Posted: 08 January 2012 at 1:39am
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Taming the wild
I See You
Recap:- Armaan cranky Sherkhan Malik and return of Sherkhan the original
pulled down the paper hearing a soft voice wishing him good morning. He
gave a bright smile seeing his darling daughter in law there with his
morning tea. " so everything under control captain.? Hows the weather
huh ? " he chuckled keeping the paper away as she took seat opposite him
" Situation is under control for now, but there's bit uncertainty about weather. The sun isn't up yet you see " she smiled
Ah, I see " he nodded " but I must commend you on how you saved so many
'lives ' yesterday, including mine " he threw back his head laughing
but when he turned his gaze back on her again he saw that she was not in
the same spirit as his. A cautious thoughtful look spread over her face
and eyes, causing the same reaction in him. " Ridhhima. Is everything
okay beta ? "
Ridhhima drew in a breath, bracing herself " No
papa. Its not " in an instant the open garden air turned into some kind
of thick stuffy boardroom like before a crucial meeting " it's about
Armaan. I found something yesterday... And this " she picked the stuffed
toy lion kept by the side of her chair " seemed to have wipe out all my
efforts to calm him down yesterday. Instantly "
" Sherkhan.." he
whispered out. His grim face and almost horrified expression didn't
leave her in any doubt that atleast he didn't had any problem
recognizing it. The way Virendra's eyes widened stated clearly that he
was aware of its history. And it ofcourse, it was not pleasant. His lips
pursed and face turned grim, creases formed on his forehead as she
narrated what happened yesterday.
" This thing wasn't suppose to
be anywhere near him. I gave Martin strict instructions and still.. I
will call him immediately " he picked up the phone but Ridhhima stopped
" please papa. Its not Martin's fault "
" Then how the hell this came out ? " he almost shouted, all pleasant demeanor lost.
It was actually Angel who found it. Accidentally. But we really
didn't.. I didn't realize that this could be..." she sighed " but papa
what is it about this thing that is so horrifying ? And why is it all
covered in blood and still in the house ? " Virendra turned his eyes
sharply at the mention of blood " I'm a doctor papa I can recognize
blood, though I admit I didn't do it when there was time enough... But
still papa, I want to know what happened. Please "
" Yes. Of
course you can ask. You have the right to know.. You remember I told you
about Naina and that unfortunate kidnapping accident.. Well, when we
found them finally at the accident site he was found holding this. Only
thing he was unwilling to let go except Naina was this lion, even till
the time they were rushed to the hospital.." he paused for a moment as
if gathering the strength to carry on " with few things that were found
at the site this was one of them and the police took it in as an
evidence, though it didn't proved out much as the blood that was found
on it was of.. Naina and Armaan's... As soon as Armaan got little
strength he asked for this.. But as it was an evidence it was never
washed and by the time police returned it the blood had dried off
leaving it pretty much as you can see it now.. He never held any other
toy we got him, even the same one.. Somehow he knew that it wasn't this
Sherkhan " he smiled ruefully " and unfortunately one day Martin
relented to his pressure and gave him the discoloured lion.. His
condition started worsening after that and it took us bit too long to
realize that this little toy was behind all this. This was something
that linked him to those haunting days, we were told, and we never
parted with it as doctors said that someday when things would turn for
the better this might prove useful. I fail to understand then and now
that how that can be. But nevertheless I told Martin to keep it. Away
from him. No matter what and which doctor say, I wasn't ready to put my
only child in that sort of trauma again "
" The doctor was right
papa. This can help us out if not then, then now " he looked skeptical "
papa you very well know about his problem, he can't sleep properly for
days in a row even at the slightest glimpse of blood. He hasn't talked
to me about Naina mom since the day we got married and even before that
and don't tell me that you are okay with the idea of having to steal a
glimpse of Naina mom's picture without first checking if he's around !
How can a son deny even looking at his mother's picture that too when he
was the only one during the last moments of her life ! Someone who was
brave enough to sit by her at the time of crises and then forbid even to
mention her name !! This fear or whatever it is, it is haunting him,
crippling him, taking away the right to love and remember the person who
was so important in his life.. This is unfair papa and I don't want him
to go on this way "
" You think I want that.?! Don't you think
we haven't tried ? I told you we did the best we can and it was after
years I even got to see a smile on his face and if seeing my son's smile
again mean that I have to keep Naina away than I don't think that was
too much to ask for. ? She was gone anyway.." he swallowed the lump in
his throat " And.. And I wasn't ready to lose my son too.."
placed a hand on his shoulder " I know papa.. I'm sorry.. I know you
must've tried your best ,but things are not exactly improving.. He's..
And in a way me too were not honest with you.. The problem never went
away but instead it is now getting but out of hand.. We now cannot brush
it off as some bad dreams, they are more than that and it is now
resurfacing. My only worry is that before it gets completely out of hand
we must do something about it, as soon as possible. Science has
progressed so much in the past few years and fortunately I've found just
the person who can help us in our situation.. All I ask for is your
support.. I won't be able to do this otherwise.." Virendra listened
quietly, for a moment none spoke but when he met her gaze, she had her
Pulling away the curtains she welcomed the soft
morning light into the room. It was a lovely day, semi dark clouds
played hide and seek with the sun and with the beautiful monsoon already
there everything looked washed cleaned and dusted. She sat by his side
caressing his hair softly. He slept peacefully and thankfully didn't
wake up in her absence like yesterday. Feeling the soft caresses he
discarded the pillow and turned around to her hiding his face in her
stomach putting an arm around her. She smiled " hey sleepy head..
Feeling better hmm " stirring a little he nodded making himself
comfortable in her lap " it's morning sweetheart, wake up " she added
It only took him a moment when his sleepy eyes flashed
open and he sat up with a jerk. For the first time he didn't look at
Ridhhima sitting by his side. His eyes scanned the room darting from the
table to bedside to every corner. He frowned looking puzzled and
Ridhhima knew he was wondering if what happened yesterday was real or a
dream... Ridhhima knew what he was looking for and she'd already taken
care of that, and few other things as well. She had her plan ready and
knew if she wanted it to succeed then everything had to go according to
it coz if he even got the whiff of what was brewing in her mind he would
never agree to it. She had to be subtle, because this time she was not
going to back out and neither would let him.
" Ab idhar udhar kya dekh rahe ho, I'm right here "
Uh, nothing " his eyes still looked around warily as if expecting the
lion to jump out before him any moment shouting ' surpriise ! '. It
seemed that for a moment he wanted to say something but then decided
against it. He didn't bother himself with the morning rituals. Rules
that he himself drafted were very conveniently forgotten today, Ridhhima
wasn't surprised, it was expected.
Coming out of the
bathroom drying his hair with the towel his eyes fell on her. She was
arranging the flowers clad in a beautiful yellow saree and even from a
distance he could feel an aura around her some kind of warmth that
brought instant calm. A half smile crept on his face Inspite of himself
and a twitch of guilt followed for his morning behaviour, his glum mood
had cost him his 'good morning'. He sighed thinking about it, the sound
caught her attention and she turned around to find him standing there
with a towel in his hand.
" Oh you're back " it broke his trance
and he checked himself quickly for that stupid smile. Ridhhima stepped
by his side taking away the towel from his hands " you know I've made
special breakfast.. all your favourites " she stepped closer looking
into his eyes " if you want we can have it here.. just the two of us "
! The temptations ! He looked into her eyes moving to her face , her
rosy cheeks.. her soft lips.. lips that he missed this morning.. lips
that just gave him an open invitation. But. Pride.. since when it had
let man do the sensible thing.
Fighting the temptation -and
sense- he tore away his gaze from her, those little shreds of obstinate
anger that were left signaled not to let go so easily.
thanks. But I think we should eat downstairs with others. Have few
things to discuss with bhai before he leaves " and before his resolve
could weaken he walked away leaving a surprised Ridhhima behind.
" Just let me see for how long you manage to run from me Mr. Malik " she smirked
he thought, everyone was at the table. Youngest to oldest. What
surprised him was that they were behaving like nothing happened
yesterday and in Ridhhima's case, at night. Except the fact that Muskaan
gave him a glaring scanning look and Rahul's mention that everything
was 'smooth and according to his wishes' at office no one mentioned
anything about yesterday. It felt like Sunday when all of them had there
long weekly ritual breakfast together, laughing, gossiping,
complaining, planning for family outings etc.. And soon forgetting
everything else he got carried away with the flow. The breakfast was
indeed special, everything his favourite and made by Ridhhima-he could
recognize the taste anywhere in the world-like she said. Though he got
quiet 'normal' yet the obstinate sullenness refuse to leave. He didn't
talk much and remained formally polite with 'everybody', the night was
itself troublesome and with that annoying Sherkhan incident of yesterday
he could not get his mind at ease even when he tried. He was first to
get off the table with an excuse of tons of work and quickly escaped to
the refuge of his study.
Ridhhima watched his retreating back until he was out of sight " Ridhhi. I hope we didn't do anything wrong "
Nahi bhabhi. I had a word with Dr. Shishir and he said it would be
better if he's given little time to ponder on the things that happened
himself. There will be no more hiding so it would be better that he gets
prepared for it gradually " she then turned to Virendra " papa what
about that thing I asked you for "
" already ordered. Will be there first thing tomorrow morning "
" but Ridhhima, are you sure this is going to work. I mean... " Rahul asked, voicing his worries
Yes bhaiyya, it will. And we will make it work " she assured him. Rahul
and BP were rather doubtful and couldn't see the point in refreshing
those horrifying memories, it was only when she described how these
suppressed memories can and are harming him mentally, emotionally, and
as the cases present physically, it was getting all the more necessary
for him to get rid of those. It was hiding that was causing all the
trouble, because that was denying the truth which he was not ready to
face. Though they both agreed that some of Armaan's actions were indeed
hurting to himself and Virendra yet they worried if things didn't turn
out to be as planned. Ridhhima assured them that it won't be like before
and eventually they agreed.. ready to play their part in solving the
problem in whatever way it was required.
startled with the sudden sound of 'thud' ,tearing away his gaze from the
laptop he found the reason. It was Ridhhima, rather her laptop that she
mercilessly banged on the table before her with a big bowl of popcorn.
It had a reason though, he was so deeply engrossed with something that
he didn't realize when she came in and now that he thought of it that
intermittent whirring noise must be her -her throat clearing rather- and
he'd ignored it, which going by the expression on her face didn't go
well with her. Another thing he couldn't understand was the popcorn.
Popcorn!?!. But that cute frown on her face made him forget everything
else. He smirked inwardly, it was his turn now.
For a while everything went smooth. Well, just for a while.
was matter of minutes when it started. The giggling and muffled laughs.
At first he ignored, again, too lost to notice but then it became
impossible to ignore. He glanced in her direction conveying the complain
of disturbance through eyes, giving such a cold impassive glare that
could make any hardcore FBI Agent proud. But she was no ordinary person
to coil under that glare, she was Ridhhima + Armaan Malik. And she
returned the glare. " what? I can come here too. This is my place as
well, and you are not the only one with work you know "
his turn to frown now. As if this wasn't enough the chamcha was there
too wagging his tail. The kutte ka Bachha -Leo. He wondered when did he
sneaked in. " what work?? Apart from eating that large bowl of popcorn! "
so what? I can do multitasking. And Just because my work is 'different'
from yours doesn't mean its less important.huh ! " he opened his mouth
to say something but she didn't wait for his reply and stuffing in the
earplugs got busy with her-whatever- work she was doing. Armaan scowled
at Leo who tilted his head with his tongue hanging out as if mocking
challenging him to dare say a word against his darling mistress. Soon he
too turned away his eyes and like Ridhhima didn't deigned him a second
glance, turning his eyes to her laptop screen like he could understand
whatever work she was doing. Armaan shook his head and returned back to
Few minutes later he was again interrupted.
This time with a crack of laughter and a loud bark. He let out an
exasperated sigh. " Ridhhima " he called, but thanks to her ears stuffed
with earplugs she couldn't hear a word actually didn't even seem to
notice that he was there. So, he tried again. And. Failed again. He
waved his hand to get her attention but that didn't help either. And why
would it. She and her darling Leo- who was now seated next to her on
the couch- were busy watching something. Someone was really wise when he
said that husband's value is inversely proportional to the time of
marriage. Time increases and value decreases especially when there are
factors like a competitive dog and an overly loving owner are involved.
He sighed nodding in agreement to that wise man's observations but then
he realized He was that wise man.
There they were, before him,
with Ridhhima nicely settled on the couch, a pillow on her lap over
which rested her laptop her legs spread before her on the table one over
the other headphones secured over her ears. Actually- now he noticed-
there were two sets. He had no words to express his surprise when he saw
the other pair over Leo's ears ! Yupp weird as it sound it was even
weirder to watch. Both had their eyes glued to the screen as if their
life depended on it!! While he watched the scene before him in utter
amazement their reaction volume - the laughs and barks and cheering and
exclamations- gradually rose in decibel meter. Was this the important
work she was talking about? After many failed attempts he had no option
but to do something to get their- correction 'her'- attention. He was
now curious too to see what work was so captivatingly important that
involved a dog! Getting up he walked to her side.
His jaw dropped open in surprise when he saw her 'work'. They were watching Tom and Jerry!. Both of them !!
immediately closed the laptop interrupting them. And in a second heard
loud protests. He cupped his ears shouting " QUIET!!! " and they
He pulled out the earphones " is this the
important work you said you have??! You're watching cartoon! With a
dog!! " their was a loud protesting bark " oh shut up! you are a dog! "
Leo made a sad complaining cooing sound.
" Armaan! " she slapped
his shoulder " how can you be so heartless !" She turned to Leo " Its
okay baby, we'll start in a minute. You don't mind him " it annoyed
Armaan to no extent who stood there rubbing his shoulder scowling
wishing nothing more than to kick the dog who was receiving more
attention than him from his wife!
" what do you mean you'll start again!? Unlike you I really have important work here "
" so? Did I stop you from doing it? " she replied nonchalantly " you do your work we'll do ours "
" you call watching Tom and Jerry with a dog work!! " he asked incredulous
" Excuse me! First of all stop being so mean to Leo. Don't call him a dog!.
And secondly not everyone can be as boring as you are " he opened his
mouth but she spoke before him, this time softly " but if you are done
with your work then you are welcome to join us "
" yeah, right! Like I don't have better things to do. All I'm asking you guys is to keep your volume low "
" low.?! We hardly made any sound! Right Leo! " he rolled his eyes at the quick affirmative bark she got in response
that's it! Either you guys keep it low or get out of here " Ridhhima
narrowed her eyes at that and he quickly added " or I'll go " he knew
otherwise consequences can be real bad for him.
She huffed getting up from her seat " no need. Don't trouble yourself. We'll leave, this place is already too stuffy with 'boring' people. Common Leo " she was about to move out when he stopped her
" excuse me! Did you just called me a bore?! FYI I'm not a bore. I'm a very interesting per.."
cut him mid sentence " Armaan your wife spent full 40 minutes here in
this room, you didn't even notice when I came in you didn't even lift
your eyes from the screen to glance at me once. And I'm watching
cartoons with Leo! What other evidence do you need to prove my point?! "
he could not think of anything to say to that and stood there opening
and closing his mouth like a fish he shrugged shifting from one feet to
another. " exactly what I thought. Carry on with your 'work' we're leaving " and with a look both were out of the room.
slumped back into his chair " damn! You can never win from your wife.
Even when you're right! It should be her manaofying me not other way
round! " he shook his head " she called me a bore! How can she? Just
because I don't watch cartoon with my dog doesn't make me a bore! Does
it? Fine! if she think watching cartoon with your dog makes you an
interesting person then next time I'll bring a cat and watch one day
cricket series with it. Then we'll see who is more interesting " he kept
mumbling unaware that someone was hiding just outside listening
everything. Glad to see him think about something else. Knowing that
he'll now be consumed with the idea of proving himself Not A Bore.. glad
to see that smile which was missing since morning back as he thought of
both of them watching Tom and Jerry together. Her work was done. And
she moved on to step two.
He didn't knew about Ridhhima but his day was definitely going well and as the day progressed it became even better.
himself on the recliner he analised how things were going on. Just in
the morning he was thinking that how all of them were acting normal, too
normal, after what happened at the office and at home, when ridhhima
placed everything in order. He'd been wondering if she'd taken his
rather soft attitude for ' its okay lets forget it ' so he made it clear
that he was not in a mood to let her off so easily, after all such
opportunities are rare with a wife like her but he was bit doubtful
after that cartoon episode if she'd try again.- you know the manaofy
mission. But that doubt was cleared soon, as after that she kept coming
under one pretext or another. Armaan knew she was testing the waters, he
chuckled after so many months she hadn't realised one simple thing
that.. but a soft ehem-ehem broke his thoughts. It was Martin.
" this is for you sir " he extended him a silver tray, an envelope resting on it. " I was also asked to get the reply "
who was already going through the content of the note smiled to
himself. One look at it and he knew who it came from, after all it was
not the first time that he was getting such an invitation. " thanks
Martin. And please convey my acceptance " Martin gave a small bow and
left. Armaan picked up the card again admitting to himself that he was
bit surprised to get it as he wasn't sure if she was willing to talk to
him after the morning incident Or if he was willing to accept after
being titled as a Bore. But Inspite of himself all he could utter was
his acceptance. The memory of the last invitation was still so fresh and
if this was anything like that one he was not going to miss it for the
world. He took a deep breath and locking his fingers behind his head
closed his eyes, a wide smile played on his lips as he relived the
moments of special invitation.
For the rest of the day he didn't
see much of Ridhhima. This time he didn't grumble because he knew she
was busy with something and he was all so eager for her new surprise.
The wifey was all set to dethrone him as the new surprise queen. So, to
kill the time in between he did what he could- sleep. As he couldn't
concentrate on anything after that shocking morning episode and also
because he was too preoccupied daydreaming about the invitation.
checked himself in the mirror for what was at least 100th time,, clad
in the elegance of a dark suit white silk shirt and a matching silk tie
he was ready to make some head turn. He chuckled at the thought though
as there would be just one head that would turn tonight only one whose
attention he wanted tonight. And for that he had to be at his best cause
he knew she would be at hers and that's not something she had to make
efforts for. He smirked giving himself a wink, he was so damn lucky!
straightening his tie he glanced at the watch. It was time.
" so Mr. Armaan Mallik. This is it. All the best!." Giving himself a thumbs up he walked out of the room.
corridors and two flight of stairs later he reached the terrace door.
Yes, that was the venue of their meeting but the rules and conditions
were no less than any seven star hotel!. Taking a deep breath he
straightened his jacket and turned the knob.
Things couldn't have
been more breathtaking. But he couldn't decide if it was the settings
or the amazing person who did it all. At the center of the huge terrace
there was a small tent like the canopy over king size bed, its
glittering curtains waved lightly with light breeze, lights
strategically put placed the area in a kind of spotlight yet it was
soft and clear.. a trolly stood nearby, no wonder laden with food and
there were flowers on the poles spirally placed adding to the ambiance
and there stood Ridhhima.. little bent over lighting the last one of the
three candles on the table giving her final magical touch, probably
expecting him anytime now. What she didn't knew that he was already
there and was busy admiring her surprise dinner venue. And of course
her. Pulling himself out of the magic he cleared his throat, the sound
made her turn.
" Good evening your highness. For you.. " he
extended a lovely bouquet of orchids " thank you Mr. Malik " she
accepted it gladly " they are lovely, please have a seat "
up with the act he pulled out a chair for the lady taking another by
her side " nice place " he glanced around. He really couldn't make out
if that was actually a terrace " but have you seen my wife, I was
suppose to meet her here and going by her temper it would be little
dangerous for me to be sitting with another woman "
mouth fell open and all the pretense was forgotten " Armaaan! What other
woman!? And I do not have short temper! When did I ever get angry on
you!? " he raised his brow at that " okay fine 'sometimes I get 'bit'
frustrated but that's all your fault " he sat back defeatly rolling his
eyes at lets blame the husband game but then she raised a finger warningly " but you dare not go out for a dinner like this with anyone else "
That brought a wide grin, he leaned forward " well, that depends if you ever let me want to go with one "
oh you just wait mister " Ridhhima too leaned a little, close enough to
let him get a whiff of her intoxicating perfume to let her warm breath
brush his ear " you are not going to forget it. Ever... " and he knew
that instant he won't.
And it started.. there was no one
except them there. He kept admiring her, listening to whatever she was
saying sometimes too dazed to notice anything else.. basking in her love
and care.. how she fussed about him ,wiped off that little gravy from
the corner of his mouth.. her touch so soft her voice so comforting.. he
could just sit there and listen to her for ever ,she was just perfect..
glowing, that wasn't the contribution of either the candles or moon or
the lights.. Clad in the beautiful elegance of a red saree, he
remembered this one so vividly, it was the same one which he brought for
her for their first unofficial date and she looked stunning, he made a
mental note to tell her that.. if he could come out of the daze.. her
Ridhhima on the other hand wasn't unaware of the
effect she'd had on him and by the look on his face things were going
great. She breathed in relieved, she just could not bear morose Armaan,
she wanted her real Armaan, and everything else could wait until he was
in a better mood. At first she was kind of lost as nothing striked her
and thought that maybe if she remained before him he would melt and for a
moment even looked fine but she was mistaken, in the study he didn't
even notice her and then with Leo entering the scene things took bit
unexpected turn but it did gave some positive result, at least his mind
was taken off from the troublesome night.. but it wasn't until she went
to the wardrobe room and found this very saree.. it brought so many
memories back and within minutes everything was solved. Rest of the
things were cake walk, the moment he showed up following all the
instructions she knew battle was half won. As the evening progressed he
became more relaxed and took such keen interest in whatever she said
that everything started to look normal already. Like a perfect hostess
she provided with everything, his favourite food ,good conversational
topics- gossip actually, something very new for him, all courtesy
Muskaan. All those hours with her came in handy- and perfect backdrop
settings did the trick.. soon yesterday actually became yesterday.
avoiding anything from his or her workplace she provided the added
flavour to the evening. Like a perfect listener Armaan posed all the
right questions and reactions to all her narratives.., nodding ,frowning
,laughing ,wondering.. he was rather really enjoying it all, some of
the issues were really intriguing.. ghastly issues of woman world that
included disasters of wearing heels to a garden party, fashion suicide
by wearing faux pas and shamelessly trying to foist them.. not all were
so shallow though, there were debates too about the increasing risk of
global warming and threat it posed to the collection if expensive mink
fur coats!. He laughed heartily on some and almost choked on some!.
Woman world was indeed full of wonders!
Time flew by and it was
she time before either of them realized that dinner was long over. A
small brought both back to reality " hmm that was really interesting.."
there's something else I've made for you " before he could protest
pointing at his ready to burst tummy she placed a small plate before him
beckoning through her eyes to open and see. Curious he did and for a
moment just stared at it. It was his favourite ice cream cake "
specially for you " she extended him a spoon with a wide smile. It was
heart shaped with his favourite flavours by its side in small portions
and on the white icing rested a simple red U.
He looked up
meeting her expectant gaze, corner of his lips twitched as he tried to
contain his smile at that innocent expression on her face.. lost for
words to express how touched he was and how loved he felt with all what
she's done to make it up to him for everything he blamed her of
yesterday.. he took the spoon buying some time to formulate words that
could best express what his heart felt... he really felt bad now for
acting like a total jerk and little more for troubling her realizing
that it was still she was who was trying to make it all better and
apologizing.. the cake was gone in minutes Ridhhima felt so contented
just to watch him eat her smile widening with delight on his face as he
wiped off the contents of the plate.. " so, how was it? "
"Hmm, it was nice " wiping his mouth on the napkin he pushed back his chair
she got up expecting him to rise,. Things were going so well, then why
was he leaving? She frantically tried to look for the reason " what
" nothing, it just wasn't sweet " she stood there by
his side perplexed even bit crestfallen. Did she forget to put required
quantity of sugar? Were the ice creams not his favourites? She ran all
possibilities in her mind while he shook his head watching her frown. He
could bear it no longer and and before she could worry herself any
further pulled her hand making her fall in his lap her mouth agape in
surprise as his arms secured her tightly. " let me tell you what you
missed.." a moment later when his lips covered hers she knew instantly
what she'd forgotten.
He pulled out of the
kiss to find her dazed almost breathless her lips trembled a little and
looked ethereal. Armaan ran his thumb over her soft cheek, she opened
her eyes like she'd been seeing a dream, their eyes met and fresh wave
of colour rose to her cheeks " you were not dreaming sweetheart "
" dream or reality, let it be forever.. " she whispered, still held
tightly by him, their foreheads touching lips inches away and beautiful
smiles adorning their faces
Armaan smirked and putting his arms under her legs got up carrying her
in his arms. She jerked holding him tight in surprise " Armaan!? What.."
" shh,. Just making reality even more beautiful wifey.. plus I haven't
thanked you properly for the fabulous evening.." he brushed his lips
with hers once again and if she could turn any more red she would have..
with a wide self assured smirk he carried her back all the way to their
Ridhhima lay awake in the semi dark moon lit room where everything was
calm and quiet.. Armaan slept by her side deep in slumber while she
gazed at his peaceful face smiling as she recalled the beautiful moments
when they made love to each other.. soft.. gentle.. without any rush
savouring every touch every feeling of the blissful love they have for
each other. She bent down a little and planted a soft kiss on his
forehead, he didn't stir just held her tight by her waist like she was
going to run away somewhere in the middle of the night!. She chuckled
but then remembered that she just did that, she unknowingly did made his
nightmare come true. A wave of guilt passed through her, she held him
close trying to take away all the hurt that he suffered through. She was
so glad that he was now back to his normal self, it would be easier-and
safer-to talk about more pressing issues with him now. Ridhhima kept
stroking his hair drifting off in her thoughts...
They were back from their honeymoon and as her next task she duly
contacted Dr.Shishir, though the problem had not surfaced for quiet some
time it was no reason to believe that it was gone...
"...Excuse me Ridhhima, I couldn't help but notice the royal entrance
you made." Ridhhima looked at him bit puzzled " I mean those two cars,
one in front other at back yours in the middle. Was it just for me or it
is the usual scenario.." Shishir asked with a curious smile, faint
colour rose to her cheeks. She knew one day she'll be the subject of
someones amused curiosity
" Well doc..."
" wait. Let me guess. Armaan ? " she couldn't stop her grin at the mention of his name. Shishir was right on target.
" You should've seen it earlier. It was worse. Like I told you he acts
complete paranoid sometimes. It took me hell lot to bring it down to
this minimum. Like someone is going to mistake me for president Obama! "
Shishir laughed " may be not. He's not so pretty anyway. But little
precaution never hurts." She laughed but could not understand what he
meant by precaution.. before she could ask anything else he gestured her
to walk with him to his cabin.
Leo's loud barks brought her back suddenly. The dog was disgrace to his
name, Leo- the lion and he was scared of rats! Someone must have crossed
his fence causing the reaction, she very well recognize this bark.
Ridhhima thanked god that she had successfully managed to keep the
information from Armaan or he'd have surely used it to his advantage,
already the man was in perpetual duel with the dog and yet for some
weird reason could not stay without him either. Men! You just can't
understand them sometimes.
But then Leo's thought brought back the memory of someone else too.
Someone who had been lot of trouble lately. Another Leo- the
lion - Sherkhan..
" you know why I'm here doc..." she said placing the cup on the table "
the problem I talked to you about.. what do you think we can do ? "
" as I told you that day too Ridhhima the problem is not something that
can be sorted out like any other clinical problem. Human brain is a
complex thing and zillions of things and emotions it processes add to
its uniqueness.." he rested back on his big arm chair crossing his
fingers before him " have you talked about it with Armaan? "
Ridhhima didn't look up for a moment, lost in thoughts she
absentmindedly ran her finger on the rim of her tea cup. When she raised
her eyes she found Shishir waiting for her answer. Something told her
that he knew it already, she let out a sigh " No. Not yet "
" you do realize Ridhhima that it is Armaan who ultimately has to meet
me. This is not something that I can do overnight keeping him out of
picture. He has to face it someday "
" I know Doc. I know. But.. He's not exactly an easy person to convince.
Its rather lot more complicated. " Shishir really didn't had any idea
about how stubborn Armaan can be, she thought.
" is it more complicated and difficult than the problems he's facing?"
He asked in a calm voice " besides I have a feeling that you can come up
with something convincing " she had no answer to that, his Santa smile
with twinkle eyes were rather encouraging but it wasn't until the recent
unexpected turn of events that she had any successful opportunity.
Armaan stirred in his sleep turning to other side. She quickly ran her
fingers through his hair worrying if she'd disturbed him but he was deep
in slumber. Ridhhima took a deep breath and for a while kept gazing at
his back, all she wanted- badly wanted- was to make him make peace with
his past so that his present can be peaceful too. She closed her eyes
snuggling close to him, till she was there there was hope still...
moreover, if things went well then it would be a matter of days...
Armaan turned around in his sleep, a smile playing on his lips, his eyes
shut probably seeing something very beautiful.. he exhaled a relaxed
sigh. Yes, it was so right.. so peaceful ,warm ,soft and nice... he
never wanted to open his eyes again... Ridhhima watched him lovingly,
she was up already and lay by his side gazing at his peaceful face, his
expressions.. his smile that widened when she pushed back the hair over
his forehead. She kept stroking his face lovingly till something told
him that reality was going to be better than his dreams... he opened his
eyes lazily to find the most beautiful pair of eyes looking at him.. "
good morning.." Ridhhima leaned forward pecking his nose. The morning
wasn't just good, it just became very good.
Both were wide awake, but neither of them tried to get up to get ready
for the day.. there was plenty of time for that. Resting the back on the
backrest with Ridhhima in his arms Armaan was busy savouring his sweet
morning with wifey but there was no peace in Ridhhima's heart... she was
the lady on a mission, thoughts of which won't let her rest until she
had talked about it.. on the other hand Armaan was busy whispering sweet
nothings in her ear stroking the length of her arm unaware of the
turbulent storm in her mind.. she had no idea what he was saying,
replying in monosyllables or simple 'um hmm's'. Her eyes fell on the
clock that was about to struck six. She could delay it no further, the
opportunity might not present itself again. Cutting him mid sentence she
tilted her head up..
" Armaan, I want to talk to you about something important.." Armaan was
curious to find her so serious suddenly, something must've bothered
her.. he wondered what it could be " promise me you'll listen patiently
first.." concerned he tried to ask but she didn't budge until he agreed "
it's.. it's about you.." he raised a brow still not sure where all of
it was heading " I want you to meet someone..." and then narrated
everything... she could see his calm poised face changing as she started
explaining, by the time she was at the close his was grim and she could
clearly see annoyance with anger and suspicion lurking underneath.. not
a good sign but she'd come too far to back out now, she had to be firm.
Armaan threw away the covers and got off the bed angrily " I don't
believe it! You..?! What were you thinking Ridhhima?! What ARE you
thinking??! " she took a deep breath bracing herself, she must convince
him. It had started.." so it was all a plan!?? To talk me into meeting
that man!" Armaan was now in row his tone turning contemptuous at the
end " you think I'm crazy. Isn't it? And all because I had just few bad
dreams! I just can't.."
Ridhhima's heart sank a little, this was what she was dreading " they
are just not what you've described them to be. Do you think I would have
asked you so if I hadn't thought otherwise"
" yeah that's exactly my point. What 'you' thought. It never occurred to
you to ask me what I thought about it. Did it?. This was better than
simply talking it out. Just arrange everything and then inform later.
Simply expecting me to just do it. That's just great! here I thought you
felt guilty about yesterday making me feel bad in return for how I
acted. But No. You tried to seduce your way through me!" His eyes
narrowed as he yelled pacing up and down before her.
" excuse me! " Ridhhima could hear no more, she too got off the bed
standing before him and ignored the fact that his eyes widened In spite
of himself. Both have conveniently forgotten that they were still in
their night dresses- rather, without them.
Armaan tried to hold on to his thoughts " see, you are doing it again."
"Doing what??! " she asked too preoccupied with her defence statement to understand what he was pointing at.
" distracting me! Can you wear something. Please. " he handed her a discarded robe lying on the floor.
" you aren't exactly wearing a burqa you know " she retorted snatching the robe slipping into it.
Armaan looked down at himself and suppressing his embarrassment picked
up the other robe.. Ridhhima exhaled hiding her smile Inspite of the
outburst it was hard to get angry on him moreover it wasn't the time to
burst out on him, she had to keep her cool. Closing in the space between
she hugged him tightly surprising him. Tilting up her head she looked
into his eyes, they weren't as harsh like the moment before but she knew
he was contemplating on what she'd asked.." Please.."
The please followed with a sweet kiss on the cheek softened him
instantly. He exhaled a sigh " Why weren't you honest with me Ridhhima.
Why didn't you come straightforward if this was all you wanted? " he
said calming down.
She pulled out of the hug a little " you're getting it wrong Armaan.
Whatever I did yesterday had nothing to do with making you agree to meet
Shishir, I admit I want it but more than that I was missing my old
Armaan... I just wanted you to be in a better mood to understand what
and why I am asking you to do it... and you said I wasn't honest with
you, you weren't honest with me either Armaan..." he looked surprised
but when she didn't averted her meaningful gaze he knew she knew more
than he'd told her. It shouldn't be a surprise especially when she'd
witnessed him troubled with those haunting dreams..he was guilty as
charged. " Please Armaan, I know there are things that you don't talk to
me about... even when you want to.."
He knew she was absolutely right " but.. I don't know what to talk about
" she knew he wasn't lying, she could see the glimpse of that
frustration in his eyes.
" and that's why I'm asking you to do this. Please, for my sake. It is
all I ask. Just meet the man at least. If it doesn't work out I promise I
won't bring it up ever again.." though she didn't wanted to make any
such promise yet there was no other way " you are my superman Armaan and
my hero is afraid of nothing ...well, may be except me " he smirked
rolling his eyes. She found her break, cupping his face she caressed it
with her thumb looking earnestly into his grey orbs " please jaan.. for
me..." he closed his eyes as she kissed him softly.
Cupping the hand resting on his face he sighed joining the foreheads,
neither spoke for some time. Moments later he looked at her again " you
won't let it go. Would you? " she didn't say anything but he could read
the answer clearly in her eyes. He let out a deep breath, defeated "
fine. I'll.. meet this guy "
Ridhhima could have touched the ceiling " really!! You mean you really will!? " she could not believe her ears.
" do I have a choice? You are one hell of an emotional blackmailer! "
giggling she wrapped him in the tightest bear hug she could manage squeezing a laugh out of him. It was like a kid was given his most desirable toy by Santa before Christmas.
" okay okay.. I can see you are elated but lets talk few things first. Ground rules "
" sure! " she was so happy, she'd have said yes for anything.
Armaan smiled at her enthusiasm but still felt obliged to warn her " I'm
agreeing for it but I don't want you to raise your hopes much..." she
had no idea how much he'd already been through with this kind of stuff,
but if this makes her happy then he could endure few meeting. How much
can it hurt anyway... smiling he tucked back wayward locks that fell
over her face and took her into his embrace, his precious... getting the
whiff of her beautiful fragrant skin he immediately forgot everything,
her presence did magic to his senses.. almost instinctively he nuzzled
her neck, closeness distracting him totally and all thoughts about rules
" Hmm.." lost, this was all he could manage. Desires already taking over..
" can we negotiate later.." she pulled out a little, by the look on her
face he was not the only one getting effected " I guess there are other
things I can 'raise' my hopes for " she winked naughtily fuelling in a
fresh wave of passion.
" As you wish my queen. Your wish is my command " in a flash he picked her up in his arms heading for the bed again.
Armaan tapped nervously on the steering wheel as they neared their
destination " Oh common Armaan, relax. You're acting like a boy meeting
girls parents for the first time. Stop being so nervous, its just a
" I'm not nervous.." he shifted in his seat, lying " its just that.. I
mean is it a practice among doctors now a days to invite their clients "
he specifically insisted on using the term clients, they fought over
this too but the result got lost in transition " for lunch before they
start with them."
Ridhhima rolled her eyes " Now you're just being ridiculous. I told you
before Dr Shishir happens to know dad, he treated Shishir's father and
know him well. He also has great respect for papa hence invited us for
lunch. This is general social meeting. Okay. Nothing else. Stop reading
so much out of it."
" Great! that solves all my problems. Shishir knows your dad. Now he's
going to tell him everything and then your dad will think what a nut
case he's married off his daughter to." He frowned, his heart was
drumming in anticipation which he was trying best to hide from her and
was failing miserably.
Ridhhima chuckled " A nut case whom his daughter loves very much. Now be
quiet and drive we're about to reach there.." waving off his anxiety
she picked up her purse fishing out a lipstick
He glanced in her direction " can you please stop doing that! "
She looking around confused " what? " then looked at the lipstick in her
hand " I'm just doing the touch up. Can't go there looking like an
idiot! " she went back to applying the lipstick giving him a 'duh' look.
" it's not the touch up I'm asking you to stop but the way you're doing
it " she gave a quizzical look again " the pout you know.. it makes me
want to wipe it off again.." he added with a smirk, glad that her
scandalized expression diverted his mind a bit, she narrowed her eyes a
little " really! "
" yeah, but I'm not going to fall Into that trap again. You've
blackmailed me enough already " he winked coming to halt before a big
iron gate. Ridhhima leaned on to his side almost whispering in his ear "
to bad darling... I was rather thinking of blackmailing you tonight "
his jaw dropped open but before he could reply the guard opened the
gates saluting, waiting for them to drive in. He frowned at the guards
timing and also at giggling Ridhhima's, but he would surely have his
revenge and the thought brought back his smile.
Ridhhima looked around at the neatly trimmed green lawn bordered with
beautiful seasonal flowers, she'd crossed a major hurdle but real test
was up ahead ,to make him finish what had started. It took her another
two days to settle the 'ground rules' after he'd finally agreed, with
clear words that he'd walk out the moment he feel that isn't working or
if he didn't like the man. Ridhhima counter conditioned that she would
not ask him to go ahead with anything of this sort if this try doesn't
turn out successful but he'd to give his genuine try and 6 months.
They settled for genuine try and 3 months.
But she was playing devil's advocate, she'd make him see Shishir 4 times
a week instead of two. This part she conveniently dropped away from the
negotiation. A little surprise for Mr. Over smart Mallik.
Armaan rang the door bell exhaling a deep breath, he turned to look at
Ridhhima feeling her fingers slipping between his. She blinked reassuringly with her beautiful smile calming him " I love you.." she
whispered just as the door opened and two faces appeared smiling broadly
" Hi, I'm Shishir. My wife Prakriti. Welcome to our humble abode "
They sat in the hall exchanging pleasantries and soon were busy
discussing politics, business, sports etc. with a round of coffee. "
Mrs. Goswami your house is beautiful !" Ridhhima remarked " I was rather
thinking of renovating a portion back home myself. Do you mind if I
look around. And I definitely would require some of your expert
suggestions " Prakriti being an interior decorator herself was only too
happy to assist her. And much to Armaan's discomfort got up for the
" Um, do you ladies mind if we guys tag along. Mrs Goswami I completely
agree with Ridhhima, your house is indeed beautiful " Ridhhima just
hoped the lady of the house does not see through his lie as clearly as
Walking around the house Armaan got busy admiring some paintings while
the ladies took a different turn from the corridor to the kitchen which
he didn't notice " you've got really nice collection here Mr. Goswami "
Shishir came and stood next to him " oh please call me Shishir. Helps me
forget the milestones I've touched already " both men chuckled
" okay then. Shishir " Shishir grinned slapping his back lightly " ah! I
feel young already! " they moved to next painting and Shishir continued
to describe them. Armaan was surprised to know that many of them were
made by his wife herself, and he'd have loved to see couple of them in
his office and at home. Armaan stopped before a large portrait in the
wide corridor. A lady smiled at him dressed in complete Indian attire
looking simple yet elegant. Her round face with soft features was of
someone who instantly fell into a role of mother or at her age
grandmother yet, she had sharp, attentive.. kind of wise eyes, something
he'd recently seen. Even from the picture she seemed to emit an aura
that commanded respect yet made people feel at ease around her " who's
she? " Armaan asked
" Well, meet my mother Sulekha Goswami " he declared proudly and Armaan
could feel the pride and affection dripping from the declaration like
she was there right that moment. He unknowingly, instantly felt jealous,
it had been ages since he'd felt anything like this about his own
mother " Prakriti made this portrait as her birthday present. Right now
she's in London with dad and kids for small vacation. Mothers I tell
you, they spoil you and they spoil your kids even more "
" I guess.. I think we should go back. Ridhhima must be wondering where
we'd disappeared " without waiting for Shishir to move he started back.
" Armaan.." he stopped, turning around " I think you know the real
reason why we're going to see each other from now on " Armaan nodded,
But wondered if Shishir knew that it would be just matter of days before
he declared that it was nothing but worries of an overly concerned
" Doc.. I mean Shishir, there something I must clarify beforehand.. I'm
here only because of Ridhhima. She thinks I'm haunted by the nightmares
and that this 'therapy' is going to help me out.. but everybody at some
point of time have few bad dreams isn't it? but Ridhhima.." he sighed "
to tell you the truth Shishir it never bothered me. In fact I've been
through lot of these procedures when I was a child and have met number
of doctors to no avail. I have no expectations this time whatsoever. So,
it would be easier for both of us if we could get over with it as soon
" I'm sure you must've been through a lot, and that too at a very young
age... Ridhhima told me everything about it " Shishir spoke like he was
expecting something of this sort, Armaan was not happy to hear it but
remained impassive. Shishir gave a benign smile " but like you said that
was years ago, why don't you give it a shot this time? if it works and
you gain something out of it then you're at no loss, plus it would give
Ridhhima a genuine reason to feel good about her efforts " Armaan fell
into thoughts, he had after all promised her his genuine efforts and 3
months, but he also wasn't very hopeful and wanted it to get over asap. "
common Armaan what are you afraid of? It will be just us, two young
guys sitting together chatting.. if nothing I'll get to know a nice
person " Shishir's words didn't raise his hopes but he knew there was no
escape from him for next three months.
" fine. If that makes you two feel any better " and both men walked back
to the hall. One feeling defeated other wiping his brow. But then
Armaan remembered something " and Shishir.. Ridhhima told me that you
and my father in law..."
Shishir didn't required elaboration " don't worry everything remains
between us.. but do you want it to be only us? " Armaan didn't required
elaboration either " No, I guess I can make an exception.." Shishir knew
who the exception was. Armaan still remembered her words ' you weren't
honest either ' so true, he didn't tell her everything and he was going
to amend that, starting right now. She had every right to know and
anyway it was practically impossible to keep something from a person who
know you better than yourself.
" do you think I'd run away somewhere else? " Armaan asked hiding his
nervousness. Much to his dislike the day had arrived at last and
Ridhhima had made sure that he was ready every afternoon for the four
days a week torture. What a waste of his precious time, there was so
much work to do at the office.
" I can't take chances sweetheart, haven't seen the new receptionist yet
only then I can decide if its safe to let you come alone " she grinned
while he rolled his eyes, secretly he was rather glad that she was there
" and anyway, I'm just keeping my promise " he threw a quizzical look "
you forgot! I promised to be with you all the time. Moreover, I really
want to..." she added softly keeping a hand over his. A sudden wave of
assurance and confidence rushed through him and he felt glad that she
The secretary, to Ridhhima's displeasure was not something she'd call
'safe' Armaan just laughed at the silly reason for being insecure, like
he'd ever find anyone to take her place ever!.. Ridhhima waited in the
lounge while Armaan went in, reluctantly " hey Armaan " Shishir welcomed
him cheerfully " common have a seat. One thing I always admire about
businessmen - punctuality " Armaan didn't answer just smiled politely "
so.. I was just remembering the day you came over to my place and was
telling Prakriti how you admired all those pictures by her especially my
mom's portrait " Armaan shifted in his seat, something that Shishir
noticed " so she asked me to tell you that she'd be too happy to make
one for you.."
" oh, but I didn't mean any trouble.."
" oh no, it won't be any. She loves to paint.. here I have few samples
of her other paintings with me. Call me a love struck show off husband
but I can't help it." Both chuckled good naturedly " So tell me ,what do
you think about these.. after all a picture is worth a thousand
words.." he took out about dozen or two large envelope sized postcard
pictures and gave him one at a time. Armaan breathed in taking them,
this wasn't what he'd expected.. this man was easy after all, he
thought, and hoped that soon he'll be spared the unnecessary trips. Soon
he was giving his views about all of them... Shishir smiled getting
along in the flow..
A Week later
" Shishir isn't that bad. I mean if this is what we're going to talk
about.." he was giving the details of the day's session to her as they
drove back home.
" about what? " Ridhhima asked. " you know, the general stuff.. he just
want me to focus on things that calm me then get to kind of list things
that trouble me or annoy or irritate me." He smirked " I should simply
write the address of my office. Right now that's what is worrying me
most " she rolled her eyes. Not the work again! " hey don't look at me
like that! Do you know how much work I have to hold back because of
these useless meetings! "
" they're Not useless Armaan " she reminded, exasperated " and what the
use of you being the boss if you can't take off whenever you what! " and
it continued... Ridhhima hid the fact that she was regularly in contact
with Shishir regarding his progress. That very night when Armaan was
busy with his work she called Shishir...
" How's he doing uncle? " she just couldn't bring herself to call him by
name like Armaan and he so nicely fit in the role neither he
" I've just been ascertaining about his problem, see how deep it goes. "
" How deep then? "
" deeper than many others but I think we can manage it. The part is no
longer improbable.. just requires little time " Ridhhima felt like being
hit by a warm ray of sun in chilly winter.
Lying in his arms in quiet peaceful night she recalled Shishir's
words... " you must understand Ridhhima, everyone have these ideas..
their own way to picture themselves in a particular role . Its their
theories that mold them as a person, their likes and dislikes
preferences that's how they act see even feel about people and things
around them and in Armaan's case it is to be a protector... from his
favourite comic character Superman to his hiding things that he think
may hurt or worry his dear ones all indicate to that very role he
pictures himself into- a protector." Ridhhima listened quietly " and
protectors take away the troubles Ridhhima, they take away the pain they
shield their loved ones, stop anything from harming them. Protectors
can't be weak, they can't show any weakness. No matter what..."
She sighed he was so right. She tilted up her head gazing at his
peaceful face deep in slumber... how much he'd endured for his loved
ones. How much hurt he'd hidden within those deep layers of his heart.
She gently caressed his face as a tear rolled down from the corner of
her eye, she hugged him tightly.. the won't be any more hurt now, she'd
be his protector now, she'd shield him from any pain...
A month later
" we can't rush him into remembering everything in one go Ridhhima. He's
barely started talking and we have to gently clean the dust, not
scratch the surface. The shock of truth and the stress can alone undo
all our efforts raising even more problems for us ,it should be
gradual..." Ridhhima nodded in agreement " And Ridhhima "
" Yes uncle "
" I think you know this already but still.. he loves you very much." He gave a soft smile
Ridhhima smiled brightly " you are right uncle. I know that, but.."
rosiness spread on her cheeks " I admit it sounds wonderful every time I
hear it." Shishir nodded like an experienced person.
" But do you realize that you are the focus of his concern now.
Especially after his mom and aunt... Take care of yourself. For his
sake... He will always be your protector and he will be very harsh on
himself if he fails to fulfill his duty.. his fault or not. Minor or
major, doesn't matter " Ridhhima nodded she knew what Shishir wanted to
" and what about his diaries? Can they be of some help? Should I mention
them to him, may be he can show you and let you know more.."
" no, I don't think that is required " He gave a dismissive wave of hand
" if he's keeping a journal then its good probably one of the reason
that he could make it so far without going crazy. They are his outlet..
he talks to them about everything if not to anyone else.. oh don't be
disappointed! " he could see her face falling a little feeling sad " he
has made a lot of improvement. Did you imagine him sharing those memories
of his mother however small, till now with anyone.. you're the first
person he went to, that's the beginning of the solution.." Ridhhima knew
he was right Armaan has indeed started opening up to her, he even
managed to go to his childhood room though he could not bring himself to
step inside but he stood there for good twenty minutes, longer than all
the time put together since he'd quit visiting that room... it was
Month and a half later
" uncle what about the thing we talked about.. the hypnosis.." Ridhhima
was on phone with Shishir. She no longer went along with him for the
sessions. It happened on a particularly busy day in the hospital, she
called him to inform that she would be little late for their meeting but
to her great surprise he asked if it was okay if he went alone. And
since that day he went all by himself ,never cheating his way for
something else which was another surprise. Virendra was bit unsure but
his doubts proved vain. But Ridhhima kept regular tabs on his progress
keeping others updated as well. Recently he looked bit baffled, she
tried to ask him but he was kind of evasive yet, he shared some more
memories.. few things they never discussed about his childhood but
before she could ask or coax him to tell anymore he raised his guards
shutting everything away.
Worried she called Shishir remembering something they talked about as an
effective option " with the present situation, yes.. it can certainly
help us clear a great deal but remember what I told you ,gradually not
abruptly. We need to prepare him to face and fight the worst nightmare
of his life "
She nodded " and how long do you think that'll take? I mean when can you..."
" mostly depends on him. When he's ready, I'm ready "
" I hope he gets ready soon "
Shishir got curious " and why's that? "
" he gave me only 3 months to.. um carry on with the.. experiment. And
don't be fooled by his smiles and regular visits he's ticking off every
day. He won't hear a word after that about anything related to this "
" but that would be rather too soon. Isn't there anything you can do? "
" I'm afraid I'm helpless here. He won't fall for the same trick again and I'm running out of ideas already "
" hmm. Let me see what I can do. I'll try to help out as much as I can
but in case I fail, and in this case there are chances of that, then we
have to do it lot earlier then planned.. and it won't be pleasant.."
Slipping in the warm duvet covers he planted a quick kiss on the cheek
of his deeply engrossed in a stupid romantic novel wife. He grinned
picking up his laptop when she kept her eyes glued to the pages sipping
hot chocolate from a big covered glass through the longest and most
weirdly curved straw he'd ever seen. God knows where she managed to find
that thing!. And though he liked the drink he preferred to keep it
simple and drink it in the most regular way known to man- directly from
" you didn't tell me how was the day today? " she closed the book turning to face him
" I thought you were busy with the book and weirdo " he pointed to the straw, grinning
" don't stall mister. Out with it immediately " Armaan shook his head
letting out a deep breath " it was fine. Okay I guess." He kept going
through the files " In fact I really don't know what he's trying to find
" find out? What do you mean find out? " she asked
" Shishir told me he's trying to find out the root of the problem.
Something that will solve it for ever. He thinks I have the answer to
that, but I think he know the reason but is just trying to make me solve
the puzzle " his grin almost vanished when he said that, for a moment
she felt as if he knew everything already but then that couldn't be the
case or he wouldn't have been so casual about it." I mean, okay ,I agree
there are certain issues but that's not such a big issue! people hide
few things and they tell few things. Big deal! I bet you do that too "
he raised his eyes looking at her. Coming out of her doubts Ridhhima's
mouth fell open at the indirect 'accusation'.
" Me! Hide something from you?! Yeah right! What did I hide from you
mister? " he raised his brows as she got into her charging mode " what
can a woman hide from her husband? especially a nut case like you! An
affair? - well you already know about my chhoti si never there love
story. A boyfriend? - No thank you very much I'm very happily married."
It instantly made his heart glad but she was in a row " An admirer-
well, I have many, but you've met the best one, right now he's out there
sleeping in his kennel " he tried to say something but poor man lost
his chance long back " apart from that I'm an open book!" She shrugged
raising a finger pointing at him " and had that been your case, the
situation wouldn't have arised in the first place! And you talk about me
hiding things huh! "
Armaan raised his hands surrendering " okay okay! You win. Gosh woman, you just can't stop can you? "
" right. " she smiled back ,very satisfied " you can't win from your
wife hubby so just chill " and with a quick kiss on the lips she went
back to her book and weirdo- the strange straw. Armaan shook his head
smiling widely at his yet another sweet defeat.
Two months later
The things changed and it wasn't how he assumed the meetings would be.
At times he looked kind of lost, drained out.. and lapsed into silence
at times. It worried Ridhhima that even Leo's presence didn't bother him
that much then, Shishir had warned her about the changes that she would
se from now on as the things got deeper and touched more sensitive
sides.. it was bound to happen, realizing the gravity of the situation
she did her best to divert his attention to different things. But it
happened that she wasn't successful at all times.. there were nights
when he'd twist and turn and wake up panting from his sleep. Those were
the particularly difficult sleepless nights...
Things took a lot different turn when a delivery was made from Prakriti
Goswami.. and something that was already planned from their side was
initiated at the same time... All hell broke lose...
" What the hell is this!?? " Armaan shouted out calling Martin at the
top of his voice shaking the house with his thunderous call. An undesirable session with Shishir only added to the fire. Martin stood
by his side and others were on their heels too " what the hell is this
Martin? " he pointed to the large portrait that now adorned the great
landing at the center. " who..? Where? " unable to formulate the
emotions in words he ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "
They came in today sir, madam said it was a gift from your other friend a
certain Mrs. Goswami."
" Prakriti Goswami? Shishir's wife sent this?! but how come she know how mom looked like? "
" I sent her the picture " Virendra stepped in signalling Martin to
leave them alone " she called Ridhhima to ask what she'd like to have
and it was my idea that.. as its your mom's birthday today I thought it
would be only befitting to bring her back in our lives "
Armaan immediately felt apologetic and very guilty, he cursed himself
for forgetting the day even. May be he's let her go too far away " I..
I.. but dad " he still could not bring himself to look eye to eye into
that smiling portrait and that wasn't all, Prakriti had drawn one with
him standing by her side. The tornado that raged in his mind and heart
was inexplicable and yet he could not kill his fathers hope.. a very
little he'd asked from him in years, hadn't he sacrificed enough for his
sake. The man had even been away from the very memories of his wife he
so dearly love. Had he been in his place.. Armaan shuddered at the
thought.. it was too frightening .. his Ridhhima.. No. No way!.. "
Armaan.." Virendra's soft voice brought him out of his thoughts " I know
things haven't been good for past few years .. but I'm getting old
Armaan.. and .. I miss her.. I want to see her before she fades away..
what am I going to say when I'll meet her.."
" dad.." Virendra spoke again " please Armaan.. you must let go.. accept
it Armaan... let her be the part of our lives again.. of your life.."
Armaan looked at the portrait again this time a bit longer " I don't
think the problem lies in not letting her be the part of our lives.. I
think I never let her go... I kept her too much for myself " he stormed
away from there stopping again when he saw the other portrait hanging in
his father's bedroom right above his bed.. a tear rolled down his eye..
how could he forget.." happy birthday mom.." he whispered, it was going
to be a difficult night.
Two and a half month later
" I'm not going to see that man ever again in my life.!" He threw away
his tie angrily turning to Ridhhima pointing a finger " And if you ask
me again I will never talk to you ever again either." Ridhhima rushed
after him shocked and worried already regretting her decision to let him
go by himself these days.
" But.. will you just tell me what the hell happened??"
" What happened!? That man.. he.. thinks.. he said I'm scared. I'm
scared of talking about my mom. Hell yes I don't like talking about her.
I don't like talking about the dead. And he says I have unresolved
mother issues. Can you believe the nerve of that man! And that's not
all. He said I'm hiding something about her death .. about people who
killed her!." He ran his fingers in his hair, she knew he was very angry
" What the heck! Why did he say that? " Suddenly Ridhhima was annoyed
too. She couldn't see him like that, this was the very reason she wanted
him to meet Shishir to solve the matter not to add to the trouble.
" How can I know?" He yelled " it was your idea to see him. Are you
happy now?!" snatching away his night suit from the hanger he stormed
out, seconds later she heard bathroom door slammed shut. She knew the
problem was there but obviously Shishir could have thought of a better
way than to blurt out everything before him like this. Anger rose in her
heart. How dare he hurt Armaan like that.! Coming out of the walk in
wardrobe she picked up the phone.
" Ah Ridhhima.. yes I was rather waiting for your call. What took you so long? "
my call? You knew I was going to call?" Ridhhima was surprised, she'd
hardly said a hello in a very cold way and wasn't expecting an amused
" of course, after today's session it was rather
expected. Before you ask let me fill you up with details. It didn't go
too well today, he stormed out angrily when I gave some details of the
issues troubling him"
" he's still in a very bad mood, you know
how touchy he still is. Why did you tell him everything now? " agitation
was clear in her voice
" I didn't tell him 'everything'
Ridhhima. Just a rough overview. I too happen to know it would be bad
idea considering I'm the one treating him" Ridhhima immediately felt
embarrassed. Of course he'd know better he was the expert moreover,
Armaan can be really pushy and overbearing at times. She let out a sigh
running her fingers in her hair " what should we do now? At present I
can't even ask him to think logically, he'd abandon everything then and
" but we cannot leave everything right now when he's
really making progress though he doesn't like it and it's good that he
know something about it now, I want him to go through the decided
procedure but not when he's unaware or unprepared. I was going through
the old reports your father in law provided.. and according to these
they were unable to break even the first layer.. but the guards are
weakening and if we do not act now it would be never.."
" I'm hope he'd agree to one last request.."
Hmm.. I've been working on it for the past two months and still I kind
of doubt if it will be successful. He fought fiercely before and might do
that again "
" what ?! He fought with those doctors! But he was just a kid. How could.."
I'm not talking about some kid throwing tantrum or I-don't-agree-with
-you fight Ridhhima I'm talking about fight with all your will, all your
might.. the repulsion to their 'intrusion' was so great that they had
to stop or the mere pressure would have killed him " Ridhhima fell
silent shuddering at the thought
" is it that bad? " her voice
bit shaky. " yes. Imagine two powerful giant magnets with same poles and
someone forcing them together. How would they react ? His mind did the
same. It repelled. To much of pressure would only add to problems rather
than giving any solutions"
" that's scary. What should I do ?
Now he might not cone to see you aga.." she stopped midway hearing the
door shutting again. He was out of the shower and she could hear his
footsteps coming closer.
" what happened?" Shishir asked " he's around. Isn't he?"
" yes " she replied hastily
look we cannot abandon the plan when we've come so far. We'll
definitely try for the time and if not then go with it anyway. But for
now, yell at me like you were going to do before. "
" what?! "
she could now see Armaan approaching from the corner of her eye, he was
probably not aware whom she was talking to " but how.."
chuckled " I happen to know you little as well, if he's mad at me you
won't like me either. Now let's salvage the situation. Yell with
whatever comes to your mind. Start"
He was only steps away from
her now and though her back was facing him she could hear the flip flop
of his slippers " sorry in advance " she said hurriedly and got
Shishir's laugh in response " Mr. Goswami who the hell do you think you
you are?! just because you sit on the other side of the table with those
degrees hanging on your head doesn't give you the right to say whatever
you feel like.." Armaan stopped in his tracks hearing her lash out,
using surnames to address someone was never a good sign with Riddhima.
But he was angry and it kind of felt nice, let him have a little dose,
he thought " what a the hell do you know anyway " Ridhhima continued.
" hey those degrees aren't fake you know " Shishir listened at the other end like she was cracking some jokes.
how can you say he's hiding something that too about Naina mom! "
Shishir encouraged her on the other end to carry on " you're there just
to help him get rid of his nightmares not create new ones. Don't go
overboard, if there's anything he had to tell about Naina mom then his
family is there " Armaan stood there listening everything his anger
already ebbing away. He stood there imagining the poor guy on the other
end sputtering for the chance to utter a word but the way she was going
on he had no chance at all. She went on for another two minutes during
which Armaan started feeling bad for the old man but she was nowhere
near the end ".. stop being insensitive old baffon! "
" ouch !
that hurt " and before Ridhhima realized she uttered a sorry. But
Shishir only laughed " what the hell are you doing as a doctor! Ever
heard of Bollywood. Plz continue " Ridhhima stifled her grin resuming
the act with renewed energy.
" I'm sorry that I sent him to you. He won't be coming to see you now "
Uh-oh. You shouldn't have said that.." Ridhhima immediately realized
her mistake but before she or Shishir could say anything Armaan suddenly
took the phone away from her hand and disconnected the call.
Ridhhima what were you doing?" for a moment she was startled but then
realized that he was rather annoyed than angry, she quickly wrapped her
arms around him surprising him a little " how dare he hurt you Armaan. I
won't allow 'anyone' to do that. Ever". He let out a sigh, after what
he witnessed a moment ago he wasn't left in need of any sort of
confirmation. Wrapping his arms around her he rested his cheek on her
head, strange as it sound but her lashing out on Shishir cooled him off a
bit, a little more than a bit maybe. Ridhhima stroked his back softly
waiting for him to speak.
" but.. I may have overreacted " and
she was right. Breaking the hug she cupped his face caressing it with
her thumb, his eyes were fixed on some spot on her shoulder almost
apologetically " I kind of pestered him.. after I peaked into his notes
with my name in them " he confessed like a kid accepting that he peeped
into neighbors bedroom..
" you did that! " his eyebrows scrunched
and he looked delectably cute." He wasn't around and I was just
curious, it just happened accidentally " she felt tempted to point out
that the notes weren't exactly waving at him but curbed it " and one
thing led to another and.." he trailed off
" fine. But he could have been.more diplomatic. Understanding " she feigned anger
he was.. reluctant. But I kind of.. forced him " he uttered the word
with difficulty suddenly feeling the need to change the topic, Riddhima
on the other hand in any other situation would have pulled his cheeks
and given him a tight hug with a nice kiss but refrained." But you
shouldn't have called him an old baffon. He's touchy about his age, he's
not the only one who notice things " he smirked finally meeting her
gaze " he's kind of.. okay " coming from Armaan this was no less than I
Love You "...and he's also your father's friend. What would he think of
us now? "
" I don't care. And you don't have to see him again if
you don't want to " Ridhhima hugged him again relieved that the
situation wasn't that out of control hoping her reverse psychology would
work but when he didn't said anything for a moment she feared if he
would accept, after all this was what he wanted from the start and her
stupid suggestion would spoil everything. But relief came soon.
hmm, but I think I should apologize for my behaviour today. And also
for yours. Together we kind of chewed the old man away " Ridhhima
grinned along with him both feeling light.
resting his head on her chest he lay awake while she ran her fingers in
his hair just the way he liked. Neither was asleep " Ridhhima.. " she
replied with a soft hmm " you know those dreams..." her senses got alert
in micro second " they are getting kind of.. clearer"
" clearer..? How? "
from some time.. since I started with Shishir.. I've kind of started
remembering things.. I didn't tell you before because.. I wasn't sure.
But I think, I see mom.. and myself.."
" you do? " she asked softly encouraging him to speak, he nodded " did you tell this to Shishir? " he shook his head.
they aren't that clear...I don't know what to make out of them. They
make no sense and yet.. they.. I don't want to see them but I end up
thinking about them all the time.. sometimes I'm scared to sleep. It
feels like someone is pressurizing me from inside willing to burst out
anytime. Every time I see her.. try to remember her, it gets worse. It
feels like a bomb ready to explode inside me and I can't even pinpoint
the reason. It's tough Ridhhima.. it's so.."
" heyyy shhh " she
kissed his forehead wrapping him tightly in her arms whispering softly "
don't worry. Everything is going to be okay. Trust me, nothing wrong is
going to happen. I'm there with you, why worry... just relax and go to
sleep. Tomorrow everything is going to be just fine" he exhaled deeply
hiding his face in the crook of her neck taking in that soothing
fragrance, his haven.
" But tomorrow " he spoke suddenly "
we'll both go to Shishir and apologize for our rude behaviour " she
kissed his forehead again in agreement " then we'd bid him goodbye.
Those sessions.. I'm not going to see him for that matter ever again "
Ridhhima was shocked. Here she thought everything was fine and was even
hoping that he'd agree for more time but he was already calling
everything off!. She'd have said something but the shock of sudden
declaration stole away the moment of protest. By the time she could
think of something he was already half asleep and she knew better than
to wake him up for reasoning. She must let Shishir know of this first
thing in the morning may be Virendra and BP could help in the situation.
could not sleep for long after that remembering what Shishir told her
about his first meeting with Armaan, how on showing those so called
pictures by Prakriti, his wife, he recalled every possible relationship
of the ladies with children in them except of a mother and child which
should be the first response, and that very day he confirmed Shishir's
doubts about his problem. He also told her how Armaan unknowingly acted
to protect her recalling the time they were in the garden at his home,
how he didn't let her touch the beautiful roses saying that beauty
should be admired from a distance which was only an excuse since his
eyes were fixed on the thorns that could hurt her. And while they were
having lunch he covered the corner of the table while she bent down to
pick her handkerchief to protect her head from bumping and not only that
he put away all the sharp objects little away from her. Ridhhima was so
surprised, she'd never paid attention to those things before. She knew
that in order to bring out the reason for this behaviour they needed to
dig some skeletons.. and his visits to Shishir were bringing so many
changes, not all were pleasant though. There were times when his
nightmares rose to the frequency of almost sleepless nights and she
feared he'd stop but for some reason he kept going but today it happened
The night almost flew away and she still
could not come up with anything to make him postpone his decision. She
decided to seek help from others but at the breakfast table he gladly
announced that his sessions with Shishir officially end that day. They
all looked at her with surprise as she hung her face in defeat. BP and
others tried to coax him into at least complete his promised time but he
refused flatly announcing his verdict that they were so successful that
any further continuation wasn't required. All knew what a big fat lie
it was but were helpless. Meanwhile Ridhhima managed to update Shishir
about the situation, he asked her nor to worry and just bring him over.
She agreed but her hopes weren't high, not even above the ground.
sat in Shishir's office and for the first time things were other way
round, Ridhhima was fidgety and nervous and Armaan was calm relaxed and
smiling as he sat comfortably in the chair opposite Shishir. They'd just
finished their round of coffee with apologies for yesterday, they were
magnanimously forgiven.. it was a moment before Shishir spoke as Armaan
declared his decision, Shishir looked unperturbed and only gave his
" of course, I understand. But before we come to
close I wanted to talk to you about our meetings. You do realize that
the is something that is little out of order here, something that
troubles you "
" You mean PTSD and that terror thing, also
something which you said we haven't yet talked about " his tone clearly
suggested that he wasn't interested in any of it now but Shishir was
still sitting coolly.
" yes. And you'd agree if I say that in the past couple of months you've made a lot of progress "
if by progress you mean seeing nightmares almost daily then yes, we've
made a lot of 'progress' " he smirked distastefully " you've even helped
me in making them so real; life like, vivid! Now I can even remember
some of the details " his mocking tone had no effect on Shishir.
Glad to know of my assistance. But today I wanted, rather ask for
something " Armaan looked back curiously, he had a vague idea what he
could ask, probably the same thing his dad was asking- more time. But he
had his answer ready for that.
He snorted. Ridhhima glared
at him warning him to behave " what?! Did you hear what he's saying?
Hypnotherapy! Is this for real? Is this some fancy name for hypnosis?. I
thought you are a psychiatrist and this is a clinic. Isn't it? "
smiled " yes it is exactly that. But believe me there is a thing called
hypnotherapy and as it shares it's name with some acts magicians
perform it shares it's reputation too which is totally misunderstood.
I'm not going to make you do anything that you find objectionable
Ridhhima is right here to see that. All I'm going to do is make you
relax and trust me it's not like what is shown in TV, that's for
entertainment this is for clinical purpose" Armaan still looked
uncertain " do you remember all those relaxing exercises we did in past
sessions, they were the same thing only you got to know the name today "
Armaan's mouth fell open a little, he darted his incredulous gaze from
Shishir to Ridhhima. " all I'm asking you is to give it a final shot and
after all as you said it's the last day you are seeing me for this "
cmmon Armaan, what's the harm. You've already been doing it. It's just
one time " Ridhhima coaxed him secretly glad he couldn't hear her
" really! Hypnosis! Or the swanky word you used
The 'hypnotherapy' " he made quotes in the air half annoyed half amused
feeling little cheated. They were here to say goodbye to these meetings
not to try another experiment, but the cold glare he got from Ridhhima
wiped off his smirk and he fell back in the chair crossing his arms
across his chest mumbling to himself. Ridhhima exhaled, it was her turn "
Armaan, uncle is right. There's no harm in one last try if its going to
help then fine or you're free. I promise I won't ask you for this ever
again. I really want you to do this for once. And you better do it " her
last sentence wasn't a request, it was an order. Armaan looked at
Shishir who shrugged lightly as if saying ' this thing is called wife,
get used to it'
Armaan rolled his eyes throwing his hands in air, surrendering " Fine. Just this once. And only Once" he warned both of them
Shishir smiled " that's all I need "
on that big comfy couch he waited, it would be just a matter of minutes
before Shishir will face disappointment and then he'd be free from this
useless meetings.. but it was kind of comfy here.. he sighed inwardly,
it felt like he was floating.. there was peace and quiet... he could
stay here for a while...
Armaan stormed in the room
anger bursting inside him. He wanted to rip them apart limb to limb cut
them open and let them bleed dry. He would have done exactly that only
if... only if... He would just give anything, anything to go back in
time and get those guys. But what made this anger even more unbearable
was the fact that the moment might never come. They snatched away
everything from him and he couldn't do anything.. frustrated he threw
away the vase kept on the table, it crashed with loud noise. Ridhhima
rushed after him and saw him throwing things everywhere, she could see
the pain on his face and she felt so helpless.. this was not what she
wanted.. was the ignorance better? But the voice inside her said, No, it
wasn't. They took the right step and it was natural for him to react
this way.. it was years of pain and hurt buried in his heart that was
finally coming out.. but she must calm him.. she rushed to his side
holding his hand that carried a small flower pot aimed at the glass on
the wall. She could now see the tears that were kept at bay threatening
to spill out ,he looked at her angrily with bloodshot eyes. He was so
mad at her too, was this the therapy that was suppose to help him? They
were going to stop the nightmares not make his every waking moment
torturous, those nightmares were better than this knowledge of what
Ridhhima was bit scared and lot worried, she could see
he wasn't happy with the outcome, whole way back he didn't uttered a
single word and snapped back when she tried to talk. " Armaan please
calm down, you'll hurt yourself " she took away the pot from his hand.
calm down! You're asking me to calm down! You know what they did.. " he
grabbed her by her arms angry tears rolled down his cheeks " why? Why
my mom?? " he pushed her away pointing a finger at her " and you.. why
did you have to do this?! Why did you interfere so much? " he had no
idea what he was saying all he felt was helplessness, frustration and
" I'm part of you Armaan, you cannot shove me away " she
said firmly, to which he just turned himself away but she wasn't going
to let it go he needed her now more than ever. She held his arm making
him face her, she could see it in his eyes that he meant none of what he
said " please try to understand Armaan, I know this is very painful to
you but it was necessary .. the pain was eating you from inside..
sambhalo apne aap ko.."
" Sambhalun apne aap ko.. how? Tell me
how Ridhhima? " he held her arms again " the more I try to forget the
more it comes before my eyes. I didn't shed a single tear for years.. I
was scared to even look at my mom.. Just because of me dad suffered so
much and now that I know I still am as helpless as I was then. I
should've protected her, saved her but she died.. she died.. gone...
because of me " he hung his face hiding it it his palms tears streaming
down freely, his legs felt weak and he slid down on the floor breaking
down completely, her heart twisted seeing him but she knew she had to be
strong for his sake. She quickly took him into her arms holding him
tight " Armaan main hun naa.. everything is going to be okay. And it did
not happened because of you. You were the bravest 10 yr old ever..
never ever blame yourself for anything Armaan. Naina mom didn't die
because of you.. you did the best you could.. just remember whatever
happens I'm always there for you.." she kissed his head sealing the
" But till when Ridhhma.. till when?.. mom chali gayi,
badi maa chali gayi... tum bhi chali jaogi.." Ridhhima was shocked to
hear it, where did that come from? but of course he feared, has always
feared, that he'll lose her like the precious ones before. He shuddered
in her embrace gasping, the air was suffocatingly thick in the room. He
couldn't breathe, it was choking him. He swallowed a lump gulping air as
the images flashed again and again before his eyes like it all happened
moments ago.. and there was no way he could shut them off. Ridhhima
stroked his back holding him tight. " let it go Armaan .. let all the
pain pour out today... but just remember one thing I'm right here by
your side always. I'm not going to leave you ever. I promise that,
nothing and no one can ever take you away from me." She felt his arms
slowly tighten around her, his tears seeped through her shirt and she
got her answer. Both sat there in the middle of the upturned room
holding each other creating a haven of their own..
probably hours later she sat by his side stroking his hair with an arm
wrapped around him which he held tightly as he lay on the bed with
silent tears streaming down. After that outburst he fell quiet and
refused to let her go, he didn't uttered a word and it was with some
efforts and lot of convincing that he moved to bed, but still refused to
close his eyes. She coaxed him gently to sleep, he needed that badly
but he didn't respond. Ridhhima was very worried but hid her tears from
him. Shishir texted her to make him take some rest and after what felt
like eternity his eyes seemed little heavy. It took her another hour of
sweet assurances, caressing and promising that he finally fell asleep.
It was almost evening and she knew the family was waiting impatiently to
know what happened, after she'd texted them to wait till she comes out
and explain everything. It was when she was sure that he was sound
asleep she gently freed herself planting a sweet kiss on his head.
Leaving the door a little ajar she came out to the parlour and found
everyone waiting for her. Virendra was pacing around while BP stood with
arms crossed across his chest and Rahul and Muskaan had clear sign of
worries on their faces, all waiting anxiously for her, to know what
happened after all.
Virendra rushed towards her as soon as she emerged out " Ridhhima, how's he?.."
It's okay papa. He's sleeping now. It had been very.. tough day for
him.. why don't you go and see him.." BP gently pressed his shoulder
urging him to go ahead " go.. we'll wait here " Virendra nodded moving
into the room, he'd never felt so anxious.. scared since that incident.
while later all sat in the parlour Virendra looked little lost, his
moist eyes failed his efforts to hide his pain and BP had already
excused himself twice in the pretext of one thing or another but
everyone knew he too was trying to hide his tears. Both the ladies sat
quietly and Rahul had already twisted two spoons fuming invisible fire.
Everybody knew he couldn't bear anyone or anything hurting his brother
and right now he felt as helpless as Armaan. It was Muskaan who broke
the silence " Ridhhima.. what happened today? "
" Bhabhi.. we got
to find out the reason of Armaan's nightmares.. everything that happen
since the day he and Naina mom were kidnapped.. Armaan.. told
everything.. and it was terrifying what they had to bear.. what those
people did to them.."
" What happened? " Rahul asked after a long
silence. Ridhhima looked up, she suppressed a shudder as she recalled
what happened today " the hypnotherapy worked, Armaan recalled
everything what the doctors could not make him do earlier..."
observed anxiously as Shishir progressed, as soon as Armaan consented
to go ahead Shishir got into action and within no time he'd Armaan lying
on the couch with his eyes closed like he was in some kind of deep
sleep.. this much she was aware that he was in a very relaxed state and
as Shishir had explained in whisper, in the deepest realms of his
subconscious mind.. farthest they'd ever been. She sat there listening
to the soft clear tone as Shishir led Armaan further..
" where are you Armaan? " Shishir asked, but he didn't get any reply for a moment " Armaan,,," he proded again
" I.. I don't know " Ridhhima watched as he spoke, his face didn't showed sign of any emotion he was feeling.
His do you feel Armaan? .. comfortable.. relaxed.." he didn't got the
reply again " Armaan, it is very relaxing and comfortable " this time he
stressed on the words kind of making him feel so rather than asking.
yes.. it is very comfortable " Ridhhima glanced at Shishir who'd lost
all the soft father Santa look and instead had the fierce determined
coldness of someone who knew what he was doing. And for his own sake she
prayed he did or she'd really eat him up alive.
" now Armaan, go back.. go back 10 months.. where are you? What are you doing right now? "
" I'm at my office.. checking a presentation.. I'm worried "
" Why are you worried Armaan? "
The Axion project. I don't want Modi or anyone else to take that away
from us " Shishir ticked the information in the card at hand, something
which Ridhhima had provided beforehand. He kept asking few things which
he kept ticking off as they turned out right taking him farther slowly
but her heart drummed wildly when he finally uttered the words..
" Now go back to your 10th birthday Armaan.. has the party started? What are you doing right now?"
" yes.. it's my birthday.. the party has started, everybody is there..
I'm standing with mom and dad.. I'm holding a knife to cut the cake. I
look very happy " and though his face lacked sign of any emotion he
looked peaceful and relaxed like he was really happy, but the thought of
things after sent a shiver down Ridhhima's spine. Shishir in the other
hand kept asking him general questions and the extent of the information
surprised her, there was no way anyone could remember that much
especially someone who had almost no recollection of the day. Surely the
idea was working but the worst was just around the corner. She was
brought back from her thoughts a moment later..
" I'm crying.."
" why are you crying? "
Ridhhima broke my new toy set.. I beat her and mom slapped me.. she's
crying so loudly now but she's acting.. I just pulled her pigtails again
" A smile crept on her face, they really had a bad fight and she had no
idea she had pigtails then!..her smile vanished next second when
Shishir moved on to his next question..
" it's the next day
Armaan, what are you doing right now? " he got all the expected answers
and then Shishir slowed down to hear what he had to say
" I'm now
at the toy store.. it's so big.. I've left mom behind, I've to look for
my toy set..." he paused for a moment like he was really searching for
it " found it! " Ridhhima could feel the excitement in his otherwise
flat tone. "But.. there is a man.. I don't like him he's staring at me..
he looks scary..."
" Are you alone? where's your mother? "
" she must be here somewhere.. she was here a moment ago.. may be she's on other side. I.." he suddenly stopped
" what happened Armaan? "
I don't like this man.. he's coming towards me, he wants to steal my
toy set..." a light frown came over his face " he's grabbed my hand.
I'll teach him a lesson " Ridhhima felt like warning that it isn't the
toy set he's after " he's backing off now. That kick in his shins should
be enough, the manager is coming towards us.. he's gone now " Ridhhima
could imagine him bubbling with pride but if only this would have
" what else is going on Armaan ?" Shishir asked,
for a moment Armaan didn't answer his eyebrows scrunched a little like
he was trying hard to see through a curtain of mist.. Shishir called
again his tone prodding, as if reminding a child to pull back his
attention to the task at hand " I'm looking for mom.. the man is there
again, he's talking to someone... there are others too.. they are
dragging... no, pulling something.. they must be thieves. We're hiding
behind a shelf. We'll follow them secretly and bust them "
" we? Who else is there with you Armaan? "
Sherkhan.." the pieces of puzzle started to put themselves in order.
Sherkhan was with him that unfortunate day, throughout the time they
were held captive. No wonder he brought those haunting memories back. "
" what happened ?"
" They.. they are taking mom..
they're taking mom.. through the small back door.." Shishir asked him to
calm down and continue " I've to bring her back, they can't take her
away. It's that man I kicked. I'll.." he stopped for a moment again "
the man has grabbed me.. he's not letting me go... he's pushed us in a
car.. van, it has no seats.. mom is there she's not saying anything..
it's the parking.. it's empty, I'm screaming but no one's listening.
Mom's not listening she's just lying there. Someone's coming.. I'm
screaming but..someone hit me.. it hurts.. there's something on my
face.. a handkerchief.." Armaan fell silent. Shishir and Ridhhima
exchanged glances neither of them needed another clue to know that they
were knocked out.
Ridhhima exhaled as others sat still
listening with bated breaths " he recalled a room where they were kept.
It had a window with bars and by the description it seems it was
underground.. he recalled a small vent through which sunlight creeped
in.. that was the only way they could tell if it was day or night and
they were.. beaten, almost daily.." Muskaan let out a small gasp
Virendra's jaw clenched, Rahul's eyes were set on a spot at the table
but he clenched his fist so tight that his knuckles turned white, BP on
the other hand was staring out at nothing but she knew he was hanging on
to each and every word. " what else he said?.." BP broke the silence.
He recalled someone who came there everyday... you were right papa "
Virendra looked up at her " it was the same man, he called him Kamal
Mama " Rahul got up angrily punching the table in frustration " I knew
it!. That bas***d!.. if only I can lay my hands on him "
wasn't alone bhaiyya. Going by the details he wasn't playing that major
role. He was a greedy coward who got involved with some really dangerous
people.." Rahul threw a questioning look " we came to know a lot
" I'm lying on my back, it hurts so much...
they've beaten me badly today. Mom is crying from the room... I can hear
her shouting to let me go. No one is listening to her..'
" who all are there Armaan? Do you know anyone there? "
Yes... I know someone. I think everything is going to be okay.. it's..
Kamal mama there. He'll take us out of here..." but the light frown
returned again " but why isn't he even looking at me.. I want to get up
but it hurts so much "
" It's okay Armaan.. can you tell what
they are talking about? " he didn't said anything but his tone changed
and the voice that came out was not his at all.
"... you are going to kill them this way."
I don't care. For every scratch on my brother's body they get a gash.
For every finger raised at him, they get a nice dose. Why do you worry?
And if you are so concerned get me my money and most important get my
brother out of prison. Do you understand! "...
" It's not that
easy. You have caused a riot out there. You not only got the wrong woman
you got the kid too. Do you have any idea what kind of connections his
father has! If they as much as get a whiff that I'm in anyway involved
" We? Who says 'we'. It was your idea to
get your sister so that I get my money. So what if we got the wrong
people it's double lucrative. This pup alone can get us twice the amount
" who's the man Armaan.. can you describe the man "
he came back to his normal mode " he's.. tall, dusky muscular figure..
he's dressed nicely but he's pointing a gun on mama's chest. He looks
mean.. I think I know him.. he works with Mama.."
bloody man was Kamal's partner. Smuggling drugs and distributing fake
medicines by our company's name. Both he and kamal disappeared. Managed
to escape" BP punched the wall angrily " his brother was caught, charged
with crimes like murders extortion fraud and what not.."
did you notice one thing dad." Rahul spoke softly coming out of pensive
mood " It was all originally planned for, Mom. Armaan and Chhoti ma were
never the target at first place " the realization struck everyone hard.
BP slumped into the chair nearby.. he looked pale.
" BP.. what happened? " Ridhhima asked " if he wanted his brother why didn't you.."
we'd have gladly given away that man if he was alive at the first
place. " she was perplexed " the man was in police custody on remand and
you know how police treats criminals. It seems someone was keeping his
brother updated.. if only Kamal would have conveyed what that man
actually wanted we could've.. but when we came to know of it, it was too
late, the man tried to escape and died in an freak accident..
unfortunately it wasn't believed by his brother and we were blamed to
have killed the man by torturing him.."
" That's when things got
worse. We couldn't find Naina and Armaan anywhere.. Kamal misguided us
about the kidnapper for he wanted money.."
" .. and they suffered
hell during this time... do you want know why he's so scared of
needles..." a tear rolled down her eyes she could hold it no longer.
They've tied mom to a pillar.. we're in the large room again. They are
going to beat us again.. a man is holding me so tightly, it hurts. The
boss.." they called him boss " is angry. Mom is facing the pillar.. I'm
scared.. what's he going to do?.. the others are looking at him.. he's
adjusted something in his fingers. He's wearing those dangerous rings
again... they have pointed edges.. he's walking towards mom.. stop!
Stop! Don't hurt her! "
...But unfortunately no one
listened, neither then nor now. The man with those rings the dark
muscular man- the boss, didn't utter a single word but ran down his hand
on Naina's back pulling her hair roughly leaving gashes as his hand
slid down. Blood gushed out and her screams filled the room, it only
seemed to raise the hunger in the boss' eyes. Mean and cold as they
already were they now gleamed with unearthly evil glow. Armaan shouted
out cursing the man struggling hard to free himself and reach out to his
mother. The boss shifted his attention to him though he was bit scared
yet he didn't care he wanted to be with his mom and kill that man..
taking long strides boss stood before him and slapped him so hard that
his head spinned his ears were filled with buzzing sound and he almost
lost his consciousness. Naina shouted out pleading to take her life but
to let go of her son..
" don't worry, we'd just do that too. But
for now just experience what it feels like to suffer pain. Let your
egoistic bas***d husband realize what it feels like to bear actual
pain.. he must be missing his beautiful wife so bad.. and this pup
there.. he messed with the wrong man this time " he dug the pointed
edges of the rings deeper on her back. The other men laughed, their
voices so shrill so cold.. it sent a shiver down the spine.
boss would have continued but a man came and quickly whispered something
in his ear.. his expression changed, he rushed out of the place but not
before kicking Armaan which landed straight on his leg making him
double up with pain.. he bit his lip to curb his squeal it would only
worry her mother more.. she was hanging there tied with those ropes
almost lifeless. The sight of her bleeding back and bruised face scared
him to death. In the sudden silence of the room he could hear her faint
requests to not to hurt her child.
Nobody bothered. They were
mercilessly grabbed and half carried half pulled were thrown in the room
again. It was dark and the only light that came was from the bulb that
lighted the corridor. Naina lay there on the floor groaning with pain
only semi conscious her vision hazy. Armaan gathered himself sitting by
her side urging her to look at him talk to him.." w..water.." she
moaned. He got up groggily, rushing to the pitcher at the corner of the
room and got a glassful for her.. with some efforts he made her turn
resting her head in his lap slowly tipping up the glass, she breathed
unevenly drained of all the energy, he made her lie back on her stomach
those gashes still trickled out blood. He looked around and found a
shopping bag that was fortunately thrown in with them at their arrival,
he quickly fished out a T-shirt and dipping it in the water sat by her
side cleaning her wounds as softly as he could though his tears streamed
down non stop blurring his vision " it's okay mumma.. it's just going
to hurt a little.. I'll do it softly, very carefully.. everything is
going to be okay. I'm here naa.." he kept consoling between hiccups as
she winced with pain, it cleared her mind for a moment and fresh tears
rolled down seeing her brave 10 yr old son, he'd suddenly grown up so
much.. slowly she held his hand in her cold shaky one putting on a brave
smile " d..don't lose hope beta. You are so brave. I'm s..so proud of
you.. I.. I'm there with you.. don't worry, everything is going to be
okay " a lump blocked his speech and he just nodded resuming his task.
He dozed off sitting by her side seeking and giving protection holding
tight her hand with one and sherkhan with another.
A soft moaning
sound woke him up. Squinting his eyes he tried to register his
surroundings it took a micro second and it all came back to him, he
almost jumped out of his skin seeing someone beside him but then
realized it was his mother, she was feebly asking for water. He quickly
got to his feet but to his horror the pitcher was empty. He'd used all
of it to clean her wounds.. he ran to Naina and bending down whispered
softly " mumma there's no water here.. just wait a little I'll get some
for you.." he rushed to the window shouting with all the left over
energy and banged the door to get some attention. " open the door! I
want some water! Open the door!! " he could hear someone laughing, there
must be people in the big room, he banged the door again shouting as
loudly as he could through his hoarse throat.
".. common your
turn " the man threw away the cigarette with a last puff, now frowning "
yeh saala!. Doesn't even let us play in peace for a while. What a pest!
" common just go and have a look. I need to take a leak too "
the man threw his cards on the advise of his friend his other two
companions stretched themselves. The man walked to the door and as soon
as he opened the door he grabbed Armaan by neck dragging him out to the
large room, " so? Why were you shouting? You want to turn us deaf!? "
others laughed at his lame non existent joke whereas Armaan gulped
steadying himself on his feet somewhat wobbly " I.. I want some water..
my mom " he choked, tears of helplessness streamed down as he glanced in
the direction of the room where his mother lay on the floor almost
" achha, paani chahiye. To le le. " the man waved a
bottle before him. Forgetting everything he wiped off his tears and
rushed towards the bottle but before his fingers could reach the bottle a
tight slap landed on his cheek landing him on a pile of boxes while the
men laughed like they'd just seen a very amusing act " not so easily
kid. It's no fun. Isn't it guys? " he glanced at his cronies bending
over Armaan looking into his eyes, Armaan flinched back expecting
another hit " you want water? " he nodded " then work for it.." the man
straightened himself and then walking by the side to the old iron
staircase that led to the floor above in the large hall kept the bottle
on the last step " go, and get it " Armaan looked uncertainly at them
and slowly got up hesitating, he was a step away from the first step
when the man tripped him and his head banged on the iron railing. It had
no effect on the stone hearted men who watched everything with sadistic
pleasure " not so soon bachhe.." the man then picked up a box that fell
from the pile kept nearby, ripping it open he spilled the contents of
the large box all over on the steps. Armaan's eyes widened seeing the
contents they were sinister looking hypodermic needles, he gulped
shifting from one foot to another uneasily.
He was staring at the
staircase when a loud order startled him " common Richie Rich, take off
those bloody shoes! Bada aaya amirzada kahin ka.! Is saale ki wajah se
hum kabse yahan is jungle main atke hue hain " he spat on the floor
giving him an evil look. Armaan quickly did as he was ordered he just
wanted to have that bottle and go back to his mom. " now common go and
take the bottle." The man bent down to his eye level, Armaan could smell
his stinky breath of alcohol and tobacco mixed with cigarettes, he
pointed a finger threateningly " just remember, go by the stairs or.."
he pushed him to the staircase.
Armaan limped to the staircase
standing at the bottom he could see the wide old iron staircase, every
step twinkled with sharp mean looking needles pointing at every weird
angle ready to poke anyone deep with slightest touch, he gulped, he
wasn't wearing any shoes... he took a step back. He wasn't going to step
on those. He got his shots and they hurt even when doctor was gentle..
and these.. " Abe soch kya raha hai? Ab paani nahi chahiye? " and they
all laughed, shrill laugh that pierced through his ears. He stepped
back, he was scared.. very scared.. but then he heard his mothers soft
groans seeping out of the room. She was thirsty, she needed water. His
eyes darted to the staircase to those men and to the way to the room to
his mom pleading for water.
In a moment it was decided.
he stepped ahead, grabbing the railing of the staircase he raised his
right foot. The monsters- calling them men would be too respectful-
suddenly stopped laughing and watched him closely, they didn't even
blink. He brought the foot down slowly on the first step increasing the
pressure lightly, he could feel the sharp needles crunch under his
weight, luckily none pricked. Still expecting pain any moment he grabbed
the railing tightly standing on one foot and first step. Reminding
himself that there were just 9 more to go, he stepped on the second with
left but this time he wasn't that fortunate.. as soon as he increased
the pressure a sharp needle pierced through. Grabbing the railing with
both hands he stood there crying with that unbearable pain but the
groans of his mother in that utter silence didn't let him stop. His
mother was thirsty.
Every step brought excruciating pain but he
didn't stop, the men seemed paralyzed with wonder, none took pity. By
fifth step his head started to spin and it felt he could no longer go
on. He stopped and with humongous efforts looked down at his bleeding
feet, bending his leg up he plucked the needles out.. and every pluck
was a moment spent in hell.
With another two painful steps he
was on seventh step and if he could stretch his hand he could grab the
bottle. Joy and hope gushed through his heart, wiping off the tears he
took a deep breath bending forward.. extending his left hand as far as
he could balancing on those sharp needles as well as he could. The men
down below watched him in utter amazement. He had his eyes fixed on his
target and though another needle or two pinched his skin he didn't
cared.. but there was a problem, the bottle was kept little to the left,
to the wall side and in order to reach it he'd to let go of the
railing. Tentatively he slowly left the railing but his bleeding feet
and injured leg shook badly and he held the railing again grabbing it
tightly, his heart was beating out of his chest but he'd to try again.
Taking in deep breaths he tried to focus through his tears and spinning
head. Though his legs shook he somehow balanced himself and inched
towards the left, slowly he let go of the support fingers trying to
reach as far as they could open wide ready to grab... he bent forward.. a
little more to the left a little more forward.. and.. he grabbed the
bottle in one quick movement. He felt so happy, so relieved.. it was
beyond words.. he stood up straight.. and it was a mistake.
sudden shift of pressure sent a needle piercing straight through his
heel and he lost balance feeling the sudden fiery pain. That wasn't all,
being little away from the sidebars he missed his chance to hold them
for support and fell back on the needles rolling down from the stairs
with needles piercing through his body as if all of them were blood
thirsty for ages. They pierced through his back stomach hands legs.. he
yelled with pain to which the word excruciating felt small and
insignificant. He finally landed on the floor with needles hanging from
his shirt red with blood that looked like someone had sprayed it on him
there was good that flowed from the gash on his head.. but he still held
the bottle in his hand. He just lay the crying scared to even move a
muscle, fearing the pain it would cause.
Suddenly men came into
action " common hold him. Mar gaya to hamari shamat aa jayegi. Abhi dono
ko zinda rakhna hai " the men rushed to him picking him up roughly,
they pulled out the needles as roughly as they could he'd have passed
out if the thought of his thirsty mother wasn't keeping him up. They
threw him in the room with the bottle where he lay on the floor for a
while feeling he'd die, the semi dark room floated before his eyes but
then it stopped before an image. His mother. She was lying there, just
lying there.. she wasn't moving.. she wasn't even groaning. Immense dark
fear gripped his heart. Gathering all his courage he slithered towards
his mother, his legs were unable to bear his weight any longer.. his
heart pounded wild and fear gripped his heart so strongly that he forgot
to cry." Mumma.. mumma.." he shook the body for any sign of life. A
moment later which felt like eternity, she shifted her head a little. A
wave of relief so great passed through him the he fell back and cried
out loudly. Moment later he held the bottle in his hand and turned her
face upwards pouring water in her mouth as steadily as his shaking hands
could allow. She gulped it down slowly and all the pain seemed
worthwhile that moment.
She paused for a
moment. There was silence so profound in the room that one could hear
their own heart beats, only broken with occasional sniffs from Muskaan
and Ridhhima. It was getting dark now. It was Martin who turned on the
lights, when he came to enquire if anything was required or they would
have continued to sit there in the gradually darkening room.. Virendra
sighed breaking his long silence.. he remember it so clearly still, it
was the time he got that call, those blood soaked pieces of clothes..
his heart twisted remembering it. How helpless and miserable he'd felt
then. He'd never ever prayed to god so hard. What he wouldn't have given
to get his wife and son back. And he did got them back, only to lose
one of them again.. and he'd almost lost his son later..." what happened
Wiping her tears Ridhhima swallowed the lump in her
throat. It was so painful just to tell them what it would've felt like
for them to actually go through all that pain...
three days nobody came to them. They were not beaten or were forced to
go through any other excruciating task on the contrary they were given
food clothes and even medicines. Naina gained some strength and her
mother's heart shed bloody tears on seeing the scars on her little son's
body. She cursed the monsters the worst fate of all, she begged god to
make them pay for their evilness.. they would. Holding Armaan close to
her chest she sat in the room huddled in the corner soothing him
caressing his hair wrapping him in her arms giving him all the
protection and love of the world. She promised herself no matter what
she would not let her son go through any sort of pain any more. Even at
the cost of her life, if that's what it would take. They had played with
them like an animal with its prey, but no more.
And probably God heard her prayers, but who knew the freedom would come at exactly the price she'd offered.
plates of food were slid inside through an opening in the door at the
bottom startling them for a moment Naina feared that they'd come for
them again Armaan clutched her tightly holding Sherkhan with the other
hand hiding himself in her arms.. but nothing happened. The footsteps
sounded distant as the two men walked away talking, their hushed
conversation was kind of urgent. She'd noticed that for the past two
three days things were kind of different around there as if something
went out of plan. A faint glimmer of hope flickered in her heart, If
that was bad for these monsters then it was good news for them. Keeping
the finger before her lips she signalled Armaan to be quiet, he nodded
but his heart still pounded wildly, this place was so unpredictable and
scary.. he didn't wanted his mother to land herself into any more
trouble. He watched with bated breath as she tiptoed to the door, his
heart pounded in his ears and suddenly a pain shot through his body
rising from his feet reaching everywhere setting it on fire, he clenched
Sherkhan tightly to control the throbbing. On the other hand Naina hid
herself behind the darkness of the door straining her ears to listen..
"..How did this happen? "
" don't know, but they say he was given third degree and he died "
" boy! the boss would be so mad! His brother was his everything. "
Mad is an understatement. They said he killed the men who brought the
news. Slit their throats.. they bled for an hour before they finally
died while he watched wrecking the room..." both stopped for a moment.
" Kamal did warned him that the man had connections... what has boss planned with these two? "
don't know. He's acting weird. Said they should be well fed and not
troubled even said he want them fine. Why do you think I gave those
medicines and stuff. It was on order"
" good. For a moment I thought you got all softy for the two."
like hell!. I had few other things planned for the boy. He was so
entertaining last time " Naina's jaw clenched and she so badly wanted to
claw his face off. How dare he even think of inflicting any pain on her
son! " but they won't be here long " her ears shot up " boss called
today to shift them to other base as soon as they get bit better. I
think he has some of his own ideas to put them to a better use...
probably he's just fattening the goat before.." and they laughed.
Naina's heart sank hearing it. They won't be here that meant probably
someone did manage to find their whereabouts but how will they know
where they are taking them. She was just wondering when her eyes fell on
something that lay in semidarkness.. a corner gleamed in the little
light that fell over it.. her heart stopped beating for a moment, she
rubbed her eyes squinting them to focus on the object. Hope flooded
through her heart, sudden energy erupted through her body. Armaan
watched his mother curiously as she crouched on the floor peeping
urgently through the opening at the bottom of the door he was just
wondering when she whispered him to come to her quickly and forgetting
all the pain in an instant he was there by her side.
" Armaan "
she said in a hushed voice " I want you to keep an eye on the corner,
and just give me a quick signal when you think they might come or peep
or even move. Just be careful okay " he nodded, she kissed his forehead
and waited till he gave her a go signal. Armaan looked through the
window where he could see the shoulders of two men. One was standing
with his back towards the wall leaning on it with a folded leg another
was standing before him, they were still talking but he could only see
them partially as they were about fifty feet away and in order to look
at the corner one had to stick the face to the bars of the window
looking to the left. It felt like trying to look ahead at the train
engine through the window of a compartment. He shuddered remembering
what the little passage led to, the same large room with stairs...
another wave of pain shot through him but he didn't get much time to
ponder over it as his mother's whisper broke his chain of thoughts.
be careful.." she whispered as she strained herself to reach to that
object. The door creaked a little bolt straining against the lock and
pressure. The man leaning on the wall stood up straight. Armaan turned
quickly signalling Naina to stop, she quickly pulled her hand back..
both held their breaths waiting.. eyes wide with anticipation. Neither
of the two men came back but now there were more voices, they were
talking urgently again this time they heard them clearly. The second in
command, the man who spread all those needles on the stairs was
commanding others to clean up the place of any evidence that they were
here. Naina was right. They were shifting them and the reason they
bothered to clear up after them was.. must be, only because they were
found. She heard him shouting that they would move tomorrow morning.
morning. They had just tonight. They must make a run for it. Her only
fear was if they decided to come there then. Thankfully neither decided
that. She waited till Armaan again signalled her to continue ,there was
no one in sight now. Naina pushed herself as far as she could fingers
stretched wide to grab the corner.. and then she touched the key to
their freedom. And it was the key. Key to their room, which probably
fell while man pushed food trays through the opening . Anyway she didn't
cared how and why all she knew was that it was their only chance and
she had to take it, for her son's sake.
Holding him tight in his
embrace she whispered what she wanted to do but before they executed
the plan they must make sure that the goons know that they are in the
room and till they drowned themselves in alcohol which seemed to be
their daily ritual, they'd heard their snores daily since the arrival
and going by the sound there was only one man on the watch every night
out of four. Where others went, she had no idea but once they get out of
here they would find out. And avoid that place.
the small superman watch on Armaan's wrist kept them updated of every
second that passed. It struck 11.. the men gathered in the room 12...
their daily ritual continued 1.. the energy started to die out... 2..
they heard one of the man cursing the fellow in crude language for
passing out the second in command ordered the other to take him away to
the other room calling it a day himself. There was only one man left
now. It was time for them to get ready. All senses were at high alert,
this could be their only chance to escape otherwise sure death. They
crept back into the corner hearing the man stumbling back. He was coming
to check on them. A bright torchlight hit them on the face, it was gone
as quickly as it came. The man satisfied to see the animals in cage
stumbled back with a grunt, seconds later they heard rattling of bottles
followed by loud creek of the old couch and then, it went all quiet..
heart drummed out if their chests. They waited for another half an hour
just to make sure that they were all deep in slumber. It was now 3 AM.
In the dead silence of the night Naina clutching Armaan's hand tiptoed
to the door..
Putting her hand out through the window she
stealthily unlocked the lock. The window was quiet near to the door and
luckily the lock wasn't far below. The rusted bolt creaked.. in the dead
silence of the night it felt like firing of the cannonball.. slowly and
steadily Naina opened the door Armaan clung close.. one hand clutched
tightly by Naina other held his Sherkhan. Moving alongside the wall
their backs sticking to it they walked to the end of the corridor.
Armaan grabbed her hand even tighter as the hall came into sight, it
glowed in the bright light of tube lights ,the wide iron staircase by
the wall led to the tiny room upstairs which was locked. She quickly
scanned the room nothing moved no one was in sight.. except, a filthy
man lying on the couch with empty beer bottles strewn all around where
he slept.. he wasn't snoring but this wasn't time to back out, looking
down at Armaan she placed a finger before her lips signalling hm to keep
quiet. The other door was on the left corner of the room and though the
distance wasn't that much yet it felt like miles to cross. Taking every
step with utmost care they stepped ahead.. they passed through the
table, the chairs.. the boxes.. Armaan shuddered seeing them and his
shoe hit one of the bottles lying around. Both of them froze. The man
stirred with the sound scrunching his eyebrows his eyes still close.
Their hearts stopped beating and Naina barely controlled her loud gasp
covering her mouth just in time...
The man fell quiet second
later and this time he snored. Naina patted Armaan's hand reassuring him
pointing at the flashlight and then at the door, he nodded mentally
making a note to be more even more careful from now on. She stealthily
grabbed the flashlight lying on the floor by the snoring man tiptoeing
back. She turned the knob, this time the door didn't creek. Grabbing his
hand she walked by the passage quickly. They must get out of this place
But it didn't seem so easy. The place was a freaking
maze! One door then the other..full of corridors, they didn't even came
by any window! it seemed it was all underground and they were going
further underground rather than coming out. But they were definitely
making progress.. she came to a corridor that had some broken faded name
plate kind of thing. Naina picked up one and in the yellow light of the
torch read what it said- No Smoking. under that in small print it said
Pioneer Coal Mines. So they were in an abandoned coal mine. No wonder it
felt underground but that also meant they could be miles away from any
Naina took in a deep breath bracing herself, she checked
the time.. it had been little more than an hour since they left that
room and have hit quiet many dead ends she must find the way out soon,
before they get to know that they were missing. Giving a quick kiss on
Armaan's head she gave a reassuring smile and both headed to yet another
door she'd marked most of the place with a piece of coal lying around
and now could avoid moving in circles, her only worry was those other
three men whose whereabouts were still unknown. But their perseverance
paid off she saw some vents in the rooms they passed by and through one
she saw moon. It was the most beautiful thing she'd seen in days,
infused with hope she trotted to the large door but to her horror two
men stared back from about 100 ft. She froze but before she could hide
herself they saw them.
Shutting the door as quickly as she could
she grabbed Armaan's hand and both ran back in that tunnel type
corridor. The men were not far behind, soon she heard the door roughly
pushed open and quick footsteps running towards them. She hid herself
behind the half open door of a small empty room with Armaan behind her.
They didn't had enough time to hide themselves anywhere else, she knew
soon the men would realize that they did not go in that direction and
would come back looking for them but the good thing was that she'd
already figured the way out and now all they required was to hurry. As
soon as the men were out of earshot she held Armaan's hand and both got
out of their hiding place running in the same direction they intended to
earlier. Armaan glanced at his mother, terror was clearly visible on
her face but then there was also determination, how those men came to
know they had escaped he didn't know but he knew this for clear that if
they get caught now it might be their last day on earth. A picture of
his mother withering in pain on the floor soaked in blood flashed in his
mind.. he shuddered strengthening himself to do his best to take her
out of this mess.
But it wasn't going to be easy, it never was..
the men as she'd feared figured out that they were tricked and were
majorly pissed.. but their head start gave Naina and Armaan enough time
to run bit ahead... they crossed the tunnel running as fast as their
legs could carry them.. but they were not fast enough their injured
tired bodies could not compete with that of their tormentors. No sooner
she'd turned she heard footsteps getting louder behind her. They were
catching up the shadows on the opposite wall confirmed her fears,
holding Armaan she quickly ducked behind a dark corner. " look for them.
They wouldn't have gone far! " he recognized that voice, it was the
same second in command man. " sunder you come with me. Ismail, Hari both
of you go that way and check if they'd taken the other route " the men
split themselves and soon were out of earshot.
" Mom, I'm scared.." he shivered, more than cold it was fear.
hugged him kissing his forehead forcing a smile " hey, don't be scared
beta... see I'm here with you, Sherkhan is here.. and you are my
superman isn't it.." he nodded, she caressed his face trying to assure
him of something which even she wasn't very hopeful of " we are here
with you. Nothing bad is going to happen, we will be out of here soon..
away from these people. Just be brave like you have been.. like you are,
okay " he nodded again, how can he be weak now. He must be brave just
like his mother and she was right she was there and Sherkhan was there
together they can take down these petty four guys. Naina peeked out to
check if the coast was clear, the main large door with big exit mark was
right before their eyes. Their door to freedom merely hundred meters
With no one in sight they made a run for the door. It
opened almost effortlessly. For a second they could not make out where
they were. It was a huge hall, kind of sheded factory area where heavy
machinery is placed only this was full of old dusty rusting unused cars,
like a car dump. But at least they were not in that catacomb any more,
the early morning light filtered through the broken dusty side glasses
high above. But their work wasn't done yet, hiding behind the cars they
moved ahead inching towards the exit. Naina was just thinking of getting
up on a car to look for the exit door when the door behind them almost
blasted open and she knew the monsters were back. Holding Armaan's hand
tightly they snaked through the cars. The goons by now knew that their
prisoners were there, one of them jumped on the car and hopped from one
to another. They all were calling out for them their fake silky tone
urging them to show themselves.. they sounded even more scarier than
" Mom.." Armaan whimpered but Naina hushed him bringing
him even closer " it's going to be okay.." she whispered, the door was
now right before her eyes but there was a bigger problem. It was little
away and all the dump acted as a backdrop for the exit. The day light
seeped in from under the creek and if they have to get out of here they
have to make a dash for it but they would be very visible to all as
their was a clear patch between them and the door. Her mind throbbed as
she thought of plan to reach to the door, now probably two of the goons
were jumping on the cars looking for them in the crevasses. They creeped
ahead a couple of cars crouching like a tiger ready to pound on its
prey.. like a racer ready to shoot ahead with that signal. Armaan was
now right beside her looking with all the concentration at the point his
mother told was way to their freedom..
But his eyes widened
when he heard someone jump on the car by whose side they were hiding,
he'd barely turned his head when he saw the man smiling with the hungry
evil look at them. He looked like the evil flesh eating dinosaur from
Jurassic park looking down at his prey. " Armaaann runnn " his senses
got numb for a second he couldn't decide whether to run or help his
mother but he didn't get much time as she pushed him ahead to run out of
that door while she got up picking up an old rod and with all her might
landed it on the man's leg.
It gave the desired effect he
yelped with pain and fell down even more painfully. Dropping the rod she
grabbed Armaan's hand and dashed to the door. But then something
unexpected happened, something hit Naina from behind and she fell down
just meters away from the door. Armaan turned wide eyed and saw the
other three were closing in and the nearest of the three,the worse of
four had hit her with an iron rod that landed on her already injured
back. Armaan rushed back dropping by her side urging madly to get up.
Naina struggled but by then they were already there. The man Hari
grabbed Armaan by one hand like a rag doll while he screamed and kicked
wildly to let go of him, it hardly effected the man. The other three
soon followed panting.
" Saalo ne kitna bhagaya aaj, bheje ki aisi taisi kar di! Kyun babbu bhai.." One of them, Ismail, complained.
chup kar kutte! Aaj saale agar ye dono bhag jaate to saale hum saare
kisi gatar main pade note aur koi shakal pehchanne ko bhi aata samjha! "
Ismail quailed under that feirce tone. " and you.. my Jhansi ki Rani "
he purred pulling back Naina's hair making her stand, Naina staggered on
" let go of my son. I swear if you as much as lay a
finger on him.." she warned the man while Armaan still struggled in the
other goon's hold. Naina's threat rather seemed to amuse Babbu. He
laughed " that's some spirit I must say.. so now let's see what you can
actually 'do' when I touch this pup here " he pushed Naina away the
other goon Sunder held her immediately not happy at being hit by the
rod. Babbu reached for the back pocket to both Naina and Armaan's horror
pulled out a nasty looking knife, with its razor sharp pointed head and
saw like blade on one end it was the most evil weapon in the hand of an
equally evil man.
Naina's heart sank when she saw him walking
towards Armaan with that knife in hand, she shrieked out.. heart seized
with terror she begged to not to hurt her son.. to do whatever he wanted
with her but let Armaan go. Babbu stopped halfway towards Armaan and
picked up Sherkhan.. he turned back again to Naina standing inches away
from her face " you yell too much Jhansi ki Rani. It annoys me " and
taking the thick tail he stuffed it in her mouth while his cronie held
it tight, it acted as a rope though she struggled against it but she was
no match for their strength, tears steamed down her eyes fearing the
worst.. her heart seemed to burst out but none present there would take
pity on two helpless souls. The man walked back again while she was tied
down by his cronies. Babbu bent down before Armaan to his eye level
amazed to see that there were no tears in his eyes only anger.. fierce
" if you hit my mother again I will kill you! " the smile
for a second faded, he wasn't expecting it from a ten year old,
especially the one who could lose his life to his blade any moment.
Babbu grimanced, the order from his chief had tied his hands but then he
hadn't said anything about punishment for trying to escape. Has he. The
thought brought back his evil smirk.
" really! You are going to
kill me!? Ooh I'm so scared " he shuddered dramatically his cronies
joined his mirthful laugh and then without warning pushed the sharp
point of his knife in Armaan's upper arm. Shrieks of pain filled the
air. " you were going to kill me if I touched your mom pup now you bear
what she had to instead.. so how does it feel like huh " he dug the
knife deeper blood gushed out and Armaan felt like he'd pass out any
second, the pain was unbearable. Babbu pulled out the knife panting a
little he seemed intoxicated with the sight like he was high on a drug "
oh I soo love it! " he turned to glance at Naina who was struggling
badly against the ties " oh don't worry sweetheart, your turn will come
too. For now I'll deal with this daredevil pup of yours here " he was
about to struck Armaan with another blow when his cell phone buzzed out.
Only one man knew this number. He picked it up immediately " yes.. yeah
it's me.. everything's under control " he threw a glance at Naina "
yeah we are moving.. it's around three four hour drive.. yeah we're
leaving " he disconnected the call " you both are in luck, we have to
leave now.." he then laughed suddenly " rather you would've been lucky
if I had killed you.. I don't play that long you see.. but boss, he's a
different story " Naina wasn't interested in his stupid talk but she
knew if they aren't saved soon they would surely die.. and what awaited
them at the end of that drive was just lot worse than death. " but
before we leave.." he stepped towards Naina and slapped her tightly "
this is for trying to be smart with me " the sheer force of the hit send
her back on the floor, Armaan's yells just added spice to his sadistic
The weather too felt like foretelling the gloom
that awaited them, the day was foggy and chill ran in the air. They were
thrown in the van, it was the same that brought them here. Naina's
hands were bound while Armaan was thrown by her side like a rag doll
Naina tried to hold him close to her but was helpless. Ismail and Hari
sat with them, this time prepared to stop any plan of escape Hari whom
Naina managed to give a nice blow gave her killing glares and menacing
smirk Babbu sat in front with Sunder who was also driving. She had no
idea where they were taking them but prayed hard for any help.. she
couldn't see her son in any more pain. Armaan rested his head in her lap
shivering it was no less than a wonder that he was still alive, but
every passing moment brought him close to death, Naina kept crying
calling out Armaan begging those goons to open her ties but they didn't
bothered only took out their lethal evil looking knives threatening her
with death if she as much as whimper. Helpless and miserable she didn't
knew what to do to comfort her son, her child lay almost lifeless in her
lap soaked in blood and she couldn't even hold him...
had different plans. Hardly an hour would have passed when something hit
the van from behind, hitting would be an understated word, the
collision was so strong that it threw the van flying few meters in the
air before it landed hard back on the road and that wasn't it, the
vehicle rolled thrice and fell into a small valley or more like a huge
pit by the road side. It all happened so suddenly that no one could get a
second to understand what had happened.They kept tumbing down, Armaan
held Naina tightly as they rolled in the van before they were thrown out
of the vehicle whose back door got off its hinges.. they rolled few
more times before they came to stop.
A few seconds or minutes
later they were rattled again with the sound of a deafening blast.. a
wave passed through them making their hair stand on their end. Shocked
badly injured and utterly shaken Armaan stirred where he lay on the
ground. He tried to focus his eyes to the nearby surroundings.. he could
see a small opening in between the trees.. the blue sky had dark smoky
colour mixed with blue and some grey.. soon the pungent smell of
something burning, like rubber, hit his nostrils hard he felt the ground
underneath.. it was hard cold and rocky.. there were patches of grass
here and there but he couldn't see far as the mist hid the rest. And
then the thought struck him... almost jerking him out of lurking
unconsciousness. He was out, not in the van any more!.. the goons were
nowhere around, they could run away from them. Hope crashed like huge
waves in his heart bringing another realisation- where was his mother?
took humongous efforts on his part to move his limbs but the fear of
losing his mother infused unknown strength in his fragile body.
Staggering on his feet his called out for his mother as loud as he could
through his parched throat.. with every call that went unanswered his
heart sanked a little.. forgetting his own pain he frantically started
to look out for her, cursing himself that he let her go in the van he
should've held on to her more tightly.. few feet away he saw the first
sign of hope - Sherkhan. The tiger lay there in the rocky ground covered
with dirt and rusty coloured with all the blood he'd soaked as he was
held by Armaan. Armaan rushed grabbing it instantly and looked around
helplessly with no idea where to look for his mother but soon he got the
help.. a cold gush of wind cleared the mist and he saw what he was
But the hope on finding her didn't last for long..
she lay there withering on one side her hands still tied behind her back
with those ropes. Limping he rushed by her side crying out seeing her
condition.. brain numbed by the pain his hands worked automatically, it
took some efforts but he freed her of those ropes but there was another
shock waiting for him.. no sooner he turned her to face him he found her
reaching for her neck.. blood froze when he saw what she was trying to
do.. a piece of glass lay half hidden in her neck, peircing through her
neck it was causing her deep agony. Naina was lucky that it somehow
missed life threatening spot that would've killed her immediately but
she could not let it be that way, showing extraordinary bravery she held
the glass and bracing herself, focussing on the only thing that gave
her reason to bear all the pain - her son- she pulled out the glass.
blood curdling scream filled the cold air , gasping for air eyes shut
tightly she clutched the neck trying to stop the blood flow. Armaan
watched his mother twist with agonising pain he'd been through some of
the painful stuff himself but the way she whithered made his suffering
look insignificant. He shed tears of helplessness unable to think of
anything that could bring her relief.. it took Naina some moments before
she could even focus on things and people around her.
ar..man.. b..bring..Sh..her.." she couldn't complete her sentence but he
understood what she wanted. Grabbing the toy he rushed back to her she
somehow managed to rest herself on the elbow holding her neck with the
other, blood still seeped out through that cut which she tried to stop.
Armaan knew without a word what she wanted to do, he placed the lion on
her neck pressing it to stop the flow. She winced and weak as she
already felt slipped a little to the ground again. Her eyes began to
close, she had no strength left in her to keep them open any more. A
petrified Armaan sat by her side calling her out consoling her caressing
her face. His voice sounded so distant to her, It seemed this was where
she would bid the world goodbye. Leaving her son behind at the mercy of
those Inhumans.. as soon as the thought struck her a wave surged
through her body almost jolting back to present. But her nightmare
seemed to come to pass.
Armaan's eyes widened with horror as he
saw Babbu staggering towards them, that deadly knife clutched tightly in
his hand.. he too was bleeding profusely Armaan couldn't make out where
he was hurt his clothes were half burned half torn and smoke emitted
from them. He looked like any child's worst nightmare. His hand holding
the knife was raised ready to strike the killer blow while the left hung
like dead weight. Naina too lay frozen, she didn't had any strength
left to fight run or for that matter even warn Armaan to run away from
there. But Armaan wasn't ready to leave his mother this time, no matter
what. Both waited with bated breaths for the death to arrive.
So.. you thought.. you bit.." he couldn't complete his sentence and
tripped himself on the half buried rock. Lying on his back he let out a
loud painful groan, he was panting clutching his side which seemed too
bloody. His knife fell off from his hand but it didn't look like he
cared, he was twisting with pain but as soon as his eyes fell on Armaan
and Naina he stopped withering and gave them his evil twisted grin. "
you're g..going to die.. y..you both are going to die "
out a laugh. An evil maniac laugh. Anger surged through every pore of
Armaan's body. He forgot everything, his ears filled with a buzz..
nothing penetrated them except that laugh. He hated.. absolutely loathed
that laugh. Keeping Naina's head carefully on the piece of broken
brick, he got up staggeringly on his feet. He couldn't hear his mother's
weak attempts to stop him, he couldn't hear the crackling of burning
branches not very far from them he couldn't hear the regularly
increasing noise of honking cars on the road who stopped to see what
went wrong.. the mist inside and out hid everything.. slowly he walked
past the man who was still laughing like a possessed maniac.. he stopped
before a heavy looking rock lying there with many others alike. He
stopped for a moment glancing back to his mother and the man who lay
little away from her now looking curiously at him he seemed unable to
move with his left hand lying lifeless by his side.
all his willpower and strength Armaan picked up the heaviest rock he
could manage. Babbu's eyes now followed every step of the child who was
once his prey.. with every step Armaan took Babbu's eyes got wider with
fear dancing in them for the first time and his evil laugh was
completely wiped off his face. Standing right above his head with that
heavy rock in his shaky hands Armaan looked down at the man who now was
paralyzed with the understanding of what we going to happen.
" I told you.. I'll kill you if you try to hurt my mom again "
you bl.." Babbu couldn't finish his sentence when the rock dropped down
with a sickening thud. Armaan stood there panting, shaking from head to
toe. He didn't know much about killing but this is probably what was
called justice. And it felt right. He stagerred back to stunned Naina,
he could not explain what they called the look she had in her eyes but
it wasn't repriminding. Neither of them said a word as he felt down by
her side once again resting her head in his lap pressing the bleeding
cut of her neck with his small hands.. " it's okay mumma.. I won't let
anyone hurt you now.. I promise " Naina closed her eyes hearing the
words. She knew this promise was worth the world.
sounds peirced through the dead silence.. Armaan didn't knew if he was
awake or sleeping for he saw his father and uncle and some other men.
They were trying to take away Sherkhan.." no. I need him. Mom is
bleeding.." but it seemed they could not hear him shout, how much louder
should he shout?! But slowly everything started floating and darkness
engulfed him.. peaceful darkness.
Muskaan let out a muffled
sob, tears never stopped streaming down Ridhhima's eyes and the three
men could hardly hold theirs. ".. all this while.. those memories
haunted him.. he didn't wanted to keep Naina mom away papa.. it's the
fear.. sadness of seeing her go through all that suffering then actually
witnessing her dying before his very eyes that he wanted to keep away..
I don't think anyone could have done what he did then..."
I'm proud of my son. I really am." Virendra gazed at the now grown man,
his son, sleeping.. and he could see that small ten year old who
suffered fought and was exceptionally brave at the time when toughtest
break. And like he said.. he was proud of his son.
Edited by mansibharti - 08 January 2012 at 1:44am
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