Sunday, 28 January 2018

part 5 : Look Closer (Arsh)

Shilpa stood there watching a hurt Armaan waver toward his mother. Tears began to form in her eyes as she saw her best friend's pain. He looked his mother straight in her eyes as tears began to fall from his own eyes. With one sudden movement, he engulfed her into a tight hug. He didn't want to let go of her. Ever. She hugged him back and began to sob into her son's chest. "Mom... why didn't... you tell me?" He spoke in between in sobs. Shilpa's tears began to flow as she saw the emotional Armaan so helpless in front of her.

    "Beta..." She muffled into his chest. "I wanted to. I really did. But I never found enough courage to tell you." She lifted Armaan's head off her shoulder and held it in her arms. Her heart grieved at the sight of her son. Tears flowing down his cheeks from his blood-shot, puffy eyes. He held her hands as she held his face, still sobbing." He felt his mother wiping his tears away. "I knew you would be broken." Armaan took her into another constricting hug and continued to weep in her arms. "Mom... you can't... you can't... leave me." His mom didn't know what to say, she soothed him by moving her hand up and down on his back. She couldn't promise him that she wouldn't leave. She knew very well that one day, her life would end.
"Armaan." Shilpa came up to them. "Armaan." She gently said again with her hand on his shoulder. He wasn't responding. "Aunty." She whispered. Armaan's mother nodded. "Armaan, come on. You're my strong son, right? Come on, beta."  She gently but forcefully pulled out of the hug moving back. Armaan still held onto his mother with an arm around her as if she would leave that very moment that he let go. He used his free hand to wipe away the flood of tears on his cheeks. "Armaan, sit down." His mother told him. He moved to the couch, still holding his mother and sat her down right next to him. Shilpa picked up one of the glasses of water she got for two of them and forwarded to Armaan. "Have some water, Armaan." He used his free hand and took the glass. "Aunty, you too." She took the other glass and gave it to her.

"Armaan, I know this is all a lot to take in for one day." Shilpa tried to calm him down as she still saw tears flowing down his cheeks. "But you have to be strong." She spoke softly making sure he was listening. "Remember that I'll always be here for you." He turned to look at her. She gave him a reassuring smile through her teary eyes. She knew she had to support him in during such a vulnerable time. He consumed her into a tight bear hug. "I know you will be, Shilpa." Armaan's mother took the hand that was around her back and brought it in front of her to hold. She watched the two of them and admired their closeness. She knew they were more than just friends. But they denied being anything more. They needed to look closer at the relationship they shared and she would help them do that.

Shilpa moved out of the hug and smiled at him. And although it was a weak one, he smiled back too. He leaned forward and kissed her cheek which left his mother taken by surprise. Shilpa's smile turned into a frown. "Armaaaaaaan... I told you not to do that!" She wiped her cheek. Armaan couldn't help but faintly laugh at her reaction. Instead of arguing with him about it, she decided to let it go. If it made Armaan happy, then she was willing to let him do it. Armaan felt his mother's hand run through his hair and he turned toward her. "You both must be hungry. I'll go make something for lunch." They both nodded and she got up to go into the kitchen but was stopped. She turned around to see Armaan still holding her hand. "Armaan beta, I'll be back in a few minutes." She pacified him and he slowly let go of her hand. She kissed his forehead and went into the kitchen.

Shilpa linked her arm with his and rested her head on his shoulder. Armaan, however, was lost. Lost in thought. Millions of thoughts were running through his mind, specifically one: His marriage. He stared at Shilpa resting her head on his shoulder. Maybe I should... He thought.

 Shilpa looked up and saw him gazing at her while deep in thought. "Armaan." She murmured. She shook him slightly, "Armaan." He broke his gaze and looked down at his locked hands between his knees. "You okay?" Shilpa asked with concern. He let out a sigh and nodded his head yes. Shilpa turned to see his mom coming from the kitchen. "Shilpa can you help set the table?" Shilpa nodded and went into the kitchen. "Armaan, lunch is ready." She walked away and Armaan followed behind her.

As they ate, there was very little said. Armaan sat next to his mom and she occasionally fed him a bite or two. Shilpa adored the love they had for each other. Unfortunately she never shared that bond with her mother. Heck, she didn't even remember her mother since she passed away while giving birth to her. Shilpa never let that get the best of her though. Her father was the best; taking the responsibility of both mother and father. She missed him now. She figured she would call him later.

When lunch was over Shilpa offered to do the dishes and Armaan decided to help. "Stop splashing water on me!" Shilpa tried to cover herself from Armaan. When Armaan paused, Shilpa took her soapy hands and wiped them onto Armaan's face. "Shilpa! SO uncalled for!" Shilpa giggled. "Wait! Hang on." Shilpa picked up some more soap suds into her hand and put them on Armaan's face giving him a soapy, bubbly beard. Shilpa and Armaan both began to laugh loudly attracting the attention of Armaan's mom. "What is going on in here?" When she walked in Shilpa and Armaan straightened themselves and went back to cleaning the dishes. "Nothing mom, just finishing up the dishes." She walked up to him and moved her hand across his face. "Really?" She placed her soapy hand in front of his face. Armaan gave a nervous laugh and Shilpa suppressed her laugh behind Armaan's mom. "And you too young lady! Look at you! You're almost soaking wet!" Shilpa immediately rid herself of the laughter after seeing her face. Armaan began to laugh behind his mother now. "But Aunty, he started it!" She pointed to a laughing Armaan behind her. "What?! No I didn't, she did, mom!" Armaan defended himself. She grabbed Armaan's ear, "Beta, I know you did. You're always the one who starts trouble." Shilpa crossed her arms in front of her chest and stuck her tongue out at him, happy with her victory. "Now hurry up and finish the dishes. I have something to show you both. Especially Shilpa." Shilpa became all the more curious, "What is it Aunty?" "Finish the dishes and you'll see!" She responded right before she walked out. "Armaan quickly! I want to see what it is!" Shilpa picked up and towel and quickly dried the dishes and put them back were they belonged. "I have a feeling that it's something I won't like..." Armaan questionably approached his mother with Shilpa.

"Oh shut up Armaan!" Shilpa paced ahead of him eager to see what she wanted to show her. "Aunty! Dishes are done. Now can you show me?" She patted the seat next to her and opened up an album. Armaan gawked as he realized which album it was. "Oh no..." "AWWWW! Armaan you were so cuuuuuute!!" She pulled out a picture of a baby Armaan sitting in a bucket filled with water and grinning widely at the camera. "Mom! Did you have to?!" He sat near her feet and whined to her. "Oh Armaan, stop being a baby. You were adorable and still are!" She pinched his cheeks to which he grinned just like the picture. Shilpa continued to look through the album. Shilpa saw one picture that made her laugh her head off. Armaan grabbed the album to see which picture it was. He saw a picture of him when he was around 2 years old standing on the beach wearing a shark costume with a huge smile on his face. "Armaan... you look... so intimidating!" She said in between her laughter. He placed the album back on her lap and hugged his mother's legs. "Don't be jealous, Shilpa. I was adorable." "You sure were!"

Shilpa continued to laugh and flip through the album. She spotted a picture of Armaan kissing a doll on the lips. She cocked up an eyebrow and held the album up. "Seriously, Armaan?" He looked up at the picture and snickered. "You've been at it since you were a baby?" Shilpa questioned while chuckling. "By the way, why'd you even have a doll?" Armaan hid his face in his mother's lap. "That question I can answer." Shilpa looked up at his mother. "It's because when I went in for a check-up while he was still in my womb, they at first told me he would be a girl. So we ended up getting some dolls before they later told us he would be a boy." Armaan snatched the album from Shilpa's hands. "That's enough of this." He went and put it on the top shelf knowing Shilpa and his mom couldn't be able to reach it. "Mom, I think we should head home now. We have classes tomorrow and it takes a while to get back." She got up and Shilpa followed suit. "Okay beta." She gave him a hug. While he hugged his mother, Shilpa reached into his pocket and took his keys.

Armaan felt something move in his pocket and he looked up to see Shilpa dangling the keys in her hand. "No it won't! I'm driving back. Plus you need to rest anyways; you've gone through a lot today." Shilpa bit her tongue for reminding him about it. He had forgotten about it progressively throughout the day, but her stupid mouth had to bring it back up. "Shilpa, its ok. I can drive." He tried to get the keys back but she put them behind her back. "No way, you're going to rest. That's final." She said with finality. "Beta, let her drive. She's just caring for you, even I think you need some rest." Armaan tried to argue back, "But mom.." "No buts, she's driving and that's final." She said in a stern voice. Armaan pouted as he was left defeated. "Aunty, we had a wonderful day today. Please take care of yourself and don't hesitate to call us if you need anything." His mom smiled at her sincerity, "Thank you, Shilpa." "We should go now Mom."

She hugged the two of them and waited at the door as they pulled out of the driveway. When they reached the end, Shilpa and Armaan waved a goodbye and she, too, waved back. They were quickly out of sight.

As Shilpa waited to turn onto the highway and she noticed Armaan sitting there playing on his phone. "Armaan! I said to rest! Not play on your phone!" Shilpa snatched the phone and put it into the compartment on her side of the car. "Shilpa! Not fair! Give it back!" He tried to lean over and grab it. "I'm driving! Do you want the car to crash?" Armaan sat back into his seat with a pout. "Shut your eyes." "No..." "Armaan... Shut your eyes!" "No." She leaned over and kissed his cheek, leaving him stunned. With a winning smile on her face she turned onto the highway and sped up quickly. "Shilp.. Wha..." He tried to put a sentence together but failed miserably. "What? You thought you were the only one who could do that?" He groaned and shifted in his seat. "I'm taking a nap." Shilpa saw him turn his face the other way with his eyes shut. "That's what I thought."



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