Monday, 25 November 2019

PART 6 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik



Riddhima was still confused about her dad's unexpected calm behavior since yesterday's night. She came and sat at the dining table for breakfast. She looked at Shashank's face. It was still peaceful. She felt restless. Her heart warned her about something. "Riddhima" on hearing her dad's voice, she slightly jumped off the chair at the dining table.

"Yes dad" she turned her face towards him hesitatingly. Her father passed on an envelope towards her. She opened it and saw the photo of a handsome guy smiling profusely. Though she hated to admit it, she knew what it was all about. She sighed and took a deep breath as if getting ready for something. Her heart beat erratically. Fidgeting with her fingers, she looked at Shashank, expecting some answers.



"He is Sanjay Bhatia. He will be meeting you tomorrow at Sanjeevani. So behave well." Shashank said in a stern voice without looking at her. She tried to speak but found her throat too dry to utter a word. Quickly she grabbed the glass and gulped all the water at once. "Dad… Why should I meet him? Please dad. We have already talked about it before it. I want to complete my internship at Sanjeevani. I…." her words were cut in between.

"Yeah. I know very well what you do at Sanjeevani. I have even met your good-for-nothing boyfriend. I made a mistake thinking that you will stand by your words. You are no different from your sister." He said looking straight into her eyes. Riddhima on the other hand was trying hard to understand what her father was talking about 'My boyfriend? Who on the earth is he? And whom did dad meet when I don't have one?'

Wiping the beads of sweat from her forehead, she tried to explain "Dad, you are mistaken. I don't have any boyfriend. Please believe me." in a low voice. "I would have believed you if that bas**** hadn't told me that you are his girlfriend. How dare he talk to me?" Shashank barked at her, throwing his plate away on the floor. Riddhima was shocked beyond her wits watching the fire in her father's eyes. Shivers ran down her spine. "Armaan.. right? I will take care of him later." he muttered.

'Armaan? Why the hell is he in the picture? What did he tell to dad?' many thoughts ran in her brain. "Dad, please believe me. Armaan is not my boyfriend. There is some mistake. He might have meant someone else……." Her voice trailed off when Shashank banged the dining table with such a force that the sound echoed in the room. "Shut up Riddhima. Whom are you fooling around? I have taken the decision. You better follow it. You are getting married to Sanjay next week and that is final." His words boomed in her ears while tears ran down her cheek. She stood still, too afraid to utter a word.

After a moment came the final blow "You may go to Sanjeevani this week. The Bhatias don't want their daughter-in-law to work after marriage." Shashank told her as a matter of fact and left the room leaving a shattered Riddhima behind. She sank to the floor too weak to support herself. She cried her heart out. Till a moment before, though she was afraid, she had a tiny ray of hope in her heart that she might be allowed to work after marriage. But listening to his last words, she felt everything came to an end - Her life, her world, her dream or rather her mother's dream. She cried, cried and cried until her eyes were short of any more tears.

"I am sorry mom. I failed in everything." She mumbled looking at the ceiling. All of a sudden, something flashed in her mind. The misery in her face was replaced with anger. She quickly stood up, wiped her eyes and stormed out of her house after collecting her things.

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

Armaan entered the hospital in a joyous mood asusual. He met his friends before resuming his duties, but his eyes searched for Riddhima. 'Guess she'll be late.' He thought to himself and went to attend his patients. As he entered the cancer ward, he spotted Riddhima through the glass door. She was talking to some nurse at the reception. He quickly ran out of the ward towards the reception.

"Hie Basket. Your bike will be back soon." He said reaching Riddhima near the reception. She didn't respond back for few seconds while he noticed her eyes puffy and red and wondered why. 'May be she didn't hear me' thinking so he said "Basket….."

*SLAP*

Armaan stared at her in horror and his palm, as a reflex, reached his cheek where he had received a tight slap from Riddhima. Everyone around them stopped at their tracks surprised. Riddhima gave him a dirty look and left.

His mind refused to believe that he had been slapped, for the first time in his life and that too by her. Unknown to him, a lone tear escaped from his eye and touched his palm which was still resting against his cheek, which bought him back to present. He looked around to find people staring at him confused. 'What the hell?' he quickly wiped off the tear while his blood boiled with rage. 'How dare she?' he thought to himself and rushed in the direction where she had left.

Finally he found her in the storage room checking some medicines after searching for 15 mins throughout the hospital. His nails dug to his skin in his fist while he marched into the room, shutting the door behind. He grabbed Riddhima by her shoulders. "Who do you think you are?" he shouted at her at the top of his voice, looking straight into her eyes. He found nothing but pain in her green teary eyes and was surprised when she didn't even protest in his arms.

"I need an answer damnit." He yelled shaking her. Fresh tears welled up in Riddhima's eyes and ran down her cheeks while he was completely taken back at her sight. Her face was pale and eyes red and swollen. He guessed that she might have cried for over an hour or so continuously. His anger reduced and he loosened his grip on her but didn't let her go. "What did you get by ruining my life? What did you tell to my dad? Why did you….." her voice trailed off as she clasped his shirt and sobbed in his arms.

Armaan stood there too stunned to speak. He didn't understand what to do. He looked around the room for the first time and noticed that they were alone. He encircled his arms around her and patted her back trying to calm her. But she only cried more.

After few moments, which appeared like an eternity for Armaan, Riddhima stopped crying and pushed him away at once. "Why did you tell my dad that I am your girlfriend?" she spoke while he balanced himself.

Armaan froze at her words "WHAT?? You……… and my girlfriend? ………..I told your dad????Are you out of your mind?" he yelled at her and soon enough the fact that she slapped him came back, which went off his mind for the last few minutes.

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

Armaan was pacing to and fro in the cafeteria, trying to remember when he had met Riddhima's father. Riddhima sat in a secluded corner with Muskaan and Rahul by her side trying to console her after coming to know what had happened.

Armaan rewinded the entire previous day in his mind for umpteenth time. His asking kids to destroy Riddhima's bike, routine work at hospital, her crying and fainting in the evening, he taking care of her, she yelling at him when she woke up and he apologizing till she accepted. 'When did I meet her dad? Do I walk and talk in my sleep? Do I have any twin?' he tried out many options but nothing seemed to fit in.

Al of a sudden, something stiked him "Shit !!! He was your dad?" he jumped bewildered only to get a furious look from the other three. "Basket look, yesterday I was interrupted by a person when I was ……….i was….haan…..begging you for apology. I was just pissed off at his stupid question about u and so I said…." He stopped and looked at their faces. He found curiosity in two pairs of eyes and a mixture of fear and anger in the other pair. He gulped and continued "I said…..said……. no I blurted out that you are my girlfriend" he closed his eyes and completed it only to hear a "WHAT?" from them.

Armaan opened his eyes and slowly looked straight into Riddhima's eyes. She didn't speak. Big fat tears escaped her eyes and moreover he saw hurt and beep hatred for him in her eyes which somehow pained him. He rushed to her chair and kneeled infront of her "Believe me basket. I had no idea that he was your father. And moreover I swear I didn't mean it. It's just that it slipped out of my mouth because of frustration. Please don't cry. I will talk to your dad and……." He tried to convince her but in vain. He looked helplessly at Rahul and Muskaan who were trying to figure out something.

"What will you tell to my dad? That you told I am your girlfriend just by mistake? Do you think he is a fool to believe you? Why don't you accept that you only know how to create problems in one's life? And because of you my life and my dream is shattered and I wish to die now. Oh, why do I bother to talk about life and dreams to a spoilt brat like you? You have everything you want around you so you are left with no other work but to interfere in other's life. Isn't it? And….. " Riddhima spoke to him for the first time in the last 30 mins, with her voice full of disgust and hatred. But she was cut in midway by Armaan

"Enough. Just shut up. I am quiet because I knew I made a mistake but that doesn't mean that u may talk what comes to your mind. It's not my fault that your father doesn't believe in you." Armaan retorted back at the top of his voice. Rahul and Muskaan were shocked to witness a battle of words before them.

Silence took its place for a few moments. Armaan composed himself and spoke again "Fine Basket. I accept it was all my mistake. I had created a problem in your life. So I'll solve it." He quickly took the details from Riddhima about Sanjay Bhatia and stormed out of the cafeteria. After making Riddhima have some coffee, all three of them went back to resume their duties.

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

It's a pleasant night for many of them, but not for Armaan and ofcourse Rahul. After their duty, instead of retiring in their respective homes, here they stood, at the Bhatia Empire literally counting seconds as they passed by.

"Did you decide something?" A nervous Rahul asked Armaan for more than a 10th time. Armaan, one more tensed soul only shook his head horizontally to answer him. After enquiring about Sanjay Bhatia, Armaan came to know he was a young and ruthless businessman. Too afraid to go and speak to him alone about Riddhima, he begged Rahul to accompany him after few sorts of blackmailing.

Armaan dragged an unwilling Rahul through the security checks and waited in the study of Mr. Sanjay Bhatia holding their breaths. "Armaan, please be careful in whatever you speak. Because I am not sure of our survival from here if you make any mistake." Rahul spoke in his almost shaky voice glancing at his surroundings which only added to the tension in the air. "Just shut up Rahul. Let me think." Armaan retorted back in a whisper glaring at him.

"Yes guys. What can I do for you? So you are Riddhima's friends right? I am Sanjay" a tall and well built man in his late twenties and greeted the two tortured souls in his study. As a reflex Armaan stood up and shook hands with him while Rahul was deeply engrossed in calculating the probability of their escape from the place. "I am Armaan…. and this Rahul.." Armaan quickly introduced themselves to Sanjay and sat on the couch opposite to Sanjay. "So what do you want to talk about?" Sanjay asked them putting his revolver on the table beside.

Rahul stared at the revolver and then Sanjay and then to Armaan, then again to revolver and Armaan finally pleading him with his eyes. But Armaan only remembered the slap he received that morning and turned to Sanjay. "Actually…. We came…..to request you to… to…. haan…… request you not to marry Riddhima." Armaan stared at Sanjay to take a note of his expressions that changed from surprise to shock then to rage and finally settled at confusion. Rahul froze at his place listening to those words. He was convinced that it was his last night on earth.

Sanjay smiled lightly. "May I ask the reason for it?" He said taking the revolver in his hand looking straight into Armaan's eyes. Armaan gulped and when he opened his mouth, the words were stuck at his throat. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and tried to speak again but in vain. Sanjay shifted in his seat and aimed the revolver at Armaan's forehead "I guess this will help you speak." He said with a grin. Armaan was beyond mortified to even react something and speaking was just out of the question.

"I am waiting…..umm… Armaan right?" Sanjay's voice echoed in his ears which convinced Armaan that he was still alive. He warned his mind to cook up something but it seemed to be dead. "I am patient but my revolver is a very impatient one" Sanjay spoke again which made Armaan go numb with fear. After a moment Rahul almost had a mild heart-attack listening to the words uttered by Armaan.

"Because Riddhima is in love with me." Armaan said holding his breath, with his eyes tightly shut, waiting for the revolver to do something.

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



-Sushmita

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