Friday, 29 November 2019

Part 427: Muhabbat Ki Nayi Raahon Me


 TITLE SONG:

Dill ki tadapti saanson me

Preet ki mehekti baahon me

Dabe-chhipe se alfaazon me

Behke pal ke jazbaaton me

Band palkon ke khwaabon me

Khatti-meethi si baaton me

Jhuki hui si nigaahon me

Nayi-purani kuch yaadon me



Kabhi bichhde dill mill jayenge

Kabhi mill ke bicchad jayenge

Kabhi ladenge, kabhi manayenge

Kabhi rooth-rooth se jayenge

Armaan-Ridhimaa ki muhabbat ka

Hum fir se saath nibhayenge



Fir ek baar...

Manzil ki nayi chhaaon me



Fir ek baar...

Muhabbat Ki Nayi Raahon Me

Once on the road, flying by the trees, Armaan let his mind wander. Ridhimaa would be waiting. His pulse quickened at the thought. In his mind's eye, he saw her. Ridhimaa- the meaning of love in his life. His everything.



Ridhimaa would be waiting for him. Her smile would have dimmed at his sudden departure. Tears-one or two might have appeared in her beautiful brown eyes. The hug he had bestowed on her was too brief. He should have hugged her longer, tighter. The kiss would have made Ridhimaa's heart ache for him more. He could already feel his own agonized heart throbbing almost painfully. There was surely no need of those heartbeats. There was no need to breathe. No need to live. Nothing made sense without his Ridhimaa.



Armaan: (sighing) Ridhimaa!



He was remembering the way she cried for him, begging him to stay. Armaan hit the brakes as waves of pain crashed into him. Suddenly gasping for breath, the pain was suffocating. He wanted to undo what all had happened, go back to Ridhimaa and hold her tight, never to let go. He wanted to comfort her, apologise to her, love her, make her forget everything that could ever cause her to cry.



Armaan didn't remember picking up the call. All he remembered was that as soon as he heard Ridhimaa's voice, all the aching pain in his heart was silenced.



Ridhimaa: Hello?



Armaan was silent for a while.



Ridhimaa: Hello? Armaan?

Armaan: (trying to steady his voice) Hello…

Ridhimaa: (sounding worried) Kya hua Armaan?

Armaan: Kuch nahi…



When Ridhimaa spoke next, there was a hint of a smile in her voice.



Ridhimaa: Yaad aa rahi hai, Armaan?

Armaan: Nahi to… mujhe tumhari yaad nahi aa rahi…

Ridhimaa: (smiling brightly) Maine kab poochha ki meri yaad aa rahi hai ya nahi…

Armaan: (confused) To fir kiski yaad aayegi mujhe?

Ridhimaa: Kyun? Tamanna ki yaad nahi aa sakti?

Armaan: (realizing that he had given the game up) Oh… haan… aa sakti hai…

Ridhimaa: (laughing) Usiki yaad aa rahi hai na?

Armaan: (solemnly) Nahi…

Ridhimaa: (dropping all smiles, really worried now) Kya hua Armaan?

Armaan: I'm sorry Ridhimaa…

Ridhimaa: Sorry? For what?

Armaan: (apprehensive) Wahaan tumne mujhe roka… and I… I just…



Ridhimaa had reached the baseline of the conversation.



Ridhimaa: (sincerely) Armaan… main bilkul theek hoon…



Armaan was caught off guard.



Armaan: Maine… maine to nahi poochha…

Ridhimaa: Lekin mujhe to pata hai na ki mere Armaan ko is waqt meri kitni chinta ho rahi hai… Ridhimaa ro rahi hogi… Ridhimaa ne khaana khaya ya nahi… Mujhe usey chhodke nahi aana chahiye tha… yahi sab soch rahe the na tum?

Armaan: (haltingly) Nahi…

Ridhimaa: Armaan…



The tone which Ridhimaa used to take Armaan's name broke all his defences.



Armaan: (restlessly) Haan… yahi soch raha tha… main abhi wahaan aa raha hoon tumhe lene…

Ridhimaa: Armaan… please… meri baat suno. Main bilkul theek hoon… main ro bhi nahi rahi… sab yahaan bahut achhe se mera khayal rakh rahe hain… aur hum log sab bas lunch hi karne ja rahe the…



Armaan was again silent.



Ridhimaa: Armaan… tumhe mujh pe bharosa nahi hai?

Armaan: Ridhimaa…

Ridhimaa: Main tumhari Jaan ka bahut ache se khayal rakhungi…promise.

Armaan: (smiling) I love you Jaan…

Ridhimaa: I love you too… ab Jaan ke patidev ke liye ek request hai… ki wo RIDZ jaakar ache se khaana khaayein… aur kaam ke chakkar me aaraam na bhool jaayein… okay?

Armaan: Okay patni ji… jo hukm mere aaka.



Ridhimaa's jingling laugh ebbed all Armaaan's worries away.



In the evening, at half past four, Armaan was running to and fro, here and there in Hotel Ridhimaan.



Armaan: (checking from a self-prepared list) Candles… done… Flowers… done… Ribbons, Streamers… done… Chairs, Tables… done… Balloons…



He looked around in alarm.



Armaan: Oh no! Balloons kahaan hain?

One of the helpers: (puzzled) Balloons?

Armaan: Haan… balloons… maine kaha than na heart-shape ke white,  pink, golden aur red balloons lagaane ke liye… kahaan hain?

Second Helper: (running towards Armaan) Sir… balloons to yahin hain lekin lagaaye nahi… waise bhi, Reception party me balloons?

Armaan: Ridhimaa ko pasand hain…



He spoke as if this settled the matter, and surely it did for the Helpers present. They rushed to bring the balloons. If Ridhimaa liked something, it had to be done.



Armaan: Aur Vikas…

Second Helper: (stunned at being called by name) Yes Sir?

Armaan: Mujhe Sir bolna band karo…

Second Helper: Okay Sir…

Armaan: Vikas!

Second Helper: (flustered) Sorry Sir!



Armaan rolled his eyes and went towards the helpers who were blowing the balloons. He sat down on the ground beside them, picked up a balloon and started blowing it. The Helper called Vikas came running back to Armaan.



Vikas: Sir… hum log kar lenge… aap aaraam se…

Armaan: (irritably) Agar tumne mujhe Sir bolna band nahi kiya to samjho ki tumhari naukri gayi…



The helper was terrified. He shut his mouth immediately. Armaan saw the look on his face and grinned.



Armaan: (pulling down Vikas by hand and handing him a balloon) Chal… balloon fulaate hain.. bada maza aa raha hai…



Vikas smiled and started blowing the balloons.



Vikas: (hesitatingly) Sir?

Armaan: (engrossed in blowing the balloons) Hmm?

Vikas: Sir… agar Ridhimaa Madam ko pata chal ki aap din bhar kaam karte rahe… to wo aapse pehle hume naukri se nikaal dengi…

Armaan: Kuch nahi hoga… main hoon na tum sabko bachaane ke liye… right?

Vikas: (not fully convinced) Right Sir…

Just then, someone tapped Armaan's shoulder. Taken by surprise, Armaan accidently burst the balloon he was blowing. He looked back to find Atul.


Atul: Tu ye sab… kya kar raha hai?

Armaan: (picking up another balloon) Basketball khel raha hoon… dikh nahi raha? Tu abhi se kyun aaya? Ab kisiko khaana nahi milega.

Atul: (affronted) Tujhe lagta hai main yahaan sirf khaane aata hoon?

Rahul: (appearing at Atul's side) Hum teri help karne aaye hain…

Armaan: (glad) Oh! Thanks yaar!

Atul: (smirking) Aur tujhe Ridzi ka message bhi dena hai…



All the helpers turned attentive.



Armaan: Ridhimaa ka message?

Rahul: Haan… Ridhimaa ne kaha hai ki agar lunch aur rest nahi kiya hoga… to…

Armaan: To?

Rahul, Atul: (grinning) To ussey bura koi nahi…



Armaan stared at Rahul and Atul and then let out a chuckle.



Armaan: (trying to stop laughing) Ye Ridhimaa ne kaha hai?

Atul: Haan…

Armaan: Okay… main handle kar lunga…



He went back to blowing the balloons but all the helpers stood up.



Armaan: (perplexed) What?

Helpers: (in a chorus) Sir aap jaiye… ye sab hum kar lenge…

Armaan: Nahi… mujhe karna hai…



Atul whispered something to the helpers. Two of the helpers came forwards and lifted Armaan off his feet.



Armaan: (shocked) Hey! Ye kya kar rahe ho?

Atul: Sorry Armaan… Ridz tujhe to kuch nahi karegi… lekin hum becharon ko…

Rahul: (to the helpers) Isey leke jao… aur dekhna Party shuru hone se pehle ye waapas na aane paaye…

Armaan: (angrily) Rahul ke bachche! Tujhe to main…



Rahul looked unconcerned at Armaan's warnings.



Atul: Koi kaam bacha hai to hume batao… warna chuchaap room me jaakar rest karo…



Armaan knew he had no other option.



Armaan: Okay fine! Rahul… ye balloons lagaane hain… DJ ko gaanon ki list deni hai…

Rahul: Okay…

Armaan: Champ… return gifts dekh ke aana… sab ache se wrapped hone chahiye… aur sab pe guests ka naam likha hona chahiye…

Atul: Theek hai…

Armaan: (calling) Joseph…



The security guard rushed upto where Armaan was being hoisted up.



Joseph: Yes Sir?

Armaan: Security should be at it's best… koi bhi bina checking ke andar na aane paaye…

Joseph: Yes Sir.

Armaan: Atul, Rahul… dinner bhi dekhna… sara menu ache se ready hona chahiye…



Atul and Rahul nodded. The helpers started taking Armaan away.



Armaan: (at a sudden thought, shouting at Atul and Rahul's receding backs) Kha mat jaana sab kuch dono milke.



In the evening, the guests had started arriving. While Rahul, Muskaan and Armaan were looking after the guests inside, Atul was welcoming the guests at the entrance.



The reception area was beautifully decorated in contrasting colours. The chairs were covered with white fabric and the tables were covered with brown and gold, making the decorations look brighter. Each table had centrepieces embossed with Armaan-Ridhimaa's names. Round paper lanterns, branched candelabras and bowls of floating candles were illuminating the hall, signifying the warmth of the new bonded relation. The room was also decorated with ribbons and streamers to make it more attractive and colourful.



The balloons were tied in a bunch of odd numbers and with contrasting colours. An arch of balloons with silk rose topiary was placed at the entrance to give a warm welcome to the guests. The entrance path was illuminated with heart shaped illuminaries. A floral printed aisle runner was spread, giving a majestic and regal appearance.



A car rolled up the driveway. Anjali, Maan and Gazal stepped out from it. After the security checking was complete, Atul rushed towards them.



Atul: (greeting all three with hugs) Hye!

Gazal: (smoothing her lehenga) Dheere se Atul! Ye lehenga waise hi itna heavy hai… mujhse zyada der sambhala nahi jayega…

Atul: Matlab? Party ke beech me hi utar fenkogi kya?

Anjali: (reproachfully) Shut up, Atul!

Gazal: (scowling at Atul) Very funny!

Atul: Nahi.. main to isliye keh raha tha ki agar koi aisa-waisa plan ho to Maan ko to pata hona chahiye na…

Maan: Haan, of course!

Atul: (laughing) Waise GS… aaj traditional dress me kaafi achhi lag rahi ho…



Gazal faked a smile and started walking away in a hurry, knowing she really should not have worn the lehenga at all. In her haste, Gazal nearly tripped over the flower vase standing at the entrance and Maan caught her.



Gazal: (exclaiming) Thank God!



She then saw Maan's face looking concerned and smiled.



Gazal: I should say, thank you!

Maan: (relaxing) Arrey… thanks ki kya baat hai… main nahi aata to koi aura aa jaata aapko bachane… aaj lag hi itni khoobsurat rahi ho aap…

Gazal: (smiling) Achha! Jhooth bhi bolte hain aap? Kamaal hai!

Maan: (looking straight into Gazal's eyes, which were green today, matching her lehenga) Jhooth bolte hain, lekin aaj nahi bola.



Before the blush could spread over her cheeks, Gazal scurried into the Reception Hall. Mann followed her quickly, knowing he would come very handy tonight, thanks to Gazal's lehenga!



Anjali smiled at Maan's receding figure. When she looked back to find why Atul was so quiet, she discovered him looking intently at her.



Anjali: (waving a hand in front of Atul's eyes) Atul! Where are you?

Atul: (words coming out at a rush as if he had been saving all his breaths for saying this only) I love you, Anjali!

Anjali: (smiling) Okay! Lekin tum aise kyun…

Atul: (simply repeating) I love you, Anjali…

Anjali: Maine pehli baar me hi sun liya tha Atul…

Atul: (gasping) I really love you Anjali…

Anjali: (irritated) Tumne kya baar-baar ek hi baat ki rat laga rakhi hai!

Atul: (sincerely) Tum nahi jaanti Anjali... maine isi ek baat se apni saari khushiyan jod rakhi hain.



Anjali was quite taken aback. She could not tear her gaze away from Atul's serious face. She looked at him for so long that her eyes began to water. She finally blinked and bowed her face

Atul: (raising Anjali's face by placing his hand under her chin) Anjali… tum ro rahi ho?

Anjali: (smiling through her tears) I love you too Atul!

Atul: Anjali… I'm sorry…

Anjali: I love you very much…

Atul: Anjali… tumhe baar-baar ye kehne ki zaroorat nahi hai… I know tum mujhse pyar karti ho… please… ro mat na…

Anjali: Zaroorat hai Atul… kyunki ab meri bhi life ki saari khushiyan isi ek baat se jud gayi hain. I love you… and would always love you!

Atul: (wiping Anjali's tears) Tum andar jao Anjali… yahaan kaafi thanda ho gaya hai… tum bimar pad jaogi…



Anjali, for once, obeyed Atul without question. She proceeded to go inside when she turned.



Atul: (smiling) Main bas abhi aa raha hoon…



Anjali returned the smile and entered the Reception Hall.



Shubhankar and Keerti came next. At last, a black car drove up to the gate. Shashank, Padma and Nani stepped out from the car. The security guard Joseph hurried to open the door before Ridhimaa could step out.



Joseph: (dipping his head) Good to see you again, Mrs. Mallik.



Ridhimaa smiled in response.



Ridhimaa: Aap… aur Jenny kaise hain?

Joseph: We're fine Mam… this way.



He led them to the security check post where Shashank, Nani and Padma were checked.



Ridhimaa: (trying to interfere) Meri checking bhi to kijiye…

Joseph: (cutting her short, smiling and retreating) Armaan Sir aapka wait kar rahe hain…



Atul strode forwards and took them inside.



Atul: Ridzi! Tum bahut beautiful lag rahi ho aaj!

Ridhimaa: Thanks Atul!

Atul: Ye saari decorations Armaan ne khud ki hai… khud sab choose kiya aur…

Ridhimaa: (concerned) Tum logon ne usey mera message nahi diya?

Atul: Diya tha na… lekin jab tak hum log aaye, tab tak saara kaam Armaan kar chuka tha… aur usne lunch bhi nahi kiya… aur…



Atul paused seeing Ridhimaa's face. Padma nudged Ridhimaa.



Padma: Tum usey daantna nahi, theek hai? Sab kuch tumhare liye hi to kiya hai…

Ridhimaa: Mujhe pata hai…

Shashank: Ridhimaa…

Ridhimaa: Main nahi daantungi usey, Papa.



Ridhimaa was not looking around. If she had, she wouldn't have looked away for a few minutes, because the room had been so beautifully decorated, everything personally supervised by Armaan to be according to Ridhimaa's likes and dislikes. But Ridhimaa was just looking down at the floor for some reason. The guests were clapping at her arrival. Everyone was admiring this shy, beautiful, newly-wedded bride.



Armaan was standing at the centre of the stage, accompanied by Rahul and Muskaan. He was wearing a black suit, red shirt with the top three buttons undone and no tie. In his hands, he was holding a bouquet of one dozen brilliant red roses. His face, impeccably handsome, had lit up when he saw the last of the arrivals. His brilliant blue eys were glued to the figure in the middle.



Ridhimaa- his Ridhimaa- was coming towards him, taking too small steps. Dumbstruck, Armaan tried to look away but failed. That was the story of the last two years in a nutshell. Although it was a shade of pink which Armaan had never liked (before tonight), Ridhimaa was making that dress shine. The georgette fish tail lenga, and the heavily embroidered choli with the dupatta was complimenting Ridhimaa's fair skin beautifully. Looking at her now, Armaan knew he would have waited forever for Ridhimaa, if that's what it took.



The moment Ridhimaa reached the stage, Armaan offered her his hand. She took it. Armaan effortlessly lifted Ridhimaa up the stage, without bothering to let her climb the steps. The clapping increased ten-folds.



Once on the stage, his left arm around Ridhimaa's waist, Armaan presented the roses. Ridhimaa took them without a word, without looking at Armaan.



Armaan: I love you…



Only the blush that crept into her cheeks assured Armaan that Ridhimaa had heard him. As soon as the three words had escaped his mouth, diamond confetti and red, white rose petals started showering over the two. The clapping never stopped. A low music started and the dance floor lighted up. Rahul, acting as the master of the ceremony, welcomed all the guests. He made a toast to Armaan-Ridhimaa and invited the guests to dance and enjoy the music. Slowly, the guests started moving towards the dining area or the dance area, whichever they preferred. Others went upto the newly wedded couple, congratulating them, blessing them and presenting the gifts.



While the guests congratulated them, Ridhimaa just caressed the flowers, smiled shyly, looked around at the decorations and watched Armaan. He chatted easily with all the guests. Some, he seemed to know well. Others not, but he always had a smile for each. Every time he glanced her way though, his smile warmed.



A little while later, finding some privacy during dinner, Armaan whispered to Ridhimaa.



Armaan: Kya hua, Ridhimaa?

Ridhimaa: (lowering her gaze) Kuch nahi…

Armaan: Mujhse gussa ho?



Ridhimaa's gaze flew back to his now solemn eyes. Was she so transparent?



Ridhimaa: (looking away) Mere gussa hone se tumhe fark padta hai, Armaan?

Armaan: Of course padta hai!



Ridhimaa switched her gaze to the dance floor. Rahul-Muskaan, Atul-Anjali, Maan-Gazal, even Shashank-Padma were dancing. All looked so happy.



Ridhimaa: (still not looking at him) Main tumse gussa nahi hoon…

Armaan: (placing his hand on Ridhimaa's cheek, turning her face towards himself) Meri taraf dekh ke bolo…

Ridhimaa: (not able to control herself) Tumne lunch kyun nahi kiya?



A slow, easy smile spread across Armaan's handsome face.



Armaan: Tumne lunch kiya tha?

Ridhimaa: Haan…

Armaan: (continuing to smile) To samjho ki maine bhi kar liya. Hum dono alag thode hi hain… hai na?



Ridhimaa did not reply. She felt irritated.



Armaan: Gussa ho to daant lo na…

Ridhimaa: Main gussa nahi hoon… main kaise tumse gussa ho jaun… jab ki main jaanti hoon… ki ye sab tumne sirf mere liye kiya hai… aur isi wajah se lunch bhi skip kar diya. Main itni buri nahi hoon Armaan… mujhe tumhare pyar ki kadr hai…

Armaan was bowled over.


Love
Lovy

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