Thursday, 21 November 2019

PART 2 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

Armaan was glad that he balanced himself from tripping and the next moment his heart beat fast as Riddhima clutched onto him closer. His arms around her waist and thighs, hers around his neck, her face under his neck and her breast soft against his chest. A shiver of pleasure ran down his spine. He had dated many girls right from his high school but never felt the same. He stared at her bewildered while Riddhima still shut her eyes in fear, not aware of the effect she had on him.

"Excuse me" someone's words brought him back from his state of trance. He shook his head twice and looked around to find that now he was blocking other's way. Soon he moved forward, holding her in his arms. Riddhima, still in fear, did not open her eyes while a soft smile crept over his lips.

Finally clearing the lane, he looked down at Riddhima in his arms. He bent his head down and whispered in her ears "Mam, may I have the honor of putting you down?" playfully. She was startled at his words in her ear. She opened her eyes quickly to find him grinning at her. No sooner did she find that her body is pressed hard against his, she literally jumped out of his arms and glared at him.

"You....You.....Idiot..." she fumbled with words to shoot back at him, arranging her dupatta against her neck. She was so pissed off at herself apart from him.

Riddhima, having studied in girls' school with all females around her, was never at ease with the opposite sex. Even during her course at medicine, she closed herself in the world of books, and guys were off the point, for she only had one dream, dream of becoming a doctor.  Armaan, the other way round, was always surrounded by girls and used to female attention. Being a flirt, he was comfortable with girls around him but never shared a physical or emotional connection with any of them.

"What?" he asked irritated, when Riddhima glared at him with her green eyes wide with anger. 'Why is she yelling at me? Afterall I helped her cross the lane. Isn't she supposed to thank me.' He thought to himself. Riddhima was fuming with anger and thanking him was just out of question.

"You picked me in your arms, that too without my consent and now ask me 'what'? How dare you even touch me?" she shouted at him, pointing her index finger at him.

"Excuse me. I only helped you to cross the lane, not that my hands itched to touch you. For your kind information, I would have done the same if there was anyone else in your place." Armaan shot back moving a step close to her.

"Helping, my foot!" Riddhima was loosing her sanity when suddenly a thought crept in her mind. She dragged Armaan to a side holding his hand and said "Ok. You were here to help. Will you help her too?" pointing to an old lady walking with the help of a support, with a victorious smile over her lips. He turned to look at the person whom Riddhima was referring too. When he saw the old woman, he opened his mouth to speak something but couldn't speak as he saw something more interesting.

Riddhima's jaw fell to her knees at the sight before her. The color drained from her face and she stared with her mouth open. The old woman, whom she was pointing to, happily and easily crossed the lane within ten steps and that too in a couple of seconds and moved towards the market. She tried to take in what she saw while he was busy struggling to control his laughter looking at her. "I won't help her" he whispered and burst into laughter "because she doesn't need it" he managed to complete the sentence.

When Armaan was done with laughing, looking at her expressionless face, he took a step closer towards her.  Pulling her chin up, to close the gap between her perfect lips, he said "Can I leave now?" pointing to his arm, which was still held by her. Riddhima jerked at his touch and let go of his arm while he stepped back. She shot a dirty look at him, stamped her foot against the ground and turned to leave. Staring at her retreating figure, he thought 'She is interesting'.

Riddhima took few steps but suddenly came to a hault as she realized her vegetable 'basket' missing. Confused, she looked around to find it somewhere, trying to recollect where she had left it. To her surprise, she noticed Armaan grinning at her raising his hand indicating her 'basket'. 'When did he take it? Or I gave it to him?' Hesitatingly she walked back to him and grabbed the basket from him. When he was about to say something, she quickly said "I hope we better not meet again" and left.

Startled at her words, for some weird reason, it took Armaan few moments to compose himself. Remembering something he looked at the purse in his hand. It landed in his hand when he stumbled in his way. He looked ahead for her and after scanning few faces, found her. She was walking with her back to him, almost 20 steps ahead. 'What should I call her?' he tried to remember whether she had told him her name.

After rewinding his memory for a few moments, he rushed in her direction, trying different names to seek her attention. "Hello...Excuse me.....Ms. White Chudidar....." but didn't get any response. 'Ok one last time and then it's her fate' he thought to himself and mouthed "Miss Basket....your purse" running towards her. As a reflex, she stopped and turned around to find him rushing towards her. He reached her, took a deep breath and said "I join your prayers that we don't meet again, but your purse" he handed the purse to her.

"Thanks" Riddhima said making a face "By the way my name is not 'Basket'. I am..." she left the sentence incomplete and closed her mouth. "You are?" Armaan asked hoping that she would complete it. But she only shot him a dirty look and left. He shrugged his shoulders and left in search of Raji.

Finally he found Raji in a fruit store and joined her. But his bickering with Riddhima didn't escape her eyes. "Who is she?" she asked him. "Who?" he was busy eating an apple that he didn't get her words. "The girl in white dress" she said picking up some fruits. "Oh Miss Basket. Met her for the first time. The angry young woman" he answered making a serious face which made Raji giggle. "But she is very pretty. Why don't you marry her?" Raji had been after Armaan for a few weeks about his marriage.

Armaan was startled at her words. Composing himself "Why not? If I marry her, our house will be the permanent host of WWE matches and you the lone spectator." He said and the next moment both of them burst into laughter at his words. "I don't think she is the type of girl I would want in my life" he managed to say after a few moments. Raji looked at him surprised "So which type of girl do you want?"

Raji expected some crazy answer from him but was perplexed at his answer. "I want a girl who can shower upon me what I had been missing in my life - Love " the sudden seriousness in his voice brought tears in her eyes. It was not usual of him to speak his heart out, but somehow today, he opened his heart. She caressed his cheek and said "You will surely find one", while he smiled at her.

Raji found the scenario tensed up, so to lighten the mood she said "Armaan, but I love you too." pouting. Armaan winked at her and replied "I know Raji. That's the reason why I don't want to marry" planting a kiss on her wrinkled cheek. She smiled at him, still thinking about the girl in white dress 'But I liked her' she thought to herself.

"If you are done here. Shall we go back? I am almost starving." Armaan's words brought her back from the chain of thoughts. "Yeah. Let's go" she said. They both headed back to their house, Armaan thinking about his new hospital and the work while Raji still thinking about Riddhima. For some unknown reason, Raji couldn't avert her thoughts from Armaan and Riddhima.

Riddhima sighed when she completed picking the vegetables and more importantly when she successfully crossed the lane back. She quickly rushed to her car as it had been late and asked the driver to drive fast. After relaxing for a few moments, her mind suddenly wandered around the fight she had with him and an unknown smile filled her lips. 'Crazy monkey' she thought to herself when his naughty face appeared before her eyes. After a moment her father's face appeared in her mind and she jerked out of her thoughts. A sudden fear ran down her spine. 'No way. Dad will never know about this incident' she assured her mind but her heart beat fast. She never noticed that a pair of eyes has been a witness of their encounter.


"Dad" Riddhima hesitantly entered Shashank's study in the night. When he gave a brief nod to come in, she went and handed him a glass of milk. She noticed him being in a bad mood. Gathering courage "Dad, I will be joining Sanjeevani from tomorrow" she slowly disclosed the purpose of her coming. He glared at her. She understood that something was wrong and remained silent, not daring to raise his anger.

"Who is that guy?" he asked in a loud voice. It took her a few moments to understand his words. 'How did dad know about this?' she tried to find out who could have been his spy 'Damn! That driver' she cursed him under her breath. Before she could answer back "Your boyfriend?" he threw the file in his hand aside and stood up, fuming. "That's it Riddhima. You are not going anywhere. Stay at home till you get married." She felt her head spinning at his words. She remembered how she had struggled to convinced her dad about her internship, her mother's dream and a lone tear escaped her eyes. She watched her dad leaving the room.

"Dad please!" she kneeled on the floor, clasping her palms together, not knowing what to do. "Dad, please believe me. I don't know who that guy is. I just met him at the market and he only helped me cross the lane." He looked at her but didn't speak. She fought back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. "Dad, I swear on mom. Please believe me. It's my dream to become a doctor. Please don't shatter it. I promise I'll be in my limits." Her voice choked, tears rolling down her cheek.

Shashank was firm on his decision but his heart melted a bit listening to her words. He knew she would bring her mother's name only if it's true. His heart urged him to believe her but his mind warned him. He walked up to her, reluctantly, and helped her stand up. "Fine Riddhima. Take it as your last chance. One  more time, and you what my decision would be." He said in a stern voice and left.

Riddhima, relieved a bit, wiped her tears and ran to her room. As she entered her room, a fresh flood of tears made their way down her already damp cheek. She remembered her mother's words and quickly wiped her tears. 'I'll be strong' she said to herself and lay on her bed. She cursed Armaan umpteenth time and drifted into sleep.



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