Iztiraar(Part 1- Defeat)
“Vivaah sampann hua. Aaj se aap donon pati-patni hain.”, the priest said, breaking my reverie.
Throughout the marriage, I couldn’t help but steal glances at her.
Such a pure beauty she was.
But, appearances can be deceptive.
When you own father can attempt to kill you for a mere business, then a girl who has no relation with me, who doesn’t feel anything for me, whom I have forced into this so-called marriage, I chuckled, can do a lot more.
I looked at her. Her eyes did not reflect any emotion, and her face was blank. I sighed, probably she was too numb to react. No, I do not expect her to dance around when she’s being tied to a groom not of her choice, wait, she’s being tied in an altogether unwanted marriage.
When she didn’t get up from the mandap, I called out her name. But she still didn’t react.
“Riddhima, get up.”, I said again, a bit harshly and she got up slowly.
We took the blessings of elders and proceeded to go into my room, which is our room now.
I kept standing at the door like an idiot as she banged the door shut on my face. The last glimpse I saw was of her eyes that once held innocence and cheerfulness, now brimming with tears, tears of anger.
I felt a tinge of satisfaction somewhere though. I had chosen a life partner of my level. She’s equally fierce, or maybe more.
No matter how much broken she is, she never shows her weakness to anyone. She endures all the pain, without uttering a word. And that’s what I need to change.
Even if she doesn’t accept me, it’s fine. I don’t have any expectations from her. But I have not married her just for namesake. I’ve vowed to protect her, stand by her side and share her pain and I shall fulfil my promises until my last breath.
My reverie was broken by a knock at the door of my cabin.
Angre looked at me with confusion.
Well, ain’t his fault. You might get a bit surprised if you see the groom going through a business file in his wedding attire on his supposed suhaagraat.
The henna my hands were painted with now seemed like blood to me.
Dark and red and ugly.
The anklets looked like chains that barred my escape.
I washed my hands again and again, hoping for the colour to fade away, but it seemed to turn darker by time.
The patterns drawn on my palms were like scars that kept on deepening.
The red bangles added to my agony. They just reminded me that I was bound to him now.
Frustrated, I squeezed the churis, breaking them.
Picking up the glass shards, I scratched the ugly designs that reminded me of my defeat.
Blood oozed down my skin, but all I wanted was to erase the marks, erase his name from my hands.
Defeated, I fell to the ground, crying at my fate.
That’s the only thing I could do. Cry at my plight.
Getting up, I looked at my reflection in the mirror.
A defeated woman stared back at me.
Weary eyes, quivering lips, bleeding heart and broken soul.
No, this couldn’t be me.
This is not Riddhima.
This is not the Riddhima I once was.
“I am not Riddhima.”, said the woman and suddenly her lips curved up in a sinister smirk,”I am Riddhima Vansh Raisinghania, wife of Vansh Raisinghania.”
“Shut up!”, I screamed.
“Why should I shut up, Riddhima? And even you should accept this now. Accept your new identity, accept your husband, accept your defeat. You are Riddhima Vansh Raisinghania now, and nothing can change this fact.”
“No. No. No!”, I tried to calm myself but it ended up in a hysteric scream.
Grabbing a vase that was kept nearby, I threw it at the mirror, breaking it into a million pieces, just like my broken self.
“You won Vansh Raisinghania, and I lost.”, I chuckled.
“I accept my defeat.”
Saying this, she brought the glass shard near her wrist.
Part 2- Hurt
“Tch! Given up already?”
Leaning on the doorframe was the very reason of her pain, smirking at her casually as if she were cutting an apple rather than slitting her vein.
He looked away and said in a lower voice, more like talking to himself, “Tch! Probably I was wrong.”
She inhaled a deep breath as she inched the shard closer to her skin. Feeling his gaze over her, she threw the piece of glass in frustration, shattering it into much smaller pieces.
Looking at him with bloodshot eyes, she said, “This is what you wanted, right? You succeeded in your goal. You made me helpless. What more do you want now?”
“Sometimes, it’s not about victory or defeat, Riddhima.”, he sighed.
“Seriously? Joke of the deacde, Mr.Raisinghania. As if I don’t know! You did all of this to satisfy your humongous male ego. You are just another hypocrite man, who thinks that the whole world belongs to him, and the people are mere puppets for him to play with.”
She looked at him, expecting a reply, but he remained mum, giving her a blank look as if she were blaming him of something he never did.
“Don’t be a kid, Riddhima.”, he said.
“You are scared to face the truth, isn’t it, Vansh?”, she spat his name with so much disgust, it made him flinch. Her words felt like dagggers that pierced his heart.
“I’m not scared.”, he said, looking away, trying to avoid her gaze.
“Why don’t you just…leave me alone!? Tumhe farak bhi kyun padta hai agar main zinda rahun ya mar jaun?”, she yelled as her eyes welled up with tears.
“What is it that is troubling you?”
“You are saying as if you are blind. You are the only reason of my agony. Now what, huh? Are you gonna free me from this marriage?”
“I won’t let you go, Riddhima,
unless either of us…dies.”, he said, before walking away.
“Devil Raisinghania!”, she shouted as hot tears made their way down her cheeks.
It would have been better if I would have killed him first, she thought to herself.
In her outburst of emotions, Riddhima didn’t realize when Vansh kept a box in her hand.
Walking in the hall, Angre pondered about what his boss actually wanted to achieve. He had ordered for his wedding preparations to be done just three days prior to the marriage date and only he knew how he had managed to arrange everything in time, in spite of the ongoing lockdown. He couldn’t understand that how he, who was so eager to make Riddhima his wife, seemed quite calm even when she had restricted his entry into his very own room on the night of his marriage.
He remembered his conversation with him when he was sitting in the study.
“Boss, aap yahan? It’s 11 p.m, I mean, you must be tired.”, Angre said, covering his mouth as he yawned.
“Yeah, just one last file and then I’m off to bed.”, Vansh said, rubbing his weary eyes.
“Ok boss. Good night.”
“Listen, Angre.”, he said as Angre was about to leave.
“Bring me some clothes, will you?”
As Angre somehow succeeded in suppressing his giggles, Vansh let out a sigh.
Feeling awkard and facepalming mentally for saying it in the first place, he coughed and stated, “I mean, it will be difficult to sleep in this sherwani.”
After Angre had brought him a pair of comfortable clothes, he was again stopped by Vansh as he was about to go.
“Angre! I gave you the charge of the Armenia deal. What are the updates?”, asked he.
“Vo boss, achaanak se aapki shaadi hui, saare arrangements karne me busy tha, to zyada progress nhi hui hai. Marc se baat karke agle mahine meeting fix ki hai uss deal ke liye.”, said Angre, scratching the back of his neck nervously and giving him a sheepish smile.
“Mujhe to samajh nhi aa raha hai ki shaadi meri hui hai ya tumhari? Aur baaki log the na arrangements dekhne ke liye. Couldn’t you focus on the deal? Instead you went on to postpone it to next month. Do you even realize the value of time, Angre?”
“Sorry boss.”, he said, lowering his head.
“Oh, to hell with your sorry.”, said Vansh, rolling his eyes at him.
“Vansh, tu itni raat ko yahan kya kar raha hai? Aur kyu bechare Angre ko daanthne me laga hua hai? Aisa bhi kya kar diya issne?”, asked Dadi, as she came into the study.
“Aur karega bhi kya Dadi. Isse kaamchori aur bahane banane ke siva aata bhi kya hai. Main tak yahan kaam kar raha hoon, aur isne ek important deal postpone kar di, when it wasn’t even needed to.”
“Business ki baatein to tu aaj chhod hi de. Shaadi hui hai aaj teri, zimmedaariyan badh gayin hain ab. Ye deal aur ye sab kaam ki baatein Angre sambhaal lega, beta.”
“Par dadi-“, he tried to protest.
“Ab mujhe ye bata ki tune Riddhima ko tohfa diya..ya nahi? Kyuki tujhe dekhke lagta to hai nahi ki tujhe pata bhi hoga iss baare mein.”
“Dadi, kal chalega? Aaj thak gaya hoon.”
“Abhi ja. Nikal yahan se. Angre, study lock karo aur dekhna ki ye ek hafte tak andar ghus na paye. Shaadi hui nahi hai, aur kaam shuru.”
“Dadi!”, Vansh whined but the elderly woman was far too stubborn.
It had been a quite difficult task for him to control his laughter back then. But now that his boss was not there near him, Angre giggled to himself. His face was worth watching when Dadi dragged him outside the study.
His trance was broken when he felt someone’s hand on his shoulder.
Ishani ki tabiyat theek to hai? Vo..aur mujhse milne aayi hai?
He thought to himself giving her a skeptical look as Ishani smiled at him.
Something is definitely wrong.
“Ok. Yes, it’s final. I’ll be there in half an hour.”, Vansh said to a person over a phone call.
Hanging up the call, he adjusted his three piece suit looking in the mirror and glanced at his wrist-watch.
9:30 a.m. He sighed.
While he was walking in the corridor, his gaze fell at the door of his room.
After deliberating for a while, he decided to put the blabber of his conscience to deaf ears.
A little peeking in his own room to get a glimpse of his own wife isn’t a sin, is it?
And there she was, lying on the bed like a lazy panda.
Baby panda. He thought to himself and chuckled softly.
Vansh, tu na paagal ho gaya hai.
But there was no denying that when he thought about her, unknowingly his lips curved up in a smile.
“Ahem…Bhai…Yoon mand mand jo muskura rahe ho, kya hai jo humse chup rahe ho?”
Siya’s voice lacing with mischief broke his reverie.
“Kuch nahi.”, he replied immediately.
“Kuch to hai. Kahin vo ‘kuch’ Bhabhi to nahi.”, she giggled.
“Tum bhi na Siya. Kuch bhi sochti ho.”, he scoffed and rolled his eyes, smiling at the antics of his little sister.
Patting her head, he smiled at her.
Her words were interuppted by a call ringtone.
“Sorry Sia, I have to take this.”
He pinched her nose softly, to which she squinted her eyes and smiled.
“Yes. I’m on the way.”, he said to the person on the other side of the call while walking towards the door.
“Arrey, bhai! Suno to…”, Siya tried stopping him.
“Siya, late ho raha hai. Aapke baat karenge.”, he said looking at her and winked.
Turning around, he was about to step outside the mansion when dadi blocked his way.
“Arrey, Arrey! Oh, saahabzaade! Kidhar?”, she asked, raising her brows at him.
“Vo dadi, ek business associate ke saath important meeting hai.”, he replied.
“Idhar aa.”, she told him as she went towards the large sofa sets in the middle of the hall.
“Dadi please!”, he cried.
“Mr. Vansh Raisinghania, come here.”, she ordered in a strict tone.
Making him sit on the sofa, she herself sat beside him and twisted his ear lightly.
“Business, business aur business. Mujhe ye bata, tune Riddhima se shaadi ki hai ya iss kambhakt business associate se?”, she scolded him.
“Acha, theek hai baba. Ab batao kya kaam hai.”, he said holding her hands.
Reaching out for an envelope kept on the table nearby, she handed it to him.
Her smile grew wider and Vansh wondered what could be inside it.
“Tickets to Goa?”
He looked at her, confused.
“Hayee, main kahan Jake maroon? Itna Bhola bachcha mera.”, she said,
(Chullu bhar pani mein
jaake, budhiya. 🙃)
“Tere honeymoon ke liye hai, beta.”, she spoke after a while.
Blood rushed to his cheeks.
“Isme chaunkne wali kya baat hai?”, she replied casually, to which he shook his head.
“Dadi, par-“, he tried protesting.
“Chup, ekdum chup. Ab main bolungi, aur tu sunega.”
Smiling at him, she said, “Choti si umar mein tune business aur parivaar ki zimmedari apne sar par le li. Tab se lekar aaj-tak maine tere kisi bhi kaam me dakhal nhi di. Achaanak se tune apni shaadi ka farmaan jaari kar diya, phir bhi maine kuch nahi kaha. Tu to bass kehke chala gaya, vahaan bechare uss Angre ko kolhu kr bail ki tarah kaam karna pada. Angre ki baat alag hai, par Riddhima? Uss bachchi ne tera kya bigaada hai? Tune hi to kaha tha na ki Tum donon ek dusre se pyaar karte ho. To phir, yahin tak tha tera pyaar? Vo teri biwi hai beta, koi cheez nahi, jisse haasil kar liya aur phir ghar ke ek kone mein rakhkar mudkar bhi na dekha. Usse khush rakhne ki zimmedari teri hai. Business to-”
“Haan, pata hai. Angre sambhal lega.”, he said, faking a smile.
“But try to understand, dadi. Lockdown chal raha hai, and-”
“Theher ja, theher ja.”, she cut him.
Squinting her eyes, she said, “Tu to aise bol raha hai jaise mujhe deen-duniya ki koi khabar hi na ho. Ek baar theek se dekh to leta. Agle mahine ki tickets hain.”
“Acha, theek hai baba. I’ll go. Ab khush?”
The old lady smiled in satisfaction and blinked her eyes.
“Jaa, ab Riddhima ko bata de. Vo bhi taiyaari kar legi. Tera suitcase maine already pack kar diya hai. Hmm?”
(Kapde pack kar diye hain to
bechara pehnega kya, budhiya? 🙂
Khair, ye thehre ameer log 🙃)
“Aur sunn, meri bachchi ko zara si bhi chot pahunchai to-”
“Haan, haan. Jaanta hun.”
Shaking his head, he headed upstairs.
When Riddhima woke up, she had screamed, startled by the figure sitting one of the chairs at the faraway end of the room.
Vansh looked up from his laptop, only to be bombarded with questions.
“T-Tum yahan kya kar rahe ho? Aise koi kisi ke kamre mein b-bina permission ke aata hai?”, she asked, sitting up and adjusting her dress.
“Madam, ye mera kamra hai.”, he replied nonchalantly, averting his gaze back at the screen.
“T-Tumhara kamra hai, to kya hua? A-Andar to main thi na. Sharam nhi aati t-tumhe?”
“Meri besharmi abhi tumne dekhi hi kahan hai…”, he muttered under his breath, keeping the laptop on the glass table.
“K-Kya?”, she asked, looking at him with dilated pupils.
“Maine kaha ki…tum haklaati bhi ho?”
“To mujhse darrti ho?”, he asked, hiding his smirk.
“Darr, a-aur tumse? Huh! Tum koi bandook ho kya jo main tumse darungi? Tumpe to hassi aati hai. Joker.” She let out a sarcastic chuckle, that sounded more like a frightened one.
The amused look on his face soon got replaced with a mischievous smirk. Masking the playfulness in his eyes, he put on a poker face.
“Acha?”, he asked in an intimidating tone, taking slow but long strides towards her.
“Main joker jaisa lagta hoon?”, he said, bending over her like a predator analyzing it’s prey.
“Haan, aur sirf j-joker kyun, ullu ke paththe bhi ho.”, she said, sliding back a little to increase the distance between them.
“Mujhse itni hadbadi mein shaadi ki. To phir..”
“To phir?”, he repeated when she stopped.
After a moment of silence, she shook her head.
“Kuch nahi. Yahan kyun aaye ho?”
“Vo..Dadi ne bheja tha. Kahin jana hai.”
“To jao na. Maine kab Mana kiya.”, she said, covering herself with the blanket.
“Tumhe bhi saath chalna hai.”
“Mujhe nahi jaana.”
She lied down on the bed and curled up into a ball.
“Chalna padega.”, he insisted.
Annoyed, she sat up and adjusted her dress and hair.
“Chalo. Gaadi nikaalo. Bhot le jaane ka mann hai na tumhara. Main kaun hoti hun apne liye decisions lene wali? Tumhari kathputli hoon na.”, she said sarcastically.
“Vo..Agle mahine jana hai.”, he said, trying to avoid eye-contact with her.
“To abhi se kyun dhindhora peet rahe ho. Agle mahine batana.”, she said nonchalantly and slipped under the covers.
“Dadi ne kaha tha.”
“Bol to rahi hun, tum akele chale jao. Tumhari dadi hai, mere jaane ya na jaane se unhe kya farq padta hai?”, she replied in a muffled voice, burying her head into the blanket.
“Padta hai. Tum unki bahu ho.”, he replied in a small voice.
“Maine thodi hi kaha tha bahu banane ko. Zabardasti shaadi karke laye ho. Tumhare gharwalon ko khush karne ka theka nhi liya hai maine. Tumhara torture jhel rahi hun, vahi ganeemat samjho. Now leave, please. Thodi si zindagi bachi hai mere andar, varna vo bhi mar jaegi.”
Sighing, he glanced at her asleep figure and exited the room.
A week later
“Angre!”, I shouted from my cabin, after glacing at my wrist-watch to check the time. It’s 11.30 already and the meeting is scheduled at 12 noon, yet there is no sign of my personal assistant. Sometimes, I doubt whether I’m really the boss.
But as soon as my gaze fell on Riddhima’s picture that was kept on my desk, a smile automatically crept up on my face. Her one glance is enough to make all my stress and fatigue vanish.
Ek tujhko hi bass dekhkar
Bhuli mujhko hi meri nazar
Tujhko shayad nahi hai khabar
Tujhko jeete hain hum kis kadar…
That was when I heard the door click. Keeping the photo frame back at the table, I looked up to see Angre standing in front of me, with an expression he usually has after he makes blunders.
Taking a deep breath, I tried to remain calm. I’m accustomed to this now.
“File lana bhul gaye, haina?”
I glared at him while he nodded, grinning sheepishly.
This man, I tell you. Though he always tells me, “Boss, main sambhaal lunga”, ultimately I am the one who has to deal with the blunders created by my not-so-responsible personal assistant.
I entered my room, to fetch the damned file, while cursing Angre mentally for being a careless fellow. He always says he’ll handle everything. Such a big lier he is.
I was pacing through the corridor, and realized that it was ‘our’ room now, as soon as a jasmine scent hit my nostrils.
I wanted to quickly get that file and leave the room, for many reasons.
Her mere fragrance makes me lose my sanity. Her smile is infectious, but a cold hearted mafia man like me can’t get affected by it, can he? But I am! Her presence affects me. I sometimes wonder she knows some kind of sorcery, for the magic she has done on me, has…changed me.
I immediately regretted going in.
She was lying on the bed, with her slit kurti slightly lifted from her waist.
I immediately shut my eyes and turned around. Not that I am a gentleman or something, but if I continued gazing at her in such a condition, I feared I would do something I would regret later.
It was only when I fake coughed to gain her attention did she become aware of my presence, for I heard her gasp and drop something in a hurry to cover herself.
Who the hell keeps the door open like this? Right now, it was me who entered inside. What if it was any other man? I rolled my eyes mentally at her carelessness. Not that I am going to scold her. Nah! My single glare is enough to intimidate anyone. But I don’t wanna scare her. It’s the men of the house who are to be warned, and I need not speak in order to tell them what belongs to me. For nobody dares setting his eyes upon my possession, you know…their lives are precious to them.
“Khol lo…”, she said nervously.
I turned around and saw her holding a tube.
An unknown feeling washed over me.
Did she get hurt? If yes, then how? Was it just a mistake or did anyone do it deliberately? What if there was an intruder in the house who attacked her?
Riddhima quickly raced in the bathroom but before she could lock the door, he held her wrist.
“Baahar aao, Riddhima.”, he said in a calm yet dangerous tone.
Seeing her rooted to her place, he continued, “Varna main andar aa jaunga.”
Like a frightened kitten, she took baby steps towards him.
When she finally reached near him, he left her hand.
Grabbing the opportunity, Riddhima tried to run away, but halted midway as soon as she heard his voice.
“Bhaagne ki koshish bhi mat karna. Mere paas bathroom ki spare key hai, to tumhara Yahaan rehna, ya vahaan, donon ek jaisa hai.”
Seeing her scared face, his expressions softened.
“Ab batao, chot kaise lagi?”, he asked.
She couldn’t detect any wickedness or suspicion in his eyes, all she could see was care.
“Vo…V… Vansh, kuch nhi hua hai…
Halka sa jala hai bass… Kitchen mein khana banane waqt lag gaya tha.”
“Main jhoot kyu bolungi tumse?”, she replied in a nearly inaudible tone.
“To Mrs. D’Souza ya kisi aur se keh leti. Free mein gulami nhi kara raha hun unn logon se, timely salary deta hoon.”, he said in a slightly harsh voice.
“Khud ka kaam karne mein jo sukoon hain, vo dusron se kaam karane mein nhi.”, she said, tucking a strand of her hair behind.
“Oh, swaabhimaani, I see. To mere raaz kuredne pe kyu tuli hui rehti ho? Jab tum Sia se Ragini ke baare me puch rhi thi, tab maine sab sun liya. Mrs. D’Souza ne bhi mujhe sab bata diya.”
He scanned her eyes for any trace of fear, but found blazing fury, like a burning volcano ready to erupt on him.
“Iska matlab, tum koi Jasoos ho na?”, he asked, calmly making her eyes widen in shock.
Riddhima gulped. What was going in his mind was difficult to conclude.
He didn’t seem to be suspicious, nor did his eyes reflect anger or pride.
This version of Vansh was far more dangerous. He seemed unusually calm, which gave her eerie feelings.
Shrugging her thoughts, she pushed him aside, making him stumble to the ground.
“Tum bhool rahe ho, Vansh. Humari shaadi koi normal shaadi nhi hai, aur naa hi hum donon aam pati-patni. The sooner you fix this thing in your head, the better it will be for you.”
“Tum pehli aisi insaan ho jisko samajhne mein mujhe itni mushkil ho rahi hai, Riddhima.”
“Tum kaunsa koi khuli kitaab ho.”, she looked at him through the corner of her eyes.
Indeed, they were nothing more than strangers. All she heard about him was from dadi, Siya or other family members.
“Dawaai lagai?”, he asked softly, coming closer to her.
It was only when she felt his warn breath fanning on her neck, did she realize their close proximity.
“K..Kya kar rhe ho?”, she asked breathing heavily.
To her relief, he immediately backed off and raised known eyes at her. She saw a medicine tube in his hands and scolded herself for having those thoughts.
“Vaise…Bana kya rahi thi kitchen mein? Meethi bhaat mein to gas ka koi kaam nhi. As far as I know, fridge mein rice rakhe rehte hain.”
“So mean! Tumhe lagta hai mujhe sirf meethi bhaat banani aati hai? Mujhe bhot kuch banana aata hai. Try me.”
“Ah, vo to mujhe pata hai. Bahane, for example, bhot ache bana leti ho. Aur theories aur accusations to by God. Aata kahan se tumhare dimaag mein ye sab?”, he asked dramatically, making her grit her teeth.
“You know what? I don’t need your damned help. Just leave me alone before I-”
“Before you what?”, he played along.
As she opened her mouth to say something, he lifted her bridal style, making her gasp. Ignoring her, he placed her on the bed.
“Vansh, m..main kar lungi.”
She immediately got down from the bed, and as she stepped on the floor, she didn’t feel the hardness of the floor.
She looked down, only to see her foot on Vansh’s hand.
Immediately, she climbed the bed.
“Bhagwaan ne ankhen di hain, unka sahi istemaal kiya karo. Aur haan, khud ki madad karne ka itna hi shauk hai, to vo hi sahi. Main bhi kahan tumhe samajhane chala tha.”
While he was leaving, she saw a red liquid dripping from his hand.
To confirm her doubt, she looked at the floor beside the bed, only to see glass shards with blood on them.
“Vansh, ruko!”, she shouted.
“Kyu? Koi taana Bach gaya kya sunane ko?”, he asked sarcastically.
“Vansh, tumhe chot lagi hai. Dekho, kitna khoon beh raha hai. Lao, main bandage kar deti hoon.”, she said worriedly.
“You know what, Riddhima? Apni ye fake care apne paas rakho. The way you can tend your own wounds, the same way can I.”
I recommend listening to Saajna by Falak. It is a heart-wrenching song. 🤧🖤
No proof-reading done, so kindly ignore mistakes. Hehe! 😗