Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Chapter 53 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Previously on...
Abhi and Nikki's party!



Chapter 53

After all the merry making had died down and people were lazing around Abhi's living room, Armaan gestured for him to step aside. Abhi did so reluctantly. He and Armaan may not be at loggerheads like they were earlier, but, they weren't friends either.
"Congratulations," was the first thing Armaan told him when they were alone.

"Thanks," Abhi replied.
"You know, humaari yeh ladai..." Armaan started.
"Hmmm," Abhi responded.
"It's really stupid, nahi?" Armaan asked. Abhi nodded.
"Aur ab... Itna sab ho gaya hai. Tum meri best friend ke husband ho, tum dono parents banne waale ho. I think... I think ab humein... I think ab humein dost banne ki koshish karni chahiye?" Armaan continued.
"I think you're right," Abhi replied. "Ab sab kuch normal ho raha hai. Nikki tumhaari best friend hai aur main aur Riddhima bhi ab achche dost ban gaye hain. In fact, main aur Atul bhi. Ab yeh ladai jhagda continue karne mein koi matlab nahi hai. Aur main nahi chaahta ki meri beti aise environment rahe jahaan uske dad aur uncle friends nahi hain."
"Beti, huh? Tum itne sure kaise ho sakte ho?" Armaan asked.
Abhi shrugged. "Bas ho sakta hu. Meri beti haina."
Armaan chuckled and nodded. They stood there in the kitchen talking randomly and trying to get to know each other better.
"Abhi, main tumhe thanks kehna chahta hu," Armaan said as Abhi looked at him confused.
"Kis liye?" Abhi asked.
"Actually, hum dono ki relationship kabhi achchi nahi rahi hai aur phir bhi tumne mujhe choose kiya as a Godfather. I mean, Sid tumhara cousin hai and main jaanta hu ki tum aur Atul bhi achche dost ho..." Armaan trailed off.
"Haan, Sid mera cousin hai lekin woh toh khud bhi khayal nahi rakh sakta toh ek bachche ki responsibility toh door ki baat hai. Aur rahi baat Atul ki toh main jaanta hu ki Nikki aur tum zyada achche dost ho. And I hope ki hum bhi achche dost bane," Abhi replied.
Armaan nodded.
Both of them failed to notice the two girls who had been listening in on their conversation.
"They're so cute," Riddhima gushed. Nikki nodded as she blubbered.
"Nikki!" Riddhima shouted playfully, hugging her by the shoulders. "Kitni zyada emotional ho rahi hai. Abhi toh sirf 2 months hue hain!"
"Tu kya karu?" Nikki asked. "Ab main control nahi kar sakti na!" Riddhima laughed.
Her laugh made Armaan and Abhi look at them. "Tum dono bahar khadi hokar humaari jasoosi kar rahi ho?" Abhi asked.
"Hum toh bas yeh dekh rahe the ki tum dono kitne cute ho," Riddhima replied, pulling Armaan's cheek.
"Excuse me?" Armaan asked, scandalized.
"Kya?" Nikki asked.
"Tumhe hum cute lagte hain?" He questioned.
Riddhima nodded. "Haan. Kyu nahi lag sakte?"
"Agar hum tumhe hot, handsome, smart ya dashig lagte toh samajh aata. Cute?" Abhi asked.
"Right," Armaan agreed. "Cute bachche hote hain. Hum hot hain."
Nikki and Riddhima chuckled.
"Tum dono koi bachchon se kam ho kya?" Nikki asked rhetorically.
Armaan made a face at that. "Tu... tu toh chup hi reh," he told Nikki.   
"Kyu? Main kyu chup rahu?" Nikki asked and the two started bickering.
Riddhima and Abhi looked at each other and pulled a What The Hell!' expression.
"Inka toh chalta rahega. I think humein bahar jaana chahiye," Riddhima told Abhi who nodded and they made their way out of the room.
"Nikki, ek baat bata. Tune Riddhima ko bataya toh mujhe kyu nahi? Aur Basket kabse teri best friend bann gayi?" He asked.
"Tujh jaise bandar se toh Riddhima hi achchi hai. Isliye meri best friend hai," Nikki replied sarcastically.
"Nikki!" Armaan rebuked.
"Achcha baba, sorry! Mujhe nahi pata tha ki Riddhima tujhe bhi nahi batayegi. Aur tujhe batau ya usse, kya fark padta hai? Tum dono hi kehte ho na, Armaan aur Riddhima toh ek hi hain."
Armaan smiled. He did say that. A lot. Repeatedly. To anyone who would listen.
"Waise mujhe lagta hai ki Ridzy ko kuch zyada hi achcha laga ki maine usse pehle bataya. You know like mere alawa kisi aur ki nahi pata' stuff. Isliye usne tujhe nahi bataya hoga," Nikki commented.
"Hmmm..." Armaan replied thoughtfully. "Ho sakta hai. Waise bhi Basket ko mujhe neechaa dikhane mein mazaa bohot aata hai."
Nikki laughed. "Ridzy best haina?" She asked. Armaan sighed and nodded. "Best nahi super best hai!" He said.
Nikki looked at him in awe. She was so happy that Armaan had finally found love. Yes, it had hurt her in the beginning because she had been in love with him at one point, but Armaan and Riddhima were made for each other. And, after meeting Abhi, she realized that though Armaan had been her first love, he wasn't the love of her life.
"Aisa kya dekh rahi hai?" Armaan asked her, pulling her out of her reverie.
"Kuch nahi," Nikki replied. "Bas tujhe dekh rahi hu. Kisne socha tha ki The Armaan Mallik' ko bhi pyaar ho jaayega."
Armaan laughed at her words. That was indeed very true. "Baat toh sahi hai. Pata hai, Nikki, maine kabhi nahi socha tha ki aisa kuch hoga, lekin phir Basket meri life mein aayi. Ab sochta hu ki maine itne saal kaisi bekaar zindagi jee, ki mujhe kabhi samajh hi nahi aaya ki pyaar kitni zyada beautiful cheez hai," he shook his head. "Nahi. Actually, pyaar nahi, Riddhima ka pyaar zindagi mein sabse beautiful cheez hai," he corrected himself.
Nikki smiled at his words, her eyes live with admiration. "I'm so happy for you, Armaan. Riddhima tere liye bilkul perfect hai. Mujhe pata hai ki tujhe pata hai ki main tere liye bohot khush hu, lekin maine pehle kabhi kaha hi nahi. Toh main tujhe batana chaahti hu. Main tere liye bohot, bohot, bohot khush hu. Riddhima se better ladki tujhe kahin nahi milegi."
Armaan smiled and pulled her into a hug. "Thanks, Niks! Aur tune mujhe itna kabil samjha ki main tere bachchon ka godfather ban saku, uske liye bhi thanks. I promise ki main apni jaan se zyada sambhaal ke rakhunga unhe. Aur bohot, bohot, bohot pyaar karunga."
Nikki smiled and hugged him again. "You're the best, Armaan. Thank you so much."
Armaan came out of the hug and kissed her forehead. "Woh toh main hu. Lekin seriously, thank you, Nikki. Sirf aaj ke liye nahi, hamesha ke liye. Tune jo bhi mere liye aur mere aur Riddhima ke relationship ke liye kiya hai, uske liye bhi."
"Shut up, Armaan!" Nikki replied. "Ab tu mujhe thanks bhi kahega. Tere liye itna toh kar hi sakti hu!"
Armaan laughed. "Tujhe pata hai, isliye tu meri best friend hai. Agar Ms. Wow ko Mr. Supercool ab itne pasand na bhi hona, toh bhi Mr. Supercool ki toh best friend Ms. Wow hi hai," he commented.
"ARMAAN!" Nikki replied, smacking his hand and laughing along with him.
"Tum dono ka kya poori raat kitchen mein rehne ka iraada hai?" Rahul asked, interrupting their banter.
"Arre, Daddu! Tu bhi na! Hum toh aise hi baat kar rahe the," Armaan replied.
"Woh sab theek hai. Chalo ab. Sab bahaar Nikki ka wait kar rahe hain," Rahul instructed them.
So, they went outside in the lawn where everybody was gathered.
Riddhima had obviously outdone herself because at the centre table was the cutest cake ever! The lawn had been decorated with cute balloons and streamers. Obviously, while Armaan and Nikki had been bickering in the kitchen, the others had gotten to work to plan this impromptu little surprise for Mommy.


(Ignore the name on the cake, please! Imagine that 'Baby' is written.)


When everyone saw that Nikki had come back, a chorused "CONGRATULATIONS NIKKI!" was heard.
"And you wonder why she's my best friend," Nikki muttered loud enough for Armaan to hear who started chuckling.
Abhi took Nikki's hand and pulled her forward as everybody gathered around them. Armaan stood next to Riddhima and wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her close to his side. "I love you," he murmured, kissing her head. Riddhima smiled.
"I love the cake! Thanks, Ridz!" Abhi told her. Riddhima knew that he adored Harry Potter. Just like she did. That was the reason why she got that cake.
Abhi and Nikki cut the cake as everybody cheered. Riddhima gave Abhi and Nikki a few presents of their own. "Yeh hum sab ki taraf se. Waise in sabko toh pata nahi tha, lekin phir bhi main sabki taraf se le aayi," she told them.
Inside was a set of mugs and a set of tee shirts and a cute little onesie for the baby.




"Aww, Ridzy! Kitna cute hai! Thank you!" Nikki said, hugging Riddhima. Riddhima smiled.
"Lekin yaad rakhne ki baat yeh hai, ki baby ke liye sabse pehla gift main leke aayi thi," Riddhima told Nikki who nodded.
"Ridz! Yeh toh cheating hai!" Atul exclaimed. "Agar humein pata hota toh hum bhi lekar aate!"
Riddhima shrugged, smirking smugly. "Ab toh kuch nahi ho sakta! Sorry, Atul!"
"Mmm," Muskaan moaned. "Cake toh bohot hi achcha hai, Ridzy. Kahaan se laayi? Aur kab?" She asked.
Riddhima shrugged. "Woh ghar ke paas hai ek bakery. Main hamesha wahaan se bohot saare cakes aur chocolates khareed ti hu."
"Lekin, Riddhima, tumhe time kab mila? I mean, kal raat toh late ho gaya tha. Aur maine hi tumhe drop kiya tha aur aaj bhi tum shaam ko yahaan aa gayi thi..." Abhi trailed off.
Riddhima smiled sheepishly.
"Woh maine aaj subah hospital jaane se pehle order kiya tha aur yahaan aate - aate le aayi," she replied.
"Itni jaldi unhone cake de diya?" Nikki asked, surprised.
"Arre, Nikki! Yeh Basket haina, almost har roz us bakery se saamaan khareed ti. Unka 90% business yahi toh chalati hai. Toh apne important customers ko khush toh rakhenge na!" Armaan butted in.
"Armaan!" Riddhima warned.
"Kya?" Armaan asked innocently. "Sach toh kaha maine. Waise, Basket. I think tumhe itna cake nahi khana chahiye. Kya haina, tum itna cake khaogi toh moti ho jaogi."
"Armaan! Stop it!" Riddhima interrupted, but he carried on like he hadn't heard her.
"Phir agar tum moti ho gayi, toh tum sundar nahi lagogi. Aur waise bhi gussa toh tumhaari naak par hota hai. Toh tum jaise badsurat, gusse waali ladki se kaun shaadi karega? Phir tumhe zindagi bhar akele rehna padega aur Mumma aur Papa ke baare mein toh socho! Unhe kaisa lagega agar tum akeli rahi toh? Aur log kya kahenge? Ek behen itni beautiful aur ek itni ugly?"
"Armaan! Tumhe toh main..." Riddhima trailed off, looking around. She picked up the book that was kept on the table. Sensing what was coming next, Armaan made a run for it, with Riddhima right behind him.
"Arre, Basket! Itna gussa hone waali kya baat hai? Main toh tumhaare baare mein hi soch raha tha!" Armaan called out as he ran.
"Just shut up, Armaan!" Riddhima replied.
They ran around the lawn and then Armaan ran into the house with Riddhima following him.
"Yeh dono bhi na! Kabhi nahi badlenge," Atul commented.
"Matlab kya Riddhima Di aur Armaan hamesha aise hi ladte hain?" Naina asked.
Atul nodded. "Haan. Hamesha. Matlab jabse dono mile haina, kisi bhi baat par ladna shuru kar dete hai," he told Naina.
Naina nodded thoughtfully. "Unhe dekhke maine toh kabhi socha bhi nahi tha ki woh log aise ladte honge."
Atul laughed. "Sab aisa hi sochte hain. Lekin sach toh yeh hai ki un dono ko ladne ke liye kisi topic ki zarurat hi nahi hai. Woh log kisi bhi cheez pe lad sakte hai."
In the meanwhile, Armaanand Riddhima who had been playing catch came back outside. Riddhima was still running behind Armaan.
"Armaan! Riddhima! Bas yaar! Kitna bhagoge?" Nikki asked. She made them sit down and gave them water.
"Itne bade doctors ban gayye ho lekin behave toh abhi bhi bachchon jaise karte ho," she commented.
"Nikki, tu mujhse kyu keh rahi hai? Apne is best friend se bol. Usne hi start kiya tha," Riddhima whined.
"Kya Basket! Ab tum meri shikayat lagaogi?" Armaan asked and that set her off again. They started bickering.
"Enough, guys! Kitna ladte ho!" Rahul screamed, making them stop. Both Armaan and Riddhima made a face at each other.
"Ab koi bhi ladai nahi karega. Waise bhi dinner ka time ho raha hai," Abhi announced.
"Right! Main andar jaake saare arrangements dekhti hu," Riddhima replied, jumping up and going back inside the house.
"Main zara uski madad kar deti hu," Rachna Aunty said, following her in.
Inside, Riddhima was making arrangements, looking a little lost when Rachna Aunty came in.
"Laa, beta. Main teri help kar deti hu," she told Riddhima, taking the vessel from her.
"Arre nahi, Aunty. Aap mat takleef kijiye. Main kar lungi," Riddhima replied.
"Main kar rahi hu na. Laa de."
Riddhima sighed and let her help.
"Waise, Riddhima, tu Armaan ki baaton ka bura mat maan. Woh toh bas aise hi mazaak kar raha tha," Rachna Aunty said after a couple of minutes.
Riddhima looked up, surprised. "Uh... jee... jee aunty," she stammered.
"Main sahi keh rahi hu. Woh toh buddhu sa ladka hai. Usse kya pata? Tu itni sundar hai, sanskari hai. Doctor hai itne bade hospital mein aur khana bhi kitna achcha banati hai. Matlab jis bhi ghar mein tu jaayegi, wahaan toh khushiyan hi khushiyan hogi."
"Thank... thank you, Aunty," Riddhima replied, still confused. "Lekin aap chinta mat kariye, mujhe pata hai ki Armaan mazaak kar raha tha."
Rachna Aunty smiled. "Phir theek hai."
Riddhima smiled at her, touched that Rachna Aunty had been concerned about her.
They worked with each other, heating everything up and then plating it. Sometime in between, Armaan showed up.
"Basket!" He called out.
"Kya hai Armaan?" Riddhima asked, annoyed. "Pareshaan mat karo!"
"Arre, baba! Mujhe kuch kaam hai isliye aaya hu. Waise bhi tumhe kya lagta hai, mujhe tumhe pareshaan karne ke alawa kuch aur kaam nahi hai kya?" He asked.
"Nahi hai," Riddhima replied smirking.
"Oh, please!" Armaan scoffed. "Armaan Mallik ke paas aur bhi important kaam hote hain."
"Okay, Mr. Important. Kaam kya hai, bataoge?" She asked.
Armaan bit his tongue. "Sorry. Woh Mom ka phone hai," he told her, giving her the phone.
Riddhima's eyes lit up on hearing him and she all but snatched the phone from him as he forwarded his hand. Armaan pulled his hand back and put the phone on speaker.
"Mom?" She asked.
"Riddhu? Kaisi hai tu?" Ananya asked.
"Main toh bilkul theek hu. Aap kaise ho? Aur Dad? Dad apni medicine time pe lete haina? Agar woh aapko thoda sa bhi pareshaan karein toh aap mujhe bata dijiye. Waise unki - meri deal hai. Toh agar woh medicine nahi lenge toh main unke liye biryani nahi banaungi."
"Arre tu kyu hamesha meri biryani ke peeche padi rehti hai?" Billy asked.
"Riddhima ke alawa kisi aur ki sunnte ho tum?" Ananya asked rhetorically. This led to round one of the Ananya - Billy World War.
"Mom? Dad? Aap log please thoda chup ho jaayenge?" Armaan asked, sarcastically. "Ya main phone rakh du? Phir jab ladai ho jaayegi toh phone kar lijiyega waapas."
"Oyye, khotey!" Billy exclaimed. "Khabardaar jo phone neeche rakha toh. Mujhe abhi Riddhu se baat karni hai. Aur tujhe kitni baar kaha hai, Dad nahi Billy bula yaar!"
Armaan and Riddhima chuckled. "Ek baat batao? Basket ko kyu allowed hai aapko Dad bulana?" Armaan asked.
"Arre, kyu nahi bulayegi? Beti hai meri," Billy replied.
"Achcha? Aur main kaun hu? Padosi ka beta?" Armaan asked, sarcastically.
"Arre, tujhe kaise pata chala? Annie, maine kaha tha na tumse, Armaan se sach hum kabhi nahi chupa paayenge! Humein usse pehle hi bata dena chahiye tha," Billy said, his tone tense.
"DAD!" Armaan shouted, the same time at which Ananya shouted, "BILLY!"
Riddhima guffawed.
"Aap ko yeh ghatiya joke maarne ki koi zarurat nahi thi," Armaan sulked.
"Arre, zarurat kaise nahi thi?" Billy asked. "Dekh, main joke nahi maarta toh mujhe meri beti ki hasi sunaayi deti kya?"
"Dad!" Riddhima blushed. Armaan smiled at Billy's comment, forgetting he was supposed to be upset at his dad for making a joke at his expense.
"Yeh sab chod. Tu mujhe bata. Kaisi hai tu? Yeh bandar tera achche se dhyaan rakhta haina?" Billy asked Riddhima.
"Haan, Dad," Riddhima replied, smiling wide.
"Dekh, Riddhu, agar kuch bhi baat haina, toh tu mujhe bata de. Yeh idiot toh hai hi nalayak," Billy insisted.
"Dad, aisa kuch nahi hai, okay? Armaan sach mein mera bohot achche se dhyaan rakhta hai," Riddhima told him.
"Aur nahi toh kya! Waise bhi, Papa toh mere sar par rehte hi hain, ki main Basket ka dhyaan rakhta hu ya nahi. Aur Rahul bhi. Upar se aap aur meri class lete ho. Mujhe kisike lecture sunne mein koi interest nahi hai," Armaan announced.
"Matlab tum mera dhyaan sirf isliye rakhte ho taaki tumhe koi kuch kahe nahi? How mean Armaan!" Riddhima rebuked, smacking his arm.
Armaan laughed. "Kya yaar, Basket! Tum toh har cheez ko bas lekar hi baith jaati ho!"
"Armaan tu meri beti se kuch mat keh!" Ananya butted in.
"Mom! Aap bhi bas ab iski hi side lo!" Armaan exclaimed, scandalized.
"Tujhe koi problem hai?" She asked.
"Nahi, nahi. Bas dekh raha hu. Jabse beti mil gaye hai toh bete ki toh kuch value hi nahi rahi hai," he commented.
"Ab kahi na sahi baat tune!" Billy said.
Armaan just made a face.
"Ek kaam karo. Aap dono apni beti se hi baat karo," saying so, Armaan left.
"Paagal!" Riddhima muttered, plucking the phone and switching the speaker off.
She talked to Billy and Ananya for the next few minutes, laughing and giggling. She had grown really close to them when she'd spent a few months in Delhi when she wasn't on exact talking terms with Shashank after she had found out the truth about Armaan's disappearance. She had been so happy when she found out that they were trying to sort their differences out and get back together. She had been really on point when it came to mending their differences, forcing them to go out on dates, making them spend time together and getting them to talk to each other. It hadn't been easy, but she had been there to support them at every step of the way.
When they'd finally, finally gotten back together, and Ananya had moved to Delhi, Riddhima was the first person they'd called. She was back in Mumbai by then and had taken the first flight out to celebrate with them. Billy and Ananya couldn't thank Riddhima enough for all she had done for them. Over the months, Riddhima hadn't seen them as much as she would have liked to, but they'd stayed in constant touch via phone, messages, emails and whatever mode of communication you could think of. Now, Riddhima saw them as another set of parents who loved her and adored just as much as Dr. Shashank and Padma Mom.
A girl couldn't ask for a more loving set of parents - in - law and Riddhima was extremely happy to have found them.

xxx
Prags

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