Monday, 28 September 2020

Part 13 : In My Heart

Colors, lights and beautiful fragrances emanated from the Malik Mansion that was adorned from top to bottom to celebrate the wedding of their only daughter, Muskaan Malik. Its residents were busy running from one end to the other directing the servants and helping the wedding planner to finish the tasks at hand.

The bride to be was locked in her room to make sure she doesn't step out of her room. She had been nervous to the core and nothing could soothe her except for one person who wasn't around. It was her best friend forever and to be sister in law whom Muskaan had called some over 50 times in vain as she was busy herself in wedding preparations at her side.



The door slowly creaked open and Riddhima peeped from behind it to see inside the bedroom. Muskaan was pacing her room left right cursing somebody on phone and raising her hands while saying her typical "hey Baba Ji". Riddhima chuckled softly knowing very well who was on the receiving end of her tantrums, her dear brother, but suddenly changed her expressions to that of regret and worry as Muskaan noticed her presence. She closed her eyes and prayed to God for help to pacify the Drama Queen and strength to sit through another one of Muskaan's panic and blabbing attacks.

After a good 40 minutes Riddhima exited the room quietly as she had succeeded in calming Muskaan and putting her to sleep.

Riddhima came out in the garden hoping to catch a glimpse of Armaan before she left for home but he was nowhere to be seen.

"He isn't home." Arjun came and stood beside her. Riddhima's face fell hearing this. "He has kept something for you in your room. See that before leaving. Here are the keys to your portion Bhabhi. Your fianc has asked for you to keep this set of keys." Riddhima nodded and took the keys. "Waisey us empty room ka secret kya hai kay he doesn't let others in? I asked him to open it for me but he clearly refused. Then I asked him to let me stay in your room till you're not here but he said no to that too. Ab wo nahin hai, I can sneak in that room now, isn't it?" Arjun smiled inwardly at Riddhima's confused expressions but waited for her reply.

"I don't know what's in that room myself. But you know if we go in without his permission, he'll get angry and I don't want to spoil this day for any of us. So when he's around you can ask him about it. You understand na?" she asked hopefully.

"Yes I understand everything Bhabhi. Don't worry I was just pulling your leg. Now go before someone pulls you away for some chore."

The only light in Riddhima's room was from the tulip lamp on her bedside. Despite the darkness her eyes scanned the whole room quickly to get hold of her surprise. A black gift bag was placed on the edge of her dressing table. Riddhima settled on her bed with the bag. She found three gift boxes all in black glittering wraps with silver bows. She tentatively opened the wraps seeing not to tear it. She gasped seeing a beautiful dress with a note and a red rose in the big rectangular box.

The note said: "Please wear this for me tonight."

Riddhima kept it aside and opened the other two boxes quickly, her excitement knew no bounds. She was sure if anyone saw her like this, they would call her a kid but then it didn't matter because she was beyond anxious to see what Armaan had kept for her. She found matching accessories and shoes in those boxes with a red rose in each. What shocked her was the pair of earrings Armaan had chosen. They were exactly like the ones she had chosen at Muskaan's engagement. Riddhima touched the earrings fondly with moist eyes remembering the reason why she had left them though at that time. She picked up her cell to read an incoming sms:

"I'm sorry, couldn't stay back till you came. I hope you like your small surprise; I can't wait to see you in it. Please don't make me wait for long, as it is this day seems to be never ending. I Love You."

Riddhima packed her things and left for Garewal Mansion sending a reply to Armaan.

"I can't wait to see you too. Miss you..."

The horizon was covered with hues of purple, pink and orange as the sunset. Everyone's anxiety grew manifold regarding the function that was about to start officially with the entrance of the groom's side.

The Malliks along with the gang stood at the main entrance of the venue waiting for the welcome of groom and his family. Prerna awaited at the door with a platter for doing aarti.

A black Lamborghini came into view as the other cars moved into the parking slots. Prem and Sujal stepped out at the same time and opened the back doors for Riddhima and Kashish respectively.

Armaan gasped audibly seeing Riddhima straighten herself and help Rahul out. Arjun and Abhi shook their heads silently and watched him bemused. Armaan was dumbfounded on seeing her; everything else had gone into oblivion. All he could see was his Basket, his Princess. He knew that she would look beautiful in this dress but he had no idea she would look so so beautiful, gorgeous, ethereal. He couldn't decide the exact word to describe her beauty. A strong nudge in his ribs by Abhi brought him out of his reverie. Armaan blinked twice to grip his surroundings and found that Prerna was done with the aarti. He moved ahead and touched Sujal and Kashish's feet to take blessings and hugged Rahul and Prem. Armaan controlled his urge to crush Riddhima into his arms and shook hand. He brought her right hand to his lips and kissed it softly maintaining an eye contact. Riddhima's eyes widened at his gesture and glared at him to hide the rosy pink color that adorned her cheeks. Armaan moved back smiling and took Rahul to the stage. He could feel Riddhima's eyes following him from the back, so he winked at her as soon as he caught her sight causing her to look away.

The rituals had started after Muskaan was brought down by her friends and escorted to the stage by Armaan. Rahul and Muskaan had exchanged garlands and were now receiving wishes and gifts from their relatives and friends.

Arjun was walking with Riddhima out of the hall to bring in the gifts when he collided into Rakesh who was on a call. His cell slipped out of his hands and broke apart on the floor. Rakesh recognized Arjun as they had flown from London to India few years back. Both had a nice conversation. Arjun feigned that he hadn't known of his presence here. He fixed the mobile and returned it to him. Rakesh's gaze kept moving towards Riddhima who was with Arjun, so he told him that she was his very good friend and that he was going to take her out soon. This reply had got him the desired result as Rakesh frowned and looked at Riddhima in a confusion, to which Riddhima smiled politely before holding Arjun's hand excusing them from the scene.

Armaan had met Dadi and was surprised when she didn't ask where he has been all these years? Instead she had been as loving as always and conveyed him messages from the kids and made him promise to return soon. He understood that Riddhima had already covered up for him and he couldn't help love her all the more for her care and concern towards him. He knew she didn't want anyone to think ill of him. Armaan's eyes darted through the crowd to find that one face which had cast magic on his being. He smiled in satisfaction seeing the ladies in his life, his mom, sister and love, happy. Armaan made his way to the stage humming a song which was just apt for this moment.

"Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha"

He moved towards Prerna taking her in a side hug with her leaning on to his shoulder.

"Yeh Khushi ,Yeh Khushi Ka Sama
Dil mein Gunji hai Sehnaiyan
Yeh Khushi ,Yeh Khushi Ka Sama
Dil mein Gunji hai Sehnaiyan

Yeh Haseen Yeh Dil Nashee
Ek Mohabbat ki hai jo Dastaan

Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha"

Armaan sang looking at Rahul and Muskaan who were lost in each other.

"Koi Puuche Annkhon Ne Ankhon se Kya keh diya
Kya Sun Liya
Keh dena chupke se Dono ne
Ek Chun Liya Ek Saathiya"

Naina joined him in singing.

"Yeh Reshmi se pal yeh narm si hulchul
Yeh sapno ki Marm Rab Rakha

Yeh Haseen Yeh Dil Nashee
Ek Mohabbat ki hai jo Dastaan"

Armaan continued.

"Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha "

Muski sang looking at Rahul.

"Mahi shagunaa maniyaa hoye
Bajde sang dhol shenayiaan
Mainu mil gaya mera raanjhiya
Te rabba khair maniyaan hai.. "

The gang rushed down the stage to the center of the hall holding hands and danced in a circle.

"Nach le yeh Dil mera kehnda
Ho aaja nach le Dil mera kehnda

Sath tera Bas chahida
Oh goriye Sath tera Bas chahida

Ho.. mere naal tu aa.. hai..
Ho.. zara taal mila.. hai..

Nach le yeh Dil mera kehnda
Ho aaja nach le yeh dil mera kehnda"

Riddhima looked intently at Armaan who was dancing in complete glee. Her heart swelled to see him so happy after a long time.

She started singing looking at Armaan.

" Tumko yoon jo dekhoon Jane kyun Mera jiya "

Then she turned away from all keeping a hand on her heart.

"Dhadke Piyaa
Mehki si Lehki si
Dehki si
Mein hoon piya
Yeh kya kiya"

Armaan pulled her to him with her back to his chest and a hand wrapped possessively around her waist. He nuzzled her hair.

"Yeh husn aur yeh Tu
Yeh Aanch yeh khusboo
Yeh roop yeh jadoo Rab Rakhaa"

She pulled out of his hold and moved back to the gang and they all danced together.

"Yeh Haseen Yeh Dil Nashee
Ek Mohabbat ki hai jo Dastaan

Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha
Rab Rakha Rab Rakha Rab Rakha."

The ladies of the house supervised the caterers while they served guests with dinner and desserts. They instructed them to join a few tables in one corner of the dining hall for the family to have dinner together. The elders had taken their place along with the guys on the table. The dinner began with the teasing session of the so in love Rahul-Muski. Riddhima pouted seeing Armaan and Naina laugh over something. She hadn't got a second to talk to him alone and what infuriated her were the praises Armaan directed towards Naina while not giving her a glance.

The rituals ended with the 7th round around the fire and now the newly married couple touched the feet of the elders to take their blessings. The atmosphere became emotional as the time for bidaai approached. Muskaan hugged her family, Bi and gang. Riddhima helped Muskaan with her heavy bridal dress down the stage from where Rahul held Muskaan's hand. Armaan and Anurag pushed the bride's car forward till it crossed premises of the venue. The Garewals had left prior to organize everything for the couple's welcome leaving Riddhima and Prem behind to come after. Riddhima gathered Muskaan's stuff from the dressing room and headed towards the main office where she'd seen Armaan take Prerna after the guests departed. The Mallik trio was seated on the large brown leather settee, with Armaan holding Prerna as she cried silently and Anurag had his head in his hands. Riddhima stood confused at the door not being able to decide whether to go in or not. When she couldn't make up her mind, she thought it was better to leave. She turned around to leave but stopped hearing Anurag.

"Riddhima."

"I'm sorry didn't want to disturb you. I was leaving, just wanted to see you all but then I thought I'll leave like that because I didn't want to interfere and so.." she said softly playing with her dupatta nervously.

"Come here silly girl. You aren't interfering at all because you're a part of our family. So never think like that again, understand." Anurag spoke patting her head lovingly. Prem came to take her home but left after clicking pictures of Riddhima with the Malliks.

The newly wedded couple was given a warm welcome at the threshold of Garewal Mansion. Rahul took Muskaan's hand and made their way in, with Muskaan leaving a trail of red footprints behind. After the rituals were completed, the couple, Garewals and the gang settled in the drawing room cheering and teasing Rahul and Muskaan as they played a few games. Riddhima and Kashish took Muskaan to her bedroom to retire for the night while the gang left for the Mallik Mansion.

Riddhima stood in front of the dresser in her bedroom grumbling and removing the bangles forcefully. A big palm encircled her wrist stopping her from continuing this.

"Why are you here?" Riddhima asked trying to free her wrist.

"Don't you know?" Armaan jerked her towards him, making her collide in his chest.

"Noo, I don't anddd I don't want to knnow. I'm tirredd, goo." She spoke in a low voice averting her gaze.

"I'm sorry baby. Please don't be mad at me." he put his index finger under her chin to make her face him again.

"I'm not mad."

"Look at me and say this." she raised her eyelids slowly to look into his eyes but couldn't say a word. Riddhima felt herself drowning in the depths of those oceanic blue orbs once again. Time stood still for them as they gazed at each other with love and longing.

"Do you know how hard it was for me to not hug you tightly as I saw you?" Armaan brought his hand to caress her cheek.

"Then why didn't you?" she asked innocently placing her hand on his.

"There was something else as well that i wanted to do but it wasn't possible with everyone hovering around, so I thought of catching you in alone. I did right na, now I have you all to myself." he said with a lop-sided grin.

Riddhima pulled herself away from him on seeing the mischievous glint in his eyes.

"Don't move Basket. I want to have a proper look at you." he stood at a little distance looking at her intently. Riddhima felt herself get redder by the passing moment as his eyes scrutinized her from head to toe. After a few minutes he extended his hand towards her. She took his hand nervously without looking at him.

"You look beyond beautiful, My Princess. I know this isn't enough to describe how you look but then I don't have words to do justice with your beauty." Armaan kissed her forehead. Riddhima looked at him and her eyes welled up looking at the love and appreciation his eyes held. She put her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Armaan smiled contently.

"So did you like your surprise?" He asked parting a bit from the hug and moved them to sit on the bed.

"I didn't like it, I loved it. The dress, all the matching accessories are so so pretty. Thank you Armaan." she said smiling.

"You don't have to thank me for anything Basket, ever. I'm glad you loved it." they sat in silence for a few moments, Armaan sitting with his back to the headrest and holding Riddhima against his chest.

"Why did you leave these earrings Basket?"

"Leave earrings, matlab?" she was confused.

"Why didn't you buy them when you liked them so much?"

"I don't understand what you're saying?" Riddhima gulped and said nervously.

"Common, I had seen you choose them at Muski's engagement."

"Aisa kuch nahin hai Armaan and besides how do you know?"

"I wasn't by your side but I was in the shop, and this beautiful face, it expresses everything clearly. Now if you're done with cross questions, will you please answer my question?" He spoke caressing her cheeks.

"I didn't like it so much so I left it."

"Good attempt, but try this with someone else, I know you loved it. Though i have to admit that there were pairs even more beautiful than this one but the way your face lit up seeing it, I still remember, so.."

"Yeah so what, you don't buy everything you like."

"What is this Riddhima, why are you turning a simple question into an argument? I get it; you don't want to tell me the reason." Riddhima stayed mum for a while then broke the silence knowing she will have to answer this one.

"You're right there were pairs that were more beautiful than this one but the color of this caught my eyes. It reminded me of.. of your eyes." she whispered the end and Armaan shut his eyes holding her tight.

"If you had noticed this was the only blue pair in the shop at that moment. But then I realized I didn't have the right to keep things which reminded me of you soo.." she closed her eyes as well and a tear rolled down her cheek.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for hurting you to no limits. I had been a jerk that day, isn't it?" she nodded her head.

"Why did you buy this?"

"Despite all the hatred that I showed you, my heart had started beating again only after I saw you. I tried to reason with my heart and reminded it of all the crap I made up in my mind, but one longing look of yours had my heart melted and I couldn't let anyone have this." he smiled kissing the top of her head.

"How did you manage to get the exact same earrings now?"

"I didn't, I had bought this pair then only."

"Why, we weren't even on talking terms that time? Plus you were hell bent on rejecting everything I chose for Muski."

"Yeah I know but I had to get it for you. I'm sorry for that day, I was just irritating you because you made so adorable faces whenever I said a no and I couldn't have enough of it."

"I knew it, you idiot." she punched him on his arms as he laughed.

"Do you know I couldn't help smiling when you made a face thinking I wasn't seeing you." he smiled.

"Haaww.. How did you see?"

"Mirror baby, you hadn't noticed the wall length mirror in front of me." both of them laughed at it.

"Did you get this dress too at that time? How'd you get my exact size?"

"I gave the color combination and design to the designer who made dresses for Muski, he had your size written and Arjun brought it now."

"Thank you so much Armaan."

"Didn't I just tell you not to thank me? This is just nothing. I'll do anything for you because I Love You Meri Jaan."

Riddhima lifted her face from his chest and traced his face with her finger. He smiled deeper when she dug her finger in the dimples and kissed them. Armaan pulled her head towards his and leaned in to kiss. After a soft light kiss Armaan pulled back and smiled seeing Riddhima pout.

"I won't be able to stop if we go ahead now. So go change, I'll put you in bed and leave." Armaan pecked her pouted lips and pushed her off the bed.

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