Sunday, 15 October 2017

Chapter 22 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

It turned out that Rahul was very much awake and really worried about Riddhima. So, when Armaan went to see him, asking if she could come meet hom, he just about jumped from the bed in excitement.
There had been words between the two of them last night and he was very ashamed of what he had said to her. Just because she had lied to him about one thing did not mean that their entire friendship was based on a lie.

He knew that his words had upset her greatly and he hadn't had the chanced to apologize to her, until now. He couldn't ever forget the feeling that coursed through him when he had seen her in the way of that moving car. He had been afraid that something would happen to her, or to him when he had started running to push her out of the way and the last memory of each other that they would have had would have been the bitterest of all.
Thank God they didn't have to dwell on that now. He was going to apologize to her for his rude behavior, make good with her and have his best friend back. Maybe then, his life would have something right in the bunch of wrongs. Because that was his life these days, wasn't it? Leaving Sanjeevani and his friends had been a mistake. Leaving Muskaan had been the biggest mistake he had ever made. Sometimes he wondered. Would he see her again? If he did, would she let him apologize? Would he ever be anyone important in her life again?
He knew that the answer to these questions were most likely a no. Still, he couldn't help but wonder. Would he ever have what Armaan & Riddhima had, ever again? He could, if he tried, right? After all, Armaan had left Riddhima. And look where they were today. Together and happy. Planning their life. He wanted that. Someday, maybe he would.
His thoughts were interrupted by the creaking of the door. He looked up to see that Armaan was helping Riddhima in.
"Hey," he whispered.
"Hi," she replied, moving to pull him into a tight hug.
"Thank you," she murmured. He just shook his head against her shoulder in reply.
She pulled back and Armaan helped her get settled on the chair.
"Tum Rahul ke saath baitho, main aata hu," Armaan said, kissing her head. Riddhima nodded, smiling.
He grinned back and with a quick nod to Rahul, left the room.
Riddhima turned to Rahul and asked, "Kaisa hai?"
"First class."
"Rahul," Riddhima sighed, "Sach bata. Kaisa feel kar raha hai? Zyada dard toh nahi ho raha na?"
"Ho toh raha hai, lekin saare pain killers se better feel kar raha hu. Bas neend bohot aati hai unki wajah se," he replied, laughing.
Riddhima laughed along with him.
"Rahul, tu kyu hero banne ki koshish kar raha tha?" Riddhima asked him.
"Main? Hero? Kya bol rahi hai tu?"
"Woh jo tu ekdum se jump maarke mere aur woh gaadi ke beech mein aa gaya, uski baat kar rahi hu," she replied.
"Toh kya wahaan khade - khade dekhta rehta? Agar tujhe kuch ho jaata toh?"
"Aur agar tujhe kuch ho jaata toh?"
"Lekin kuch hua toh nahi na?" At Riddhima's raised eyebrow, he reframed, "At least kuch zyada toh hua nahi na?"
"Zyada? Fracture ho gaya hai. Isse zyada kya chahiye?"
"Arre, sirf pair ke alawa haath, mooh, kitni aur cheese toot sakti thi. Kuch toota kya? Bas chota sa fracture hai. 1-2 hafte mein theek ho jaayega. Tu itni tension mat le," he replied.
"Paagal kahin ka. Kuch bhi karta rehta hai poora din," she mumbled under her breath. Rahul laughed on hearing this.
"Achcha bata, meri jagah tu hoti toh kya karti?"
"Main... Main..." Riddhima tried to say, but knowing that she would have done exactly the same thing, shut up. She crossed her arms defiantly and muttered, "I hate you."
"I love you, too," he replied cheekily.
"Rahul, please, aisa kuch phir mat karna. Agar meri wajah se tujhe kuch ho jaata, toh main khudko kabhi maaf nahi kar paati."
"Riddhu..." Rahul whispered, immediately causing Riddhima's head to shoot up. He hadn't called her that since he found out about the adoption.
"Aise aankhein phaad ke kya dekh rahi hai? Pehli baar bula raha hu kya?"
When Riddhima shook her head, he sighed and continued.
"I'm sorry, Riddhu. Mujhe tujhse woh sab nahi kehna chahiye tha, jo maine tujhse locker room mein kaha. Kyuki tune mujhse ek jhooth bola uska yeh matlab nahi hai ki humaara rishta, humaari dosti bhi jhoothi hai. Main bas bohot gusse mein tha," he said, hanging his head shamefully.
"Jaanti hu," she replied, smiling a little, "It's okay. Maine tujhe maaf kiya."
Rahul looked up to her when she said that.
"Thank you, thank you so much, Riddhu!" he exclaimed, pulling her in for a hug. Riddhima smiled and returned it. When they broke apart, she asked him a question.
"Ek baat bata. Kya tu mujhe maaf kar sakta hai?"
Rahul looked away and sighed, debating for a moment. It would be good to see Riddhima sweat it for a bit before he admitted to forgiving her. Any other day, that was what he would have done, but not today. Not after what he had said and what had happened. He wanted everything back to mormal and soon.
"Of course, main tujhe maaf kar sakta hu. Mere liye tu aur humaari dosti is sabse bohot zyada impotant hai, Riddhu. Ek ladaai ki wajah se apni sabse achchi dost ko khona nahi chahta main."
Riddhima smiled widely on hearing this. It was her turn to pull him into an enthusiastic hug. "I'm sorry," she murmured in his ear.
"I know," he replied.
"Riddhu, tujhse kuch baat karni hai," Rahul said after some time.
"Haan, bolna."
"Tune mujhse kaha ki tune orphanage waala jhooth isliye bola kyuki jab maine tujhse poocha, toh tu kuch nahi nahi kehna chaahti thi, right?" He asked, to which Riddhima nodded.
"Aur tujhe aisa laga ki tujhe kuch kehna chahiye kyuki main tujhe Chutki ke baare mein kuch hi din pehle bataya tha?" Again, Riddhima nodded her head.
"Riddhu, sirf isliye ki main tujhse yeh saari baatein share kar raha tha, iska yeh matlab nahi hai ki tujhe bhi aisa karne ki zaroorat hai. Maine tujhe Chutki ke baare mein bataya kyuki mujhe laga tujhe yeh baat pata honi chahiye, isliye nahi kyuki mujhe laga ki meri zimmedaari hai ki main tujhe apni life ke baare mein sab kuch batau. Kyuki main aisi baatein teri saath share karne mein comfortable hu, zaroori nahi hai kit u bhi ho. Main manta hu ki agar tune uss din mere saawalon ka jawaab nahi diya hota, toh main tujhse gussa hota. Lekin, main kabhi bhi kisi bhi cheez ke liye tujhe force nahi karta. Agar tu mujhe nahi batana chaahti thi, toh woh tera decision tha. Aur mujhe woh pasand ho ya nahi, main kabhi uske against nahi jaata."
"Jaanti hu. Mujhe pata hai kit u mujhe kabhi force nahi karta. Lekin mujhe laga ki kyuki tu mere saath apne baare mein aisi baatein share kar raha hai, toh main tujhe kaisa manaa karu..." Riddhima trailed off, not knowing what to say.
"Main samajh raha hu, kit u kya kehne ki koshish kar rahi hai, lekin phir kabhi aisa kuch mat karna. Agar tu mere saath koi baat share karne mein comfortable nahi hai, toh mujhse keh de. Lekin jhooth mat bolna," he said.
"Pakka. Aisa phir kabhi nahi hoga, Rahul. I promise."
Rahul smiled.
"Chal, ab bohot ho gayi senti baatein. Abhi DDLJ aane waali thi. Chal dekhte hain."
Riddhima looked at him and nodded. She turned the TV and handed him the remote. He flipped channels till found the movie and settled in. While Rahul saw the movie, Riddhima looked at him. He loved Muskaan so much. So much so that he only watched DDLJ because he knew that that was her favourite movie. It made him feel closer to her, he had told her when she had asked him about his unhealthy obsession with the movie. He said that he knew that wherever Muskaan was, she wouldn't ever miss watching this film. And that knowing that in that moment, the two of them were doing the same thing, made him feel a lot closer to her.
She really, really wished that things got better on the Muskaan front for him. She knew that it was his fault, running away like that when Muskaan wanted to make it work. But she understood his reasoning. Everybody knew that Muskaan loved kids and that she wanted her own. And that was the one thing that he couldn't give her.
She also knew that instead of behaving like a complete tool and running away, he should have sat down and discussed the whole thing with her. She should have been given a chance to have a say in the matter. It was as much as her relationship as it was his. He couldn't make decisions for the both of them without letting her make a choice.
But then, men were fool like that. Hadn't Armaan done the same to her? Their circumstances had been vastly different, but the crux of the matter was that Armaan had run away, not giving Riddhima a chance to make a choice, just like Rahul had. However, Riddhima had been able to make peace with the fact that Armaan was trying to do right by her with this and that he had her best interests in his heart, unlike Muskaan, who couldn't let go off the fact that Rahul hadn't included her in the decision making process.
She just wished that Muskaan would give Rahul a chance now that he was back and ready to beg his way into her life. Once they were all settled, she was going to make Rahul go to Punjab and make things right between him and Muskaan.
Sometime into the movie, Armaan came back.
"Hey, guys. Looks like you're having fun," he commented.
"Hi, Armaan," Riddhima greeted him.
"Hi, Basket," he replied, grinning.
"Chalein?" He asked her.
Riddhima nodded but Rahul cut in.
"Kyu? Kya zarurat hai abhi jaane ki? Yahaan baithi haina woh. Tujhe koi problem hai kya?"
"Rahul, Riddhima ki dawaa ka time ho gaya hai. Usse thodi rest bhi karni chahiye. Aur tujhe bhi. Tere pain killers ka time ho gaya hai. Unki wajah se tujhe neend aa jaayegi. Toh tub hi rest kar, aur Riddhima ko bhi karne de. Shaam ko ghar jaane se pehle isse le aaunga tujhse milaane," Armaan replied.
Rahul looked like he wanted to protest but he knew that Armaan was right. So, he begrudgingly nodded his head, letting Armaan & Riddhima go.
Armaan helped Riddhima get settled in her bed, giving her the medicines.
Then, he sighed and pulled her into his arms.
"Yaar, yeh Dr. Keerti ko samajh nahi aata kya, ki mujhe tumhaare saath rehna hai?"
"Kyu, kya hua?"
"Unhone mujhe duty pe report karne bola hai," Armaan replied, sulking.
"Armaan, kaam toh karna haina. Please tum kuch drama mat karna. Chup chap jaake duty pe report karna."
"Lekin briefing abhi 15 minute mein hi hai," he replied.
"Haan, toh theek haina, tum 15 minute baad chale jaana," Riddhima replied. It looked like while Rahul & Riddhima had been sorting out their issues, Armaan had taken a shower. So, he could just go a few minutes before he was needed to report, giving them some time together before that.
Armaan nodded and made her sit on the bed. He placed a folding table on the bed and kept a plate full of food on it.
"Chalo naashta kar lete hai," he told her.
They fed each other, enjoying their time together, before Armaan had to leave. Before he left, he pulled Riddhima into him and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her thoroughly.
"I love you," he whispered.
"I Love you, too," she replied.
With one last kiss on her forehead, he was gone.
Armaan sighed as he made his way to the nurse station for briefing. He really didn't want to be there. He wanted, needed to be with Riddhima. But, of course, Dr. Keerti didn't understand that. Or if she did, she didn't care because she had all but threatened Armaan to report to duty on time when she had seen him lurking in the corridors, trying to give Rahul and Riddhima some privacy.
She said that she knew he was worried about Riddhima, but she was fine and that there was staff at Sanjeevani to look after her. She assured him that he would be the first to know if there was something to know about Riddhima - or Rahul. She seemed to understand that though Armaan and Rahul weren't really talking to each other at the moment, Armaan was worried about him as well.
How in the world she knew about their impasse, fight, argument - whatever in the Hell that was going on between them - he had no idea. But, somehow she knew that Rahul was less than impressed with Armaan at the moment and wanted nothing to do with his former best friend.
She said that she understood that it was hard for him. But, that didn't mean that she was going to allow him to overlook work. He had to report duty, meant that he had to do it, irrespective of whether he felt like doing so or not.
Dr. Keerti really was a force of nature and if he hadn't been so f**king scared of her, he would have laughed on her was. But the fact was, that he was petrified of her and also, he really respected her a lot to not obey any of her direct orders. So, begrudgingly, here he stood, waiting for the others to show up.
Atul came in sometime later, followed closely by Anjali. He was surprised to see them so early. He knew that Atul had stayed back to make sure that Rahul was comfortable and Anjali had been juggling between Rahul and Riddhima all night.
"Dr. Keerti?" Anjali asked him, already knowing the answer. Armaan just nodded helplessly.
"Don't worry. Mom aa rahi hai. Hum sabke beech, Rahul ya Riddhima ekdum theek rahenge," she told him.
Before he could reply, Yuvi came in tow with Naina and JP. Armaan and Yuvi talked for a bit before Dr. Keerti arrived.
"Good morning, doctors," she said by way of greeting.
"Good morning, Ma'am," they replied.
She looked around to see that Sid & Su were missing. "Dr. Siddhanth aur Dr. Suvarna kahaan hai?" she asked in a very menacing tone.
No sooner had she uttered the words, than they saw the duo running towards them.
They jerked to stop in front of Dr. Keerti.
"Sorry, Ma'am. Bohot zyada traffic tha," Sid said, clearly out of breath.
"Ji ma'am. Next time yeh galti nahi hogi," Su said, agreeing with her brother.
"Yeh ek hospital hai, koi park nahi ki aapka jab mann kare aap aa jaaye. Rectal exams, 2 din ke liye," she told them.
They knew better than to argue.
"Maine aap sabko yahaan isliye bulaaya hai, kyuki mujhe ek announcement karni hai. Aajse ek nayi senior doctor Sanjeevani join kar rahi hain. Dr. Armaan aap unke saath kaam karenge," Dr. Keerti said.
Armaan nodded, dutifully.
"Main chaahti hu ki aap sab unhe yahaan comfortable hone mein unki help karein aur unki respect karein. Woh ek bohot hi achchi doctor hai unke waapas aane se Sanjeevani ka bohot faayda hai."
Everybody nodded their heads in unison. Saying so, she left, leaving Armaan to deal with the interns.
While Armaan was briefing the interns, Atul and Anjali also went for their duties.
"Dr. Naina, Dr. Yuvi, General Ward, Dr. JP Path Lab. Get to work, everybody," Armaan announced before leaving himself.
He made his way to the locker room to get some files before starting his rounds for the day.
He was pleasantly surprised to see the person standing in the locker room, looking around nostalgically.

xxx
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