Saturday, 19 June 2021

part 8 : Forbidden Love

1 year later

"Riddhima!!! Where is my shirt????? Riddhima!!!!"

"RIDDHI!! RIDDHI!!! I can't find my favourite socks!!!!!!"

She smiled as she heard the shouts from the two favourite men in her life.

"They have turned absolutely brattish!! It's all your fault Riddhima. You have spoiled them both," Sunita teased as she put more icing on the cake. They were both in the kitchen, getting the trasnformers cake ready. It was Sunny's birthday and she had wanted to make this one very special. Last year, no birthday was celebrated for the little guy. And he had not cribbed about it either. He had probably understood the state that everyone had gone through last year and



realized that a birthday celebration wasn't on the top of the family's list. But this year, she had decided to give him a party to remember, making up for last year and this year. Everyone had gathered together to join in the happy occasion. Anjali and Atul had flown back from Delhi for the party. Their work was almost done and the inaugaration was around the corner. Padma and shashank had come as well bearing lots and lots of gifts for Sunny. Armaan had hired an event planning firm and a catering company to help  Riddhima out. But for the cake, Sunny had wanted his grandmother to make it. That will be her present for him, he'd said. And it has to be a transformer's cake. That is his latest obsession. Everything around him has to have some sort of connection to it. Not surprisingly, the theme for the party was transformers as well. In fact, the favourite socks that he's demanding at the moment were transformers socks that she'd gotten him last week.

"Riddhima!!!!", "RIDDHI!!!" rang the impatient voices.

"Go beta. Go see what they want. Otherwise no one will get anything done. I'll take care of everything here," Sunita instructed.

"Ok Mommiji."

She left the kitchen reflecting on the past year. It really has been a memorable one. Atul and Anjali had moved to Delhi and were enjoying living there. In fact they might even make it a permanent residence if the Malik's fashion House picks up good business. Sunita had started a new women's charity that helped the abused and the helpless. The stories Sunita tells about the women who comes for shelter at the charity are heart wrenching. It makes her be thankful that she has found a loving cocoon for herself. Sunny and her relationship is as strong as ever. She really considers him to be her son. Whatever she does, wherever she goes, she'd always think of him. Would Sunny like this. Maybe I should take Sunny with me. That child has become a reason for her living. And he shows her the same love and devotion that she feels for him. He knows that whenever he needs her, whatever problem he'll be in, she will always be by his side. And as for his father, Riddhima is very happy with the relationship that she shares with Armaan. She had never stopped loving him. But since she had, long before, given up on expecting his love, it was very easy to accept his friendship and respect. They had become best friends. And he depended on her, just like his son, to solve his problems for him. At least the domestic ones. And as she really enjoyed doing things for him, he never gave a second thought about the effect he had on her.

She knocked on Armaan's door when she reached his room.

"Come in!"

She went in side with a smile to see Armaan ravaging his closet turning it upside down. "Armaan what are you doing?"

"Riddhima. I can't find my red shirt. You know the one I bought last month. I wanted to wear it for the party with the black suit. But I don't know where it is. I looked EVERYWHERE!" Armaan pouted. Aww..he looks so adorable. And just like his son, she grinned.

"Armaan you are such a baby. If you had just asked me instead of messing your closet up, i would have told you. I gave that shirt for laundry, it had a stain. Wine I think."

"But now what do I wear?" he asked with a baby face. Boy. He never makes it easy.

"LOL.. Armaan, you are even worse than your son. Here let me see." She moves to the closet and examines what's left of it. She chooses a black shirt. "hmm.. wear this shirt with the suit. And no tie since this party is not that formal. What do you think?"

"Yeah perfect!" Armaan says relieved. "You are the best. Thanks Riddhima" He gives her a side hug and her heart skips a beat. Gosh, will it always be like that. Friend or not, whenever he'd get close, even unintentionally, her heart rate sped up and jumped all over the place!

"hahaha Armaan, for such a big guy in fashion, you are clueless when it comes to choosing your own clothes." she said hiding her reaction.

"That's why I have you!" Armaan joked and she laughed along with him.

"Ok, now lemme go see what your adorable son wants," Riddhima shakes her head and walks out of the room towards Sunny's. And if she knows the men in her life, Sunny's room would be in a similar state as Armaan's. She could bet on that.

"Sunny what have you done to the room???" she exclaimed as she opened the door to Sunny's room. She had expected a mess, but never in this magnitude!

"Oh your closet! the bed..and the TOY BOX??? Why would your socks be in your TOY BOX darling?? she asked reaching to where he was standing near the bed.

"Go away Riddhi. I am mad at you."

"But why? What did I do?"

"You always go do what papa wants before you come to me. That means you don't love me as much as you love papa" Sunny pouted. oh God..this father and son. Both are such babies. She smiled.

"That's not true baby. You know I love both you and your papa a LOT! But he's the older one right? Even older than me. Remember what I told you that time. You always have to listen to your elders. That's why I go do what he wants first. OK?" she said. He nods his head to indicate his understanding. Then she and Sunny looked for his socks together, which were in his bathroom. What clean socks were doing there, she could only imagine. Afterwards, Riddhima helped Sunny put on his transformers body suit. She and Armaan had gone to numerous number of shops to find the perfect suit but in the end, he had to order it from overseas. It cost a small fortune but that was nothing compared to a father's love. Finally he was ready and Riddhima went on to change herself after giving strict instructions for Sunny to remain in his room. She could just imagine the havoc he'd cause if he was released into the decorated hall without supervision.

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"Sunny have you seen Riddhima?" Armaan asked entering his son's room ( dressed in this- http://www.essentialstyleformen.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Hugh-Jackman-Black-Suit1.jpg). If Riddhima had been surprised at the state of Sunny's room when she had entered, Armaan was shocked! Unlike Riddhima, he had not expected a mess, only the spic n clean bedroom of his son. "Dude, whatever happened to your room?"

"Nothing papa. I was just looking for my socks. And Riddhi went to change. And she told me I can't go outside before she comes back!" Sunny pouted, putting down to toy that he was playing with. Then he went and hugged his father's leg, trying his luck. "Papa, can I go downstairs now? She is taking FOREVER!"

"What did we say about lying Sunny?", they heard a tinkling voice. Sunny and Armaan both turned around to see a stunning Riddhima dressed in red.(http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/3/2/2/7/6/4/webimg/78900599_tp.jpg)

"OK, now close your mouths and tell me how do I look?" she giggled at the still stunned faces.

"Wow Riddhi, you look just like an angel!" For Sunny, this is the biggest compliment he can give. She smiled and walked forward to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"I have to agree with him Riddhima. You look gorgeous. I bet all the guys downstairs will be falling all over themselves to be around you. You really should get married Riddhima. Its not good for the hearts of the guys to have you wandering around so freely" he teased. Even though in the beginning whenever he had mentioned marriage to her, she had become tensed, now she had become used to marriage jokes from him. She knew that he did not mean them seriously. Riddhima knew for a fact that he had not even thought about how their lives would be without her. Whenever he talked about the future, or made plans, she was always included. Therefore, she took the comment as it was given. A compliment.

"Thanks Armaan. So, shall we go downstairs now?"
Sunny stepped forward and took both their hands in his. And together, they walked out of the room. At the top of the stairs, they all waited for everyone to turn and pay attention to them. The party was in full swing with all the invited guests present. The only thing that was missing, the guest of honour, deserved a grand entrance. At Armaan'signal, the DJ played the happy birthday song's music and all the guests turned towards the stairs and clapped as Sunny, Armaan and Riddhima descended down the stairs. She would probabaly never say this out loud, but in that moment, she had dreamt of how it would be if she was married to Armaan and Sunny was their son. That unreachable dream, she lived at that moment. Everyone gave their best wishes to Sunny with lots of hugs and kisses. They walked their way through all the guests. Sunny had invited his school friends who were gathered at one end where a pseudo transformers playground was set up. Armaan and Riddhima left him to play with them while they moved to other guests. She met up with Sunita, Anjali and Padma.

"Mommiji, is the cake all done? I did not even get a chance to take a look at it. The Malik men are just too much." Riddhima complained.

"Tell me about it Ridz. Atul took like 2 hours to get ready for the party. And its not even HIS birthday!" Anjali joined in. They all laughed.

"You look very beautiful Riddhima beta," Padma said and everyone agreed.

"Thanks momma. I love your saree too. Momma, just wait. I have to go see if everything is alright in the kitchen." Riddhima said and left for the ktichen with Anjali.

"Riddhima is a lovely girl. She has done so much for our family," Sunita said looking at their retreating figures. "Whichever house she would marry into, she'll be the life of that house. You have brought up both your daughter very well Padma. Waise, have you thought about Riddhima's marriage?"

"Yea. We were thinking the same, Shashank and me. It is time to get her married"

"Do you have any boy in your mind?"

"Actually, there is the son of one of my very good friends. Rahul. He had been in USA completing his MBA. His parents are looking for a bride for him. They asked me about Riddhima. But I have to talk to her first before telling them anything."

Hearing this, Sunita quelled the tiny hope that had sprung up when she had seen Armaan, Riddhima and Sunny walking down the stairs together hand in hand. She nodded in response and then they moved on to other mundane topics.

"OK EVERYONE, it's time for the cake," Riddhima announced after wheeling in the cake. Sunny came running to her side dragging Armaan with him. Everyone gathered around them to sing.

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Sunny
Happy birthday to you!

Sunny blew out all the candles and made a wish. Then Armaan, Riddhima together with Sunny cut the cake. Riddhima made them cut a second piece when they went to put down the knife. She made Sunny take the second piece out and feed everyone. While Sunny was giving everyone cake, she took the first piece out and put it on a separate plate. After the guests dispered to continue their entertainment, she took Sunny and the cake plate to Where Nikita's picture hung. There was a pedestal where some puja items were kept.

"Sunny beta, take blessings from your mom again." she instructed. Actually she had taught Sunny to worship and take blessings from Nikita's picture every morning, which he had done this morning. But birthday's are special occasions. Sunny did as she instructed.

"Here. Offer this cake to her darling. She has the right to the first piece. Always remember that." Sunny put the plate on the pedestal. Riddhima picked Sunny up in her arms and he leaned towards Nikita's picture to kiss it. Then Riddhima gave him his birthday present. It was a locket with Nikita and Sunny's picture inside.  She never wanted for him to forget what a wonderful mother she was.

"I missed you today momma. But Riddhi is very nice. She gave me this party. Ok..now I am going to go and play now. Bye momma," he said and ran away as soon as Riddhima put him down. Riddhima wiped away a tear looking at Nikita's picture. No matter where life takes them, Riddhima would always remember this special woman. And she knew, even though the Maliks did not talk openly about missing her, in fear of hurting each other's feelings, they always missed her. Always wished for the time when she was in their lives. Especially Armaan. She walked away after taking a last look at the picture and missed seeing a figure looking at her actions and wiping a tear of his own.

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A couple of days had passed since Sunny's birthday. As she had expected, it had been a blast. Everyone enjoyed the party, especially the kids. Riddhima had felt she had been forgiven for not celebrating Sunny's birthday last year. Sunny is still very ecstatic about how it all turned out. Everyday he came back from school with a story about how ANOTHER friend had said his birthday party was the best.

Anyways, all that aside, today she was on another mission. She quickened her pace to reach Armaan's study and knocked on the door.
"Come in!"

Riddhima went inside to see Armaan scribbling away on paper, checking some files once in a while.

"Armaan, can we talk?"

"Yea Riddhima, What's up?" he said without looking up and continuing his work.

"Armaan, I think we should have a memorial puja for Nikita."

Just when that came out of her mouth, Armaan stopped writing and looked up at her with an indescribable emotion.

Hiranya

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