Sunday, 20 September 2020

Part 5 : In My Heart

It was the mid of December and Riddhima's spirits were at their highest. This was her favorite month of the year. She always waited eagerly throughout the year for this month. Riddhima loved it when everything was decorated & lit up for Christmas & New Year Eve. She would decorate her whole house in & out for the special occasions. Her family & friends would stay together the entire winter break doing lots of fun. She being the most loved by all was showered with lots of love & loads of gifts. This year was different because she wasn't home but that didn't mean she wasn't excited. Riddhima had taken up the task of making this Christmas & New Year memorable for the kids at Shanti Nagar. She had planned out everything on her own & was now all set to execute it. She had decided to buy clothes & accessories for kids first & then start with the decorations of the Villa cause that would go on till the last minute.



It was 9 am when Riddhima returned from jogging & informed Dadi about her plan of the day. She had a quick breakfast with the kids & got ready. She was taking Minnie with her to help in choosing clothes. Dadi was not in favor of this, because the driver was on leave today & Riddhima wasn't aware of the routes but Riddhima was adamant on working out her plan. They hired a cab and set out for the day.

"Hello Basket." A restless Armaan spoke as he called Riddhima. "Your call has been redirected to voice box; please leave your message after the beep." Armaan frowned and spoke "Hey Basket. How are you? Call me once you get free. Bye." He bends his head on the table and sighs thinking, "the day couldn't get any better. First I couldn't get any sleep, now I can't concentrate on work. Good going Armaan, agar aisa chalta raha na to teri company ko taaley (lock) lagne me dair nahin. Common forget everything and concentrate on your meeting." Armaan busied himself in the final preparations of his meeting with the Malaysian clients scheduled for 3 pm, but, kept glancing at his cell, time and again in hope to find Riddhima's call or a message. It was now time for his meeting, he would be busy for the next 2 hrs, so decided to call her again. The same voice message greeted him, he growled in frustration. Armaan couldn't understand what was holding her back from replying once. He just wanted to hear her voice before going in, but luck wasn't on his side today.

Riddhima and Minnie roamed in the Infiniti Shopping Mall. Riddhima had decided themes for both X-Mas and New Year, so she wanted things according to them. She was looking for dresses for Christmas first, she liked a few of them but it was taking too long to get the dresses of right size for kids. Minnie and Riddhima were exhausted in 4 hours, Minnie had wanted to go back home but Riddhima insisted that they finished dresses for Christmas at least. They headed towards the food court for lunch.

Ri: Minnie, I know you are tired but see if we don't complete the shopping today, we'll have to come back tomorrow for the same thing and this way we'll be wasting time.

Mi: Di please. I can't walk more.

Ri: Please meri pyari Minnie, acha main tumhe ice cream or chocolate pastry la doon to chaley ga?

Mi: Sachi! An excited Minnie exclaimed.

Riddhima nodded her head with a smile on her face.

The meeting had to come to an end and so had Armaan's patience. The clients gave his team a tough time agreeing to their ideas. Armaan was pissed off. The clients had chosen today, out of all days to argue with him, when he already couldn't get his mind straight. He glanced at his cell phone, which lay silently on the conference table. It was 5 pm and by now he had called Riddhima some 35 times and sent a dozen of messages but yet there was no reply from her. Just after the clients left, Armaan called it a day and left for home, though he had many tasks pending. He drove back rashly and without acknowledging the presence of anyone in the sitting lounge, stormed towards his room.

Prerna and Muskaan looked at each other in pure shock, but chose to keep silent. They had understood that Armaan was in the worst of his moods and would burst out at anyone who disturbed him at the moment.

Dadi and everyone at the orphanage were tensed because it was dark now and Riddhima and Minnie weren't back yet. Dadi tried calling Riddhima many times but was greeted by the same voice msg. Riddhima and Minnie had resumed their task after a treat of ice cream and were done by 6 pm. Finally they reached Shanti Nagar at 8 pm, throwing all the bags on the table; they slumped on the couch exhausted. But Dadi wasn't going to tolerate such careless behavior.

Da: This is the limit Riddhima, how can you be so careless. Couldn't you call us once to tell you would be late. Do you know how scared we were? I was just thinking of going out in search of both of you.

Mi: Dadi we had finished at 6 pm but due to some accident the main road was blocked for an hour and then we lost our way home. We toured the whole residential area near the sea side but due to the dark couldn't get it. Then Di asked the taxi driver to drop us at the seaside and then we walked back till here.

Dadi's hand flew to her open mouth.

Da: Hey Bhagwan! Meri hi galti hai jo tujhe akele janay dia. Maine tujhe kaha tha na ke mat ja akeli, per tu ne meri aik na suni. Agar tum logon ko kuch jata to main kya karti.

All this while Riddhima tried to keep her eyes open and listen to the whole conversation. Dadi saw that they were completely worn out, so she got them hot chocolate and asked them to rest till she got the dinner served. Minnie moved to her room, whereas Riddhima dozed off on the couch itself, her hot chocolate lay untouched.

It was 10 pm and Armaan had still not come out of his room. Prerna had called the office to inquire about the day's happenings. The secretary told her that all was fine but Armaan had been restless the whole day. Prerna was confused, Armaan wasn't somebody who would fight with others and so what had made her son go mad. The food was served on the table but all were waiting for Armaan to come down. Prerna told Anurag and Muskaan to stay back till she calls Armaan. She made her way towards his room and knocked softly once, twice, thrice, but there was no reply. She turned the knob and found the door open. Prerna peeped inside to see Armaan was not in the room. His coat & tie were thrown on the dressing table and both shoes in different directions of the room. The bed was all messy, clearing showing her son had tried sleeping in vain. Prerna saw the door to the terrace adjoining his room was open; she turned to go when the ringing of Armaan's cell stopped her. She bent down to pick the phone from the floor and saw "Basket" flashing on the screen.

Ri: hello Armaan. I'm so so sorry. I couldn't receive your calls earlier. I forgot my cell while going out. When I came back, I was so tired that I dozed off in the living room itself. Dadi just mentioned that she called me several times but I didn't pick, that's when I realized I had left my cell in the nursery. I checked it and found so many calls and messages from you, is everything ok, are you ok Armaan? Why were you calling me from morning? Armaan, are you listening?

Pr: hmm.

Prerna had just pressed the answer button and Riddhima had started with her explanations. She heard the entire one sided conversation of some Basket with a smile.

Ri: tumhari awaaz ko kya ho gaya?

Pr: Ye Armaan nahin, uski Maa ki awaaz hai.

Riddhima was shocked and embarrassed, she had blabbered non-stop in front of Armaan's mom. Now what would she think of her.

Ri: wo actually Armaan, call ki usne, wo nahi uthaya, kaam tha.

Prerna chuckled on hearing Basket's jumbled excuse. Riddhima got a hold of herself and said:

Ri: Sorry aunty. Wo main

Pr:  koi baat nahin. Main samajh gayi tu kia kehna chahti hai. Armaan ne tujhe call kia or tuney wo answer nahi ki or ab tu call kar rahi hai or woh pick nahi kar raha, haina?

Riddhima muttered a yes in a small voice.

Pr: He's not in his room now; I'll tell him when he comes. Ok. Bye. She cut the line and smiled. So this Basket with a sweet voice was the reason her so composed son was all restless and mad. Prerna found him sitting in the grass staring at the sky. She tapped his shoulder and he stood up with a jerk.

Ar: Maa ap?

Pr: Kyun kisi or ka intezaar tha tujhe?

Ar: Hun? Nahi aisa kab kaha maine.

Pr: Gussa hai kisi se?

Ar: Nahin to, bilkul bhi nahin.

Pr: To phir jab se office se lauta hai, room mein kyun bund hai or tera chehra kyun utara wa hai? She said pulling his cheek.

Ar: Kuch nahin Maa, bus dil kia to yahan aa ke baith gaya. Ap ko kuch kaam tha mujhse?

Pr: Haan sab tera wait kar rahey hain dinner pe, jaldi aa ja. She turned to go back but then halted and said " sun tera phone kab se baj raha hai, utha kyun nahi raha?"

Ar: Kya? Mera phone?

Prerna nodded her head. Armaan rushed inside and picked his cell, he had got 10 missed calls from Basket. He quickly pressed the speed dial button but then cut the call and twisted his nose; he wouldn't forgive her this easily. She'll have to wait to speak to him, just like he had. Prerna asked him who the caller was but he started to talk about how tiring day he had at the office. She took the hint that he didn't want to talk about it and left his room.

Armaan went down for dinner but couldn't eat properly. Anurag discussed about the Malaysian delegates that had come today. Armaan explained him the details. He kept playing with food while making faces. Prerna and Anurag were amused seeing him like this. Muskaan kept blabbering away but he paid no attention. All he could think of was Basket.

Armaan settled in his bed with a cup of hot chocolate that Prerna had sent in. A light flashed in his cell, indicating a new msg, he saw the sender's name. It was from Basket "Armaan I know you are mad at me, but please meri baat to sun lo."  It was past midnight now. Riddhima had sent Armaan another msg ten minutes back but he didn't reply, so she decided to call him one last time. Armaan answered it: tumhein mujhse baat nahin karni thi to bata deti, I wouldn't have bothered you again.

Ri: Pagal ho kya? Kyun nahin baat karni mujhe tumse?

Ar: To phir calls receive na karne ka matlab kya hai? He asked angrily.

Ri: wohi to tumhein batana chah rahi hoon kabse, per tum ho k baat hi nahin kar rahe. She said with a pout. She told him the entire thing about how they went for shopping alone because the driver was unavailable due to personal matter; she forgot her cell and then lost their way back home. Armaan cooled down a bit listening to her but when she said they had lost their way, he was angry again.

Ar: Tum mujhe call nahin kar sakti thin, I would have come to pick u up"

Ri: Kaise karti Armaan, mujhe to kisi ka number bhi yaad nahin hai.

Ar: How can you be so careless Riddhima? Why did you have to go out when you didn't know the routes and to top it all you left your phone as well. Good going.

Ri: Armaan please don't be angry, I know I've made a mistake but believe me it was necessary to go for shopping otherwise I wouldn't have gone.

Ar: Now really Riddhima? What was so important that it couldn't wait till the driver was back or some adult was there to accompany you?

Ri: Armaan I'm not a kid! I don't need supervision; it's just that I am not familiar with the routes here, understand.

Ar: Yea right, I know how much of a kid you aren't. You're even worse than little Neil in taking care of yourself.

Ri: ARMAAN!

Ar: BASKET!

Ri: Stop IRRITATING Armaan. Riddhima exclaimed in frustration.

Armaan called for peace making a sign with his hand. He asked her what actually had compelled her to go out. She told him about her plan of making this Christmas & New Year special for kids. Armaan smiled hearing her and offered to join her once his office break starts from 24th Dec. Riddhima was glad about this and told him she'll be needing loads of help.

Ri: So how did your meeting go?

Ar: You remember?

Ri: Ofcourse I do, how can I forget?

Ar: Hmm. It went fine, I've sealed the deal.

Ri: what's wrong with you? You've got the deal and you sound so low. Is all ok with you?

Ar: Yes all's fine now. May be the lack of sleep is getting on me.

Ri: Oh! I'm so sorry; I disturbed you at this time. Actually I couldn't sleep without knowing that you are fine, so just, you know.

Ar: No need to be sorry Riddhima, you aren't disturbing me at all. I've told you earlier and am repeating myself again, you can call me whenever you want. Ok?

Ri: Thanks Armaan. Ok now go to sleep.

Ar: Hmm. Goodnight Basket.

Ri: Good night Armaan.

Ar: Basket listen, don't forget to take your phone next time you go out and take care of yourself.

Ri: I will Armaan, you also take care. Bye.

Armaan closed his eyes heaving a sigh of relief. It was right that he was mad at Riddhima for not calling back but he was amazed at how his anger flew away just by hearing her voice. Now he was relaxed and knew could sleep soundly.

The next morning was busy at Shanti Nagar. Riddhima was busy making the kids try dresses she bought to check if they were of proper size. She had jot down the list of things that were yet to be bought. Dadi was strict today, not allowing Riddhima to go out alone again, after last night's adventure. The driver was supposed to be back by noon and so she could also leave then for wherever she willed. Till then Riddhima helped Gappu and Thruv in completing their math homework.

Armaan woke up with a smile on his face. Last night's talk with Basket about the upcoming festivals were on his mind when he drifted to sleep and maybe that's why he dreamt of her too. He shook his head thinking how enthusiastically Basket had explained him everything with full concentration. From themes to kids clothes & cuisines to gifts, she had it all sorted and well planned. But for now he needed to get himself ready work a hectic day at work because he had to complete yesterday's tasks too before getting on with the schedule for today. How Armaan wished for the week to fly by so that he could be with her.


Love,

Nimra.

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