Posted: 16 January 2010 at 4:48am
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Part 2: Driving Thy Business
Riddhima: Adolf Hitler once said, "A meeting between two beings who complete one another, who are made for each other, borders already, in my opinion, on a miracle". I believe in what he said; miracles are meetings; whether its meeting up with an old friend or a business associate; it leaves a spark, a memory, of what you shared with the other person, who, only remains to be a memory most of the times. A meeting could be the start of something new, or the revival of something forgotten...A meeting is a miracle.
Closing the main door behind him, Armaan walked back to the lounge where they had previously been sitting, but found it empty once he reached there. He must have gone up to his room, he thought, and after fetching himself a glass of water and gulping it down, he put on the coffee machine to brew some coffee for himself and Abhi. Holding the two cups steadily, he walked up the stairs, only to find Damini standing at the landing, perhaps just about to go down. She looked at Armaan and smiled slightly, putting on her earrings.
'You're leaving?,' Armaan stated the obvious, in response to which she nodded.
'Yep...it's Fitzgerald's party, and you know how important a client he is, so I have to go!,' she clarified, for what reason, she herself was unaware. Armaan's eyebrows rose a little, almost imperceptible, and then he nodded again. An awkward silence engulfed them, as he stood at the last step, somewhat hovering. Damini cleared her throat and looked at him, 'Ummm....I have to rush. I am already running late.'
'Oh! Oh yeah..sorry!,' Armaan said, moving aside to let her pass, as he had presented himself as an obstacle in her way. She smiled at him and walked downstairs, while Armaan watched her go. She's gonna freeze in that dress, he speculated as a random observation as he saw her simple black tube dress which reached up to her knees. As if on an afterthought, he put the coffee mugs on the side ledge of the staircase and walked to the closet nearby, opened it and picked out a shawl. Leaning over the staircase, he called out for her.
She turned to look at him, her eyebrows knitted together in a frown which cleared when she saw him throw a shawl down the stairs towards her. She caught it in her arms and looked up at him to find him smiling deeply.
'Just in case you feel cold!,' This time, he gave an unasked for clarification and then simply shrugged his shoulders. She nodded at him, thankfully, yet left a little disturbed by this sudden interaction. For as long back as she could now remember, he had simply stopped showing any signs of affection or care towards her. Caressing the material of the Persian pashmina shawl, she smiled to herself nevertheless, and walked towards the main door. Maybe he's just happy, she mused and then stepped out of the house.
Meanwhile, Armaan walked into Abhi's room to find it empty yet again. He looked in just from the door, and wondered where he had disappeared to. Just when he was about to walk out, he heard a groan in a voice that was distinctly Abhi's. Frowning, he walked back inside the room to see where the voice had come from. The sight that welcomed him was one of Abhi's legs dangling out from beneath the bed, while his torso was hidden. Rolling his eyes at the idiocy of his friend, Armaan put the mugs on side table and grinned.
'What the hell are you doing, Modi?'
To say that Abhi was frightened out of his wits would be an understatement. With a turnaround in a fraction of a second followed by a loud gasp, he had slithered out from beneath the bed and looking up at Armaan, he held his heart, breathing heavily. Involuntarily as it was, Armaan yet again rolled his eyes at his overreaction.
'GOD! MALLIK! You scared the shit out of me!,' Abhi panted, resting his back against the side frame of the bed while Armaan stood in front of him, one of his hands on his waist while the other ran through his hair.
'Quit the melodrama, and tell me what you were doing under the bed?,' He asked, then looked around the room and couldn't help himself from saying, 'And tell me, which tornado has seemed to hit your room already?'
'What? Oh yeah...Nikki!,' Abhi answered, as he himself looked around the room which had been turned into a mess within a matter of five minutes by the said culprit, 'She was in a hurry to get her things...and so!,' he threw up his hands in the air as he stood up to evaluate the mess while Armaan plopped down on the bed.
'And the cleanliness freak AT LAST gets his reward! Serves you right for all those times you created a fiasco over the mess in our room back in college....Vengeance is sweet, my friend!,' Armaan chuckled as Abhi made a face at his comment. Then, the latter bent down to fish out something from under the bed yet again and Armaan frowned.
'What ARE you searching for under the bed?,' he bent down to see himself, but Abhi had somehow recovered the missing item till then, which he now put in Armaan's hands.
'This.' he said, as if that was explanation enough, and Armaan stared at the small package that had been thrusted into his hands. It was packed beautifully in a light silver paper with a pink ribbon around it. Within a second, he looked up at Abhi with understanding, and they both mouthed the same word together:
'Ma!' and then they both broke out grinning together. Armaan shook his head at the packet, more so as he thought of the wonderful woman it had reminded him of. He took off the paper as Abhi sat down next to him and they both stared at the photo frame now in his hands. It was a Polaroid back from his adolescence; from the last day in college, he mused. The then-young duo were hanging around the fence, the one that had surrounded their college and this one being one of their favorite places to hang out, they had usually been the only ones inhabiting it, apart from a few other friends. Armaan's hair was a disheveled mess, and with his legs dangling as he sat on the wall, looking up at the sky with what he now recognized as a wistful look. Both his hands rested on the fence, and he could now see a book resting under one; probably some novel he had been reading at the moment. Meanwhile, Abhi stood beside him, his body leaning against the wall with his elbows resting upon it; his face turned as he looked at someone on the other side.
It was a beautiful picture, one because it reminded him dearly of those days back in Amity Law College, and two because it signified the relationship the two had shared since. Armaan stared at the picture for a few minutes, and when he looked up at Abhi, he realized that the latter had been doing so too. They shared a look, then smiled yet again looking down at the picture.
'This is so typically Ma!,' Armaan mumbled and Abhi grinned, leaning against the bed post and stretching himself.
'Of course! She insisted that I HAD to give you this photo frame as soon as I would open my luggage! God knows since when she's got it framed...exclusively for you, she says! And she sends her love to you and Damini, obviously!,' He yawned and Armaan nodded, distracted by something in his statement that Armaan couldn't understand himself. However, putting the frame aside for now, he picked up one coffee mug and handed it over to Abhi, who looked at it's contents and scowled.
'You still take it black?,' he grumbled, taking a swig of the now mildly cold drink and making a face.
'Old habits die hard, Modi! You were the one setting the example, what with your never ending commentary and shouting while watching football! You still do that, huh?,' Armaan grinned at his own statement as Abhi again scowled, this time followed by a loud, exaggerated sigh.
'Football seems like light years ago, since I got...,'
'Married!,' Armaan completed it for him and then cheekily grinned at him. Ignoring him, Abhi looked around the room and was faced by a new trauma again.
'Arrrrghhh!! All this mess she's created and now I have to clear it up....remind me AGAIN why I got married in the first place?,' he looked up at Armaan, exasperated as he got off the bed and started putting the things together.
'Because you were too adamant not to listen to my very healthy and experienced advice!,' Armaan leaned back on the bed, watching, amused as he saw Abhi bundle together all of Nikki's clothes and thrusted them into the bag. Huffing loudly, Abhi looked up as he heard Armaan's statement.
'Yeah? As if you were there to stop me!,' The words were out of his mouth before he could even think, and Armaan's grin slowly vanished from his face to be replaced by a sober look. The kind of cut-off, corporate look he wore when dealing with his clients, and a look Abhi had seen too much of to know the intensity with which his words had hit him.
Leaning forward from his position, Armaan now sat with both his elbows bended at his knees as he lightly rubbed his face with both his hands, then murmured, looking up at Abhi, who stood transfixed in his spot, 'You know what the situation was then, Abhi. I would have if I could...God knows I wouldn't have missed your wedding for anything but....and you know that, better than anyone else.'
Saying that, he got up and picked up his now empty coffee cup from the side table, and looked up for a fraction of a second to see Abhi nod at him, grimly so. As he passed him, he threw him a side-glance and spoke with an effort he tried to conceal but was visible enough, 'Come on...it's your lucky day today...Arsenal vs. Everton and the match is just about to start!'.
Abhi watched him leave the room, shouting at him to hurry up and he smacked himself on his head, cursing himself for both ruining the moment and for breaching a topic he had promised himself never to touch again.
The cold stood to be the only excuse why the court was completely vacant today; and precisely the excuse for him to have come out today. Pulling back the sleeves of his Chicago Bulls hood up to elbows, he plugged in the ear-phones of his iPod deep into his ears, and rolling the ball in his hands, started off with his daily routine. The clank of the metal as the ball went down the hoop fell on deaf ears, as loud hard metal music pounded in his ears. Oblivious to the cold and more so to the darkness falling around him, he played alone for long enough for his body to stop responding to the cold and get heated up by the exertion. His mind focused on just two things for the two hours he spent in the court: the ball in his hands and the basket a few meters away from him. By the time he was finished, his body was drenched in sweat, his face was flushed with energy and darkness and fog had completely surrounded him. Still remaining ignorant of the latter two facts, he started walking back home; a tall, lanky boy he was, one who seemed to have outgrown his bones within a span of few years. Dribbling the ball efficiently from hand to the other, he reached home within a few minutes, and rang the bell a couple of times.
The door opened to reveal his sister glaring at him angrily, 'Rohaan! Where the hell have you been?'
Without answering her question, he quietly walked inside the house, getting rid of his mud filled shoes and walking on into the hall without paying any heed to her question. Riddhima sighed loudly with exasperation, and followed him into the hall as he dribbled the ball. Trying to keep her cool, she said in a clipped tone, 'Don't do that....Ma's sleeping'
He responded as if he couldnt hear anything she was saying, but stopped with the dribbling as he looked at her from the corner of the eye. He was about to go up to his room when he saw someone emerge from the kitchen. Staring at her for a few seconds, his face broke into an awkward smile as Nikki walked towards him, smiling widely.
'And the prodigal son arrives,' she exaggerated, taking him into a hug, lightly patting his head, 'Look at you, big boy! Last time I saw you...you were...,'
'Definitely not in my diapers, Di...that line is no longer applicable,' he winked playfully at her and she laughed. Riddhima watched their interaction, if somewhat wistfully, and then pulling her sweater closer around her, she asked him, 'Would you like something to eat? I made pasta!,'
He looked at her and his expressions changed, slightly, and with a courteous smile he shook his head, 'Errrm...no! Not yet....I'm not hungry...I will have something later...,' then looking over at Nikki, he grinned again and said, 'Let me take a shower...and I will be back,'
Nikki nodded, suddenly distracted by the communication the two had just had, and as Rohaan walked up the stairs to his room, she turned to look at Riddhima quizzically. Riddhima just shrugged her shoulders, and plopped down on the sofa with Nikki next to her. Knowing that a series of questions was on its way, Riddhima turned to Nikki.
'Well...what was that about?,' the first question came, and Riddhima just sighed wistfully.
'That was about my life...the way it's been since..,' she didn't complete her sentence and Nikki let it be. A few seconds of unbroken silence followed, then Riddhima initiated a conversation, looking down deeply at the lines of her hands.
'You know Nikki...everyday I wake up and I tell myself, something different and new and better is going to happen in my life today...something that would not end up into a mess, something that would somehow, bring some amount of satisfaction and peace with it...and everyday, that one hope of mine is broken...but perhaps that's the only thing that still keeps me going...otherwise, I'd be...,' she ended, with a silence that spoke louder than her words did, and Nikki took hold of her hand and pressed it reassuringly.
'Riddhima...this is just a bad phase, I'm sure things will get better and...,'
'When? When will things get better Nikki? It's been four goddamn years...NOTHING is going right...my work, my family, my personal life...everything is one big hell of a mess and I can't do anything to correct it...I just...,' Riddhima broke, and after a few seconds, she continued, with a pressurized effort of keeping her voice low, 'I just need a breather...I want out...I want something, at least something in my life worth a few minutes of peace...that's all that I want!,'
Nikki looked at Riddhima, who now stared at the wall in front of her, her eyes smarting with tears that she was trying her best to hold back. She herself had been surprised by Riddhima's sudden outburst, for in all the years she had known her, Riddhima had always kept her composure and no matter how bad things were, never left them surface in their conversations. If it hadn't been for her own understanding of the woman, Nikki would have never known anything Riddhima felt, for the latter preferred to keep quiet about her issues. It wasn't that she wouldnt talk about it, she would, but in a detached manner which gave the impression that she herself was in no way getting affected by the problem. My problems are my own to handle, she had often said, and she lived up to it. Being in control of her own life had always been Riddhima's prime issue, and perhaps one of the several reasons why things had become so messed up for her.
Now, as Riddhima lightly rubbed her face with her face and then looked at her, Nikki smiled lightly and said, 'Riddhima...I know this is not the right time and everything, but...,' at this, Riddhima looked up at her and looked forlorn, 'can we have Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Toffee Crunch please?'
Riddhima stared at her for a few seconds, as she stared back hopefully, then she murmured, 'WHAT? Are you kidding me?,'
'I know, I know...I said, its not the right time...but I havent had it in ages and um DYING...please!,' Nikki pouted at her and Riddhima rolled her eyes.
'You are unbelievable Nikki! I...I...,' Riddhima exhaled loudly to stop herself from getting angry, then throwing her hands up in the air, she got up, 'Okay fine...I knew you were going to ask for it anyway, so I got a bucket for you already!,' she said, walking over to the kitchen to get when Nikki jumped up and hugged her on an impulse.
'I love you!!,' Nikki murmured coyly and Riddhima grinned in spite of herself, and after hugging her for a second, she pulled away from her and said, 'You're SUCH a girl Nikki...go shower your love on your hubby while I get your ice-cream!,' she winked at Nikki as she fished out her cell-phone.
'Hey Riddhima...I am out of credit...can I use your phone?,' she hollered across the hall and Riddhima, while taking out the ice-cream from the fridge, shouted back, 'Yeah sure...and keep it low, Ma's sleeping.'
Nikki took her cellphone and dialed Armaan's number, and as the call registered, she was surprised to find his name saved in Riddhima's phone book. She stared at the screen for a few seconds, puzzled, then as the call was received, she happily spoke into the phone, forgetting all about it.
The wee hours of the morning became obvious to him when the light rays of sunshine fell through the blinds into his room and the birds started chirping. Yawning loudly, he stretched himself on his chair and then taking off his specs, rubbed his eyes with his thumb. Little patterns of purple registered in his close eyes as he rubbed them, and after opening them, he realized they were full of sleep. Slightly rubbing his eyebrow, he looked down at the file he had been reading and grimaced. He had been preparing for a case, that had to be fought in the court the next day, and had been unaware of how much time he had spent sitting in the study. Now, as his eyes wandered to the clock, he was surprised to realize that he had been sitting there for some good 3 hours.
Draining his now cold cup of coffee, he looked at the file in his hands and made an exasperated face. Even though he was through with the preparation of the case, there were still some clauses left in his client's legal paper work that he had to go through, and this being one of the most usual 'sue the company' lawsuit, he was not enthralled in any way to prepare for it. Usually, Armaan would be very choosy in selecting his cases, but recently his boss had told him to be more 'vast and open to new and old cases' and thus had landed him this client through his own links. Now, he flickered through the pages, bored, trying to find some interest in any clause which he couldn't, and then his eyes fell on a file resting next to the one he was holding.
Suddenly interested, he picked it up and opened it, smiling as he read the name of the client: Riddhima Gupta. Even though he never dealt in family law, this case had intrigued him enough to know it would be the most difficult one he had dealt wth in more than a few months, and thus he had taken it on before they had even discussed the basics. And surprisingly enough, Riddhima had turned up again at his house today; having mutual friends now, he wondered what course this case would take. Being a professional, he never meddled with the client outside court proceedings, but Riddhima had somehow tickled his interest the moment he had stepped into his office.
What was it she had said, after waiting for some good 15 minutes for him? ''Unpunctuality and unawareness, does not suit a lawyer, Mr. Mallik...specially one of your fame, and said caliber". Armaan grinned, and had done so even then, as he remembered this line. She had this unknown spark of energy and vitality, like she knew what she wanted and she would get it. Rarity it was to find such a trait in people nowadays, and he cherished it himself for he himself was a perfectionist when it came to his work. It was either his way, or the highway, for he didn't take things done differently to what he wanted. And yet, Armaan somehow had felt disturbed when Riddhima had left his office. Something about her was unsettling, disturbing his mind as he registered her hollow, impenetrable eyes again. It was as if, no matter what you do, you couldnt get through to the soul.
Now, he sat looking through her file, his interest developing more as he went through it. It was a difficult case, yes, and an interesting one too; one that'd feed the tabloid a lot more than one would want. As he was now aware of the big food line company she represented, he was aware of the media associated with this case too. He had brought the file home to go through it, even though it would take some time for the case to get through; what with filing of the lawsuit and sending a notification to the receiver.
He now pondered on that, and he remembered what Riddhima had said to him, when he had asked the customary, 'How can I help you?,'. She had looked at him, straight in the eye, and said, 'Mr. Mallik, I want to sue my brother on the basis of money embezzlement and violations of a power of attorney as the attorney-in-fact'.
Her statement had taken him in with surprise for a few seconds, and he had not been able to speak.
Sleepy-eyed and still yawning, he stumbled down the stairs, tripping over the last few as he made his way towards the door. The bell rang once again and he made a face, annoyed at the lack of sleep he had had. He had barely slept for a few hours, after getting prepared for the meeting next day, when the consistent door bell had waken him up. Wondering where Damini had disappeared to, he opened the door to find Riddhima standing before him.
'Riddhima?,' he murmured, shaking his head and forcing his eyes to open properly as she stood at the door, clad in a black overcoat, a rather cute-looking contrail toque on her head and her hands enveloped in gloves. She grinned at him in a sunny manner, and he rose his eyebrows.
'Err...HI!,' she said, and he nodded back at her.
'What are you doing here?,' he asked, and realized a second later that that sounded a bit too abrupt and then redesigned his question, 'I mean...it's...just 7 in the morning and its...snowing out there....and..,' he didn't know how to put his question to her.
'I know, I know...I shouldn't be here right now! But there seems to be a problem,' she replied, and Armaan frowned.
'What? Is everything okay?,' he asked her, suddenly concerned, and she smiled at him assuringly. 'Yeah yeah, I'm fine...it's just...Nikki...she ermm...,' she turned to look back and so did Armaan, and both flinched together as she bowled over the fence and vomited all over Armaan's garden, which was laden with snow.
Riddhima turned to look at him, and he made a disgusted face, and as another bout of nausea hit Nikki, she turned to Armaan with a queasy look, ' I think she's pregnant!,'
'WHAT?,' the scream that followed drowned Armaan's same question as Abhi stood behind them, gaping at Nikki who was now at a halt, and both Armaan and Riddhima looked on as he rushed outside, in his night dress, towards his wife. Armaan turned to Riddhima to ask her a few questions, but even before he could say a word, she slithered over towards him, her eyes closed, and he caught her before she fainted into the ground, and she landed into his arms, in perfect ball-room style. He stared at her as her toque fell off, revealing her thick black tresses, and then perplexed, looked over at Abhi who was staring at him, with a very similar situation at hand.
Armaan rolled his eyes and stared at Riddhima, smiling to himself as he thought of what a great start to the day it was.
okay folks, here it is...part 2! late as ever as I am, I still didnt cross the one month line huh? :D no excuse though that is..have been keeping terribly unwell and what with the descent of papers and my brother down here :D things have been busy...which is why the update is short and not a lot of what I wanted to write...Im still speculating whether I like it or not..lets see what u guys think of it!
For those of you who might not know, Arsenal and Everton are football clubc that play in leagues..basically FCs they are, based in England...the match, which did take place a week ago, was a tie btw! :D just in case u wondered...Chicago Bulls are a basketball team, pretty reknown, of course...I have NO knowledge about basketball so the name team comes from Sookie :D
there's nothing else to clear, i guess....just, i hope u guys like the part! and give in loads of comments :D thanks a ton for the comments btw, pending ones will be answered soon!
this part goes out to one person whose made the past year one of the best, i hope flying back home is a transition as good for you too :D lovya dadda, always...and you just knw what else!
@ nij: miss yah yaar! hope we tawk soon :S um in Attention Seeking Mode ;)
@ hinz: sorry again for the guests thing :D and yeah, u dont deserve a reserve till u update the last one!
@ prasanthi: tu jati tab hi update banta, hmmmm? :D hahaa...thanks for no pestering this week ;)
To all the others...COMMENT! :D yeh order nee hai...
Edited by Pebblez - 22 January 2010 at 8:54am
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