Sunday, 11 February 2018

Part 34: Remember this (Arsh ff)

Muskaan stood in the library at the garewal mansion looking at shilpa and thought she lookd in control. Even though her features looked drawn and her eyes looked dull, her usual sparkle was absent but what what gave her hope was the determined tilt to her chin. Muskaan smiled a sad smile as she realized that few meetings were all that she had left of her time with shilpa.
Muskaan: won't you reconsider shilpa?

Shilpa looked up from the file she had ben going through, she looked at muskaan not even trying to misunderstand her question. She had dropped the bomb on muskaan and rahul, a couple of days ago of her leaving India and going back to Austin, USA.
Shilpa put the file back on the table: I have to go! I can't stay here!
Muskaan felt like her world had started to crumble: plz! For me!(she pleaded)
Shilpa looked at her with pain filled eyes: don't! I don't want to go muskaan! But I have to, I can't breathe here! (she closed her eyes trying to gather herself) it hurts to even breathe muskaan. I think it would be good for me to go away from here for some time. But I'll come back! Don't worry I'll come back.
Muskaan looked at her with beseeching eyes: when? (but for that shilpa had no answer)
Rahul walked in at that moment: there is someone to see you shilpa! (making shilpa look up at him in surprise he had not taken the news well of her leaving and was not speaking to her, so this direct contact was a surprise)
Before shilpa could ask who it was, rahul opened the door fully and Ananya entered the room. A mixture of surprise and joy raced through shilpa and she took an involuntary step towards her with a smile: maa! (as soon as the name left her lips the smile faded as she realized that she no longer had the right to call her that)
 Ananya felt the loss of that smile in her heart but put up a smile as if nothing had happened. Shilpa forced the smile back up: what a wonderful surprise! If you needed something all you had to do was call me.(she forced herself to walk towards her and make her sit on a comfortable chair, all she wanted to do at that moment was to hug her but was not sure of the reception she'll get)
Ananya arched a brow at the formal tone shilpa had used knowing well that she was suffering and needed her: well the last I remember! If I wanted to meet my daughter I didn't need an appointment!(she lifted her hand and gently caressed shilpa's cheek)
Shilpa's lips started to tremble as she felt her words hit her in the vicinity of her heart. She looked up into the kind eyes of the woman whom she called maa and threw he arms around her. Ananya wrapped her arms around the trembling body of shilpa and pressed a kiss to her hair: sshh! Its ok! Beta! Tell me! sshh!
Shilpa tried controlling her emotions but she so wanted to tell this woman whom she considered her mother: maa!(her breath hitching) maa! He broke my heart maa! He didn't trust me!
Ananya closed her eyes and tried to absorb the pain of the girl who was as dear to her as her son armaan. It was close to evening when shilpa sat facing ananya: so you see maa! I can't stay here I need to go.
Anaya wiped a tear that had escaped from shilpa's lashes: you do what you have to do shilpa, I will not stop you. Just promise me one thing! You'll not forget me!(she added with ateary smile)
Shilpa smiled at her through her tears: as if that is even possible! (going serious) I love you maa!
Ananya: I love you too beta! (she got up to leave ) when are you leaving?
Shilpa: my seat will be confirmed in a day or two? I'll call you before I leave.
Ananya nodded her head and headed for the door where rahul was waiting for her bfore they could leave shilpa spoke up: rahul! I just need one minute.(walking towards him as he stood still) I know you are angry with me and don't want to talk to me! but its ok! Just listen! I know you love me and don't want to see me in pain but if you are going to be in pain its not going to help me.
Rahul looked at her as if she had started speaking in Chinese: am I suppose to understand what you just said?
Shilpa smiled at his expression: I'm asking you to stop trying to protect me and be a friend
Rahul exasperated: that's what I'm trying to be!
Shilpa shook her head: not mine! Armaan's!
When rahul stiffened, shilpa continued: you know you want to! You two have been friends since childhood, you've been there for him through all the good times and bad. So whats so different this time?
Rahul spoke seriously:  what about you?(he countered) who looks after you?
Shilpa: looking after me doesn't mean you can't be friends with armaan, rahul! (she clasped his hand as she stood before him) you and I we are bound by blood and our friendship nothing can come between us.
Rahul looked into shilpa's eyes: what do you want me to do?
Shilpa: I want you to do what is right!
Armaan felt like roadkill, the worst was that he also looked like shit. He stood in his bathroom staring at his reflection in the mirror, and felt that life had brought him full circle. He had finished with his shower and shave after putting in 48 hrs of consecutive duty at the hospital. Work had always been a cure for all his troubles, even when ridhima had broken his heart, work had saved him. But now armaan sighed as he recalled his day, every place had a memory of her.
He shook his head as he acknowledged the fact that all day he had waited for a glimpse of her but true to her words shilpa had left him forever. He had started going to visit Ayesha as somehow he felt closer to shilpa when he was with her.
He should've been happy or at least satisfied that he had gotten what he wanted. Even rahul had started talking to him but the damnest part was that he wished he hadn't. Everytime he looked him in the eye he was reminded of shilpa's eyes. Muskaan was as usual being a pest but even that pestering reminded him of all the time they had spent together. 
Armaan took a sleeping pill to sleep at night, hoping for a full night rest. As he drifted off to sleep he recalled the last time shilpa had been in his room. He spent the night wrapped up with her in a dream when morning came his hand groped for her on the other side of the bed while he called out her name without thinking: shilpa!.
Instantly he was awake his mind rife with the images from his dream of both of them together. He swiftly got up from bed and made his way to the bathroom hoping to start the day with a fresh mind and body. Once ready he went out and found his mother waiting for him.
Ananya: ready to go?
Armaan: yeah!(as he started toward the door ananya called from behind)
Ananya: Armaan!(armaan stopped and turned to look at her) your father and I are thinking of going back!
Armaan just stood there looking at her: when?
Ananya: tonight!(armaan stood silently as he looked down at the floor he nodded and turned to go but ananya stopped him again) armaan!(she walked towards him and turned him to face her) I'm not leaving b'coz I'm angry at you. I'm leaving b'coz I believe you need some time to figure out what you want to do with your life and that is not possible with me and your father breathing down your neck.
Armaan looked at her with eyes which showed his confusion and pain making ananya wrap her arms around him: try to be happy armaan! This is what you wanted! Try and have a life!(she pulled back and kissed him on the forehead)
Armaan reached sanjeevani and went to his office to do some work but his mind was not concentrating. He realized he was staring at a piece of paper for the last 15 minutes without understanding a word that was written. He shook his head and strated reading the paper again, as he continued his brow furrowed in confusion and then dawning realization. He lookd up as suddenly the door to his office opened and rahul walked in.
Rahul: hey armaan! I think you might have pickd up some papers from my office the other day.
Armaan still holding on to the paper: are you looking for this?(he forwarded the paper to rahul who read the contents and glanced sharply at armaan)
Armaan: what does this mean?
Rahul raising his brows in surprise: I think its self explanatory!(when armaan kept looking at him for an explanation) shilpa had applied for adopting Ayesha but her application got rejected.
Armaan lowered his gaze: why? What did she think she was doing?
Rahul: She's shilpa! she was doing what her heart thought was right!(when armaan stayed quiet) she loves Ayesha, she's going to try again, she's filling an application again before she leaves.
Armaan's head came up as the words registered in his head but he repeated them again for clarification: leaving?
Rahul stared back at him with equanimity: she'd going back to Austin, tomorrow!(he left it at that)
Armaan stood there as if struck deaf and dumb, he felt detached from every emotion there was only emptiness around him. Rahul looked at armaan his friend his brother and saw the raw despair in his eyes.
Rahul took a step towards him: armaan! You are a brother to me so believe me when I say that I want you to be happy in life. Don't let her go man! If she leaves tomorrow you are going to regret it for the rest of your life. Stop her beg her to stay!
Armaan didn't respond in any way just stood there looking back at rahul with blank eyes. Rahul waited for armaan to respond in some way but started to feel the all familiar frustration rise again at his behavior. He would've hit him, he clenched his hand into a fist, wanting the contact of fist against his nose or eye, he even took an involuntary step towards him but stopped at the last moment. He turned on his heel and left armaan standing there.
All day armaan moved as if in a dream, he was not paying attention without his realizing he ended up in the children's wing standing outside ayesha's crib. The baby smiled as she saw the familiar figure of armaan and started clapping her hands. Armaan leaned down and picked the baby up in his arms, the baby grabbed his nose pulling him towards herself. Armaan kissed the baby's fist and then her forehead nuzzling her hair.
Suddenly the nurse on duty: Ms. Shilpa was also here a while ago, she came to say bye as she is leaving for States.
Armaan head snapped up: when?
Nurse: oh! She just left!
Armaan quickly handed the baby back to her and ran out of there. He ran down the corridors to finally get out the frot door towards the parking lot but she wasn't there. He looked around for a glimpse of shinning black hair, a flash of long smooth legs or a gurgle of her laughter but all there was a empty parking lot with the sound of traffic.
At night when he reached home it was to an empty house and he realized his parents had left. He went into the kitchen to get something to eat, as he opened the refrigerator he found a bowl of salad and sandwiches. He took the dishes out and placed them on the table as he took the first bite of the salad he recognized it taste . It was shilpa's recipe he immediately turned around hoping to see her coming down the corridor but his gaze landed on piece of paper lying on the table.
He grabbed the paper and read it, it was from his mother: armaan! I'm leaving some sandwiches in the refrigerator along with some salad. Eat it before going to bed! Love you! Maa.
Armaan's face fell as all the hope he had of seeing her once again died a painful death as he read his mom's note.  He sat down on the kitchen floor sick with himself and his fears.
Armaan to himself: what am I doing?(he fisted his hand in his hair pulling at them but no answer came to him)
He continued to sit on the tiled floor of the kitchen waiting for an answer to his question. Next thing he knew it was morning, his eyes opened and recoiled against the glare of the sunlight streaming through kitchen windows. He looked at his watch and saw it was almost 9 in the morning, he couldn't believe he had overslept, he had been awake till 5 in the morning then he had closed his eyes just for a moment and next he opened it was 9.
He quickly changed and drove towards sajeevani he needed to talk to rahul. As he reached sanjeevani he ran towards rahul office but was stopped by one of the doctors as his patient was in emergency. Never in his life had armaan ever been on the verge of telling a patient off, impatience was rolling off him in waves as he snapped at nurses and the junior doctors. Once done armaan ran down to rahul's office already an hour had passed since his arrival, he had no idea what he wanted tosay to him as he barged through the office door and found the room empty.
Armaan immediately back tracked and ran towards muskaan's office as he burst through the door he sighed in relief as he found both rahul and muskaan there. Muskaan stood in rahul's arms with her head on his shoulder and her eyes wet with armaan sudden appearance they both looked up at him in surprise.
Armaan: I need to talk to you both!
Rahul: armaan! Can't this wait!(looking at muskaan with concern) I'm in the middle of something.
Armaan looked at muskaan realizing that she had been crying: whats wrong muskaan? Why have you been crying?
Muskaan on a spurt of anger: why do you care? She's leaving and its all your fault.
Armaan: when does she leave?
Rahul: her flight leaves in an hour!
Armaan face turned pale and all he could think was that she was going to leave him forever. He looked up to find rahul looking at him intently and asked him: when is she coming back?
When the silence had stretched between them enough rahul replied: maybe never!
Armaan felt as if his world came crashing down. Not see shilpa again ever, never hear her infectious laugh, her sparkling eyes. Never hear her say that she loved him, never feel her lips next to his her arms around his body.
Armaan felt tremors shake his body: she can't leave!
Rahul: you wanted her to leave armaan!
Armaan shook his head: I'm mad! I can't live without her! she can't leave!(he started to take steps backwards and then turned around and walked out of the door)
Both rahul and muskaan went after him and found him in the parking lot getting in his car. Rahul grabbed his shoulder: what are you doing?
Armaan: I'm going to stop her from leaving!
Muskaan angrily: why? So that you can hurt her more!
Armaan stopped and looked at her: no! I love her! I can't let her leave! Help me! help me stop her!
Muskaan opened her mouth to give an angry remark but was stopped by rahul: she's at the airport now! Come on lets go!
They drove to the airport in their respective cars, all through the drive armaan could not stop thinking about shilpa. Her words kept sounding in his ears, "I won't give up armaan!" he prayed with all his heart that it was still true all he could think was that he could not lose her. They screeched to a halt in the parking and made their way to the main building looking for the status of shilpa flight. Armaan made his way to the inquiry desk asking for information relating to shilpa.
Armaan: sir, have you seen this lady check in (showing him shilpa's picture, the man on the desk wasn't sure making armaan turn around to ask the guard on the door leading to the lounge)
Guard: you're too late! She already left!
Armaan felt blood leave his head leaving him feel lightheaded: she's gone!
Guard: about fifteen minutes ago! She got in a cab and left!
Armaan just stared at man unable to comprehend the man, rahul took over: she left in a cab!
Guard: the flight was cancelled! Due to bad weather forecast on the destination as well as on this end. So she left, I saw her leave myself.
Armaan turned and ran back to the car with rahul and muskaan right behind him. Rahul: she must have gone back to garewal mansion.
Armaan just got in the car and started to drive towards the Garewal mansion. Finally they reached the gates and pressed the buzzer for the guards to open the gates. As one of the guards approached them armaan told them to open the gate as he wanted to meet shilpa.
Guard: but sir madam left for States today! She's at the airport now!
Rahul put a restraining hand on armaan's shoulder: so you're saying that she left and has not returned here!(when the guard nodded his head in affirmation rahul pulled armaan back)
Armaan: where did she go?
Rahul: maybe she went over to the hospital or to your place!
Armaan: we should go separately you take the hospital and I'll look at my place.
They left again in search of shilpa, armaan reached his home and burst through the door but only found the emptiness that had been his constant companion since the moment he had pushed her out of his life. Armaan left his house and started to drive randomly thinking of possible places she could've gone.
Rahul called: she's not here!(his voice giving away his worry)
Armaan: where can she go? Assuming she got back to the mansion but instead of going in she walked away where the hell did she go?
Muskaan: where do the roads from the mansion lead to ?
Rahul: the most closest is a back road that leads to the highway leading out from the city.
Armaan making up his mind: I'm near the mansion I'm going to take a look.(in his mind he saw shilpa the last time he had seen her with tears flowing down her face)
Armaan clenched his teeth as he remembered the pain he had felt when she uttered the words: you win armaan! I'm going away from your life forever! I love you!
Armaan hands tightened on the steering wheel as he cursed himself as his gaze wandered over the road searching for a sign of her. He silently prayed to god: plz bring her back to me. never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that she would completely disappear from my life. I love her more than anything in the world. If you'll just give me this one chance I'll never let her go. 
His cell rang again, armaan immediately picked it up: rahul! Tell me you found her!
Rahul: no!
Armaan could feel the panic rise in him when suddenly his gaze landed on a lone figure walking down the road. He could not see the face but it was the way her hips swayed as she walked, the tilt to her head, the way her arms swung with each stride that confirmed what his heart already knew: Shilpa!
Armaan spoke on the phone: I've found her! she's on the back road heading on to the highway!
He threw the cell back on the passenger seat and pressed his foot on the accelerator,  he stopped the car and was out of it as it was shuddering to a halt. H e rounded the car and ran ran after her calling: Shilpa!
Shilpa had taken the cab and gone back to the garewal mansion as she stood outside the gates she knew she could not go in there. So she had simply turned around and started walking down the road leading away from the city. She was dressed comfortably in a pair of jeans with white vest on which she wore a white cotton shirt left unbuttoned and sleeves rolled up to her elbows, her feet were encased in sneakers which helped in quickly putting distance between the mansion and her.
As she was walking down the road she saw clouds roll in as the wind picked up whipping her loose hair in the wind. She had continued walking only one thought in her mind she just wanted to get away from there when she heard the screech of tyres, even then she had continued walking with her luggage in tow.  She heard her name being called, her heart thrilled as she recognized the voice but she refused to believe that it was real only when she felt someone grasp her arm and pull her back did she stop and turn.
Armaan out of breath with fear of losing her and running: Shilpa! stop!
Shilpa looked up at him in total amazement her mind going blank: armaan!(she responded blankly)
Armaan: shilpa! don't go!(his hand tightened on her arm) don't leave me! shilpa! I love you and I don't want you to go!
There was a moments silence when armaan looked into shilpa's eyes searching frantically to see what she was feeling but her eyes which generally showed all that she was feeling were totally blank.
Shilpa looked into his eyes: thanks armaan! But sorry! I already have some plans!( she said it in a dismissive tone and shrugged out of his hold and started to walk again)
Armaan stood stunned at her indifferent tone but then ran after her. As he grabbed her hand again and turned her around: shilpa! I'm sorry!
Shilpa brought her other hand forward and pried her hand loose from his grasp: plz don't touch me again! I've told you I have other plans so lets not waste each other time( she turned and started walking a little more forcefully)
Shilpa could feel her anger rise, she was amazed at his gal that he actually thought that just b'coz he now feels like it he'll come and apologize and every thing will go back to the way it was. She stomped ahead as fury roiled in her system she let out a startled gasp when she was roughly pulled around. She collided with armaan's hard body before she could make a startled sound or a scathing remark armaan crushed her to him his mouth covering hers in an all consuming kiss.
When shilpa had turned away from him all he had wanted was to make her stop and listen to him but the first touch of her lips armaan lost himself in her sweet taste. All he wanted was to stay like this forever, drinking in her sweet taste, he deepened the kiss tangling his tongue with her.
Shilpa felt surrounded by armaan his hands were in her hair holding her head captive in its place. His other arm was banded across her back keeping their bodies in contact from chest till the hip. She was furious at him and wanted to get out of his hold she tried pushing him away but it was like trying to move a concrete wall. She felt his hold tighten further as he angled the kiss further, his tongue thrusted against her making her shudder but she refused to give in to the pleasure. She tried wedging her arm between them but he wouldn't let her out of desperation to breath and put distance between them shilpa bit his tongue.
Armaan drew back as he felt the sharp sting of bite looking at shilpa in surprise, hunger still very much evident in his eyes. Before he could make a move shilpa pulled her arm back and slapped armaan hard across his face, pushing back at the same time.
Armaan stood stunned as shilpa pulled back: don't you ever touch me again!(she spoke every word with emotion, she was vibrating with anger)
Armaan extended his arm towards her: shilpa!..
Shilpa slapped his arm away: shut up! I don't want to hear a word you have to say!
Armaan: listen to me!(he tried to grab her hand but shilpa pushed him away)
Shilpa: who the f***k do you think you are? You think I'm sitting here waiting for you to bloody hell make up your mind! Oh! I'm so thank ful to you armaan that you now want me in your life.
Armaan managed to trap one of her hands pulling her towards himself: its not like that ! at least listen to me shilpa!
Shilpa's anger was boiling over: you let me go! Let me go armaan! (she started hitting him on his shoulder and chest, trying to free herself from his hold) I hate you! Armaan! You big arrogant jerk!
Armaan tried to hold on to her but all she wanted was to get away from him, armaan slowly let her go sliding his arms away from her. She felt his arms slide away leaving her standing on her own.
Armaan: ok! I won't touch you! But just hear me out! I know I've hurt you but I've hurt myself also. Every minute that I've stayed away fom you has been pure agony.
Shilpa just stood there looking at him with eyes which full of anger and hurt: I don't give a rats ass as to how hurt you are?
Armaan grimaced: I know you don't!(he looked at her and realized yet again the reason he had fallen for her, no matter what she will never bow down to any one) but you deserve to know the reason why I behaved the way I did!
Shilpa with contempt evident in her eyes: oh! Are we talking about the half baked reason you've been giving, of us being too different or are you finally going to give the actual reason!(before he could answer) you know what armaan? Stuff it!(she whirled around to leave, she was so furious that she actually could see a haze infront of her eyes, she wanted to scream at him, hit him)
She started to move away only to be pulled back by armaan who was shouting: you think I'm a coward and a jerk! Yes! I am! B'coz I do love you shilpa! I love you more than anything in this whole world and yes I got scared! I was scared when we fell in love but at that time there was no one else in your life but then your memory returned and everything changed. You were a different shilpa with an identity of her own, who had a life of her own and I fell in love all over again and with that my fear rose.(as they stood there staring at each other the clouds that had gathered broke loose and a downpour started drenching them within seconds)
Shilpa shook her head the anger she had felt fading away to leave behind a well of hurt: fear of what armaan? Losing me? but then you pushed me away! What does that mean?(oblivious to the rain that beat down on them)
Armaan reacted to the edge to her words: it means that I pushed you away before you could leave your self! It means that I was scared that all the other things in your life were far more weightier and would've taken you away from me. It means that the mistake that I had made with Ridhima would happen all over again.
Shilpa looked at him: I told you once before, I'm not ridhima!
Armaan shook his head looking sad: the point is this shilpa! you all think that what ridhima and I had was not love but it felt real enough to me. I had loved her shilpa! we had been engaged to be married and then we let it slip. She cut her losses and decided to move on with someone else. What does it say about me or her?
When shilpa stayed quiet he continued: I wasn't there for her shilpa! tell me what's going to be different about you and me.
Till now shilpa had not made a move towards armaan but this last time the pain he had felt that he was till feeling leaked through making shilpa's heart twist at his pain: whats different is you and me together! Whats different is that no matter what you think is right your heart knows that you and I are meant to be!(she stood right infront of him and placed her hand on his heart)
Armaan looked at her standing in the rain looking more beautiful than ever before: I know one thing I love you!beyond any reason! I love you enough that I realize that all those fears that I had hold no importance. I want you to know that I do trust you whom I didn't trust was myself.
Shilpa wrapped her arms around his neck and drew his head to her level, their breaths mingling, nose touching and whispered against his lips: that's ok! B'coz I trust you! More than anyone else in the world! I'm not saying its going to be easy but I know one thing for sure that I'm willing to try with you. Only you!(she closed the gap between them as she pressed her lips to his)
Armaan drew back slightly his hands running down her arms and back: I'm not going to let go shilpa! I love you forever and more! This is it for me!
Shilpa: haven't I told you before you talk too much! Shut up and kiss me!(mouths merged as tongues twined and caressed each other and two hearts that never should've been separated thundered in unison)
Both were so engrossed that they didn't draw back at the sound of car stopping and doors opening shutting. It was only after they drew back to get some air in their lungs that they saw rahul and muskaan standing there grinning like an idiot.
Shilpa stood there plastered to armaan and smiled brilliantly at rahul-muskaan: guess I won't be going anywhere to soon!
Rahul grinned back: oh! You never know! (pulling muskaan close to him) I'm planning to take one!
Shilpa couldn't help but grin back, she was still grinning when armaan turned her to face him: I've got something for you!(shilpa raised her brows in question) I've been carrying it around with me since the day I broke up with you.
He drew back slightly and  put his hand in his jeans pocket, he frowned and started poking around in the other one when shilpa laughingly asked: want any help?
Armaan gave her a smoldering look: I'll manage! Got it!(he drew out a ring which sparkled in the rain)
Shilpa looked at the ring and then at armaan staying quiet. Armaan lifted her hand from his shoulder and slid the ring on her finger: I've been wanting to this for a long time!(lifting her hand he kissed her finger)
Shilpa rubbed her fingers across his mouth: I love you!
Armaan: love you forever! 


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