Wednesday, 27 November 2019

PART 8 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

"Basket" his words barely escaped his throat. "Thank you so much Armaan. Thank you. I am so happy. I owe you a lot." Riddhima said with her voice full of joy. Unknown to himself, he felt happy finding her happy, and his arms encircled her. He felt a shiver of pleasure run down his entire body as his palms came in contact with her tiny waist. Oblivious to the surroundings and the warnings from his brain, he pulled her closer and nuzzled into her thick hair, breathing in her rich feminine fragrance. Riddhima was too drowned in her happiness to realize what they were doing.

"Ahem Ahem" Armaan came back to his senses when he heard Raji's voice and so did Riddhima. In a flash he loosened his grip off her and jumped back. Riddhima turned red with embarrassment while Armaan tried to find some excuse to Raji. "So Armaan, how did Sanjay agree to it?" Riddhima fumbled with her words and was surprised with her initiative to speak.



Raji noticed their awkwardness and smiled to herself and decided to ease it off. "Armaan go and get ready. I guess you have your shift at 8.30 am." Armaan rushed to his bedroom while Riddhima remembered that her shift also begins at 8.30 am and decided to leave. "Riddhima, you stay for some time. You may go along with Armaan. I know your bike is under repair. Come have some breakfast." Riddhima tried to protest but Raji pulled her to the dining table.

While waiting for Armaan to turn up at the dining table, Raji told Riddhima about Armaan and his pranks right from his childhood. Riddhima laughed her heart's fill to his antics. As she heard Raji's narration of Armaan's childhood, a lone tear escaped her eye. She quickly wiped it away but it didn't go noticed by Raji. "You remember me of my mother." Riddhima whispered.

Raji felt bad for her. She got up from her chair and planted a kiss on Riddhima's forehead said "Armaan told about it. I am sorry. You miss her so much?" Riddhima put her hands around Raji's waist and rested her head against her stomach and nodded. Riddhima felt content staying like that.  "No problem. Take me as your mother. Why don't you come and stay with me? However I am bored of Armaan." Riddhima smiled at Raji's words and said "Then Armaan would eat me alive". They both chuckled at her words.

"What's today's breakfast Raji?" Armaan came shouting into the dining room unknown to the fact that Riddhima is still there. He was surprised when he found her at the dining table and frowned.
"I asked her to stay and told that you will drop her as her bike is at the mechanic shed" Raji answered his unasked questions narrowing her eyes. He thought it's better not to protest looking at Raji and nodded taking his seat. All three of them had their breakfast pulling each other's legs and cracking jokes. Riddhima and Armaan completely forgot their anger towards each other and worries and lived in the moment.

When Riddhima was about to leave with Armaan, Raji called her and said "Riddhima, you may come here whenever you feel like talking to me. I would be happy." Riddhima was overwhelmed with Raji's words and hugged her tight and said "Sure aunty. Thank you so much". She bid bye to Raji and left.

Riddhima was scared beyond her wits during their ride to Sanjeevani. He drove it at a jet speed that Riddhima had to clasp his shirt tightly for grip and close her eyes. She pleaded him to drive slow but in vain. On the other hand Armaan enjoyed the drive noticing that she was scared. She only opened her eyes when she was sure they reached Sanjeevani and yelled at him "You never leave a chance in getting me worried, Do you?" Armaan grinned at her and replied "It's my pleasure" which only annoyed her more.

Rahul and Muskaan were shocked to see Armaan and Riddhima coming together for their shift. Muskaan literally pinched Rahul hard on his arms to make sure they were not dreaming. Soon after entering the hospital they were busy with their patients and they completely forgot the fact that Sanjay would come to meet her today.

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In the evening Rahul came running to Armaan in the cancer ward and tried to pull him out of the ward. Armaan jerked his hand and yelled at Rahul "What yaar Rahul? What is your problem?" But Rahul succeeded in his task and whispered "Not my problem Armaan. Your biggest problem is in the hospital." Armaan winked at him "I am very well aware of it Rahul. Let me go now"

Armaan tried to get back to the ward only to be pulled back by Rahul. "You know? And you are relaxed? I am dying since the moment I saw him at the reception." Armaan laughed at Rahul's words "Rahul, are you working too hard? It's not 'him'. It's 'her'. Basket is a girl, remember? And what is new? I have been used to facing it daily." Saying so he walked away.

It took few moments for Armaan's words to sink into Rahul's anxious head. When he got the meaning he yelled at the top of his voice "Armaan, Sanjay is here in Sanjeevani." His words attracted the attention of everyone in the ward. Armaan rushed back to him and hushed "Sshh Rahul. Why the hell are you shouting? Let him come. I guess he came to meet Basket." No sooner did the words escaped from his throat, his eyes widened in shock. Now Rahul smiled at him "Yes. He is in the visiting lounge."

Armaan ran to the lounge, while Rahul followed him. When they reached, they stood beside the door and peeped into the room. To their horror, they noticed Riddhima and Sanjay taking their seats on the couch.

Riddhima seemed uncomfortable sitting there with Sanjay and she kept stealing glances at the door. "Riddhima, whom are you looking out for? Armaan?" Sanjay said cheerfully starting the conversation. She was stunned at being caught "Huh? No… yes… I mean no…." she fumbled with her words and panicked 'where is Armaan?' Sanjay looked at her restlessness and grinned 'They are cute'.

"Don't worry Riddhima. Armaan told me everything." Sanjay spoke with a slight smile to make her feel comfortable. She relaxed a bit and mumbled a thanks. He noticed her being nervous and to break the ice he started "So Riddhima? When did you both meet?" She looked at him confused "Huh? Who both?" He laughed and said "You and Armaan?" She was stunned at his question. 'What is that? Why does he want to know about me and Armaan?'

Armaan and Rahul, both held their breaths as the question made its way out of Sanjay's throat. Rahul looked at Riddhima and waited for her answer while Armaan just closed his eyes as he heard her voice. "One month ago, why?" She said still unsure about what he meant with that question. Sanjay looked at her in utter confusion. Soon a thought flashed in his mind 'Did Armaan make me a fool?' He pondered over it while his heart answered it 'No. No. He seemed to be genuine. May be she mistook me.' "No Riddhima, not at Sanjeevani. I was asking when did you meet him for the first time?" he explained it to her.

But before Riddhima could answer, Armaan appeared out of no where and hugged her tight whispering "Please Basket, don't speak anything. Just keep quite. I'll explain everything later." He felt her stiff body against his and prayed that she doesn't slap him right infront of Sanjay. He broke apart and pecked her cheek almost taking her breath away and without meeting her eyes he turned to Sanjay and settled beside him on the couch opposite to Riddhima. He shook his hand while she turned red with anger clenching her fists. But she kept mum not wanting to create a scene.

Sanjay on the other hand looked at Riddhima turning red and mistook it for blush. He smiled inwardly and thought 'They are cute together.' Shaking off the negative thoughts from his mind he said " Armaan, I'll talk to Mr. Gupta today and tell him that I didn't like Riddhima. That will solve your problem right?" Armaan nodded his head in approval while Riddhima's face glowed with happiness at his words. Soon they ordered for some snacks and coke while Armaan and Sanjay chatted, with Riddhima answering them in monosyllables.

"So when are you guys planning to get married?" Sanjay asked looking at Riddhima. "WHAT?" she shouted perplexed while Armaan choked on his coke and coughed hard till he got tears in his eyes. "Yes, four years being in relationship is pretty good time to take a step further." Sanjay spoke again. Riddhima glared at Armaan with wide eyes full of anger and confusion while Armaan leaned back in the couch and begged her to stay quiet, entwining his fingers. She looked down to her plate cutting the Manchurian piece into two with her fork. How she wished it were Armaan.

Armaan gulped looking at her and then turned to Sanjay. "Yes Sanjay. Riddhima is after me for that. But I guess we'll have to wait till we complete our internship. I'll talk to Mr. Gupta about it." Armaan said very confidently. That's it, Riddhima has had enough. She sat erect in her seat and asked "Sanjay may I know what Armaan told you yesterday?" giving angry glares to Armaan.

Armaan sensed this would be coming and closed his eyes as if it would make him escape from her. "Well, nothing much. He just told about your cute love story and the villain it – I mean your father." Sanjay chucked at his own words while her jaw fell to her knees. "And I promised him that I would help you both." he concluded. 'Love story and villain – that too my dad? Armaan you are dead today' she decided while Armaan smiled at her meekily. "Oh, thank you so much Sanjay and you too Armaan" she smirked looking at him.

 Next moment, Armaan made an excuse that he had an emergency and rushed out leaving infuriated Riddhima and confused Sanjay behind. Soon Rahul joined him and they both ran to their ward. "So, what are your chances of being alive today?" Rahul asked Armaan nervously. Armaan looked at him helplessly and shook his head and sighed "God, I guess she will eat me alive."

After Sanjay left Riddhima searched for Armaan frantically throughout the hospital in between her duty while Armaan tried his best to not to be caught by her.

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"Dr. Armaan, Dr. Keerthi asked you to meet her at the storage room?" Nurse informed Armaan when he was rushing out of the hospital after his duty in the night. Cursing his fate, he walked towards the storage room with his eyes automatically scanning his surroundings for Riddhima.

"Yes Dr. Keerthi" Armaan entered storage room but found none. He went in calling for her but didn't get any response. Sighing he turned around to leave but froze at his place looking at the person standing infront of him. "Basket" he let out a whisper staring at her wide eyes full of anger. 'Guess I am dead now.' He thought to himself and remembered the tight slap she gave him. He shook his head and took a step towards her "Look Basket, I can explain….."

But before he could complete his sentence, he spotted stethoscope coming right into his face. He was glad when he escaped it by an inch. "woho Basket. Take it easy. Let me…."

*SMACK*

A bed spread came and hit his face hard. He pushed it away rubbing his nose."Ouch. It hurts Basket."

*THUD* *BANG* *SMACK*

He tried his best in avoiding the objects that were aimed at him while she kept on bombarding. He ran for his life in the room pleading her to listen to him.

"You moron. How dare you tell him that we are lovers?" she yelled at him. "Basket… please listen… Ouch… " he tried to calm her but in vain. "First you tell my dad and now to Sanjay. You think I am a fool?" she barked at him. She knew very well that he had said that so called love story of theirs only to convince Sanjay but her mind refused to accept it.

Armaan tried patiently for her to cool down but she kept on cursing him, without giving him a chance to speak. "You are disgusting. I know very well about your intentions." She kept on shouting at him whatever came to her mind. But now Armaan was frustrated, listening to her yelling.

While she was searching for another object to throw at him, he jumped at her and took hold of her wrists, twisting them to her back. He held her tight with her back facing him and tried to catch his breath while she twisted in his hold to free herself. "Leave me Armaan. I"ll kill you today."

"Kill me? For what Basket? What will I do if he puts a revolver at my head? I just told some random story to convince him. I agree that I have created a mess out of it, but I can't die there, right?" He tightened his grip on her wrists while she winced in pain. "I have done nothing but solved the problem that your father has created for you. It's not my fault that your father lacks trust in you."

She stopped protesting in his hold after listening to his last sentence. 'your father lacks trust in you' his words rang in her ears and her eyes welled up. "Leave me Armaan" she whispered as her heart ached at his words. She knew it was true that her father doesn't trust her but listening it from someone else pained her more. He immediately loosened his grip off her when he felt her sobbing and stepped back.

"You are right. My father doesn't trust me." She looked down to the floor and cried silently. "He doesn't even understand me." Armaan regretted his words at the sight of her. He moved closer to her and embraced her gently while she sobbed on his chest. "I miss my mom, Armaan. Why is that everything happens bad in my life?" she mumbled between her sobs.

Armaan felt bad for her. He knew the pain of being not cared by parents. His case was different he had Raji with him, who loves him more than his parents but she? He pulled her closer to him and hugged her tight, trying to assure that everything would be fine. "Sshh Basket. Please stop crying. Look, even your mom would be unhappy now if she sees you crying." He whispered patting her back and sighed when he felt her sobs subsiding.

He drew back and wiped her tears with his thumb, while she sniffed. "Be strong Basket. Everything will be fine." She nodded at his words, still looking down. He didn't know what got into him, but he cupped her face with his palms, bent down and kissed her gently on her forehead, lingering his lips on her skin for a couple of seconds. She jerked when his warm lips came in contact with her skin and stepped back immediately.

Armaan was stunned with his own actions while Riddhima stared at him with a slight frown. "Sorry. I guess I got a bit emotional." he chuckled and said "Are you OK?" She smiled at him lightly and replied "I am fine." He sighed looking at her smiling, though slightly. "Lets go then." He said while she nodded and followed him.

To ease off the awkwardness, that crept between them due to the kiss he said "So Basket, I take that I was forgiven. I can't handle anymore objects you aim at me. It hurts." pouting his lips. She smiled at him and said "I guess so. But I am not sure."

When they reached the reception, he asked her "hmm. How will you go Basket? Shall I drop you?" She remembered their ride that morning and replied back immediately "No. No. I mean Muskaan said she would drop me." He chuckled guessing what she might be thinking. "Fine Basket. Bye." He said and left while she stared at his retreating back.

Suddenly she remembered something when he disappeared and ran in his direction "Armaan" She was disappointed when she didn't get any response and was about to turn back when she heard his voice "Basket? you called me?" he peeped back at her, sitting on his bike. "Thanks Armaan" she said and smiled while he winked at her "Good night Basket."

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-Sushmita

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