Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Part 2 : A Burdened Love

It seemed like time had frozen. The movement of the little hand of the clock was moving at a speed so slow that it was difficult for one to tell whether it was. actually moving or not.  It had been exactly 1hour 45 minutes and 27 seconds according to Armaan Mallik's watch since his daughter had been taken into the operation theater. Only another 6 more hours to go he said to himself mentally. Being a doctor himself he knew the chances of survival in such cases was so minuscule, but If there was something his life had taught him over the past 26 years, it was never give up. Because those who give up never succeed. There's always a ray of hope, even in the most difficult of situations . Have faith in yourself and what you truly believe in, and all will be okay.

Riddhimas' screams kept replaying in his head. A broken tape recorder, repeating the same thing over and over. It were as if there was no pause button to stop them. It hurt. Do you know how it feels to watch the one you love most pleading you to save them? when you know you yourself are helpless. So helpless that you feel as if  you have entered a state of paralysis. For the past hour or so  they had been sitting in the same position. They hadn't budged. Riddhima still lying down in Armaans' lap clinging onto him. Armaan still  stroking  her hair. The only difference in this scene was that after a lot of effort and a lot of pacifying Riddhimas tears had finally stopped (as she had tranced into a deep sleep) and silent tears were brimming Armaans eyes gently lapping (collecting) on Riddhimas alabaster white cheeks below him. He hadn't cried once since this horrendous incident had occurred. He knew he couldn't cry because if he did he knew Riddhima would shatter both physically and mentally. Life had  always played its game like this for Armaan. It's just the way it was. Life  showered him with the worst of the worst. If he thought that  'finally yes my life has picked up and I can move on' BAM life drops another bombshell on him. He had a broken childhood which nearly took away his life. Growing up teenage years had been the most traumatic and mending the broken pieces of his relationship with Riddhima and finally getting married had been the worst. Not the marriage part but the journey to the marriage and acceptance of their relationship. Correction that was not the worst as now one can see that life was  playing it's worst card yet with him.

He could hear somebody's footsteps approaching where he and Riddhima were situated. It was the faint tapping of a women's heels getting louder and louder as she approached. He briskly wiped away the tears with the side of his hand allowing a sudden redness appear in his eyes.

Armaan: "Niki tum?" He said as he put up a brave face and slipped out a fake smile as he watched his best friends expression change from a weak smile to concern as she saw the fatigue embedded eye bags sitting  hollowly underneath his red eyes which were not meeting her gaze.

Niki hated seeing Armaan in this state. She had been with him throughout most of the difficult stages in his life. She had taught him what life really is.  She had practically given him a second life. But never had she seen him like this. It was heart wrenching. She knew what he had been through and she knew it was difficult to get through to Armaan. Due to life's twists and turns Armaan had become an expert in creating a hard exterior which was difficult to get through. She knew how important it is for Armaan to relieve his tension and let out what was on his mind  But more importantly she knew getting through to Armaan was a task in the making itself. She had only ever succeeded once and due to another unfortunate incident she had lost the power and right to do so. She knew her attempt to give her shoulder for Armaan to cry on was futile as even though Armaan had forgiven her he would never share the closeness they once shared. But nevertheless she would still try. It was her duty after all.

Riddhima stirred in her sleep.

Niki: "Haan Armaan meh". She replied in the exact same tone he has spoken in and had applied the same fake smile which played on Armaans lips. "Coffee?" She said flatly as she looked into the Operation Theater window and handed him the coffee .

15 seconds later the coffee was still in her outstretched hands.

Niki- she turned and looked at him: "Armaan take it."

Armaan shook his head. Conveying a stern NO as if he were a student  following a teachers instructions obediently

Niki:  "Armaan. Just take it na. Stop this childishness. You haven't  eaten anything and look at the state you are in."

Armaan would usually have snapped back with mild anger telling her to  mind her own business, but today was different. He just sat there  motionless with his fingertips circling Riddhimas delicate jet black hair. He gently removed her fringe of her eyes as he knew it was irritating her and the last thing he wanted was for her to wake up. Niki knew he was breaking inside and it was tearing her apart. Niki knew, pleading him to take the coffee would be a futile attempt and simply a waste of breath, so she shrugged her shoulders as if  everything were normal and said "fair enough more yummy coffee for me"

Armaan finally broke into a feeble genuine smile at her childishness. That's what he loved most about his best friend. She always knew the right thing to do, and that's why be forgave her after her sin. I mean everybody deserves a second chance. She's only human after all everybody deserves to be forgiven. Armaan was a person with such a generous heart. Such a shame life always took it's toll on him.

Armaan: "Thanks Niki"

A befuddled Niki spat tiny droplets of the coffee from her mouth due to the unexpected comment

Niki- thinking how great can this guy get. I hurt him in the past and now he himself is thanking me. 'Kisilye Armaan'? She replied a little

Armaan- Again the blank expression returned to his face 'for simply being you, in all this dilemma. And thank you for standing by me once  again in life.

(the respect and bond Armaan shares with Niki is that of a strong  friendship, it's different with Riddhima. Armaan can trust Riddhima open heartedly)

Niki- Once again thinking how great can this guy get? I hurt him, and he is acting as if nothing ever happened. An invisible cloak of shame overtook Nikita.

Armaan: "Thanks for just being yourself and not treating this whole situation the way everybody else has. Carrying their sullen expressions as if something has already happened to Aahana. I mean nothing will happen to my baby she's strong. I mean she's my daughter after all."He let out a low laugh due to the irony of what he had just said.

Niki' Fighting to keep those tears concealed within her eyes but successfully managing to do so. "Hey Armaan friendship me no sorry..."

Armaan- "...no thank you. How can I forget you have said it a million times already."

Another 10 minutes passed in silence. It wasn't a creepy silence but a calm solace. Which was apt for the situation. Armaan looking at Riddhima in his lap. And Nikita staring into the OT theater . Her mind replaying Armaans words over and over.

To break this beautiful silence came the beep of a text alert on  Armaans phone. It's about time said Armaan to him self mentally as he picked up his
phone and read the text.

Armaan: "Niki please take care of Riddhima I'll be back soon enough stay with her." He said softly. Niki nodded without saying anything. she had a feeling she knew where Armaan was going. It was not like Armaan to sit quiet in a situation as such and not get to the core of it. she was surprised he hadn't  gone to find out earlier. She looked at Armaan kissing Riddhimas forehead as he lay her down gently placing his jacket under her head to cushion her. Niki then understood that for Armaan even before getting to know the core of the situation which he was in his priority first was Riddhima. True love she thought to herself and smiled as she  saw Armaan turned around one last time to check if Riddhima was okay before he slipped out of the waiting area.

Nikita's  mental prediction was correct. Armaan had gone to find out the truth and the reasoning behind this situation as to why his daughter was fighting for her life and why his wife was in the mental state she is in now. He wanted answers. There was only one person who would tell him the truth without any bias.

Abhimanyu Modi looked up from the bench he was sitting on ( situated just outside the glass doors of Sanjeevani) as he saw Armaan Mallik approaching him....

Hannah Sophia

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