Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Last Part : In My Heart

The last of the navy blue clouds disappeared as the milky white ones took over bringing with them a bright aura, erasing the last signs of the darkness. Cold wind blew against the trees, swaying them from side to side. A few birds started to fly out of their nests in search of their feed, chirping melodiously on their way. Riddhima stood leaning against the window pane with her arms crossed over her flannel sweater and breathing in the fresh air. The sun was still hidden, it being a winter morning, everyone was asleep in the Garewal house but she was up since 5 in the morning. Anxiety and a bit of fear didn't let her sleep for long, so here she was staring up at the skies and the beautiful shades of nature.

Two hours later and the dining table had been laid with mouthwatering breakfast. The delicious smell of Choco chip muffins wafted out of the kitchen as Riddhima opened the oven to take out the second batch. She had bathed, prayed and settled on making everyone breakfast just like she always had, for the last time before she stepped foot in her new journey.

Her parents stood at the door admiring their little angel with misted eyes. The thought of this morning being her last in this house, stirred their hearts with emotions. They watched as she went around the kitchen placing the muffins on cooling rack, frying the scrambled eggs along with brewing coffee as an expert. They left sending a silent prayer for her beautiful future.

Riddhima smiled in glee on seeing her family eat happily together. She had been twirled round and round by her brothers and hugged out of breath by her sis in law cum bff to thank her for the yummy breakfast. Riddhima just played with the food on her plate, forcing down a few bites with orange juice. She was glad no one noticed, otherwise being force fed was the last thing she needed with butterflies dancing in her stomach. Riddhima jumped up from her chair once she saw her personal guard walk in. Derek had become like a brother to her and he too cared for her likewise. Kashish walked up to them and handed him a container to pass it to the Mallik mansion. She smiled fondly at her daughter, pressing her eyes at her in silent understanding and turned back to join everyone at the table. Riddhima had wanted to send some muffins for her family in the other house but was hesitant of the teasing she'll have to face from her friends but thankfully was saved by her Mom.

The sun played hide and seek from between the thick clouds and the cool breeze continued to blow indicating it would be a cold day over all. A Range Rover and an Audi stood at the steps of Garewal house. Drivers helped in loading the luggage in a jeep while the family members settled in their respective cars. Rahul was the last one to get buckled in as he got everything done under his supervision. After receiving an all clear from the guards and conveying the message to a panicked Armaan, they all set out on their route to their destination 'The Resort', Malad, Mumbai.

Riddhima leaned back on the seat with eyes closed to rest for a while as she had a long day ahead of her. But the constant twiddling of her thumbs gave away her nervousness. She had been kept in dark regarding this trip till the last moment and now she didn't know what to expect next. Armaan sure did know to keep secrets but it was making her edgy not knowing what would happen next. He was doing it all for her, she knew, but for today she wanted the knowledge of everything occurring around her, to assure her everything was going as planned and that they would get married today. She had been separated from Armaan too many times at the last moment that now a constant fear was nagging her thoughts and eating her calm away. Riddhima tried her best to stay calm and composed. She had almost dialed Armaan's number thrice but then stopped not wanting to spread her paranoia and restlessness. She didn't want to burden him more; he already had a lot on his plate for today being the sole organizer of the wedding. Riddhima breathed deeply and opened her eyes to look at the passing scenery as the car sped through the outskirts.

Anurag walked out of their suite and hugged both his Princesses as they got out of the car parked in front of it. Prem completed the identification and signing in process with hotel management and motioned for them to join him. Armaan had rented four suites, two for bride's and groom's side each. Only close family and friends would be staying there and the rest were going to join them at the venue. Rahul took the bags from both the girls and lead them to the lobby leading to their suites. Riddhima's eyes darted around the reception area and lounge in search of her beloved but was disappointed when the lift's door dinged cutting her inspection.
"Kya hua Princess?" Prem smiled and nudged his brother to look at how their sister was pouting. Riddhima just shook her head not wanting to tell them the reason. They understood but kept silent as they knew she would be embarrassed on being caught.

"Wow, Armaan has really worked on all this. He's taking all this way too seriously." Abhi said walking in to join them inside the living room and seeing the notes Armaan had stuck with names on each bedroom door.

"He is supposed to take it seriously Abhi, it's his wedding that we're talking about. He isn't like you who'll most probably get married at a place that'll hold wedding and reception in one place and one day only."

"You know me so well Nikki. This is why I love you so much. I hope you remember this during our wedding too and expect not much from me." Abhi said smirking and putting his arm around her shoulders.

"I won't expect much from you because I don't expect anything from you. Love seriously makes you blind, pata nahin maine haan kyun bola tumhien?" Everyone shook their heads and went towards their rooms to avoid the argument that they were sure was about to start.

The sun was out and shining in the clear sky, its light reflecting off the blue waters of the pool. Riddhima's window opened towards the resort's pool. She saw few couples lounging on the nearby seats while others enjoyed drinks in the open cafe.

"Come in." She said at the knock on her door. Derek gestured the attendant to place the tray on the coffee table and leave. Riddhima smiled widely as Derek brought forward a bouquet of pink orchids. She took the flowers and caressed them each lovingly. Her smile vanished as Derek told her to finish the food he'd brought before he left. She explained to him that she was full but he wasn't taking any of it. He was under strict orders from Armaan to make her eat. Riddhima's eyes went wide as Derek pulled out a neatly folded letter from his pocket.

"Eat this if you want to read it." He said dangling it high in air as she jumped to snatch it from him. After struggling for a few moments, she huffed and turned away. Riddhima knew he couldn't see her upset and so would give in but she was in for a shock this time.

"Armaan told you to do this? To give me the note after I eat?"

"No. He said to make sure you eat. This is the only way I'm sure you'll eat."

"Common Rhea, Armaan's already going crazy with the arrangements; do you want him to worry about your health too?" Anjali asked dropping her purse on the bed and going towards her. Riddhima just shook her head hugging her.

"Has Armaan eaten something since morning?"

"You don't worry about him, Arjun's there to look after him. Sorry Ri, I couldn't come early. You know duty call." Anjali said uncovering the platters. A smiled formed on her lips seeing her favorite pasta and a serving of chocolate lava cake.

Riddhima quickly gobbled a piece of pizza and a bite of dessert.

"The beautician is due in an hour or so. I'll just go and see the arrangements. You stay in here and rest till then." Anjali said walking out of the room.

To My Jaan,

Finally the most awaited day of our life has arrived, when we'll commit to each other for eternities to come. I couldn't sleep much last night due to the excitement bubbling inside me. I thought that the day I got you back was the happiest day of my life but not anymore, seeing the burst of joy and love that's overflowing from my heart.
Since morning the memories of our love have been on a constant play in my mind. I remembered the first time I saw you and wondered as always, what good did I do to deserve you? I remembered all our happy moments that I'll cherish life long and am thankful to have shared them with you. I remembered all our bad moments as well, which out weight the joys I've ever given you but am glad that we survived all those tough times.

It might look a little crazy to communicate through a letter when we can talk or message easily but I wanted to do it this way. I wanted to do it for the Most Beautiful Girl in my life, My Jaan, so that few years down the lane from now this letter would bring back good memories of our special day for you.

Basket along with the happiness I feel, there's a fear deep down in my heart of losing you, again. I'm not scared of someone taking you away from me now because you're already mine. I'm scared of myself, of pushing you away and hurting you. I've done that so many times, broken your heart repeatedly. Basket, I know we've crossed this stage and you've forgiven me but I can't forgive myself, ever. I don't have words to convey to you how guilty I am on having hurt you. Today before we start on our journey together, as one, I want to apologize once again for all my words and actions that have hurt you. I'm truly sorry Riddhima.

I promise to try and make it up to you for all those years that you've spent in agony due my mistakes. I can't undo the past but what I can and will do is set a route to a beautiful future for us, starting from today.

I Love You Meri Jaan, I really really do. I promise to love you unconditionally, be by your side through the happiest and gravest of times and protect you with my life till the very last of my breath.

Life ahead will not always be a bed of roses and our relationship will have to face its share of ups and downs. I might not always be in the right too, that's when I want you to remind me, guide me and love me till I return back to my senses. You are my anchor, only you can keep me steady and lead me back.

I look forward to the wonderful life ahead with you by my side to make each second special and to celebrate it too. I love you infinitely!

Yours Forever,


Riddhima rubbed her arms covered in goose bumps as she read and re-read the letter from her beloved many times. She sniffed as tears ran down her cheeks. The sweet gesture of penning down his emotions and saving them for a lifetime had touched her heart. She lay down on the bed and hugged the letter tight to her heart.

The supervisor directed the workers to carry the next batch of cartons carefully as they had dishes, cutlery and glassware. Just then another van pulled up in the parking with the flowers and table decorations. The driver showed the pink receipt to the supervisor and got the stuff unloaded.

"Sir, everything is here. The workers are putting up the decorations and they should be done by 4 pm, just as you wanted." The manager informed Armaan who got off the line after speaking to a guest and giving him directions to the venue.

"That's nice. So now it leaves only the catering team's work. They'll be here at 5 sharp. You can take a break after your boys are done with the decorations for an hour but please make sure to leave behind someone for assisting the caterers."

Armaan looked around the lit up venue as the lighting in charge checked at his part of the arrangements. He shook his head not being satisfied at the lights' intensity and pointed it out to the lights men.

"Armaan, don't be silly. The lights are perfect. Tu is waqt dhoop mein dekh raha hai tou aisa lag raha hai. I've seen it in the evening too and believe me, it looks beautiful." Arjun told an unconvinced Armaan.

"Theek hai agar tum kehte ho tou maan leta hoon per please make sure all of them are working. I don't want a black out at the end moment."

"Don't worry Sir nothing of such kind will happen and we have an excess of extra to replace any non-working light." The lighting guy explained.

Armaan fished out his mobile and dialed Muskaan's number but met with no reply. He called again twice before dialing Nikki's mobile in agitation.

"What the hell Niks, tum log apne cells kyun nahin utha rahay? Agar koi emergency ho tou phir kya hoga?"

"Calm down Armaan, koi emergency hui to nahin na? We're all fine. Hum sab ne masks lagaye huey thay so couldn't receive the calls. Batao kyun call ki tumne?" Nikki asked peeling off the remains of her organic mask from her neck.

"Sorry I just got worried. Nothing I just wanted to know whether the beautician had reached yet or not."

"Yes, they arrived an hour ago. Suno humne room change kar lia hai. We've taken the hall across from our suite. It was empty so we thought we could use it for getting ready. Koi problem tou nahin hogi na?" Nikki asked biting her lip.

"Nahin koi problem nahin hogi. The whole floor is reserved for us. You can do whatever you want. I hope the beauticians have all the services that you want, if not let me know. They have a spa and beauty salon downstairs." Armaan said sitting down in a heap of sand and stretching his legs.

"No these girls are great. They're actually really nice too not like some rude experts. We're enjoying, all thanks to you."

"Good. Niks, is.."

"Yes Armaan, your Basket is fine. She's not in the room right now warna baat karwa deti."

"It's okay. Relax and enjoy yourselves, I'll see you in a while. Bye."

Armaan quirked an eyebrow to ask why Arjun was staring at him? Arjun just pulled him up and dragged him towards the parking lot.

"What are you doing Arjun? Kahan le ja raha hai mujhe?"

"Driver drop Mr. Mallik back at the resort. Chup Armaan. I've had enough from you throughout the day. Now you listen to me. Go back and relax for some time, you know after that you won't get time till tomorrow." Arjun said pushing him inside the car.

"He's right Armaan. All's under control here. Hum log yahan hain so we'll attend to the caterers. You go and sleep, you've been here before anyone of us." Abhi said stopping next to Arjun.

Armaan sighed looking at his watch; he had only 2 hours before he had to return. He really was exhausted and needed to straighten his back so he just complied with what his friends said.

Armaan stirred in his sleep as someone caressed his hair. He opened one eye to peek and found Prerna smiling down at him fondly. He smiled a little and shifted to keep his head in her lap.

"Aap kahan thi Maa, I didn't see you the whole day." He asked sleepily.

"Of course you didn't Armaan. Tu kamre mein aata to mujhe dekhta na, you've been out since morning. Haal dekha hai apna?" She scolded him softly.

"I'm okay Maa. Mujhe kya hua hai? Ap ka sher beta hoon, I can handle anything, right?" He said kissing her hands.

"Haan mera sher beta jo abhi thori dair mein dulha banay ga. Kitni jaldi bara ho gaya, pata hi nahin laga."

"Maa i hope you remember, Basket is coming to us after wedding, I'm not going there." Armaan joked wiping her tears.

"Sab pata hai mujhe. Woh yahan aye gi per tab hi jab tu usey lene jaye ga. Chalo go shower and get dressed."

Armaan rushed to pick his mobile which he'd left on the table near the entrance. It was 5 pm now. He had slept for almost 3 hours, no wonder he had been tired to the bones but now he would have to rush things to reach on time.

"Armaan why are you rushing? I hope you aren't thinking about going back to the venue. Ab tum hamare saath jao ge when we all get dressed. Arjun hai wahan, sab dekh le ga. No, bus jao or change karo." Prerna shooed him off to the washroom.

Armaan found a steaming cup of coffee waiting for him on the dresser as he came out with a black towel wrapped around his waist. He picked it up and turned to go and sit on the bed when an envelope besides it caught his sight. The fragrance spreading from it was a clear indication to who it belonged. Armaan inhaled deeply his favorite fragrance in the world. He closed his eyes to relish the taste of the coffee, made by his love, which he had come to love. He typed in a message but then deleted it thinking it better to thank her later on.

To My Most Prized Possession,

We'll be seeing each other in just sometime at the altar to say our vows and get bound together for eternities to come.

You've always been vocal about your feelings and love in private and public both. So I wanted to share with you my emotions on our special day just like you did.

You've held a special place in my heart right from the start. When our friendship turned in to love, I don't know, all that I remember are our moments, which you rightfully said we would cherish lifelong. Like you, they've been on my mind constantly too throughout the day.

I honestly don't have words to tell you how grateful I am and how lucky I feel to have you as my life partner and soul mate. Thank you so much Armaan for every single time that you've showered me with joys and made my life even more worth with your presence and love.

Armaan, there's a part of our past which hurts us every time we think of it. The hurt would go; I know it would, with the new memories that we'll create together. But can you promise me one thing? Please never again blame yourself for all this that happened. I don't hold you responsible for anything because you were never wrong. It was the circumstances that made us part.

Staying apart for years and going through these tough times made me realize no matter where I live and what I do, you will always be a part of me. You will forever be 'In My heart'. Can you think of all this similarly, please?

Today I promise you my companionship, support; loyalty and love as a best friend, lover and wife through all the highs and lows of life till death do us part.

I love you Armaan, always and forever.

Arjun walked in to find Armaan lying on the bed with his feet dangling down. He saw a tear trickling down to his ear on closer inspection but Armaan was lost in his own world to notice his presence. Arjun quirked his eye brows wiping the errant tear to which Armaan just shook his head and got up taking along his untouched coffee.
"Rehne de Armaan, I'll order a fresh one for you." Arjun said as Armaan put the mug in the microwave.

"Nahin, I'll drink this only. Let me check on Atul. I haven't seen him all day." Armaan reminded Atul who was on his way out of the hospital after ending his duty to pick up Pandit jee as that was his task.

Armaan stood in front of the mirror spraying perfume dressed in a beige gold sherwani and pajamas. Muskaan walked in to the room with his pagri followed by Arjun.

"Where's Atul? Let's wait for him to come, okay." Armaan said styling his hair with gel.

"Main yahan hoon mere Bhai. How can I be late? Chal aja." Armaan bent a little so that Arjun and Atul could make him wear the pagri. Prerna and Anurag stood there admiring their son who looked extremely handsome in the traditional wedding attire.

The Malliks and baraatis were given a warm welcome by the Garewal's with garlands and rose water. There was still some time for the wedding rituals to begin so Sujal took the opportunity to introduce Armaan to his guests. The Pandit jee called for the bride as it was nearing the auspicious time, so Rahul went to bring her.

Riddhima frowned on noticing the area drowned in darkness except for the night sky covered with thousands of stars and a faint glow on her far right. The car stopped at a wooden fence entrance and Prem was at her side, helping her out of her seat. Riddhima's breath hitched as her feet landed on soft sand. She instantly knew where she was and the soft breeze carrying the smell of water confirmed it. Riddhima recognized the glow to be of candles floating on water. She took her first step inside as both her brothers stood by her each side. The path was oriented with flower petals and candles in tall hurricane glasses on the side.

Sujal side hugged Kashish as she wept silently seeing their daughter walk down the aisle. Riddhima made a gorgeous bride in red and beige lehenga with golden embellishments. She was decked up in jewels from head to toe. Everyone praised her as she passed them. Her eyes were downcast but her heart was beating in anticipation of seeing her groom. Sujal gripped Kashish's hand tightly before walking towards Riddhima. She looked up at her father as he kissed her forehead and lead her towards the mandap which lit up instantly. The world dissolved into oblivion once Riddhima's eyes found the awaiting blue orbs of her love. They displayed immense love and appreciation just like her eyes. Their reverie was broken as Sujal placed Riddhima's hand in Armaan's which he held softly and smiled at her deeply. The couple climbed the stairs of the beautifully decorated white stage and stopped at its top to exchange garlands. Riddhima huffed as Muskaan and Nikki pulled Armaan back every time she tried to put the garland. He chuckled softly as she pouted and looked at her brothers. All cheered when Armaan stepped forward and bowed his head in front of his bride.

The sound of the waves crashing against the shore could be heard distinctly over the noise of the crowd as the couple stood on the stage taking blessings and wishes from the guests. Riddhima was impressed with all the arrangements. Large white gazebos were erected a little distance away from the stage for seating. The guests were mingling with the others enjoying their drinks. Riddhima shook her head as Armaan smiled apologetically because they were interrupted whenever any of them started to talk. Muskaan and Anjie came to help her down for dinner. The gang awed when Armaan lifted Riddhima's nose pin to feed her the first morsel. Riddhima ate a few bites with great difficulty as the round of teasing went on amongst the friends. She thanked God silently for letting the elders sit at other tables.

Riddhima inhaled deeply to calm her erratic heartbeats as she sat in front of the fire where Pandit jee started the rituals. Armaan held her trembling hand firmly as her parents did the kanyadaan. Both of them took rounds of the holy fire, holding hands, accepting each other as their spouse and promising a companionship of lifetime. Armaan tied the black beaded mangalsutra, with diamonds studded in a delicate pattern of white gold, around his wife's neck. Riddhima held her breath as he turned towards her with a pinch of sindoor. Her eyes closed as he lifted her maang tika to fill her maang. A tear rolled down her eye as the Pandit declared the marriage completed and them as man and wife. Armaan held Riddhima's shoulders and shook his head to stop her from touching his feet. He kissed her forehead and hugged her. They turned towards their elders to take the blessings.

The gang pulled the newly wedded couple away from the never ending line of guests towards their table where a tempting pink frosted three tier cake awaited them. Their wedding bands were kept on the top layer amongst the white bead decorations.
Armaan chuckled as the girls pleaded him to say something for Riddhima before putting on the ring and he obliged.

"I wanted to begin our relationship from the same place where it ended on a sour note so that we could create sweet and happy memories to replace those bitter ones and also because I had dreamt of proposing you here which didn't happen so I thought of making you mine over here. Thank you so much for returning in my life, giving me a second chance, loving me and completing me." Armaan wound his arms around her tightly as she embraced him. He kissed her head and whispered something as he felt the light tremor in her body due to crying.

"Till death do us part." Armaan said slipping in the ring in her finger.

"I love you Armaan." Riddhima said planting a soft kiss on his cheek but pulled apart as she heard whistles behind her.

Soon it was time for bidaai. The atmosphere turned emotional as Riddhima hugged her father and cried. Sujal opened his one arm for Armaan and took him into a hug too. Riddhima was taken into embrace by her brothers who then lead her towards the exit.

"Please take care of My Princess Armaan, she's very soft hearted, the smallest of things hurt her a lot." Sujal said with moist eyes.

"Don't worry Papa, I'll never give her a chance to complain. She'll always be my priority." Armaan replied taking Sujal's hands in his. Armaan met the rest of the guests before getting into his car. He pulled Riddhima into his chest and kissed her head as she sobbed silently.

The couple was welcomed on the entrance of the resort by groom's family and friends. They were taken to the suite that was especially decorated for them. After helping Riddhima to sit down on the bed comfortably, the girls settled next to her while the boys dragged cushions and mattresses from other rooms.

"I see you all have already made yourselves comfortable in my bahu's room. I hope you'll at least give her a chance to freshen up." Prerna said walking in with a box.

"Hum kahin nahin ja rahay. Armaan door lock kar le ga chance miltey hi. Humein abhi apni bhabhi se bohat si baatien karni hain." Armaan rolled his eyes at his friend's childish behavior.

"Rhea, beta we haven't done any rasams today but we'll do them once you return from your honeymoon. Please keep these bangles. Armaan's grandmother had got them made especially for his bride. This set is from me and your Dad as your moonh dikhai. No, don't say no. It's your right beta. May God bless you." Prerna kissed her forehead and left the room to rest.

The girls squealed and hugged Armaan and Riddhima as he gifted the three of them beautiful delicate bracelets as neg. Boys shook heads at the enthusiasm with which they tied it around their wrists. Armaan had made arrangements for his friends and family's stay at the resort for New Year celebrations while he left for his honey moon early next morning. The night was consumed chatting, laughing & teasing the newlyweds.


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