Saturday, 7 March 2020

Part 5 : A Burdened Love

Riddhima intertwined her dainty well manicured fingers with Armaans. They walked hand in hand with a firm grip and Aahana in Armaans other hand. They walked towards the departures lounge in the airport. Armaan looked down at Riddhima not able to meet her gaze. He didn't want to go and that was the only way to put it. He felt so helpless. Riddhima tightened her grip and clasped his hand tighter, as if she had just read his mind. 'It's going to be okay baby. Just a matter of a mere three days'. He still didn't raise his gaze. She continued 'Bus Armaan sirf teen din... It's not that bad'. She was lying through her teeth and they both knew it. They both took a seat on the chairs, waiting for the departure announcement.



The hour passed in the same position, as both anticipated the announcement for his flight. Riddhimas head rested on his toned shoulder gracefully. Their fingers still intertwined with the firm grip and Aahana slept soundlessly on Armaans lap. The anticipated announcement sounded. It was time to depart. They could both feel apprehension tightening within the atmosphere. Riddhima got up and straightened her salwaar suit. Armaan silently got up and gently handed Aahana to Riddhima as not to wake her up. Aahana mumbled in her sleep at this transition. His silence spoke volumes. He was always like this. Burying his inner emotions and concealing them with his hard exterior. Riddhima cupped his face with her free hand and spoke softly.'Don't worry Armaan we will be fine. Nothing will happen to us, and you'll be back before you know it.' He nodded. She was his rock. She kept him strong and prevented from falling. She placed a gentle kiss on his forehead and then said ' Ab jao before you make me cry and also miss your flight.' He let out a small laugh at her comment and replied back, ' Jaa raha hoon, don't miss me too much'. It was her turn to laugh now. 'Hah miss you... Me and Aahana will throw a party when you are gone'. They both laughed at this. This is just what Riddhima wanted. She wanted him to leave with a smile on his face. For one last time they gazed into one another eyes. He gave Riddhima a gentle kiss on the forehead and bent down and did the same to Aahana, who was sleeping in arm. A small satisfied smile played on Aahana's lips. 'Bye' Armaan said. Riddhima just smiled back. 'Oh and remember to save me some cake from your party'. Riddhimas smiled deepened. Armaan walked off in the direction of the boarding gates. The sound of the trolley case wheels where all that could be heard as he walked away.

Riddhima looked down at Aahana and walked towards the car park.She sighed and said 'come on Angel time to head home'. She knew the next three days were going to be difficult. Whilst placing Aahana in her car seat she said' I just hope your Daddy is going to be okay. I have you and he has our love.'

Armaan sensed foreboding. Something just didn't seem right. He didn't want to leave, and something was bugging him. A small voice in his mind was telling him not to go. He didn't know why though. 'Arrgh maybe I am thinking too much' he said to himself ' I need to keep control over my emotions' and saying this he boarded the plane. He looked around for his seat and thought Thank God, a window seat at least I will be able to stretch me legs and do my work without any interruptions'. He placed his laptop case under his seat and sat down comfortable waiting for the plane to take off. He began to read the speech which he had prepared to check for any last minute details and check the presentation. After a solid two hours of checking his presentation and making amendments, he dozed off.

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No light harboured the room. It was black. Pitch Black. The only colour in this void of a room was the pale white face of a little boy. The little boy sat there with his arms clamped tightly around his legs, his head tucked between his crossed knees. His palms were sweaty and his eyes were fixed to the ground beneath him. He was alienated, from himself, from the room and from the rest of the world. The chants of his pulsating heartbeats were vigorously echoing in his ears. Any minute now he whispered to himself. Any minute now...The key had been placed into the lock. He heard the front door open. The little boy lifted his face from between his knees. The opening of the door had unleashed the devil inside with it. A full five minutes passed and still no call thought the little boy. Question after question bombarded his little mind. Why has he not called me down yet? Is he okay? Why is it so silent? Maybe I should just go down? No, no he won't like that. Maybe I should just wait for his call. Another five minutes passed. The little boy's heart beat slowed down. A ray of hope shone in front of him. Maybe he has fallen asleep. Maybe he won't call. A smile slowly but gradually crept on the boys lips. But the Benevolent God if there was one out there gracefully crushed the little Boys hope as the impending voice of a man quietly called out 'Armaan.. beta zara niche au'. The little boys smiled faded quicker than the time it had taken to appear on his lips. His heart began to race. The blood pumped faster and faster. And this is how it began. The night had just began for this young boy, and the devil had awoken downstairs. Armaan tiptoed down the staircase. He dare made a sound. If he got down the staircase without making a noise that would be one less pinch or punch or kick he would receive. He successfully made it down this obstacle, but luck as always was never destined to be on his side. The potent smell of Alcohol filled the air. 'He's consumed more than yesterday' thought the little boy to himself. The man saw Armaan. Nefariously yet tactfully he turned the volume of the television higher. He did this so that if per chance Armaan flinched, or if the mans beating made any noise, it would not make a difference, the neighbours would not be able to hear, as the television set would drone out any noise going on from inside the house. The devil didn't take his time to act. He dropped the remote control of the television and pulled Armaan by his collar and his fists flew. The routine began. He kicked him for the death of his wife (Armaan didn't kill him Mom, she died of Cancer'), He punched him for having to live through each day without his wife (Did this Man not once think about the little boy who is a recluse in his own life is deprived of a mother) . He hurled every abusive word known to mankind at this little boy, and continued to beat him black and blue, until he was satisfied from within. Subsequently, came the sharp shatter of the alcohol bottle and the shatters consequence brought with it beautiful crystallized green shards which scattered neatly across the floor in a heap. Throughout this routine the vulnerable boy had learned not to speak, not to move basically not to do anything else which would agitate his father even more. Just stay idle and play his role as the punch bag quietly. He had got used to it. He couldn't do anything, and it seemed nobody could help. This continued for what seemed like eternity to the little boy. The world had become alien to the little boy. The last thing the boy heard before he was forced into submission was the sound of the harmonic tune being played on the television, and the end of his father's chain of 'You don't deserve love. You never have. You took my wife from me and I will ensure you never get love'.

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Armaan: 'RIDDHIMA'. He gasped for air as he woke up. He looked around at his surroundings as realised he was still in the aeroplane on his way to Singapore. The lights had been dimmed as other passengers were sleeping. A lone tear fell from Armaan's face as he recollected what he had just dreamt about. It was never going to leave him. It was a scar that would always remain. Whenever he felt lonely and was away from the ones he loved most, this horrific nightmare of his brutal past came back to him. He looked at the side of his hand, under his thumb. This is where one of many scars lay. His father had burnt his hand with a cigarette.

Armaan shakily sipped some water and wiped the beads of sweat of his forehead. He then pulled the complimentary aeroplane blanket over himself and looked outside his window into the dark cloudy sky, trying to remove the fresh thoughts of his past which had crept back in his mind.

Armaan: ' I love you Riddhima, and nobody can EVER take you away from me' an insecure Armaan muttered to himself.

Miles away in the Mallik house Riddhima had woken up feeling uneasy. Armaan's face kept popping in her mind. It hadn't even been a day since Armaans departure and she already missed him. She then looked Aahana, who was sleeping contently beside her with her dummy in her mouth. Riddhima kissed her Angel and fell back asleep in Armaans thoughts. ' I love you Armaan and I wish you were here'.

Hannah Sophia

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