Joined: 05 November 2008
The Abandoned Child
Ridhima Mallik despised festive season.. It was Christmas again and reminded her so much of what she has lost.. In this past one year, she felt irritated with joyous chatters, parties and gifts.. in short she hated holidays.. or to be precise it was just this Christmas holiday, that she wasn't liking at all.. It was her first Christmas that she would be spending alone.. ever.. and the very thought terrified her..
She was on her way to her friend, Muskaan's house.. Muskaan Grewal was a psychologist.. She has helped Ridhima in few of her cases as well as, over her personal griefs.. Ridhima entered her place only to hear Christmas video CD being played at high voice.. It was Muskaan's daughter, Khushi, a beautiful 4yr old girl.. Ridhima and Muskaan had a lot in common.. they both had a love marriages and had a very strong career lines.. They loved their husband and also gave birth to their babies in the same week four years back.. But the similarity ends here.. Muskaan's daughter had been born heathy and whole but Malliks' Prince was just a little angel who came to teach them what happiness is.. Aryan Mallik was merely 3 weeks old when he was diagnosed of a fatal disease.. and he died just a few days before his fourth birthday..
"How are you Ridzi..?" Muskaan's question got Ridhima out of trance..
"Liar.." before Ridhima could say something Muskaan added, "Holidays are always bad.." to which Ridhima nodded with a glum face.. Ridhima glanced at Muskaan's pet who was preparing herself to give birth to her puppies.. Khushi always bounces with joy and pride whenever Rahul tells anyone that they are soon gonna have 5-6 puppies in their house.. As they sat comfortably Ridhima's phone broke their conversation.. Looking at Ridhima's tightening expressions, Muskaan could tell there was another case..
"It seems like work.." Muskaan said as the call ended..
"Yeah.. a small boy is found abandoned at the station's restroom.. in a bad shape.." after quick byes Ridhima rushed to the place she had been mentioned.. Ridhima Mallik was a social worker who used to work with the crime victims.. working on their cases and also on them so that they can come over their fears.. she mainly worked with children because they turn her work into fun.. but it surely breaks her heart to see them in such situations.. At first she was confused but then seeing a few police cars parked outside the station she knew she was at the right place.. She moved through the cars to Atul, her friend and investigator to her cases..
"Special team is here to look after the case.. but the boy is not letting anyone go near him.. Armaan tried picking him up but the boy protested like an animal.. we don't want to hurt him anymore so called you straight away.. Hearing Armaan's name she shivered despite being wrapped in a number of wollens.. all her dreadful memories rushed back..
"I'm sorry Mr. and Mrs. Mallik.. your son has Tuberous Sclerosis.. It's a genetic disorder that leads to some degree of retardation and also eaves patient prone to groW*H of tumors.. since your child began with this whe he was three weeks we can assume the gravest of consequences.. it might soud rude, but I'm not sure he would even complete his life as toddler.."
"Ridhima..?" Atul called her directing her towards the restroom.. the door is unocked yet closed abit probably to stop the chilling wind seeping in.. Ridhima entered and spotted a small boy rolled into himself under the sink.. "Oh My God.." she whispered when the boy realized her presence.. as she took as step towards him he whimpered.. She stopped and looked at his eyes, red from crying and fear but looked bluish.. She guessed this was not just an abandoned boy but was also abused.. He was marks on his cheeks.. the sweater was torn at places the shoes were over their age.. too torn to protect the boy from the chilling cold.. bruised neck.. her heart went out to the small boy who looked not more than 5yrs old to her..
She sat on her knees in front of the boy trying to go near him but instead he whimpered shifted back if he could but he was already stuck to wall.. "Hey sweetie.. I won't hurt you.. just let me put my jacket around you.." she said lightly touching his upper arm pulling him from under the sink.. he looked at her in her eyes as if saying "Yeah.. I've heard that before.. as if m gonna believe you.."
Ridhima wrapped him in her jacket but her protested.. beating her with his fists like a terrified animal trying to get out of her hold.. she was surprised by the boy's strength but tightened the grip around him.. she embraced him, shushing him rocking him in her arms.. Armaan stood at the door kept staring at them.. he recollected how she looked with Aryan in her arms, rocking him to sleep.. But after Aryan's death she was the one who pushed him away from herself.. she was the one who didn't let him come close to share their grief.. which is now leading to their legal separation..
At last the drumming fists and angry eyes stopped.. the boy held her dress tightly in his palms and buried his nose into her shoulder.. she sighed as she knew this was it.. Human contact.. there is always a time when everyone needs a human contact - child and adults - everyone needs assurance that there is someone with them.. she was humbled as from the whole team of 30 police officers the child trusted her.. but this also pointed somewhere that the child was afraid of Men.. because as Armaan neared the duo the boy looked at Ridhima with fear.. she gave him an assuring nod saying "Don't worry sweetie.. I won't let anyone hurt you.."
"Common.. clear the way.. everything is under control now.." Armaan announced asking other officials to leave.. while She, herself got up the with the kid and took him to the child care centre where he has to live till his case his being investigated..
Ridhima was sitting in her office staring at Armaan's jacket which he drapped around her as she came out with the boy to protect her from cold.. her desk phone broke her chain of thoughts.. "Hello, Ridhima Mallik.."
Armaan's heart once fluttered thinking even though they were under legal procedures of separation she still used his second name.. "Hello Armaan this side.." They both felt an awkward silence till Armaan spoke again.. "Any progress about that boy's case.? The newspapers and news has the boy's pictures.. you got any call..? I've even asked for a good article in newspaper.."
"Yeah.. I saw that.. thank you so much for the help.. but no calls as yet.."
"How is he doing..?" armaan enquired..
"Well physicaly he'll be fine soon.. but as I feared..he had been a victim for long.. the kid is afraid of any high voices or even the sight of any man around him.. the bruised on his body say that probably he has not got any proper medical attention either.."
"My God.. the World is so full of Creeps like the one who abused this kid.."
The lil conversation made Ridhima think if even a specific ad professional conversation with Armaan could still stir her heart then wat was that, that failed them.. was it their trust that was not enough.. was it their support that was not enough for their relationships or was it their love that didn't had strength to live beyond Aryan's grief..
After her work she decided to pay a visit to the boy and see if he says anything.. She met the caretaker there who told her that the boy was awfully quiet.. he had his food properly, as if he had not eaten for days.. Ridhima entered the room and saw him sitting on his bed while other kids were playing.. he looked just like a lil boy should look.. just those bruises and cold eyes were different.. She sat by him and tried to have a little conversation..
"Hi.. you remember me.?" <No Reply>
"I remember you.. you know even I had a little boy like you.." <No Reply>
"You like your new clothes.? They are just the color that's shining at the top of that Christmas tree.." <No Reply>
She tried talkig to him about toys, Christmas, colors and stories but he seemed least interested in everything she was saying.. Finally she sighed and covered his fisted hand ightly with hers.. she feared rejection but he let her hold his hand.. "would you like to sleep in my lap..? I used to rock my son to sleep with a small song.." but seeing no response again she left brushing his hand lightly with care..
She was at her door when she saw a letter at her doorstep.. it was courier from her advocate having final papers of her divorce with Armaan.. She had asked her advocate to deliver papers at her place and she herself would pass them to Armaan.. just as she entered she heard a honk.. she gasped when she saw Armaan there.. again an awkward silence prevailed..
"I just came by to drop the photograph of the kid for ur use.." he explained
"Come in.." she repeated hersef..
"No.. No.. I'm fine.."
"Give me a minute I'll just get ur jacket.." she said asking him to come in as it was beginning to snow..
"No.. I can't.. come in.. I;m fine here.." he said glancing at the table near the door that had Aryan's photograph o it..
"One coffee won't ruin your divorce procedure Armaan.."
"MY DIVORCE.. you are talking as if it was only me.. YOU pushed me out of ur and Aryan's life.. YOU pushed me away when he died.. Fine I accept I could never cry.. but that's because I Loved him damn it.. I don't want to let go off him that easily.. and YOUR house suffocates me because it is full of Aryan's pictures.." he blasted off at her..
"Yes.. You are the one who filed for the divorce armaan.. I pushed you away after Aryan's demice because you did not fulfill ur promise.. you promised me you'll be there when he goes away.. but he kept calling you and you were busy.. For heaven sake Armaan.. was ur case more important than ur dying son.? Did you even try reaching here..?" she shouted back and closed the door shut after snatching the photograph from his hand and handling him the divorce papers..
That night was tough.. Armaan was in two minds seeing those papers in his hands.. He couldn't understand if he was right in what he was thinking.. was she really deserting him or was it just the phase they both have been passing through.. he Loved her still but was afraid to admit it.. while on the otherhand, Ridhima was in her room, sitting with her face buried in her palms.. her minds was revolving around 3 things right now.. Armaan, Aryan and that lil abandoned boy.. She was confused as to why was she thinking about her and Armaan's divorce now.. its been six months when she was determined then why all of a sudden has Armaan's existence bothering her.. Why was she feeling as if she is using Aryan's name just to punish herself and Armaan.. and lastly, agreed she gets involved with victims to support them but why was she getting attached to that lil boy so much.. why does she feel he is looking just like her.. scared of getting hurt again.. running from love and all alone..
It was chirstmas holiday.. Ridhima had an off from office so she decided to visit the boy again.. as she went to see the care taker for his progress.. she went in and sat by the kid again.. she again tried taking to him but he never replied.. she noticed he would whimper talking about his identity or famiy.. "Do you know its Christmas tomorrow and do you know Santa Claus distributes gift to all the children on his sleigh led by flying reindeers..?" he once turned his face to her but then again starred in space till she started with the story of Santa's cutest Flying reindeer with red nose, Rudolph..
He sat there listening to her quietly.. "Did you like the story..?" not getting any response she lightly patted his cheek with love and picked her bag and jacket.. as she turned to go she felt a tight tug at her skirt.. she didn't dare believe looking at the little kid holding the end of her skirt and looking at her with those hurt eyes.. at once she kept her things back and sat on her knees in front of him.. she was taken a back when he clung to her, as he did in the restroom.. she picked him ad settled him in her lap.. though he rested his head on her chest but from the corner of eyes he was bothered by the care takers present there who were looking at them as if that saw a miracle.. Ridhima traced his uncomfortable gaze and lightly assured him.. "Its okk sweetie they are ur care takers.. they don't harm anyone.." She hummed him a lullaby seeing those tiny eyes drop she shifted him comfortably in his cot brushing his shoulder..
She felt a sense of achievement as she stepped out of that children shelter that night.. but again there was a dreadful truth was waiting for her to face it.. She had to visit and pick up their divorce papers.. she sat in her car when she received a call from Armaan.. debating for sometime she answered the call and rushed to his place.. He said he got a call from atul sayig they have a lead for the case now..
"WAt is the lead..? any calls or his family..?" Ridhima asked as soon as she stepped in to see the team seated..
"It's a call.. a family who says the boy studied with their son.."
"His name is Nick.. his father was a drunkard and he had 2 elder borthers.."
"His father has been traced or not..?" Ridhima asked frowning..
"Yes.. we have him.. he didn't say anything but his brothers accepted that after their mother's death their father had all of them out of their school and wanted them to work.. and when the little one refused he was often beaten badly and tied like animals.." Armaan spat in anger..
"I need 2 min with that ba*tard whe he gets here.." Ridhima said angrily.. after the discussion against the trial of that boy they all started to leave.. As Ridhima turned to go Armaan caught her wrist.. She still stirred with his slightest of touch.. he pulled her back such that her lips were just an inch away from his.. "Do you really want divorce Ridhima..?" he asked in hoarse whisper.. she gulped.. she could read urgency in those blue eyes.. but still she was not prepared for this.. she struggled in his hold.. "I'm not strong enough to let you go too.. I've already lost our son.. not our love now.. please.." he pleaded..
She stood numb in his arms not knowing what to say.. "You filed divorce.." was all she could mutter.. "I'm ready to call of everything Ridhima.. whatever documents I filed.. I thought I was strong enough to live alone but seeing you at the station a week back, I lost all control.. I wanted to hug you, to kiss you and never let go.." he said pulling her close with her shoulders..
She looked into his eyes petrified.. "You don't love me Armaan.. you don't.. its.. its just.. just our loneliness that we share now.." she rushed out of his hold driving to her home..
Next morning first thing came to her mind was Armaan.. but pushing that thought aside she got ready and went to child center to see Nick.. she got him a new track suit and shoes.. She was happy when she saw heard the care taker say that he was asking about her.. "Really..?"
"Yes.. he asked where was the lady who knew reindeer with red toes.."
"Red toes..?" she giggled in excitement.."
"he might have got the fact wrong but he got u right.. he knew you are not around.." as she entered the kids room, excited to see her.. he at once announced "I found the reindeer with red toe.."
She picked him up smiling at him as he pointed at the Christmas tree.. She lead him to the tree.. he picked up the plastic reindeer from the tree and showed it to Ridhima.. She gave him a proud smile ad gently corrected him.. "beta, Rudolph had red nose and not red toes.. see.."
She looked at him who looked at the toy touching its tiny nose which was red.. he gave her a frown looking up from the toy and mistletoe leaf in his hands, when she asked him if he would like to go out with her to her place..
Ridhima saw Nick tracing Aryan's photograph.. Aryan was smiling yet his face showed the pain he had suffered from.. "This is Aryan.. my little boy.." Ridhima told him settling on her toes next to him.. while the kid quickly pulled his hand back fearing that Ridhima might scold him for touching things without permission.. "I will not break anything.. please don't hurt me.." he said in watery tone.. Ridhima kissed his palm lightly at his innocence.. "I will never hurt you sweetie.. I know you are a good boy.."
"where is he?" he asked looking at Ridhima..
"He is in Heaven.." she replied with half smile..
"He won't be alone.. My mom is there too.. she will take care of him.." he said as a matter of factly.. She was overvehlmed with his concern.. "You want to see cartoons..?" She was surprised at what sort of childhood the boy must have had that he doesn't know about cartoons or heard stories..
She placed Nick on the sofa and put a CD of reindeer story and Christmas stories into CD player for him.. she sat with him as he sat looking at TV in amusement.. "You want to have something sweetie..?" to which he just shook he head.. she saw him getting of the sofa, going to the TV trying to catch the running figures.. he stopped and came back when he realized Ridhima was watching him.. While Ridhima's heart stirred when she saw him sitting expressionless again.. she wondered if his father ever thought about people who doesn't have kids or have lost their kids.. such people do anything for their kids but that man was nothing more than a monster to little Nick's life.. Ridhima felt bad coz she thought Kids should be as mischievous as they can.. that's what there innocent smiles and tantrum whines are supposed to be like.. full of life..
Ridhima got up when she heard the bell at the door.. she froze to see armaan at the door.. "I called the children shelter, they told me that you have the boy here.. so I just came to wish him Christmas.." his steps froze as soon as he entered.. his gaze locked at Aryan's picture.. he turned to go when he heard her "Please stay.. I'll put a few of them inside.." she pleaded to which he just nodded in pleasure.. she took a few frames off the wall and put them inside.. Nick felt Armaan's presence in the room and stiffened, looking over for Ridhima..
As if read his mind Armaan smiled at him gently saying "I'm not hurting you buddy.. I'm just a friend.." as Armaan sat I front of the boy extending his hand the boy ran and hid himself behind Ridhima clutching.. "He is right sweetie.. and see I'm not going anywhere.. I'm here with you.. he has got you new clothes and toys.." Ridhima urged him giving him confidence to move forward and take that bag from Armaan.. nick quickly took that bag from him and looked at Ridhima to come next to him..
With in a few minutes the trio sat opening the gifts.. Armaan got up to get another bag and gave it to Ridhima.. "This is for you.."
"You didn't need to do this Armaan.."
"But I wanted to.."
They shared an awkward silence when Ridhima felt Nick nudging her.. though he spoke to her many times but right now Armaan's presence bothered him.. Ridhima looked down only to see his surprised eyes when he saw a stuffed Rudolph in his hand.. "press his nose.." Armaan said.. doing it for Nick Ridhima smiled along with Nick when he said "His nose burns.." playing with his gifts and looking at cartoons Nick didn't realize he was alone in the room..
Ridhima moved to the kitchen to get dinner while Armaan followed her.. She sighed when she felt his palms resting at her waist and his face buried in her hair.. she shuddered when he planted a kiss at her nape.. She turned to push him away when Muskaan's call recollected in her mind..
"Hey Muskaan.. how is Khushi..?"
"Oh shez very happy.. this morning our pet gave birth to 6 puppies.. she is all excited to stroke them.. but Unfortunately one of them has only three legs fully developed.. shez calling him 'Tripod'.."
"Enough.. I don't love you huh..?" he shouted at her and twisted her arms at her back.. she was going to retort when they heard a cry "Don't hurt her.. don't beat her please.. don't hurt me.."
They looked around to find Nick in tears.. Armaan let go off Ridhima at once.. "I was not gonna hurt her buddy.. I love her.." Armaan pulled Nick in a hug which surprisingly Nick didn't protest.. "Don't hurt me.." he again mumbled.. Armaan brushed his head lightly, the boy had not only got bruises on his cheek but also on his tender heart.. "I won't hurt you.. I promise.." Armaan spoke to the boy but his eyes were still at Ridhima..
Ridhima turned around she knew she would lose control like that.. "Dinner time.." she announced.. "The movie is finished.." Nick told her as they settled on the table.. "We'll watch it again after dinner.. now come on tell me what will you have.. pizza, turkey or salad..?"
Looking at his confused face, Ridhima served him abit of everything for him to taste and decide.. while his face beamed with happiness as he saw his plate filled with variety of food.. Ridhima kept an eye on him as he never complains about any problem.. she keeps an eye on him so as to help him if he has any problem.. Armaan traced her gaze and informed her.. "That man will be brought to jail tomorrow morning.. then he'll be free for adoption and a new life.."
Nick looked at them when he couldn't get what was being talked about.. but Ridhima's smile assured him that it was nothing big for him to bother.. Ridhima on the other hand felt restless when the thought of Nick's acceptance rang into her mind.. she was not sure if Nick will be able to cope up with his new family and most importantly with that family be able to cope up with Nick's insecurities..
Armaan soon left after dinner.. seeing nick busy in the movie again, Armaan cornered Ridhima at the door and took her into a hard kiss not leaving till she responded.. "Please Ridhima.. Don't push urself anymore.. We can atleast try.. it would be better than living alone.."
Ridhima sat with Nick on the sofa when she felt him shifting closer to her.. She kept Aryan's picture away and let Nick sit in her lap comfortably.. "are you missing him..?" nick asked pointing at Aryan's picture.. Seeing Ridhima nod he sobered and shocked Ridhima at what he said next..
"Can I be your Little Boy..?"
Ridhima looked at him with warm gaze.. "I promise to be a good boy and No tantrums.. I'll sleep early.. do ur dishes and study well.. please let me be your little boy.." Ridhima could say nothing but hug him and sob in his embrace.. it has been a year and three days that Aryan had left her and since then she had lost everything.. and today she has Armaan waiting for her acceptance and a little boy waiting for her love.. She hugged him warmly and put him to sleep near her while she kept tossing thinking what to do next and also pacify the boy whenever he gets terrified with a bad memory in his dream..
It has been a week since Christmas.. Armaan waited for her badly as she called him to see if he was at home.. She fiddled with her stole as he waited for her to speak something.. He looked at her sitting across the table.. the restlessness was now getting better of him.. "What is it..?"
"Armaan I Love you.. but I want to adopt Nick too.. He needs a family that can undersand his grief and fears.. I can't leave him alone.." Ridhima finally broke the silence..
"So you mean you are again ready to push me off ur life for a baby again and here I was planning our wedding again with this got damn ring.." he threw a small box that had a ring.. Ridhima stepped in front of him "I am not pushing you off my life.. If he needs me as his mother, he needs you as his father.. stop running away from kids Armaan.. you were a good father.."
"No I was not.. I was not there for my own son when he wanted to see me for the last time.. I will hurt Nick too.. he'll be hurt again Ridhima.. I can't do that.." he said falling into a chair.. She sighed and sat in his lap, pulling him into her embrace.. "Let go Armaan.. Cry for Aryan.. hez gone.. running from kids or Aryan's pictures won't do any good.."
"I need time Ridhima.. I need to think again.." he said in a cold voice making her lose her grip around him.. she looked at his face, white and expressionless.. she knew he meant to think again on their relationship.. She nodded and left..
Two days later..
Ridhima and Nick were setting Aryan's room again freshly for Nick to live in.. Ridhima was amazed when while shopping the boy had no demands at all.. he just pointed at a huge stuff dog saying "Little Nicky had one too.."
"ohh.. and what color dog did my Little Nicky had..?" Ridhima asked in a sugary voice not missing the fact that for the first time the boy told her his name..
"Brown.." he said.. Ridhima brushed his head lightly with her lips and took that dog.. Ridhima made a mental note of something and soon after they were done with shopping they had some snacks and were home.. she noticed all the while as they were walking he held onto hand tightly fearing that she might abandon him again.. she unlocked the door to see armaan there already.. she gasped when he sat on his knee in front of her with a ring in his hand..
"I Love You Ridhima.. I can get over any grief or fear if I have you by my side.. Please lets start a fresh.." seeing her nod he kissed her her hugged her they looked around to look for Nick but found him hiding behind Ridhima's overcoat.. "Hey buddy.. do you mind if I stay with you guys here.. I promise to protect you both from any bad.."
"You swear..?" Nick asked and then looked at Ridhima who gave him a pleading nod.. "I swear.. I promise.." Armaan opened his arms for Nick to give him a hug which Nick obliged when Ridhima gave him that assurance..
MERRY CHRISTMAS GUYS.. THOUGH ABIT LATE FOR CHRISTMAS.. BUT STILL..
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