Posted: 09 March 2012 at 11:44am | IP Logged
Riddhima entered the house and sat alone in the hall. She was lost in her interaction with Armaan. Today, she had sensed something deep in his eyes. She couldnt figure out what it was, but whatever it was, gave her a cold shiver. All her life, she had built a wall around herself, and no one, absolutely no one was allowed to cross it. Just to be on the safe side, she'd thickened that wall by being obnoxious to everyone, by behaving rudely and indifferently, so that none of them could see her true self, the pain that she'd hidden somewhere deep along the corner of her heart. Gradually, she'd also become indifferent to the things around her. People didnt call her an ice princess without any reason. And she was proud of it, proud that she'd managed to fool everyone, as they could never see her real self.
But today, like many other days with Armaan, she'd let her walls down. She didnt understand how did he manage to do it? How did he effortlessly break her walls, weaken her to such an extent that she spilled to him the biggest secret of her life? It was true, no one except herself knew that she'd once fallen in love, or had special feelings for someone, as she liked to call it, because come to think of it, falling in love at that young age is a bit too stupid. But that was until now, now Armaan also knew about her special feelings for that someone. Thankfully he didnt know the fact that 'that someone' was none other than him. The thought alone of Armaan knowing the truth made her shiver. No one could ever get her to speak the truth, not even Atul, but somehow, Armaan had this effect on her that she blabbered away all to him.
Whatever she'd said to him, every word had been nothing but the truth. She didnt know how much would Armaan believe out of all that, but what she'd said was all fact. She might've had felt something for him previously, and since then, there was something that bonded her to him. No wonder she heard whatever Anjali told about him with great attention, without giving herself away. But it was also true that Armaan Mallik repelled her. His attitude, his behavior, his cassanovic lifestyle, she detested it all. She couldnt deny that during the time she'd spent with him, she'd seen his better side as well. But maybe that was only for his family. For the rest of the world, he behaved in a casual and an indifferent manner. This made Riddhima hate him more. His dad was in jail, and somewhere, Armaan was also a reason for this. Had he not broken that girl's heart, her dad would've never stooped to this level to take revenge. Riddhima felt slight pity for that girl, but she thought better than making judgements without meeting the person. She wondered how many other girl's hearts had Armaan broken. But then again, why was she thinking all of it? She had nothing to do with his personal life. Finally, she concluded that Armaan worked up her brain cells a lot. She thought a lot when it came to him, but she had no reason to do so. Therefore, she would quickly finish off this case, and then go back to her normal routine, her life minus Armaan plus Leo, is equal to a normal life.
Just then Leo came running out of nowhere and hugged her. He sat next to her, and started speaking non-stop.
"Tu agayi, apun ko pata hie nai chala. Waise koi baat nai, jaanti hai aaj apun ne bada maza kiye la hai. Teri Anjali badi sweet hai, ek dum chocolate ke maafik. Usne apun ko sab jagah ghumaya, apun uske saath bade bade mall mein gaya. Wahaan apun ko jo pasand aata, Anjali ne kaha apun le sakta hai. Apun ne mana kiya, to wo boli ki tune kaha hai. Fir apun na bohut kuch le aaya. Apun udhar aise ajeeb ajeeb si games khela, aur itna mast khana khaya, solid tasty bilkul. Waise tu bohut yaad aayi thi, lekin Anjali boli ki tujhe kaam tha, verna tu bhi aati. Aur pata hai, apun na dher saara samaan khareed ke laya, ek dum jhakkas. Kapde, joote, games, chocolate, toffee, aur kya kya nai. Tu idhar kya baithi hai, chal na apun dikhata hai tere ko sab kuch", Leo held her arm and pulled her to her own room along the stairs.
Riddhima could feel Leo's contagious excitement flow through her as well. She was greeted by numerous shopping bags as soon as she entered the room. She scanned the room top to bottom, and everywhere she saw things peeping out of the bags. Riddhima wondered that why was her room the home to all these, and then realised that since Leo's mom had left, Leo might be expecting to sleep with her. The thought filled her with a sense of warmth, as she followed Leo who opened bags randomly and showed her all that he'd bought. She liked his taste in things, it was different, but stylish and classy. Suddenly Leo started ruffling through the bags. Riddhima wanted to question him what the matter was, but the determination reflecting on his face told her to stay away, he would handle it himself. Finally when he spotted what he was looking for, a wide smile plastered on his face. He took out that bag, and handed it to her.
"Wo na, apun ko ye dukaan mein bada achha laga, to apun ne Anjali se help karne ko bola. Apun ko pata nai tu aise kapde pehnegi ya nai, Anjali kehti le lete hain, aur bas apun ye tere liye le aaya", Leo spoke hesitantly, unsure of his gift.
Riddhima opened the bag to reveal a one shoulder royal blue coloured dress. It had lines of black alternately, and a thin belt to compliment it. It wasnt long, but neither too short. The overall effect of the dress was beautiful, and Riddhima looked at the dress wide eyed. Leo couldnt gather much from her expressions.
"Dekh tujhe pasand nai hai to koi baat nai. Apun ko Anjali ne bola tha ki shayad tujhe pasand nai aayegi. Par apun ko koi aur kapde achhe hie nai lage. Ghar pe pehen ne ke liye to tere pass bohut kapde honge, honge to party ke liye bhi, lekin apun ko kuch achha lana tha. Aur bahar wale kapdon mein baaki sab na, wo na bohut... zada chhote they, apun ko pasand nai aaya. Par koi na...", Leo suddenly shut up as he saw Riddhima stare at him.
"Mere pyaare Leo bhai, tu itni baatein soch kaise leta hai, aur soch bhi li, to ek hie saans mein kaise bol sakta hai. Tu to piddi sa hai, fir pata nahi kahaan se lata hai itni energy bolne ke liye. Chal wo baad mein sochenge, samjha. Abhi rahi ye dress ki baat, sachi maan Leo, ye bohut bohut bohut sundar hai. Aur ye main tera dil rakhne ke liye nahi bol rahi. Dress ekdum first class hai, bilkul tip top style. Main iseh zarur pehnugi, lekin kisi party ke din. Itni pyaari dress kharab nai kar sakti na...", Riddhima smiled. Leo's eyes immediately shone with happiness.
"Tujhe sachi dress pasand aayi? (Riddhima nodded her head) Fir theek hai, nai to mujhe to laga tha ki kahi tujhe wo zada chhote kapde na pasand ho. Aur Haan, Anjali kehti ki kyunki ye thodi chhoti hai, to iski neeche tu wo pehen sakti hai, kya kehte hain useh, haan kuch soking wagerah..."
"Tumhara matlab stocking?", Riddhima stiffled her laughter.
"Haan, wahich. Anjali kehti wo tere pass hai, to khareedne ki zarurat nahi hai", Leo said.
"Erm, kyun Leo, main ye dress kya stockings ke bina nai pehen sakti?", a naughty glint rose in Riddhima's eyes. Leo immediately snatched the dress from her.
"Ji nai, bilkul bhi nahi. Wo stock-stocking ke saath pehen na hai to theek hai, nai to ye dress main rakhunga", Leo said loudly.
Riddhima laughed loudly at his irritated expressions and wrapped her arms around him. She planted a small kiss on his cheek, and he immediately struggled to come out of her embrace. As she released him, he rubbed his hand over the cheek where she'd kissed him.
"Zada maska lagane ki zarurat nahi hai, apun sab jaanta hai tum behno ki chaal ko. Bhai ko makhan laga ke tum sab apni baat manvaati ho, lekin apun Leo hai. Apun ne keh diya na ki tu ye dress bina un stockings ke nai pehnegi, to nai pehnegi. Aur haan, pehle hie sun le, agar zaada chhote kapde pehen ke ghar se bahar nikli, to.. to.. to main na tab sochunga ki kya karunga, lekin bohut bura karunga, soch lena. Apun ko bilkul nai pasand ki apni sister waise kapde pehne. Areh, jab itne paise hain, to kanjoosi kayeko? Apun ka to maan na hai ki...", Leo kept on speaking and Riddhima looked at him with watery eyes. She'd always heard, that brothers were naturally protective of their sisters. This was something they didnt have to be taught. And now when she saw it, she was over-whelmed with joy. She knew that adopting Leo was a major decision of her life, she couldnt just randomly adopt any kid everyday. But Leo was not any kid. She'd met many kids, whom she was helping financially, within limits. But with Leo, it was something different. She had felt that instant family feeling when she'd first seen him. Maybe the reason was that Leo reflected herself when she was his age. He had most of her attributes, and in him, she saw her lost childhood. By securing his childhood, she wanted to content herself, as if giving the younger Riddhima a safe future. She saw him mouth words continuously, as she was lost in her thoughts. True he was her younger self in many ways, but he talked too much, unlike her, and she loved it about him. He was like a non-stop entertainment channel, whom she could carry everywhere, and he wouldnt let her get bored even for a milisecond. Finally Leo shook her to gain her attention.
"Riddhu, sun na! Important baat hai", Leo was speaking.
"Oh, sorry Leo, mera dhyaan nai tha. Haan bolo kya keh rahe they tum?", she asked him. He handed her another packet.
"Ye na, apun ye Bi ke liye laya hai. Suit hai, apun ko to colour pasand hai, Anjali kehti ki Bi ko bhi pasand aayega. Par ye na Bi ko tu dena, please"
"Par Leo, laye tum ho na, to tum kyun nahi dete?", Riddhima got confused.
"Er, wo apun ko lagta hai ki Bi apun ko pasand nai karti. Apun jabse aaya hain Bi ne apun se ek bar bhi baat nai ki. Bas apun ke liye khaane peene ka samaan bhijwa dia. Apun ko kitchen mein jane se bhi mana karwa dia. Apun ko nai lagta wo apun se ye legi. Please, mana mat karna, tu de de na", he pleaded.
"Achha theek hai, main de dungi. Ab main fresh hoti hoon, tum jaake thodi der rest karlo ya tv dekh lo. Fir hum sab milke dinner karenge", Leo smiled at that and went hopping. Riddhima went to have a shower. The hot water ran over her body, creating a soothening sensation. All day's exhaustion and anxiety flowed down with the running water. She came out dressed in a pair of black tracks with a yellow tee. She called out to Leo and Bi to join her for dinner. All three of them settled on the dining table. Bi sat at the chair of the head, whille Riddhima and Leo sat on one side.
"Riddhu, tu aagayi, fresh bhi ho gayi. Mujhe pata hie nahi chala", Bi asked.
"Haan Bi wo bas aate hie Leo mujhe apna samaan dikhaane le gaya, aur main bohut thaki bhi thi, to socha aapse aaraam se hie milungi", Riddhima said, and saw a different expression on Bi's face which she couldnt comprehend. Besides her, Leo was making noises with his cutlery as he ate. Riddhima stopped to teach him, and it took quite some time. When she finally got back to eating herself, the food was cold. Bi gave her a disapproving look as she understood. Riddhima didnt like to have her food cold. Bi ordered the maid to bring some hot food, as Riddhima bent her eyes guiltily. Suddenly her eyes fell on the packet that she'd brought down, and she gave it to Bi. Bi smilingly took it.
"Bi, ye aapke liye hai, chaliye chaliye, kholke to dekhiye", Riddhima said excitedly. Leo also glanced at Bi in anticipation. Bi opened the packet, and a wide smile spread on her face. It was an off white coloured suit, with light embroidery in green colour.
"Kitna pyaara hai, bilkul meri pasand ka colour. Main kal hie iseh pehnugi. Tujhe meri choice kitni achhe se pata hai na?", Bi said. Leo sighed in relief that Bi liked the suit.
"Bi, kha gayi na dhokha. Ye suit main nai, Leo laya hai aapke liye, usi ki pasand hai ye", Riddhima grinned, whereas all smile vanished from Bi's face. Leo saw the change, and held his breath.
"Hmm, tabhi main sochu ki thoda zada light hai colour. Chalo koi na, maine nahi pehen na hua to kisi maid ko de dugi", saying this, she kept the suit aside, and continued eating her food. Riddhima looked at her shocked, while big tears flowed from Leo's eyes, and leaving the food as such, he ran up the stairs. Both the women looked at him go. Riddhima muttered 'aap bhi na Bi', and she also followed Leo. Bi tried to call Riddhima to atleast have her food, the hot one which the maid had just brought, but she just couldnt speak anything. Silently, she also got up without eating another morsel and asked the servants to clean up and retire.
Riddhima entered her room, and saw Leo shed away silent tears as he stood next to the window. She saw him gazing at the stars with an accusatory glance in his eyes. There was an undefined anger on his face, and she felt hesitant in approaching him. After thinking for a few seconds, she went to stand next to him, and put her hand on his shoulder. As soon as Leo felt the touch, he turned back hugging her tightly. She snuggled into her, and sobbed softly. Riddhima was a little taken aback by his reaction, she hadn't expected him to turn to her for consolation, but he did, and handling him was important right now. After a few seconds, she brought him out of the hug, and they sat on the bed.
"Leo!", she spoke softly, wiping his tears.
"Riddhu, apun ne kya galti ki hai? Koi apun ko pasand nahi karta. Apun ke maa baap ne apun ko chhod dia, phir jisne apun ko beta bana ke bada kiya, wo bhi dhokebaaz nikli, aur ab Bi, Bi ko bhi apun pasand nai hai. Aisa apne saath hie kyun hota hai?", he asked in frustration.
"Tum mujhe to bhool gaye na, apni list mein?", Riddhima accused him.
"Tu na, tu nai aati apni kisi bhi list mein...",
"Kya, kisi bhi list mein nai?", Riddhima asked in shocked horror.
"Areh nai nai, apun ka wo matlab nai tha, tu na chup reh", Leo wiped his tears, as Riddhima smiled a bit seeing him irritated.
"Tu na kuch bhi bolti hai, apun ka dimaag hila ke rakh dia hai. Apun bolna kuch chahta hai, bol kuch aur deta hai, pata nai sara ulat pulat dala tune. Ab hasna band karegi bhi, apne ko gussa aa rela hai...", Leo kept speaking, but when Riddhima didn't waver from her grim, he to smiled with her. She felt relieved seeing him relax away. She placed her hands on his shoulder, and started explaining it to him.
"Dekho Leo, mujhe kya lagta hai, ki Bi ko meri aadat ho gayi hai, ab main hoon hie aisi, to kya karein", she said with an air of royalty, while Leo showed his tongue out, at which Riddhima giggled.
"Shayad, tumhare aane se, Bi mujhe lekar insecure ho gayi hain (Leo scrunched his eyes in confusion) Umm, ruko main theek se samjhati hoon. Shayad Bi ko lagta hai, ki ab tum aa gaye ho, to main unse zada tumhe pyaar karungi, tumhare saath zada time spend karungi, ki tum mere liye zada zaruri ban gaye ho, ya ban jaoge. Isi dar se Bi tumse gussa ho sakti hain, aur koi wajah mujhe samajh nai aati. Bi ke liye to sabhi bachche ek jaise hote hain, meri aur Anjali ki exception ke saath, obviously. Par ab tumhe bhi Bi ke dil mein jagah banani hogi, ye saabit karna hoga ki tum koi khatra nahi ho, mere aur unke relation ke liye. Tumhe unhe is baat ka ehsaas dilana hoga, ki tumhe bhi unka pyaar chahiye, aur bas, Bi ko pighalne mein zada der nahi lagegi merw dost", Riddhima gave her victorious smile.
"Achha? Lekin apun ko karna kya hoga, apun ko kuch nai pata", Leo scratched his head.
"Master Leo Malhotra, mere pass ek full-proof, bole to tumhari language mein jhakkaas plan hai. Jaisa main kahu, bas waisa karna, aur dekhna Bi kaise apna pyaar tumpe barsaati hai. Lekin tumhe ek baat yaad rakhni hogi, ye plan hai thoda tedha, aur mushkil. Shayad thoda time bhi lag jaye, par tumhe patience rakhna hoga. Bas hamesha itna yaad rakho ki main tumse bohut pyaar karti hoon, aur chahe kuch bhi ho jaye, main tumhe akela nahi chhodungi, theek hai?", she assured Leo, and he smiled at her in response, his love for her twinkling in his eyes. With that, Riddhima put him to bed, and herself dozed off to sleep thinking about a cluster of things.
Next day, Riddhima opened her eyes earlier than usual, and rubbed her them as she lay in the bed lazily. She moved her gaze to the side, and one look at Leo, made her smile through her sleepiness. As far as her memory let her go, she recalled Leo sleeping right next to her, and if she wasn't wrong, there was no one on their bed, apart from the two of them, but how wrong could she have been. They had company with them, and for some reason, Riddhima didn't mind. She got up, and moved the curtains away from each other, and opening the window, letting the morning sun rays hit Leo's face, accompanied with the cold breeze that immediately engulfed her in its clutches, and she hugged herself. The rays caused Leo to flicker his eyes, and he impulsively turned his face to the side. Riddhima went and moved the curtains from that side too, and Leo hid inside the sheets. Riddhima gaped at his act, so she switched on the lights, and that had her desired effect. Leo too rubbed his eyes, and after a few seconds, he opened them, only to find Riddhima standing on his head, with a big smile plastered on her face. He looked at her confusingly, and before he could understand, he felt a blinding flash in the eye. When he recovered from the flash, he saw Riddhima still towering him, with that naughty glint.
"Tujhe kya subah subah pagalpan ka daura aaya hai?", he asked her, irritated. Riddhima jumped to sit beside him.
"Mera to pata nai, par shayad tumhe zarur aayega, jab tum ye dekhoge", she pulled out the camera she was holding, in front of Leo. It had an image of Leo hugging a teddy bear, as he lay peacefully amidst the various stuff toys from Riddhima's cupboard, and many more similar images where Leo was on one of the toys, or vice-versa. She'd clicked them after moving away the curtains, silently, and woke him right before the last one. Leo looked horrified, and tried to pull the camera from her hands, but she was ready for the attack, and instinctively pulled it out of his way. When Leo knew he couldn't win against her, he sat with a puffed up face. Riddhima came and sat next to him, closed the distance between them, and lovingly handed the camera to Leo. He immediately took it, and started viewing the images.
"To Leo, main itni buri hoon, ki tumhe ye sab toys laane pade meri cupboard se, taaki tumhe mere saath akele na sona pade?", she asked, with a serious expression.
"Areh nai Riddhu, aisi baat nahi hai", Leo immediately said, defiantly, but reading the humour in her eyes, he continued, "Wo na, apun ko laga ki jab tu uthegi subah, to tujhe achha lagega, apna bed bhara bhara dekh ke. Waise bhi itne pyaare khilauno ko band karke rakhne ka kya fayeda? Wo apun dono ke saath bahar achhe lagte hain", he blushed, and Riddhima sat adoring him. Just then, her cell phone rang, and she wondered who could be calling her at this time. The name on the screen filled her mind with innumerous thoughts as she pressed the accept button, pushing Leo towards the bathroom to freshen up.
"Haan Mallik, bolo!"
"Uh haan Hi! I mean good morning!", Armaan was a bit baffled by her to-the-point tone. After last night, he'd expected her to be a bit softer to him, but didn't seem like anything had changed.
"Tumne mujhe good morning bolne ke liye to wish nahi kiya hoga?", she asked grimly. Why did he have to complicate things more than they already were?
"Hm yeah right! I just wanted to ask ki since you have to come to my office only, today as well, so as in... so maybe... should-i-pick-you-up-on-my-way?", he finished the last words in a single breath, and clung to the phone in anticipation. After a few seconds of silence, Riddhima answered him.
"Nai Mallik, i'm sorry. Aaj Leo ke school ka first day hai, and he'll need help. Moreover i need to drop him off, so i can't come with you...", she stopped speaking, when she thought of something.
"Oh! Then you should be with him. I agree with you...", Armaan's disappointment was audible in his voice. He'd planned an exciting morning with her, but his ideas just flowed into the drain when he heard her response.
"Can you what?", Armaan questioned back when he caught on to her last words after which she melted into a silence.
Riddhima let out an exasperated sigh as she realized he hadn't really heard what she'd said.
"Mallik, did you catch even a single word of all that i just spoke", there was an intense silence on the other side, "Mallik! I'm asking you something. Do you mind answering that?", irritation edged her voice.
"How do you know that i'm still here. For all you know, i could've cut the call on you", he questioned.
To Riddhima, his innocent question in that even more innocent voice melted like a scoop of ice-cream in her ears. She wondered if he was just playing the act, but she'd heard genuine curiosity, and she smiled at that, thanking God that he couldn't see her right now.
"Mallik! Agle 20 minutes mein mujhe mere ghar se pick kar sakte ho so that we go to your office together? Can you?", she questioned in a more calm voice.
"Are you sure? I mean Leo...", he hesitated.
"Can you?", she asked in a serious tone.
"Par 20 minutes, why do we have to be so early...", she heard the bounce in his voice as he questioned her.
"Mallik! Final time, are you coming or shall i keep the phone down?", she asked warningly.
"Areh nai nai! I just wanted to make sure, please irritate mat hona. You want me to come to your house, right?", he asked in a normal voice.
"Yes!", she tried speaking calmly.
"We'll go to office together, right?"
"Yes", she muttered.
"We have to go to my office, right?"
"Yes", she spoke, now frustrated.
"In the next 20 minutes, right?"
"Yes!", her reply came, for the umpteenth time.
"Is it a date?"
"Yes!", came her quick reply, "What? Wait a minute! Date?", she pondered over her answer as she heard him mutter a 'yes' as well, but in victory.
"So i'll see you in 20. Be ready, for our Date", he emphasized on the word 'date', and cut the call even before she could speak something.
"What the hell?", Riddhima cursed herself for once again letting down her walls. Why did she have to act like such a douche bag? She was always attentive to her surroundings, then how could she lose her composure when she was with him? Cursing herself for an innumerable time, she went to get ready quickly, making the needed arrangements, keeping Armaan at the back of her mind as she recalled her decision from last night, and focusing on other important person, Leo.
VERY VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
Well! I know you guys hate me for my long absence from the forums, for not updating regularly. But i guess i just found a way to solve that. Actually i didn't, someone else did it for me. I'll stop beating around the bush, and come straight to the point. This part, was the last part that i can give to you all. Unfortunately, i am terminating all my ffs. The reason for this is very sweet, laiden with bitterness, and quite personal. Please do not be worried, i have no hidden tragedies, just a bunch of intermingled issues. In the present situation, i am leaving the forums as well. I have so much to say to you all, but words are too few. All i can say, is thank you for reading all the crap i came up with, and taking time to appreciate it as well. You all have been a very very very important part of my life, and honestly, i can't express it any further. I know, everyday people leave, and new people join, but do me a favour guys, please don't remember me. Forget me asap, and move on, because there won't be a chance that i'll see you people again. I really really hate myself, for ending the stories mid-way, that connected you all with me, but trust me, i don't have an alternative. Just a little request, please don't hate me for doing this. I hope you all shall understand.