Saturday, 16 May 2020

part 53 : Arman aur Riddhima ka safar

Over a few weeks Riddhima busied herself in her project; now having a sewing machine at home getting her work sorted was so much easier; before starting her work she would make a daily plan on what needed to be completed by the end of the day and she would challenge herself to complete her target and feel proud of herself when she had. Laura had noticed this during one session and made Riddhima an example to all the others in the class; which once again triggered Jia to mess around with Riddhima's image but for the first time she had failed as Riddhima was completely focused with her work and made sure nothing could be messed up under any circumstances.

She had completed her two projects and was at the point of finishing her third project. She had hand stitched the final bit of surface decorations on the bottom of the dress; checked it out on the mannequin then took it off making her way to the ironing board to iron it when Tom walked into the room and called for everyone's attention. Riddhima folded her dress neatly and put it away in her bag before moving to the work top in the centre of the room where everyone else was gathered to listen to Tom. Once everyone was there and settled he spoke up with a smile on his face.



Tom: I'm sorry to have come in like this and disturb you from your work...which I can see you were all focused on...but I have some very important news for you all...something very interesting...

Girl: Go on Tom...

Boy: Yeah...cut the suspense...

Tom: - laughed – Okay...well the news is that I have received and a letter from the Fashion Head Office this morning...there is a new competition which will be held this year...a Fashion Show... – there was a loud cheer around the room - ...as you may all know we have always had an annual fashion show here at TFI but this one is different...and along with this good news there is always some bad news...  – everyone groaned

Jia: What's that?

Tom: Only one person will be chosen from this Institute to participate in this Fashion Show...

Everyone looked around at each other not sure if to be happy or sad and they all started talking at once until Laura and Tom quietened them down and Tom carried on.

Tom: Okay...I will give you all some of the details...this Fashion Show will be taking place out of the city...in a country club...the chosen participant will stay there for three weeks and within that time they will design and make their outfits and also model them at the fashion show...there will be three themes and one outfit should be made for each...

He looked around at everyone's excited faces and smiled at Laura before carrying on.

Tom: But let me just remind you...only twenty five fashion students from all over the country will be selected to participate in this Fashion Show...which means we are really lucky that we have been chosen from over one hundred and fifty other Fashion Institutes and Fashion Schools...and only one student from this Institute can participate in the fashion show...

Jia's Friend: But...how are we going to decide who that one person will be?

Boy: Yeah...that's what I want to know...

Laura: Good question... – turning to Tom

Tom: To give everyone a fair chance...we have decided that every class will have a box...if you want to participate you write your name on a piece of paper once and place it in the box...one name will be chosen at random...then from all the names which have been chosen from each class will be placed in a separate box and once again one name will be chosen randomly...that way everyone will get a fair chance...

Muskaan: That sounds good...

Ridz: When is this going to take place? – to Tom – ...I mean...choosing a name and going to the country club...

Tom: I think it's best that we don't waste any time and draw a name from this class now... – smiling at her

Ridz: Now...?

Jia sniggered loudly at Riddhima's expression.

Laura: Is there a problem Riddhima?

Ridz: N-no Laura... – shaking her head

Tom: The fashion show is one month away...but as for now... – grabbing some paper from the desk and folding it - ...let's start by writing your names...if you are interested please write your name on the paper and place it in this box...

Laura handed one piece of paper to each person around the table and they quickly scribbled their names on it; Riddhima picked up her pen and wrote her name onto the paper praying silently with a smile on her face before picking it up and folding it into two pieces. She looked over at Muskaan then they both got up and walked to the front of the room to where Tom was standing with the box. They placed it inside and sat back down as Tom made them wait a bit for some suspense; they sat back down and talked amongst themselves.

Muskaan: I don't believe this...it's like a one in a million chance...

Ridz: Musk...this is like a dream for me...I thought coming to TFI was my biggest dream but this is like... – excitedly

Muskaan: I know what you mean...no words to explain...

Ridz: I can't wait till they reveal that one name...I'm so nervous...

Jia: Oh there's no need for you to be so nervous...because it won't be your name...

Riddhima and Muskaan turned to see Jia and her friend standing there listening to their conversation; Riddhima rolled her eyes and turned around again ignoring her but not for long...

Jia's Friend: Of course Jia...no way will she be chosen...

Jia: And...if by chance she does...there's no way that she'll be going...

Muskaan: And what exactly do you mean by that? – angrily at Jia

Jia: What don't you get about "she's not going"? – simply then with a smile - ...one because my name will be chosen...

Jia's Friend: And second? – to Jia

Jia: Little Miss Princess's parents won't let her go...away from home...for three weeks...without any family...just for some fashion show...

Jia's Friend: - smiling – Yeah you're right Jia...her parents won't allow her...so it doesn't even matter if her name is chosen or not...

Jia: Exactly...

They giggled and turned away talking amongst themselves while Muskaan looked over at Riddhima's face which was very pale.

Muskaan: What are you thinking?

Ridz: I hate to say this...but maybe she's right...

Muskaan: Don't say that...uncle will understand...he knows this is your dream...and they never say anything that will ruin your dreams...so don't worry...

Ridz: Nahi Muskaan...this time I don't think that they might allow me...it's not just a fashion show...but it's about being away from home for so long...

Muskaan: Ridz...c'mon be positive...

Ridz: - nodded - ...Mayb... – she was cut off

Tom: Okay then... – getting everyone's attention once more

Muskaan: Let's see what happens...

Ridz: All the best...

Muskaan: All the best to you too... – they gave each other a quick hug

Tom: It's time...to reveal one name from fifteen pieces of papers...

Laura: All the best to you all... – with a smile

Tom: Here goes...

Tom picked up the box and shook it around a few times before placing it back onto the table; he looked around at everyone's faces before placing his hand into the box and pulled out one piece of paper. He looked at it then unfolded it twice then looked down at the name seriously; he looked up at the group with the same expression.

Tom: And the one student who has been chosen from this group is... – looking around at each face - ...Riddhima Gupta!

There were quite a few cheers from around the room while Riddhima sat there in shock not believing what she had just heard. Jia was also very shocked and had turned away but her friend reminded her that Riddhima would not be allowed to go and her mood changed again. Riddhima over heard this and realised the situation; she thought for a quick moment of how she was going to talk to her parents about this when Muskaan hugged her tightly bringing her back to reality.

Muskaan: Ridz it's you...I'm so happy for you...

Ridz: Thanks Muskaan...

Laura: Congratulations Riddhima...

Tom: Yep...now let's go to the main hall...where the main name will be chosen...

Some students stayed in the room; Jia being one of them while the others collected their belongings and followed Tom out of the room and made their way to the auditorium where the name was going to be chosen. On the way Muskaan realised that Riddhima was very quiet and she decided to find out what was wrong.

Muskaan: Ridzi...kya huwa?

Ridz: I was just thinking...if I get chosen then how am I going to tell papa...?

Muskaan: Don't worry about that just yet...let's just soak up the excitement and the suspense till then...when it's over we'll decide what to do...okay?

Ridz: Okay...

They took their places and waited for other students to come down; the name was going to be revealed in ten minutes and the hall was filled with loud chatter as everyone waited around excitedly Tom and other staff members were going through the list of names and making chits to go into the box. It was finally time and Riddhima grabbed hold of Muskaan's hand nervously as they were all told to settle down.

Muskaan: All the best...

Riddhima nodded as that was all she could do at this moment apart from pray silently. The dean of the Institute stood in front of everyone and gave a quick welcome speech along with wishing all the students best of luck before putting his hand into the box and pulling out a piece of paper. He unfolded it and spoke up to the group of students.

Dean: The student who has been chosen to spend three weeks at the country club and participate in the Fashion Show is...Riddhima Gupta...

There was a huge applause around the auditorium and Tom gestured to Riddhima to come onto the stage. Muskaan hugged her and pushed her out of her seat; she walked slowly down the aisle and up onto the stage where she was congratulated by the Dean of the Institute, Tom and the other members of staff who were there; she was handed a file which contained all the information she needed. She was unable to say anything and walked back off the stage in a trance towards her seat.

Everyone slowly left the auditorium; some going back to work and some heading to the canteen. Muskaan decided to grab something to eat and walked towards the canteen with Riddhima; they settled down at the table once Muskaan had brought something to eat.

Ridz: Now what Muskaan? – excited but nervous all over again – ...How should I tell mama and papa that I want to participate in this Fashion Show and I have to stay away from home in an unfamiliar place for three weeks without anyone...

Muskaan: Ridz...don't worry something will turn out...

Ridz: How...I can't think of anything but just going home and telling them flat out which will end with a big NO!

Muskaan: Ridzi listen to me...this fashion show opportunity was made for you...win or no win but for you to go...it's in your destiny...look at it this way...you organised two fashion shows because of your creativity and look where it got you...a free place here at TFI...that was by chance...and now you're here...you've just been chosen twice out of thousands of people to participate in this show...now tell me...it's in your destiny or not...?

Ridz: Muskaan...I understand all of that...but how am I going to tell mama and papa?

Muskaan: That is what I'm trying to say to you...you've got this far...somehow or the other things will work out and you will go...now just let me think for a minute...

Ridz: Theek hain...

They both became silent busy with their own thoughts until Muskaan clicked her fingers with a smile on her face two minutes later; Riddhima looked at her curiously.

Ridz: Kya?

Muskaan: Okay I haven't found a real solution...but call Anji Dii...I'm sure she can help you...

Ridz: - thought for a moment – That's a great idea...thanks Muskaan... – excitedly

Muskaan: Alright...you call Anji Dii...and see if she can come here...show her this file with all the details...see what she says and ask her if she can help you...

Ridz: Yeah...I'll do that...

Muskaan: Call her... – getting up

Ridz: Where are you going?

Muskaan: I have to go back and finish my work...when you finish meet me in the room...okay?

Ridz: Okay that's fine...see you later...

Muskaan: Bye...

Muskaan went back to the room to finish off her work while Riddhima wasted no time; she picked up her phone and called Anjali telling her to come to the Institute right away; Anjali became worried but Riddhima assured her that she was fine but needed to talk to her immediately; she gave her the directions telling her to meet up at a nearby coffee shop. Riddhima ended the call and made her way to the coffee shop; she got there within five minutes and replayed in her mind what she was going to say to Anjali. She ordered a coffee for herself and sipped it slowly looking up at the door every few minutes.

Twenty minutes later she looked up to see Anjali and Armaan enter the coffee shop and made their way towards her; she sighed happily to see Armaan there but tried not to make it obvious to Anjali.

Anji: - sitting down – Kya huwa Ridzi...why did you call me here so urgently...is everything okay?

Ridz: Haan dii...everything is fine...

Anji: I hope it's okay with you...I had to ask Armaan to drive me here...he just came home for lunch and I asked him to give me a lift here because there were no other cars at home...

Ridz: It's okay dii really...actually it's good...I need both of your help...

Armaan: With what?

Riddhima explained everything to them; from the very beginning when Tom entered the room and gave them the news till the time she was chosen in class and then in the hall. They looked at her in shock not believing what they were hearing.

Anji/Armaan: WHAT? You got chosen from over hundreds of students? I don't believe this...WOW! This is really cool...Congrats...

Ridz: Guys...you're not seeing my problem...

Armaan: What's wrong with that...you have to go...this is like your dream come true...

Anji: Definitely...you're so lucky...I'm so happy for you...

Ridz: I thought Muskaan's excitement was bad but you two as well...

Anji: What's wrong?

Ridz: Dii...! – looking closely at her - ...I can't go...

Anji/Armaan: Huh? Why not?

Ridz: - sighed and handed them the file asking them to read the first three lines - ...Now you see...papa and mama will never let me go there for three weeks on my own...and I can't take anyone with me...this is such a big opportunity...but I will have to give it a miss...

Anjali became quiet for a moment and looked at her sadly then turned to Armaan who shook his head.

Armaan: No way...bhabi you think this is not possible as well?

Anji: Papa won't allow it...

Ridz: Now you understand my problem... – like finally

Anji: I don't know...

Armaan: Come on guys...you can't just give up like this...Ridz this is a huge opportunity for you...just give it a try...

Ridz: But Armaan...I know papa very well...he won't let me stay away from home alone...and I've never been there before...it's unfamiliar...

Armaan: But Ridz...this is your dream...bhabi...let's try something...

Anji: Like what? – turning to him - ...I can't think of anything...

Ridz: I have to tell everyone that I can't go...

Armaan: Ridz don't be stupid!

Ridz: Then what should I do? - frustrated

Armaan: Fine... – a bit angrily - ...then go...and first of all go and start with that Jia...go and tell her that you can't go...go on...

Ridz: But... – becomes silent now realising how difficult this was going to be

Anji: Who's Jia? – looking from Armaan to Riddhima

Ridz: Koi nahi...

Armaan: Enough huh Riddhima...there's no point in hiding anything now... – turning to Anjali – ...bhabi Jia is her arch enemy here...she's made her life into a living hell...Muskaan has told me everything...she knows Riddhima is the best and wants to ruin all her chances to prove herself...and one more thing bhabs...she was the one responsible for that needle in Riddhima's finger... – finished ranting

Anji: Kya? – turning from Armaan to Riddhima again - ...Ridz...what is he saying...is that the truth?

Riddhima nodded and stayed silent.

Anji: I don't believe this...so much has happened and you never told me...Ridzi...

Ridz: Dii...ab woh sab choro...and let's think about this...

Armaan: What about this...you don't want to go through with it...go and tell everyone that you can't go...

Anji: Okay both of you stop fighting now and let's take this seriously... – calming down - ...Ridzi firstly tell me what is happening with Jia...

Ridz: Dii please...that was a problem...not anymore...it's all sorted...let's forget about that now please?

Anji: Fine...now tell me...do you really...truly want to go ahead and take part in this competition... – looking at her closely - ...mera matlab...I know this is your dream and you want to but do you really want to go ahead and spend three weeks there and take part in this fashion show...not thinking of how we're going to tell papa...but just from your heart...do you want to go?

Ridz: - thought for a moment and nodded her head - ...Haan dii...I want to go...I want to take part in this competition...

Anji: Okay then... – turning to Armaan - ...then let's think of a way to say this to papa...

They all became silent lost in their own thoughts coming up with ideas of how to tell Shashank. Ten minutes later they decided that Anjali would talk to Shashank; they couldn't think of any other smart plan but to go to him and tell it straight. Anjali told Riddhima not to worry about it; they left after sometime; Riddhima went back to the Institute to Muskaan and Anjali and Armaan went to Khushi Events where Anjali decided she was going to talk to Shashank right away because if she held it in she would become nervous and won't be able to do it.

Riddhima did not understand how she had spent the rest of the day with her mind wondering all over the place about what Shashank was going to say and if he said no how she would face everyone. She had a slight daydream or actually a nightmare through open eyes of Jia; her friend and the rest of the Institute laughing at her as she announced it in the auditorium that she did not get permission from her parents to go to the country club for three weeks alone. She yelped as Muskaan nudged her breaking her away from her thoughts.

Muskaan: Calm down...everything will be fine don't worry...

Ridz: Easier said than done...I don't know what's going to happen...and that Jia...

Muskaan: Why are you even thinking about her...forget her...

Ridz: Arghh... – screaming out loud - ...why is life so difficult?

Muskaan: Chill Ridzi...finish off your work...

Ridz: I can't...I can't concentrate on anything right now...I only need to iron my dress but I'm afraid it will burn...I can't trust myself to do anything...

Muskaan: - laughing – Tu bhi na Ridzi...pagal...

After some time Muskaan finished off her work and packed away her stuff then they left the Institute and made their way to the tube station; many people wished her all the best as she walked through the building and out onto the streets.

Muskaan: So many people are wishing you luck...see don't worry... – smiling

Ridz: It's not funny Muski...

Muskaan: I'm not laughing... – giggled at Riddhima's expression

They got onto the tube and Riddhima carried on worrying throughout the entire journey all the way home. Even when saying bye to Muskaan she was still worried and carried on to her home. She entered the hallway and as usual everything was very quiet; she made her way up the stairs and into her room; she went to have a shower to calm her nerves thinking of what was going to happen. She came out half an hour later; drying her hair and taking deep breathes as she got dressed. Her phone rang scaring her out of her thoughts once again.

Ridz: Hello?

Armaan: Hey...you okay?

Ridz: I think so...

Armaan: - laughing – What does that mean?

Ridz: I don't know... – irritated

Armaan: - laughing – Okay...calm down...

Ridz: How?

Armaan: Take a deep breath...

Ridz: I've been doing that for the past hour...

Armaan: Okay...then listen to this...it will make you feel better...

Ridz: What?

Armaan: Bhabi spoke to uncle...

Ridz: And? What did he say? - eagerly

Armaan: I don't know...I wasn't there...I just know she spoke to him...

Ridz: And how is that suppose to make me feel better? – angrily

Armaan: Sorry...

Ridz: I have to go...I think papa just got home...

Armaan: Okay...all the best...

Ridz: Thanks...and pray for me...

Armaan: I will...bye...I love you...

Ridz: Bye...

Riddhima ended the call and looked at herself in the mirror taking a few deep breaths before deciding to go down and get it over and done with; she opened her room door and walked out and started to go down the stairs. As she reached the living room she heard voices coming from the kitchen, she stood there to listen for a minute.

Padma: Calm down...

Shashank: Kaise...how can I calm down?

Padma: Pani peelo...

Shashank: - drank water and carried on - ...How could she even think I would allow this...enough is enough...too much freedom these days... – angrily - ...the kids these days...they don't know their limits anymore...

Riddhima stood rooted to the spot and gulped hard...

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