Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Part 22 & 23 : Armaan aur Riddhima ka safar

Riddhima sat at the breakfast table ready to go to school; she wore her simple black jeans and a short black jacket over a purple top. Her usual jewellery hung from her wrist and neck and a tiny pair of diamond studs in her ears. She took a final sip of her tea before looking over at the time on the microwave for the zillionth time and tapped her feet on the floor impatiently.

Ridz: Aaj main usse nahi chorungi – to herself angrily

She took one more look at the clock then banged her mug down on the table; at the same time the doorbell rung; she picked up her bag frowning.

Padma: Lo...agaya tumhara taxi... – laughing she walked out of the kitchen to open the door

Riddhima followed her out fuming; Padma opened the door and there stood Armaan with a bright smile.

Armaan: Good Morn... – brightly


Riddhima barged past him saying bye to Padma as she walked to the car. Armaan looked quizzically at Padma who gestured time by pointing to her wrist; Armaan bit his tongue said a quick bye to Padma and rushed to the car.

Armaan: I'm so sorry babes... – looking over at her

Ridz: Shut up and drive! – shooting a furious glare in his direction

He turned his attention back to the road as he was told slowly smiling inwards. It was very rare to have Riddhima in this mood but Armaan loved it; he thought she looked very cute while frowning. It was now a few weeks after Riddhima's birthday and the gang had had a short half term break in between and was back at school now being faced with coursework deadlines, which made Riddhima panic as she thought she was behind. Today she was running late due to Armaan's lateness; she was very close to leaving alone but her mum had told her to wait a bit.

Armaan parked the car and Riddhima jumped out the second the car was turned off. She rushed into the building not waiting for Armaan who sat there watching her; a small smile played on his lips. He got out of the car and took his time walking into the building flinging his bag over his shoulder and carrying something in his hand; he walked into the room at the same time as their tutor who smiled at him.

Teach: Right on time Armaan...

Armaan: Yes sir... – looking around the classroom

There were only three people in the room, one of which was Riddhima; Armaan smiled cheekily while Riddhima fumed silently. Others had started to walk into the room; Armaan was brought back to reality when Rahul tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around to see Rahul, Muskaan and Nikita.

Armaan: Hi guys...

Rahul: Why are you standing here...c'mon...

They walked towards Riddhima and sat down making themselves comfortable.

Niki: Hi Ridz... – sitting down next to her

Ridz: Hi Niki... – smiling slightly

Muskaan: You're really early today...

Riddhima looked up at Armaan who was already looking at her with a cheeky grin.

Ridz: Umm...yeah...I thought... – dropping her sentence

Rahul: So...what have we got today?

Niki: Free period...

Armaan kept his eyes on Riddhima with a sly grin; she could feel his eyes on her but she made sure she made no eye contact.

Muskaan: That's good... we can relax...

Rahul: Yeah right...we have deadlines coming up... – strictly, then smiling – …right Ridz?

Everyone started to laugh but was quietened down by the teacher who was now taking the register. Sometime later they left the room and made their way to the library quickly settling down with an early warning from the librarian as they got their stuff out. Only one person in the group had noticed Abhi's absence, she kept looking around in search of him, finally giving up after a while and started on her work.

Riddhima on the other hand was still looking through her bag for something, she was now furious and frustrated as she took everything out from her bag sighing loudly. A second later a book was placed under her nose; she stared at it and then to the person holding it. Armaan was sat next to her; he had turned around in his chair to face her, holding the book towards her with a puppy dog look plastered on his face; he looked so cute with that twinkle in his eye and dented cheeky smile which made her melt instantly, her anger disappeared and her face softened. She gave him a sad smile then lifted her right hand to pull her ear mouthing a small "sorry".

Armaan: It's okay... – whispering he removed her hand from her ear

Riddhima gave him a quick hug making the others look up at them, giving them random looks, she moved back and they settle down again.

Ridz: I'm sorry Armaan...the thing is I over slept this morning...I rushed everything and then I thought you were late...that's why I was angry...but when I got here I saw I was early...I didn't... – she was cut off

Armaan: - stretched his hand over the table and took hold of hers - …Ridz...it's okay...it happens...and anyways I love seeing you in this mood...you're so cute... – rubbing her cheeks with the back of his index finger and smiling

Ridz: You think this is funny? – pushing his hand away

Armaan nodded his head vigorously making her smile.

Ridz: So where was my book? – pointing to it

Armaan: It dropped out of your bag when you jumped out of my car this morning...

Ridz: - smiled – Thanks... – giving his hand a squeeze

Armaan: Bas? – looking at his hand – …You tormented me so much and all I get is a simple thanks?

Ridz: What else do you want? – confused

Armaan moved his face forward as in asking for a kiss; Riddhima playfully slapped his face away from her with a smile.

Ridz: You're asking for too much... – turning away – …c'mon do some work now...

Armaan: Tough luck Armaan... – turning back to his work

Riddhima smiled at him and shook her head; turning back to her work again but she was distracted. Rahul and Muskaan were whispering, Rahul got up and Muskaan packed her bag.

Ridz: Where are you two off to?

Muskaan: Umm...we're...umm... – looking from Riddhima to Rahul

Rahul: We'll be right back... – moving away from the table

Armaan: Okay...

Niki: But where are you going?

Muskaan exchanged looks with Riddhima, Nikita and Rahul.

Rahul: We'll see you guys later...bye… – taking hold of Muskaan's hand they walked out

Riddhima and Nikita exchanged curious looks but were unable to say anything as Abhi bounded up to the table.

Abhi: Hey guys...where are they off to? – looking behind him

Ridz: I don't know...they didn't say...but where have you been?

Abhi: Oh I had a nice long lay in... – stretching his arms out dropping his bag on the floor

Armaan: Lucky for some... – sulking – …I've got to get up early everyday...free period or no free period...madam ko lift dena parta hain... – smiling

Abhi and Nikita smiled at him but Riddhima looked upset by this comment.

Ridz: Armaan...I didn't ask you to give me a lift everyday...it was your idea... – a bit sad

Armaan: Ridz...I was just joking...calm down...

Ridz: You really don't have to give me a lift...I'll walk to school from tomorrow...I didn't know it was that much of a problem to you...

Abhi and Nikita looked on as they saw a small tiff coming on and they decided to carry on with their work even though they wanted the couple to stop they thought that it was their personal matter and they should solve it.

Armaan: Rid...Riddhima... – wondering what had happened to her suddenly

Ridz: No Armaan...really just don't worry any more...you can take your time and come to school…don't bother stopping off to get me I'll just take the bus... okay?

Armaan: Riddhima...seriously I was joking...I didn't mean to hurt you by saying that... – feeling stupid for what he had said – …I'm really very sorry...

His apologetic expression had seemed to work its charm on Riddhima and she decided not to stretch this small matter; her face softened and she nodded to say it's okay. He understood and gave her hand another squeeze; they carried on with their work for some time then left to go to their lesson. Nikita and Riddhima went to their Textiles lesson talking about how annoying guys could be at times.

As they walked into the classroom it was slightly empty compared to the usual crowd. Only three people were in the room with the teacher. They settled down taking out their work and were beginning to make their outfits when Nikita looked up turning towards Riddhima

Niki: I wonder where Muski is...she knows we have a lesson...doesn't she?

Ridz: Yeah where is she… – she took out her phone and looked at the time – …it's ten minutes into the lesson and she's still not here...

Niki: Call her...she might have forgotten or lost track of the time…

Riddhima called Muskaan and waited for her to answer the phone with a quizzical look on her face; thirty seconds later she looked at the phone which had now reached the answer phone, she cancelled the call and looked at Nikita.

Ridz: No answer... – concerned

Niki: I wonder where she is...

Ridz: She was acting a little weird earlier...this morning she was a bit quiet and they were whispering a lot...

Niki: Yeah...even on the way to registration this morning she was bit quiet and Rahul was doing all the talking which is really odd...

Ridz: I just hope she's okay...

Niki: Yeah me too...c'mon let's get some work done…

They carried on working for another forty minutes then packed their things away, walked out of the class and made their way towards the common room. They walked out of the lift still in conversation about Muskaan and Rahul as they entered the room they scanned it for sight of Muskaan but she wasn't there. They settled down now slightly worried when Abhi and Armaan entered and sat beside them.

Abhi: What's up with you two?

Ridz: Was Rahul in class?

Armaan: Rahul? – confused - …Riddhima? Your boyfriend is sitting in front of you and your thinking of another guy?? – laughing along with Abhi

Niki: Armaan...shut up...she's asking if Rahul was in class because Muskaan wasn't...she's not answering her phone and we were just wondering where she was that's why...

Armaan: Okay...okay...I was just joking...you girls take everything so seriously...no he was not in class...but what's wrong with that…they probably just wanted to spend time together...

At the same time the couple walked into the common room hand in hand.

Armaan: What did I say... – looking over at them as they joined the gang

Rahul: Hi guys...what's up?

Riddhima and Nikita looked at Muskaan who seemed happy but apologetic at the same time.

Abhi: Nothing...just the usual...these girls really do worry unnecessarily…

Rahul: About what?  - confused

Armaan: They thought there was something wrong with you two...being so secretive like there's a problem…

Rahul laughed but Muskaan looked down ashamed; the girls never hide anything from each other and for this strange behaviour Muskaan seemed guilty.

Muskaan: Ridz...Niki...I'm sorry...

Niki: Muski...it's okay...we'll talk later... – giving her a signal that it was not a good idea to chat in front of the guys

The girls silently agreed and the general conversation carried on for some time until it was time for another lesson. They all made their way to their double ICT, they quickly settled down girls on one side and the guys on the other they started with their new coursework project. Sometime after the teacher had told them to get on with their work silently Muskaan turned to the girls.

Muskaan: I'm sorry girls...it's just that Rahul thinks that we're not spending enough time together and feels left out...we were chatting to each other last night and he told me he wanted to spend the entire morning with me...which meant that I had to bunk Textiles...he told me not to say anything to you guys in the morning because you would tell me not to bunk etc etc...I'm really sorry…

Niki: It's okay Muskaan...really...

Ridz: Niki's right Muski...nothing's wrong with that...but if you told us we wouldn't have worried so much...the only reason we was thinking about it was because I called you a few times and you weren't answering so we thought something was wrong...

Niki: Yeah...don't worry about it...and let Rahul think what he wants to...let's tease him a bit...you won't stay with him for the rest of the day...just ignore him and let him suffer... – giggling evilly

Muskaan and Riddhima also giggled then carried on with their work until lunch when they all made a quick escape from the room and out of the building heading towards the mall as they were free for the rest of the day.



After a few hours they all went home and Armaan and Riddhima drove towards Riddhima's home for her to get dress and freshen up before going to the Malik's for dinner. They arrived to an empty house and Riddhima looked around wondering where everyone was; she decided to call her mum and find out where everyone was while Armaan found this a perfect opportunity to have fun. He held her around her waist and nuzzled his nose into her hair while she waited for her mum to answer.

Ridz: Hi mama...where are you?...//Okay...that's fine...//No I was just wondering because I just came home and the house was empty...that's why...//it's okay mama...//theek hain...//I'll be there soon...//bye... - she hung up and turned to face Armaan - …mama is at your house...and papa has a meeting…he will go straight there...

Armaan: Great... – pulling her closer with a big smile

Ridz: Noo... – moving him away – …you stay right here...I'll just take a quick shower and be down in five minutes...

Armaan: That's not fair Ridz...this is perfect time...I just want to love you...we never have time alone… – pulling a puppy dog face

Ridz: Armaan... – after a few seconds of watching him she finally gave in

He smiled victoriously and walked her into the living room; they settled onto the sofa, Riddhima leaned her body onto Armaan's chest while he moved her hair aside and played his lips along the back of her neck making her shiver down her spine and smile within. They stayed like this for a couple more minutes until Armaan's phone rang making them both jump out of their skin. Riddhima jumped up in shock realising what they were doing and ran upstairs with a smile on her face; Armaan smiled at her innocence while watching her go, when she had disappeared up the stairs he turned to his phone silently cursing it before answering.

He chatted away for another ten minutes until he saw her walking down the stairs towards him looking very fresh and beautiful, even though she was not wearing anything special but her casual clothes and usual jewellery with her side bag. He cancelled the call after saying bye then carried on staring at her until she was standing right in front of him.

Ridz: Let's go… – putting a few strands of hair behind her ear

Armaan: We still have some time...sit with me… – holding her hand and pulling her down on the sofa next to him

Ridz: Armaan...it will be late and... – cut off

Armaan: - pulled her close to him and breathed in her fresh scent of perfume and shower crme – Ssshhh... – into her ear – …you're looking so beautiful...

Riddhima listened to him silently for a few seconds but was afraid she would lose herself again; instead she shook that thought out of her mind and stood up moving away from him with a shy smile.

Ridz: C'mon Armaan...we're going to be late...then everyone will start getting ideas...let's go… – not able to meet his eyes

Armaan smiled at her thinking how cute she was then stood up; they both started to walk out to the main door when Armaan pulled her back and she bumped into his chest, she closed her eyes.

Armaan: I love you… – whispered into her ears making her smile widen

They both walked out of the house silently with big smiles on their faces and made their way towards the car when they both noticed Vivik standing across the road by his home and was watching them. Riddhima looked away and carried on towards the car while Armaan stood there and smiled watching his fuming face; they drove off silently as he watched them.



They arrived at the Malik's house, Armaan went up to his room after saying hi to everyone and Riddhima sat with the ladies who involved themselves in general chit chat. After an hour Atul came home and Anjali sneaked off to care for her husband and sometime later Shashank and Vikram came home in deep discussion about the meeting which had just occurred. Everyone scuttled away in couples leaving Riddhima to sit on her own watching TV.

Even though it was showing her favourite show her mind was far from it, instead her thoughts were filled with the event which happened a few hours earlier. She leaned forward, placing her elbow on her knee and her hand wondered behind her neck to where Armaan's lips had been earlier that evening. She breathed in and smiled remembering that moment; it was the first time they had been that close and she enjoyed every moment of it. She was completely lost in her thoughts when Armaan had entered the room, he watched her in this position knowing exactly what was on her mind. He walked towards her and leaned very close to her ear...

Armaan: Thinking of me...? – sensuously

Riddhima jumped up once again and looked around to see if anyone else was in the room.

Ridz: Armaan...what are you doing?? – whispering

Armaan: - moving back and settling in another chair – Maine kya kiya… - sneakily he smiled at her then winked

Riddhima looked down shyly then carried on watching TV as if nothing had happened because Shashank had walked back into the room and settled down bringing up a conversation with Armaan. After sometime dinner was served; and both families had a nice long conversation while eating. After dinner Anjali and Riddhima offered to clear up letting the others leave the kitchen and heading back into the living room to watch TV; they talked about school and Riddhima's coursework deadlines and other stuff until the kitchen was cleaned and they also made their way to the living room when Armaan was standing at the top of the stairs.

Armaan: Oi! – shouting to Riddhima

Anjali and Riddhima looked up to him quizzically.

Ridz: Oi has a name!

Anjali smiled and rolled her eyes at him.

Armaan: Riddhima Ji...will you please come up and help me with my ICT coursework...

Ridz: Why can't you do it on your own?

Armaan: Because you are much clever than me and I require your help... – putting on a fake accent

Anji: - now laughing – …Go on Ridzi...help the poor guy...

Ridz: Dii... – turning to her in shock - …he has you wrapped around his little finger...and that's not good… – smiling slightly she rolled her eyes at him as she walked up the stairs

Armaan: I love you bhabi… – as Anjali walked into the living room and Riddhima got to the top of the stairs – …and I love you too… – grabbing Riddhima's hand and pulling her into his room

Ridz: Armaan! – as he closed the door and pushed her against it – …What are you doing??

Armaan: I can't stay away from you... – coming closer

Ridz: Armaan behave... – pushing him away she moved to sit on his bed – …show me your coursework…

Armaan: What? You think I called you up here to do coursework? – sitting very near to her on the bed

Ridz: That's what you said... – putting her hand on his chest and moving him away - ...and that is what you will do! – strictly

Armaan: That's not fair Ridz...c'mon be serious!

Ridz: I am serious!

Without saying another word Armaan got up and grabbed his laptop; he knew she meant business; he came and sat next to her opening up the files and they got to work. After sometime Armaan got the hang of it and carried on working on his own; Riddhima smiled proudly and let him work, she picked up his phone which was on the bed and browsed through it silently until she came to his photo gallery. She clicked on a photo staring closely at the people in it, her expression changed from calm to curious in a second.

Ridz: Armaan... - slowly

Armaan: Hmmm... – not looking up from his laptop

Ridz: Did you have a lot of girlfriends back home?

Still not looking up; Armaan smiled and nodded; Riddhima looked back at the photo; now her expression changing from curious to angry. She watched the photo closely as Armaan had his arms and legs around a girl, they were tangled in each other, both their faces very close and the girl's hair was covering their faces. She flicked through the photos which were getting worst and worst. She went to the call log to see that there had been a lot of calls from a certain girl which was not her, looking though it closely she saw that same number was the last person to call him, checking the time she realised it was the same time they were busy making out at her home. Now boiling with anger she got up quickly throwing his phone down onto the bed. Armaan finally looked up at her wondering what had happened, then looked from the phone to her.

Armaan: Rid... – getting up and coming towards her

Ridz: DON'T!!! ... – angrily stepping back – Don't you dare come near me...

Armaan: Riddhima please...it's not... – she cut him off

Ridz: I don't want to hear it... I HATE YOU!

She rushed out of the room and was nearing the stairs when Armaan called her name. She ignored him and carried on down the stairs just in time to see her parents ready to leave, she thanked God silently.

Anji: Ridzi...I was just coming to get you…

She nodded silently and said a quick bye to everyone before leaving. It was a quiet ride home and she rushed to her room the moment they had got in; letting herself fall onto the bed she cried silently thinking of Armaan as those images flashed through her mind repeatedly. Suddenly her phone rang; she knew without looking it was Armaan, cancelling the call she rushed to the bathroom still in tears. After sometime she came out and got into the bed ignoring her phone which was now vibrating at the end of the bed silently; she turned off the light and closed her eyes letting the tears flow continuously from her eyes as she fell asleep...
.........................................
part 23

It was a quiet ride home and she rushed to her room the moment they had got in; letting herself fall onto the bed she cried silently thinking of Armaan as those images flashed through her mind repeatedly. Suddenly her phone rang; she knew without looking it was Armaan, cancelling the call she rushed to the bathroom still in tears. After sometime she came out and got into the bed ignoring her phone which was now vibrating at the end of the bed silently; she turned off the light and closed her eyes letting the tears flow continuously from her eyes as she fell asleep.



The next morning Riddhima got up half an hour before her alarm; not that she had slept well throughout the entire night. She went into the bathroom for a shower and came out twenty minutes later, still not feeling any better. She got dressed and sat at her dressing table putting on her usual jewellery; she looked into the mirror to see a sad, pale face staring back at her; she had had less than two hours sleep and was feeling awful. She opened up her makeup kit and took out her foundation brush and tried to hide the dark circles from around her eyes. She applied a little kajal to her eyes making her look a tad brighter than when she had sat down. She got up not even trying to meet her own eyes in the mirror afraid that those horrific images would flash into her mind again.

Moving away from the table she checked her bag to see if she had her books for today's lesson, she then made her bed, while fixing the duvet something fell onto the floor, she looked around to find her phone laying there face down. She picked it up and looked at the screen unlocking it; forty missed calls. Her eyes welled up; she cancelled the calls and turned off her phone, throwing it in her bag she left the room without looking back once. She made her way downstairs; the house was still very quiet as she walked into the kitchen. She scanned the place checking the time on the microwave which read 7:25. She put the kettle on and waited for the water to heat up, the second it had clicked off Padma walked into the kitchen still looking very sleepy but was surprised to see Riddhima already there making tea.

Padma: Riddhima? You're up very early...it's only 7:30...aur yeh kya hain? – pointing to the kettle and mug – …You never drink this kind of tea...let me make you some proper tea...

Ridz: Nahi mama...I have to go quickly...I'll have this for today… – sitting down at the table

Padma: Why are you leaving so early...why don't you wait for Armaan...

Hearing his name she felt a pang in her chest, she tried to cover up quickly because she knew her mum would ask a million questions if she thought something was wrong.

Ridz: Mama I need to see the teacher before registration...if I wait for him I won't be able to talk to her...that's why I will take the bus... – taking a sip from her mug

Padma: Theek hain...but did you let Armaan know that you'll be going by bus?

Ridz: - again she felt the hatred building up for him – …I'll call him... – getting up, if she sat here any longer she will hear his name another twenty to forty times – ….I'm getting late...I should go now... – placing her mug in the dishwasher and grabbing her bag

At the same time Shashank walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

Shashank: Where's my princess off to so early in the morning?

Ridz: - giving him a hug – …Papa I have to go to school...I've got to see a teacher before class...I was just leaving...

Shashank: Wait a bit and I'll give you a lift...

Ridz: Its okay papa...then you will have to rush...I'll go... – giving Padma a hug – …bye...

She left the house and walked through the estate quickly to the main road pulling her jacket around her as there was a small breeze which made her shiver; right now she was cursing the weather; it was suppose to be spring but instead it was cloudy and dull just like her feelings. She finally reached the bus stop and again was angry at the bus for being late. After standing there for five minutes which seemed like fifty minutes the bus arrived and she hopped on frowning at the driver; she sat in the far end of the bus and stared out of the window, her mind filled with anxious thoughts of what will happen today, no way was she ready to face Armaan, she thought of every way possible to avoid seeing him more further meeting him.  Twenty minutes later she got off of the bus and walked into school knowing exactly where she wanted to go.



Armaan arrived at the Gupta's place forty minutes after Riddhima had left; he stood on the doorstep patiently after ringing the bell. Padma opened the door with a curious look making Armaan raise his eyebrow.

Padma: Armaan? What are you doing here?

Armaan: Matlab? I mean...I came for Riddhima...

Padma: Woh toh chale gayi...she didn't call you?

Armaan: - thinking – …She's still very angry with me… – then out loud – …umm...I must have missed her call...

Padma: Okay...you better go now...or you'll be late...

Armaan: Yeah...bye aunty…

He got back into his car and drove as quickly as possible to school to meet Riddhima; on his way he thought of how he would make it up to her. The moment he turned off the car he jumped out and ran straight for registration, wanting to speak to her immediately. He rushed into the class to see his tutor end the register and turned on him.

Teach: Late Armaan... – cross

Armaan: Sorry sir...I wa...

Teach: Better not happen again... – looking at the group – …get to your lessons…

He left the room and some of the group left as well; Armaan made his way towards his friends, now worrying as he didn't see Riddhima anywhere.

Armaan: Where's Riddhima?

Abhi: Whoa Armaan...Late?? I can't believe I made it here before you... – smirking at his own joke

Armaan: - not in the mood – Where's Riddhima?

Muskaan: Calm down Armaan...not even a Hi? – looking at his face she dropped it – …But I was going to ask you that...where is Ridz…she always comes to school with you?

Armaan: I know we always come to school together but when I went to her place to get her Aunty said she had already left...I thought she was going to be here...

Rahul: Let's calm down first… – putting his hand on Armaan's shoulder – …we should go from here...there's a class waiting to get in...

They left the room silently and stood outside in the corridor; Armaan was now very worried.

Niki: Armaan...what happened?

Armaan: Muskaan call her...find out where she is...

Rahul: Why don't you call her? – confused

Armaan: She won't answer my phone calls...I've been calling her all night...Muskaan please call her...

Muskaan: Okay... – she whipped out her phone and called Riddhima, a second later she moved the phone away from her ear – …her phone is off…

Armaan was now getting tensed and the others were also worried.

Muskaan: Armaan listen to me... – coming closer – …I know something is wrong but I'm not going to ask what right now...but I think you should go to class...

Armaan: Musk... – she cut him off

Muskaan: Armaan just listen to me...you need to go to class...we all have a free period...we'll look for her...but I'm her best friend and I know her very well...right now she must be in her maths lesson...she Never misses her class...

Armaan knew she was right and so did the others; he thanked Muskaan and he left them to go to his lesson, hoping that she would be there. The others walked with him half way then made their way to the library; he reached the class and knocked on the door, as he walked in everyone's head turned to look at him but Riddhima's.

Teach: You're late Armaan... – cross at Armaan for disrupting his lesson – …see me at the end of lesson to catch up on what you missed…

Armaan: I'm sorry sir...

He walked to the back of the class to the only space available and swore at himself silently; he should've thought that she would be here, if he was a little earlier he could have sat next to her, but now she was sitting right at the front of the class next to the geeky maths whizz. According to Armaan's thoughts the lesson was dragging and he prayed for it to end soon, very impatient, he needed to speak to her now. The end of the lesson had finally arrived; Armaan threw his things into his bag and rushed to the front of the class to where Riddhima was.

Armaan: Riddhima I'm sorry...

Riddhima ignored him and carried on packing her bag looking very uncomfortable thinking of how to get away from him.

Teach: Armaan come and collect your papers...

Armaan looked from the teacher to Riddhima and back; she was ready to leave the class and he had no choice but to wait back; he quickly collected the papers and rushed out behind her. He caught up with her just as she was about to reach the stairs.

Armaan: Riddhima listen to me... – apologetically

They were still rushing down the stairs when Riddhima shrugged him off, Armaan barged into a little boy who was coming up the stairs with a pile of books. Everyone stopped to look at the books on the floor; Armaan watched Riddhima and made a move towards her but the group standing around made him pick the books up. He swore angrily and picked up the books hoping to meet back up with her. After handing the books to the little boy he rushed down the remaining stairs and looked through the crowded corridor of students moving from one class to another; at the far end he could see Riddhima going towards her Textiles class. Pushing and shoving through the crowd he finally made it to the end; he rushed up the stairs knowing that he would meet her in Textiles as she never missed her favourite lesson.

He got to the corridor but was in time to see her leaving her textiles class and walking in the other direction; he shouted her name but again she ignored him. At the same time his teacher called him; he looked back; his electronics teacher was waiting for him by the classroom door.

Teach: You have a lesson...

He shook his head and walked towards the class now feeling very angry and disappointed. He wanted to speak to her really badly, he hated this feeling of hurting her and wanted to apologies to her but every time he got close to her he felt he was losing her even more. He hung his head low as he sat around a table with Abhi and Rahul not being able to take in a word the teacher was saying.

At the end of the lesson the guys met up with Muskaan and Nikita who were in the class next to theirs. They walked towards the common room; Armaan was still very upset as they got into the lift.

Armaan: Why did she not stay in class? – to Muskaan and Nikita

Niki: She's ahead of everyone in the class...she's ready to make her dress so she went to the Textiles block to use the machines...but I doubt she's still there...

Abhi: What happened between you guys anyway...why is this so serious?

Muskaan, Nikita and Rahul shot him evil looks as to say "Shut Up" but he shrugged curiously. They stepped out of the lift and walked silently to the common room to grab something to eat. Armaan scanned the room for sight of Riddhima but hard luck and he sat down with a grumpy face thinking of what he was going to do now. The others had bought their food and sat down next to him.

Armaan: Muskaan please call her again...maybe her phone is on now... – hopefully

Muskaan: - nodding, she took out her phone and pressed Riddhima's number, she held it to her ears waiting for an answer after the second ring – …Hello...//Ridzi?? Where are you??...

Ridz: Hi Muskaan...I know he's there right now so I can't say...I'm sorry…

Muskaan: But why...

Ridz: Muskaan please...I'm not ready to face him right now...I can't...// yeah I'm fine...don't worry...I…

Armaan: - snatching the phone from Muskaan – …Riddhima I'm really sorry...we need to talk...I need t... – stopped, moving the phone away from his ear

Riddhima had cut the phone on him; Armaan now looked very pitiful, the others tried to cheer him up until it was time for their third lesson, the girls headed back to Textiles and the boys dragged Armaan back to Electronics for their double lesson. After an hour of boredom for Armaan he walked with the guys to their business lesson before going in search of Riddhima who he knew had a free period along with him.

On the way to their business class the guys walked into Vivik who was having a lesson in the room next to the guys. Vivik saw the guys walking towards him and he stepped up to Armaan angrily.

Vivik: How dare you...

Armaan: What? – really not in the mood for him right now

Vivik: How dare you try to hurt my Riddhima...you have no right to make her cry...

Armaan: What? Wait a second...firstly she's not yours...she's mine...and where is she?

Vivik: You think I'm going to tell you... – pushing him up against the wall

A crowd had gathered around the guys; Abhi pushed Vivik away and the guys looked angrily at each other.

Armaan: Tell me where she is...

Vivik: I don't know...I met her this morning…she needed a shoulder to cry on and I was there for her...but even if I knew where she was right now I would never tell you...

Armaan rounded up on him this time but before anything could happen the teachers sent everyone to their classes; Rahul tried to calm Armaan down before going to his lesson. Armaan walked away slowly thinking of every possible place of where she could be; he searched every department hoping to find her and had asked everyone on his way who knew her. Almost giving up he walked into the library and sat in their usual cubical thinking why had this happened; how could he have let this happen, it was now over fifteen hours that he had not spoken to her and he felt awful for hurting her. His elbows on the table he put his head in his hands and thought hard about where she could be when someone had touched his hand gently. He looked up suddenly to see a little girl from his "fan club" standing there looking at him.

Girl: Armaan...are you okay? – worried for him

Armaan: Umm...yeah? – curious

Girl: You look really tensed...can I help you with something? – naive and sweet

Armaan: - smiling slightly – I wish...

Girl: Tell me...

Armaan: Have you seen Riddhima?

Girl: Riddhima...your girlfriend? – sweetly

Armaan: Yeah...have you seen her anywhere?

Girl: Umm...yeah I have...

Armaan: - looking a bit brighter – Do you know where she is right now? – eagerly hoping to hear a positive answer

Girl: Yeah...

Armaan: - standing up – Where? Where is she??

Girl: - pointing upstairs to the balcony of the library to the 6th form study area – She's there…

They both looked upstairs to see Riddhima sitting in the small cubical surrounded by books; Armaan looked at the little girl and smiled then gave her a big hug making her cheeks go red.

Armaan: Thank you so much… – letting go of her, he picked up his bag he started to walk away then came back – What's your name?

Girl: - blushing – Minnie…

Armaan: Cute name...but shouldn't you be in class?

Girl: - looking shocked – Ooopps...I forgot...I came to print something...

Armaan: Thanks again... – he winked at her making her cheeks turn a darker shade of red then walked upstairs



Riddhima sat in a small cubical surrounded by books; she was writing her English essay when another tear dropped from her eyes onto the paper in front of her. She closed her eyes as those images flashed into her mind for the zillionth time; she had avoided him all day but those images did not spare her; every time she almost got rid of them they seemed to pop back making her fell shattered all over again. She folded her hands on the table and rested her head on to them letting the tears roll from eyes.

A few moments later she felt a strong hand on her shoulder; she looked up; her face tear stained and eyes with blurry vision. It took a couple of seconds for her eyes to focus on the figure sitting next to her; Armaan; she quickly made a rush to pack her things away and move but he held her hand making her look in the opposite direction.

Armaan: Riddhima...I know I have really hurt you...but if we don't talk there is no way this is going to be sorted...

Riddhima ignored him and carried on looking away.

Armaan: Please Riddhima...just give me one chance to explain... – rubbing his thumb on the back of her hand – …if you've ever had feelings for me...even a slight bit...please give me this one chance... – her hand twitched and he could feel her body soften a tiny bit – …please...

It took several moments before Riddhima turned her face towards Armaan's direction but she still did not look up to his eyes. No matter how angry she was with him she always seemed to melt when he spoke softly to her; she could also hear the pain in his voice and she knew that she was not the only one who was hurt, it pained her to stay away from him and not answer his calls so she could understand how he was feeling. But once again those images flashed into her mind and tears dropped from her eyes; Armaan wiped her cheeks with his knuckles and felt really stupid at himself for making her cry like this.

Armaan: Riddhima...I'm really sorry...but I promise you will feel better if you just hear me out... – there was a pause for a few seconds until Riddhima nodded her head slightly – …Riddhima...what you saw...I mean...those photos are not really what you think...she's not my girlfriend...never was and never will be...and I know you must be thinking that I'm lying...thinking that we were all over each other and here I am saying that we're not a couple...but seriously if you have even a little bit of trust in me you will believe what I'm saying...the girl you saw in the photo...that's Tannu...my best friend...she's like my sister...

Riddhima finally looked up into Armaan's eyes to see the pain and the truth; she knew from the look in his eye that he was not telling a lie and nodded allowing him to carry on.

Armaan: Tannu I mean Tanisha was our neighbour...but she was treated like family...she lived at my house more than hers...bhai treated her like a baby sister and me and her were friends...and mum, dad... – he went silent, gulped and carried on – …mum and dad saw her as the daughter which they lost...

Armaan had gone silent and Riddhima was baffled; she wanted to know more but waited for Armaan as he seemed a little hurt talking about this.

Armaan: I'm not the youngest in the family... - looking up at Riddhima – …I had a baby sister...Sachi, she was not even two when she died... – he saw the shock on Riddhima's face – …mum and dad were completely shattered…that time I was almost four...I didn't have a clue what was going on…all I knew that Sachi was gone…mum cried and dad consoled her...bhai was older but he always stayed in his room...that time Tannu was the only one there for me...we were the same age and she use to call me to play with her...at the time I thought no one cared for me but her...we became best friends and her mum was my second mum... – Riddhima stretched her hand out to hold his giving it a small squeeze with tears still falling from her cheeks – …when I was ten mum and dad sat down with me and bhai...they apologised for ignoring us and thanked Tannu's mum for caring for us...they had become so close to us...she's my Ayi... – thinking a little – …you remember during bhai and bhabi's wedding time I was with that lady...

Riddhima thought back to the Sangeet function when she had walked in to the kitchen to find Armaan speaking to an older lady about someone then nodded to Armaan. He was about to speak again when his mobile vibrated in his pocket, he took it out to see Muskaan's name flashing on the screen.

Armaan: Just a second... – to Riddhima, then held the phone up to his ear – …Hello...//Yeah...we're together...// Yeah she's fine...//Okay... – hands the phone to Riddhima – …Muskaan...

Ridz: - takes the phone – Hi Muskaan...//I'm fine...//Oh sorry...I'm in the library that's why I switched it on vibrate...it's in my bag so I didn't know...sorry...//Okay then...//No that's fine...//Yeah okay...I'll see you tomorrow...//Bye... – cuts the phone and gives it back to Armaan – …they're going to the mall...

Armaan: Okay...umm yeah so...Tannu is just family... – looking apologetically at Riddhima again – …those photos was just a dare...I didn't even know someone had taken them and they were on my phone...it's really not what it had seemed like...I would never do anything like that with her...or with anyone...you know what Ridz...I might act like I was a stud but honestly speaking...you are my first girlfriend...yes I was popular with the girls but I was never with anyone in particular...and I never had feelings for anyone like I have with you... – trying to make his point clear to her – …and you know what the weird thing is...Tannu was the one who told me that I was in love with you...after the wedding all I could talk to her about was you...whatever we did, whatever we said...even from the very first day we met at school I told her how annoying you was and she told me that I was in love with you or I would fall in love with you...we are that close that even she knows my feelings before I do...can you believe it...

Riddhima finally smiled for the first time since they had spent time alone yesterday at her house; she felt like an idiot for misunderstanding him and also felt sorry after hearing about his life story. Her eyes welled up again now thinking about the loss of the Malik family and how Armaan had felt left out.

Armaan: Riddhima... – looking sadly at her – …you're still angry at me...I'm really very sorry...I…

Ridz: Nahi Armaan... – cutting him off - …it's not that... – wiping her tears away – …I'm sorry...I didn't even give you a chance to explain...I took this whole issue so far...I didn't mean to hurt you...thinking that Tannu was your girlfriend...and what she really means to you...I'm sorry…

Armaan: It's okay Ridz...I mean anyone who saw those photos would have thought the same thing...I don't blame you but I felt horrible for hurting you...all I wanted to do was make it up to you...you know what…it's the worst feeling when your love one ignores you...

Ridz: I'm sorry... – Armaan moved closer to her and put his arm around her while she rested her head on his shoulder – …sorry for the forty missed calls...

Armaan: - moved back and smiled – It's okay...forget about it now…the good thing is that we're together again… - rubbing her hand - …let's go from here…

Riddhima motioned to him that she had an essay to do but he just packed her things in her bag and grabbed her jacket, making her get up and she smiled; they walked towards the lift holding hands. Leaving the building they got into Armaan's car and he drove to the nearest Mc Donald's to get something to eat as he was starving. They sat around the table; Armaan munched away on his chips.

Ridz: Armaan...I'm really sorry to hear about Sachi... – looking sadly at him

Armaan: - nodding - I do miss her and I know there's not a single day that passes that mum and dad doesn't think of her...but what's happened can't be changed right...

Riddhima nodded and they carried on eating. When they had finished they drove to the park, as it was a lovely day with beautiful weather they decided to sit on a park bench and make up for the day which was spent in anger and frustration with love and care...


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