Wednesday, 22 January 2020

AR FF Epilogue : "and then she said it"

Few months later...

"Armaan, Riddhima went into labour. Come to hospital. Get Rahul too." Muskaan said hurriedly into the phone, while walking briskly towards the maternity ward with a flask full of coffee and a carton of orange juice.

Riddhima had gone into labour about noon, when they were sitting at their house in Bangalore lazing around. Armaan, Riddhima and Rahul had taken transfers to the Bangalore office and owing to Riddhima's slightly complicated pregnancy, they were granted one without any fuss. Ankit had made sure of that.

When they had moved to Bangalore and started living together, Muskaan had sometimes felt difficult to identify with Riddhima. The Riddhima she knew was very reserved and quite in-my-shell type of girl. The Riddhima now was more or less the same, but she seemed to be more at ease around her people. She seemed to be more in control of herself and quite confident of the relationships around her. In fact Muski was left gaping at the couple when Riddhima had fought with Armaan frequently about the baby's nursery, while Rahul just winked at her. She didn't understand what brought it about completely; nevertheless she was happy for her friend. She had taken a week off from her work at their hospital to keep a tab on Riddhima as she was nearing her due date. And the little one seemed to be very punctual.

Riddhima's consulting doctor had told that it might be a while for the baby to come out as her contractions were not frequent. Meanwhile she had advised Riddhima to have something to drink and do a small walking exercise.

When Muski entered their room, she found Raji holding Riddhima's hand while the latter was taking deep breaths.

"Is it time?" Muski asked anxiously.

"Not yet, I think." Raji replied smiling. Though Muski tried to hide her excitement, it was transparent on her face.

"I brought some coffee and juice for you Riddhima." She handed a cup of steaming coffee to Riddhima.

"Oh! Thanks Muski, you are a savior." Riddhima took a quick gulp and sighed. "Are Armaan and Rahul coming?"

"I hope so. Armaan seemed to have zoned out when I mentioned that we brought you to hospital." Muski giggled with Riddhima.

"Armaan is always hyper and I don't know who he got that quality from." Raji chuckled.

"Is uncle that way, aunty?" Riddhima asked softly.

"No, Riddhima. He was a calm and composed person. And yes, Armaan got that charm from him." Raji whispered and smiled.

Riddhima noticed that soft glow that made its presence on Raji's face when she talked about her husband. And right at that moment, she made a decision.

"Oh!" Riddhima exclaimed after a moment.

"Is it time now?" Muski almost jumped.

Raji shook her head and estimated the frequency of Riddhima's contractions. "I think so. Muski get the doctor."

While Muski went to get the doctor, Padma walked in.

"I talked to the doctor. Your vitals are all normal and we should be expecting a normal delivery." She announced happily. "And Rahul called me. They are almost there."

A moment later doctor came in and decided to shift Riddhima to the labour room. Just in time, Armaan and Rahul came rushing in.

"One person can come with us to the labour room. Your husband, may be?" Doctor asked a slightly breathless Riddhima.

Riddhima looked at a very anxious Armaan and she knew it would be a disaster with Armaan in with her. He would probably faint or do something crazy. He already seemed off, wondering what was happening around him.

She shook her head. "I would rather take Raji aunty, to retain my sanity."

Everyone chuckled while Armaan sighed in relief.

"Are you sure, Riddhima?" Raji asked.

"Yes aunty, I want you to be there with me." Riddhima replied softly, with a slight smile.

With everything decided, Riddhima was wheeled into the labour room, with Raji following dressed in sterile clothes. Her doctor had made sure they had everything in case it turned out to be complicated, given her history. But the little one turned out to be very compassionate. He deciding against causing any pain to his mother and arrived into the world quickly and with a loud wail.

When the doctor brought the infant to Riddhima, who was surprisingly conscious, Riddhima shook her head negatively. Raji thought she would want Armaan to hold him for the first time, so she offered to call him in. Riddhima, surprising everyone, asked the nurse to call Armaan in, but asked Raji to hold the baby first.

"Riddhima, its parent's right to hold the baby first. It is a moment to cherish." Raji told her, squeezing her hand, with tears in her eyes.

"I still want you to hold him aunty."

Armaan walked in to the sight of Riddhima watching softly as Raji tried to hold the infant close to her chest. He went to Riddhima and kissed her forehead, before talking a glance at his baby.

"Have you decided a name?" Raji asked after a moment.

Armaan shrugged and looked at Riddhima.

"Its Arvind Mallik, aunty." Riddhima whispered, with a teary smile.

Raji was stunned for a moment and slowly understood the underlying intention behind Riddhima's gesture of asking her to hold the baby. For a woman of immense control and composure, Raji melted into tears.

"Riddhima, I-" Raji started, in short of words, only to be cut off by Riddhima.

"You gave me my world Aunty. This is the least I could do." Riddhima whispered.

And Armaan fell in love with Riddhima, all over again for the woman she was. He pecked her lips softly and smiled at her his eyes moist.

Riddhima looked into his eyes for a moment. "I love you Armaan."

And thus, she finally said it.


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