Friday, 18 June 2021

part 7 : Forbidden Love

1 month later

After their talk that night, Armaan had gotten better. He still was not the same Armaan he was before Nikita's death; but he was trying to come out of his prison of suffering and loneliness that he had locked himself up since he lost his love. Riddhima still remembered the next morning when Armaan came downstairs. Everyone was sitting down for breakfast. Riddhima was usual was feeding Sunny, who was dressed for school, and Sunita, Atul and Anjali were having their breakfast as well. Sunita suddenly looked up at the stairs n froze. Following her gaze, everyone turned around to see a clean-shaven Armaan dressed ready for work. Looking at him, Riddhima smiled contently, knowing that Armaan was indeed trying to live again. He smiled a little in return and looked at his son.

"Sunny" Armaan had said holding his arms out for Sunny, who scrambled down from his chair and ran to his father's arms. Armaan hugged him tightly, holding his precious son as close to him as possible.

"I'm sorry beta. I'm soo sorry. I promise to never leave you alone again. Your papa will always be there for you. I promise beta!"

Everyone had tears in their eyes looking at the scene infront of them. It was something long overdue. Sunita wiped her tears n went up to Armaan and put her arms around him and Sunny hugging them tightly, who returned her hug. Atul and Anjali came up to Riddhima around the dining table and hugged her from both sides.

"Riddhima Thank you so much! I don't know how to express my gratitude in words. What you have done for this family, you can't even imagine," Atul said in a wavering voice. Riddhima had not shared with Atul and Anjali what happened the night before. But they knew she must have been responsible for this change as nothing else had worked before.

"Please don't thank me jeej. I only reminded Armaan that he had a son. He did everything else by himself," Riddhima refused his gratitude with a smile whereupon she received another hug from Atul who then went to join the family reunion.

"No, seriously Ridz, you accomplished what no one else could do. I am soo proud of my little sister," Anjali squeezed her tight with a big smile and left to join Atul. Now the family hug is over and Atul stood there teasing Armaan about the end of his banvas, while Armaan showed a shadow of a smile.

Sunita, who had overheard Atul and Anjali's comments came to Riddhima's side and embraced her weeping lightly.

"Thank you so much beta. You have been sent from above. You kept our family together when we were all falling apart. You never let Sunny feel the lack of his mother. And now you have brought Armaan back to us. Is there anything your magic can't do?" Sunita added trying to wipe her non-stop tears.

"Please auntiji. It was nothing. Your family has given so much love to me. This is the least I could do," Riddhima replied and wiped the tears off Sunita's face. "And Nikita was like a sister to me and her family was her life. She would not want to see this family so broken after she is gone. She would always want to see you happy."

Sunita nodded and gave her another hug. Armaan, Atul, Anjali and Sunny joined them at the table and they all sat down to resume their breakfast. Sunny sat on his father's lap not letting go. He was afraid his father might leave him again.

"Sonny darling, come let me feed you the rest of your breakfast," Riddhima requested to which Sunny shook his head and hugged Armaan even more tightly.

Armaan smiled affectionately at his son and ruffled his hair.
"It's ok Riddhima. Let me feed him."

Sunny's face brightened at the thought and he eagerly ate all the morsels fed by his father. Riddhima and the rest of the family smiled in content at the happiness being returned to their family. Armaan took Sunny to school even though the little tyke did not want to go. He had just rediscovered his father. Any moment away from him only added to Sunny's insecurity. But upon Riddhima's insistence, as Sunny had a progress evaluation that day, he agreed, but only after Armaan promised that he would spend the rest of the afternoon with Sunny.

It has been 1 month since then. Life was slowly returning to normal for the Maliks. Sunita had continued with her social work and friends. Atul and Anjali were busy with the new branch of Maliks' Fashion House. Armaan had of course resumed to fulfill his responsibility at work as well as at home. He spent every free moment with Sunny. Riddhima had started going to work on her normal schedule as well. Rohan, being a family friend, had been very considerate with her
needs to adjust the schedule during the last two months. But since everything was turning out to be fine, she had returned to her responsibilities as well. In fact, she and her team had just completed a project successfully that had resulted in a raise. Riddhima was content. Everything was going great at work and home. Her relationships with all the Maliks have strengthened further after the reunion a month ago. They all considered her a big part of their lives
and involved her in all the major decisions such as menues for the meals, the changes in interior decorations, Sunny's new school, etc. It made her feel really special and valued. And in Armaan, she had found a great friend. Sometimes after dinner, Armaan and Riddhima would sit in the terrace and dicuss their lives, hopes and dreams. Riddhima would tell him about her day at work, people she worked with and her career goals whereas Armaan would share the details on
the newest project that he and Atul would be working on. Sometimes, he mentioned Nikita. About how they had met, fallen in love. About all the dreams they had woven together. Riddhima could see hidden tears when he talked about her, but he never let them fall. He mentioned how Nikita had hated tears.

And after that night, she had never seen him break down. Which is good in a way. She probably would not be able to bear seeing him so hurt again.  Even though she knew that he would never look at her as more than a friend, she had come to value the special place she had in his life. Thats why Riddhima looked forward to these moments. Moments when she had Armaan all to herself. And tonight was another such moment. Riddhima was sitting down on the big swing on the terrace with a book. This was the usual spot where she and Armaan had their 'meetings.' Dinner was over 2 hours ago. She had tucked Sunny into bed after promising to come back and sleep with him later. She waited for Armaan and as usual, he came to the terrace with two cups of steaming hot chocolate. Actually, he had brought coffee before, but since she did not like coffee, he had taken to bringing hot chocolate.

"Hi Riddhima," he smiled passing her a cup.

"Hi. Done with your work?" she said with an answering smile.

"Ya. Just read the project proposal for that new designer. I am thinking of having a meeting set up to dicuss more in detail. But we are so busy with the rest of the projects. Did Anjali tell you that she and Atul are moving to Delhi till the inaugaration. I dunno how long it will take 6 months, 1 year..hmm," he sghed and sat down on the other end of the swing.

"Yea she did. Actually she is very excited about it. This is the first time that she and Atul would be living all by themselves. She is looking forward to doing all that garelu stuff by herself. It's really funny. Before marriage, she was the kinda girl for whom her career meant a lot, she'd run away when momma mentioned any kind of house chores to her, but I think marriage has changed her," Riddhima laughed.

"Yea well. Marriage tends to have that effect on you," Armaan said and went quiet. Riddhima could tell that he was thinking about his own marriage. Then he shook his head to bring himself out of the past. "Wait till you are married. Then we'll see what you say!" he teased her.

"umm..I don't plan to get married."

"WHAT??? But why not?"

" get married, you need to fall in love. And I don't think I will ever fall in love," (again, she thought to herself).

"That's not true Riddhima. You are still very young. Your Prince charming is out there somewhere. Just be patient."

Riddhima now wished she had never started this topic. It was going on dangerous territory and not really good for her heart.

"You are a lovely girl Riddhima. You are very kind and honest. You love kids and they love you. And let me tell you, you make one hell of a friend," he smiled. "Any guy would be lucky to have you as his wife, so just wait for your knight in shining armour and don't give up" Armaan added solemnly. It was true. Armaan really believed that girls like Riddhima were the ones made for marriage. She could make any house a HOME. Just look at how she has handled everything at the Malik's Mansion for the past two months, Armaan thought to himself.

"hmm..I wonder why my knight in shining armour hasn't showed up yet. Probably because, in today's day and age of automobiles and traffic, he's still riding his horse!" she joked to change the seriousness of the situation. And as she intended, he burst out laughing. Then they moved on to less critical topics, at least in Riddhima's opinion.


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