Saturday, 14 December 2019

PART 25 : Mr. & Mrs. Mallik

Armaan groaned sleepily as he heard the noise of the door bell ringing. He hoped either Raji or Riddhima would answer the door but it didn't happen as the ring persisted for more than two minutes. He nudged Riddhima who was fast asleep beside him as he was least interested to get up.

"Basket. Door." he whispered shaking her slowly.

She turned to the other side and pulled the bed sheet over her face. She was tired after the stressful shopping for the wedding as the wedding is in three days and was in no mood to go and answer the door call. May be Raji was too asleep to hear it, she thought.

"Please Armaan. Go and check it. Aunty must be tired." She pleaded as he nudged her again.



He got up reluctantly and sat on the bed still eyes closed wishing the ring would stop. But he was wrong. The bell rang once again and he checked his mobile for time. It is 5 am. Cursing the person on the other side of the door, he dragged himself out of the bed and moved towards the door. But the moment he opened the door, his entire smile vanished looking at the person infront of him.

"Mom?" he asked wondering whether he was right. Rubbing his eyes he looked at her again surprised. He looked around her, there was none. So she came alone. That too by catching the midnight flight? He looked at her unsure of the concern that was in his heart.

"Sorry to disturb you. But I felt like coming here." Ananya smiled reluctantly feeling awkward apologizing to her son. But she wanted to be with her son and daughter-in-law to supervise their quite wedding. So she took the night flight from Delhi. But the flight was delayed by few hours and it landed early in the morning. She didn't inform to Riddhima or Raji of her coming as she was sure they wouldn't allow her to come alone. But Vijay was out of country and wouldn't be back till the next two days. So she came alone.

Armaan nodded as he heard her not sure what to speak. He thought to go back to his room after letting her in but Riddhima's words echoed in his brain. Still unsure, he moved forward by a step and hugged her for a second. He felt it different yet peaceful. He drew back and smiled at her before turning back and going to his room to wake Riddhima.

Ananya stared at her son surprised beyond her imagination. She didn't expect what had happened. Nevertheless her eyes welled up and a smile crept to her lips. Though for a second, it felt like heaven with her son in her arms. She clearly understood what she had missed all these years. May be God had heard her silent pleads, she thought as she stared at his retreating back.

Armaan went to his room and after switching on the light, sat on the bed beside Riddhima trying to wake her. But she only turned to his side and cuddled upto him making him smile. With her cheeks and nose red due to the cold, she looked cute. He bent down and pecked her nose caressing her cheeks.

"Riddhima?" he whispered slowly in her ear.

"Hmm?"

"Mom came from Delhi." He said and continued placing light kisses behind her ear. She sighed as he did that and tilted her face to the other side to give him enough access.

"When?" she asked enjoying his caress.

"Ten minutes before." He replied making his way down to her neck.

She pushed him aside and jerked up at his words. "Ten minutes? Why didn't you wake me then?" she shrieked as she got down from bed and ran to the dressing table to fix her hair and dress before running out of the room, leaving a bewildered Armaan behind.

"Aunty?" Riddhima made her way to the living room and found Ananya smiling to herself.

"Hie Riddhima, how are you?" she asked as she heard her voice and hugged her tight. Her heart was ready to explode with the happiness.

Riddhima was taken aback with the sudden rib crashing hug but hugged her back wondering what had happened. "I am good aunty. How are you? And Uncle?" she asked still confused.

"I am so happy. And Vijay is out of country. He will be back in two days." She said with the grin on her face increasing with every passing second. Riddhima smiled back as they sat on the couch. This is the first time she had witnessed such happiness in her mother-in-law's eyes and she was happy for her whatever the reason might be.

With the constant noise Raji woke up and was surprised to find Ananya in the living room. She went and hugged her. As the three ladies sat in the living room chatting away about the wedding preparations, Raji and Riddhima were confused at the grin permanently plastered on Ananya's face. Raji asked Riddhima about it through her eyes but she only shrugged her shoulders. After an hour, they went back to their rooms to catch some sleep.

After ten minutes, Raji came to Riddhima's room and they both sat on the bed with a frown, with Armaan drifting in and out of his sleep.

"Something wrong with Ananya aunty?" Riddhima asked Raji hesitantly.

"I don't know. It's been years since I saw her this happy. She might be happy with your wedding." Raji replied not quite satisfied herself.

"What happened?" Armaan woke up rubbing his eyes and sat on the bed.

"Nothing. Ananya aunty is extremely happy about something; so much so that the smile is not leaving her lips. I mean we are happy for her but what might be the reason? Did she say something to you?" Riddhima asked him back.

Armaan smiled sheepishly at her as he guessed the reason behind it. Might be Riddhima's words that his mom would jump in joy if he smiles at her are coming true, he thought.

"What? Did you do something?" she asked suspicious, noticing his coy smile.

"Actually. When she came, I remembered of your words of that night and I thought to try it out once." He replied smiling hesitantly at Riddhima. Raji looked at him confused trying to connect the dots but in vain while Riddhima's eyes widened at his words.

"What did you do?" she whispered.

"I didn't do anything. I just hugged her and smiled at her." He added shrugging his shoulders.

"WHAT?" both the ladies shouted nonplussed. Raji was shocked beyond her wits while Riddhima just stared at him amazed at what he did.

"Oh my God, Armaan. Now I understand why aunty is so happy. Thank you so much." Riddhima embraced him tight and smiling widely while Raji tried to take in what he said.

"Raji, are you fine?" Armaan asked her as he found her still without any expressions.

"Huh? Yeah I am fine. I am shocked, I guess." She caressed his cheek and added "Accept her Armaan. She is dying to be your mother." Her eyes welled up.

He nodded smiling lightly."I am trying. But it'll take some time." He said as he got up from the bed and went to the washroom.

Riddhima hugged Raji and said "Don't worry aunty. Everything will be fine."

Raji drew back and smiled at her. "I know Riddhima. U will make sure everything is fine. Thank you so much for coming into our lives."

"Aunty, I am grateful to God for bringing me into your lives. I got the never ending love I have always yearned for." She added hugging her again.

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Armaan came to the living room and found Raji, Ananya and Riddhima talking about something seriously. Taking his lab coat and some files he went to the dining table while Raji followed him to serve him breakfast. He was surprised when he found Riddhima still in her night clothes. He glanced at the watch which said 7.40 am.

"Riddhima? You are late. I am not going to wait for you." He shouted from the dining table.

She smirked at him when she heard his words. She moved to their room and brought an envelope with her. She gave the envelope to him while he frowned at it. "That's my leave application Armaan. For 5 days. Submit it in the Sanjeevani. Plz." She said and went back to the living room.

"What? You will be on leave till wedding? What should I do in the hospital? I'll take leave too." He whined not liking the idea of going to the hospital without her.

Raji and Ananya chuckled while Riddhima sighed. "Armaan, you will treat the patients as every day. Moreover the girl has a lot of work to do while wedding not the guy. And if you take leave you will do nothing but to disturb me. I don't need that." She replied and added "Muskaan will be on leave for 3 days till the wedding. So you will be needed there."

"What? It's my wedding and why is Muskaan taking leave instead of me?" he came and stood infront of her frowning.

"To help me." Riddhima replied coolly while he made a face and left cursing only God knows whom.

Raji smiled shaking her head at their banter while Ananya was slightly surprised. For Raji it was a daily routine to witness their small fights but Ananya seemed to be worried at their relationship. Raji sensed her concern and sat beside her on the couch. "Don't worry. It's just a routine for them. Tom and Jerry, you know." She said which made Ananya smile.

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Armaan came home late at night after a hectic day at the hospital. With Riddhima and Muskaan on leave and the patients increasing, they were assigned extra cases and extra duty hours. He threw his bag on the couch and slumped beside it on the bean bag closing his eyes. After sometime he heard Riddhima's voice and opened his eyes. He stared at her in surprise as her hands and feet were covered with Mehandi. He moved and put his head on her lap as she sat on the couch.

"Armaan, go and take a shower. You must be tired. I'll ask aunty to serve you dinner." She said with her arms spread wide not to destroy her Mehandi. But for Armaan, all his tiredness vanished as he looked at her glowing face. He didn't understand why but he felt peaceful. Smiling to himself he got up and stood. But before going to his room, he pecked her lips surprising her. He grinned at her while she looked around the room whether anyone has noticed them.

Ananya smiled looking at the cute scene. She was happy for her son and Riddhima. She came and sat beside her with the shopping bags she had brought from Delhi. She showed the saree she bought for Riddhima to wear during the wedding. It was a deep red georgette saree with gold and green colour embroidery which Riddhima liked instantly. After checking all the sarees she brought for her, they engrossed themselves regarding the venue for the marriage. Raji told Riddhima about the temples in Mumbai while Ananya checked the Directory for their addresses. Finally they agreed with the venue as Vaishno Devi temple on the Mumbai-Pune Highway.

While they were discussing, Armaan came there with a bottle of oil for head massage as his head was aching.

"Basket, is your Mehandi done? I need a head massage." He asked her sitting on the carpet infront of her.

"No Armaan. It'll take time." She replied to him but immediately an idea popped in her brain as she looked at Ananya. But she knew he would never ask Ananya. As expected Armaan asked Raji when she came from the kitchen.

"Raji are you free? I need a massage." He told her as she came and sat beside Riddhima. Raji was about to agree when she saw Riddhima signaling her to say no. First she was confused but then understood as Riddhima pointed towards Ananya.

"Sorry Armaan. I have lot of work in the kitchen." She said with a sugary tone and moved towards kitchen smiling at Riddhima.

"Armaan, Ananya aunty is free. Go to her. She will massage your head. Right aunty?" Riddhima asked her casually leaving Armaan surprised.

Ananya hoped Armaan would ask her on that but sighed when he didn't. She knew she could never take the place of Raji or Riddhima in his heart. But then wished she could get a chance and was caught off gurad when Riddhima asked her.

"Huh? Sure. If Armaan is Okay." She replied hesitantly looking at him. He didn't understand what to say. But before he could speak Riddhima answered for him.

"Armaan is fine with it aunty. Isn't it Armaan?" she asked him back leaving him with no chance but to nod at her.

He moved to her and sat on the carpet in front of her with his back rested lightly against her legs. She took the oil from him and started massaging his scalp. He felt uncomfortable for the first few seconds but after that it was peaceful for him. As her fingers worked in his hair, he relaxed against her. Slowly he felt an unknown soothing feeling creeping through his insides which he didn't understand why. Maybe it was due to the emotional bond a child has towards him mother, he thought but was least bothered about it as he felt his eye lids close slowly. Soon he fell asleep resting his head in his mother's lap which he yearned to do since his childhood.

Ananya's eyes welled up as she noticed her son sleeping peacefully in her lap. She felt she was in heaven. She continued massaging his scalp smiling to herself against the tears.

Riddhima and Raji were ecstatic witnessing it. Raji came and stood beside Riddhima giving her a side hug while they simply stated at the mother and son. Soon they engrossed themselves in some discussion regarding the wedding preparations while Ananya joined them after sometime her fingers still in his hair.

After an hour or so, Raji said that they should have dinner and retire to sleep as the time was 10 pm.  Riddhima went to the wash room to clean her Mehandi while Ananya tried to wake Armaan who was still sleeping in her lap. As she shook him slightly, he opened his eyes for a second, looked at her, smiled and closed his eyes again turning to one side and hugging her knees. She smiled at his action and caressed his cheek lovingly.

Armaan was lost in some beautiful dream when Ananya shook him slightly. He closed his eyes again to resume his dream. But somewhere deep down his brain registered whom he saw and where he was and his eyes fluttered open all of a sudden. He sat straight and looked around confused before realizing where he was. He got to his feet and looked at Ananya who was smiling at him hesitantly unsure of his response.

"Sorry, I didn't know when I slept." He apologized to her and when was about to move to his room, Raji called him to have dinner. As they sat at the dining table, Riddhima found Armaan looking at Ananya for every few seconds and smiled.

After dinner, Armaan went straight to his room whereas Riddhima talked to Ananya and Raji for sometime before moving to her room. As she entered the room, she was surprised when she found Armaan sitting on the bed. She expected him to be asleep. But for some reason which he couldn't understand he was unable to sleep. May be it was due to the small bubble of happiness that formed in his heart due to his mom's massage. As she locked the door and sat on the bed beside him, he pulled her closer and took her hands in his admiring her Mehandi.

Riddhima quivered slightly as he caressed the pattern on her palms, partly due to his effect and partly due to the cold weather. "I love you Riddhima" she heard his words and looked up into his eyes. But before she could reply back, she felt his lips on hers kissing her tenderly. She kissed him back with equal gentleness as her hands made their way to his nape and then to his hair caressing them. He supported her body with his palms spread on her back as he leaned onto her.

The kiss turned passionate in no less than few seconds as his senses left him when she fisted his hair demanding him for more. She leaned back slowly on to the bed with him on top of her not breaking the contact between their lips. She held her breath shuddering as he deepened the kiss entering her mouth. He brushed her arms easing her off the goose bumps that evolved on her arms.

He broke the kiss and drew back when he sensed her need to breath. He looked down at her panting slightly and found her still closing her eyes and her hands still fisted with his hair. Her face was all flushed pink due to the blood that rushed to her head and he stared at her amazed. Smiling, he nuzzled into the crook of her neck and kissed her there once. She opened her eyes, dazed, slowly to find his face buried in her neck.

"Breathe Basket" he said and chuckled when she hit him at his back. "Why do you forget to breathe when I kiss you?" he asked after a moment suddenly curious.

"I don't forget it." She shot back composing herself.

"Yeah right!" he said smiling.

"Shut up Armaan." She said embarrassed at that fact. She infact forgets about everything with his touch let alone breathing. And it added to her embarrassment as he knew about it.

"Thanks Riddhima" he said as he moved slightly resting his head on her chest. For some unknown reason he felt being at peace today. May be it was because he slept in his mother's lap, one thing he craved for till then. And he knew Riddhima deliberately made Raji deny him when he asked her.

"For what?" she asked though she knew what he was referring to.

"For everything and for being Mrs. Armaan Mallik." He said and she laughed out at his words. A crazy thought popped in her brain and she found it funny.

"Why are you laughing?" he asked raising his head a bit. He knew she thought of some stupid idea and he wanted to know that.

"Nothing. I was just thinking that if I am Mrs. Armaan Mallik, then you are Mr. Riddhima Gupta." She said and burst out laughing. He tried to take in what she said and the moment her words sank in his brain, he joined her laughing out loud.

"Basket, you are just one of your kind." He added after sometime closing his eyes for a peaceful sleep in her arms.

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Comments plz.......

sushmita

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