Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Chapter 27 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Riddhima pulled Muskaan aside when she was on her lunch break. Thankfully, for Riddhima, she was alone and not accompanied by anyone from their gang or the interns. This wasn't a conversation that Riddhima wanted to happen in front of an audience.
"Mujhe tujhse baat karni hai," she told Muskaan.

Muskaan knew all too well where this conversation would be headed. However, she wasn't ready for that yet. She had gone to see Rahul because she was worried sbout him and what to make sure that he was okay. No amount of reassurances from her friends had been enough. She needed hto see him from her own eyes to make sure he really was fine. So, after trying to get some sleep, in vain, and tossing and turning in her bed, Muskaan had driven to the hospital to go see Rahul.
The relief that had surged through her on seeing him was not anything she could describe in words for the rest of her life. He was laying on his bed, asleep, blissfully unaware of his surroundings. Armaan was also sleeping on the sofa in the side of the room.
Not sparing much of a thought towards how Armaan got in, seeing as she knew about his and Rahul's tiff, she made her way to the bed. She sat down on the chair provided next to the bed and took sometime to gaze at him.
He looked the same. Sleeping peacefully, unaware of her standing so close, he looked handsome and cute and adorable and just about any other adjective Muskaan could think of. She couldn't resist running her fingers through his hair like she had done on several occasions previously. As if understanding what was going on, Rahul turned so that his head was closer to Muskaan, with a small smile playing on his lips.
Muskaan had sat there, just admiring him for a while, deciding that she would leave early, before everyone came so that no one knew about this. She must have fallen asleep though, because the next thing she remembered was the noise that woke her up. And she saw Riddhima standing in front of her.
Which had gotten her into this situation right at this moment.
"Muski! Kya soch rahi hai? Mujhe tujhse bohot important baat karni hai. Tu chal mere saath," Riddhima said, snapping her fingers in front of Muskaan.
That seemed to snap her out of her thoughts and she looked up at Riddhima, alarmed.
"Kya hua tujhe?"
"Kuch... kuch nahi, mujhe kya ho sakta hai?"
"Toh kahaan khoyi hui hai? Main kabse tujhse baat karne ki koshish kar rahi hu, lekin tu toh apni hi duniya mein hai."
"Abhi, abhi baat karna zaroori hai?"
"Haan, warna kyu aati main?"
"Ridzy hum baad mein baat karte haina, please!"
"Ridzy, main bohot thak gayi hu, aaj subah se duty kar rahi hu aur kal raat sahi se neend bhi nahi aayi mujhe. Ab sirf 15 minute ka mera break hai, kuch time ke liye aaraam karna hai mujhe, please," Muskaan ranted. She really wanted to be alone right now. And not think about Rahul. At all.
Riddhima who knew when to say when, knew it wasn't going to do any good pressuring Muskaan like this, so she leave it be.
"Theek hai. Chal, tujhe canteen mein paranthe khilaati hu. Sunaa hai bohot amazing aur tasty hote hai," Riddhima said.
Muskaan laughed and nodded, remembering all the times she had used those words and many more adjectives to describe the canteen paranthas. They were almost as good as her mother's. And that was saying something.
They sat down and Riddhima ordered for them.
They had just started eating their food, when Armaan came out of nowhere and stole a bite out of Riddhima's plate.
Normally Riddhima wouldn't have minded him eating from her plate. In fact, she absolutely loved sharing her food with him. Whenever, they were in a private setting, they always ate from one plate, sharing food and feeding each other.
However, today was different than the others. They had gotten in an argument earlier in the morning, no matter how stupid and small and insignificant it was, and Riddhima was sorta, kinda, maybe upset with him because of it.
Samajhta kya hai khudko? Khud toh jab dekho doosro pe stupid pranks khelta rehta hai. Aur maine zaraa sa mazaak kya kiya, mujhe itna attitude dikha raha tha, she thought, sulkily.
Armaan who was oblivious to the thoughts in Riddhima's mind was busy relishing his food (technically it was Riddhima's, but then, Riddhima too was his, wasn't she?)
He was so busy eating, he didn't see her hand coming in and snatching the plate out of his hands.
He looked up, perplexed as to why she would do such a thing. "Riddhima! Main kha raha tha na! Plate kyu cheen li?!"
"Agar tumhe kuch khana hai toh khud lekar aa jao. Mere khane mein se kyu le rahe ho?"
"Jo tumhaara hai woh mera bhi toh haina, baby," Armaan said dramatically, putting his arm around her shoulder.
She jerked his arm off and turned to him. In the most menacing voice she could muster, she said, "Armaan, mujhe pareshaan mat karo. Jaakar apne liye khud khana le aao. Aur tumhe dikh nahi raha? Main aur Muskaan baat kar rahe hai. Toh kahin aur jaa sakte ho?"
"Kyu? Main kyu jaau? Main yahaan baitha hu toh tumhe koi problem hai?"
"Haan. Hai. Mujhe tumhaare yahaan baithne se problem hai. Jao ab. Mujhe Muskaan se kuch baat karni hai," she replied.
"Main kyu jaau? Tumhe problem hai toh tum jaao."
"Armaan! Jaao yahaan se!"
"Chup!" Muskaan shouted suddenly. She had been enjoying seeing the couple banter back and forth, but now, they were starting to get on her nerves. And, she knew that a silly fight like this was what usually started huge problems between them. She wasn't going to let that happen, not on her watch.
They turned towards her, looking absolutely bewildered.
"Kya bachchon jaise lad rahe ho? Chup baithona."
"Muskaan? Tujhe kya hua? Teri tabiyat toh theek haina?" Armaan asked, moving to check her forehead.
Muskaan jerked his hand off and glared at him. "Tum dono jabs eek doosre pe chilla rahe ho aur mera sar phata jaa raha hai, khottey kahin ke! Aur agar tu chaahta ki main aaj tujhe zinda rehne du, toh mujhe aur irritate mat kar!"
"Abbe tu itna bhadak kyu rahi hai, yaar! Mujhe toh laga tha ki hum dono ki ladai dekhne mein tujhe mazaa aata tha," Armaan replied.
Muskaan sighed. Any other day, she would have loved to witness such an argument between her two friends. But not today. It just reminded her too much of the way she fought with Rahul and that was not something she could deal with right now.
Armaan snapped his fingers in front of her, trying to get her out of her thoughts.
She blinked and realized that she had just zoned off. "Sorry, Hero. Sorry, Ridzy. Woh bas itne time baad yahaan waaps itna saara kaam kar rahi hu. Adjust hone mein thoda time lagega," Muskaan said, hoping that they brought her lie. They did, thankfully, because she saw Riddhima smile in understanding.
"Its okay, Muski. Thode time mein sab normal ho jaayega," Riddhima said, levelling her up with a look that shut her up. Or maybe they didn't buy it. Riddhima certainly didn't, Muskaan thought to herself.
Armaan just shook his head and went to order something. Muskaan breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe Armaan had brought it. It would her good. It was enough to have Riddhima on her case. She couldn't handle Armaan in on it, too. Seeing the way Armaan was behaving, Muskaan knew that Riddhima hadn't told him about the whole finding - her - in - Rahul's - room thing. She didn't know how long it was going to be before she did. She just needed to bask in it as long as it lasted.
Riddhima who seemed to know just what Muskaan was thinking, sighed, making Muskaan look up.
"Maine Armaan ko nahi bataya hai. Aur jab tak tujhe koi problem nahi hogi, bataungi bhi nahi. Muskaan, main samajh sakti hu ki tujhe Rahul ke baare mein abhi baat nahi karna chaahti hai. Tu jab bhi ready hai, I'm here. Main jaanti hu ki tu uske baare mein baat karna chaahti hai, lekin tujhe time chahiye. Okay?" Riddhima asked.
Muskaan nodded gratefully. Though she wasn't ready to talk yet, she did need to talk. She needed to get this load of her chest and she knew that Riddhima would be the best person to have a heart to heart with.
She wouldn't push or judge. That's what she liked the most about her friend. Riddhima tried to understand the situation and offer advice about what she comprehended about it without being judgemental. She didn't behave all righteous and throw taunts (like Anjy) and she didn't get all hyperactive and tensed, forgetting to actually help (like Nikki). So, she would be grateful to talk to Riddhima. God only knew that she needed to get everything off of her chest. Her life had been nothing short of a roller coaster ride gone bad at the moment and she needed perspective. Riddhima would provide that.
"Thanks, Ridzy," Muskaan whispered, offering Riddhima a timid smile. Riddhima smiled and nodded back, placing her hand over Muskaan's on the table.
Just as she was about to say something, Armaan showed up with coffee.
"Yeh le, Muskaan. Pee le, isse tera headache kam ho jaayega, aur mera bhi," he said, muttering the last part under his breath, but the two girls heard him nonetheless.
"Abbey oyye khottey! Tu na, limit reh, samjha? Bada aaya, khudko bohot smart samajhta hai na?" Muskaan asked.
Armaan grinned before replying, "Samjhta nahi, sweetheart, hu."
Riddhima grinned on hearing that and shook her head in a he's - never - going - to - change - much way.
"Tujhse kissne kaha ki tu bohot smart hai?" Muskaan asked.
"Isme kisi ko kuch kehne ki kya zarurat hai? It's a fact. Jaise ki earth round hai. Third World War ki wajah mostly paani hoga. Armaan Mallik bohot smart hai. Kisiko kuch kehne ki zarurat nahi hai," he replied.
Muskaan snorted.
"Tujhe jo lagta haina, bohot galat lagta hai," she replied.
Riddhima laughed, holding her hand in the air for a high - five from Muskaan, which she got promptly.
Armaan made a face at her and turned to Riddhima.
He passed along a cup of coffee to her. Riddhima looked up at him surprised. He just shrugged in response.
She took the mug in her hand and sniffed it. Not finding anything out of the ordinary, she looked up at Armaan and raised her eyebrows at him. He smiled innocently.
She knew Armaan had not forgotten the stunt she had pulled on him this morning. So, why was he behaving so cool? Despite of the developments in their relationship since they first met, Armaan was always competitive when it came to pranks. Not once had he not retaliated back when she had pranked him. Of course, they would generally make up sometime later, when Armaan came to her with that charming smile and those loving eyes.
But, he wouldn't go down before doing something to her in return.
"Basket, main Muskaan aur khudke liye coffee lene gaya tha, toh main tumhaare liye bhi le aaya. Bas, aur kuch nahi. Har cheez mein koi gadbad ho aisa zaruri nahi hai."
"Achcha, toh theek hai. Tum isse taste karo pehle. Phir main pee lungi."
Armaan stiffened for a second before replying, "Tumhe pata hai ki mujhe yeh tumhaari ghatiya si cappuccino bilkul bhi nahi pasand. Tum kaise peeti ho, woh tum hi jaano. Main toh apni black coffee enjoy karunga. Yeh peekar mujhe apna taste nahi khraab karna."
Riddhima regarded him for a moment.
"Come on, yaar, Basket! Tum hamesha mujhpe shak kyu karti rehti ho?"
That seemed to do the trick as Riddhima, albeit reluctantly, took a sip from her mug.
Armaan watched her face intently, waiting for her reaction. And sure enough, the second she drank her coffee, she spat it all out, sadly, on Armaan's face.
Muskaan burst out laughing immediately.
"Yuck! Armaan! Tumne isme namak milaaya?"
"Haan. Ab main soch raha hu ki bohot stupid prank tha," he replied, wiping his face with some tissues.
Riddhima, who had failed to notice that she had actually spat everything on him because she had her eyes closed, started laughing heartily on seeing him do that.
Armaan's pager buzzed then and he moved to leave.
"Next time prank karne se pehle soch lena, Dr. Armaan Mallik," Riddhima called out.
Armaan turned around and smirked.
"Looks like its 2 - 0. Dhyaan rakhna, kahi main bohot aage na nikal jau aur aap wahin reh jaaye," she said.
Armaan nodded his head. "Tumhe toh main dekh lunga." And he stormed out, leaving an amused Riddhima and a boisterous Muskaan behind.
Riddhima and Rahul spent the rest of the day together, scheming against Armaan.
"This is awesome," Rahul said, as Riddhima was getting ready to leave.
"Umhm," Riddhima made a noise of agreement. "Mujhe Ray aur Donna ki yaad aa gayi."
Rahul nodded in reminiscence. They had spent many evenings together, plotting and planning pranks against their friends back at Holy Hills. They used to have prank wars - for the lack of better word. They'd play the stupidest of pranks on each other. The winner got bragging rights. And the losers as their slaves, of course. That never changed.
Ray and Donna, bless the happy couple, were always their main targets. Thought they put up a great fight, they had never emerged on top of a prank war against Rahul & Riddhima ever.
"Kaise hai woh sab?" Riddhima asked. She hadn't talked to her friends back in London for sometime now. She had little time to do things after her duty and that was more often than not spent with Armaan.
"Great. But sab tujhe bohot miss karte hai. Tessa fir gussa hai kyuki tune usse itne dino se phone nahi kiya," Rahul replied.
Riddhima shook her head. Of course, Tessa was mad at her. Over the time spent in London, she had grown extremely close to Tessa, who was only next to Anjali for her. She had been Riddhima's strongest support apart from Rahul and his parents. She had been to almost every doctor's appointment with Riddhima and encouraged her.
"Usse phone kar lungi, aaj," Riddhima replied.
As Riddhima started gathering her stuff to leave, Dr. Keerti and Dr. Shahsank entered the room.
"Hello," Dr. Kirti greeted.
"Hello, Ma'am. Hi Papa. Aap dono yahaan?" Riddhima asked.
"Haan, actually humne decide kiya hai ki hum Dr. Rahul ko aaj discharge karde. Ghar pe aap aur Padmaji toh hain hi. Toh Dr. Rahul ko yahaan rehne ki koi zarurat nahi hai," Dr. Keerti replied.
Rahul all but whooped on hearing this.
"Armaan tum dono ghar le jaayega," Dr. Shashank said.
They both nodded. Dr. Shashank completed the formalities for Rahul's discharge while Riddhima packed all his stuff.
Armaan came in sometime later.
"Dr. Rahul, Dr. Riddhima," he greeted them with a nod.
"Hi, Dr. Armaan. Maine suna aap logo ko namak waali chai pila rahe hai? Kaisi lagi appko?" Rahul asked cheekily.
"Bohot hi achchi," Armaan replied.
Armaan helped Rhul into a wheelchair and took the bags from Riddhima. Riddhima put her hands on Rahul's wheelchair and pushed it. Armaan placed a hand on Riddhima's waist and pulled her closer. At first, Riddhima thought to push his hand away, but she loved the feel of him snuggled up close to her and so she just pulled herself closer.
They walked to Armaan's car where the two of them helped Rahulget into the backseat of the car.
After he was properly seated, Rahul turned to Riddhima and asked, "Riddhu, tere kapdo pe woh kya laga hai?" pointing towards marks on the side of her kurti.
Riddhima took the cloth in her hand and examined it. Sure enough, there was a palm shaped black imprint on her clothes, just where Armaan's hands had been.
"Armaan!" She roared. "Yeh kya kiya tumne? Mera favourite suit tha!"
Armaan just laughed. "Badla toh badlo hota hai. Aur jhooth mat bolo. Mujhe pata hai yeh tumhaara favourite suit nahi hai. Tumhaara favourite woh red waala hai."
Riddhima made a face. Having a boyfriend who knew everything about you was not the best things at times. This was one of those.
"Phir bhi! Tumne kharaab kar diya!"
"All is fair in love and war," he replied, smirking before he bent down and pecked her lips.
"Tumhe toh main dekh lungi," she replied.
"Baad mein kyu dekhna hai? Abhi dekh lo. Yahin tumhaare saamne khada hu," he said, moving aside to wash his hands.
"Ugh! Tumse toh baat karna hi bekaar hai. Jarannum mein jao."
"Kitni baar kaha hai, Basket. Address toh batati jao."
"Tum na! Tumhe jahaan jaana hai wahaan jao. Main toh chali," saying so, Riddhima moved out of the parking lot, presumably in search of an auto.
"Basket! Basket! Kahaan jaa rahi ho?" Armaan called after her, running to catch up.
"Tumhe isse kya? Tum Rahul ko lekar ghar jao. Main apne aap aa jaungi," she replied.
"Riddhima yeh kaisi baatein kar rahi ho? Main chal raha hu na."
"Toh tumhe isne roka hai? Tum jao. Main aa jaungi."
"Armaan, main koi choti bachchi nahi hu jo kho jaungi. Tum jao, main aa jaungi."
"Main tumhaare bina kahin nahi jaa raha," he replied.
"Armaan. Please, tum chale jao."
"Tum bhi chalo!"
"Armaan, mujhe irritate mat karo. Please yahaan se chale jao."
"Tum aise nahi manogi na?"
"Main toh waise bhi nahi manungi."
Armaan sighed and shook his head.
"Theek hai. Phir kehna mat ki maine warn nahi kiya."
"Kya bol rahe ho tum? Mujhe kuch nahi samajh aa raha."
"Main last time pooch raha hu, Riddhima. Tum chup - chaap chalke gaadi mein baith rahi ho ya nahi?"
"Tumhaari gaddi mein baithe meri jooti," she replied.
"Theek hai. Tumne mere paas koi choice nahi chodi hai," saying so, Armaan picked Riddhima up and hauled her over his shoulder.
"Armaan!" Riddhima shouted. "Kya kar rahe ho?"
"Maine tumse kaha tha, Riddhima. Tum apni marzi se nahi aa rahi toh main kya karu?"
"Armaan, mujhe neeche utaaro."
Armaan paid her no heed as he kept on walking.
"Armaan, please mujhe neeche utaro. Dekho, sab dekh rahe hain."
"Mujhe isse kya? Maine tumse kaha tha, chalo mere saath. Lekin tum toh meri kabhi sunnti nahi ho na," he replied.
"Armaan, please," Riddhima said, struggling to get out of his hold. It just made Armaan hold her tighter.
"Dekho, Riddhima, tum kitni bhi koshish karlo, main tumhe nahi chod raha, samjhi tum?"
Riddhima sighed. She knew there was no use arguing with him. So, she stayed silent as he carried her all the way to the car.
Armaan smiled as he argued with Riddhima. They hadn't really fought after he came back. At times, it seemed like they were walking on eggshells around each other. Neither wanted to do anything to make either mad. But, in doing so, they had lost something that had always been a part of their relationship, since the day they had met. Their banter, pranks and stupid fights were what made them. Sure, they had had a fight on an occasion or two, but they had been resolved all too quickly. They certainly hadn't had a full - on, complete prank war. He missed that. He missed pranking Riddhima and being pranked by her. He missed their mundane fights and their no - good banter. It had created some problems between them in the past, but doing those things with Riddhima were really important to him. It was like, their thing. He didn't want to lose it.
For a while, he thought he had. But, now, seeing Riddhima fight with him and argue with and play stupid pranks on him, he knew that he hadn't and it was the greatest feeling in the world.
His Riddhima was still his Basket.
With that thought in mind, he placed her in the passenger seat and sat himself, before revving the engine and driving them home.

prags (pragati)

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