Friday, 29 May 2020

part 75 & 76 : Arman aur Riddhima ka safar

Part 75

Out of nowhere a sudden tune started up and filled the hall and the person began to sing...

Asmani rang ho...pyar ki bhoond ho...roshni ho...dhoop ho...chahaton ki goonj ho...anchal main hain dhanak chandni...haaton main woh chand hain...gairon se bhi hai wasta...apno mein pehchan hain...

The music played on for some time and Riddhima moved forward to see who it was but the person still would not turn.

Mera izhaar hain...pyar hi pyar hain...yaaron ki yaar hain...tu zindagi... – slowly turning around to face the crowd - ...tujhse main kya kahoon...tu hi mera sukoon...sang tere rahoon...tu zindagi...

Just as the person turned to face the crowd the spot light went off and they were unable to see who it was; suddenly there was a loud bang of multi-coloured fireworks and out in the distance they all read:

I LOVE YOU RIDDHIMA...



 Riddhima stood there in shock unable to move or speak; she looked on ahead at the golden letters of her name still shinning in the sky. Vivik was standing so close to her she felt uncomfortable but with the sudden new feeling which was running through her she somehow managed to ignore him but he continued fuming next to her. Rahul, Muskaan, Abhi and Nikita were also standing behind her with smiles on their faces as they looked over at the message written in the sky for her. About twenty minutes later they slowly started to fade and the hall lights came back on, not many people were surprise to see Armaan standing there with a smile on his face as they knew that they were a couple.

Riddhima looked slowly towards Armaan who was still standing on the balcony watching her; she was surprised to know that Armaan did this for her; he still had feelings for her and this made her feel on top of the world. She smiled widely as tears formed in her eyes; she watched him hold out his hand towards her and gestured her through his eyes for her to come closer. She stepped forward and he smiled widely as she began to sing...

Asmani rang ho...pyar ki bhoond ho...roshni ka aang ho...mein tere dhoop ho...tujhe se hi hain meri bandagi...tujh se  meri jaan hain...saaya tera mera aashiyaan...tu mera Armaan hain...

The music played on for some time as Riddhima reached the balcony and stood opposite Armaan who wore a massive smile as she carried on singing.

Mera izhaar tu...mera iqraar tu...pyaar hi pyar tu...tu zindagi...

Armaan slowly kneeled down on to his right knee in front of her and took out a small box from his jacket pocket; opening it with one hand he held it out to her revealing a beautiful white gold diamond ring. Riddhima smiled through more tears as he took the ring out of the box and held it up to her; there were a few hoots and cheers from the crowd as she held out her left hand to him and he placed the elegant ring onto her slim finger kissing it slowly. She gestured him to stand up and he did; they hugged slowly and stayed like that for a while longer.

Armaan: I love you... – whispering into her ear

Ridz: I love you too... – against his chest

Armaan: Thank you...for accepting me...

Ridz: I love you Armaan...main tumse bohot pyar karti hoon...tumhare bina nahi jee sakti Armaan... – hugging him close

Armaan: Oye hoye... – kissing her cheek making her move back shyly

Abhi pushed past Vivik who was still standing there in shock as the gang made their way to the balcony to congratulate their friends; he fumed madly but everyone ignored him and he walked away angrily.

Niki: Wow Armaan...that was amazing...

Muskaan: Congrats guys...I'm so happy for you Ridzi... – hugging her - ...congrats Armaan...

Rahul: - putting a hand on his shoulder – ...Well done Armaan... – happily then whispering in his ear - ...thanks for telling me... – sarcastically - ...is this even in our budget?

Armaan: - in his ears – ...Don't worry...this is out of my pocket... – smiling

Muskaan: What are you two whispering about? – looking on curiously

Rahul: Kuch nahi...congrats Ridzi... – giving her a side hug - ...I'm really happy for you...

Ridz: Thank you Rahul...

Armaan: - to Abhi – ...Why are you so quiet?

Abhi: You really want to go down this path...? – silently – ...Take my word for it and back out now when it's still early...

Niki: What...? – hitting him on his arm – ...Do you really have a problem after marrying me...?

Rahul: Abhi tu bhi na...

Niki: I hate you... – turning away from him

Abhi: Niki...I was just...

Muskaan: Will you guys stop it now...look at these two...this is their moment and you guys are fighting amongst each other...

The four of them looked around to see Armaan putting his arm around Riddhima who had tears in her eyes; tears of happiness and he comforted her.

Muskaan: Control yourself guys... – bringing them back to reality

Rahul: Yeah come on...let's go join the fun...

The six of them walked down from the balcony and made their way to the dance floor as a new game was just starting up; the classic folding paper dance. The game went on for a while and everyone had lots of fun; Armaan and Riddhima were the winners of the game and everyone congratulated them once again as it really was their night which made Vivik's blood boil even more but he didn't have that much sense to leave the party; instead he lurked around in the corners watching them with envy.

The gang then helped themselves to some snacks as they reminisced the old days and laughed away into the night having a great time. They met old class mates and friends who surprised them with their new life tracks which were a shock from when they were back in school. They were standing around laughing at a joke Abhi had just reminded them about when Nikita was tapped on the shoulder by someone which made them all turn.

Niki: Oh...hi... – surprised - ...hi Su...

Su: Hi Niki...hi guys... – turning to them

Abhi turned away but Su noticed his arm around Nikita and smiled, the girls said hi to her then she turned back to Nikita.

Niki: How are you...?

Su: I'm fine...and I'm happy that you took my words seriously...like I said...you two are made for each other...and I'm very happy that you two are now one...you guys look great together...

Niki: Umm...thanks...

Su: - to Riddhima - ...Congrats Riddhima...all the best for the future...

Ridz: Thank you...

Su: It really was very nice knowing you all...I wish you all the best for the future...bye...

Girls: Thanks...bye...

Su walked away and the girls stared after her while the boys chatted away with yet another class mate.

Ridz: Arre wah Niki...what's happened there all of a sudden...I thought you hated her the most...

Muskaan: Haan yaad hain...how much you hated her...well we all did...specially her squeaky voice and annoying "guess what" game... – laughing - ...but what was all that about?

Niki: She was not all that bad actually...she's really quite a nice person...

Muskaan: Kya? - shocked

Niki: Yeah...on our graduation day she spoke to me about Abhi...she knew from the very beginning that I had feelings for him...even before I even accepted that fact she knew about it...and it kind of shocked me but...anyways...she's not as bad as I thought...

Ridz: Well...that's nice...

They looked around the hall as they talked about times they had spent here; the fun times, the studies, when they had planned the last fashion show and other stuff. They had a great time reminiscing until they were dragged onto the dance floor to dance with their partners. Armaan and Riddhima danced close and all their bad memories of the past year disappeared; they were brought back to the time they had spent a night together at the country club. Riddhima smiled shyly as Armaan reminded her of how she laid the pillows as a barrier between them as they slept peacefully hand in hand and they woke up the next day by the sound of Shashank's voice.

Ridz: Armaaannn... – smiling shyly

Armaan: Okay fine...I won't talk about that right now...but do you remember our first valentines here together...

Ridz: Hmm... – nodding her head - ...yaad hain...and those revision sessions in the library...

Armaan: And the time you went missing when you were angry with me about Tannu's photos...and you were hiding in the study area...

Ridz: Yeah...and you use to drive me to school every morning...bang on time... – smiling

Armaan: Most of the time...and yes of course...your nervousness when it was exam time...your chattering teeth...

Ridz: Okay...okay...we're equal...can I get something to drink...

Armaan: I'll get it for you... – moving back a little

Ridz: I'll come with you...

Armaan: Why don't you take a seat...I know you won't say it...but those heels are paining your feet...

Riddhima smiled as he understood her pain; he helped her to a chair then went off to get her a drink; she watched him go with a smile on her face but it was suddenly wiped away as she felt someone by her side. She turned to see Vivik sitting right next to her; she stood up quickly and tried to walk away but yet again he held onto her hand making her stop.

Vivik: You can't do this to me...you promised to marry me... – through gritted teeth - ...then how could you accept his proposal...you're mine...

Ridz: I don't even want to see your face...just let go of my hand...don't create a scene...

Vivik: I'm not finished...you're mine and you'll marry me...it's already decided...

Before Riddhima could say anything Armaan was back; he calmly placed the drink on the table and took Riddhima's hand out of his grip slowly then turned to look at him. Vivik stood up now their eyes met but Armaan was calm.

Armaan: Listen Vivik...this is the end...Riddhima was never yours...you just assumed it...but here's the truth...Riddhima is my girlfriend...going to be my fianc and then my wife...so please I would appreciate it if you stayed away from her...

Vivik: No Armaan...she was my girlfriend before you even came to this school...you came in between us...

Armaan: Enough of this now...just accept the fact...it's all over for you now...we're in love and that's all that matters...just give up...forget it now...I've won this one fair and square...there's nothing else to it...

Vivik: This isn't the end...I'll let everyone know what you guys have been up to...you remember what I said Riddhima... – directly to her - ...what is more important to you...him or your family relationships...can you see the two families falling apart...? – threatening her - ...Will you be able to handle the guilt of breaking this relationship?

Riddhima suddenly remembered what he had said to her and became afraid of facing her family after this but Armaan put his arm around Riddhima to comfort her.

Armaan: That's enough Vivik...no matter what you say or do you won't be able to break our relationship...because it's official...I'm making this public as of now...I have no fear of anyone...and to be very honest you can't ruin anything for us...because you're totally broken...you're hanging on threads Vivik...

Before anyone else could say anything else the other four joined them and Abhi was ready to break Vivik's face but Armaan held him back.

Abhi: What are you doing Armaan...let's end this right here right now...I've always wanted to break his bones...

Armaan: Nahi Abhi...no one is going to fight here...this is a decent party...and I don't want to make a scene...

Rahul: But Armaan...don't let him go just like that...he should be punished for what he put Riddhima through...here or outside...let's sort him out... – angrily

Armaan: No guys...please...I'm not here to fight...don't you guys see...it's so clear...this war is over...this is the end of the game...this is called sweet revenge...I don't have to fight him to show who's the bigger person...because I've already won... – holding Riddhima's hand - ...one single answer from Riddhima has made me the winner...and he's lost...no matter what he does now...it's pointless...because Riddhima is mine...I have my prize...and he knows he is the loser...so it's finished...

Vivik looked angrily at Armaan and kicked his feet roughly on the floor in defeat; he stared Riddhima in the eye for a few seconds and understood that he really had lost. He walked away angrily slamming the door behind him; Abhi looked angrily at the closed door but Armaan put a hand on his shoulder to cool him down.

Armaan: Forget it now yaar...it's all over...

Abhi: I really wanted to smash his face in...

Armaan: - seriously - ...Why don't you put his picture on your boxing bag and smash his face...it's a much better choice...trust me... – he then burst out laughing

Everyone joined in and they carried on enjoying the rest of the evening. Once it was quite late and most of the guests had left the six of them hung around while the guys helped the Khushi Events crew to tidy up then they wished each other good night before they went off with their respected partners. Armaan helped Riddhima into his car before settling in himself; they drove off in silence both in their own thoughts about what took place between them at the party. Armaan slowly stopped the car and Riddhima looked over at him then at the road; she noticed that they had stopped by the park, she turned back to Armaan.

Ridz: What's wrong...why did we stop here?

Armaan: Two reasons...

Ridz: Kya?

Armaan: One...I'm not ready to take you home just yet... – with a smile - ...and two...I forgot to tell you something very important...

Ridz: What is it?

Armaan: - looking directly at her - ...You're looking very beautiful tonight...

Ridz: - looking down shyly – ...Thanks...thanks for everything... – he gestured for her to carry on with a curious look - ...tonight was really special...I loved what you did for me...I really have no words...

Armaan: You don't have to say thanks...this is my love...that's all...

Ridz: I love you... – quietly

Armaan: I love you too...

They shared a quiet, cosy moment as neither of them could explain their feelings in words; but Riddhima felt great to be in his arms again; then after a while Armaan drove her home unwillingly. She walked into the house happily with a big smile on her face; she wished her parents good night before heading up to her room and getting dressed for bed as she was really very tired.



The next day Riddhima found herself up early, after a very peaceful sleep and she felt very fresh; she did her usual yoga and exercises before heading downstairs for breakfast. She entered the kitchen to see Padma working hard and moving around frantically; she smiled curiously then walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder giving her a little fright.

Padma: - turning around in shock - ...Rid...Riddhima...you scared me...

Ridz: Sorry... – holding her ears sweetly - ...kya ho raha hain?

Padma: You know Mrs Mehta a few doors away...her daughter is getting married...everything is happening so suddenly and she's called me around to help out...

Ridz: Oh...that's nice...so why are you rushing around? – looking closely at her mum - ...Leave all of this...I'll do it...you go...

Padma: But I don't want to leave you at home alone...with all this work...

Ridz: Mama...main bachi nahi hoon...I'll manage...you go on...

Padma: Are you sure?

Ridz: Pakka...aap jaiye...

Padma: Fine...but if there's any problem then make sure you call me...

Ridz: Mama... – making a face

Padma: Theek hain...I'm going... – walking out of the kitchen - ...I'm going...

Riddhima watched her mum leave the house and smiled; she made herself breakfast and ate away then she started tidying up the place and decided to make lunch. After about an hour lunch was made and Riddhima went into the living room; she switched on the television and put on an Indian comedy show. Within five minutes she was so engrossed in it that she almost jumped by the sound of the doorbell; she caught herself and smiled as she made her way through the kitchen and to the front door wondering who it could be at this time. She opened the door with a smile which became wider as she saw who it was and let him in.

Ridz: Hey Armaan...what are you doing here...?

Armaan: Why...? – turning to face her - ...Can't I come to see my beautiful girlfriend...

Ridz: Shush... – quietening him down

Armaan: What's wrong...ab sab ko pata chalega... – walking into the kitchen - ...par yahan par to koi nahi hain...where is mama?

Ridz: Mama? – following him

Armaan: Soon she'll be my mama too...right?

Ridz: - becoming shy - ...Haan...she's gone to the neighbour's house...her daughter is getting married...

Armaan: Oh yeah...I heard about that emergency wedding...that's good...we have quality time together now...

Ridz: But you haven't told me why you're here?

Armaan: Don't you want me here...? – settling down on a sofa in the living room

Ridz: - sitting next to him - ...Of course I do...but what if someone comes...

Armaan: So what... – pulling her close to him - ...now there's nothing to hide...and talking of hiding...where's your ring...? – looking down at her hand

Ridz: Woh...it's upstairs...if I wore it mama and papa would ask a lot of questions...

Armaan: Toh kya huwa...it's time that we told everyone...

Ridz: - looking down slowly unable to meet his eye - ...But...

Armaan: What's wrong...?

Ridz: I don't know...

Armaan: Listen to me... – looking down at her - ...do you love me...?

Ridz: Of course I do Armaan...

Armaan: Have you loved me for the past three years of your life?

Ridz: I have...

Armaan: Do you want to spend the rest of your life with me...? – putting her hair behind her ears

Ridz: I do...

Armaan: Do you want to live with my family...? – holding her cheek

Ridz: I do...

Armaan: Do you want to make a family with me...? – looking into her eyes

Ridz: I do...

Armaan: Then why are you worrying...I'm with you and we'll go through this together...

Ridz: When should we tell everyone...? - slowly

Armaan: I'll think of something...and we'll let them know by the end of the week...okay?

Ridz: Theek hain...

Armaan: Now cheer up...I want to see a big smile...

Ridz: - smiling fully – Better?

Armaan: Much better... – pulling her into a warm hug

Ridz: What are you doing...? – squiggling out of his grip

Armaan: Showing you my love... – kissing her forehead

Ridz: Iski koi zarorat nahi hain... – trying to move away from him as she giggled

Armaan: Kyun nahi...

Ridz: Kyunki maine kaha hain...bas... – getting out of his grip - ...I know how much you love me already... – standing up but quickly her smile faded and she became scared

Armaan: What's wrong with you... – noticing the change in her expression

Riddhima was unable to say anything; she was looking in the direction of the doorway to the kitchen in shock with a frightened expression. Armaan knew something was wrong and also stood up to see Anjali standing there looking very angry.

Armaan: Bhabs...aap yahan...?

Anji: I can ask you the same question Armaan... – strictly

Armaan: Woh...umm...I was... – stammering

Anji: Leave it Armaan...I've heard everything and you don't need to explain anything...

Ridz: D-dii... – slowly

Anji: How could you do this Riddhima... – angrily

Ridz: D-dii please... – her voice shaking

Anji: You guys have been sneaking around behind our backs for three years... – looking sharply at both of them - ...you didn't even think of telling me... – to Riddhima

Armaan: Bhabs... – cutting in

Anji: Armaan...I'm talking to Riddhima... – sharply

Armaan: But bhabs...we're...

Anji: Armaan...I'll talk to you later...right now I'm speaking to my sister... – looking back at her - ...how could you not think of telling me...you lied to me for over three years...you've never done this before...then what's happened to you all of a sudden...

Ridz: Dii...please listen to Armaan...I didn't... – close to tears

Anji: - cutting her off again - ...Please Riddhima...enough lies...I thought more than sisters we were best friends...we never use to hide anything from each other...we've never lied to each other...we've never snuck around behind each other...then how could you do this...? – angrily - ...In front of everyone you guys pretended to hate each other...but behind our backs...who knows what you did...to think that you guys even spent two weeks alone away from everyone... – in shock - ...how could you? – looking directly at Riddhima

Ridz: Dii... – breaking down - ...dii I'm sorry...I didn't mean to hurt you...I didn't lie to you...I just...

Anji: Just what Ridzi... – hurt - ...you didn't even think about me at least once? – sadly

Ridz: Nahi dii...aisa nahi hain... – crying - ...I did...I'm sorry...

Anji: What else have you hidden from me...? – her voice quivered

Armaan: Please bhabs...that's enough...just listen to me once...I'll explain everything...

Anji: - turning to him angrily – ...Armaan go away from here...

Armaan: But...

Anji: I said leave...I don't want to talk to you... – looking closely at them - ...you both have really hurt me...

Armaan: Just...

Anji: Leave Now Armaan... – very angry

Armaan looked at Riddhima and gestured for her to calm down; then he left silently. Anjali looked at Riddhima; both in tears then Anjali turned on her heels and walked out of the room slamming the front door behind her loudly. Riddhima broke down on the sofa and cried as she had never in her life seen Anjali like this before and was scared to know what was going to happen next...
...................................
part 76

Anji: I said leave...I don't want to talk to you... – looking closely at them - ...you both have really hurt me...

Armaan: Just...

Anji: Leave Now Armaan... – very angry

Armaan looked at Riddhima and gestured for her to calm down; then he left silently. Anjali looked at Riddhima; both in tears then Anjali turned on her heels and walked out of the room slamming the front door behind her loudly. Riddhima broke down on the sofa and cried as she had never in her life seen Anjali like this before and was scared to know what was going to happen next...



Armaan rushed home and waited around for Anjali to come home; luckily the house was empty as Anjali had just taken Nandani over to Padma's neighbours for wedding preparations and had decided to meet Riddhima but unfortunately she had walked in on Armaan and Riddhima sharing a private moment. Armaan paced around in the foyer knowing that once Anjali left Riddhima she would make her way home and he wanted to clear all her misunderstanding right away. He heard a car pull up in the drive and his heart raced suddenly hearing the front door open and Anjali walked in angrily.

Armaan: Bhabs please let me explain...

Anji: Main kuch sunna nahi chahti... – walking away

Armaan: Please just listen to me once and we can sort this out... – he stops her

Anji: Armaan...even you thought of hiding this from me...

Armaan: Bhabs after what happened with Vivik Riddhima promised you that she would concentrate on her studies...but we started having feelings for each other...and we decided to let everyone know once our education was over...

Anji: And you didn't...that was still two years that you both hid this from us...

Armaan: Things didn't turn out the way we wanted...

Anji: So lots of stuff happened between you guys and we had no clue... – sadly - ...you guys lied to us...

Armaan: We didn't lie...

Anji: Then what was it Armaan... – angrily - ...you know what...just forget it...I don't want to hear anything...

Anjali walked past him and made her way upstairs; Armaan followed still trying to explain to her but she ignored him and went into her room locking the door behind her. Armaan knocked on the door continuously not giving up but she was really hurt and didn't want to listen to anything he had to say. After some time Armaan was tired of pleading; he walked away from her room door and sat at the top of the stairs thinking of what to do next; but nothing came to his mind and felt as though he had failed. After about half an hour he heard the front door open and someone was making their way to the stairs; he saw Atul who wore a curious look wondering what was up with his brother as Armaan's face said it all.

Atul: Tujhe kya huwa?

Armaan: Bhai...I need to talk to you...

Atul: Go on...

Armaan: Yahan nahi...let's go to my room...

Atul followed Armaan obediently to his room wondering what was wrong; he settled down on the chair while Armaan paced the room a few times before sitting at the edge of his bed and looking over at Atul who waited patiently.

Atul: Take your time...

Armaan: Bhai...I'm just going to come straight out with it...but before I do I just want to say...I'm sorry...

Atul: Carry on... – now looking at him a bit suspiciously

Armaan: Bhai...main aur Riddhima ek dusre se pyar karte hain...and this has been going on for the past three years...

Atul: What...? – shocked - ...Three years you guys have been going around...and you didn't tell us...

Armaan: I'm sorry...the reason we didn't tell you all was because...after Riddhima's past she had promised bhabs that she would just concentrate on her studies but...being around each other...after all those arguments and fights we got over our differences and realised that we both had feelings for each other...

Atul: When did this all happen...? – strictly

Armaan: During your wedding time...but we really do like each other...we decided that once our studies were over we would let everyone know...but then she went to the Fashion Institute and I started work...we thought once that was over then we would make it public...but...

Atul: But what...uss ke baad kya huwa...she had finished everything and you was just working...why didn't you tell us then?

Armaan: Uss ke baad...we had a small problem...and we broke up...

Atul: So what you're trying to say...that time she was stressed was because of you... – angrily

Armaan: - slowly – ...Yeah...that was my fault...

Atul: What kind of love is this then...if you put her through so much problems...then how can you still be together...

Armaan: Bhai I know that was my fault...and I was the reason behind her stress and problems but I realised my mistake...I was so engrossed in my work I had forgotten about her...we broke up but when I went to search for her that morning and I saw her being taken into the ambulance and I realised all my mistakes and I was ready to repent...I even asked her to punish me...

Atul: And...

Armaan: But she didn't...because she still loved me...and she had forgiven me...we put everything behind us and became friends again...

Atul: So what is the problem now?

Armaan: Bhai...I proposed to her last night at the reunion...she accepted...

Atul: Okay...but what's the problem...? - confused

Armaan: Woh...umm...actually bhai...I went over to meet her this morning...we we're together and...

Atul: And what...say it clearly...

Armaan: Bhabs saw us together and found out everything...she's really hurt...and I tried to explain to her everything I just told you...but she's not ready to listen to a word I have to say...we just want to apologise to her...but she doesn't understand...and I'm afraid that this might be a problem to Riddhima's health...I don't want her to take on any more stress...we're ready to let everyone know...we want to be together...we want everyone to accept our relationship...but bhabs...

Atul: - cutting him off – ...Well of course she would be hurt...this is a really big issue you both have hidden from her...you know how close Anjali and Riddhima were...and now if she's found out about this...three whole years later she would be mad...I don't blame her...

Armaan: I know bhai...but me and Riddhima really love each other...I just want to explain that to her...please make her understand...I can't live without Riddhima now...

Atul: Armaan...I can't say anything...I can explain to her the situation but the final decision is hers...and she has every right to...because both of you are at fault and if she wants to punish you she can...

Armaan: Bhai please talk to her...

Atul: I'll see... – getting up and making his way out of the room

Armaan: Please bhai... – begging

Atul left the room and went to his; knocking calmly on the door and asking Anjali to open it. She opened the door after a few moments and he walked in; instantly comforting her as she was still crying; he settled her down on the sofa and gave her some time to control herself.

Atul: ...Shush Anji...calm down...it's okay...

Anji: Do you know what they did...? – through tears

Atul: Haan...I just found out...aur mujhe bhi ghusa ah rahe hain...but listen to me...stop crying... – moving her back and whipping her cheeks - ...I don't want you to stress over this small issue...

Anji: But...I can't believe they would hide this from me...Ridzi...

Atul: I know...even I'm shocked...this was the last thing I expected...but you please stop crying...whatever needs to be done we'll sort it out...but for now...I don't want to see tears...you know right...

Anji: - nodding her head slowly - ...Haan...

Atul: That's better...we'll manage this together...but I don't want you stressing...okay?

Anjali nodded again and he comforted her making her feel better. Armaan was in his room pacing up and down yet again as he wondered what was going to happen next; after all they had been through recently he could not afford to lose her again.



Riddhima had a rough night; after a long time she had a nightmare again and she woke up panting and sweating. She felt uncomfortable as she felt her heart flutter like it had done on the morning she had fainted. She got up and went to the washroom to splash her face with water which made her feel slightly better but she was still concerned about the sudden heart palpitations which had just occurred. She sat at the edge of her bed feeling scared as she did not want to go back to the hospital; instead she took a few deep breathes and decided to meditate to calm her nerves. Once she thought she felt better she went back into bed and tried to sleep again waking up the next morning with a terrible headache as she worried about what must have happened at the Malik house that night. She thought of calling Armaan to find out but then decided against it as she was not in the position to hear any bad news.

Instead she got dressed and made her way downstairs for breakfast a little earlier than usual. As she entered the kitchen she saw her parents sitting at the table whispering amongst themselves and she panicked slightly but Shashank caught sight of her and stopped in mid conversation turning to her with a smile.

Shashank: Good morning Riddhima beta...you're very early this morning...

Ridz: Ji papa...I woke up early...

Padma: Everything okay beta?

Ridz: Ji mama... – forcing a smile as she sat at the table

Padma: Okay...I'll get your breakfast...

Padma got up and went to make breakfast for Riddhima while Shashank watched her closely and Riddhima knew he wanted to say something.

Shashank: Riddhima...there's something I want to talk to you about...

Ridz: Go on papa...you don't have to ask me...

Shashank: Actually it's about a proposal for you...but... – looking at her expressions - ...the decision is entirely yours...

Ridz: J-ji papa... – a little worried

Shashank: We've been invited to dinner at a restaurant tonight...we'll go there and see the boy...and his family...if you're happy then you can speak to him...if it's no...then there's no problem...it's entirely up to you...

Ridz: Okay... – slowly but not keen

Padma: Riddhima beta...actually...we would say no right away as it's too soon that everything just happened...maybe you're not ready yet...but because they invited us to dinner it's not nice...if from your side it's no then fine...we'll just have dinner and end it there...there's no pressure on you...

Ridz: Theek hain mama...

Riddhima had breakfast quietly as she listened to her parents change the topic as not to frighten or force her into anything. She was quiet for the rest of the morning as this new thought took over her mind. Yet again Padma had gone over to the neighbour's house for wedding preparations and Riddhima stayed at home watching television to occupy her mind away from negative thoughts. The rest of the day dragged on and soon Riddhima realised it was five o clock', Padma was back home and was in a rush to get ready for the dinner party; she also asked Riddhima to get ready quickly as they would be leaving soon.

Riddhima made her way up to her room now her mind started to work overtime as she thought of meeting another guy while her sister was still very angry with her and she could not mention this to Armaan as she knew he would become angry and make this an issue. While getting ready into a purple and green salwar suit and putting on minimal makeup and light jewellery Riddhima decided that she would refuse this proposal right away and speak to Anjali first thing the next morning to sort out the problem then they could speak to her parents; but as easy as it sounded she knew it was going to be very difficult.

She settled down in the car and her nerves kicked in as she thought of the questions they were going to ask her; she was very nervous and her mind kept going back to Anjali and Armaan.

Ridz: - thinking - ...I'm sorry dii...I should've told you a long time ago...maybe then none of this would have happened...yeh sab meri galti hain...I should never had hide this from you in the beginning...but then... – debating with her mind - ...but then you were newly married and I didn't want to disturb you with this new relationship...and after all I had promised you that I would concentrate on my studies and not mess around...I'm really sorry dii...I even broke my promise...but I'll make sure to make it up to you tomorrow morning...I'm really sorry...

Riddhima looked out of the window as shops and houses passed by and her mind started to work overtime as she now thought about Armaan and she felt worse.

Ridz: - thinking - ...I'm really sorry Armaan...even after you proposed to me I'm still going to see another guy...not that I want to but I'm feeling very guilty...please forgive me...I have no choice...if everything was fine I would tell mama and papa right now that I only want to marry you...no one else...but I can't do that until I sort everything out with dii...please forgive me Armaan...I'm really sorry...

Before she knew it they reached the restaurant; they were early but were shown to their reserved table and they settled down waiting patiently for the other family to arrive. Padma and Shashank talked amongst themselves while Riddhima stared down in her lap still feeling very guilty and thought of everywhere else she would want to be but here at this moment. A few minutes later the family arrived and Riddhima's heartbeat began to race; she became extremely nervous and as Shashank and Padma greeted the guests Riddhima carried on looking down unable to look anywhere else; she twisted her hands around each other nervously not knowing what to do.

She thought it would be polite to look up and say hi but she just couldn't bring herself to do it and before she knew it someone was seated down on the other side of her and through nervousness her hearing was blocked out as her thoughts took over her mind.

Ridz: - thinking - ...Calm down Riddhima...you don't need to be so nervous...it's not like you have to say yes to them just be calm...take deep breaths...breathe in...breathe out...breathe in... – talking to herself in her mind as she tried to calm her nerves

Suddenly she jumped as she heard someone whisper in her ear while she was still looking down.

Anji: At least look up to see your future husband...

Riddhima slowly followed the instructions and looked at the person sitting opposite to her; suddenly getting a shock she controlled herself as she talked to herself silently.

Ridz: - thinking - ...Nahi Ridz...you need to say no...stop imagining things...

Riddhima slowly braced herself again and decided to look up once more; but yet again she saw him sitting there with a smile on his face; she carried on looking at him not believing her eyes.

Anji: No you're not dreaming...it is Armaan sitting opposite to you...

Riddhima turned her head quickly to see Anjali sitting next to her with a big smile on her face. She scanned the table to see Atul sitting next to Anjali and further down was Nandani and Vikram; she smiled happily as everyone watched her; she looked at her parents who both nodded their heads happily and she finally turned back to Armaan who was still wearing a massive smile. Tears sprang to her eyes as she turned her head back to Anjali.

Ridz: Dii...I'm so sorry... – tears rolling down her cheeks - ...I should've told you...I'm really sorry...please forgive me...

Anji: Ridzi... – hugging her - ...shush...that's enough...ab bas karo... – wiping the tears off of her cheeks - ...I forgive you...now let's forget all of that and start fresh from here...okay?

Ridz: - nodding her head with a smile - ...Okay...

Atul: Actually Ridzi we should say sorry...for teasing you...if we wanted we could've told you last night...but then we thought that let's punish you a little and make you wait for one more day... – cheekily

Ridz: Jiju...aap bhi... – in shock

Atul: Not only me...sab log iss main the...even your Armaan...

Ridz: - looking at him – ...Armaan tum bhi? – shocked - ...Aur mama, papa...uncle aunty...aap sab?

Vikram: Sorry beta... – smiling

Nandani: Not me... – shaking her head - ...I told them last night only...when we found out I was ready to come over to your house at eleven last night to sort this all out and make you my daughter-in-law...but they all stopped me...

Ridz: Thank you aunty...aur mama papa?

Padma: We had to play along as part of your dii and jiju's plan...but we only found out this morning when we told you over breakfast...

Anji: Sorry Ridzi... – giving her a side hug - ...now that's all over let's make a whole new start from here...what say?

Riddhima looked over at Armaan who had not yet said a word; their eyes met and Riddhima could see tears forming in his eyes, he was so happy and had no words to describe it and suddenly Riddhima felt his love and tears formed in her eyes too. Everyone around the table watched them for a while with smiles on their faces then Anjali shook Riddhima out of her dream and Atul shook Armaan to wake up.

Atul: Control yourself guys... – then to Anjali - ...kids these days...I tell you...no shame...they start anywhere...in our time we still had a bit of sharam in front of our parents...but these two...

Armaan: - getting back to himself - ...I know bhai..."your time" was very long ago...you're an old man now...

Atul: Oii... – smacking him around his head - ...watch what you're saying...

Armaan: Ouch... – faking pain

Riddhima smiled at his childishness and Anjali teased her some more while the others ordered something to eat. Once they had finished they turned back to them and the atmosphere became serious again.

Nandani: Riddhima beta...we don't want to force anything onto you...whatever is on your mind just let us know...

Padma: Haan Riddhima...bolo...

Riddhima looked from them to Armaan; their eyes met and he gestured for her to carry on sweetly.

Ridz: Aunty...uncle...mama...papa...today before I say anything I want to apologise to you all...dii...jiju...aap ko bhi... – bracing herself before talking again - ...main aur Armaan...sach main ek dusre se bohot pyar karte hain...yeh sab teen saal se chal raha hain...humne khabi bhi jhoot nahi bole...khabi zarorat nahi para jhoot bolne ki...par yeh bhi sach hain ke humne yeh baat aap sab se chupaye...we're very sorry...please...forgive us... – looking around at each of them

Armaan: What Riddhima has just said is the truth...and we really are very sorry if we've hurt anyone...please forgive us...

Shashank: It's okay beta...it happens in this age...we forgive you...

Everyone agreed and Riddhima smiled happily as she felt a huge weight being lifted off of her shoulders; she felt much better.

Vikram: So...do you really want to marry Armaan...? – making a face to find out if she really was sure

Ridz: - looking down shyly - ...Ji haan...

Padma: Aur Armaan beta...what do you say?

Armaan: Do I have a choice...? – looking at Riddhima with a smile

Shashank: Toh baat pakki...

At the same time the food arrived and they all ate away having their own mini conversations; the elders talked about wedding preparations while  Armaan and Atul talked about the fun and masti they were going to have and Riddhima and Anjali talked about outfits for each function. They were all very excited as they thought of the new relationship which was going to be formed and the excitement of the ceremonies itself.

Once dinner was over they ordered dessert and sat back and waited for it; suddenly it had gone really quiet around the table as Atul called for everyone's attention, they all turned to face him wondering what was wrong as he looked dead serious.

Atul: There's something I have to say...

Padma: Kya huwa Atul beta...is everything okay?

Atul: Sab log sunno... – standing up - ...I have something very important to say...

Vikram: Go on Atul... – looking at him closely

Atul: Todhi dheer baad...hamare pariwaar main...ek nanha mehman ane wale hain...

Everyone looked around at each other happily and was just about to start speaking suddenly when Atul quietened them down again.

Atul: Yep that's right... – turning to Vikram and Nandani - ...aap dada dadi bane wale hain... – then to Shashank and Padma - ...aap nana nani bale wale hain... – then to Armaan and Riddhima - ...aur tum dono...

Armaan: - cutting him off – ...Chacha chachi... – happily

Ridz: Nahi...masa masi... – to Armaan

Armaan: No...chacha chachi...it sounds better...

Ridz: No I like masa masi...after all I'm going to be masi...

Armaan: Chacha chachi and that's final...

Ridz: Masa masi...that's it...

Anji: Stop fighting guys...Armaan you can be chacha...

Atul: And Ridzi can be masi...simple...chacha masi is fine...

Armaan: Fine... – smiling

Ridz: Okay...

Padma: Anjali beta...I'm so happy...

Nandani: Yeh bohot badi khush kabri hain...main bhi bohot khush hoon...

Vikram: Congratulations beta... – to Anjali

Shashank: Congrats to you too Atul...after all you're going to be a father...

Atul: Thank you papa...

Ridz: - giving Anjali a big hug - ...Dii...I'm so happy for you...

Anji: Thanks Ridzi...


Desserts arrived and everyone sweetened their mouths after hearing such good news; they all looked forward to the upcoming wedding and soon after the little bundle of joy which was on its' way...

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