Saturday, 20 February 2021

part 2 : Heartbeat

 He walked around trying to find her when he heard Sierra's voice. He was about to ask he where Riddhima was but just then he heard her say something which gave him the shock of his life.


"Ri! You have to say it! How long are you going to keep it between us?"


"Sierra, you know I can't do that. He's with Simone. He's serious about her."


"And what about you Riddhima? When are you going to tell him that you've been in love with him for over a year? I can't see you like this Ri. I know how much it hurts you to see him with her."


"I can't okay? After our parents' death, he's the only one I have and I can't lose our friendship. I love Armaan and maybe I always will. But I can't confess. Maybe this makes me a coward, but I can't lose him."


"All right. Keep in touch Ri. I'm gonna miss you a hell lot!!!"


"Me too Sierra. But we're in the same city so we'll meet okay? I'd go crazy if I didn't get my daily doze of your stupidity!"


"Yeah'But hey I can be smart too okay? It's rare but not impossible. Now go Find your Armaan and if you ever get the guts to confess tell me all about it chica!"


Armaan walked away, reeling with what he'd just heard. Riddhi loved him? For over a YEAR? Once the fact settled in, he felt happier than he'd felt in a long time. He had to tell her. There was no time to lose. Not now.


The loud beeping of his cell phone woke him up from his reverie. With as much strength he could muster, he got up and opened the text.


I'll be there by 5.30. I have to finish grading their English papers. See you then! I love you! :)


5.30. 1 more hour before he saw her. Maybe he should get some sleep. She would wake him up when she came.

And he shut his eyes, dreaming once more of her.




He felt her lips on his forehead and slowly opened his eyes as she stroked his hair. "Hey"


"Hey' I love you" she said, smiling.


"I love you too Riddhima."


"Kuch khaaya tumne?"


"Nahi. Bhook nahi hai."


"Armaan, apna khyaal rakhna seekho!"


"Khyaal rakh ke kya karoon Riddhi? Waise bhi mere paas zyaada vakt nahi."


He watched her eyes fill up and cursed himself for making her cry. He pulled her close and murmured sorry while she continued to soak his shirt.


"Phir kabhi aisa mat kehna Armaan. Never. We'll do something baby. We'll figure it out. You won't die."


"Sssh. Sssh. I'm sorry baby. I really am. I keep hurting you don't I?"


"Yeah. You're a jerk. But then I've got used to it by now."


He looked at her. Hair messed up, clothes crinkled, eyes watery, a red nose and a tiny smile. She was beautiful.






"You remember the day I finally told you?"


"Of course I do. I still can't believe we wasted a whole year'"


"I know."


"I was coming to find you when suddenly you came out of nowhere and grabbed my hand and took me to our spot. The one by the lake'do you remember?"


"Yes. You were confused and wouldn't shut up! You kept on asking me where we were going, why were going etc etc' I can't imagine I fell in love with someone who talks this much!"


"Oh shut up! What was I supposed to say? You should've seen yourself Armaan. There was this feverish glow on your face and you were almost running all the way!"


"Okay fine'I admit I was a little excited'"




"Okay, a lot. Happy?"


"Ecstatic. And then you brought me to the spot, looked into my eyes and before I could comprehend what happened, knelt down one knee and asked me to marry you!"


"Woh actually, once I found out you loved me, I couldn't wait!" he said, grinning cheekily. "But you surprised me the most! There I was, confessing my love, asking you to marry me and when I look up, what do I see? I see you, crying a flood of tears!"


"Oh please. It was justified okay? There I was, wondering why you'd brought me there, wishing I had the guts to confess, when YOU kneel down on one knee and confess your love AND propose to me. A girl can only take so much Armaan. You don't think it's a tiny bit too much to take in when the guy you love and who you thought loved someone else, proposes to you out of nowhere?"


"Okay fine. But it was awesome wasn't it? You don't know how good it felt Riddhi- hugging you, kissing you, finally knowing you were mine forever."


"I know'" she said softly and then kissed him lightly on the lips.


Armaan brought her closer to him, inhaling her fragrance and kissing her hungrily. He hadn't seen her the whole day. He needed this. Kissing her forehead, he shifted himself slightly, settling her on his lap.


"Armaan! You're going to hurt yourself! I can't sit on your lap! Not when you're sick! Aur tumne toh khaaya bhi nahi!"


"Main kuch nahi sunna chahta okay? Aur rahi khaane ki baat, tumne lunch kiya hai?"


She looked down guiltily and Armaan knew he was right. She had forgotten lunch again amidst work.


"I knew it! Riddhi, how many times have I told you ki apna khyaal rakho! Kam se kam khaana toh khaaya karo!"


"Tumhaare bina khaane ka mann nahi karta'" she said softly.


Armaan drew her closer still, while they shed silent tears. They didn't have to go through this! SHE didn't have to go through this. He hated hurting her, leaving her alone, but they both knew he didn't have enough time unless they found a donor'He had a hole in his heart. He needed a heart transplant. They had the money, the facilities but no donor. And so, as much as he hated leaving her, he would have to go, he only had a month's time.



She pulled away after a while, and stroked his hair looking into his eyes. "Hospital mein bore hote ho?"


"Bahot. Isse zyaada boring jagah maine aaj tak nahi dekhi! Ek toh yeh doctors mujhe kuch karne nahi dete. I get one hour of TV and one hour of reading. Anything else is too stressful for me, or so they say."


"Tumhaare achche ke liye kehte hai Armaan. Unki baat manlo, phir jaldi ghar aa jaoge."


He looked at her. They both knew he wouldn't be coming home, not unless they found a donor, which was unlikely. But they never said goodbye. That would be like giving up'like writing "the end" on a manuscript. There would be no goodbyes for them.



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