Sunday, 3 January 2021

Tosey Naina AR os

 

Ridhima Gupta.. she is everything that can be termed as normal and basic.. she lived with her uncle, whom she fondly calls baba and have been on the receiving end of a lot of love and taunts from this family.. she was close to Mr. Shashank Malhotra and his daughter Anjali.. 


Anjali was married to Atul and they both treat Ridhima as their sister.. a confident yet protected childhood to a meek yet individualistic adulthood Ridhima has had it all.. she has got a very few friends.. currently she is looking for a job while her Badi Ma is busy looking for an alliance for her so that she doesn’t have to tolerate her anymore now..

Ridhima came running from her room when she heard Padma shouting.. “ji Badi Ma..”

“Aaj shaam kuch guests aarahe hain.. humare bohot purane dost hain.. toh tum kitchen mein aaj hari kaka ki help karogi aur koi gadbad nahi honi chahiye samjhi tum..?” Padma barked her orders.. while Ridhima just nodded not understanding why she is warned everytime someone important is coming over even though she has never created any scene..

She came back to her room and changed into something presentable to go down into the kitchen as she knew hari kaka is too old to match badi ma's requirements for her guests..  she caressed her parents photographs with love and longing and quickly came down to help kaka..


It was 6 in the evening when she heard the bell.. just as she stepped out of the kitchen she was stopped by Padma's glare.. she indicated hari kaka to take the door while Ridhima decided to set everything into the trays for serving.. she heard pleasantries and some laughter.. 

after everyone settled comfortably Padma asked for the snacks and drinks, kaka smiled as he saw everything set for him to just serve.. “shukriya bitiya..”


While eating the guests were busy complimenting the snacks while Padma stayed mum but Shashank gave full credit to Ridhima.. “badi hi pyari bachi hai.. ussi k haath ka jaadu hai inn sab cheezon mein..”

Padma in turn glared at her husband and covered up saying “ji voh bin ma baap ki bachi hai toh hum usko yahan le aaye thhe kaafi saal pehle.. uski padhai vagerah sab Shashank hi finance kar rahe hain..” she boasted.. 

“bulaiye na usko.. main milna chahungi itni talented ladki se..” said Mrs. Sharda Mallik.. wife of Mr. Nitin Mallik..

Not knowing how to react Padma just made an alibi saying “voh bohot introvert hai isiliye zyada milna pasand nahi karti logon se.. aap chhodiye na usko.. yeh mithai try karke dekhiye kolkata ki best shop se hai yeh..” she wanted to divert her mind not sure if Ridhima would create a scene in front of Malliks while Padma was looking forward to a business collaboration with them in london.. she sighed when she saw them all settled and Ridhima forgotten.. but what she didn’t know that Mallik family was there for another purpose altogether.. 



Some time later
Vineet, younger son of Mr. Mallik, nudged his mom as he heard sound of payal coming from the backyard.. he was stunned at her beauty when he saw her glimpse as she snuck out of the kitchen thinking nobody is watching her.. he winked at his mother and rang her phone giving her an excuse to follow Ridhima by saying she needs better networks..


In the backyard Ridhima sat on a swing enjoying the evening breeze with a cup of tea.. she fumbled as soon as she noticed someone’s presence around her.. she quickly stood up and straightened herself as soon as she saw Sharda.. while sharda was amused to see Ridhima so scared of her even though she has not uttered a single word yet..


“Aapka naam Ridhima hai.?” Sharda asked in a gentle tone yet had a royal demeanor.. seeing her nod her head she smiled and introduced herself, only to have Ridhima bow down in respect and do a pranam to her..


“You are a very talented chef I must say beta..” Sharda took Ridhima’s hand and sat with her on the swing.. she enquired why she was living with the Malhotras and how educated she was and also if she wanted to work.. she was impressed when she learned that Ridhima wants to work and repay her baba financially atleast as she can never ever thank him enough for taking her under his wing after her parents died.. she also got to know that Ridhima has been training at some NGO for her new job.. “why an NGO.? You can very well get a job at an MNC an earn more..”


“I want to work for kids similar to me.. I had baba to guide me at every step in life but there are so many lives out there who need education and guidance.. It would be worth it even if I could help one of those kids..” Ridhima said with a shine in her eyes while Sharda beamed at her reply..


Ridhima felt strange when Sharda took her number promising her to meet her again very soon.. while Ridhima did a pranam again only to get a blessing this time making her smile aswell..


~~~~~~~~~~**0**~~~~~~~~~~


It has been a week since the Mallik family has visited Malhotras and nothing much had changed except for the fact that Ridhima has now started a permanent job with an NGO..

Padma was really confused when suddenly Mr.Mallik made a call and wanted to meet Shashank.. he said it was personal.. Padma looked at the watch as if cursing the time for its slow pace.. “pata nahi kya kaam hoga unko.. I hope maine unko galat na judge kar liya ho.. suno agar voh tumse koi business favor karne k liye kahe toh haan matt kar dena..” she murmered only to have Shashank giggle at her assumption..


“Paise ke siva kuch dikhta bhi hai tumhe..? jinn logon ki tum baat kar rahi ho na unhone 6 mahine mein humare equal empire khada kar diya hai India mein.. london mein unke bete ki business sense ka koi match nahi hai.. unka bada beta Armaan, business magnet k naam se jana jata hai humare circle mein..” Shashank reprimanded his wife for her stupid calculations..


In the evening they welcomed Mr. And Mrs. Mallik.. after afew minutes of pleasantries they came to the point.. “Shashank I want Ridhima’s hand in marriage for my son Armaan..”


Padma spilled her juice on herself as soon as she heard the proposal.. she quickly apologized and her mind tried to find an alibi, she couldn’t let Ridhima get married into such illustrious family and look down upon her at social gatherings.. “I don’t think that’s a wise decision bhaisaab.. Ridhima won’t fit into your kind of family.. I mean she likes staying alone and doesn’t like to attend any kind of social events that we are required to do with our husbands.. besides she is a very homely person and doesn’t have much nag for business.. voh aapke bete ko match nahi kar payegi..”


Shashank was also not in favor of this sudden proposal but his reasons were different.. “main  Ridhima se Pooche bina koi decision nahi lena chahta Nitin.. aur vaise bhi mujhe toh pata bhi nahi if she is ready to get married or not..”


“You take your time and talk to her.. we’ll set up a meeting for the kids if Ridhima is comfortable with the alliance.. hum business mein toh collaborate karne hi vale hain toh yeh  rishta bhi usmein add on hi karega..” said Mr.Mallik..


“Aur vaise jo qualities bhabhiji ne batai hain humein aur Armaan ko vaisi hi ladki chahiye.. humare Ammy ko bhi parties se zyada ghar mein rehna pasand hai.. but business is his main hobby n passion both..” said Mrs. Mallik backfiring all Padma’s attempts to degrade Ridhima in front of them.. 


As if on cue, just as the Mallik couple were about to leave Ridhima entered the house.. her breath hitched as she saw all eyes on her.. she bowed her head n did a pranam to Mr. And Mrs. Mallik but refrained from saying anything as she saw Padma glaring at her.. Mrs.Mallik went a head and caught Ridhima’s hand “humne suna hai aapko books padhne ka bohot shauk hai.. humein dikhao apni collection..”

Ridhima looked at Shashank for permission, seeing him nod his head she took Sharda to the library that she n Shashank have filled in with books.. “yeh baba ki library hai.. main yahin se books leke padhti hoon..”

Sharda contemplated for a moment then made Ridhima sit on a recliner with her making Ridhima confused and nervous.. “hum yahan aapke liye apne bete ka rishta laye hain..” looking at Ridhima’s shocked face she quickly continued “please don’t be scared beta.. agar aapko koi pasand hai toh hume abhi inkaar kar dijiye aapse koi kuch nahi kahega..”


“Nahi auntyji.. baba jisko mere liye pasand karenge vohi mere liye sabse acha hoga.. mujhe yakeen hai unpar.. yeh faisla lene ka haq sirf baba aur Badi ma ka hai..”

“aap kuch poochna chahengi humare bete ke baare mein.?” Sharda asked only to see Ridhima frozen n confused.. “hum samajhte hain beta.. lekin agar koi bhi sawaal ya darr ho toh aap apne baba ko kahiyega humse baat karne ke liye..”

Sharda sighed and left Ridhima in her pool of thoughts.. she suddenly had so much on her mind.. she knew taking it as an opportunity her Badi Ma will not think twice before getting rid of her but will she be treated the same in that house too..? She saw a boy with them the previous day but he certainly did look younger than her.. will baba take her decision into consideration.. and most importantly if the boy is really a match for her.. 

she suddenly had the same sinking feeling that she had when she first stepped into this house after her parents demise.. she didn’t know the people and the life that will be a part of her identity in the years to come.. she came out of her trance when she heard Padma and Shashank arguing in the lounge.. she went to them with heavy steps and tears in her eyes..


“Dekho isko Shashank.. yahan tumhari itne saalon ki mehnat ka sawaal hai aur yeh aansoon bahane khadi hai tumhare saamne.. iski toh life bann gayi.. itne ameer logon se rishta judega iska aur phir yeh humein unke paise ka ehsaan dikhayegi..” Padma barked looking at Ridhima..

“Tum chup karo aur apne kamre mein jao.. aur Ridhima tum mere saath aao bahar garden mein..” Shashank said in a no-nonsense tone making his wife huff and march towards their room.. afew minutes later he sat with Ridhima engulfing her in a fatherly hug letting her rest her fears.. “tum jaanti ho Ridhu main koi bhi decision tumse bina pooche nahi lunga..”

Ridhima nodded and gave him a small smile.. “mujhe aapse dur jaane ki soch se hi darr lagta hai baba.. kaun samjhega mujhe jaise aap samajhte hain..?Badi ma kitna bhi bura bole par voh so nahi paati jab tak main khana na kha loon.. yeh naye rishtey main kaise nibha paungi, mujhe toh kuch bhi nahi pata unke baare mein..”

She looked away seeing Shashank giggle at her plight.. “bas itni si baat..? Tumhe kya laga main aise hi tumhe kisi ke bhi saath bhej dunga.? Tere Papa se zyada haq hai mera tujhpe samjhi aur Armaan ke baare mein pehle sab jaan le uske baad kuch jawaab dena.. family toh bohot achi hai, main kayi saalon se Mr.Mallik ko jaanta hoon.. unka chota beta vineet toh aaya bhi tha uss din humare ghar.. unke 2 bete aur thhe.. sabse bada beta aur uski biwi ek mishap mein nahi rahe.. tab se Armaan ne hi samhaala hua hai sab kuch Mr.Mallik ke saath.. 
personally main nahi mila hoon usse but from what I have heard, he is a terror in the business world..”

Shashank said all that to ease Ridhima but it made her all the more anxious.. she imagined Armaan to be some serious n khadus guy with a lot of arrogance.. she made a baby face n looked at Shashank.. “there is no harm  in meeting him once.. you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover..” he patted her head n left to tame his angry wife..

While the same scenario was there at the Mallik mansion.. Armaan was really uncomfortable at the mere mention of marriage.. “meri condition aap sab ko pata hai.. meri first priority Pari hai aur humesha rahegi.. I hope your prospective bahu knows about it already..? I don’t want any drama in front of Pari she is already suffering much for no fault of hers..” he finished with gritted teeth..

“nahi.. usko ya kisi aur ko batane ka mauka hi nahi mila hume.. beta tumhari maasi ne humein itna kuch bataya hai Ridhima ke baare mein ke hume laga ke uske liye Pari won’t be an issue.. milne mein kya burai hai beta.. even if you don’t want a partner for yourself atleast acknowledge the fact that Pari needs a mother at every step in future.. aur kya pata uske saath aane se Pari mein improvement bhi ho..” Mrs. Mallik manipulated Armaan emotionally.. so the meeting was set on the coming weekend at the coffee shop of an elite restaurant..


~~~~~~~~~~**0**~~~~~~~~~~


Ridhima was very nervous.. Padma has asked her to get dressed in a saree while Shashank insisted her to be herself and get dressed in a pretty anarkali like she normally does.. 

“hum vahan koi dikhava karne nahi ja rahe hain Padma toh apna muh thoda band hi rakhna.. Ridhima ko baat karne dena Armaan se..” Shashank instructed..

“yeh toh nervous hoke baat hi nahi kar payegi vahan.. aur dekhna kya hai.. itna acha rishta saamne se aaya hai mana karne ka toh sawaal hi nahi hai.. aur phir tumhare business collaboration mein bhi koi mortgage nahi dena padega humein.. ab toh yeh ghar ki baat ho jayegi na..” Padma quipped calculating..

“Ridhima koi deal nahi hai samjhi tum.. tumhari isi soch ki vajah se main keh raha hoon k vahan kam bolna.. mujhe sirf yeh dekhna hai k voh ladka kaisa hai.. bas.. collaboration k baare mein kuch drama matt karna vahan..” Shashank warned Padma in a hard tone..


They all reached there in time.. while Ridhima greeted the family she could still not see Armaan anywhere.. as if judging her confusion Vineet excused himself saying.. “please have a seat.. we had an important meeting at hand so bhai is busy there with them..” he said pointing on her right where she saw afew men sat in a serious discussion.. Ridhima quickly averted her gaze when Sharda caught her attention.. afew minutes of formalities and pleasantries were exchanged.. 

Ridhima could see Mrs. Mallik wanted to say something but she was certainly not getting any words.. it was so much clear on her face.. just as Sharda cleared her throat to say something Armaan joined them at the table apologizing for being late, accompanied by a little girl by his side..

“Armaan yeh Mr. And Mrs. Malhotra and yeh inki niece Ridhima Gupta..” Sharda introduced..

“Aur Ridhima yeh mera bada beta Armaan hai aur yeh hai humari Pari..”

“My daughter.. Sneha Armaan Mallik..” Armaan said with pride while Malhotra family was shocked.. Ridhima looked at Sharda and felt betrayed.. she felt as if someone has mocked her.. but before sharda could explain Armaan excused himself as he never wanted Pari to know the truth.. he took Pari on pretext of getting her an ice cream..

“Jaan basti hai Pari mein Armaan ki.. reality mein Pari, Armaan k bade bhai ki beti hai, lekin uski death k baad Armaan ne usko adopt kar liya.. pichle 4 saal se akela sab karta hai Pari ke liye.. uss accident mein shock k kaaran Pari ne apni awaaz kho di..aur Armaan nahi chahta k iss baare mein kabhi bhi koi Pari se kuch kahe.. for her Armaan is her father and the fact remains..” Sharda explained with tears in her eyes and looked at Ridhima with hope..

“Armaan ko ek biwi se zyada Pari k liye ek achi MA chahiye.. aur mujhe aapki Ridhima bohot pasand hai apne Armaan ke liye.. jo uski thheri hui zindagi mein phir se khushi la sakti hai..” Mr.Mallik said to Shashank.. 


While everyone was busy contemplating Ridhima was just looking at Armaan and Pari.. she had another motive to say yes for this marriage but now she was in aww of this man.. she noticed a small contented smile on his face whenever Pari would smile at him.. she averted her gaze when she saw the duo walking towards her.. but her curious gaze couldn’t escape Armaan Mallik.. 


Soon enough they were sent on another table as a clichéd ritual to talk n know eachother.. as soon as Armaan sat comfortably on the sofa, Pari propped herself into his lap giggling to herself making Ridhima smile at her innocence.. she scanned Ridhima for a few minutes and then asked her in her gestures who she was.. but before Armaan could translate Ridhima gave Pari an adorable smile saying “hi.. I am your new friend.. Ridhima Gupta..” 


“My friend or my Pa's girlfriend.?” Pari gestured making Ridhima choke onto her coffee.. Armaan gave her a sly smile knowing well that Ridhima understands Pari’s sign language.. Ridhima on the otherhand cleaned herself and glared at Armaan.. she then extended a hand towards Pari for her to come over.. she looked at Armaan once for permission and then went ahead.. “mujhe toh aapse dosti karni hai.. I would love to play a lot of games with you n read in a lot of stories.. do u like stories.?” Ridhima asked taking Pari in her lap to which Pari nodded and gave her ever so sweet smile..


Although Armaan was surprised at their interaction but still a father in him couldn’t let any harm touch his child.. “don’t give her hopes that you or your family might not be able to fulfill.. I have every luxury anyone can think off but she is the only one that’s MINE and I value her the most..” Armaan said in his typical style making Ridhima frown.. while Armaan cursed himself in his mind for saying those words as just a moment before he could see something in Ridhima’s eyes for Pari that he has never seen in any of the proposals before.. he has seen girls frown at Pari.. he has seen girls feeling bad for him or even sympathized with Pari.. he has even seen girls scheming with Pari to reach him.. but for the first time ever, he has seen love for Pari and admiration for him in someone’s eyes.. he could see Ridhima interacting with Pari as if being mute for a child is normal.. 

“Aapko kyu lagta hai k main koi bhi jhoota vadaa karungi..?” Ridhima asked bringing him out of his reverie..

“Because I have been through it before.. I have a few conditions for this marriage and I hope you agree to them before giving any approval..” 

“why do u think she would ever be a problem.. she is just a child who needs love and secure environment.. I agree to all your conditions but I also have two conditions if u agree then we can go ahead..” Ridhima said confidently making Armaan smirk at her.. he knew something was amiss.. a girl this good is not for real.. but what she said next bowled him over by her selflessness..


She looked at Armaan who sat back comfortably waiting for her to finish.. she could read his face and she knew he was thinking that she is about to put an unacceptable condition.. but she just glared at him saying “mujhe aapke status se koi lena dena nahi hai.. main bas chahti hoon k aap baba k saath business mein collaboration karein aur dusri baat yeh k mujhe rishton mein milavat nahi achi lagti.. aap mujhse bade hain age mein aur rahe honge aapke bohot relationships past mein, lekin kya main aap se ek deal nahi balki ek rishta expect kar sakti hoon..? Sirf Pari k liye shadi nahi karna chahti main.. shadi koi responsibility nahi hai jo aap ek contract ki tarah nibhayenge.. shadi ek ehsaas hai kisi ke har waqt saath hone ka aur mujhe bas yahi ek cheez chahiye aapse..”


Ridhima got nervous when Armaan kept staring at her for a few minutes instead of replying.. while Armaan was confused in his thoughts altogether.. he was expecting some luxurious demands but this girl is something else.. she wanted her uncle to excel in business and herself to be tied up in this marriage.. “Mr. Malhotra k saath collaborate karke meri company ko bhi profit hoga.. aur Armaan Mallik kabhi koi profitable deal nahi jaane deta.. aur baat rahi humari toh Ms.Gupta, I’ll give it a try.. vaise aapke hisaab se kitna bada hoon main aapse age mein aur kitne relationships rahe honge mere..?” he finished with a smirk getting back to his usual self.. he took out a card from his pocket and wrote his number on its back.. “yeh card hai mera.. yeh mere office ke numbers hain aur peeche mera private number hai.. lets get to know eachother abit more before things get official..”


Ridhima took his card saying “Badi ma aur baba ko yeh sab acha nahi lagega.. agar aapko meri conditions manzoor hain toh mujhe bhi aapki conditions manzoor hain.. lets take our time while let the elders make things official..”

Armaan wanted to retort but knowing about her conservative upbringing and how nervous she gets when someone points at her, he just nodded.. he knew she is not someone to get romantically involved with someone untill her baba approves of their relationship.. He has read a lot more in her body language, than what has been said on the face and he just wishes he is right this time also..


~~~~~~~~~~**0**~~~~~~~~~~


It has been a week to their meeting and both the families were too shocked to ask anything from their respective children.. neither of the families have thought that Ridhima or Armaan would agree but none of them dared ask anything lest they would refuse..


Unknown to them both Ridhima and Armaan were really in an aww of eachother.. Ridhima never stopped fighting n challenging Armaan in everything that she found questionable and her guts never cease to amaze him.. 

It was the first time that they have decided to go for a coffee together.. while Ridhima asked to get Pari along, Sharda refused completely saying they both need to know eachother well to build a relationship.. their relationship can’t stand just by being parents to Pari.. they also need to build trust and love with each other.. Ridhima has been waiting for a fairly long time for Armaan at the market where they have decided to meet.. she cursed him under her breath when his number came busy for 5th time in last 15min..

“Milna nahi tha toh mujhe kyun bulaya.. main bhi kitni pagal hoon.. soch rahi thi k khadoos ke paas dil hoga.. huh kaun apni shadi ke liye ladki se milne three piece business suit mein aata hai..” Ridhima grumbled to herself.. next minute she was shocked when she heard a whisper near her ear saying “Armaan Mallik jahan chaahe jaise chaahe ja sakta hai Ms.Gupta..”

She turned around only to see him smirking at her outburst.. she chuckled to see him in a business suit yet again.. as if getting her taunting gaze Armaan discarded his jacket and gestured her to move forward towards the car..

“Hum yahan café mein jane vale thhe na.?”

“Its too crowded.. let go somewhere else please..”

She nodded and followed him to his car.. she could see him stealing afew glances of her.. she just shrugged and sat looking out of the window.. for the first time ever Armaan Mallik was awkward.. he wanted to explain what took his time.. he wanted to talk to her but he didn’t know how to start a conversation.. he just cleared his throat to get her attention.. he pointed at her hand asking gently “May I..?”

Ridhima was really blown with his genuine effort towards her, she knew, a man with such demeanor commands everything around him and never asks for permission.. she just gave him a nod only to feel her hand being taken into his warm hands and placed under his hand on the gear, in an instant.. she looked at him from the corner of her eyes only to see a small smile playing on his lips..


They both sat across the table with their coffees yet to come.. Armaan looked how Ridhima enjoyed her french fries, just like Pari does.. he shook his head when she offered him some..

“Kha lijiye.. thoda sa khane se aapki diet nahi disturb hogi..”

“Aapko  bohot si galatfehmi hain mere baare mein Ms.Gupta..”

“Ridhima.. Ms.Gupta sunke aisa lagta hai jaise abhi aap koi formal deal k clause sunane lagenge..” Ridhima teased him..

“Fine Ridhu it is then.. does that sound personal enough..?” he enjoyed the blush that adorned her cheeks when ever he teased her.. but he loved it when she replies with even more witty words..

“So Ridhu how old do you think I am to be khadoos and robotic.? Aapne kaha tha jab hum pehli baar mile thhe aur aaj bhi..”

“I don’t know maybe 10years elder to me.. aapko dekh ke surely nahi bol sakti but that’s my guess..” she quipped.. Armaan on the otherhand cursed himself for being so formal with her in their first meetings and today also he was dressed in complete formals, he doesn’t blame her to think of him as some khadoos uncle..

“29.. aapse umr mein sirf 3 saal bada hoon main.. these grey hair are genetics and my look is, how I like the world to know me.. Strong, sharp and dominant..”

Ridhima gave him a warm smile saying “mujhe iss strong businessman mein koi interest nahi hai.. I adore the fact that you are the best father and a great family man to be around.. I want to know the real you.. I don’t want you to change anything for me just be truthful with me please..” Armaan gave her a dimpled smile and quipped saying “I promise I would never lie to you Ridhu.. you’re indeed very beautiful both inside and out.. I could have never asked for more in my partner..” he said looking into her eyes and caught hold of her hand on the table making her avert her gaze with a slight blush..


~~~~~~~~~~**0**~~~~~~~~~~


While Armaan being the terror he is at work, He certainly never stops to pamper and prioritize Pari and Ridhima.. it took him a few days to explain to Pari how Ridhima is going to be with them forever now and be her mother.. at first she was very insecure but later Ridhima won her over with her pampering and love.. 

Ridhima was surprised when she got to know that NGO that she had been working with was funded by Armaan Mallik and her senior there is Armaan’s Maasi.. it was then that she was able to join the dots, that his maasi proposed her name for Armaan to his parents.. she sighed relief that she will still be able to work for those under privileged kids after her marriage but what struck her was Armaan’s generosity.. he never mentioned his charity to her even once when she told him about her wanting to work at the NGO.. 

Ridhima would often get Pari along with her to  meet the kids at the NGO or take her to MALHOTRA MASION to spend some time with her in the backyard or the terrace.. she has started to know Pari’s likes and dislikes and how she had her father wrapped around little finger.. the great businessman would do a monkey dance to please his upset daughter and that sight was a treat to her sore eyes.. she was falling for that man unknown to the fact that he has already given her that special place in his life when he trusted  her with Pari..

It was one such day when Ridhima n Pari were at the park playing around with other kids.. Armaan thought to drop in and surprise them.. he spotted them by the car, he felt contented when he saw Pari giggling in Ridhima’s arms while they were petting a rabbit with a seller outside the park.. Ridhima made Pari sit on the car and gave the rabbit in her hands making her jump in excitement, while she was capturing all those moments in her phone.. she gave the seller some money and returned the rabbit as soon as Pari was done.. he followed their car knowing they’ll be going to Mallik Mansion to drop Pari and then Ridhima goes off to her place.. 


Entering the lounge Armaan frowned to see Vineet perched on the hand rest of the sofa that Ridhima was sitting at.. he had his hand around Ridhima’s shoulder and both of them were busy gazing into her phone giggling to glory.. he felt a pang of jealousy in his heart.. despite the fact that he knew that Ridhima shared brotherly bond with his younger brother Vineet, he felt his throat going dry in anger..

He cleared his throat and glared at the duo.. Ridhima quickly stood up feeling conscious under his gaze while Vineet gave him a teasing smile very well knowing that his brother is jealous.. Sharda on the otherhand was very nervous thinking Armaan might blast his anger on Ridhima.. Ridhima fumbled saying “main chalti hoon.. zyada late hua toh kaki ma ko chinta hogi..”

She froze as soon as she heard a curt call from her back.. “wait.. I’ll drop you home..”

Vineet gave Armaan a goofy smile and winked only to have Armaan empty his glass of water on Vineet's head.. “in the office at 8 in the morning..” he ordered and followed Ridhima outside who was cursing herself for creating a rift in between brothers as she heard Vineet whining that Bhai will kill me in the office tomorrow..

She sat next to Armaan in his car.. the drive was quiet till she started to explain “aap galat samajh rahe hain hume.. aapne jo dekha.. voh bas.. humlog voh.. vineet bhai ko Pari ki video dikha rahi thhi.. aisa kuch nahi hai jaisa aap..”

“Maine kuch poocha kya..?”

“Nahi.. lekin aap bhai se naraaz hain na.. aap kal unko office mein sazaa denge na?”

Armaan gritted his teeth and spoke “voh mera bhai hai.. I know how to handle him.. iss waqt mujhe bohot gussa aaraha hai so its better that you stay quiet for sometime..” Armaan said in a no nonsense tone.. more than anyone else he was angry on himself.. he wasn’t able to understand, why he was so angry on Vineet being so comfortable around Ridhima while he struggled to speak his heart everytime around her.. even now he was not able to tell her that he is not taking anything in the wrong sense rather he wants to share that level of comfort and belonging with her..

He pulled over outside Malhotra Mansion and looked at Ridhima only to see her cheeks wet with her tears coz she was crying silently.. he cursed himself under his breath and quickly took a reverse before someone could spot them.. afew minutes later he parked his car at some distance outside a local tea stall..

“Chalo..” he said and moved out.. he caught Ridhima’s wrist and cornered her against the car.. “ro kyun rahi ho Ridhu.?”

“I am sorry.. mujhe pehle samajhna chahiye thha k har rishtey ki ek limit hoti hai.. aap mujhe galat matt..” she stopped her rant as soon as she felt his fingers going around her waist.. On an impulse she looked around to see if someone could look at them in such a pose.. her eyes widened in shock as she felt his fingers moving in circles.. she was about to jerk away when he pulled her closer whispering “Mrs. Ridhima Armaan Mallik hone vali hain aap.. main aapko kabhi galat nahi samajh sakta.. mujhe pata hai aap Vineet ko apna bhai maanti hain and even he respects you  a lot..”

“Lekin Armaan ji aapko gussa toh aaya na..”

“Yeh Armaan ji kya hai..?” he asked her in an amused tone.. “you are my wife-to-be.. call me Armaan.. aur rahi baat gusse ki toh yeh haq mera hai..” he said with his fingers roaming around her waist.. seeing her still abit confused, he elaborated  with with pride.. “aapko har tarah se sirf main touch kar sakta hoon aur koi nahi..” he said with a possessive glint in his eyes and tightened his hold around her waist.. “Vineet ka aur aapka comfort level dekh ke I felt jealous.. aisa laga jaise sabse churaa ke kahin durr le jaun aapko, jahan aap sirf mujhe dekhe aur main aapko..” he finished in a hoarse whisper..


Ridhima was very shocked listening to his confession and more than that she was very confused whether to enjoy their closeness or just step away being conscious in a public place.. “durr jaane ki sochna bhi matt.. pehli baar apna haq samajh kar aapke itne paas aaya hoon aur main jaanta hoon ke aap yeh regret nahi karengi..”

She looked at him wide eyed, surprised that he was able to read her mind so well.. she just let afew tears slip away from her eyes and hugged him tightly making him relieved aswell..

“Aap har baar mere paas aane par aise hi royengi..?” Armaan asked as he hugged her closer letting her calm herself..

“Aap mera mazaak uda rahe hain..” she huffed and hit his shoulders with her fists making him laugh at her antics.. “aapne mujhe daraa hi diya tha.. aur bhai bhi kitna darr gaye thhe..”

“Aapke bhai ki toh main kal khabar lunga.. he will learn how to never tease me again..” Armaan said with a serious look as if making some plan to get back at his brother.. they finally settled for some masala chai and discussed somethings here n there totally unawared about the time.. realizing its late Armaan did drop by to explain things to Shashank so that Ridhima doesn’t get into trouble.. while Ridhima was shocked to see her Badi Ma all praises for Armaan instead of being angry at her for being so late.. she giggled when Shashank mouthed COLLABORATION..


That night certainly did break the ice  between Armaan and Ridhima, and both the families were also well relieved about it.. While Padma was happy about the business, Shashank could see Ridhima basking in Armaan’s care and love.. on the otherhand  Mallik family was surprised when they realised how Armaan was getting so possessive about Ridhima.. it was so much against his nature but the love that he has been portraying so openly for Ridhima was really making him a better person.. Pari was living the best dream of hers.. she would crib n cuddle with Ridhima all the  time they were together,  she was happy to  see someone being strict with her father and yet shower so much love on both of them.. 

Armaan was satisfied with his choice when the doctor gave him a green signal to start with Pari’s speech therapy.. her reports are now improving just like her health and studies.. Sharda saw Armaan all tired as he slumped on the sofa calling for water.. he smiled at his mother answering her questioning gaze “Pari is sleeping over with Ridhima.. she will take her for her speech therapy session tomorrow..”


“You love her Armaan..”

“Yes mom.. and I am lucky to have found her.. I was so scared for Pari..”

“Pandit ji ne 10 din baad ki date nikali hai shadi k liye.. don’t ever lose her son.. not just Pari but you also need her..” sharda said caressing his hair knowing he would rush back to office again early in the morning because he’ll be at the hospital with Ridhima for Pari’s speech therapy session..


Next day he was at the hospital waiting for Ridhima and Pari, he was about to bombard them with questions but he kept quiet when he saw Pari in Ridhima’s arms.. “whats wrong my angel..?” He asked in sugary voice gathering Pari in his arms..

“She is scared of her therapist.. aaj pehla session hai so she doesn’t know what to expect..” Ridhima said catching hold of Pari’s free hand..

“Mamma and dada will be with you baby.. we will never leave you alone, ever..” Armaan pampered her with some sweet nothings while Ridhima adored the duo.. The first session went well and everyone was relieved that Pari is medically fit she just needs to focus abit and learn to speak small sounds nd words.. Armaan was very happy that day.. he organised a lavish dinner at his place for both Malhotra and Mallik family in his style.. he treated everyone with their choice of food and desserts, while Pari was treated like a princess by her sweet daddy.. soon Malhotras wanted to leave but he insisted on Ridhima staying for some more time.. Shashank looked at Ridhima and shrugged asking her if she was comfortable, to which Ridhima gave him a shy smile.. 


Ridhima sat with the family for a while and Pari settled herself in her lap and snuggled into peaceful sleep as she was tired after a very hyper day.. everyone soon retired to their rooms when Armaan proposed a short movie.. after settling Pari in her room, she followed him through a silent corridor while he guided her with her hands clasped in his manly ones..


She was surprised to see a room setup for games and movies with comfy couches.. “Vineet and I often get into game battles.. while everyone in this family enjoys a movie once in a while.. so this is the best solution I could think off keeping their security in mind..” he explained reading her mind..


She nodded and looked here n there like she was caught stealing.. “its ok Ridhu.. people do judge my choices more often than needed.. you don’t have to be awkward about it..”


“Main aapko judge nahi kar rahi thi.. mujhe bas samajh nahi aaya ke aap sabki security ko lekar itne serious kyun rehte hain har waqt..”

“We have a lot of rivals who are just waiting for one clear shot at me..” he felt her hold tighten around his fingers.. he pulled her closer into his embrace and whispered like devil “don’t you worry.. nobody dares to mess with me.. I can go to any length for the people I love.. come lets sit..”


Armaan was surprised when he gave her an option and she chose a suspense thriller.. but next moment Ridhima was surprised when the lights dimmed in as soon as the movie started.. Armaan being a movie buff has not left any movie unseen but right at the moment he felt contented just to see Ridhima sitting so close to him in his embrace.. he suddenly felt an urge to tease her and booed into her ear as soon as a scary scene unfolded.. he giggled as Ridhima pouted and pushed his arms away.. 

“Itna darti ho ke har dusre scene mein aankhein band kar leti ho toh dekhni kyun hai yeh movie..?”
Armaan asked moving closer yet again to take her in his arms.. “mera mann tha.. main darti nahi hoon lekin aapne jaan ke daraya mujhe..” she complained

“Ok  fine.. I just felt like teasing you abit.. acha sorry baba ab nahi karunga.. lets continue..”

“No.. ab mera mann nahi hai.. mujhe chalna chahiye.. its 10:30 already..”

Armaan caught her wrist and pulled her closer as she was about to get up “I said I am sorry Ridhu.. I didn’t like it how you were so engrossed in the movie and was not even sparing a glance at me..” she blushed at his childish complain and shifted abit creating some distance between them..

They sat there in silence for a few minutes not knowing where this was heading, when Armaan “May I kiss you..? “

Her breath hitched at his request.. she knew, she wouldn’t mind giving him that right on her now but she was too shy to voice it.. while he looked at her going red in the face, with her eyes busy searching something on the floor.. he smiled and cupped her chin saying “look at me Ridhu..”

Next second they were both lost in eachother’s eyes.. Ridhima could read impatience and love in those blue eyes while Armaan was already lost in her green innocent ones.. forgetting every thing around he closed the distance between them and pulled her into a slow kiss.. he turned passionate when he felt her grip on his shirt and a small moan escape her throat.. he cupped her face and let his fingers rub her scalp and neck, making her go jelly in his arms.. while her one hand gripped his shirt and the other one slipped into his hair on its own.. he let her breathe in between but continued to  pull her into a number of kisses before their moment broke..

She broke their kiss finally and hid her face in his shoulder.. he could feel her hot and heavy breathing on his neck.. he cradled her closer, whispering “I know you felt it Ridhu.. I could feel your love and acceptance..” saying so he traced her ear with his nose making her shiver.. they stayed like that for a while, letting  the moment sink into their souls..

THEY HAD AN AURA THAT ATTRACTS THE WORLD.. LITTLE DID THE WORLD KNOW THAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO'D FALL IN LOVE WITH THEIR SOULS BEFORE LOOKS COULD CLAIM THE CREDIT..


Rucha

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