Monday, 23 October 2017

Chapter 24 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

At the end of the day, everyone was gathered in the locker room, assembling all their stuff, getting ready to go home. Muskaan and Anjali were making plans of an outing, wanting all of them to spend time together.
"Okay. Toh aaj Out Of The Blue, done," Anjy announced.
"Haan. Kitna mazaa aayega na, hum sab saath mein!" Muskaan said.
Atul walked in then, singing as usual. Seeing Muskaan, he started singing -

"Chandigarh se aaya mera dost, dost ko salaam karo,
Din ko khao piyo, raat ko aaraam karo..."
Muskaan joined in and the two of them sang and danced around like idiots, much to the amusement of all the other occupants of the locker room.
"Oyye Atul! Abhi hum dinner ke liye bahaar jaa rahe hain, samjha?" Muskaan asked him.
"Hum sab matlab Anjali bhi aa rahi hai?" Atul asked bashfully.
"Haan, Atul. Main bhi jaa rahi hu. Tum aaoge na?" Anjy asked.
"Anjali tum aa rahi toh main toh aaunga hi na," he replied.
Armaan shook his head, smiling fondly at his friend.
"Oyye, tu kya daant dikhaake hans raha hai? Tu bhi chal raha hai," Muskaan told Armaan authoratitively.
"Main nahi aa raha," he replied.
"Kyu? Humne tujhe kaha ki tu nahi aayega toh chalega?" She asked him.
"Abbe, tu mujhe zyada lecture mat de. Sab teri wajah se hi hua hai. Teri wajah se main nahi aa paa raha hu," Armaan replied.
"Khotey!" Muskaan exclaimed, swatting his arm. "Maine kya kiya? Tu mujhpe kyu blame daal raha hai?"
"Abbe, jo tu poora din timepaas maar rahi thi na hospital mein, uski sazaa mujhe mil rahi hai. Dr. Keerti ne meri night duty lagaayi hai. Samjhi? Ab ghar kal subah hi jaaunga," he replied.
Muskaan stuck her tongue out in apology. Armaan shook his head at her.
"Yaar, phir hum bhi jaake kya karenge? Hero bhi nahi aa raha. Aur mujhe pata hai, Padma Aunty Ridzy ko bhi nahi aane dene waali hai," Muskaan said sullenly.
"Arre, tumlog Yuvi aur Naina ko le jaao," Armaan said, turning towards them.
The two of them looked surprised.
"Haan, yeh achcha idea hai. Yuvi, mere bhai, tu chalega na?" Atul asked Yuvi.
"AJ hum kaise aa sakte hai? Tum sab senior doctors jaa rahe ho. Tum jao," Yuvi replied.
"Arre, toh hum kya senior doctors banke hi paida hue the? Hum bhi kabhi interns the, yaar," Atul replied. "Tum chalo humaare saath. Bohot mazaa aayega," he said, turning to Naina.
"AJ, Yuvi sahi keh raha. Aap log jao," she replied.
"Arre, Naina, please chalo na humaare saath. Bohot mazaa aayega," Anjali insisted.
"Agar tumhe koi problem hai toh Sid aur Suvarna bhi aa sakte hain," Muskaan said, just as the duo entered the locker room.
"Kahaan jaane ki baat ho rahi hai?" Sid asked.
"Woh actually hum sab dinner pe jaa rahe hain, toh aap dono ko invite karne ke baare mein soch rahe the. Aap challenge?" Anjali asked.
"Mujhe toh koi problem nahi hai. AJ ke saath dinner pe bohot mazaa aayega," Sid replied and turned to his sister.
"Mujhe bhi achcha lagega," she said.
She turned to Armaan and asked, "Dr. Armaan aap bhi aa rahe hai?"
"Nahi. Actually meri duty hai, abhi. Aap sab jaiye," he said.
They were just discussing logistics when Armaan's phone rang.
He looked at the caller ID & smiled before answering.
"Hey Gorgeous! Kya baat hai, aaj aapko badi jaldi meri yaad aa gayi," he said into the receiver.
The other person said something, to which he replied, "Abhi? Dr. Keerti maan gayi?"
"..."
"Okay, main aa jaata hu. Aap tension mat lijiye, main aapko ghar drop kar dunga."
"..."
"Nahi, Anjy toh abhi sabke saath dinner pe jaa rahi hai," he replied, looking at her. Anjali looked at him questioningly and he just held up a finger in aresponse, asking her to wait.
"..."
"Nahi, main nahi jaa raha."
"..."
"Meri duty khatam nahi hui hai abhi. Isliye."
"..."
"Arre, aap itni tension mat lijiye. Main Dr. Keerti se keh dunga ki main aapko ghar drop karne jaa raha hu. Woh kuch nahi kahengi."
"..."
"Haan, baba. Pakka sure. Main unse baat kar lunga."
"..."
"Haan, bas aa raha hu. Bye. Love you," he said, before hanging up.
"Kya hua, Armaan? Kiska phone tha?" Anjali asked.
"Woh Maa ka phone tha. Basket ko discharge kar diya hai," he replied, grinning widely.
Anjy smiled widely, Atul did a Whoop!' and Muski did a victory dance on hearing the news.
"Thank God! Ab kamse kam Mom - Dad aaraam se rahenge. Kal raat unko bohot fikr ho rahi thi. I'm sure raat bhar soye nahi honge dono," Anjy said.
Armaan smiled at her words.
"Dr. Riddhima ab theek haina?" Sid asked.
"Haan, Sid. Riddhima Di bilkul theek hai. Main kuch time pehle unse milkar aayi thi," Naina replied. "Ghar jaane ke liye bohot excited thi. Woh bhi aur Padma Aunty bhi."
"Abhi toh Maa bada excite ho rahi hai. Jab Basket unka jeena mushkil kar degi toh sochengi ki kaash humne Riddhima ko hospital mein hi chod diya hota," Armaan said, laughing.
"Kyu? Aisa kya hua? Humaari Ridz toh itni achchi hai. Woh Padma Aunty ko kyu pareshaan karegi?" Atul asked.
"Arre, Dr. Keerti ne kaha hai ki woh abhi ek hafte tak hospital nahi join kar sakti."
There was a chorus of "Ohhh!" throughout the room.
"Lekin Armaan, isme problem kya hai? Achcha haina, Dr. Riddhima ko bhi hospital se break mil jaayega," Yuvi said.
"Tum aisa isliye keh rahe ho kyuki tum Ridzy ko jaante nahi ho. Woh ladki saara din bina kuch kare ghar baith hi nahi sakti. In 4 dino mein toh Maa ki haalat kharaab hone waali hai," Anjy said.
Armaan nodded in agreement.
"Main toh soch rahi hu ki yeh 3-4 din extra duty le leti hu. Phir mujhe Ridzy se milna nahi padega. Agar main thode time uske saath uske room mein rahi toh woh mujhe itna irritate kar degi na," she said.
"Good, good. Tum yeh sab plans banao, Basket ko avoid karneke. Main toh chala. Mujhe usse ghar chodne jaana hai aur phir waapas aake duty bhi karni hai. Toh, bye guys!" Armaan said.
He hugged Muskaan and then left.
Everybody else in the locker room kept their stuff in and piled into their cars, going away for dinner.
Armaan, on the other hand, went in search of Dr. Keerti.
"Dr. Armaan, aap yahaan kya kar rahe hain? Aapki duty abhi khatam nahi hui haina?" she asked him when she saw Armaan lurking in the hallway.
"Dr. Keerti main aapko hi dhoond rah tha," he replied.
"Kahiye, kya hua?" she asked.
"Woh actually aapne abhi abhi Bask - I mean Riddhima ko discharge kiya haina?" He said, his voice making it sound more like a question than a statement.
"Haan, kiya hai. Toh isme baat karne waali kya baat hai?"
"Woh ma'am actually Maa, I mean, Padma Aunty ko usse ghar le jaane mein help chahiye. Woh aaj subah Dr. Shashank ke saath aayin thi, lekin woh abhi surgery ke liye prepare kar rahe hain aur Anjali bhi Muskaan ke saath dinner pe gayi hai. Isliye unhone mujhse poocha agar main unhe drop kar sakta hu toh..." Armaan rambled.
Dr. Keerti smiled on listening him rant. She found it obscenely cute that Armaan was using all their nick names while talking to her, correcting himself when he realized what he had just said. From Basket to Maa, it was all really cute.
"Dr. Keerti? Main chala jau? Maine unhe promise kiya hai ki main unki help kar dunga. Phir main jaldi se waapas aa jaunga, duty ke liye," he said, breaking Dr. Keerti's thoughts.
"Theek hai, Dr. Armaan, chale jaiye. Lekin jaldi waapas aa jaiyega," she said.
"Of course! Thank you, Dr. Keerti," he replied hurrying towards Riddhima's room.
Dr. Keerti looked at his retreating figure and smiled. Armaan really was one of a kind. Over the years, she had started looking at him as a sort of younger brother she never had. He certainly behaved like one, always upto no good, doing things that inadvertedly landed him and all his friends in trouble. And she had been the one to rectify what had gone wrong plenty of times. Armaan & Riddhima were really close to her heart, especially after all the pains they went through to get her and Shubhaankar together and the way they meticulously planned their wedding.
And she was really happy for him, and for Riddhima. Finally, it seemed as though things were getting on track for them. She hoped they stayed the same way. It was really good to see them smile all the time. Smiling, she went away, thinking about Armaan - Riddhima, resuming her work.
Armaan reached Riddhima's room, smiling widely. He saw that all the preparations for Riddhima's departure were already done.
"Hello, beautiful ladies," he greeted them, kissing each of them on the cheek. "Chalein?"
Both of them nodded eagerly.
"Basket, hum pehle Rahul se milkar aa jaate hain, warna woh mujhse phir gussa ho jaayega," Armaan said.
Riddhima nodded and they went to see Rahul. On the way, they decided that it was best not to tell Rahul about Muskaan just yet. From their talk with Muskaan, it was clear that she wasn't ready to see Rahul anytime soon. And, they didn't want to give him any false hopes.
"Hi, Rahul!" Riddhima exclaimed, barging into the room.
"Hey, Riddhu," he replied, looking up from the novel that he was reading.
She grinned and sat on the stool beside his bed.
"So, ghar jaane ke liye all ready, haan?" He asked.
Riddhima nodded. "Haan, bas nikalne se pehle tujhse milne aayi thi."
"Hmmm."
"Tu apna khayal rakhna. Time pe khaana khana, time pe sona aur please dawa regularly lena. Main toh roz aaungi hi, lekin jab main yahaan nahi rahu toh please achche se rehna."
"Arre, tu roz - roz mat aana. Dr. Keerti ne tujhe rest karne kaha haina? Toh ghar pe rehkar rest karna. Waise bhi tujhe bohot zarurat hai rest ki," Rahul said.
"Haan. Theek hai, theek hai," Riddhima said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
They were talking, instructing each other about the Do's and Dont's, really, when Padma Mom came in.
"Hi, Rahul. Kaisa hai, beta?" She asked him, coming to stand near the bed.
"Main toh bilkul theek hu, Aunty. Aap kaise hai? Riddhu ne aapko zyada pareshaan toh nahi kiya na?" He asked, smirking widely at Riddhima.
Riddhima made a face at him.
"Maine bilkul bhi pareshaan nahi kiya. Samjha tu?"
"Rehne de, Riddhima. Poora din kaise restless thi. Maa mujhe yeh nahi karna, Maa mujhe yahaan nahi rehna," Padma Mom said, mimicking her whining.
"Maa!" Riddhima almost shouted, scandalized. "Aap... Aap aise Rahul ki side kaise le sakte ho?"
"Maine toh sirf sach hi kaha. Ab Rahul ko pata tha ki tu kaise react karege, toh isme meri kya galti?"
"Aap dono bohot kharaab ho. Mujhe nahi karni aapse baat. Aap dono baithke meri buraayi kijiye, main aur Armaan jaa rahe hai," she said, grabbing Armaan's hand and pulling him out the door.
"Riddhu!" Rahul called. "Sorry. Ab hum tujhe pareshaan nahi karenge. Promise."
She turned back and narrowed her eyes, calculating. When Rahul gave her the puppy dog eyes, she sighed and moved back in.
"Nahi, Rahul. Ab hume chalna chahiye. Tujhe bhi aaraam karna chahiye. Aur Armaan ko mujhe aur Riddhima ko ghar chodke waapas hospital bhi aana hai," Padma Mom said.
Rahul sighed and nodded. After another round of hugs, the three of them left.
They went back to Riddhima's and packed all her stuff.
Armaan took all the luggage and asked them to follow him out. He kept all the bags in the dicky and helped Riddhima get in the back seat, helping her settle in. Then, he opened the front door for Padma Mom to get in. After they were comfortably settled, Armaan sat in the driver seat and they drove off.
At the Gupta Residence, Armaan helped Riddhima out as Padma Mom hurried and opened the doors. Armaan helped Riddhima to her room and got her settled in.
Then, he, himself, lay on the bed beside her. Riddhima snuggled close to him and they stayed like that, not saying anything, just content in each other's company.
After sometime, Armaan got up. "Main dekhta hu agar Maa ko kuch help chahiye toh," Armaan told Riddhima, kissing her forehead. Riddhima nodded, smiling.
Armaan wandered about the house, searching for her before he found her in the kitchen. She was religiously working, no doubt preparing dinner. Armaan smiled to himself as he made his way in.
He took her hands in his, stopping her from doing any work.
"Arre, Armaan, beta kya kar raha hai? Mujhe abhi bohot kaam hai, dinner banana bachaa hai abhi. Riddhima ko time se khaana deke usse dawaa bhi deni hai," she ranted.
"Mujhe pata hai, Maa. Lekin mujhe yeh bhi pata hai ki aaj poore din mein aap bohot thak gayin hongi. Isliye aap jaakar aaraam kijiye, khaana main bana lunga," he said.
"Armaan, main itna bhi nahi thaki hu, main bana kungi beta," she told him.
"Maa, maine aapse kaha na. Aap kuch kaam nahi karengi. Jaakar aaraam karengi. Khaana main bana lunga."
Padma Mom shook her head negatively, not wanting Armaan to cook even though she was extremely tired. The last time Armaan had tried to cook something had not gone well. She still shuddered as she recollected the God awful taste of the Shahi Kheer he had prepared.
Armaan shook his head seeing that she wasn't relenting. He had no other option but to forcefully pull her out of the kitchen. He tugged hard on her hand and made Padma Mom follow him out of the kitchen and into Riddhima's room.
There, he instructed Riddhima not let her go out of the room and that he would handle dinner.
"Koi specific request?" He asked, even though he already knew the answer.
"Baingan," Riddhima replied, grinning widely.
Armaan nodded in acceptance before leaving the mother - daughter duo alone.
As soon as he left, Padma Mom started firing questions at Riddhima - "Tu paagal ho gayi hai kya? Tune Armaan ki baat kyu maani? Usse khaana banana kyu diya? Pata nahi ab woh kaisa ajeeb sa khaana banayega."
"Maa, aap itni chinta mat karo. Armaan bohot achcha khaana banaata hai," Riddhima replied, clearly enjoying her mother's unease on the subject.
"Haan, haan, bohot achcha banata hai. Peechli baar ki Shahi Kheer nahi bhooli hu," she replied.
"Maa, ab Armaan waisa nahi raha. Woh bohot achcha khaana banata hai. Infact, uske haath ka baingan bharta mujhe aapse bhi zyada pasand hai," Riddhima said.
Padma Mom just look at her in disbelief. They sat and just talked about random stuff, about everything and nothing. They talked in detail about Armaan, the two of them gushing about their favourite boy.
Sometime later, said favourite boy walked in and invited them for dinner. They entered the dining room, surprised to see the change. The table cloth had been changed to soft pink, there were roses in the vase, the lighting had been dimmed and relaxing music was playing.
The two ladies were touched at his thoughtful gesture. Seeing them so happy and surprised with what he had done, Armaan smiled widely, ecstatic for making them happy.
"Madame," he bowed in front of them, gesturing for them to take their seats. He pulled out chairs for them and made them sit before arranging the cutlery in front of them. Then, he went inside the kitchen and re - entered with a tray of food. Setting the tray on the table, he served them.
"Jaldi se khake bataiye kaisa bana hai," he said.
Riddhima dug in immediately, having no qualms on Armaan's cooking. Padma Mom, however, was reluctant to eat.
"Maa, kya hua? Khayengi nahi?" Armaan asked.
"Nahi, nahi, beta. Kha rahi hu," she replied.
Not wanting to hurt Armaan's feelings, she took a small bite, waiting for the putrid taste of God knows what. But, to her utter surprise, the food tasted amazing.
She made a bigger bite and ate it, reveling in the taste. She looked up to see Armaan looking at her expectantly.
"Armaan, yeh toh bohot hi achcha bana hai!" She told him.
Armaan grinned widely, happy that she liked the food.
As they ate, Padma Mom saw that Armaan made no move to sit down and eat, just content watching them enjoy his food.
"Arre, tu kyu nahi kha raha? Chal baith, humaare saath khaana kha le. Itni mehnat se tune banaya hai. Aur hospital jaake toh kaam mein lag jaayega, toh tujhe time nahi milega, khaana khaane ka," she said.
"Maa, aap khaiye, main baad mein kha lunga," he replied.
"Arre, aise kaise? Hum kha rahe haina. Humaare saath baith jaa tu bhi. Aur Riddhima tu," she said, making Riddhima look up from her plate, "Jabse kha rahi hai, ek baar dekh toh le, ki yeh ladka khabhi raha hai ya nahi. Tujhe toh bilkul fikar hi nahi hai iski."
Riddhima looked down, apologetic.
"Armaan, tum bhi khao na," she said.
Never the one to be able to deny Riddhima, Armaan grabbed a chair and sat down.
Riddhima filled a plate of food for him and looked at him expectantly. He smiled at her and started eating.
Padma Mom smiled at the two of them and then they resumed eating.
As they ate, they talked about several things, conversation flowing easily making the dinner even more amazing.
After dinner, Armaan sent them up immediately, ignoring Padma Mom's demands that she clean up as he had already cooked. He set all the plates asides, packed the leftovers and tidied up before making his way to Riddhima's room.
The sight before was definitely amusing. Riddhima was sitting on the bed, her eyes narrowed and her lips pressed close together as she vehemently shook her head at Padma Mom who was trying to give her some medicine.
"Kya ho raha hai?" he asked.
"Arre, Armaan tu hi samjha isse. Dekhna kaise bachchon jaisi baatien kar rahi yeh ladki! Kehti hai ki dawa nahi chahiye," Padma Mom said.
Armaan grinned on hearing this. "Maa, aap jaiye. Main isse dawa de dunga," he said.
"Haan, theek hai. Tu de dena. Waise bhi aajkal yeh humaari sunnti kahaan hai? Tu hi isse sambhaal sakta hai," saying so, she left.
Armaan settled in the spot that Padma Mom had vacated.
"Basket, aise bachchon jaise kyu behave kar rahi ho? Dawa lena toh important haina? Nahi toh phir tum theek kaise hogi?" He asked, as if talking to a kid.
"Armaan, mujhe dawa nahi chahiye. Bohot kadwi hai," she replied.
"Ab dawa hai toh kadwi hi hogi na, ice cream jaisa taste thodi aayega!"
"Kaash hota ice cream jaisa taste, phir main le leti."
"Basket, socho. Agar tum dawa nahi logi, toh tum theek nahi ho paogi. Agar tum theek nahi hui, toh phir tum hospital bhi nahi aa paogi. Phir saara din ghar mein baithke tumhaara dam ghutega. Khud toh paagal ho hi jaogi, doosron ko bhi apne saath paagal kar dogi," Armaan said.
"Armaan, please. Mujhe dawa nahi chahiye," she said.
"Basket bas thoda sa. Phir main tumhe chocolate de dunga."
"Promise?"
"Pakka promise."
She eyed him warily before opening her mouth. Armaan gave her the medicines.
"Shhheee! Bohot kadwi hai!" She exclaimed.
"Haan. Ho gaya, Jaan. Aur nahi dunga ab," Armaan said.
"Ab meri chocolate," she said, putting her forward for one.
"Chocolate toh nahi hai mere paas."
"Armaan! Tumne promise kiya tha, ki tum mujhe chocolate doge."
"Agar chocolate se bhi achchi cheez du toh?"
"Chocolate se kya achcha ho sakta hai? Ice - cream?"
"Nahi."
"Toh phir kya?"
"Yeh," Armaan replied, placing his lips on Riddhima's.
Riddhima smiled against his lips before kissing him.
They settled on the bed, Riddhima snuggling in close to Armaan, her head resting on his chest and her arms around his stomach. Armaan wound her arms around her completely, pulling her in and tangled their legs together.
"Khaana achcha laga?" Armaan asked her after sometime.
"Bohot achcha laga! Isme poochne waali kaunsi baat hai?"
"Nahi woh tumne dinner ke waqt kuch kaha nahi, toh mujhe laga shayad tumhe pasand na aaya ho."
"Armaan! Tumhe pata haina, mujhe tumhaare haath ka khaana kitna zyada pasand hai! Toh phir isme sochne waali kya baat hai? Mujhe toh tumhaari banayi har cheez bohot achchi lagti hai," Riddhima said.
Armaan smiled at her and kissed her forehead in thanks.
"Chalo, main nikalta hu. Duty ke liye late ho raha hai," he said.
Riddhima nodded reluctantly, not wanting him to go.
"Hey! Kal subah duty pe jaane se pehle, tumse milne aaunga. Aur din mein kamse kam 50 baar tumhe phone karunga. Dekhna, tum pareshaan ho jaaogi mere calls se," he said, trying to cheer her up.
"Armaan, mera ek kaam karoge?" she asked.
Armaan nodded.
"Woh tum raat mein Rahul ke saath thoda time reh sakte ho? Duty ke baad. Bas dekhne ki woh comfortable hai aur usse kuch chahiye nahi?"
"Isme poochne waali kya baat hai, Jaan. Tum nahi kehti toh bhi main jaata hi usse dekhne," Armaan replied.
Riddhima smiled on hearing this.
"Chalo, ab tum rest karo, amin bhi nikalta hu," he said. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she replied.
Armaan went to see Padma Mom to inform her that he was leaving.
"Maa, main nikalta hu," he said.
"Theek hai, beta. Zyada kaam mat karna. Beech mein breaks lete rehna, aur raat mein please kuch kha lena," she ranted of a list to things to do. Armaan smiled at her concern.
"Maa, aap chinta mat karo. Main achche se kha - pee loonga aur khudko zyada exert nahi karunga," he replied.
"Theek hai. Aur aajke dinner ke liye, thank you!"
"Isme thanks waali kya baat hai, Maa? Ab aapka beta hu, aapke liye itna toh kar hi sakta hu," Armaan replied.
He hugged her and took her blessing before leaving.

xxx
prags (pragati)

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