Sunday, 29 December 2019

part 9 AR FF : "and then she said it"

part 9 . Never say good bye...?!

"Armaan." I heard mom's faint voice and felt her ruffling my hair ever so gently, just like the way I loved. That somehow relaxed me. I tried to open my eyes but they were too heavy to do so. My head was also aching. May be I could just sleep for some time?
I didn't have dinner last night. I shut my door and stayed alone. I didn't understand what bothered me the most. Riddhima's past or the fact mom chose her for me inspite of knowing about her past. Deep down, I was hurt with mom's decision.

"Get up Armaan." Mom whispered again. I opened my eyes a bit. Oh God! They were burning as I did so. However from the small crevice between my eye lids, I saw mom sitting beside me on the bed. I moved my head on to her lap and shut my eyes again. I felt as if as I had closed my eye just before mom came to wake me. It might be true. I had been thinking the whole night. Of what, I had no idea of. My head had been no less than garbage of various thoughts, though everything revolved around Riddhima sometime or the other.

As that thought crossed my mind yet again, I sat up on the bed. I rubbed my eyes fiercely trying to open them. The moment I opened my eyes, they landed on the wall clock, which said its 9.40 am. Adjusting my vision once again, I looked at mom. I didn't speak anything, but looked away again.

"Angry with me?" Mom asked hesitantly.

My head shot up at once. "No mom." I said instantly. "It's just-" I tried to say something that would make sense of the confusion in my brain. "I don't know." I ended.

"Are you going back today?" She asked softly. But I know the actual question behind that one. That meant my decision regarding Riddhima. But what do I say? I, myself, am not sure of it.

It's true that I do feel attracted towards Riddhima- both emotionally and physically. But I wasn't able to accept the fact that she was married. And I had been thinking about a married woman all these days. That felt weird. I was angry at myself too. I didn't want to know about the rest of the details about her husband and all. I mean I it was obvious that I wouldn't want to marry a married woman.

But even now when mom asked me my decision thought not obviously, I don't know somewhere there was a very tiny part in me that was pulling me back from saying a no. Last night, it was the same case too. Every time I made up my mind to go and talk to mom and just end this matter for once and all, I could see the moments I had spent with Riddhima. I was happy in her presence, with her company. But then my mind would shout the same. She was married.

"Yes mom, I am going back." I told her. But didn't look into her eyes, the reason for which I couldn't comprehend.

"Okay. I have invigilation duty today for the morning session of exam. Riddhima has got an exam in the morning as well. We'll return by 3 pm as the exam will be over by 1 pm." Mom said. "We'll then sit and talk to Riddhima. Okay?"

"I am leaving by afternoon flight mom." I said immediately.

"Armaan?" Mom asked shocked.

"Yes mom. 2 pm flight in the afternoon." I repeated.

"But Armaan, talk to her once b-"

"No mom. There is nothing else to talk about." I cut her between. I didn't want to talk to Riddhima. I didn't know what to talk to her. This shouldn't have happened. Mom should have told me everything beforehand. I wouldn't have let the matter come to this long. Or would I?

"Okay." Mom replied coldly getting up from the bed. I knew she was hurt with my words. But I was not ready to face Riddhima. What would I say to her? I am sorry Riddhima. Forget that I had asked you to marry me. I can't marry you because you were already married. That would only hurt her more.

I couldn't understand why I had been thinking about her comfort even now?

"Shall I drop you mom?" I asked trying to please her.

"Riddhima is waiting downstairs for me. We'll go together. Will you still come to drop me?" She shot the words at me. That shut me up. By the harshness in her voice I could feel the extent to which I had hurt her. I felt miserable. But why couldn't she understand? There was nothing I could do to make things better. I couldn't marry Riddhima, could I? "I thought so." She added when I remained mum.

"Bye mom." I tried once again. She turned to me but didn't say anything, just made her way to the room.

"Armaan, I still stand by my words that Riddhima is the one I would choose for you. I respect your decision because it's your life. But I would have been happy if you talked to her once." She said. Her words came as a slap to me. "I thought you should know that." She added before leaving.

I fell back on my bed sighing. I didn't feel this feeling of guilty, when I had said no to the previous girls I had met before. But this time, it was different. I could feel that something was bothering me inside. But I couldn't comprehend what that something was.


After sometime, I got ready and went downstairs. I found Rahul working on his laptop.

"Hey Rahul!" I greeted him, sitting beside him on the sofa.

"I booked the tickets for the afternoon flight." He said. That meant he had talked to mom and may be Riddhima too before you left.

"Are you angry with me too?" I asked him skeptically.

"No Armaan." I sighed listening to his words. I could feel he was honest as the answer had been instant. It would have added to my guilt had he said something other. "I understand you. But you should have talked to Riddhima. Or talk to aunty once." He added.

"I don't know yaar. I am not comfortable with that." I replied, looking at the TV. He didn't say anything.

"Come. We'll have breakfast. I have been waiting for you." He said after a moment. His words made me realize the grumbling sounds in my stomach, owing to the fact that I didn't had anything the previous night.

To add to the irony of the situation, the breakfast was bread and cheese. It only reminded me of the breakfasts we had with Riddhima. God, initially she was so nervous that she used to struggle to put cheese evenly on one slice of bread. Unintentionally I sat at the table just staring at the slices of bread Rahul placed in my plate.

"You can't eat if you just stare at it. You have to put that in your mouth, chew and swallow, you know like this." He joked showing his art of eating. That somehow brought a smile to my lips diverting my mind off the things I had been feeling bad about. With that the usual dams broke. We chatted about the usual stuff; sports, our company, share market and the upcoming project. Very carefully, he made sure not to speak any girls of our company as that would be the usual topic we would chat about. I was thankful for that. Somehow larger part of my brain was off Riddhima.

"Hey monkeys!" Muski came barging in. "Aunty told me you are leaving?" She asked narrowing her eyes at us.

"Yeah, leaving in the afternoon." Replied a shy Rahul. I wondered how he talked to her on phone if she had that effect on him. I wondered how he fell for her in the first case. She was an exact opposite of hers- loud and gregarious. Physics is indeed true- opposites do attract!

"Oh!" Her face fell slightly though she tried to cover that up. "Why? Is Hyderabad missing you?" She winked at us.

"No. To just check whether Bangalore would miss us or not." I answered it quickly, winking back at her. She caught it quite quickly as she looked flustered for a moment.

"Obviously Bangalore would miss u." She said after a moment.

"Me or Rahul?" I probed her further. God, this is turning out to be quite interesting. I was teasing Muski and the reaction can be seen on Rahul's face which was flushed up. Chemistry is true too- I mumbled to myself. "You guys carry on. I have to do some packing." I added and got up to provide them with some privacy. They might need few moments before leaving.

"Oh Muski, why didn't you have an exam today? " I asked. "Mom said your exams are going on." I ended.

"Yeah, my elective is in the afternoon. Riddhima had hers in the morning session." She replied.

I just nodded at her. "Good luck." I wished and left for my room. As much as I tried avoiding Riddhima, she just followed me virtually. And to my absolute horror I found myself wondering about what Riddhima's reaction would be had she known that I was leaving today. Does she know that at all?


When we got into the elevator, my mobile rang. I smiled looking at the number. It was mom. She could never stay angry at me.

"Yes mom?" I spoke into the phone. We stopped at the floor below ours and Rahul went to give the house keys to Padma aunty.

"Armaan, did you pack everything? Your jacket, shaving set and-"

"Yes mom, I put everything. Rahul checked everything twice." I smiled. Atleast Rahul's name would assure her.

"Okay then, did you have lunch?" She asked again.

"Yes mom." I replied and then I heard Riddhima's voice at the backdrop. Strangely, I felt like meeting her once before leaving.

"I am sorry mom." I said suddenly.

"It's fine Armaan. Take care and call me when you reach your flat." She said.

"Bye mom." I added before cutting the call.

I saw Padma aunty walking towards the elevator where I had been standing. I hugged her when she came to me. "Take care aunty." I said.

"You too." She said patting my cheek.

"And you-" She turned to Rahul, almost startling him, who was standing behind her. "Eat properly. See how lean you have become." I chuckled when he nodded his head vigorously at her. She hugged him but God, I could see him stiff. Phobia for mother-in-law, I thought rolling my eyes.

We bid her bye and took a cab to the airport. Thanks to Rahul, we reached the airport much in advance. While I sat in the waiting area with the luggage, Rahul went to the enquiry desk. Sitting idle, I thought about my stay in Bangalore. It had too many memories. Some sweet and some sour. And I realized at once that all of them were with Riddhima. Somehow, in a short span of 12 days, she made an impact in my brain as well as heart. Only if I could change the events of yesterday! I sighed and closed my eyes, resting my head back.

"The flight's on time." I opened my eyes when I heard Rahul's voice. He passed me a cup of coffee. As I sipped it all I could think of was my little encounter with Riddhima at the coffee lounge. I shook my head to push the thought aside.

"Shall we check in?" Rahul asked when I completed my coffee.

I checked the watch. Its 1.30 already. "Yeah, let's go." I agreed with him and we stood up to leave.

As we made our way towards the check in counter, I stopped dead in my tracks spotting Riddhima at the airport. She was searching frantically around. I guess for us. Unknowingly I took a couple of steps towards her. She sighed in relief when she spotted me.

"I'll wait near the counter." I heard Rahul's voice. For once I didn't bother that statement of his. I was glad he went away. I didn't know, somehow, I wanted some privacy with Riddhima.

"What are you doing here?" I asked Riddhima when she approached me. Her eyes were slightly red and so was her nose.

"Are you going back?" She asked without replying to my question.

"Yes." I replied.

"Oh!" Her face fell. But her eyes had been searching for something in me. "I just came here to meet you." She replied, her eyes boring into mine, making me uncomfortable.

An awkward silence prevailed between us before I decided to break it. "I am sorry Riddhima. Regarding yesterday…" I left the sentence incomplete as I didn't know how to finish it.

But she just smiled, the one which didn't reach her eyes. "That's fine. I am used to rejection as I already said. I can manage." She replied. But her words hit me hard. I recalled my words when I had denied her of that.

"We can be friends, right?" I asked trying to sound cheerful. But I know as well as she, how miserably I failed. She just smiled at me.

No Tears! No Tears! No Tears! I found myself praying, as I watched her face. Within moments I saw her eyes getting moist. But I didn't understand the reason behind them. Why was she here in the first case?

"Will you be fine?" I heard myself asking her. She averted her gaze from me for the first time in the last few minutes. I felt relieved. I felt as if I was under a scanner when she had been looking at me. She then looked up at me, her eyes depicting defeat. Of what? I thought confused.

"Riddh-" I opened my mouth only to leave it hanging open the next moment.

Riddhima took a step ahead and embraced me tight, running her hands around my neck. The bag I was holding fell off my hand. She buried her face in the crook of my neck and held onto me tight. The hug was too intimate to dismiss it as a friendly gesture of her part. Her entire body- head to toe- was pressed up against mine. I couldn't hug her; something held me back. I kept my hinds to myself, at my sides.

"I am scared." Her voice cracked as she mumbled when I tried to part away. And my resolve wavered. I wrapped my arms around her body, hugging her closer. Just a hug. I convinced my mind when it screamed at me to move away. I felt her relax in my hold. But my every muscle was too stiff to relax. I didn't want this, my senses yelled. It would only complicate things, making them worse. As a reflex I pushed myself away from her not so gently.

"May be you'll come back." She whispered stepping away from me. It was not a statement, rather a question.

Now what does this mean? I sighed tired of the turn of the events lately. First she doesn't show anything that she might be interested in me. She stood by me when I needed someone. Then when I made up my mind about her and thought of marrying her, she dropped a bomb on my head saying that she was already married and on the face of it, cried bitterly. She was the one who remarked nothing would be possible between us and when I agreed with it and tried to get back to my routine, she came and hugged me tight saying she was scared. It disturbed me to the core. What do I make of everything happening?

I heard Rahul calling for me. "Take care." I said, my voice devoid of any emotions, my head swimming in various thoughts. She just stared at me as I took a step backward, still facing her. I felt miserable under her gaze. Her eyes had been different today. They were as if searching for something, pleading for something and asking for something. But there was nothing I could do to make her feel better. Not able to stand her gaze any longer, I turned around and walked to Rahul. When I nodded at him to move ahead, he didn't respond to me. I followed his gaze and turned around. I found Riddhima running back to the exit, her hair and dupatta swaying along with the air. However I sighed inwardly and took a deep breath before moving ahead.

Sitting in the plane, I closed my eyes and once again saw Riddhima's eyes. I opened my eyes startled. I lay back on the seat and stared into space. Major part of me said this was better for us. But there was also a minor part, which I couldn't ignore, that told me the good bye was wrong.

If I could take this moment forever
Turn the pages of my mind
To another place and time
We would never say goodbye

If I could find the words I would speak them
Then I wouldn't be tongue-tied
When I looked into your eyes
We would never say goodbye

If I could stop the moon ever rising
Day would not become the night
Wouldn't feel this cold inside
And we'd never say goodbye

I wish that our dreams were frozen
Then our hearts would not be broken
When we let each other go...

If I could steal this moment forever
Paint a picture-perfect smile
So our story stayed alive
We would never say goodbye


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