Sunday, 7 June 2015

part 12:Life out of control(season 3)

"Riddhima, Anjali aur Atul aaye hain." Riddhima heard her Mum call from downstairs. Immediately, her heart increased pace. Anjali was here, that meant one thing. She would want to talk about Armaan now. And if they talked about Armaan, Riddhima wasn't sure if she could act up to any more drama, emotions and shouting roller coasters. Especially with her sister! Sighing and very hesitantly, she still headed downstairs in her pyjamas. She found her PJs so comfy that she changed into them as soon as she got back from work!


She wondered to herself - had she forgiven her sister already for what she had said about Armaan? That wasn't the point, or was it? Riddhima thought to herself. She didn't need to forgive her sister for anything. Anjali hadn't done anything tremendously wrong! Why was life so difficult? Why did everything have to happen at once? Couldn't Anjali have never found out what Armaan did? Wouldn't this have made life a lot simpler? But if it was simple, it wouldn't be life would it?

"Di.." Riddhima forced a smile. True, she wasn't feeling exceptionally warm towards her sister, but she didn't have any complains against her either. She was looking out for her after all, wasn't she? Then how could she be angry at her?


"Ridz.. Can we go to you room, I want to discuss things with you." Anjali gave a small smile to Padma, who already noticed the tension in the air. She frowned wondering what the problem was. Her daughters had never fought ever since Anjali had moved to Australia to study. Instead, they had proved the statement 'distance makes the heart grow fonder' right! That obviously didn't include those silly fights between them, where one would annoy the other and who'd end up chasing the other all around the house! Then why something so serious all of a sudden? She looked at Atul for a clue, after not receiving answers from either sisters, but Atul's serene face showed no emotions.

Riddhima's eyes widened with fear. Not that talk again! Please not. She wouldn't be able to bear it! And there was no Armaan either to console her this time. She looked at Atul, who gave a small smile and a reassuring nod.

Anjali watched her sister's silent play of emotions in her eyes. Riddhima didn't want to even talk to her now? Did she already hate her elder sister so much? Feeling everything weigh her down, she watched the silent conversation between her husband and Riddhima. Obviously Riddhima found it more comfortable with him around. He hadn't attacked her like she had that afternoon! Maybe she shouldn't have been so harsh. But Riddhima was her baby sister! How could she stop getting worried for her? Ever?

"Atul, will you please join us?" Anjali asked silently, almost feeling her voice break. Her sister had indeed grown up. And Anjali could not do anything about it. Quietly, they all went into Riddhima's room while Padma pretended to fuss about the tea and went to the kitchen. Riddhima closed the door behind her, and looked at the floor, not being able to meet her sister's eyes.

"Itna gussa ho, ki nazar bhi nahin milaogi?" Anjali asked suddenly and Riddhima's eyes shot up of their own account.

"Di, main gussa nahin hoon. Zara sa bhi nahin."

"Mujhse jhoot bol rahi ho?"

"No, honest." She went to her sister who had sat down on her bed. "I'm not angry at all. I just don't know how to face you. I don't want to go over that talk again. Please."

"Lekin Riddhima, this needs to be sorted out." Atul spoke this time as he stood in front of both sisters.

Riddhima looked at him .Was she at fault? This needed sorting out? What did he mean? How could she make them understand that Armaan was the only one for her? Unknowingly, she slumped down beside her sister.

"Ridz, I know I was harsh this afternoon. I said quite a lot of things I shouldn't have. In fact, I said them in the way I shouldn't have. And that just made you stand up more for.."

"No di. Even if you had said them in the most subtlest way, I still would have stood up for him." Riddhima interrupted her quietly. They were still at the same spot, or so she thought until she heard the next line.

"I'm sorry. I should have understood you. I mean after reading your diary at least I should have understood. Just don't hate me.."

"Di, what are you saying? I can never hate you!" Seeing Anjali's eyes brimming with tears, she felt her own voice crack. How could Anjali think she hated her? How? Her sister was everything to her! Even the thought of hating her shocked her to the core!

"I know you probably hate me for saying so much against Armaan, Riddhima there's no point in hiding it."

"Di, being upset and hating are two completely different things. I was upset, yes, because you said all that about Armaan and I was upset because you didn't understand me. Lekin main kabhi bhi aapse nafrat nahin karsakti. Aap dono se kabhi nahin!" She referred to Armaan as the second person.

"Ridz.."

"I was upset. I wasn't angry, neither do I hate you. After all, you were looking out for me. I need you there for me. Always."

"Haan samjao. She's been broken ever since we got home. Kehti hai..'main itni buri badi behen hoon.' And 'Shaant se kuch samja bhi nahin sakti. Main bass kharoos hoon, issilye sab mujhse darte hain' Not to forget ' Itna attack kiya ki dekh bhi nahin paayi kitni chot pohnchayi hai meri choti behen ko'." Atul quoted and Anjali looked away, tears streaming down her face. Riddhima looked at her. Her sister, the emotionally strong one between the two, was crying?

"Di, mujhe laga nautanki main thi. When did you start being all dramatic..?" She said with a smile that forced a small chuckle out of her sister. "Mujhe aapse koi shikayat nahin hai. Honestly. Main sirf yeh soch ke heraan ho rahi hoon, ki aap humesha meri dill ki baat jaan leti ho. Toh phir aaj kaise..?" she trailed off, and turned Anjali's face, demanding softly for an answer.

"I'm sorry Ridz. I just didn't see it because I was so shocked. So horrified and astounded by what he did that I ignored your feelings completely even after you tried explaining them to me." Anjali muttered, looking back down on the bed.

"It's okay. I'm not surprised. Main toh hoon hi aisi. Aap bhi jaanti ho. Kissi ek ko pyaar karti hoon toh bass kissi aur ko dekh bhi nahin paati." She gave a sarcastic sort of laugh, but changed her tone to a cheerful one. "Yaad hai na, main kaise aapke saath ladti rehti thi. While you fell for every new actor in the industry, it was always Shah Rukh Khan for me??" Both of them laughed at that while wiping each other's tears.

"Aur issi room mein, hum kitna jagadte they! Phir raat ko jab zor se baarish hoti thi, toh ek hi bistar par ek doosre ko hug karke so jaate they!" Riddhima found tears making their way into her eyes again when Anjali said that, but forcefully blinked them back.

"Pata hai aap jab gayyi, toh I used to miss you sooo much! And when you came in your holidays we used to sleep on the same bed the first few days!"

"And I used to wear your jeans and tops, and reduced my luggage by bring only four or five pairs of c***hing! But I never touched those chooridars!" Anjali laughed along with her.

Atul found himself shaking his head at the two sisters. One moment they were spilling buckets full of tears, the next moment laughing and remembering old times! Sighing, he wondered how the two best women in his life were sisters! Yes, they were poles apart, yet they were so similar, and that's what brought them closer!

"Di, about Armaan, please don't push it further.." Riddhima quietly pleaded. Suddenly getting serious. This matter needed sorting. She saw Anjali glance at Atul and her face harden ever so slightly.

"I will talk to him tomorrow Ridz. Main itni aasani se jaane nahin doongi usse."

"No, Di, please. He's still very insecure. Please don't tell him anything.."

"How do you know he's insecure?"

"When he took me out of your cabin, we went to the basement car park and there he told me everything. Though he didn't tell me, I knew that he was thinking the best thing for me would be if he wasn't in my life again." She continued telling her sister about how he had left only for her, how he had felt, how he had done so much for her and yet thought he had done nothing. "Di we talked so much, and all his inner feeling came out. Please don't let them settle inside him again."

"Riddhima I can't promise that. But that talk WILL happen and I want some answers and affirmations from him." Anjali was back to herself old determined self and Riddhima prayed to make things go well. As a result, she let the subject drop. She'd ask Atul to accompany them during their talk, because she was certain she wouldn't be allowed even ten meters' radius of their area while they were talking!

"Di, one more thing that upset me. Why did you tell me whatever you did about Sid? It felt like Rohit all over again. Only this time, you didn't understand me.And.." she continued. "That's what made it worse."

"Awwh, Ridz. I'm so sorry. I just thought the only reason you weren't ready to let go was because you were afraid of being lonely again. And Sid would help fill the void." Anjali admitted meekly, shutting her eyes. She would try her best to understand Riddhima again. Unknowingly, she had hurt her so much!

"Atul jeej, Anjali pagal hogayyi hai na?" Riddhima frowned as she looked at Atul who had been a silent spectator all along.

"Yeh toh main kabse kehne ki koshish kar raha tha!" He sighed and muttered to himself. "Ek behen pagal, toh doosri tube light! Armaan aur main kahaan phas gayye?" Both sisters glanced at each other, narrowing their eyes. This guy had so pulled the trigger!

"Atul!" Anjali almost shouted and both got up to corner their very adorable, understanding, family member, who immediately rushed downstairs to save his dear life from the two demons known as the Gupta sisters! If only life was always like this, without sad moments. But wasn't it the sad times that made the happy ones more memorable?

"Night Mumma," Riddhima said as she kissed her Mum's cheek and was about to trudge upstairs to head to bed.

"Riddhima.." Padma called and put down her reading glasses along with her magazine on the bedside table. She asked her to sit next to her. It was time she and her daughter had a little talk. Nothing much, just something small. She had been silent spectator of her daughter's emotional turbulence. And while the mother in her wanted to step in and talk to her, help relieve her of all those thoughts, the woman in her told her to let her go through this herself, and that was how she would grow and mature. But after seeing the slightly cold behavior towards her sister at first, Padma got startled! True, when they rushed downstairs, after Atul's life, she was sure nothing was wrong anymore.

"Jee mumma?" Riddhima asked slightly tentatively as she sat down next to her. Her father was still at work and was due to return anytime soon.

"Kya huwa? It's been so long since you told me your heart's feelings." Padma came straight to the point. True, Riddhima was Shashank's princess, but everyone was aware of Shashank's sudden reactions and outbursts, which Anjali had taken after, and so hesitated telling him what was on their mind. In these matters, Riddhima had inherited the genes from both of them. She could be really calm, but burst out any second, surprising everyone. However, she always kept control of that. While Riddhima had grown up, quite wary of her father, she had come rushing to Padma with every problem she couldn't handle since she was twelve. All her friends' issues, how some back stabbed her, how some were just plain nasty to her, how her best friends were leaving and not coming back. These sorts of issues during her school life had made her a very insecure person. And though from the outside, she seemed strong and well at handling trivial matters, her Mum was the only one who knew how deep she actually took everything that appeared to have no effect on her. Then Armaan leaving must have been nothing short of a huge blow in the pit of her stomach, causing her to double over and fall straight to the ground! And just as Padma was about to go and help her, she suddenly sttod up, transformed and led an almost normal life. That was if normal meant devoid of any feelings. That was her daughter. Her gem of a daughter, who never let anything show.

"No Mumma, aisi baat nahin hai.."

"Haan, these days you're just used to keeping everything pressed inside yourself till it eats you up right?" Riddhima slightly frowned in confusion. Her Mum had a point. She had been wanting Armaan to spill his heart out, so that the past didn't affect him, while she herself had hidden it from the most important person in her life! No wonder reactions like Anjali's occurred then. Maybe she should tell her Mum. She was after all her next best consultant after Anjali. She suddenly lay down on the huge bed and put her head on her Mum's lap. Smiling, she remembered how Armaan did that with her, and like her Mum was doing now, she massaged his scalp with great care. It was such a wonderful feeling! People were right, you could never find the comfort of Mum's arms anywhere else.

"Mumma, If someone thinks you're wrong, someone close to you, yet you think you're right, who's right?" Riddhima questioned simply. Padma didn't reply. Instead she looked down at her daughter, trying to decipher the meaning of what she had just said. "Mumma, what do you think of Armaan?"

Padma smiled. She didn't know much about Armaan but his name was always praised by Shashank, her mother-in-law, Anjali and Atul. Then how could she have a problem with him? When she met him, he was as sweet as a person could be. He was a flirt, cracked jokes, made everyone laugh in his presence. Somehow, she was glad Riddhima had chosen Armaan.

"From what I know, bohot accha hai. Mujhe bohot pasand hai. UskeParents bhi bohot acche hain aur voh ek kaabil doctor bhi hai." Padma voiced, making Riddhima smile. Armaan had found hi way into everyone's hearts.

"Mumma, yaad hai aapne mujhe kahaa tha to sometimes let life take it's own direction?" Padma nodded. "I did, and it just came back to Armaan again. But Mumma, Di has a problem with it." Riddhima whispered, slightly afraid of the outcome. True, her Mum listened to everything and was a calm person. But just incase..

"Aur voh kyun? Anjali was very happy with Armaan wasn't she?" Padma questioned. This was the source of the tension between them.

"In Lonavla.." Padma's eyes widened slightly in concern but Riddhima re-assured her. "No, Mumma, nothing bad happened. You trust me don't you? Mumma, you know Armaan and I broke off when he went to Australia right?"

"You broke off? I thought you were just missing him too much and.." Riddhima shook her head.

"We broke off just before he left. Like three weeks before." She admitted, shutting her eyes. She felt her Mom's hand come out of her hair and pull Riddhima up.

"Usne kuch kiya." Riddhima shut her eyes and nodded slowly.

"I still love him. He still loves me. Mumma, please don't judge him on what he did. He didn't mean it. He wasn't in his full senses."

"Riddhima, pehle huwa kya."

"Promise you won't judge him though. Like Di did."

"Accha theek hai."

Riddhima proceeded to the telling her Mum everything from scratch about Sasha and Arjun. Going back to those details, funnily enough, wasn't as painful as she thought it would be. It made her wonder how she had ever forgiven him for what he had done at the picnic, but after that, realized probably her forgiving was the reason things went that far. So could she blame it on her lack of experience in relationships? No, no one was to be blamed. Not her, not Armaan, not even Sasha to some extent. She registered her Mum's very subtle reactions. Sometimes Padma's grip on RIddhima's hand grew tighter, and sometimes she would slightly frown.

"But Mum, he left because I told him to. Maine bass ek baar keh diya, aur voh chala gayya. Even while knowing how much hurt he would have go through. Mumma, at least I had you guys here. I had Di, Jeeju, Muskaan, Rahul, Abhi, Nikki. I had everyone. Aur uske paas koi nahin tha wahaan pe. How did he manage?"

Padma smiled sadly at her daughter.

"Tum usse bohot pyaar karti ho.." it was more of a statement than a question. Padma was staring out as she said that, making Riddhima wonder what was wrong.

"Mumma.."

"Riddhima, jo main tumse abh kahoongi, maine kahin saal kissi se iske baare mein baat nahin ki." Riddhima was shocked. Her Mum had a secret? A secret she hadn't talked about in ages.

"Your father and I did our internship together. And I," she sighed before continuing. "I fell in love with him." Riddhima wanted to tease her but knew not to break the trance. "Your Papa didn't love me. He fell in love with Doctor Smriti." Riddhima frowned. Wasn't Dr Smriti a very prestigious doctor? But she'd passed away hadn't she? Riddhima had only heard of her once or twice before. But then, her father falling in love with her? That she had never heard or even thought of!

"Mumma." Riddhima hugged her dearly. It sucked to love someone who didn't reciprocate it. "Phir kya huwa?" she whispered in a question.

"Main Shimla chali gayyi, to my parents straight after their wedding. And I was there for a good three years or so, coping with life. Maine kabhi kissi se kuch nahin kaha." Padma smiled at Riddhima after pulling her out of the hug. "You're a lot like me in that matter. I don't like what I've passed down to you. Phir ek din, Shashank came to Shimla. And we resumed the old friendship we had. I asked him about Smriti, it was nearing their third anniversary, and that's when he told me, she had an accident barely a year after their marriage and she couldn't survive it." Riddhima gasped. Her father had been through so much! It's not like he was the world's most expressive person, but he could have told them once, shared his grief with them once at least!

"Phir Papa.."

"He was in Shimla for a year, for his placement before he went on to neurosurgery. Aur tab maine uska saath bohot diya and all my friends noticed. But they had a problem with his past. They kept telling me that he would never be able to give me Smriti's place. I never wanted to take Smriti's place. I just wanted to make a space of my own. Phir your Dadi suddenly came home for my hand in marriage with you father. My Mum was against it after she got know what happened, lekin Papa ne mujhse kahaa tha. If I was confident about this relationship then whatever anyone else says shouldn't matter to me. So bas, aise shaadi hogayyi, and not once have I regretted the decision. Especially after I conceived Anjali and you."

Padma smiled once at Riddhima. Respect for her mother had heightened by a million folds, in Riddhima's heart. How much had her Mum been through? Two months of separation from Armaan had nearly murdered her, then three years?

"So, what I wanted to say, was if you're sure of this, if you're confident about your love, then don't let anyone stop you. I'll always be with you and so will my prayers and blessings." Padma continued and kissed and her daughter's forehead once.

"I love you Mumma," Riddhima whispered and hugged Padma once more, this time for a much longer time.

"I love you as well, baccha.." Padma hugged her back equally.

When Riddhima walked out of the room, Padma stared at her daughter. How she had grown up in front of their eyes and they hadn't even noticed! Talking about this inner most secret of hers, after so many years, helped a lot. Even if it was her own daughter she was spilling them out to, it surely relieved a huge burden off her heart. She knew how trying things could get when everyone, especially your own, thought you were taking the wrong step. But was falling in love a wrong step? If so, why did so many people do it?

"Padma, khaane pe kya hai.." she heard her husband call on cue, wiped a small tear that was about to spill out of her eye, and headed downstairs to serve her love.

The phone rung and Riddhima heard Armaan pick up.

"Basket, what's up?" he asked with a dimpled smile she could picture, adorning his face. She needed to tell him this.

"I love you.." Instead of hearing a cheeky reply from him, she heard his voice turn serious.

"Kya huwa? Basket did something happen.." she shook her head at her idiotic boyfriend and replied in the negative. "Toh kissi ne kuch kahaan kya?"

"Armaan can't you straightforwardly give me the reply I want to hear!" she snapped, anger getting the better of her. He was so thick sometimes! And she heard him chuckle over the phone, apparently at ease now.

"I love you too Basket. A lot. More than my life is.."

"Yeah yeah enough." She stopped him, feeling herself blush to the core. He didn't give her what she wanted at first, then gave all and more in one go making her cheeks flush a dark shade! He could be such a prat at times!

"So, do you know I was fighting with Dad today." He changed the topic in a disgruntled voice.

"Whyy?" She was astonished. Armaan and his Dad had a great relationship! Then why all of a sudden?

"Because he said both of you will gang up against me." She could hear his pout however his voice softened with the next line. "You're loved so much already.." Initially, she was shocked that his Dad knew but quickly came over it as she said,

"Just like you are here.." a small smile playing on her face.

* * * * * *

"Armaan, be calm, think before you answer every question of hers." Riddhima was straightening the collar of his shirt, not that it needed straightening but she needed something to do. There was no way she could describe the nerve wrecking tension, and hope flowing through her as she lectured Armaan in the fire-escape. "She's probably going to insult you, please don't take everything to the heart." She managed to mumble out as she hugged him once more.

"Yes Basket.." Armaan replied nonchalantly, as shut his file. It was lunch time and he had a few cases to handle, on top of that Riddhima was acting as though he had an interview with her father!

"Armaan don't worry, everything will be fine.." she muttered more for herself.

"Riddhima, yaar, you're acting as though I'm going to Anjy for a job interview. Dekh.." he split her apart as she finally giggled after realizing how she sounded. "I'm going to talk there, with her. It will only be a talk. I promise to turn deaf ears to her insults. I promise to not throw any myself. And I'm there to tell her I love you and will always do." He said clearly, looking into her eyes.

"I love you too, so much!" she replied, hugging him once more.

"Really?" he asked as he wrapped his arms around her.

"Really." She replied before sealing it with a kiss straight on his lips.

* * * * * *
"Come in.." Anjali commanded and Armaan shut his eyes.

"Dooms day.." he found himself whispering and chuckled until he heard a sharp,

"What did you just say?"

"Uhm..nothing. Just uhmm..how are you doing?"

Meanwhile outside, Riddhima bit her bottom lip. She was so sure Anjali would do or say something that will force Armaan to be insecure all over again. That, Riddhima could not afford. Praying silently to herself, she walked to and fro until she bumped into Atul.

"Jeeju, please, go in there. Please. Make sure Di doesn't say anything too harsh.."

"Calm down Ridzy. Don't worry, main andar hi jaane wala tha." Atul smiled and after knocking, went inside, and Riddhima heaved a sigh of relief. Slowly, she made her way to the door, to listen to the conversation. Yes, Anjy would probably kill her if she found out. If she found out. But she wouldn't.

"Armaan, you remember me telling you not to hurt her. Then how did you? Armaan did you really not trust Riddhima?"

"Look Anjy, I regretted it the moment I.."

"Yeah right regretted it." Anjali scoffed, not letting Armaan finish and causing an awkward silence filled with emotions waft its way into the room.

"You're right. I probably don't deserve Riddhima. She deserves someone a lot better." Riddhima peeked through and saw Armaan with his eyes on the floor. No, no, no this wasn't happening! She was right, her sister had managed to shatter through Armaan's self confidence! However, his next line made her smile. He understood her perfectly! "But you can't deny the fact that we both love each other. I love her a lot, Anjy, and if she ever finds someone else who she'd be more happy with, who would probably treat her better, whome she loves more than she loves me, I would willingly let her go."

"Armaan, that's not the point. The point is she probably would have moved on hadn't you come back." Anjali's harsh voice pierced through Riddhima's heart. No, this was wrong! She wouldn't have been any happier. It was impossible without Armaan!

"Are you her sister, Anjali?" this time Atul spoke in an astonished voice. "She was broken when Armaan wasn't here. Couldn't you see her condition?"

"But apparently when she came from Lonavla with Sid.."

"I called her when she was in Lonavla. Anjali, if you still disapprove of me, I promise, I'll try my hardest to keep her happy.."

"And then break her apart like you did before? You're such a jerk Armaan! I can't believe I trusted you before! If it's not another girl it'll be something else. Then what? Then you'll come back and say sorry, and she'll forgive you. But what about how guilty I'll feel?" Anjali seemed to get to the point at last. "It would be my fault wouldn't it. Like it was before. I was the one to help you guys get together and after that you just broke everything off? Without even thinking once?!" Anjali looked out of her window.

"Anjy I'm.."

"Sorry? That will go back in time and cut the heart break you gave her." Anjali replied icily. "Armaan how could you have been so thick headed? We all saw the distance you created between yourself and Riddhima when Sasha was around. And I thought you'd come to your senses soon enough. But you actually broke it off completely?"

Riddhima knew this wasn't getting anywhere. By going back over and over, Anjali was just scorching old wounds that would break open and take a longer time to heal. Just as she was about to knock and go inside, save Armaan from that emotional torture Anjali was inflicting on him that he quietly bore, Atul spoke up.

"Anjali, this talk isn't getting anywhere. By going back to the past like that, nothing will help. You'll just be hurting him and Riddhima more."

"Atul what about me? I'm the one who's supposed to be looking after her, and I haven't been able to do my job. She's my BABY sister Armaan, and I let her endure such a huge blow without even knowing about it?" She looked at him squarely in the eye, pain evident. "I've been really harsh to you for the past few days because as soon as I got to know, I couldn't help but blame myself for everything. And I'll admit it, blaming you was a way to get rid of this huge weight even slightly." Armaan's eyes widened. He was the one to blame completely. Anjali shouldn't blame herself at all.

"Anjy, it was not your fault. None of it was. Everything was my fault." He found himself telling her and Atul as he walked around the desk, to her side. "I promise, I'll do everything to make up for it. And this time, you won't regret anything."

Anjali looked into his eyes and saw sincerity behind them. But how could she deny that she had seen the same sincerity the last time as well. No doubt, he loved Riddhima. But would he act up to it and really protect her from everything? If, God forbid, Riddhima was accused of something would he defend her? Or side with the crowd and taunt her? She looked at Atul for the answers, whose eyes seemed reassuring enough.

"Anjy, I know you find it hard to trust me, you probably don't think I love Riddhima but.."

"You do.." she admitted quietly. "You do Armaan, of that I'm sure. But will it last like Ridzy wants it to? Armaan will you always be there for her and no point telling me you will." She cut him off and continued. "Saying and proving are two different things. We just have your word here. And you word could be enough, but Armaan, how can we be sure you'll be there for her throughout? What if another Sasha sort of episode occurs? How can we trust you with that?" Anjali's soft voice echoed in the walls of the room as her inner fears came out.

"You can't. You can't at this point. But I will do whatever I can to prove that from now on, my every decision will be based around hers. Even if she is wrong, I will still be with her. And whether it takes me a day or years to prove that, I will. I promise." He whispered as a final plea.

Anjali glanced once more at Atul who gave a nod and a small smile.

"We'll be there for her too won't we Anjali?" Atul asked quietly while she nodded in reply.

"Please don't hurt her again. She's been through too much already." Anjali surprisingly hugged Armaan, whose eyes were watery. "I can't threaten you, I can't keep a watch on you guys. But Armaan, please don't ever hurt her again. Please."

"I promise I won't." Armaan finally shut his eyes. He had been devoid of any emotions for the past fifteen minutes. Why? Even when Anjali was insulting him, bringing back old memories, it hurt him yes, maybe a bit. But not to the extent he had imagined it to. Maybe because he deserved all the scorn, all the harshness in the world. But if that meant he got to keep Riddhima, then he was willing to endure a century of it. If that meant Riddhima would continue loving him, like he loved her, life would still seem nothing short of bliss. They split apart and he was surprised to see Anjy wiping a small tear.

"Aur agar, na chahte huwe bhi, meri pyaari saali ko dookh pohnchaya, toh main meri podhe ki army tumhaare peeche bhejunga!" Atul added in a threatening voice, forcing Anjali to giggle.

"That does it champ. Killed it! Of the jokes you've cracked, that has to be the lamest one!"

"Heyy, don't call my husband lame!" Anjali's sharp reply shot back and Armaan put his hands up in surrender, while all the tension melted away in the room.

Riddhima peeked in once more at Atul, Anjy and Armaan laughing away. Things were fine. Finally. Smiling, instead of knocking and interrupting them, she walked away feeling elated. Her sister finally wasn't against it. That didn't mean she approved, but it certainly meant that she didn't have to feel guilty. Anjali felt responsible for Riddhima's condition to such an extent? Then how didn't she have any idea of it? She smiled her brightest at Sister Lovely who wobbled past, with a file in her hand. This was it, Riddhima thought to herself. Her and Armaan, together, without anyone's objections. Things would be back to the way they were before. Not being able to wipe that dazzling, heart filled smile off her face, she resumed to her duties.

Duty had just finished and Riddhima was heading to the locker room. Hopefully she would meet Armaan there since she missed him crazily. Their duty had been at different ends of the hospital and she hadn't been able to see him at all after lunch. He would probably also drop her home like he used to. The thought warmed up inside her. Things were just they way they used to be. Just the way she loved them.

Suddenly, she felt someone come up behind her and lead her into the fire escape which was just across from them.

"Armaan..!" she reprimanded him, but shut up as soon as she saw his dimples etched into his face. "Kya hai, aaj bohot khush lag rahe ho?" she mocked, acting as though she had no clue what-so-ever.

"Poochogi nahin?" He cornered her body with his and she found herself short of words all of a sudden. This was not fair. How was she supposed to answer with his body nearly on hers, his breath caressing face, not to mention the inner havoc he caused with all her systems, like thinking, breathing, speaking?! Forcing all that out of her mind, she looked up into his electrifying blue marbles.

"Haan. How did it go?" she tried faking interest but as his dimples deepened she knew he'd caught her.

"You should know. Tum toh bahar khari thi.."

"What? Me? I was at duty. What are you talking about?" But obviously, feigning innocence in front of him, especially in that position, was not possible at all.

"Mujhse jhoot bol rahi ho?" he whispered sensationally as he tightened his grip around her waist and pulled her closer to himself.

"Na..nahin toh.." she whispered back, under his spell already. His charms had worked on her like the millionth time and feeling his warm breath on her neck, she knew she was going to lose herself. But she didn't take any actions to stop herself either as the next second, she felt his lips rub seductively along her neckline. Automatically, her hands went round his broad shoulders and gripped his hair in a fist.

"I love you," he murmured into her ear while his lips caressed her skin, making her senses go haywire. "I love you so much, Basket." And he traced his kissed down, across her cheeks, and before thinking twice, smacked his lips against hers, releasing a new fire of passion within himself and her.

She drove him crazy. He hadn't been able to control himself after seeing her cheeks colour up when he caught her lying. And neither did he care that she had been eavesdropping. He was just glad everything worked out perfectly. For now at least. And even though no one else believed him to not hurt his basket ever again, she did and that was enough. Enough to him fall head over heels all over again. Enough to make him want to prove her and himself right. Enough to make him insane about her. His hands roved round the back of her blue blouse, bringing her closer to him by every millimeter if it was possible. Not caring, he continued kissing her, his desires getting the better of him, until she pulled out for much needed oxygen.

"Armaan.." but he continued kissing her softly along her beauty bone, trailing the now wet kisses back up her neck. She felt a very tender touch of his teeth on her skin and as it got more passionate, she pulled his head up, and pressed her lips against his, her heart racing.

He had that effect on her. That unexplainable, incomprehensible feeling that aroused inside her every time he was physically close to her.

He had honestly lost it, was the only thought that came to his mind once they pulled out. Pushing his forehead against hers, he breathed in slowly, calming himself while he still had slight sense of his surroundings. She had closed her eyes, and he couldn't help but kiss them once, then her forehead, while his arms were still around her, securing her in himself.

"I love you.." she whispered. "For being there. For making everyone love you..and.."

"And.."

"And for loving me so much.." she finished with a smile and kissed lips once.

"Oye hoye basket. Tum nerd se kab itni romantic bann gayyi?" he teased, his dimples deepening at the small frown that took over on her face.

"Armaan I wasn't a nerd."

"Please Basket, jhoot matt bolo, you were."

"No I wasn't." she narrowed her eyes and pushed him apart slightly.

"Yes you were."

"No Armaan!"

"Yes Riddhima!"

"Armaan!"

"Riddhima!"

And things were definitely back to normal.

Sanna
By punam

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