Friday, 13 December 2019

PART 24 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

"I hate being a doctor!" Armaan declared after getting into bed after a long warm shower.

He sighed as his bed greeted him. He was called to Sanjeevani at 2 in the morning as the case file of one of his patients went missing. After an hour of discussion about the patient with the intern on duty, he returned back. He turned to the other side and found Riddhima giggling. He was surprised to find her awake. But then he felt happy, needed. She told him many times that she couldn't sleep peacefully without him, but he didn't expect her to be awake, waiting for him.

"What? I really hate it. Why the hell don't we have any timing as in 9am to 5pm?" He whined snuggling closer to her. This was the only place where he yearned to stay – in her arms, forever.

"But I love you Dr.Mallik." she said softly as she ran her fingers in his hair. Sometimes, his words amuse her. He was just a kid, a big kid. She chuckled at her thought softly.



He smiled inspite of himself. Her little words gave him the calmness he so yearned for at the moment.

"You too, Dr.Mallik." he whispered sleepily. He breathed in her scent and was almost on the edge of falling asleep when he heard her calling for him.

Riddhima was instantly hit by a thought when he addressed her Dr.Mallik. She had been thinking to talk to him about them marrying for the past one month but she put it aside due to their exam. But now that that is done, she thought may be its better to talk about it, for she found no such signs from him. And her heart raced madly at the thought of asking him for that. After all she is a girl and how was she going to ask him to marry her; especially when he is already her husband.

"Armaan?" she called him slowly wondering whether he had already fallen asleep. One part of her wished he would be asleep so that she could postpone her task of talking to him but the other part want to talk to him asap!

"Hmm" he mumbled and hid his face in her neck making her smile.

"I want to talk to you." She said wishing he would listen to her.

She was not sure what she would say but was sure she had to talk. She was growing conscious of their physical intimacy these days and was sure they wouldn't be able to hold it longer. Though she could see the pent up passion in his eyes, she was sure he wouldn't move further until he had her consent. She couldn't even deny the desire that was ripping through her body, for him. She still wondered how he stopped himself and her every time when they were just near to the edge. They were humans after all and married. Legally, her mind spoke again.

"Later Riddhima." He replied sleepily.

No way was he going to talk to her at 3.30 in the morning, that too after a long discussion about a case. He had his goddess of sleep to pacify first.

"Armaan, please." She tried to get up and sit. "Listen to me atleast."

She wanted to talk to him right then, for she knew she would again forget about it when they get back to work. This had been happening for the last one week. And her mind had been working overtime on how to spill this to him. But now she had had enough. She was going to finish this once and that too now as she knew he was not asleep. Atleast it was easy to face this situation against a sleepy Armaan and if this fails she could think of better plans to talk to him when he was awake. She chuckled at her own excuse.

"Tch..Ok. I am listening." He mumbled again, turning his face to the other side.

As she tried to get up, he moved aside and slept on his stomach. He too had realized she had been trying to talk to him about something for the past one month. He had always wanted to bring it out of her. But now? As in 3.30 in the morning? This is crazy, for she knew how much he loves his dearest sleep.

"Armaan?" she called out again to catch his attention, bending over him to find out he was awake or not.

"Riddhima!!" He whined as he felt her draw some imaginary figures on his shoulder. "Speak fast or else, I am gonaa sleep." He said, pissed off now, his voice raising.

"Marry me?" she blurted impulsively when she heard his voice which showed his frustration clearly.

The last thing she wanted now was to make him irritated. She bit back her tongue as the words escaped her mouth. This was not the way she thought to put it in. She jerked off him and sat straight on the bed cross legged waiting for his response, eagerly.

Armaan on the other hand was dumb folded at her words. Of all the things, she wakes him up at this time and asks him to marry her. That too when they were already married. This girl had to be crazy, he thought as his half asleep brain processed the words she spoke.

"God, Riddhima. I think you lost your mind. For your information we are already married. Now let me sleep." He snapped at her clearly irritated.

Riddhima was slightly taken aback at his outburst. She had expected him to mock at her but this was a little too harsh. Here she gathered up all her courage to say that to him and he just dismissed it saying she lost her brain. The next moment, the little humiliation was replaced by her anger. How dare he say that she is out of her brain? Fully charged with her building anger, she smacked him on his arm to wake him.

He sighed deeply, as he felt her hit him. She clearly knows how to get on to ones nerves. He remained silent, hoping she would just go back sleep but he was wrong. She again nudged him calling his name. That's it, he lost it completely. With one swift moment, he turned around and pinned her under him, his palms clutching her upper arms, because he knew she wouldn't let him sleep peacefully otherwise.

"If you don't go back to sleep and let me have mine, I promise I would do something that you wouldn't want me to do." He said intensifying each and every word he uttered, staring straight into her eyes.

He was already tired and all he wanted to do was cuddle up beside her and sleep peacefully atleast for the rest of the night. She was allright when he returned back from hospital and he wondered what had gotten into her suddenly that she started speaking something out of the blue. He knew this was the only way he could have her shut her mouth and more over the idea popping in his brain seemed quite amusing.

"But I-" she started again but was cut midsentence as he jammed his lips on hers knocking the breath out of her lungs. She stared at him wide eyed for a second as her brain registered what was happening. She felt her eyes getting closed slowly, feeling intoxicated, only to flutter open the next second, even more wide than before.

He pulled out of the kiss roughly after two seconds. "When I say I will do something, I mean it. Now let me sleep. Okay? Or else." He trailed off when he found her nodding her head furiously. He held back the giggle that was about to erupt from his throat looking at her face written full of confusion and fear.

She gulped looking at his face, breathing heavily. This was not the thing she had expected. She stayed completely still watching him go back to his sleep resting his face on her chest, under her chin. After what happened, he still had the audacity to sleep on her; she glared down at him but was too scared to push him off. She had definitely chosen the wrong timing, she sighed.

"Sleep Riddhima." He said after a couple of moments.

With the little abrupt kiss, his drowsiness vanished instantly. She was still and too stiff to be asleep, with that heart of hers beating frantically almost thundering in his ear that was against her chest. May be he was little rude, he pondered. He thought of only playing around with her but it went a little far. But her confused face with big round eyes when he pulled back abruptly from the kiss was worth anything. That thought brought a smile to his lips and he tried to refrain himself from laughing out loud.

She quickly closed her eyes when she heard him. She was frightened looking at his angry face that scooped away all the courage she gathered. Tears welled up in her closed eyes and her jaw ached as she held them back. Next moment she felt his lips move near her collarbone and his body shaking lightly. She opened her eyes and looked down. Was he crying too? She wondered as a tear rolled down from her eye. He was laughing?? She gritted her teeth as she realized that fact.

He laughed not able to hold it back. He lifted his off her chest to have a glance at her and the next moment his face fell as he noticed tears in her eyes. Did he scare her? Too much that it made her cry? He kicked himself mentally.

"Riddhima?" he spoke slowly afraid she would cry more. "I am sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I was just joking." He touched her cheeks wiping the tears away.

She sniffed more angry than hurt. First she amassed all her courage and asked this man to marry her and he just snapped at her. Next he kissed her rudely and now he was laughing at her. She felt stupid. She pushed him off her and turned away moving to the other end of the bed.

"Riddhima, I am sorry. I was just playing around. I didn't mean to hurt you." He said moving closer to her feeling guilty.

He put his arm on her waist to pull her closer but she priced it away. He was on wary the next moment. May be he had hurt her deep. Then he tried to recollect what she was trying to say to him a couple of minutes earlier. And then it hit him, what she meant by that two words of hers. He could imagine how nervous she would have felt trying to ask him and he very perfectly spoiled the moment. She asked him to marry her, didn't she?

"Riddhima, you just proposed to me!!!" he exclaimed, astonished, sitting on the bed.

His pulse quickened at the realization. But that was supposed to be done by the guy. How come it never hit him, he thought. Ofcourse they were married, but in a haste that too when there were unwilling. May be she wanted a normal wedding. Why not? She was a girl afterall. She must have dreamt of her marriage many times. His lines of thought were broken when he heard her.

"Forget it. I take them back." She seethed making him smile.

"But I am not giving them back." He responded quickly. When she was trying to getup from the bed, he rolled on to her, securing her beneath him. "I am sorry" he added once again.

She sighed noticing the emotions in his voice. "You should be." She said adamantly. "I was pulling my hair out from one month to decide on how to talk to you about this and when I actually did, you just made fun of me. I hate you. Get off me, you moron!" She added struggling to get free from his strong hold.

"But I love you." He said softly and she stopped moving in his hold. "So you are ready to live with this moron and bear with him for the entire life of yours?" he whispered kissing her knuckles. She just stared at him with her eyes full of tears. "I promise I would always keep you happy, annoying you, teasing you and fighting with you apart from scaring you sometimes." he added with a chuckle.

She nodded and laughed at his words as tears escaped from her eyes yet again. Only he can come up with such words for a proposal. She pulled him down and hugged him tightly.

"You are just a stupid. First you scare me then you confuse me and finally you make me cry." she said half laughing and half sobbing.

"Yeah I know. For some weird reason all the stupidity in me just overflows when you are around." He smirked and hissed receiving a hard smack on his bare upper arm. "Offo Basket. Watch out before you hit me. I am just in my vest." He said rubbing his arm moving away from her while she giggled.

He again turned to her to shoot back something but the sight of her giggling just bowled him away. With till tears glistening in her eyes and that naughty smile on her lips and face glowing with unfathomable happiness, she looked quite different yet extremely beautiful. But why did she just appear to be different? May be he had just started looking at her as Mrs.Mallik, in true sense. Slowly he leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers ever so lightly. He kissed her once, twice, thrice and so on until they were out of breath.

"Armaan?" she called out softly as they lay down silent snuggled up to each other.

"Hmm?" he replied still lost somewhere.

"When will we get married?" she asked out of blue which made him jerk out of his thoughts. He looked at her but she already has her eyes closed, her cheeks slowly changing the color.

"Someone is desperate, huh?" he asked kissing her cheek which turned all the more dark. "I'll say let's get it done, now and here. Why waste time?" he added cheekily, while she opened her eyes and stared at him surprised.

"Just kidding. You tell me, when and how you want to get married. I have heard girls dream a lot about their wedding- a big hall, lot of people, heavy jewellery etc. " he asked looking down at her as she rested her head on his shoulder.

"No Armaan. That's not required. Just a small temple, somewhere peaceful and calm. With few friends and close ones." Her voice trailed off as she was lost in her won world, imagining the beautiful moment.

He stared at her in surprise. Her wishes are simple. Small things make her happy. She never ceases to amuse him. Now with that dreamy smile on her face, she looked just like a teenager planning about a fairytale wedding.

"Yeah. We'll talk to Raji about it. You, me, Raji, your dad, Muski, Rahul and few others." He joined her.

"Ananya aunty, Vijay uncle."  She completed his sentence.

No sooner did she utter the words, than he went stiff for a moment which she noticed. As she looked at his face to gauge his expressions, she noticed him try to compose himself before looking into her eyes. When he looked at her and smiled she knew about his smile which didn't reach his eyes. She pondered whether she should ask him or not about his cold behavior towards him mom. Finally she gave.

"Armaan, shall I ask you one thing?" she started slowly. He closed his eyes as if knowing quite well what her question would be. But he was not sure whether he would be able to explain it to her. When he nodded positively, she continued. "You do you behave indifferently with Ananya aunty? I have noticed it many times. She is your mother and loves you so much."

He sighed as he heard her words. "You don't know anything Riddhima. She never cared for me. She was never there when I needed her. She-" he stopped suddenly and said "However I have you and Raji. I don't need anyone else."

She sighed listening to his words. How could she explain to him? She had talked to Raji about him and his mother a couple of months before.

It was true Ananya was never with him when he needed him, but that just because she had been hell busy with her husband in helping him expanding his business after Armaan's birth. Being a working mother, she tried to balance her work and family but in vain. She overlooked the fact that his son might need his mother when he was a child, as she had Raji looking after him well. Little did she know that he was pining for her- his mother. When he went to school, he would come back home in search of his mother to share his day and sleep resting his head on her lap. But everyday he faced the same situation. His mother would be away at work. But his brain failed to realize that and slowly he took it as a rejection and the fact that his mom rejected him hurt him bad. Slowly he got emotionally attached to Raji and sought the solace from her which she readily offered but somewhere deep down he yearned for his mother.

Ananya failed to realize in those years that her son had been slowly drifting away from her and when their business was stable and when she had all the time for his son, it was too late. She noticed Armaan would not talk to her comfortably rather she found him trying to run away from her. She tried to find out the reason but in vain. She tried to get things back between her and him but he would just be formal with her, speak in monosyllables and leave. It was then she realized what he must have gone through when she was not there for him when he needed her. It hit her hard twisting her heart in pain. She thought time would heal them both but it only made it worse. As soon as he completed hi 12th, he went to stay in hostel and after graduating with MBBS, he shifted back to Mumbai to join Sanjeevani leaving no chances for her to get back to her son.

Riddhima realized that now it had gone too far that Armaan failed to acknowledge his mom as his family. Whenever he would talk of something like family, it was always he, Riddhima and Raji. But she had noticed the desperate look in Ananya's eyes when she had met her. Even Raji told her that sometimes Ananya would just cry her heart out with Raji and tell her she missed being a mother. But what she didn't understand was why Armaan is still running away from Ananya when she was ready to offer him all the love he had missed on. He behaved normally with his dad. And she knew he was just hurting himself in the process for she knew the pain of staying away from mother.

"Armaan, but she is your mom. She-" Riddhima said once again desperately trying to make him understand what he was missing on, being adamant.

"Riddhima please. I don't want to talk about it." He cut her before she could complete her sentence.

He understood she was just worried for him and she wanted to set things right. She indeed has the right to know about it. But he was happy today and didn't want to spoil it by speaking about his relationship with this mother. But he didn't realize that he had raised his tone a bit which made her look at him with eyes narrowed clearly stating she didn't like his abrupt interruption.

"Ok I promise I'll talk about it next time. But leave it for now. Let me enjoy the joy of being proposed by my legally wedded wife." He added.

She scowled at his remark. She knew he got one more reason to tease her now. She turned to the other side with her back facing him having no thought to aim at him. He smiled at her. He pulled her closer and kissed her nape.

"Good night." He whispered deliberately brushing his lips against her earlobe.

She glanced at the watch beside her bed and gasped. It's not night. Its morning indeed and 6 am. They had been talking for a long time that they lost track of time. It being Sunday she told Raji that she would come to the market. They usually leave by 6. That means she is late. She tried to get up but he didn't let her.

"Armaan, leave me. It's not night. Infact Sunday morning. I should go to market with aunty. She must be waiting." She explained to him struggling under his hold. But he was in mood for some fun. Why let go off a chance of early morning romance?

"Armaan, if you don't leave me then you have to go along with aunty." She said and knew she hit the target for he let go off her immediately. She knew his dearness to early morning sleep. Smiling at him as he scorned at her, she pecked his cheek and jumped off bed before he could change his mind.

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

After discussing with Raji about their wedding plan, Riddhima and Raji settled on the carpet before the couch to watch a movie on television as they still had some time before their afternoon nap. Raji talked to Ananya about this and then to the pandit. Finally their marriage was scheduled to be after 8 days. But it was left to Riddhima to decide the place as she wanted to get married in a temple without any fuss.

While they discussed on the movie shuffling between the channels, Armaan came in search of Riddhima as he was feeling a bit disoriented after being asked about his mom.

"Armaan, watch movie with us?" Riddhima asked as he came and stood beside them.

He was least interested in the movie, but the set up infront of him appeared tempting. She wrapped a thin shawl around her it being cold with rain pouring heavily and few packets of chips and a cool drink bottle was placed beside her.

"Which movie?" he asked sitting beside her pulling the shawl and wrapping it around them both.

She glared at him warning him not to resort to naughtiness as Raji was sitting beside them. He grinned at her as his hand snaked around her waist and pulled her closer.

"Taare Zameen Par" she replied while his brain was busy with evil plans as he slid his hand inside her T-shirt. As the shawl was wrapped around them, Raji couldn't see his actions so he continued brushing her waist with his cold fingers sending waves of shivers down her spine.

Raji understood what he might be doing inside the shawl as she noticed Riddhima's cheeks slowly changing the color. So she excused herself stating she was tired and asked them to continue. While he grinned at her she smacked the back of his head while leaving.

"Armaan, stop it. Let me watch the movie." She snapped at him as he sensually moved his hand on her waist and back leaning onto her. She priced his reluctant hand away from her body deeply engrossed in the movie. He huffed and tried to concentrate on the movie but nothing held his attention apart from her. But he knew very well that she would kill him if he disturbed her. So he quickly got up and went to his room.

After two hours, Riddhima entered the room feeling sleepy. She looked at the watch which said 2 pm. That means she can catch up with a solid 4 hrs of sleep. Walking up to the bed, she saw him sleeping on his stomach as usual with his arm sprawled on her side of the bed. Slowly without disturbing him, she got into the bed. Raising his arm a little she moved closer to him and put the arm back on her waist. He opened his eyes once and glanced at her before closing them again, tightening his hold on her.

She found it slightly different the way he was holding her. She noticed him being slightly disturbed since morning but brushed it aside thinking it was due to lack of sleep. But now she was sure something had been bothering him. Suddenly she felt she had done a mistake in probing him about his mother. May be he was not comfortable with her asking that. But then she did that out of concern for him.

"Armaan, what happened?" she asked him slowly ruffling his hair when she noticed him awake. He pulled her closer and nuzzled his face in her neck.

"What do you think about that movie?" he asked suddenly without looking up. She was for a moment perplexed at his question.

"Huh? Movie? That's good. It was heart wrenching to see that kid crying for his mom, staying away from her. But why?" she asked back. She didn't understand where the conversation was leading, all of a sudden.

"Heart wrenching? Yeah. But I lived through that Riddhima, pining for my mom, all my childhood." He said slowly and she froze. As she connected the dots of what he was speaking, she understood what the conversation is about. He was just answering the questions she put up at him the previous night. She didn't expect it to be anything like what he had been speaking. As she composed herself, her heart ached to imagine him in the place of that kid in the movie. She had even cried watching the movie remembering her mother.

"Armaan?" she asked as her voice cracked. This was the first time he had been talking about his childhood. Every time when they had been talking about their childhood, he used to skip the topic or just listen to her. Now she understood why.

"I don't hate my mom Riddhima. It's just that I got used to staying away from her over the years. I don't feel attached to her as I feel towards Raji or you. I feel uncomfortable with her around. May be it's due to the fact that she remembers me of all the loneliness I faced during my childhood. It was always Raji who took care of me." He said. He didn't understand why he felt this sudden urge to open the flood gates of his heart suddenly. He generally avoided talking about all this to everyone along with Raji but with Riddhima, he felt different. For once he wanted to speak his heart out infront of her. He wanted to let her know everything about him.

"That's fine Armaan. I can understand." She tried to soothe his pain. "May be aunty made a mistake in realizing that she had avoided you then but as far as I can see, she realized her mistake Armaan. She too is yearning for her son as much as you have yearned for her then. Don't repeat the mistake aunty had done."

"I don't know Riddhima. That's difficult." He whispered.

"Armaan, I am not saying that you should go and shower all the love on aunty all of a sudden. She is coming here in three days. So just talk to her normally. You can see the difference. I am sure aunty will jump in joy when you just smile at her." She replied with a chuckle at her last sentence.

He couldn't help but smile at her words. He didn't know about his mom but he was sure she would do that if he talked to his mom. But he would try that if not for his mom, just for her.

"Thanks." He raised his head and pecked her lips surprising her. She is just perfect for him. He wondered how she would understand his unspoken thoughts. It's just as if their hearts are in resonance with each other.

She blushed closing her eyes. "Any time." She whispered happily sighing as he moved closer to her. Physically and emotionally drained, they set off to a peaceful sleep in each other's arms.

Later that evening, Riddhima was more than glad to find Armaan back to his normal naughty mode. With their usual banter and bickering and Raji desperately trying to be the umpire between them, another day passed of beautifully bringing a pleasant smile to all the three pairs of lips.

****************
 comments plz.

-Sushmita

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