Friday, 13 March 2020

Last Part : A Burdened Love

1 year and a few months later...

The deciduous trees shed their leaves of prosper to welcome the New Year with new beginnings and new fortune. Amidst the pale green and auburn hued leaves which were billowing in the autumn wind stood two adult figures, frozen beside a white marble tombstone in a graveyard.

Armaan stood there with his face forlorn, Riddhima's dainty fingers firmly entwined with his. They both stared at the white marble tombstone; the white denoting a sense of peace, or more simply a new beginning. The colour white had remained his favorite after his marriage to Riddhima. It symbolised a fresh canvas waiting to be painted his once broken life and could always soothe his frayed nerves. It brought about a sense of infinite hope compared to the darkness he had lived in during his younger more vulnerable years.   Riddhima went ahead to the tombstone and brushed off the dust which had gathered, using the corner of her dupatta whilst a lonely tear seeped out of her eye.


*Flashback*

All had their eyes on Keerti; nobody could see her facial expression as the surgical mask concealed her face. Only her eyes were visible and two large tear drops could be seen rolling from Keerti's eyes. Shubhankar's face bore the same expression, as he came from behind her.

Shashank looked up at Keerti's tears and began laughing. Everybody ignored him and set their eyes on Keerti.

Armaan and Riddhima clasped one another's hands firmly; her one answer was all they sought.

Keerti entwined her fingers clasping them together in a praying position; she looked up in the ceiling and closed her eyes, avoiding the nine pairs of eyes which were staring at her and she prayed.

Armaan & Riddhima simultaneously: Maam Aahana?

Keerti lowered her head and opened her eyes. With her eyes fixed at Armaan and Riddhima, she raised her hand and removed the surgical mask from her face.

They had waited long enough, the wait was finally over.

*Flashback Ends*

Armaan walked beside Riddhima and wiped the tear off of her face and said

Armaan: Remember Riddhima, no crying...

Riddhima looked up at Armaan and smiled.

From behind the white marble of Armaan's mother's tombstone, Aahanas chirpy laughter could be heard. She was toddling around the pretty white marble and jumping in the auburn leaves whilst giggling due to the crunchy sound they made as she jumped. She was clad in her little pink pinafore and cream tights supporting a woolly jacket and baby earmuffs. She watched her parents smile at her which she reciprocated with an impish smile showing her baby teeth and two deep dimples.

Armaan gave Riddhima a one armed hug and they both shared a satisfied smile as they saw their daughter enjoying herself. After the events of the day when they nearly lost their daughter, they had relished every moment they spent with each other; as a family. 

Armaan continued watching Aahana he just wanted to dismiss the memories of his past, whilst Riddhima on the other hand fell into a reverie about the day that they nearly lost their daughter and the past one and a half year. 

*Flashback*

Keerti removed the mask from her face, tears were rolling down her cheeks and her lips curved into a smile. She nodded her head and said:

Keerti: She's okay Armaan, Riddhima Aahana is going to be okay.

Armaan closed his eyes. Keerti's words were music to his ears. Riddhima at loss for words began crying. She bitterly cried tears of joy and instantly enveloped Armaan in a hug; a hug to remove all the pain that the last seven hours had brought upon them. He reciprocated by holding her tighter. His tears once again began collecting on her shoulder and her tears wetting his chest.  She looked up at him and they shared a watery smile.

Everybody else in the room smiled, cried, thanked the Lord, and embraced their respective partners. It was okay, Aahana was going to be okay, and everything was finally alright.

Armaan & Riddhima simultaneously: Maam can we...

But before they could finish asking Keerti herself said

Keerti: Of course, you may go and see her.

Armaan and Riddhima were about to leave the waiting area, for five minutes everybody had forgotten about Shashank and his 'illness' as Abhi claimed. Shashank had turned silent. As Armaan and Riddhima reached the door to leave, they heard a thud, as Shashank collapsed onto the floor. Everybody turned around to see Shashank lying on the floor. Riddhima saw her father however she continued to move towards the door to go see Aahana. She walked further and turned to hold Armaan's hand however Armaan was not there. He stood stationary looking at Shashank in such a condition. She stood by the door wondering, how could Armaan have it in him, to stand beside a man who nearly broke his life apart? Her respect grew even stronger for her husband. She however would never be able to forgive Shashank.

Abhi could see Armaan's situation, he went up to Armaan and held him by the shoulder and said

Abhi: Don't worry Armaan, we will get Dr Shashank admitted and then do a full check up to find what is wrong with him. You go ahead, Aahana is waiting for her Mum and Dad.

Armaan enveloped Abhi in a friendly hug and said

Armaan: Thank You. 

Saying that Armaan walked towards Riddhima, who clad a tear stained face and held her hand out which Armaan took into his. They both walked out of the waiting room towards the ICU, where their daughter awaited them....

... They stepped foot in the ICU, a cold wisp of air made Riddhima shudder, she placed her hand in Armaan's and the chill subsided being overtaken by a comforting warmth. They walked over to the incubator which Aahana had been placed inside. The four glass walls that surrounded their angel, she was right in front of them yet they couldn't hold her, just seeing her surrounded by multiple tubes and drips and various other medical instruments set off Riddhima's tears. She turned her head and placed it on Armaan's shoulder. Armaan gripped her shoulder and simply said

Armaan: Shes going to pull through this baby. She is going to be okay.

Riddhima: I know Armaan, I know.....

They stood there embracing one another whilst looking at their daughter.

*Flashback Ends*

After Armaan and Riddhima departed and had gone to the ICU, Abhimanyu had told Rahul to call for a stretcher for Shashank. Rahul reluctantly called for the ward boys and the stretcher. Shashank was taken to the private ward examination room. Abhimanyu ran a series of tests and his diagnosis was correct. Shashank was suffering DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) more commonly known as Split Personality Syndrome, which was a result of chronic depression after Padma's death. Due to Shashank's split personality he did not remember where he was and what he did. He was admitted in the national psychiatric hospital in Mumbai. All costs for his health were paid by Armaan. Anjali's pleaded Armaan to let her pay, but Armaan would have it no other way; he would pay himself. Armaan visited his father-in-law once a week, he would talk to Shashank, ask questions and keep him company. Sometimes Shashank would respond and talk nicely; yet other times he would completely ignore Armaan. Riddhima would never be able to forgive her father, she never went to visit him however, Armaan always kept her up-to-date after every visit.

Abhimanyu and Nikita had married a few months after the incident. They were enjoying their happily married life. Abhimanyu had been promoted to manager of Sanjeevani, which he accepted. Abhimanyu and Armaan had become very good buddies, more like brothers. Atul and Anjali were officially boyfriend and girlfriend and were both living together. Anjali wanted to get to know Atul properly before marrying him. She never once doubted his love for her, but she still needed to get to know Atul better.  Muskaan and Rahul were set to marry and their marriage preparations were going on yet they still fought like children.

Present: Armaan, Riddhima & Aahana in the cemetery.

Riddhima: Come on Armaan, it's getting late

Armaan called out to Aahana

Armaan: Aahana come baby time to go home now, it's very cold.

Armaan held out his hands, Aahana toddled forward in her shiny black baby shoes and stretched her arms wide up waiting for her daddy to pick her up. Armaan picked her up and kissed her on the cheek, and she rested her small head on her daddy's shoulder. It was a scene which Riddhima admired. Armaan played the role of a husband, a father and a friend perfectly. She could never have asked for anyone better.

He held Riddhima by the waist with Aahana in his hand and they left the cemetery, to return home to hopefully a much more peaceful life ahead.     
..................................................................................

Hannah Sophia

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