Sunday, 4 March 2018

part 6 : Belonging (AR Mini ff)

The ride home was silent yet there was a feeling of content. They both had meant to say something after the kiss but the rain had other plans. Riddhima smiled now as she remembered her lips captured with his. It was her first kiss and she was glad it was with him. She didn't need to think of how he felt for her; the longing in the kiss had told her everything. She was so lost in that moment still that she hadn't even realized that they were already parked outside Seema Mausie's home.



"Riddhima?" Armaan took his hand back when he felt her body jerk from his touch "we are here Riddhima"



"Oh" She frowned looking at the house. She wanted to remain in the car with him, she didn't want to go home, she wished Armaan would take her somewhere far far away where it would just be the two of them. "Will I see you tomorrow Armaan?" she knew she would but confirming it with him made her feel better.




"Of course you will" He felt his heart beat faster when she opened the door to leave; he reached out and grabbed her hand forcing her to look at him. "Have lunch with me tomorrow?" He smiled when she smiled and nodded her head. He waited for her to go inside and left only when he saw the light to her room turn on.



How could she possibly sleep tonight Riddhima muttered to herself. So much was going on inside her, her head felt light and her heart had been doing flip flops since the moment Armaan had kissed her. As she lay in bed she couldn't help but smile thinking about him. He had changed so much in the past 15 years. The once naughty and impatient Armaan was suddenly so mature and patient, she blushed now and was thankful he was not around to see her. She loved both personalities of Armaan she thought now. She loved the mischievous spoilt one and now she loved the calm and mature one.



She twisted and turned and finally threw the blanket off in defiance. It was 2 am and she was no where near asleep. The moment she would shut her eyes Armaan would come and play havoc with her lips. Enough was enough she thought it was finally time that at least one of them laid their feelings out and it seemed at this point it was going to be her. Yes! she said smiling she would tell Armaan everything tomorrow, tell him how much she missed him, how much she loved him and how even now she belonged to him and him only. Planning out her confession Riddhima finally slipped into a deep slumber with a smile playing on her lips.



"Ma? Maaaaa?"



"What is it my child why are you yelling?" Gayatri stood agape watching her son throw his things hither and thither, it had for moment had given her a feeling deja vu where a 10 year old Armaan was throwing his things around in search for the bangles he had bought for Riddhima.



"MA!!!"



Gayatri was chucked out of her reverie as Armaan's annoyed voice fell upon her ears. "What's the matter son why are you creating such a ruckus?" Ignoring his irritated expressions Gayatri began collecting his things.



"Ma there was a pair of anklets sitting right there" he said pointing to the credenza through gritted teeth "now they are gone, I can't find them anywhere"



Gayatri continued her cleaning while suppressing her chuckles, just a few more minutes she thought, she could torture him for just a few minutes more. "Anklets? What anklets?" She stopped and looked straight at his face.



"Maaaaaaa!" Running a hand through his hair he tried not to blush but knew he was caught the minute he heard his mother laugh.



"Silly boy, check your closet again you'll find them" As she took a step to leave she stopped and turned to him with all seriousness "Armaan, you never asked me whether I like Riddhima or not!"



The question did not just baffle him; it also drained the color from his previously blushing face. He had never even thought of asking his mother such a question, he had involuntarily assumed that his mother loved Riddhima; just as he loved her. Did this mean that his mother had only loved Riddhima like she had loved any other child? Did this mean that his mother did not actually approve of Riddhima as his wife? He had become so perplexed with his own thoughts that he missed his mother booming laughter. He looked at the sari-clad women questioningly as she held her head and continued laughing.



"Pagal I was only joking, how could you possibly think that I would not approve of your Riddhima? I have approved of her since the time you both were children. There could be no one else for you Armaan, I knew that then and I know that now, so relax and go to bed, good heavens it'll be morning soon." With the last bit of giggles Gayatri walked out of her son's room.



Armaan let out a breath and plopped himself on the bed. God his mother was something, she had nearly scared him half to death with her spontaneity. He felt relief knowing that his mother approved, it mattered to him; it really did. His father wouldn't have approved, he was sure of that and he knew had his father been alive today he wouldn't have really cared how he felt about Riddhima, just like he didn't care now. It was unfortunate and sad that his father never tried to understand his son in the short time he had with him, but his mother understood; she had always understood. She was so very right though Armaan thought; she knew just as he did that apart from Riddhima there could be no one else for him.



Fingering the anklet he smiled as the images of Riddhima filled his head. It was time, he had to at least tell her how he felt and he had a hunch that she felt the same. Smiling he turned off the bedside lamp and drifted off to a land where there was only Riddhima; his Riddhima.



"Yes?"   



"Is this the Mallik Residence?" Gayatri looked with uncertainty at the young girl clad in a white miniskirt and tanktop; she did not approve.



"Yes it is"



"Great! Hi I am Nikita, Armaan's girlfriend!"



Putting the phone on speaker Riddhima rushed to the restroom to get ready for the lunch with Armaan. Her mother was on the line complaining about how she hadn't heard her baby's voice for the past 2 days. It was a conversation Riddhima was not interested in having, at least not at the moment. At the moment her thoughts were to preoccupied with Armaan. She was not nervous and it surprised her, maybe because she was certain he felt exactly the way she felt. Putting on the final touches of her makeup Riddhima took a deep breath before bidding her mother a hasty goodbye; something she knew her mother was not happy about with but she would worry about that later. Throwing on her duppata Riddhima dashed out of the house, no one could stop her today; she was unstoppable.



"Nikki what are you doing here?" Rather than being surprised with her abrupt visit Armaan was infuriated, she was not the person he had wanted to see today. Nikita was his ex-girlfriend and currently just a friend nothing more, nothing less. They had tried to make the relationship work because Nikita was in love with him. He however was not and that was the root of the problem. Something or rather someone would always come in between them; even if that someone was not physically present, their sensation was always around them. It didn't take Nikita long to figure that Armaan was in love with someone else, who, was her only question. He never told and she respected that. She had hope though that maybe someday Armaan would fall in love with her but that so far had not happened. To this day she had never heard him utter the magic words her ears so yearned to hear, she was disappointed yes, but the hope was still there.



As Nikita looked at him closely she could not help but notice the change in him. Having known him for the last 5 years now she had become pretty good at reading him. The Armaan that had left her a week ago was too somber with an air of gloom surrounding him day and night, the Armaan standing in front of her today was glowing with a hint of cheerfulness oh yes, even behind his current expression of irritation she could see the happiness. What was the reason for that she pondered. What had happened in a week that had caused Armaan to do a 360 degree turn? 



"Nikki? NIKKI?



"huh?"



"What are you doing here!?" It was not a question this time, rather a statement and here she expected hugs and kisses or at least a warm hello.



"I missed you Armaan" With that she was in his arms and with that Riddhima Gupta's world came crumbling down.   



She felt her heart come up to her throat and suffocate her, her feet that were floating a minute ago felt too heavy and numb as they stood still at the threshold of Armaan Malik's home.

In the hot and humid month of June, she was freezing. She dared again to look at the two people in front of her and that was when his eyes met hers. Riddhima, she saw the same lips that had been so blissfully confined with hers last night say her name and that was when she finally mustered the courage and crossed the threshold. She felt like an intruder and it was odd to have such a feeling especially when she felt she belonged in this house, more specifically belonged to him; the master, the keeper the owner of this home and of her heart. 



Nikita felt Armaan stiffen before she heard the name he had voiced, she looked up at him and found his eyes away from hers. She followed the gaze and saw a strikingly beautiful girl standing by the door. Riddhima; that must be her name, it was just like her, absolutely beautiful. But who was she? Was she the reason for Armaan's sudden change? Did Armaan know her from before? If he did how come he never mentioned her? Chucking those thoughts aside for the time being Nikita made her way towards the girl. It was time for some introductions.



"Hi" Nikita took her hand out but frowned when she felt the girls eyes still stuck on Armaan, what was going on here, it seemed like no one was happy to see her today. "I am Nikita," she said as she re-treated her hand, but the girl never spoke or even acknowledged her.



"Uh, Nikki this is Riddhima, my uh old friend" He looked uncomfortable Riddhima noticed but Nikita didn't.



Old Friend? Was that it? Was that all she was to him, a mere friend? Had she assumed wrong then? Did Armaan not feel what she felt? Closing her eyes to let the questions pass her mind Riddhima took a deep breath before finally smiling at Nikita. She had been rude; extremely rude.



"I am sorry I was just..uh..a little confused..but everything is clear now, Hi I am Riddhima"



"Riddhima beta finally you are here I was just about to call Seema" Gayatri walked in looking a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable, the sudden arrival of Nikita had perplexed her. Armaan had mentioned Nikita here and there but he had never referred to her as his girlfriend and now with his girlfriend and the women he loved in the standing in the same room, Gayatri felt suffocated. She would have to talk to Armaan, and that to soon.



Lunch was a quite ordeal completely unlike what it was supposed to be. Gayatri and Riddhima concentrated on their plates, Armaan concentrated on Riddhima and Nikita concentrated on Armaan. Something was going on between this Riddhima and Armaan, that much she was able to figure out and also the fact that Armaan's mum did not seem to fancy her too much.



Armaan stared ruefully at Riddhima's sullen face, she has got this all wrong about Nikki and him; he knew she did. He had to talk to her and explain things, to clear everything. His mother too had it wrong too he had noticed that especially now when she bore the same expressions as Riddhima.



"Armaan why are you not eating? Here eat from my hands" Nikita smiled as she placed her spoon in front of Armaan  but frowned when he declined. "What's the matter I used to feed you like this in Mumbai all the time"



The tears Riddhima had been trying to suppress threatened to spill any moment. This was all she could tolerate, she couldn't possibly cry in front of them, especially not Armaan. She was afraid she might pour her heart out in her grief. Placing her spoon gently on the plate Riddhima ran out of the house.



"RIDDHIMA!" She heard him yell her name but it was too late.



"Let her go Armaan"



Armaan turned helplessly to Gayatri who looked equally distraught by the whole situation. "Have a seat I want to talk to you and Nikita"



Riddhima stood outside Seema mausie's for what seemed like hours trying to control her sobs. She thought she was doing a good job of putting up that faade in front of Armaan but Nikita's words had been the last straw. It was over now, everything was over. Armaan had never loved her, it was just friendly affection that he felt for her and all these years she felt hopelessly bound to him for no reason. God she felt so stupid, so utterly stupid, her mother would have the last laugh now; she was right, Padma Gupta was 100% right when she told Riddhima over and over that Armaan did not love her. If only Riddhima had believed her the sudden thought of her mother made Riddhima think of Rahul and their impending marriage. It was time now, enough of this childish behavior. It was time she packed her bags and went back home. It was time she got married to Rahul. Pulling herself together one last time Riddhima made her way inside.



"I am sorry Armaan, I didn't mean.." Nikki felt foolish about her behavior towards Armaan in front of his mom and Riddhima especially now when she discovered Armaan was in love with her, or rather always had been in love with her.



"It's ok Nikki but I have to go and speak to Riddhima right now, god knows what she has made out of this"



"I'll go with you, I want to apologize and help you clear things"



"Armaan?"



"Namaste Aunty, uh, is Riddhima here" Armaan saw the worried look on Seema's face and was puzzled with why she looked so awkward with his presence, it was not the first time he was stopping by.



"Yes beta she is come in" Seema's heart raced as she moved aside to let Armaan and a girl barely dressed inside. Something was wrong, she had seen Riddhima's face when she had come in and had immediately guessed that she had cried and now with Armaan's sudden presence her suspicions had been confirmed, but did he know?



"DrGarewal?"



"Ms.NikitaMalhotra what a pleasant surprise" Rahul got up from Riddhima's side and walked over to shake Nikita's hand. "What are you doing here? And how's your ankle now?"



"Uh, it's fine thank you and I uh came to meet my friend Armaan, uh Armaan this is Dr. Garewal you remember when I broke my ankle uh he was the doctor who tended to me" Rahul smiled at Armaan as they shook hands, but Armaan looked the least bit thrilled; his thought were too preoccupied with Riddhima.



"So what are you doing here Dr.Garewal?"



"Call me Rahul please and I am actually here to receive my fianc"



"Your fianc?" It was Armaan who asked and Rahul was a bit taken back by the tone

 "Um yea my fianc Riddhima"


 simran

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