Wednesday, 6 September 2017

chapter 10 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF


In the days that followed, Armaan, Riddhima and Atul successfully convinced Anjali to stay back in Mumbai and resign from the hospital in LA. It took some time and a lot of emotional blackmail with talks that only included - I miss you', I don't want you to go', We'll be together again, it'll be so much fun', You're my best friend' and I want you to stay with me'.

But finally, they were able to break her down and she sgreed to stay back. She had missed her friends and her parents and the hospital. She missed her dad's encouragement, her mom's worries over her, Riddhima's love, Atul's attention and Armaan's pranks. She missed working at the hospital that now seemed like home to her. So, she resigned two weeks after coming back to India. She went back to LA for a week to gather her stuff and to handover all of her cases properly to her fellow doctors. Riddhima accompanied her there.
When Armaan found out that Riddhima was going away for a week, he went completely crazy and started hatching various plans to stop that from happening. At first, he had innocent ideas like tearing off the ticket or hiding Riddhima's passport, but as time passed he grew more desperate and his mind started running wild. He started contemplating about kidnapping Riddhima and locking her up in his house so that she wouldn't be able to go with Anjali.
"Armaan! Please tum aise behave mat karo. Ek toh waise bhi mera mann nahi kar raha tumhe chodke jaane ka. Upar se tum aise harkatein karoge toh ho gaya bas..." Riddhima told him one day when he was having another pout session.
"Par tum meri problem bhi toh samjho na. Main kya karunga tumhaare bina poore 7 din?"
"Armaan sirf 7 din ki hi toh baat haina?"
"Haan... 7 din, 168 ghante, 10,080 minute, 6,04,800 seconds. Itne time tak kaise door reh paunga tumse?"
"Armaan!"
"Kya? Sahi toh keh raha hu. Genuine aadmi ki toh koi value hi nahi hai."
"Armaan, tum aisa kyu keh rahe ho? Mujhe bhi achcha nahi lag raha hai aise tumhe chodke jaana. Par Di ko meri help ki zarurat padegi na, kaam jaldi khatam karne?"
Armaan nodded petulantly.
"Hum roz phone pe baat karenge, I promise. Aur phir Skype bhi toh kar sakte hai."
Armaan nodded dismissively.
"Aur waapas aane ke baad, main tumhe date par bhi leke jaungi."
"What?"
"Haan. Tumne kaha tha na, main tumhe lekar jau. Toh waapas aane ke baad hum chalenge."
"Tum us baat ko seriously le rahi ho? Main toh aise hi mazaak kar raha tha!"
"Matlab?"
"Arre, us waqt tumne mujhse poocha aur jo mere mann mein aaya maine bol diya. Iska yeh matlab thodi hai ki tum meri koi bhi stupid demand maan lo!"
"Armaan! Tumhaari demand stupid nahi hai, okay?"
"What nonsense yaar Basket! Of course it's stupid. Tum kyu mujhe date pe leke jaogi?"
"Main tumhe date pe kyu nahi leke jaungi? Agar main nahi leke jau toh koi aur aayegi kya? Tumhe date pe le jaane ke liye?"
"Of course not! Par tumhe mujhe date - wate pe le jaane ki koi zarurat nahi hai."
"Sorry, par main aisa nahi kar sakti. Date pe toh main tumhe leke jaa rahi hu. Waise bhi tumne hi mujhe kaha tha ki mujhe tumhe date pe le jaana chahiye."
"Aur main hi tumse keh raha hu, ki tumhe mujhe date pe le jaane ki koi zarurat nahi hai."
"Achcha! Sab kuch tum hi decide karoge?! Aur mera kya? Main kuch nahi decide kar sakti?"
"Of course tum kar sakti ho! But aise faltu kaam kyu karne hai?"
"Tumhe yeh faltu lagta hai?" She was getting angry now. Armaan obviously sensed this. He took her in his arms and held her close.
Kissing her forehead, he mumbled against her skin,"Jaan, mera woh matlab nahi tha."
"Toh phir kya matlab tha?"
"Matlab ki tumhe mujhe date pe le jaane ki kya zarurat hai? Aur tum kyu mujhe itna force kar rahi ho uske liye?"
"Ab mujhe le jaana hai toh le jaana haina."
"Haan par itna important kyu hai?"
"Bas hai."
"Baskeeettt. Kya baat hai?"
"Ab har baar jab tum mujhe lekar jaate ho toh main kuch bolti hu kya? Main le jaana chaahti hu toh tumhe itna probem kyu hai?"
Those words, blurted out in the heat of the moment due to her irritation, were enough for him to understand why exactly this was so important to her.
"Ab humaare beech mein tum aur main jaisi baatein aane lagi hai Riddhima?" he asked, his voice laced with hurt.
"Armaan..." she whispered, not knowing what to say.
"Nahi, Jaan. Please. Mujhe nahi pata tha ki aisi choti baaton se tumhe farak padta hai. Kya hua agar main tumhe dates par leke jaata hu toh? Haq hai mera."
"Haan, haq hai tumhe. Us hi tarah jis tarah mujhe bhi haq hai, tumhaara liye kuch special karne ka. Maine aaj tak kuch nahi kiya."
"Tumhe lagta hai ki tumne aaj tak mere liye kuch special nahi kiya?"
"Lagta nahi Armaan, yeh sach hai."
"Achcha. Us din ka kya jab tumhaari night duty thi aur tum thak gayi thi magar phir bhi ghar jaakar mere liye naashta banaya. Aur phir Sanjeevani bhi aayi dene ke liye kyuki main emergency ki wajah se busy ho gaya. Kya who special nahi tha?"
"Armaan. Itni si baat ko lekar kya baith gaye?"
"Tum nahi lekar baithi itni si baat? Aur sirf wohi nahi kiya tumne mere liye. Tumhe kuch aur bada chahiye na, theek hai. Tumne mere liye apne Papa se ladaayi ki. Us insaan se jinhe tum is duniya mein sabse zyada pyaar karti ho. Tumne mere liye kitne taane sahe, jab tumne Sid se shaadi karne ke liye manaa kar diya. Aur mujhe hi bachaane ke liye engagement waale din tum us bullet aur mere beech aa gayi, nahi toh main marr..." She placed her hand on his mouth. He placed a kiss there.
"Aur bhi sunna hai? Meri list isse bhi bohot zyada badi hai."
"Armaan..."
"Tum kehti ho ki tumne mere liye aaj tak kuch special nahi kiya. Par tum ye kaise nahi samajh paayi ki tumhaare saath bitaaya har lamha, har pal, meri zindagi ka sabse khoobsurat pal hota hai. Har subah uthta hu, toh peechle din se zyada khushi hoti hai, kyuki jaanta hu ki aaj phir tumse milunga, tumhaare saath waqt bitaaunga. Jabse tum meri zindagi mein aayi ho, meri is boring, stupid life ka har moment peechle moment se zyada special raha hai, Basket."
Listening to him talk like that, Riddhima didn't know what to say. She didn't want to taint his sacred words by saying something that didn't do justice to all that he had been able to express in these few words. Those words which she would cherish for a lifetime, even after that. The beauty of his words, the depth of his emotions and the extent of his love for her had left her speechless. Even after so many years together, Armaan could blow her away with a few words. Words that were so sincere, as if they had originated from the deepest corners of his heart. They were beautiful. They were astounding. They were for her. Just like he was hers.
"I love you," she whispered softly, not trusting her voice. Then she threw herself in his arms, getting impossibly close, as if she trying to drown herself in him.
Armaan hugged her back, pulling her closer, peppering her with kisses on any part of her face that he could reach.
"I love you, too," he whispered into her hair.
Sometime later, they parted from the hug, not unwinding their arms as they looked into each others' eyes.
"Aaj ke baad kabhi mat kehna ki tumne mere liye kuch nahi kiya. Samjhi?"
Riddhima nodded.
"Armaan?" she asked, tentatively.
He nodded, indicating her to continue.
"Mere waapas aane ke baad main tumhe date par lekar jaungi."
"Basket phir wohi baat?"
"Haan, haan. Maine tumhaare liye bohot kuch kiya hai. Toh ab main yeh bhi karna chaahti hu, please!" She gave him the puppy dog face.
"No. That look is not going to work," he said, authoritatively.
"Please, Armaan! Please, please, please, please, please, please!"
"Basket," he said in a reprimanding tone.
"Armaan! Agar, agar... agar tum mere saath date pe nahi gaye, toh main tumse kabhi bhi baat nahi karungi."
"Sach?"
"Much."
"Please, tum mujhse baat kare bina ek din bhi nahi reh paogi."
"Aazmaa ke dekhlo," she said with utmost confidence.
However, our hero wasn't ready to even try. She might be able to go without talking to him but he couldn't go without her for even an hour, let alone a day.
"Theek hai. Theek hai. Agar tum yahi chaahti ho toh theek hai. Tumhaare liye toh main kuch bhi kar sakta hu, phir ye date kya cheez hai?"
"Thank you!" Riddhima literally squealed before hugging him tight. He smiled at her antics, hugging her back and nuzzling her head. She parted from the hug and pecked his lips.
"Thank you, Armaan. Yeh mere liye bohot important hai."
"Jaanta hu."
She smiled at him and kissed his cheek.
"Par main ab bhi tumse naaraaaz hu. Ja jo rahi ho mujhe chodke tum."
"Armaan! Main thode dino mein aa jaungi. Aur tumhe kya lagta hai, sirf tum mujhe miss karoge? Main tumhe miss nahi karungi?"
Armaan shook his head like a kid. "Yeh din tumhaare bina kaise bitaungi, yeh main hi jaanti hu."
"Toh phir kyu jaa rahi ho?"
"Armaan, Di ko help chahiye na. Ab woh poora din hospital mein apna saara kaam khatam karengi, toh unhe packing ka time kab milega? Woh toh wahaan ke dean itne achche hai ko woh Di ko itne short notice par itni jaldi release karne ke liye ready ho gaye. Nahi toh 2 - 3 mahine lag jaate!"
"Haan, haan pata hai."
"Pata hai toh phir kyu aise baat kar rahe ho?"
"Achcha theek hai, jao. Par mujhe roz kamse kam 4 - 5 baar phone karogi aur raat ko sone se pehle Skype."
"Haan, theek hai."
"Aur mere liye bohot saare chocolates laane padenge."
"Done."
"Good."
Anjali & Riddhima left the next day. Armaan drove them to the airport, where he spent a good 15 minutes to say good bye to Riddhima. Anjali went to but some refreshments to give them some alone time while they waited for the announcement.
"I'm going to miss you," Armaan sighed into Riddhima's hair as he hugged her close.
"I'm going to miss you, too, so so so much," she replied.
"Wahaan jaake sirf kaam mein mat lage rehna. Theek se khaana, time pe sona aur zyada stress mat lena. Samjhi?"
"Haan, baba. Tum itni fikr mat karo. Main sab kaam time se karungi."
"Good. Main Anjy se report lunga tumhaari poori. Agar mujhe pata chala ki tum apna khayal nahi rakh rahi ho, toh phir tum dekhna bas..." he said.
"Haan, haan. Theek hai. Zyada dhamki mat do."
"Ab bina dhamkaane ke tum kuch kaam nahi karti toh main kya karu?"
"Yeh toh meri line haina, line chor kahin ke," she said, playfully.
"Arre... apne toh humaara dil hi chura liya hai, uske badle mein ek line toh chura hi sakta hu na."
"Armaan!" she exclaimed, hugging him closer to her.
They stayed silent for a while, just enjoying each others company for sometime, till Anjali returned.
They sat there, talking about everything and nothing, joking around, till Atul arrived.
"Hi guys!" he greeted them.
"Hi Champ! Tu yahaan kaise?" Armaan asked him.
"Arre! Anjali aur Ridz ek haft eke liye jaa rahe hai, toh unhe bye bolne aaya hu yaar!"
"Thanks Atul!" Riddhima said, giving him a hug.
"Bye Ridz! Tujhe na, main bohot miss karunga. Armaan jitna toh nahi," he said, looking at Armaan's crestfallen face on the impending departure,"par miss toh karunga."
Riddhima blushed deeply, causing Atul and Anjali to chuckle.
"Oyye! Tu kyu usko pareshaan kar raha hai?" Armaan asked.
"Ohhh... Possessive!" Anjali teased them.
This caused Riddhima to blush even deeper.
"Di!" Riddhima reprimanded her.
"Arre kya! Ab Armaan jeeju tere liye haina possessive," she said, emphasizing on Jeeju. This caused Armaan to blush a beautiful red.
"Oh my God! Main theek se dekh raha hu na! Armaan tu blush kar raha hai?" Atul teased.
"Champ! Kuch bhi bakwaas mat kar, main koi blush - wush nahi kar raha," Armaan said, not meeting his eyes.
"Awww! Armaan you're so cute!" Anjali said, pulling his cheeks.
Atul and Anjali teased the couple some more before their flight was announced.
Sensing that they needed a little privacy, Atul and Anjali made their way to baggage claim to wait for them.
Armaan hugged Riddhima to him as close as possible. "I love you," he whispered hoarsely.
"I love you, too," Riddhima whispered.
"Jao, jaldi jao aur jaldi se mere paas waapas aa jaana," he said, trying to hide the tears that were threatening to fall from his eyes.
"Armaan," Riddhima whispered, parting from the hug and clearing his eyes of them.
"Main jaldi se jaldi tumhaare paas waapas aa jaungi. Tumse zyada time door main bhi nahi reh sakti. I love you," she told him.
Reluctantly, they made their way to where Atul and Anjali were standing.
Armaan hugged Anjali and wished her a safe journey, quietly instructing her to look after Riddhima and tell him if she wasn't looking after herself.
"Armaam main uske saath 25 saal se reh rahi hu, uska khayal rakhna aata hai mujha. Tum itna stress mat karo, samjhe?" she whispered in his ear as he hugged her. She felt him nod.
Atul hugged the girls and then they were on their way. The boys stood there, looking at them till they disappeared out of view. After that Atul dragged Armaan away.
"Armaan yaar! Tu itni fikr mat kar. Woh dono jaldi waapas aa jayengi."
"Haan, Champ," Armaan replied in a watery voice.
Atul looked up to see that Armaan was crying.
"Oyye! Itni si baat par tu kyu ro raha hai? Ridz tujhe hamesha ke liye chodke nahi gayi hai. Bas kuch dino ke liye gayi hai."
"Jaanta hu."
"Toh phir yeh sab kyu?"
"Chodna yaar. Jaane de. Chal ghar chalte hai. Kal subah Sanjeevani bhi jaana hai."
"Nahi, pehle tu mujhe bata, ki tu kitna pareshaan kyu hai? Apne bhai ko bhi nahi batayega?"
"Kuch nahi, Champ. Bas mujhe darr lag raha hai. Pichle baar jab main aur Riddhima alag hue the, toh hum 10 mahino tak ek doosrse nahi mile the."
Atul hugged Armaan on hearing this. "Tu fikr mat kar. Anjali Riddhima ko tere paas jaldi waapas le aayegi."
The next few days passed by slowly. Ever minute felt like days and every hour felt like years to Armaan. He was barely hanging - spending every waking minute in the hospital, only to take breaks to sleep and talk to Riddhima.
They talked to each other as many times as possible, but given the time difference, it was taking a toll on them.
"Tune decide kar liya ki tu Armaan ko kahaan le jaa rahi hai?" Anjali asked her one night, after returning from the hospital.
"Haan", Riddhima replied with a smug smile on her face.
She had spent the past few days working on her little project'. This had included making several lists of all things she knew that Armaan liked and finding out about the ones she didn't - which weren't so many. She also asked Atul for help on what guys might like doing on a date. She had often discussed it with Anjali, vaguely telling her what she was planning.
After a lot of research - online and through other sources - she had finally managed to draft a rough idea on what she wanted to do. All the things planned were things she knew he liked. Their itinerary aside, she needed to buy something. She was a little confused as to what she could give him, so she asked Anjali for help.
"Di, date pe kya karna hai yeh toh maine sab soch liya. But main uske liye kya gift lu, mujhe samajh nahi aa raha. I'm really confused."
"Ek kaam karte hai, kal duty ke baad shopping chale jaayenge. Wahaan mall mein kuch na kuch toh tujhe samajh aa hi jaayega."
Riddhima nodded.
"Theek hai phir. Par ye toh bata ki is date pet u karne kya waali hai?"
"Sorry Di, woh toh Armaan ke liye surprise hai, isliye main aapko abhi nahi bata sakti. Baad mein bataaungi."
"Come on yaar Ridzy! Mujhe toh bata hi sakti hai. Main thodi na jaake Armaan ko kuch bataane waali hu!"
"Nahi Di, main aapko nahi bata sakti."
"Par kyu?"
"Come on Di! Yeh sab surprise Armaan ke liye hai, toh main usse pehle kisi aur ko kaise bata sakti hu?"
Anjali was taken aback by the comment. Of course, this was really important for her. This was a first for her. And of course, she would want it to share it with the person to whom it meant the most.
"Right, sorry Ridzy! Tujhe pressure karne. Par tu date ke baad mujhe sab kuch batana!"
"Promise Di."
"Good, chal ab so jaate hai, mujhe bohot neend aa rahi hai, aur kal subah hospital bhi jaldi jaana hai."
"Aap so jao Di, mujhe neend nahi aa rahi, main so jaaungi thode time mein", Riddhima said, blushing brightly.
Anjali smirked. "Seedhe seedhe kyu nahi kehti ki lover boy ke phone ka wait kar rahi hai."
"Diii..."
"Achcha baba, theek hai, nahi karungi tujhe pareshaan. Mujhe waise bhi neend aa rahi hai. Good night", saying so she settled in for the night.
Armaan called sometime later. They talked for a long time about everything and nothing, till Armaan had to leave for duty.
The next day the Gupta sisters hit the mall. They were roaming around trying to search for the perfect gift for our hero. But Riddhima was rejecting everything.
"Kya yaar Ridzy! Kabse dhoond rahe hai! Aise har cheez ko reject karegi na, toh mil gaya Armaan ke liye gift. Itna fussy kyu ho rahi hai?"
"Di! Fussy ki baat nahi hai. It should be perfect, okay?! Please, kahin aur dekhte hain."
Anjali sighed and nodded. They were roaming around when Riddhima spotted something in a clothing store. Of course! This is perfect, she thought.
She dragged Anjali in and they bought some items. After that, they made their way to the Archies shop and Riddhima spent lavishly on various items for her boyfriend. They stopped in a few more shops and when Riddhima was finally convinced that she had everything, they made their way to the food court to eat. Anjali was absolutely famished.
"Ridzy, mujhe nahi pata tha tu itni choosy hai! Kitne nakhre kar rahi thi wahaan dukaan mein. Nahi yeh nahi woh, woh nahi yeh..."
"Sorry Di, aaj aapko bohot pareshaan kiya. Par main kya karu? Main bohot nervous hu. Sab kuch ekdum sahi tarah se hone chahiye. Agar kuch gadbad ho gayi toh? Ya phir Armaan ko pasand nahi aaya toh?"
"Riddhima! Maine tujhe pehle bhi kaha na! Tu kyu itni tension le rahi hai. Main keh rahi hu na. Usse bohot pasand aayega chahe tu kuch bhi kare. Aur woh bohot excited bhi hai. Keh raha tha ki Basket bina wajah itna tension le rahi hai. Woh kuch bhi kare mujhe toh achcha hi lagega."
"Par Di, phir bhi main chaahti hu ki..." she stopped mid sentence when she realized what Anjali had said.
"Ek minute, ek minute. Aapko kaise pata ki Armaan excited hai?"
Anjali smiled innocently and looked around, not meeting her eyes.
"Woh dekh Ridzy, wahaan pe burgers hai. Kitni achchi smell aa rahi hai. Main khaake aati hu!"
"Di! Aap baat mat badlo. Aapne baat ki usse?"
"Haan", Anjali admitted sheepishly.
"Kya kaha usne?"
"Main bas usse bata rahi thi ki tu kitni nervous hai is date ke liye. Aur tujhe darr lag raha hai ki usse pasand nahi aayega. Toh woh hasne laga, kaha ki Basket ka dimaag hi kharab ho gaya hai! Kuch bhi sochti hai aajkal. Bol raha tha ki agar tum uske liye kuch bhi karo, toh usse toh special hi feel hoga na? Aur usse achcha bhi lagega, chaahe woh kitni bhi choti cheez ho. Par pata nahi tumhe ye kyu samajh nahi aata. Kaha mere liye woh important hai, koi silly date nahi."
Riddhima was touched by what he had said. Pride filled her as she thought about him. He loved her so much. She was lucky to have him as her life partner. Many girls out there would kill for a guy like him. Sometimes she felt that he had stepped straight out of a romance novel.
"Ridzy! Apne Romeo ke baare mein sochna band kar aur khaana kha. Late ho raha hai, ghar bhi jaana hai!" Anjali voice brought her out of her reverie.
She just smiled and blushed. They finished their dinner quickly and left.
Anjali & Riddhima came back home that weekend. They spent it arranging Anjali's belongings back in the house. As much as Armaan & Riddhima wanted to meet each other, they couldn't just make time. Armaan was busy at the hospital with a critical patient and couldn't leave, while Riddhima was helping Anjali.
The next day, Riddhima reached Sanjeevani early and called Armaan as well. She had been waiting in the locker room for him for sometime when he arrived. Seeing her standing there, he rushed towards her and pulled her into his arms for a tight hug. Riddhima smiled and put her arms around his back to hug him back. He kissed every part if her face he could reach, reciting "I missed you" in between.
A few seconds later, she pulled back and frowned. "Kahaan reh gaye the? Main kabse tumhaara intezaar kar rahi hu!"
"Sorry", he said, holding his ears,"Traffic thoda zyada tha."
Riddhima nodded in a way to let him know that he was forgiven. He smiled widely and enclosed her in his arms again.
They spent their time coochi - cooing before it was time for duty. Anjali was joining from that day as well.
Everyone was really happy about Anjali's decision to stay back, and they celebrated it by throwing a welcome back party forher at the hospital the day she resumed her duties. It was a typical Sanjeevani party that took place in the cafeteria, wth the samosa, sandwiches and of course - the famous cake. However, a cake fight was avoided, only marginally due to Dr. Kirti's and Dr. Shashank's presence at the party.
Riddhima was really very happy that her sister had returned home, for good. She had really missed her. Of course, that went without saying, she was her sister after all, but nowadays she felt like she needed her more than ever. With Armaan back in her life, there wasn't anything that she hid from him, not letting any thoughts or emotions stew inside her, only to come out all at once in the form of a huge explosion. They had worked on their communication - something that had not been sufficient in the past. They made it a point to not keep any secrets from one another. Apart from that, they were always honest and open in everything. They shared their thoughts and feelings on everything and never made decisions without consulting the other. This had reduced their misunderstandings greatly, which led to fewer fights.
However, there were times when Riddhima needed her sister - to rant about how big of an idiot her stupid boyfriend was being and other times to gush about how sweet and romantic and thoughtful he was. Talking to each other after dinner, before going to bed had become a ritual for them. They would talk for sometime, filling each other on their day and then they would talk about random nonsense. More often than not, Anjali would ask Riddhima about Armaan and how they were doing - a fact that was rather unnecessary to ask as everyone could see how happy they were together. Then, Anjali would retire for bed and Riddhima would call Armaan and they would talk for as long as they could, falling asleep on the phone.
All in all, life was bliss for them.

xxx
Prags,

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