Joined: 16 May 2006
I know it has been ages since I posted, or commented. Truth is I am still very tied up, but I had an idea for a mini AR story. I actually wrote this part back in November but never got a chance to post. I was checking my files today and came across the first part and thought I would post it. I know I am long due on my updates but I promise I will update once everything is settled. Thank you those who still PM me their updates and a very hearty thank you to those who PM me to check up on me. It means a lot guys. This FF will be short so here I go with part one
CONCEPT: As a child Armaan Malik was a spoilt brat who dominated Riddhima Gupta; because he believed she belonged to him. As a child Riddhima Gupta tolerated everything Armaan said and did because she believed she belonged to him. Armaan is furious when Riddhima's father gets a job in the city and she has to leave; he vows to hate her never to forgive her for leaving him. They have not spoken or seen each other in the 15 years that have passed and now Riddhima is about to marry Rahul Grewal, but how can she when she still believes that she belongs to Armaan? What happens when Riddhima packs her bags and goes back to her village in search for the man to whom she belongs? Does he feel the same way?
"Ouch, please stop your hurting me" The little girl looked pleadingly in to the young boys eyes, but he refused to let her go; instead he tightened his grip on her small wrist and grinned as she winced in pain.
"Now tell me why didn't you save me a mango? Everyone in class got one except for me; it was your duty to save me one then why didn't you?"
"I am sorry but I couldn't the teacher wouldn't let me, he said you can't get one because you were in detention" The tears welled in her big green eyes from the sharp pain in her wrist
*SLAP* her little body fell to the ground making her sob hysterically "why did you do that for?"
"You are mine you hear, you belong to me and I can treat you however I want, but first I am going to have to treat that teacher a lesson" The young boy walked away huffing and puffing not even once sparing her a look.
Getting up she tried to shake the dust off of her ghagra-choli, her mother was going to giver her a good spanking when she saw the state her little girl was in. It was a brand new ghagra-choli, she had insisted on wearing it today so she could show him, but as always he could care less. Picking up her scattered books she made her way home. They were neighbors; the boy and her but she knew he hadn't gone home; he had gone to his hideout to meet the other bad boys from her class to hatch a plan to irritate the teacher.
"Good heavens child what on earth happened to you?" As her eyes fell on her daughter's swollen red wrist she couldn't help but gasp. "Did that wretched boy hit you again?"
"Oh Mom it's nothing really, it'll be ok by tomorrow" The child tried to dismiss her mother's worried knowing it was going to cause nothing but trouble for him.
"Nothing!? Child have you lost your mind, that's it we are going over to their house right now, I am going to give that boys mother a piece of my mind" The mother dragged the girl with her as they trotted across the lawn over to the neighbors.
"OMG, how nice.." the little girl closed her eyes as his mother opened the door, this was going to get ugly.
"Nice, oh please lets not talk about nice madam, and where is that good for nothing son of yours, I am here to teach him a lesson"
"What did he do?"
"What did he do? Ask what he didn't do! Look, look at my little girls wrist your son did this to her, and this is not the first time, he has hit her so many times, and this silly girl never says a word" The mother shoved the child forcing her to open her eyes. The girl bit her lower lip.
"Hey bhagwan, you poor child, Oh that boy of mine will get it today" The boys mother bent down and examined the little girls wrist, her son was known to be naughty but this was too much. "I am so sorry, I promise I will teach that terrible boy of mine a good lesson"
*SLAP* *SLAP* the boys father hit his little son continuously, and it only angered him more when the boy didn't flinch.
"I am sick and tired of hearing complaints about you, every day it's a new story, your son did this, your son did that, go to your room and you cannot come out until I say so, now get out of my site" The father yelled in fury and watched as the boy silently walked away. He hated beating his only child, but the boy was spoiled rotten. He was a terror and it was a fact known to the whole village. It was highly embarrassing as the zamindaar to hear about your child's antics from people who were lower than you.
"Don't try to change my mind, you are equally responsible for your son's vile behavior, he is not to get any food until I say so, you understand!" The man walked away in anger leaving the crying wife behind.
"For heavens child get up, it 9 am" She shook her little girl who only squirmed and went back to sleep "Get up beta it's already so late"
"But Ma school is closed today" the child replied groggily
"Yes I know school is closed today, you will not be going to that school anymore anyways, now hurry and get up"
The child sat up immediately wide eyed and fully awake "what do you mean ma?"
"What I mean is that we are moving, and that too for forever, your father has gotten a job in the city and he needs to start Monday so we have to leave immediately"
"What? But, but ma"
"No buts I need you to shower and help me pack, your father has gone to get the buggy"
She felt the tears sting her eyes, they were moving, forever. No it couldn't be possible. How could her parents do this to her, her school was here, her friends were here, HE was here!!
"What?" the boy yelled from inside and watched as their house help Sukhiya Kaka entered the room
"Baba your friend is here to see you" The old man turned and left exposing the little girl who stood shakily by the entrance.
"You, you horrible witch, you told my father didn't you? And what are you doing here huh, leave, leave right now!" the boy yelled in rage scaring the girl even more
"I am leaving, and that too forever, that is what I was here to tell you" she swallowed a sob and tried to keep herself composed
The boy felt the anger leave him but it came back a second later 10 times stronger. "Good then, leave who the hell needs you anyways, just leave, why the hell are you here huh?"
"I came to say goodbye" she whispered softly hoping the boy would melt and bid her a nice goodbye after all she was going away forever
"GOODBYE! I don't need your friggin goodbye, get out of my house, good riddance you wretched witch, GET OUT!" The boy gave the girl a hard shove and slammed the door on her face.
Picking herself up the girl wiped the silent tears and walked out of the boy's house towards the awaiting buggy. Her mother looked at her face and understood that the boy must have yelled at her again. She didn't understand how her little 10 year old girl be so much in love with that awful boy. Cradling her daughter in her lap she assured herself that it was only puppy love and that this phase would be over in her daughter's life soon. She thanked the lord that they were moving away, now her daughter would go to a nice new school, make new friends, and find new love.
The boy watched from his window as the buggy took his love away. Of course he loved her, he's always loved her. She had been 3 and he 5 when he first lay eyes on her and instantly he had fallen for her, in that one instant she had come to belong to him and he to her. He never
meant to hurt her, or harm her but sometimes she just angered him but she was his so he had every right to display anger on her. You are only angry at the one you love and he loved her. Anyways didn't he always apologize and make it up to her afterwards? He always bought her bangles, payals, her favorite sweets even pencils to make it up to her, and what does she do? She leaves him, alone! Now he had no body. Well good he didn't need anybody, he could live without her, he didn't need her, in fact he hated her now! But why was his heart aching? Why were his eyes watering? He slammed the window and threw his little body on the bed. Enough was enough he was not going to think of her anymore, he was going to forget her!
"Riddhima? Riddhima? Earth to Dr.Riddhima!" Muskaan yelled in her colleagues ear and laughed hysterically as Riddhima jumped in surprise.
"I am so sorry yaar but I have been calling your name for the past 5 minutes, where are you lost? Oh Let me guess you are lost in the thoughts of Dr.Rahullllll" Muskaan made a dramatic pose and giggled looking at Riddhima's annoyed face
"Shut up Muskaan"
"What, there is nothing wrong with day dreaming about your fianc, by the way where the hell is that Monkey?"
"Dr.MuskaanChadda to the path lab please"
"Ah darn, sorry Ridz looks like we'll have to catch up later, I'll see you after the shift"
Riddhima sat back down and sighed, her heart still beating a 1000 beats per second. She knew it was not because of Muskaan's sudden arrival, or the mention of Rahul, but it was because of him. It had been 15 years since she'd left that village. They had never gone back, she missed him and the village like anything when they had first moved to Mumbai but eventually with time she had settled and began to forget her old home and him in particular. She had started a new school and made new friends but unfortunately she had not found new love. She looked down at the ring that adorned her finger and sighed. Rahul and her were not in love, or rather she was not in love, he was a nice guy, well settled and very down to earth. He respected her and her family; they had been working together at Sanjeevani for 2 years now so when he'd proposed she had said yes. Why? She didn't really know why, all she knew was that her yes had been said half heartedly. She had told him she didn't love him, but he said he didn't care and would wait for her to fall in love, actually he had said he would make her fall in love with him, but was that possible? Here she was a day after her engagement to Rahul thinking about him.
She didn't know why after all these years she was thinking about him again, actually wondering how he was and where he was? Was he married? Did he have kids? Was he still in that same village? Did he remember her? Did he miss her? What has become of him? How does he look?
She covered her face with her hands as her mind raced with these questions. Suddenly it came to her, the idea hit her like a lightening bolt. Quickly she picked up her equipment and charts and ran to the locker room. She knew what she had to do now, she had to go back, she had to go see him, meet him, talk to him. And she wanted to know whether he had happily married, once she found that out, she would be content and would be able to move on with her life and marry Rahul.
She felt so light as she ran out of the hospital towards her car. There was a fluttering in her stomach even her legs felt weak but she had never been so excited and nervous at the same time. "I am coming back Armaan, I am coming back"
I had most of this part written so thought I might finish it up and have it updated. This will be a short FF. I hope you guys enjoy it!
Padma stared wide-eyed as her daughter packed her bags to return to the place they had left behind years ago. Her hope and desire that may Riddhima forget that town and the people in it was unexpectedly being flushed down the toilet. But how? she questioned herself, everything had been going so well these 15 years; yes at first Riddhima had been unhappy but during the course of a few years she had seen her daughter accept and relent to her new life and home. She had made new friends, she had fit in and come to love her new school and teachers, she had even come to love Mumbai. Ok Padma admitted, so her daughter had not found new love like she had hoped, but Rahul was a great boy and he loved Riddhima, though unfortunately Riddhima did not love him back. Padma had seen that, she knew her daughter more than anyone and the love she had seen in her 10 year daughters eyes for that horrible boy was not what she saw for Rahul.
"Riddhima, I just don't understand the need for this" Finally composing herself Padma walked over to her daughter, still hoping to change her mind.
"But beta what if he doesn't remember you, I mean the boy was spoiled and a snob anyhow, you actually think he is sitting their brooding for you? Waiting for you to return?"
Riddhima walked over to the bathroom to gather her toiletries as Padma sighed and made up her mind to keep trying until Riddhima was actually out the door catching the next train to Satyagarh. People suddenly wake up and return from planes, luckily Riddhima was traveling by train.
"Riddhima beta Armaan never loved you, but Rahul does" Riddhima abruptly stopped her packing as her mothers words sunk in. She was annoyed at first but now she was a little upset. She looked at her mother and let out a loud sigh. No matter how much she tried she could never yell at her mother. Her mother had always been like a best friend to her, and unfortunately for her, it was her mother who understood her better than anyone. Her mother knew that she had loved Armaan then and still loved him now, but why couldn't her mother understand that she had to do this, she had to put that part of her past to rest before she could start a new future.
"I am getting late ma, would you please stop being so upset and bid me a loving goodbye?" Riddhima wrapped her arms around her mother only to have Padma sobbing on her shoulder.
"Maaaaaa, enough ok and look I promise if Armaan doesn't remember me or if I find that he has moved on I promise I will catch the next train home. Then you can start my wedding preparations in full swing ok, now come on Papa is waiting"
Sitting in the second class dhabba of the Shatabdi Express Riddhima could not help but smile. Her father had argued that she get a ticket for first class but Riddhima had refused. Traveling second class in an Indian train had its own perks. Picking up her now loudly wailing cell phone Riddhima frowned reading the name it displayed, this was the last person she wanted to talk to before she went back to her past.
"Hi Rahul" Riddhima preferred to look outside rather than pay attention to Rahul's directions for safety, they were the same things he had been telling her ever since she told him of her decision to make a trip home. Rahul, of course had been understanding when Riddhima had told him that she needed to tie up a few loose ends before she settled down with him.
"Yea don't worry Rahul I will be careful, yes I will call you if I need anything, yea thank you Rahul, yea I'll be back after a week, ok bye" Riddhima switched off her cell and shoved it deep inside her purse. She didn't want to take anymore calls from anybody, at least not for today. She already had so much happening inside of her and if she had to explain to one more person about her decision to go she knew she would explode. Truth was, she still worried whether her trip had been sensible, it was easier to explain her rationalizations to others but when it came to herself she felt confused and well stupid. Here she was a well educated doctor dropping everything and rushing back to find a person she loved as a child, whom mind it she hadn't heard or spoken to for 15 years. Where was the sense in that? But she admitted, in her heart all this felt right, though her mind didn't agree but her heart did.
Armaan had told her numerous times as a child that she "belonged' to him and the truth was she had come to accept that statement. For the past 15 years somewhere inside of her the nuisance remained that she belonged to Armaan and that fact remained true even today. She still felt she belonged to him and you can't belong to two people now can you. She had to go back and free herself, she can't belong to Rahul when she already belonged to Armaan. Yes this was making more sense now she smiled, even her brain was starting to comprehend.
Stepping on to the platform of Satyagarh Cantt she felt the nostalgia overcome her. The station had obviously changed in the last 15 years but the foundation was still the same. The buggy ride in to the village brought back so many memories, she had cried the entire ride to the station 15 years ago but today for an odd reason she was happy. She wanted to jump with delight when the village came in to sight, it looked very different. The once small houses had suddenly grown in size, there were no more dirt roads and to her astonishment there were even cars! She smiled with glee the once quiet village was now a bustling town.
Paying the driver his due she turned around to come face to face with Seema Mausie. Screaming with shock and surprise the two women threw their arms around each other and hugged till eternity. Seema Mausie was Padma's cousin and luckily she had been married in to the same village. She had lived only 2 streets away from Riddhima's home and also happened to be their only link to the village. Seema had been thrilled when Padma had announced Riddhima's pending arrival. Seema knew the reason of Riddhima's return and was certainly not surprised; she had seen the love the young Riddhima had for an equally young Armaan. She had been disappointed when Padma had informed her of Riddhima's engagement to Rahul but it seemed that fate had something else in mind.
"Yes?" Gayatri stared at the young girl in front of her and wondered who she was. Obliviously she was new to town. She was gorgeous the old women noted, with creamy skin, perfect lips and black silky hair that fell exquisitely on her shoulders, but what intrigued her the most were the eyes; the large green eyes, which were looking at her rather questioningly.
"I am Riddhima, RiddhimaGupta, I used to.." her explanation was cut short when the old women gasped with shock.
"Riddhima? Riddhima Gupta, Shashank and Padma's daughter right, Oh my goodness look at how you've grown and dear god you are absolutely beautiful!!" Tears ran down Gayatri's eyes as she hugged Riddhima with all her might. The once child she'd seen run in and out of her house stood before her today as a gorgeous young woman. "Come, come inside, oh how awful of me keeping you outside in this dreadful heat"
Riddhima smiled as she walked in to the home which belonged to him. It felt the same as it did 15 years ago, warm and inviting. The memories of her running in and out of the house came flooding back. She looked vividly at each and every nook and corner, smiling widely at the many moments spent here. Suddenly remembering the owner of the home present in the room Riddhima turned and looked embarrassingly at Gayatri; the woman had not changed much she was still just as humble. She had always been sweet to Riddhima, even when Armaan yelled at her or pushed her around. Armaan, the mention of his name even in her mind made her heart tingle. She was here, actually here in his house; but where was he?
"Uh aunty where is uncle?" It was not really what she wanted to ask, or rather whom she wanted to ask about, but it seemed only appropriate.
The slight smile on Gayatri's face vanished altogether. Riddhima watched as the once happy woman sat soberly and stared in to space. She tried to think if she had said anything out of league, but couldn't put her finger on it. She thought of asking again when the woman spoke up.
Riddhima felt a slight pang in her heart for involuntarily having the caused sweet lady such pain. She didn't remember much about Mr. Malik, he was never around much. All she knew or rather heard was that the man was very shrewd and unforgiving. He was the only being whom Armaan feared. She remembered having accidentally coming upon Mr. Malik once, even at that tender age she knew the man did not approve of her. Still, it was unfortunate that he was dead and she was sorry for the old woman's loss.
"Oh, I am so sorry aunty I didn't know" Something inside of her made her sit next to the woman and reach out to her with a hug. The woman reciprocated and silently sobbed.
They sat for hours then, chatting and laughing. Riddhima told her about her family, her friends and her career as a doctor. The woman was impressed and proud. She'd never imagined the once ghagra-choli wearing Riddhima would one day be such an educated professional. Riddhima did not mention Rahul for reasons even she didn't understand, not that she was embarrassed she mused, but for some strange reason mentioning that she was engaged just did not seem right. What surprised Riddhima even more was the fact that Gayatri never once mentioned Armaan during the course of their conversation. It felt kind of odd and many times she wanted to ask about his whereabouts; for he was the only reason she was here; but then remembering the incident that took place earlier she decided that it would best if she waited until the lady told her so herself.
Looking up at the time Riddhima nearly jumped from the sofa. It had been 4 hours since she had stepped over the threshold of the Malik's. So engrossed she had been in their conversation that she had lost track of time.
"I am so sorry aunty but I didn't realize the time, unfortunately I would have to go now, Massi will be waiting for me with dinner?but I am here for a week and I promise to return so we could spend some more time together. I-I really liked seeing you again aunty, you were always a sweetheart and I am glad that you still are" With that Riddhima went and hugged the woman who smiled warmly in return. As she turned to leave she couldn't help but feel unsatisfied, she had just spent 4 hours in his house with his mother, with no sign or information of him.
She stopped just as she was about to step over the threshold and turned to see the lady coming to her with a sneaky smile.
Ridhima felt her heart drop. The lady had known all along hadn't she? For a moment she felt foolish and utterly stupid but hell the truth was she would not just like to know about Armaan, but rather she would LOVE to know about Armaan.
Gayatri giggled as she watched Riddhima's cute expressions of embarrassment and confusion. She had seen the questions about him the moment she had opened the door and had looked in to those large green eyes of hers. She had seen her secretly searching for him the moment she had entered. Gayatri was surprised that Riddhima had not asked about him up front, but deep down she knew the reason for her visit. When the girl had turned to leave Gayatri had seen the disappointment and the sadness of having not seen or heard about him. It was time to end the poor girl's torture; the girl had every right to know for she still loved her son.
"He has been Mumbai for the past four-five years" Gayatri continued while looking straight into Riddhima's eyes. "Armaan was always a problem child, what am I saying you know that better than anybody. After you left he became even worse, though he never admitted it I knew he missed you terribly. When he was 15 he was caught doing drugs, his father was furious and thought it would be best if Armaan went to a boarding school in Darjeeling. So, my son was packed up and shipped off to Darjeeling. He didn't want to go but what was the point in arguing with his father. 2 years later when his father died he came back for about a month and quietly went back to the boarding school after fulfilling his duties. That year he graduated first in class." Gayatri beamed as she recollected the moment her son had topped the school.
"He was accepted at DukeUniversity in the U.S., he did not want to leave me, but I knew he was tired and just wanted to get as far away from this place as possible. So, after selling most of the land I convinced him to go. He promised to come back as soon as he got his MBA and he kept his word. He came back but refused to settle in this town. It had too many memories of his father he said, but I knew it was not the memory of his father that unsettled him, but it was the memories of you. He knew you were in Mumbai, hence he moved there. He has several hotels their, money was never and object for him, especially after selling the land we have had plentiful. He is an up and coming successful business man he says, and I know he will one day touch the sky."
Riddhima smiled hearing such good things about him, he had come a long way and secretly she was so very proud of him. However, all this still did not clarify whether he was married or not? He had been in Mumbai for the past 4-5 years but never once had he contacted her. Did that mean that he had found someone and was now content in his life.
She felt a little upset and silently reprimanded herself for never reading any business articles or magazines. What if she had come across some news about him?
"My son is a changed man now Riddhima and no mother could ever be as proud as I am of him" Gayatri patted the girl's cheek and gave that sneaky smile again
"He wants to take me with him to Mumbai, so I thought you should know that he is coming tomorrow"
She chewed the top of the pencil vigorously as her mother had a one sided conversation with her. In the past 30 minutes that she had been on the phone she had only been able to get in 2 sentences. She was excited to tell her mom about her meeting with Gayatri but her mom could have cared less instead she went off about how Rahul had come over with flowers and chocolates to cheer her up. The next 20 minutes had only and only been about Rahul "Rahul this and Rahul that" Riddhima swore under her breath as her mother mentioned his name for the umpteenth time.
"Armaan is not there is he?" After what seemed like ages Padma had cited someone other than Rahul, Riddhima sat up immediately at the mention of is name; yes even the slight mention of his name was enough to put her senses on high alert.
"Good then catch the first train back tomorrow, Rahul was telling me that he was missing you like crazy" Riddhima felt the anger rise to her ears, why couldn't her mother let her finish what she was going to say and why the hell is she bringing up Rahul again.
"Mom, if you would have just let me finish I was going to tell you that Armaan is coming back tomorrow, hence my darling mother I will not, and I repeat I will not be returning tomorrow. And will you please stop bringing up Rahul!" She yelled the last bit hoping her mother would get the point and shut up about Rahul, one more mention of that name, she knew she would puke.
"I am sorry Ma, but please can you just leave me alone for a while. Look Armaan is coming tomorrow and I really don't know what to expect and I have promised you I would return as soon as I?please Ma, try to understand."
"I am sorry beta, I?"
"It's ok Ma why don't you go to bed now and I will do the same, and Ma until I am here, please don't call. I will call you if I need anything. I love you Ma, Goodnight"
As she lay in bed she couldn't help but think of him. It had been 15 years and she had no idea how the man looked, yet she didn't know why she felt nervous and shy at the same time. On one side she was worried about their meeting and on the other she was excited just as much; if not more. She didn't know what to expect, what to say, how to greet him. She didn't even know what she would do when she finally came face to face with the only man she ever loved. Turning to her side she smiled feeling the butterflies in her stomach, she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep tonight; even if the sleeping fairy herself would come to sprinkle her magical dust, nothing would work on her tonight.
The old man smiled despite the stinging tears as he felt the boy touch his feet in respect. "Armaan" he whispered, happiness clearly visible in his eyes.
Armaan, stood up and quickly engulfed the old man in a tight embrace. Naren Kaka had been with them since before he was born and for Armaan the man held more respect than his own father. Kaka had stood by them through thick and thin, refusing to leave them even after his dad had expired. Though Kaka had never married, he had siblings who were more than willing to take him in but Kaka had refused to leave Armaan and his mom. It was because of Kaka that Armaan had been able to move from this town without worrying about Gayatri. He owed his life to this man and he had vowed that he would take care of him like a son. Now the time to make that happened had come. He had come back so he could take his mom and Kaka with him to Mumbai forever.
Armaan's expressions sobered as he saw the town passing by, it was a place that he could never come to hate; no matter how hard he tried. He had been born and brought up here; he had met her and fallen in love here; how he could possibly hate this place. Smiling now he stepped out of the car to stare at his mother who stood at the threshold holding a pooja ki thaali. He could already make out the tears and couldn't help but chuckle. It was a norm with his mom, she would cry when he came and cry when he would leave.
"Ma, can you please stop crying" he wiped her tears as she trailed his face and body, trying to convince herself that he was actually here.
"They are tears of happiness beta, it's hard to stop them from flowing" she sobbed now as he held on to her, trying his best to sooth her.
"Oh really what about when I leave, are those tears of happiness too?" he chuckled as Gayatri hit him lightly on his shoulder. It was good to be with her again, he really missed her. His mother had been the only one who was supportive and sympathetic towards him, she was always the one who tried to control his father when he punished him, she was always the one who would come pacify him, even when he would yell at her and push her away. Yes, it was good to be with his mother again. "I love you Ma" though it had barely been audible he knew his mother heard it when she kissed his forehead.
"That's enough Ma, I am full." He whined like a smile child as Gayatri tried to feed him more roti. Lightly shoving her hand which had been feeding him, he picked up the jug to pour himself more water.
"What do you mean you are full, I swear you youngsters living in the city hardly eat a thing, even that Riddhima barely eats?"
His hand stopped in mid-air as the name rung in to his ears. He looked up to see his mother who looked like she had just swallowed a karela.
Gayatri cursed and cursed her wretched tongue for having slipped Riddhima's name out. She had wanted to tell him about her, but not in this way.
"Riddhima?" The name brought back a flood of memories as well as questions.
"Uh actually Armaan?" before Gayatri could continue and perhaps cover up for her mistake of revealing her name, Naren Kaka walked in looking jovial as ever.
"You remember Riddhima Armaan beta, she used to be our neighbor, you and her were always at it with each other, yet you were inseparable. They had moved away 15 years ago remember? Well, the girl came back yesterday and had even come to see your mom. My what a beauty she has turned out to be. Isn't that so bibi ji?"
"Uh, yea yea, she is very beautiful, very beautiful indeed" Gayatri fumbled and felt uncomfortable with the way the news of Riddhima's return had been revealed to Armaan. It only made her feel worse when Armaan abruptly walked out of the room and eventually out of the house.
"In here Mausie" Riddhima looked at her bed hopelessly. She had emptied both of her suitcases and could not find one decent outfit. Armaan was to be arriving today and she was eager to meet him. The sooner she spoke to him, the soon her mind would relax.
"Hey bhagwan, Riddhima what is this? Are you planning of opening a shop?" Seema looked around the room disbelievingly; the room was a mess, especially the bed which had piles of clothes; western and Indian mixed.
"Mausie, please can you help me, I have absolutely nothing to wear!" Riddhima pouted childishly as Seema chuckled.
"Wait here a moment I will be right back, and don't throw any more clothes around!"
Plopping herself on the bed Riddhima looked on irritably waiting for her Mausie to return, who did just as quickly as she had left.
"Here why don't you try this"
She stared at the box Seema had just handed her, along with some accessories
"What is this Mausie?"
"I had bought that for you when Padma had told me about your arrival; I thought I would give it to you on the day you were heading back. In our culture we don't send the daughters away empty handed, hence I had gotten this suit and some accessories for you. I don't know if you'll like it."
Riddhima opened the box to find a white georgette churidaar. The suit was elegant yet simple with light sequins embedded in the suit and duppatta. The jewelry consisted of a pair of white gold Jhumkas along with some matching choodiyaan. Riddhima smiled at her Mausie and threw her arms around her neck with appreciation. It was perfect!
"By the way beta, I didn't know if you had heard that Armaan is back!"
Riddhima; who had been busy playing with the duppatta by now stopped dead in her tracks, turning around she looked questioningly at her mausie. No she hadn't heard, and if he had been here since morning then why didn't he come to see her. Obviously Gayatri would have told him about their meeting.
"He arrived early this morning, Sukanya; their house help was telling me that he is planning to leave with Gayatri with in a day or two, so.." Seema saw the lost look on Riddhima's face and decided it was better if she stopped talking. Walking over to where the girl stood, Seema lightly caressed the girl's face. "Acha, listen your Mausaji and I are going to a jagrata tonight at the Jhanak's if you are in the mood you can come later on if you want" It was a lame attempt but it brought some movement into Riddhima. Seema was beginning to worry when Riddhima had not reacted to the news.
"Thank you Mausie, for everything!"
"Pagal" Seema lightly slapped Riddhima's cheek and walked out smiling
Armaan sat staring aimlessly at the lake, he didn't know why he had so rudely left. The mention of her name usually did something to him, but knowing the fact that she was actually here, in the same town as him after 15 years, had emotionally taken him to a new level. He didn't know what to think, what to do. Why was she here? That too now; just when he was about to break all ties with this town and its people; she had come back.
Beautiful; Kaka had mentioned that she was beautiful. He wasn't the least bit surprised; Riddhima was always beautiful, even as a child. He remembered the numerous fights he had with the boys in his class when they would say something about her. He smiled remembering her innocent face and those large green eyes. He always loved her eyes, they were gorgeous and her long lashes were like the icing on the cake.
He felt a sudden urge to see her, especially now when she was so near. NO! NO! NO! His mind repeated incessantly. He would not see her. It was SHE who left him! It was SHE who never wrote to him or kept any kind of contact with him. Why would he see her now? He had promised himself that he would forget her, he hated her! He hated her for breaking his heart, for never coming back for never keeping in touch. In these 15 years she had not even written him one letter; she knew where he lived. She chose not to keep in touch, she chose to forget him then why should he go running to see her. He would forget her and move on, enough was enough. He came to this town to get his mom and Naren kaka, he would speak to them today about leaving ASAP. He did not want to risk having to come across Riddhima Gupta.
Getting up to leave he looked up at the grey sky as a tiny drop of water hit his face. It looked like a storm was fast on its way.
Surprisingly, Riddhima mused it didn't feel awkward to be walking around in his home. Gayatri had gone to the jagrata and much to her chagrin Armaan was not at home. The house help Sukanya having recognized her had let her in and told her she could stay as long as she wants. Riddhima knew it was rude but just couldn't help but wander around the house. She smiled as she saw the rain starting to fall, she had this sudden urge to just run out and play in the puddles just like she had done as a child, but this was no age to be playing in the rain. Rahul would be mortified if he found out, "Think of the germs Riddhima" he would say.
"Sukanya, where is ma?"
"Bibi ji has gone to the jagrata sir, she won't be back till tomorrow morning. I am headed there myself, they have invited the whole town sir, you can come if you like."
Armaan frowned and nodded his head. There goes his chance to talk to his mom and there was no way he would go to the Jagrata, if the whole town was invited then there was a high chance that Riddhima would be there too.
His thoughts were broken as he heard the clicking of heels. It seemed as if someone was in their house. Walking towards the garden he saw a girl dressed in white. She was playing with the rain drops and trying hard not to get wet. He stared at her in anger until her laughter shook him. Before she turned around, before she uttered a word; He knew it was HER!
"Riddhima" the name escaped his lips like a petal leaves a rose and cascades gently to the ground. He hadn't meant to say her name but knowing she was standing mere inches from him had him loosing all control. He wanted to yell at her but it was as if after saying her name he could say nothing more, he willed his tongue to speak but no words would come, only soft blows of cold air escaped his lightly open mouth. He wished she would turn; he wanted to see her, see that face, those eyes that haunted him for the past 15 years. He felt a sudden urge; which he controlled to yank her arm and force her to face him.
Riddhima fought her own battle, her heart pounded violently threatening to slash out of her chest; her breathing had already become shallow as she clung to the railing holding it so tight that her knuckles were turning white. His voice had caused her back to stiffen, she didn't think she could move, let alone turn around and face him. Yet she compelled, compelled her drumming heart to calm it self, and steadying her weak leg she turned.
She knew if she hadn't been holding on to the railing for support she would have fallen. Her legs had already turned to jelly and now seeing him in front of her, they had completely given out. She heard a gasp but didn't know if it had escaped his lips or hers; all she knew now was that she was finally face to face with the man to whom she belonged.
She stared at him disbelievingly devouring the sight of him. Clad in grey trousers and a crisp blue shirt; that fit snuggly at his bulging muscles; he was dressed to kill. She smiled involuntarily picturing her young companion as a business tycoon. She let her eyes wander from his face to his exposing chest which rose and fell evenly unlike hers. His hair were longer than she remembered, his jaw line sharp and manly, his grey eyes; a mixture of ice and steel as always felt warm to her. She covered her mouth to suppress her sobs as the saline water glided down her rosy cheeks; she knew she couldn't control her emotions anymore. She wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. Her once immature and easily angered friend had grown in to an utterly handsome man; if only the he would smile and show her his deep set dimples; he would look nothing short than a Greek god.
Armaan swore he felt the earth move from under his feet; she was beautiful Kaka had said, but was beautiful enough to justify the women? NO! She was not just beautiful, she was gorgeous, she was ethereal and in that white churidaar which fit so sinuously around her petite frame, she looked nothing but heavenly. His eyes met hers and he felt himself drowning, after 15 years he was loosing himself again in those emeralds eyes of hers, it was not until her long lashes hazed his view that he tore himself away. Her skin was just like he had remembered; creamy white with a hint of pink which colored her cheeks as if she was wearing a rose. He had never noticed how voluptuous her lips were, she had colored them a light shade of pink which matched perfectly with her rosy cheeks. It was not until he heard her suppressing sobs that broke him out of his reverie.
"What are you doing here Riddhima?" It surprised him how cold his voice could be and he knew it surprised her too. She had at once stopped crying and stared incredulously; as if trying to make it whether she was dreaming or had he really sounded so bitter.
He closed his eyes upon hearing his name; never before had his name sounded so pure and sweet. He waited for her to continue, his ears longed to hear her soft voice but when he received no response from her he forced his eyes to open and focused once again on her lovely face. It took him a moment to recover and to remember the reason for the eerie silence. His concentration snapped like a twig as his hostility towards her returned.
Riddhima stood bewildered with his sudden question, what more was that she was frightened by the sudden coldness of his voice. She was expecting for him to rush to her and embrace her in his arms; and perhaps hold her there till eternity, but instead she was welcomed by a rather unpleasant question. She did not know what to say to him; how to answer him, she was actually hoping that he would accept her without any questions asked. She longed to touch him, to reach out to him, but he stood motionless and erect waiting for her response.
Should she tell him the reason for her sudden appearance after 15 years of no contact; which she knew was entirely her fault, but what could she do? Her mother had forbade her to write to him, speak to him or even speak of him. If her mother could control her thoughts she knew she would have compelled her to not think of him. She was a child and had no control over the situation, on one side it was the yearning to contact him and on the other was her mother's orders; that she could not disrespect. She understood her mother's predicament for Armaan was never the perfect gentleman; even if he was a child. Unfortunately for her, her mother had not seen the love for Riddhima in Armaan's eyes, but Riddhima had. She could not blame her mother for that; anyone in her situation would not believe that the boy who yelled and pushed a young girl around was in fact in love with her.
What should she tell him; her mind questioned her incessantly. Should she tell him that she loved him, should she tell him that she was sorry for never writing to him, never contacting him? Should she tell him that she was engaged to be wed, yet could not bring herself to forget him? Should she tell him that she felt that she belonged solely to him? Should she tell him that she wished to be in his arms from now till eternity?
"Why the hell are you here Riddhima?" She shook with fear at the sudden intensity of his voice. His face bulged with the rage that rose from his aching heart. He had waited attentively for her to continue, but yet again she tested his patience and fiddled carelessly with her duppatta, ignoring his concern and hurting him with her silence.
"Armaan" She started softly only to stop yet again.
"ARMAAN! ARMAAN! ARMAAN! Speak further Riddhima, I don't have all day to stand here and listen to you chant my name!"
Turning her hands into fists she dug her nails deep into her skin trying hard not to break down. What was wrong with him why was he acting so mean? They were meeting after 15 years and this was how he was treating her? It was obvious now that he was not happy to see her. Gulping down a sob she continued with a shaky voice "I came to see how you were doing"
"Came to see how I was doing, oh how kind of you Ms. Riddhima. Thank you for coming to see how I was doing after 15 god dame years Ms. Riddhima Gupta" He spat out at her sarcastically.
"Armaan please" if only he would let her continue
His voice calmed as he looked at her, confused and distraught. She looked like a lost child, shivering with fear. Ignoring her yet again he walked towards the door, trying hard not to look at her.
"You've seen me now. I am perfectly fit and hearty. I am accomplished and educated and have happily moved on, now you can leave"
She stood rooted at her spot for how many minutes she didn't remember, but when she saw him open the door she dashed out, with tears pouring out of her like the rain outside.
Throwing her bangles angrily across the room, Riddhima didn't care for the pain they were causing. No pain was greater than that of her heart. She cursed herself repeatedly as she prepared to pack her bags. She was stupid, absolutely stupid to have come all this way to see him. She had been so happy to see him, so happy that she knew if she were to die that very moment, she would have no regrets. But what did she get? Resentment, disappointment, vile treatment and hostility! Her mother was right, she had been so blind so entirely blind not to see how accurate her mother had been. He had never loved her! The man had never cared for her!
Shoving her clothes sloppily in the suitcases she could help but erase what he had said. "Have happily moved on" He had told her that, straight to her face, he had happily moved on, and here she was an inane pathetic girl, who could not or rather would not move on! She had a loving and caring fianc yet all she could think about was HIM!
"His mother is wrong!" she yelled in despair as she closed her bags. Armaan has not changed! He is still the same; he was an egocentric, ruthless and arrogant man! He had moved on he said, well that was just fine; she would move on too! Zipping her suitcase up Riddhima fell to the floor and cried her heart out.
Armaan rummaged through his old room frantically; in the past 20 minutes he had turned his once spotless room completely upside down. His mother had told him nothing was ever moved or touched in his room, then why was it that he could not find the thing he was looking for. Looking desperately in an old trunk now, the lines of worry on his forehead relaxed as the sweet tinkling reached his ears. Shoving the clothes out of the trunk, he smiled slightly as his eyes fell on a pair of gold-plated polki anklets. Bringing the anklets close to his face, he shook them gently; hearing the sweet jingling he remembered a young Riddhima, running in and out of his house annoying him with the sound.
She had been so happy wearing those slim silver payals that he had bought for her at the local mela; they were meant as a token of apology for having hurting her earlier, but he had presented them as a gift minus the sorry. Though he was not a big fan of the sound he was happy to see her glowing face when she had worn them for the first time. He had strictly told her not to walk around too much because the jingling annoyed him, but she had not listened. To irritate him even more she had run around his room and house making as much noise as possible. It had infuriated him to such an extent that he had ran after her and once caught he had forced the anklets off her pretty feet and had smashed them to pieces with a stone.
She did not speak to him for days after that; his apologies had all gone in vain. She refused to come over and play with him; she had even refused to sit next to him in class. It was then that he had broken his personal piggy bank and bought her these new and even prettier anklets. He had hoped to give them to her as a present on her upcoming birthday but unfortunately that chance never came for him. A few months before her 11th birthday, Riddhima had left him forever.
He sighed as he looked at the anklets again, for 15 years they had sat untouched in this trunk. He had thrown away everything that had belonged to her, but he could not throw away the anklets; it was then he had decided to lock them forever. Thinking of her reminded him of their confrontation from earlier. Getting up he walked over to the window and watched as the rain fell down mercilessly. He had not meant to be so harsh with her. At first when he had seen her, he had wanted to just grab her and hold on to her. She looked so small and vulnerable and when he saw those tears escaping those emerald eyes, he had this wild urge to just cradle her in his arms. He cursed himself repeatedly for being so rude, he hadn't even given her a chance to speak; instead like always he had lashed out at her and told her to leave. God why did it have to be this way! He didn't know what had taken over him. He had tried to control his anger, his frustration but it had been balled up inside him way too long.
Banging his fist on the wall he shut his eyes and saw her crying. Once again he had hurt her; it surprised him how he always managed to do that even after 15 years. He knew he was an awful friend to her as a child, always hitting her and shoving her around and she being the true friend that she was would always come back to him. However, he knew she would not be coming back now. It pierced his heart to think of her leaving him again. He loved her, then and now. He did not mean to hurt her, the last thing that he would want in this world was to cause her pain; but he had. Looking out the gate to the main road, his eyes searched for her. She won't come his mind told him.
Putting the anklets deep in his pocket, he ran out of his room. So what if she won't come to him, this time he would go to her!
Leaving the note she had written to Seema Mausie by the telephone. Riddhima picked up her suitcases to leave. In the note she had vaguely explained the reason for her sudden departure hoping her Mausie would accept her apologies for having to leave so soon and that too without a proper goodbye. She had also invited Mausie and Mausaji to her wedding to Rahul and had promised to notify her as soon as the date was fixed; which would be ASAP. Hearing the light knocking at the door Riddhima quickly wiped her tears and gave a last look at her Mausie's house. She had been able to get a hold of Surya Bhaiya who had agreed to drive her over to the train station.
Heading towards the door she couldn't help but wonder at the strange sensation arising in her body. Her heart; as if sensing its owner beat wildly inside of her as her trembling hands worked to turn the knob. It was when her eyes met the steel of his did her heart begin to relax. At first she thought she was hallucinating but when he walked inside closing the door behind him, did she realize that he was in fact the real thing.
"15 years Riddhima! I waited desperately for some news from you. A letter, a phone call, anything! Even when I was away I would call and ask whether there was something from you, when I would come and visit I would run for the mail like an idiot hoping you had sent something. Nothing! Absolutely nothing! In these 15 years I heard not a word of you Riddima. I can't tell you what that did to me. I had given up hope after I returned from the US, there was still no news from you and I knew then that there would never be. I moved to Mumbai but refused to look you up. Why should I? It was clearly evident that you had forgotten me so why should I go around looking for you? I was always a bit arrogant but you knew that didn't you, but can you really blame me Riddhima?
He turned his tear streaked face towards her and found hers to be equally wet. No matter how hard he tried, he could not bring himself to hate her. He had been trying for the past 15 years and now he was tired of forcing himself to dislike her.
"I really missed you Riddhima, did you miss me?"
It was all she needed him to say; it was all the sign she needed for her to break in to a run and rush in to his arms. He welcomed her with just the same amount of passion and love, as she clung to him, he clung to her more; finally feeling content and at peace. He soothed her as she cried hysterically in his arms, caressing her hair, whispering sweet words of support, trying to calm her shaking body; which trembled violently due to her sobs.
After what seemed like ages he felt her relax in his arms; her head still resting snuggly against his chest. He closed his eyes and gently breathed in the scent of her, his arm still stroked her silky hair while the other was wrapped protectively around her waist. The feeling of having her in his arms was like no other he'd ever experienced before. She fit so perfectly in his arms that it had surprised him a little, he felt as if his arms were meant just for her. Tightening his hold on her he lightly brushed his lips on her hair, never before had he felt so peaceful and content.
Riddhima snuggled in deeper into his chest as she felt him tighten his hold around her tiny waist. She felt so perpetually blissful in his arms. His arms were strong and protective; she felt as if she was hidden and safe from the atrocities of the world. She felt as if no danger, no plague no disease, no sorrow could touch her now. His arms felt like a shield that would forever keep her secure. Hearing the soft sound of his beating heart she smiled shyly to herself, he had spoken from the depths of this very heart, yet no words of love were uttered; did they really need them she mused.
Yet again her turn to speak had not come, she had a lot to say, she a lot of explanations to give, but for now she just wanted to loose herself in his arms. She felt so at home, so at peace; it was then that it hit her that she had indeed truly belonged to him, she belonged right here in these very arms, next to his beating heart.
The thunderous knock on the door detached the young friends from the firm embrace causing the two to look around awkwardly. Turning various shades of red both momentarily forgot the reason for the severed embrace; it was the impatient voice of the stranger outside that jolted them out of their discomfited stage.
Fidgeting needlessly with her dupatta Riddhima walked briskly towards the door as Armaan ran for cover. Though both were educated and resided in a very modern and fast paced city like Mumbai, they understood and respected the conservative nature of the small towns and their inhabitants. In places such as Satyagarh it was not acceptable for a young guy and a girl to be alone together, especially in a house when the elders were away.
"SuryaBhaiya?" Riddhima looked perplexed by her sudden visitor that too at this hour.
"Kya Riddhima bahen I have been knocking for ages, are you ready to go?" The visitor stepped in to the foyer to keep away from the rain; which seemed to have picked up speed once again. It was also starting to get a bit chilly out; he now only hoped that Riddhima would hurry up so he could make it to the Jagrata in time to see his beloved. He was curious to ask Riddhima about her sudden visit and now the sudden decision to leave. He had known Riddhima as a child, and remembered her attachment to Armaan. Heck, the whole class knew of Armaan and Riddhima's association, the two were practically inseparable. He wasn't very close to Armaan, not that he regretted it, Armaan as a child was rather rude and snobbish and Surya could care less for such people even today. He had however seen the subtle changes in Armaan over the years, the boy had turned out to be a very good looking man indeed but he had also matured and become affable. He had helped Surya get a job in a close by factory so Surya could return home every evening to his widowed mother. Surya was grateful to him and today respected Armaan Malik, yet that is all he wished to correlate with him.
Riddhima's eyes widened with realization as she remembered the motive for Surya's visit, hitting her forehead with her palm she looked apologetically at her visitor. She hadn't even thought of an explanation for suddenly deciding not to go. She looked over at her packed bags and frowned deeply, here she was now glowing with her new found happiness while just a few minutes ago she was so distraught and determined to leave this town forever. Looking back at an anxious Surya she made a mental note to rip up the goodbye note she had written to Seema Mausie; but for now she had to apologize to Surya for dragging him over here in this dreaded weather.
"Actually Bhaiya, Ma had just called and informed that Papa is much better now, so I don't have to return" She bit her tongue for having said such a lie and said a quick prayer for her fathers well being.
"Oh, was Uncle sick?"
"Yes a little, but he is better now, hence I don't have to go. I am so sorry bhaiya for having you come all this way and that too in this horrid weather." Riddhima stated with sincerity.
"No, no it was not a problem bahen, I am just glad to know that Uncle is ok. Well I better get going then, I was headed over to the jagrata." Surya smiled genuinely and quickly slipped out the door. He was happy that he did not have to make that dreaded trip to the train station; not that he minded dropping Riddhima off, it was just that the trip to the Station was an hour drive going and coming, and he couldn't possibly let her wait there all alone; like a gentleman he would have waited until she had safely boarded her train. Turning the ignition to his centro Surya smiled and drove away a happy man.
"Well well Ms.Gupta when did you become a master at fibbing?" Armaan; who had been hiding behind the curtains grinned as he stepped out. He had been amused with the short conversation and was pleasantly surprised to hear Riddhima lying and that too very convincingly. Was this the same Riddhima who couldn't hide anything from anyone as a child? Lying was never Riddhima's forte; her eyes would always give her away.
"Oh you would be surprised by my wealth of knowledge Mr.Malik, maybe some other time I will let you in on the other fields I have maneuvered to master." Armaan laughed despite himself; Riddhima had indeed changed and it surprised him just how much. He had this sudden urge to hold her again as he watched her laugh with him at her own statement.
"I am so glad you came back Riddhima" Her laughter stopped when she heard him whisper. She knew he meant it, she could see it in those grey eyes that he was being earnest. Walking up to him she rose on her toes and poked his cheek; she smiled as the dimples set in. "I am glad I came back too Armaan"
"Why did you come back?" He was curious to know. Why after 15 years has she returned and that too without a warning.
She looked at him thoughtfully as her mind raced for an explanation. Should she tell him the reason for her return? What if he doesn't feel the same way? She didn't want to loose her friendship with him. He had always meant a lot to her, and perhaps always will, she didn't want to loose him; especially not after finally getting a chance to know him again.
"I always wanted to come back Armaan. I always missed you, thought about you, about our childhood; but I was too young. I couldn't come back and my mom wouldn't let me keep in touch with you or this town; I am sure you know the reason why" her voice softened towards the end but he had understood. Armaan knew Riddhima's mom disliked him and truth was he really didn't blame her. Yet, he couldn't help but feel a tinge of pain knowing it was Riddhima's mom who held her back. "I know you were mad at me for leaving but honest Armaan I never knew about our move until a day before. I remember you were upset with me that day; your father had beaten and grounded you. When I came to say goodbye you had shoved me and told me to leave. We never had a proper good bye Armaan and I never felt happy knowing that we had left on such a sour note. I came back today because I could." She had lied again; maybe she had indeed become a master at it. She didn't know what kept her from telling him the truth; perhaps the lack of confidence in her love or maybe the fear of losing that love forever. At least, she mused it was not a complete lie, it was rather half the truth; a very meager half of the truth.
He felt her turn to face him and quickly composing himself he gave her a weak smile. He hadn't expected to hear this, he was actually expecting her to confess her love but she hadn't. She had come back for a proper goodbye; he smiled wryly as the thought of her leaving again pierced his heart. What had you expected Armaan that she would ever love a man like you? Maybe she did love you, but only as a friend. He chided himself for thinking so foolishly. Looking up to see her downcast eyes, he quickly wiped the sober expression from his face and grabbed her hands.
"Riddhima would you like to spend the day with me tomorrow? We could go back to our childhood and visit some of our old hideouts. I haven't been back ever since you left"
Riddhima looked up with her big twinkling eyes, which he swore made his heart skip a beat. Throwing her arms around his neck she squealed excitedly with delight, "Oh Armaan that would be wonderful" He held her close I promise I will bid you goodbye properly this time Riddhima.
The sun lightly streaked through her window as she lay snuggling in the comforter. A slight smile crept up her face as she thought of spending the day with Armaan. Turning away from the sun she stared at the ceiling, the smile still intact. Her thoughts wistfully traveled back to the events that played yesterday. She knew if Armaan had not come she would be long gone. Her mother of course would have rejoiced upon her return and would have already given in the order for the wedding cards. Letting out a sigh, Riddhima sat up and stretched her arms high above her head; for today she wanted to forget her mother and her pending marriage; which now seemed inevitable and focus solely on spending the day with the love of her life.
"Riddhima!" Armaan yelled making sure his voice reached her window. He had been waiting outside Seema Aunty's house for the past 10 minutes and there was still no sign of Riddhima. The honking had not helped either as all he got in return was the dirty looks of the townsfolk. She knew he was here; she had shown her face from the balcony and had then disappeared in to her room. Just before he was about to yell her name again, he saw her coming towards him. Dressed in dark blue denims and a well fitted black blouse with a black scarf hung around her neck the women looked sizzling! The jeans and the top highlighted her curves to the T. He had to admit the 10 minutes of waiting was definitely worth it.
Riddhima smiled as she saw him drooling; something she had never expected him to do. She admitted that she had wanted to look good for him that is why she had taken an extra effort to dress up. Thankfully she had brought some western clothes and this happened to be her favorite ensemble, it was sophisticated yet comfortable. Looking at him now she smiled; the man didn't look too bad himself, in fact he looked good enough to eat. He was also dressed in dark denims and a dark blue t-shirt which actually made his grey eyes look blue. Her gaze wandered to his arms as her mouth hung open. Armaan had tattoos on both arms! Walking up to him with eyes still glued to the tattoos and mouth growing wider by each step she raised her hand to touch the body art. She looked up at him questioningly while he just grinned at her shocked expression.
"Armaan when did you get tattoos? Omg does aunty know that her ladlaa bigad gaya"
"Oye of course Mom knows, and I got these when I was in the U.S., they are cool na? TchRiddhima Close your mouth before a bug flies in and madam can we please get going we are already running late."
Shaking her head with disapproval Riddhima placed herself comfortable in his Tata Safari. Of all the things about Armaan, the tattoos would have to be the biggest shocker yet!
"By the way you look really hot" Her face turned red with the comment while he casually plopped his sunglasses on. "Thanks, you look good too" she murmured whilst looking away embarrassed.
Stepping out of the SUV she looked tearfully at their old school. Obviously it had been shut down and from what she had heard the owners of the land were planning to tear it down soon. Walking towards the door the memories of them as young children came flooding. She could picture everything, her running with her slate as Armaan ran after her to look at her answers. The little bump below the tree where they would eat lunch; Armaan being the naughty child he was would always pull on her plaits while she would be enjoying her achaar. The images felt so real as they replayed in front of her eyes; she almost felt like going up to the little Armaan and hugging him.
As if she sensing her state of emotions Armaan slid his arm around her back and gave a quick peck on her temple. They had spent the entire day visiting their old hideouts and the school was their last stop. He had purposely saved it for the end. He knew the school held a special place in both their hearts, especially for him for he only went to school to be with Riddhima. He knew Riddhima liked school and refused to bunk even if he begged her, so in order to be with her he would tag along and spend the entire day teasing her and getting in trouble with the master ji. It was not that he disliked studying; it was just that he didn't want to do it. He didn't think he really needed the education when his father had so much wealth; boy was he wrong.
"Armaan what happened to master ji?" She had this sudden urge to see him again, perhaps for the last time. She hoped he hadn't passed on.
"Naren Kaka told me he lives about 15 miles out of town, why?"
"Armaan I want to go see him"
"What? No way Riddhima, he hated me!" Armaan shrieked remembering their master ji, who punished him every day and then had the nerve to tell his father everything. There was no way he was going to go see him again, the man might start pulling his ear again and according to Naren Kaka he still had that old stick he used to punish Armaan with.
"What? Master ji didn't hate you he was just disappointed in you, now come on it's getting late"
"But Riddhima I don't wanna go?" she suppressed her chuckle watching him whine like a child
"Oh stop being such a baby and get in the car" he watched as she swung her bag over her shoulder and walked towards the car. God this was not going to be fun!
"Namaste" Riddhima smiled warmly as she greeted the old lady at the door. Looking towards an uninterested Armaan she poked him in the rib and grinned when she heard a disgruntled Namaste
"JiNamaste" The old lady looked suspiciously at the young couple.
"Uh, we are here to meet Masterji?"
"But beta who are you?"
"We used to be his students when he used to teach at SatyagarhPrimary School"
"Oh, come in then beta, he is in the back let me go call him" the lady lead them to a fairly decent looking living room and then disappeared to the garden.
Riddhima smiled at an annoyed Armaan and gestured him to relax and have a seat. He was such a sweetheart she mused and looked so cute when he was annoyed. Her little staring session was interrupted as they both heart the faint thud of a cain. Armaan's heart raced as he stood up with Riddhima in respect. The image of the master ji holding a stick in his hand looking stern as ever refused to leave his mind as he swallowed in fright.
"Namaste Master ji" Riddhima was surprised as she heard Armana join her in unison.
"Namaste children" Much to her surprise Armaan walked over to the old man and helped him sit comfortably in his chair. Masterji raised his hand in appreciation and gestured them to sit."I am sorry children but I did not recognize you" As much as the old man had tried, he could not seem to remember the young couple now seated in front of him.
"Uh, master ji I am Riddhima, ShashankGupta's daughter and this is Armaan, ArmaanMalik..."
"Malik?" The old man sat up immediately and let out a loud laugh, as Armaan shuddered. "Oh my goodness, Armaan and Riddhima, yes yes I remember you. Kalpana you remember I used to tell you about these two when I used to teach, oh my god look at you!" The old man was thrilled beyond words. Never had he in his wildest dreams thought he would come across these two again, that too as adults. They both had moved away and though he had heard about Armaan's quick visits he had never heard another word about Riddhima. He suddenly felt so touched that these two had remembered him and even after so many years had come to meet him.
They spent the next hour chatting about their school days and of Armaan's childish nuisances. The old man was mighty impressed by both his pupils especially after knowing that Riddhima was now a doctor and Armaan a businessman. He had never expected Armaan to turn out to be such an intellectual and mature young man. It was still hard to believe that the once troublesome Armaan was today a highly accomplished man. There was one question that kept irking the old man, though he didn't want to come out as nosy but he was just so tempted to know.
"Well children, I always knew you two were inseparable as kids but when and how did you tie the knot?"
"Ji what?" Riddhima coughed violently on her tea as the old man's question sunk in. she looked over and found an equally baffled Armaan staring at her.
"Uh, ji uh we just got married about a month a go" Armaan tore his gaze away from Riddhima and looked sheepishly at the old man; who seemed thrilled with the news.
"Wow you both are newly married then, I always knew you both would end up together. The love was so evident between the two of you." The old man spoke with glee and gestured something to his wife who smiled and disappeared in to a room.
Riddhima looked down awkwardly as she felt her cheeks burning. She had been surprised when Armaan had announced they had been married, yet she couldn't help but feel happy. Being associated as his wife had caused a crazy sensation in her stomach. Closing her eyes she wished that this lie had been true.
Armaan looked at Riddhima's lowered head and felt guilty for having blurted the nonsense about their marriage. He didn't know what had prompted him to tell such a lie, he hoped he hadn't hurt her and made a mental note to apologize once they were back in the car. Smiling at their master ji Armaan prayed that whatever he had said had in fact been true.
"here you are my child" Riddhima raised her head to see the lady holding a small ganesh murti and some rupees in her hand. Riddhima looked at the extended hand puzzlingly as the old lady smiled and placed the money and murti in Riddhima's lap. She repeated the gesture with Armaan who looked just as bewildered as Riddhima.
"Aunty we can't possibly take this" Armaan interjected as the lady walked to be beside her husband.
"It is shagun son, you should not say no to it. You both are a newly married couple and have come to our house for the first time, there was no way we could have let you go empty handed."
"It's a tradition my son, you should accept the shagun" The old man spoke in defense of his wife and smiled at her gratefully.
Riddhima looked at the couple teary eyed as the time came to bid adieau. She felt awful knowing that after this she might never see the old couple again. She smiled ruefully as Armaan squeezed her hand in comfort and gave her a weak smile. Stepping over the threshold Armaan and Riddhima turned and bent down to take the blessings of the old couple. The elderly couple touched by the gesture blessed the young couple with a happily married life.
Riddhima closed her eyes as the image of the old couple faded in the side mirror of the Safari. She would cherish this day forever. Looking down at the murti of the Ganesh she said a small prayer for the well being of the old couple and turned her head towards Armaan; who smiled sweetly back at her.
"Armaan please slow down!" Riddhima pouted as he accelerated in defiance. Rolling down her window she closed her eyes as the breeze hit her face. It had been a wonderful day; she didn't know which day had been better, yesterday or today. Armaan had taken her to a fair at a nearby village; it had been ages since she had been to one, in fact the last time she had gone was when they still lived in the village. Mumbai didn't have fairs really, it had theme parks. She remembered going to Essel World as a little girl with her folks, it was nice she admitted but local fairs were a whole different ballpark.
Smiling slightly she reminisced about the events of the day. Armaan had been outside her house sharp at 8 looking anxious and excited. As always he had complained endlessly about her delay in coming down; men she mused what did they know about the importance of vanity! He had kept the fair a surprise; she didn't know what to do when they had finally reached their destination. She wanted to everything from riding the ferris wheel to eating the golas, and like a true "friend" Armaan had joined her in everything. In fact the fair had been more enjoyable with his presence, she admitted to herself now. Remembering the few days she had left with him she couldn't control the tears that descended from her eyes.
"Riddhima? What happened?" He had been observing her serene pose from the corner of his eyes. She had looked absolutely gorgeous in the setting sun with her eyes closed, he had to really control the demons inside of him which had been urging him to bend over and kiss those almond eyes of hers. All had seemed fine to him until he saw the tears slip out. Pulling over to a side he hastily unbuckled his sea belt to have a better view. "Riddhima" he said again finally cupping her face. "What happened sweetheart? Why are you crying? Ok look I promise I will drive slow"
Suppressing her sobs Riddhima tried to laugh at his hollow attempt of humor but looking at his worried face and those steely eyes gazing in to her all that came out were sobs. Running into his strong arms at last she wept. "Riddhima? What happened Riddhima? Please tell me, was it something that I did?" Worried now he slowly stroked her hair wondering what had caused this sudden breakdown. Everything had been fine as far as he could remember. They had had a great time at the fair, actually they had a great time overall. It had felt like old times again, well the difference now was that he had a car, when before they used to walk to the fair. He remembered how they used to fight incessantly during their trip to and fro; Riddhima used to moan the entire time that her legs hurt or that she was too tired to walk. He of course would yell at her and threaten to leave her all alone, not relenting Riddhima would stubbornly sit in the middle of the dirt road and pout. Ignoring her he would leave and continue walking only to stop and run back to her again. He would carry her piggy back all the way to the fair and vice versa, of course cursing her the entire way.
He smiled at the memory and came back to the present when he felt her relax in his arms. Placing a gently kiss on the top of her head he tried again to question her. "I am sorry Armaan, it was so silly of me to cry, I am sorry I ruined our day" jolting out of his arms she mumbled frantically while wiping her tears.
"Riddhima, can you please tell me why you were crying?"
"Uh, it's nothing Armaan, nothing at all." Trying to drop the topic she looked away from his handsome face and focused on the setting sun. What could she tell him? That she was afraid of losing him again, she was afraid because she was now hopelessly in love with him, that she was afraid because she had to leave in 3 days and marry Rahul? Exactly what could she tell him?
"Fine I guess I am not important enough to be told the truth, I understand" he stated dejectedly
"No, Armaan, it's nothing, it's just childish" she tried to reason with him but she knew it wasn't working
"Riddhima, we have been friends since we were "children" I think you can tell me the reason behind your "childish" breakdown"
"It's just, I just, I just miss my parents that's all" biting her lower lip she cursed herself for the lie.
Armaan tried hard to suppress his laugh, god this girl was such a kid "Are you crazy Riddhima crying over such a petty thing, I mean you're going to be with your parents in like 3 days.." he stopped short as the meaning of his words settled in, she would be leaving Satyagarh in 3 days no she would be leaving HIM in 3 days.
She immediately turned to look in to his eyes and felt her tears swarming back again. Watching his crestfallen expression she quickly turned away, afraid she might break down again. He adjusted back in to his seat and started the car. They drove in silence for the rest of the way.
"Armaan where are we?" she was the first to break the silence they had maintained for the past 30 minutes. It had gotten dark out now, looking around her surroundings all she saw were trees. "Armaan, why have you brought me to a jungle?"
"So I could kidnap you and keep you with me forever!" She gasped at the seriousness of his statement
"Riddhima you're such an idiot" he faked a hysterical laugh at her solemn expression and came around to open her door.
"The was not funny Armaan"
"Oh come on Riddhima I was only joking"
"Where are you taking me?" she tried to keep up but his pace was too fast plus her 3 inch heels were of no help.
"Shhh Riddhima you talk too much"
"But I am tired and I don't think I can walk anymore"
"Stop whining Riddhima we are almost there"
"You have been saying that for the past 10 minutes, I can't do this anymore" Watching her plop herself on the floor covered with leaves he threw his hands up in the air and walked back to her.
"Riddhima get up our destination is like right ahead, here you can hold my hand so we could walk together."
"I tired Armaan and we still have to walk all the way back, can't we rest for a few minutes, pleaseeeeeee"
Frustrated he controlled his urge to scream, looking down he saw Riddhima seated comfortably on the floor. He knew she wouldn't budge and there was only one thing he could do, with in a second he swooshed her up in his arms and started walking towards their destination.
Too shocked to utter another word Riddhima clutched his shirt and smiled remembering the many times Armaan had carried her. Back then she had been simply content on not having to walk the whole way but today she was enjoying the chance to be in his arms once again. For reasons unknown she was comfortable with this proximity and when he smiled down at her she knew he felt the same.
"Armaan it's so beautiful" Looking around the glowing lake her mouth opened in awe. Deep within the jungle was a beautiful lake, lighted with candles and diya's.
"This place is called the Lover's Lake; there is some old folk tale that two lovers while running away from home in the darkness of the night had drowned here. So, today many young lovers come here and light candles and diya's for the 2 lovers in a way to give them light and guide them to their destination. I usually come here when it's a little later than usual as people leave by then. I started coming here as a kid after you had left, this is my favorite place Riddhima and I always wanted to someday bring you here." Sighing he turned to her and gave her a slight smile.
"It's very beautiful Armaan and thank you for bringing me here" Riddhima did a 360 degree turn and found herself face to face with a mischievous looking Armaan with his hand stretched towards her. Looking quizzically at his extended hand he spoke before she could question.
"A dance my fair lady?"
"Dance? Armaan are you insane, you want to dance at this hour at this place?" She chuckled when he nodded his. Giving in she placed her hand in his and gasped when he pulled her close.
"Uh Armaan there is no music" she whispered a bit nervous by the sudden closeness
Surprised she looked up in to his eyes as he led the way to their first waltz after 15 years to this 15 year old song. She felt herself floating in his arms and drowning in his husky voice.
"Tere Liye Jaanam Tere Liye,
Tere Liye Jaanam Tere Liye,
Yeh Meri Saansen, yeh Mera Jeevan
Bin tere Jeena Bhi Kya......
Tere Liye Jaanam Tere Liye,
Tere Liye Jaanam Tere Liye,
Twirling her around he brought her closer and urged her to continue the singing, he smiled when she snaked her arms around him and sang the next part
Hogi Koi Na Aisi Deewani..
Tujhse Joodi hai Meri Kahaani.
Teri Wafaa Ke Aage Mein haara...
Aankhon Mein tera Chehra Utaara..
Saath Jeena Hai Tere Saath Marna Hai,
Har Ghadi Sanam bas Pyar Karna Hai
Main To Deewana Hua...
Tere Liye Jaanam, Tere Liye,
Yeh Meri Saansen, yeh Mera Jeevan
Bin tere Jeena Bhi Kya..
Riddhima giggled as Armaan sang the last bit a little too loudly and continued twirling her around "Armaan I am going to get dizzy"
"Shh Riddhima you are ruining the song" Wrapping his arms tightly around thin waist he whispered close to her lips "now continue"
Jhoothi nahi Thi Meri Mohabbat..
maine To Ki Thi Tujhse Shararat
Maine Kiya Hai Tujhpe Bharosa..
Dunga Kabhi Naa Main Tujhko Dhoka..
Jo Kahaa na Tha Woh Aaj Kehna Hai..
Bin Tere Ab To Mujhko Na Rehna Hai..
Dil Mera Maange Duaa....
Tere Liye Jaanam Tere Liye,
Yeh Meri Saansen, yeh Mera Jeevan
Bin tere Jeena Bhi Kya
They had stopped dancing a while ago, now they were simply tranquil in each others arms. She felt his warm breath on her face and tried to pull away only to be pushed further in to his chest. Hesitant she lifted her eyes and met his passionate gaze, as she parted her lips to speak, his lips found hers.
The kiss had longing and love, it was warm and deep. He did not rush rather he took it slow so he could savor each and every movement of their tongues and lips. She felt like sand in his arms, sand that was slipping away. She wanted the time to still, this moment to freeze so she could forever be in his arms, be forever in this union of lips.
It seemed as if no one was listening, even the heavens seemed to be against this as they poured down in the form of rain separating the blissful merger.
Thank you all for the PM requests (though I might now have responded I wanted you all to know that I did receive them) I didn't think this FF would turn out all that great but I can't tell you how happy I am with the wonderful response I have received for this.
Incase you all are wondering the song "Tere Liye Janam" is from the movie Suhaag (1994) when I heard the song a month ago I couldn't believe how well it was fitting in this FF.
The folklore I mentioned as far as I know is false, it is something I merely made up but coming from a small village myself I know folklores are common, in fact we have many in my village.
This part was strictly AR and I hope it wasn't too disappointing. I know you all wanted heavy duty romance but at this current juncture too much romance would not be befitting for the story.
Once again sorry for the delay, I look forward to your comments!
Part 6- Page 31- http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=1113146&TPN=31
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