Saturday, 30 May 2015

part 11:Life out of control(season 3)

"I don't know.."

"Lekin kuch toh idea hoga na basket."

"Armaan, I really don't have a clue! She was fine as soon as the door shut behind you! Perfect in fact, as though nothing had changed."

"Phir..?" Armaan questioned.

"Tumne usse kuch kaha kya?"

"Nice joke Basket, meri itni himmat? Even though you guys are poles apart, aap dono ka gussa ek jaisa hai. Aur mujhe iske beech mein nahin phasna!" he replied warily making her scowl.

"Humaara gussa? Uff Armaan! You know what. Bahar mein jao. I don't want to figure out why Anji was so rude to you. In fact, good she was! Achcha huwa!" Riddhima retorted as she stood in the balcony, enjoying the cool breeze.

"Basket aise matt kho na.." he flopped down on his bed holding the phone close to his ear. "Ohk, lets forget Anji for now. Kal usse nipat lunga."


"Baat kar rahe ho jaise Superman ho.." she muttered into her Sony Ericsson.

"Shayad super man nahin, lekin super cool toh hoon na. Unlike you. Super fool, joh apni behen ki feelings nahin samaj paati!" he joked.

"Shut up Armaan!"

"Aagya, tumhaara Signature 'Shut up Armaan'." He complained into his phone. "Let the whole world think you and Anjali are the most un-alike sisters on this planet, Atul and I know the truth. Pehla, aap dono ka gussa, baap re! Phir your style of saying, 'Shut up Armaan, Shut up Atul.' What else do you have in common that you're hiding from me?" Riddhima couldn't help but giggle at his stupidness silently.

"Our hatred for you Mallik!"

"Ouchh.." he nearly shouted into the phone.

"Kya huwa? Armaan? Are you ok?" she became concerned. What the hell was he doing?

"Nahin, bass, something cut me."

"What were you doing? Kitchen mein ho? Mujhe laga bedroom mein honge, either way, how can you be so careless? What cut you? Is it deep? Have you cleared it yet?" she wasn't short of caring words for him when he shut her up.

"Riddhima shush! It's fine. Not that deep. Just slightly poked me."

"What?" she asked worried. Knowing Armaan, nothing would be serious for him.

"Your words." He quietly said to her, and she heaved a sigh of relief.

"Wait what?" she asked again, when his words made sense to her.

"mhmm.." he nodded to himself, feeling dimples form after picturing her fuming face.

"Mr Mallik! Be original for once and stop using those cheesy lines to make me feel bad. You know what, mujhe neend aa rahi hai main jaa rahi hoon. Good night." She spat out, her frown not leaving her face. She waited for him to stop her, but he didn't say anything. Did he really want her to hang up on him? "Armaan..!" she exclaimed into the phone and she heard a burst of laughter from his side. Feeling her temper rise to innumerable heights, she finally managed to splutter out, "You find this funny?"

"Of course I do Basket. I was waiting for you to hang up on me. The mere fact you didn't shows that you were waiting for me to stop you. And now because I fooled you this time..hello? Basket?.." he heard the beep of the phone and cursed himself, putting his head in his hands wondering what mess he had gotten himself into.

"Apne aap ko samjhta kya hai? Idiot! Jerk! Ek baar kal hospital mein mil jaaye na, toh chodungi nahin. No, in fact, baat hi nahin karungi uske saath! Then he can continue pleading me for the whole day.." she was muttering to herself, when he phone rang again. Unwillingly, a smile formed on her face as she saw his picture flashing in front of her. Gosh she loved him! But a frown replaced her smile the next moment as she cut it.

Her phone buzzed the next minute and she opened the message from him.

'Main jaanta hoon tum mujhse kabhi naraaz nahi reh sakti. Koshish bhi kyun karti ho?'

Her mouth dropped open at that, and she threw her phone on the bed. Who said she couldn't stay angry at him? Especially when he was acting like such a moron? Huffing, she went to sit in front of her dressing table and combed her hair absent mindedly. Her phone buzzed again, and this time she flopped onto the bed to read his message.

'What's the point? You won't be able to sleep peacefully while you're angry at me.'

Finding it hard to frown, she concluded he was right. But that didn't mean she was ready to talk to him. She was ready to have a not so peaceful sleep for one night. Especially if it meant he would beg her for forgiveness the next day! However, it looked like she didn't have to wait that long because his next message said:

'Achcha Babaa. I'm sorry. Very sorry for acting like a Jackass. Kya tumhaare buddhu Armaan ko maaf nahin karogi?'

And this time, she was thinking of what to reply when her phone vibrated continuously in her hand. He was calling! Smiling she picked it up to hear the three words from him that always made her day, her night, her life now.

"I love you Basket." Her smile widened and she snuggled into her blanket further, whispering an "I love you too," which resulted into another of their conversations lasting a good hour before both of them were finally engulfed with the beauty of each others dreams.

Things really were back to normal weren't they, Riddhima thought as she stepped into their locker room. It had that fresh aura in it, that welcoming light which had disappeared when Armaan had left. She shut her eyes, smiling to herself. Armaan was hers again. They were together again. And it was amazing. Her first thought was telling everyone about it, then frowned. No, not yet. How could they tell everyone without sounding like a couple of idiots? It would make much more sense to let them find out themselves.

She felt someone's arms circle her from the back like she loved. He put his chin on her shoulder as he hugged her close to himself, dearly.

"Armaan.." she whispered. It felt so right. That was where she belonged. In his arms.

"I love you basket.." he whispered back into her ear, making her flinch as his husky breath and voice went right into her heart. She found her arms gripping his tighter, enjoying the effect he had on her. She shut her eyes and turned after feeling him peck her cheek. Framing his face, she observed his calm, serene face and felt her heart beat increase pace. His eyes held the depth they always did and today, she leaned up and kissed those blue orbs that she loved while he closed them. His dimples appeared and she hid her face in his chest, feeling herself go red. This was how it was meant to be. Just the two of them. Their world. Armaan and Riddhima.

"Ahem ahem.." a fake cough pulled them apart, and both looked around to see Rahul smiling at them and raising his eyebrows.

"Voh..uhmm..kya hai..ki..mujhe kuch kaam hai.." Riddhima stuttered and she went to hide her flushed face in her locker. Armaan just looked on at her, then back at Rahul, who immediately straightened his face and walked towards his locker, singing,

"Abhi kuch dino se suna hai dil ka rob hi kuch nayaa hai, koi raaz kambhaqt hai chupaye khuda hi jaane ki kya hai..hai dill.."

"Abhey saale.." Armaan began and Rahul looked around innocently, shutting up with his song.

"What? Abh kya kiya maine?"

"Kuch nahin? Tu kabhi kuch karta hai?" Armaan asked sarcastically as he rushed to his locker slightly irritated.

"I'm happy for you both." Rahul added, and went on humming the tune, making Riddhima wish she could hide herself in the locker and never emerge! Rahul continued sorting his locker out and Armaan tried to get Riddhima's attention from across his locker. She caught his eyes and gave him a questioning look. He indicated the changing rooms but she frowned and shook her head, as she removed a couple of files. Sid entered the room quietly and looked the scene in front of him confusion evident on his face. Armaan looked like he was pleading, but Riddhima wasn't giving in. He then gave up and rolled his eyes to the ceiling, at which she narrowed hers in anger. Sid's eyes darted from one to the other observing the silent communication. Armaan then winked once at her, and blew a flying kiss at which she stuck her tongue out at him and smiling secretly, rummaged inside her locker room.

"Abh se koi khushi nahin jiski tum wajah nahin, abh se koi din nahin jiski tum subah nahi.." Sid sang noisily as he sauntered off to his own locker, with a knowing smile playing on his face. "Tumse hi tumse..har baat, har baat hai jab tum ho saath.." Riddhima and Armaan frowned at each other in confusion, then looked at Sid, who at that point, looked back at them and winked. Feeling herself match the pink in her chooridar, Riddhima looked away and was about to rush out of the place, when Muskaan Nikki and Abhi trooped in together, chatting about Keerti, oblivious to the awkward atmosphere they had just entered in.

"heyy Ridzy, Anji tumhe dhoondh rahi hai."

"Di..lekin.." Riddhima was saved the confusion and Anjali entered.

"Ridzy, come to my cabin when you're free. I'll be spending the whole day there."

"But..why?"

"Kuch baat karni hai! See you around guys." Anjali smiled at the lot, locked her eyes on Armaan, giving him a hard glare and turned to go, leaving a very irritated and flabbergasted Armaan. What had he done to deserve that now?!

* * * * * * *

"I warned him! I warned him not to hurt you! Such a big step he took and you didn't even think it important to tell me?" Anjali muttered furiously as she paced around in her cabin, while Riddhima shut her eyes, nearly terrified of her tigress elder sister.
"Di, I uhmm..calm down. Firstly, how did you know?"

"Ridzy you're questioning me?! Where's the sense? Anyway, I got to know coz Sid and Nikki were talking about it on Friday evening after you left for Lonavla with him. You don't want to tell your elder sister anything anyways." She seethed.

"Di, elaborate please? Then I'll tell you everything. I swear." Riddhima managed to calm her sister down. She had just finished her duty and had come rushing to her sister's cabin to know what was wrong. And upon asking, Anjali had replied curtly "Armaan!" and Riddhima had guessed.

"I know everything now! The day you left, I was passing the locker room and Nikki and Sid were talking about you two. So I couldn't help but overhear.." she put her head down, "Nikki said something about how Armaan was finding it hard to face himself, and people should understand his situation as he was in a worse position. Then Sid said something about how he should have thought before choosing Sasha over you in the first place." Anjali's voice filled with hatred again. "So I stepped in and demanded to know the truth, which they couldn't deny and had to spill. I know he chose to believe Sasha over you. I know you hadn't done anything. And he broke it off, sab kuch akeli sehti rahi Ridz? Ek baar bhi mujhse nahin kaha?"

Riddhima closed her eyes. This was not what they needed right now. No wonder Anjali had been so cold to Armaan. She should have guessed! But no, she just had to be lost in thoughts about Armaan 24/7 to even wonder about other things. Crap, now how could she make her di understand.

"Di, I knew you would react like that. Isiiliye kissiko nahin kaha. Nikki dropped by, aur usne poocha, so I had to tell her. Di, voh zara nashe mein tha tab. He really didn't know what he was doing, I mean he probably did, but didn't understand the gravity of what he said.."

"Why Ridz, are you siding with him?" Anjali demanded.

"I'm just trying to think from his point of view as well," she tried explaining earnestly, and looked away.

"Wait.. do you still love him?" Anjali asked softly, putting her hands on Riddhima's shoulders and forcing her to look up. Riddhima bit her bottom lip and nodded slowly, quite wary of the outcome.

"How? How do you love him? After all he did?!" She exclaimed, hoping for a different answer from her sister. But after all, this was her sister they were talking about. She was a one man woman through and through. Calming herself down, she asked Riddhima again. "How Ridzy? After all the pain he put you through? Have you forgotten how you used to be two months back?"

"No I haven't. Maybe that's why I'm so willing to accept him again? Di, you reminded me of how badly he behaved with me. But don't you remember how he has always been there for me? How he loved me, to the bits. How he was the one who looked after me when I had a fever. He was the one who consoled me when Sapna left. He felt the worst when we were dancing to Sheila. He was there for me when Sara passed away. He gave me the courage to tell her family. Di, he left for my good. He thought he didn't deserve me.."

"And he doesn't. All this you've described. Uske ehsaan hai. You can easily act the sa.."

"No. Uska pyaar hai. And I'm not sure we are not the ones to decide who deserves who. Surely that's not our job."

"Riddhima stop being so philosophical and think practically! Things go wrong in this world and people don't change! Hang on, Riddhima, did you confess at Lonavla?" Anjali suddenly asked sharply, as though realizing why Riddhima defended him. Riddhima looked back at her sister and nodded once more.

"Di, I love him. He loves me."

"How can you even think of accepting him again? Honestly? How? Riddhima this is beyond my comprehension!" Anjali's horrified look made Riddhima shudder. It was after all her sister, and she wouldn't want to go against her.

"I don't know di. I've forgotten what he did.."

"Yeh right, forgotten Ridzy!" She received a scoffy reply.

"Maybe not. I agree. But I've learnt to move on with it."

"Why do you want to move on with it? He was the one that was wrong!"

"So what? We all make mistakes." Riddhima answered back determinedly. They had to sort this out once and for all so that no one could point fingers at Armaan and they had her sister's support here like they used to.

"He's the most irresponsible, immature, spoilt brat I've ever come across! How wrong were we all about him! He didn't get his own way so he forced his own way and now claims that he loves you? Yeah right! Let alone loving you I bet he doesn't even know the meaning of love!" she spat out, evidently furious at Armaan for putting her younger sister through so much torment.

"Di you're going over the top.."

"Over the top? Three times Riddhima! Three freaking time he broke your heart and the last time he promised me he would do nothing of the sort again! His intentions can't be right if he's not even bothered to keep his promise. And plus, you weren't at fault here either..! Ridzy three times and you're ready to accept it as though it was nothing?"

"You're not being fair here. First time, fine, but at that age all guys are jerks anyways! You told me that remember? Second time was a misunderstanding on my behalf. I should have listened to him before jumping to conclusions. And this time, the situation was such that.."

"Ridzy, it's not the time and place that determine a person's character. It's their actions at the given time and place!"

"Exactly.. but time and place have a lot of influence on the actions however, don't they?" Riddhima turned around to face Anjali who had walked around and now had her back to the door.

"This is not love! It's craziness, obsession. You need to get over it Ridz! No girl, no matter if she loved him or not, in their right mind would accept him after all he's done." Anjali tried reasoning.

"That isn't love either then. It's ego, which I let go of the day he left me."

"What's the guarantee he won't do it again?" Anjali asked, softening her tone slightly.

"There isn't. It's just his word. And I'm ready to believe it and trust it again because I love him. And I know he loves me too."

"How?" Riddhima smiled slightly.

"He wouldn't keep coming back would he?" her simple questioning reply to her question left Anjali stunned and wordless. Either way, she wasn't going to give up that quickly. If Riddhima was too blinded to look out for herself, she would!

"That is besides the point. Tum meri behen ho, and I'm merely looking out for you. Ridz, why don't you get it? I don't want you hurt again. And Armaan has no guarantee.."

"I know you're looking out for me. Sab jaanti hoon. Aur yeh bhi jaanti hoon ki Armaan jaisa pyaar mujhse koi aur nahin karsakta."

"Abhi bhi itna yakeen hai Armaan par?" Riddhima looked away sighing. "Aur agar main kahoon koi aur hoga joh Armaan jaisa pyaar tujhse kar sake toh?" Riddhima stared at Anjali in complete shock. You don't just decide to love someone because they love you. It has to be mutual, otherwise it's not love! "Ridzy, mujhe Nikki aur Muski bataa rahe they how you were more like yourself after your trip with Sid to Lonavla" Riddhima shut her eyes as she digested that information. How did Sid Step into the equation again?

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, you know everyone talks, and nurses have been talking about how after Armaan left you and Sid seemed to be really good friends and how they were sure the relationship would go to the next level pretty soon, hadn't.." she paused wondering whether she should continue. To hell, Riddhima had to know the truth! She had to stop being so blinking naive! "hadn't Armaan come back. And it makes perfect sense. You loved Armaan, he broke your heart and Sid came and you learn to love.."

"Di.." she interrupted her. "My life isn't a novel." Riddhima replied quietly, as Anjali shut her eyes in slight guilt. Riddhima was finding it hard to co-ordinate now. Others talking and thinking about Sid and her like that, she could tolerate. They hardly knew her inner self so she probably couldn't blame them either and what they thought didn't make a difference to her in the slightest. But this was her sister! She thought her sister knew her way more than any other Tom, Dick or Harry!

"Ridz, I didn't mean it like that." Her tone became more firm with the next sentence. "I don't think you should see Armaan any more. As much as I used to respect him, it's all gone down the drain!" Riddhima stared at her sister shocked that she should say that. No way! She had to see Armaan! Else she'd probably lose the will to live!

"I can't not see him. I love him! Try staying away from Atul!" Riddhima replied, determined to make Anjali see her side of the story.

"Atul wouldn't ever do what Armaan did!"

"I don't care!! Not everyone's the same!" Riddhima nearly shouted back. Anger was getting the better of her and tears of frustration were building up inside, willing to pour out.

"Look, I think there's potential for you and Sid. Sid might be falling for you. In fact I'm pretty sure he has already.."

"How can you be sure? You don't even know half of Sid's story di!" irritated, Riddhima replied back urgently, then faltered in her sentence as realization struck. "Oh wait..you do. You read my diary." She resolved to muttering.

"Yes I did. And at first I was fine with you still loving Armaan. But after knowing what he did? Ridzy, you're just hurting yourself further! Putting yourself further into darkness that one day you may never be able to get out of! While Sid is there, you may be able to make him get over his old girlfriend as well."

"How, if I myself can't get over Armaan? Sid deserves someone to actually love him, not act to because I know I can't love him like I loved Armaan!"

"And so do you! You deserve much better than Armaan!"

"Di, you don't get it! I've tried explaining this, I won't be able to fall in love with anyone except Armaan.."

"That's what your stubborn brain doesn't want to listen to does it?" Riddhima felt a tear fall down and her throat choke her.

"Please di. I don't want to go through what I went through the past two months. I don't want to live and feel suffocated at the same time."

"And I'm saying Sid could make it better. And I would be much more happy, not having to be cautious that he won't hurt you."

"How well do you know Sid?" Riddhima's voice broke.

"I admit, I don't, but there's potential.."

"There's none. It's Armaan! Always been Armaan. Not Rohit in college, or anyone else everyone tried to set me up with. Not Sid. Only Armaan. And I thought you knew that. But you of all people don't understand me?" she resorted to breaking whisper, with continuous tears streaming down.

"Ridzy, I'm just looking out for you. I don't want you hurt like last time." Anjali moved to console her sister but at that point heard a knock on the door. Riddhima wiped her cheeks and turned to the side, when Armaan entered. From his face, it was evident that he heard every single word that had conspired between both sisters. They weren't exactly whispering, Riddhima thought to herself. From behind him, Atul entered with a slightly guilty look in his eyes, but his face portraying a calm sea undisturbed by any actions. Riddhima looked at Armaan, whose eyes were fixed on hers, and she could see, heck, feel the torment that he was going through. No he didn't deserve this! Neither did she. Feeling more tears seep down, she glanced at Atul with pleading eyes as he blinked back assuredly, and gave her a hopeful smile. Anjali however was fuming at Armaan's sight.

"What do you want Armaan?" she spat out and Armaan came out of his trance. He continued making his way towards his basket, ignoring Anjali completely, and Riddhima felt fresh tears ooze out, ripping down her cheeks.

"Armaan.." she managed to bring out of her throat, and he took her into a hug.

"Sshh..Riddhima, no matter what anyone says, no matter what I ever do or have done, I'll always love you. Remember that.." he managed to bring out, as he held her close to himself while she was sobbing her heart out.

"Armaan saying and doing are two different things. Your actions have not proved half of what you said at all!" Anjali reprimanded him, feeling slightly guilty after seeing her sister's tears. In all the hyperness, frustration and sheer irritation of Riddhima not seeing things from her point of view, she had forgotten or been blind to what she was putting her baby sister through, and only the entrance of Armaan now showed how deep a scar she had inflicted on the one family member she loved so dearly.

"Anjali, you want to say anything, curse anyone, shout at anyone, I'm the one that deserves that. Not Riddhima."

"I wasn't shouting at Riddhima.." Anjali began defending herself.

"I know. But don't put Riddhima through this talk ever again. Especially if this is what it does to her."

"Armaan, stop acting like you care ok!" Armaan shut his eyes. If things had been much lighter, he would have marked another similarity between the sisters. But this time, the situation was too deep. "I'm looking out for her. So that people like you stop hurting her over and over again!" Armaan felt another burst of tears wet his shirt and he had had enough of her crying. No more, he thought to himself.

"Anjali, you're just torturing your sister with every word."

"I'm what.." Anjali asked bewildered that he even had the courage to speak up in front of her like her, about Riddhima! "Look Armaan.."

"Anjy. I'll talk to you tomorrow. I promise to have as long a talk with you as you want. And if you still don't think Riddhima should meet me then.." he paused as he felt Riddhima grip him tighter, while her face was still buried in his neck. "Then we'll see what happens." He finished off lamely, not being able to keep away from her for her sake. He tightened his hold on her, and kissed her hair.

"Listen Riddhima.." he began pulling her away, holding her sobbing frame tenderly, as she shook her head. He then cupped her face and brought her closer, kissing her forehead. But she was showing no signs of listening, so he gave up. "Can I take her home?" he asked gently, looking at Anjali then Atul.

"Ridzy..I didn't mean to attack you like that." Anjali whispered as she moved forward. "It's just that..you know what, let's drop it for now. You're my younger sister, I care for you." She saw that Riddhima had calmed down in Armaan's arms, and was slightly thankful to him now. Their eyes met over Riddhima's head and Armaan gave her an assuring look that he'll look after her. Anjali finally swallowed her pride, her ego, as Riddhima put it, and had to admit, that Armaan was the only one who could look after her sister that well, because she had trusted him enough to do that. "Take her home. I've got work to get done. And don't forget the talk tomorrow." Anjali muttered, closing her eyes. Armaan slowly led Riddhima out of the room, his touch comforting her immensely.

"Atul, when did my baby sister grow up?" Anjali whispered as she watched Armaan and Riddhima leave, stunned at Riddhima's behavior. "I thought she'd always listen to me when it came to advice like this. I thought she'd always need me to protect her. Lekin, this time, she's given the place to someone else." Atul glanced at Anjali's defeated, somber face and rushed to her. "She doesn't need me anymore."

"She does need you. She needs you a lot. Probably a lot more than she did before. But this time, she needs you to support her. To be with her in every decision she takes even if it's not the right one in your opinion. Hence she was so broken a few minutes back" Atul consoled his wife, hugging her.

"How can I when he hurt her so much? She wouldn't even listen to my suggestion of Sid. Uski yeh zidd ek din.."

"Uski zidd nahin hai. Yeh uska pyaar hai Anjali. She won't let it be lost that easily. That's where her stubbornness comes in useful for her."

"But if Armaan hurts her again?" Anjali asked, voicing her biggest fear.

"If they were meant to be, then no amount of hurt will ever be able to separate them. And if she is hurt, hum hain na? That's when she'll need us the most. Riddhima isn't weak. She's stronger than what we see her as. And it's Armaan who unknowingly has made her this strong." Atul shut up then and he had a feeling that Armaan will never ever hurt her again. However, by mentioning it, he didn't want to 'curse' it, as people put it, because believe it or not, sometimes, events occurred that rendered people helpless, making them take decisions they shouldn't.

"And now stop making me talk in so much depth. It's not good for my plants." Atul said in a louder, cheery yet reprimanding voice. "Do you know if you communicate with your plants every day, they can end up feeling your mood? They'll be sad if they feel my serious mood." Anjali looked at him skeptically then put on a hard glare. "I'm not joking..it's written.."

"Shut up Atul!"

"Mission accomplished," Atul mutteres to himself, as the old Anjali was back in action.

* * * * * *

"Armaan, you don't have to talk to Anjali..I'll.."

"Shush Basket." Armaan whispered while they were heading to the basement, not being able to hear her sobs.

"No Armaan.." he stopped before he got to the car, and turned her around so she could look into his eyes.

"Basket, I'll talk to Anjy. About us, and explain everything to her. Just calm down.."

"Armaan I can't." she replied desperately. "How can I calm down? Armaan, I don't want to go through what I went before. Please Armaan." Tears were getting the better of her again as she dove into his eyes. She could read the hurt etched into those blues, and felt it stab her right in the center of her being. No way, she had to stop that hurt in him. And predictably, it had surfaced when he heard Anjy's words. She leaned up suddenly and placed her lips on his, trying to melt all her and his pain away into the atmosphere. But he didn't respond. This was a sure sign of trouble.

"Armaan.." she mumbled needingly against his lips, and that was when he suddenly pulled her into himself so hard, she gasped in surprise. Pressing his lips hard against hers, he continued what she had left mid way. Such ardour! - Riddhima wondered as she tried to respond with equal zest. But there was more. She only belonged to him. No one could change that. Not her sister, not their friends. Nothing would ever affect them again! She wouldn't let it! Startled, she split apart when she felt a tear ' his ' drop on her hands that had clutched his shirt.

"Armaan, I can't let you go again. I can't let you let me go either. Please don't make me go through everything again. I won't be able to survive."

"You think I want to go through all that again? No Riddhima. But Anjy is right in her place.." And they were back to square one with his insecurities. Why didn't he understand? Why didn't it get through his thick skull? Amongst her blurry vision, she felt her temper rise.

"Armaan I don't care who's right! I don't care if I'm wrong!" Riddhima felt herself become hysterical. She honestly didn't care who was the good person or the bad. She didn't care whether right now every step with Armaan she was taking was the worst decision any living being could make. It felt right! And anything with Armaan felt right! "I don't care who is wrong. No one knows what it was like! Not Anjy, not Sid, not even you!" Her voice turned accusatory. "It was so difficult, waking up, acting like everything was normal in front of people.."

"I know, Riddhima. Main jaanta hoon." And he did, after all he had read her diary.

"Then how can you just say Di is right in her place?" Riddhima retorted back.

"Because Anjy was saying the truth. I was the one completely at fault."

"So what?!" Riddhima nearly screamed. Why didn't people get it? She was the one that had been 'wronged' ' in their words - right? Then if she didn't have a problem with it then why the hell did they? If she was willing to trust Armaan again, then why was he so bent on making himself the bad guy? "I told you I don't care.."

"But I do Riddhima.." She narrowed her eyes and looked at him squarely not registering the next words that shot out of her mouth.

"Care? Yeah right you care. Enough to consider leaving me alone to fend for myself against all those memories all over again?"

"I wasn't going to.." but she continued.

"After all, you had a gala time in Australia, new place, new people, you didn't have memories to look at every single minute of every single day.."

"You think it was easy? Riddhima you think going away, leaving everything behind, leaving everyone behind, leaving you was easy?" Armaan interrupted her with so much force in his voice she shut up. He wasn't shouting, but she could see her words had caused a huge scar that was about to spill out his inner secrets. She was stunned when she digested each word she had spat out in fury. No, how could she have said all that? But before she could contemplate and rectify her mistake, he continued. " you think the decision I made was something made in an instant? I thought through everything Riddhima! Every single thing. I knew how hard it would be to go away from everything that made me who I am. To go away from you. To leave you. Every single step I took away from this place was taken after ages and ages of thought. You think my actions didn't hurt me? You think the moment I realized what I'd said at the club I didn't want to take it back? You think seeing you break down as you walked out gave me pleasure? Seeing you in the rain, lost with life, all because of me? I felt elated? Do you know what I went through when you didn't turn up at the hospital the next day? Hell, Riddhima hell! After knowing you had a fever, all because of me? That guilt that ate me up from inside every single day after I made that baseless accusation, after I hurt you, honestly answer me. Do I really deserve you? YOu loved me endlessly, supported me and I? Do I Basket?" He ended in a small voice, his question desperate, begging. Riddhima calmed down after his out burst. She replied in an even, understanding tone that forced Armaan to look at her again.

"You were the one who left everything for me then. You risked Keerti knowing..you knew you could have been suspended. Still you came to look after me. You were the one there for me when Sapna left. No one else noticed how I really felt. You were the one who stood up against your best friend despite not knowing what happened. Armaan you were in full senses then. The other night in the club you weren't. Right now you could have left after hearing Anji's words, but instead you came there and stood up against what you believed and thought, against Anji just for me. You were there for me when Sara.." she still couldn't admit it. "Armaan can you blame me for being myself when you're around? You're the one who understands me. Who knows what I need. That's why I love you!"

"I don't understand you. Else I wouldn't have, ever, ever broken this relationship off in the first place."

"Armaan that's not the point here. I just needed time to gather things, to gather myself. To get over the hurt.."

"Exactly I hurt you. And I hurt you more by going away.."

"Armaan you went because I told you to leave. I was so angry that I didn't even think of what the consequences would be." She took a step closer to him trying to make him see things her way. "I was just so blinded by what you had done, that I couldn't see how much you leaving would kill me. And you left. Just like that. Without a word. Armaan I had heard that you were planning to stay there for good and complete your internship there. Do you know how much I prayed, wished, hoped for you to come back? Just that once so I could tell you to never leave me again. So I could explain that yes, I was wrong in asking you go away. Because we needed time with each other to sort everything out. Armaan I wanted to tell you not to leave me alone, but I couldn't. I couldn't bring myself to say it because it still hurt at that time. But being away from you physically is like a million times worse. Not knowing how you were, how you were keeping, whether you were fine or moving on with life. And look at how thin you've grown!" she added indignantly. "while I was here, stuck at the same place, waiting for one phone call from you. Just the one." She ended in a whisper, and leant against the car, closing her eyes and going back to those haunted memories. She didn't want to go back to those times. She didn't want anyone to say anything that will make Armaan doubt himself and so turn away from her, 'for her own good' as he put it.

Armaan this time took her hands and brought them to his lips. She watched him caress them and felt a pleasant sensation go through her as finally she spilled out everything that she had wanted to tell him for ages.

"I wanted to call you. Every single day while I was there. Run back and beg you to take me back if you will.." Armaan started in a hoarse whisper. "The moment I stepped onto the plane, I knew that I had to do this. Leave behind a life that I had destroyed myself. I didn't want to leave. But then whenever you saw me, you seemed so broken, I knew my presence did that to you. You said you'll be able to forget everything if I went, that day on terrace."

"I didn't mean any of it." She replied quietly. "Not a single word. Call it my ego, my pride, but there was no way I was going to admit that I would miss you. I realized you going would change things. But not to this extent. Not to the extent that I would wish to have even a glimpse of you anyday, ban myself from going to those areas, our areas, just because I would miss you so much. It made me realize I was ready to forget everything, just so I could be with you, like it used to be. But then I wondered how you'd be in Australia. Probably moving ahead.."

"I wasn't. Not at all. Riddhima it was so difficult there. Life was fast paced, yes, high demands, even higher expectations. When I landed there, I realized all those dreams I had woven about you, about us, had come crashing down. No one knew me there. No one was around to make sure I was fine. Yes I made friends, but how were they to know what I had been through? Every living moment was like a horrible nightmare. Life just wasn't what it was here. At least had I been here, I would have seen you. Seeing you starts my day Basket." His eyes fixed into hers and she could see that this directly came from his heart. "Even a glance, just so I know how you're doing makes me satisfied to continue with day's work. Then how could I function in Melbourne without you? Every single day, it was the same routine. It was so difficult to get out and smile at people. To work like nothing was wrong when I wanted to cry for you so much. I couldn't sleep! And work was the only thing that helped me keep going. Every time I thought of calling you, I cut the phone before it even connected. Because I could picture you, being happy, being the person you were before I came to Sanjeevani, the person I had unknowingly.. killed."

"Armaan.." she gasped, framing his face in her hands.

"One smile from you Basket and that makes my day. To know I was the reason you stopped smiling. To know I was the reason of all that pain I put you through. No Riddhima, I don't deserve.."

"Armaan you put me through pain. Fine I admit it. But if you leave me alone now because of what others say, it will kill me more. Armaan, since the time I have been small, I've always done things to please people. Papa, Mumma, Di, yahaan tak dadi bhi! Armaan, Papa never told me no for anything in life. When I wanted to go to parties with my friends, he never liked it, but he never said a straightforward no. I automatically stopped. Because I knew he didn't like it. I went with Mumma here and there because she needed someone to accompany her, and Anjy was in Australia. I never liked doing all that but I did it. Kyunki Mumma khush hoti thi. Armaan when I started liking you the first time, I always wondered whether what we had would be able to survive through college, and into the future." She smiled slightly. " I didn't need to worry about that." Seeing guilt reflect in his eyes, she quickly continued "Now I look back, I'm grateful for whatever happened. Because what you did at that time made strong. It made me believe in myself more. It made me sure of my decisions. And when we were together a few months back, I always wondered what Papa would say, would do if he found out. Initially, despite my feelings, I tried to stay away from you because I was scared if I let things go further and Papa found out, it will kill me. But he loved you. You made your way into so many people's hearts and I was the stubborn one who refused to listen to my own heart. Armaan, remember the Sanjeevani party? It was then I realized, that it didn't matter what anyone said. I did really love you, and somehow, someway, things would sort themselves out. I'd always wished for someone to love me like Atul loved Di. And you," she smiled as she recalled those memories while they had been together. "You were perfect. You were my choice. And for once I didn't regret doing anything behind Papa's back, because I knew there would be a time where he came to know. And I know, that he will approve. Armaan, I love you! And no matter what you've done, what you've said, nothing's going to change it. And I will fight for you with anyone. Just don't let me fight alone else I won't be able to do it. Please don't." She ended in a whisper, pulling herself closer to him. She felt his arms come up and tighten around her frame.

"I love you too basket. I love you a lot." He whispered into her ear. "You're the only one I didn't mind telling Mum about. Because I knew that if I would ever lose you, it would be impossible to find someone else. And while I was away, you were on my mind every single day." He pulled out and framed her face with his hands. "Riddhima, living a life away from everyone, I found out, was bearable. But living away from you. Thinking of you every single day. And every time I wanted to call, I thought you'd be busy, you'd be smiling and as soon as my call came, your smile would vanish. And if I called what could I tell you?" he sighed as he put his forehead on hers. "That I was missing you? That I still loved you so much? That life without you was like eternity of torture? That I felt like I was suffocating every living moment while I was there? On valentines day, I called. I couldn't help it Riddhima. It hurt so much seeing couples around. For the first time I had wanted to do something meaningful for a girl on valentines day. Something you'd always remember. I didn't even get the chance to do that. After all the pain I had put you through.." he trailed off. "I had to see you after talking to you. Just to see if you were doing fine. And that's when I saw you with Sid. But I could read your eyes. You still loved me. And I thought Sid maybe better for you. But you two never saw eah other as anything more than friends. Kitna pyaar karti ho mujhse, Basket? I'm not worth it." He finished, shutting his eyes.

"People thought Sid was reason I was more like myself after the Lonavla trip. Yes, the talk with him, maybe to some extent he was the reason. A very small extent. But, it was after you called, that I realized you still loved me. Then why I didn't say it as soon as you came back I don't know. It was hope, probbly, that you still loved me. And missed me. Because there couldn't, can't be any one besides you."

"I promise, Basket. I'm always going to be there for you while I live. Always. I know that Anjy said saying and doing are two different things but Riddhima, I'll never let you fight anything alone. Even if I think you're wrong. Even if it's not right. I don't care. I was so scared to lose you again, incase I hurt you once more. I was so scared of going back to those days without you. Basket, I love you." He ended simply with a kiss on her forehead, and she savoured the feel of his lingering lips.

"I love you too Armaan. A lot" she replied back and felt him crush her in his arms the next moment. He'd just spilt out his heart to her. He had told her everything on his mind, and she had told him everything on hers. It was like letting go a very huge weight, burden, and now she felt like a million times lighter. He was with her! He would fight with her! Turning her head to hide it in his neck, she shut her eyes to prevent tears from falling out. She loved him so much!

Armaan felt her put her arms around him. He was in awe of how much more free he felt than he had in the past ages. He had been scared to lose her, but wasn't anymore. The only person he'd ever been able to spill his heart out to was his Mum, and sometimes his Dad. Heck why was he surprised. This was Riddhima. His basket. The one he'd promised to shield, to protect from any harm. He couldn't bear to see her the way she was in Anjy's office. There was no way he could let her fight alone. He was going to talk to Anjy. Make her see that he loved her sister to no ends. Caressing her hair, he gave a sigh. No matter what, he'd always protect Riddhima. From everyone. He loved her. And he would do anything to prove it.


Sanna
p.s by punam

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