Thursday, 30 April 2020

Part 36: Armaan aur Riddhima ka safar

The gang sat around their usual table in the school library for their last revision session. Armaan and Riddhima were going through the notes for their English exam which they were going to have in a few hours. She was very nervous as she skimmed her flash cards picking up important information which may be useful in the exams. Her teeth suddenly started to chatter, disturbing the others sitting around her, they looked up to see her teeth chattering away and started to laugh.

Abhi: - joking he looked out of the window – Is it winter again? – making the others laugh

Ridz: It's n-not fun-ny... – chattering

Muskaan: Ridz it's okay...calm down...

Armaan: Here... – putting his arm around her shoulder - ...let me warm you up...

Rahul: Any excuse...


Armaan: What? – making a face

Ridz: Gu-ys...I'm so-so scar-ed for th-is ex-am...

Niki: C'mon Ridz...you have nothing to worry about...

Muskaan: Yeah...you're already in TFI...your marks mean nothing to them...

Armaan: Yeah...and how much do you want to bet that your marks will be the highest amongst all of us anyway...

Ridz: But...

Abhi: But nothing Ridz...you are the last person that needs to be thinking about results...that job is for Niki...

Niki: Oi Modhi...what is your problem? – angrily

Rahul: Guys calm down... – sensing an argument again - ...we need to study...we can't get chucked out...let's get back to work...

After about half an hour they decided to take a break as they were studying for over an hour. They leaned back in their chairs and breathed a sigh, some took out snacks and munched away as they chatted.

Muskaan: I can't wait till these exams are over...

Rahul: Yeah me too...I hate studying like this in here...

Niki: You're right Rahul...do you remember when we use to be in here back in year ten when we had our first exams... – laughing - ...they gave us study periods and we would come in here and just mess around...

Ridz: - laughing – I remember those days...we never use to use those study periods to study...

Abhi: Even Ridz use to mess around...can you believe it... – to Armaan

Armaan: - laughing – I don't believe that...

Ridz: Armaan! - smacking his arm – ...I do know what fun is...

Armaan: Really? – she hit him again – ...Sorry... – sweetly

Muskaan: Those were the days... – sighing

Niki: Yeah...I really miss those days...

Rahul: C'mon let's get back to work...

They started working again and sometime later Armaan and Riddhima said bye to the others who wished them luck in return, even the librarian wished them luck as they left the library. Armaan held her hand all the way to the exam hall calming her down and telling her that she would do fine; as they neared the hall they could see other English students wishing each other luck and sharing their nervousness. They went in silently after sometime; Armaan gave her hand a last squeeze before they walked in separate directions to find their name cards. Once they had settled down the exam began with a sudden rush of papers opening and pens being picked up.



Two and a half hours later they were told to put their pens down and wait silently until all the papers were collected. They were dismissed row by row and Riddhima waited outside patiently for Armaan to be dismissed. A few seconds later he came out and placed his arm around Riddhima walking her out of the foyer to the courtyard and they settled down on their favourite bench. Riddhima stayed quiet and Armaan squeezed her hand making her look up.

Armaan: C'mon Ridz...exam is over...they're all over...now there's no need to worry about anything...

Ridz: I know Armaan...and I'm happy to know that they are over...

Armaan: Then what's wrong...why are you so quiet?

Ridz: Armaan...you might think I'm too senti...or just stupid...but I'm really going to miss this place... – Armaan smiled letting her carry on - ...you know what...when I first came here...I didn't like it...I hated it! – making a face - ...my primary school experience was just so awesome that I didn't want to leave there...and when I came here I just wanted to go back...it was just horrible...

Armaan: Really...why? – turning to face her - ...Didn't you have friends or something?

Ridz: It's not that...I mean...my other friends from primary school didn't come here but Rahul...he was my only friend then we met Muskaan, Abhi and Niki...but I just didn't like it...and now...

Armaan: Now you love it? – smiling widely

Ridz: Not love exactly... – smiling - ...but yeah...I can't believe seven years have passed so quickly...and it's time to leave this place...I can't believe it's over so quickly...it seems like we just started a couple of weeks ago...but it's already come to an end...I don't know... – finding it difficult to speak and Armaan held her hand – ...you're probably thinking I'm an idiot...right?

Armaan: C'mon Riddhima...I would never think about you like that...everyone has feelings and thoughts...so why keep them in...it's good that you are telling me this...so go on...

Ridz: Thanks Armaan...it feels weird...sometimes I feel like crying...when I think it's time to move on...it feels like on the outside I'm moving with time...not stopping to think twice...and on the inside I want to stay forever with these treasured moments of mine...moments of fun...friendship...sadness and goals...but then I think I just have to go with the flow...but I really will miss this place...times spent here...

Armaan: I know Ridz...I know what this place means to you...you've found so much here...friends, status, dreams, love...it's all very close to you...but that's why I believe to make the most of out of life as it comes...because this time never comes around again...so promise me... – looking into her eyes - ...promise me that you'll enjoy the rest of your stay here...enjoy the last day of school making your fondest memories...no tears just happiness...something to think back upon when we're old...something to tell our children and our grandchildren about... – smiling

Riddhima smiled through tears and entwined her fingers with his, resting her head on his shoulders she closed her eyes and took in this wonderful moment. After five minutes they moved apart as the courtyard was filled with students coming out of the buildings and leaving school at the end of the day. They stayed there and waited for the rest of the gang; Abhi and Rahul joined them a few moments later asking them how the exam was until the girls joined them; they decided to go chill in the park and enjoy the sunshine. The rest of the evening went smoothly as they made their way to their own homes.



It was now the last day of school for the gang. Riddhima woke up early that morning, as she had promised Armaan, she woke up with a big smile on her face promising herself to make this day a day to remember full of happiness. Once she was dressed, she looked in her drawer for something, placing it in her bag she took one look in the mirror before she went downstairs to have breakfast, she sat with her parents and chatted away until the doorbell rang, she said bye to them then opened the door to see Armaan standing there. They got into the car and drove to school chatting away generally.

As they got out of the car and made their way to their classroom they read a note on the door saying that they were all suppose to meet outside behind the drama block on the stage; sharing a confused look they decided to go back downstairs and see what was going on. As they neared the area they could see groups of students from their year standing around with teachers. They spotted Rahul, Muskaan and Nikita standing near their tutor and walked over to them.

Armaan: What's going on? – to Rahul

Rahul: Photos...

Muskaan: We're taking a year photo and group photos...

Ridz: Aww that's cool...

Abhi joined them a few moments later and the entire year stood in two rows on the stage, one row sat on the bench in front and they posed while the photographer clicked away. After half an hour of taking a few year group photos they sat in their tutor groups taking a few photos then everyone separated. Some students still had exams going on and they whizzed off quickly. The others sat around enjoying the sunshine and taking photos of their friends and other students. The gang sat around the pond with a few other students from their year just reminiscing and having a good laugh. Of all the events which occurred in the seven years of being in the school the students recalled two main events; Armaan's accident and the last fashion show.

They sat around by the pond then moved onto the lawn area enjoying the sunshine and capturing more fun images on their cameras and phones. The gang were in the company of the other students from their classes and they chatted away talking about their futures all joking and having a good time. After half an hour the courtyard had become quite full as the younger students were on their break; they stayed seated watching the young ones mess around. Minnie and the fan club joined them after a few moments.

Minnie: Hey Riddhima...hi Armaan...

Ridz: Hi Minnie...

Minnie: I'm really sad that it's your last day... – pulling a face

Ridz: Me too...

Girl: Will you come and visit us next time? – eagerly - ...I think you guys should come every year to organise the Fashion Show...

Niki: That would be cool...

Abhi: You want to come back to this dump? – to Nikita – ...Actually that's right...you'll be here to retake your exams right...so you can organise the Fashion Show...

Muskaan/Ridz: Shut up Abhi... – as Nikita became quiet

Girl: I'm going to miss you guys...

Rahul: Armaan will miss you guys too...right Armaan... - grinning

Armaan: - shooting an evil look at him then turning to the girls – I'll miss you guys... – through gritted teeth

Minnie: Umm...we have something for you guys...

Muskaan: Aww...you guys didn't have to get us anything...really...

Girl 2: We wanted to... – taking out a box of chocolates and a card from her bag she handed it to Riddhima

Ridz: Aww...you guys really didn't have to...

Girl: Please...accept it...

Niki: That's so sweet of you girls...thank you... – reading through the card which they had all signed

Minnie: And one more thing... – taking out a white shirt from her bag - ...will you all sign this...

They all looked at her with a smile and took turns to write on her shirt leaving sweet messages. Armaan wrote one of the longest messages realising that he was an idiot to these sweet little girls, he wrote that he was sorry and that he would really miss them. Riddhima wrote a huge thanks for all the help during the show time and that she would also miss them. Their break was over after sometime and they left with a tearful goodbye as they knew they might not see them again. The gang went to their favourite bench moving out of the sunshine and engraved their own notes into it.

Armaan: Armaan Malik woz ere '07

Ridz: Riddhima Armaan Malik – in a heart shape

Rahul: 27-07-07

Muskaan: Muskaan Rahul 4eva

Abhi: Abhi woz ere 2000-07

Niki: "Good times...'07"

Sometime later they decided to leave the school before lunch and made their way to the mall as they had planned a week ahead as they needed to buy outfits to wear that evening for their graduation party. Before hitting the shops they grabbed something to eat as they were famished; after eating the girls and guys separated, the guys sat at their usual fountain area after half an hour as their shopping was completed. They relaxed as they knew the girls would take their time, two hours later the girls joined them with several bags full of outfits, shoes and accessories.

Abhi: Oh wow...you girls finished early today... – sarcastically

Rahul: Yeah...we thought we would be sitting here for another three hours until you were finished... – Armaan laughed

Muskaan: Funny... – making a face she dropped her bags into Rahul's hand

Ridz: Shall we go?

Niki: We need to get dressed...

Abhi: Who's going to look at you anyway?

Niki: I wasn't talking to you...

Abhi: You know what ever I say is true anyway...we all know that...

Niki: Just shut up...you think you're so great...

Abhi: I don't think so...I know so...

Armaan: Please guys...let's drop this now...

Nikita walked away and Muskaan ran to catch up with her, the others had a go at Abhi for annoying her all the time. They finally dropped the topic and went home; the girls went to Riddhima's to get dressed while the guys went to their own homes.

After an hour the girls were finally ready, Riddhima wore a fitted black top with a pair of black skinny jeans, the top was decorated with silver and blue designs. She straightened her hair and applied minimal makeup showing the natural look with casual jewellery hanging from her hands and neck and a pair of diamond studs gifted by Armaan. She slipped on her high heels and looked in the mirror at herself; she was quite pleased with what she saw and grabbed her purse. Turning to the girls, Nikita was ready and sat at the edge of Riddhima's bed while Muskaan added the final touches of makeup to her face.

Muskaan: Are you girls ready? – still fixing her makeup

Niki: Ready...

Ridz: Waiting for you...

Muskaan: Two seconds... – checking herself out in the mirror

Niki: You look perfect...

Muskaan: Thanks...I don't know why I'm having butterflies... – holding onto her stomach and giggling nervously – ...I can't believe this is our last hour in school...

Niki: It's weird to think that our school life is finally over...

Ridz: Yeah... – sadly – ...it is weird...but Armaan is right...

Niki: Huh? – confused - ...Where did Armaan come from in this conversation?

Muskaan: All she thinks about is Armaan...it probably just slipped out... – teasing her – ...right Ridzi?

Ridz: Guys... – making a face - ...it's not that...I was talking to Armaan the other day about the end of school and he said to me that this time never comes twice...so instead of worrying about it just make the most of it...have fun...enjoy yourself and make memories to pass on to the next generation...

Niki: That's true...and sweet...

Muskaan: Ridz... – seriously sitting down next to her - ...I would be careful of him...he's already talking about kids... – laughing

Riddhima grabbed her cuddle pillow and smacked Muskaan on her arm who shielded herself; Nikita laughed away until they controlled themselves and decided to go down as it was almost time to go. Shashank and Padma were already waiting downstairs for them. They got into the car, the three girls in the back, they made their way to school. They were the first to arrive and they made their way up to the common room where they were all suppose to meet up. The girls each bought a year book which was on sale at the door and they walked in to see some of their class mates and teachers, they were served drinks and appetisers, her parents settled down on the comfy chairs as the girls met some friends and shared their yearbooks around  having them signed.

Sometime later Muskaan and Nikita's parents arrived with Rahul and his parents; Rahul joined them while his parents settled down with Shashank and Padma. Later on the others arrived and the common room was slightly packed; Armaan and Abhi joined the gang and they chatted excitedly sipping their drinks and signing yearbooks leaving sweet messages and contact information to keep in touch. They laughed and joked around but were disturbed as someone tapped Abhi on the shoulder, they became quiet as he turned around and they saw Suman standing there.

Su: Hey guys...

Abhi turned around ignoring her and so did the others but Riddhima stepped towards her and everyone watched on.

Ridz: Hey Suman...

Su: Guys... – to everyone - ...I'm just here to say...I'm really sorry...you guys were great company to me when I started here...and what I did was wrong...I'm really sorry...

Armaan/Ridz: It's okay... – together then looked at each other with a smile

Rahul/Muskaan: Don't worry about it...

Su: Thanks guys... – then turning to Abhi - ...I'm really sorry Abhi...please forgive me...if you can...

Abhi ignored her but Armaan, who was standing next to him, nudged him, he looked at the others who gave him a look to say let it go; he turned to her.

Abhi: Forget it Suman... – smiling slightly

Su: Thanks... – smiling widely, then turned to Nikita – ...can I speak to you a moment Nikita...

Nikita looked up in surprise, the two girls had never shared a word when Abhi and Suman was a couple, Nikita nodded and followed Suman to a corner. Abhi ignored them and carried on chatting with the gang.

Su: Nikita...I know...we've never been friends...never had anything to say to each other but...today I have something to say to you...

Niki: Umm...go on... – uncomfortable

Su: I know you like Abhi... – Nikita looked up in shock, no one had ever mentioned this and suddenly like this she was shocked but Suman carried on - ...I know you've always had feelings for him...and I think you should let him know...let him know your feelings before it's too late...

Niki: But I...how... – confused

Su: Don't worry...I won't tell anyone...but you should tell him...you two are made for each other...and you should be together...

Niki: But we don't get on...how could we possibly get together?

Su: - smiling – You will... – hugging her - ...take care...it was nice knowing you guys...

Niki: Thanks... – still confused - ...all the best...

Su: Same to you...bye...

She walked away and Nikita was left standing there in utter shock, she was brought back to reality when someone put a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see Riddhima standing there with the rest of the gang and their parents.

Ridz: You okay?

Niki: Yeah...umm...I'm fine...where are you guys going...

Ridz: Ceremony is about to begin...we're going down to the hall...come...

They all made their way downstairs; the gang took the stairs while their parents used the lift and made it down to the ground first. They walked across the courtyard to the main hall where the ceremony was to be held. Their parents settled down in the middle of the hall while the students sat at the side of the hall in their tutor groups. The ceremony began with the head teacher's speech and then there was a guest speaker who had been to the school years back; he lectured them about the future which they found quite hilarious then their tutors came on stage to hand them their certificates. They each went up one by one to collect their certificates and sat back down.

When all the students had received their certificates the subject teachers went on stage to hand out the prizes for best students. The students could predict who would get best student awards and some came as a shock. They had been through almost half of the subjects then the Textiles teacher came on stage to present the awards for the best student in that subject when all the students in the hall chanted Riddhima's name in rhythm.

Text Teach: And you're all right...come on up Riddhima...

Riddhima blushed as red as a tomato as the gang forced her up on stage, she collected her award, getting a hug from her teacher who had given a little speech about Riddhima. She was forced to say something, she thanked everyone from her friends, to her parents and her teachers then ran off stage.

Next Abhi was awarded for the best student in ICT which came as a shock to everyone, even he wondered how this had happened but the teacher explained that he always had the highest marks in the class; he accepted the award whole heartedly and made a dramatic speech before being pushed off stage.

And the final award was given to Armaan for the best student in Maths and was also told to say something.

Armaan: Hmm... – looking at his award - ...thanks for this award...I know I deserve this... – getting a laugh from the crowd - ...but I would like to say something to one person in particular... – turning to Riddhima

She looked crossly at him thinking what he was doing, their parents were there and she wondered why he was making it obvious but he smiled and carried on.

Armaan: Riddhima...thanks for handing over your place as best student to me...I told you right...you need to get use to the fact that I'll always be one step ahead of you...and here I am...

Riddhima frowned as she remembered the very first time she had met him in the Maths class and he annoyed the hell out of her, taking her place in class and finally giving her some competition. He walked off the stage and came to sit next to her, winking at her making her frown deeper but smiled inwardly. The head teacher signed off the ceremony by wishing each and every one of the students the best of luck for the future.

Their parents congratulated them for graduating and gave them the permission to go and celebrate, they handed their certificates, awards and yearbooks to their parents seeing them off then meeting other students saying their final farewells. The gang were invited to a club where most of the students would be celebrating, they said bye to their teachers and other students who they might not see again then made their way to the club to have fun.

The party went on late that night and the gang made their way home in Armaan's car, he gave them each a lift to their homes until Riddhima was the last one left in the car. They stopped near the park, their usual spot, to have a small chit chat about the entire day before Armaan drove her home...

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