Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Chapter 29 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Showered and changed, Armaan and Riddhima set outside to get food for everyone. Getting in everyone's order was a task in itself, but then, what do you expect when you're bringing food for 15 people? After a lot of shouting, arguing and confusion, they had everyone's food choices in a list.
Armaan held the door open for Riddhima, settling her in the passenger seat. After she was seated, he sat in the car and drove to their destination. Armaan drove single handedly with one hand in Riddhima's.

"I'm sorry, Jaan. Aaj kitchen mein jo bhi hua. Bohot stupid tha," he said after sometime, breaking the silence.
"It's okay, Armaan. Aur waise bhi galti toh meri hai. Tumne galti se mujhpe sauce giraya tha, woh toh maine hi tumpe jaan boojhkar gravy feki. I'm sorry," Riddhima replied.
"It's okay," Armaan said, "Lekin bohot mazaa aaya na?"
"Bohot," Riddhima replied, grinning widely.
They reached the restaurant and Armaan placed the order. They were given a booth to wait in while their food was prepared and packed.
Riddhima slid in with Armaan sitting beside her. Wasting no time, Armaan put his arms around her, pulling her in. Riddhima grinned widely, blushing as Armaan kissed her head, telling her he loved her.
They both sat, content in each other's arms before the teller rang their order up. They placed everything in the car and then Armaan drove them back home.
Back at home, things were really awkward between Rahul and Muskaan. They didn't know what to say to each other past the customary Hi' and How are you?'
Rahul had been spellbound by her beauty when he first saw her. It felt as if she had grown even more gorgeous during their time apart, if it were possible.
He had, for the lack of better word, gaped at her for the longest time before Muskaan felt his gaze on him. When she turned to look at him, he had quickly looked away, blushing brightly.
Atul and Anjali had watched the exchange, smirking the whole time, at their two friends who were behaving like teenagers.
Rahul had literally stuttered and fumbled like a starstruck 16 year old boy when he tried to talk to Muskaan. Tried being the key word because all that left his mouth was gibberish. Muskaan had tried her best not laugh. All her initial awkwardness had quickly vanished when Rahul had tried to talk to her and wasn't able to find his voice. It gave her assurance that he was as clueless and nervous about the whole thing as she was.
So, she had hugged him, kind of, if you counted someone wrapping their arms around someone and letting go immediately, a hug. And then, she asked him how was he doing, what had he been upto this past year and how was he coping with the accident. He had answered her questions, mimicking them to her. She answered that she had been at the Chandigarh branch of Sanjeevani and that she was good.
Post that, they both sat on opposite ends of the room, stealing glances at each other when they thought no one was looking, which clearly was not the case. It was the greatest source of amusement for their friends, while the new interns looked on, confused. The intense scrutiny was making them uncomfortable but there was no way they were going to say anything to anyone and increase the already tense and awkward air surrounding them.
Armaan and Riddhima showed up sometime later and they could not have been happier. Everybody's attention shifted to the food. Riddhima went to the kitchen and plated everything up, bringing the food out.
She smirked when she kept Armaan's plate in front of him, which, for Armaan should have been a sign that his girl was upto no good, but the poor thing was so hungry that he just delved into his plate without thinking.
Big mistake.
He realized that as the chilli burned his mouth and he started coughing loudly.
That set Riddhima off. She started guffawing loudly, making everyone turn to look at her.
"Riddhima! Armaan ko mirch lag rahi hai aur tu has rahi hai?" Padma Mom scolded her. "Jaa, jaake cheeni ya kuch meetha lekar aa."
Riddhima suppressed her laughter with great effort and went to the kitchen to go get him some jam.
"Armaan? Kya karta hai! Khana kam teekha banwana chahiye tha na," Padma Mom rebuked Armaan.
"Maa, maine toh sahi hi banwaya tha. Riddhima ne isme mirchi mix kari hai," he replied.
"Armaan! Tu bina kisi reason aise Ridz ko kaise blame kar sakta hai? Tujhe kaise pata usne hi kiya hai?" Atul asked him.
"Aur nahi toh kya? Agar usne nahi kiya hota toh aise pagalon ki tarah hasti kya? Aur waise bhi, aise stupid pranks sirf Basket hi khel sakti hai," Armaan replied.
"Stupid hai, lekin atleast effective hai. Tumhaari tarah nahi, wohi puraana - fake pager, fake call aur fake accident," Riddhima said, entering the room.
She kept the jam in front of him and sat beside Rahul, raising her hand in for a hi - five, which he promptly gave.
"Toh score kya hai?" Rahul asked.
"Score? Abbe, Rahul! Muskaan ko dekhke paagal ho gaya hai. Abhi kaunsa match chalu hai, jo score bata sake tujhe koi?" Atul asked.
"Arre, Champ! Main cricket ki baat nahi kar raha. Main toh Armaan - Riddhima ki baat kar raha hu," he replied.
The others looked at him, confused.
"Arre, unke prank war ki. Kiske zyada pranks successful hue?"
"Ohhh." Everybody chorused.
"Puh - lease. Yeh bhi koi poochne waali baat hai? Obviously, main jeet rahi hu," Riddhima said, her voice oozing smugness.
"Excuse me? Tum? Jeet rahi ho?" Armaan asked.
"Haan. Main. Jeet rahi hu. Kya hua Armaan? Kaan kharab ho gaye hai kya?"
"Nahi, lekin koi kuch aisa kahe jo sach na ho, toh main ek baar confirm kar leta hu," he replied.
"Maine aisa kya kaha jo jhooth ho?"
"Tum jeet rahi ho?!"
Riddhima nodded.
"Please, aisi khush femy mat paalo. Tum nahi jeet rahi."
"Right," Riddhima replied, not believing him for a second.
"Dekho, tumhe yaad hai woh ink mark? Aur jab maine tumhaari coffee mein namak milaya tha? Aur jab us din childerns' ward mein tumpe paani girwaya tha? Tumhaare saare kapde geele ho gaye the! Aur jab us din tumhaari locker mein woh pop out joker rakha tha?" He asked as he started laughing loudly, remembering the loud squeal that had left Riddhima's mouth when she had opened the gift and that scary looking joker had pooped out.
Riddhima scowled at him.
He then continued, "Aur jab Naina ke haath Rahul ke galat reports bhijwaye the?" Riddima had gotten really scared at that one. According to the reports, Rahul wouldn't have been able to walk again, ever. She had cried herself into oblivion when she read the reports, before Armaan found her in the fire escape, blubbering and babbling. He had gotten concerned immediately and comforted her the best he could, before he came to know the reason for her current state. When he had sheepishly admitted that it was a fake and that he planted that report, Riddhima had hit him repeatedly all the while muttering how much he hated him and that she wasn't going to talk to him ever again. It had taken him sometime to get her to talk to him again.
"Aur jab woh MnMs aur Skittles exchange kar diye the?" Riddhima, who always had a sweet tooth, was particularly fond of Skittles. However, she absolutely despised MnMs. Both of them were pretty similar looking once you got rid of the packaging. Taking advantage of the fact, Armaan had emptied a pack of MnMs and mixed it with Riddhima's supply of Skittles. Her face had been an absolute picture when she had grabbed a handful of candy from her bag and stuffed them into her mouth, only to understand that they weren't Skittles. Oh! She'd ripped Armaan a new one then. He had never seen her so angry before. But, her reaction had been worth the scolding he had gotten.
His favourite, however, had been switching Riddhima's pudding for mayonnaise. Not that Riddhima didn't like mayo, but when she had taken a huge spoonful of what she assumed was vanilla pudding and put it in her mouth, she had instantly spit everything out. That had been a sight to behold for Armaan. He had never actually seen Riddhima spew food out (except for the Salty Coffee Incident' which would never be mentioned again).
"Toh kya sirf tumne hi pranks khele? Mere pranks bhool gaye kya?"
Armaan grimaced. He hadn't forgotten in the slightest. It seemed like Riddhima had gotten even better at planning and executing of such things since she came back from London. Armaan strongly suspected Rahul's influence along with the constant prank wars she was in with her friends to be the reason.
Riddhima then began listing her share of pranks on Armaan. It had started out quiet innocently. She'd keep his files in places he couldn't find them easily, lock his locker and keep the keys or use the good ole fake phone call here or there.
However, shit went down when she wiped off the cream off his Oreos and replaced them with toothpaste. Armaan hit a ton of bricks on that one. Oreos were the most sacred food in Armaan's life. He swore by them and said he could kill for it. It was the Oreo incident that had had Armaan mix MnMs in Riddhima's Skittles bag as payback for the stunt she'd pulled. Even after retaliation, he hadn't talked to Riddhima for a long time. It had taken all her pleading and puppy dog looks and pouting and seducing and loads of kisses before he would throw a smile her way when he saw her.
Even though she had been railroaded after the Oreo Attack', she didn't stop and came up with new ways to pull pranks on him. On one of the rare nights that they had had dinner at Armaan's apartment, she had set a dozen alarms to go off at 3:30 in the night. She had stayed up late, anticipating his call all night. He didn't disappoint. At around 4:30, she had gotten a call from a thoroughly pissed Armaan, cursing a ruckus and threatening to do all sorts of nasty things as payback. She had merely laughed him off and asked him to do it if he dared. They both knew he would rather die than hurt her and that he was all talk and no work when it came to stuff like this. She had had to ruin her sleep for the night, but it had been well worth it. Plus, she was on leave and had slept the day away to make up for the lost sleep, unlike Armaan who had to report to duty at 9 the next day.
Apart from that, she had mucked with all the strings on his guitar, something that he hated. It had taken him almost an hour to tune the guitar to his liking, throwing in ocassional scowls, grimaces and glares Riddhima's way who sat back and enjoyed the show.
She had used itching powder on his clothes, again. It had been hilarious to watch him control the desire to itch before it got too much and he gave up. He had gotten to hear an earful from Dr. Keerti that day, before she let him go home early. From what Riddhima knew, he had taken a long shower and washed the clothes he was wearing 3 times before he was satisfied that all the powder had been washed away.
But, the one that took the cake was when she had included Dr. Shashank in a prank on him. She had asked Shashank to call him in his cabin and then give him rectals as punishment for the pandemonium him and Riddhima had created at the hospital the past week. Poor Armaan, fearing Dr. Shashank the way he did, had accepted the punishment quietly, not once complaining about how Riddhima got away with it. He had been doing them for around 4 hours before Riddhima had pity on him and decided to tell him the truth, that Dr. Shashank was just helping her prank him and that he didn't really have to do rectals for the next week like he'd been ordered.
The look on Armaan's face at that one had been priceless. He couldn't figure out whether to hug Riddhima to the last inch of her body (for delivering the great news that he didn't have to do them for a week) or be utterly pissed at her (for making him do them for better part of the day). In the end, he'd settled for both, hugging Riddhima to himself, tightly for sometime before letting go and telling her in no uncertain terms that it had gone a little too far this time and that he was really angry at the moment.
Riddhima had to make him his favourite breakfast for 3 days and take it to him, with lots of hugs and kisses, for him to forgive her.
"Wow, busy week, huh?" Rahul asked them once both of them were done.
Armaan and Riddhima nodded.
"I think Riddhu jeet rahi hai," he announced after thinking for sometime.
"Tujhe toh yehi lagega na? Riddhima ke chamche," Armaan muttered under his breath.
"Kuch... Kuch kaha tune?" Rahul asked. Armaan shook his head negatively. "Main kya keh sakta hu?" He muttered rhetorically.
"Mujhe toh lagta hai ki Hero jeetega," Muskaan said, adding her 2 cents to the conversation. Armaan looked at her and grinned, showing a thunmbs up. Muskaan held her hand up for a high five which she got immediately from Armaan.
"Kyu? Armaan kyu jeetega? Riddhu ke pranks zyada achche hai."
"Aisa tujhe lagta hai. Mujhe toh laga ki Armaan ke better the," she told Rahul, scowling at him. "Woh MnM waala toh best tha, Hero," she said to Armaan.
"Thanks," Armaan said smugly.
"Toh Riddhu ka Oreo waala bhi amazing tha," Rahul countered, winking at Riddhima who smiled widely on hearing this.
"Aur Hero ka Mayo waala," Muskaan said, her tone challenging.
"Riddhu ka alarm waala," Rahul replied, his voice equally sharp.
"Hero ka reports waala."
"Riddhu ka rectals waala prank best tha, sab jaante hai."
"Oyye, kaankhajure! Tu na, mera dimaag mat kharab kar, samjha? Kaha na Hero better hai."
"Abbe, oyye, Chipkali! Tere paas dimaag hai bhi kya? Jo kharaab hoga?"
"Dekh, Rahul tu apni limit mein reh. Waise bhi, mujhe tere muh lagne ka koi shauk nahi hai."
"Toh jaise main bada maraa jaa raha hu, tujhse baat karne? Jab bhi muh kholti hai, galat hi bolti hai."
"Jaise tere muh se toh bohot hi sureele aur sahi shabd nikalte haina? Jab bhi bolta hai toh aisa lagta hai jaisa kutta bhauk raha ho."
"Tune... tune mujhe kutta kaha?" Rahul asked, outraged.
"Haan, kaha toh? Kya kar lega?"
Instead of answering, Rahul started pulling at Muskaan's hair. This caused her to pull his hair back and soon, they were hitting each other with a gusto.
Armaan and Riddhima looked at each other and shook their heads, smiling fondly at their friends. It was good to see that somethings never changed. Inspite of the initial awkwardness, it seemed as though Rahul and Muskaan had found their way back, because this was as normal as a conversation between the two of them could get.
Letting them blow steam for a few minutes, Armaan and Riddhima stepped forward, to pull the duo of each other before one of the ended up killing the other.
"Itne bade ho gaye ho, lekin abhi bhi bachcho ki tarah hi ladte ho," Padma Mom scolded them.
"Sorry, Aunty," they chorused.
"Mujhse kyu sorry keh rahe ho? Ek doosre se kaho. Tum dono na, bilkul Armaan aur Riddhima ki tarah ho, hardam bad jhagadte hi rehte ho," she said.
Rahul and Muskaan sucked in a gasp at her words. "I'm sorry," they whispered to each other. Both of them were thinking the same thing, Kaash, kaash hum sach much Armaan - Riddhima ki tarah hote. Un dono ko toh koi alag nahi kar sakta.
Post their debacle, dinner was a quiet affair. The old gang bet money on who would win the on going prank was between Armaan and Riddhima whereas the juniors sat dumbfounded at the antics their seniors got upto.
Who would have guessed that the two strictest senior doctors in the hospital were so playful?
After dinner, Dr. Keerti had an announcement to make.
"Jaisa ki aap sab jaante hai, Sanjeevani je yearly Basketball game ka waqt ho gaya hai," she started, causing the senior gang to whoop loudly.
She silenced them with a glare.
"Toh, jaisa ki main keh rahi thi, Sanjeevani ke yearly Basketball game ka waqt ho gaya hai. Aap mein se jo participate karna chahte hai, kar sakte hai. Lekin usse pehle, hume captains choose karne hai. Toh aap mein se kaun banna chahega captain?"
Immediately, Armaan and Riddhima shot up their hands. Dr. Keerti looked at them and smiled. It was obvious that she had hoped for this.
"Okay. Dr. Armaan, Yellow Team ke captain honge aur Dr. Riddhima, Red Team ki. Aap sab kis team mein rehna chahte hai, yeh aap decide kar sakte hai. Match parso subah, duty se pehle hogi. All the best."
"Main Ridzy ki team," Atul, Anjali and Muskaan chorused.
Armaan looked at them and scowled. "Saalo, kamino. Yahi tumhaari dosti? Yahi tumhaara pyaar?"
"Armaan, mere bhai, pyaar - dosti sab apni jagah hai. Aur jeetna apni jagah. Tu abhi bhi mera Bhai hai, yaar!" Atul said.
"Agar main tera Bhai hu, toh tu meri team mein kyu nahi hai?"
"Tujhe pata hai, ki main Ridz ki team mein kyu hu."
Armaan scoffed and shook his head. "Jao! Tum logon ki zarurat kisse hai? Naina, Yuvi aur baaki saare interns haina meri team mein," he announced.
"Actually, humein aur ek player ki zarurat hai, kyuki Rahul ko chot aayi hai aur woh nahi khel paayega," Riddhima declared.
She turned to the interns and asked, "Aap mein so kaun meri team join karna chahega?"
The interns looked at each other, before Sid raised his hand. "Main, main aapki team mein hu, Dr. Riddhima."
Armaan shook his head incredulously. There was no way that he would let this boy be a part of his Riddhima's team. Riddhima, too, looked uncomfortable with this.
"Actually, Dr. Sid, main chaahta hu ki aap meri team mein rahe. Yuvi, tu Riddhima ki team se khel lena," Armaan announced.
Yuvi nodded his head. He had not missed the silent communication that had seemed to happen between Armaan and Riddhima when Sid had said he would join Riddhima. Everybody at Sanjeevani knew about the photo debacle and though Sid had accepted his mistakes and apologized, Riddhima was still wary of him, not that he blamed her. He couldn't imagine the humiliation she would have went through because of Sid's childish desire of revenge for a silly incident.
Armaan had looked like he could have killed Sid, only for suggesting he join Riddhima's team. After spending time with Armaan, he had realized that he and Riddhima were really close and Armaan cared for Riddhima, deeply. So, it was no surprise that he didn't want Sid anywhere near her.
"Lekin, Dr. Armaan, mujhe koi problem nahi hai, Dr. Riddhima ki team join karne mein," Sid whined.
"Dr. Siddhanth, agar Armaan keh raha hai ki Dr. Yuvraj Riddhima ki team mein rahenge, toh woh hi rahenge. Aap Armaan ki team se khel sakte hai," Dr. Shashank said, entering the room, leaving no room for any argument.
Armaan looked at him and smiled in thanks. Dr. Shashank smiled back at him.
"Toh, teams decide ho gaye?" He asked.
Armaan nodded. "Naina, Dr. Sid, Dr. Su aur JP meri team mein. Aur Atul, Anjy, Muski aur Yuvi, Bask - I mean Riddhima ki team mein."
"Good then. Best of luck, doctors. Waise, mujhe lagta hai ki Riddhima ki team ko kisi tarah ke luck ki zarurat nahi hai, isliye, mera saara luck tumhaare liye, Armaan," Dr. Shashank said, smirking.
Riddhima and the others started laughing loudly at this.
"Aap dekhiyega. Is baar koi gadbad nahi hogi," Armaan said to Dr. Shashank.
Dr. Shashank smiled at them and then left.
"So, phir se haarne ke liye tayyar hona, Armaan?" Riddhima asked smugly, standing right in front of Armaan.
"Haslo, haslo. Waise bhi match ke baad hasne ke layak nahi rahogi," Armaan replied.
"What's the bet?" she asked.
"Wahi, hamesha waali," he replied.
"1 din?" she asked.
"1 hafta. Hospital ke andar aur bahar," Armaan replied.

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