Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Last part : Heartbeat

It was 7 a.m. when he woke up. He got up, brushed, ate a little and then he when he was ready they called him for a physical activity test. To his relief, he passed it. Glad that he was finally free of this hell hole he walked back to his cabin to freshen up and pack his belongings.

Just as he was about to close his bag, his eyes fell on the photo beside his bed. "Riddhi. Come back baby'I miss you." he murmured. Picking up his bag he headed to Dr. Kashyap's cabin. He'd said he wanted to talk to him about something important. But that was the least of his concerns. What troubled him was not seeing Riddhima. Maybe she'd left a message?

On the way, he met Mrs. Shah the nurse who'd taken care of him all the time. He was about to pass by but then he remembered that Riddhi was pretty close to her. Maybe she knew where she was?

 

"Uhm Mrs. Shah?"

"Haan. Dr. Malik? Kahiye?"

"Aap ko pata hai Riddhi, I mean Riddhima kahan hai?"

Just then he heard Dr. Kashyap call him. "Armaan? Come uh ' quickly. I need to talk to you'"

"Aaya Doc! Gimme a minute!"

It was then he noticed the tears in Mrs. Shah's eyes.

"Aap ro kyun rahi hai?"

"Armaan, tumhe bataaya nahi ki tumhaari donor kaun thi?" and she quickly went away not being able to say more.

 

He was shocked beyond words. What the hell did that mean? Their conversation echoed in his head. "Aap ko pata hai Riddhi, I mean Riddhima kahan hai?" "Armaan, tumhe bataaya nahi ki tumhaari donor kaun thi?"  ... "Aap ko pata hai Riddhi, I mean Riddhima kahan hai?" "Armaan, tumhe bataaya nahi ki tumhaari donor kaun thi?"

No. No. No. No! This wasn't true. Wasn't it? It was some kind of a sick joke right? Somebody should be saying "Just Kidding!" right about now. Right? There was no way she'd left him. She wouldn't ' she couldn't go that far to save his life.

He felt someone shaking him and looked up to find a very concerned Dr. Kashyap asking him if he was alright, telling him that that was what he wanted to talk about. "Is it true?" he asked him.

"Yes. Riddhima was your donor Armaan."

That was when he the tears came. He cried his heart out and sat down on the floor his strength failing him and he kept murmuring, "No. Come back Riddhi'come back'I miss you'I love you'don't leave me like this!"

He found himself in Dr. Kashyap's cabin. It didn't mean anything. Nothing meant anything without her. She was the biggest part of his life. Hell, she WAS his life dammit! She couldn't have left him...not now when they were so close to happiness. He remembered his last moments with her. Her crying, her goodbyes, her reluctance to let him go and her telling him that she would give up her life if it meant saving him. This was what it all lead to? A life without her? He didn't want it then! She was everything. There's no point in living anymore.

Just then he saw Dr. Kashyap patting his head and telling him "Sssh. Armaan, shant ho jaao. Tum marna chaahte ho Armaan? To phir Riddhima ne tumhaare liye jo kiya uska matlab kya hua Armaan? Woh sab tum bekaar jaane doge?"

That's when he realized he'd been thinking out loud. "Toh kya karu main? I've known her since I was born Doc. She was my best friend, my lover, my wife and the only family I had. What am I supposed to do now?"

"Armaan, I can't empathize with you. But she left you this letter Armaan. Read it. I'll leave you alone. You may go home when you feel like."

He handed over her letter to him and he clutched it like it was a life guard. Opening it he read;

 

Hey Baby.

If you're reading this then you know. I'm sorry Armaan.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not sorry for giving up my life to save yours. I could never regret that. What I am sorry for is for leaving you alone, for hurting you to make you feel better in the end, for not being with you till we grow old.

 

I couldn't watch you die Armaan. Not when there was a way to keep you alive. And that's why I did it. Don't curse my decision baby. We both know you'd have done the same thing in a heartbeat if I was in your place!

 

Armaan, I've known you since we were born. We were neighbors and you were my first best friend. You were there with me for all the 25 years of my life and, I thank you for that. I'd rather cherish these years with you than have a life without you in it'

 

Remember Armaan when we were 5? You used to play football or at least try to   with all the older kids and I used to feel left out? Then one day I tried to play with you guys and when the older guys teased me for not knowing how to play and I cried, you beat them up. You fought for me. I think I fell in love with you then. You were my hero.

 

And when we were 15? You got your first girlfriend. Maya. Aaah! How I used to hate her! She stole you away from me Armaan. You spent more time with her and when she fed you with lies about me, you believed her. I don't think my heart had ever been broken before. But seeing you believe her, it did. And we being the hot tempered people we were we fought in the cafeteria'in front of the entire school, hurling the choicest abuses at each other. We didn't speak the entire year. I think it was the worst year of my entire life. I used to see you with Maya and it used to kill me. You used be jealous, seeing me with Sid. He was my first boyfriend. You know why we broke up? He insulted you. I used to miss you, you know. But our egos didn't let us talk.

 

We broke the ice next year, by inviting each other to our "sweet sixteen" parties'eventually we both celebrated it on the same day. It was fun hai na? We were officially sixteen. We could drive' You broke up with Maya at the party, publicly! As much as I enjoyed seeing her being humiliated, a small part of me did feel bad for her. An extremely small part.

 

And then, university. I was so glad we were going to the same one! You know how I am in front of people I don't know. Uni was so much fun hai na Armaan? All those study groups [although we never studied in the same group] and all those late night parties! So much fun!

 

Remember when we got drunk Armaan? At Sierra's party? We sang to the entire club. I think we both said some things we never wanted the other one to know and I still don't remember what you said, but what I do remember is that kiss. My first kiss. We were drunk and then I think you said I looked beautiful and then we kissed. It was the best [well it was my first so yeah!] kiss ever. And then next morning, when we met? We declared the night as "Taboo Night". I wish we hadn't. Maybe we'd have realized our love sooner?

 

Remember when Ma, Ananya mom and Billy passed away in that hit and run? It was so bad Armaan. If you weren't there I don't know WHAT I'd have done. I think I fell in love with you all over again, although I didn't know it then. You became everything to me after that. I was so dependent on you. And you were there for me, every step of the way.

 

Remember our talk on the bus ride to that college trip? We talked about how people teased us and said we would end up falling for each other. We swore we'd prove them wrong. And they said, "We told you so!" on our wedding'

 

Graduation. I think that was the best day of my life [after our wedding of course!]. You finally said "I love you." I'm not saying any more on it. We both know how we felt that day and words will never be enough to express what we felt. The only thing that matters was that you were mine and I was yours. Forever.

 

Remember our wedding Armaan? It wasn't extraordinary. There weren't thousands of guests. There were no designer lehengas. It was just you, me and our friends in the temple and it got over in a matter of hours. But baby, it was still the best day of my life. I became Mrs. Riddhima Armaan Malik that day. It was a dream come true.

 

Remember our "honeymoon"? We couldn't afford it and so you took me to the beach in the next town and rented a cottage for a week'I loved it just as much as would have loved Switzerland'

 

We moved to a new town after a while. Things were perfect. You were perfect. I still have every one of those little trinkets you used to buy for me and all those little notes saying I love you those humongous cards you gave me on every occasion and that huge collection of teddy bears too. You never stopped being romantic Armaan'the "honeymoon" phase was never over with you. Even after 2 years of marriage you still looked for a chance to catch me unaware and kiss me. You were still the BIGGEST fan of PDA and even though I kinda got angry on you, I loved it that you wanted to show the world how much we loved each other.

 

 

Remember our first fight? I don't even remember why we fought! But we didn't talk for a week'and then we made up after you took me on that romantic date. I loved that date! And as much as I loved fighting with you, I loved making up even better ;)

 

There are millions of memories I have with you baby. I couldn't even begin to write them all! You see Armaan'this is what we share. Isn't this love worth everything? Knowing you, you probably told Doc that you wanna die. Don't Armaan. Don't hurt yourself. Live for me. For US. For what we were, are and everything we were meant to be. As much as it hurts right now, you WILL smile again. Promise me you will. Remember how you told me to not hurt myself when you were gone? It's time for you to do the same baby. Promise me you will become the crazy, arrogant, awesome and annoying [sometimes] jerk that I fell in love with. You get to keep the most important part of me after I'm gone'my heart and our memories. How many people are that lucky Armaan? You'll live won't you? My hero. :)

I love you and until we meet again, goodbye.

Yours forever,

Riddhi

P.S ' Be the BEST Cardiologist ever! I love you.

 

 

Armaan closed the letter and cried till the tears stopped coming. He remembered every moment they shared. He would always love her. And if not for anyone else, he would live for her. As soon as he decided that he felt the lightness. He felt whole again. He would never move on. He knew that. But he would learn to live again. He would fulfill her wish. And with that, Armaan Malik started a new life.

 

 

*10 YEARS LATER* [This is totally from Armaan's PoV]

 

The alarm woke me up. 5 am. I was 35 and I still hated getting up earlier than seven. Talk about being lazy. I sat up with a bolt as I remembered what day it was. "Today's the big day Armaan'this is it."

 

 Getting ready faster than usual, I quickly had breakfast and left home. Yeah, I'd learnt to cook'a little. I turned the stereo up when they played my favorite song. 20 minutes later I was there. I came here everyday since she passed away. It gave me strength talking to her. And I needed strength and that aura of calmness she always carried. Especially today.

 

I made my way to my usual spot and kneeling down I put a bunch of her favorite flowers on her grave.

"This is it baby. I did everything you told me too. And today I'm opening my own hospital. Thanks Riddhi'for always being there, for never letting me feel alone in all these years. I love you."

I lingered for a while'not wanting to leave the solace talking to her gave me. When I'd stayed long enough, I walked back to the car driving to my lawyer's office.

 

I knocked on the door, waiting for Jim to open.

"Dr. Malik! Come in!" my lawyer-cum-best friend Jim said.

"Hey! What's with the Dr. Malik?" I asked smiling at him.

"You're a big man now Ammy. Opening your own hospital and all!"

"Dude, that doesn't change anything between us!"

 

"I know man. You're always going to be the drunk guy who puked-on-me-on-our-first-meeting at the pub for me!" he said, laughing at the memories.

"Are the papers ready yet? I wanna set a date for the inauguration."

"Oh they're ready all right! Just one detail. I need you to tell me what you wanna name this big ass multi specialty hospital you're opening!"

I didn't have to think twice about that. I'd known the name even before I'd cultivated this idea.

"Put the name as- 'Riddhima Malik Memorial Hospital"


Later, he thought of his Riddhi and walked out of the office with a smile on his face, her heart in his and a single heartbeat.


~~~~~~~~~~

Aanya

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