Sunday, 1 March 2020

Part 30 : I See You!

Armaan stood in his office at the picture window looking at the Mumbai skyline but he was not actually seeing any of this. His mind was on the scheduled meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission and his plan as to how to deal with them. Atul entered the office and waited for armaan to turn when he didn't, he quietly called out his name: Armaan!

Without turning armaan grunted, atul stepped closer: He's going to do it today, Armaan! He's going for the kill.

Armaan smiled as he turned towards Atul: I know!

Atul: are you worried?

Armaan: I'm determined!

Atul: that's not what I asked!

Armaan was skimming a document but he looked up at atul: worry is not an option

Atul after a pause: everything has been taken care at the office, I'm placing Rahul's secretary in charge in my place. We can leave whenever you are ready!

Armaan looked directly at Atul: you are not coming with me.

Atul shocked: why?

Armaan: I need you here, on the outside feeding me the information I need.

Atul: someone else can do it, I'm not letting you go there alone.

Armaan: there is no one else I trust

Atul: that's because you are not letting anyone in, you are pushing everyone away with your idiotic attempts of shielding them.

Armaan couldn't help but smile: Atul! Lets not fight you know I rely on you.

Atul: that's sneaky and manipulative thing to say. (heaving a sigh) what do u want from me?

Armaan: some of it I'll tell u later but right now I need you to call shilpa.

Atul blinked not sure he had heard right: excuse me?

Armaan: call shilpa, atul!(when atul looked to question him) I need to hear her voice.

Atul swallowing against the emotion that he heard in armaan's voice: why don't you call her yourself? You do sometimes late at night.

Armaan smiled humorlessly: that's the problem of working with your best friend they know your lies.

Atul: why aren't you calling her? I don't think you ever say anything and you get to hear her voice.

For the first time Atul saw pain ripple across armaan's face as he said: she knows its me! Everytime, she recognizes my silence even.

Atul: you are mad armaan, (he looked at his friend in amazement, the most powerful man in india and he was acting like a complete idiot)

Armaan smiled at him: call her, please!

Atul complied not because of anyother reason but solely that shilpa had made his rich arrogant friend say please. He dialed the number and then put the phone on speaker as her voice came through: Hello!

Atul: Hi Shilpa! Its Atul

Shilpa: Atul (surprise apparent in her voice) how are you?(then as if an unpleasant thought struck her) is it armaan? Is he ok? What happened?

Atul glanced at armaan and saw him close his eyes when she took his name, he hurried to reassure her: Armaan's fine shilpa! I just called to ask how are you?

Shilpa took a minute to answer: I'm fine! How is everything?

Atul: good! I was wondering if I could come over to meet you.

Shilpa: Atul you are a friend, you don't need to ask.

Atul looked at armaan: thanks shilpa I will see you in a while!

Shilpa: Atul!(then stopped)

Atul: he's fine! Bye now

Armaan turned away as Atul cut the line, Atul waited a second and then asked: so did that help

Armaan turned around and faced atul: that was my luck! When I have her how can I lose?

Atul looked the man who was almost like a brother to him and wondered what the hell he was doing with his life. Feeling frustrated Atul turned away: I'm getting out of the office call me when you need anything.

Shilpa sat holding her cell phone wondering about armaan, she brought his features one by one in her mind and held his image close. She stood up and walked out of her room calling out: Maasi!

Shilpa got startled hearing Ananya's voice: well maasi has gone to the market will maa do?

Shilpa smiled: when did you come? And you've brought company along.

Muskaan: since when have we become company?

Shilpa laughed: is uncle here also?

Rahul: dad is trying to figure armaan's problem.

Shilpa stayed quiet as she recalled all the nights when her cell had rang, and she had known without his even saying a word that it was Armaan. She had not understood his silence but had had not wanted to let go of the connection. So she had talked telling him that she was waiting for him. Maybe she was being fanciful but she clung to the hope that at the end they would be together.

Rahul who was observing shilpa tried to cheer her up: hey shilpa lets play a game, lets see how really good your hearing is?

Shilpa smiled: Rahul what are you going to make me do?

The door bell rang when muskaan opened the door she exclaimed: Atul what are you doing here?

Ananya walked out of the kitchen: Atul is everything ok? Where is armaan?

Atul: hello everyone! Maa armaan is at a meeting, I had some time free so I thought I'll come visit shilpa.

Shilpa: come in atul as you can see the circus has arrived.

Muskaan: first guest and now circus, I tell you people just don't appreciate us anymore.

Ananya: Atul beta ignore them tell me what would you like to have.

Atul was about to reply when Rahul cut in as he turned on the television: Armaan is on the news!

Muskaan: so whats new? He is always on news.

When Rahul didn't reply everyone focused on the news itself.

Reporter: Armaan Malik is in news yet again, last night he was seen escorting a beautiful model on his arm to the charity gala which was organized for the under priviledged children. Judging from his behavior last night no one would've guessed that he had an important meeting today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Muskaan grabbed the remote and muted the sound as pictures of armaan with the model started to flash on the screen.

Muskaan: he sure isn't pinning away.

Ananya snapped: Muskaan!

Muskaan: I'm sorry if it hurts you I will not stay quiet, shilpa might be blind but I'm not.

Rahul: that's enough muskaan!

Muskaan: no its not Rahul, its not even remotely enough (walking over to shilpa) what are you doing? Whom are you waiting for? You are postponing this operation that you need for a man who is out partying the whole night away with another women.

Atul couldn't hold back: why don't you keep quiet muskaan? You don't know armaan so plz don't make judgement about him.

Everyone looked at atul startled at his outburst but muskaan recovered: what else to expect from you, for you the sun rises and sets with armaan.

Atul: No! but you don't know shit about armaan or what is happening in his life. All his life he has protected his family and this is how you think of him. Now that he needs you all you pass judgement on him.

Muskaan: another blind person in our midst.

Atul would've bursted but was cut short by Shilpa: you keep throwing around the word blind as if it is a curse but the truth is its actually you who cant see anything.

Muskaan: shilpa i….

Shilpa cut her: no! I'm not angry because you called me blind muskaan. Yes my eyes have lost their vision but I have not lost my ability to see. You accused armaan of carrying on without me, of not being here with me when I need him the most. When have you heard me complain, have I come crying to you asking you to bring me armaan. No!

Rahul trying to understand and maintain peace: we know you haven't complained shilpa but armaan has been going out with these other women.

Shilpa shook her head: I'm surprised at you Rahul, you are his brother but still you don't see him clearly. You want to know why I cling to hope and wait for armaan in the face of these news being flashed all over the world. I tell you why I know he will come back to me, because everytime he is seen publicly with a woman other than me, he calls me at night.

Ananya surprised: he calls you! What does he say?

Shilpa smiled: nothing, he just stays quiet but his silence speaks to me. Its his silence which tells me that he needs me, needs us but what I don't understand is what holds him back. I've asked him but he never answers plus he never hangs up its always me, I have to tell him to go to sleep or cut the phone myself because he never does.

Ananya: why didn't you ever say anything?

Shilpa: I don't understand all of it myself, all I know is he doesn't want to hurt me but he is. There is a reason in his head but he is not sharing it with us.(shifting to Atul) I'm also surprised at you Atul that till now you have not made any effort to help armaan.

Atul: I'm here!

Shilpa: then tell me, where is he? What is keeping him away from all of us?

Atul looked at shilpa's face and for the first time actually understood the deep well of love that joined Armaan and Shilpa: he's at the Securities and Exchange Commission

Rahul frowned: what is armaan doing there? There was no meeting scheduled with SEC till the mid of this year.

Atul: Singhania has convinced the SEC for the need of this meeting. Singhania is gunning for Armaan.

Rahul: why this vendetta?

Atul:An year and half back when Armaan had launched the telecommunication project we had needed someone to back the project. To show support till the other stakeholders came on board and the shares picked up pace. Singhania was willing but he wanted something in return, he proposed a liason between the families with Armaan and Anjali wedding.

Rahul clearly surprised: where the hell was i?

Atul sighed: you all were at Europe on a trip. Armaan had agreed but

Shilpa interrupted: but then I walked into armaan's life (shilpa lowered her head for a second and then lifted)  this was the reason he left Panchgani

Atul: Armaan had tried to delay but even then Singhania had started breathing down our necks as the shares of the market had skyrocketed just like armaan had predicted.

Shilpa closed her eyes as she recalled armaan's words insisting that he had never wanted to leave her but he had a promise to keep.

Shilpa: Atul! Where is armaan now?

Atul: he's gone to the meeting (after a pause) armaan has a plan to take down Singhania but Singhania is going for the kill, he wants to destroy armaan.

Ananya: Rahul, call your dad tell him everything.

Shilpa: Atul, take me to armaan.

Atul: I don't think its such a good idea shilpa. Armaan wanted to keep you away from all of this, he was worried that Singhania would try and ruin you

Shilpa: so that's why that stupid man dumped me, broke my heart and made me cry. God, if I didn't love him I would've beaten him with a stick. Atul, take me to him.

Armaan looked across the table and saw the mad hate glint in Singhania's eyes. Armaan smiled slightly as he thought that the poor bas***d actually believed that he was goinfg to bring him down. Armaan only listened with half his brain to the allegations that were being made against him. Till now armaan had not tried to defend himself he had sat back arrogantly in his chair with his leg crossed carelessly at the knee. His face was set in amused expression as charges of unfair manipulation of stock prices to nepotism to payment of kickbacks were being put in his name.

The meeting Chairman leaned across and addressed armaan: Mr. Malik will you like to say something in your defense.

Armaan smiled sardonically at Singhania: not at all(he had the pleasure to see Singhania turn an ugly shade of red at his nonchalance but his pleasure was short lived as the door opened)

Armaan looked up at the door and to his everlasting shock Atul walked in with Shilpa on his arm. Before he could react Shilpa spoke up: Mr. Chairman Mr. Malik would like a few moments of recess as he needs some time to regain his mental facilities.

Laughter quickly smothered as armaan directed a furious glare at the audience. Members of the press that had been invited to the meeting were lapping every moment and expression. Armaan stood up abruptly and stalked towards Atul and Shilpa.

Armaan grabbed shilpa's arm and would've dragged her from there but shilpa leaned close to him: gently darling! We don't want to create a scene do we?

Armaan barely able to restrain herself walked out of the room with Atul and Shilpa trailing him. They made it to a smaller room the door had barely closed when armaan rounded on them: what the hell do you think you are doing here? Atul, didn't I tell you to stay back as I needed you on the outside. Of all the things to bring shilpa here have you completely lost it.

Shilpa who was listening to him rant very clearly said: Shut up! I have been listening to you spout rubbish since we met in Panchgani.

Armaan started to speak: Shilpa listen

Shilpa: shut up! This time you are going to listen, for a exceptionally brilliant man you are unbelievably stupid. You actually thought you were protecting me, protecting all of us(shilpa hit him on the arm) you make me so mad armaan. You hurt me and made me mad I wish I could hate you.

Armaan reached for her: shilpa!

Shilpa: no! how do you think I felt when you called at night and never said a word. Do you think I never understood that you were being pulled into different directions. How do u think it made me feel to be kept outside never knowing what was exactly happening with you. All I had was you telling me to trust you.

Armaan: all I wanted was to protect you. To keep you away from harm's way.

Shilpa grabbed armaan's arm pulling him towards her: that's not how love works, when you love someone you let them in completely and not  push them away when things get tough. You don't trust me armaan to stand up for you.

Armaan: it's not like that, I do trust you.

Shilpa: then prove it, lets walk out right now and face the world together. Whatever comes good or bad we face it together. I trust you, I trust you to take care of everyone, I trust you to win. Now you trust me.

Armaan looked at shilpa and finally felt the weak wall he had surrounded around his heart crumble. They both entered the meeting together one of the Singhania's men being sarcastic: so can we continue with this meeting.

Armaan looked at him and then Singhania then turned towards the Chairman: Mr. Chairman this meeting is over and so are you Mr. Singhania.


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