Monday, 18 May 2020

part 55 : Arman aur Riddhima ka safar

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. 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...



Walking back through the slightly unfamiliar setting Riddhima looked around taking in the small details of the cosy lounge area and the coffee bar which was now empty. She smiled slowly as she moved through the corridors taking it in as her new home for the next three weeks.



Ridz: - thinking – I can't believe I'm here...is this really happening...I'm actually part of this competition now...this is more than a dream come true...three weeks of living in this luxurious place...so much to do here...designing, making, modelling, meeting new people, relaxing and enjoying...this is just too good to be true... – smiling to herself

She walked around the pool as the evening sunshine made the place feel even more fairytale like. She took in the beautiful greenery of the outskirts of the area which seemed to be like secure barrier of the place. She took out her phone and decided to call home letting her parents know that she had reached safely and that she loved the place. Padma was a little emotional as she thought of her daughter being far away from home alone but Riddhima reassured her that she was perfectly okay and that she would call everyday and let them know that she was fine. She smiled as she hung up then carried on walking around now making her way inside back to her room with the thoughts on her mind running freely making her smile widen.

Ridz: - thinking – I'm going to make the most of my time here...win or no win in this competition I'm just happy that I've made it this far...it's more than I can ask for...but of course I'll put in my 200% effort to my creativity...and will definitely enjoy myself while I'm here...no tension... – smiling - ...I just pray that everything goes well...

Riddhima had now made her way back to the corridor to her room when she noticed a young girl standing at the far end struggling with her bags and trying to open the door. Riddhima raised her eye brows curiously and quickly made her way towards the girl who had now dropped her bag on the floor.

Ridz: Hi...do you need some help? – making the girl look up

Girl: Umm...hi...my card doesn't seem to be working...

Ridz: It's okay I'll help you...room partner... – with a smile

Girl: Room partner?

Ridz: Yeah...we're sharing a room... – letting her in

They both walked into the room and the girl took a good look around with a smile then turned to face Riddhima.

Girl: Hey I'm Tia... – holding her hand out – ...Tia Ahuja...

Ridz: Nice to meet you...and I am Riddhima Gupta... – shaking her hand - ...you can call me Ridz...

Tia: Nice name...

Ridz: Thanks...why don't you make yourself comfortable?

Tia: Yeah...

Riddhima walked out to the garden while Tia moved her bag to one side of the room and went to freshen up. She sat on the chair and looked out to the green hills which had casted shadows over the resort as the evening sun began to set; Riddhima took in this beautiful moment peacefully and was really happy that she was here. It was now slightly dark when Tia walked out into the garden and sat down next to Riddhima.

Tia: It's really beautiful isn't it?

Ridz: I've not seen a place more peaceful than this...

Tia: I know...but trust me the feeling wears off after a while... – smiling

Ridz: Huh...what do you mean?

Tia: I come here often...this is like home away from home...my family spends their summer holidays here...so I'm kind of use to it...but when I first saw it I was really excited...it took me a few weeks to get use to it...but as far as I can remember we've been coming here since I was like five or something...so the feeling has worn off... – laughing

Ridz: Oh...okay... – smiling - ...you're very lucky though...I wish I could come here every summer...it's just so beautiful...

Tia: Yep...so you're here for the competition right?

Ridz: Yes... – getting back to reality - ...I'm really looking forward to it...I can't wait to get started...

Tia: Me either...this is a really big competition...only twenty five people have been selected out of thousands...we're really lucky...

Ridz: I know...I was so shocked when I got selected...it's really a dream come true for me...

Tia: Me too...let's go in...its getting a bit breezy...

Ridz: Sure... – following her inside - ...I was really enjoying the sunset that I didn't even realise the change in temperature and it's dark... – closing the door behind her

Tia: Yeah...because this place is secluded it gets quite chilly at night but in the summer the days are really hot...

Just as Riddhima was about to reply she was given a bit of a shock as the phone rang suddenly. Tia pressed a button to silence it while Riddhima looked on curiously.

Tia: Dinner is being served...shall we? – getting up - ...I'm starving...

Ridz: Umm...yeh sure... – still looking a little lost

Tia: - smiling – This is how we're contacted...through the intercom...breakfast, lunch and dinner... – Riddhima's face eased a bit - ...don't worry you'll get use to it...

Ridz: I hope so... – smiling

Riddhima followed her out of the room and they walked down the corridor towards the dining hall. They chatted away as Tia talked more about the club making Riddhima feel comfortable and excited as well as happy that she had made a friend. They entered the dining hall to see a quite a few guests helping themselves to buffet dinner; Riddhima smiled and followed Tia towards the food. Over dinner they both gave a further introduction about themselves and were beginning to feel very comfortable with each other, now fully enjoying themselves.

Once they had eaten they decided to head back to their room as it was quite late and both were excited about the following day. Walking back through the wide corridors Tia made a stop at a familiar notice board making Riddhima look on, they read a sign which was up for the participants of the competition, on the beginning time for their first session. Then they carried on to their room talking excitedly about it until they had both fallen asleep.



The next morning Riddhima woke up to the unfamiliar surroundings and frowned for a moment, she rubbed her eyes then scanned the room as they became focus and she smiled widely. Stretching her arms out she yawned silently as not to wake up her roommate. She tiptoed out of her bed and walked over to the glass door, pulling the curtains apart she looked out to the green hills and the morning sunshine. Her smile widened as a sudden thought struck her.

Ridz: - thinking - ...This is it Ridz...your first day...there's going to be a lot to do today...let's get a move on... – smiling to herself

She went to her suitcase and pilled all her belongings into one of the cupboards then picked out an outfit and made her way to the washroom for a cool shower. She walked back into the room half an hour later to see Tia getting out of bed.

Tia: Someone's eager... – sleepily to Riddhima

Ridz: Yep...I'm very excited...c'mon we need to be down in the lounge soon...

Tia: I'll just go and have a quick shower...

Ridz: Okay...

Tia grabbed some clothes from her suitcase and went into the washroom while Riddhima paced around the room getting dressed and making the place look decent. Once she was ready Tia had re entered the room and was getting ready, they spoke of what they thought would happen today. Both very excited they made their way to the dining hall for breakfast, as they entered they found a few groups of youngsters scattered around talking about the competition. They smiled at each other before going over to take some breakfast and then they decided to join one of the groups.

Once breakfast was over, Riddhima looked at her watch and noticed it was time for them to gather at the assemble point which was noted on the notice board and they made their way towards it in groups all chatting eagerly. They arrived there right on time and were surprise to see two people already waiting there for them with welcoming smiles.

Man: Good Morning everyone and welcome... – smiling widely

Lady: Hi...my name is Annie and this is Billy...we're here to guide you through this competition...

Billy: Looks like everyone is really eager and you're all bang on time...so let's get on with it...

Annie: Right...let's make our way to the workshops where we will be giving you more detail about this competition and what will be happening within the next three weeks...let's go...

The group followed Annie and Billy through the longue and the garden onto a pathway leading to a secluded building block which was going to be their workshop. As they entered they were fascinated with the layout of the place; the block had seemed to be a small box house from the outside but the inside was huge. They walked into a foyer which had three doors leading to rooms which could be seen through transparent walls. Even though everything had its own area it seemed to be altogether because of the glass walls, they were led through a glass door to the first room which had a huge worktop in the middle with high chairs around it, something similar to the one that was at the Institute, this was called the planning room. The second room was the IT suite; it had laptops around the sides and a massive bookshelf filled with books of all sizes; they were told this was going to be used as their research room. The third room was the production room which had sewing machines, mannequins, tools, fabrics and all types of equipment which was going to be necessary.

They looked around in awe until Billy clapped his hands bringing them back to reality and they were led to the planning room where they all settled around the worktop table and waited for the details.

Annie: Well...now that we are all ready I'll get started...as you all know that you have been chosen out of thousands of students to attend this country club and take part in this one off Fashion Show Competition...you will be staying here for the next three weeks and will be given the opportunity to use all the facilities available...

Billy: This workshop will be available for you to use at anytime and I hope you will make the most of it...but before we start anything let me introduce to you the theme of the competition...

Everyone looked around at each other excitedly waiting to find out the theme they'll be working on. Riddhima prayed silently for it to be something she was hoping to be and crossed her fingers under the table.

Billy: Your theme for this fashion show is...Life...you'll be designing and making three outfits for the show...and it needs to be based on the following three categories...Wild Life...Sea Life and After Life...I know many of you may have your own working techniques but we have put together a schedule to help you meet deadlines for this event to be successful...

Annie: During your first week you will be expected to do your research, have your paper work completed and begin working on your designs...by the second week your paper patterns should be complete and your production should begin...

Billy: The third week you should be well into making your outfits and close to completion as there will be modelling practice sessions...

Annie: And finally...by the end of the third week will be the main event...the fashion show... – she looked around at the group then to Billy and smiled - ...I think we've scared them a bit with the mention of this tight schedule... – giggled

Billy: Lighten up guys...it's not as bad as it sounds...

Some people from the group laughed while others caught themselves with their mouths hanging open, quickly shutting them they smiled. Riddhima took a deep breath and smiled; she knew what she was here for and was ready to make this a success, the little fright had worn off and she looked forward to beginning.

Annie: Now that we have giving you all the details...there's just one thing left to do for today...as it's your first day we don't expect you to delve right into it...but to ease your mind...and get yourselves prepared for the weeks ahead of you we think it's fair enough for you all to take a break and enjoy the facilities of the club...

Billy: We'll now give you a tour of the club and leave you to it...our first session will begin tomorrow morning 9:30 here in the workshop...till then keep checking the notice board for any updates...

Annie: Right...let's go...

They all got up and chatted excitedly about the details they were given while following Billy and Annie out of the workshop back through to the garden. They walked out onto a grassy open area where Billy pointed out the basketball court and the sports ground at the outskirts of the club. They walked a little further on the path leading to a larger open area where Annie informed them that the show will be held there.

Ridz: - thinking – Wow...this place is bigger than I thought...from our room I could only see a bit of the golf course and the green hills...but this place is packed out with so much...it's the ideal place for an outdoor fashion show...it's going to look beautiful...I just wish I had the opportunity to put together this show...it would be so cool...but... – making a face - ...I'm not that lucky...organising a school fashion show is a tiny achievement than something like this...this is going to be HUGE... – smiling to herself

Tia: - nudging her – You okay? – Riddhima frowned - ...What's up with the funny faces? – smiling

Ridz: - laughing - ...I'm just thinking...this place is really huge...

Tia: This is just the beginning wait till you get inside...

Ridz: There's more? – Tia nodded

Annie then showed them the huge golf course and then they made their way back to the main area where they walked around the pool which had a small waterfall and a walking bridge. Everyone seemed really excited to jump in but the tour was not yet over as they were led away inside, Tia was quicker than the guides and she quietly pointed out to the SPA to Riddhima and she seemed very eager to leave the group and walk away to the place she was most looking forward to but Riddhima told her to calm down with a smile. They were then showed to the gym, indoor pool, changing rooms, the club, restaurant and the main longue.

Billy: Well that's it...your tour ends here...you may now go ahead and relax...

They all thanked them and dispersed, many of the girls made their way straight to the SPA and indoor pool while some of the guys headed to the gym. Riddhima was dragged along to the SPA by Tia who just couldn't wait any longer.

Tia: You're going to love it...

Ridz: Umm...Tia...I'm not really... – hesitantly

Tia: Oh c'mon Ridz...really you'll love it...

Ridz: I know I will but...

Tia: But what? – looking closely at her - ...Is everything okay?

Ridz: Yeah everything's fine...I'll just...I'm going to go to our room...I'll meet you back here in a while...

Tia: Umm okay...but come quickly...

Ridz: Okay... – smiling

Riddhima walked back to the longue and made her way through the wide corridors towards her room with a smile on her face. She got to her room and let herself in feeling at ease; she opened the glass door letting fresh air into the room. She went over to her cupboard and took out her bag; placing it on the bed she removed her sketch pad, pencil case, colours, a book and her iPod. Carrying it all in her arms she placed them on the worktop desk, arranging everything neatly she sat down and flipped through the book to what she needed and smiled widely.

After reading through a chapter she closed the book and placed it at the side of the table, she placed her head phones in her ears switching on her iPod to some calm music and got to work on her designs opening her sketch pad to a fresh clean page...



It was now the end of week one and Riddhima was seated on the one of the deck chairs next to the swimming pool with Tia and Sharon; another girl from the group. She smiled and rolled her eyes for the tenth time in the past half an hour as she heard Tia rambling on.

Tia: Seriously Ridz...I don't think I've met anyone like you...or I ever will...we've been given full permission to use all the facilities of the club absolutely free for the entire time that we're here and I've not seen you use anything but our room...the workshop, the lounge and the dining hall...you're so into your work...

Ridz: ...Tia...

Tia: - cutting her off - ...Ridz I think when you introduced yourself you forgot a major part...

Ridz: What's that? – smiling

Tia: That you're a workaholic...

Sharon: Even I was thinking the same thing Ridz...how can you just work all the time...is it even healthy for you?

Ridz: C'mon guys...you're just over reacting...I'm perfectly normal...I'm just dedicated to my work...

Sharon: Very dedicated...

Tia: Tell me about it...you know what Sharon...the first day when we were told to relax I told her to come down to the SPA...but madam here...sneaked away to our room...when I went there two hours later she had finished her research...and had designed about ten outfits...can you believe it?

Sharon: What? – turning to her - ...Are you serious...Ridz?

Ridz: What can I do... – shaking her head with a smile - ...I'm just very passionate about my work...when I have a task I just have to get it done... – turning to Tia - ...and I didn't have to do much research...I just needed to read up on one chapter because I had already studied the designer's work so I just got started with my designs...why waste time...

Tia: But when will you enjoy yourself...

Sharon: Yeah...calm down and have some fun...you've already worked so hard...

Tia: Exactly...we don't need to start our paper patterns till next week and you're almost finished all three of your outfits...

Ridz: And that's why I'm here enjoying the pool and sunshine with you guys right now... – smiling as they rolled their eyes - ...look at it this way...I can enjoy myself and rush my work...but I'd rather finish my work then enjoy myself right?

Sharon: You're...

Tia: Unbelievable... – finishing off for her

Ridz: - looking down at her watch with a smile – Shall we go and have some lunch...I'm starving...

The girls agreed and they went inside to the dining hall to have their lunch, they met up with some others and discussed how far they've all got with their work. Riddhima sat quietly and ate away with a smile on her face. She was happy that she was way ahead of everyone else and she was not filled with tension; if anything had to go wrong now she knew that she was on her own. There was no Rahul or Abhi there with her to cheer her up, or Nikita who would try to help, or Armaan or Muskaan who would worry about her eating and resting habits. She just couldn't afford to let anything go wrong so she had decided to get on with it from the beginning not letting herself have a chance to mess anything up, and if something had to turn up suddenly she would be well prepared for it as she had lots of time ahead of her.

Almost an hour later the others had decided that it was time to get back on with some work and they made their way back to the workshop. Riddhima went along with them but she felt a little weird, she was very far ahead with her work and she didn't want to be the centre of attention, she got to work on her last piece of paper pattern for her outfit and within forty minutes that was also completed, she sighed and packed her things away as she was the only person in the production room, everyone else was still doing research and designing their outfits. Placing everything carefully in her bag she made her way out of the workshop and walked out to the garden, she sat on a bench and looked up at the clear blue skies.

She smiled and felt warm inside but felt a sudden pain in her chest like she was missing something. She took out her phone and without thinking twice she pressed the button and held it to her ear hearing it ring once...twice...

??: Hello?

Ridz: Hi mama... – with a small smile

Padma: Ridzi! – excited – ...How are you?

Ridz: Main theek hoon mama...how are you?

Padma: I'm fine...missing you a lot...

Ridz: Missing you too mama...how's papa?

Padma: He's good...at work...

Ridz: Aur...baaki sab?

Padma: Sab log theek hain...actually Nandani aunty, your Anji Dii and Armaan are here...

Ridz: Everyone's there? - slowly

Padma: Yeah...Nandani aunty and Anjali are having lunch here today...they know how much I'm missing you so they came to give me company and Armaan just came over to get a file for your papa...you want to speak to him...

Riddhima's heart skipped a beat but before she could say anything she heard another voice on the line.

Anji: Let me speak to her first...

Riddhima smiled as she heard her sister's voice and breathed a sigh of relief.

Anji: Hi Ridzi...how are you? How's everything going? Are you taking care of yourself?

Once again before Riddhima could reply; her heart thumped hard against her chest as she heard his voice in the background.

Armaan: Mum...I'm going...I need to get back to the office...I'll see you later...

Riddhima stayed quiet as tears sprang to her eyes but she controlled herself when she heard Anjali's voice again.

Anji: Ridzi? Are you there? Hello?

Ridz: Haan dii...I'm fine...and how are you? How's Jiju?

Anji: I'm okay...and your Jiju is absolutely fine also...how is everything going...all well I hope...

Ridz: Yeah dii...everything is perfect...I'm well ahead with my work and I'm really enjoying it here...

Anji: That's great...take care of yourself...

Ridz: I will...bye dii...

Anji: Bye...

Riddhima hung up as she was very close to tears now and as she had promised herself she made sure she did not cry, as this was really what she wanted, a little bit of separation wasn't going to hurt, she just needed to be strong. She shook her head with a smile and decided to call Muskaan.

Muskaan: Hi Ridzi... – happily – ...how are you?

Ridz: - smiling fully as she heard her friend's cheerful voice – Hi Muskaan...I'm fine...how are you?

Muskaan: I'm great...but you tell me...how's everything going over there...hope you're not stressing already? – laughed

Ridz: Haha funny... – grinning - ...everything's just perfect...I've already finished my designs...taking a break now but as of tomorrow I'm going to start making...but this place is amazing!

Muskaan: I bet...I've researched it online...it looks so beautiful...you're so lucky...and talking of lucky...I wish you were here to see the look on Jia's face these days...it's like a full moon... – laughing - ...she still can't believe that you made it there and the even funnier thing is that she didn't even get selected for the annual fashion show here at the Institute...can you believe it...

Ridz: Are you serious... – laughing out loud - ...take a picture...I want to see it when I get back...

Muskaan: Oh don't worry about that...when you get back it'll be worst...you can see that one... – still laughing

Ridz: Yeah you're right... – calming down a little - ...so...what else?

Muskaan: Umm not much really...last night Rahul decided that we should go out for dinner and I asked him to bring Armaan and Niki along...we went to Pizza Hut...it was nice...

Ridz: And how's everyone? – slowly

Muskaan: - understood what she was hinting at – Umm...he's okay...

Ridz: Really...Muskaan...I know when you're lying to me...

Muskaan: Ridz...if you already know then what can I say...

Ridz: What's wrong...?

Muskaan: I've never seen him like this...

Ridz: Like what? – concerned

Muskaan: Umm...how do I put it... – thinking - ...he's like Devdas without the drinking... – laughing a little

Ridz: - smiling – Really?

Muskaan: Okay well...umm... – thinking - ...yeh like how you were back in summer when he went home and you guys didn't have any contact...he's just very down that's all but he'll get over it...don't worry...

Ridz: I'm feeling really bad...I miss him so much...I don't know why I even decided about this no contact thing...- getting a little frustrated - ...I think I should just call him...

Muskaan: Ridz don't worry about it...it's just a matter of a few days...think of the result when you two finally see each other...and anyways you need to concentrate on your work...he'll be absolutely fine...trust me...and anyways there's something else I have to tell you...

Ridz: - lightening up a little – What's that?

Muskaan: Niki...she's back to normal...

Ridz: Wow...really? – smiling happily - ...That's amazing...I'm so happy to hear that...but how...I mean...

Muskaan: Don't want to make you jealous or insecure...but we were all trying to cheer up Armaan and Rahul had silently ask her to flirt with him...to bring him back to normal and she was actually up for it...laughing and smiling and all...I was so amazed to see her like that again...we did it Ridzi...

Ridz: That's really very cool...I'm really very happy to hear that...you guys have to come to the fashion show and bring her along...

Muskaan: Definitely...okay then...I'll talk to you later...take care...

Ridz: Yeah...you too...bye...

Riddhima ended the call and smiled; she got up and made her way back to her room thinking of Nikita's smiling face. She was really happy to hear that things were back to normal, it was really a mission accomplished. She let herself into the room and placed her bag carefully on the chair by the worktop table and lay on her bed looking up at the ceiling. She closed her eyes and a picture of Armaan flashed into her mind, she felt a pang in her chest once again as his voice filled her ears...

*Armaan: Mum...I'm going...I need to get back to the office...I'll see you later...*

Her eyes were closed and she pained to see him, tears rolled out of her eyes and down her cheeks as she wish he could be here with her...

Ridz: I miss you Armaan...I miss you so much... – crying silently into her pillow

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