Monday, 2 December 2019

PART 13 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

Next five days flew in a flash. With the schedules at Sanjeevani being hectic, Armaan and Riddhima were left with much less time to think about the mess they have created in their personal lives. While Riddhima became comfortable living with Raji and Armaan, Armaan still struggled with his budding feelings for Riddhima.

After assisting her senior in a surgery, Riddhima came and sat in the cafeteria with a steamy cup of coffee. 'What a tiring day it was!' she whined taking a sip of her coffee. She looked at the watch and sighed 'Another four hours to get back to home.' After completing her coffee, she leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes seeking some peaceful rest.

After a moment, she almost jumped at the loud announcement from the central announcement system.

"Mrs. Mallik, please report at the reception. Urgent call awaiting."

She rubbed her eyes irritatingly as the announcement kept repeating. 'Who the hell is Mrs. Mallik? Did she die or what? Why can't she go and attend the call and spare us from the head ache' she cursed under her breath.

While she bent forward and rested her aching head over the table, she heard someone call for 'Mrs. Mallik.' She sat straight and as the announcement was still repeating, she gathered her things and moved out of the cafeteria gritting her teeth. 'I'll kill that Mrs. Mallik if I find her.' She promised herself as she made her way to the cancer ward.

Armaan heard the announcement and wondered where Riddhima was without answering the call. As he moved into the cancer ward, he saw Riddhima at the desk, talking to the nurse, no some kind of yelling at the nurse. Wondering what's wrong with her, he made his way towards the desk.

"Basket?" he called for her oblivious to her foul mood. He could still her the announcement for her.

"What?" she turned to him and yelled, startling him.

"Wohoo Basket, what happened? And what the hell are you doing here? The announcement-" he stopped his sentence midway as he heard her say something.

"Yeah I know, for some stupid Mrs. Mallik. I swear I m going to kil-" she left her sentence midway as realization dawned. 'Shit, Armaan's last name is Mallik. Am I not Mrs. Mallik?' She dropped her files on the floor and flew out of the ward towards the reception.

'Damn! Why didn't it stuck me before.' Cursing Mrs. Mallik again, for different reason, she smiled at the receptionist who eyed her suspiciously, before answering the call. "Hello?" she almost shouted into the receiver irritated with, God knows whom.

"Hello Riddhima? I am Ananya, from Delhi." The woman on the other side, spoke softly.

"What? Which Ananya?" Riddhima said impatiently and thought 'Ananya and from Delhi? I guess I heard this name somewhere. Who might it be?' The next moment she heard a giggle on the other said.

"Ananya Mallik. Armaan's mother and your mother-in-law. Remembered now?" as Riddhima heard the words, she froze while the receiver slipped out of her hands. To her utter embarrassment, she also heard a round of laughter in the backdrop voice. Her heart beat increased drastically with sweat forming on her forehead. 'You are a dead meat Riddhima? What the hell is wrong with you today? Now what will she think about you? For God's sake she is your mother-in-law and you said you don't remember her?'

Still unsure what to speak, she picked up the receiver which was hanging in air. Taking a deep breath, she spoke "Uh, sorry aunty.... I..... I just.... don't know how......" she stuttered with her voice full of horror.

Ananya chuckled listening to her words. "Don't panic Riddhima. It's OK. Had a hectic day?" she asked to lighten the tension in Riddhima.

Riddhima relaxed a bit listening to her calm voice but still her heat beat erratically. "Ye.... yes aunty. Shall I call Armaan? He is-" she was cut in between by Ananya.

"No Riddhima. I want to talk to you. Infact want to tell you something. Actually, we talked about your wedding reception right? Well, Vijay fixed it on Saturday night here in Delhi. Since its Thursday today, I want you all to come here by tomorrow. So I just called up so that you and Armaan might apply for leave for three days. You may get back to Mumbai by Monday evening. I have already talked to Raji. Is that OK with you?" The receiver which was in Riddhima's hand once again slipped down and her heart which was getting back to normal beating, beat faster than few minutes before.

'Wedding reception? In Delhi? On Saturday? God, can this day get any worse?' Cursing her fate she cleared her throat and spoke "Yes aunty. No problem. I'll talk to Armaan. We'll call you in the night."

"Fine. Bye Beta. Come soon. I want to meet you." As Ananya was about to cut the call, Riddhima shouted "Aunty? One second." As she heard Ananya back, she said "Sorry Aunty. I didn't-" but was cut again in between by Ananya.

"That's perfectly fine Riddhima. Don't be so formal. Byee. See you soon." She heard Ananya say and mumbled a quick bye before putting the receiver down. She leaned across the reception desk and tried to soothe her erratic heartbeat.

'Aunty sounds so happy. How am I going to do this? Am I not cheating her? What if she comes to know the truth about the reason behind our marriage?' deeply drowned in her thoughts, she went back to resume her duties.


Riddhima sat on a beanbag, making a face as she watched Raji and Armaan roll with laughter after listening to her about the announcement at Sanjeevani and her brief talk with Ananya over the phone.

"Just stop it. This is the reason I didn't want to tell you both." Riddhima shouted at them throwing a cushion at Armaan. She expected them to stop laughing at her but in vain. Irritated greatly, she stood up and said "Fine. Laugh and go to hell. I am leaving, to sleep."

As she was about to make a move, Armaan held her wrist and stopped her. Pushing her back to the beanbag, he said "Ok. Ok. We'll stop." He said and again burst into fresh fits of laughter, while Riddhima turned her face away.

After another 10 minutes of laughter riot, Raji and Armaan stopped their laughter and tried to catch their breaths. "God Riddhima, How can you forget your last name?" Raji asked breathing heavily and added "And you were cursing yourself. Huh? Quite innovative."

"And Basket, how come you forgot your 'saasuma'? My mom is a decent one, so you are alive. Otherwise? I can imagine your position. I have seen few scenes in daily soaps too." Armaan teased her only to get a smack from her.

"Shut up Armaan. I am already scared of meeting her. How am I to expect aunty would call me at hospital? Wonder what she would be thinking of me!" Riddhima said honestly and looked at Raji for some answer.

Raji smiled at her nervousness and said "Nothing. She will be thinking of how beautiful her daughter would be at the reception." Getting up from the sofa, she said to them "Now I guess your packing is done. We have to catch flight at 7 am. So get ready by then." Then she turned to Armaan and said "And you Mr. Sleeping devil. Mind you, if you don't wake up once I call you, I swear I'll leave you and go to Delhi along with Riddhima and find a new groom for her for the reception." While Armaan glared at her, Riddhima giggled.


While walking out of the airport, Riddhima was almost knocked out of breath by a rib crashing hug from a woman. She opened her mouth to scream but gulped her own voice down when she looked at the face of the woman.

"Aunty?" Riddhima said in a mere whisper, still trying to get her breathing rate to normal. She didn't expect Ananya would be at the airport to receive them. Suddenly she remembered her stupidity during the call and became all the more nervous.

"Riddhima!" Ananya exclaimed "I am so happy to meet you finally. I didn't have enough time to talk to you properly during the wedding. I was desperate to see you." And she pulled Riddhima into another motherly hug.

Startled yet happy, Riddhima hugged her back too. The warm hug relaxed her a bit but she was still anxious. "How are you aunty?" she managed to speak after a moment.

Ananya drew back and said "Fine and perfectly fit." She then hugged Raji and said "So happy to see you back Raji." She then turned back to Armaan. She leaned in for a hug but he shoved her away gently and said "Hi mom."

Riddhima was surprised at his reaction and she even saw the hurt in Ananya's eyes. But she brushed the thoughts aside and made a mental note to ask Raji later. Soon they left for their home.

Armaan was startled to see his home crowded and so was Riddhima. He could recognize some of his relatives and cousins. He looked at Riddhima by his side and had to control himself to not laugh at her. With her face full of nervousness, she gaped at everyone who were running here and there doing something or the other. Some saw them and smiled while some came and wished them and blessed them.

Armaan smiled at her and slowly held her hand. He squeezed it lightly and said "Welcome to my crazy family." surprising himself and herself.

Soon they heard Ananya say "Armaan, I got your room ready. Take her to your room. Get ready in an hour or so we have to leave for shopping after lunch. And yes, Abhi asked you to meet him once you came home."

Riddhima searched for Raji among the crowd but in vain. Armaan showed her the room and said "Basket, you take some rest and get ready. I'll go and meet Abhi. I'll be back in an hour or so." Before she could speak he rushed out of the room.

Riddhima closed the door and examined the room. It was huge. She noticed the balcony and went and stood there. She could see the entire half of the huge Mallik Mansion form the balcony. Looking down, she saw Armaan jumping the small wall of the fencing into the neighboring house. She saw him rushing towards the entrance and waiting impatiently. As the door was opened he hugged some lady and fled in.

Riddhima couldn't help but smile. She turned around and took out her suit thinking of a warm shower. As she was about to step into the washroom, she heard a knock at the door. As she opened the door, she found Ananya smiling at her with a packet in her hands.

"Hi Riddhima." Ananya brushed her cheek and came in. "Going to take a bath?" she asked noticing the suit at the end of the bed. As Riddhima nodded, she sensed her anxiety.

"Riddhima, don't be nervous. I and Vijay are not any typical sasuma-sasurji, you watch in those daily soaps and nor were the relatives." Her words made Riddhima smile. "Relax yourself and feel yourself at home." She added sitting on the bed with Riddhima.

Ananya held out the packet for Riddhima. Riddhima took it and asked "Aunty, what is this?"

Ananya smiled at her and said "I don't know about your taste and that's the reason why we waited for you to come to finish the shopping. But I bought a saree for you. If you like it, I want you to wear it today."

Riddhima was overwhelmed looking at the love in her eyes. She opened the pack and her eyes became wet looking at the saree. She looked up at Ananya and said "It's beautiful aunty. Thank you so much."

"Now go and get ready. I'll be waiting for you both downstairs for lunch." Ananya said and looking around the room she added "Where is Armaan?" and before Riddhima could answer she said "Oh, he went to meet Abhi, right?"

Riddhima noticed a thin layer of water in Ananya's eyes when she talked about Armaan and also the longing for her son. There is something in her eyes that she couldn't read. She jolted back from her thoughts when she looked at Ananya leaving. She looked back at the saree and suddenly remembered something.

"Aunty" she called for Ananya.

"Yes Riddhima, you need something?"

"No aunty. It's just..that..I don't know how to wear a saree." Riddhima said hesitatingly.

Ananya smiled at her and said "Oh, Shall I help you?"

"Huh? Uh......" Ananya could see that she was not yet comfortable with her. "Oh, so want Armaan to help you?" Ananya said with a wink and Riddhima's eyes popped out.

"No." Riddhima said on an impulse which made Ananya laugh. "I mean that's fine." She added.

To clear the air of tension in Riddhima's mind, Ananya said "Oh. So you are fine with Armaan helping you? I'll call him." and before Riddhima could speak anything she added quickly "Don't worry. I'll send Raji to help you. She might be busy with the relatives. She is an important part of our family. Infact she is the one who had been taking care of Armaan for the past 25 years."

As Ananya was about to leave the room, Riddhima called for her and walked up to her. "Aunty, you are so sweet".

Ananya smiled at her and said "So are you. God bless you." She patted Riddhima's hair and left.


"Ohoo Riddhima, stand still. Now you are irritating me." Raji whined glaring at Riddhima. Raji had been trying to help Riddhima wear the saree but Riddhima just moved saying that she felt ticklish.

"Aunty, what should I do? I feel ticklish every time you try to fix those saree frills." Riddhima grinned at her sheepishly at which Raji couldn't help but smile.

"This is the last time I am fixing them Riddhima. If you don't stay still, I'll go and call Ananya." Listening to her words, Riddhima stood still, not wanting her mother-in-law to teach her wearing a saree.

"Fine. You are done now." Raji declared happily. "You are gorgeous" Raji said and added to herself 'Armaan would have a hard time around you.'

Riddhima looked at herself in the mirror. She was indeed looking beautiful in the saree. Asking her to come downstairs quickly, Raji left the room. She then combed her hair and just applied a lip gloss and nothing else.

Armaan came home happily whistling. After all he had met his buddies after a long time. As he walked up to the staircase, he spotted Riddhima coming down and stood rooted to his spot. 'Wow' that was the word that escaped his mouth as he looked at her - no, gawked at her. He had seen her in a saree for the first time and she was breathtaking. As she descended the steps, adjusting her saree he felt his heart beat increasing. All he wanted to do was to touch her and KISS her?? As the thought came into his brain, he jerked and looked away.

Riddhima noticed him staring at her and shifted uneasily on her feet. She then saw him break his gaze and look away. After a moment, he climbed the stairs and walked past her without looking at her leaving her surprised.

As she descended two more steps, she heard a whisper in her ears "You look beautiful." She knew it was Armaan. When she turned around to look at him, he was gone. She smiled to herself and went to the dining hall.


On their way to the shopping mall, Riddhima realized that she didn't find Armaan's dad anywhere in the house. So to start a conversation, she asked Ananya "Aunty, where is uncle? I mean I haven't seen him around."

"He is in UK, Riddhima. He will be back by tomorrow morning." Ananya said and added "Don't worry he will be there at your reception." Armaan grinned at her while Riddhima bit her lip at her stupid initiative to start a conversation which ended up with everyone pulling her leg.

As they reached the mall, they heard Armaan say "I'll park the car and join you after placing an order for my suit. You go and start with the shopping." Riddhima, Raji and Ananya stepped out of the car.

By the time Armaan finished selecting his suit, Raji, Riddhima and Ananya are almost done with the shopping except for Riddhima's saree to wear at the party. As they kept checking each and every saree and making Riddhima try it, Riddhima was tired.

As Armaan approached them, he saw Riddhima's state and chuckled. He noticed his mom and Raji stuck with two sarees one red and one light pink. Without any second thoughts, he said "Red looks good." When his mom and Raji frowned at him he fumbled with words "I mean.... red.... dark color suits Riddhima."

"They are very good together. He loves her so much, doesn't he?" Ananya whispered to Raji after Riddhima and Armaan left to the counter to pay the bill. All Raji could do was smile at her and add to herself 'I hope he realizes it soon'


"Armaan?" Riddhima called him for umpteenth time, trying to wake him up. But all he shifted was toss and turn to his other side. She shook him once again, but in vain. 'Mr. Sleeping Devil. The name suits him right.' She thought to herself and went to his ear and shouted "Armaan, Please get up."

Armaan didn't open his eyes but complained sleepily "Basket? Why don't you let me sleep? Is it morning already?" He covered his face with a pillow while Riddhima sighed.

"Armaan, It's 11.10 pm. But I want to go to the bakery. I don't know the route here. Please get up." She pleaded him expecting him to get up. But he was The Armaan.

He moaned impatiently. "If you want, you may go. I don't want to come. Now let me sleep." He shouted rather rudely before resuming his beautiful sleep. He heard Riddhima say "Fine. I'll go by myself. May you have all the night mares." After that he didn't hear her voice.

After five minutes or so, Armaan's eyes suddenly fluttered open. He looked around his room. He really couldn't make out if he had a dream or was it really Riddhima who had come to wake him. Irritated and deeply anxious as he heard her talk about going out, he slowly sneaked to Raji's room where Riddhima had been sleeping. Peeping in, to his utter shock, he didn't find Riddhima.

"God, this girl is crazy or what? Why does she want to go to bakery at 11.30 in the night?" muttering to himself, he quickly put on his jacket and tiptoed out of his house, lest he would wake anyone.

Armaan looked around as he stood on the road before his house. It was quite and that alarmed him. He saw a man at a chat Bandar, packing his stuff. He walked up to him and asked "Did you by any chance, see a girl walk through this way?"

The person eyed him suspiciously before he said "Oh yeah. A girl in her mid twenties?" he said and after a pause added "She asked me for a bakery and I told her about the one which is two lanes away. And she left."

Armaan quickly mumbled a thanks and almost ran in the direction. "Two lanes away? And that too at midnight when she is new in Delhi? I can't believe it." He gritted under his teeth as he increased his pace and ran. He fumed in anger, but deep down he started to panic- for her.

As he was about to enter the lane told by the person, he spotted Riddhima. She was still in a night pant with a cotton kurta  with a shawl draped around her and it was almost falling off her shoulder?? His eyes widened. 'Why the hell is she running?' he thought to himself as he ran to her.

As he reached her, he saw a glint of relief sweep her features. Panting, she came and stood beside him, thanking God and it was then he noticed a drunkard staggering behind her. Anger rose in his veins as he saw a packet in her hand. He felt her hand holding his as the drunkard approached them. He shoved his hand away and punched the man hard in his stomach. As he stumbled, he slapped him again only to hear Riddhima shout at him.

"Armaan? stop it. What are you doing?" As he heard her words, he let go off the man who fell on the ground. He quickly turned around and walked up to her.

Riddhima saw his eyes full of anger and was scared at him. Before she could utter a word-


Riddhima's palm automatically reached her cheek as it started paining like hell as if being pricked with hundred needles. As her eyes welled up, she heard him yell "Damn Riddhima. Have you lost your bloody mind? You are a girl for God's sake and anything would have happened. You are married to me and hence my responsibility. Does your shopping at this time make any sense?" he shook her which made the packet fall of her hands and added "You should have woken m-" he stopped as he realized that she did try to wake him and released her.

Armaan was more pissed off as she didn't bother him an explanation but just took the packet form the ground and started walking back. He wanted to pull his hair out in anger. Instead he kicked a coke tin lying on the ground and followed her.

By the time they reached home, his anger subsided a little but didn't utter a word. He did sense that she was scared at the drunkard but didn't try to comfort her. Frustrated he was about to get back to his room when he felt Riddhima pulling him to Raji's room.

"What the hel-" he shouted only to stop midsentence as he felt Riddhima's hand on his mouth. He noticed Riddhima glance at the watch and it said 11.55 pm. He then watched her taking out a box from the packet and it was a cake. He peeped in to look what was written on it happy birthday RAJI?? He froze as it made sense to him. "Hell, it was Raji's birthday and I forgot. And Riddhima went to get a cake?' he thought to himself.

Riddhima watched the change of expression on his face from frustration to shock then to guilt and regret. Before he could utter a word to her, she went to Raji and woke her.

As Raji woke up in a flash not expecting any disturbance that too at night, Riddhima hugged her tight and sang "Happy Birthday to you." Which was soon joined in by Armaan. Raji was dumbstruck looking at the beautiful cake infront of her. As her eyes welled up she looked at Riddhima and then to Armaan.

As tears started to roll down, Riddhima hugged her again and said "Aww aunty, Please don't cry it is your birthday afterall."

As Raji wiped her tears away and thanked her, Armaan felt a little left out. He was supposed to do this but then he was sleeping like a pig forgetting about it. And when Riddhima took the chance, he slapped her. He felt extremely guilt looking at Riddhima's face. He was she was just holding back the tears that would spill at any moment.

Riddhima drew back and gave Armaan a chance to wish Raji. He hugged her and wished her never taking his eyes off Riddhima whose eyes never met his. He watched her hands still quivering as she placed the handles on the cake.

Soon enough, he forgot about his guilt as he saw Raji smiling and cutting the cake giggling like a teenager. He was even more surprised when Riddhima asked him to feed Raji first.

After another 30 mins of silent party, Raji asked them to go to sleep.

"I'll fetch some water for you." Saying so Riddhima rushed out of the room t the kitchen while Armaan ran after her.

As Armaan, reached the kitchen, he spotted Riddhima gulping down the water eagerly. Then she closed her eyes and leaned against the fridge.

"Riddhima?" she jumped slightly as she heard his voice. As she looked at him for a brief second before turning away, he noticed her eyes full of tears. His heart twisted in pain looking at her.

As she turned around and was about to leave, he pulled her back and held her in his arms, tight. He knew she was just scared and to add more to his feeling of guilt, she was shivering with fear. He pulled her even closer and mumbled "I am sorry."

As she heard him, she sighed and let out her tears. She encircled her hands around his waist and held him tightly. She needed a protective and a warm hug and he gave her the same. "I was scared Armaan." she said in between her silent sobs. He rubbed her back trying to ease all her fear.

After a couple of moments, she drew back and wiped the tears off her face. "Thanks" she mumbled and added "I am sorry. I should have not gone alone."

"Yeah. That is true. I thought I was dreaming about you waking me up but my heart almost stopped beating when I didn't find you in the room later." He said looking at her and added "When I remembered about you talking about bakery, I really thought you were-" He realized what he was saying and quickly shut his mouth.

Riddhima frowned at him as he left the sentence incomplete and asked "You thought what?"

He grinned at her and said slowly "Promise me you won't kill me later." He said which made her all themore impatient. As she nodded her head he said "I thought you were pregnant." He ducked quickly to escape a plate that came right into his face.

"You moron. How could you think that?" she said throwing a napkin at his face which missed him.

"What am I supposed to think when you wake me up at midnight saying that you want to go to a bakery and that too when I was half asleep. I heard women have weird cravings only when they are pregnant." He defended himself and the next moment they burst out into laughter.

 "You know what, you are crazy." she said to him as they started walking upstairs to their rooms.

As she was about to step into her room, Armaan stopped her. He took a step forward closing the distance between them. He raised his hand and caressed her cheek, which he had slapped, with his knuckles and whispered "I am sorry. I didn't mean it. I was so mad at you then."

Riddhima was taken aback at the sudden closeness. She could feel his warm breath on her face and it made her all the more uneasy. They were in close proximity many a time but this time she felt it was different, something new. Her heart beat frantically and she stiffened under him.

Armaan felt her go stiff under his hold and drew back immediately. He wished her good night and ran back to his room.

'God! What was I doing? Why the hell did I touch her cheek? Couldn't I just say a sorry. What she might be thinking?' Armaan thought as he lay wide awake on his bed. But the devil in his brain had an answer for him. 'She was too pretty today in saree. Since afternoon, all I wanted was to touch her. She was too tempting?' Armaan sat up in a startle. "Did I just say she was tempting?" he asked himself loud. He gulped down the glass of water "Think straight Armaan, she is your friend" he told himself and lay back on his stomach. He ignored the devil in his brain which said 'But she is my wife'


Ananya beemed into Raji's room and shouted hugging Raji "Happy birthday Raji." Raji hugged her back and said thanks shyly.

Riddhima, whose sleep was disturbed by the loud voice, woke instantly and watched Raji and Ananya hugging each other. Smiling, she got up and said "Good Morning aunty"

Ananya smiled looking at her and replied back "Good morning beta. I guess you had a good sleep." As Riddhima nodded at her, she turned to Raji. "Raji, get ready by 10. We have-" she stopped mid sentence as she realized something and turned back to Riddhima.

"Riddhima? Why did you sleep with Raji?" Riddhima's eyes widened in horror as she heard to Ananya's words while Raji choked on her breath. Then suddenly it struck Riddhima. As she was Armaan's wife she was supposed to be in his room not here. 'Damn it! How come the thought never came to my mind?' she cursed herself as she looked at Ananya frowning at her.




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