Saturday, 20 January 2018

Chapter 51 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Previously on...
The Colessa Wedding.

Chapter 51

On coming back, Armaan and Riddhima threw themselves into work. There was a lot that needed to be done. They had to catch up on cases, help with planning the concert, help Dr. Kirti with interns and also come up with what they wanted to do at the concert. Suffice to say they were swamped.

Also, now that Cole knew Armaan was going to propose, he kept bothering Armaan constantly, discussing plans and making sure Armaan didn't chicken out at the last moment. The couple took a short honeymoon because they'd been away for the wedding and were already back home. They kept in constant touch with everyone and Armaan had been on the receiving end of a lot of unwanted and unnecessary advice. Nevertheless, he knew that Cole was speaking from a place of concern and so he generally entertained him.
Today, however he was in no mood to entertain him. It was evening and he had been working non stop all day which hadn't given him much time with Riddhima. When he was finally done with his duty and planned to spend sometime with Riddhima, he realized that she had left early. Why he had no idea, but when he had checked his phone, there was a message from her informing him that she was leaving early and asking him not to wait for her before she apologized to him and told him she loved him, raining down virtual kisses on him. He liked that part of the message.
He was wondering where she was but she wasn't answering her phone or replying to his messgages. He got worried after a few tries and immediately asked Rahul and Atul to come help him. But, it was then that she texted him to let him know that she had been driving then and that she would call and tell him everything later.
Satisfied that she was okay, some of his stress relieved. But, he was still not sure as to why she wasn't telling him where she was. Rahul and Atul noticed this and to cheer him up, an impromptu boys night was arranged. They were all going to spend the night at Armaan's. It was perfect because there was a match that day and they could watch it without disturbance at his place.
So, they piled up in his car and went home. Armaan was thankful for his boys because they were going to such lengths to keep him occupied. He knew that if he didn't have company, he would go mad, imagining worst case scenarios which wouldn't help anyone. So, them being around and talking non stop about whether Barcelona or Chelsea was going to win the match tonight kept his mind occupied. He even asked Yuvi to join them post his duty to which Yuvi heartily agreed.
Riddhima, on the other hand, was not sure what she was doing here at this time. She rung the doorbell and an elderly lady opened the door.
"Kaun chahiye?" The lady asked, a little too rudely as she sized Riddhima up.
Before Riddhima could reply, she heard a familiar voice call out, "Kaun hai, Mom?" Sid came and stood beside the lady.
"Uh, Sid. Hi," Riddhima greeted him awkwardly.
"Dr. Riddhima?" Sid asked, confused. "Aap yaahaan?"
"Haan, woh... Abhi. Uh... yeh Abhi ka hi ghar hai na?" She confirmed. Sure, she'd been to Abhi's house before, but confirming never hurt.
"Haan, bhai ka hi hai. This is my mom," Sid introduced.
Riddhima nodded understandingly.
"Namaste, Aunty," she greeted.
Sid's mom greeted her back stiffly.
"Mom, yeh humaare hospital mein senior doctor hain, Dr. Riddhima Gupta," Sid told his mother.
"Andar aaiyena," Sid asked, inviting her in.
He made her sit on the sofa and asked her. "Aap yahaan? Kuch kaam tha kya?"
"Haan, woh actually Abhi ka phone aaya tha, ki main aaj yahaan aau. I thought uski absence mein kuch kaam hoga, but usne sahi se bataya nahi," she told.
"Arre, nahi, Dr. Riddhima, bhai toh..." Before he could complete his sentence, Abhi came out.
"Ridzy! Hi!" He called, excited.
Riddhima turned around and grinned. "Abhi! Tum yahaan? Tum toh next week aane waale the na?" She asked as she hurried to him, pulling him in a hug.
"Haan, next week aane waale the, lekin ek week jaldi aa gaye," Abhi replied, hugging her back.
"Wow! That's a nice surprise," Riddhima commented. Abhi shrugged his shoulders.
"Achcha woh sab chodo. Tum kaise ho? Nikki kaisi hai? Aur hai kahaan yeh ladki? Tum akele waapas aaye ho kya?" She asked, firing questions at him one after the other.
"Agar tum mujhe bolne dogi toh bolunga na," Abhi replied, smirking.
Riddhima bit her tongue. "I'm sorry," she said, smiling sheepishly.
"It's okay. Chalo andar, tumhe Nikki se milwata hu," Abhi told her, smiling widely, taking her hand in his and tugging her along.
Riddhima grinned and followed.
When they entered the room, Nikki was busy admiring herself in the mirror. Riddhima frowned. She'd come back after so long and couldn't make the time to see her friends? But, that was before her gaze fell on the small, yet visible bump on her stomach.
"Nikki?" She questioned, her voice soft and disbelieving.
Nikki turned and smiled at her best friend. "Hi, Ridzy."
Riddhima looked at her, as if questioning her silently. Nikki nodded her head at the obvious question in her eyes.
Riddhima squealed at the confirmation and bounded forward to wrap Nikki in a huge hug. The girls hugged and squealed loudly, causing Sid and Rachna Aunty to come rushing in.
"I can't believe it," Riddhima managed to blubber. She had started to cry.
"I know," Nikki sobbed back.
"I'm so happy for you!"
"Uh, guys, main bhi yahi hu. Aur, Riddhima, sirf Nikki nahi, mera bhi bachcha hone waala hai," Abhi chimed in.
The girls pulled away from their hug to include Abhi. "I'm so happy for you guys, seriously!"
Nikki laugh - sobbed.
"No, but humaare group ka pehla baby, guys! It's a big deal," Riddhima told them.
Abhi and Nikki shrugged.
"Hum sabki toh abhi tak shaadi bhi nahi hui. Aur tumhaare toh bachche hone waale hain," Riddhima continued. "Tum dono toh bade fast nikle, yaar."
"Riddhima. Hum fast nahi, tum slow ho," Nikki replied. "Almost 5 saal ho gaye hain, yaar."
Riddhima rolled her eyes and made a gesture which said yeah, yeah'.
"Hum aaj tum dono ke baare mein baat karne aaye hain. So, please. Can we concentrate?"
They both nodded.
"Haan, lekin abhi mujhe bhook lagi hai," Nikki announced. She turned to Riddhima. "Kachori?" She asked her, looking like a kid.
Riddhima smiled and nodded. "Okay. Banati hu."
"Thank you, Ridzy! You're the best!" She exclaimed, pulling Riddhima into a hug.
Riddhima got to work quickly. The others sat at the table, waiting for the food.
"Nikita, beta tune usse kyu bola?" Rachna Chachi asked. "Main bana leti na khana."
Nikki shook her head. "Arre nahi, ChachiJi. Aap kyu takleef le rahi hain. Ridzy hai na, woh manage kar legi. Waise bhi mujhe uske haath ka khana khane ka bohot mann hai," she replied.
Rachna Chachi accepted grudgingly.
Once Riddhima was done, she plated the food and served everyone at the table before sitting down.
"Okay," she started. "Ab hum baat kar sakte hain?"
Abhi and Nikki chuckled before nodding.
"Obviously, main pregnant hu," Nikki started and Riddhima rolled her eyes.
"Humein Delhi jaane ke kuch weeks baad pata chala. I'm around 10 weeks now. So, we've got a solid 6 months before I'm anywhere near popping," she said. Everybody at the table laughed.
"Aur main yeh news sabse pehle tumhaare saath share karna chahti thi," Nikki told Riddhima, smiling at her.
Riddhima smiled brilliantly, placing a hand on Nikki's bump. "Thank you."
"Sirf thank you se kaam nahi chalega," Abhi interrupted. "Humne decide kiya hai ki hum chaahte hain ki tum Nikki ki delivery karo."
Riddhima looked at them, surprised.
"Really?" She asked.
Nikki nodded.
"Are you sure?" She pressed.
Nikki rolled her eyes and nodded still.
"Wow! I don't... wow. Thank you!" She said, hugging them both.
"Tu itna surprise kyu ho rahi hai?" Nikki asked. "As if main kisi aur se kehti."
Riddhima laughed, shaking her head before answering. "Nahi, woh bas achaanak... I'm sorry," she shrugged, holding her ears.
Nikki laughed. "It's okay. Lekin, Ridzy, agar main tujhe best friend kehti hu, toh main actually tujhe apni sabse achchi dost maanti bhi hu. Bas aise hi nahi kehti," she said.
"Jaanti hu," Riddhima replied.
Hugging her tight, Riddhima said, "Thank you, Nikki."
"Chal, chal. Ab zyada thank you thank you mat bol. Tujhe pata hai na, dosti ka ek usul hota hai. No sorry, no thank you," Nikki said.
Riddhima guffawed.
"Ek Muskaan kam thi kya? Jo ab tu bhi aisi filmi baatein karne lagi?"
"Main toh hamesha se hi filmy hu," Nikki replied shrugging.
"Woh sab chod. Kal hum Sanjeevani mein sabko batane waale hai," Nikki said.
"Haan, actually. Mujhe tum dono se poochna tha. Sabko aaj hi kyu nahi bataya? Abhi ne message mein bhi likha tha ki kisiko mat batana ki yahaan aa rahi hu," Riddhima interrupted.
Nikki shrugged. "Main bas thodi nervous hu. I mean, yeh bohot badi baat hai."
"Baat toh sahi hai. Lekin nervous hone waali kya baat hai isme?" Riddhima asked.
"Main nervous hu, bas. Koi reason nahi hai," Nikki replied.
Riddhima nodded.
"Isliye humne tumhe pehle bataya," Abhi said. "Taaki tum humaare saath raho, jab hum baaki sab ko bataayein."
Riddhima smiled. "Thank you."
"So, humein kaise batana chahiye?" Nikki asked.
"Uh, dinner?" Riddhima replied, but it was more of a question than an answer.
Abhi and Nikki bobbed their heads.
"Maybe get everyone a present. And then ask them to open it here? Matlab, agar tum thodi loose dress pehenogi, toh kisi ko pata nahi chalega," Riddhima suggested.
Nikki nodded. "Yeh bohot achcha idea hai."
"Lekin gift kya?" Abhi asked.
"Uh, how about bibs? Har bib par tum kuch likh sakte ho. Personalized. Jaise Anjy Masi Loves Me' for Di. Aur baaki sabke liye bhi aisa hi kuch."
"Idea toh achcha hai. Lekin itni jaldi sabke liye bann jaayenge?" Nikki asked.
Riddhima nodded. "Ruko, main tumhe number deti hu. Wahaan kehna tum Armaan ko jaante ho," she said.
"Armaan ko?" Nikki asked.
Riddhima nodded, rolling her eyes. "Armaan wahaan se bohot saamaan khareedta hai. Ab toh store owner aur woh best friends hain."
Nikki giggled. "Awww."
"NIKKI!" Riddhima reprimanded her, blushing.
"Achcha baba, sorry. Par number toh de."
Riddhima nodded and did so.
Riddhima had a lot of questions about Nikki's pregnancy, so most of dinner was spent with the two of them talking and the others listening.
Midway though, Riddhima's phone started ringing. It was Armaan. But, he was calling from his landline. That was new. Armaan almost never used his landline.
Confused, Riddhima answered. "Haan, Armaan. Bolo."
"Ridzy!" Atul's voice greeted her.
"Atul?" She asked.
"Haan. Ridzy sunn. Mujhe teri help chahiye. Urgently," Atul said.
Hearing Atul, Riddhima got a little tensed and put the phone on speaker so everyone could listen at Nikki's insistence.
"Kya hua? Batao," Riddhima asked.
"Woh Armaan..." Atul trailed off.
"Atul? Kya hua? Armaan theek haina? Kuch hua hai?" Riddhima asked, panicked.
"Haan, haan. Armaan theek hai. Par main nahi hu."
"Kya hua?"
"Woh Armaan aur Rahul khana bana rahe hain," Atul replied.
"Toh? Usse kya hua?" Riddhima asked confused.
"Ridzy! Tum theek hona. Maine kaha ki Armaan khana bana raha hai. Armaan. Khana. Tumhe samajh aaya na?" Atul asked, worried.
Riddhima burst out laughing. "Oh, yeh problem hai?"
"Haan. Woh motichur ke laddoo bhula nahi main ab tak."
This caused Riddhima to laugh even louder. "Oh Atul!"
"Tum, tum has rahi ho? Ridzy yeh bohot serious issue hai. Agar Armaan ke haath ka khana khake main marr gaya toh? Anjali ka kya hoga?"
"Atul, I'm sure Di manage kar lengi," Riddhima answered, giggling. "Lekin tum tension mat lo. Armaan ka khana khake tumhe kuch nahi hoga."
"Sure?" Atul asked.
"Haan baba, sure."
"Nahi, mujhe bohot tension ho rahi hai," Atul replied, unconvinced.
"Achcha theek hai. Agar tumhe Armaan ke haath ka khana nahi pasand aaya, toh next ek mahine ke liye main tumhaare liye roz khana banaungi," Riddhima compromised.
"Pakka?" Atul asked, sounding all kinds of hopeful.
"Theek hai! Thanks Ridzy!" Atul replied, a little too loud.
They heard some clutter in the background, a scuffle and then, "Basket?" Armaan's breathless voice asked tentatively.
"Haan, Armaan?"
"Oh, thank God!" He breathed a sigh of relief.
Before Riddhima could say anything, he started firing off questions. "Kahaan ho tum? Phone kyu nahi utha rahi? Kamse kam batake jaana chahiye tha na. Jaan nikli jaa rahi thi meri. Tum theek ho na?"
Riddhima smiled, touched at the concern in his voice. That boy was just too amazing for his own good.
"Haan, baba. Main theek hu," she replied, her voice a little shaky.
"Basket jhooth mat bolo. Tumhaari awaaz se mujhe samajh aa raha hai ki tum theek nahi ho," he said.
"Armaan, main theek hu. Sach mein," Riddhima replied, her voice stronger now.
"Achcha theek hai. Kahaan ho tum, abhi?" He asked her.
Riddhima was about to reply before she saw Nikki gesturing frantically at her.
Riddhima nodded in understanding. "Main apni friend ke ghar aayi hu. Tumhe yaad haina, Shreya?" She asked.
"Shreya? Woh Superman waali?" Armaan asked.
Riddhima shook her head at his question. Of course he would remember that it was Shreya's husband who organized that special screening for the two of them all those months ago.
"Haan, wahi. Superman waali."
Nikki chuckled quietly but seemed confused. She asked Riddhima about what Armaan was saying silently to which Riddhima gestured that she would explain later.
"Achcha theek hai. Ghar pohonchke ek baar phone kar dena," Armaan instructed.
"Haan, Dad. Aur kuch?" Riddhima asked, rolling her eyes.
"Basket," Armaan said in a warning tone.
"Achcha baba, sorry."
"Waise ek baat batao, yeh Champ ko tumse kya kaam tha?" Armaan asked.
"Tum khana banaa rahe ho toh Atul thoda tension mein aa gaya."
"Oh," Armaan replied.
"Haan. Lekin tension mat lo. Maine usse keh diya hai ki agar usse tumhaare haath ka khana pasand nahi aaya toh main next month uske liye khana bana dungi," Riddhima replied.
"Achcha. Aur agar usse pasand aaya toh?" Rahul asked, butting in.
"Woh mujhe nahi pata, Rahul," Riddhima answered.
"Theek hai. Toh yeh toh fair nahi hai ki Atul ko saara benefit mile. Agar usse pasand nahi aaya toh tum uske liye ek mahina khana banaogi, lekin agar usse aaya toh Anjy banayegi," Armaan announced.
"Nahi! Mere Bhai, paagal ho gaya hai kya? Main toh tera Bhai hu na. Jaan lega kya meri?" Atul asked.
Everyone laughed. "Yaar, Champ har taraf se tu hi thodi jeetega. Ab kuch jeetna hai toh kuch haarna bhi padega," Rahul said.
"Aaj raat tum dono ke haath ka khana khake kuch ho na ho, Anjali ke haath ka khana khake main definitely upar pohonch jaunga," Atul said. "Ridzy, rehne de. Mujhe kuch nahi chahiye. Aaj main vrat rakh lunga. Anjali ke liye."
"Achcha theek hai. Ab main jaa rahi hu. Shreya mera wait kar rahi hai," Riddhima told the boys.
"Bye Ridzy," echoed down the phone.
"Bye. Armaan..." she said at the last moment.
"Bharta Rahul ke saath bhijwa raha hu," he replied.
"You're the best."
"I know," saying so, Armaan hung up.


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