Sunday, 27 September 2020

os: Wada Raha




Wada Raha
Wada Raha
Wada Raha

The whole Mallik mansion was full of hulla gulla. Kids were running here and there, playing having fun. Workers were working in and out to decorate the mansion like a bride.

It was 1 week before Muskaan Mallik’s Wedding. The Guptas had arrived a week early before any guests came; Malliks and Guptas were very close family friends who have been friends since many generations. The house was full of youngsters, Muskaan’s cousins, and the Gupta cousins, including Riddhima and Anjali. They had known Muskaan since childhood however they were never really that close since they only met a once or twice a year during vacations. Whenever they met, the first few days would be awkward, then after a few days they would mingle.

It had been three days since Anjali and Riddhima along with their family, came to Delhi, from Mumbai, for Anjali’s wedding which was in a week. And now, they were sitting with Muskaan talking about random stuff. “So, How’s Mumbai girls?” Muskaan asked as they sat on her bed. Saloni, Muskaan’s cousin also joined them. The younger Mallik and Gupta cousins were in a separate room considering they were teenagers and these were now adults.


“Its good, a hell lotta traffic!” Anjali whined and the rest of the girls laughed. “Anyways, you excited huh?” Anjali teases Muskaan openly who blushed.

“Anjali stop teasing the poor girl!” Riddhima rolled her eyes. “Trust me! I know how you feel! She teases me all the time!” Riddhima blurted out without thinking, and her eyes widened. Muskaan and Saloni confusingly looked at Riddhima whose face has went pale by now.

“Huh?” Saloni confusingly asked looking at Muskaan who mirrored the same expression. Both of them were highly confused on Riddhima’s statement.

Anjali smirked looking at Riddhima knowing what exactly Riddhima meant. While Riddhima eyes Anjali hoping she won’t blurt out some nonsense. Anjali knew that Riddhima couldn’t risk Muskaan and Sanoli finding out the meaning behind her statement. She kept on eye Anjali, pleading her not to expose her secret but obvious would Anjali listen? For once, she was getting a chance to annoy her oh-so-perfect-and-smart cousin.

“She likes a guy! But she won’t admit it and won’t go talk to him!” Anjali blabbered quickly getting up from the bed knowing that now Riddhima who spare. She ran for life all around in Muskaan’s room while Riddhima ran behind her. He heart had stopped beating for a second when Anjali told Muskaan what Riddhima meant. Fortunately, Anjali didn’t blurt out the name or else the world would have crashed down for Riddhima.

“No way!” Muskaan sat up excitingly look at Riddhima who was pale as snow with sweat beans forming on her forehead. “Kon hai who? Kya main jaan ti hun usse?” she asked teasingly nudging Riddhima by bumping her shoulder with hers. Riddhima gave a death glare to Anjali who was smirking.

“N..no you guys..don’t know him!” Riddhima muttered up the courage and spoke.

“Matlab wakai mein koi hai?” Muskaan widened her eyes smilingly. By now all of them had gotten out of their shell of awkwardness in which they always get once they meet after years.

“nahi! Ab to tumhe batana hi hoga Riddhima!” Saloni said nodding her negatively as she walked towards Riddhima. “Chalo batao!”

“Aree I’ll tell na…” Anjali started speaking, “His name is ah-ummmmm” Muskaan and Saloni’s face turned from curiosity to a frown as before they could hear the name, Riddhima had kept her palm on Anjali’s mouth to shut her up and refrain her from revealing too much information.

“Anjali..Saloni, we were teasing Muskaan na? Cuz she’s the one getting married remember?” Riddhima reminded them making them nod. “Then aabhi isse hi tease karo, waqt aane par tum saab ko naam bata dungi.” Riddhima promised turning the tables.

“Arre…This is not fair yaar.” Muskaan whined looking at Riddhima who had smartly turned the tables. “Yeh galat hai!” She pouted.

“Ishq aur teasing mein sab jayez hai!” Saloni said smirking as her and Anjali turned towards Muskaan leaving Riddhima. Muskaan looked at Riddhima, glaring at Riddhima who raised her shoulders smiling teasingly. The rest of the day passed with the girls teasing eachother.

Wada Raha Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka
Ab Hum Naa Honge Judaa
Wada Raha Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka
Ab Hum Naa Honge Judaa

The Malliks and Guptas were having their dinner the following evening. The men sat in the lounge, and the women on the dining table as there were more women than men in the house. The teenagers choose to sit on the kitchen table.

“Bhabi khana bohot maaze ka banna hai!” Padma, Riddhima’s mom complemented Ananya, Muskaan’s mother who thanked her by blinking.

“Wakai mein! Khana laa jawab hai!” Zara, Anjali’s mother agreed with Padma’s statement. They later got busy in their own gossip related to designers and another everyday-women-gossip stuff.

“Yaar ye sub to apni boring baton mein lage huain hai lag hi nahi raha ke shaadi wala ghar hai!” Anjali audibly muttered under her breath to Riddhima who eyed her to shut up and eat. Unfortunately, Saloni had heard her and she pursed her lips looking at Muskaan.

“Riddhima, Anjali, khaane ke baad kahin bahar dessert khane jayenge!” Muskaan said avoiding Anjali’s comment smiling at Riddhima, who passed an embarrassed smiled. She nodded and continued to eat her food.

Later they had gotten the elders permission and all four girls had gotten permission from the elders and decided to eat dessert from ‘Get Desserted’. At the moment, they were sitting there and having some delicious desserts.
“Hmm..so coming back to the topic, Riddhima who is the guy?” Saloni smirked and Riddhima chocked on her ice cream. Her eyes widened and she whined as the rest of the girls giggled. 

“Guys pleaseeeee! Not again!” Riddhima whined looking at the smirks of the other three. She really couldn’t risk telling them. “You probably don’t know him!” She whitely-lied making Anjali gasp.

“NO REALLY?” Anjali exclaimed sarcastically looking at her while Muskaan and Saloni shot each other a confused look. Riddhima quietly ate her ice cream quietly, with her heart hammering in her chest.

“Iss ka matlab…we know him?” Muskaan asked slowly looking at Anjali who started nodding smiling but stopped right away when Riddhima glared at her. Saloni smirked at Muskaan who knowingly smiled at Riddhima. “Can we guess?”

“You aren’t saying anything Anji!” Riddhima warned Anjali pointing her finger at her. Anjali rolled her eyes and motioned Muskaan to ask questions with her eyes.

“Do we know him?” Saloni asked to which Anjali nodded in a yes while Riddhima held her head in between her hands. She nervously pushed a few hair fringes behind her ears.

“Do our families know him?” Muskaan asked and Anjali nodded again. By now Riddhima had started to sweat nervously.

“Is he tall?” Saloni smirked kind of having an idea who it was. Riddhima’s constant requests to Anjali to not expose him before them, their families knowing him, all the minor details, was giving it all away. She devilishly looked at Muskaan who returned the look as she too kind of guessed who it was.

“Does his name start with A?” This time Muskaan surely asked looking at Riddhima who has held her breath closing her eyes. Her face had started to redden. Anjali nodded excitedly.

“Is it ARMAAN BHAIYA” Muskaan and Saloni teasing said in union. Riddhima frowned and face palmed herself. Riddhima instantly turned beetroot red on the mention of his name and all the girls giggled teasingly.

“YYESSSS!!!!! You figured it out!” Anjali happily exclaimed jumping in her seat and clapping her hands happily. Riddhima had buried her face in her palms refusing to show her face when the girls tried to take her hands away.

“Hmmm…ab to mom se keh ke pandit jee se aik aur Muharat nikalwana padega! Armaan Bhaiya keliye!” Muskaan smirked looking at Riddhima who misheard her and looked at her in shock. Tears pooled up in her eyes and she looked like she was about to lose it.

“Arre! Muharat nikaleinge Pandit jee to tum meri Bhabhi banogi na!” Muskaan winked at Riddhima Holding her hand and lightly pressing it. “Itna pyar karti ho mere bhai se?” Muskaan asked seeing Riddhima blushed and wipe her eyes.

Anjali side hugged her cousin and looked at her. “Muskaan tumhe andaza nahi hai yeh kitna pyar karti hai usse! Tumhe pata hai, jab hum 16 saal ki thi to iss pagal ne poore 12 baje Armaan ki birthday waale din cake khaya tha! She celebrated his birthday! Ab tum hi batao! Hai na pagal!” Anjali nodded her head and Muskaan had her eyes popped out.

“Omg…you actually do love him! Damn he is a lucky guy! Itna pyaar to Muskaan bhi nahi karti hogi Rahul jeeju se!” Saloni said and winced a second later when Muskaan slapped her on her head.

“Acha na guys bas karo ab! Let’s go home! And please please please please don’t tell your brother Nahi to main Gayi!” Riddhima embarrassingly pleaded. Muskaan just smirked at her so not wanting to face any more teasing, she got up and left from there leaving the girls giggling.

Yeh Meri Dhadkane Sun Raha Hai Khuda
Chahey Tumhein Kis Kadar Mera Dil
Tumko Nahi Hai Pata
Yeh Meri Dhadkane Sun Raha Hai Khuda
Wada Raha
The girls and the mothers were roaming around in one of the finest shopping malls in Delhi shopping for the wedding that was nearing. They had picked up Muskaan’s bridal dress after fittings. Although Anjali and Riddhima had brought their dresses from Mumbai, Muskaan had insisted them to buy new ones on her behalf. The girls refused a lot but Muskaan was adamant as Trump was during the elections.
So now, Riddhima and Anjali were in the Sabyasachi studio of course trying on lavish dresses. Riddhima had argued more when Muskaan pulled her into the Sabyasachi studio however Muskaan shut her mouth by saying “Meri hone waali bhabi bhi mere jaisi dhekni chaiye!”
Riddhima came out of her dressing room, in a lavish black saree. The blouse was black and had beautiful golden beads embroidery on it. Its sleeves were full and also full of embroidery. The pallu was made of net thus it was see-through showing her beautiful navel and a simple golden waist chain hidden under it.
She felt highly uncomfortable because of her navel being exposed. “Anjali…yeh kuch theek nahi lag raha! Dheko waise bhi yeh bohot mehengi hai! Ya to mujhe pay karne do! Yak ahi aur jaate hai!” Riddhima pleaded and all she did was glare at her.
“Bhabi you look hot okay!” Saloni said teasing her with the word bhabi. Riddhima gasped hearing the word and looked around making sure no one else heard.
“Haan Riddhima achi lag rahi ho!” Muskaan agreed smiling at her making Riddhima make a whiney face.
“Lekin–“ Riddhima opened her mouth to say something but Anjali came out of her trial room kept a finger on her lips.
“Lekin wekin kuch nahi! Tune Armaan ko patana hai ke nahi!” She asked and Riddhima glared at her.
“Haan, when bhai will see you in this…watch him faint.” Muskaan smirked raising her eyebrows teasingly. Just when Riddhima was about to say something Muskaan’s phone rang. She took it out and looked at it. Upon seeing the name, she smirked and looked up at Riddhima teasingly, “Armaan bhaiya ka phone hai!”
Riddhima gasped and looked away at blushing who giggled along Saloni. After standing in front of the mirror gossiping about their dresses the three girls went to change while Muskaan still talked to Armaan. Meanwhile, Riddhima’s heart raced as if he could see her since it was video call but unfortunately or fortunately the camera was towards Muskaan.
Later at night, Riddhima stepped out of the bathroom wiping her hair with a plain white towel, dressed in her night dress; a spaghetti string white tank top and black comfy shorts. Anjali was sitting on the bed painting her nails.
“Kitna maza aaya na aaj Ridzi?” Anjali asked her as Riddhima sat in front of the dresser combing her hair. Riddhima just hmm’ed in response as she lost in the events that happened throughout the day. She wished that she could have just heard his voice when he had called but Muskaan had connected the phone with her air pods. Or how she wished she saw him on that video call, but what would have they talked about?
“Oyee…Kaha ghum hai?” Anjali snapped her fingers in front of Riddhima’s eyes. Riddhima came out of her chain of thoughts and looked at her, realizing she is now standing in front of her with her hands kept on her waist, looking at her questionably. “Waise soch Ridzi….ke aaj agar uss video call ka camera teri taraf hota..aur who tujhe dhek kar hi piggal jata moom ki tarha! Uff itni sexy lag rahi thi uss saree mein!” Anjali teasing looked at her.
Riddhima instantly blushed just thinking about him. She turned towards the mirror and looked at herself. She stared at herself and asked herself the same question. What would his reaction be seeing her in that saree? Would he be affected or would he just look at her like any girl in a saree? All these questions were roaming in her mind while her heart hammered just by imagining his eyes checking her out.
“Agar dhek leta to yeh gaana gaata: ‘Tu itni khoobsurat hai Fida deedaar pe tere Muqammal ishq ho mera Zara sa pyaar toh de de…” Anjali teasingly sang turning Riddhima around. Riddhima smilied blushing. She hid her flustered cheeks into her small soft palms. Anjali giggled as she saw her do that. “Oh ho…itni sharam? Jab jeeja jee saamne aayenge to phir madam ka kya haal hoga…hunh? Chalo koi nahi waise bhi kuch hi dino mein wo aapko dhek hi lenge iss saree mein” Anjali bumped her shoulder with Riddhima’s teasing her, by winking at her.
Riddhima looked at her sternly trying not to get affected by her words but she miserably and was having a hard time controlling her grin and her blush. “Chup!...” Riddhima gritted grabbing a hanger from the bed, “Chup, chup, chup” She lightly hit Anjali who ran away from her saving her body.
Dono Jahan Ko Bhulla Ho Main
Aisi Lagi Hai Tujhse Lagan
Chahey Kaho Ise Awaargi
Chahey Kaho Ise Deewanapaan

Armaan Mallik was running here and there in his room, packing all of is stuff. His flight was in two hours and he hadn’t packed anything yet. He had a late shift at the hospital and he had back to back surgeries. He was worried he would miss his flight. His phone beeped and he moved towards the night stand to check the notification. He hadn’t even checked his phone ever since he came back from the hospital, he was very tired.

He saw a bunch of missed calls from his Muskaan while he was asleep, a remainder for his flight, and a few congratulatory messages from his fellow colleagues for his sister’s wedding. He ignored the rest of the notifications and facetimed Muskaan. After a few rings she picked up and squealed seeing her brother. “Hey Bride-to-be how’s it going?”

“I’m good how are you, big brother?” She blushed and asked him, looking at him on the big screen of her latest iPhone.

“Im good…so whats up? You outside or something?” He asked as he threw clothes in his suitcase without folding them properly. He glanced up at Muskaan who was looking at him with her mouth wide open and a shocked expression pasted on her face.

“You haven’t packed yet?” She asked him gasping.

“Yaar, you know my busy schedule na?” Armaan whined, “And main tumse kya pooch raha hun? Where are you? And Where’s mom?” He questioned rolling his eyes as he sat on his bed next to the suitcase.

“Aree we’re here had to do some last-minute shopping! Mom is with Padma Aunty and Zara Aunty!” Armaan’s ears shot up hearing HER mom’s name along Anjali’s mom’s name. His heart started beating.

“And you? You’re roaming alone?” Armaan asked trying to get more information out of his sister. He didn’t want to ask her directly because he knew she would tease the hell out of him.

“Im with Saloni and Anjali!” Muskaan cool-ly said shrugging her shoulders glancing at Riddhima who was checking herself out with Saloni and Anjali in front of the big mirror. She knew exactly what her brother was asking and she internally smirked devilishly.

“Aurr..aur baaki sab?” He asked stuttering hoping not to give away what he meant. 

Muskaan smirked and smiled to herself thinking ‘aag dono taraf se lagi hai!’. She clicked a button near the end call one and flipped the camera, showing him Riddhima. She looked at Armaan’s eyes widened and that right second, she flipped back.

“Aree..Ek second..” Armaan whined not happy how she flipped it again. His heart stopped beating when he saw HER. After so many years, he got a glimpse of her. And what was she wearing? He had just seen her face in the mirror and her bare back because of the low-neck blouse. There was only a hook on the hem of the blouse and a dori on the top.

He wanted to see her properly but his devilish little sister switched back the camera to herself making him frown. “Ab you jaldi se catch your flight, cuz jo aap dhekna chate thay, who aap tabhi dhekein ge jab yaha aayenge! YOU KNOW I KNOW BHAI!” Muskaan knowingly looked at him while he glared at her to shut her blabber mouth.

She cut the call after that he cursed his luck. Now he couldn’t wait to get back home after years, and meet everybody, meet her. That mere sight of her in that sinful saree had shaken his nervous system to the core. She wasn’t planning to wear that to the wedding, wasn’t she?

He got up and started packing his clothes as fast as he could. He picked up his suitcases and ran downstairs into his garage. Opening his cars trunk, he started putting his luggage into it. He sat in the drivers’ seat and started the car. He decided to check his small carry-own backpack to see if he all of his things.

“Passport!!!” He shrieked as he couldn’t find his passport in his bag. He groaned in frustration and got out of his car abruptly. He fidgeted with the garage door keys because of nervousness. He knew, he was going to be late. Finally, after fidgeting for a few minutes, he managed to get into the kitchen. He ran out of the kitchen, towards the stairs to get upstairs to his bedroom. The house wasn’t big enough but today the stairs felt awfully long.

Finally getting into his room, he turned it upside down. At first, he went to his closet and opened his safe where all of his documents are kept at all times. He messed up all of his files, copies of patients’ charts to study, and other documents but the poor fellow could not find his passport. Ruffling his hair from frustration, he looked at the time and cursed his luck. 

The fact that he couldn’t find his passport and his flight was in a few hours killed him. He couldn’t afford to miss his flight because then we would have to get another flight and god knows If he will even make it to his sister’s bidaai.

“Arre…” He groaned as his foot hit the footboard of his bed as he walked towards the door. He groaned in pain and glared at the leg of his bed. Suddenly, his eyes fell on something blue partially hiding under his bed. “oh god thank you!”

Picking up his passport, he ran towards the garage. He drove as fast as he could, trying not break as many rules as possible. 

Dil Ne Kaha Dil Ne Suna
Maine Tumhein Dilbar Chuna
Ab Dorriyan Naa Rahi Darmiyan
Kya Rang Layi Wafa

“Uff itne thak gaye hain, kitna lamba dinn tha!” Zara frowned sitting on the sofa with Padma and Ananya. The maids instantly came and picked up the shopping bags and brought them inside. They were followed by the girls inside who were also tired. Letting their body fall on the sofas beside their mothers They listened to their mothers talking about the wedding arrangements. At a certain point, Riddhima’s ears shot up hearing her mother.

“Arre Ananya, shaadi sarr parr hai aur Armaan kahan hai? Kab araha hai woh?” Padma asked Ananya. Riddhima’s heart skipped a beat hearing his name. Only the name did wonders to her heart, god knows what would happen seeing him in reality in just a few days or who knows even hours. As an instinct, she looked the girls, who were already looking at her with the most devilish expressions ever.

She felt like instead of Muskaan, she was the bride with all the teasing looks she got all the time. She glared at Anjali who was raising her eyebrows up and down with a smile. Next looking Saloni, she nodded her head negatively asking her to stop as she was mouthing ‘Armaan & Riddhima’. Lastly, she pleaded looking at her asking her to stop. Muskaan just nodded negatively and pointed at her ring finger, then at Riddhima mouthing ‘next it is you Bhabhi’. Riddhima turned beetroot on the word Bhabhi reading her lips.

“Arre Padma, uski flight to aaj hi thi..In fact ab to take off karne waali hogi…Theek 2 dinn mein pohunch jaeyga pooja tak! 2 stays hai! Muskaan beta, tumhari baat hoyi bhai se?” Ananya asked her daughter.

“Jee mom..he was doing some last minute packing.” She replied to her mom making her facepalm thinking how her son still, despite being a doctor, still procrastinated in all of his stuff. “In fact he said he couldn’t wait to get home… to see you!” She smirked saying the last part looking at Riddhima whose eyes widened and she looked down biting her lips nervously. In two days she would be seeing him and her heart had started hammering already.

Unfortunately, because of how late he got to the airport, he had missed his flight much to his dismay. It had started to move away from the gate just when he got to his gate. Armaan was so mad. He had fought the workers there so much to stop the damn plane but the luck wasn’t on his side. So now he was grumpily sitting in the waiting lounge waiting for another connected flighted he had taken.

He groaned feeling his neck pain, he had been waiting at the airport for his next flight for 8 hours. Now instead of going straight to Frankfurt, Germany and then to Bahrain, and then India, he was supposed to take the British airways, stop in the UK for a few hours, then go to Istanbul for another few hours, and from there to Dubai, and then from Dubai to India. So now instead of making two stops, he was going to make 3 stops in this connected flight.

He groaned and just then the announcement came on telling that they were now boarding passengers. Armaan looked up and groaned a ‘finally’. He was on the flight, and he made sure he ran towards that gate and was the first passenger on.

After formalities of showing his boarding pass to the people at the gate, the flight attendants, and finding his seat, he sat in his seat buckling his seatbelt. Looking out the window. He smiled looking at the sun setting. “Main Araha hun Riddhima!” He whispered to himself smiling. Her name brought a different peace to her heart. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back remembering how she looked in that black saree. She was definitely planning on killing him on his own sister’s wedding. 

On the other side of the world, as if Riddhima had heard him, opening her eyes she woke up with a hammering heart. Sitting up on the bed and turned her head to see Anjali sleeping peacefully. Looking at the time she saw it read 2:00 am. Putting her hand over her heart she rubbed it. She had woken up to the sound of someone whispering in her ear and her heart was hammering. Getting out of the bed, she ruffled her hair as walked towards the balcony. Looking at the fairy lights decorating the railing, she smiled looking up at the moon and the sky. Trying to calm her racing heart, she prayed to god to give her enough strength to face him.

Yeh Meri Dhadkane Sun Raha Hai Khuda
Wada Raha Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka
Ab Hum Naa Honge Judaa
Yeh Meri Dhadkane Sun Raha Hai Khuda

“Kaha tha maine inhe ke pehle packing karlein..lekin aapke ladle bete ne kissi ki sunni ho tab na mom! Dheko na ab flight miss hogayi…ab to mehndi waale din hi poohunchein ge!” Muskaan complained walking into the kitchen where Padma, Ananya, Zara, Riddhima, and Anjali were cooking some dishes.

“Kya matlab kya hua?” Ananya asked confusingly. The fruits that she was cutting now, she had stopped cutting and put the knife down on the cutting board. “Armaan kal nahi araha hai?”

“Haan mom..now he’s going to come a few days later!” Muskaan whined slamming her hand on the island counter. Riddhima stopped talking to the chef whom she was giving instructions before about a dish. She went back to thinking about how she had woken up at 2 am feeling restless. Maybe this was the reason of her restlessness. Taking a deep breath, she looked up at Muskaan who was already looking at her. Averting her gaze, she looked away and started explaining the chef again.

“Hadd karta hai yeh ladka! Muskaan ke baad isske haath peele karne pareinge…biwi aayegi to thoda procrastination iss ka kam hojaega.” Ananya muttered walked out of the kitchen. Padma and Zara, also decided to follow her as the girls took over whatever they were doing.

Anjali walked up to Riddhima who was now away from the chefs, and everybody else. She was taking out the water jug from the fridge. As she started pouring water into the glass, Anjali came and threw an arm around Riddhima’s shoulder and said “Koi baat nahi behen..jahan itne saal intezaar kiya hai…wahan thora sa aur karle!”

“Haan aur kya pata, iss intezar ka phal bhi mil jayye! Shayed meri doli ki baad tumhari doli uthay!” Muskaan came and teased Riddhima to cheer her up. Being successful in her aim, Riddhima blushed pouting. She drank water in order to hide her blush as the girls laughed.

The next day was busy for everybody in the Mallik Mansion. It was the Ganesh Pooja for Muskaan’s wedding and today was the day where the relatives would come over and stay till the wedding. Most of them were staying in the hotel but most of the close ones were staying over in the Mallik mansion.

Anjali, Riddhima, Muskaan, and Saloni had moved into the bride’s room as the rooms which they had before would now be given to relatives. Many decorators were decorating the hall for the pooja. The theme was to wear white.

Anjali was wearing a long white anarkali dress with a deep neck. A white sheer dupatta was covering her whole shoulders and resting on her arms. Her hair was tied back in a tight sleek bun. For jewelry, she was just wearing long gold jhumkis.

Saloni was wearing a gharara with a spaghetti sleeves shirt on top. Both of them had multi coloured flowers printed on top. Her hair was also tied back tightly.

Muskaan was just wearing a white saree, with red banarsi border. Her hair were tied in a loose braid with white flowers wrapped around it.

Lastly, Riddhima was wearing a white and gold lengha choli. Her choli had a deep neck and was sleeveless. Her lehngha had a golden hem. She curled her hair in waves, and parted them on both of her shoulders.

“Arre Tiyaar hogayi tum sab!” Zara smiled walking into Anjali’s room. They were all standing in front of the mirror while Muskaan was sitting in front of it. They were helping her wear some kundan jewelry when Zara had walked in. Zara stopped talking and looked at the girls. She tearfully smiled and said “Hayye..ek se bad kar ek lag rahi ho sab! Kisi ki nazar na laage!” She put the black dot behind their ears. The girls smiled and thanked her.

“Acha tiyaar hoke neeche aajao, pandit jee aagaye hain, pooja ka muharat hogaya hai!” Zara told them before leaving the room. The girls got up and they brought Anjali down the stairs slowly. Everybody had gathered in the hall. As the girls walked down, Ananya stopped talking to Muskaan’s mother in law and looked at her daughter in awe.

Tears pooled up in her eyes seeing her daughter all decked up for her very first pre-wedding event. She realized in less than a week, she will be giving her daughter away. All of a sudden, she felt low as this realization dawned upon her. Smiling through her tears, she slowly walked towards her daughter. Muskaan looked up at her mom and smiled shyly.

Ananya tearfully kissed her forehead making Muskaan close her eyes. Muskaan’s father, Billy Mallik came forward and kept his hand over her head lovingly. She smiled and hugged her father lovingly. Riddhima looked at them in awe. Ananya had joined the hug and Riddhima adored the perfect family hug. Only one person was missing, she thought. Only if he was here.

Muskaan’s mother in law also came forward and hugged her kissing her forehead. Muskaan was led towards the small stool on which she was to sit. The pooja started and the pandit jee started some mantras. He told Muskaan to follow some rituals and did so. Riddhima and the girls just near her, behind their parents. The men, Billy, Shashank, Rajesh, who was Anjali’s dad, and Tarun, who was saloni’s dad, sat together on one side where their wives sat on one.

After the pooja was over, food was served to the guests and the relatives whereas the girls sat together and gossiped. “Waise mann mein to ladoo phoot rahe honge..kuch hi dinn to reh gayye hain…” Saloni teased Muskaan was glared at her trying to hide her shy smile. It was true, her stomach was in knots from the inside knowing she was about to become someone’s wife, someone’s daughter-in-law.

“Mrs. Muskaan Rahul Grewal banne mein!” Anjali sang teasingly elbowing her lightly making her cheeks flourished red. The girls started giggling as they teased her. Muskaan just decided to ignore her and sipped from her coke.

“Dheko dheko kaise laal horahi hai sharam ke maare!” Riddhima spoke in between her giggled pulling her cheeks. Muskaan narrowed her eyes at Riddhima. After gulping her coke, she smirked surprising Riddhima with the sudden change of facial expression.

“Aane do ARMAAN bhai ko kal subha, phir main dhekungi sharam se kon laal laal hota hai!” Riddhima forgot all the teasing and she looked down playing with her fork. The emphasis Muskaan had put on his name had made her heart skip a beat. This was haunting her. She was happy, yet nervous and scared. She didn’t know how she would react upon his arrival.

“oooooooo” Saloni and Anjali hooted looking at Riddhima raising their eyebrows. Riddhima frowned and tried to hide her face with her hands but the girls kept on looking at her. “Nahi nahi behen chehra to dhekne do..” Anjali said moving her hands away. “Oh ho..kya look hai…Aise sharmaogi to to haandi mein tamatar daalne ki bajaye..tujhe daal denge” Upon hearing Anjali, the girls busted into fits of laughter making Riddhima pout.

“Lakdiyon…kya khi khi khi karahi ho! Dulhan shaadi se pehle aise openly nahi hasti! Irdagird itne log hain, kuch poorane khiyalo ke hain, agar koi baat kareinge to tumhare papa ne sunn liya na to bawal aajeyga!” Ananya walked over and scolded the girls.

“Aunty I’m sitting like a quiet and a good girl. Inhi se poochiye.” Riddhima pouted playing the good girl shocking the other girls.

“Haan haan tum to meri achi beti ho..aur tum log zara araam se betho! Aur tang na karo Muskaan ko, kuch hi dino mein to jaane waali hai…” She tearfully looked at her daughter who bit her lips in order to refrain herself from crying. “Main bhi kin baton mein lag gayi..” She wiped her tears and excused herself.

“Hmmm…tum to mere achi beti ho…” Saloni teasingly mimicked Ananya, “ab to saasuma ne bhi maan liya ke tum unki achiiii beti ho..” She emphasized on achi making the girls smirk at Riddhima.

“Means Rishta Pakkaaaaa!” Anjali and Muskaan spoke in a sync making Riddhima’s eyes widen. She shook her head and face palmed herself thinking now they won’t leave her alone, especially when he comes.

“Arre Armaan beta kaise ho?” Riddhima flinched dropping her spoon in her plate hearing Ananya. How is he here already? Oh my god! How will I face him? These were the first things that came into her mind. The girls stopped eating and looked at Riddhima wondering what had happened.

Muskaan looked at her seeing her face pale, she got confused but then looked behind her. She shook her head and chuckled confusing the other girls. They also looked where she was looking and also shook their head.

“Riddhima peeche dheko to sahi!” Muskaan asked her but Riddhima widened her eyes even more and nodded negatively. She mumbled a no stuttering, which was barely audible. “Aree..tck..dheko to sahi!” She said again but got the same response.

“Aunty main theek hun! Aap kaisi hain?” Riddhima felt like she was hit by a lightning bolt when she heard a small boy’s childish voice. She looked back and her eyes were ready to fall out of their eye sockets. There stood a small child talking to Ananya and here she thought Armaan was here.

“Yeh mom ki doooor ki rishtedaar ka beta hai! Unko Armaan bhaiya ka naam bohot pasand tha to jab yeh paida huva, to unhone iska naam bhi Armaan rakh diya!” Muskaan explained whereas Riddhima embarrassingly looked down and picked up her spoon to continue eating her food.

“yaar tumhara naam sunn karr yeh haal hai, bhaiya saamne aagaye to tere to kya hoga yeh bhagwan hi jaane!” Saloni chuckled looking at Riddhima who pouted and played with her food.

Dekha Tumhein To Aisa Laga
Mujhko Mila Manzil Ka Pata
Chalna Hai Humko Ab Saath Mein
Tumse Judaa Mera Raasta

It was the night following the pooja and the women were sitting in the veranda preparing sweets and some small gifts for the grooms’ side as shagun. Padma and Ananya were making Ladoos, whereas Saloni, and Anjali were folding boxes which were made out of cardboard paper. Riddhima and the teenagers cousins of Gupta clan and Mallik clan were tying ribbons to the already made boxes.

“Mom..Armaan bhaiya ko subah kon lene jaa raha hai” Muskaan asked walking into the veranda holding her phone. As she was the bride, she was strictly prohibited from doing any work. Riddhima’s ears shot up but her eyes were stuck on the ribbon which she was trying to tie.

“Kal subha driver pohunch jayga airport. Mann to mera bohot tha jaane ko, lekin aab shaadi sar par hai kam dham chor ke to nahi jaa sakti na!”

“ISSILYE MOM MAIN KHUDI AAGAYA!” The voice boomed in the veranda making everybody stop what they were doing. Muskaan instantly spun around holding her mouth. Her eyes widened seeing the person. Ananya looked up, shocked. She stopped up abruptly leaving the ladoos in the steel tray. She tearfully looked at him, also confused at the same time. Padma smiled looking at him. Saloni and Anjali stopped folding boxes and were equally shocked as Muskaan. Anjali instantly looked at Riddhima who was worth watch.

Surprised? Shocked? Nervous? Happy? They were all an understatement for Riddhima. She gasped hearing the voice. She was hearing it after so long yet she remembered it clearly. She felt as if she had stopped breathing. Her heart had missed multiple beats and her stomach had shrunk into knots. Her eyes started shivering. She wanted to look up but she couldn’t do so. She was afraid of losing herself.

“Armaan tu?” Ananya cried running towards her son and hugging him. Tears pooled out of her eyes where he chuckled seeing all of their reactions, except one; Riddhima’s. He had seen her body going stiff upon hearing him yet she hadn’t lifted her eyes and spared a single glance at him. Just as if her heart has heard his; she looked up.

Seeing him hugging his mom and looking at her at the same time, her heart summersaulted. As her gaze met his, he instant looked at Saloni smiling. She blinked nervously, growing conscious of herself. She was just in her PJs, her hair tied in a messy side brain. She nervously pushed fringes of her hair behind her hair, gulping on her saliva.

“Bhai aap to subah aane waale thay na? To abhi yahan kaise?” Muskaan asked as he left Ananya, and took blessings from Padma who blessed him. He then hugged Saloni, and then Muskaan.

“Surprise little sis its called a surprise! Ever heard of it?” He teased her in between looking at Riddhima who just went back to tying the ribbons, more like trying to tie as her fingers nervously fidgeted with the ribbon.

“Acha na chalo bahar chalte hai, main khana lagwati hun tu thak gaya hoga!” Ananya said looking at Muskaan who pouted at her. Armaan nodded and left followed by Muskaan and Saloni. Ananya and Padma had gone to the kitchen to tell the chef to prepare something for him.

Anjali sat next to Riddhima who was still fidgeting with the ribbons, more like wrestling with them. She looked at her and smirked. Snatching the ribbon away from her, she said “Behen, breath!”

Riddhima hid her face in her palms and breathed. Looking at Anjali she smiled tearfully. “He’s here, after so many years!” Anjali looked at her cousin-sister who looked like she got the best gift of her life. Her face had lighted up a thousand times more. Perhaps, it was glowing even more than the Mallik mansion itself which was adorned with a million marigold flowers and yellow fairy lights.

Anjali hugged Riddhima who squealed in her embrace. Anjali chuckled and hugged her tighter. The girls decided to sneak in Muskaan’s room as Riddhima felt like her face was on fire. She was red as a tomato according to Anjali and she couldn’t afford to look like that in front of Armaan.

Riddhima was nervously walking back and forth grilling Anjali about how she looked according to her when she saw Armaan. She wanted to know if she looked too obvious whereas Anjali was sitting on the bed smirking at her. Just then Saloni and Muskaan entered the room singing: “Mera piya ghar aaya oh ram ji”

Riddhima pouted and grabbing a pillow from Muskaan’s bed, she threw it at them making them duck, closing the door behind them. “Arre” Muskaan exclaimed as Riddhima shot them death glares. “Riddhima, ARMAAN bhiaya aagaye, tumhe to Khushi se uchaal raha hona chaiye, aise gussa kyun karahi ho?”

“Arre iss madam ko yeh tension hai ke iska reaction kya tha Armaan JEEJU ko dhekne ke baad?” Anjali said emphasizing on the word jeeju. Riddhima’s cheeks instantly flared up and she picked up the pillow and hit her.

Before she could say something, the door knocked and the girls smirked at Riddhima. “Bhaiya hoye to?” Saloni whispered in her hear making her glare at her. She also thought about it and in an instant her heart picked up its pace.

“Could you guys be anymore obvious!” Riddhima sarcastically smiled at them who nodded bittersweetly making her facepalm herself. She shook her head while Muskaan opened the door to see Ananya.

“Muski beta..bhai ka bed laga de verandah mein! Tujhe to pata hai na tere bhaiya ka room tere kaka ke paas hai! Aur baaki sare rooms guests k paas hai! Saare servants so gayye hain to main unhe jagana nahi chahti! Woh bechare bhi insaan hain, kaam karr karr ke thak jaate hain!” Ananya asked holding the quilts.

“Umm haa –“ Muskaan was about to agree but Saloni cut her off.

“Aree bua..dulhan hai yeh..Aaap isse kaam karwaeinge?” Saloni dramatically asked making the girls look at her confusingly but she just winked at them as in telling them to play along. Muskaan and Anjali straight away guessed what was coming next. Hence, they kept mum and smiled to themselves.

“nahi..” Ananya said, “To beta tum kardo!”

“Arre bua kardi na aap ne galat baa! Iss ko akela kaise chod sakte hain! Agar Rahul jeeju ko phone karliya to? Baat karna mana hai na? Aur Anjali bhi jaa rahi hai abhi kuch dene Zara aunty ko abhi, to yeh akeli reh jaeygi!” Saloni dramatically explained making Muskaan deadly eye her. “Riddhima hai na, aapki achi waali beti, woh laga deti hai!” Saloni smartly answered trying to manipulate Ananya whereas Riddhima’s jaw had dropped till the ground by now, and she knew something was wrong with her ears, as she couldn’t believe how cunningly Saloni was trying to manipulate Ananya.
“Choro! Tum sab ki saab kaam chor ho!” Ananya scolded shutting Saloni up. Riddhima smiled thinking she was saved but little did she know, that she was not. “Riddhima hi ko poochna chaiye tha! Bilkul mana nahi karegi yeh!” Ananya smiled at Riddhima cupping her cheek lovingly. “Bohot pyari bachi hai! Kyun Riddhima? Laga dogi na mere Armaan ka bed?”

Riddhima was caught off guard by Ananya’s sudden one change. Just when she thought she was out of the mess created by Saloni, Ananya dropped the bomb on her. She respected her and didn’t want her to think bad about her so she complied and nodded her head. Ananya smiled and kept her hand on her head. “Kush raho, dheka!” She turned telling the girls who looked down, but from the inside, they were about to jump out of happiness.

As soon as Ananya left, Riddhima turned to the girls giving them the deadliest glare. As she ran behind the girls, they quickly ran inside Muskaan’s attached bathroom and locked themselves inside before Riddhima could catch them.

“Oh god save me!” Riddhima joined her hands together and looked up praying. The girls in the bathroom heard her and were in fits of laughter. They felt bad for her, teasing her, but teasing her was just too much fun. Besides, these two had to talk.

As Riddhima opened the door to leave, she rolled her eyes all the way to the back of her eye socket hearing Saloni and Muskaan shout from the inside “BYE BHABHI…HAVE FUNNN!”

Maine To Li Hai Ye Kasam
Paao Tumhein Janmo Janam
Sajde Kiye Maine Shaamo Saher
Maanga Hai Tumko Sadaa

Riddhima nervously walked downstairs. By now, everybody has gone into their rooms as it was very late. The lights were dimmed, only the twinkle lights put on for the wedding were twinkling. As she descended the stairs, she felt she would trip any moment now. Her legs felt wobbly. “Breath! Its okay, main jaldi se bana kar chali jaungi, isse pehle, isse pehle ke woh aaye?”

By the time she was thinking all of the what ifs, she had reached the verandah. Looking up at the moon which was shining brightly, she took a deep breath, as her heart refused to calm down. Picking up the quilts and the sheets, she started making the bed. There were two charpoys against the wall, and she pulled one down and put the sheets on the charpoy.

Armaan who had went to take a shower in Ananya’s and Billy’s bathroom since his room was taken, lazily walked down the stairs running his fingers through his wet hair. Sighing he walked towards the verandah to sleep when the sight in front of him stopped him in his tracks. 

She had opened her hair out of the bun now. They were falling on one of her shoulders, leaving the other side bare and empty. She was still in her cute pyjamas. Her glasses rested on her cute little nose. He was about to move towards the kitchen but his steps halted thinking ‘It’s now or never Armaan!”

He walked towards her, where she didn’t see him coming, as she was facing the other way. His heart started to pick up its pace as he neared her. Taking a deep breath, he halted a few steps behind her, preparing himself to talk to her. Just when he was about to open his mouth, Riddhima unknowingly turned around looking down. Without looking, she turned around in a hurry to walk back only to bump into Armaan.

He looked down at her to see her eyes widen looking up at home. It felt like time had stopped. His arms instantly went around her waist to prevent her from falling. They just stared at each other, lost in each other’s eyes. They wouldn’t have come out of their moment if it wasn’t for the cat’s meow, who was just sitting in the verandah.

Riddhima gasped and jumped out of his arms nervously tucking her hair behind her ears. “I..I..I’m s..sorry I d..didn’t s..see you c..coming!” She down casted her gaze and stuttered playing with her fingers. After voicing out her words, she couldn’t even think how she got the courage to talk to him directly. At least she was looking down, she couldn’t even manage to look into his eyes. She without giving him a chance to answer her, ran away from their before she lost herself.

Once she was inside, she leaned on one of the pillars, catching her breath. She could feel her cheeks were red, because of all the heat radiating from them. Hot enough for anyone to either guess she has fever or she’s blushing. She decided to run upstairs in case he came inside looking for her.

The girls who were sitting on Muskaan’s jumped hearing the door open with a bang and a breathless Riddhima running in. They got up from the bed when they saw her run in. “Arre…Riddhima kya hua?” Muskaan asked walking up to her and holding her shoulders to calm her down as Anjali closed the door and locked it.

Riddhima just moved away, and went into the balcony. The girls looked at each other and smirked. “Something has happened!” Muskaan said smiling knowingly.

“Between them?” Saloni asked and she nodded. Anjali giggled and motioned the girls to follow her into the balcony – more of a terrace – to see her standing near the parapet and staring at the moon. “Anjali, aise lag raha hai ke Riddhima Armaan bhaiya ka bed laga ke nahi, unse takrra ke aayi hai!” Saloni unknowingly spoke the truth making Riddhima turn around and frown at her.

“Guys! Please tang na karo!” She pouted.

“Na na na behna kuch to hua hai! Jiss tara teri saansein phool rahi hai, saaf pata chal raha hai ke aamna saamna hua hai! Bata aab!” Anjali coaxed her to spill the beans whereas Muskaan and Saloni nodded, looking at Riddhima eagerly.

“Acha theek hai…batata hun!” Riddhima pouted going and sitting on one of the chairs – made out of bamboo – placed in the middle of the terrace. The girls smiled at each other and ran behind her, each occupying a chair around her. They attentively listened as Riddhima recounted what had happened. As Riddhima’s story progressed, the girls’ smirks grew wider with evil glint in their eyes.

“Wah wah wah Bhabhi kya baat hai! Seedha bhaiya ki baahaon mein gir gayin!” Saloni teased her, elbowing her, trying her best to hide her blush. The event that had occurred had her worried.

“Yaar, you guys promised not to make fun of me! Yeh kya baat hoyi!” Riddhima pouted and continued worriedly; “Mujhe to yeh soch ke horaha hai, ke I reacted so stupidly! Pata nahi kya soch rahein honge woh mere baare mein! Pata hai, I was stammering so much, like a stupid idiot!” She rambled, facepalming herself while the girls held their stomachs and had a good laugh.  Upon seeing them, Riddhima pouted and said “Hasso to matt!”

“Unn? Wohh? Ahaan kya baat hai? Inti izzat to bhaiya ke junior interns bhi nahi karte hongi Riddhima Bhabhi” Muskaan emphasized making Riddhima look down in embarrassment and the other girls giggled even more.

“Behen,…tu yeh shukar mana…. ke tu jeeju ke baahon mein behosh nahi hogayi!” Anjali said in between her giggles earning a deadly glare by Riddhima. Anjali put her hand out for a high five and Muskaan reciprocating nodding at her chuckling.

All this while the girls were teasing Riddhima on the terrace, just a few floors down the terrace was the verandah where Armaan had his charpoy laid out. He was laying on it – on his stomach, his hands underneath his chin – lost in the moon, thinking about what had just had happened. They did actually interact other and a Hi hello? More like she interacted and ran away before he could say anything.

He wasn’t going to deny the fact that when they had collided, and she had fallen into his arms, he felt something. A new feeling? A spark? Perhaps an electric current down his spine for all he knew. Her shocked-widened chocolate brown eye boring into his lighter brown ones and immediately jumping out his arms nervously, it had all affected him gravely. He could still feel her touch, the way she has gripped his shirt, afraid to fall, but then left it right when reality sunk in.

He smiled thinking about her fumbling words, her fidgety fingers constantly pushing her hair behind her ear, her down casted gaze. His own eyes looked away from the moon and towards the flowers in the garden, kind of blushing, the apples of his cheeks turning slightly pink like the red roses looked in the moonlight.

“Hey Armaan bhaiyaaa…kya baat hai akele akele kya soch rahe ho?” He came out of pondering about their shared moment when he heard his younger cousin, Sameer, who was Saloni’s older brother and a year older to Muskaan. Sameer pulled down the other charpoy throwing his pillow and quilt on it.

“Tum bhi yahin sone waale ho?” Armaan asked looking at him who was making his bed.

“Haan, main bhi yahi sota hun! Mera room bhi leliya!” He whined looked at him. “Waise aapka bed bana diya! Mera bhi bana dete, main to kitne dinn se yahan so raha hun!” He complained whereas Armaan thought about Riddhima again, thinking about what had happened he smiled to himself.

“Nahi actually, woh..woh Riddhima ne lagaya tha! So like maybe she didn’t know!” Armaan felt content saying her name, it lovingly rolled off his tongue.

Sameer had noticed his cousin brother react this way, which he had never seen before upon naming a girl so he decided to instigate further. “Hmm Riddhima huh?” He rhetorically asked looking at Armaan who was already in a daze. “nice girl!” He complimented her hearing a ‘hmm’ from Armaan. Trying to hide his smile he murmured “Quiet hot isn’t she? Damn she even looks even hotter in traditional wear than–“

“Oyeee! Tameez se..yeh kya tareeka hai?” Armaan angrily cut him off. “Is that how you talk about a girl? A little respect please? Tujhe acha lagega ke humari behenon ke baare mein koi aisa bole?” Armaan scolded him whereas Sameer gulped seeing his cousin-brother go off. They had both used the term before for actresses and other girls on social media, so why was he snarling on the mention of Riddhima.

“Okay okay…Chill Bhai..just stating facts!” He murmured the last parts to himself and smiled thinking ‘something was up with Armaan Bhaiya!’ being so possessive about a girl who he doesn’t even talk to?

Armaan just ignored him and laid down on his back, with his arm over his eyes trying to fall asleep but Riddhima’s face kept on coming in front of him. He couldn’t believe he had seen her and then had her in his arms, and then his own cousins called her hot? How could he insult her like that? She was not hot! She was beautiful. Insanely beautiful.

With Armaan thinking about Riddhima and the girls teasing the hell out of Riddhima, the night had passes and sleep had consumed both parties. While the boys slept in the verandah, the girls slept on the terrace itself. The morning of the Mehndi ceremony arose with the birds chirping – singing in their sweetest voice – announcing that the new day had started and everybody had a lot to get done.

Ananya and Padma were the first ones up and had been up for quite a while. They started making the rest of the unmade ladoos since after Armaan’s arrival they had just sat with him as he ate food. Now, slowly the guests started waking up and so did the relatives. They needed more hands in the kitchen so Ananya asked “Padma jao jaa kar ladkiyon ko uthao, main tab tak Armaan aur Sameer ko dhekti hun!” and Padma nodded. She climbed up the stairs and walked towards Muskaan’s room. Upon entering, her body was engulfed with wind and she frowned looking at the bed.

It was empty and looked like it was never used. She then roamed her eyes around the room too find the source of the wind was the opened door that went to the terrace. She shook her said and walked out to give the girls an earful only to find them fast asleep under bright sun shining above them, providing them warmth. She shook her head and shook them one by one, starting by Riddhima.

“Ladkiyon…yeh kya..yaha kyu so rahi ho?” She frowned asking them as the girls slowly got up rubbing their eyes. Saloni got up and stretched her body, cracking a few joints making Anjali twitch. Anjali was one of those people who couldn’t stand anybody cracking their joints – she hated the sound of it – lets say it was more of a phobia.

“Woh Aunty….raat ko bahar waise hawa khaane keliye bethe thay.. to baatein karti karte neend aagayi!” Muskaan spoke – yawning in between.

“Muskaan beta khayal rakhna tha na! Ab dheko na..tum dulhan ho aur agar neck mein sprain par gaya to? Aur waise bhi shaam mein mehndi lagwani hai uske liye bhi kitni der bethna parega! Beta bohot thak jaogi! –“ Padma worriedly went off, like she was talking to her own daughter.

“Aunty aap fikar na karein! Main bilkul theek hun!” She assured her smilingly, holding her hand. “Aap jaayi jaa kar naashta kejiye, hum bass aati hai tiyaar ho ke!” Muskaan said pressing her hand in between hers. Padma smiled and told them to hurry up.

After half an hour, the girls were seated on the dining table alongside the other cousins and Armaan having their breakfast with Padma and Ananya and Zara. The guests and the relatives had eaten already and now some were in their rooms taking out jewelry and clothes for the night whereas some were just hanging in the lounge gossiping with each other. Riddhima was the only one who was working in the kitchen. She has only eaten half puri when Armaan came down after changing and as soon as he sat, her eating speed had quickened and she left the table saying she’ll get some more puris for everybody else as there weren’t enough for everybody on the table.

The girls had noticed what had happened and looked at each other knowingly. They conversed through eyes, deciding upon teasing poor Riddhima about it later. The moms were oblivious obviously and so were the younger cousins. However, Armaan on the other side was quite disappointed. She was sitting right in front of him and he would have loved to steal glances at her while eating but she didn’t even give him the chance to do so.

Although he was disappointed, his puri finished and he decided that he could use and excuse and talk to her. Last night, when they were alone, before he could say anything she ran away, but now he could use this opportunity to talk to her. He was about to get up but closed his eyes upon hearing Ananya ‘Arre beta betho na..main laa deti hun!”

“Nhai mom..aap khao! Ill get it myself!!” Armaan replied instantly hoping that she’ll listen to him. Sameer looked at Muskaan who bit her lips to stifle her laugh. They all knew what he wanted to do. He didn’t want the puri he wanted something else.

“Bhaiya..Puri chaiye yah puri banane wali?” Sameer discreetly whispered in Armaan’s ear who looked at him wide eyed. Armaan gave him a will-you-shut-up look whereas Saloni who sat in front of them snickered. Muskaan hadn’t heard it so Saloni filled her and Anjali in with details.

Armaan couldn’t the embarrassment anymore so he stood up and looked at Ananya who nodded. He instantly walked off from their grabbing his plate. As his steps got closer to the kitchen, his heartbeat quickened. He was getting nervous but he knew, both of them were two shy people and one had to let go of their shyness if they ever wanted to be something.

Riddhima had calmed down by now in the kitchen as she knew it was the last place, he would be with all the responsibilities on his shoulders. Besides, he was eating at the moment. Little did she know, he was almost behind her, looking at her. She was kneading the dough to make the puris. Turning towards the tap, she poured some water in the glass to mix it in the dough.

She turned around only to bump into him, spilling the glass of water all over his chest and a few parts of his face. Her eyes widened and she looked up to see his eyes closed and lips tightly pressed together. His face was all wet. Riddhima kept her palm on her mouth in shock.

“S..ss..sssorry…ww..ww.woh m..mm.main..maine d..d..dheka nahi!” She apologized meekily looking down. “I..mmaain…t..ttowel…change…” She fumbled with her words confusing herself and Armaan even more. He was amused to see how scared she was.

It was purely an accident and he was more at fault than her, if she was thinking about that. She quickly grabbed a bunch of paper towels and started dabbing them all over his chest, his neck and his face nervously. She had forgotten her surroundings and who was standing in front of her.

“Riddhima…What are you doing!” Armaan held her hand, stopping her mid way. He carefully looked at her, amused at her changing facial expressions. Her worried facial expression changed to a surprised one and then into an embarrassed one.

She quickly pulled her hand away, realizing what she was doing. Jumping back to reality she muttered again “S..sorry I..I didn’t know what…what else to do”. Armaan was amused by this girl. How many times did she apologize to him in less than 24 hours? Riddhima was looking everybody but him. She was so embarrassed. She spilled water on him and then she started touching him, wiping it off without even asked for his consent. She felt too embarrassed and couldn’t face him anymore. Thus, she decided to leave before she embarrassed herself more only to feel a tug on her hand.

Confused with her behaviour, he held her hand not wanting her to leave him again. Last night she left before he could even say something and now, she was going to repeat it but he didn’t want her to. He wanted to start a normal conversation with her. So he held her hand before she could escape him. Upon holding her hand, he felt the current pass through both of their hands. It felt like she was current and by holding him, she shocked him.

Riddhima was too startled feeling his hand hold hers back tightly. Her heart rate escalated and her legs were close to turning into jelly. She was miserably turning into a pool of several emotions and she hated it. She hated how vulnerable his touch, his voice – his goddamn appearance in general made her.

“Bhaag kyun rahi ho?” He asked her amusingly.

She – for the first time in a while – looked up into his eyes, getting lost in them? He was talking to her? In hindi? God his Hindi accent was fine, despite being an American born and raised in the States, and living there. His family had settled in India after Muskaan’s birth but when he turned 8 and Muskaan turned 6, they moved back and stayed there till both of them completed their education. Muskaan along her parents and their younger sister came back yet he chose to stay and work there as a doctor. All these thoughts were running in her head.

Armaan knitted his eyebrows seeing different emotions play on her face. He was curious to know why wouldn’t she stop and talk to him. Truthfully, he felt bad seeing her run away from him like that. He liked her – heck loved her – and finally decided to get rid of his shy nature and take the first step but she kept on running away like she wanted nothing to do with him.

Before any of them could speak, Sameer walked into the kitchen smirking. His smirk deepened seeing Armaan and Riddhima lost in each other’s eyes, her hand in his. “Hmm..so this is happening!” His voice boomed confidently bringing them both out of their trance. Riddhima pulled her hand out of his abruptly red-faced. She quickly turned around went back to kneading the dough – more like nervously playing with it.

“Whh..what is happening?” Armaan, to cover his blushed faced, asked Sameer sternly. He was rubbing his neck out of embarrassment.

“Puri” Sameer smiled teasing, “Pooori, is happening bhaiya.” He emphasized on puri insinuating Riddhima’s hands. “Aapko nahi pata?” Armaan glared at him and showed him his fist for acting all innocent. “Waise to Armaan bhaiya poori lene aaye thay, lekin Riddhima aap mere liye bhi bana didiyega” He sweetly asked, continuing “Agar Armaan bhaiya ko unki mil gayi ho!”
Riddhima was not in the state to speak so she just nodded. It was only Sameer who had seen them, what if it was the girls? They would have teased the living hell out of her. What if it was their mothers? Just by the thought of it, she wanted to dig a hole in the ground and bury herself.

After a few hours, the house was full of hustle bustle, with kids running around here and there. Some of the women had already sat down with a dholki and were playing and singing traditional folk songs in their melodious voices in a sync. Ananya was in the kitchen with Padma making sure, the chefs and the maids knew about the food that was going to be catered for night and giving them clear instructions.

Zara with Anjali, and some other women was preparing the mehndi thaal, with flowers and making some last-minute decorations in the hall. Saloni, Riddhima, and Muskaan were in the hall along with Muskaan’s paternal cousins practising for the dance that they were going to be doing during the sangeet function.

Armaan and the men were outside in the verandah, watching the workers put on the canopy for the mandap. The canopy was made of sheer red and gold draped with green leaves and beautiful red roses. Around the canopy, tables and chairs were being put up for the guests, with beautiful candle stands with beads hanging off of it.

“Dhekiye, meri baat suniye..aap aise kaise last minute cancel kar sakti hain? Meri beti ki shaadi hai do din mein. Maina kahan se ab mehndi waali dhoondo?” Ananya worriedly argued with mehndi girl who was supposed to come tonight for Muskaan’s mehndi. She tried to explain to the girl but the girl was deaf eared and said she couldn’t come.

“Kya hua mom?” Muskaan asked coming with Riddhima and Saloni. Ananya tensely told her daughter about the mishap who told her to calm down.

“Aunty aap pareshaan kyun horahi hai? Main hun na main laga dungi Muskaan ko mehndi iss mein aisi konsi baat hai?” Riddhima smiled holding Ananya’s hand trying to calm her hand. Anjali and Saloni smirked looking at eachother.

“Achi beti” They murmured to each other knowingly pointing towards Riddhima. Riddhima who had heard, looked over her shoulder at them, sticking her tongue out at them. Armaan who came in wiping sweat off of his forehead. He saw her laugh and giggle, and now stick her tongue out at the girls and wondered why couldn’t she be like that with him.

“Lekin, beta itne saare logo ne lagwani hai, tum thak jaaogi” Ananya reason out worriedly.

“Arre aunty main keh rahi hun na! Aur aap istara tension lengi to wrinkles par jaainge! Aur makeup bhi theek nahi hoga!” Riddhima said childishly making everybody smile, especially Armaan, who she hadn’t seen come in. He admired how she tried to cheer his mom up tried to save the day.

“Haan na Ananya, tum fazool mein pareshaan horahi ho, yeh bohot achi laga leti hai!” Padma said assuring a very tensed Ananya.

“Acha chalo theek hai, lekin aab mehndi lene kon jayega?” Ananya agreed wondering.

“Main chali jaati hun na driver ke saath aunty!” Riddhima volunteered making Anjali and Saloni murmur again.

“Aaj iska full mood hai saasumaa ko paatane ka!” They snickered while Riddhima mentally rolled her eyes thinking how they kept on trying to tease her but nothing was working. She chose to ignore them, because if she reacted upon, the mothers will question her about her behaviour and she didn’t want anybody to know about her love towards him. She was already regretting telling the girls about it.

“Arre, beta driver ke saath kyun jana hai? Armaan hai na!” As soon as the words left Ananya’s mouth, the youngsters went in shock – especially Armaan and Riddhima. Armaan, who saw that the situation had been solved, decided to leave and carry on with his chores however Ananya had seen him and had different plans. “Kyun Armaan?”

Riddhima instantly grew conscious of her surroundings, hearing his name. By looking at Ananya, she knew Armaan was in the same room as her – and he had heard their conversation. Her breath itched and all of the sudden, she couldn’t look up. What had happened in the kitchen, the moment they had shared, still left sparks in her body. The idea of Armaan Mallik and her, alone, in one car, was appalling because she knew, if they were alone in a car, she would die from nervousness and most likely embarrass the crap out of herself. Although she was dreading being alone with him, she couldn’t help but feel giddy and excited. Some part of her wanted to be alone with him, and feel carefree. She wanted to let go of her nervousness and be a free bird with him, but she knew that would never happen knowing he was shyer than her besides she had no clue what he thought about her.

Saloni, Muskaan, and Anjali were shocked on Ananya’s proposed solution. Was she really sending the two most shy people, together, alone in a car? They smirked and looked at each other smilingly. The one thing made them so happy because they would finally be alone, away from disturbances and distractions. They could finally get together and get to know each other. They have their arms behind their backs, fingers crossed, hoping that Armaan agreed but Armaan had other plans.

“uh..mom I’m sorry..but I’m afraid I can’t! I’m a bit busy.” There it goes, all of dreams Riddhima had made crashed mercilessly by him. His just monotonously rejected her – refused to drive her. Her eyes – which had looked up in anticipation – down casted. For some odd reason, the rejection made her feel low and embarrassed. She felt awful. He didn’t want to be alone with her in a car? Heck he didn’t want to be alone with her at all.

Before anybody could say something, he left from there, outside in the verandah to look at preparations. The girls were as shocked as Riddhima. His curt reply had left them astonished however Padma, Zara, and Ananya had missed the tone and thought he was actually busy. 

Armaan had seen the change of facial expression display on her face. He had seen the sudden nervousness, which had appeared on her face when Ananya offered him to drive her – the same she had whenever she was trying to run away from him. So, he declined, he didn’t like how she always ran away from him. So, he decided he won’t give her the chance to do so, in the first place. Of course, he wanted to be alone with her, to know her, however he didn’t feel the same energy back from her.

Muskaan was beyond shocked and decided to go and follow her brother and give him a piece of her mind. The way he reacted and rejected to drive her was absolutely absurd. What valid reason did he have to decline the offer? Last time she checked; he was head over heels in love with her. The longing he felt, the subtle ways he tried to asked about her, how he eavesdropped their mother’s conversations over the phone, and now when he had the chance to spend time with her, to get to know her, he was denying it?

“What the hell was that bhaiya?” Muskaan snarled, marching out in a fast pace. The girls followed her to see standing, with her hands placed on her waist, demanding her brother. Sameer who was already outside in the verandah, was surprised to see a silent Armaan walk out, followed by a furious Muskaan, and oblivious Saloni and Anjali behind her.

“Muskaan, Please! I am very busy!” Armaan ignored her and try to walk away only to be stopped by Muskaan. She held his hand firmly, stopping him from walking away without providing her with solid and valid answers.

“Bhaiya kya masla hai? Aapne Riddhima ke saath jaane se kyun inkar kiya? Itne saal…Itne saal intezar kiya hai aapne..aab jak to mauka mill gaya hai, to kyun taal rahe ho? Who itne saal jo besabri se guzaare hain uski ek jhalak dhekne keliye guzaarein hai…aaj mauka mila hai to kyun jaane de rahe hain?” Muskaan yelled at him making the Sameer and Saloni look at her without any surprise, since they already knew about it, however, Anjali was beyond shocked and confused. “Bhaiya, itna pyaar karte hain aap usse..ab jab pyar izhaar karne ki baari aayi hai, to kyun dur bhaag rahe hain? Bata dijeye na usse!” This time her tone turned softer, her eyes pleading him.

“Wait what? He loves her too?” Anjali squealed looking at Muskaan and then at Armaan. A sudden happiness washed over her, she felt like running inside and sharing this news with her cousin – more of a sister.

“See…bata do tum sab ko! Main to kehta hun jaa ke yeh news mein lagwa do!” Armaan scolded her, mad and embarrassed at the sudden revelation made about him by Muskaan. She fricking told her sister – Riddhima’s sister-cousin – he was so gone, she would definitely tell Riddhima.

“Matalb? Sachi mein! Oh my godddddd! I’m so happyyyyy…Armaan you have no idea how happy Riddhima will be!!” Anjali jumped happily confusing Armaan and Sameer.

“Haan Bhaiya, jaise aap Riddhima se pyar karte hain, woh bhi aapse utna hi pyar karti hai! Shayed aapse bhi zada. Junoon ki had tak pyari karti hai woh aap se!” This time, Saloni spoke up, opening Armaan’s eyes. He felt like a bucket of cold water dropped on his head.

“lekin phir mujhse dur kyun bhaagti hai??” Armaan asked exasperated from all the drama that had been going on. His heart thudded crazily on the new revelation made to him. She loved him too? Was this even true? A sudden chill ran down his spine thinking about the truth.

“uski hi hichkhichahat mein hi uska pyar hai Armaan! You make her damn nervous. Your mere existence makes her heart race ten times faster. Like you longed for her, she longed for you ten times more. Trust me, she loved you over anything, and by anything, I mean even her own life.” Anjali explained to him making him smiled through his tears.

Before anybody else could say anything, he ran inside, handing Sameer the thal full of flowers that he had picked up earlier, making everybody smile and high five each other. “Finally!” Muskaan heaved in peace.

Yeh Meri Dhadkane Sun Raha Hai Khuda
Haa Wada Raha Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka
Ab Hum Naa Honge Judaa
Yeh Meri Dhadkane Sun Raha Hai Khuda

Riddhima walked outside, to leave to get the mehndi. After everybody left from the scene, she decided to leave but Ananya stopped her. “beta.. pata nahi yeh saari kaha chali gayi, abhi bad mein jana zara mehmano ko mere saath sherbat or snacks serve karwa do! Please.”

Riddhima agreed thinking busying herself into chores, would put her mind off of what Armaan did, although she was wrong. The more she tried to forget it, the more it bugged her. His rejection words kept on ringing in her ears. At one point, she felt like he had rejected her whole self. She couldn’t bear with the pain now. She wanted to be alone and cry her heart out. So after serving the last batch of guests, she hastily ran out.

“Chalein madam?” The driver asked her who nodded. Ananya had already informed the driver about where he had to take Riddhima. He opened the door for Riddhima. Riddhima was about to sit but halted hearing Armaan’s voice.

“Ruko…” Armaan ran out of the house, breathlessly. He really hoped she hadn’t left yet. The newfound information had left him beaming with joy. He couldn’t stop himself for grinning. All his shyness and nervousness – that he felt while being around her, had been thrown out the window, and now he couldn’t help but confidently look at her. He smiled looking at a confused Riddhima who looked at him for a second and looked down. His smile only grew wider thinking about what Anjali had said. His presence makes her nervous.

“Chaabi mujhe do! Main leke jaa raha hun!” She was always amused hearing his fluent hindi accent. Despite living abroad for more than half of his life, his accent was quite good – better than Muskaan’s in fact. She was shocked with all that had been going around. Didn’t he refuse to drive her then what changed in a few minutes?

The driver complied and gave the key to Armaan who walked towards the other side of the car and sat it. Riddhima was about to sit in the back as the driver had already opened the door for her halted when she hear Armaan “ Suniye?” His soft tone made her jump in her spot and nervously look at him. “Aage bethiye na..main bore hunga akela aage!” He made zero sense and he knew that, but by looking at her, he knew she was too nervous to actually point out the stupidity in his reason.

As he thought, Riddhima was too nervous and nodded. She quickly opened the passenger door, and sat in with a thudding heart. His fresh cologne hit her nostrils making her sniff the smell in and close her eyes for a few seconds. Then it hit her, what he had said. ‘Oh my god! Why do I act so stupidly in front of him!’ She shut her eyes, turning her face away from, hiding her flushed her face. Armaan bit his lips, pulling the car out of the driveway, smiling to himself. Her reactions were doing nothing but proving what he had just discovered; she was madly in love with him. God, how didn’t he see it before? It was so evident on her face.

They were standing in the mehndi store buying henna cones. She was standing next to him, and only she knew how she was standing on her two feet properly. Standing so close to each other. She felt like a small ant, standing next to him. Her head just reaching his shoulders, made him look so tall. His tall height was partially the reason behind her intimidation.

As she was buying the cones, his phone rang. While he was fishing his phone out of his pocket, in the process, his elbow hit her waist making her gasp and flinch in her place feeling his touch. “Kya hua?” He asked amusingly. He knew what had happened and why she flinched. He had felt the current pass through his spine too.

“K…kk..kuch nah..nahi!” She stuttered moving away for him. Armaan just shook his head and answered his phone. Riddhima just looked at him dumbfounded. Was he the same shy, quite guy, who refused to talk to girls, especially her? And now he was being so carefree around her.

“Haanji mom! Don’t worry! I’ll get it everything. You just carry on. Gossiping with those aunties!” Armaan carelessly spoke, in his perfect American accent, not noticing the girl in front of him – the one vending the mehndi cones – was staring at him in awe.

Ek to itna sauna, uncha, lamba kad. Ooper se NRI with a perfect English and a perfect hindi accent. Konsi larki ko pyar nahi hoga?

Riddhima noticed how the girl had stopped talking about the cones with her and was looking somewhere else. She followed her direction of vision, and as soon as she saw where was she lost, and her blood boiled. How dare she? She couldn’t hold her anger in, resulting her in slamming the counter in anger making Armaan and girl, both flinch.

“Kitne paise banne? Peeche bohot lambi line hai! Please hurry up, we don’t have the whole day!” Riddhima rudely asked. Armaan was amused at her reaction but when he saw the girl’s reaction he snickered silently. So she was jealous? Rubbing his neck, he smiled thinking how much she was affected.

“Mom asked me to buy some set of bangles, for this rasam…err…kya naam tha..ermm…” Armaan scratched his head as they walked out of the shop, trying to remember the rasams name. “Anyways, so we need to find those. And then get home!” He told her putting his sun glasses on, making himself look ten times hotter – in Riddhima’s perspective.

The bangle stall was a few steps away from the mehndi shop so they decided to walk there instead of driving. They were walking side by side, quietly. Riddhima was just playing with her hands while he constantly looked at her from the corner of his eyes.

“Waise, ek baat bataye? Aap gussa kyun ho rahi thi? In the store?” Armaan asked amusingly looking at her whose face had gone paler upon hearing the question.

Riddhima gulped and looked for words. ‘No riddhima no. Now u can’t answer stupidly. Soch Riddhima Soch!’ She warned her inner self, nervously fiddling with her fingers whereas Armaan waited for answer despite knowing it. He wanted to hear it from her mouth, that she was jealous and couldn’t beat the girl eyeing him.

Riddhima cleared her throat and looked up in his chocolate brown eyes, trying to sound confident “first of all, aap mujhe yeh bataein, aap to busy nahi thay? You had a lot of work to do no? Phir kaise aagaye aap? Mere saath?” Riddhima smartly retorted ignoring his question. She mentally patted herself on the back for confidently saying something for the first time, without stuttering and looking in his eyes.

Armaan’s eyes widened seeing her new confidence bloom up and he smiled making her blink twice in a second, trying to keep her posture straight, and still confidently stare at him. “Haan kaam to tha..” Armaan frowned confusing her, “lekin aapke saath ana tha, uss se aur koi kaam important nahi ho sakta!” He smartly answered in a husky tone, making her gasp.

“Chh..churiyan…!” Riddhima stuttered walking away from him and pointing at them.

‘And bammm nervous Riddhima is back!’ He thought smiling to himself as he walked behind her. They had now reached the stall, and Riddhima was already picking bangles. She was looking at plain green ones and when he came and stood behind her. As Riddhima selected the bangles – with much difficulty – while he stood behind her, gazing down at her lovingly.

The drive back home was silent with the radio playing in the back. Both of them were lost in each other’s thoughts as ‘wada raha’ played on in the background. She reminisced his teasing remarks and smiled to herself whereas he remembered her nervous gasps and smiled to himself.

“Uff shukar hai tum log aagaye! Kitna time laga diya!” Ananya walked up to them, dressed in her attire for that night. It was 6 pm and everybody had started getting ready. Riddhima smiled at her and gave her the mehndi whereas she ran to go get dressed. Muskaan and the girls were already seated in the hall on a specially decorated couch made for Anjali.

A few girls were dancing, some ladies were singing, playing the dholak, whereas Saloni and Anjali kept on teasing her from taking Rahul – her fiancé – ‘s name. It had been weeks since she had been teased with Riddhima being around, that now when all the teasing came back, she blushed profusely.

Riddhima joined after a few minutes, dressed in a beautiful lehnga  - bottle green lehnga with golden embroidery – and a plain bottle green crop top blouse with three quarters sleeves. She had straightened her hair, and parted them from the middle, neatly tucked behind her ears.

“Waah waah Riddhima..aaj to chand ka tukda lag rahi ho!” She blushed red as she came down and heard one of Muskaan’s relatives say. She looked down and whispered a thank you, walking up to the girls.

Armaan who was standing with Sameer and few distance relatives his age, turned his head in her direction and he was left spell bound. His crossed arms, uncrossed and he was dazzled by her beauty. He just simply couldn’t get his eyes off of her. She looked too damn beautiful, he straight wanted to and k-

“Bhaiya control! Close your mouth, you’re drooling! If you don’t stop all these evil aunties will start questioning you.” Sameer muttered slowing smiling and waving at an aunty. “Kya jawab doge phir?” Armaan snapped out of his thoughts and reluctantly look away.

“Aisa kya hua tum dono ke beech market mein, jo bhaiya ki nazre tumse hatt hi nahi rahi Bhabhi jaan!” Muskaan teased her. She mentally thanked her existence, as now the girls main target was Riddhima.

“Guys please!” Riddhima pleaded as she sat in front of Muskaan, on a small stool. Stretching her arms out for Riddhima, she smiled at her as Riddhima started with the very first design on her arm.  She started off near her elbow, making beautiful flower and leaves patterns.

As she put mehndi on her, the girls left no stone unturned in teasing Muskaan. They constantly brought up Rahul’s name mostly using the term ‘jeeju’ to tease her whereas she blushed to no extent. “Waise Muskaan! Mehndi mein Khaali R likhun? Ya Rahul likhun?” Riddhima asked teasing her, smirking at her and wiggling her eyebrows while giggles. “Acha yeh batao, Rahul aur Muskaan likh dun? Ya R and M?”

“Dikho Riddhima! Agar main shuru hogai naa…tau acha nahi hoga!” Muskaan warned her as Riddhima smiled, biting her lips and suppressing her giggles as she moved down to the hand. Her hand cramped and she left the cone and moved her hand a bit, cracking her knuckles.

“Acha to R and M chupana hai ya heart mein likhu!” Riddhima asked deaf eared, continuing with her designs alongside her teasing.

“R and M, hidden!” Muskaan finally gave in shying making all the girls around her erupt in ooohss and aaaahsss. She blushed hid her face in Saloni’s shoulder as both of her hands were adorned by mehndi.

“Chalo chalo ladkiyon…kheer khilane ke rasam ka time ho gaya hai..chalo chalo jaldi karo!” Ananya announced as the girls, and the ladies gathered around Anjali and Ananya who was holding a large bowl of kheer garnished with pistachios and almonds.

Saloni and Anjali got up and held a red chuniri dupatta on top of Muskaan’s head. First Ananya and Billy fed her the first spoon, together followed by Padma and Shashank. One by one, all the relatives came forward and fed her a spoon of kheer. With so many relatives feeding her, the bowls emptied out, and the last bowl came out.

This time the cousins started feeding her. Riddhima still hadn’t fed her because she was putting mehndi on one of Muskaan’s chachis and Armaan hadn’t either because he was making sure the food was good and ready to be served. They both walked up at the same time only to see only one spoon left.

“Aap khila lejiye..!” Riddhima meekly answered looking everywhere but him. The atmosphere turned quiet and Armaan also felt guilty that she wouldn’t get to take part in the rasam so he spoke up.

“Nahi its fine..you can do it!” He said putting his hands behind his back, backing away a little bit. Riddhima also felt guilty because if she fed her, then he would miss out on the rasam. He was the brother and he had more of a right than her so she denied again.

And so the ‘no you’ continued making Ananya facepalm, and Padma look at them back and forth until Muskaan decided to but in. “Uffo..aap dono! Saath khila do na. itna fuss kyun create karahe ho?” She minded getting tired of sitting straight. She wanted to relax but with so many people crowded around her, she couldn’t slouch.

“Haan na, aur time bhi zaya karahe ho! Chalo chalo jaldi karo!” Zara said, handing the spoon to a very nervous Riddhima. Armaan smiled as it was a win-win situation for him. He came and overlapped his fingers over hers, making her grow aware of her surroundings. They fed Muskaan, together, like a couple.
Their hearts were beating fast, being so close to each other, in the presence of so many people. Riddhima couldn’t help but look at Muskaan or just the floor. If it wasn’t for his fingers holding the spoon tightly, the spoon would have fallen from her hands.

“Bas! Itni si baat thi! Tum logo ne to itna bhara masala banaya hua tha! Chalo chalo ab tum log bhi mehendi lagwa lo!” Ananya scolded Armaan and Riddhima, and then telling the rest of the girls who still hadn’t gotten their mehndi done.

They did some more rasams as Riddhima sat around Muskaan and put mehndi on Saloni, followed by Anjali. She finished the mehndi on Anjali, and sighed looking up at her smiling. She was exhausted after putting mehndi on so many people. To add to it, she hadn’t done hers yet, and her hands were already stained by putting on so many hands.

“Muskaan will now give these bangles to all the girls!” Padma announced and Muskaan smiled at the girls. The bangles were nicely kept in their sets, in a decorated thaal.

“Hello aunty!” Padma and Ananya turned around to see Nikita Grewal, Muskaan sister-in-law. She was holding a large thaal covered with a red cloth with gold beaded borders. “Yeh mom ne bheja hai, meri pyaaaaari si Bhabhi ka shaadi ka jorah!” Nikki beamed with excitement, going and giving a side hug to Muskaan.

“Arre waah..beta bilkul sahi waqt pe aayi tum! Muskaan churiyan de rahi hai. Tumb hi dheko! Tumhe konsi chaiye!” Ananya smiled and Nikki nodded.

The girls had chosen their bangles, and Riddhima looked at the black bangles she liked. She smiled thinking about what had happened back when they were buying the bangles. Armaan had handpicked these bangles himself and said ‘these would look so good on someone’s wrist!’ obviously that someone was hinted towards her and she had blushed badly, ignoring his comment.

It was the last set, and only one she wanted. She reached out to pick it up, lost in her old world. She didn’t even notice when someone picked them up. Before her fingers could even touch the bangle, Nikki snatched them away.

“Arre that was the last piece! Riddhima tum kya logi ab?” Saloni frowned looking at the empty thaal.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry, mujhe nahi pata tha ke yeh aap lene waali hai! Lekin I really like it. If you don’t mind, main yeh le lun? Please please please?” Nikki begged hugging the bangles to her chest.

Riddhima nodded half heartedly and gave her a smile meekly. Armaan who was standing a few feet away, was eager to see which bangle she would pick up. His eyes lit up, as she extended her hand to pick up but as soon as he saw hurt flash in her eyes – as of something dear was snatched away from her. He felt disappointed seeing her hurt like that.

The rest of the function carried on with a lot of hulla gulla and masti. Whereas a sullen Riddhima tried her best to smile and took part in teasing Muskaan alongside Anjali, Saloni, and Muskaan’s friends and cousins.

It was almost mid-night and the function had still been going on. Muskaan was sitting exhausted, she had no idea being a bride would’ve been this hard. Now that she thought about it, it would have been so much easier to just run away and get married in church or a mandir. Most of the guests had started leaving. Nikki had also left an hour again after following Armaan all around – really impressed by him – and talking to him. Now it was only the relatives, which were enough to keep the party going.

“Riddhima I’m telling you, when you and bhaiya, plan on getting married, forget all these formalities, it’s a pain being a bride. Just runaway and get married! Jao, I give you..consent!” A very sleepy Muskaan whined tiringly, yawning while saying the last part.

Riddhima shook her head seeing how she was teasing her despite being exhausted. “Yaar yahan I-love-you tak baat nahi pohunch rahi, tum shaadi karne ko keh rahi ho!” Anjali giggled earning a glare from Riddhima who finally putting mehndi on herself. She finally got time to herself, and no she was putting mehndi on her left hand.

“Kya yaar aap log bhi..Na satao mujhe! Im veryyyyy tired!” Riddhima whined drawing the flower petals neatly on her hand. It was the simplest yet the most beautiful design. Or maybe it was just her hand – that had made the design look so good. Her normal sized fair hand with nice long fingers, nails had a nice French manicure done on them.

“Waah Waah kya pyaar hai! Apne hi haatho mein khudi apne sajna ka naam likha jaa raha hai!” Anjali loudly smirked at her, glancing over at Riddhima’s hand, confusing her. “Sahi jaa rahi hai behna!”

“Kahan hai!???” Saloni and Muskaan asked in a sync confused, as they couldn’t see it. The Anjali pointed it out on Riddhima’s hand and when they looked at it, they realized that it actually did look like A – even Riddhima.

“Arre, yeh to design ka part tha! I didn’t do it intentionally I swear!!!” Riddhima defended herself whereas the girls smirked at her. “Seriously – Kasam se, maine jaan booj ken ahi likha!” Riddhima nervously spoke as the girls giggled. They knew she was speaking the truth but the fun they had while teasing her was unexplainable thus they kept on teasing her while poor Riddhima just flushed red, partially from anger, and partially from shyness.

The whole night passed with the girls constantly teasing Riddhima and Muskaan back and forth with their catchphrase for the night; “nanand-bhabhi ki gaal laal, sun ke unke sajnaon ke haseen naam!” Apart from all the teasing, they enjoyed the music and the folk songs sung by their mothers and some relatives. Whilst enjoying all of the Hungama, Riddhima’s eyes constantly kept on searching for a glimpse of the man she loved from the bottom of her heart. However, she couldn’t spot him to her dissatisfaction and that made her heart fall.

It was now 2:30 am and the ladies had finally decided to call it a night as tomorrow was the Sangeet function and they had to do a lot of preps for it. Everybody had dispersed into their rooms and now only Riddhima, Saloni, and Anjali were sitting in the lounge, while Muskaan had excused herself saying she was tired and left for her room. Initially they had held her arm and teased her about how she wanted to just talk to her would-be husband in private, but knowing she was tired and was the bride, so they let her go, making sure her cheeks were redder than blood before leaving.

“Riddhima aaj tum itni pyari lag rahi thi, Armaan bhaiya ki to naazrein hi nahi uttar rahin thi tumseee!” Saloni cooed while Riddhima throwed her head back and groaned making Anjali giggle. “Kya sahi keh rahi hun main! Nahi maanti to Sameer se kehelwa dun? Woh saath hi tha bhaiya ke!”

“Oooo watch Armaan tomorrow! Kal jab Riddhima who saree pehenegi na, to Armaan dhekta reh jaeyga!” Anjali added fuel to the fire, making Riddhima blush harder.

“Not again! Yaaarr itne dinon se tum log mujhe tease karahe ho, dil nahi bharta tum logo ka? Aise jaise dulhan main hun, Muskaan nahi!” Riddhima pouted.

“Behen, jitna gehra teri mehndi ka rung hai na, shayed jeeja ji tujhe propose karr hi dein aaj kal mein!” Anjali knowingly teased Riddhima. After finding out that Armaan also loved her, she couldn’t help but run to her and tell her however it was not her place to confess it to him. Only she knew how hard it was to stay quiet and not expose her jeeja jee.

A very tired Armaan entered the house, holding a brown paper bag. He was still in his mehndi clothes. He smiled as he saw the bridesmaids seated on the sofa, relaxing, and having coffee. Seeing her, his smile grew ten times more. She was pouting looking at the girls and he guessed they were probably teasing her about him.

“Arre Armaan bhaiya! Aap aagaye? Kahan thay poora function? Pata hai, kaafi log aapki talaash mein thay” She emphasized looking at Riddhima who grew conscious and glared at her. “Especially Nikki, Muskaan ki nand aapko kitna dhund rahi thi jaane se pehle!” Saloni exclaimed teasingly glancing at Riddhima as her eyes fell on Armaan. Riddhima unconsciously scrunched her nose when Saloni brought up her name.

Armaan has seen the change of emotions play on her face and amusingly smirked eyeing Saloni and Anjali to play along. They bit their lips to supress their giggles and nodded discreetly so Riddhima won’t see them. “Achaa? Agar mujhe pata hota ke who besabri se mera intezaar karahi hai, to main jaata he nahi, usse company de deta!” Armaan spoke disappointedly, sounding remorseful, as if he had missed the most important task of his life. Though the words he said were true, although they weren’t for Nikki, but for Riddhima.

“Ridzi? Kya hua? Are you okay?” Anjali asked sounding astonished, trying to cover up her laugh, eyeing Armaan knowingly.

“Zeher lagti hai mujhe!” She muttered in distaste insinuating towards something – covering it with coffee. Armaan snickered but as soon as he saw her look at him, she covered it up with a cough and a sneeze, trying hard to decided which one was it – A sneeze or a cough.

“Kon Nikki?” Saloni teased asking her alarming her right way.

“NO! I m…m..m.meant coffee! C..coffee karwi hai” Riddhima stuttered realizing they had understood what she meant – even Armaan. The last thing she wanted was for him to find out why she found his sister’s sister-in-law venomous.

Armaan smiled to himself and thought how adorable she looked when she was jealous. At this point, he just wanted to walk over and pull her cheeks but he controlled himself given that he would look extremely weird and she would definitely freak out. “Riddhima I have to talk to you!” He straight declared, without any hesitation, where Riddhima looked at up appallingly. The girls also widened their eyes at his newly found courage.

“Whh..why me?” She asked nervously, after swallowing her sip which she had kept in her mouth with great difficulty.

“Ahh..I remember I forgot to check my email the whole day. I was expecting one from my workplace!” Saloni said picking up her mug as Armaan eyed her and Anjali. He smiled knowingly at her as if thanking her.

“Hayyeee! Maine to mom se apne dress ki zipper theek karwani thi! Im also going! You guys go ahead and talk!” Anjali dramatically exclaimed, using her drama skills making sure her facial expressions matched her white lie.

“Arre! A..armaan has to talk to us! Don’t leave na!” Riddhima nervously fumbled with her words as the girls left her. Her heart picked up its pace and as she heard him from behind her, she felt her heart leap into her mouth.

“Actually, I only have to talk you! Let them go!” He muttered stepping in front of her. Armaan genuinely smiled giving her multiple strokes at once. Her breath hitched and her overthinking brain started sending absurd thoughts again. Why did he want to talk with her only? What could he possibly want to say? And too to only her? Her specifically? Oh no..was it possible that her secret got leaked? He found out about her.

The more she overthought, the more her nervousness displayed on her face and Armaan loved it to the core. She looked even cuter when her face displayed multiple emotions in a span of few seconds. She was like an open book and every single emotion and feeling of hers played on her face. Even better, the feeling reflected in her chocolate brown eyes. He couldn’t believe the fact that he never read her love for him in her eyes. It clearly showed how much she loved him, her eyes held a different emotion when she saw him. Something indescribable but so beautiful. If she didn’t often break their eye contacts, he would gladly drown in the pool of her love for him, expressed by her eyes.

“Who, actually umm…” Armaan nervously smiled – chuckling as he rubbed the back of his neck nervously, fumbling around searching for his words. If Riddhima could get nervous so could he. Just like him, she too possessed the ability to make her beloved melt in front of her like an ice cream in the sun. Yes, he had grown a little confident around her upon learning she loved him too however he was still the same shy Armaan. “During that bangle rasam…I noticed all the girls got bangles except you…so umm…”

Riddhima’s eyes shot up upon hearing what he said. Her heartbeat was slow now, too slow. Every beat lasted 5 seconds. She felt like her heart would stop any minute. She was surprised hearing him. So he had noticed her dejected face? He had seen Nikki take the bangles which he had liked?

“So.. I got this for you!” He completed his phrase taking out a brand-new set of blood red bangles, neatly packed in translucent paper. “Err…I hope you like them!” He muttered awkwardly and embarrassingly. His cheeks had developed a faint blush although it was nothing compared to Riddhima’s, who looked like she ran a ten-kilometer marathon.

“I..” She sighed, out of words, amazed at his generous action. “I..don’t know what to say!” Maybe this was the first time she was talking to him without fumbling or muttering. At the moment, she was overwhelmed with his act. “But yeh rasam to dulhan ki hoti hai! She said frowning.

“To agar yeh rasam, dulhan ka bhai karde to?” He asked slowly making her look up at again at him in shock. “Please manna mat karyega! Main bohot pyar se laya hun!” If she thought he had given her a heart attack before, she was wrong. Because his last phrase had left her speechless and shocked. Did she hear him right or was she dreaming?

He smiled seeing her facial expressions and knew that somewhere she had understood the meaning behind his phrase. However, she was still trying to process it. He decided to take the chance, and held her hands, keeping the set of bangles on her palm, while she her brain just slowly processed what he had said.

“I do expect you to wear them Riddhima.” He said seriously bringing her out of her train of thoughts although she was too lost to respond. “Good night! Sweet dreams.” Her heart fluttered, missing several beats even after was gone after wishing her the night.

That night, she had not slept a wink. She kept on tossing and turning, trying to find piece, but a stupid smile had been plastered on her face. As she had walked up to the girls’ room, she prayed to god for Anjali and Saloni be asleep and to her fortune, they were extremely tired and had fallen asleep waiting for her. Annoyed of trying to find asleep, she got up, and walked out in the balcony to catch some fresh air.

Sitting on one of the chairs, she pulled her legs up on the chair, pulling her knees closer to her chest and resting her head on them, as she enveloped them in her arms. Gazing at the moon, she replayed all of the events that had passed throughout the day; their kitchen encounter; when they left together to go get the mehndi; when they did the kheer ritual together; the girls teasing her about him; and when she saw the accidental A in her Mehndi. Upon thinking about that A, as a reflex, she pulled her hand from under her knees, and looked at her now tried mehndi. Some of it had started to peel of and thanks to the moonlight, which was just shining above her, made it bright enough for her to see the A printed in her mehndi.

She blushed looking at it, and unconsciously, her other index finger traced the design ever so lightly and lovingly. As she did that, all she could think about what had transpired between them a few minutes back. “Main bohot pyaar se laya hun!” That was all she could think about. Pyaar was the keyword. Did he really mean what he had said? Was there a possibility that he too shared the same feelings as her?

The following morning of the sangeet, Riddhima and the girls were in their room, practicing for the sangeet. Though Saloni and Anjali performed on ‘Laung Laachi’ Riddhima sat next to Muskaan on her bed holding her cramped neck. It was the consequence of falling asleep in the terrace chair, all night, lost in her dreamland with a certain someone.

“So, I’ve heard, my brother wanted to talk to you?” Muskaan asked smilingly looking at her. Riddhima painfully turned her head towards her to see her asking genuinely. No tease in her tone or her smile. She hadn’t told the girls what Armaan wanted to talk about because firstly, they didn’t ask because of how busy they were preparing for the night, and secondly if she told them, she would get another day long teasing session, ending with her face turning the same colour as the bangles given by him.

“You know na how I didn’t get bangles in your choori rasam? So, he was generous enough to get me some new bangles!” She shyly recounted leaving out the pyaar part. As soon as she saw Muskaan’s eyes light up, she kept her palm on her mouth and whispered, “please aaj nahi! Agar un dono ne sun liya na, to poora dinn chidaeyingi!” Riddhima requested frowning.

“Kya baat hai, bhaiyya to bare tezz nikle! Seedha choodiyan hi de din!” Muskaan teased her giggling but in a low tone. However, the Saloni and Anjali’s ears were as thin as paper. Despite the low tone, they had still heard them perfectly.

“KYA?”

“ARMAAN GOT HER BANGLES?”

“ARMAAN BHAIYA GOT HER CHOODIYAN?”

They both yelled amusingly. Riddhima cringed hearing the loud tone, and facepalmed herself whereas Muskaan bit her tongue. The girls looked at each other and then smirked looking at Riddhima and Muskaan. Riddhima glared at Muskaan whereas she shot her an apologetic look and shrugged her shoulders.

“hmm..you know ridzi what you do tonight? You should wear them and then you sing;” Anjali playfully exclaimed.

“Bole churiyaaaannn….” Saloni dramatically sang.

“Bole Kangana….” Followed by Anjali, making Muskaan let out a giggle, holding her mouth.

“Hayye main hogayi Teri saajna…” Riddhima glared at Muskaan and then and then at Saloni.

“Tere bin jiyo naiyyo lagda main te margayiaaannn!” Then, Anjali and Saloni dramatically sang in union putting their hands on their foreheads. As soon as they stopped, Riddhima grabbed all the cushions – which were neatly placed on Muskaan’s bed – and threw them at the girls making them scream and duck. Saloni and Anjali ended up falling on the floor holding their stomachs.

“Waise na had hogayi hai! Dheetayi ki! Jab se aayein hain hum, tab se tum sab ki mintein karahi hun ke! Itna kon teasa karta hai yaar! Mujhe aise lag raha jaise shaadi Muskaan kin ahi, Meri aur Armaan ki hai! Uffff!” Riddhima blasted going off at them. She was furious. She couldn’t handle it anymore, so she got up and left the room.

The girls just looked at each other and burst into another fits of giggles. “Waise guys thora zada ho gaya haan! Bechaari ko thora sa to saans lene do sukoon!”

“Haan hum tumhe tease karlete hai! No worries babe!” Saloni teased smiling, walking over and throwing an arm over her shoulder. “Ouch!” She groaned as Muskaan slapped her arm away.

“Waise did you guys notice, she actually took Armaan’s name? Like she always shies away from saying it!” Anjali pointed out making their eyes go wide.

“Haan yaar” Muskaan agreed and the girls got busy discussing yet again; Armaan and Riddhima. Whereas Riddhima went down and helped the women.

The party was in full swing. Music, dance, food, gossip, everything was present. Some pop songs were playing and some youngsters were dancing, enjoying to themselves. The fathers of Muskaan, Saloni, Anjali, and Riddhima along some other male relatives and friends were sitting in a corner enjoying their glasses of beer and whiskey. Whereas the women were praising each others’ outfits and gossiping.

Muskaan and her fiancé – would-be-husband – were seated in specially decorated swing, lost in their own gossip getting many teasing glances from Riddhima, Anjali, and Saloni. Rahul’s sister and Muskaan’s sister-in-law was also parading here and there with her cousin gang talking about their dance steps. The only person who was missing from the party was the bride’s brother; Armaan Mallik.

And obviously, our girl’s eyes had been roaming here and there, in search for a glimpse of his. Ever since she had gotten ready, she didn’t see him and her nervousness grew every second. She was wearing that black saree which Muskaan had gotten her a week ago. She was dreading wearing this saree because not only it was extremely exposing, but at the same time, she was feeling extremely shy from him. Wearing this in front of him when she always dressed like a nun before, god knows how she’ll survive his eyes. But will he even glance at her? With Nikki being present, who dressed equally provocatively? Unknowingly, she felt extreme hatred for her.

“Ridzi…nikal aa khiyalon mein Armaan ke! Aata hi hoga who!” Anjali’s voice brought her back from her ‘Planet Armaan’. She looked up frowning, ready to tell her to stop teasing her but as she looked up, she saw a very serous Anjali motioning her to look somewhere. As her eyes followed Anjali’s, she saw Padma and Ananya looking at her, talking to her. Alarmed all of a sudden, she smiled nervously at them.

“Kitni khubsurat lag rahi hai Riddhima! Black colour kitna suit karaha hai!” Ananya praised looking at her lovingly, to see her lost in herself thinking about something. Padma followed her gaze and smiled feeling proud.

“Hmm..aur waise bhi isse black colour bohot pasand hai! Iski to koshish hoti hai kai iske saare dresses black hon. Woh to main madam jee ko zabardasti rang pehenati hun!” Padma complained and Ananya giggled.

“Hayye..” Ananya sighed sadly, “Humari betiyan humse nakhre na karein to kis se karein? Muskaan bhi do din mein vida hoke chali jayegi!”

“Koi nahi Ananya, woh apne naye ghar jaa rahi hai, who wahan bohot kush rahegi!” Padma consoled her, keeping her hand on her shoulders. Their eyes briefly left Riddhima and looked at a very happy Muskaan who was conversing with Rahul.

“Waise maine bhi soch rahi hun! Ke ek beti le hi aaon ghar mein!” Ananya cleared her throat and smirked glancing at her and then at Riddhima.

“Kya matlab? Main samjhi nahi?” Padma confusingly asking looking at Riddhima, and just then they saw a nervous Riddhima smiled at them.

“Uh-oh! They are coming here!” Riddhima muttured to herself when she saw her mother and her beloved Ananya aunty move towards her. Her heart picked up its pace and she grew nervous, all of a sudden, at loss of words.

“Aaj to had se zada khoobsurat lag rahi ho beta! Kisi ki nazar na lage!” Ananya lovingly held her chin, putting the famous kaala teeka behind her ear making her blush. She mumbled a thank you and looked down right away.

“I must say, black colour suits you a lot beta!” She praised Riddhima making her smiled. “Hmm..aaj to tumne sabko peeche chod diya! Kissi ka dil wil churane ka iraada hai kya?” Ananya winked making her heart stop. Padma giggled looking at Riddhima’s horrified expressions.

“Jee?” Riddhima asked shockingly, eyes wide as saucers. Did she really just say that? Infront of her mother? God! Did this woman want to kill her? Wasn’t her son enough to give her heart attacks, that now she started too?

“Koi nahi bacha I’m teasing you!” Ananya giggled rubbing her shoulder to calm her down. “Acha do me a favour na, please go see where Armaan is. Party kab ki start bhi hogayi aur yeh larka pata nahi kin tiyaariyon mein laga hai?” She rhetorically asked herself angrily.

“Jee main?” Riddhima confirmed if her ears weren’t ringing. Lately, she noticed how the girls and Ananya tried to get her alone with Armaan and now she was wondering wether Ananya was suspicious about her feelings.

“Jee aap!” Ananya giggled confusing Padma even more. “Aur tum don! Jao jaa ke larke waalo ko dheko kuch chaiye to nahi!” She told Saloni and Anjali sternly making them stand straight and nod, trying to keep their faces neutral. Riddhima’s heart leaped in her ribcage.

Not having any option, she decided to go and see where he was. With every step she took up the spiral staircase, her heart thumped in anticipation. She kept on reminding herself to take deep breaths and to calm down. He wasn’t going to bite her. He was a human after all and not a vampire. Although she tried to calm her heart, nothing was working. And the distance towards his room felt awfully closer than usual. She, on purpose, took smaller steps, fidgeting with her finger, trying to stall the situation.

“Kya hua Riddhima? Aap theek to hain?” She jumped, as she stood at the threshold of his room. Looking at him, she scanned him from head to toe, taking his attire into account. He looked out of this world as usual. He was dressed in a black suit with white dress shirt whose sleeves were yet to be cuffed. His hair was perfectly gelled up. Man, this guy didn’t even need to dress up to look hot, and here he was trying to kill her with his godly perfect looks.

Armaan cleared his throat, bringing Riddhima out of her trance. He had seen her walk up to his doorstep nervously. To say that he was shocked was an understatement. She walked all the way up, alone, by her own will, to his room, perhaps to talk to him? Was he dreaming? Then he saw her lost in him and he smirked. He knew he looked good, but he felt confident, now that he managed to make her check him out. As he soon as he cleared his throat, Riddhima averted her eyes mentally scolding herself and feeling self conscious now that he was checking her out.

“Oh god!” Was all he could say to himself looking at her. She looked ethereal. Better than how he saw her on the facetime call. He just simply couldn’t take his eyes off of her. The black saree wrapped around her luscious curves awakened unknown desires in him that made him scold himself.

“Wohh...um..a..a…aaunt..y…was…a..as..sking for you! She…told..mm..me to c..ccall you!” She fumbled with her words gulped breaking his trance. She couldn’t stand his passionate gaze anymore, so as soon as she said those words, she decided to leave before she faints in front of him. However, Armaan Mallik had something else in his mind.

“Arre! Rukko to sahi!” And just by that mere phrase, Riddhima’s feet halted where they were and she stood like she was a wax figure in the wax museum of London. “Everybody’s busy, and I’ve been trying to get this over with,” She inaudibly gasped as he closed the distance between them, standing in front of them. “I can’t seem to put in these cufflinks. Can you help me?”

She gulped seeing his palm spread out with cufflinks on them and his other hand to them into it. She looked up into his eyes, trying to hold the eye contact but, failed miserably. Not having option, she fidgeted with his cuff links trying to cuff them in. Although she was trying her best, she failed several times due to his heated gaze.

After struggling for a few minutes – which felt like hours, she finally managed to cuff them in. “uhm! Done!” She muttered in a meek voice, stepping back as their closeness made her go weak on her knees. He also stepped back, nodding his head. He smiled awkwardly at her muttering a thanks, still intoxicated with her perfume and beauty. “I..I..Guess we..ssh..sshould leave now! Aunty is probably waiting!”

Riddhima walked ahead of him, faster than him, as he followed her with a stupid smile on his face lost in the moment. Riddhima touched her cheeks with the back of her palms, feeling the heat, scolding herself. While these two walked down the stairs, a pair of two eyes watched them keenly.

“Ab samjhi main kya ke rahi thi pehle?” Ananya smiled turning to Padma, who was looking at Armaan and a very red Riddhima walked down the stairs awkwardly.

“kya tum bhi wohi soch rahi jo main soch rahi hun?” Padma smiled turning to Ananya, thinking she was insinuating regarding Armaan and Riddhima. And her doubt was confirmed when she saw Ananya smiled lovingly, still looking at them. “Oh my god!” Padma gasped keeping her hands on her mouth, tears in her eyes. “Sachi?”

Ananya turned to her and smiled nodding. She held her hands and spoke “Waise to main koi decision na leti Armaan se pooche begair, lekin jis tara mera Beta tumhari beti ko dhekta hai na, jiss sharam, jiss pyar, jiss izzat se. Main likh ke de sakti hun ke yeh Riddhima k begair nahi reh skata! Aur waise bhi, Mujhe woh bachi bachpan se hi bohot bahti hai!”

Padma was at loss of words and just hugged her out of happiness. As these women had their conversations, Riddhima had joined the girls while Armaan had gone and met Muskaan and Rahul, pulling their leg. Rahul got an important phone call and excused himself. While he was doing that Nikki saw her eye-candy and subtly made her way towards him.

“Armaaaan…Heyyy!” She cooed shamelessly in front of Muskaan and Armaa. “You look so nice!”

Muskaan choked and chuckled at the same time while Armaan’s cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Hey, thanks you don’t look so bad yourself!” Not better than Riddhima though, he thought. He genuinely told her. She continued to flirt with him while he shot Muskaan save-me glances. To his unfortunate luck, the lights got dimmer and the MC of the night, which was Sameer and one of Rahul’s female cousin spoke “To aaj ki shaam kaafi special hai, Humari di aur humare pyare Rahul bhaiya ki sangeet hai aaj! Kyun na is raat ko aur special banaya jayee? Ladies and gentlemen! I would like the Groom and the Bride to join us on the dance floor.”

The bride and groom obliged and danced graciously to the tune of the romantic music, as other joined them around them, making a circle. Armaan had fun flirting with Nikki, seeing Riddhima’s fuming face, but as soon he heard Sameer announce, the expression on his face changed. Nikki smiled finding the opportunity of dancing with him and looked at him expectantly. She was about to approach him, when he walked past her to where Riddhima was standing.

Riddhima was standing with Saloni looking at the couples dance. Anjali was off dancing with some groomsmen named Atul, who recently charmed her. They were both standing with sour expressions; Saloni because nobody asked her to dance, while Riddhima was busy glaring at Nikki knowing she wanted to dance with Armaan.

“Riddhima! Bhaiyya’s coming!” She was so lost in glaring at Nikki, she never noticed Armaan walking towards her. The air around her thickened as she saw the handsome Greek god of a man walking towards her. She almost chocked when he grabbed her by her hand and pulled her on the dance floor. As for Saloni, she stood there with her mouth wide open.

“What are you doing?” Riddhima asked nervously as he pulled her towards himself, and swayed them. He had his arms locked around her waist, whereas hers were gripping his blazer. Her heart was about burst out, given the fact how close they were. If it weren’t for his hold, she wouldn’t have been dancing for long since her knees had given up a long time ago and had turned into jelly.

“Wo..Actually sorry!” He apologized bending down, and whispering in her ear so she could hear despite the loud music. “I felt that Nikki was going to drag me on the dance floor, and I really didn’t wanna dance–”

“If you didn’t want to dance than why did you drag me here?” Riddhima cut him off brutally, out of nervousness. Him bending down to her ear and whispering was a cherry on top and she couldn’t help but freak out.

“You didn’t even let me complete!” He sounded offended and that made Riddhima feel guilty. However, his next comment changed her feeling all around. “I said I didn’t wanna dance, but I didn’t wanna dance with HER. Who said I didn’t want to dance with you?” If she thought she was blushing before than she was wrong, because now her cheeks were unexplainably red. Anybody who didn’t know about her love for him, would mistaken her red cheeks for the hot temperature in the room due to many people, or that she’s about to pass out.

Armaan enjoyed seeing the annoyed, the angry, and shy change of expressions on her face. He was amazed how easily he could read her eyes and tell what she was feeling. He had noticed her jealousy when he was talking to Nikki. Truth to be told, that was the SOLE reason he was talking to her, to make Riddhima jealous. He knew she loved him, from what Anjali had told him, but he wanted to see for himself how much.

Riddhima was just shocked at his reply but his killer smile had brought her out of her reverie and she blushed profusely. They just swayed in eachother’s arms, and slowly Riddhima’s heart rate slowed down as she got lost in his eyes.

“Hey Riddhima, can I have my turn with the bride’s brother now? Considering I’m the groom’s sister?” Nikki not-so-nicely asked. Armaan and Riddhima who were just lost in each others’ eyes, broke apart from their gaze.

“Actually, I think he didn’t want to”

“Oh I would love to dance!” Riddhima turned her head shocking towards Armaan as she was rudely interrupted by him. As he had told her, she was about to inform Nikki on how Armaan didn’t want to dance anymore, but now he was openly willing to do the contrary and went against his own words. All the blushing, the shyness, the love, it was all gone and replace by rage.

She scoffed and pushed him away without looking at him. Walking away from the dance floor, she walked of to where now Anjali and Saloni were standing. “ugh! I hate men!” Riddhima groaned.

“Excuse me! Why are you branding all men?” She heard a unknown voice and turned to see the man that Anjali was dancing with.

“And who are you?” She asked annoyingly. Normally, she never talked in such a rude tone with anybody, but now she was so damn annoyed with all the larkewalas that she couldn’t see who she was talking to.

“Oh! I’m Atul Joshi! One of the groom’s best friends! Nice to meet you!” He smiled looking at Anjali and Riddhima figured out the two had hit it off right away and she smirked. She chatted nicely with him, shooting teasing glared towards Anjali trying to ignore Nikki and Armaan dancing. She caught Armaan looking at her and then looking down right away getting close to Nikki. She rolled her eyes and kept on teasing Anjali through her eyes as the girls chatted with Atul.

“Le bhai! Yeh kha, kya mast samosa hain! I must say these bride side chicks really arranged the food well!” She heard another annoying voice but as she turned her annoyance turned into a drool as she saw another equally hot man as Armaan – okay not as hot but still dashing – holding a plate of samosas munching on them like a hungry lion.

“Oh hi!” He said with his mouth opened stuffed with food, checking Riddhima out. Riddhima felt disgusted at the same time, but also couldn’t help but check him out as well. As she did that, she looked at Armaan and Nikki from her peripheral vision and saw him stare at her confusingly. Suddenly, she thought of something and smirked.

“Hey! You wanna dance?” She kept her hand out for the boy who dreamingly muttered ‘sure’. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to the dance floor. “So what is your name?” Riddhima asked trying to shake off the unfamiliar feeling she felt when he wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Siddhant, Siddhant Modi!” Sid smiled, “Did I mention how hot you’re looking?”

“Thanks!” Riddhima muttered. She didn’t feel as comfortable as she felt in Armaan’s arms. True that she always got nervous near him, but the love she held for him in her heart, made her feel secure in his arms, made her trust him.

They kept on chatting, with Riddhima faking giggles to Siddhant’s corny pick-up lines, which Riddhima took as horrendous jokes. She played along, while she kept on glancing at Armaan who was now by the bar area, holding a glass of champagne, looking right at her. And hell broke loose, when Siddhant pulled Riddhima closer and tighten his grip on her waist.

Armaan wasted no second in marching towards them. He grabbed her hand off from his chest saying, “I want to talk to you!”

“Hey man–”

“Alone!” Armaan gritted his teeth furiously, cutting Siddhant off. Riddhima was just shocked with what was happening and before she could answer him, she was being dragged towards the outdoors lawn. And all of this was noticed by Saloni and Anjali.

“Omg do you think it’s THE time?” Anjali asked keeping her palm on her chest, as she held her drink in the other.

“Its definitely THE time!” Saloni agreed with her and they both made their way towards Muskaana and Rahul. “Sorry Jeej! Can we borrow Muski for a moment?” She asked and he nodded whereas Muskaan pouted on being pulled away from her would-be husband.

“Kya hai!” She whined annoyingly.

“Oh ho! Look at the Dulhan all desperate to stay with her man!” Anjali teased smirking.

“Hello! Focus!” Saloni chided as Muskaan gave them confusingly looks.

“Oh yeah! It’s THE moment!” They both spoke excitedly.

“and whats THE moment?” She asked confusingly. With her wedding going on, and her fiancé being present in the room, the last thing on her mind were Armaan and Riddhima.

“Hello…THAT moment!” Saloni smiled turning her head and motioning to a furious Armaan, dragging a confused Riddhima. Muskaan smiled and the girls discreetly flowed the duo outside.

Not nervous as usual, Riddhima demanded “Armaan what the hell are you doing?” in pain. His hold on her wrist was really tight and she really didn’t appreciate acting the way he was. 

“Why the hell were you dancing so close to that boy?” He asked trying to calm his anger. He had pulled her to himself as he held her by her arms, in a very tight grip.

“What is wrong with you?” She asked unbelievingly, trying to understand the sudden reason behind his anger. The fire she could see in his eyes, the clenched jaw, and tight grip, why was he so mad?

“I didn’t like the way he was touching you!” He growled angrily, tightening his hold around her.

“And why is that bothering you? We were just dancing! Not flirting unlike someone?” Riddhima mocked crossing her arms looking down. She sighed as she heard him scoff.

“What do you mean by bothering me? Aren’t you bothered by it?” Armaan asked furiously tightening his grip on Riddhima’s arm taking her by surprise. He was the won flirting with Nikki and just because she danced with Siddhant, he was reacting like this.

“Why would I be bothered by it? It’s not like I was the one flirting with him. Besides, everybody else was dancing too. We weren’t the only one’s dancing. Some where even flirting too.” Riddhima said in a disgusted tone disinterestedly. Armaan looked appalled by her sudden shade and that did nothing but increased his anger. “I don’t know why you’re so bother–”

“BECAUSE I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU DAMMIT!!!” He jerked her closer in his arms, confessing his heart out in the loudest tone ever. His eyes were raging and he couldn’t help but blurt it out.

Wada Raha Yeh Wada Raha
Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka
Wada Raha Yeh Wada Raha
Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka

The air thickened around them. Riddhima gasped as she heard those words. She felt the saliva stuck in her throat. All of sudden, it was hard for her to breath. Her heart rate slowed down and she was positive she was having a heart attack. She couldn’t believe her ears. Did he actually say those words? She blinked a few times, trying to see whether she was awake or dreaming.

Muskaan, Anjali, and Saloni gasped alongside Riddhima, and looked at each other, silently jumping in the air and high-fiving each other. Saloni and Anjali did silent bhangra moves and Muskaan just stiffened her giggles looking at them. “Finally!” She mouthed to herself looking in awe at her brother and her Bhabhi. She smiled thinking about Riddhima as her Bhabhi.

“You–” She started off unbelievingly but was at loss of words. And to their unfortunate luck, their moment was broken before Riddhima could fully process his confession.

“Riddhima Di, your mom is looking for you!” Sameer interrupted walking out in the lawn. The girls who were interestingly watching seen from behind the pillar, facepalmed themselves. Saloni threw daggers at her brother’s back.

“Yeh Sameer bhi na! Kabhi sahi time pe entry nahi marega!” Saloni murmured as she saw Riddhima nodding and running away from them.

“Abhay teri to!” Armaan showed him his fist only after Riddhima left. Sameer backed away scared holding his arms up in the air. “Acha khasa moment kharab kar diya!”

“Woahhhh…Bhaiya wtf!” He yelled as Armaan held his collar.

“You a**hole!!!” Armaan through a punch at him but luckily Sameer dodged it and the girls ran to rescue the poor guy. “I was fricking confessing my love here and god knows maybe she also would’ve finally confessed too!” Armaan pulled his hair out of frustration.

“But Armaan I told you, she loves you. Madly!” Anjali spoke up but Armaan glared at her too and the poor girl, intimidated backed up murmuring words under her breath.

“Anjali, don’t you think I would like to hear ‘I love you Armaan’ from her?” He questioned her calming down and sighing as he glared at Sameer. “Kab tak bhaagti rahegi mere se? Aur ab to maine bhi apne pyar ka ikraar kar diya hai!” He said and the girls nodded.

“Keep making her jealous Armaan. It won’t take her a day to crack! Hadd se bhi zada pyar karti hai! –”

“Then why the hell doesn’t she say it! Who bhi to kahe na!” He helplessly pulled his hair groaning. Muskaan kept her hand on her brother’s shoulder and squeezed it.

“Don’t worry bhai! Just wait for it. Who khud aa ke aapse aapne pyar ka ikraar karegi!” Muskaan promised her brother.

The party continued for the rest of the night with a full swing. The youngsters had a blast the whole night. Dancing like crazy. The dance floor was never left empty. The boys and the girls side kept everybody entertained. Although everybody was having fun, Riddhima and Armaan were the only ones who were lost in each other’s thoughts.

Now everybody was on the dance floor free styling. Armaan had been pulled by his brother in law and his groomsmen. Whereas the girls had forcefully pulled Riddhima onto the dance floor. Riddhima couldn’t believe he loved her. She waited all her life to hear this and now that she finally did, she couldn’t believe her ears.

She wanted to be alone, somewhere quiet, where she could process his words. She wanted to go somewhere where she could yell her lungs out from happiness. Where she could let her tears of happiness fall freely. She smiled happily seeing her family and friends dancing happily. She also moved happily with Anjali. The dhol was really bringing out her inner chirpy self. And how couldn’t she dance? It was such a happy occasion.

The next morning, the morning of the haldi, the girls’ room was full of hustle bustle. The girls were helping Muskaan get ready. She was wearing a sleeveless yellow suit with yellow matching capri pants. Riddhima was braiding her hair in a beautiful French braid. As she did that, Saloni and Anjali helped her wear the flowers jewelry made out of marigold flowers.

“Dulhe miyan ki to nazre nahi uttar rahin thi kaal raat humari Dulhan se!” Riddhima pointed out smilingly as she wrapped the flower garland around her hair. The girls giggled hearing Riddhima earning a murderous glare from Muskaan.

“Maine sunnah hai, ke kal raat, Kissi ne kissi ko, propose kiya hai!” Muskaan fired back shuttinf Riddhima’s mouth. Anjali and Saloni, now turned their heads towards Riddhima smirking.

“Aap logo ko kaise pata? Aaap log mere aur Armaan ki baatein eavesdrop karahe thay?” Riddhima asked appalled.

“Acha! To woh Armaan Bhaiya thay jinon ne tumhe propose kiya!” Muskaan kept her finger on her chin acting like she was thinking.

“Ohhh..to behen ab unn se Armaan ban gaya hai who? Arre waah! Tu to bari fast nikli!” Anjali smiled teasingly keeping her elbow on Riddhima’s shoulder. Instead of getting angry, Riddhima smiled shyly and covered her eyes with her palm. “Ayyee hayyee hayye! Kya look hai!” She cheekily commented, re-enacting Salman Khan’s dialogue from the very famous – 90’s hit – movie ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kon?’.

“But I didn’t say anything!” Riddhima pouted. “Patani kyun! Mujhe abhi bhi yakeen nahi araha ke who mujhse pyaar karte hai! Jis haqq se unho ne ikraar kiya, meri saansein tham gayin thi! Main bata nahi sakti ke mujhe uss time kitni Khushi hoyi thi! Lekin aise jaise mere muh pe tala laga diya ho!” She let her heart out with the most unexplainable expressions. The girls smiled tearfully looking at a very happy Riddhima.

Before they could say anything, they heard a knock on the door. “Muskaan are you ready?” her brother’s voice boomed through the other side of the door. Riddhima jumped thinking that he was in the room but realized that the door was closed and she was just being paranoid. She sighed, thinking she wasn’t even dressed.

“Yeah bhai I’m ready. Though kuch log tiyaar nahi hoyi!” Muskaan smirked emphasizing on Kuch. Riddhima eyed her, glaring at her, and in return she smirked shrugging her shoulders. On the other hand, Saloni and Anjali just poked their elbows into Riddhima’s sides, annoying her.

“Koi nahi! Hum Intezaar kar lenge!” Armaan huskily replied knowing whom Muskaan was hinting towards. He smiled to himself and seriously said “Jaldi neeche aana!”

“OOOOOOOOOO!!!!” The girls hooted loudly once they heard Armaan’s footsteps fade away. Riddhima shyly dashed into the bathroom whereas the girls broke into fits of laughter.

The girls were sitting around Muskaan, as she was sitting on a small stool. Some where playing the dholki, singing some folk songs along. The mothers were running here and there, checking some last minute formalities.

“Bua hum haldi ki rasam shuru kyun nahi karahe?” Saloni asked boringly as she was getting hungry and she badly wanted to stuff her face with the ladoos resting in the kitchen. Anjali Laughed looking at her and Muskaan rolled her eyes.

“Beta we have to wait na. According to the tradition, we have put on the haldi that comes from Rahul’s place first and then we put ours.” She explained, “Mujhe abhi Muskaan ki saas ka phone aaya tha, woh Nikki leke arahi haldi. Kahin traffic mein phas gayi hogi!”

As soon as Riddhima heard her name her face twisted in disgust. “Ayye phir tapak paregi Dayaan!” She muttered crunching her nose in disgust. She really didn’t like that girl. She always got bad vibes from her. “Phir mere Armaan pe line maregi!” Though her voice was low, Muskaan had heard her because she was sitting so close.
“Hmm mera Armaan huh? Itni hi possessive ho to mere bhai se aapne pyar ka ikraar kyun nahi kardeti?” Muskaan asking whispering in Riddhima’s ear. “Aur waise bhi! Don’t worry Bhabhi jee, mere bhai ne jab apni mohabbat ka ikraar kar diya hai to nikki ki kya tension?”

Riddhima nodded thinking about Muskaan’s words but she couldn’t help but feel unjustified hatred towards that girl. Though she hadn’t done anything wrong, she only liked Armaan like she did. However, the way she openly flirted with Armaan, really instigated her anger. She was brought out of her thoughts by Nikki’s chirpy voice “Hello Auntyyy. Hiiii Bhabhiii!”

She scrunched her nose seeing her bend down and take Muskaan into a bone crashing hug. Groaning, she rolled her eyes and involuntarily her eyes fell on a smiling Armaan. “Huh Kal mujhse apne pyar ka izhaar karahe thay, mujhe aur uss Siddhant ko dheke gussa horahe thay aura ap kaise ghoor ghoor ke usse dhek ke kaisi Bateesi bahar arahi hai” She mentally ranted to herself, rolling her eyes again. If she earned 1 dollar for every time she rolled her eyes because of Nikki, she would have been a millionaire by now.

The ladies started the Ritual. The haldi that Nikki had brought was placed in front of Muskaan. Ananya initiated the ritual by dipping the two big green leaves into the haldi and gently rubbing it off from her knees all the way down towards her ankles. She then applied it on her arms, and lastly on her cheeks. The same procedure was followed by Padma, Zara, and the rest of the ladies and girls.

“Riddhima beta jao sara kitchen mein dheko mehmaano keliye jo khana bana hai who ready hai?” Padma asked her as Riddhima finished putting the haldi on Muskaan’s face. “Aur waapsi pe, ek haldi ka pateela wahan para hai, who bhi leti aana! Yeh khatam hone waali hai to aur bhi logon ko lagani hai na!”

“Jee maa!” Riddhima nodded and got up making her way towards the kitchen. While she did that Armaan and Sameer came forward for their turn. Armaan rubbed his hands together preparing to smother Muskaan’s face in haldi and Sameer smirked looking at a wide-eyed Muskaan.

“So saara khana ready hai na? Thori der main guests ke liye khana rakhna hai?” Riddhima asked the cook who nodded. She smiled nodding and looked around for the Haldi Thaal. She looked around for a bit and eventually found it. Walking towards it she picked up the thaal full of haldi which was garnished with rose petals.

Just when she turned around with the thaal, she bumped into someone and felt the cold haldi fall on her. She closed her eyes anticipating her fall but was shocked when she felt that someone pull her towards himself. “Its okay you’re not going fall Riddhima. At least when I’m around!” He muttered the last part huskily helping her stand straight.

She opened her eyes hearing his husky voice. She flinched in his arms and stood straight looking everywhere but him. Her eyes fell on her arms which hand haldi hand prints on them. Then her went to his hands which were covering in haldi. His white kurta was also soaked in haldi alongside her own white chickenkari one. She gasped seeing how both of them were covered in head to toe.

“I’m ss..ssorry! Main dhek ke nahi chal raha tha!” He apologized sincerely.

“N.nno.noo Its okay!” She cut him not looking up at him. She grew so nervous in this situation that she turned around hastily and decided to leaved. However, Armaan grabbed her hand and stopped her right where she was.

Riddhima gasped and closed her eyes feeling his cold fingers wrap delicately around her small wrist. Her heart beat slowed down and she felt as if time had frozen. Her heart beats got slower and slower by every step he took towards her. Her breath hitched feeling his breath on her ears.
Maine to apne pyar ka izhaar kar diya. Lekin ab main tum se sunna chahta hun Riddhima! He whispered in a husky tone making her knees go weak. Kal, baraat waale din! Agar tum meri laayi hui chooriyan pehenogi, to main samjhunga ke tum bhi mere se utna hi pyar karti ho jitna main tumse karta hun!"
"Ahemmm!!! Yeh kya horaha hai hmm?" They jumped in their spots hearing Saloni's loud voice. Riddhima looked at them wide eyed as she saw them standing with a smirk.
"Kk..kkuch..kuchbito...nahi!" Riddhima spoke fast, murmuring creating distance between them.
"Saloni Bahar to haldi ki rasam chal hi rahi hai, idhar bhi chal rahi hai! Nahi?" Anjali acted shocked pointing at Armaan and Riddhima.
"Humesha galat time pe entry maarte hai hai saale!" Armaan muttered to himself with a faint blush on his cheeks.
"Is that blush I see on ur cheeks bhaiya?" Saloni teased making him groan. "Aur waise bhi, bilkul sahi time pe entry maari hi humne! Nahi to yeh saari thaal aap log hi khatam kar lete ek dusre ko haldi lagate lagate!" She giggled giving a high five to Anjali.
Armaan groaned and without answering them, he left the kitchen, but not before giving Riddhima a knowing look.
"Hmmm to behena! Yeh kya khusur phusur ho raha tha? Hain? Duniya ke sabse shy larka larki, kitchen mein romance karahe thay? Confession ka atta patta nahi, shaadi ki tiyaari pehle karli? Churi ki rasam, kheer ki rasam saath mein, ab to halfi bhi laga di?" Anjali pointed making an already flushed Riddhima turn crimson.
"Nahi matlab! Kehti ho to hum bua se keh ke tum dono k phere lagwa dete hai Muski or Rahul jeej ke saath kal!" Saloni continued giggling making riddhima pout.
"Kyaaa yaar! Bass bhi karo! We didn't do it on purpose! We just bumped into each other and the haldi fell on us!" Riddhima pouted as the girls pulled her along outside.
"Chal koi nahi! Muskaan has to shower, you shower too! Hurry up, so these fatso aunties don't finish up all the good food!" Anjali twisted her nose making Riddhima glare at her and saloni giggle covering her mouth with her palm.
After the haldi rasam, Muskaan's choora rasam took place. The bangles were dipped in milk first and then everybody out some on in small sets to complete the ritual.
Now, the final day of the wedding had come, the day of the wedding. Muskaan had been getting ready since the morning and she felt sleepy. With all the heavy makeup that the beauticians had been doing and all the heavy hair spray the hairstylists were putting in her hair, she literally wanted to run away with Rahul and get married in court in her pyjamas.
Saloni was already dressed and was wearing a beautiful green lehnga with orange choli and maroon banarsi dupatta. Her hair were beautiful curled and pinned up on either side in twists.
Anjali had worn a blue dazzling saree with rich sequins work in silver. She had her hair tied back in a sleek high ponytail with long diamond earrings dangling from her ears.
Riddhima has worn a maroon lehnga with golden work on it and a plane golden choli with a deep neck. She wore a kundan choker necklace paired up with gold matching jhumkis. For hair, she had left them open straightened them. She had a huge maroon dupatta pinned on her shoulders showing her neck show off her neckpiece but covering one of her arms.
Lastly, muskaan had worn a champagne colour wedding dress. It was full length ball gown type maxi dress with 3/4 sleeves and sheer net under the hem of the dress. Her hair were pinned up in a messy big bun. And now the hairstylists were pinning her dupatta up.
"So Muski nervous?" Saloni asked wiggling her eyebrows.
"Nervous ka to pata nahi, but abhi muhe zabaddast kisam ki neend arahi hai" Muskaan groaned making the girls giggle. 
Just then, they heard the baand Baaja and Riddhima looked at the girls excitedly. She and the girls ran out in the balcony and watched the baraat proceed towards the gate. They laughed seeing everybody dance happily.
As Riddhima watched the baraat she couldn't help but get lost in her dreamland. She started to visualize Armaan on a horse in a groom's attire. Though her thoughts didn't last for long as Saloni pulled her into the room to show Muskaan the video she had taken on her phone.
Riddhima blushed to herself and shook her head to clear her thoughts. The girls were laughing alongside a blushing Muskaan looking at the video in Saloni's phone when Ananya barged into the room.
She was about to say something when she tearfully looked at Muskaan. Her daughter was leaving her and she was looking ethereal. Walking slowly towards her, she held her hands and kissed them tearfully. "Kissi ki nazar na lage!" She touched her eye with her pinky and put the famous kaala teeka behind her ear to save her from evil eye. Muskaan tearfully hugged her mother and sobbed.
"Bua-Muski don't cry guys, makeup kharab hojayega!" Saloni consoled rubbing Muskaan's back. "Ab to baraat bhi aa gayi hai!" That broke the spell and Ananya came out of the hug. She wiped her daughter's tears and kissed her forhead. "Khush raho!"
"Chalo...ab varmala ka time hogaya hai beta! Girls jaldi se neeche le aao isse!" She instructed them and they nodded. She left and and Riddhima made some last-minute touch ups to her makeup.
"Ready?" She asked and Muskaan took a deep breath and nodded. She looked at her room tearfully and turned around after a while, walking with the girls.
Downstairs, Armaan and Sameer were busy in the khaatirdaari of the groom and his groomsmen. They were running here and there making sure the grooms side had no complaints.
Soon the lights went off and the spotlight fell on the stairs. Armaan's heart dropped thinking it was finally time, time for him to give his beloved little sister's hand to someone else. 
His heart stopped seeing Riddhima next to Muskaan bringing her down, they were matching. She look extremely gorgeous that he didn't even look how the actual bride was looking. Riddhima caught his burning gaze and blushed looking down. She was wearing heels and just his gaze was enough for her to stumble on her steps.
Armaan's eyes descended to take her whole look into account. A sudden frown appeared on his face when he saw that she was wearing golden bangles in her visible hand. The other hand was hidden behind Muskaan. Though, Girls usually wear the same colour in both hands and thus his frown deepened thinking "didn't she wear the bangles I got her?"
After Muskaan and Rahul's varmala ceremony, the caterers had served appetizers since dinner would be after the ceremony. Armaan was really anxious to see wether she wore the bangles but since Riddhima's dupatta covered her other arm, she couldn't see anything.
The bride and groom had now made their way towards the mandap to start the ceremony. The pandit started the mantras and everybody watched the beautiful ceremony. Muskaan and Rahul were taking their vows and pheras, when Ananya whispered in her ears “Beta, Rahul would need help to put the sindoor. When they are done with the pheras, go left her bindi!”
Riddhima nodded affirmingly and smiled thinking about her plan. It was time to put it in action. Ever since she came downstairs, she saw Armaan sulking and she exactly knew why. She got up and walked towards the other side of the mandap where the couple’s back was facing but before, as she passed by Armaan she stopped and pretended something fell. Blushing to herself, she bent down behind Armaan and took a deep breath. “Here we go” She muttered to herself.
“I love you too!” She muttered in his ears.
Armaan shockingly turned around looking at an already gone Riddhima. He couldn’t believe his ears. He saw her blush to herself walking towards Muskaan. Did he hear her right? Or were his ears just playing games with him? His doubts were confirmed when he saw Riddhima hold Muskaan’s bindi tika up as Rahul filled her maang with sindoor. In the process, her dupatta had gone back revealing her the other arm full of his-given bangles.
Though they didn’t match her dress since they were red, and hers was maroon, she had still worn them. And that was proof, that she loves him. Their gaze met and Riddhima smiled shyly looking away after seeing his satisfactory smirk plaster on his beautiful face.
After the ceremony was over, everybody was served dinner. With all the guests present, Armaan didn’t get the chance to go up to her ask her. Though they were stealing glances at each other, secretly. After the bride and groom finished their dinner. They were made sit for some games. All the boys sat on one side while the girls on one side.
The games went through a lot of teasing and hootings. The first game they played were the ring finding game. Rahul found it the first time, and Muskaan the last two times. Then they played the knots game where they had to untie the knots off each other’s hand first. Then after some more games, it was time for the kaalira’s rasam.
“Ohhh Bhabhi I waited for this one!!!” Nikki clapped her hands excitedly making Riddhima roll her eyes. “That bi-atch probably wants to see if she’s gonna get married to Armaan!” She muttered under her breath. “Huhh kuch kaha Riddhima?” She asked smiling as she was sitting right next to Riddhima.
Muskaan smiled and started shaking her kaliras’s over Saloni’s head who had her hands stuck together praying to God they don’t fall on her. “Nahi gira nahi gira wohooo!” She hooted happily as Muskaan pouted looking at her.
She then moved towards Anjali who winked at Atul who was sitting in front of her. He winked back laughing at Siddhant who rolled his eyes at him. She pouted as it didn’t fall on her and Muskaan gave her an apologetic look.
Muskaan went through some other girls from both sides and when it didn’t fall. Everybody giggled. “Wah kalire girne ka naam hi nahi lerahi!” Padma laughed and Riddhims’s heart grew anxious. Since only her and nikki were left she was now thinking they were gonna fall on Nikki since she was before her.
Muskaan shook them on Nikki’s head and Riddhima’s heart stopped beating when she was shaking them. “Awwww! I was really hoping they fall on me Bhabhi!” She pouted and Riddhima smiled sighing.
Then Muskaan proceeded towards Riddhima with a smirk as she was the last one. “Hmmm…Ridzi lets see agli shaadi teri hoti hai kya.” Anjali said and Riddhima held her breath closing her eyes, as Muskaan started shaking them. For a whilem they didn’t fall and a dejected Riddhima opened her eyes to see Armaan smile at her. He winked at her and right that moment she felt the kaleera fall on her. Shocked she looking down hearing the hootings as if his wink had triggered the kaleera.
Anjali and Saloni ran up and hugged her tightly as everybody else broke into hooting and laughters. Armaan smiled to himself satisfied as Sameer gave him a knowing look. Padma and Ananya laughed. “Lagta hai Padma ab humein jald hi Mumbai aana hoga tumse aur Shashank se apni beti ka haath maange!”
“Jab marzi aao! Haath kya, woh to pehle hi tumhari beti ki hochuki hai!” Padma said lovingly looking at the duo staring at each other with love, with promise. And this was their promise of love. Now they will be together.

Wada Raha Yeh Wada Raha
Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka Pyaar Se Pyaar Ka
Wada Raha Yeh Wada Raha

THE END

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