Sunday, 22 February 2015

part 3:Life out of control(season 3)

Armaan was lying down on his bed staring up at the ceiling pointlessly. It had been an hour since he returned from Riddhima’s house at sharp mid-night. And sleep was evading him completely. How could he put through in words, the torture he was enduring? Every touch of hers sent the blood pumping around his body ten times faster!
And every time he saw the depth of pain in her eyes, his heart burned to give her back that one smile that was wiped away from her face, for which he held himself responsible for. Feeling water droplets fall on arms that were behind his head, he realized that he was crying. Armaan Mallik was crying for a girl! And not even once or twice. For two whole months! Every second away from her was tormenting him. He remembered how he used to stand by the window in his sky high apartment in Australia, looking for the moon, just to get that similar feel of Riddhima as he used to get back in Mumbai. But the moon there was empty. It didn’t have his ‘Basket’ in it. He went back to how suffocated he felt in Australia. Heart screaming with anguish, he suddenly got up from up from his bed, thinking he would surely die if he reminisced his moments in Melbourne. But he had to get used to it. After all, he was going there for good now wasn’t he? Shutting his eyes tight, he remembered the pain he had seen in her eyes, when they were all leaving. How didn’t the others notice it?! Surely they must have done something to cheer her up? Surely Sid had made her smile sometime while he was here?!


He heard a knock on his door, and quickly wiped away his tears, and went to stand by the window.
“Come in,” he was surprised at how hoarse his voice sounded, and quickly cleared his throat.

Shanti opened the door and looked at her son’s state. He was in his 3 quarters, and vest, with his hair all messed up and eyes blood shot. Till when would he keep torturing himself for that one mistake that face it, anyone could make? Till when would he punish himself this badly? Till when would he realize that either with or without Riddhima he HAD to live his life? How could she make him understand, that most probably, his basket still loved him, and still wanted him back? Yes, she was angry right now. Hurt as well, most probably. But hadn’t those two months made these two face reality? Didn’t their time away from each other prove it to them that now whatever happened, they could not live without each other? Then why were they so THICK? Shanti went back to her days with Jai. Sure they had been through some problems. But they got through those problems by staying together! Especially when her father was against the marriage since he had never thought Jai was good enough for her. But the past was past. This time, her son was killing himself every second by choosing not to be with his loved one!

“Armaan, kab tak aise tadpega tu? Tumhaari halat dekhi hai?”
“Mum, I’m fine.”
“No Armaan, you’re not! Riddhima ko iss insaan se pyaar nahin huwa tha. Jo har waqt kamre mein band hokar, apna dard andar dabaa kar rota hai!”
Armaan turned to her, with his eyes shining.
“Armaan why are you punishing yourself so harshly for a mistake anyone could make?” she put her hand on his shoulder.
“Mum, she deserves a lot better. I can’t give her the happiness she needs if I never believe her.”
“Who said you’ll never believe her? In fact, mujhe lagta hai abh iske sivai tu kissi aur par bharosa hi nahin kar sakta.”
Armaan looked at his Mum confused.
“Dekh beta, you have learnt your lesson. And it’s struck you in such a way, that I am sure whatever happens, Riddhima will always be number one priority to you. Even before me!”
“Mum, aap kaisi baatein kar rahi hai?”
“Main sach keh rahi hoon.” Shanti was completely right. She was sure that the distance between them had increased their love for each other ten folds. Well, she wasn’t 100% sure when it came to Riddhima, but for Armaan, no one knew him better than her. Though if they got together again, Riddhima would beat her by far in some time!
“Mum I can never choose between you two!” Armaan was horrified at what his Mum was telling him.
“I have a feeling Riddhima has forgiven you already.” Shanti turned the topic.
“Even if she has, I can’t ruin her life again. I am not good for her. Everyone will think she’s being too lenient and I’m taking advantage of that. Mum, mujhe uske pyaar ka faida nahin uthana. I love her too much for that!” He suddenly hugged his mother tight, letting his tears fall on her shoulder. In response, she put her own arms around her son, and caressed his back, trying to calm him down. Well he just admitted that he loved her, and she could clearly see his point of view. But someone needed to bring their feelings out in the open! If she was to do that, she needed to know what Riddhima was thinking. As much as she wanted to help them both out of this mess, there was nothing much she could do. They had to help themselves. But if they didn’t communicate, they might just end up losing each other for good.

“Sssshh..Armaan. So jao. You came this morning, and you need some sleep.” She led him to the bed, and sat him down. After placing a small kiss on his forehead, she left him sitting there, and closed the door behind her, wiping a small tear that escaped her eyes. She was a mother watching her son go through emotional torment! For how long could she remain strong enough in front of him? Slowly, she went to her room, where Jai was unable to sleep.
“Is he ok?”
“I think he needs you more than me.” she replied in a soft voice, but stopped him as soon as he got up. “Maybe tomorrow, for now he needs time alone.” Worried about their son, they both decided on the same thing. Wherever their son was, they would follow him to give him all the support he needed.

Tears were streaming down Riddhima’s cheeks as she stood in the balcony after ages! There was a reason she never came here. But now that Armaan came back, she couldn’t stop herself. This was their place! This was them! She looked at the swing and remembered their mini fights on it. Closing her eyes, more water trickled down her cheeks as she tried to stop it shutting her eyes tighter. But that just hurt her eyes more, and she finally opened them, to see Armaan in front of her, smiling mischievously. He came forward and blew her hair out of the way, making her eyelids close again. When she opened them, he was gone. Her heart sunk lower. She wished Anjy was here. Even her Mum would have made her feel better. But no one could have lightened her heart, except Armaan. Her Armaan. The one who annoyed her! The one who fought with her over trivial matters. The one made her laugh so much her stomach ached. The one who still had her heart. The one she loved so much to date, even after all that they had been through. She wanted him to take her in his arms, kiss her, and assure her he was there for her, always!

Running back inside her room, she dug into her drawers and took out a small box. Slowly, she took out the bracelet he had given her, remembering his words.

“Aur aaj mujhe ehsaas huwa, that I don’t have to wait at all. Whatever happens, tum hi meri zindagi ho. Agar humme kuch hojata, and we don’t end up together…”
“Armaan…”
“then…” he continued, hushing her, “I want you to have this as a symbol of my love for you. Just know that I will always love you. I can be a jerk, I can be a moron, I can be a real pain, par mera pyaar tumhaare liye kabhi kam nahin hoga. I love you Basket.”

“Kaisa pyaar Armaan? Voh jisme bharosa na ho? That, which can stay away from their loved ones easily?” She whispered in a broken voice. Her mind stopped her though. She had seen the pain in his eyes. How sure was she that he had stayed away from her that easily? How sure was she, that unlike her, he had a fantastic time away from her? Her heart refused to believe that. If she hadn’t known Armaan, she still could have said that he had forgotten how to smile. But after loving him so much, reading his eyes wasn’t a problem for her. He had been through as much agony as she had. Probably more. At least she had people around her to help her. But he had no one! He was all alone! Her heart beat faster when she thought of what he might have been through. She went over to her bedside drawer, and rummaged inside it, finally taking out a photo of him kissing her forehead that Atul, smart with a camera, had secretly clicked and given to them the next day. She went back to the way they had fought over it.

Flashback
“Armaan mujhe chahiye yeh, you look so adorable in it!”
“Waise toh I always look adorable, lekin mere paas tumhaare photos nahin hai. That means I should have it.” Armaan snatched the photo from his hand.
“Hawww!!” Riddhima narrowed her eyes. “Jhoote! Tere phone mein kitne photos hai meri!”
“You…You’ve been through my phone? Sneaky!” he narrowed his eyes as well in response.
“Waise bhi kuch khaas nahin hai tumhaare phone main!” she replied turning away and folding her arms.
“Achcha..thank god tumne mere baaki girlfriends ke messages nahin pade!” he sighed.
“Kyyyaaa??? Baaki girlfriends…Armaan..tum…tum na…” She turned and faced him, horror evident on her face.
“Kya huwa meri pyaar si basket? Jal rahi ho?” he asked in a sweet sarcastic voice.
“Main jal nahin rahi…” she answered back in a furious whisper, her eyes sending killer signals.
“Tum…” He leaned closer to her and kissed her cheeks. “Jal rahi ho..” he finished.
“Jalle meri jhooti!”
“Chal hatt…joothi.” He winked at her, his dimples deepening. She felt her cheeks inflame, and hugged him hiding her face in his chest, as he lovingly put his arms around her. Pulling out, she suddenly snatched the photo from his hand and kissed his lips once then ran away giggling. Flabbergasted, he just stood in one spot, staring at her. She stopped at the entrance of the locker room, turned back, and said,
“I love you…” then turned the corner after blowing him a flying kiss. He bumped his head back against the locker, his smile not leaving his face as he whispered to himself, “I love you too basket!”

Flashback ends

Many a times, she wondered why she couldn’t get rid of this picture. But now the answer was evident. There was too much love between them on the photo for her to be able to throw it. That’s when she realized, that it was probably the same for heart. Who knew, instead of erasing her love for him, as she tried so many times, she was instead deepening it, by trying to add more hatred for him. But why did she love him so much?

Armaan got up, and with tears brimming his eyes, switched on the radio to come to peace with his mind. Little did he know that the song they played would instead tear him into little pieces instead.

Beete Lamhe – The Train

Dard mein bhi yeh lab muskura jaate hai
Beete lambhein humein jab bhi yaad aate hai
Dard mein bhi yeh lab muskura jaate hai
Beete lambhein humein jab bhi yaad aate hai
Beete lambheinnnnn

(Armaan remembered all the times with his basket. He could swear that she was the most beautiful person in the world when he remembered how she looked so elegant in the blue and black sari at the interns’ party. That was the first time he had faced the fact that he loved her. Taking out his phone, he looked at her picture. A drop of water splashed on it, and Armaan realized he was crying again.)

Chand lambhaat ke vaaste hi sahi
Muskura kar mili thi mujhe zindagi
Chand lambhaat ke vaaste hi sahi
Muskura kar mili thi mujhe zindagi

(Riddhima sat on her bed, leaning against the bed post, with Armaan’s picture in her hand. She put it close to her heart and put her head back, trying to make the tears go away. She went back to the time when he carried her on his back after they went to see her Dadi at the orphanage.)

Teri aagosh din the mere kate
Teri baaahon mein thi mere raatien kati wooohooww

(Armaan went back to their surprise get together for Amit and Sapna at Sunshine Palace. He remembered how he had broken up with her and her tearful face when he saw her standing in the rain. He banged his fist on the wall, trying to inflict as much pain on himself as he could.)

Aaj bhi jab woh pal mujhko yaad aate hain
Dil se saare gumo ko bhoola jate hai

(Riddhima remembered their dance on Shukran Allah, and wanted to touch him again. She went back to their moments in the kitchen store and cried heartily, wishing she could just be with him, and forget everything.)

Dard mein bhi yeh lab muskura jaate hai
Beete lambhein humein jab bhi yaad aate hai
Dard mein bhi yeh lab muskura jaate hai
Beete lambhein humein jab bhi yaad aate hai

(They both whispered ‘I love you’ at the same time.)

Beete lambheinnnnn

Mere kandhein mein sar ko Jukana Tera
Mere sene mein khud ko chupana teraa
Mere kandhein mein sar ko Jukana Tera
Mere sene mein khud ko chupana teraa

(Sid was looking at a photo and was sat on the parapet of his balcony. He smiled as he remembered the times her spent with her. She was so cute, so innocent, so fun loving! Why did SHE have to leave? What was written in his fate? He took another look at the photograph.)
Preeti:


Aake meri panaho mein shaam-o-seher
Kanch ki tarah woh tut jana tera woohoowww
Aaj bhi jab woh manzar nazar aate hai
Dil ki viraniyon ko mita jate hai

(Sid blew a kiss into the sky and got off the parapet smiling sadly. He looked back up at the stars and felt a rush of wind blow past him. Unknowingly, a tear slid down his cheek and he wiped it off again.)

Dard mein bhi yeh lab muskura jaate hai
Beet lambhein humein jab bhi yaad aate hai
Dard mein bhi yeh lab muskura jaate hai
Beete lambhein humein jab bhi yaad aate hai
Beete lambheinnnnn
Dard Mein .....Beete lambheinnnnn

(Armaan sat on the edge of his window and leaned back against the closed glass, closing his eyes, remembering Riddhima hiding herself in his chest and neck every time she was scared. Riddhima also went to the edge of her window and slid down, sitting the floor with her back against the wall. She closed her eyes, still hugging the picture to her heart. Sid sat at the foot of the parapet, and put his head back remembering Preeti, and shut his eyes too.)

None of them knew when sleep engulfed them in its protective arms, promising them another day in a few hours.

Riddhima got up extremely early. The sun looked like it was trying to break through, and she groaned and turned her face. Why did she have to wake up so early these days? And why the heck was her whole back killing her, not to mention her neck? That’s when she realized that her bed was unusually hard. Looking around, she saw the she had slept off on the floor, and the previous days’ events came flooding back to her. The photo had dropped onto her lap and she stared at it. Unknowingly, she caressed Armaan’s face. Why was she losing to him again? Staring at it, she was lost in her own world when the doorbell rang bringing her back to life. No, she could not afford another heart break. The damage was done. And why the hell hadn’t he even talked to her properly? Any person in their right mind would obviously call her, or meet her, or talk to her. But maybe, just maybe Armaan didn’t WANT to. Maybe he didn’t care anymore. Maybe he didn’t love her the way she adored him. Her heart sank horribly as she let the truth sink in. Maybe Armaan was never that into her, the way she was. Maybe she was another time pass…Her heart furiously denied. But…what was going on in his mind?! Gosh she wished she could know! The bell rang again and she realized someone was at the door.
“Shit..” she whispered to herself and went downstairs. Who could it be at this time?! Armaan?? Her heart started beating faster at the thought. Wait, she must look a mess! Sorting out her puffy eyes and messy hair as best as she could, she went continued downstairs.

Without thinking she opened the door, to see her father standing there with a bright smile on his face. It took her a moment to register what had happened, and she blinked a few times.
“Papa..?” she asked unsure of whether or not she was still dreaming.
“Riddhima! Kaisi hai tu?” he took her into a hug. Shocked, she put her arms slowly around him. Of course it was him! They split apart and he stepped into the house dragging his suitcase behind him. She shut the door.
“aap kabh aaye? Mujhe nahin bataya? Main airport aapko lene aati.”
“It’s ok. Atul and Anjali just dropped me off in a cab. Damaad ho Atul jaisa.” Dr Shashank praised him then added, “Oh, voh naashte ke liye aayenge. Please make sure something is in the house.”
“Haan of course…” Riddhima realized that the kitchen was still in a mess. “Papa, aap araam keejiye. Aap kitne thake huwe honge. Main aapke liye chai leke aati hoon.”
“Sure beta,” Shashank smiled, kissed his daughter’s forehead once and went upstairs with out taking a second glance at the kitchen. His daughter’s surprised face had been a pleasant start of the morning to him.

Sighing, Riddhima went to the kitchen to sort out the mess she had left half way through. In less than 30 minutes she was done, and went to check on her father who was now sleeping peacefully. She looked at the clock and saw that she had a whole hour to kill. Putting the scrambled eggs in the microwave, she quickly left a note on the fridge and after getting ready slowly stepped out of the house. It had been ages since she had bothered to go for a jog. She must have become so unfit! Plugging her i-pod in her ears, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath and set off for the normal route. With the song Insomnia by Craig David pumping in her ears, she didn’t know when she got round to the basket ball court. Taking a quick glance at it as she passed by, she noticed no one there, and unlike most times, when she’d stop there, she continued instead. Unfortunately for her, however, she bumped into someone who was looking back at that particular moment. She fell down on the hard pavement with a thud and almost feeling her wrist crack.
“Ouchhh…” her face contorted in pain as she removed her ear phones to give the person a piece of her mind!
“Huh…Riddhima I’m sooo sorry!” Armaan kneeled down next to her to help her. He could see the changes in her expression, from shock, to anger, to surprised, to realization. It was just one of those things that amused him most about her and involuntarily, his lips curved. Riddhima looked up at him, and her eyes widened.
“Tum…tum hass rahe ho? Pehle toh mujhe giradiya…”
Armaan tried to remove his smile and replied,
“Sorry…wait let me help you.” He put his arm around her waist, but she shrugged it off, and tried getting up herself. Unfortunately though, her ankle had a mind of its own and sent sharp searing pain signals to her brain as soon as she tried putting her weight on it. She winced and put her weight on the other leg, holding Armaan for support.
“Kya huwa?” Armaan’s smile was wiped off as he saw her in pain.
“Tujhe kya?” she replied, anger taking over. Huh, what did he think of himself. Firstly, he was so close to her last night, then kept away from her as though she had some contagious disease, and now that she couldn’t remove him form her mind, it still wasn’t enough for him and he had to turn up and bump into her! Plus SHE was the one that fell and HE was laughing! Idiot, jerk, moron!

She tried walking, but her ankle was not having any of it. Finally, she hobbled along some distance, as Armaan, with shock and amusement written on his face looked on at her. She really was some stubborn woman! But wasn’t that one the reasons he had fallen for her? That deeply? He went to her as he saw her about to lose balance, and caught her deftly, holding her close to himself. Riddhima felt her breath cut short after being this close to him. His hand was around her waist, and the other held hers, while he pulled her up to a standing position, close to himself. She didn’t need her other leg to put her weight on, now that Armaan was supporting most of her body. She looked up at his face, and there was an emotion she knew perfectly well, written onto it.

He was staring at her, with utmost love in his eyes. He hadn’t known that he would bump into her this morning. That was’ why he set off for the basketball court slightly later than he used to the last time he was in Mumbai. But here she was, in his arms, feeling like the most perfect thing in the world. Hadn’t his arms craved for this very event? He could have let go of her, but he didn’t want to. Neither did she want him to. Why was there so much awkwardness between them when their feelings for each other shone out so clearly?

She felt her lips curve very slightly as she continued looking into what felt like oceans of emotions. Bringing her quivering hand up, she gently caressed his cheeks. He closed his eyes at that touch which felt pleasantly cool against his warm skin. She relaxed the palm of her hand on his face as she continued to observe him.


A distant hooting brought them back to reality, and Riddhima stepped away, wincing as she put weight on her ankle again. She glared at him accusingly.
“Heyy. Maine kya kiya hai?” he asked. “Ek toh girne se bachao, upar se gaaliyan khao.”
“Maine kab gaaliyan di hai tumhe? Yeh sab tumhaari wajah se huwa hai.”
“Kya? Meri wajah se huwa hai?”
“Haan. Agar aage chalke dekhte toh yeh sab nahin hota.”
“Hang on. Theek hai. Main aage chalke nahin dekh raha tha. Lekin tum toh aage dekh rahi thi!! Iska kya huwa?”
“You…you know what…” Riddhima fumbled for words, “You’re impossible!”
“Really?” He asked leaning in, narrowing his eyes.
“Really!” She narrowed her eyes as well and looked defiantly back at him. They both realized how far their argument had gone. It hurt to act the same way as they used to behave with each other, before everything happened. But there was this unknown happiness between them, they couldn’t describe. What was it? Both looked away as if their gazes burnt each other.

“Let me drop you home.” Armaan said, trying to ease the tension.
“No thanks main khud chali jaungi.” She replied. Urgh, he should have known! He had to see her off safe. And that ankle must be giving her hell right now!
“Riddhima let me…” but he couldn’t finish.
“Forget it Armaan! I’ll be fine!”
“Riddhima…”
“No Armaan!”
“Basket..!!” She stood astounded for a moment after hearing that name from his lips. Taking his chance, he went towards her, picked her up in one movement leaving her dumbstruck for the time.
“Armaan! Chodo mujhe!” she managed to gasp, when she found her voice. But he did not let go, and neither did he listen. His nerve!
“Armaan, I swear, leave me varna tum pachtaoge! Kya kar rahe ho. Armaan don’t touch me! Armaan you lost the right to do that ages ago!”

His eyes closed as her words sunk in. That hurt a lot, but then it was the truth. He had lost his right on her the moment he chose to believe someone else over her. Regardless, though, he still didn’t put her down. She shut up the moment the words slipped out of her mouth. What was she doing? Spoiling the only chance of ever getting him back? But why did she want him again? What was wrong with her! Why couldn’t she keep herself under control?! Why did she have to say that? She knew that she’d probably give in to him any time, any day, for anything. And if anyone could come that close to her, then Armaan was the only one. Still, that didn’t give him the right to just pick her up like that! But thinking back, it would have been difficult to walk back home anyway, and she knew it was useless to protest now. While he looked on forward, she slowly locked her arms around his neck, and looked up at him.

The wind was blowing through his long hair. It had grown by and incredibly large amount in those two months. But he still looked amazing to her. Heck, she would think he looked amazing if he suddenly decided to go bald and wear gay clothes! Ok, maybe not that far. In fact, she loved this natural look on him more than anything.

There was a time, she had seen his photograph of when he was in college in the US. He had cut the sides of his hair really short and kept the middle bit extra long, that fell over to the side, with fringes. For days after that, she had called him a ‘junglee’ and wondered why she had ever fallen for him, while Nikki and Anjy thought it looked cool! Either way, he was out of those crazy moments, and now had a more serious, mature look on his face, that made her heart warm up at the sight of him. But that hairstyle of his had led to many small and cute banters between them, that always ended up with Armaan pulling her into himself, and stealing a small kiss from her, depending on where they were. She secured her arms around him, and upon feeling that, he looked at her.

He could not remove his eyes from her beautiful face. It had so many questions written behind it. But he could not answer any of them. He didn’t know why he was doing whatever he was doing. He was just doing things out of instinct.
“Oh, bless them,” and old, British woman who was walking along whispered to her husband when she saw the two, lost in each other. Normally, they would have heard her, but this time, both were trying to sort out their feelings and ignored her comment.

“Armaaan!!!” screeched Anjy as she opened the door, and saw Armaan standing there, supporting Riddhima, who had one foot off the ground. “Ridzy, yeh kya huwa?”
“Kuch nahin..bass zara sa sprain hogaya.” Riddhima replied.
“Zara sa?” Armaan asked, looking at her incredulously. “You couldn’t walk properly!”
“Well I would have if you let me!” she replied, and Anjali’s eyebrows shot up. This was indeed getting interesting. Firstly, Armaan was back. Secondly, they were fighting again, which meant either they hated each other’s guts, which was unlikely, or they were back together again. Thirdly, he didn’t let her walk, which meant, she looked around for a car behind them, he carried her?!
“Anjali, Riddhima hai kya?” Shashank’s voice was heard, and he appeared at the doorway. “Dr Mallik! What a pleasant surprise!”
“Morning sir,” Armaan replied hesitantly, his arm still around Riddhima’s waist. However, as soon as he saw Shashank’s gaze on it, he dropped it and handed Riddhima over to Anjali.
“Voh…main gir gayyi thi when I went jogging, and Armaan was there, so he just helped me…” Riddhima jumped to his defence, trying to shield him from her Dad’s growing glares. But she needn’t have as the mention of her getting hurt arose panic in Shashank’s eyes. Anjali stared at Riddhima. She had just denied not being able to walk, but now didn’t hesitate agreeing with him, just to protect him from her father?! Things were really weird!
“Tum theek toh ho?” Shashank asked his daughter and looked gratefully at Armaan, all anger forgotten. He continued, “Thank you Armaan.”
“No problem sir. Take care Riddhima. Main chalta hoon.”
“Arre, why don’t you come in for breakfast,” Shashank uttered those very words. He must be in a really good mood! Normally it was her Mum who fussed around about calling people inside! Anjali also stood hell shocked, but overcame it quickly as she sided with her Dad.
“Haan Armaan. Do come in. We have a lot to catch up on don’t we? Atul will be so glad to see you. He’s slightly busy inside.”
“I’d love to sit and discuss your time in Australia as well! Getting training from the world famous cardiologist? No joke!” Shashank praised Armaan, who’s eyebrows shot up into his hair. Have a heart to heart about medicine to Dr Shashank? His potential sasurjee? Wait, what? Potential? He took a glance at Riddhima, who was staring into a space, apparently not in the conversation at all.
“I’d love to sir. Par ghar pe Mum aur Dad intezaar kar rahein honge. And I’ve got to get going.”
“You’d better drop by the hospital then. We’ll have a good talk about your future then.” Shashank replied happily, and Armaan turned to leave after Shashank left.
“Armaan….” Riddhima called in a whisper, as she suddenly came out of her daze. He turned around almost immediately. “Thanks,” she continued, and with that, gave him a half smile, and went inside, with Anjali’s help, who waved a bye to him. He also headed home. If there was one thing he was sure about, it was that he loved his basket so much! Probably more than he ever had before.

“Armaaan!! Yaar, badi museebat hogayyi hai!!” Muskaan wailed as soon as she saw Armaan at the hospital. Armaan, who had just had a grueling talk with Shashank about his future, and what he wanted to do, and what not, was really not in the mood to listen to complaints.
“Mere bhaii!!!” Atul took Armaan into a huge hug, and Armaan hugged him back with equal strength. “Kahan tha tu yaar? It’s great having you back!” Atul wiped away a tear that cornered his eye. They all ended up at the locker room, where Anjali, Rahul and Sid were talking.
“Rahul!” Muskaan wailed even more as soon as she saw him, and hugged him till he nearly fell over. The rest raised their eyebrows at him and he shrugged his shoulders.
“Anjali, Riddhima se baat huwi? How is she?” Atul asked.
“Oh the usual. Cranky self because she’s bored at home. Lekin she’ll come tomorrow.”
“Par she’s alright? Mujhe lagta hai kal bhi bhi rest leni chahiye.”
“Armaan,” Anjali replied in a sardonic voice, “Agar tujhe teri jaan pyaari nahin hai, then you can tell her that.”
“Uske bina kuch bhi pyaara nahin lagta. Toh jaan kya cheez hai?” Armaan mumbled to himself, but no one caught on.
“Kya kaha tune?” Anjali asked.
“Muskaan kya huwa yaar? Itna tamasha kyun macha rahi hai?” Sid asked straight forwardly as her wailing and sobbing was getting to him.
“Oye tu chup reh khotte! Agar meri jagah hota toh tera kachumbar hojata abhi! Armaan, tum kyun wapas aaye?” Muskaan asked storming over to Armaan.
“Muskaan! Mujhe laga tu khush hai mujhe dekh kar!” Armaan replied in a hurt, but joking tone.
“Muski huwa kya?” Nikki asked as she entered with Abhi.
“Nikki yaad hai maine tujhe mere Mummy Daddy ke baare mein bataya tha?” Muskaan turned to Nikki who looked back clueless. “Arre haan. Maine toh Ridz ko bataya tha. Anyways, meri shaadi karwana chahte hain meri family.”
“Kya?” Rahul asked flabbergasted.
“kaan saaf karle apne!” Muskaan retorted back. “Toh, jab who dono aaye they Sapna ki shaadi mein koi munda lekar, main un dono ko boldiya main kissise pyaar karti hoon.”

They were all seated around on the benches listening to her, while she talked melo-dramatically. Armaan however was staring at Riddhima’s locker. He wished she was here. At least he would see her that way.
“Phir jab Armaan Melbourne gayya, mujhe idea aaya. Agar main kehdoon ki main Armaan se pyaar karti hoon, then they won’t be able to force me in a marriage because he’s a thousand miles away.”
Rahul started getting the gist of what she was saying. But couldn’t she have just told her parents the truth? He voiced that opinion, and she replied,
“Haan, but they would have forced us to get married. Aur uss waqt mujhe aur kuch samajh nahin aaya.” Muskaan turned away. It was kind of weird for her to tell him that she was, but wasn’t ready for marriage. She hadn’t known what was going through his mind. And suppose he wasn’t ready, and left her like Armaan had left Riddhima? Muskaan had been a silent spectator all through. Seeing Riddhima suffering like this made her wonder, if Rahul ever left her, would she be able to survive?

Armaan on the other hand had come back to earth when he heard his name, and was staring at Muskaan petrified.
“Toh, what’s the problem now?”
“Mere parents mujhe surprise dene ke liye, came a week earlier. And the first thing they asked was, ‘Beti, Armaan aagaya kya? Aaj bada dill karnda hai apne hone waala damaad se milne ka. Bhai hum bhi dekhe kinna sonna hai humara damaad’” she imitated them and started her wailing again. “Aaj subha jab hospital aaye they mujhe drop karne, toh they saw you outside the nurse station. Aur main jhoot nahin bol paayi. Ki tum Armaan nahin ho.” With that she started with another set of sobs that made Sid clear his ear, as he was right next to her.
“Beta Armaan.” He said as he went to him and put his hand on his shoulder. “Twadhi toh band baj gayyi paaji. Abh shaadi ke liye tayyar ho jao.”
“Kya bakwaas kar rahe ho Sid. Main kissi aur se shaadi nahin kar sakta. Khaas kar Muskaan se.”
“Oye hero! Mujhe bhi tujhse shaadi karne ka koi shaunk nahin hai!” Muskaan’s quick reply came back.
“Muskaan yaar! Kaisi museebat mein daal diya mujhe. Abh toh pakka, main jaa raha hoon Australia wapas!” Armaan could not see anything else in front of him. Here he was being roped in to be someone’s damaad, when he loved someone else. That someone who was better off without him. Where did the sense go in the world?!
“Aur Ridzy ka dil phir se todega?” Anjali asked him sharply. “Ek baar tumhaare jaane se bohot toot chukki hai! Please phir se aisi galti mat karo. Waise why did you guys even break up?” Anjali asked astonished. Here was Armaan, clearly looking to stay again. What made them drift apart so much? Armaan looked at Anjali, shocked to the core. So they STILL didn’t know what really happened?
“Why Riddhima!” Armaan whispered to himself, as he covered his face with his hands. Sid just looked at him. When will these two idiots understand the depth of their love for each other!
“Let the past be.” Rahul intervened.
“Rahul…” Muskaan asked meekly. “What do you suggest?”
“Tum mujhse kyun pooch rahi ho? Armaan se pooch na. After all, tu isse pyaar karti hai.” Rahul replied sarcastically, and Muskaan closed her eyes, and started crying again.
“Sab mujhse naraaz hai! Koi mujhse pyaar nahin karta. Sab meri hi galti thi!” she cried in self pity, and Rahul, who melted as soon as she started sobbing, put his arms around her.
“Don’t worry. Hum sab hain na. Hum iss museebat se bahar niklenge.”
“Haan. Don’t worry.” The others added.
“Oye! Aur mera kya huwa?” Armaan asked. Where was he trapped? Neither was basket here, that he could read her expressions and take a decision based on her emotions.
“Oye putter jee,” a male voice called and Muskaan immediately split apart from her hug with Rahul and stood frozen as she clearly recognized the voice. A pleasant faced woman appeared at the doorway with a Punjabi man.
“Musky, Yeh Dr Shashank itne great hain. Humne sunna tha bada Doctor hai, lekin abh yakeen hogaya uske paas bara dil bhi hai. Usne humme tumse milne ki ijaazat di hai!” The woman said as her eyes fixed on her daughter.
“Oye Muskaan, abh milwaoge nahin tumhaare Armaan se?” Her dad put in, looking dierectly at Armaan, who smiled hesistantly.
“Haan papaji. Milaati hoon na.” Muskaan stuttered.
“Yeh hai Armaan. Armaan, mere Mummy aur Daddy ji.” She forced Armaan to come forward, and indicated him to touch their feet. Armaan looked at her wide eyed, but after a glare from her, bent down to touch her father’s feet. Midway, her father stopped him, and hugged him.
“Armaan. Abh tu toh humaare parivaar ka ek hissa hogaya! Welcome ji, to the family!” her father said in a proud voice over Armaan’s shoulder. Rahul’s eyes narrowed as he glared at Muskaan for the mess she had put them in. Muskaan just looked down silently, not knowing what to do.
“Haan beta. Kinna sona munda hai!” Her mother praised Armaan as she looked at him, then her daughter. Armaan could not bring his voice out of his throat as he stared ahead at the figure that stood rigid behind Muskaan’s parents. Riddhima was shocked to the core at what she had just seen and heard. Armaan and Muskaan? What the hell was happening?

Sanna
p.s by punam

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