Monday, 12 October 2020

Part 27 : In My Heart

Tiny sparkling stars twinkled across the dark horizon as the boys walked in to the bar. The Aer bar was a sky high club, located on the 34th floor, offering panoramic view of the Mumbai city and sea. Armaan called the waiter to order drinks ignoring their constant complains.

"I'll have one Aer special cocktail. Guys what do you want? Make that 6 please." Armaan rolled his eyes as he saw them turning their faces away from him.

"Tum sab ka mood kyun off hai? You've got a bar, dance floor and even a beautiful atmosphere here, so enjoy."

The guys were angry because Armaan had flopped all their plans of partying. After an hour of stay at an upscale club, he dragged them out.


"Tum ne hamare plans or mehnat pe pani pher dia or pooch rahay ho kya hua hai?" Arjun grumbled.

"I'm sorry yaar. Per it was getting too stuffy for me; I couldn't stay in there for long."

"Stuffy ya touchy?" Abhi joked quirking eyebrows which made everyone chuckle except Armaan.

The boys had joined the dance floor after a few drinks but Armaan kept sitting at the bar sulking. A red haired girl approached him and offered a drink which he refused. She sat next to him and tried indulging him in talks which proved fruitless again. The girl touched his arms on pretense of checking tattoos. Armaan caught her hand as it started a downward trail. He understood the girl was ignoring his polite refusals so he stated his disinterest clearly but the girl was adamant. Finally when Armaan could take no longer, he burst out at her and left the club.

"I've never seen anyone as interested as Armaan in their own bachelor's party. What's the issue dude?" Prem asked stirring the umbrella straw in his drink.

"He's not happy with hiding about the party from Rhea. I've told him to tell her later. But he does not understand." Arjun replied.

"This is for your own benefit man. If any of the girls hear about this, they are going to ruin it with their presence and endless arguments. So enjoy your last free minutes as a bachelor." Abhi spoke sipping his ice crushed drink.



After a few rounds of drinks boys dragged a reluctant Armaan to the dance floor. It was abuzz with unique twists of Bollywood songs and packed with dancers high on energy. All of them halted together and stared with wide eyes at the scene in front of them. They glanced at each other to confirm they were imagining but were disappointed. They hurried up the two steps after a silent conversation with their eyes and made way to the top pushing and pulling at everyone.
Anjali, Riddhima, Nikki and Muskaan danced without a care in the center of the floor on "party's on my mind". Their merry dance had built a crowd of boys around them who whistled and clapped loudly. The girls' gasped and stopped dancing as their partners stepped in front of them but huffed and turned away on remembering their plan.

"Armaaan." Riddhima sang his name happily and hugged him. Armaan wrapped his arms around her and turned around glaring at all the other guys for ogling his girl.

"Tum ab bhi mujhse gussa ho na? I'm sollyyy." She said tilting her head back and holding her ears still in his hold. Armaan bit his lip to hold back his smile.

"Tum yahan kya kar rahi ho?"

"Dance."

"Why are you out of the house Riddhima?"

"Di ne bola ke tum sab party kar rahay ho akele, is liye hum bhi party karienge."

"Aur kya bola tumhari Di ne?" He asked wiping the sweat from her brow.

"Di ne bola ke tum se baat nahin karna. Haww, maine tum se baat ki. Hato, choro mujhe." she said wiggling in his hold.

"Kyun? Main nahin choroon ga."

"Arayyy I'm also supposed to be angry. Now leave me."

"Did Di tell you this too?" He asked bringing her closer to his chest.

"Haaan, tumhien kaise pata? Hawww,tum hamari baatien sun rahay thay na chupke? Di, di suno.." Armaan covered her mouth with his palm as she yelled loudly.

"Ssshh. Chup. If you scream again I won't talk to you." Riddhima pouted and started crying. Armaan tried to stop her, to reason with her but she didn't listen to him. So he kissed her as the last option to quieten her.

"Basket, you're drunk. How much did you drink?" Armaan asked pulling back from the small kiss. He smirked as she kept looking at him with starry eyes.

"Let's take you home sweetheart."

"No. No. I want to dance. Come we'll dance." She said breaking out of her stupor and stepped back to dance. Armaan threw his head back and laughed heartily as Riddhima danced and gestured with her fingers and tongue to 'lat lag gayi'.

"I looovve you Baby." Riddhima yelled over the loud music encircling her arms around his neck. She looked lovely in her watermelon one shoulder gown and her carefree and playful actions added the charms. The gang shook their heads laughing and Armaan smiled goofily at her cute antics.

"Love you too Meri Jaan." He picked her up bridal style and kissed her forehead before carrying her out of the bar.





Kashish ran around the house giving directions to the helpers as they put in the last touches for the mehendi function before Prerna arrived with the shagun mehendi. They had decided to hold the function at Garewal Villa itself as it was a ladies only ceremony. Dadi was in the kitchen checking if all the dishes on the menu were prepared or not. Anjie was in Riddhima's room dressing and helping her to get ready too. They had woken up with a mild headache due to the hangover but pretended to be alright as Dadi was always around. Kashish had been mad with them but Sujal had fulfilled his promise of looking after everything even when Armaan and Rahul had brought in a sleeping Riddhima and Muskaan in their arms. He had kept a jug of lemonade and painkillers at the bed side too. Dadi had eyed them warily when Riddhima and Muskaan hugged Sujal tightly and kissed his cheeks at breakfast. Later Arjun had come to pick Muskaan and drop Anjie for the function.



Thick and soft crme carpet covered the entire length of the living room. A dull gold and white settee was placed against the backdrop of silk drapes with a few strings of jasmine flower. Round, floor and throw cushions were scattered all around in vibrant shades of pink, purple and orange. A crystal bowl with floating yellow apple candles was kept in the center of a low glass table. Prerna arrived with Muskaan, Nikki, Arjun and Atul. The shagun consisted of mehendi cones placed in hand made baskets filled with yellow petals, a basket carved out of melon filled with tiny fruit bites and sweet boxes. The boys placed boxes wrapped in red paper aside as they had Riddhima's dress and accessories for the wedding.



The girls held a red duppatta over Riddhima's head as she walked down the stairs to the stage. Riddhima had worn a peach and sea green flared frock with tights. Delicate silver work was done on the round neck and border. The heavy embroidery duppatta, with shades of pink, sea green and orange, was pinned on her shoulder. Kundan and pearl ear rings was the only accessory she used. Kashish held Dadi's hand tightly as her throat constricted with emotions on seeing her daughter.

"You look absolutely beautiful beta." Prerna kissed Riddhima's forehead.

"Kisi ki nazar na lagay meri chaand si bahu ko." Bi put a black dot to ward off evil. The ceremony began as Prerna applied the mehendi and then the experts took over.


Anjali, Muskaan and Nikki danced and pulled Riddhima too to do a few steps with them.

"Yaad mujhe jab unki aaye
Hai re hai bada sataye
Yaad mujhe aa aa jab unki aaye
Haay re haaye bada sataye
Dekho soorat mein unki main subho sham
Dekho soorat mein unki main subho sham
Hathon mein in hathon mein
Likh ke mehndi se sajna ka naam
Likh ke mehndi se sajna ka naam" Prerna came towards her to ward off evil with money and passed it to the maids.


Later they dragged floor cushions near the settee and got their hands filled with mehendi too.

"Armaan." The girls giggled as Riddhima spoke softly when the girl asked her husband's name.

"Itna kyun sharma rahi ho Rhea? Kal raat tou zor zor se apne pyaar ka iqraar kar rahi thin, ab kya hua?" Nikki said. Riddhima bowed her head down as her face turned pink from teasing.

"Aray tum sab khamosh kyun baithi ho. Chalo dhol bajao or geet gao, lagna chahye mehendi ka ghar hai." Dadi asked the ladies.





Refreshments were served on dining table from where everyone had to make their plates and eat in the lounge.

"Mama, I'll eat after washing my hands and changing. It's uncomfortable this way." Riddhima declined to eat as Kashish brought her plate.

"Beta this will take hours before you can go up, you'll get tired sitting. Main khila deti hoon thora sa. Here just eat one cutlet."

"Nahin Mama, I don't feel like eating. But please can you make me a coffee; I'm having a slight headache." She adjusted her hands on the cushions as the girl drew beautiful patterns over her arm.




Few hours later Riddhima's hands and feet were filled with mehendi. She sat with her tights bunched up and arms stretched on the settee watching everyone dance. She stifled her yawns and focused on keeping her eyes open as she felt drowsy. She forced a smile when a lady came to see her mehendi and uttered something in a language unknown to her. Riddhima's muscles stiffened and cramped sitting in one position for so long. A moment or two later she saw Armaan emerge from the main door with Prerna and Dadi hot on his heels. She quickly pulled a corner of her dupatta over her head to cover her face. Few ladies objected and stopped him in the way from seeing the bride. He explained something to them calmly and headed towards her without waiting for their response. Riddhima squealed as Armaan picked her up in a jiffy and walked up the stairs to her room while the gang whistled at his guts.


Armaan rubbed his forehead in irritation as Riddhima denied to lift the veil from her face. He tried pulling it but she held it as tightly as she could manage with her mehendi filled hands and he didn't want to spoil it.

"Ye kya hai Basket? Ye ghoonghat and all, please remove it."

"I will remove it but first you go."

"No, main kahin nahi ja raha."

"Phir main aise hi baithun gi."

"Theek hai main bhi dekhta hoon kab tak." Both of them huffed and turned their faces away.

After a whole ten minutes Armaan looked at Riddhima and couldn't help but smile at her pouted lips.

"Basket I know you're uncomfortable and you know that too. So please is dupatta ko hata do. Here I'll help.."

"No. Armaan you must also know we aren't supposed to see each other before wedding."

"Why is that now?" He asked frustrated.

"It's a ritual. I've heard that if someone doesn't follow it then bad luck follows them." Armaan slapped his head and scooted near her.

"Aisa kuch nahin hota Riddhima. If it eases your conscience then you should also know we are already married so I'm allowed to see you."

"Achaa so why is all this is happening then?"

"So that My Jaan can enjoy every ceremony as it ought to be. You're happy right?" Riddhima's lips pulled into a beautiful smile as she nodded.

"Good. Now please let me see you." Armaan kissed her chin softly but she shook her head in a no. He narrowed his eyes and then smirked.

"Theek hai rehne do. But we can talk right?" She nodded again and got involved in a conversation. Armaan waited for her to relax and when she left the edges of her dupatta he pulled it over his head. Riddhima gasped loudly and shut her eyes tightly.

Armaan looked at her in awe. She looked so gorgeous in the pinkish orange glow forming due to the light passing through her dupatta. He nestled his head in her neck and inhaled her sweet yet intoxicating fragrance.

"They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. So a little wait till tomorrow will be worth it." She placed her palm on his eyes as he stared at her. 

"My heart is already too fond of you that it hurts. Nor can it wait; we've done that for too long now." He held her palm in his and rubbed his nose against hers.

"Beimaan, dil bara beimaan,

tere liye shaitan, meri na ik mana.

Dil jeete yaa main jeetun,

dekhungi dekhega tu,

lo dil se sharat lag gayi..." Riddhima scrunched her nose in confusion as Armaan hummed the song softly while nuzzling her hair.

"Mujhe to teri.. aa aah aa yeh.." Her eyes shot open as she realized it was the song she had danced to previous night. She hid her face in his chest as soon as he pulled away to look at her. Armaan chuckled holding her close.

He kissed every spot of her face slowly and sensuously deliberately skipping her lips. Armaan noticed her frown so he kissed the corner of her mouth. She leaned in parting her lips breathing heavily. He kissed the other side of her mouth.

"Someone told me absence makes the heart grow fonder. So wait till tomorrow night." Riddhima glared at him as he winked and bit his lips to stop his laugh. He ran towards the door dodging the pillows and cushions she threw at him.
.......................

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