Joined: 16 May 2006
Ok Guys I know you guys must be like what the heck, but I just had this storyline going through my head which I just had to post. This story is similar yet not so similar to the movie "Aaina." You will see the similarities and well as the differences quite easily.
I will come back later to say more but for now work is calling. Here is the intro, hope you guys like it. I will be finishing up the next part of Belonging and maybe even Manzil over the long weekend.
Love you all,
"DING DONG" "DING DONG"
Aggravated at the interruption Riddhima finally gave up. Throwing the file on the table she muttered a curse before heading for the door. She was a doctor by profession and was currently trying to concentrate on a critical case headed for surgery. She personally disliked studying her cases at home because of the constant interruptions; such as the one she was about to deal with now, but since her sister was to be wedded in 2 weeks her parents had wanted her home to help. Riddhima Gupta was the 25 year old sister of 27 year old Anjali Gupta; the current supermodel of India. Riddhima and Anjali were polar opposites. Where Anjali was the tall, dusky, graceful, gorgeous, slim and headstrong model, Riddhima was the short (compared to Anjali) pale, uncoordinated, nerdy, and plain doctor. Even Riddhima's attire was simple, or in Anjali's terms horrid, it was clear that Riddhima was no fashionista and for those who knew Anjali could never seem to comprehend how Riddhima and Anjali shared the same bloodline. Riddhima herself had questioned her lineage at one point in time and had her entire family laughing for weeks at her silly insight.
"DING DONG" DING DONG"
"I am coming!" she finally yelled in annoyance. Upon reaching the door she took a deep breath before turning the knob, her blood pressure had ridden up a few notches and she was afraid of the outcome.
When she opened the door her anger was replaced by a frown. She was disappointed with the guest, out of all the people in the world it had to be Armaan Malik; her soon to be brother-in-law. Personally she didn't like the man even though she didn't know him that well. Never judge a book by its cover Riddhima, she would try to remind herself but for some reason it just didn't work with Armaan. She just couldn't help but judge the man and her judgments made her dislike him even more.
Armaan as always said a quick hello and walked in to her house like he owned the place. Rude, Riddhima thought, but she had to at least try to get along, after all he would be family soon. Armaan and Anjali had known each other for a year now, they had met during a social function where Anjali was the model and Armaan the chief guest; or so Anjali claimed. Riddhima didn't really know if that was the truth nor did she really care. Armaan was the rich and powerful business tycoon and honestly that's all what her parents had cared about. They had gotten engaged 3 months ago and D-Day was 2 weeks away.
"Um where's Anjali?" He looked uncomfortable. Must be her presence thought Riddhima trying to suppress a chuckle.
"Follow me" She led him upstairs towards the roof where they had recently built a new room. Riddhima had been eyeing it since it was built. It would be perfect and away from the family where she could study in peace. Anjali too had her plans but now that she was leaving the room would automatically come to Riddhima.
"Harry are you for real?, Yeh..uh..listen Harry I am going to have to call you back..yea ok bye..ARMAAN, what a surprise" Riddhima looked away ready to barf when Anjali put her arms around Armaan and gave him a kiss on the lips. Can't they see she was standing there? "Oh hey Ridzi"
Riddhima gave a weak smile and awkwardly waved her hand when her sister came in full view. Anjali was wearing a form fitted knee length dress while Riddhima was dressed in unfitted baggy jeans with a loose kurti, her hair as always in a pony and glasses intact. As far as Riddhima could remember Anjali had always been the one who got the most attention, especially from their mom; who handled Anjali's career with full force. Anjali was always the more dominate sister, a go-getter and most of all a winner. When it came to beauty pageants, fashion shows, talent shows or anything pertaining to beauty Anjali was always first. In the beginning their mom had put even Riddhima in the beauty pageants but when Anjali was the one winning Riddhima was quickly pushed aside. She really didn't care Riddhima thought now, fashion and beauty were not her forte but she excelled in academics.
Their father Shashank was Riddhima's sole companion, earlier he would sympathize with Riddhima but today he was proud of her. To him Riddhima was prettier than Anjali because beauty was embedded in Riddhima inside and out. He was never worried for Riddhima but for Anjali he was frightened. Anjali's engagement was a shock to the whole family, no one thought she would actually settle down, she eagerly wanted to step in to the world of cinema and marriage would be a major hindrance. Nonetheless, Shashank was thrilled that his oldest daughter was settling down, but he just could help the nagging feeling at the back of his mind.
DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING
"Ok don't worry Harry I'll take care of it, yea ok now bye"
"Di?" Riddhima frowned, the mehndi ceremony had started and Anjali was still not dressed. "Di you do know that all the guests have already arrived and the bride is still not ready!!"
"I am sorry Ridzy give me like 10 minutes and I'll be right down" Throwing her clothes on the bathroom floor Anjali hurried in behind them.
Riddhima was about to leave when she heard some noises by the balcony, picking up Anjali's tennis racket she prepared to take the intruder down. Making her way towards the noise she saw a tall man walking backwards towards her, lifting her weapon high in to the air she brought it down and smacked on the man's behind.
"Ahhh, what the hell?" Armaan turned around in shock and pain and saw Riddhima standing in front of him ready to kill. "Riddhima what the hell are you doing?"
"I should be the one asking that question Armaan, what the hell are YOU doing?" Shocked to see him herself she quickly threw the racket aside when she heard Anjali step out.
"ARMAAN? What the hell are you doing here?" Throwing the towel aside Anjali hurried to lock the door, her parents would flip if they saw Armaan here.
"I was missing you sweetheart so thought I would come and pay you a little visit"
"Are you out of your mind? It's the day before our wedding and you decided to pay me visit, and oh Armaan not through the balcony again" Anjali hit her head while Armaan grinned and plopped himself on the bed.
Again? That means he has come through the balcony before, how disgusting Riddhima mused. Stupid man and Stupid her Di who lets him come in to her room like this behind there parents backs. Riddhima closed her eyes and turned to leave when Anjali and Armaan began kissing, yuck she muttered and walked out slamming the door behind her.
"You look beautiful Di!" She looked very beautiful Riddhima thought, absolutely gorgeous no wonder her Di was touted as one of the most beautiful women of India.
"Thanks Ridzy but god this is so heavy I can't wait for all of this to be over so I can throw this all away"
Riddhima smiled at her sister, it was just like her Di, always complaining. "I will miss you Di"
"AwwRidzy honey I will miss you too" Shashank smiled at the sight of his two daughters hugging, he had come himself to meet Anjali and give her some words of wisdom, but they could wait. Anjali and Riddhima did not share a too close of a bond because of which this moment was extremely special. He was happy for Anjali but he was happier for Riddhima. Riddhima had always played a second fiddle to Anjali. She would automatically get the left over clothes, toys even the left over love and affection from her mom. It was about time it all became about Riddhima now; he would make sure of it. Once Anjali's bidaai happens Riddhima would no more be the second fiddle.
Riddhima grinned holding Armaan's shoes; this was going to be fun. She was going to make her so called Jiju bankrupt today!
"Riddhima you silly girl what are you doing here smiling" Padma lightly slapped Riddhima's head and laughed when Riddhima showed her Armaan's shoes. "Make sure you demand a hefty price for these otherwise let him go barefoot, Anjali will freak. Oh before I forget take some girls and go get Anjali it's time for the pheras"
"DI! DI! Di where are you?" Riddhima stopped short when she saw Anjali's wedding outfit thrown carelessly on the bed, something was wrong here and she was afraid to know what it was. "Oh come on Di where are you, we have to go down it's time for the phera's" Riddhima walked in to the bathroom and frowned finding it empty. She checked the balcony and the closet next but Anjali was no where to be seen. Passing by the dresser her eyes fell on a neatly folded note with the words Armaan written on it. It was Anjali's handwriting she could recognize it anywhere. Quickly unfolding the note Riddhima read the contents which froze her blood.
My Dearest Armaan,
I know you are going to be furious with me when you read this, but I am sorry. I can't marry you Armaan. I love you very much sweetheart but I love my career too. I have always wanted to become and actress and just 2 weeks ago my agent Harry called and said that StevenSpielberg had seen some of my pictures and was really impressed. I have been called to the US to audition and by the time you read this letter my flight would have already taken off. I am sorry Armaan, I am so sorry.
If you love me; which I know you do then you will wait for me. Please Armaan wait for me, I mean what does it matter if we get married today or a year from now. I promise when I come back we will hold an even bigger wedding. Wish me luck sweetheart and I will see you when I return. I love you!
Riddhima read and re-read the letter wishing every word were a lie, a joke and from somewhere Anjali would pop up and laugh at her, but it wasn't happening. Panic kicked in the minute she took a look outside, OMG the wedding, her parents were waiting, ARMAAN was waiting! Clutching the letter tightly in her hands Riddhima rushed out the door.
"Riddhima what took you so long, where is Anjali? The auspicious time is going to end"
"Mumma Di.." Riddhima tried not to cry but her father knew her better
"What's the matter Riddhima, where is Anjali" Shashank was worried now, the nagging feeling was finally beginning to surface.
"Please come to Di's room with me Papa" Riddhima ran in front while Shashank and Padma followed worriedly behind. Through the whole commotion Armaan had quietly observed the worried expressions on Riddhima's and his in-laws faces, he knew something was wrong and was trying to ignore it.
"We are ruined Padma" Shashank fell on the bed crying and ashamed of his oldest daughter's tactic. "She ran away Padma, she ran away, on her own wedding day, the wedding that she wanted!"
"Riddhima did you check the bathroom, maybe she's there" Padma frantically ran to the bathroom and came out sobbing. "Oh Shashank what are we going to do, worse what are we going to tell Armaan?"
"Tell Armaan what?" The family turned to see Armaan standing at the door looking worried and confused. He wanted answers but who would tell him. Shashank forced himself up and handed Armaan the letter Anjali had left for him.
Armaan swore he felt the earth move beneath, how could this happen? How could Anjali let this happen? How could Anjali do this to him? He wanted to cry but the tears wouldn't come, he felt too numb to react, afraid that he might fall over if he even tried to move. Anjali, his Anjali had left him!
"I am going to tell the guests that the wedding is off because the bride has ran away" Shashank stood up determined, his daughter had already embarrassed him nothing mattered now.
"No Uncle" Armaan held Shashank's arm and closed the door. "The wedding will continue, but without Anjali"
They stared at him confusingly until Padma stepped up to ask "Armaan how can the wedding continue?, Anjali ran away" she thought the child was in shock therefore spoke as bluntly as possible hoping this would help him realize the situation.
"I know Aunty, I know Anjali ran away" He stared expressionlessly as Padma and then turned to Shashank "Uncle I have a request"
Shashank looked tiredly at Armaan, it was then Riddhima realized how suddenly her father looked so old. Anjali's one act of humiliation had aged their father by 20 years. "What is it Armaan"
"Uncle if I have your permission and blessings I would like to marry Riddhima!"
"NO!" Armaan and Shashank turned to find a distressed Riddhima gazing angrily towards her father. Shashank could see the helplessness and shock behind that anger he knew his daughter too well to know that she was not truly angry but stunned and the truth was he felt the same. If he could truly recall, Armaan never really showed any fondness towards Riddhima, he wasn't rude to her, but aloof rather. He himself couldn't understand what could have possibly prompted Armaan to propose such a thing. He was just about to walk towards his daughter to comfort when she dashed out.
"Uncle Please, if you don't mind would you allow me to go talk to Riddhima?" At Shashank's nod Armaan too rushed out of the room in search of Riddhima and he had an inkling that he knew exactly where she was.
In the meantime Shashank went downstairs and apologized to his guests; he knew there would be no wedding today. Riddhima would never agree. He couldn't blame her, no, this was not Riddhima's fault and she would not pay for the mistake Anjali had committed. Anjali, just saying her name put a bad taste in his mouth. He turned to see his wife still crying hysterically. What was the use of crying now he mused, hadn't he warned her? Didn't he always tell her that allowing Anjali too much freedom could prove harmful in the future? Of course there was nothing wrong with allowing your child freedom but when you know that rather than respecting that freedom your child would take advantage of it, then wouldn't it better to be watchful.
"Shashank how could Anjali do this? I just can't understand"
"We reap what we sow Padma, this is the fruit of your reaping and I won't have my poor Riddhima paying for this"
"Uncle, have you seen my brother?" For a moment Shashank was confused but when he saw Rahul standing nervously in front of him he felt another tinge of guilt. He had completely forgotten about Armaan's younger brother. They had met only a few times and that too recently, he was a nice chap and sadly Armaan's only family. Shashank had often wondered that had Rahul not been Armaan's brother he would have actually considered him for Riddhima, but of course marrying Riddhima in to the same house as Anjali was the last thing he wanted.
"Armaan please just leave me alone"
They were standing in a corner of the terrace; Riddhima was facing away from him and he knew he couldn't blame her for not wanting to see his face. They were not friends, heck they hardly shared anything close to friendship. They were mere acquaintances and if Armaan knew better it was not only he who was happy with that arrangement. In the beginning it used to baffle him, how on earth could Anjali and Riddhima be related; they were as different as north and south. There were times that he actually felt intimidated by Riddhima, she was super intelligent and had this certain aura of confidence around her; it always threw him off, perhaps that is why he opted on avoiding her. He didn't know why he had suddenly proposed for her hand; the thought had just popped up in his mind and for some reason it felt right.
As he watched her now sobbing silently he didn't know what on earth he was going to say to her, he had no explanation for his sudden outburst and his reasoning at the moment was not making sense even to him. All he knew was that somehow this was right and he just wished Riddhima would just trust him.
"I am not here to ask you to say yes and I am not here to apologize either. I can't apologize or I won't rather because I don't think I have made a mistake or said anything wrong, I just said what was in my heart and what feels right to me. I know we are not friends Riddhima and I know for a fact that there never has been any likeness either, but I respect you. I always have and I also respect your father. Anjali's vile act has broken him and me" His voice was beginning to choke and afraid of sobbing in front of her he turned away. She felt sorry for him, she knew that Armaan truly loved her Di, she knew his feelings were genuine but what she didn't understand was why did he want to marry her?
"I don't know why I proposed for your hand Riddhima, all I know is that it felt right. I know I can marry any girl out there but I don't want to do that, especially not at this juncture. I want someone who can understand me and be a friend and for some reason I feel that the only person who could be my friend and truly understand me at this point is you. I completely understand if you say no, because like every girl I am sure you probably have dreams and expectations and I respect that. Though, at this moment I can't say that I will give you all the happiness and love in this world but I can promise you that I will always be there for you as your companion, every step of the way." When she looked away he knew he had his answer. She was not going to marry him and why should she? His reasons all seemed selfish. Dejectedly he left her alone at the terrace.
The lights they had put on the entire house flickered gently and the flowers swayed with the gentle breeze. It was supposed to be such a joyous day, for her, her parents and her Di; who had been the most excited about her wedding. It numbed her still to know that her Di had left, just like that, without once thinking about anyone; not even her fianc. His words still burned her ears, she put her hands up to cover them but in vain, the words were in her head now, swimming back and forth from one temple to another. He spoke of her having dreams and expectations but only god knew that she had no such aspirations. She didn't think she would ever be married; who would actually want to marry her anyways? She's never dated or showed any particular interest in any guys, not that she wasn't normal or anything but her studies and profession were utmost important to her; especially the latter. Being a doctor meant everything to her and marriage had never been a concern. She would have actually been quite content being single all her life.
He also spoke of being friends, she liked that. It had sounded really nice. She had no friends; she never did. Most of the time people would just be so preoccupied with her Di that they would never care to know her; the nobody. It used to hurt at first but eventually she had gotten so involved with her studies that she never bothered. Now the mention of it excited her. Having a friend for a husband didn't sound so bad. Armaan would involuntarily be giving her everything she ever wanted; Space! She wouldn't have to worry about his nagging or authority he would let her live the way she wanted to. Ever since the idea of Anjali's marriage had come in to the equation, her parents had started hinting towards her marriage as well. Her father knew of her disapproval but her mother had been adamant; she had even shown her prospective grooms; the idea of being tied down to a man did not appeal to her but getting married to Armaan meant she would not have to worry about being tied. They wouldn't have any expectations and what could be better than that.
One look at Armaan's sullen face and Shashank knew Riddhima had said no. Marriage was a sour subject with her and being her only confidant she had shared her inhibitions freely with her father. He understood her plight as a friend but as a father he was worried. Like every father he wanted his beloved Riddhima to marry and share her joys and sorrows with a special someone, but that someone had to be exceptional too, he didn't want Riddhima to marry just anyone and that is why he had doubts about Armaan. Deep down he was relieved that Riddhima had said no.
"I am sorry uncle somewhere I feel as if Anjali's behavior is my fault. Maybe if I hadn't pushed her to marry so soon and'"
"No Armaan, please don't blame yourself the fault is not yours but someone else's" Behind him he heard Padma let out a whimper but at that moment he felt no sympathy for her. "My daughter's deed has not only shamed me but has hurt you significantly and unfortunately all I can do is apologies on her behalf."
"Uncle, please don't embarrass me"
It had taken her a lot of determination and confidence to walk down the steps that descended from the terrace. Each step had felt like a mountain. She didn't know if her decision was right or wrong all she knew was that she had made up her mind and the rest was up to god.
"I would like to marry you!"
The wedding was a haze. The guests had already left therefore it was only Shashank, Padma, Dadi & Rahul present for the ceremony. The pandit had to be called back for which he had no complaints as he would be paid double for the inconvenience. Riddhima was unhappy and she knew her father could tell so there was no point in pretending. She didn't remember how she walked around the fire seven times when her lower extremities felt so numb; but she had done it. She flinched when Armaan's fingers had touched the nape of her neck; she felt slightly embarrassed when he looked at her with concern but luckily he didn't say anything and simply hurried to fill her parting. Though the wedding had taken only about an hour it felt like an eternity to her, everything felt like it was moving in slow motion. Her mother and Dadi cried the entire time while her father though distraught had stayed surprisingly strong. It was a wedding that Riddhima never wanted to remember, but she knew she always would.
She didn't cry when she bid goodbye to her family; not even a tear. Her mother however had pushed her crying up a notch and was literally clutching Riddhima while wailing; luckily Dadi had calmed down and taken control of the situation. Her father had nothing to say and nothing to give; except for a long and warm embrace. He was on the verge of tears; she could distinguish that and hence rushed to seat herself in the car. If her father broke now, she knew she would break too. He watched her though, until the car could no longer be seen. A small cry and a few tears escaped her as she saw her father become smaller with each distance; this was not supposed to be her goodbye.
Armaan felt sorry for her. He and Rahul had played silent spectators through out her parting with her family. He was surprised at her resilience but deep down knew that she was miserable. It was a moment where he for once did not know what to do and how to do it, therefore he quietly took her fathers blessings and hurried behind her in the car. His hand had extended towards her involuntarily but hung midair when it dawned on him exactly what he was about to do. Though they were now married, he had no right to touch her or even to comfort her. He knew she felt the same when she spotted his hand and shifted uncomfortably. It felt odd she mused, this whole notion of being his wife. Just yesterday she couldn't even imagine having a conversation with this man and today he had every right on her; well NO. Theirs was a marriage of convenience, a marriage which was not bound by any right. She smiled at that and relaxed for the rest of the ride.
After about 45 minutes or so they finally arrived at his home, wait, "their" home. She didn't like the sound of that especially since the last time she had come here was when Anjali had brought them all to see the "new house" Armaan had just purchased, obviously as an early wedding gift. The house was everything Anjali was and Riddhima was not, every nook and corner of the house screamed Anjali; even the paint and it only got worse when they stepped inside.
They covered the walls and adorned the tables; countless pictures of her. She heard Rahul mumble a quick welcome and sorry before he ran off to his room. He had always been nice to her, compared to Armaan. She knew he could sense her discomfort because she could sense his. The moment of awkwardness was lasting longer than she had anticipated, so she broke the silence.
"I am really tired, would you mind showing me my room" He nodded and motioned her to follow him. Their room or "the room" was situated upstairs and the heavy dress and jewelry was making it quiet difficult for her to complete the simple task of climbing the stairs. For the umpteenth time that day, she cursed her Di.
Another moment of awkwardness followed when he opened the door. The room was decorated romantically with rose petals; pink rose petals to be exact; her Di's favorite. Riddhima preferred white lilies and cherry blossoms. The scent the candles gave off was of cinnamon apple, Riddhima favored lavender and jasmine. The room not only smelled like Anjali but was also an abode of her pictures.
Armaan rushed past her before she could set foot and immediately began removing the pictures.
"You don't have to do that"
"No Riddhima, I do have to do this and the sooner I do it, the better it will be."
She watched mutely as he grabbed an empty box from somewhere outside and dumped in it each and every picture of her sister. He blew out the candles and threw them in to the box as well. There wasn't anything he could do about the flowers tonight but promised to have the maid clear them out first thing tomorrow.
He returned shortly after disposing the box and its contents. She felt sorry for having put him through so much trouble; the man was nearly breathless had broken in to a sweat.
"Wait, before you say anything I would like to say something. Firstly, I want to apologize for my aloofness towards you in the past." She wanted to laugh, the situation was almost pitiful. This was their wedding night, and this was the conversation they were having. He stared at her expression trying to decipher what she could possibly find so amusing. She sobered upon seeing his gaze. "I am sorry" she mumbled and motioned for him to continue.
"Uh, yea, I uh also wanted to thank you for agreeing to this marriage and I want you to know that this house and everything in it belongs to you." She raised a brow at his statement and remembered the pictures of her Di. "Well you know what I mean" he seemed a bit flustered "What I am trying to say is that you are now my wife and everything I own, you own as well. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable Riddhima; I want you to remember that all this is yours too"
"You do remember our deal though right?"
"Yes, I do. My room is right down this hallway to the left, um just incase you need anything. Goodnight" He gave her a faint smile and left her there.
She spent the next half hour getting out of her clothes and jewelry. She detested such extravagant things. Her dressing was simple and it took her only minutes to prepare for her day. Preparing for her day reminded her of her job. She had only two more days of vacation left then she would have to return to the hospital. The thought of what she was going to tell her colleagues made her stomach churn. She had taken time off for her sister's marriage and here she herself had gotten married. With in a matter of a few hours she had changed from Riddhima Shashank Gupta to Riddhima Armaan Malik. The sound of that made her want to hurl so she ran to the washroom to freshen up. She didn't throw up though and even the gagging had stopped once she stepped under the cold shower. She wouldn't break she reminded herself; she would remain strong and get through this phase of her life.
While drying her hair she noticed the red stain in the middle of her head obviously left behind from the vermillion. She would have to find a better way she could apply that so it would not show as much; she knew she would always have to wear it just like the manglasutra; which was currently glittering in the dark. It must have been very expensive, there was no way her Di would wear something cheap. That thought made her wonder though; did her Di pick this out? Opening the clasp from behind she threw the necklace roughly in the drawer and closed it shut. It was disgusting, the circumstances were disgusting, SHE was disgusting!
Huffing with anger and loathing she made her way towards the bed and nearly yelled when she spotted a picture of Armaan on the bedside table. Left side of the bed she scoffed; Anjali always slept on the left side of the bed. Putting the picture face down she walked over to the right side of the bed and laid down for some sleep, but the recollection of the conversation she had with Armaan before the wedding kept replaying in her mind.
She had come down and announced to her family and Armaan that she was ready for the marriage, but before such a thing could take place she wanted to talk to Armaan in private. The shock of her decision was clearly evident on everyone's faces, especially her fathers. Armaan had followed her to her room and it was there she had told him the basis of her decision to marry.
She wanted to clear out everything and make sure he agreed before she could take the final step. As expected he had agreed to her every condition. They would be married, yet will not live as husband and wife. They would have no right on each other's lives. Each would live and go on with their life as they wished, without intrusion. Riddhima would continue her job at Sanjeevani and Armaan would never compel her to quit. They wouldn't carry or have any expectations from one another. They would sleep in separate rooms and lead completely separate lives. If any point in their lives one of them felt the need for a divorce then the other would comply without any explanations.
When all was said and decided with Armaan, Shashank had called her aside. She was expecting this and had walked in prepared. She had told him that this was her own decision and that she did not feel obligated to marry Armaan solely because Anjali had defamed the family. She had assured her father that she knew what she was doing; though she didn't have a clue and had requested him to please bless her and Armaan. Her father knew there was no point in arguing, she had made up her mind and there was no way he would back out of it now. Laying a hand on her head, he had given her the only thing she had asked for; blessing.
Armaan knew he would not get any sleep tonight. His mind and his emotions were in turmoil and there was nothing out there that could make him feel better. The thought of him being married to Riddhima still hadn't sunk it yet; though the woman was sleeping only down the corridor. He remembered the shock he had felt when she had announced that she would marry him, but knowing Riddhima; which he did very little he knew there was more to it. As projected she had gestured him to her room and there had laid out her conditions. He had accepted every one of them, how could he not? For they were exactly the doubts he had.
He remembered how she had cringed when his fingers had accidentally touched her neck, for a second he was confused but it hit him soon enough that she was uncomfortable with him touching her. That was why he had quickened his pace to fill her parting, making sure not to touch. He recalled how the manglasutra had glistened in the dark during their drive home and his thoughts had wandered to the time when he had bought it. He had picked it out personally without informing Anjali. Everything he had given her in the past had always been of her liking because of which he wanted her to have something; which she would wear forever that was of his liking. The only thing he had kept in mind while buying it though was the price; Anjali would never wear something cheap. He had imagined Anjali wearing the piece every time he looked at it; he would smile thinking how lovely it would look around her slender neck. Unfortunately, that day had never come and now it never would. He didn't have any regrets though, and the manglasurta had looked perfect on Riddhima. The black stones and diamonds really stood out against her fair skin.
That was another thing he had always noticed and pondered over; the un-similarity between the sisters. Anjali was tall and slim with a duskier complexion while Riddhima was of medium height and had more curves. Her complexion was also quite fair compared to her sister, it was almost peaches and crme type and the eyes; how could he forget those large green orbs. He had seen them only once and was left stumped. It was during his and Anjali's engagement, Riddhima for once had not worn her glasses and when she had come around with some sweets it was then he had seen them.
"Wow your eyes are so big, OMG and they're green!! Are you wearing contacts?" Obviously she was not pleased with his query. She had given him an angry stare and spoken a "NO" through clenched teeth. Later, he had made a remark about them to Anjali who was not pleased and had mentioned something towards the lines of her mom's side of the family having light skin and light eyes. Anjali, having inherited her features from her father had dark brown eyes. They were beautiful too, heck Armaan loved them, but Riddima's eyes had been exquisite. That is a different story that Riddhima refused to remove her glasses when she was around him and he knew somewhere Anjali was thankful for that.
Riddhima was a doctor which was another thing that used to amaze him about her. She always looked and acted so smart. There were times when he felt almost dumb around her, which should not have been the case since he was an MBA. Perhaps Anjali and her world of fashion had rubbed off on him. Riddhima and he never shared any type of bond or a connection or anything, though he tried several times to spark up a conversation with her, but her interested expression always had him thinking otherwise. She was like the black sheep of the family, shying away from everything. Had it not been for her father Riddhima would not have even come for the engagement ceremony; he had heard her while she was conversing with someone over the phone; a friend perhaps. Did she even have any friends? There was a lot he didn't know about Riddhima yet and wasn't sure whether he should even try. The woman had clearly told him to butt out from her life. They were married sure, but it was only for the namesake.
Riddhima Gupta was a true mystery. Wait, he told himself as he sat up straight in his chair. It was not Riddhima Gupta anymore; it was Riddhima Malik, Riddhima Armaan Malik to be precise. Though it all seemed strange he couldn't deny that he liked that sound of that. There was a certain chime to it which felt pleasant to the ears.
With the last lingering thought of Riddhima Gupta, sorry Riddhima Malik, Armaan fell asleep in his chair.
Groaning she shut her eyes and once again tried to fall back asleep. It was 10 am and for the first time in her life she did not want to get up. At home she was usually the first one up along with her grandmother, together they prayed after which they would cook breakfast. At 9 Riddhima would already be at Sanjeevni ready to do her rounds. Today, the last thing she wanted to do was get up and go downstairs. She knew he was up; she had woken up, looked at the time and fallen back asleep at least 3 times already and during one such time she had heard noises from outside only to discover Armaan exercising. One thing was sure, the man had a great physique and ok she'll admit it, he was really good looking.
Taking a deep breath she finally threw the sheet off and decided it was time she got up and faced the man she had married. 14 hours later, the thought was still unsettling. The shower had refreshed her but now came the hard part, dressing. Wearing her old jeans and tees she had brought would not seem appropriate and apart from that she had her very simple churidaars. There was no way she was going to wear the heavily embroidered saris her mother had so conveniently packed along with her other things. Heck, not only were they hideous but she also has no idea how to wear them. Great job mom; so much for knowing your daughter. Picking up a random suit she quickly dropped the towel to change.
15 minutes, she had been staring at her reflection for the last 15 minutes trying hard not to look at the 2 things neatly sitting on her dresser; the vermillion and the manglasutra. You can do this Riddhima; she told her herself repeatedly but each time she reached for the items her hand shook. It's just a necklace and some powder, grabbing the powder first she shut her eyes tight and quickly put a small amount on her head hoping it fell where it was supposed to, next came the necklace; she was really beginning to detest the thing, she felt like the glitters were mocking her and laughing at her pitiful state. Throwing the "thing" recklessly around her neck she finally stood up to give herself a final look. She looked'.married.
He awoke around his usual time to exercise; he had been waking up around 7 for so long now that his body had become immune to the routine. The last time he had checked Riddhima's room had been quiet; he hoped she had slept well. She was up now and he knew that, he heard the shower running, that had been about 45 minutes ago, he didn't know she took such long showers; not that he cared.
Hearing the sound of her footsteps he looked towards the stairs to see her descending, for a moment he was in complete awe, she looked beautiful and she was not wearing her glasses. He was used to seeing Riddhima in loose tees and baggy pants, the site of her in a fitted churidaar had taken his breath away. She looked simple, yet elegant. She smiled as she sat across from him at the dining table but refused to meet his gaze. They spent the next few minutes quietly chewing their food looking everywhere except each other.
"Good morning bro, morning bhabhi" having breakfast during lunch time was nothing new for Rahul, and it was about time Armaan thought that he started taking Rahul to work with him. Now since he had graduated he didn't want Rahul to spend his time fooling around, or get mixed in with the wrong crowd.
Riddhima smiled at Rahul but cringed from the inside, the reference of "bhabhi" had been hard to digest. When she met him at the engagement he was teasing Anjali and calling her bhabhi and now suddenly she had taken that post, it felt, weird.
"Uh, Riddhima your mom had called" she dropped her spoon making it land with a clunk in her bowl, her mother had called? Why?
"Oh" was the only sound she could force out, the news had obviously rendered her speechless.
"She wants us to come over for the pagh-phera rasam, I think that's what it's called. She said she had also packed some of your things and we can also pick up your car. I have to run to the office real quick to sign a few checks but I should be back in about 2 hours, so um you can get ready in the mean time." He smiled showing his dimples but was surprised when she picked up her spoon and continued eating, giving him no response.
Ready? How much more ready do I need to be? I already showered and am dressed, god he must be like Di, changing clothes every 2 hours. And only god knows the "things" my mom has packed for me, well at least I can get my car'I miss my baby.
"Bhai, would it be ok if I can come along? I really didn't have any plans for the evening; you don't mind do you bhabhi?" Riddhima gave him another reassuring smile and continued eating her food as Armaan got up and left.
Yup, my mother was going to have an angina attack the minute she sees me dressed like this, but hell can you blame me? I am not exactly your typical bride and this is not a typical marriage. Tying her hair in a nice braid Riddhima picked up her glasses only to put them back down, glasses looked a little out of place with her Indian attire and besides it's not that she couldn't see without them. Armaan had already left the office; the maid had notified her that he would honk when he arrived so he wouldn't have to come inside.
*whistle whistle* She raised a brow when she heard Rahul whistle as she stepped out, oddly she liked him, he was easy to communicate with and somehow she felt comfortable with him. His personality was much warmer compared to Armaan, she remembered the first time she met Rahul at the engagement and was surprised how similar, in looks they were yet complete opposites when it came to personality. Of course her Di and she had opposite traits, but then again everything about her Di and her was opposite.
"You look great bhabhi, but can I make a quick suggestion? See you have such beautiful hair, so I just can't understand why you want to hide them by braiding them?" He dragged Riddhima back in to her room and surprised her when he started to undo her braid. "There you see how nice you look now, wow, I must admit, your hair are really nice" He winked at her through the mirror and headed out "oh by the way did I mention that bhai loves open hair"
"Hey Rahul, where's Riddhima?"
"She's coming" Rahul smiled as he snuck in to the back seat
"Why are you sitting in the back? What am I your driver?"
"You know something bro, your really an idiot aren't you?" Rahul smirked when he saw Armaan raise a questioning brow at him through the mirror. "Dude, your married, as in you have a wife now, which means that the front seat now belongs to her, and speaking of the lady in question, there she is now"
Armaan's swore his heart beat a little faster than usual when his eyes landed on her, she looked absolutely angelic, dressed in white with hints of silver and her hair; he never knew she had such gorgeous hair. The way the tendrils swayed with the wind made his insides flutter.
"Stop drooling bhai, she is yours after all" Armaan immediately turned back and gave Rahul an angry stare as Riddhima occupied the seat next to him.
"Sorry about the wait"
"It's ok bhabhi, we understand, you women need extra time for everything" and with that statement started a war of genders which went on the entire journey. Riddhima had to admit she was actually having fun, she enjoyed their bickering and within no time they were parked outside her house.
Armaan was glad that Rahul and Riddhima were getting along. Anjali and Rahul's relationship as bhabhi and devar always worried him, Anjali was not the warmest person and Rahul had a tendency to make jibes just for fun. He was not rude, it was just his nature; he was simply a fun loving guy. He was at ease now though; Rahul and Riddhima had hit off great and he could see Riddhima was not offended with Rahul's comments; in fact she had actually joined in the fun like a good sport. He never knew about this side to her.
"Riddhima!" Padma quickly lunged forward and squeezed her daughter. Rahul and Armaan quietly took a step back to let the mother and daughter take their time. "Oh, I am so happy to see you and my god how beautiful you look" Padma admired her through tears.
"Really?" Riddhima bit her tongue for letting that slip out but Padma's words had really shocked her. "Um, I mean thanks mom, how are you?"
"I am perfect now that I have seen you" Padma pulled her into another hug giving Riddhima another shocker. "Armaan, Rahul I am so sorry, how are you both?" Padma finally released Riddhima and went towards the boys who stood patiently watching everything unfold.
"We're fine aunty how are you?" Armaan bent down to touch her feet and obliged when she pulled him in for a hug.
"Silly boy, I am not your aunty anymore, it's about time you start addressing me as mom" Padma smiled patting Armaan's cheek.
"Wait, wait, wait, you can't enter yet"
"Dadi be careful, you know you shouldn't be running" My goodness, I leave for one day and the whole house turns upside down, Riddhima muttered. My mother is hugging like there is no tomorrow and my grandmother is running a marathon with a pooja ki thaal in her hands, what is dad planning to do, make his entrance by doing jumping jacks?
"I am sorry child but I can't let you enter without the proper traditions being followed, Armaan please come and stand next to Riddhima"
Ok, this was highly awkward and so out of place, what is the need to do all this drama dadi? But of course, you are going to ignore my unhappy facial expressions and continue what you are doing aren't you?
"Ok, now you can both come in and remember right foot first" Dadi smiled as Riddhima grumbled.
Shashank happily opened his arms for Riddhima who leaped in them with joy. Understanding the situation the rest of the lot headed for the living room, leaving Riddhima and Shashank in their own world.
"How are you my sweetheart?"
"How do I look?" Riddhima pulled back so her father could take a good look at her
"You look so beautiful and so grown up" Shashank couldn't help but cry. His little Riddhima had grown up so much overnight and looked gorgeous. He was so proud!
Dinner was a quiet affair. It looked like everyone wanted to say something but didn't know where to begin.
"Armaan, I wanted to talk to you" Everyone sat stunned holding their cups of coffee as Armaan got up and followed Shashank.
"I hope you don't mind that I did some of you packing beta, I think I got everything you needed but I'll bring in another suitcase incase you need to more room" Padma laid a hand on Riddhima's cheek with affection and kept it there a little longer than Riddhima anticipated.
Riddhima looked around her room and sighed sadly, it looked the same but emptier. Her closet had only a few of her outfits left, she knew her mother did that on purpose. Some of her toiletries were packed while others remained at their usual spot. As she walked over to her night table her eyes fell on a picture of her and Anjali, it was taken during one of Anjali's fashion shows; Anjali as usual looked stunning while Riddhima looked like her boring self with her oversized clothes. I wonder where you are Di?
"Riddhima?" she looked up and saw her mother standing there with perhaps the same question running through her mind. "I uh wanted to apologize to you beta" Padma looked down awkwardly not sure where to begin the next sentence.
"Have a seat Armaan"
"Thank You Sir"
"Sir?" Shashank chuckled at the boy sitting in front of him remembering the day he had first come to ask for Anjali's hand in marriage. Even then he had referred to Shashank as sir, but he had been a nervous wreck then; today he looked confidant.
"You know Armaan, when Anjali was born; I was so very happy and why not, for she had started my family, but when Riddhima was born I was happier because she had completed that family. I loved Anjali and Riddhima equally but the world loved Anjali more. To the world Anjali was perfect and though both my daughters were precious to me, I saw that perfection in Riddhima." Shashank turned to face Armaan; who was looking intently at Shashank, waiting for him to continue. "I have given you my perfect daughter Armaan and all I ask in return is that you take care of her. Riddhima has always played the second fiddle to Anjali and secretly I had hoped that it wouldn't be the case when she got married, but destiny never listens to anyone does it? Riddhima is married to you, and I am not saying you are a bad person, but your first love was Anjali. It worries me Armaan and I hope you can understand me, as a father it is extremely hard for me to see one of my children suffer because of the fault of another."
Armaan smiled inwardly at Shashank's apprehensions but he understood exactly what Shashank had meant. "You are absolutely correct when you say that Anjali was my first love, but Sir Riddhima is my wife and I can assure you she will always come first. In my life it will be Riddhima and her needs that will take precedent. I promise you that I will take full care of Riddhima and will never hurt her. Riddhima is indeed perfect sir and I am honored to have married her."
"Oops, I am sorry bhabhi, I didn't meant to intrude" Rahul stated as he walked in on Padma and Riddhima having a heart to heart.
"It's alright Rahul, Riddhima and I were just clearing out some misunderstandings which should have never occurred." Padma smiled wiping her tears.
"Bhabhi, bro wanted me to ask if you were ready to go home and was wondering if I can get the rest of your luggage?"
Riddhima smiled at him and gestured towards the suitcases her mother had packed. Yes it was time to go home now and surprisingly she was ready. She knew it would take her sometime to truly accept Armaan's home as her own but she couldn't deny the fact that it was where she belonged now. Taking a last look at her room she quietly closed the door and walked out to see her family.
"Oh my god, what the hell is in this, rocks?" Riddhima giggled as poor Rahul hauled all her luggage to her car.
"WHAT?" she grinned at him and looked towards her dad standing next to Armaan, she didn't want to know what had carried on between them; some things just needed to remain secret.
"I hope you will live up to your word Armaan" Shashank laid a hand on Armaan's shoulder and looked at him with high expectations.
"I will not let you down Uncle"
"First sir and now uncle, I think dad would do just fine" Shashank smiled and patted Armaan's back with fondness, finally putting his fears to rest.
It was decided that Riddhima and Armaan would ride together while Rahul would follow in Riddhima's car. As they bid goodbye to the Gupta's, Armaan once again gave Shashank a reassuring look. He had actually gone in that afternoon and signed half of his property over to Riddhima. Their father being the owner had divided the company shares equally for his boys and today Armaan had taken his 50% and transferred 25% to Riddhima, she was also the benefactor of his own 25%, incase something were to happen to him, Riddhima would get the full 50%. He wasn't lying when he told Shashank that Riddhima and her needs would take precedent, Anjali might have been the woman he loved but Riddhima was his wife, she held a position much higher than Anjali ever could. It was true that he still loved Anjali and it would be a lie if he said that he didn't miss her but Riddhima would always come first.
They spent the next day just relaxing at home, the three of them; watching old home movies of Rahul and Armaan as kids and of course eating lots and lots of junk food. Armaan had taken the day off from work, which Riddhima thought was quite sweet and of course Rahul had absolutely nothing better to do. She enjoyed this and was surprised how relaxed she felt around them like she had been a part of the family for ages.
Armaan was happy to see Riddhima letting herself loose and being comfortable with them. She was laughing and squabbling back and forth with Rahul like a little kid. He liked her this way and he liked her in his home or their home now. She fit in so perfectly with them, as if she belonged here and had been here for ages. Her father was right, Riddhima was perfect and just like she had completed her father's family; he had a feeling she would also complete his.
"Riddhima don't wear your ugly tees and jeans to work, wear something traditional"
"who else would it be?" the old lady chuckled looking at Padma who was begging her MIL for the phone
"Riddhima, it's your mom, beta why don't you wear one of the nice saris I have packed for you. You will look so beautiful in them"
"I don't know how to wear a sari mom" Riddhima slumped on the bed as she spoke picturing the embarrassment on her mother's face "and besides it's so hard to work in a sari, I'll be too busy worrying about my clothes rather than my patients"
"Oh, well then wear a churidaar and see if you can drop by some day so I can teach you how to wear a sari. You are a married woman now you should know how to wear one and with practice it'll become easier for you carry it off." Riddhima rolled her eyes but a part of her just didn't want to hurt her mother by saying no, reluctantly she told her mother she would drop by one evening to learn the art of wearing a sari.
Ah, perfect! She smiled at her victory which had taken her only about 20 minutes and 35 tries to prevail. Now you can hardly see the slight red mark on her forehead she said to herself. Good, but need more practice I can't possibly spend 20 minutes of my morning everyday trying to put the stupid powder on without it being too visible. Luckily the necklace was easier to hide.
"So, um how long is your shift?" It was a bit embarrassing that he had no idea about his wife's job and schedule all he knew was that she was a doctor, but what kind of doctor? What did her duties entail? What was her schedule?
"My shift ends at around 6:30 and if there are no emergencies I should be home around 7" she looked equally embarrassed and uncomfortable he noted, rather than looking at him she was staring indifferently at her breakfast. He had been to Sanjeevani Hospital just once when one of his employees had a small accident at work, Sanjeevani being 10 minutes from his office was quite convenient.
"Morning folks" Rahul stumbled in still in his pajamas, Armaan assumed that his brother had not washed his face yet, I hope at least he's brushed his teeth; he grimaced as Rahul picked up a piece of toast.
"Rahul have you brushed?"
"Of course I have brushed bro, I am not that disgusting"
"how about washing your face?"
"I do that when I shower" Rahul grinned at Armaan's revolting expression
"So bhabhi, ready for work?"
"Yes, how about you? What's your plan for the day?"
"I am going to laze around for a bit and then head out with my buddies, we're planning to check out the new club that opened up in town"
Riddhima noticed the disapproval on Armaan's face and thought it was time she head out and leave the brother's alone but Armaan caught her plan even before she could get up.
"Wait Riddhima" he said meeting her gaze "I have something to say to Rahul and since you are part of this family you have every right to listen in and perhaps give your advice. Rahul, I know Riddhima and you are the same age" he turned to Rahul who immediately put his toast down knowing very well that his brother had something serious to say. "But, since Riddhima is your bhabhi I hope you listen to her views and show her respect."
"I would never disrespect bhabhi, you should know that bro" The sincerity and honesty in Rahul's voice almost made Riddhima's break, it was humbling that Armaan and Rahul were giving her such priority and reverence and secretly she just hoped she would be able to live up to that respect.
"Rahul, you have finished your education now and I think it's about time that you started coming to work with me."
"WHAT? So soon? But bro I just graduated like, like, uh, just a few months ago" he stuttered trying to digest the shock his brother had given him so early in the morning.
"4 months to be exact. Look Rahul I don't want you roaming around going clubbing everyday. I gave you 4 months to have your fun, now it's time for you to become responsible. What do you think Riddhima?" What? He had caught her off guard and for a moment she just stared at his intense brown eyes which anticipated not necessarily a response but her support.
"Your brother is right Rahul, it's time you started joining him at work and learning the ropes, the business is yours too and I think your brother can use the help. Besides I've heard that 2 heads are better than one, who knows you might have the better head that can make the business reach new heights."
Riddhima watched from the corner of eyes as she hi-fived Rahul the relief that flooded Armaan's face. His dimples showing to the fullest as he smiled at her and Rahul. It warmed her insides when he smiled like that, she especially loved the dimples. Wonder what it would be like to poke them?
Her day had gone off great, no one had even an inkling about her being married and she loved it. Granted it they all had given her questioning looks about her attire but they didn't mull too much over it.
"You know I never knew you had such nice hair Ridz" Muskaan announced walking in to that locker room just as she was putting her things away. They had been working together for about a year now and though they were not "best friends" they were pretty close, but not close enough to share her secret of being married Riddhima thought, not yet at least.
She was glad to walk in the house and smell the delicious aroma of the food being cooked. The cook would ask her every day what she preferred for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was really embarrassing being asked such a thing every day and when she had told the cook to decide on her own she had received a response along the lines of 'you are the owner of the house madam, how can I make such a decision'
"Bhabhi, you mind if I come in?"
"Sure" she was just about to head for the shower when Rahul walked in. He looked lost and highly disturbed. "What's the matter Rahul, is everything ok?"
"ummm I don't know, mind if I sit" he sat but got up again "no I think it'll be better if I stand"
She looked at him rather amused, this was first time she had seen him look so perplexed and for some reason it was causing her to worry. Was this normal, being worried for someone you hardly knew less than a week ago?
"I am scared bhabhi" he muttered softly staring at the ground. He was sitting on the bed again so she crouched in front of him and gently pulled his chin up to meet her gaze. "Scared of what Rahul?"
"What if I'.What if I let bro down?" she was puzzled for a second but then it occurred to her that tomorrow was his first day of work.
"Are you worried about tomorrow?" he nodded
"Bro has such high expectations for me and I am just scared that I will disappoint. He's worked so hard to bring the business to where it is today and I am just afraid that I will make mistakes and give our company a bad name. Just a single silly mistake can be very crucial to a business. I just don't want bro to have a bad rep because of me. You know what I mean?"
Riddhima smiled and placed a hand on top of his, she spent the next several minutes talking to Rahul explaining that Armaan would always be proud and would always be there to help Rahul if needed.
Armaan watched from a distance and quietly retreated to his room. He had come home just a few minutes ago and was surprised to see Riddhima and Rahul out of site. He was expecting to come home to the usual bickering and laughter but found everything to be quiet as a mouse. Upon questioning the maid had informed him that Riddhima was in her room, he was just about to pop in and say hi when spotted an anxious Rahul expressing his fears. Armaan didn't mean to eavesdrop but the conversation got the best of him. He was touched honestly. Riddhima's efforts of easing Rahul's fears and giving him words of support really had him wanting to just go over and hug her. The woman was the sweetest thing and so unlike the Riddhima he knew as Anjali's sister.
"Thanks a lot bhabhi, and you won't tell bro about this little convo will you?"
"Of course not! Besides, we are friends and I would never tell a friend's secret to a foe" She smiled and happily gave him a hi-five before stepping in to the shower.
After another loud and energy filled dinner everyone happily retired to their rooms. Riddhima took her chance and walked over to Armaan's room. She must have contemplated knocking on his door for at least 10 minutes. She was nervous. Just the thought of being alone in a room with him unnerved her, even if it was just to talk. There was something about him that made her stomach flip.
"Come in" he drawled "Riddhima? umm, hey, uh, did you need something?" her sudden presence had him embarrassed, his room was a mess and unfortunately that was the first thing she had noticed. Even now she stood gaping, her big eyes sans the glasses bulging out of her head and her mouth wide open.
"Armaan, your room is such a mess" she blurted ignoring his current state of discomfort.
"I am sorry, um actually not the most organized person" he smiled sheepishly while she continued shaking her head, obviously not pleased. "Rahul's rooms the same way you know, he he.."
"Is that supposed to be an excuse?"
"No" he hung his head and watched bemused whilst she continued scrutinizing his room. She looked cute standing there in her pajamas and hands firmly on her hips. She had this utterly adorable expression on her face, of course her look was that of disappointment but the way she narrowed her brows and pouted her lips made him want to laugh and pinch her button like nose.
"ahem ahem" she cleared her throat to get his attention again, he had been staring at her and it was beginning to get a little uncomfortable. "I uh, wanted to talk to you regarding Rahul"
"I uh, kind of overheard you guys talking, I swear I didn't mean to listen in" he quickly defended when he saw her stick her eyes out again. "I was just dropping by to say hi and I heard you and Rahul talking"
"I wanted to actually talk to you myself and tell you how grateful I am. Rahul means a lot to me and I know he can be a bit obnoxious and childish at times and perhaps I have something to contribute to that" she returned his smile with a slight nod in agreement "but he's the only family I have" he added softly "and I am really appreciative that you listened to him and provided words of support when he needed it the most. I know in the past couple of years I haven't given him the proper attention he deserved. I was too busy with Anjali and I thought I could make up for it by giving him whatever he wanted but I have now come to realize that it's not money or things he wanted, it was a friend."
"He's my family now too Armaan." He gave her a look of awe and admiration which she returned with a smile and continued "And I can't tell you what an honor it is to be his friend. You very well know the relationship Di and I shared; in contrast, this is very nice. I promise I would never hurt him"
She was so easy to talk to he mused an hour or so after she had retired to her room; leaving him feeling content and satisfied. He had been trying to fall asleep for sometime now, but the woman just refused to desert his thoughts. With a shake of his head and a silly grin on his face he finally drifted off to sleep, unaware that she too felt the same way.
"BHABHI!! BHABHI!!" He barged in to her room at around 7:30 am only to be disappointed when he saw no sign of her. The shower wasn't on so apparently she was not there, then where did she go?
"Oh my god, come here and let me have a look at you" Riddhima walked out of the kitchen some 5 minutes later to see him coming down, looking anything but pleased.
"There you are" he beamed the instance his eyes landed on her "so how do I look?"
"Extremely, Utterly, Unbelievably HANDSOME!!" carefully taking some kohl from her eyes she wiped it behind his ear.
"How corny, what was that for?"
"Shut up, as your bhabhi I can do whatever I want!!" she walked over to the dining table while he mimicked her and followed suit.
"Wow, my favorite, who made these? Yummm, these are delicious" Armaan chirped biting into a prantha stuffed with potatoes.
"I did" she smiled, happy that he liked them. She was sick of the bread and butter they had everyday and was really missing cooking. It had been a battle in the kitchen though, the maid wouldn't let her touch a thing but gave in when she noticed madam wasn't relenting. With a quick 'Armaan sir loves aaloo paranthas' she had dashed out giving a quick wink to Riddhima. Riddhima couldn't believe she had actually blushed at the old woman's gesture.
"I didn't know you could cook" Armaan smiled grabbing another piece
"I hope you don't mind, I was a bit tired of eating toast and soup every morning"
"Why would he mind, these are bro's favorite and not to mention damn good. I think you should cook all the time" Rahul gobbled a huge piece and hummed in delight.
"Slow down Rahul or you'll choke"
"You should talk; you're on your third one!" Armaan looked at Riddhima embarrassed when she laughed and joined them at the table.
She was working the night shift today, which meant she had the whole day to herself. She spent a good 30 minutes talking to her family, telling them about her day. Her mother had suggested she come over since she was alone but Riddhima already had plans. She was going to clean.
Walking over to his room she rubbed her hands in sheer glee. The maid had told her that Armaan sir hated it when some one touched his things, which is why no one was allowed to clean his room and following his brother's footsteps was Rahul. Well we'll see about that Riddhima mumbled first I'll clean Armaan's and then Rahul's.
It took her 2 hours to clean Armaan's room and 2 and a half to clean Rahul's; the boys were disgusting. Tired and sweaty she finally made her way to her room to wash up and head for work. She had almost made it when she heard the phone ring.
"Riddhima, it's me Armaan" he sat back in his chair slightly nervous about talking to her
"Hi Armaan, how are you? How's Rahul? How is his first day going? I hope you're not being too hard on him" she bit her lip hearing him chuckle on the other end.
"Slow down Riddhima. I am fine and so is your darling devar and what is it with everyone telling me not to be too hard on him, first my manager, then my lawyer and now you, what am I a devil?" She giggled imagining him sitting behind a desk with horns on his head.
"I am sorry, I was just generally talking, um you called did you need something?" she twisted the cord with her finger and again bit her lip in anticipation.
"No I uh, was just checking how you were doing. You have to go to work in a little bit right? So I just wanted to say be careful and make sure you eat something" His query thrilled her causing her heart to palpitate faster and her fingers to tremble.
"I will, umm anything else" why did he make her so jumpy?
"No, um I'll see you tomorrow"
"Ok, bye" her fingers were still trembling when she put the phone down and even when she turned on the shower.
She used to enjoy the working the night shifts, the hospital was normally quiet due to the fact most of the patients had gone off to sleep and the staff was also minimal. Out of their gang which consisted of Muskaan, Atul & Sapna she was the only one working. Of course Dr. Keerti or another senior doctor would be there along with more junior doctors whom she really didn't know well and usually never corresponded with, not that she would want to either. Tonight though, she felt lonely. There was hardly anyone to talk to or argue with. Sitting alone in the caf she quietly sipped her coffee when her phone buzzed. A smile involuntarily graced her lips when she read "Armaan Calling"
"What did you do?"
"What did you do?"
"I don't know Armaan, what did I do?" concerned by his tone she tried to recollect something, or anything rather that she could have done wrong.
"My room, you ruined my room" it took a second for her to remember that she had cleaned his and Rahul's rooms today "Why? Why would you do such a thing" he continued
"Armaan, your room was disgusting so I just cleaned it"
"Cleaned it?" he bellowed in his whiny tone "you ruined it"
"It's not called ruining Armaan, it's called cleaning" she stated as calmly as possible through gritted teeth
"But I can't find anything!"
"Everything is there, just look carefully you'll find it." She ran a hand through her hair exasperated with his childish behavior
"Why did you have to CLEAN anyway?"
"Because you live like a PIG!"
"So what! It's my room!!"
"But it's MY house!!" she stared at her reflection staring back at her from the bathroom mirror, her eyes widening in shock behind her glasses OMG, what the hell did I just say. Without saying another word or waiting for him to respond she immediately cut the call.
He was about to retort back when her words sunk in and the next moment the call was disconnected. Armaan sat grinning in his now spic and span room replaying her words over and over again. He was overjoyed and finally at peace. She had accepted his house as her own, nothing could be better than that.
It took her several minutes to steady herself, god how could she be so stupid? How could she let that slip out? Why did she let that slip out? She hadn't really given it much thought before speaking; it had come out on impulse. He's probably laughing at me this very moment thinking what an idiot I am. How embarrassing, how the heck am I going to face him now? Her cell phone buzzed again shaking her out of her desolation. "Armaan Calling" oh no, what should I say?
"I can't find my t-shirt"
Relief flooded her system and a smile creased her face, the moment of awkwardness passed and she thanked him silently for that "It's in the third drawer"
She had 6 more calls that night 2 from Rahul, 3 from him and one from both of them together. By the 4th call she was frustrated, they refused to look for anything on their own, instead they called her for even a pair of socks. Each time they called though she couldn't hide her enthusiasm. They kept her entertained almost the entire night; Rahul complained about his tiresome day and told her what an awful boss Armaan was while Armaan laughed devilishly in the background. She finally had to beg them to go to sleep so she could work; besides she would get to sleep during the day but they would have to work. She didn't want to imagine 2 cranky young men, if they were like this now, just wonder what they would be like when sleep deprived!
She looked forward to seeing them again and spending her time just chatting and giggling away. She also had to take some time out to go see her mom like she promised. So far life was pretty good.
It had been 4 months now and surprisingly she had gotten used to her current lifestyle, which involved spending most of her time off at the house with Rahul and Armaan whenever they were off as well, some cleaning; which the boys had gotten used to by now and of course her favorite, cooking; which the maid had happily turned over to her. She had visited her parents often during these 4 months and had even practiced wearing the saree with her mom and grand mother; at the present time though that was a work in progress.
This time however, her visit was going to be different because this time she was spending nearly a week at her parents house and she was beyond thrilled. Not that she didn't like Armaan's house it was just that she also missed her own plus she was looking forward to having long night chats with her mother and grandmother and not to mention spending some quality time with her dad; whom she hardly saw when she visited as he was away at work.
Rahul was anything but happy "aww babhi you are going for so many days, I'll be bored to death without you" he had whined and pouted like a small child. If her instincts served her correct then even Armaan had looked not so pleased with her long absence, though he chose to keep mum and had inaudibly volunteered to drop her to her parent's house, she just couldn't help but feel that he was also a little sad.
The journey to her parent's house had been as usual, quiet. While Armaan focused on the road in front Riddhima focused the lackluster view outside her window.
"ahem" he cleared his throat in hopes of catching her attention and gave a small smile when she turned to face him. "Umm, when did you want me to pick you up?"
"oh" his face fell but it was beyond his control. He recalled the morning two days ago when she had informed him about her desire to visit her parents for a week. Her mother had wished to spend some more time with her and requested if she could take some time off and visit. While Rahul had openly expressed his sorrow he however had a hard time with that. It's not that she had asked his permission and even if she had how could he stop her? He had no right to stop her or dictate her life, heck he even had no right to express his unhappiness let alone miss her.
"Armaan, Aren't you going to come inside? I am sure the family would love to see you" he had helped her take her luggage out and was about to leave when she called him.
"I actually have to head to the office real quick, it a little urgent so I'll come in some other time" she was disheartened by that, it was bad enough she felt so guilty about leaving; though she didn't exactly know why.
"Riddhima" he called out from his window seeing her so lost
"Take care of yourself ok, and call me if you need anything"
"Thanks Armaan" she smiled involuntarily spotting his dimples and stood staring at the curb where he had turned for minutes after he had driven off.
It was 9 pm and the last thing Armaan wanted to do was go home. Rahul had left a few hours ago grumbling about the fact that the house would be so empty and he had no one to argue with now. Truth was that was the only reason he was still here, sitting in his office, working on files which in no way called for his immediate attention. After another hour he could feel his eyes beginning to shut, he leaned back in his chair and thought of closing his eyes for a minute when his phone rang, assuming it was Rahul again he didn't bother looking up at the display and with an annoying groan answered the call
"Armaan?" she paused confused by his tone "is everything ok?"
"Riddhima? I am sorry, I thought it was Rahul"
"Armaan where are you?"
"Umm, I am still at the office"
"What? Its 10 pm why are you still at the office? Don't you realize how late it is? Have you had dinner yet?" he casually strode over to the window and smiled looking up at the darkened sky while she continued to hurl questions at him. "Armaan are you listening?"
"hmmm, yes I am" he closed his eyes picturing her irritated expression
"then why aren't you saying anything"
"I, I, uh what were you asking again?" he heard her take a deep breath while he tried to control his chuckle.
"Please go home and I know you haven't had dinner yet so I notified the maid, she will make something for you" she clutched the phone in hope and mentally cursed herself for the bombardment of questions earlier.
"I will, thanks Riddhima"
"Riddhima? Who were you talking to at this hour?"
"Armaan, can you believe him mom, he's still at the office and hasn't even had dinner yet. I am telling you, I leave for one day and he becomes so careless."
Padma listened intently to her daughter not missing the glint in her eyes as she spoke about her husband. She had seen her aloofness the minute she had come home, her daughter was with her physically but mentally she was somewhere else.
"For the love of god dadi can you please let me help?"
"No way, you have come after so many days, I can't let you work"
Riddhima was exasperated. For the past two days now her mother and grandmother had outright refused to let her do anything and she was beginning to get irritated. She was not used to doing nothing and their behavior was beginning to irk her. In the beginning it was nice, she was constantly being pampered and not allowed to even lift a spoon but after 48 hours of being treated like a princess, she was bored.
Her first day had been great, before the phone call with Armaan she had spoken to Rahul; who was again asking when she would return. She remembered how hesitant she was to inquire about Armaan but the instant she heard he was still at the office she didn't know why she had become so furious. Immediately after disconnecting with Rahul she had dialed his number only to hear his irritated response. At least he was going home now, she thought, ignoring her inquisitive mind asking why she cared so much anyway?
One more day, one more day of just sitting like this she will go insane. Mom and Dadi have not let me do anything apart from gaining the extra 3 pounds that I did not need I am also sick and tired of doing nothing. God I just want to go home! She frowned at her trail of thoughts, wasn't she already home? Since when did Armaan's house become her home? Truth was and she hated to admit it, she missed the "other home." She missed hearing Rahul going around yelling bhabhi from this corner to the other, she missed watching Armaan's annoyed expressions of not finding something she picked up while cleaning, she liked how he said her name through gritted teeth trying to control his annoyance with her cleaning his room all the time. She missed cooking, she missed cleaning, she missed cracking jokes with them, she missed this and she missed that. Basically, she missed everything.
ignoring her book that lay open on the same page it had been 2 hours ago she got up frustrated from her chair; where she had spent the past 2 hours grumbling and moaning about her plight. "I want to go home!!" she finally announced to the empty walls and left the room.
"Oh no, how did this happen? What hospital is he at? Ok I will head out today, don't worry bhabhi, you have to be strong. Everything will be ok"
"What did she say?"
"He had a heart attack and is still in the ICU for observation"
"Oh the poor thing, we must leave immediately, she needs us right now"
"Mom, is everything alright? Who was dad talking to?"
"Riddhima, that was your dad's sister-in-law, her husband, your dad's elder cousin had a heart attack and is still in the ICU"
"Oh no mom that's terrible, is this Prashant uncle we are talking about?"
"Yes, the poor boy, Shashank we must leave now, Aarti is alone" Riddhima's grand mother got up to go pack her bags while Padma looked helplessly at Riddhima.
"Mom are you going too?"
"Yes, it won't look good if I don't go, plus your aunty is really sweet and could use the emotional support right now. I am sorry Riddhima but you're going to have to cut this trip short."
Riddhima's insides jumped and somersaulted in delight. Mentally rubbing her hands in sheer glee she walked over to the phone to call Armaan.
He didn't know why he was so irritated today; he had spent most of his morning yelling at his employees over trivial things and now the stupid laptop was running at a speed of a turtle. Argh, and had he mentioned that his phone had been ringing off the hook all day, who the hell could be calling him now.
"Tell them I am out of the office Shaina"
"Uhh, sir it's your wife"
"My wife?" Riddhima? why is she calling me on my work number? Ah, crap my cell's on silent, damn10 missed calls, she's going to be furious.
"Hello sir? Should I tell your wife you are out of the office"
"NO!" he yelled "I mean no, no please transfer her"
He picked up the phone on the first ring and began speaking before she could even say hello "Riddhima, I am so sorry, my phone was on silent and I had been having such a crazy day that I completely forgot to.."
"Armaan" she cut him off "can you come pick me up?"
"I said can you come pick me up?"
"Riddhima is everything ok?"
"Everything is fine, so can you come get me umm now?"
"Yes, of course, I am on my way" Grabbing his keys he dashed for the door only to collide head on with Rahul
"Whoa, bro where are you rushing of too?"
"To pick up Riddhima"
"What?" Rahul chuckled "Bro I understand you miss her but you just can't go over to her house and abduct her like that, it's only a matter of 2 more days anyways"
"Shut up Rahul, number one I don't miss her ok and two I am not going to abduct her, she called and asked if I can come get her"
"Yea sure you don't miss her at all" Rahul paused and looked straight into Armaan's eyes confirming his lie
"I have to go"
Rahul grinned watching Armaan sprint out of the office, that lying scumbag, he mused. "Hey Shaina cancel all my meetings for the day, I am going home."
Some 20 minutes later he was outside her house and when she opened the door with a big smile on her face he could feel the stress of the day leave him.
"Hi Armaan, have a seat I am just going to go grab my stuff. Mumma, Papa, Daadi!! Armaan is here. Leela can you get Armaan some water please"
Armaan smiled as he saw her walk around the house, he remembered his earlier visits of when he would come to meet Anjali; he used to pray that the person opening the door would not be Riddhima. She always had this disappointing look on her face when she would see him and apart from a bland "hello" she hardly said a word.
"Armaan, how are you?"
"I am fine dad how are you" He got up immediately and took the elders blessings "is uh everything ok mom?"
"Everything is fine son; Riddhima's uncle had a heart attack and is still in the ICU so we have to head out immediately and Riddhima still had two more vacation days" Padma sighed saddened by the fact that she won't get to spend more time with her daughter.
Armaan felt guilty for feeling so happy that Riddhima was coming home early but, he didn't know her uncle and come on Riddhima was coming home early and she had the next two days off from work!
"Ok I am all set, ready to go Armaan?"
"What's the rush, why don't we all have lunch first?"
"No, uh, daadi I am not so hungry, are you hungry Armaan?" Riddhima looked at him with hopeful eyes. He nodded in the negative, actually, he was starving! "besides papa I think you guys should head out too, you guys have quite the journey and driving at night is not the safest when you are unfamiliar with the roads, right Armaan?"
"Right" he played along unsure of why she was behaving this way
"See, ok now we have to go, I love you guys and call me as soon as you guys reach" Riddhima quickly hugged everyone and nearly ran out the door.
"hmmm" they were on their way home now and she had never felt so much at peace. It was odd how she had felt so suffocated in her own home. Most of her days were spent in front of the TV or reading in her room. She hated shopping and you could only talk so much with your mom and grandma, and of course she was forbidden to even set food in the kitchen.
"I am starving"
She looked at him confused for a moment and then burst out laughing
"No, nothing, I am sorry and actually I am hungry too"
"Then why did you not want stay for lunch and why were you rushing to leave?" She thought for a moment, a good excuse, a witty reply, nothing. So truth it shall be.
"I just wanted to get out"
"Nothing, I just felt a little suffocated"
"didn't you enjoy your stay?"
"I did, but I, was so bored. Mom and Dadi didn't let me do anything and I mean I spent 3 days just watching TV and gorging'.Armaan do I look fat?" she turned to him frowning
"WHAT? Fat and you? Are you insane, no Riddhima you look perfect"
"I gained 3 pounds!!" She glared at him trying to ignore the butterflies his you look perfect comment had given her.
"So? You look just fine Riddhima" he smiled at her childish behavior while she sat back with crossed arms. "hmmm so having no work to do is hard for Ms. Riddhima?"
"you have no idea by day three I was just ready to go home, I am going to call the maid and have her make something for us"
"BHABHI!!!!" Rahul pounced on her the minute they walked in ignoring the irritated expression on Armaan's face
"Rahul, I thought you would be at the office?" It was nice to see him she admitted walking in to the living room.
"Yea, Rahul I thought you were at the office too" Armaan retorted slouching on the couch
"All my meetings got canceled and when you told me bhabhi was coming home I thought I would surprise her." Rahul grinned and took a seat next to an annoyed Armaan.
Riddhima took in her surroundings and smiled as she sat down. She was finally at ease and sitting here with Rahul and Armaan just felt so normal. After dinner she spent the rest of her time unpacking and talking to Rahul.
Rahul and Armaan both took the next day off to spend time with her. The three of them went out to the movies and had lunch at a restaurant. Her parents had called and informed her that her uncle was doing much better. Since Rahul and Armaan would be at work tomorrow she was planning to do some cleaning. She was also looking forward to going to work; they had hired a few new interns which meant she didn't have to work the crappy hours anymore.
"Hey Riddhima, how was your vacation?" Muskaan chirped when she spotted her in the locker room
"Oh it was great, but I am happy to be back, I missed work"
"you are such a weird creature and the only person I know who loves work, oh have you met any of the new interns yet?"
"OMG, one of the guy's is a real dish. His name is Sid and god Riddhima he is gorgeous!" Riddhima rolled her eyes at Muskaan's dreamy expression; according to Muskaan almost every man was gorgeous. They heard the intercom go off and headed for the common meeting area for duty assignments.
"Riddhima look there he is" Muskaan tugged at her arm pointing towards a man dressed in a yellow shirt. "Guys meet Riddhima, she just came back from vacation" As Muskaan introduced everyone to Riddhima, she didn't miss the awestuck look Sid had given the minute he had spotted her dear friend. If her instincts were correct then she was sure the boy was smitten.
Riddhima scrutinized Sid up and down with disappointment. He was anything but gorgeous. Yes he was tall but Armaan was taller, his body was ok too while Armaan had an amazing physique, there was nothing captivating about his face while Armaan had the most adorable dimples. In one word this guy was "decent" but gorgeous? No way!
Much to her distress she was assigned to work with him for the whole day and she had to confess the way he was staring at her was making her uncomfortable. It was worse when Muskaan turned around and winked at her, leaving Sid and her alone at the meeting area.
"Hi, I am looking for Dr. Mallik"
"Dr. Mallik? There is no Dr. Mallik here" Muskaan turned to the young man standing by the receptionist. Granted it was none of her business, but why waste the receptionist time by making her look up a Dr. Mallik when she knew there wasn't one.
"Are you sure? This is Sanjeevani right?" the man looked behind him making sure he was at the right place.
"Yes this is Sanjeevani but there is no Dr. Mallik here"
"there must be some mistake could you check one more time for me, her name is Dr. Riddhima Mallik" he purposely ignored Muskaan and turned to the receptionist
"Sir we have a Dr. Riddhima Gupta but not a Riddhima Mallik" the receptionist stated the instant she heard Riddhima's name. Who didn't know Dr. Riddhima?
"Oh oops, my fault, yes Riddhima Gupta that's who I needed, is there anyway you could page her or call her for me?"
"How do you know Dr. Riddhima?" Muskaan couldn't help her curiosity, obviously this guy was not a patient because she knew about every cute guy that ever came in, no matter who was the handling physician and Riddhima had never mentioned about any guy to her, so who was this good looking creature.
"She's my bhabhi"
Part 6 pg. 37
Ok here is part 5 as promised. I realized no matter how much I extend the part you all will still crib about the shortness, though I won't lie this is one of my longest parts LOL. Anyhow, I apologies if you guys thought this part was boring and just random ramblings but I want to move this story on my own pace and not rush through it. I did introduce Sid and of course Rahul and Muskaan finally meet, well informally at least.
I will try my level best to update the next part soon so I hope you all will have patience with me.
Thank you all for commenting and I look forward to more. I hope you enjoyed the part.
Love you all,
P.S.- as you all know I don't send PMs so please don't request any
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Hinu are you for real?? The title song of Aaina has been haunting me for days until I finally decided to turn it in to a story. Well they do say great minds think alike. I was going to add the mehndi song in there but then thought against it.
Life is busy as hell, my whole weekend will be spent serving at my dad's restaurant. Fortunately I have a lappie but no wireless so I will try in between to write the next update for Manzil and Belonging but won't be able to update till next week. I am behind on comments as well, I actually wrote this part during my lunch break lol and now it's back to the grind!
But aww cousins wedding how nice! I am actually going to India this August for my cousin's wedding. I am super excited!!
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