The moment he stepped out of the fire escape, tears started to roll down his cheeks. He tried hard to stop them, tried to remind himself that he had to be strong, but his restraint had failed. He quickened his steps in order to ease the tension he felt in his body, and his feet took him to a place where he always found comfort - the terrace.
He banged open the door and strode inside. All the anger and frustration that had pent up inside him over time, was now pouring out all at once. He wanted to shout, scream and yell. The moment he felt that he was ready to move on, Ridhima came and kicked the dust again.
'Goddamnit', he angrily spat out and kicked the wall, hard. His toe hurt badly, but the that was the last thing he was bothered about. 'Damnit', he repeated, softly this time, and put his head in his hands.
Shilpa stood next to the railing of the terrace with a cigarette between her fingers. Quitting was easier said than done. She had tried, yes, but had failed repeatedly. She wanted to get over it, but she couldn't - that little stick was her closest friend.
Different thoughts swirled in her head. She didn't need to ask herself why people disliked her so much - she was like this big difference who had been dumped in everyone's paths without prior notice. It was not her blunt attitude that people despised, it was her nonchalance towards their judgement of her that made them feel belittled. She smiled and thought of the time when she was just like one of them, and she was about to delve deeper into the memory when she heard the loud bang of the door.
Confused, she quickly threw her cigarette, exhaled out smoke and walked towards the door. Armaan sat there with his back against the wall and head in his hands. Surprised to see such a calm person display such distress, she went foward and sat down infront of him.
'Armaan?', she said softly. He looked up, clearly surprised to know that he was not the only living soul around, and quickly wiped the tears off his cheeks, 'Shilpa? What are you doing here?'
Shilpa observed his face for a moment before answering, 'I could ask you the same question'
Armaan broke away from her gaze and looked at a flowerpot beside him, 'Um, I - uh, actually...was about to leave, but -'
Shilpa just shifted next to him and kept her head against the wall. Turning towards him, she said, softly, 'You don't have to tell me'
Armaan, who had now stopped trying to explain, nodded. A few moments passed in silence before Shilpa took out another cigarette from her pack and lit it up. Armaan turned towards her, 'I thought you had quit', he said in a broken voice. Shilpa exhaled and nodded, 'I lied'
Armaan continued to stare at her for a while and then turned to look ahead again. He stared at nothing in particular, and then it suddenly struck him that this was the place where he shared piognant moments with Ridhima. All those moments flashed through his mind, and at the end, he remembered her words once again.
Before he knew it, tears were rolling down his cheeks once again. This time, he made no effort to fight them. His emotions were finally taking control of him. It was too much.
Shilpa knew he was breaking down. Something always told her that Armaan held back way too much. Tears usually had no effect on her, but today, Armaan's tears made her feel an emotion she had not felt in a long time - empathy. She genuinely felt bad for him.
She threw her half burnt cigarette away and slowly kept her hand on his shoulder. He looked up with a tearful face, and she nodded in assurance. And before she knew it, Armaan was hugging her tightly. Taken aback by his action, Shilpa couldn't understand what to do. He held on to her like she was his only hope. Her hands lingered over his back for a while before she gave in to his grief and hugged him back.
Armaan desperately needed a shoulder to cry on. At this moment in time, he didn't care what he did, all he needed was some comfort. He held Shilpa tightly and burried his face in her shoulder. No words were exchanged as he cried. He just held her and she held him back.
'Ye Armaan kahaan reh gaya?', asked Sid. Everyone looked at eachother and shrugged. Just then, Ridhima walked in, still taken aback at Armaan's outburst. Sid looked at her and said, 'Ridhima, did you see Armaan anywhere?'
Ridhima, who was stilling thinking about their encounter in the fire escape, missed what he said, 'huh?'
'Did you see Armaan anywhere? He's not back yet', repeated Sid.
Ridhima fell silent, what would she say? she fidgeted with her fingers and said, 'Um, no, I haven't'
Sid shook his head, 'Where the hell is he?', he said, 'Tell you what, you guys wait here. I'll just go and check where that idiot is'
Ridhima's mind suddenly became aware as she heard Sid utter those words. She didn't want him to find Armaan in this state, or worse, bring him back. She quickly said, 'Sid, maybe he was too tired. We'll talk to him tomorrow?'
Sid looked at her confusedly, 'C'mon Ridhima, what are you saying? He has to be here', he kept a hand on her shoulder, 'I'll just be back, okay?'
Before Ridhima could stop him, he walked away.
It inspired me to write the scene between ArSh.