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Trailing through the silence around, she followed the faint murmur from the lawn where Abhi paced back and forth deeply engaged in a conversation over the phone...he looked distressed.....
"I know what u mean and I'm gonna be doing all I can ...." pausing to hear from the other end ,he held his head is dismay
"lets hope for the
best Rrrrr.....Riddhima hi !!! ?" turning around to find her standing
right behind, he stuttered and fumbled with the phone to end the call...
" u ok ? " arching his eyebrows he asked with the deepest concern despite knowing how redundant and worthless the phrase sounded...
Pondering over the events of the previous night,she let out a big heavy sigh partly expressing her annoyance and partly the regret, though the latter seemed more appropriate ...
" I'm sorry Abhimanyu !" her wet and guitly tone added to his
anxiety .....'had she heard all that he spoke over the phone?' the thought
bothered him greatly...not that he wasn't prepared to bear her chagrin over his
unwelcomed interest in the mire of life she lived but coz he feared losing a
dear friend at the expense of finding her own lost interest in life?... he knew
he had to bear a loss either way ...
"what and who are you sorry for Riddhima?... for the fact that u shared your story with me ? or for the self inflicted misery u never cease to punish yourself with ? " letting go of his fears he spoke his heart once and for all ... with what he learned from the much needed conversation with Ritu, he could barely think apart from putting things right between the misfortunate two...they deserved to be together ...and soon.....
" I dont know Abhi ,I dont know what or who I'm sorry for... but what I do know is that I need to be alone ..." quitting the discussion at where it started, she turned around to leave
"fine! I wouldn't insist ...but let me drop u home ?..." he knew she wasn't going to agree and hearing a 'no' from her had now become a ritual but he never gave up hope ...
"its ok Abhi ! I 'll be fine !.....and ...sorry about last night ! ......."
collecting her bag and cars keys from the shelf she dashed out to the car leaving Abhi perplexed and unfit to react...
Wearily she slid the key in to start up the engine and checked the mirror to reverse ...horrified to see her wrecked state when she caught a quick glimpse of herself in the mirror she hit the brakes and turned the ignition off the next instant...her eyes appeared as dark and void as was her life.....breaking down with a loud cry she hit her head on the steering wheel and closed her eyes to hear an echo...
'I fell in love with those big green eyes, the eyes that spoke volumes ,the eyes that are a reflection of life ...'
She had been remained silent throughout the drive back home, didn't seem interested in any information I gave of the city,lost in thoughts definitely not pleasant ,I suspected considering the confused look on her face ... perhaps she missed being home...I left her to tackle the new feeling on her own, knowing she 'll have to deal with a lot more soon..the loner Riddhima had involuntarily turned into ,could cause her trouble living in a city as huge and busy as Mumbai ...I feared her vulnerable attitude and wished she would adapt herself to confront the real world...
Tired from the long eventful evening I decided to hit bed early and
catch up with her the next day but Riddhima
within a few minutes of shutting my eyes ,I heard a mumble...a grumpy one...
"why would I say sorry? not once but on demand? ..I never did no wrong as it is , how was it my fault if the truck decided to catch speed unexpectedly? and even if I were injured, I could fix myself ...I'm a doctor ! sorry ...hmph!"
"Ridzie,who are u talking to? " was it me or she was actually talking?
"Huh ...no one di, I was just..." watching her slide the phtograph under the pillow, my doubts were confirmed
"missing mum Ridzie? " but why was she sorry to miss her I was sure I heard her saying sorry
" Yeh di, I am and lots, wish she could be here with me"
I'm sure she's missing u too Ridz, call her tomorrow morning " hoping
she gets he idea to quit her ramble,I turned around to face my back to
" Yeh di,I will...lets get some rest now" she seemed to get the gist finally....
Not long before she started a milder mumble again
"Ridz are u sure it was just that, u seem disturbed "
"Ummm ,di am I ungrateful? u think I need to thank someone like a million times for saving my life?"
"Huh?" I knew what could have possibly made her think of that...Armaan,for the charmer he was according to Nikki...seemed to have worked his spell on her already...
"Nevermind di, u go to sleep we' ll talk later...goodnight!" thats how naive she was ...easy to offend ,but easier to please...
The next morning saw a new Riddhima ,fresh and less less confused
forward to her visit to the hospital and also the accommodation they had arranged for her...
Chanting the mantras she'd heard her mum sing every morning , she made a bright start to the day leaving behind all the confusion from last night...at least she thought she rid herself of it ...
of the house had changed in a day ,her presence made us reminisce those good old days of
" Riddhima why, dont u live with us here beta ? Ritu shall be leaving in a few
weeks time after her visa is processed
and I 'll be all alone..."
" I would love to uncle, but..."
"but what Ridzie? dad's right, dunno why I never thought of this before..."
"but di, the hospital ? "
"the hospital isn't far from here Ridzie and I'll speak to aunty regarding this,i'm sure she'll approve of the idea straight away"
"by the way have u spoken to her since u've arrived in Mumbai?"
"I did call her from the station yesterday..."
"ok now get ready and I'll drop u at the hotel and then get to my broken car..."
watching her puzzled reaction I knew she would have an excuse ready
" Ridzie dont u remember u promised to spend the day with the Londoners touring Mumbai ?"
"umm yes I do but I was planning to visit the hospital today..."
"u still have a week before u start work offcially,so the visit can wait ..."
Riddhima,I aint taking no ifs and
buts anymore Ridzie , my mechanic will be there in an hour and I
have to get to the car before he does,so stop whinging and get ready
quick ... " she knew what I meant when I said her name in full...
Seeing Armaan would bring back the 'sorry' issue she tried to forget and forgive but with me forcing her into it, she had no choice but to accept it with a smile...
We hailed a cab and she was reluctant to get into it ,may be coz it reminded her of him , of the sorry she owed him
did she really?..."
ignorance Ritu had momentarily forgotten the depressing change in
times...how things had flipped the bitter way round...coz now 'sorry'
is all Riddhima said and felt for herself ...
With the present grief stealing the smile away from her, she frowned and wondered what could have possibly happened the night before? 'Riddhima sounded teary , hope she didn't try to harm herself again'...wished Ritu...Abhi's concern for Riddhima was genuine but his underlying concern for Nikki couldn't be missed no matter how strongly he denied...
Chalking out a plan on Abhi's request ,she debated whether she should pay a
visit to see Armaan afterall, ;would it really make a difference ?' she weighed the odds ...' and most importantly
would Chirag approve of the idea? maybe not... perhaps coz it is in the best interest of both Armaan
and Nikki 'Speculating over the planned approach, she closed her eyes to reopen them
the next moment to see a reflection on the blank black screen
of the television ...
"how are they doing? " she asked with earnest concern
"who?" panicked Ritu
"Abhi and Riddhima?" it was too late to pretend misheard
"wish I knew Nikki, infact I was just talking to dad about her ,he said he hasn't heard from her in ages ,hope she's doing fine ,well dad called to check on Aaron after the viral infection he had last week,u know how grandparents are ,they get worried sick over minor ailments and a cold is so common in this weather .." hoping that would be enough to make a quick escape she observed Nikki's face to see the effect ... her solemn look caused her to worry... continuing her banter, she left Nikki no chance to return to the forbidden topic...
"have u had breakfast? Aaron should be up any minute ...Chirag's been on a call for the past 3 hours, I couldn't get any sleep so I thought of watching some breakfast tv and now I know how much morning tele sucks....well I'm making some tea for myself ,u want some?
"coffee? " offered Mike
"sure ..." she instantly agreed for her selfish reasons...
Sipping onto the coffee, he talked of Atul 's visit without revealing any confidential details.....she knew he was bound by rules but also knew how to bend them...
while she worked her plan ,he constantly gazed at her till she objected
"Mike???" she yelled .....
caught off guard ,he quickly uttered a faint sorry
" whats so interesting in my face that u've been staring at it for a whole few minutes?" she spelled out her complain embarrassing him further...
wudnt say interesting but there's something I 'm trying to draw from it"
"huh? you're one weird nurse ... hmmm ...now tell me when will I be able to see Ammy ?...once he's on the ward?" she got to her real motive eventually
"I'll see what I can do Miss Grewal ..." he shrugged
" but isnt it your day off ?"
"well yeh it is and I'm pleasantly surprised to know u keep a track of my shifts..." pausing to see the change in the colour of her cheeks he continued
" but I can always make special provisions for
special people ermmm ,well I can work extra hours, overtime helps anyday...and also coz I
care for Mr.Malik and ..."
"and for the someone who cares for him..."
her peculiar ways
made him think more of the resemblance she bore with Rahul.... her blunt
attitude,his naive behavior, their expressive blue eyes..
eyes spoke all that she wished to hear ..setting the alarm to a new
snuggled up in bed and hugged the pillow tight ...Rahul's intended
between the story made her blush , his funny narration made her
laugh ... she could reach out to the real person Rahul was, masking his
sensitive side with the strong self he pretended to be ... She
felt drawn to him and the regret in his eyes when she bid goodbye
,confirmed his feelings... there sure was something more than
just friendship she felt for him , may be love she couldn't tell ,but
possibly so'and that made her thoughts
shift to Armaan and Riddhima ... she could somehow relate to them in
some way' smiling wide she replayed the story as a lullaby '
None of three could sleep that night, courtesy Rahul's incorrect hotel booking which the management promised to correct when they returned that night ,but sadly the receptionist who they'd complained to had to leave in an emergency leaving them to choice but to share a double room between the three ' it didnt seem much of a problem coz Armaan stayed up till late ...but since Rahul suffered a slight bout of fever he kept tossing and turning which Atul awake '
searching for the phone with his eyes closed, Armaan wished it wasn't Nikki
"Hi Armaan! " the voice sounded familiar
"who is it ???" he yelled between a yawn
" Armaan are u ok
? u sound tired ... were you still sleeping?" she queried
" yeh ! I mean no... but yes ... well yes I was sleeping before but now I'm awake,wide awake ...and totally ready
to tour Mumbai.." making his enthusiasm sound clear,he shook Rahul to wake him up
" r u sure
Armaan, u do sound like u've just woken up..."
oh dam! " well
bhabi the thing is that I always sound sleepy on the phone ...anytime of the day ... I mean
even if u call me in the evening , I'd sound the same" how silly Armaan,he cursed himself
"ok fine ,I
believe u... and like u guys had asked me to I'm going to drop Riddhima at the hotel , what time are u planning to leave?" yes!!! he jumped with excitement to hear that
ready bhabi, we'll leave as soon as Riddhima gets here...by the way ,how far are u now?"
"we'll be there in 10 minutes Armaan "
"10 mins ? " he cried for help " great ! yeh
10 mins is awesome....we'll see
Riddhima at the reception then? "
"Ok , but plz don't make her wait...and call me if u need any help with anything... and have fun !"
I know u probably r ready with all sorts of footwear
and I stand no chance of an escape I know
sincere apologies,many reasons for the delay,I wouldnt wanna mention
but here it is part 11a ,part b to follow very soon,hopefully tomorrow
the part goes out to my patient readers especially Praz
and of course the nutterz,one who wished to read something other than nj
and the other who's been gently persuading me to attempt a part here
love u guys ,315
p.s: Julles ,the creator of TACOS just informed me of its 1st anniversary,so u know what to expect in part b with more AR of course....
Part Eleven b:
Ending the call,she turned to face a grumpy Riddhima
"di,I'm sure they aren't ready...and why do I have to tour the city with them when I can in my own time? ... I'm here to stay di, and I'll have plenty other occasions in the near future..."
"I know Ridzie,but why not now when u 've got time off from work ? once u get busy it wouldn't be as easy as u think and who would give u company? I'm gonna leave soon remember?" more than just visiting places,Ritu thought of it as an opportunity for Riddhima to explore the city ,meet new people and adapt the busy lifestyle...she hoped to see her settled well before she left her on her own to deal with the new world she was unknown to...
"di,but I don't even know them and that Armaan !..." her strong dislike for him was quite apparent with the way she took his name ..." I can't bear to have him around di , he 's just so annoying !!!...."
"Oh come on
Ridzie, he isn't as bad as u think ... just a little self-centred
"alright then ,may be a little more than a little ,now can u forget all that happened last night and start anew?..."
with her futile protests Riddhima planned her attitude for the day
...'I wont let him have him way today ...he'll know not to mess with
me again ...'
"Ridzie, just a little advice or call it a request "
" di? "
" try and stay with the group at all times,I know the place is new for the lot of u but I'd say it would help to stay together "
the thought itself gave her the creeps
and here 's my cell no. and the other ones Armaan's keep it safe and enjoy the day ...."
"So she did get to spend the day with him!" quipped Anjali
" Hmmm yeh, just him ...!"
" Just him ?" Atul ??? " he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore...
"Anjali, can we get some rest now? I'm tired and so are you..I dont want your dad to think ill of me...he'd worry to see the bags under your eyes ,he might think I dont care for u and ..."
" Atul ? how did dad come into the picture ?"oops! how would she know
"well Anjie, I sort of forgot to tell u that your dad's coming home for dinner tonight...
Getting off the cab ,she waved Ritu goodbye and wished she could do a runner to avoid the wreck of a day she expected...
"Rahul !!!! Atul ??? " screamed Armaan, jumping out of bed
Ammy, dude we're on holiday ,did u kinda forget? " stuffing his face
in the pillow Atul tried to relink with his interrupted dream ...
" well arent u guys kinda forgetting that u invited madam Riddhima to spend the day with us? "
"Guys ,I don't feel well, I need a doctor..."
Grinning wide,Rahul recollected the funny but painful tummy bug episode that bought Armaan and Riddhima close...
part b posted
please do leave your comments
will post the next part soon
"I would advice plenty of fluids and rest ..."
scribbling down a rehydration prescription she gently nodded her head in reassurance to ease their wrinkled brows ...
Armaan had forgotten all about his excitement and was devastated when Rahul almost collapsed outside the bathroom ...he helped Rahul to the bed and asked Atul to fetch Riddhima from the reception right away ... She was initially apprehensive to come up to the room,but when she thought of her obligation as a doctor , she reserved all doubts and rushed to visit her ailing patient ... As expected Rahul had taken ill after the excessive food intake ,probably grabbed some junk off the street vendors earlier in the day and now he'd have to repent a little too early on his much anticipated trip .....
She decided to stay with
them for a few extra minutes while they waited for the hotel attendant
to return with the medicines from the chemist ...
Involuntarily she observed the room out of boredom, it was quite stuffy and the air felt weird ... 'the boys shared a room and a bed ?' she didnt quite know what to make of that ... there was all sorts of rubbish thrown across the room,socks flung over the dressing ,shoes on the table and much more .....As she walked around to the balcony , she found an ashtray full of cigarette stubs and characteristically assumed Armaan to be the smoker amongst them, the other two didnt seem the type ...
the thought she held on to the railing at the end of the terrace and
enjoyed the mild breeze that gently played with her silky hair ... although
polluted ,the air felt pure and refreshing ... A hearty smile creased
her face when she thought of the failed plan of the day ... she did feel
sorry for Rahul but also was grateful to him for falling sick at the
right time ... Drawing in another quick whiff of air ,she turned
around with excitement to collide into a wide frame barring her view ...
"Ouch" she cried and felt she'd hit a cushioned iron wall
"I'm sorry, I dint mean to... !" repelling her attractive face off his chest he firmly held it in his palms to observe the damage... her nose had turned a bright red and eyes were watery ...
Through the hazy view she saw his genuine concern as he scrutinized the injury from various angles ..he looked absolutely petrified when a tiny tear drop trickled down her cheeks ... softly running his thumb on her smooth skin,he flicked the tear away and pouted in dismay ...
She wasn't able to recognize the emotions that flooded her heart and mind ,the feeling was new and engaging ..... steadily she looked up with fluttering eyelashes and a pouncing heartbeat to meet his eye and he on an impulse withdrew his hands off her face and uttered a second sorry ...
Lightly sniffing , she rubbed her nose and whispered "its ok ..." she then gave him an intriguing look and mumbled " I better get going !" and leaving him agape she rushed to the door...
" hang on Riddhima..." he yelled and ran after her...
" Armaan its fine! it wasn't your fault and... " collecting her bag from the chair next to Atul she said "I know u guys wont be able to go on the tour anymore , I see no point in me staying here any longer..."
Armaan was baffled with her explanation , Atul joined them and apologized " we'll have to stay with Rahul ,he 's new to everything here and not really in a state to be on his own ..." she breathed a sigh of relief ...
chalking out a plan in his head Atul suggested "Armaan why dont u go with Riddhima? "Armaan was too confused to answer
"what? no its really ok , we can go some other day" she replied to stop him give it a thought
" I insist Ridima..." said Rahul raising wearily from the bed
"yeh Ridz, I 've been
here before and seen everything not very long ago ,so why dont u two
go ahead and meet us for lunch?" added Atul
"I dont think lunch would be good for Rahul... " she muttered under her breath
"umm and besides I had planned to visit the hospital today..."
"aww so the day went to waste?" asked Anjali felt sorry for Armaan
grinned thinking of Armaan's super quick shower that day and his haphazard expressions when she had agreed to take him along ...one moment he was argumentative and the next submissive,he was going though a major revamp of emotions...
"Dad should be here soon..." she said glancing at the kitchen clock
" honey do u want to talk to him about Armaan? "
A long mutual silence played between them ,there was lots to hear but none to say
The traffic gave them an opportunity to suss out the rapid change they were going through ... Armaan watched
her from the corner of his eye staring at the strangers passing by , she
looked slightly miffed over something,or it could well be the sore
nose he thought ...
"Is the pain any better ?" he asked in a hopeful tone
giving him an honest look she said "Yes ,thanks!" and looked away abruptly making him wonder again ' what was so intriguing about her ? yes she was very beautiful but that wasn't enough for Armaan to feel the way he did ,there was some strange force that pulled him towards her, perhaps her rawness and the neither-impressed-nor interested attitude did the trick...
Another spell of lull took over the journey until
"I'm sure u 'd blame the lack of hygiene in India" she said surprisingly initiating a conversation this time
No! .. definitely not Miss ...I mean Dr.Gupta...what makes u think that
? " she was a lot more than strange he thought and delved his head to
find a word between strange and insane...
"well its not the poor sanitation here,its the feeble British immune system that can't resist playing up... why do u guys even come to India? " glaring at him she spilled the reason to her irk...
'weird ,odd ,unusual ,abnormal, freaky? 'he was spoilt for choice to term her character.... "hey hang on
lady, that is such illogical accusation and I love India... never mind
the hygeine, I just love the people here..." he retorted ...
That wasn't the turn she 'd expected the debate to take and felt short of reasons to support herself, and that happened rare...
They shortly arrived at the hospital and Riddhima approached the driver to pay for the ride... Armaan intentionally pushed her aside and stepped forward to pay instead but when
she blabbered a whole long explanation of why she 's entitled to pay he
waved his hands in consent and grabbed the money from her to hand it to the cabby ... she was quite surpised with his attitude, perhaps she preferred the combative Armaan to the simple easy going one...he smirked sensing her muse and sweared to treat her soon ...
"Do u mind waiting here while I get my work done?"
"Sure" he said and made himself comfortable on the couch at the reception
'another strange change!' why is he not revolting back as usual ? why wouldnt he insist to accompany ? do u want him to ? arrghh !' shrugging away the presumed trivial thoughts ,she asked directions to the dean's cabin while he popped out to grab a snack from the mini mart to compensate for a missed breakfast...
Committing to report back in a week's time she asked to take his leave ...the dean was impressed with her past achievements in Delhi and and hoped she could do the same in her new job,he wished her the best in the new place and ushered her out the exit ...she had informed him of the change in plans with the accommodation and assured to not let that hinder her time keeping ,he appreciated her professional attitude ...and on that note he proposed a tour of the hospital and she accepted excitedly...Calling upon Dr.Keerti ,he excused himself and left he two to get acquainted..
Resting his head on the armrest of the large couch, he merrily munched on a chocolate bar ... the corridors were mostly vacant with staff occasionally passing through...
A light a tap on the shoulder caught his
attention but he ignored thinking it was nothing and then came a tap
again a little harder this time... lifting his head off the couch he
noticed a little boy around 5 years old staring at him
" yes? " he asked cocking his eyebrows
without saying much the boy pointed to the half eaten chocolate he held ...
"ummm" he was sure that patients weren't allowed any snacks ,but didnt want to disappoint the child either ... so he lifted the boy and said " I have a better idea,why dont we get some fruits for u and u can make them taste like chocolate?"
the little boy glared at him and fret over his worthless try coz this man looked in no mood or intention to part with his chocolate bar...
Walking through the corridors Dr.Keerti casually talked of the way things worked in the hospital ,the system she thought wasn't much different from Delhi but had its own peculiarities... As they neared the paediatric ward ,they heard loud giggles and cheers ...
Dr.Keerti swiflty moved into the direction from where the laughs could be heard and Riddhima followed her obediently...
"and this ones for the sweet little Priya, yayyy! "he hurrahed sticking in a slice of apple in the little girl's mouth
" Excuse me? " asked Dr.Keerti demanding an explanation...the room reached complete silence and the kids got into their beds immediately
"Armaan??? what are u doing here?"
"Dr.Riddhima u know him?"
"yes... Dr.Keerti, he's Armaan..."
"thanks for the complete name Dr.Riddhima but I meant how u know him? how is he related to u?
"ermm ....he's a friend....."
A simple yet rewarding
smile played on Armaan's lips as he gradually opened his eyes to find himself
back in his room...Minnie was right by his side with Mike next to her
waiting for him to come around...
"feeling better Mr.Malik?" asked Mike cheerfully ...He did look better and composed and he faintly nodded his head to confirm...
" great ! let me get u some supper then... " turning the light to brighter end Mike gestured Minnie to have quick a word... he instructed her not to ask him anything out of the norm but obedience wasn't her virtue...
Clicking the door close he left her with him
"what made u smile Ammy?"
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sisgeo, jannat4ever, anumeha_rajat,
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