Monday, 18 September 2017

Chapter 14 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

It was just another morning at Sanjeevani and Naina and Su were at the nurse station waiting for the others to arrive for their regular briefing session. It was then that they saw Sister Lovely running around the hospital madly looking for someone.
"Oji, Dr. Naina ji, aap ne kisi bohot hi handsome se munde ko kahin dekha hai ji?" she asked them, blushing.

Naina and Su were confused as to who this handsome munda' was.
"Ji nahi, Sister Lovely. Waise kaun handsome munda?"
"Arre wo ji... who toh main aapko nahi bata sakti."
"Kyu?" Su asked, interested.
"Wo ji main unka naam nahi le sakti. Wo mere wo haina", she replied, blushing furiously.
Naina and Su giggled. Sister Lovely sighed and went away, continuing her search for her wo'.
"Oyye...psssttt..." someone called from behind the reception.
Naina and Su peered down to see a very good looking man hiding there.
"Gayi kya?" he asked.
They just looked at him, dazed.
He snapped his fingers in front of them which seemed to bring them out of their daze.
"Gayi kya?" he asked again.
"Kaun?" Su asked, confused.
"Arre, wahi... Sister Lovely, aur kaun?"
"Haan, who toh gayi."
He breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank God", he said, coming out of his hiding place.
"Aap Sister Lovely se chup kyu rahe the?" Su asked.
"Kyuki wo paagal hai!" he exclaimed.
"Lagta hai, aap humaari Sister Lovely ke wo' hai", Naina said, giggling and bumping her shoulder with his.
"Kya baat hai? Aaj subah subah kya ho raha hai?" Yuvi asked, as he reached with Sid and JP in tow.
"Kuch nahi, bas aise hi", Su replied.
"Arre... hum tumhe Sister Lovely ke hone waale husband se milaate hain", Naina said, pointing to the man.
"Paagal hai kya? Ye Sister Lovely se shaadi kyu karna chaahta hai?" Sid asked Yuvi.
"Abbe, mujhe kya pata?"
"Hmmm..."
"Ummm, girls, thank you for your help. Kya aap mujhe bata sakte hain ki Dr. Riddhima Gupta kahaan milengi?" he asked them.
"Wo toh abhi duty per hongi. Aap Dr. Armaan se pooch lijiye. Unhe zaroor pata hoga. Wo briefing le liye aate hi honge", Naina replied.
"No thanks, main khud hi dhoond loonga", he replied, his voice terse.
"Waise aap hai kaun?" Sid asked curiously.
"Oh, right sorry. Hi, I'm..."
"Rahul", Riddhima screamed in delight.
"Riddhu", he sighed.
Riddhima wasted no time in running to him. He opened his arms for her and pulled her into a bear hug.
He picked her up and twirled her around making her laugh.
"Can't breathe", she gasped after a minute. Hearing this, he immediately let her go.
"Hi rockstar", she greeted him.
"Hey superstar."
"I missed you."
"I missed you, too", he said, pulling her into another hug.
"Waise, tum yahaan kya kar rahe ho?" Riddhima asked him once they parted from the hug.
Rahul saw Sister Lovely coming in their direction and pointed towards her, scared.
Riddhima followed his gaze and laughed on seeing Sister Lovely. Rahul glared at her. She held her hands in surrender. Then, she took his hand in hers and ran.
They ran all around the hospital, dogding Sister Lovely, laughing like maniacs.
But, while running, Riddhima twisted her ankle and fell down.
"Ahhh."
"Kya... kya hua?" Rahul asked, concerned, "Bohot dard ho raha hai?"
Riddhima nodded.
"Chal, dressing room. Sprain ho gaya hoga. Main bandage kar deta hu."
Rahul got up and pulled Riddhima up as well. He held her hand securely in his own and made to move.
"Ouch", Riddhima muttered.
"Kya hua?"
"Rahul, bohot dukh raha hai. I don't think main chal paungi."
Rahul nodded and turned around. Then he helped Riddhima climb on his back, piggy back style.
"Thanks, Rahul. You're the best", Riddhima said, once she was comfortably settled on his back.
Rahul moved towards the dressing room, talking to Riddhima. They were laughing as they recounted incidents to each other. Everybody was staring at them as if they were maniacs.
Riddhima was telling him about something when Rahul stopped suddenly and let his grip on Riddhima loosen, causing her to fall down.
"Rahul, you idiot!" she screamed.
"Yeh sab kya ho raha hai?" Armaan asked in an intimidating voice.
"Wahi ho raha hai jo tujhe dikh raha hai. Ya phir dimaag ke saath saath aankhen bhi kharaab ho gayin hai?" Rahul asked, his tone clipped.
"Arre, Rahul, yaar chill maar na. Itna serious kyu ho raha hai?" Armaan asked, smiling widely and moving to hug him.
Rahul stopped Armaan by putting a hand to his chest and glaring at him.
Armaan looked at him, confused.
"Tu... door reh mere se. Riddhima ne terko maaf kar diya hoga. Maine nahi", Rahul told Armaan authoritatively.
Armaan sighed.
"Agar tumlog ka ho gaya toh koi meri madad karega?" Riddhima asked, still sitting on the floor.
Armaan looked at her and started laughing loudly.
"Armaan haso mat. Meri help karo."
"Arre, Riddhima tum neeche kyu baithi ho? Khadi ho jao."
"Tumhe kya lagta hai? Agar main khadi ho pati toh abhi tak ho nahi gayi hoti?" She asked sarcastically.
This sobered Armaan quickly.
"Kya hua?" he asked concerned, bending down to her level.
"Moch aa gayi hai."
"Riddhima, tum paagal ho kya? Bataya kyu nahi?" he asked, rubbing her foot.
"Sss...aah."
"Bohot dard ho raha hai?"
Riddhima just nodded mutely.
Armaan stood up and picked her up in her arms, bridal style.
"Tum ek number ki idiot ho..." Rahul heard him say before their voices faded away. He shook his head. He was planning on meeting Anjali and Atul with Riddhima, but now, he made his way to see them alone. Stupid Armaan. He hated that Armaan was somehow always there. And stupid Riddhima - for forgiving him as if nothing had happened. How could she forgive him so easily? Had she forgotten all those nights she didn't sleep because of nightmares, all those days she cried herself into oblivion, all the time she spent loathing herself for not being good enough? How could she? Armaan Mallik had made her life a living Hell for almost 8 months and here she was, talking to him, laughing with him, in his arms as if nothing had happened.
She was blinded by love, he knew. Armaan was the only guy she had ever loved. And she loved him completely that she couldn't help but forgive him. And he knew, that no one would love her as fiercely and as wholly as Armaan. But Armaan was also responsible for all her pain. She should hate him, but she didn't. It was okay though, he thought. He would hate Armaan enough for the both of them.
This Armaan standing in front of him now, wasn't the Armaan he had gotten to know, the guy he was proud to call his friend. No, he was Armaan Mallik, who all but ruined his best friend's life. And he hated him for it.
Armaan took Riddhima to the dressing room and gently placed her on the stretcher/bed. He then took some ointment and started to apply it on her feet. She whimpered at the contact and Armaan stopped immediately. He blew air on her feet, before bending and kissing them.
"Armaan", Riddhima sighed. He looked up and smiled at her.
He gently applied the ointment on her feet and put a bandage on it. Then, he took her in his arms, resting his chin on her head.
"Ek baat batao, ye chot kaise lagi?"
"Woh, main aur Rahul Sister Lovely se bachne ki koshish kar rahe the..." she trailed off, laughing.
"Sister Lovely?"
"Haan, unhe pasand haina, Rahul!"
Hearing this, Armaan burst out laughing.
"Armaan..."
"Hmmm"
"Woh, Rahul ne jaise tumse baat ki... I'm sorry. Wo paagal ho gaya hai. Main usse baat karti hu, ki wo tumse sahi tarah se baat kare."
"Nahi Riddhima. Rahul ne kuch bhi galat nahi kiya hai. Usse poora haq hai mujhse is tarah baat karne ka. Tum please usse kuch mat kehna. Hum dono baat karke sab kuch solve kar lenge. Theek hai?"
"Lekin, Armaan, woh tumse aise baat... mujhe achcha nahi laga."
"Riddhima... ye mere aur Rahul ke beech ki baat hai. Hum sab sort out kar lenge. Aur wo sirf tumhaara best friend nahi hai. Mera bhi toh wo bhai hi hai. Aur waise bhi doston mein toh aise jhagde hote rehte hai. Tum fikar mat karo. Dekhna, thode time mein sab theek ho jaayega."
"Par Armaan, usse tumhaare saath aise..."
"Riddhima, please... ye situation tum mujhe apne tareeke se handle karne do."
Finally, she relented. Armaan sighed and pulled back. He kissed her forehead and then helped her of the bed.
As they were leaving, Dr. Keerti found them.
"Doctors, achcha hua aap mujhe yahaan par hi mil gaye. Main aap dono ko hi dhoond rahi thi" - seeing their confused expressions, she clarified - "Lonavala Orphanage jaana hai, bachchon ke check up ke liye."
Armaan and Riddhima smiled and nodded. They loved going to the orphanage. It was a very special place for both of them.
Dr. Keerti noticed Riddhima's bandaged leg and asked her, "Dr. Riddhima, ye kya hua? Aap theek toh haina?"
Riddhima nodded, saying, "Kuch nahi, Ma'am, bas choti si moch hai."
"Aap Lonavala jaa paayengi na?"
"Of course, Dr. Keerti, isme poochne ki kya baat hai?"
"Good, apne saath aapko Dr. Yuvraj aur Dr. Naina ko bhi leke jaana hoga."
"Par, unhe kyu?" Armaan asked.
"Dr. Armaan, ab aap aur Dr. Riddhima interns nahi hai, aap har baar kisi emergency ki wajah se Orphanage nahi jaa paayenge kyuki aapki zimmedaariyan badh gayin hai. Aise situation mein, ye zaroori hai ki wahaan ke bachche doosre doctors ke saath ghul - mil jaayein, taaki agar kisi wajah aap dono mein se koi wahaan nahi jaa paya, toh woh kisi aur se apna ilaaj karaane mein comfortable ho."
"Ji, Dr. Keerti."
"Good", saying so, she left.
Armaan and Riddhima made their way to the locker room. Armaan made Riddhima sit on one of the benches.
"Tum yahaan baitho. Main Yuvi aur Naina ko bula lata hu. Phir tum sab ko ghar drop kar doonga, packing ke liye", Armaan said to Riddhima.
Riddhima nodded and kissed his cheek. Armaan grinned and kissed her forehead before going.
Riddhima was sitting there, lounging in the locker room, when Rahul came there with Anjali.
"Kaisi hai moch ab?" He asked her.
"Ab theek hai."
"Good."
"Rahul, aaj subah jo hua, hume uske baare mein baat karni chahiye."
"Kis baare mein? Kya hua aaj subah?"
"Wohi jo tumne Armaan ke saath kiya. Wo sahi nahi tha Rahul."
"Kya kiya Rahul ne Armaan ke saath?" Anjali asked.
Riddhima narrated the whole incident to Anjali.
"Rahul, tumhe Armaan ke saath aise behave nahi karna chahiye tha", Anjali announced.
"Tum dono ko jo lagta hai wo lage. But, mujhe jo sahi lagta hai maine kiya. In fact, mujhe toh ye nahi samajh aa raha ki tune usse itni aasaani se maaf kaise kar diya", he said incredulously.
"Rahul, please..." she tried to reason.
"Riddhima is baare mein ab aur koi baat nahi hogi."
Riddhima just sighed.
"Wo sab chod, aaj raat ko dinner, tu aur main aur Anji aur koi nahin."
"Sorry, main aaj nahi aa sakti."
"Kyu? Kya hua? Armaan ke saath plan hai kya?" Anjali asked.
"Haan", Riddhima replied.
"Ek din usse chod kar humaare saath aa sakti hai", Rahul said authoritatively.
"Nahi aa sakti, kyuki hum Lonavala jaa rahe hai."
"Lonavala kyu?"
"Dr. Keerti ke orders hai. Orphanage jaana hai."
Just then, Armaan came back with Yuvi and Naina in tow.
"Chalein?" he asked Riddhima.
Before Riddhima could say anything, Rahul aid, "Tu... ruk, baat karni hai mujhe tujhse."
Armaan nodded. "Bol."
Rahul looked around, "Akele."
Armaam understood the undertone of his words and the two of them made to leave.
"Ruko", Riddhima said, "Rahul, tujhe jo baat karni hai, yahin kar."
"Riddhu, mujhe usse akele baat karni hai. SAbke saamne nahi aur tere saamne to bilkul nahi."
"Rahul..." Riddhima scolded.
"Riddhima. It's okay. Hum is baare mein baat kar chuke hain. Mujhe koi problem nahi hai", Armaan said, trying to pacify her.
Riddhima sighed helplessly.
Armaan turned to Rahul and said, "Chal."
Armaan led the way to the fire escape and closed the door after Rahul.
Then, he turned towars him and waited.
Rahul glared at him before saying, "Riddhu ne tujhe kyu maaf kiya ye toh mujhe nahi samajh aa raha, magar usne kiya hai. Mujhe ye pasand nahi hai lekin main uske decision ki respect karta hu. Wo apne decisions khud le sakti hai aur main usse influence nahi karunga apna faisla badalne. Magar, jis tarah main uska decision nahi badal sakta, wo bhi mera decision nahi badal sakti. I hate you, Armaan Mallik."
Armaan just smiled wistfully on hearing Rahul.
"I know", he whispered.
"Aur haan, usne tujhe apni zindagi mein waapas jagah di hai, toh us mauke ko ab kharaab mat kar. Kyuki ab, agar teri wajah se meri Riddhu ki aankh mein se ek aansu bhi gira na, toh mujhse bura koi nahi hoga. Phir chahe Shashank Uncle aur Padma Aunty kuch bhi kahein, tujhe mujhse koi nahi bachaa paayega, samjha?"
Armaan nodded.
"Good, ab tu usse wahaan lekar jaa raha hai toh uska dhyaan rakhiyo. Aur kuch ulti - seedhi harkat mat karna", Rahul told him.
Armaan sighed and nodded.
Having said what he needed to, Rahul left from there, leaving a distraught Armaan behind. Armaan knew that Rahul was not his biggest fan right now, what with everything that Riddhima had told him about their time apart. But, he still thought that Rahul would be able to understand him better than anyone else. After all, even he had left Muskaan when he felt that he couldn't give her the life she deserved. Though Armaan felt heartbroken for Muskaan, he had understood Rahul's reasons for leaving and had admired him for having the courage to leave the love of his life behind so that she could have a better life, without caring about himself.
Unfortunately, it seemed that Rahul was not ready to grant the same courtesy and admiration to Armaan. Even though, a part of Armaan was angry at Rahul and was calling him a hypocritical bas***d, Armaan knew that Rahul was right in his own way. He knew that Rahul and Riddhima had gotten really close over the past few months and Rahul had been Riddhima's support through the toughest phase of her life. He had cared for her, loved her and looked after her when Armaan couldn't. And, so Armaan would forever be grateful to Rahul for saving his Riddhima when he wasn't there to do so himself. And in doing so, he knew that Rahul had seen Riddhima in a lot of pain, with a shattered heart and no meaning in life. Riddhima had never told Armaan how those months really were for her, sparing him all the gory details of the crushing pain she had felt in those 10 months without him, but Armaan knew anyway. It didn't take genius to figure that out. So, it was obviously pretty easy for him, he could read her silence, she never had to say words to express herself in front of him. And, if she loved Armaan even a fraction of what he felt for her, he knew, it must have been horrible for her. Because it had been mind numbing and life shattering for him to stay away from her.
Rahul just needs sometime to forgive me. Bhai hai woh mera, zyada time ke liye naaraaz nahi rahega, he thought, sighing.

xxx

Prags,(pragati)

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