Saturday, 30 November 2019

PART 11 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik



Expecting the worst, Armaan and Riddhima closed their eyes and opened them immediately when they were pulled in for a hug. Riddhima froze at her spot, noticing her dad hugging them and Armaan on the other hand stood baffled. "Oh, I am so happy for you. Why didn't you tell me before?" Shashank exclaimed at Riddhima after stepping back. Riddhima stared at her father in disbelief with eyes wide.

"Dad?? Tell, what?" Riddhima stuttered. She felt she would faint at any moment. "What else? That you liked Armaan Mallik." Shashank declared stressing on the word Mallik. Riddhima looked at Armaan, who was equally perplexed and then at her dad and thought 'Didn't that clown already tell you that?' glancing at Armaan once again. "Oh" she said aloud not quite understanding what is wrong with her dad.

Shashank smiled at them and turned back to Vijay Mallik and hugged him. "I am so happy Vijay. Finally we would be relatives." He said while Vijay seemed to be equally pleased. "Me too Shashank. How come we never thought about this match?" Vijay exclaimed and then hugged his wife Ananya.



Armaan pulled Riddhima close to himself and whispered "What is going on Basket? You said that your father is furious at us. But I see a completely different reaction of his." While she just stared at him blankly. Rahul, Muskaan and Sanjay stood silent not daring to utter a word after the turn of events while Raji was busy in arranging the pieces together to make some sense out of it.

 'So Shashank and Vijay are friends. They are happy about the kids. What next?' Raji thought and as soon as an answer appeared in her mind, she was startled. She looked at Armaan and Riddhima who stood like living corpses. When they looked at her, she tried to convey them something through her eyes but in vain. She sighed and shook her head slightly at them.

The excitement of Shashank, Vijay and Ananya was paused when Shashank's mobile rang. He answered the call and suddenly his face fell. He quickly asked to switch on the television and stared at the news.

"HISTORY REPEATS. SECOND GUPTA HIERESS IN THE FOOT STEPS OF HER ELDER SISTER. ELOPED FROM HER WEDDING WITH HER BOYFRIEND ARMAAN MALLIK, THE ONLY HIER OF MALLIK INDUSTRIES."

Riddhima stared at the TV screen and held her breath. Glimpses of past appeared infront of her eyes and she quickly closed her eyes. She felt her head spinning and leaned against Armaan for support. He held her protectively and whispered 'Are you fine?' to which she nodded slightly. After a couple of moments, she opened her eyes to watch her dad fall onto the couch with his head in his hands and Vijay by his side, calming him down.

 After few minutes, which seemed like an eternity, Vijay spoke "Don't worry Shashank. I won't let anything happen to our reputation. I have a solution, if you agree." When Shashank nodded he turned towards Armaan and Riddhima and continued "Let's get them married" he paused and looked at Ananya, for her answer. When she nodded at him he turned to the culprits and glared at them saying "as soon as possible."

Armaan was shocked beyond his wits at his father's words. He closed his eyes for a moment wishing that he was hallucinating. When he opened his eyes and looked at his dad glaring at him, he came back to his senses. He looked at a numb Riddhima by his side and was frustrated. 'What the hell is happening? Why isn't she speaking anything?' He thought while his blood boiled in his veins.

Not finding any protests, Vijay spoke "Good. Now that you are ready, I'll get everything arranged." He turned to leave with Shashank when Armaan spoke "No dad. That's not going to happen. I don't want to marry." When he noticed Sanjay frowning at him, he shook his head irritated and said again "I mean, not now. We both are too young for it and-"

Vijay cut him and yelled "Yeah we can see how young you both are. You have already done so much by using your brains. What the hell were you planning after bringing her here from her wedding? Now just shut up and do what we say." Armaan was taken aback by the fury in his dad's eyes. He glared at Sanjay for his good-for-nothing plan but tried to argue and stopped when he heard Riddhima speaking. "We are ready to get married." She spoke impassively, without meeting his eyes, mortifying him.

Ananya smiled at her and announced that she would call for a pandit. While Sanajy's joy knew no bounds, Rahul, Muskaan and Raji stood still waiting for the words to sink into them. Armaan grabbed her by her arm and before he could speak anything she pushed his hand off her and stepped front. "Not a traditional wedding. We decided for a court marriage."

While Armaan panicked, Ananya tried to convince her but Riddhima was adamant. After a short discussion, all the elders agreed for it. "Fine then. I'll talk to the registrar of marriage and arrange for the wedding tomorrow." Shashank declared relaxing in the couch a bit with Vijay. Armaan breathed heavily and thought 'Thank God. By tomorrow, we can come up with some plan'. But his relief didn't last for long.

Sanjay remembered something and spoke "But uncle, it's Friday today. So the Register office will be closed tomorrow and the day after. But the media will create unwanted fuss if we wait till Monday. It's better to arrange for the wedding today." Armaan cursed him under his breath and wished he could kill him right then. Shashank smiled at him thankfully while Vijay said "I guess he is right Shashank. We can't wait till Monday and give a chance to the media." Shashank called someone to get the arrangements done.

Before he could understand what is going on Armaan found himself sitting in the car with his parents and Raji heading towards Register office. Shashank followed them with Riddhima and Muskaan followed by Rahul and Sanjay. With panic stricken face, Armaan urged Raji to do something, pleading her with his eyes while she shrugged her shoulders giving up.

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Amidst all the chaos in the Marriage Registration Office in Andheri, stood a couple, lost in their own worlds. Were they happy? Were they excited? Were they anxious? NO. Unlike all the other couples who come to that office with their hearts full of happiness and anxiety for the future, this couple is irritated with everything happening around them. They just want to run away from that place. They are trying to understand the mess they have created out of their lives, standing there, just a few steps away from stepping into the divine relation of marriage.

"Take it. It's already time" someone's voice pulled her from a tsunami of thoughts. 'What am I doing here?' she thought to herself while she faked a smile and took the garland from the person who offered it to her. How badly she wished she had a chance to kill that person right then and there.

'Don't do this to yourself' his mind pleaded him for umpteenth time. Battling with the thoughts in his brain, he grabbed the garland with a forced grin on his confused face.

She looked at the garland in her hands. 'It is beautiful' she couldn't help her mind from appreciating it. She looked up and glanced at the person around whose neck she has to place it. She wished she was holding a thick rope instead of the garland so that she can put it around his neck and hang him till death, right at that place. She cursed her bad luck while she moved forward and put the garland around his neck.

He stared at her in disbelief. 'Is this real or a night mare?' he still didn't want to believe that the person, standing before him is going to be his wife for the rest of his life. 'This is the bad reality' he sighed to himself and literally threw the garland around the neck of the girl standing in front of him, glaring at her. Cursing his fate, he turned to look at the registrar. 'What? My life is finished ' I am finished. What do you want now?' he wanted to ask the old man, but the words never escaped his mouth. "Anything left sir?" he tried his best so as to not sound sarcastic.

"Yes. Sign in here. After that you both will be husband and wife officially." The old man declared with his lips extending to both extremes of his face, handing over the pen to him. He wished he could poke into the eyes of the old man with the same pen. He grabbed the pen hesitatingly and scribbled his name on the semi-white sheet 'Armaan Mallik'. He brushed his name on the paper with his thumb and whispered slowly that only he could here "May your soul rest in peace."

She took the pen from his hands and stepped forward towards the desk. She looked at the documents lying on the desk and felt her head spinning 360 degrees. She shook her head and signed at the place pointed by the registrar 'Riddhima Gupta'. She glanced at the signature lying above hers on the document. "I am going to kill you one day for doing all this" she swore to herself and shot a dirty look at her 30 seconds old husband.

"You both are legally married now. Congratulations 'Mr. & Mrs. Mallik'" the registrar declared proudly as if he had won an Olympic medal in getting them married. Armaan and Riddhima stared at each other with horror filled faces and screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO", the only difference being that their voice never escaped their vocal chords.

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Throughout the ride back and the small press gathering, Armaan tried to talk to Riddhima about her impulsive decision where as Riddhima left no stone turned in avoiding him. Armaan's parents left in the evening, as they had to settle the things back in Delhi, and so did Shashank. Before leaving they announced that there would be a grand reception to celebrate the wedding in a few weeks, much to Armaan's displeasure. When they reached home, Armaan waited patiently for Sanjay to leave so that he could knock some sense into Riddhima.

By the time Sanjay, Rahul and Muskaan left the place, Armaan was out of his senses with frustration and helplessness at the turn of the events. As Raji went into the kitchen to prepare dinner, Armaan pulled Riddhima to the bedroom and yelled at her. "What the hell are you doing Riddhima? Have you lost your brain?" This was the first time she noticed he called her by her name and was scared at the fury in his voice.

Gathering the courage to speak, she shouted "So what else should I do? You were the person who created the complete mess." Raji heard their voice and rushed back to the room. "I did accept that I was responsible for this, but what in the earth made you agree to get married. I mean how could you play with my life as well." Armaan barked at her marching towards her while she stepped back.

Raji was worried about Armaan losing his temper. She tried to stop him but Armaan shouted at her "No Raji. You stay out of this. Let me hear what she has to say." "Play with your life? Who the hell is playing?" she retorted and added "Ok tell me why did you bring me from my wedding? You made me elope from my wedding and now accusing that I played with your life?"

Armaan's blood boiled in his veins. "How dare you say that I had spoiled your wedding? You were the person who called me and cried for help. You were the person who wanted to be out of that so called wedding." Armaan shouted at the top of his voice. Even Raji got scared of his outburst while tears made their way from Riddhima's eyes.

"Exactly. I had no other choice. If I had refused to marry you, my dad would have got me married to someone else. Since you were responsible for this, so-" Riddhima wiped her tears and spoke to be cut in between by Armaan. Before she could complete her sentence, he grabbed her by her arms and spat the words at her pulling her close "So you used me for your benefit. I never thought you would stoop so low. Do you understand that we were married, damnit?"

Riddhima winced in the pain of his tight grip. She knew Armaan would be angry at her sudden decision and was planning to explain him everything but somehow things took another turn and now he blames her that she is using him for her benefit. "ARMAAN! Stop it" Raji yelled at him and added "Leave her now" He was taken aback by her voice. Never before she had shouted at him in that voice. He pushed Riddhima out of his hold and stormed out of the room while Riddhima sank to the floor crying bitterly.

Raji's heart twisted in pain looking at a broken Riddhima. She immediately ran to her and held her in her arms, hugging tightly, assuring that everything would be sorted out. Riddhima cried, cried and cried till she ran short of tears. When her sobs turned calmer, Raji drew back and wiped the tears off her face. She looked straight into Riddhima's eyes and said "Riddhima, Armaan is bound to be angry after your sudden decision. I am sure he didn't mean what he said."

When her sobs subsided completely, Riddhima looked at Raji and nodded. "I know that aunty. I thought to explain him but everything just turned out the other way." Riddhima said as Raji made her sit on the bed and made her drink water. Raji sensed that Riddhima wanted to say something but was hesitating. She took Riddhima's hand in hers and squeezed it slightly. "Riddhima, why did you decide on it impulsively?" Raji asked and added hesitatingly "and what is that news?"

Riddhima knew this would come. Infact she too wanted it to come for she wanted to her feelings with someone and she knew Raji is that person. She took a deep breath and started "Aunty, I never thought I would end up in this situation due to our small lie. I didn't want to agree to this marriage but it's true that our one stupid step ruined the reputation of both Malliks and Guptas. Moreover I know my dad is just shattered and ashamed of me. So-" But she was cut in between by Raji.

Raji knew this is not the truth. A girl like Riddhima wouldn't take such a big step in her life just due to her dad's reputation. So she said "Riddhima, both of us knew this is not the truth. What happened beta?" Riddhima was overwhelmed with the love and concern in Raji's eyes and involuntarily tears made their way down her cheeks.

Riddhima looked down and said "Aunty, my dad was always a tough person and didn't show his love publicly since our childhood. But he drifted away from us more with my mother's death. Even my sister ran away from her wedding and since then he was always restless that I would do the same. I know he would have been ashamed of me when I did the same. But when he came here, for the first time after ages, I saw a hint of acceptance for me in his eyes. I always yearned for his love since I was small. After what I have done, if my marrying Armaan gave him some satisfaction, I didn't want to snatch it away from him. I didn't know why but since it was Armaan, I was not that afraid. I know I was selfish and I didn't want to ruin his life but-" her voice trailed off and she sobbed hugging Raji. After a second she added "I am so sorry aunty. My mom always wanted me to become a doctor. I had to do this for her too. It's only for few months that Armaan had to bear with this after that I'll go away."

Raji's eyes welled up listening to Riddhima. She just held Riddhima and patted her back trying to console her. Inspite of all the drama, Raji was happy for Armaan and Riddhima. 'May be she would never want to go away and he might never let her go. It's only matter of time.' She thought and prayed for that to happen in near future.

Armaan on the other hand who had come to say sorry to Raji for shouting at her stood motionless after listening to Riddhima's words. He felt guilty of saying everything he had said to her. Deep down in his heart, he knew that Riddhima wouldn't have taken such decision, had there not been a reason behind it. But it was too much for him to handle it in one day and he just took out his frustration on her, instead of trying to know the reason behind it. He convinced himself that he would talk to Riddhima the next morning and apologize. 'I guess my life will just pass on by saying sorry to her.' Thinking so he went back to his room and lay down on his bed. Too tired of the events of the day, he drifted into sleep the next moment.

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"Armaan, please get up" Raji pleaded him to wake up, for she had been doing the same for 10 minutes but in vain. Armaan turned to his other side and pulled the sheet over his head and said "Please Raji. Let me sleep." Raji shook him again saying "Armaan. Please get up. Riddhima is running fever. She is unconscious."

Armaan at first thought that it might be her plan to wake him but was stunned when he glanced at his watch which said 1 am. He immediately sat up in his bed rubbing his eyes and looked at a worried Raji. "I checked her temperature and it's 103." She said to him. He jumped off his bed and both rushed to Riddhima's room.

Armaan touched Riddhima's arm and it was indeed burning. "Did she cry a lot?" he asked guiltily looking at Raji. She nodded her head and changed the wet cloth on Riddhima's forehead. He went back to his room and bought a medicine box. He took out a tablet and gave it to Raji who made Riddhima have it. "I guess it might be due to stress and crying." He said and felt sorry for her.

He brought a chair from dining table and sat beside her bed while Raji sat on the bed. Feeling sleepy, he turned the chair such that its back is between his legs and rested his head on its post closing his eyes. Raji noticed Armaan sleeping on the chair and smiled and she too dozed off.

After a couple of hours, Raji checked Riddhima's temperature and was relieved that it was normal. She made Riddhima have another tablet and went to Armaan who was still sleeping on the chair with a frown on his face. She shook him slightly and this time he immediately got up and said "Did her temperature increase?" Raji smiled at him and said "No. It's normal. I gave her another tablet. Now you go and sleep in your room. I'll sleep with her. I'll call you if required." Armaan nodded and went to his room after stealing a glance at Riddhima.

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Armaan opened his eyes lazily and glanced at his watch. 12.30 pm. He jerked and sat straight in his bed as he remembered Dr.Keerthi's face. Next moment he remembered that he had asked Rahul to give his leave application to Dr.Keerthi and sighed in relief. He closed his eyes once again and Riddhima's tear stricken face flashed infront of him. He got off the bed and ran to wash room.

After getting ready, he went to the guest room but found it empty. He then heard some sound in the kitchen and noticed Raji. He went to the kitchen, grabbed an apple and asked "Raji, where is Basket? Is her temperature normal?" Raji, still working with some vessels said "Yes Armaan. She is fine." and added "She went back to her home."

Armaan was stunned at her words. "Went back? Why?" he said aloud and thought 'Why wouldn't she? After all you acted like a jerk and yelled at her.' He ran to his room and took his bike keys and ran out. He heard Raji saying something but ignored it.

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-Sushmita

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