Thursday, 5 December 2019

PART 16 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

"Riddhima" Armaan heard Raji's whisper and turned around immediately to the door and was mortified at the sight before him. His mobile slipped down from his hand and blood drained off his face. He looked back at Raji assuming he might be hallucinating but the equally petrified face of hers conveyed that it was indeed true. He turned back to the sight infront of him and felt his eyes burning of tears, that he was holding back.

He stared at her, standing infront of him, with her white dress full of stains of blood and her right sleeve torn slightly. He tried to speak, but there was no coordination between his senses and brain. He could only feel his heart beating madly. A lone tear escaped his eye and rolled down his cheek.



"Armaan?" Riddhima whispered, taking a step, as she found him, just staring at her with a pale face. She knew they would be shocked beyond their wits, watching her in such a position. She gulped the lump that formed in her throat as she remembered his outburst when she had been away from home without informing anyone, in Delhi. Now that she was more or less in a similar situation, she was sure she would get to see the zenith of his anger.

Armaan came out of his revere, as he heard her voice and realized he had been holding his breath. He blinked his eyes to make sure she was indeed speaking and as he did that another couple of tears rushed out of his tears.

Armaan noticed Riddhima taking a step forward, but before she could make a move, he swiftly covered the distance between them and embraced her tightly - very tightly as if trying to imbibe the fact that she is indeed fine. The tears that he was holding back rushed out freely and this time he made no attempt to stop them.

Riddhima was taken back with his reaction. She went stiff, in his hold, her arms resting on her sides, trying to gauge his reaction. Her eyes wandered in the room and met Raji's. Raji smiled with tears and nodded her head lightly trying to explain something to Riddhima. But before Riddhima could understand something, she felt her dress at shoulder going dank. 'Could he be crying?' she thought to herself as her hands rose slowly and rested at his back lightly and she got the shock of her life.

'Armaan, is shivering? And sobbing?' Slowly she tightened her hold on him and heard him mumble something which she could make out exactly "I.... phone.... Suncity..... ambulance..... blood....." She tried to understand what he was speaking but in vain and felt being pulled in closer as she heard him say "I was scared Riddhima"

Riddhima sighed deeply and unknown to herself her eyes welled up. It always feels good that someone cares for us and so did she. As far as she remembered, no one had been so worried about her the way he did. She held on to him tightly, rubbing his back, giving him the time he needed and taking in the feeling of being secure. After few minutes when she felt his breathing even, she whispered slowly "I am fine Armaan. Nothing happened to me." She paused as his grip loosened lightly.

Armaan's mind registered her words and he was back to his senses. He loosened his grip but still held on to her trying to understand his feelings. The single thought that something happened to her crushed his heart and watching her in blood almost killed him. Why? Confused and frowning, he drew back and looked at her face trying to find some answers. He noticed her smiling slightly at him and his heart felt light.

Riddhima found him frowning at her with a deep thought. When he didn't speak, she said "I am perfectly fine Armaan." still not getting any response from him she added "I am not hurt. This blood is not mine. It -" but before she could complete her sentence, he walked past her. After a moment she heard him say that he would be back soon.

Riddhima turned around but he was gone. She was sure she didn't expect this. Confused at his behavior, she just stared at the door. "Riddhima, what happened?" she heard Raji's voice and turned around to find her eyes molten. She hugged her as she found a worried face of Raji.

"I am fine aunty. Just a small accident." Riddhima drew back and smiled at Raji. Raji made her sit on the couch and gave her some water to drink.

"You got any cuts? Why is blood all over your dress?" Raji said as she brought a first aid kit and started dressing Riddhima's elbow and added "Your sleeve is torn completely."

Riddhima hissed slightly when Raji applied the ointment and then spoke "While returning, I was thinking about something else while driving and hence I ran into an ambulance."

"Your bike hit an ambulance?" Raji asked astonished.

Riddhima grinned and continued "The driver of the ambulance inorder not to hit me turned the van to the other side and then it hit the divider. I just fell off the bike and got s few scratches on my elbow. The kick rod of my bike was broken, so I got in the ambulance as the driver offered to drop me at the bus stop. But I noticed that there was a guy in the van who was an accident victim and his arm was cut badly and started bleeding. So I started dressing his wounds and that's how there were blood stains on my dress."

"Oh, thank God. My mind went numb as I watched you in blood." Raji sighed resting her head on the couch. "What happened to your mobile? Armaan tried to call you." She asked.

"My cell broke when I fell down as I had put on my earphones. So I called Armaan from the driver's mobile. We went to the hospital first and admitted that guy in the hospital and then the driver dropped me back home. So I was late" Riddhima finished her narration and closed her eyes, but suddenly she remembered something and sat straight "But what happened to Armaan? Is my presence really scary?" she asked as she got up and looked down at herself.

Raji smiled at her and said "Armaan was not scared of you. He was scared for you." And added "You can ask him yourself later. Now go and change your dress."

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

Armaan sat on the rock at the beach and stared at the sea. His heart hadn't still been back to its normal beating. He was still anxious and didn't understand why - or he did understand but denied to accept it? He closed his eyes once again and the sight of Riddhima with her dress full of stains of blood made its presence infront of his eyes. A shiver ran down his pain and he shook his head as he found his eyes welling up - yet again.

His mind automatically drifted back to them - Armaan and Riddhima. He remembered their first meeting and then their bickering, their plan to help Riddhima, their marriage and then their trip to Delhi. The way he reacted when he found her on the road running. I was just protective- he convinced himself. He thought about Riddhima dancing with his friends and his dislike towards it. OK I was jealous- his mind convinced his heart once again. He then remembered of the strange feelings he had when she slept beside him in his arms. Fine I am attracted to her- once again his mind beat his heart.

Armaan then thought about today's incident. I was worried - he thought to himself. But he himself was aware that it was not the complete truth. The sense of losing her was much higher above all this. He looked at the calm sea and stared into space. After a moment as tears formed in his eyes once again he whispered "God, I Love her" and as soon as the words escaped his mouth, he knew that it was the ultimate answer.

He stood up and smiled against his tears. "I love her. I love you Riddhima." He screamed in joy and felt immensely content as his voice echoed in the tranquility of night. Relieved and happy as never before, he squealed like a teenager. He came back to the planet earth, only when he registered his mobile ringing.

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

"Are you both taking turns in getting me worried?" Raji yelled worried trying to call Armaan for the past one hour. "Now where did he go?" she added as she threw the mobile across the bed, while Riddhima shrugged her shoulders. They had been trying to call him but he didn't pick up neither of their calls.

Riddhima took her mobile and called him once again but it was the same. As she was about to cut the call she hers his voice.

"Hello Basket. What's up?" she sensed the happiness in his voice and frowned.

"Armaan, where the hell are you?" She yelled frustrated at his words.

"At the beach. Why? What happened?" he asked back.

"Beach? Have you lost it? Here Raji is worried about you and you are enjoying the scenic beauty?"

"And you?" he asked.

"I-" she was befuddled. "Armaan, I am sure you have to meet a psychiatrist ASP. It's 1.30 in the midnight and I am going to kill you if you are not home in 15 mins."

"OK" she heard his voice before the line went dead and thought 'He went mad'

After 10 mins, when she opened the door, to her utter surprise Riddhima found a grinning Armaan unlike the Armaan whom she had seen 2 hrs ago. She let him inside and closed the door.

"You were in beach?" Raji asked him surprised to which only Armaan's grin increased.

"Why?" Raji asked again not getting any response from him, while Riddhima just glared at him.

"Just like that." He answered as a matter of fact, grinning again.

That's it. Riddhima stepped infront of him and slapped him across his face-  but not so hard.

"Oww Basket, what's this for?" Armaan asked her baffled, rubbing his cheek while Raji's eyes popped out at the sight infront of her. She heard about Armaan slapped by Riddhima but it being a live now, she blinked her eyes to make sure it was true.

"Forgot? This is your kind of showing concern." Riddhima smirked at him, while Raji frowned at them.

"Did I miss something?" Raji asked trying to find out what punishment Riddhima is talking about.

"Nothing." Armaan again grinned at Riddhima, surprising her even more. She closed her eyes when he stepped forward towards her. He planted a soft kiss on her cheek and whispered "Good night. Sweet dreams." about me.

While Riddhima's eyes fluttered open and her heart skipped a beat, Raji giggled at the new development between them. Riddhima mumbled an embarrassed good night to Raji and ran back to her room.

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

As it was a Sunday, Riddhima decided to help Raji in the kitchen with breakfast, while trying to learn some cooking, after coming back from the vegetable market. It was just 7.00 am. "Riddhima, wash the potatoes and put them in the cooker. I'll just be back." Raji told her.

Riddhima was all excited to try her hand in cooking. She took out a steel bowl and put few potatoes in it. She washed them and as she turned around, she got the biggest shock of her life.

*SMASH*

Riddhima dropped the bowl down, which made an ear cracking noise. Raji came running to the kitchen and found Riddhima staring at something. She followed and gaze and as her heart met the source, she almost got a heart attack.

"Armaan? You are up, this early?" Riddhima recovered first and taking a few steps touched his arm making sure that it was not a ghost. "Wow, you are real." She added unbelievably.

Armaan, poor soul, was not able to sleep the whole night due to the ecstasy in his heart. He kept tossing and turning in his bed till morning. So for a change he woke up and got ready, giving both the ladies an unexpected presence.

Armaan grinned at them sheepishly. He moved out of the kitchen and noticed Raji frowning at him. "What's happening Armaan?" she asked noticing the obvious in his face- utmost happiness. Armaan, so wanted to run and share his happiness - but this can wait a little time, he thought. He can keep his mouth shut but noti his action. He took Raji' hands in his and twirled her around, dancing with her. While Riddhima gaped at them, Raji giggled.

"I am so happy Raji." Armaan said in a delight and twirled Raji once again. He stole glances at Riddhima from the corner of his eyes and wished it was Riddhima in his arms. 'I am in Love' his heart squealed in joy.

Ho aaj kal tanha main kahan hoon, saath chalta koi
Uski hame aadat hone ki aadat ho gayi
Woh jo mila hai jab se uski sauhbat ho gayi
Ik zara masoom se dil ki aafat ho gayi


Sun le zara, sun le zara
Dil ne kaha, itna bas mujhe pata hai
I am in love, I am in love
Tu hi bataa jaane kya mujhe hua hai

 Armaan let go off Raji after some time and sat on the bean bag staring into nothing, with a stupid grin permanently fixed on his face. He watched Riddhima with Raji in the kitchen, laughing, frowning and giggling over something. He didn't realize he was staring at her, till her eyes met his and she smiled at him. He immediately looked away, smiling to himself.

Usi boondun mein tu hai, aankhein moondu mein tu hai
Dishaayon das tu hai, tu hi hai bas tu hai
Dil ka shehar tu hai, acchi khabar tu hai
Fursat ki hassi tu hai, jo bhi thi kami tu hai

Now that, he was sure of his feelings towards Riddhima, he found it hard to tear his gaze away from her. Everything felt lively and beautiful around him- the way they had pulled their legs during the breakfast, the stupid commentary of hers during the foot ball match, while watching TV. Everything about her and him felt good.

Tu hai mera, tu hai mera
Kuch main jaanu na, itna bas mujhe pataa hai
I am in love, I am in love
Tu hi bataa jaane kya mujhe hua hai

After lunch, he insisted they go out for a short drive as it was not very sunny. Raji deliberately said she was tired and asked them both to go together. This was much more than he had wished her. His heart jumped in joy and he was over the clouds. When they left, for the first time in his life he felt nervous and tongue tied around a girl. After all she was not any girl. He found himself fumbling with words and stumbling while walking with her.

Baadal pe chalta hoon main, girta sambhalta hoon main
Khwaishein karta hoon main, khone se darta hoon main
Jaaga na soya hoon main, musafir khoya hoon main
Kuch sarfira sa hoon main, budhu zara sa hoon main

Lying in his bed wide awake yet again, he memorized the beautiful day he spent with her. He found a reason to smile- when she smiles, a reason to be happy- when she is happy and a reason to be alive- because he is in love with her.

Dil kya kare, dil kya kare
Tere bina, itna bas mujhe pataa hai
I am in love, I am in love
Tu hi bataa jaane kya mujhe hua hai

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

Riddhima stared at the pillow in her hands, as she lay on her stomach on the bed. She remembered, the previous day at the same time, she was scared to death for a few seconds but today she was sleeping peaceful in her home. She got up and sat straight at once. My home? She wondered. Armaan and Raji had become an important part of her life, she agreed but is there anything more? She didn't know.

She thought about the beautiful day today- with Armaan. She noticed he was indifferent towards her. She found him staring at her frequently, in loss of words while he spoke, but unusually didn't feel like complaining. Her train of thoughts drifted back to the previous night's incidents. Since she didn't inform him and was away, she expected him to be atleast angry at her. But his reaction was totally unexpected. The way he held her protectively in his arms- it felt something different.

She remembered of her stay in Delhi and their reception party. Her breathing increased slightly as she thought about their dance and the way he held her close to his body. She realized she was being very conscious of his presence around her. Why? May be because I had never been around with an opposite sex - her mind answered quickly.

And then that small gesture of his, his little peck on her cheek that added to her restlessness. She knew something was changing but couldn't put her finger on what. Was she ready for it? She needed someone to talk with. That reminded her of her mother yet gain. She realized she had been missing her sister too. As her eyes began to get moist, she got up from the bed and headed towards Raji's rom.

Raji was surprised as she found Riddhima in her room.

"Aunty, shall I sleep here tonight please?" Riddhima almost pleaded her desperately.

Raji knew something was bothering her. She smiled at her and pulled her down to the bed by her hand. "You need not ask for that." she said as she pulled blanket over them.

"I miss my mom and sister." Riddhima said after a moment, staring at the ceiling, as a tear escaped her eye. Raji made her turn to her side and caressed her cheek wiping the tear away.

"You want to talk?" Raji whispered slowly. She realized something was eating her up but didn't want to push her.

"No. Can I hold you and sleep?" Raji smiled at her words. She pulled Riddhima closer and gave her a motherly and warm hug. Riddhima buried her face under Raji's chin and closed her eyes, while Raji patted her back, to sleep.

"I am getting more attached to you and Armaan." Riddhima spoke after a while, her eyes still closed.

"Is that a bad thing?" Raji asked her softly, but something struck her brain "Riddhima are you scared of yesterday's accident?" she added.

"I don't know. But I am sure I don't want to be away from you. I don't remember the last time I had been as happy as I was today. I want to stay always with you." both.

"You will always be with us" Raji stroked her hair, understanding what she was trying to speak. "Riddhima don't be scared of letting a person close to your heart because of the fear of losing them."

"Hmmm" Riddhima nodded and drifted off to sleep, feeling at peace, holding Raji close. Raji kissed her forehead, closing her eyes.

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


Keep reading.

-Sushmita

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