Saturday, 23 November 2019

PART 4 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

The next few days went very fast. It being their first week at the hospital all the interns had a hard time getting used to the new environment, adjusting with the hectic duty schedules. Once they finished their duty, everyone used to rush back home to get some rest- no exception being Armaan and Riddhima. They never got much free time, but whenever they had some time, Armaan left no stone unturned in teasing Riddhima, which only annoyed her more.

Riddhima, being a reserved person, found good friends in Muskaan and Rahul. And Armaan? Only God knows how she tolerated him in the hospital. She has almost grown allergetic to him. Armaan, on the other hand, being a cheerful one, mingled with everyone easily. Soon Armaan, Muskaan and Rahul formed the most happening gang at the hospital, while Riddhima had no choice but to join them.



It was Saturday evening and a half at the hospital. So Riddhima went to the novelty shop near her house to buy something for Muskaan, whose birthday is in a few days. She picked up a huge teddy. She asked the helper to pack it and went to have a look at others as she was told that packing would take some time.

Riddhima noticed her mobile vibrating and took it out of her purse. She looked at the person calling and felt her heartbeat rise frantically. "Yes dad……I am at the shop…….. Yeah you may pick me up in an hour." She replied holding her breath and sighed as the call was disconnected.

Riddhima was lost in her world as she walked straight and bumped into a person. Riddhima closed her eyes brushing her forehead, taking a step back. Before she could mumble a sorry, she heard the person's voice.

"Careful Basket. Let the people live" Her eyes popped out and she looked at him. He stood there grinning at her, rubbing his chin, where her forehead hit him.

"Armaan?" she screamed in surprise.

"Woah Basket! Chill ! I am not any ghost." he said smiling inwardly.

"What the hell are you doing here?" she asked quite irritated with his presence, and immediately bit her lips thinking 'What a stupid question it was?'

"Oh I was here for dancing. Want to join me?" he sounded quite serious while offering her his hand.

She shot him a dirty look and walked past him. But he rushed and stood infront of her blocking her way. "Sorry Basket. I thought this shop is open for humans, else I wouldn't have come here."

It took a moment for her to understand what he meant and her eyes widened in shock "What do you mean?" she moved a step closer to him, as if threatening him, with her hands on both sides of her waist.

"Basket, I have no problem romancing you. But I am afraid this is a public place." He whispered, winking at her, to which she only turned red, with her mouth open. She suddenly noticed that their bodies are only few inches apart and backed away. "You are disgusting" she muttered under her breath and tried to move away.

Armaan blocked her way once again. "OK. Peace. If you are free, why don't you help me in picking a gift for Muskaan." He said and paused as she frowned. "Actually I am not understanding what to present her with."

"I am not free. So choose it yourself. Now get out of my way." She said quite irritated.

"Oh come on Basket! Pleeeeeeaaaaasssssseeeee" he dragged the word which only irritated her more. She knew quite well that he won't leave her until she gave in and hence nodded at him, making a face, not willing to create a scene there.

Armaan started his non-stop banter which only irked Riddhima more. She wondered whether her ears would start bleeding if he kept on talking. She tried suggesting various gifts – but he rejected some of them and some she didn't feel good. After an hour, when she couldn't bear him anymore, she looked at him. He was deeply engrossed in inspecting an article but ofcourse his mouth was working as always.

An idea popped in her brain and she smiled wickedly to herself. She took a glass article in her hand and looked at its price. Looking at the price, her heart skipped a beat. 'Rs 12000 ONLY??' she thought and glanced at him. Making sure he was not paying any attention to her and neither were others in the shop, she dropped the glass article off her hands and rushed from that place quickly.

Armaan jumped at the sound and so did the others. He was mortified at the broken pieces of glass at his foot. He looked around for Riddhima but in vain. He doubted if it was done by Riddhima, rather intentionally. Soon the owner of the shop came running and glared at him.

Armaan understood his meaning and said "No. No. Don't….. I mean I didn't break it. Actually a girl who stood beside me……." He was interrupted by the owner before he could complete.

 "Rs 12000" The owner said in a stern voice "Rs 10000 after discount" he added and handed the bill in Armaan's hand.

"What? No way!" Armaan shouted "Why should I pay for it? Look, it was broken by a girl who stood by my side. I didn't even touch it. " His shout became a plead at the end while he searched for Riddhima nervously. Finally the owner settled for Rs.8000, which Armaan had to pay, not left with any choice.

He cursed Riddhima while giving his credit card to the owner. Just then, as he looked out of the glass door of the shop, he spotted Riddhima. She winked at him and waved her hand at him with a big grin. 'I promise, you will regret this Basket' he swore to himself.

Riddhima felt elated after her mission was successful. Cheerfully, she walked towards the road and suddenly stopped at the silver car, with a person seated in its back seat. "Dad" she gulped when she remembered that she had asked her dad to pick her up. She wondered whether her dad had noticed her banter with Armaan. That thought sent shivers down her spine.

Holding her breath, she walked to the car and got into it. "Done with the shopping?" Shashank asked her. "Huh?... Yeah done" she fumbled with the words. She breathed again when she noticed his calm face. 'Thank God, he didn't see us together' she thanked God and cursed Armaan. Little did she know, what was going on in her dad's mind behind his mask of calmness.

Shashank on the other hand was restless after watching Riddhima with a guy. But he didn't show it on his face. 'Who was that guy? What's their relationship? I have to do something quickly.' He thought as they drove to their house.

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"I hate Mondays" Armaan mumbled to himself as he reached Sanjeevani. Parking his bike in the parking area, he noticed a red bike beside. 'Oh, so basket is early today' he thought to himself. He kicked her bike angrily as he remembered how she made him shed his money for nothing.

He noticed few kids playing cricket in the ground beside the parking area. An evil idea crept into his mind and he called the kids. He whispered something in their ears and quickly bought them some chocolates and gave them. He high-5ed the kids and watched them as they completed his task in less than 5 minutes.  'Watch out for your surprise Miss Basket' he murmured went to the hospital whistling.

"Good Morning Armaan. How was your weekend?" Rahul and Muskaan stared at Riddhima with their mouths open as she greeted him with a smile at the reception. Muskaan pinched Rahul to make sure it was real and she was not hallucinating.

"Good Morning Basket. Yeah it was good." He replied back with a smile and left. Now it was Riddhima's turn to stare at him with her mouth open. 'What happened to him? He didn't utter a word looking at me. I am sure he planned for something wicked.' She thought as they all left for their respective duties and soon forgot about him.

************************************

In the evening when their duty hours were finished, Riddhima rested for a while in the rest room as she felt very tired. When she felt good, she walked towards the parking area, while Armaan watched her silently from back of the ambulance. He had been waiting for this moment since the morning.

Riddhima on reaching the parking area, stood motionless as she stared at her bike with eyes filled with horror. With head lights and side mirrors broken, seat torn up badly, kick rod off its place and the handle bent sideways, the bike appeared as a pile of iron parts. Soon her eyes welled up. She took slow steps towards it hesitatingly and touched it and it fell on ground. Tears rolled down her cheek and she sobbed.

Armaan on the other hand, was shocked. He didn't know what he expected of her but he was sure he never expected this. Her sudden outburst surprised him. He suddenly felt bad for what he had done, watching her cry. He moved towards her not sure of what he would tell to her.

Riddhima's heart twisted in pain as she remembered her encounter with her mother on her 15th birthday

"Mom, where is my gift?" Riddhima asked her mother excitedly.

Padma hugged her daughter affectionately and gave her a small box with a satin ribbon around it. Riddhima grabbed the box and her eyes twinkled with joy at her gift. She took the keys out and looked at her mother expectedly.

"Yes Riddhima. Now you are the owner of this bike" Padma said kissing her forehead. Riddhima hugged her mother back with happiness, but backed out after a moment. "Mom, will dad allow it?" she asked her mother hesitatingly. Padma understood her and said "Don't worry. I took his permission. He won't say anything." Patting her back encouragingly.

"Thank you so much mom. You are the best. I love you" She kissed her mother ran towards her new bike.

Riddhima remembered how her mother helped her learn driving it. How she nursed her wounds when she fell off it while learning. It was her last gift from her mother and since then, she had been protecting it carefully. Her heart refused to accept the sight before her eyes.

Riddhima felt her vision getting blurred and head spinning. She tried to balance herself from falling. Armaan walked up to her and stood beside her. He was about to place his hand on her shoulder, when suddenly she fainted and he caught her from hitting the ground. He supported her fragile body against his.

"Basket……Open your eyes……." He screamed and shook her by slightly slapping on her cheeks.

Armaan was horrified when she didn't open her eyes. He quickly picked her in his arms and rushed towards the hospital.

"Nurse, get some lemon juice and the BP machine to the rest room" he instructed to the nurse on his way to the rest room with Riddhima in his arms.

He gently placed her on one of the beds in the rest room and checked her pulse. He made frantic calls to Rahul and Muskaan to immediately come to the hospital. He checked her BP and found it to be a bit low.

'She must have been really tired. And more over was shocked at the sight of her bike' He cursed himself for having destroyed her bike.

He gave her an injection and sat on a stool beside her bed.

After some time, he sprinkled some water on her face. He sighed with relief when there was a moment in her eye balls.

"Basket….. Are you fine?" he asked her anxiously, holding her hand in his  as she slowly opened her eyes and looked at him.

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SUSHMITA

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