Saturday, 7 December 2019

PART 18 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

Riddhima stared at the album infront of her eyes and sighed. Her life with Armaan and Raji seemed to be perfect until the last week. Armaan left for a conference in Kolkata, a week ago and here she is sitting in her bed at past 2 in the midnight doing nothing, yet everything with loneliness. It had been almost four days that she talked to him. It was either she was on duty when he called or he was in some seminar when she called. She felt helpless with him not being around and she didn't understand why.

She held the album close to her and closed her eyes with tiredness finally taking a toll on her.

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

"Aunty, I am leaving." Riddhima yelled from the living room. She woke up early than usual and got ready as well. She didn't understand why but she wanted to run away from there. 'Probably because he wasn't there?' her heart questioned her but she chose to avoid it.



"Riddhima, have your breakfast. It's ready." Raji said from kitchen.

But all Riddhima wanted was to get out of their home. She felt suffocated ever since Armaan left for Kolkata. "No aunty. I am getting late. I'll eat something at the hospital." She shouted back and left.

As usual, she reached the parking lot absentmindedly. She glanced around and sighed as Armaan was not there today to drive her to the hospital. She remembered how he warned her not to drive by herself again after the small accident. She sighed remembering how he used to drop her at Sanjeevani, though his duty timings were different from hers. She glanced longingly at Armaan's bike parked at the farther end and closed her eyes for a second.

She opened her eyes after a moment and moved towards her long forgotten bike. Then she realized she hadn't brought the keys with her. She backed off from the idea to drive as she had to go again back to her flat and she didn't want that. Cursing nobody, yet everybody she moved out of the flats in search of an auto.

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

The day at Sanjeevani was much worse than she had expected. Everything about Sanjeevani reminded her about him. Walking through the corridor she remembered how he used to run after her for apology when he did something stupid. The rest room reminded her of the bickering they always had at the break time. She smiled looking at the canteen rewinding how he used to try desperately to gain her attention when they were with their friends.

Soon her smile faded away as she came to terms that he is not there now- with her. Everything around her seemed alien to her. She was with everyone yet alone.

"Hey Riddhima, when is Armaan coming back?" Muskaan asked her during the lunch break.

Riddhima flinched a little as she heard his name. "Call him and ask. How will I know." She snapped back at Muskaan and walked out of canteen, leaving a surprised Muskaan staring at her friend.

Throughout her duty, everything irritated her and made her cranky. She yelled at patients and nurses for no fault of theirs and almost created a chaos in the hospital with her weird behavior. Everyone else was able to arrive at the cause of her weirdness except her. She missed him – badly.

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

Reaching home, she threw her bag on the couch and fell on the bed. As she opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling, her eyes welled up and tears spilled out. She tried to hold them back but in vain. She felt helpless – without him. This feeling was alien to her. She surely missed her mom and sister but never did she feel so restless. She realized she was almost desperate for him.

"Riddhima? What happened to your mobile? Armaan had been trying to call you for an hour. Come talk to him." Raji called her to the living room.

Riddhima's heart rejuvenated as she heard Raji's words. Quickly wiping the tears, she ran to the phone in the living room.

"Armaan?" she spoke, holding the receiver close to her ears, lest she would miss hearing to his words.

"Basket. Thank God I got you." Armaan exclaimed. "I have been trying to reach you for the past hour."

"uh…" she found it hard to speak "I guess my mobile is in silent mode." She added.

"Oh." He said reluctantly before adding "I miss you basket."

Riddhima was overwhelmed listening to his words. They were just four simple words but they struck her heart in such a way that she couldn't handle it. Tears that she was holding back rushed freely out of her eyes, rolling down her cheek.

"I……I'll talk to you later." She managed to speak before she placed the receiver down. She didn't understand why she was crying and neither understood why she cut the call, while all she was craving was to hear him. Sitting on the couch and pulling her legs up, she sobbed silently placing her face on her knee caps.

"Riddhima?" Raji came running to her as she heard her soft sobs. "What happened? Did you talk to Armaan? Did he say anything?" she asked wiping the tears off Riddhima's face.

Riddhima just hugged her and buried her face in Raji's waist, shaking her head negatively.

"Did something happen at the hospital?" Raji prodded, ruffling her hair and felt another negative moment of Riddhima's head.

"I miss him." Riddhima spoke after a moment. Her heart felt at peace as she uttered the words.

"You miss him." Raji repeated her words for her, smiling at her.

"I still don't understand why I am crying." Riddhima whispered between her sobs.

Raji drew herself back to have a glance at Riddhima's face. She looked straight into her eyes and said "You are crying because you miss him – badly enough." She paused for a second and added "and there is much more to it."

As Riddhima frowned at her slightly, Raji wiped her damp cheeks and said "It's better if you figure it out yourself." She then kissed her forehead.

"Now come, let's have dinner. I am starving." Raji whined after a few moments.

Riddhima smiled at her weakly, though her mind was deep in thought. Rajis' words kept on ringing in her ears 'there is much more to it.'

Throughout Dinner, Riddhima was almost quiet and Raji thought it was better to give her the space.

Riddhima finished her dinner quickly and rushed to her room. Sitting on bed, she pondered over Raji's words. Soon her thoughts drifted off to Armaan. Initially she wasn't able to tolerate him even for a minute and now she is not able to tolerate a minute without him. Why? The question rose immediately. Did something change? She wondered.

Lying on the bed, she thought about the time she spent with Armaan. He surely annoyed her but he was the only person who comes to her mind when she is in need of one. He was always protective of her and she loved being protected. He cared for her and she loved being cared. He was always around her, be at home or at hospital, and she loved being wanted.

Even the physical proximity between them didn't bother her. Now that she had been thinking of it, she realized she loved being close to him, being touched by him, held by him. Slowly the weird sensations in her body when he touched her made sense to her. The way her heart beat madly, the way her breathing would become shallow when he was close to her. This couldn't be simple, she thought.

'Am I falling in love with Armaan?' she thought out of blue. As her thoughts made some sense, she closed her eyes tight trying not to listen to the answer her insides were screaming. Though her heart accepted it, her mind yet chose to ignore it. Emotionally drained, she drifted off to sleep before her mind could accept the answer to her question.

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

Armaan sighed deeply staring at his mobile. He surely wasn't expecting this. All he was yearning from four days was to listen to her atleast. He couldn't believe she cut his call when she could have talked to him. 'Basket, it'll surely take me years to understand you completely.' He thought and lay down on the bed.

He then suddenly remembered her muffled voice in the phone and frowned. Was she crying, he wondered. He took out his mobile and dialed Riddhima's number. But the next moment he backed off. 'Is she missing me as much as I miss her?' he thought and quickly dialed Raji's mobile.

"Hello Raji?" he spoke first not even giving a chance to Raji.

Raji couldn't help but smile at his eagerness. "Yes Armaan. Were you wishing for someone else?" she teased him.

"Huh? No nothing." He searched for words. "Riddhima? Is she fine?" he asked quickly.

"Oh, so you didn't call to talk to me?" she feigned to be hurt.

"Raji, please stop it." He grew slightly irritated "What happened to Riddhima? She didn't even talk to me." He pouted.

"It's because Mrs. Mallik is missing her dear husband." Raji said as a matter of fact.

Armaan's heart jumped up and down in joy. "Are you sure Raji?" he couldn't help but ask.

"Yes" Raji smiled.

"Bye Raji. I love you. Good night." He wished her in excitement.

"Whom does you in I love you refer to? Me or Riddhima?" she teased him further.

Armaan blushed listening to her. He dreamt about how it would be saying those words to Riddhima. "Both." He whispered back before disconnecting the call.  He wanted to rush back to home. He cursed the management in Sanjeevani for selecting him to represent Sanjeevani out of all the interns.

Armaan took out the schedule of the conference. There were still two more days, but nothing important. Next day being a gathering party celebrating the success of the conference and the day after being a valedictory. Soon an evil thought popped up in his brain and he grinned.

Dreaming about Riddhima and the ways to put his plan into action, he dozed off.

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

"Sir? May I come in?" Armaan knocked at the door of the senior doctor, who is the secretary of organizing committee of the conference.

"Yes." The old man answered and as he looked at Armaan entering, he added "Oh Dr. Mallik. Please have your seat."

"Thank you sir. Actually I want to talk to you." Armaan started nervously.

"Yes Dr. Mallik. How can I help you?"

"Sir, since today and tomorrow there were no seminars, I would like to return back home." Armaan told him with a genuine face.

"Why? Is everything fine?" the old man asked worried.

"Yes Dr. But it's just that my wife needs me now. She is-" Armaan spoke with a serious face.

"Oh." The old man nodded as if understanding. "I can understand. Pregnant lady want to spend time with their husband. You may leave. That's OK."

Armaan was baffled listening to him. Pregnant lady? He wondered what his senior thought about his excuse. As soon as it made some sense, Armaan was embarrassed. He was searching for some idea to make an excuse but this definitely wasn't on his mind. But the idea was quite tempting. Soon he found himself imagining how Riddhima would look with a big tummy.

Armaan jolted back to present when he heard his senior calling for him. He quickly thanked him and made his way out of his cabin.

All through his journey back, Armaan couldn't help himself from grinning at his hilarious excuse to his senior.

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

"Hello. This is Dr. Mallik. Is Dr. Riddhima on duty now?" Armaan called Sanjeevani as soon as he landed in Mumbai. He wanted to first go and meet Riddhima. So he wanted to know whether she would be at home or at hospital. He obviously didn't want to call her as he wanted to surprise her.

"Oh, she is at home? Thank you." He cut the call and asked the cab to take him to his home, giving him the directions.

Armaan wondered what her reaction would be when she saw him during the drive. He couldn't help but think about the time they spent together. It's been three months that they were married and it's been a beautiful journey for him. He never realized, he had been that attached to her as he couldn't bear being away from her for a few days. Now that he came to know about it, he desperately wanted to express his love to her and feel being loved.

He ran to his flat as soon as he reached the apartments. "Basket?" he pushed the door open and called for her, startling Raji.

"Armaan? You almost gave me a heart attack." Raji said as she moved forward and hugged him. "How come you came early. I thought you would come after two days."

But Armaan's eyes only searched for Riddhima. When he didn't find out, he asked Raji "Raji, where is Riddhima?"

"She just left to the hospital due to some emergency. Go and take a shower, I'll get you something to eat." Raji said.

"Oh" Armaan's face fell listening to her. "No. I'll go to Sanjeevani." He told Raji and rushed out grabbing his bike keys.

Armaan came to know that she is assisting in Surgery as he came to Sanjeevani and he was also told that it would take two hours for the surgery to end. Cursing his fate, he went to the rest room and sat on the couch.

'What will she say if I tell that I love her? Does she accept it? Will she love me back? What is she rejects? What if she doesn't feel the same?' all sorts of questions kept popping in his brain.

***********

Riddhima was extremely tired as she came out of the OT. All she wanted was go back to home and rest. But the thought again reminded her that Armaan wouldn't be at home and she sighed. Emotionally and physically drained, she made her way towards the rest room lazily.

Armaan saw her approaching the rest room and his heart beat increased slightly. All his tiredness of travelling just vanished at the sight of her face. He stared at her as she absentmindedly entered the restroom looking at the ground.

As she stepped in the restroom, Riddhima sensed some one's presence and looked up. She was surprised for a second, finding that pair of deep blue eyes gazing at her intently. She wondered if she was hallucinating or it was indeed real. She froze to the ground and simply stared at him.

Armaan watched the confused frown on her face and called her "Basket." As soon as she heard his voice he noticed the play of emotions on her face. Shock, surprise, relief, happiness, joy - all with a glint of sparkle in her eyes. Before he could utter a word, he saw her running to him.

Riddhima ran to him and hugged him, running her arms around his neck. She held onto him tight as tears threatened to spill out of eyes at any moment. She was beyond glad that he was back. His presence now made her realized how much she had missed him.

Armaan was stumped with her reaction. He surely didn't expect this. Nevertheless, he was happy. All the questions that popped in his brain few minutes ago regarding her feelings towards him vanished in flash. He snaked his arms at her back and pulled her more closer, as if that is possible. He wanted the moment to last forever.

Riddhima felt at peace being in his arms. She neither wanted to think about anything nor did she want any reasons for the feelings inside her. She just wanted to cherish the moment and nothing else.

After few minutes he drew himself back and looked at her face. He cupped her face and wiped the single tear that rolled down her cheek. Before he knew what he was doing, he titled his face slightly and pressed his lips on her hard.

Riddhima's heart stopped beating as his lips claimed hers. Before she could think of what she wanted to do, she felt his lips pressing hers hard insisting her to respond back. She wanted to stop him but her heart didn't listen to her. She wanted to push him way but her hands didn't obey her. Rather she found herself clasping his shirt in her fists pulling him closer.

The next moment, Riddhima felt her lips moving against his, answering his unasked questions. His hand moved down from her face to her nape, holding her gently yet firmly and his other hand wrapped around her waist.

Riddhima jolted back to present when he bit her lower lip. She found what she was doing and was almost out of breath by the time she realized. She wanted some air to breathe in but he was no way near to ending the kiss. Gathering all her strength, she pushed him away and leaned against the wall trying to catch her breath.

Armaan was out of his trance when she pushed him away. For a moment he was startled and then it occurred to him what he had done, as he himself was panting badly. He could still feel her lips against his – soft and delicious. He shook his head slightly to gain back his control. He looked to his side and noticed Riddhima breathing heavily, leaned against the wall. Then his eyes met her slightly swollen lips and slowly a grin made its presence on his face.

Riddhima looked up at him after a minute and found him smiling slightly. She rewinded what just occurred and shivered slightly. She found him smiling broadly at her the next moment and it annoyed her. She surely didn't regret what had happened but she didn't anticipate what had happened either. She was pissed off when he started grinning. How dare he kiss me, like this, without my consent? But she kissed him back, didn't she?

Armaan noticed her change of expressions and he was sure she didn't regret it. That thought deepened his dimples. He then saw her glaring at him and he knew he was a dead meat. He thanked his stars when he saw Muskaan and Rahul entering the rest room before she could respond.

Muskaan noticed Riddhima's face flushed up and walked up to her. She then found both of them breathing slightly heavily and sensed what might have happened. Nevertheless, she asked Riddhima "What happened Riddhima?" after a pause she winked at her and added "Your lips are slightly swollen."

While Rahul chuckled and Armaan looked away, Riddhima's blood boiled and she wanted to kill Armaan only God knows why.

Armaan noticed Riddhima taking a step towards him and before she could reach him her ran out with Riddhima following them, leaving Rahul and Muskaan laughing like crazy. He heard her yelling at him to stop but he knew what his position would be if he stops and hence kept running as fast as he can.

As he reached the reception, a nurse called him and told him to go and meet his senior urgently. He saw Riddhima few steps behind him and thanking his luck for the second time in the day, rushed to his senior.

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

Armaan peeped in through the main door, before entering the house, to find out whether everything is fine or not. But as soon as he stepped in a magazine wished him in his face and he knew everything is not fine. He moved in to find Riddhima in her night dress glaring at him and there was a big book in her hand now. He gulped and slowly made his way to her.

"Listen, Basket. I –" before he could complete his sentence, he noticed the book coming at him. He quickly ducked below and caught the book in his hands. He looked up and saw Riddhima running towards him with cushion in her hand. So he gave up the thought of explaining her and kept running around the couch, sofa dining table.

Riddhima kept on yelling at him while running behind him. "How dare you kiss me?"

Raji heard their fuss and came running to the living room. She saw the mess in the room and gasped. She then looked at Armaan running around with Riddhima behind and frowned. Inspite of the current mess, she was reminded of Tom and Jerry.

"Raji, please save me. Riddhima is trying to kill me." Armaan sought the help of Raji and ducked behind her.

"Move out the way aunty. I will kill him today." Riddhima retorted back and tried to reach him, but he was too fast for her.

Raji was worried for a second. She stood in between them and asked "But what did he do?"

Riddhima glared at him and answered "What he did? He kissed me without my consent."

While Raji giggled listening to her, Armaan grinned and replied "But you did respond back." He defended himself.

"Shut up, you moron." Riddhima snapped and threw the cushion at his face. Armaan still didn't understand why she was pissed off at him, though he knew she felt the same for him as he felt for her.

"You don't have the right to kiss me." She yelled at him as she caught hold of him and started hitting him wherever possible.

Armaan saw Raji smile at them and go back to her room, leaving them alone. He caught hold of Riddhima's hands and twisted them at her back pulling her closer. "Don't I?" he asked looking straight into her eyes.

Riddhima gasped as he pulled her closer. He looked into his eyes as he asked her but looked away immediately. She was still not sure of what to say.

"No. you don't have the right to force me." She said impulsively without realized what she was speaking.

Armaan was taken back at her reply. As she kept on struggling in his hold, he held her tightly. "Do you understand what you are speaking Riddhima? I didn't force you." He said with hurt visible on his face. He still didn't understand where this argument was leading.

She still wasn't paying any attention to his words. Her heart was sure of her feelings but her mind was still confused. "But why –"

Armaan cut her words before she could complete them. "Because I missed you." He said with his voice deep with emotions. But she didn't recognize the intensity with which he was saying as she still was deep in thought about the questions in her own brain. She struggled to get herself free from his hold as his grip on her tightened.

She was looking away twisting in his hold. "Leave me Armaan, now. Or I will surely kill you." He heard her say. Armaan tried once again to gain her attention. "and because I Love you." He replied to her previous question ignoring her words.

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


Luv
Sushmita

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