Thursday, 27 February 2020

Part 27 : I See You!

Her hands trembled as she dialed the number again and heard the bell ring, a sharp pain lanced through her as the call went to voice mail. Not wholly able to control her voice shilpa left the message: Armaan! Its me! Call me when you get this!

She cut the call and looked at her watch noting the time to be 12 noon and decided to wait for armaan to return her call. She waited two hours, the time dragging even though she tried to keep busy. As two hours expired shilpa felt her eyes fill with tears as she acknowledged that armaan had not called her back, he had not even replied to her through sms. Fighting to keep the tears from falling she picked her cell phone and dialed his number again after the second ring the call was cut. Shilpa stared blankly at her cell unwilling to believe that armaan had not taken her call. She continued to stare for a couple of seconds and then crumbled to the floor her breath came out in shallow pants trying to breath through the pain. Shilpa's gaze latched on to armaan's portrait on the wall and tried to think what had changed since the last time she had met him a week back. She closed her eyes and went back….

Shilpa couldn't help but laugh as Muskaan narrated the adventures of her honeymoon to her. It had been a month since the wedding and Rahul-Muskaan had gone to Cypress for their honeymoon. They had been back for a couple of days now and Ananya had organized a ladies evening to welcome muskaan and to get her acquainted to the female circle.

Muskaan: you wouldn't believe what a bore Rahul was? We weee in cypress and the idiot wanted to stay in the hotel room.

Shilpa swallowed her laugh: maybe he wanted to spend more time with you.

Muskaan gave shilpa  knowing look: oh! He had plenty of that but one has to come up for air sometime.

Shilpa felt her face flush as she exclaimed: Muskaan!(looking around to make sure they weren't heard) keep it down.

Muskaan laughed: Shilpa you are blushing! What do you do when you and Armaan?(taking in shilpa's scandalized expression) don't tell me you haven't?

Shilpa trying to look not embarrassed: we haven't what?

Muskaan opened her eyes wide: you seriously haven't! why the hell not?

Shilpa was sure her face was the color of a tomato: can you speak a bit louder I think that aunty in the corner didn't hear you clearly.

Muskaan laughed: so The Great Armaan Mallik who scores everytime hasn't ….

Shilpa cut her short: don't! don't you dare say it.

Muskaan swallowed: well I was only saying that Armaan Mallik with the midas touch seems to have a hard time reaching for gold.

Shilpa torn between laughter, embarrassment and anger: shut up!

Muskaan: poor shilpa here you thought you had a stellar and he turned out to be all talk no action.

Shilpa just closed her eyes: I'm going to kill you muskaan!

Muskaan just laughed and did a turn in the middle of the guests and started to sing:

Aashiqon main jiska title Titanic
Oo aashiqon main jiska title Titanic (shilpa glared at muskaan for making a scene)

Muskaan acknowledged shilpa's glare by grinning at her and doing more nautanki

Muaah kinara dikha kar ke dooba de gaya
Jhalla, mera aashiq jhalla wallah
Mera balma jhalla wallah (she pulled shilpa by the hand making her stand as other women gathered around  laughing and clapping)
Mera jhalla wallah wallah aa aa..

Shilpa could not make up her mind to be horrified or to be amused she pulled muskaan to the side and hissed at herr: what are you doing muskaan?

Muskaan grinned mischievously: having fun! You should try it or has armaan made you as boring as him

Shilpa glared: stop saying such stuff about armaan

Muskaan would have made a comment but Ananya intervened: girls! What are you upto?

Muskaan shrugged her shoulders: I was just trying to have some fun

Shilpa: no you were not you were making fun of armaan the song you were singing…(shilpa trailed off embarrassed as she looked at Ananya)

Ananya laughed: Shilpa relax! All of this is lighthearted fun nothing serious, plus armaan is not here. So join in and believe me when I say stop taking him so seriously he's just a guy.

Muskaan beamed at Ananya: I knew we'll get along famously, come now shilpa lets be friend(she hugged shilpa making shilpa smile) lets go and poke fun at our men as aunty said they are not here.

Shilpa couldn't help but smile as muskaan tugged her to the center  where women sat expectantly she started to sing

Humne samjha tha jise golden jublee jise
Haaye samjha tha jise golden jublee jise (hamming it)
Oh Woh tu matinee dekha kar ke chuma le gaya(Shilpa leaned close to muskaan and kissed her on the cheek as she sang out surprising muskaan)

Jhalla mera aashiq jhalla wallah(Both shilpa and muskaan sang together laughing together)
Mera balma jhalla wallah
Mera jhalla wallah wallah aa aa..

Armaan and Rahul came back from the office forgetting that there was a ladies function at the house, one look at the lights sparkling and the sound of women's laughter they decided to make their way to their rooms through the back entrance.  They would've made it upstairs quietly without finding out what was happening downstairs but then they heard the servants talking.

Cook: Madam Muskaan is a naughty one, she sure is keeping everyone entertained

Maid rushed towards the cook and other servants: you wouldn't believe it madam shilpa also joined in!

Both Armaan and Rahul looked at one another intrigued as to what was going on but stayed and listened.

Maid: I wonder how Armaan sir and Rahul Sir would react if they see this.

Armaan and Rahul looked at one another waited for the servants to move away and then made their way to the hall where the women were gathered. They saw Shilpa and Muskaan standing in the center looking extremely beautiful and sparkling from within. Unknown to them both Rahul and Armaan sported identical expressions of pride nd love.

Muskaan again started:

Kya batayein jisko sanam maan kar shab bhar mare
Haye jis ko sanam maan kar shab bhar mare (she batter her lashes for effect and took deep sighs)
Woh kameena subah hote phurrr ho gaya (shilpa jumped in making hand gestures to make her point as she sang)

Both Rahul and Muskaan's eyes widened clearly surprised at their beloved, their expressions turned into a scowl as shilpa continued:
Jis ko mohabbat ka teacher kehte rahe
Woh phateecher ik lesson mein fail ho gaya(Muskaan announced making shilpa and the rest of the women laugh)

Shilpa continued as an image of Armaan popped in her mind
Kaske jean pant gentleman jo bane
Raat bhar pajame se ladta raha (Muskaan said it with her tongue in the cheek making everone roar with laughter)

Rahul and Armaan glared at their lady love's  but they were clearly unaware and continued their fun
Hum jagate rahe dil jalate rahe(Muskaan sang sorrowfully)
Woh jamai raazai mein lagata raha(Shilpa gave the punch line again everyone dissolved into laughter)

Both Shilpa and Muskaan laughed and danced with one another as they sang together
Jhalla mera aashiq Jhalla Wallah
Mera balma jhalla wallah
Mera jhalla wallah wallah aa aa

Both shilpa and Muskaan still laughing turned and bumped into the unsmiling faces of their men.  The entire hall quietened at their entrance the ladies waiting to see how the drama would unfold. Shilpa felt a guilty flush spread on her cheeks as she looked at armaan's face.

Armaan in all seriousness: Maa! I'm going up to change!

Rahul ignoring his wife: mee too Maa!

Both of them left leaving behind worried shilpa and muskaan who looked at one another making shilpa say in a quiet tone: maybe we should talk to them

Ananya: girls just relax!

Muskaan: ummm! (looking up the stairs) maybe I should go up.

Ananya: both of you are not going anywhere, come and be with guests.

For the next half an hour Ananya kept a watch on both Shilpa and Muskaan, she knew her sons and she had seen the look of amusement which had flashed in armaan's eyes and of pride in Rahul before they had masked it with a scowl. She smiled to herself as she took in the worried glances both her daughter in laws kept casting towards the stairs. Enjoying herself Ananya called out: Shilpa! Muskaan! Go and get Armaan and Rahul will you, tell them come and meet the guests.

Shilpa swallowed as she stood outside Armaan's room and then knocked on the door, not waiting for a response she went in calling out: Armaan!

Armaan walking out of his walk in closet: yes!

Shilpa nervously chewed on her lip: umm! Aunty wants you to come down and meet with the guests.

Armaan looked at her for a second as he casually rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt he wore with blue denims. Armaan walked to shilpa: lead the way

Shilpa whispered to Muskaan: he is giving me the silent treatment (as they both stood watching their men talking to women aunty was introducing them to)

Muskaan: yeah Rahul too! Look at him talking to that old biddy!

Shilpa scolding: Muskaan! (she turned her attention back towards armaan and scowled) oh look at him charming the daughter and does he talk to me, no!

Muskaan: if I wasn't angry I would have appreciated their strategy

Shilpa: well I'm not going to stand here and see him flirting.

Armaan saw shilpa turn away but not before he saw unhappiness and insecurity in her eyes. She shot the girl he was talking to a fulminating look and turn away. Armaan couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of her insecurity. Without even a look or an excuse armaan walked away from the girl dragging Rahul along.

Shilpa was preparing for a crying jag when she stopped stunned as she heard Armaan:

You're insecure, don't know what for
You're turning heads when you walk through the do-o-or

Shilpa turned around her mouth opening in surprise as armaan very casually strolled her way

Don't need make-up - to cover up
Being the way that you are is eno-o-ough
Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

Shilpa would have turned away not sure about his mood or his intentions but he grabbed shilpa's arm

Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
the way you smile at the ground, it ain't hard to tell
You don't know
Oh oh
You don't know you're beautiful!

Shilpa walked away feeling awkward and shy as people milled around them and saw Muskaan being hounded by Rahul. She would have left but armaan blocked her way

If only you saw what I could see
you'd understand why I want you so desperatley
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't know
Oh oh
You don't know you're beautiful!
Oh oh
That's what makes you beautiful!

Armaan took shilpa in his arms hinting at the fun she had earlier made of him

so c-come on!! you got it wrong!
To prove I'm right I put it in a so-o-ong
I don't know why, you're being shy (when shilpa looked down feeling shy he tilted her chin to make her look up in his eyes)
And turn away when I look in to your eye eye eyes

Some young girls started as a chorus:
Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but yo-ouuu

Armaan grinned at shilpa who was flushed with embarrassment and joy

Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
the way you smile at the ground, it ain't hard to tell
You don't know
Oh oh
You don't know you're beautiful!

Shilpa wrapped her arms around armaan hiding her face in his chest as everyone around them erupted into spontaneous applause. Armaan dropped a kiss to her hair and then whispered in her ear: jhalla my foot! (making shilpa laugh)

Shilpa opened her eyes into the present and stared at Armaan's portrait: why armaan? What happened? Why don't you talk to me?

Maasi saw her like that sitting on the floor and crossed to shilpa: don't do this shilpa!

Shilpa: I don't understand maasi! Why is he doing all of this? He is not even taking my call!

Maasi: are you going to let him get away with it? Get up right now go to him make him face you.

Shilpa stared at armaan's portrait her vision blurred and then cleared: that's exactly what I'm going to do (turning towards maasi) thankyou maasi.(she hugged her and hurried to get ready)

In an hours time shilpa walked into the office building and walked directly to Armaan's office. A secretary tried stopping Shilpa but shilpa just kept moving. She would've walked through the door but Atul stopped her.

Atul: Shilpa!(looking strained) what a nice surprise! Haven't seen you in some time.

Shilpa very calmly: Atul! I'm here to see Armaan.

Atul: I'm sorry shilpa! Armaan is very busy with clients right now I'll let him know you had dropped by.

Shilpa squeezed her eyes shut as her vision blurred because of anger or tears she was not sure: Atul I have always considered you a friend and I always believed you think of me the same. Then don't insult me by lying.

Atul looked at shilpa: what do you want me to say?

Shilpa: nothing atul! I need to talk to armaan! I need to understand whats happening.

Atul moved out of the way and shilpa gave his door a brisk knock and heard armaan's curt enter. She stepped in and saw armaan sitting behind his desk reading some documents.

Armaan without looking up: Atul what do you want?

Shilpa looked at him looking his usual arrogant handsome self and snapped: I want to know what the hell is wrong?

Armaan's head snapped up and took in shilpa's angry eyes: Shilpa! What are you doing here?

Shilpa took a breath to calm herself: whats wrong armaan? I've been calling you for so many days.

Armaan looking distracted: I've been busy shilpa! I have a business to run I am not a free man.

Shilpa: Armaan how much time does one call take.

Armaan giving a pointed look to his watch: Shilpa! I am very busy and I do not have time for this.

Shilpa felt as if slapped: what do you not have time for me or a discussion?

Armaan looked sharply at shilpa: you are a smart woman shilpa I'm sure you'll understand it yourself.

Shilpa felt as if the whole world had gone crazy: I don't believe this!

Armaan gave her a polite smile: take some time and can you plz shut the door on your way back (he turned his attention back to his work)

Shilpa: why? I need an answer armaan!

Armaan breathed in annoyance: Shilpa this is my place of business! I don't have the time or inclination to get into all of this.(shilpa opened her mouth but armaan ploughed through) have some respect for yourself.

Shilpa stood stunned as she looked at armaan willing him to look at her. Armaan looked at her: leave shilpa!

Shilpa felt battered her world broken into shambles as she looked at the man she loved turn into a complete stranger.

Shilpa managed to open her mouth and utter: I'm sorry! (she turned and left)

She didn't run she didn't cry she walked as if in a daze. Slowly painstakingly she walked out the office building and stood not sure where to go. She stepped into the throng of people walking down the street, walking along with them. In her mind she kept going through every word, every expression armaan had uttered.

Each word had struck as a lash to her heart making her bleed. She stopped in the middle of the street as she acknowledged that armaan had not even stopped her. She had actually been waiting for him to do so but he didn't. Now she did not know where she was, she looked around and was surrounded by the unfamiliar. Her vision blurred she rubbed at her eyes trying to rub away thetears but they were dry. She looked up again but the images remained blurry, feeling a bit sick with panic creepin along the edges she squeezed her eyes shut and then opened them again but her vision did not clear.

Shilpa made a wild turn but the blurry images darkened further, feeling the panic cinch the noose around her throat she turned again wildly and bumped into people. Who jostled her further and pushed her away. Feeling close to tears shilpa called out: help me!

Shilpa felt her vision darkening further as soon there was nothing but complete darkness. Panic coursing through her she called out: Help me! Please someone!

She felt someone grab hold of her and ask her: whats wrong miss?

Shilpa felt the darkness closing in as she fainted she uttered: help me!


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