Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Part 15 : In My Heart

Mallik mansion was witnessing an eerie silence that followed after a loud slap by Anurag Mallik to his only son, Armaan Mallik. The slap was result of Armaan's confession of his love and revelation of his past just now in front of his parents.

"I can't believe this. I can't.. My son.. My pride.. You know Prerna I always thought that my son would never do anything that would make me ashamed but.. Aj is ne mera sir jhuka diya hai. Jante ho jab bhi main Rhea ko dekhta tha to sochta tha kash mera aik or beta hota to main is ko apne ghar ki bahu banata, or aik pal keliye mujhe laga jaise mera sapna poora ho gaya, jab tu ne kaha tu us se pyaar karta hai, lekin tuney tou.. Main un logon ka saamna kaise karoon ga? Especially us bachi ka, jisne teri ki di hui har takleef ke bawajud, hamein pyar diya." Anurag stammered between his words, anger and hurt racing through his nerves.

"I'm sorry Dad."

"Why are you saying this to me, you aren't my culprit? What are you planning to do now?" Anurag asked angrily.

"I will tell Sujal uncle all the truth tomorrow." Armaan replied slowly.

"Did you think about the consequences your actions will have? I hope you remember your sister is married in that house. What effect will it have on the relations of both the families? Do you think they will give her hand to you after listening to all this?" Anurag spoke sternly.

"Don't worry about Muski, I won't let anything to hamper her life."

"Good, you better take care of this and don't show me your face unless the Garewals forgive you. Understand, now move." Anurag left to his room saying this followed by an upset Prerna, leaving behind a silently weeping Armaan.

"No uncle, you are getting it wrong. Armaan didn't force Naina. I asked her again, it was due to her only that he broke the engagement." Pooja tried to reason with Rakesh, who was bent on brain washing her against the Malliks.

"You don't know him, uncle. I do. We have raised our kids together and I know he would never wrong us. It should have been me to speak to Malliks and apologize but Armaan didn't let me. He really cares for us like his family." she spoke.

"Pooja putting all this aside, don't you think you should warn the Garewals about Armaan? It's clear he's after Riddhima due to her wealth." Rakesh tried his luck again.

"Armaan loves her uncle. I've seen it in his eyes. Before I disliked Rhea only because she was taking Naina's place but now I realize that, that place belongs to her only. Leave all this, you should be happy uncle that our Naina found true love. You know all I ever wanted was for her to settle down happily."

"Yes you are right Beta. I am happy for Naina. So have the Malliks asked for Rhea's hand in marriage?"

"No, Prerna said they weren't going with the propsal until Muski returned from honeymoon."

"That's nice. They should wait for her. Okay Beta, I will talk to you later. Take care." Rakesh put the phone down with an evil smirk.

"You think all the hurdles are cleared from your path, now that you have broken this engagement. Well, I truly feel sorry for you Armaan. Have to suffer due to your parent's deeds. Tch tch.. Wait and watch how I make all your plans go down the drain. You will never stay happy Armaan Mallik, never." Rakesh's laughter echoed in the dark room.

"Come in Young Man. It's so good to see you." Sujal said motioning Armaan to settle on chair in front of him.

"You know I wanted to meet you myself, good you came by today." Sujal said placing his reading glasses on his office desk.

"I wanted to talk to you about something personal Uncle." Armaan said. He was here in Sujal's office to tell him the truth but now he couldn't understand how to begin the topic.

"But before that I want to know why you broke your engagement? Kashish has told me the reason but I want to hear it from you." Armaan nodded and thanked God inwardly for giving him the start he needed.

"Uncle, Naina and I had got engaged due to our parent's wish and decided to give it a chance for them. I had been honest with her about my feelings. But even after 3 years we stood where we had begun from. Naina fell in love with someone recently and confessed to me, I had no reason to keep her tied with me when I couldn't give her the love she deserved. So I called off the engagement." Armaan stated calmly though his heart beats were erratic.

"I see. But how come despite being childhood friends you couldn't stay together?" Sujal asked.

"Actually Uncle we never looked at each other like that, we always remained friends. There's another reason, I loved somebody else even before this engagement. I had told Naina about it clearly beforehand."

"May I know why didn't you get engaged to your love then?" Sujal inquired.

"I had only realized my love and wanted to confess it in a grand manner to her. But before I could do it, I received a parcel that shattered my hopes and newly found love. I called her and ended my friendship with her without giving her a chance to explain. Three years passed in me trying to hate her for breaking my heart but I couldn't help falling for her deeply. Few months back I got to know the truth that she was innocent and that we were being played with." Sujal nodded his head, impressed by Armaan's honesty.

"So do you plan to amend the things between you and your love? When do you plan to ask her hand in marriage from her parents?" he asked smiling.

"I have already apologized and confessed my feelings to my Love but I want to tell her family the entire truth behind our relationship and that is why I am here today." Armaan said.

"I really appreciate your intentions, but I didn't get your point Armaan. How can I help you?" he asked confused.

"Uncle the girl I love is Ba..Riddhima." Armaan said gauging Sujal's reaction closely. Sujal's eyes went wide with surprise at this revelation.

"But Armaan didn't you say you loved this girl since 3 years and as far as I know Rhea and you met a few months back only."

"No Uncle, I know Riddhima for the past 3 years since she visited Dadi in India. I met her at the orphanage where I visited regularly. Please Uncle just listen to me once before making any conclusions about me." Sujal nodded his head in affirmative not knowing exactly if he was ready to hear this or not. Armaan was grateful to Sujal for listening everything with patience as he explained the entire thing leaving the close moments between Riddhima and him of course.

He also showed Sujal the pictures and videos that were sent to him and the note that was sent to Riddhima.

Sujal leaned back in his office chair and closed his eyes. He couldn't believe so much had happened and his daughter had not let him know anything about it. Everything started falling in place, from her accident at the beach to her reserved state till her current condition. He could make out from Armaan's words that Riddhima had already forgiven him but that didn't mean he would forgive Armaan too. The silence was killing Armaan. He couldn't understand what was going through Sujal's mind. He was waiting with bated breath for Sujal to declare the result.

"Look Armaan, you are intelligent enough to know what my answer will be after hearing all this. I just can't believe I was kept away from so much and my daughter was a part of it too. She might have forgiven you but I can't. She is very naive but I will not give away my daughter in the hands of a person who in this span has only hurt her again and again. I know you haven't done anything intentionally but please it's just hard for me to overlook all this. Please leave from here before I lose my cool. There's a request, if you really love her as much as you claim to then please forget her and go away from her." Sujal said trying to maintain his anger.

"Main khud ko bhool sakta hoon per usey nahin bhoola sakta, per agar ap chahte hain to us say door zaroor chala jaon ga kyunki sach mein maine usey dard ke alawa kuch nahin diya hai. I just hope one day you'll forgive me." Armaan moved out of the office with moist eyes. He had no hope of being forgiven by Sujal and he was fine with it because he truly deserved it.

Prem drove rashly through the streets that were facing the rush hours as everyone headed home after a long day at work, not caring about any driving rule. He only knew one thing and that was to reach out to his friend. Prem stopped the car in front of the sports club and rushed in throwing the keys to the guard. He barged into a closed room with a gym bag in hand.

"Sh**. Armaan stop. Stop this right now. Did you hear me? I said stop right away. Stop damn it!" Prem screamed seeing Armaan hitting the punching bag furiously without caring about the blood trickling down his elbows.

"Does this really erase your problems? Hurting yourself like a maniac does this help in any way Armaan?" he asked pulling Armaan in a hug. Prem hissed in pain seeing Armaan's hands injured and bleeding.

"Armaan behave yourself before I call Rhea and tell her what you've been up to since morning." Prem said as he found Armaan begin to protest. He shook his head seeing Armaan obey like a child hearing Riddhima's name.

"How did you know I was here?"

"By now I have understood you quite well Mr. Mallik. The moment Papa told me about the morning incident I knew you would be breaking every possible thing in your range and beating the hell out of this poor punching bag."

"Why did you do this Armaan? Didn't Rhea say not to do this?" Prem asked after cleaning his wounds.

"They have the right to know the truth. I couldn't ask for Basket's hand while keeping them in dark."

"Why did you say I didn't know of the truth before?"

"If I would have told Uncle, he would try to keep you away from her and now she needs you the most."

"If she needs anybody then that's you, Armaan."

"I'll always be there for her." Armaan said getting up. Both made their way to the car and drove to Mallik Mansion. Armaan collected his documents, stuffed a few suits and essentials in a bag and left writing a note for his parents.

"Armaan where and why are you going? Are you crazy, instead of staying and convincing Papa, you are leaving." Prem said as he hurried behind Armaan into the airport.

"I'm not running Prem. I can't stay here because I don't want anyone to forgive me unwillingly. Nor do I have anything more to say to your Dad, he is right in his place. So it's better I leave till all gets back to normal." Armaan said standing in front of the departures terminal.

"What about Rhea? When will you tell her about all this?"

"I won't tell her or talk to her, because your father wants me to stay away from her."

"Are you mad? Do you even know what you're saying or doing? Armaan, let's go back home, tumhara dimag kharab ho gaya hai." Prem said holding Armaan's arm to drag him away.

"Nahin Prem, main soch samajh kay kar raha hoon ye sab."

"Oh really? What about my sister? You think you can accept her when you want and leave her at your will. Well let me tell you Armaan, is baar agar tum ne usey chora tau I'll make sure you pay for it heavily."

"I am not leaving her nor can I ever do that. I'm just giving her a chance to see how things can turn if she chooses to be with me after all, all I ever give her is pain. She has to make her way towards me which I know she will, sooner or later. I hope this is the last exam of our love." Armaan sighed looking upwards.

"Armaan tum Papa ki baat ka bura mat manao, he's angry but I know he'll never go against Rhea's wishes."

"I'm leaving my most prized Possession with you; please take care of her Prem. Please tell her that I love her and will wait for her till my last breath." Armaan said taking Prem's hand in his.

"Why don't you talk to her once and explain everything. Tum jaante ho wo bardasht nahin kar paaye gi if you go away like this."

"Nahin if I call and explain, Sujal uncle will think I've pressurized her. I want her to make a decision on her own. Aur wo kamzor nahi parey gi, mera pyar ussey tootne nahin dega. I'll wait eagerly for that day when she comes to me. Prem please tum bhi waisa hi karna jaise tumhare Papa chahte hain."

"You'll always find me by your side Armaan, whenever you need me. I'm just a call away. I'll take care of your Possession, don't worry about her. Keep in touch Buddy." Prem said with a smile and moist eyes punching his arm in a friendly manner. He waved as Armaan made his way into the waiting lounge.

"Hello Mr. Garewal. I am Rakesh, Naina's uncle." Rakesh said as they met accidentally in a bussiness seminar in London.

"Hello, Mr. Rakesh. It's Nice to see you here." They both agreed to talk over a cup of coffee. After the business talks Rakesh brought the topic of Naina and Armaan up.

"Mr. Garewal, I heard Armaan was sending his proposal for your daughter. Riddhima is just like Naina to me so I thought I should warn you about the Malliks. I have heard that Armaan is not a decent guy. Don't you remember how he behaved with Riddhima during Muskaan's accident? I fear that they are doing all this to gain your properties." Rakesh said in hopes to manipulate Sujal.

"Oh yes he did come in himself with the proposal but I turned it down. I'm sorry I don't agree with you, there's no such thing. Malliks are a very respectable family and please don't forget my daughter in law belongs to that family. I have a bond with them so please refrain from talking against them." Sujal said dismissively.

"I hope you're right. Anyways I had a proposal for your daughter, can I introduce you to them? Rest you can engage them as you will." Rakesh asked hopefully.

"I'm sorry Mr. Rakesh. I have already chosen a guy for my daughter."

"Really, who's the lucky one?" Rakesh asked curiously.

"Well it's a little secret till I settle down the matters with his family. You'll surely get to know it soon. It's going to be a headline for many days for sure. Thanks for thinking about my daughter and our wellbeing. But I'll appreciate more if you don't interfere in my family matters or Malliks, because they are my family too." Sujal said in a no non-sense tone and walked away after a firm hand shake, leaving Rakesh to fume.

Riddhima threw her cell on the floor in frustration. It had been 10 days since she last had any contact with Armaan. He had disappeared somewhere all of a sudden. She had tried her level best to reach out to him but to no avail. No one knew where he was. All these days she had managed to pull herself up through the daily routines and outings as her Mom, brother and sister in law paid her a surprise visit. She was ecstatic to have them there with her. Riddhima made sure she took them to all the famous tourist spots and spent ample time with them. But now she couldn't do it anymore. Not being able to contact Armaan was killing her from inside. She had inkling as if everyone was hiding something from her but what? Riddhima had called Prerna and asked indirectly about Armaan and got to know he was out of country for business. She made her way to kitchen to get a cup of coffee for herself but stopped to listen to the conversation between her family as Armaan's name was mentioned. Riddhima rushed back to her room as fast as her legs could carry her. The entire conversation that she heard had left her shocked and broken. She couldn't concentrate on anything except her mother's words: "Armaan ne kaha wo Riddhima se door chala jaye ga agar Sujal aisa chahte hain."

"He left me. He left me again. Armaan left me." Riddhima fell with a thud on the ground and wept bitterly. Thanks to the loud blaring music in the neighborhood no one heard her cries.

"Armaan kahan hai Prem? Jhoot mat bolna, maine Mama or sab ki baatien sun li hain. Please batao Prem wo kahan hai? Tumhein Meri kasam." Riddhima asked in a croaky voice. Her eyes were swollen and throat parched due to excessive crying.

She sat in her room thinking about the matter at hand after her call to Prem. Prem told her everything that happened till his last contact with Armaan a week back. Riddhima made up her mind to face her family and tell them the truth and her wish but before that she needed to straighten a certain Annoying Mallik.

Riddhima admired the huge blue glass building in front of her as she stepped out of the cab. She walked in to the receptionist's desk and


inquired for Armaan. Despite being dressed in normal turquoise silver silk skirt and a white tank top with white stones, she had managed to gain every passerby's attention.

"Ma'am do you have an appointment with Sir?" The young blonde hair receptionist asked with a smile.

"No, I don't but I need to see him. So can you tell him Riddhima is here or just tell me where his office is?" Riddhima replied softly.

"Sorry Ma'am but no one is allowed to meet Sir without an appointment. Right now I have orders to not disturb him as he is in an important meeting."

"Hmm, okay then I'll wait for him in his cabin. Which way is it?"

"I can't let you in his cabin. But I can connect you to his secretary. Just a minute. Yes Ms. Crystal, Ms. Riddhima is here to meet Sir. No. I did. No. Okay. Sorry Ma'am but Sir won't be able to meet you today." receptionist spoke in soft voice.

"What? Listen; just connect me to Armaan directly."

"Sir's in a meeting." the argument continued with the receptionist and Armaan's PA not letting Riddhima through despite her best efforts. The commotion had reached Armaan's ears too. "Yaar phone pe kya sab ne kam galian di thin to ja ab office bhi pohanch gaye tamasha banane mera." he thought to himself. The gang had got to know about him and Riddhima and as expected Anjie, Nikki and to top it all Atul had endowed him with all the swearwords they knew off for hiding it from them. Armaan excused himself from the meeting and moved towards the door to settle the matters.

"To hell with his meeting. I want to see him right now." Riddhima moved towards the conference room with both the ladies hot at her heel.

"Ma'am why don't you understand, Sir will kick me out if you go in." the PA pleaded.

"And I will fire you if you don't let me in. Now decide yourself, whom do you want to do the honors for you."

Armaan opened the door at the same time as Riddhima reached for the knob. The sudden opening caught both of them by surprise.

"You! How dare you?" Riddhima quickly got over it and spoke pointing a finger at a dumb struck Armaan.

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