Saturday, 30 November 2019

Part 428: Muhabbat Ki Nayi Raahon Me


Armaan: (haltingly) Ridhimaa… maine kab kaha ki tum buri ho?



Ridhimaa: (smiling) I know… nahi kaha…

She again started looking towards the couples enjoying their dance. The music was always rolling without unnecessary breaks.

Armaan: (following Ridhimaa's line of vision) Hum bhi chalein?


Ridhimaa looked back into Armaan's beautiful eyes and nodded. They simply glided towards the dance floor. Armaan held Ridhimaa's hands and put them around his neck. His own arms encircled Ridhimaa's waist. Ridhimaa's cheeks flooded with colour.

Armaan: Waise mujhe ek tareeka aata hai… tumhe khush karne ka…


Ridhimaa: (earnestly) Main already bahut khush hoon Armaan…



Armaan: (tilting his face closer to hers) Issey bhi zyada khush karne ka…

Ridhimaa could easily read what was on Armaan's mind.

Ridhimaa: (trying to push him away slightly) Armaan! Stop it! Sab dekh rahe hain…



Armaan: Mujhe jo tareeka aata hai… ussey koi hume nahi dekh paayega…



Ridhimaa: (not believing a word) Armaan!



Armaan: Sach! Lagi bet? 1000 ki?

Ridhimaa stared at Armaan's confident face. His intense eyes, flames from the candles dancing in their depths, never left hers.

Ridhimaa: Ar-Armaan!
She stuttered briefly, blushing just enough that Armaan could see the 'yes' he was looking for. He took her face into his hands tenderly. His lips fell upon hers for a second and then left with reluctance. Armaan, still holding Ridhimaa's face in his hands, kissed her forehead passionately. Ridhimaa opened her eyes and stared miles into the most brilliantly blue eyes she had ever seen. She could not look away. She didn't want to. Both of her hands felt for his chest. Someone coughed.

Both Armaan and Ridhimaa, startled, looked towards the source of coughing. Muskaan and Rahul had stopped dancing and were staring at them. Ridhimaa turned scarlet. Armaan gestured them to continue dancing.

Armaan: (turning towards Ridhimaa with a very innocent face) Oops!

Ridhimaa looked at him curiously. She couldn't understand his expressions.

Armaan: (taking out a 1000 rupess note and giving it to Ridhimaa) I lost the bet… but it was worth it!


He was haaving a difficulty holding back his smile. Ridhimaa stiffened for a second, then turned her back to him. Armaan knew his joke hadn't gone down too well with Ridhimaa. She had actually believed him when he said that no one would be able to see them! How very Ridhimaa-like!


Armaan: (in a childish, singsong voice) Basket… I'm sorry!


He held Ridhimaa's shoulders and turned her to face him.

Armaan: (holding his ears and hanging his head) I'm soooorrrry!


Ridhimaa, unconsciously, almost automatically, held his hands and brought them down, and then shook her head.


Ridhimaa: (in a choked voice) Main… main tumse gussa… nahi hoon Armaan…



Armaan: What?



Ridhimaa: (setting her watery gaze on the face of her angel) Main tumse gussa kaise rahun… jab ki main jaanti hoon ki tum mujhse kitna pyar karte ho… meri ek hansi ke liye kuch bhi kar dete ho…

Armaan stared.

Ridhimaa: (smiling and adding) Bina soche-samjhe…

Ridhimaa's arms again went around Armaan's neck and she lay her head on his shoulder. They started swaying gently to the music.

Armaan: (suddenly) I'm sorry Ridhimaa…



Ridhimaa: Armaan… main tumse gussa nahi…



Armaan: Mujhe bolne do please…

Ridhimaa fell silent.

Armaan: Tumhe yaad hai… kal raat…

Ridhimaa's cheeks grew warmer, remembering the night before. She hid her face in Armaan's chest.


Armaan: Kal raat maine tumse kuch vaade kiye the… maine promise kiya tha ki main koshish karunga ki tumhari in aankhon me fir kabhi, kisi wajah se aansun na aayein... aur main zindagi bhar in aansuon ki hifaazat karunga... yaad hai?

Ridhimaa looked at him and nodded slightly.

Armaan: Maine wo vaada tumse zyada, khud se kiya tha… main apna vaada poora nahi kar paaya Ridhimaa… is ek din me hi tumhaari aankhein itni baar royi hain… main tumhare aansuon ki hifaazat nahi kar saka Ridhimaa… I'm sorry.

Ridhimaa removed her right hand from Armaan's neck and placed it gently on his cheek, as if afraid of hurting him.


Ridhimaa: Armaan… tumhe pata hai…main aaj kyun royi?



Armaan: (without even bothering to think) Haan… meri wajah se…



Ridhimaa: (admitting) Haan… tumhari wajah se…

Armaan bowed his face guiltily.

Ridhimaa: (honestly) Tumhari wajah se… kyunki main tumse bahut, bahut, bahut pyar karti hoon…



Armaan: (thinking that Ridhimaa was trying to lessen his guilt) Pyar me aansun bahaaye jaate hain?



Ridhimaa: (voice muffled in unshed tears) Jab muhabbat bahut zyada ho jaati hai… to wo dill me nahi samaa paati… aur fir… aansun beikhtiyaar hokar nikal padte hain…



Armaan: (wiping Ridhimaa's tears with his fingertips) Tum abhi bhi ro rahi ho…



Ridhimaa: Kyunki main tumse…bahut… bahut muhabbat karti hoon… sirf tumse…



Armaan: (feeling his eyes burning) Sirf mujhse?



Ridhimaa: (wrapping her arm again around Armaan's neck and keeping her head against his chest) Sirf tumse, Armaan…


Both fell silent, just enjoying each other's presence, feeling comfortable enough that words weren't necessary.


Armaan: (after a while) Lekin main tumhari aankhon me kabhi, kisi wajah se aansun nahi dekhna chaahta. Tum soch bhi nahi sakti Ridhimaa… tumhare aansuon se mujhe jo takleef hoti hai… wo meri bardaasht ke baahar hai…

Ridhimaa raised her head and kissed Armaan's forehead, tenderly and devotedly.

Ridhimaa: (asking sweetly) Abhi bhi ho rahi hai takleef?


Armaan could not help but smile.


Armaan: (placing Ridhimaa's head back where he wanted, right on his heart) Nahi… ab bilkul nahi ho rahi…

One song ended and another began, but they paid no attention. Armaan and Ridhimaa continued to dance, feeling the ardour from their bodies mingling and their hearts beating together in their rhythm.


Armaan: (singing)



Tumse milke… aisa laga… tumse milke…



Armaan hue poore dil ke…



Aye meri jaane wafa…







Ridhimaa leaned her head on his shoulder and Armaan turned his head to look at her. Ridhimaa's face was turned towards him and their eyes locked together. They didn't notice that all the other couples had stopped dancing. Most of them had taken leave, while the rest were simply gazing in awe at the newly-wedded couple dancing now. Each one of them were blessing Armaan-Ridhimaa from the bottom of their heart.







Armaan: (singing)



Teri meri meri teri ek jaan hai…



Saath tere rahenge sada…



Tumse na honge juda…



Ridhimaa dug her head into Armaan's chest, planted a soft kiss there and closed her eyes. Armaan's eyes automatically drifted shut as he nuzzled his face into Ridhimaa's hair.



Armaan: (humming very softly)



Mere sanam… teri kasam… chhodenge ab na ye haath…



Ye zindagi… guzregi ab… humdum tumhare hi saath…



Apna ye vaada raha…



Tumse na honge juda…


He fet that Ridhimaa had stopped moving. Armaan smiled softly, thinking she was probably too lost in the song. He started rocking her side to side slowly, his hands constantly caressing Ridhimaa's back softly.

After a while, Armaan opened his eyes and found that he and Ridhimaa were the only ones dancing now and all others were watching them. A little flush of embarrassment crept up his neck as he called Ridhimaa.

Armaan: Ridhimaa… sab chale gaye…

Ridhimaa did not reply. Armaan called a little more urgently.


Armaan: Ridhimaa… we're the only ones on the dance floor… baaki sab… sab hume dekh rahe hain…

Still, there was no reply. Armaan ducked his head and saw that Ridhimaa had fallen asleep. Her beautiful face was glowing with contentment and innocence flooded her cheeks. Her arms held Armaan tightly as his lips touch against her cheek. Armaan drew her even closer to totally engulf her body in his arms.

As he sweeped her in his arms, Ridhimaa opened her eyes slightly.

Ridhimaa: (mumbling) Armaan… I'm… I'm too heavy... put me down… Armaan…

Ignoring the half-hearted protest, Armaan walked over to where Shashank and Padma were standing.

Shashank: (astonished) So gayi!?
Armaan nodded.
Padma: (to Shashank) Hum isey ghar le chalte hain… waise bhi 2 baj rahe hain…



Nani: Armaan… tum bhi chalo… subah to tumko aana hi hai…



Armaan: Nahi… mujhe yahaan sab wrap-up karaana hai… raat me yahin ruk jaunga aur subah…

He stopped as a soft voice filled his ears.

Ridhimaa: Armaan…

This time when she said his name, her voice was breathy, and her eyes were fast shut. She was mumbling in her sleep.

Shashank: (smiling) Chalo…

They went out and Shashank opened the back door of his car. As Armaan placed Ridhimaa in the back seat, her arms slipped around his waist. Armaan tenderly removed them and leaned over to whisper in her ears.

Armaan: I love you so very much, Jaan.

Ridhimaa did not reply. She just moved her face closer to Armaan's in answer, leaving the words unspoken but unmistakable none-the-less.

Anjali: (hiding her smirk) She wants you to kiss her!



Armaan, Shashank: (together) Anjali!

Armaan looked at Shashank and looked away as quickly as possible. He did not want to go in any conversation with Shashank on this matter! Luckily, nor did Shashank!

He stepped back, went round the car and opened the door for Padma and Nani. When all of them had seated inside, Armaan waved them goodbye.


Armaan: Ridhimaa se kahieyga… main subah jaldi aa jaunga… wo pareshaan na ho…



Anjali: Ridzi to ab shaayad subah hi uthegi… tum ussey pehle aa jaana… usey Good morning kissie dene!



Padma: Anjali… Armaan ko sataana bad karo!



Anjali: (grinning) Bye Jeeju!

Armaan shook his head. Anjali could never resist teasing him.

Armaan: Bye saali-saahiba… meri biwi ka ache se khayal rakhiyega…



Shashank: (before Anjali could open her mouth to retort) Bilkul rakhenge… goodnight.



Armaan: (smiling) Goodnight Daddy… Goodnight Mamma…


Shashank drove away. When the car turned round the corner and out of sight, Armaan whispered.

Armaan: (sighing) Goodnight Basket!

In the car, Padma put Ridhimaa's head on her lap and started stroking her hair.


Padma: (laughing to herself) Armaan ke saath dance karte-karte hi so gayi…



Nani: Main to un dono ki taraf dekh hi nahi rahi thi… itne pyare lag rahe the dono… mujhe laga kahin meri nazar na lag jaaye…

Shashank nodded.

Anjali: Lekin Ridz aise kaise so gayi… mujhe to aaj raat me ussey kitna kuch poochhna tha…



Shashank: Kya poochhna tha?



Anjali: Arrey wahi… suhaag-raat ke bare me…

Shashank glared at Anjali and then turned his attention to the road.

Nani: Anjali… Ridhimaa ko pareshaan…


She stopped mid-sentence because Ridhimaa had started moaning.


Padma: Ridhimaa?



Ridhimaa: (her eyes still closed) Armaan… Armaan…



Anjali: Dekha... neend me bhi Armaan ke saath romance…


She was cut short by a low shriek.


Ridhimaa: (opening her eyes and jumping straight) Armaan!

She looked around and found Padma's concerned face.

Ridhimaa: Mom? Armaan? Armaan kahaan hai?



Padma: Hotel me hai… aaj wahin rukega… kya hua?



Ridhimaa: (relaxing a bit) Nahi… wo… bas… sapna dekha…



Shashank: Armaan bilkul theek hai… usne kaha hai wok al subah jaldi lene aayega tumhe…

Ridhimaa nodded and started looking out of the window, her desolate mood unrelenting.  Even the serene beauty of the new moon shimmering in the sky couldn't break its hold on her heart. A soft breeze stirred the tendrils of her long hair, fluttering them across her face. Sleep was now miles away from her disturbed mind.


The next morning, Ridhimaa was in better spirits. The sun shone through her window, but today it indicated her of Armaan's arrival. She was at the door, ready to fling it open even before Armaan could put his hand on the bell.


The face of her angel-God was shining brightly in the sun. He greeted her with a smile. His hair was looked perfect. His eyes, dazzling blue were perfect. He was wearing a fitted black t-shirt, dark blue jeans, and black shoes. He was perfect! Perfectly perfect! Ridhimaa smiled too.

Armaan: (confused) What?



Ridhimaa: I love you too Armaan!

Armaan looked puzzled for a second and then his smile was dazzling. He proceeded to hug her. Ridhimaa pressed herself into him and melted so perfectly as if their bodies were just made for each other.

When Armaan tilted her face up to kiss her, Ridhimaa returned the kiss with a passion that took Armaan's breath away for a second. As their lips broke contact, Armaan whispered just loud enough so that Shashank, now coming over to them could not hear.

Armaan: Jaan… that was… incredible!

Ridhimaa smiled back at him. Armaan left Ridhimaa and touched Shashank's feet, who blessed him and hugged him.

Shashank: Aa gaye tum apni Ridhimaa ko le jaane…

They all moved towards the living room.

Shashank: (when he and Armaan were out of Ridhimaa's earshot) Raat bhar soyi nahi hai… pareshaani me bas idhar-udhar ghoomti rahi… subah 4 baje apne room me gayi… aur shaayad fir bhi nahi soyi.



Armaan: (alarmed) Kyun?



Shashank: Tumhi poochhna… hume to kuch bataaya nahi… car me bhi thodi der baad uth ke baith gayi thi…

They too reached the living room. Ridhimaa was sitting, her head resting against the sofa. Armaan occupied the space next to her on the sofa, while Shashank sat on a chair on the opposite side and picked up the day's newspaper.

Shashank: Ma aur Padma bas aati hi hongi…

Armaan nodded and then took Ridhimaa's hand in his.

Armaan: Ridhimaa?

Ridhimaa: Hmm?

Armaan: Tum raat ko soyi nahi?

Ridhimaa: Tum bhi to nahi soye…
Armaan: (amazed at Ridhimaa) Tumhe kaise pata?

Shashank looked over at Armaan in shock.


Armaan: (afraid) I… I mean… main soya to tha raat me…



Ridhimaa: (resting her head on Armaan's shoulder) To fir main bhi soyi thi… hum dono alag thode hi hain… hai na?



Armaan: Ridhimaa…



Ridhimaa: (putting a finger on his lips) Shhh…

Armaan stopped speaking. Ridhimaa removed her finger from Armaan's lips and kept her hand over Armaan's (which were holding hers). Armaan kept silent for a while and started stroking Ridhimaa's hair with his free hand. Her hands holding his were warm, soft. Her breath on his neck was enough to drive him crazy. Armaan was very conscious of Shashank's presence.

Padma arrived there with Nani. Armaan looked at the almost asleep Ridhimaa, thinking whether he should get up to greet them or not. Both smiled his way and mouthed "Baithe raho". They too sat down.


Padma: Achha hai… ab so jaaye…



Nani: Pata nahi isey raat me kya ho gaya tha…

Armaan glanced at Ridhimaa's beautiful face as if trying to find answers to all the questions.

Padma: Mujhe lagta hai ki…

She paused. All looked towards her, except Ridhimaa who had dozed off.

Padma: Mujhe lagta hai Anjali theek keh rahi thi… Ridhimaa ko Armaan ki aadat pad gayi hai…



Armaan: (in a low voice, so as not to disturb Ridhimaa's sleep) Ek din me kaise aadat pad gayi?



Padma: Ye mujhe nahi pata… lekin… aadat to pad gayi hai… isiliye na tumhare bina ache se kha paati hai… na tumse gussa ho paati hai… na so paati hai…

Armaan's ears turned red. He started looking at Ridhimaa again to hide his embarrassment. He listened to her quiet breathing as if it were the most important thing in this world. Her expression was calm. Her features relaxed and content. At times her lips would curve into a small smile and Armaan would know that she was dreaming about him. She was perfect- perfect for him.

Shashank: Kuch na kuch to karna chahiye… kyun Armaan?

Armaan nodded.

Shashank: (inquisitively) Kya karna chahiye?



Armaan: (his gaze never leaving Ridhimaa's face) Usey bahut, bahut, bahut pyar karna chahiye…

He was speaking more to himself than to Shashank.

Armaan: Ridhimaa ka dill sirf mujhse muhabbat karne ke liye dhadakta hai… main khud ko uski muhabbat me qurbaan kar bhi doon, to bhi uski muhabbat ki hadd tak nahi pahunch paunga…

Padma and Nani looked at Shashank.



 Shashank: (whispering to Nani and Padma) Sirf Ridhimaa nahi… saahabzaade bhi nahi soye hain raat me…



Nani: Kya? Armaan? Armaan?



Armaan looked up dreamily. Nani forgot that she was going to scold him. Armaan looked so lost in love, that all three (Nani, Padma and Shashank) felt moisture gathering in their eyes. No one could love their Ridhimaa more than the person sitting just in front of them. Armaan held Ridhimaa carefully, as if she was his most precious and most delicate treasure in the world.



He pressed her close to himself and kissed her forehead softly. His eyes drifted shut of their own accord.



Ridhimaa, still asleep, snuggled closer and buried her head into his neck. Armaan kissed her forehead again, this time unconsciously. Totally comfortable now, they silently, peacefully and happily drift off into a deep, deep sleep, angelic smiles etched into their satisfied faces.




Love,
Lovy

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