Sunday, 4 February 2018

Chapter 54 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Previously on...
Nikki & Abhi's party. Armaan & Riddhima talk to Billy & Ananya.


Chapter 54

The next few days passed by in a flurry. With the hospital and the preparations for the concert, no one had any time to breathe. Everybody reported for duty early in the morning so that they could leave for practice.

After work, they would meet up in the recreation room in the basement of the hospital to prepare. There was so much to be done. Invitations needed to be sent, advertisements to be printed, scripts to be written, dances to be rehearsed and of course, the venue and all other preparations to be done. Everybody divided the tasks amongst themselves, but there was still a lot.
Atul was in charge of advertising, Rahul had to write the script, Anjali was looking after the invites and Muskaan was helping Armaan and Riddhima with everything else. They had to come up with routines not only for themselves, but also help the others in selecting songs or skits they wanted to perform on.
Of course, they were doing a couple performance, but the old gang wanted to do a group performance as well. And then, they were helping the new interns with their bit as well. Yes, it had been completely crazy these past few days.
But, everyone at Sanjeevani was excited about the Concert and theirs had always been the batch that people looked upon when it came to stuff like this. Expectations were high from all of them and they wanted to exceed them and then some. So, preparation had been on in full swing.
Everyone contributed in any way they could. Dr. Shashank brought in a ton of sponsors using all his contacts, as did Billy Uncle. Padma Mom helped them with the scripts and the invites, hand delivering them wherever required. Ananya Mom also helped spread word and helped a great deal at the advertising aspect of things. There were always ads about the Concert in various newspapers everyday. The staff at Sanjeevani had been very co operative, going out of their way to help be it in the form of covering for someone else's shifts or running around in the preparations.
It had been tough and hectic schedule, but so worth it. Seeing so many people work as one in making this event successful was heartwarming.
(A/N - Remember when Armaan joined Sanjeevani and asked Yuvi to look up the intern who held the record for the highest marks in the internship exam? Yeah, when they found it was Armaan, his birthdate flashed on the screen. And, I think it read 23 December. It could have been 23/2/1986, but I remember seeing 23/12/1986 and that is why, in this FF, Armaan's birthday is 23 December! Have fun, ladies! :p)
In all the planning, Riddhima didn't even have the time to realize that Armaan's birthday was just around the corner. Typically, since they'd started seeing each other, they would go out for a quiet meal and spend some time together. And that was that. Armaan never made ahuge production out of his birthday, the way he did it with Riddhima's.
This year though, Riddhima was planning to do something different. Of course, they would have their dinner, it was tradition. But, apart from that she had a few tricks up her sleeve.
The day before Armaan's birthday was spent planning an elaborate birthday party alongwith Nikki. The girls sat together and poured over plans for hours and hours.
"Waise Ridzy, yeh party ka idea theek hai kya?" Nikki asked Riddhima.
"Obviously. Kyu?" Riddhima asked.
"Matlab hum sab agar raat ke 12 baje jaayenge toh Armaan gussa ho jaayega na. Tujhe pata haina, tere saath akele time spend karne ke liye bas bahaane dhoondta hai woh. Phir agar hum sab chale jaayenge, toh woh pakka gussa ho jaayega."
Riddhima laughed. "Tu woh sab mujhpe chod de. Armaan ko sambhaalne ki responsibility meri."
Nikki nodded happily. Let Riddhima deal with a petulant Armaan who sulked and pouted. She could do without that, thank you very much.
"Toh tu cake le aayegi, right? Aur saare chocolates bhi. Baaki sab main dekh lungi," Riddhima said.
Nikki nodded. "Tu chinta mat kar, Ridzy. Main cake sambhalke rakh lungi. Aur chocolates bhi mere ghar pade hain. Tu bata, khane ka kya karna hai?"
"Khana toh main le aaungi," Riddhima told her. "Aaj duty thodi jaldi khatam ho rahi hai, toh practice mein nahi aaungi. Aur Mumma bhi meri help kar degi."
"Okay, toh aaj raat ka plan pakka?" Nikki asked.
"Kaunse plan ki baat chal rahi hai?" Armaan asked as he came down to sit beside Riddhima.
Nikki looked at Riddhima with wide eyes who just shrugged her shoulders. Armaan kissed Riddhima's temple before asking again.
"Koi mujhe batayega? Kya plan?"
"Ku... kuch nahi, Armaan. Bas aaj raat ki rehearsal ka plan," Riddhima fibbed.
Seemingly satisfied, Armaan started talking about random things as Nikki and Riddhima breathed a sigh of relief.
Later in the day, Riddhima cornered Armaan to tell him that she wasn't going to be able to make it to the practice.
"Waah, waah! Kya baat hai? Aaj bada pyaar aa raha hai?" Armaan asked her as he hugged her tight after she'd pulled him in the fire escape.
"Armaan! Tum do minute ke liye bhi apni badmaashi nahi chod sakte na?" She asked him, as he neuzzled her neck.
He lifted his head only to say, "Nahi," before kissing her loudly on the cheek and dropping his head back. Riddhima giggled.
"Armaan! Please 2 minute meri baat sunn sakte ho?" She asked.
Armaan sighed. "Kya hua?"
"Bas tumhe batana tha ki aaj main rehearsal ke liye nahi aa rahi hu," she told him.
"Kyu? Kyu nahi aa rahi ho? Uthake le aaunga tumhe," Armaan replied.
"Arre, baba! Mumma ka phone aaya tha. Unhe kuch kaam hai. Toh isliye nahi aa sakti hu," Riddhima insisted.
Armaan nodded thoughtfully. "Lekin main kya karunga tumhaare bina? Main bhi aa jaata hu tumhaare saath. Help kar dunga," he reasoned.
Riddhima shook her head frantically. "Armaan tum kyu nahi jaaoge? Sirf humaara performance thodi hai? Sabka haina. Aur waise bhi tumne Yuvi se kaha tha ki tum uski aur Naina ki help karoge. Aur Rahul ko bhi thodi help chahiye. Itne time se hum apni rehearsals mein hi busy haina. Toh aaj tum unki help kar dena. Theek hai?"
Armaan pouted but nodded anyway. Riddhima sighed in relief, happy that Armaan had agreed without protesting. She knew that if Armaan questioned her too much, she would give something away. That was so not happening.
Armaan insisted on dropping her home, though. Not wanting to argue, she agreed. He dropped her off and spent sometime with Padma Mom before going back to the hospital, a little glum that Riddhima wasn't going to be there with him. Normally, they got done with rehearsals well past midnight and he had wanted to spend the first few moments of his birthday with Riddhima. It would have been easier if she had been there with him. Now, he'd just have to make excuses and leave quickly and see Riddhima by jumping in through the window. Not that he minded much. Anything to see his Basket.
Riddhima smiled, waving Armaan off. She hurried into the kitchen where she and Padma Mom got to work quickly, whipping up all of Armaan's favorite dishes. Armaan, on the other hand, was having a gala time at the rehearsals, helping others with their performances and laughing at their failed attempts. Seriously, this was so much better than his own rehearsal. He didn't have to worry about going wrong, he didn't have to concentrate. He could just sit back and enjoy. He was going to need more of these helping days'.
At around eleven, Riddhima called Armaan, asking him to meet her. She knew that he would be much more agreeable to a group gathering if they'd spent some time together before hand. This way, Armaan got be alone with Riddhima at midnight and Nikki would get a chance to ready Armaan's house with decorations. The party was at the Gupta residence because it would be easier. Of course, Armaan would drop Riddhima home before leaving and she didn't want to explain why she wanted Armaan to take them to his house instead of Gupta Mansion.
"Armaan," Riddhima smiled into the phone, "Tum abhi ghar aa jao mujhe lene. Phir hum bahaar challenge."
"Abhi?" Armaan asked, surprised.
"Haan," Riddhima replied. "Maine Papa se permission le li hai. Unhe koi problem nahi hai."
Armaan grinned widely. "Okay. Main 10 minute mein pohonch raha hu."
Riddhima smiled. That was easy as pie. She quickly got dressed and informed her parents that she was leaving and that she and Armaan would be home by 12:30 so they should have everything ready by then. Padma Mom assured her it would be. It was amusing toher to see Riddhima so worked up. But, she understood. Armaan was big when it came t osurprises and always had grand gestures. It was nice to see Riddhima take similar efforts for Armaan.
Armaan came in sometime later, just like he'd promised and they set off immediately, leaving a laughing Padma & Shashank behind.
"So, hum kahaan jaa rahe hain?" Armaan asked after they sat in the car.
"Kuch farak padta hai?" Riddhima replied, smiling. Armaan grinned and shrugged. Of course, it didn't matter as long as they were together.
Armaan drove them to the beach. He knew Riddhima liked the feel of the ocean on her feet. They walked around, wrapped in each others arms, not saying much. It was such a relief after the past few days where they hadn't even had the time to breathe properly. Always busy with something or the other. Work, rehearsals and whatnot.
"So, hum kal raat ko kahaan jaa rahe hai?" Asked Riddhima.
Armaan smiled and shrugged. "Shhh. Surprise hai."
"Armaan, tumhaare birthday pe tum mujhe surprise doge?" She asked.
"Kyu nahi de sakta kya?" Armaan reverted.
"Armaan, please. Mazaak mat karo. Batao na."
"Nahi bata sakta na!"
"Kyu?"
"Bas, nahi bata sakta! Ab tum mujhse zyada sawaal mat karo. Yeh batao tum mujhe kya gift dene waali ho."
Riddhima smirked. "Nahi bata sakti. Surprise haina," she replied in a very Armaan - ish way.
Armaan scowled and pointed at her. "Line chor. Meri line mujhpe maar rahi ho. Sharam nahi aati?"
"Bilkul nahi aati," Riddhima replied defiantly.
Armaan grinned. "Theek hai, theek hai. Zyada hero mat bano," he said.
Riddhima just stuck her tongue out.
"Waise, mujhe tumse sirf ek gift chahiye," Armaan said after sometime.
"Kya?" Riddhima asked. Armaan grinned mischievously and raised an eyebrow in question.
"Armaan!" Riddhima swatted his arm exasperatedly. "Tum kabhi kisi aur cheez ke baare mein sochte ho ya nahi?"
"Tumhe kya lagta hai?" He asked rhetorically.
"Shameless!" Riddhima exclaimed.
"Haan toh?" Armaan asked.
"Toh matlab tum kabhi kuch aur soch liya karo."
"Kyu? Kyu sochu? Mera dimaag, mere thoughts, meri marzi. Mujhe jo sochna hai main sochu!"
"Toh theek hai. Akele hi socho," saying so, Riddhima ran away.
"Basket!" Armaan called out, before taking off in a sprint after her.
He caught upto her easily and lifted her by her waist and onto his shoulder.
"ARMAAN!" Riddhima exclaimed. "Neeche utaro mujhe!"
Armaan shook his head negatively.
"Armaan, please, sab dekh rahe hai," Riddhima said, which was true. The beach wasn't really crowded as it was late and they had chosen a secluded corner, but the stragglers were staring.
"Mujhe kya fark padta hai. Dekhna hai toh dekhe. Waise bhi yeh tumhaari punishment hai. Tum bhaagi kyu?" Armaan asked.
"Armaan, please, dekho mujhe neeche utaro."
"Nahi."
"Please! Agar tum mujhe neeche utaroge toh jo tum kahoge main karungi. I promise," Riddhima pleaded, knowing that Armaan would give in.
"Jo main kahu?" Armaan asked.
"Haan, baba," Riddhima replied.
"Okay," saying so, Armaan set her on her feet.
As soon as he did that, Riddhima rose on her toes to kiss him, but Armaan moved away. Riddhima looked at him surprised, while he grinned mischevuously. He bent down and splashed water on Riddhima.
"Armaan!" She exclaimed.
"Kya hua, Basket? Achcha nahi laga?" He asked.
Riddhima screeched and launched herself at him, pushing him in the water. Armaan who had definitely not expected it, lost his footing and fell. It was war, then. They each dunked the other in water more times than they could counted and splashed around like little kids for a long time.
They were having such a good time, Armaan didn't even realize it was midnight.
"Happy Birthday," Riddhima whispered, placing a kiss on his cheek.
Armaan grinned boyishly. Riddhima pushed herself on her toes and kissed him. Armaan's arms wrapped around her waist instantly and he pulled her close, deepening the kiss. They kissed leisurely for a long time, enjoying the feeling of being connected in such an intimate way after a long time.
"Thank you," Armaan whispered after he pulled away, his lips moving on hers. Riddhima smiled and pecked him before standing back.
"Ah, I missed this. Kaash hum hamesha yahin reh paate," Armaan said.
Riddhima shook her head. "Armaan, agar hum hamesha yahaan rehte aur kabhi apne doston se nahi milte, toh tum 2 dino mein hi paagal ho jaate."
Armaan shrugged sheepishly. He knew that. Armaan was a social being. And though he loved spending as much time with Riddhima as possible, he would go mad if he didn't meet his friends frequently. They had always been an important part of his life and stood by him through thick and thin. They were all practically family now.
"Chalo ab, ghar chalte hain. Bohot late ho gaya hai," Armaan said.
Riddhima nodded.
Once home, Armaan was planning to leave without even coming in, but Riddhima stopped him.
"Armaan, andar toh chalo," she said.
"Riddhima, abhi bohot late ho gaya hai. Main kal aa jaunga na, sabse milne. Abhi sabki neend bigaadke kya faayda?"
"Armaan, tumhaare kapde saare geele ho gaye hain. Jaldi change karlo warna tumhe zukaam ho jaayega," Riddhima insisted.
"Haan, toh Basket main ghar jaake change kar lunga. Abhi jaaunga toh Maa bekar pareshaan ho jaayegi."
"Armaan, tum andar aa rahe ho, bas."
"Riddhima, tum yeh kya bachchon jaise zidd kar rahi ho?"
"Main kal aa jaaunga na!"
"Armaan, please," Riddhima pouted. It was time to take the big guns out. "Tumhe pata haina ki iss tarah geele rehne se tumhe kitni jaldi sardi ho jaati hai? Phir poore hafte bas cheenkte rahoge."
Armaan could never say no to her. He didn't know why he even tried.
"Achcha baba, theek hai," he said, giving in.
"Thank you!" Riddhima exclaimed. "Chalo andar."
Armaan smiled. His girl never needed big declarations. The smallest of things made her happy.
They entered the house, hand in hand, laughing.
Nothing could have prepared Armaan for the sight in front of him though.
As soon as he entered, a huge scream of "SURPRISE!" rang through the room and in front of him were all his friends and family.
***************************************************************
Prags

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