Friday, 19 January 2018

Part 22 : Remember this (Arsh ff)

Armaan grinned at muskaan: so tell us muskaan! How does it feel being almost engaged to rahul?
The four of them were sitting at armaan's place amidst preparations of rahul and muskaan's engagement. As they were sitting idly as Billy and Ananya had gone over at muskaan parents to finalise some things , to kill time shilpa had come up with spin the bottle game but the catch was to tell the truth only no dares. When muskaan asked shilpa: why not dare?
Shilpa laughingly informed her: its just my way of finding stuff about you guys! You three have been together for years I need to catch up!
Muskaan was the lucky first and armaan was enjoying making her squirm by asking her how she feels.

Muskaan laughed self consciously: I can't believe I'm doing this!(clarifying herself) me getting engaged to rahul!(shaking her head) doesn't seem real.
Rahul looking insulted: why?
Muskaan exasperated: don't! (grabbing his face and giving him a kiss) 6 months back if someone had told me I'll be getting engaged to you I would have laughed on their face and told them to get some help.(again shaking her head and laughing) after all these years I finally managed to see you, see behind the faade that you used to keep in place. To realize that not only you love me but I also love you, so imagine my state of mind when I say it feels surreal. 
Rahul: but are you happy? Is this what you want?
Muskaan: incessantly! (she leaned in rahul who kissed her on the forehead.)
Shilpa laughed: you are so cute! Ok! Lets spin the bottle again!
The bottle spun and ended up pointing at shilpa who groaned: ok! Ask away? (looking at the faces of armaan, muskaan and rahul)
Muskaan excitedly: let me! ok! Have you ever been in love?
Shilpa grinned: are we talking with exception of armaan ? well then no! I think!(she added) I think if I loved someone the way I love armaan(looking at him)  then I would've known.
Armaan seriously: what about rahul?
Shilpa questioningly: what about rahul?(looking at rahul and smiling) besides the fact that I'm waiting for muskaan to change her mind so that I can have a go at him
Laughing rahul grabbed shilpa's hand kissing it: I'm ready whenever you are!
Shilpa laughingly looked at armaan and was surprised to see him serious: you've got to be kidding me! he's marrying muskaan and I love you!
Armaan smiled: I know! But you love him also.
Shilpa looked at him and muskaan who also looked at her with interest: yes so! (when everyone stayed quiet) I love rahul! Like a friend ok may be more than a friend but I'm not in love with him, there is no heat between us.
Muskaan: he's just jerking your chain shilpa!
Armaan punching rahul in the shoulder: wasn't muskaan enough for you that you've got your sights on shilpa also.
Rahul: what can I say? I have that effect on girls!
Shilpa and muskaan shared a look: men!!(then turning back shilpa spoke up) ok! Spin the bottle.
This time it was rahul's turn to which his reaction was: ok guys! Ask away! Muskaan your chance to ask me anything!
Muskaan yawning: boring! I've known you half my life!
Shilpa: can I ask the question?
Rahul looked at armaan: you still have to ask why am I loco about this girl? Shilpa ask!
Shilpa hesitantly: you don't have to answer me if you don't want to!(when rahul just looked at her she took a breath and asked) you never talk about your family! I mean even now Billy uncle and maa went over to muskaan parent's house to make all the arrangements.
Rahul smiled but it did not reach his eyes: its ok shilpa! the reason I never talk about them is that there is no one. My parents died few years back (looking at shilpa's contrite face) even when they were alive they were never there for me. Billy uncle and maa have always been my parents also and armaan my brother. My parents they were more interested in money, status and parties, they never understood me and I never them
Shilpa: I'm sorry rahul! I didn't mean to dredge up unpleasant memories!
Rahul his eyes holding the same haunted expression they used to have before and had been absent since muskaan had come in his life: don't shilpa! I have a tayaji who is also least of all interested in me as I am in him. Most probably maa would be sending him an invite for the engagement but I'm not sure if he would come.
Shilpa couldn't bear to see him looking so desolate and took his hand: rahul! Don't be sad! Your family they are the unfortunate ones as they have missed out in knowing such a wonderful person. They are indeed unfortunate b'coz they never realized that they have a son they should've been proud of.
Rahul pecked shilpa on the cheek: now you people know why I like her so much.
Muskaan leaned in close and whispered in rahul's ear: I love you! (making rahul turn and look at her) and I'm proud of the man you are.
Armaan: ok! Enough of this emotional drama! Lets play!
Finally it was armaan's turn and it as decided that shilpa was the one going to ask question: ready rmaan?
Armaan smiled wickedly at her: ask a good one?
Shilpa: I'm giving you an easy one! Ok! Have you been in love before me?
Immediately there was a tension in the room, shilpa looked at rahul and muskaan who looked at each other than at her and away. Shilpa shifted her gaze to armaan who had a shuttered expression and knew the answer.
Shilpa: who was she?
Armaan looked at her: ridhima! I met her couple of years back she was a doctor at Sanjeevani.
Shilpa had eyes only for armaan: what happened?
Armaan took a deep breath: we were colleagues! We became friends as we enjoyed each others company and we fell in love.
Shilpa felt a sharp pain in her chest as she heard him say the words: then what happened?
Armaan looked into shilpa eyes and saw nothing: we were in love and happy, we were planning to get married. A conference came up in New York that I had to go to, she wanted me not to go as initially our engagement was planned for the same date. I refused as i wanted to go to the conference it was beneficial for my career. We fought (running a hand through his hair) and I left for the conference. As the conference was ending I got an opportunity to do a stint at one of the hospitals there and I grabbed that opportunity.
Shilpa's eyes never left armaan, he took a deep breath: I called her and told her that I was going to stay there a little longer. We fought and I cut the line, we didn't talk for two months, I received another offer from a hospital in Maryland, Washington and I grabbed on to it. I called home and told my parents, they told me how upset ridhima was and that I should talk to her. I was angry and stubborn, I wanted her to understand my point of view but obviously she had other things on her mind. I went to Maryland and stayed there for a couple of months without maintaining any form of contact with ridhima.
Armaan: by the end of my stay in States I knew I was being immature and I should talk to ridhima, I booked my flight to come back home and called her. She was busy so I left a message that I was coming home. When I reached home I went immediately to the hospital to meet her and found that she was engaged to be married to someone else.
Shilpa: just like that?
Armaan stopped to look at her: I know it sounds stupid and juvenile! Even while telling you all this it sounds really stupid to me even but this is how it happened. I was angry, hurt, so was she; we fought again. She tried explaining things that we were different people, with different needs it was better this way for both of us. I wasn't what she needed and she was not what I needed.
Shilpa: so you parted ways?
Armaan: yes! I was happy for her! she got what she wanted from life, I don't grudge her that.
Shilpa: I wish…
Armaan looking at her: what?
Shilpa: I know its going to sound weird but I wish I was there with you when you were going through all of this. I wish I was there to hold your hand and help you get over the pain.   
Armaan pulled her in his arms: I love you! Ridhima was my past you are my present and future. Since the day I've met you I've thought of you and only you.
Shilpa pulled back slightly to look up I his face: I love you too! For me your past is not important and ridhima is your past! (armaan hugged her close)
Before they could say anything else the mood was broken by the entrance of ananya and billy and the conversation was shelved. Later in the day Ananya, muskaan and shilpa were going over the preparations of the engagaement party which was scheduled for next week.
Ananya sitting back: enough! Now lets have some girl talk! Muskaan any second thoughts?
Muskaan: no! should i?
Shilpa: no! its wonderful seeing you happy and sure about rahul.
Ananya smiling: once you two are done (shifting towards shilpa) then it'll be your turn.
Shilpa looked as if she had swallowed her tongue and managed to give a weak smile as a response.
Ananya noticed her reaction: don't freak out! Just saying what I feel! Tell me something shilpa! do you want to be with armaan?
Shilpa looked up surprised: armaan is everything to me! (making ananya give a content smile)
On the other end armaan and rahul were giving their measurements at the designers' for their clothes for the engagement.
Armaan: yaar! I'm genuinely happy for you two! At the start of the year who would've thought that you and muskaan would be tying the knot.
Rahul grinned: I know! When muskaan said yes! It took me a minute to convince myself that it was real and not a dream.
Armaan laughed: I think she herself is still in shock. Didn't you hear her say it didn't feel real.
Rahul smiling: I love her! and she loves me that's real! What are your plans?
Armaan: about what?
Rahul opening his eyes wide: shilpa! what else? You are crazy about her and she about you so whats stopping you?
Armaan walked around the room then stopped and looked back at rahul: you know I asked her to marry me once.
Rahul: already? (then looking at his face) she said no! I don't believ that! But when?
Armaan ruffled his hair: when she moved out of my place earlier.
Rahul: idiot! That doesn't count! Even I know that, at that time you hadn't even told her you loved her, proposing?
Armaan sighing: I know!
Rahul confused: so then! What?
Armaan: I just don't want to rush her into anything! I want to be sure that she wants this.
Rahul: well! You won't be sure unless you ask her! or are you waiting for a divine revelation!
Armaan: I was just waiting for the right time(as they walked out of the designers' studio)
Rahul shaking his head: you can't keep you hands off her but you are still looking for the right time.
Armaan getting angry: well it is tough when you're parents are living with you! Any romantic interlude at any time is just not possible.(when rahul glared back at him) well I plan to ask her after your engagement.
Rahul: Please do! If you let her get away its really going to piss me off!
Armaan: not more than me!


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