Sunday, 17 May 2020

part 54 : Arman aur Riddhima ka safar

Riddhima stared out of the window at the green fields flashing by; the sky was cloudless and she took in the scenery with a smile on her face. But suddenly she felt the awkward silence in the atmosphere and her smile vanished. She turned to her right to see Armaan in deep concentration as he drove on the motorway; she watched him silently for some time and sighed then turned back to her left to look out of the window at the beautiful scenery once more as her mind buzzed with the events of the past week.

She thought back to the evening she had decided to talk to her parents about permission to go to the country club to participate in the Fashion Show...

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...she couldn't take it anymore; turning on her heel she quickly ran back up the stairs and into her room; closing the door behind her she leaned against it and breathed in hard. This was really turning out to be the worst nightmare ever.



Ridz: Ab main kya karu? – pacing up and down her room - ...What should I do? Papa khabi nahi manenge...tomorrow morning I will have to go and speak to Tom...I'll have to tell him I can't go...he'll have to send someone else in place of me...and...oh no...how am I going to face Jia...she'll never let me live this down...what should I do?

She finally stopped pacing the room and sat on the floor beside her bed; she folded her arms as she placed them on the bed and leaned her head on them trying to find comfort as she thought of how she was going to break this news to everyone. But slowly her thoughts changed as Shashank's words floated in her mind.

Ridz: - thinking – How did I even go ahead with this when I know papa will never allow this...I should've stayed in my limits...I mean...mama and papa never say no to anything I do and I took advantage of it...now I'm in such a mess...I don't know how I'm going to solve this problem...yeh maine kya kar diya?

Riddhima buried her face in her hands and moaned. Sometime later she realised that she could not stay up in her room forever and some time or the other she would have to go down and face the music. Shaking slightly as she knew what was coming her way she stood up and walked to the mirror; she fixed her hair and made herself look decent before taking one last deep breath before leaving her room and making her way downstairs. She walked into the living room which was empty and made her way through to the kitchen where her parents were. Shashank had just walked down the main staircase and entered the kitchen from the opposite side while Riddhima stood by the doorway. Padma looked up as she entered.

Padma: Riddhima beta...where were you? – looking closely at her - ...I haven't seen you since this morning...you didn't even come to see me when you came home...is everything okay?

Ridz: - looking over at Shashank – Ji...ji mama... – then thinking - ...oh no...why is papa looking at me like that...I'm so in for it now...

Padma: Okay...come sit down...dinner is ready...

Shashank sat down and so did Padma while Riddhima slowly made her way to the table as her mind worked over time. She sat down and stared down at her food without saying another word but suddenly she jumped as Shashank called her name making her look up with a scared expression.

Ridz: J-ji pa-papa?

Shashank: Anjali spoke to me today...she told me that you got chosen to participate in the competition... – Riddhima nodded slowly - ...that's great news...congratulations...when do you have to go?

Riddhima looked up in shock not believing her ears; she stared at Shashank with her mouth open; they both laughed at her.

Padma: Kya huwa Riddhima?

Ridz: Papa? Are you serious? Can I go? Really? – still unsure

Shashank: Of course you can go...this is a big opportunity for you...why should I object?

Ridz: But you do know it's for three weeks...away from home...is that okay?

Shashank: Riddhima...I trust you...and I also know how important this is for you...

Ridz: But...then... – thinking for a moment then looking at him - ...then why were you so angry when you came home...I thought you was angry about this...

Shashank: Woh? – laughing – ...That was not because of you...I had to dismiss a girl at work today...but leave that now...I give you permission to take part in this competition...

Riddhima jumped up suddenly and hugged him tightly thanking him from the bottom of her heart then hugged Padma just as tight. She then ran out of the room and called Anjali and Armaan to give them the good news and also thanking them for supporting her...



She smiled to herself as she remembered how excited Armaan was for her and congratulated her repeatedly. She turned her face again to look over at him but his expression had not changed as he carried on concentrating on the road without saying a word to her. She shook her head in his direction but he did not notice; she looked ahead at the cars in front of her as she remembered breaking the news to the others who were just as excited as her...or even more...



The next day she sat moodily next to Muskaan on the tube as they made their way to the Institute. Riddhima did not utter a word and kept her face straight as Muskaan begged her to know what Shashank had said. She wanted to know what had happened at home that night and if Shashank had given Riddhima permission to go but Riddhima stayed mum and did not open her mouth throughout the journey. They walked out of the station and crossed the road to the Institute as Muskaan carried on badgering her...

Muskaan: Oh come on Ridzi...I can see something is bothering you...what is it...what did uncle say...please tell me...please...

Ridz: - finally speaking up – Please Muskaan abhi nahi...I don't want to talk about this right now...

Muskaan: Par kyon? Kya huwa?

Ridz: Muskaan not now... – angrily

They entered the building and walked through the turnstiles making their way to the room; on the way Muskaan carried on not giving up as she was very eager to find out what had happened. They walked into the room and was about to settle down when Muskaan had enough and spoke up.

Muskaan: If you don't tell me now I will have to phone aunty and find out...

But before Riddhima could open her mouth Jia entered the room and made her way in their direction with a big smile on her face.

Jia: What do you need to ask anyone for Muskaan...you can see from her face that she didn't get permission...

Jia's Friend: And anyway...it was obvious from the moment her name was taken out of the box...we knew she would not be able to go...

Jia: Of course...but do come down to the auditorium today...where you will see my name being drawn from the box...and unlike some I will be going...and I will win...

Ridz: - standing up to face her - ...Actually Jia...get your facts right...because I AM GOING!

Riddhima took out the form from her file and waved it in front of her face showing her that she had filled in all the details and she has been given permission to go for the full three weeks.

Muskaan: I don't believe this... – squealed excitedly and hugged Riddhima – ...I really don't believe this...Ridzi I'm so happy for you...

Ridz: - smiled happily at her then turned to the other two - ...Musk...it looks like these two can't believe it either... – smirking - ...won't you wish me all the best...? – sarcastically to them who looked on in horror - ...it's okay...because I don't need it from you two...

Riddhima pushed past them and made her way to the front of the room to hand in her form to Tom and Laura who had just walked into the class. Muskaan smirked at them as Riddhima made her way back; they shuffled along and sat at the back of the room discussing the latest situation while Muskaan and Riddhima celebrated...



Riddhima smiled as she remembered how she had called up everyone telling them about the competition which she was going to participate in and they all wished her luck. Sid, Naina and Dhruv were so happy for her and Shubhankar Uncle and Keerti Chachi wished her all the best. She had a get together with her friends; Rahul, Muskaan, Nikita and Armaan at a restaurant one night and they all talked excitedly about it; Nikita was really happy for her. As she thought about the time they spent in the restaurant her stomach rumbled and she noticed a sign reading "Welcome Break Ahead" she smiled as this was a sign from above and she turned to Armaan.

Ridz: Can we please stop here for a bit...I'm starving...

Armaan: You just ate at home before we left... – strictly

Ridz: But I'm hungry...and we left two and a half hours ago... – moaning

Armaan: Fine... – moodily

Armaan turned in a few minutes later and parked the car. Riddhima got out but suddenly stopped and looked back; Armaan was sitting in the car; his eyes were closed and he leaned back in the seat.

Ridz: Aren't you coming?

Armaan: You're hungry...you go..

Ridz: Stop being so childish and come...

Armaan: I don't want to...

Ridz: Fine... – she slammed the car door and walked away

Riddhima's mind flooded with thoughts of the previous night when they were having dinner at the Maliks' place as she made her way into the building in search of a restaurant.



Over dinner everyone chatted away about Riddhima going away for the competition.

Nandani: You really are very lucky to be chosen twice like that...

Anji: Haan Mummy Ji...she really is very lucky...first she got into TFI because of her talent...and now this competition...

Shashank: We're all very proud of you beta...

Ridz: Thank you papa...but now I need to work hard and win this...

Padma: Win or no win...I'm already very proud of you...

Vikram: We all are...

Ridz: Thank you uncle...

Once dinner was over they settled down in the living room talking generally until the Guptas decided it was time to go as Riddhima had to leave the next morning and she needed some sleep and Riddhima pitched in saying there was still some packing to do.

Anji: Take care of yourself...

Atul: And don't get up to mischief... – smiling as he ruffled her hair

Ridz: Jij...do I look like the type who gets up to mischief? – making a face

Atul: I'm just joking...we'll come to see the fashion show...

Vikram: Work hard...

Nandani: No...make sure you take some rest also...no one will be there to be on your case telling you to rest so you must take care of yourself...

Ridz: - smiling – Ji aunty...I will...

Shashank: Armaan...thanks again...if I didn't have the meeting I would've have taken her...and I asked you on your day off...I'm sorry...

Armaan: It's okay uncle...I don't have anything better to do tomorrow anyway...

Padma: Okay we should go now...

Riddhima hugged everyone but Armaan as they all wished her luck telling her that they were going to miss her. She waved to them while walking out of their home and making her way to the car...



She jumped as she heard a loud scrape on the floor; looking around she saw Armaan sitting down in front of her with a moody face.

Ridz: - under her breath – Mr Akru...

Armaan: Did you say something?

Ridz: So now you're hungry...

Armaan: No I thought I might as well eat something...because I don't know what time I'll get back...

He ate away silently at his filet-o-fish and chips as she watched him closely; he made sure he did not meet her eye as he would start all over again. She ate up quickly and watched him as he took his final bite. She smiled at him and he looked at her curiously...

Armaan: What?

Ridz: You have a bit of ketchup near your lips... – giggled

Armaan grabbed a tissue and wiped it away angrily. He watched her as she stood up and walked away to the washroom. She came back a few minutes later and before she could reach the table he got up and walked out; she shook her head in his direction and followed him out. Settling down in the car she turned on the radio as he drove out and back onto the motorway as silent as he was before...



That night after coming back from the Maliks' house Riddhima finished her last minute packing and got ready for bed; she grabbed her phone and jumped in smiling to herself as she pressed the very familiar button and placed the phone to her ear as the phone rang twice before he answered...

Armaan: Hello?

Ridz: Hey...what you doing?

Armaan: Just getting in bed...thinking about you...

Ridz: Me too...

Armaan: I'm going to miss you so much...what am I going to do without you for three weeks?

Ridz: Work!

Armaan: I won't be able to concentrate on my work with you so far away...

Ridz: I know...but you'll have to manage...

Armaan: I will call you three times a day...

Ridz: Umm...I was thinking about that...

Armaan: What about it?

Ridz: Armaan...this might sound a bit weird to you...but I think we should...

Armaan: We should what?

Ridz: I think we should take a break...

Armaan: What does that mean?

Ridz: I mean...while I'm there for three weeks we should not contact each other...that way I'll be able to concentrate on my work...you'll be able to concentrate on your work...

Armaan: What? You think by not talking to each other we both will be able to concentrate on our work? – getting worked up

Ridz: Not just concentrate but...you know that saying...distance makes love fonder...think of it this way...if we don't talk to each other for these three weeks and we finally see each other on the day of the fashion show...it would be more special...we'll look forward to that day...and our love will multiply...

Armaan: What rubbish Riddhima...this is all story book stuff...fairy tale...and this is real life Ridz...I can't stay away from you for three weeks and now you're telling me not to talk to you for that long also...I'll lose my mind like this...no way...

Ridz: Come on Armaan...stop getting so worked up...it was just a suggestion...calm down...

Armaan: No way Riddhima...how could you even think like that...I don't believe this...this is not going to happen...

Ridz: Armaan...just listen to me...

Armaan: No I don't want to hear anything...good night... – he ended the call



Riddhima jumped back to reality as she heard the car door slam; she turned to her right to see Armaan's seat was empty. She looked around at her surroundings to see a rusty coloured building with a lot of greenery surrounding it; she smiled as she realised that they had reached her destination. She got out of the car and looked around; in the distance she could see green hills and blue skies making her smile widen.

Armaan: Are you coming or you planning to stand here all day?

Riddhima looked around to see Armaan dragging her suitcase and carrying her bag towards the entrance. She smiled and followed him inside to the reception area; as she got there he was giving her details to lady at the desk. Riddhima looked around at the beautiful lounge area and coffee bar where some people were sitting then followed Armaan and a man who was carrying her luggage towards her room; they walked along wide hallways towards the hotel section of the resort. Riddhima followed Armaan silently who was still not able to meet Riddhima's eyes; but she kept sneaking glances at him. They had now walked into a corridor which had several doors on either side, the man walked them towards the far end and opened the room door, and then he left the luggage at the side and gave the card to Armaan then left the room closing the door silently behind him.

Riddhima smiled widely as she looked at the two single beds which looked extremely comfortable; looking around the room she could see a wide screen television; a work top desk; a dresser with a huge mirror and a large cupboard. Next to it was another door which she peaked through to see a beautiful washroom with a frosted glass door shower. She closed the door and walked around the room to the double glass door which she slid open and walked out onto a small garden as they were on the ground floor, she held her breath while looking at the most beautiful scenery. The tiny garden had two small chairs which looked out over to the green hills which she had seen earlier and a massive golf course; if anything she could say was that this place looked amazing and she loved it. But her thoughts were suddenly disrupted as she heard a shuffle behind her and turned to see Armaan standing there looking very sad.

Ridz: Armaan...

Armaan did not say anything but held her hand gently making her turn towards him; he made her sit on the chair and sat on the one next to her facing her direction; she looked on at him curiously.

Armaan: I was...I was thinking about what you had said last night... - she nodded and waited for him to carry on - ...as much as I hate to say this but I think you're right...maybe we shouldn't stay in contact over these three weeks... – still holding onto her hand he caressed it - ...I don't know how it's going to be possible...but I can give it a try...right? – tilting his head and looking at her

Ridz: - nodding her head slowly - ...I love you... – leaning over she hugged him – ...Armaan...I know it's going to be difficult...even for me...but this is the challenge...if we keep waiting for each other's calls then we won't be able to carry out our duties...and at this moment it is very important that we do...

Armaan: You're right...especially for you...and I don't want to come in your way and mess things up for you...everything should go perfect for you in this competition and I hope it does...because when I come here three weeks from now...I want to see the biggest smile on your face...I want to see my love be successful...I want to see that winning trophy in your hands...and I know you can do it...

Ridz: I hope so... – excitedly

Armaan: I know so... – smiling his dimpled smile

Ridz: I know this will be difficult for both of us...but to make it easy I want to ask you for one small favour in return...

Armaan: Name it...I'll make anything possible...

Ridz: I want to spend this entire day with you...making sweet memories which will keep me going for the next three weeks...will you do that for me?

Armaan: I'll do anything for you...come...

They stood up and Armaan held her hand; he was about to walk back into the room when Riddhima held his hand tightly making him stop and turn to face her.

Armaan: What's wrong?

Riddhima moved towards him and hugged him tightly; he replied by hugging her back taking in her sweet scent. They stayed like this for a few more minutes, then Armaan bent his neck slightly and kissed her lips slowly making her close her eyes and take in the moment, he tightened his grip around her tiny waist and they stayed like this for a while longer. On cue they both moved back; Riddhima looked down shyly while Armaan smiled widely, he held onto her hand walking her back into the room. Armaan took the card and they walked out of the room locking the door behind them; they walked along the silent corridor sneaking glances at each other every few seconds with smiles on their faces.

Once again they were walking through the wide hallways looking through the rooms on each side; there was a club room where activities took place, table tennis, snooker, darts, table football and other games. Then they looked through the glass door to the gym which looked quite interesting to Armaan. Further along they saw a wooden door on it was written SPA which made Riddhima smile excitedly. They then walked out of the club to the outdoor area where they noticed a basket ball court at one end alongside a sports ground, an outdoor eating area. They walked a little further around a bend and smiled widely at each other as they saw a massive swimming pool with a tiny fountain. They walked towards it and sat at the edge dipping their feet in it.

Armaan: Looks like you're going to have so much fun here you won't even remember me...

Ridz: Armaan... – linking her arm into his and snuggling up to him - ...you know I'll always be thinking about you...

Armaan: Liar...

Ridz: I'm not lying...I'm serious...

Armaan: I know how serious you are...

Ridz: Armaan...! – making a face

Armaan: Why would you be thinking about me when you came here to participate in a competition...obviously your mind will be on work... – he moved back slightly as Riddhima smacked his arm playfully

Ridz: You're right...I'll be concentrating on my work...but I will be thinking about you...

Armaan: I know...I'm just messing around...

They spoke for a while longer until Riddhima realised it was getting quite late.

Ridz: Armaan... – slowly

Armaan: - nodding – I know...

Without another word they both stood up and walked around the pool, Armaan held onto Riddhima's hand as they made their way to the parking lot. They walked back through the reception area and through the glass doors, once they were outside Armaan stopped and turned to face her; he gave her a hug and pulled her close.

Armaan: Take care of yourself... – she nodded against his chest - ...and make sure you eat...not like usually when you're into your work you don't think about eating... – again she nodded against his chest - ...and if there's any problem make sure you call home or call me...forget about our promise and call me...if not I'll never forgive you... – once again she nodded against his chest and he quietened down - ...I'm going to miss you...

Ridz: I'm going to miss you too... – tearfully

Armaan also smiled through watery eyes as he heard her; wiping his tear away quickly he moved back and looked down at her, wiping her tears away with a smile.

Armaan: Now cheer up or I'm going to change my mind and take you back with me...or better...stay here with you... – smiling

Riddhima wiped her cheeks and smiled at him; he kissed her forehead then stood back and looked down at her with a big smile.

Armaan: Bye...

Ridz: I love you...

Armaan: Love you too...

Riddhima mouthed bye as he walked away to his car, he got in and looked at her as she waved to him then he drove off; Riddhima watched as he disappeared through the gates before turning and walking back into the reception...

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