Wednesday, 11 December 2019

PART 22 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

               

Armaan stared at Riddhima sleeping peacefully beside him. He raised himself on his elbow and gently pulled her closer to himself by her waist. She didn't budge with the slight movement. She probably had been exhausted, he thought as he put her tendrils behind her ear. He noticed a book beside her on the table and sighed. She was taking the test too seriously.

For the past two weeks, he had been noticing her trying to speak to him about something but backing out at the last moment. He couldn't put his finger on what was bothering her so much. Initially he thought may be their physical moment a week back at the library had disturbed her. But then that option was ruled out as the next night she came and slept beside him saying she didn't want to sleep alone.



They had been sharing the same bed for a week now and ofcourse she had moved her clothes and other stuff to his room. She seemed perfectly comfortable sleeping beside him but for him, it's taking all his strength to just lay down beside her and keep his hands to himself. Nevertheless, he was glad that she was responding back whenever he had made any little physical advances.

Now that he had been thinking about it, his mind drifted off to their close encounter a week before.

In the evening, asusual Riddhima pulled a hesitant Armaan to the library to study for an hour before going back home after their duty. He groaned but couldn't do much as he simple followed her to the library. He watched her picking up a couple of books for them.

"Shall we start?" she asked as she brought the books and placed them on the table where he had been sitting.

As if I had a chance, he thought. He nodded faking a smile. Firstly he was in no mood to study and second, with Riddhima by his side the little concentration he could gather would just vanish. Does she even have any idea of her effect on me, he wondered. He realized, every time she came to him to study, he had done everything but studying. As much as he would try, he would just stare at her getting drowned in his own dreamland. Afterall it was the only time where she would just be silent engrossed in her books and let him do his own work -plainly admiring her.

"Armaan? Where are you?" her voice snapped him back to reality. He looked at her glare and just turned his head and buried it in some book before him. God!, this is going to be hard, very hard indeed, he sighed.

"I will get another book. This one is not good though." He heard her speak and noticed her walking to the book shelf. He looked around. The library was almost empty. Ofcourse who would stay back and study at 9 in the night, he scowled inwardly. He then turned his gaze to Riddhima and was back to his own world, placing his palm against his cheek leaning on to the desk.

She looks good in jeans and shirt, he thought dreamily looking at her struggling to find some book. His eyes travelled through her body from her face to her toes halting briefly at her curves. He couldn't stop himself from doing so lately and he didn't understand why. He looked away immediately frustrated with himself at the path in which his thoughts were travelling.

Was it natural? He wondered as he thought about that moment. He was never physically attracted to any girl, but what was happening now? He thought. Infact this attraction he felt towards Riddhima is so intense that sometimes he had to run away from her to keep his distance. He didn't want to scare her, that was the last thing he wanted. He wanted to take it slow, but her response was not helping it either. Whenever he takes any initiate she completely urges him further with her gestures. Thinking so he again went back to the library.

He looked back at her after a couple of seconds and that was the worst thing he had done. She was standing on her toes trying to reach the upper shelf. As she arched herself up, her shirt went slightly higher revealing her bare skin at her waist. His throat went as dry as a bone, as his eyes caught that. With a colour mixed of pink and off-white the sight was way too tempting for him to tear his gaze away.

"Armaan, can you help me? I can't reach the shelf." Listening to her voice, he looked up and his eyes met hers. They were peaceful and twinkling as ever. In a daze, he walked up to her and stood behind her. Inhaling her strong feminine fragrance, his hand travelled all along hers before reaching the book she was trying to get. He pulled the book out and placed it in her hand.

"Than-" The words from her throat were never completed as he jammed his lips on hers. Initially she was shocked at the abruptness, but then relaxed as she felt his lips moving over hers urgently. But then they were in the library. She tried to think straight but with Armaan kissing her, that was next to impossible. That thought was immediately forgotten when he bit her lip gently insisting her to respond back. The book fell off her hand and she immediately wrapped his hands around his neck only adding fuel to the already ignited fire in his body.

He lost his senses when she kissed him back, caressing his nape. He pressed his body over hers, cornering her against the shelf. He slid his hands under her shirt, pulling it up, caressing her waist and back. He was everything but gentle as he explored her, kissing her with his full passion. He felt her body shudder in his hold and he pulled her closer. Holding her tight with his one hand at her back, he sensually moved his other hand to her stomach only to feel it jiggling in pleasure. He heard her moan amidst the sultry kiss as he stroked her skin.

Unsealing his lips from hers, he kissed her chin before moving down to her throat. As he bit her neck gently, she gasped and fisted his hair in one hand while the other held on to his shirt at his shoulder tightly. Pulling her shirt aside, he left fervent kisses all along her long neck and shoulder before moving further down.

He opened his eyes as he felt something obstructing his passage down her body. He noticed the button of her shirt and groaned. Lost in the heat and passion, he brought his hand up and unbuttoned the first two buttons desperately seeking better access to her skin. She was way too lost in her own world to realize how far it was going. Moving the shirt slightly apart, he leaned down and kissed her upper chest that was revealed. She only moaned and pulled his face closer. He bit her chest passionately, while his hand fidgeted with the buckle of her belt on her jeans. Far off from realization what he was doing, as his hand made its way to the button of her jeans, he heard something melodious.

First he ignored it, but then his subconscious mind registered it to be the ring tone of her mobile. He opened his eyes immediately and jerked up, standing stiff. He noticed her standing infront of him, their bodies pressed together. As something hit his brain hard, he tried to step back, but then realized that she held onto him tightly.

Disentangling her hands from around his neck, he looked down at her breathing heavily. She still had her eyes closed and his heart stopped beating when he noticed the dishelved form of her shirt. He pulled her shirt closer and closed his eyes as a pang of guilt started rising in him. They were in library and he was making out with her!?! He cursed himself for the loss of control on his urges.

"Riddhima?" he called out, shaking her slightly by her shoulders. As she opened her eyes and looked at him confused, he immediately looked away not daring to meet her eyes. She stared at him for a second and then immediately stood up straight. She stood completely still at what just transpired between them. He looked down at her not getting any response. Noticing her stiff in shock, he fixed her belt that was open which brought all her senses back to her.

Clutching her shirt together, she turned around immediately. Closing her eyes for a moment, she tried to gather herself. She trembled as everything flashed infront of her eyes. Opening her eyes, she scanned the room frantically and sighed as she found none. What had they done? And what were they thinking? Fixing her shirt, she turned around to find him sitting on the chair with his head in his hands.

"Armaan?" she called him placing her hand on his shoulder. She knew he would be blaming himself and feeling guilty for what had happened. But he was not alone in that. She was equally responsible. She was feeling slightly disoriented but if she freaked out, she knew that would only add to his misery. She was proud at him that he came back to his senses, before they had done something, for she knew she could have never done that. But she did feel good, didn't she? That thought made her cheeks turn red.

She was surprised to find him in tears. Before she could speak anything, he hugged her burying his face in her waist, feeling disgusted with himself.

"I...I am....sorry... I don't know why.....I swear I didn't mean it.....sorry." he mumbled as his voiced chocked with holding back the tears. He didn't understand how he should justify what he had done. Was it worthy justification? No, he knew what he did was beyond that. He didn't expect it would go that far. More than the guilt that was tearing his insides, it was his fear- fear that she would just push him away from her that scared him

"Armaan, look at me." She pulled his face back and made him face her. "I don't regret any of it. Do you?" she smiled as he nodded negatively against his tears. "Then why are you sorry? I admit we should have controlled ourselves but that was just another way of expressing our love and you are not alone in it." She paused for a moment, wiping a lone tear that escaped his eye. "I love you Armaan. And more than that I trust you." She said placing a kiss on his forehead.

"Lets go. Its aunty." She said as she picked up her mobile and books from the table. She turned around and noticed him staring at her with a blank expression. She smiled at him and shook him slightly.

"I love you" he said impulsively as his mind registered whatever she had said. He smiled as he found her smiling. She entwined her fingers in his and pecked his cheek before pulling him out.

God, I love her so much! He sighed looking at her. He shuddered to even think where it might have gone, had he not stopped it. Though it was in the heat of the moment, he knew they could wait a little more for their own good. How could he thank her enough for understanding him so well even when he didn't voice anything out. He was sure he would have died of guilt had she not talked to him that night.

That night he thought, she would prefer sleeping away from him, but was surprised when she came and slumped beside him on the bed. As he stared at her confused, she raised her brows.

"What?" she asked as if nothing had happened. He opened his mouth to speak something, but then thought better and shut it, shrugging his shoulders. He was too scared that he forgot to wrap his arm around her waist and closed his eyes tightly. He opened his eyes when he felt her pulling his arm and placing it on her waist.

He looked down at her and noticed that she turned to his side and was facing him. "Why are you so worried Armaan?" he heard her ask him. Why was he worried? He pondered. How should he answer that? How could he say that he was worried because of the crazy feelings that are being developed in his brain lately. How could he say that he wanted to be close to her, feel her all the time.

"Riddhima, I-" he searched for words. He noticed her playing with the sleeve of his t-shirt. She always does that when she is nervous, he recalled. But when she looked up at him, he tried again "Riddhima, I love you. I don't know why lost my self today. I really don't and I am sorry for that. I admit I have gone off the limits and -" he stopped talking and sighed. "I don't even know what you feel and how you feel." He added and found her smiling.

"Will that make you feel better if I say I feel blissful when you are close to me? You make me feel complete Armaan. The way you look at me, touch me, kiss me- everything appears so right." She said looking straight into his eyes. "Don't you dare feel sorry for what happened in the library. It's another beautiful moment between us." She turned to the other side as she said this, her back against his chest. "Ha, I do regret that it's in library. Otherwise.." her voice trailed off not sure what the other end was.

"Otherwise?" he asked smiling widely. Those few words she spoke relieved him of so much confusion in his over active brain. May be it was afterall natural to feel so. "I don't have any problem completing that." He said as he kissed her nape softly. Though she was not facing him, he could bet on the colour that adorned her cheeks.

"Shut up. I shouldn't have said anything to you. We have lots of better works to do than that." He heard her voice. Probably, she might have closed her eyes by now, he thought as he felt her pull his arm on her waist closer.

"Like what?" he whispered again. Now that they were both back in their comfort zone, he didn't want to let go of it.

"Like studying Anatomy tomorrow at 5 in the morning."

He groaned recalling her answer. How can she divert the topic so easily, he wondered. He chuckled remembering her futile attempts to wake him up daily at 5 in the morning. 'If Raji couldn't achieve that in 25 years?, how could you do that probably in seven months?' he asked looking at her closed eyes. He pecked her eyelids and laydown beside her closing his eyes, finally his godess of sleep inviting him.

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

The next one week had been hectic for all the interns. With the exams in queue and their cases, they hardly had time to catch up with each other at the hospital. They were often assigned extra duties. Riddhima left no stone turned in making Armaan study the books while he was left with no chance but to follow her commands. With  a few makeouts and innumerable kisses, he had finally completed the schedule she had prepared for him.

A couple of days before their exam, Armaan roamed aimlessly in the corridor of Sanjeevani for Riddhima. He noticed that she had been unusually quite since morning. She neither fought with him at home while getting ready nor scolded him about his driving. He tried to talk to her once they were in Sanjeevani but since he was assisting his senior in surgery, didn't get time to meet her.

"Nurse, where is Bas- I mean Dr. Riddhima? Where is her duty today?" Armaan asked the nurse at reception.

"Oh, Mrs. Mallik is on half day leave today. She left two hours back." The nurse replied.

Armaan was surprised that she left without informing him. 'She didn't tell me in the morning either' he thought making his way towards the locker room. He pulled his mobile out and called her number, which was switched off. He immediately called Raji.

"Hello Raji? Is Riddhima home?" He asked once Raji picked up the call.

"She came home in the afternoon. But then she went to temple just an hour back." Raji replied.

"Temple? Oh OK. Is she fine? I mean she didn't tell me that she is taking half day leave." Armaan said still surprised.

"She is fine. It's her mother's death anniversary today. So she went to temple." Raji said softly and added "I told that I would come with her but she insisted she wanted to go alone. So-"

Armaan cut her in between and spoke "So you let her go?" he asked. "You should have atleast told me. I never knew it was aunty's death anniversary today." He said visibly hurt that Riddhima didn't tell him about it.

"She didn't tell you? I thought you knew about it." Raji said surprised and added "The temple is in our colony, just next lane. I will go and bring her back".

"That's OK Raji. I will pick her up." He replied and cut the call.

Next moment Armaan took permission from his senior to leave early and left to the temple.

As he reached the temple, it didn't take much time for him to find her as it was a small one. He noticed her sitting at one corner, with her face buried in her knees hugging them. He felt a twist in his heart as he knew she would be crying. He moved towards her and sat beside her.

"Riddhima" he called her softly putting a hand on her shoulder.

Riddhima looked up immediately noticing his voice. For a moment she stayed still, not expecting him there. Next moment when her brain realized his presence, she hugged him, burying her face in the crook of his neck. As he held her, she sobbed silently, her petite body shaking due to the attempts to refrain the sobs.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked calmly, but reluctantly.

"I thought I can handle it. But.....it's....." she managed between her sobs.

"I know." He said and held her closer to him, giving her the warmth of togetherness. He very well knew that pain, didn't he? Neither of them spoke, they just stayed silent in each other's embrace.

He wanted her to speak something, that would lighten her heart. But when she didn't speak for some time, he started

"You miss your mom, badly?" Armaan asked more of a statement. That was obvious.

She nodded, her sobs subsided. "Don't you?" she asked impulsively. But the moment the words escaped her mouth, she bit her lips. She didn't understand why she did that. But that one particular thought that he stays aloof to his mother was always in her mind buried deep down somewhere.

Riddhima felt him stiffen slightly at her question. But it was just momentary and she sighed in relief.

"I don't." he said surprising her. "Cause I have Raji" he added after a moment.

She knew as well as himself, its truthfulness. The flicker of pain in his words didn't go unnoticed by her. But she preferred not to probe him further.

"Oh, in that case, I don't, too. I too have aunty." She said moving closer in his embrace.

After few minutes, Riddhima drew back from him and smiled faintly. "I am fine, Armaan. Let's go. Aunty must be waiting for us." She said and got up.

As Armaan walked ahead, she followed him deep in thought. She wondered how this crazy man of hers always understood what she needed, even when she didn't ask for it. He didn't sympathize her, just stayed beside her as a support and for that she was extremely happy.

"Armaan-" she called for him as they drove towards their home.

When he turned aside she said "You are a very nice person."

"Oh, thank God you realized it. Better late than never, you know." He chuckled at his own words, a desperate attempt to lighten her mood.

"Thanks." She smiled at him. "For just being there for me." She added.

"I'll always be there for you Riddhima. Forever." he said.

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

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-Sushmita

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