Wednesday, 10 July 2019

part 26 : The Green Blue Hues

Ridhima looked at him, sitting before her, his hands clasped together and then, taking a sigh, he started off.

"Ridhima....to tell you the truth, i dont know myself why i didnt tell them. I mean, i was adamant to tell them, and had every reason to, i dont need to repeat them to you. It's just...something Ryan asked me, some stupid random question...and i realized....," he broke off for a second, and when he saw her eyes boring into his, trying to understand, he continued, "I realized that ...I couldnt bring myself to tell them that it had been a lie all along, not after everything they had put up with...they trusted us, they trusted me and i had lied to them...and yet, everything you said came back to me and I..."


Riddhima looked at him closely, and as he bantered on with his reasons, a slow smile, almost a sneer, spread over her face and after a minute of hearing him out, she finally spoke up.

"Cut the crap Armaan, and tell me the truth. The complete, honest-to-God truth."



Armaan looked at her, surprised at how she had been able to see through his concocted lies. Aaah well, it was always too much to ask. He sighed, and bending his head reluctantly, started off again.

"Okay. Dont kill me for this, and dont ever make me remember i actually ever confessed this to you." A deep sigh. "I didnt want you to go. I couldnt imagine you going away and not coming back. I couldnt fathom the fact that the truth would separate us. So i didnt tell them. Call me selfish, self-centered...whatever. But i wanted us to happen...I mean, i wanted us to be together, no matter what."

Armaan finally looked up into Riddhima's eyes, where he saw a glimpse of confusion for a mere second, and then utmost understanding. Before he could analyze what she might be thinking, Riddhima smiled, and putting her hand on his, just replied. "Me too Armaan.....me too."

They both looked at each other and smiled, as he clasped her hand in his comfortingly. They both realized the intensity of what the other had been trying to say, and though it was something they insisted on not accepting, they both knew in their hearts what had passed on between them were not plain, platonic words. They sensed what had not been said, for it was a feeling felt mutually.

"Okay....what's to be done now?" Riddhima asked, putting forward a question that lead them through almost an hour of discussing the plan, and finally reaching a conclusion.

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


"Green."

"No. Blue. Definitely blue."

"No way...If i say green, it means green."

"And if i say blue, it absolutely means blue. Aqua blue, to be precise."

"Forest green, more like it."

"Whatever. I have full faith over my genes."

"And i have full faith over the kid i'd be pushing out. Green i say, so green it is."

A moment of silence was followed by a revolted look and a shudder by him and then they both burst out laughing hysterically. It had to be one of the most bizarre conversations that they'd had. 4.40 in the morning it was, and the sun's rays had slowly started creeping over the surprisingly calm and peaceful sea, and yet the two, high-on-ice-cream, waffles and coffee, were seated on a pile of rocks, their feet half submerged in the cool water. A whole hour had gone by in the cafe, when Armaan had started answering Ridhima's question; he had had to be very tactful about the way he handled the situation. When the laughter subsided, Riddhima continued.

"No seriously Armaan....the eyes have to be green....that's one thing um not compromising on. You got the nose, i get the eyes.," Riddhima said, pointing her finger at him.

"Errrrr.....what about, a green-blue mix?" Armaan said, putting forward a proposition with a slight frown on his face.

"You want our kid to have a serious demented version of green-blue? Especially the likes of our kind? It'd classify as a new color in itself Armaan...." Riddhima replied, her eyes rolling of their own accord.

"Wouldnt that be great though? We'd be making new discoveries..." he replied cheekily, winking at her.

"Yeah...in your dreams. No kid of mine is having a mutated form of your blue and my green. So there. Green it is."

"No fair, Ragz....!! I want blue...blue...blueeeeee....!!!" he sang out, in a horrible form of whatever could be classified as close to a tone. Riddhima put a finger to her ear as he shouted into it, and then, as she rolled her eyes at him, he leaned forward towards her and put his thumb to her lips. Riddhima's breath hitched, until she realized what he was doing. Showing her the little color of the blueberry ice-cream that was smeared on his thumb now, he grinned at her smugly.

"See, even you like blue. And its a universal favorite color. Plus girls die over guys with blue eyes, so our son would be highly sought-after. Precisely like his father."

"A: It's going to be GREEN. And B: whoever said its gonna be a son? I want a daughter, first and foremost. Sons, we will see later" Riddhima replied, pointing out one finger at a time with her points.

"Oooohhh, so that means we are thinking of 'later' kids too, huh Riddhima? Well, you surely would make me a happy man!!" Armaan winked back at her mischeiviously and was rewarded back by an elbow to his stomach.

"Acha whatever. So decided it is, your nose, my eyes. Now the lips.........." Riddhima bantered on and then stopped abruptly.

Armaan raised his eyebrows at her and rolled his tongue in his mouth.

"Just for my information, do you want to discuss the shape, size and 'the rarity' there too,just like my nose... Ragz?"

"Shut the hell up, you frikking diry mind. Gosh, I wouldnt ever want to have kids with you. They'd be supremely cheap and perverted, thanks to their father's so called faithful genes."

"Not to mention high-tempered, impertinent, naughty, highly pretentious and big liars too. Thanks to their mother's notorious traits." Armaan chuckled at his own careless joke.

"WHAT? What the hell...why do...you...I am...not...and well, look whose talking about being a 'liar'?," a flabbergasted Riddhima questioned first and then accused.

"Yeah well....lying on the cost of being married to you is not that bad a deal. I get to share kids with you. Not to mention, beach-side waffles and ice-cream at 3 in the morning. I wouldn't ever give up on that.". The light hearted banter had suddenly taken a serious note as he said this, and Riddhima looked deeper into his eyes, and he looked back, with utmost sincerity mirrored in his. He lightly squeezed her hand and they both looked afar at the rising sun for a mere while, after which Armaan decided to break the ice and naughtily went on saying, "Not even if you kick me out of bed at night", he finished, with a wink and a resonant laugh. Riddhima made a disgusted face at him and punched him on his back.

"Why do i have a feeling all this 'kid' talk is slowly going to deviate to 'bed' talk? Nights surely get your CAP mode on Mallik," Riddhima replied, her face still holding the disgusted look as she implied her self-made acronym that actually meant 'cheap and perverted' to him.

"You would be witness to that, more often than not, pretty soon, wifey."

At the sudden mention of herself as 'wifey', Riddhima instantly blushed to an unrecognizable shade as Armaan smiled slightly and shifted himself a little closer to her, leaning forward in to her. Riddhima couldn't budge at the proximity they now shared, as she felt his hand go up to her hair and push back a lock. The cool breeze that had been blowing could be held responsible for the sudden chill that went down her as he lightly tucked back her hair behind her ear, not looking away for a minute second even. They shared what could possibly be called a eyelock, after which, Armaan broke out of the moment first and lightly hit his head with hers and then put an arm around her shoulders, and they both sat quietly in companionable silence. The moment had passed. After a few minutes, Riddhima suggested going back as it was pretty late now and Armaan agreed.

As they both stood up to go, Armaan helping her up on the rocks, Riddhima giggled as she remembered their conversation and at Armaan's questioning look, replied, "Nothing, i was just thinking of our conversation..and all i can say is, despite all your 'bed' talk...we'd make beautiful kids together, i can bet on that"....Ridhima.

Armaan stares at her for a moment, and then he took her hand in his and held it there, warmly, protectively. Then he looks into her eyes and with a seriousness rarely displayed by him to her, he replied, "We'd make a beautiful life together....i can bet on THAT!!"

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

Even before Armaan could fully establish the fact that he was standing shirtless in front of a completely undeterred Muskaan, she was standing before him with what he could classify an angry expression on her face.

"Did you not hear me? Get out!," Muskaan ordered him, a determined look on her face.

"A: you have no regard of the fact that you should KNOCK before entering someone's room. B: I am standing half naked before you since the past 2 minutes, and you still have no shame as to at least turn away so that i can change, and C: This is MY room, and you cant kick me out. So there." Armaan threw back at Muskaan, who seemed to be completely uneffected by his argument.

She just raised her eyebrows at him, and when he still stood rooted to the spot, she sighed and replied, "A: I knocked three times before entering, but you were clearly too busy to reply. B: I am least effected by your manliness being exposed so openly to me, I'd rather admire the sight had i not been in a hurry, and most importantly, C: GET THE HELL OUT!! I need to talk to Riddhima right now. And trust me, i CAN kick you out."

Armaan was beyond surprised at the way this girl stood her ground, and if she hadnt been in this crazily angry mood, he would have stood up to her with another line of argument. He smiled cheekily at her as she made a frustrated face. Before he could utter another word, they both were interrupted by Riddhima, who stood at the door of the bathroom and had, presumably, heard their conversation. " And D: Guys, the ABC line is mine, go find your own."

Giving up in the face of the ladies, Armaan picked up a shirt and throwing it over his head, walked out of his room, whistling a happy tone to himself. Riddhima watched him go and smiled to herself, and this slight expression was not gone unnoticed by Muskaan, who barged to the door and swung it shut, then turned to look at Riddhima with a clearly befuddled look.

"What the hell are you doing?" Muskaan asked her, as Riddhima threw the wet towel on the bed and started brushing her hair.

"What? I am not doing anything!! I am just brushing my hair!!!" Riddhima replied, confused at the question.

"Riddhimaaaa...." Muskaan sighed, frustrated, then holding Riddhima's arm, she made her sit dow before her and taking a deep breath, continued, "Where were you last night?"

"Last night? Oh, me and Armaan went out for a drive.." Riddhima replied nonchalantingly.

"Why?" Muskaan questioned back.

"What do you mean why? We just felt like it....," Riddhima looked at her, now confused.

"Felt like going for a drive at 3 and returned at 5 in the morning?" Muskaan asked, her arms folded, her eyebrows raised.

"Yeah we just....sheesh, what's with the third degree, Muski?" Riddhima questioned back, clearly befuddled by the questions thrown back at her.

"Nothing. I am just....what is this you are doing Riddhima? What's wrong with you?," Muskaan implored, trying to find a reason for why her friend was suddenly so uneffected by the whole deal.

"Whatttt? What am I doing Muski? What's wrong with going out at night with your best friend?" Riddhima asked, confused at the way Muskaan was behaving.

Muskaan remained quiet for a second, and then, looking at Riddhima straight in her eyes, she asked simply, "Is he just a best friend?"

Riddhima was thrown off her guard with this question, and she fumbled when she spoke next, "Of..of course...he is...what do you mean? Of course he is my best friend...what are you...? What's wrong Muskaan?"

Muskaan sighed and then decided to just say it. "What's wrong is that you are lying to his family. What's wrong is that you are not being the Riddhima i know. What's wrong is that not only are you behaving to be his wife, but i actually see you trying to be one. That's what's wrong Ridzi....you are not realizing what you are feeling yourself...and by labelling your relation as friendship only, you are not only fooling everyone, but yourself too. That's what's wrong."

An impregnated silence followed as Riddhima looked at Muskaan with raised eyebrows, trying to take in whatever she had said, and Muskaan finally realized that she had crossed the line. They had always maintained an understanding over not discussing Armaan-Riddhima's relation, as Riddhima completely refuted the idea of them being anything more than just friends. But now, Muskaan had said it, in hidden words, and Riddhima realized that every word she had said was true, that she was fooling him, fooling herself. That everything she had been trying to pretend till now was not so unexposed.

Muskaan, however, realized how harsh her words may have sounded and she instantly pulled Riddhima into a hug, who was still trying to understand the meaning of her words.

"I am sorry Ridzi...i shouldn't have...but I was just...Ridzi, his family knows you guys were out last night. They actually think you are a happily married couple. Isn't it wrong to fool them like that?"

Riddhima parted from the hug and looked into her eyes, and nodded back. "I know. I know it's wrong, but they are not going to be kept in the dark for long now."

"Oh!," Muskaan replied, clearly surprised, "so are you guys going to tell them soon?"

Riddhima looked at Muskaan and then remembered their plan from last night, and with a determined look on her face, and an almost nonchalant tone, she replied, "No. We wont tell them. We will get married, for real."

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"Are you out of your freaking mind?"

Armaan looked at Rahul, the supposedly calm guy of the group, who right now, was towering over him with an almost livid expression on his face.

"Errr....dude, you should keep it a little low. You are too loud," Armaan replied, a little uncertainly as Rahul threw his hands up into the air.

"You have got to be kidding me, Armaan. I seriously thought you were the sane one amongst us, but I see her effect has finally rubbed off on you. Married to her? Like in the real way?" Rahul asked, looking uncertainly at Armaan for confirmation, who nodded back.

"Yep...see, mate...I know its crazy and you think we are mad. But this is the safest option. Telling them the truth now would ruin all for them, and we cant be so selfish as to put a mark on their happiness right now."

Rahul raised his eyes high at his comment and almost laughed. "Seriously? You are telling me this is you guys being unselfish? Tell me Armaan, and be completely honest. Isn't there one single reason you are doing this for yourself?"

Armaan was befuddled at what to say, as Rahul had, what could be said, head the nail right at its place. He looked at Rahul and understood what he was trying to imply, and he couldnt understand how he had realized the truth. Were his feelings that open, that exposed that everyone knew? Or was it just Rahul?

"Armaan, why don't you just accept it? What's the point of hiding it from her, and from yourself too? You won't ever be able to get away from the feeling. Trust me, if you are waiting for it to 'go away', it won't. It never does." Seating himself down on the two seater sofa next to Armaan, he put a hand on his arm and tried to make him understand.

"What are you talking about, Rahul...I...I dont understand..." Armaan openly defied the implication of Rahul's words as he got up.

"Come on dude...it's high time now. Stop playing the pretending game with me, at least. I know what you feel for her," Rahul replied, a tad bit frustrated at Armaan's consistent denial.

Armaan turned to look at him and then sighed. Definitely, there wasn't any point of hiding anything from Rahul any more. "The thing is Rahul, i dont know what i feel for her. I don't know whether this is it, whether it is love. Yes, i feel immense affection for her, something i have never felt for anyone. There's this crazy need of always being around her, and this feeling of protecting her from everything, and....," Armaan sighed, putting a hand through his hair, "What if this isn't it? What if i am confusing friendship for love, and...what if she doesn't feel the same way. That would just ruin the relationship we have, and on no basis, NO grounds can i let that go Rahul." He remained quiet for a second, and then continued, " She's too precious to me. I can't let her go Rahul. I just......can't." He finished with a sigh, and turned.

Rahul was standing before him, his arms folded together, with an amused expression on his face. When Armaan raised his eyebrows questioningly at him, Rahul just smirked and said, "And then you say you don't know whether it's love."

Armaan was left thinking for the remaining time, alone, in his den, as Rahul left the room with a pat on his shoulder.

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

"Muski, this is crazy. Seriously, you will have to talk to her at SOME point." Rahul justified, watching Muskaan throw a glare at him as the knocks on the door persisted. This had been going on for quite some time now, Riddhima had been knocking madly at the door and Muskaan wouldn't open the door. Rahul stood before her, helpless and unable to do anything as Muskaan completely refused to listen.

"No, i dont have to. Not until she gets her brains back, i dont." Muskaan replied, applying nail polish to her toe nails, sitting on the bed.

"Okay Muski....this is going a little over the top. I know she's your best friend, but baby, you can't control her life, you know," Rahul tried to make her understand, as he sat down next to her. Muskaan looked at him and sighed.

"I know Rahul...I know i am over reacting. But this is just....unacceptable. They are getting married. MARRIED. And for what? Fun?," Muskaan replied, looking flabberghasted at even thought.

"Yeah honey...I completely understand, but then again, it's their decision. We can't do anything about it,"

"Oh yes we can. I am not talking to her till she gets sense knocked into her. And this always works. Silent treatments work wonders with Riddhima. She NEEDS to understand the intensity of the situation Rahul. I know she loves him, i know he loves her. But they can't get into a marriage without knowing and understanding that fact particularly. It's such a big risk, and no, I am not saying i doubt Armaan. I know he handles situations well...it's just....not the way I wanted it for them. Not as a lie, at least." Muskaan finally surrendered all her pent in frustration in front of Rahul, who listened intently. She had been infuriated since the morning, when Divya had let it slip at the table how she'd seen Armaan Riddhima sneak in the house at 5 in the morning, and though she didn't have a problem with it, she was more upbeat about the fact that Riddhima was still in a state of denial and she couldn't do anything about it. Obviously, she had over reacted.

Rahul sighed and then put an arm around her shoulder. " Honey, I know you want the very best for both of them. I do, too. But, we have to let them be the way they are, let them handle their own mess. Trust me, they are gonna learn this way. You get a little too involved with their lives. You see, we can't control them, or tell them what to do. As friends, we can just tell them our opinion, which is ignored most of the time. And with Riddhima, specially. You know she learns the hard way, always has. She never listens to anyone, gets herself into a mess, and then cries out for help."

"Exactly. That's what I am worried about. I don't want her to get into a mess. She's been through a lot already, Rahul. She won't realize what she's done until she calls for help." Muskaan replied, worry etched over her face for someone she considered her sister.

"And when she does, Armaan will be there for her. He always has been, always will be. I guarantee you that." Rahul replied, squeezing her shoulder comfortingly. "Come on, you worry too much about her. I am almost jealous now. I doubt you ever think so much about me? I wish I was Riddhima."

Muskaan giggled as Rahul pouted in front of her, and then, patting his cheek affectionately, she asked, in a sugar-coated voice, "Aawwwww....I never knew you wanted to be my soul-sister. I dont mind, though."

Rahul glared at her as Muskaan burst into laughter and then pulled him into a cuddly hug. He held her close to her, a gesture they hadn't been able to share since a couple of days. "I love you, Worry Bug."

"I love you too, soldier-boy."

They didn't realize that the knocking had stopped long ago.

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The mehndi ceremony was classified as a 'lady's only' function, and as it was, the hall of the Mallik Mansion was crowded with women of all age and sizes wandering about. The music was on full burst, as some girls danced to the punjabi tunes while others busied themselves in applying mehndi. Those going through the multi tasking of applying mehndi and eating at the same time were seated on the carpeted arrangement that had been done for them, with the round pillows and cushions. In the middle of them all sat Riddhima, looking a true image of innocence and beauty, clad in a yellow and red colored saree that Padma had made her wear. She had almost no make-up on, and yet her face glowed. As yet, no one had applied mehndi to her, as she had excused herself on the pretext of being hungry and so busied herself eating.

Right now, she was constantly whispering into Muskaan's ears, who was trapped with both her hands having mehndi applied on them, and couldn't budge.

"Come on Muski...what's the big deal yaar? Tu kab takk mere se naraaz rahegi...? I have to do this na, i can't back out now......Muskkiiiii...are you even listening to me?"

"No, she isn't."

Riddhima turned as she heard a familiar voice behind her and frowned as she saw Rahul sitting right behind her, bending on his knees.

"RAHUL!! What are you doing here? The women will kick your butt out if they see you here!," Riddhima asked, her eyes wide with surprise.

"Clearly Ridzi, they have seen me here already, I am not invisible. Actually, Padma Auntie called me for some errand...." Rahul justified his presence at the function. Riddhima nodded understandingly as they both looked at Muskaan, who seemed to be oblivious of Rahul's presence.

"Still not talking to you, is she?" he asked, nodding towards Muskaan. Riddhima shook her head and sighed.

"Don't worry babe, she will come around. She always does." Rahul replied, putting an arm around Riddhima's shoulder casually as she gave him a slight smile.

"Hitting on my wife-to-be, are you?"

They both turned to search for the source of voice, and when Riddhima's eyes landed on him, her breath stuck in her throat.

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kiran

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