Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Part 18 : Chance Encounter

Armaan said in a barely audible whisper,

"But I don't have the ring, Riddhima!"

 Riddhima's breath stuck in her throat while her heart beat superfast. She swallowed once, twice and then uttered in a hoarse whisper,

"What?"

"I don't have the ring," Armaan repeated with the same guilty expression. He stopped the car and slapped his forehead, "Damn Riddhima, you should have reminded me!"

"I should have reminded you?" A baffled Riddhima muttered almost to herself.

"Yes, obviously. How can I propose without a ring?"



Riddhima's mouth dropped open as she gaped at Armaan while he kept cursing himself seemingly unaware of the fact that Riddhima had stopped breathing for quite sometime now. A nearly blue Riddhima finally took a deep breath and shook her head to clear her dazed brain. She twisted in her seat to face Armaan and then holding on to the dashboard for support she asked in the solemnest voice she could muster,

"Armaan, by any chance, are you proposing to me?"

Armaan waved aside her question with a nonchalant flick of his hand,

"Of course not! I am saying that I can't propose because I don't have a ring. Pay attention, will you?"

Riddhima took another long breath and forced herself to stay calm,

"Armaan, I hate to break this to you, but that's a kind of a proposal."

"No it's not!" Armaan snorted.

"Yes it is," Riddhima insisted.

"No, it isn't," Armaan shook his head and tried explaining, "I am not proposing to you. What kind of an idiot proposes in a car, like this. I am just proposing a proposal! There's a lot of difference."

Riddhima couldn't believe that what she was hearing was actually being said. It felt like one of those rounds of Chinese whisper where someone says something but when it actually reaches the final recipient it has turned into something totally different. The only difference was that Armaan wasn't whispering and whatever he was saying was being said directly to her. Very little chance of a network problem here.

"Proposing a proposal??!! What kind of a twisted, dim witted, warped comment is that?" Riddhima wondered, her temper rising in leaps and bounds. No amount of deep calming breaths helped and before she was fully aware of her own functionalities, she took her purse and with it, whacked Armaan's arm!

"You are completely insane!" She rasped and jumped out of the car banging the door behind her.



Armaan chuckled to himself on seeing Riddhima's angry face and allowed himself a couple of seconds of reflection. She looked so cute when she was angry. Her button nose turned red first, followed by her cheeks and soon enough, she resembled a tomato'a cute one at that. Armaan laughed! It was way too much fun irritating her and he looked forward to many many wonderful years of getting on her nerves,

"And also getting beaten black and blue in response," Armaan laughed rubbing his arm which Riddhima had hit. He was brought back to reality when he heard an empty can being kicked....hard...and decided it was time he tried getting Riddhima's temperature back to normal.

"It was a lot of fun infuriating her," Armaan muttered to himself grinning, "Now bear the brunt!"



Riddhima took out all her frustration on an empty can of coke lying on the road and kicked it hard. Watching the can go scuttling towards one of the hedges, she mumbled to herself,

"Proposing a proposal," she mimicked, "What does he think of himself? The mean, horrible, raving lunatic!"

She had by then reached an empty ice cream cup and she kicked that too. Thank God for garbage on the road..it often saved people's lives.....atleast a certain Mr.Mallik's this time around.

"Nice shot!"

Riddhima's anger scaled new heights on hearing Armaan's comment, but Armaan wasn't done, yet.

"A little practice with the dribbling and you'll be perfect for international football," he added with a smirk.

This time the ice cream cup near Riddhima's feet wasn't lucky enough to be just kicked. She stamped on it, crushing it beneath her feet and then jumped on it a couple of times for greater effect.



Armaan winced at the fate of the cup but couldn't stop the huge grin that spread across his face.

"She is already furious with you and you are still irritating her?" Armaan berated himself mentally, "Stop before she snaps your puny neck into two!"

Armaan chuckled for the last time and proceeded to remedy the situation.

"Riddhima," he called.

Riddhima didn't seem to hear, she was too busy fidgeting with her purse. Armaan sighed and tried again,

"Riddhima."

Riddhima walked away a couple of steps further, purposely ignoring him, and picking up a flower proceeded to tear it in bits. Armaan ran his hand through his hair smiling and then stated simply,

"Riddhima, I love you!"



Riddhima stopped in her tracks as if she'd hit an invisible wall. The flower slipped from her limp fingers as she felt her heart beat doubling and in quite a contradictory manner, the time coming to a standstill. She was acutely aware of every breath she took and the silence seemed like eternity while she waited for Armaan to break the spell, willing him to release her from the hold his words had on her, but Armaan tormented her with his silence. He didn't provide any reasons or any justifications to his statement, as if him loving her was as natural and as certain as the sun rising every morning. No questions, no doubts about that.....it is just meant to happen.

"Riddhima," Armaan finally whispered near her ear and Riddhima let out a breath she wasn't aware of holding.

"Riddhima, I love you. I don't know what else to say. I don't know if there are any words that can measure up to express what I feel for you. All I know is that when you are with me, everything seems perfect. It feels that not everything is wrong with the world, that there is a silver lining in every dark cloud."

Armaan paused to look at Riddhima who was still not looking at him. He smiled,

"I know I am not making much sense Riddhima, but that is exactly how I feel. Ever since I met you that day in the hospital, I feel I am not alone anymore. I feel there is someone whom I can share my life with, someone who does not judge me, someone who accepts me as I am. Someone who does not hang out with me because I am Armaan Mallik, but spends time with the real Armaan. Riddhima you have become a very important part of my life and I want to be a part of yours. I want to spend every day with you, laugh through tears, cry with laughter with you beside me. I want to know what makes you happy, what excites you, what makes you smile and what makes you frown. I want to know every little detail about you, no matter how inconsequential. Riddhima, I want to travel the world with you, grow old with you. I want to spend my life with you Riddhima. I ..." Armaan sighed, "Riddhima please say something."

When Riddhima still didn't turn to look at him, Armaan put his hand on her shoulders and turned her around slowly. He was shocked to see tears streaming down her cheeks and something in his chest, very near where his heart ought to be, ached painfully. He cupped Riddhima's face in his palms and tipped her chin up with his knuckles.

"Riddhima I am sorry," he said wiping her tears, "Please don't cry."

Riddhima wiped the rest of her tears with the back of her hand and shook her head trying to reassure Armaan that she wasn't crying. Armaan however wasn't assured. He looked earnestly into Riddhima's eyes trying to gauge her emotions and whispered,

"Riddhima please.....please say something."

Riddhima looked into his concerned eyes and the love shining through in them caught her off guard. She ignored her thumping heart and letting out a sigh she finally whispered,

"You had me at 'nice shot'!"

Armaan gaped. It took a while for it to sink in that Riddhima was actually improvising and quoting a movie dialogue. He still seemed unsure of how to react until he noticed a shy smile curving her lips and her eyes shining through her tears. He caught the mischievous glint in them that he loved so much and slowly his face broke into a huge grin. He touched his forehead with hers and laughed,

"Jerry Maguire. I can't believe you are using a dialogue from Jerry Maguire, here, now. Can you get anymore filmy?"

Riddhima smiled, nodded as an affirmative and looked up at Armaan. Before he could question her declaration, she stood on tiptoes and brushed her lips lightly with his in a feather light kiss. As Armaan stood dazed she whispered against his lips, "I love you too," and then just as swiftly pulled him into a hug hiding her face in his chest.

Armaan's smile became wider and he was soon grinning like a Cheshire cat. His arms slowly curled up behind her, pulling her closer into a warm hug.

He kissed the top of her head and chuckled,

"Remind me later to tell you how much I adore the filmy Riddhima!"

Armaan could feel Riddhima laugh in his arms and he felt strangely at peace. He parted a little from Riddhima and looked into her laughing eyes, and then bent down to claim her lips into a kiss. No more a mere brushing of lips but now a real kiss that expressed as well as fulfilled desires. It started as a gentle kiss but soon warmed into a passionate one, expressing their feelings more than words ever could.



Riddhima frowned and parted from the kiss when she felt a cold drop of water on her forehead. She opened her eyes uncertainly and gazed into a pair of hazel eyes mirroring the same confusion. Before either of them could voice their confusion, Riddhima again felt a drop of water, this time on her cheeks and both of them looked up into the sky to be greeted by the season's first showers! As it started drizzling, a slow unbidden smile appeared on Riddhima's face and she looked at Armaan who smiled back at her.

"One tidbit of information for you," Riddhima smiled, "I love the rain."

"And I love you!" Armaan grinned before swooping down to kiss her again.



                                   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Riddhima giggled like a 5 year old as Armaan finally dragged her into the car. It was pouring outside and they were drenched to their skins. Armaan wrapped his jacket around her shivering shoulders and fixed her seat belt. He kissed her cheek one last time before starting the car. Riddhima had rolled down her window and had her hand stretched outside playing with the raindrops while her other hand was clamped securely in Armaan's. Armaan watched her childish enthusiasm with a smile and then pouted,

"Riddhima, in case you've forgotten, I am sitting right here. I think I can be a little more interesting than the rain."

"Awww," Riddhima grinned and then splashed water on Armaan, "Jealous?"

"Riddhima!" Armaan tried to look angry but failed miserably.

"Armaan!" Riddhima countered.

Armaan laughed and shook his head and then lifted her hand to his lips,

"And I thought you said I was insane!"

"You are," Riddhima laughed, "And added to that, now you have lost your way around Mumbai."

"What?"

"Armaan, this is not the way back home. You've taken the wrong road!"

"So much faith you have in me, Riddhima," Armaan smirked, "But to put your worries to rest, I am not taking you home."

Riddhima frowned, "Armaan, where are you taking me. I am not going anywhere looking like this."

Armaan laughed, "Relax, I am taking you to my place. There you don't need to impress Mohan Bhaiyya and I am already impressed with you."

"Why?"

"Well, because you are smart, witty, beautiful..."

"Why are you taking me to your house?" Riddhima said interrupting his recounting of her virtues.

"Because my house is nearer and you are cold! I am not letting my brand new girl friend catch pneumonia!"

"But.."

"No buts! My house is just a couple of minutes from here and to get to your place in this rain, water logging and traffic jam, it is going to take us another 45 minutes. So for once, break out of your I-can-take-care-of-myself attitude and listen to me, please," he added, shutting off Riddhima's protests at once.

"Fine," Riddhima gave up and slumped back into her seat frowning.

Armaan smiled at her reaction and whispered, "I love you!"

Riddhima tried her best to keep the facade of anger but it proved impossible and she smiled.

"Armaan, I....atichoo," Riddhima sneezed.

"Bless you!" Armaan smiled, "Don't worry, we'll be home soon."





 As Armaan drove into his driveway, Riddhima was into one of her bouts of sneezes.

"Riddhima are you all right?" Armaan asked concerned.

Riddhima nodded, rubbing her already red nose and breaking into another round of sneezing.

"Riddhima," Armaan stopped the car near the gate as Mohan bhaiyya came out carrying an umbrella, "Let's get you dried up, before you catch a cold."

Riddhima nodded in between a couple of sneezes and followed Armaan into the house.

"Hello....atichoo....Mohan Bhaiyya....I..atichoo.."

"Hello Dr. Didiji."

"Pleasantries later," Armaan interrupted, "Mohan bhaiyya could you make us two cups of coffee please. Riddhima come with me."

As Armaan led her up the stairs, Riddhima smiled at him affectionately,

"Thanks Armaan...atichoo.....I .."

"Riddhima, here take this," Armaan interrupted, thrusting a gift wrapped package in her hand."

"What's this?" Riddhima asked.

"What do you think?"

"Can't be a ring," Riddhima teased, grinning and then sneezed again, the loudest yet.

Armaan grinned and shook his head. She surely had to be one of a kind. Here she was sneezing one to a dozen but still couldn't keep her sense of humour at bay.

"Very observant, Riddhima. Not a ring....open it and see. I thought of it as a gift but now it has become a necessity. Go and change before your cold gets worse. Go," Armaan urged as he opened the guest room for her. "Come downstairs when you are done, I'll have coffee ready."



Riddhima walked into the room and tore open the package. It revealed a beautiful sea-green churidar with white embroidery. She smiled and whispered to herself,

"Armaan....atichoo!"

"Bless you!" Armaan hollered from across the hall making Riddhima smile wide and run into the washroom to finally change out of her wet clothes.



Armaan got changed and came downstairs smiling from ear to ear. Riddhima hadn't come down yet, so Armaan settled on the sofa pouring himself a cup of coffee. He replayed the past few hours in his mind and he didn't know when he had been more happy. He touched his lips with his finger remembering their kiss and grinned.

"Riddhima," he whispered, "You complete me!"

He reviewed his statement and started laughing, "Now who is being filmy?"

"Atichho!"

Armaan stopped day dreaming and turned around to find Riddhima standing at the top of the stairs. She was wearing the churidaar he had bought for her with her slightly wet hair left open and he couldn't look away. She looked beautiful, even with her red nose and watery eyes she had to be one of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He was still lost in his reverie when Riddhima snapped her fingers in front of him to get his attention,

"Hi, Armaan!"

Armaan shook his head to put aside amorous thoughts and grinned,

"Hi, Rudolf!"

"Armaan!" Riddhima warned, followed by a sneeze, "Where's my coffee?"

Armaan laughed and poured her a cup, "Here you go, with warm wishes from Santa!"

Riddhima narrowed her eyes and took the cup. She took a sip of the hot coffee and smiled mischievously,

"Thanks Santa."

Armaan smirked, "Fine, you win this round. I accept defeat."

"Make it a habit," Riddhima smiled and then suddenly thrust the cup of coffee into Armaan's hand to stop it from spilling and sneezed again, "Atichoo."

"Riddhima," Armaan said softly handing her back the cup of coffee, "Have this, it will help."

Riddhima smiled at him gratefully and took a sip of her coffee. Armaan returned the smile and then reached up to caress her cheek lovingly. As soon as he touched her cheek, however, the smile was replaced by a frown.

"Riddhima, you are warm."

"That's a new compliment," Riddhima laughed, "I guess, 'you are hot' or 'you are cool' have been done to death. It's time they got replaced."

"Ha ha, very funny, but I am not kidding Riddhima, I think you have fever," Armaan said touching her forehead.

"No I don't!" Riddhima rubbished the diagnosis.

"Yes you do!"

"No I don't, and I am the doc....," Riddhima stopped what she was saying when she found Armaan glowering at her. She quailed under his stern gaze and touched her own forehead and neck,

"Okay, maybe I have a little bit of fever, but just a little bit."

"You think?" Armaan asked sarcastically, "Miss I-am-the-doctor! Now shut up and drink up all the coffee. I'll ask Mohan Bhaiyya to serve dinner. After that you'll have your medicine and go to sleep like a good girl. I'll have the bed in the guest room made. And I don't want any arguments," Armaan added when Riddhima opened her mouth to protest.

"Armaan.."

"Ssshh.."

"Armaan, Nikki.."

"What about her?"

"She'll blow her top if I don't get home. I can't stay here."

"Yes you can. Just call her up and tell her. And anyways, I am not risking your life or mine driving in this weather. So you are staying here for the night and here's the phone."

"Armaan.."

"Mohan Bhaiyya," Armaan shouted, completely ignoring her and moved towards the kitchen.

Riddhima stood there, glaring at Armaan's retreating back and made a face. However, the smile returned soon enough along with the sneezing. She rubbed her nose for the umpteenth time that evening and proceeded to call Nikki.



                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Armaan returned to the living room to find Riddhima frowning with her hands clasped beneath her chin.

"Riddhima, what's wrong?"

"Men are dogs and they should be packed off and sent to hell!"

Armaan raised both his eyebrows,

"Okay, but you know what, coming from the love of my life, that really hurts!"

Riddhima made a face at his pained expression and explained,

"Nikki said that. I wonder what's up with her."

"Ooooh, Abhi screwed up," Armaan laughed, "Maybe he brought her yellow roses when she specifically wanted pink!"

"Armaan!" Riddhima reprimanded, "That's not fair."

"What? I am speaking from experience. My ex-girlfriend...," Armaan stopped midway when he saw the expression on Riddhima's face, "Okay, wrong topic!"

"No, I am interested, carry on," Riddhima muttered, eyes narrowed, lips drawn.

"He he," Armaan grinned sheepishly, "I was just kidding. You know, shock therapy? See, I shocked you and you stopped sneezing."

Riddhima was ready to tick off  Armaan, but it ended with a loud sneeze.

Armaan laughed,

"And we are back!"



                                           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

   okay guys here's part 18! wanted this part to be romantic and all but in my present state of mind I'd probably be better fit to write a horror story or at most a gory murder mystery, rom-com seems to be the hardest to pen down. i had initially wanted to write a longer part but i realised at the rate at i was going, that would be next month! So here's whatever i've managed to write in between filling up forms! I think i have filled in a million forms in the past few weeks...i was even reciting my CV in my sleep( my brother informed me with a kick!) and i think i have melted down a couple of inches in this sweltering heat. Okay, enough...don't want to bore u guys anymore. I'd just say sorry for not replying to any of your comments..will try to do it ASAP. Have fun.

love you loads,
  mia

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