist. "Please Muski. Don't go." Riddhima said as a couple of fat tears escaped her eyes. Muskaan melted at the sight of those tears and sighed.

"Look Riddhima. There is no way that your dad is going to listen to us. So if you want to continue with your studies, just come with us." Muskaan wiped those tears and hugged her. "Fine Muski. But what about dad? He doesn't believe me now itself. If I run away like this, his suspicion will become true and he'll kill me." Riddhima whispered in her sobs. "Don't worry yaar. We all are there right? We'll think about what to do later."Muskaan calmed her.

After Riddhima's sobs were subsided, Muskaan drew back and asked Riddhima to leave. Riddhima got confused and asked "Muski? How should I come down? If any notices me, it'll be a problem." Muskaan heard her but didn't speak anything. She went and bought two curtains and cascaded them to enough length. Then she went to the balcony and tied one end of the curtain to the railing and the other end to Riddhima's waist. All the while, Riddhima just stared at her to make sense of what is going on.

Muskaan, after making the necessary preparations, came and stood before Riddhima and declared "Riddhima, I will go down from the elevator and you have to slide down from here with the help of the curtains. Already the boys are waiting for you down. So hurry up fast." Riddhima froze at her words with her mouth open. She came to the balcony and peeped down. Sanjay and Armaan waved at her with a grin.

Riddhima jerked back and shouted "What the hell is this Muski? I am not coming down in this way." Muskaan shrugged her shoulders and said "What do you expect then? Shall I come with aarti and take you down? Fine, then I am going. Bye." She turned and walked to the door only to hear Riddhima's words "Ok Fine. But I am afraid of heights. What if I fall down?" Muskaan gave her a dirty look and spoke "Your flat is only in second floor. You won't die even if you slip. However your so called lover is waiting for you down. He'll catch you in that case."

Riddhima just gave her a glare and Muskaan replied back in a calm voice. "See Riddhima. Trust me nothing will happen to you. That's the reason why I tied this to you." She said pointing to the other end of the curtain at her waist. After pondering over it for another five minutes, Riddhima agreed and Muskaan helped her to cross the railing. Both the girls closed their eyes for a moment and offered their prayers to the God. Riddhima started sliding down the curtain still closing her eyes while Muskaan rushed out of the room after making sure that Riddhima is on her way.

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After the most eventful morning, the bunch of crazy people Sanjay, Rahul, Muskaan, Armaan along with Riddhima and Raji settled in Armaan's living room for a short rest. Armaan was at the verge of asleep owing to his early wake up. Riddhima was still trying to believe in the fact that she ran away from her wedding. Raji made parathas for all of them and they ate leisurely.

"Riddhima, how did you manage to come out of your house?" Raji asked her out of curiousness. Riddhima gave a weak smile and opened her mouth to speak but was cut by Armaan, who jumped and sat on the couch excitedly. "Raji, I'll tell you that. Today Basket was a superwoman. You missed a wonderful sight of her sliding down from second floor with the help of the curtain." Armaan managed in between his laughter and added "Her face is a worth watch when she landed, pale face and-"As soon as he finished, every one of them burst into laughter remembering the incident soon joined by Riddhima.

Every one stopped laughing abruptly when they noticed tears in Riddhima's eyes. "I am sorry Basket. We didn't mean to -" Before Armaan could complete his sentence, Riddhima spoke in a mere whisper "I need to use the washroom. I'll just be back." With that she stood up and almost ran to the guest room leaving everyone stunned. Armaan looked at Raji with a worried expression while Raji blinked her eyes in assurance at everyone and said "I'll go and see."

When Raji entered the guest room, she spotted Riddhima sitting on the edge of the bed hugging her knees, crying. She slowly put her in Riddhima's hair and said "Riddhima, everything will be fine. Don't cry." Riddhima didn't answer, just looked up at her and hugged her burying her face in her stomach sobbing incessantly.

"Dad will hate me forever. He'll never forgive me for this. He would be ashamed of me. I didn't want to hurt him, but I had no choice." Riddhima mumbled when her sobs subsided. "It's OK Riddhima. He'll understand you one day. He won't hate you." Raji soothed her patting her back as her own eyes went moist.

"I hope so." Riddhima whispered and after some time drew back. She smiled weakly at Raji and said "Thank you so much aunty, for everything." Raji smiled back at her and said "You should thank your crazy friends for that."Raji said touching her cheek and added "You look beautiful when you smile. Don't let it go off your face."

Riddhima was overwhelmed with the love in Raji's eyes and a fresh tear escaped her eye. Raji pulled her into a tight hug and said "Everything will be alright." Riddhima didn't speak anything and just nodded her head in response. Raji drew back after a moment and said "Now go wash your face and be back soon, before they think we were having a weeping session here." With that Raji left the room while Riddhima went to the wash room.

Raji went back to the living room and felt the gaze of four pairs of eyes expecting her to speak something. "Stop it boys. I am too old for your intense gazes and Muskaan, we are of same gender." She giggled at her own bad joke and added "Ok. She is fine. She was just worried about her dad". They sighed heavily and went back to their banters. Raji walked into the kitchen to prepare lunch.

Riddhima, after checking herself with Lehenga for the last time in the mirror, thought 'I should have brought a spare dress.' Sighing, she went to the living room to join her friends. Sitting beside Muskaan on the couch, she smiled at everyone assuring them that she was fine. "God, Riddhima, we were sacred thinking that you were offended by us laughing at you." Sanjay spoke relieved and turned towards Armaan and added "Isn't it Armaan?"

Armaan on the other hand, was lost in his own world staring at Riddhima. He looked closely at her and noticed how pretty she was in her bridal attire. Inspite of puffy eyes and red nose, he found her extremely beautiful – the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. "Damn how come I haven't notice it since morning?" he uttered loud lost in his train of thoughts.

Being waiting for Armaan's reply to his question Sanjay asked immediately "Notice what?" Oblivious to what he is saying, Armaan uttered impulsively "That she is beautiful." Sanjay was stunned for a moment and then struggled hard to refrain himself from laughing and asked playing innocent "Oh. Who is 'she'?" Armaan turned to Sanjay with a dreamy smile and said "Basket". The moment the word escaped his mouth, he realized what he had done and bit his lower lip, embarrassed of being caught off guard.

After a moment of silence, Sanjay, Rahul and Muskaan broke into fits of laughter, while Riddhima turned red at his dreamy comment. Armaan grinned sheepishly at his foolish act and waited for them to finish with their laughter but in vain. "Stop it guys. It slipped out of my mouth. I was just complementing her" Armaan whined and noticed Riddhima giggling. After another round of laughter, Sanjay spoke finally "Yes Armaan. Riddhima is indeed beautiful" and turned towards Muskaan and added "You too Muskaan."

While all five of them are having a great fun, pulling each other's legs, the door bell rang and Armaan went to answer it. He opened the door and was stunned looking at the persons standing at his door.

"DAD?? MOM?? HERE??" Armaan almost screamed not expecting them at the moment. His parents were taken back by his voice and frowned at him. Walking past him into the house Vijay Mallik, his dad said "Yes, we came to attend a wedding but it was cancelled."" So thought of taking some rest before catching the flight in the evening" Ananya Mallik, his mother completed his sentence and added "How are you? Where is Raji and how-?"

Ananya's sentence was left midair when she noticed Riddhima sitting in their living room and laughing her heart out. "Riddhima, what are you doing here?" Vijay shouted at the top of his voice when he spotted her. Riddhima was startled at the voice and almost jumped off the couch. Raji came running from kitchen listening to the voice and found everyone staring at Ananya and Vijay, who were fuming with anger.

"Dad, how do you know her?" Armaan managed to ask the question that was in everyone's mind. "Shashank Gupta is my friend. We came to attend Riddhima's wedding." Vijay spoke in a stern voice and added "Now I understood why Shashank called the wedding off suddenly." While all others were shocked beyond their wits, blood drained off from Armaan's and Riddhima's faces.

Vijay took his mobile out and dialed a number "Hello – Yeah Vijay here – Come to my place immediately – Note down the address." Listening to the one sided conversation, every one exchanged glances at each other trying to understand what was happening. Ananya moved towards Raji and asked her "Raji, what the hell is happening here?" When she didn't speak a word Vijay yelled at them "Damn. Someone speak something."

Taking a deep breath, Sanjay took the initiation and spoke softly "Uncle, I'll explain everything. First both of you please sit down." Vijay gave him a dirty look and shouted "Who the hell are you in the first place?" Sanjay was taken aback by the anger in his eyes and gulped the saliva in his throat. "Uncle I am Sanjay, friend of Riddhima and Armaan. Please listen to me peacefully." He pleaded them and was successful.

Sanjay explained Ananya and Vijay about the so called love story of Armaan and Riddhima along with the twists and turns in it as a script writer explaining the script to the producer. After listening to everything, Vijay called the same person again and explained everything on the phone. Armaan closed his eyes as if it could make him disappear from the place. This was the last thing he had wanted – Sanjay telling his parents about his fake love story. Riddhima hoped she could just sink into the wall then and there. She noticed Armaan with his eyes tightly shut and tried to comprehend what would come next.

Armaan's eyes popped open when he heard the door bell ring once again and thought 'What now?' A person walked in after a moment and Armaan, Sanjay and Riddhima almost fainted looking at the person. Raji, Rahul and Muskaan noticed them going pale looking at the person and didn't understand why. "Dad" they heard a hoarse whisper from Riddhima's mouth and then it made sense to them.

Riddhima's heart stopped beating looking at her father shaking with anger and so did Armaan's. She felt her head spinning and held Armaan's arm tight for support, closing her eyes. Armaan felt her nails digging into his skin and his heart beat erratically. "Riddhima?" Her dad's voice echoed in the room and she took a step back not having any strength to face the wrath from her dad.

"Riddhima? I am talking to you. You really wanted to get married to Armaan Mallik?" Shashank shouted stressing on the word Mallik and took a step towards her. Unknown to himself, Armaan stepped forward and pulling her close to him by her waist, he said "Yes and I am Armaan Mallik." Riddhima was stunned at him and didn't understand what came into him. Anyone who noticed him would think he was a confident lover fighting for his love. While Rahul, Muskaan and Raji doubted the same, Sanjay adored the way he stood up for his 'love'.

Expecting the worst, Armaan and Riddhima closed their eyes and opened them immediately when they were pulled in for a hug.

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-Sushmita

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