Tuesday, 9 July 2019

part 25 : The Green Blue Hues

"Fully loaded you are, as always." Riddhima whipped around to see Armaan grinning widely at her, eyeing her plate full of delicacies that she had readily filled for herself. Riddhima narrowed her eyes at him and he grinned even more.

"Seriously Ragz, the amount of food you eat....I have always wondered, if your metabolism wasn't as fast as you say it to be, you would look a splitting image of Mrs. Reddy," Armaan chuckled as Riddhima's eyes widened in horror at the thought of being compared to their neighbor in London, who happened to be so unexplainably fat that she wouldn't fit into their double-seater sofa at their place.

"Oh pleaaaase Armaan....i don't eat THAT much...and by the way mister, where are your manners? You are not supposed to peek into other people's plates," Riddhima quipped back at him, and Armaan raised an eyebrow.



"Aaah...I see, now we are being all moralistic and talking about manners....which is kind of surprising missy, cuz i distinctly remember someone coming up with the plan to push off all the people from the bride's side off the dance floor...and then also being the first one to do so..." Riddhima turned a light shade of pink at the embarrassing act that had insinuated when all of them from the groom's side had barged onto the dance floor in the midst of a well-prepared dance by the bride's side and had literally pushed them off the floor, taking over the dance floor themselves. It had all been done in good humor and no one had taken offence, but of course, Armaan wouldn't let her off the hook before rubbing it in her face. Of course, it had been her idea.

The sangeet was turning out to be better than either party had anticipated; for actions and their consequent reactions were beyond expected. While Armaan was leaving no stone unturned to make Riddhima smile, laugh and have a good time, Riddhima was reciprocating with full zest. Initially, she had been confused with the sudden change of his attitude, for she had been expecting a cold, unresponsive behavior from him due to the argument earlier in the day, but he was being completely normal. In fact, all his teasing and making fun of her and the constant nagging reminded Riddhima of the Armaan she had known, but who had seemed to disappear since she had arrived in India. Sorely missed as the companionship was, Riddhima was more than happy to have Armaan back to his usual form and after a few uneasy moments in the beginning, she had decided to leave the questions arising in her mind to be handled later and to just have a good time.

Now, she just rolled her eyes back at him and looked down to her untouched plate of food, which, now that she noticed, she had filled up more than required. Maybe it was more than she would actually eat, she wasn't that hungry.

"No sweetheart....dont think along those lines....You can eat all that you want, i wont tell anyone...about your eating disorders, " Armaan chuckled again and Riddhima gave him a disgusted look.

"Armaan, your sense of humor is deteriorating at a fast pace...do something about it," she replied, as she took a spoonful of rice.

"Awwww....someone's offended....dont worry honey, its a secret between us...."he assured her, putting an arm around her casually.

"Get your dirty eyes off my plate Armaan...um gonna eat as much as I want to...so you.," She replied, jabbing at his chest with ehr finger, "just bugger off."

Armaan laughed at her irritation, and then replied earnestly, "Trust me...you dont want me to go."

"Dont bloat your ego already, um better off without you." Riddhima replied, while taking another bite.

Armaan looked at her, straight into her eyes, and spoke solemnly, surprisingly serious for the moment. "Are you?"

Riddhima stopped midway in putting another spoonful in her mouth and looked back at him, her green eyes staring back at his blue ones, and for some unknown reason to both of them, they were lost for a moment doing just that, looking into each other's eyes, before they were interrupted by a deliberate cough.

Turning around, they saw Nikki standing there, a smile plastered on her face. "Ummm...um sorry to interrupt you guys, but Armaan...Riddhima....they are calling you over, your parents...."

Armaan nodded back at her distractedly as she turned to go away, and Riddhima turned around, pinching him on his arm earnestly.

"Owwww...Ragz, that hurts!! Keep your long talons to yourself..." Armaan scowled, rubbing his arm slightly.

Riddhima rolled her eyes, and putting the plate aside, looked at Armaan with a raised eyebrow. "What the hell was that about?"

"What...? Nikki....? Oh, she presumed we were having an eyelock session, " Armaan replied, and wanted to add, "which we most definitely were, " but refrained himself from saying so.

"Idiot, um not talking about Nikki. Why are your parents calling us?", Riddhima asked, slightly worried.

"The last time I checked Ragz, I wasnt a forecast teller.....how the hell am i supposed to know." Armaan replied back, irritated for some reason he was unaware of, since the time Nikki had dutifully interrupted their moment.

"Alright...get off my back already...and stop snapping." Riddhima scowled at him, and he sighed deeply, then putting his hands up, he replied, "Um sorry....um just...getting a little...cranky..."

"And hormonal." Riddhima quipped back at him, stifling a laugh as Armaan looked at her shocked.

"NO!!! Um not...um definitely...not...not getting hormonal...sheesh, Ragz..." Armaan blabbered on, embarassed at her implication.

Riddhima laughed and ruffling his hair, spoke affectionately, "I was just fooling around with ya, kid...dont get so worked up...come on, lets go..."

As she took hold of his arm and pulled him behind her, Armaan followed dutifully, while pouting cutely and saying in a low tone, "Dont call me a kid."

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"Ladies and gentlemen...thank you so much, aaj yahan aanay ke liye...jaisa ke aap sab jante hain...aj humare bete Shubhankar aur Keerti ki sangeet ceremony hai...aur..."

As Armaan's uncle carried on with his long speech, Riddhima took a side-glance at Armaan, who was standing next to her and listening attentively to every word that was being said. Her mind was a jumble of thoughts at the moment, for she couldnt understand for her life why Armaan was acting so normally. Usually, he would take some time before getting back to normal after an arguement, and especially after one as adamant as the latest one. He had been perfectly himself with her today, and she had been yet more surprised by the way his parents had acted with her. Did that mean that he hadn't told them the truth? If so, then why not? What had stopped him from doing something he had wanted to do so badly?

Armaan noticed Riddhima eyeing him and he turned his head at the spur of a moment, when Riddhima was caught totally unawares. He cocked one of his eyebrows, questioning the rather worried and confused look that adorned her face. She blushed a light pink at having been caught staring at him, and shook her head in response to his question. Armaan gave her a warm side-smile and took hold of her hand for a mere second, squeezing it reassuringly and then let his fingers stay intermingled with her, his attention once again focused on to the speech his uncle was delivering.

Muskaan and Rahul stood in the crowd, and the slight interaction between their friends had not gone unnoticed by either of them. Muskaan looked at Rahul and nudged him slightly, he looked over at her and both of them shared a conspirational look, as if it was because of them that the whole procession was going on. Rahul smiled at Muskaan and lightly threw an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer to him. Maybe it would take sooner than he thought for them to realize what was the truth.

Armaan, though seemingly was focused on what his uncle was saying, was lost in thought about how to break the news to Riddhima. He knew she was confused by his behavior and he was answerable to her, but he was waiting for the right moment to tell her. And the whole evening had been a mixture of so much fun, on the lines of what they used to have before the whole marriage fiasco had arisen, that he hadn't been able to bring himself to tell her yet, to even mention the arguement they had had earlier. He knew she would perhaps be overjoiced with the fact that he had given in to her line of the arguement, but he just wasn't in the mood to even mention the arguement yet.

".......Armaan aur Riddhima ki shadi bhi ussi mandap main kar di jayegi...."

They both looked up at once, startled, jostled out of their thoughts at the mention of their names. Both of them turned to look at each other simultaneously; both pairs of eyes displayed shock. While Armaan was shocked at the suddenness of the announcement, for he had not been expecting them to announce it so soon to everyone; Riddhima was shocked at realizing that Armaan had indeed not told his parents. They both looked on into each other's eyes, trying to find answers, trying to explain. Green met blue, and their was a moment when everyhting else around them was forgotten; the breaking applause, the booming hoots from his cousins, the sudden clapping. Everything seemed to disappear as they looked on into each otehr's eyes, trying to find a way out of this situatiion, to become aware of what both of them knew not.

They came back to the world when Armaan was clapped heartily on his back by his father and Riddhima was embraced by a clearly teary-eyed-with-happiness Padma. They both tried to catch the other's eye again, tried to rebuild the connection they had shared a moment ago, where one's eyes were the mirror image of exactly what the other was facing. Armaan tried to clear her misunderstanding, the clear confusion and doubt that was evident in her eyes as she smiled back hesitantly, distractedly, at something Divya was saying to her, while her eyes still rested upon her. He couldn't do much more than just blink his eyes reassuringly at her, once, and then as if she was convinced by his silent plea to explain everything later, she finally looked away.

"Armaan, what are you doing standing there all alone? Come here!!". Armaan was brought out of his reverie by his mother, who was beckoning him over to where the whole gang was standing. He smiled platonically and walked over to where his mom, Rahul, Muskaan, Nikki and Riddhima stood. As he stood next to them, Rahul clapped him on his back with a huge grin on his face.

"So, finally getting married, huh?" Armaan was amazingly surprised at the tone Rahul took to deliver his statement, which was a bursting with happiness and a tinge of mischief tone, and even more by what he had said. Gaping at him, Armaan stood speechless there, not knowing how to answer his unlike-a-question question. Riddhima sensed the mischief Rahul was upto, and with a sugar-coated sickingly sweet voice, she replied, with her arm link with Armaan's chummily, "What do you mean, finally getting married, Rahul? We ARE married, aren't we, honey?", she finished looking up at Armaan with a huge smile on her face.

If Armaan was surprised with what Rahul had said earlier, he was taken by utmost disbelief with which Riddhima was acting in front of his mom. Not only had she linked her arm with his in perfect negligence to seek his approval of it, she now had her head safely landed on his shoulder, while her other hand caressed his sherwani affectionately. Armaan looked down at Riddhima, who was looking at Rahul with a challenging look and an absolutely pretentious smile on her face, and he had an uncontrollabe urge to laugh. God, this woman was crazy, and he loved her craziness more than anything. With a small smile on his face, he looked down at her and nodded lightly.

Not missing out on the way Riddhima had played cover over Armaan's clear surprise at what he had said, Rahul rolled his tongue in his mouth cheekily, and replied, "Yes honey, you guys ARE married, but not in the proper traditional way. Didn't you always wish for the perfect Indian wedding, Riddhima? I remember you telling us how you loveeeddd the smell of the henna, and how you simply adored all the traditions that are followed....right, Muskaan?" Rahul finished, passing a victorious smile to Riddhima, who stood speechless at her spot as he hit the jackpot. No one was more aware of Riddhma's despise to the smell of henna, she was almost allergic to it. And she would always prefer to get married in a court, if ever she did, rather than have a grand Indian traditional wedding with innumerable guests she wouldnt' even know and a hell lot of heavy jewelery to wear.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, a huge smile adorned Padma's face as she jumped into the conversation. "Really? Is that true, Riddhima beta? If it is...then we will definitely have ALL the traditions followed...its not everyday you get married, right?" and with a pat on her head, Padma scooted off to somewhere else she was being beckoned too.

Riddhima turned to look at Rahul with daggers in her eyes, and the latter totally refused to meet her eye as he busied himself in conversation with Muskaan and Nikki.

"Its not everyday you get married....by the look of it, we will be getting married pretty much every day!!" Riddhima turned to look at Armaan, who was grinning cheekily at her.

"Dont. Grin. At. Me. Like. That." Riddhima pointed her finger at him, uttering each word with almost lividity.

Armaan's smile widened at this, and he leant forward and took hold of Riddhima's hands and turned them towards himself, the palms facing him. Riddhima's eyes narrowed at his action, as Armaan seemed to be studying her palms more closely than needed.

"What are you checking out? My palms? Is that some new 'guy' thing I dont knw...? Checking out a girl's palms, flutters your teeny little heart too?" Riddhima questioned, taking her hads out of his hold and making a fluttery sign near her heart at her last comment. Armaan laughed back at her and winking, he replied, "Nahhh, i was just checking where they'd inscribe my name in ur hands...with the freshly grounded mehnnndddiiii," Armaan finished, an annoyingly wide grin on his face.

Riddhima rolled her eyes at him and replied, "No hands of mine are getting YOUR name inscribed on them, Mallik, least of all with MEHNDI...ughhh!!!" she shuddered at the mention of the word, as Armaan suddenly leapt closer to her, and with only an inch's difference between them, bent down to whisper something. Riddhima's breath caught in her throat, but before she could even hear him say her name, they were blatanly interrupted, yet again, by Nikki.

"You two can continue the staring match later...now put a pause on it and lets go dancee!!!," Nikki threw back at them, as she held onto their hands and dragged them, once again to the dance floor.

*************************************************************

"I want ice-cream. And waffles. I want strawberry and blueberry ice-cream with a hot waffle and sugar icing over it. Oh, and the tiny rainbow sprinklers over it too, whatever you call them. Ohhh, and the waffle should be upsized...i mean, in large size...and you could put Brazilian chocolate over it….but no, wait….that'd make it all bitter-ish and bleeeughhh….so cut the Brazilian chocolate…..and oh, I wouldn't mind a cup of hot chocolate with it either." Riddhima finished off with her long list and then looked up from the menu card, which was decorated with different mouth-watering pictures of different waffles and ice-creams. As she looked up, she was faced by two sets of eyes looking at her disbelievingly, the familiar ones set with a touch of amusement while the jet black eyes of the waitress bore into hers with nothing close to amusement.

Riddhima looked from Armaan to the waitress, unsure of the why they both were staring at her. As she narrowed her eyes questioningly at Armaan, he looked away from her to the waitress and with an amused smile tugging at his lips, he raised his hands slightly and said, "Well, you heard her….add one cappuccino to the order for me. That'd be all."

The waitress smiled at him thankfully, for she wasn't in the mood of having another unsure, long and completely jumbled up order fired at her. Giving Riddhima a final odd look, she nodded at them and told them to take a seat while she gets their order. Sighing, she turned around as the couple walked away, the girl chattering endlessly as the guy smiled back at her. So much so for taking night duty on the pretext of being free all night, she had deal with customers like her.

Armaan walked Riddhima to the corner of the caf, which faced the beautiful beach in front of it. Seating himself down on the cozy seat of their secluded booth, he smiled at her as she chattered on about the sangeet, so crazily happy that he didn't wish to interrupt her.

They were sitting in a small caf near the beach, at 3.30 in the night, all thanks to Riddhima. He had come up from the end of the sangeet to their room, deciding to retire for the night when she had barged out of the bathroom, dressed in her black flapper, a white tee and a hood over it, her hair tied up in a ponytail and a determined look on her face. When he had questioned her with a raised eyebrow, she had just thrown a pair of his jeans and a shirt to him and told him to get dressed. Though surprised by the suddenness of her actions, he had relented, and as soon as he had emerged from the bathroom, she had thrown the car keys to him and signaled him to move downstairs.

They had sneaked out of their quite, dark house like stealers, not making the least sound, until Riddhima knocked over a vase and then they both had ran out of the house for their lives, bursting into laughter as they reached the car. Once the laughter subsided, Armaan had questioned Riddhima about where they were going and she had replied with a, "Nowhere" to him, and when he had persisted in asking her, she had said cheekily, "I don't know…wherever you want to. I just want to go anywhere, right now, with you."

Thus they sat here in the caf now, curtsy Riddhima's sudden desire of having waffles and ice-cream. Now, as she dug into the huge plate set before her, Armaan smiled to himself over the craziness of this stupid, little crazy girl. How the hell had he even thought of letting her go? What would he ever do without her?

As he was lost in thought, Riddhima finally surfaced from within her blue-berry ice-cream, which was smeared over her lips and with her mouth full, she questioned Armaan directly. "Oh ly the lay Almaan….," she swallowed, and then continued, "why didn't you tell your parents about us?"

Armaan was caught completely off-guard. There was something seriously wrong with this girl; first the argument, then her sudden shy attitude at the sangeet, then her back-to-normal self and now the blunt question which was quite a sensitive issue, right out of the blue.

"Couldn't you choose a more imperfect moment and place to ask me this, duffer?" Armaan threw back his retort at her, taking a sip of his coffee.

Riddhima rolled her eyes dramatically at him, and continued, "Tu na….bilkul pagal hai!! First you fight endlessly with me, then you don't tell your parents, then you don't tell me that you haven't told ur parents, then your parents don't tell us about the announcement…and now when I am asking you, you don't wanna tell again…what is this tell-tell game going on?"

Armaan grinned at her and started checking the contents of her hot-chocolate.

"And now you are checking my hot-chocolate…what the hell is wrong with you, yaar?"

"Nothing, I was just checking whether she mixed alcohol in your drink…you sound doped Ragz…tu ne apna celibacy pact tora to nee na??!!" Armaan chuckled at her expression, as she made a face at him.

"I shapadh…bilkul nee!!" Riddhima replied, putting her hand to her neck as a sign. Armaan laughed at her choice of words. "Where did you pick that up from?", he asked, intrigued.

"Tujhe kia…quit the random banter Armaan, and tell me…why didn't you?" she asked, surprisingly serious at once. Armaan looked at her and knew the moment of truth had come…..he had to tell her why he had changed his decision.

"Because…I…." Armaan left it at that, as he looked deep into Riddhima's eyes, which demanded an explanation, an answer. He took a deep sigh and started again. "Riddhima….."


kiran

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