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"I am not talking to you..", he declared as he pushed the trolley and strode briskly out the Arrival's area of Terminal three of the Changi International Airport, a scowl on his face and a giggling Riddhima in tow..
"Armaan.. Please ok.. Shuru tumne kiya tha.. Who told you to flirt with that airhostess..", and Riddhima burst into a fresh bout of giggles with that.. Armaan had irritated her continuously for half an hour after their flight took off.. When she had had enough from him, she had complained to the airplane staff that the man sitting next to her was troubling her and she was uncomfortable there.. When the airhostess had come to ask him to get up, Armaan had managed to win her over with his charms.. But when the air steward came over Riddhima had her chance to work her charms.. She didn't know she had them!!.. She just tried to get Armaan irritated.. And she was surprised that it actually worked.. So Armaan was asked to change his seat.. When he protested saying she was his fiancee, she had vehemently refuted his claim and made him angrier.. But the last straw was when Riddhima actually changed her seat and was given one next to a really hot guy.. While the 'someone' who came and sat next to him was an old and overweight aunty, who instantly took a liking to him.. So much that she had spent the next five hours sleeping soundly with her head on Armaan's shoulder.. With the snoring and drools et.al.. All this, with Riddhima purposely flirting with the good looking stranger that she was sitting with, had set Armaan completely off.. And the five and a half hours that he was going to spend troubling her had soon become hell for him instead of her.. They had fought the rest of the time across the seats till the co pilot himself came to shut them up.. And now, as a result, Armaan refused to talk to Riddhima.. But she was just enjoying being the one who was troubling him.. Coz she got to see it so rarely she had not realized how cute his scowl looks..
"Basket.. You went and complained against me!!. What was I supposed to do.. And Dont tell me about the flirting.. You flirted with two people.. That steward and the guy sitting next to you.."
"Yeah.. He was quite hot.. Wasn't he?..", she teased him, saying that with a dreamy smile..
"No he wasn't..", he countered..
"Of course he was.. You know, he was a post doctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore.. I couldn't believe it.. He must be really really intelligent.. Plus so good looking na..", she went on with her praises that blew Armaan's top, "Basket stop it.. I don't want to hear about some random stranger.. I don't have time.. I have a surgery to take care of..", he fired back condescendingly with a glare.. He sure was smart.. But a post doctoral fellow must really be smart.. And he had to admit that he was quite good looking.. Obviously that was never going to be admitted out loud and not at all in front of Riddhima..
"Stop being jealous Armaan.."
"I am not jealous.."
"Yeah.. That is why you were turning back and looking at us every five minutes.. That is why you were glaring at the poor guy.."
"Hey.. I wasn't glaring at anyone..", he refuted and walked off, pushing the trolley towards the exit.. Riddhima ran a few steps to catch up with him.. Though she was enjoying teasing him, she was in a new country and did not like the thought of being left stranded alone.. And the way Armaan was fuming at the moment he was quite capable of leaving her and going off.. So she followed him, trying to keep up, but crashed into him, as he suddenly stopped when they heard, "Armaan sir!!"
Armaan turned around with a smile as he recognized that voice, while Riddhima was still confused, wondering what has happened..
"Kya sir.. Main kab se wait kar raha tha.. Aap do din mein bhul gaya mujhe..", Riddhima saw a man a few years older than them, come towards them..
"Kucch bhi mat bol yaar Dilruba.. Main tujhe kaise bhul sakta hoon.. Bas kucch log na mujhe itna tang kar rahe the.. Toh main peecha chhudaane ki koshish kar raha tha.." Armaan said as he hugged the man.. Riddhima was still wondering if she heard him right.. Did Armaan just call the man 'Dilruba'!.. She just hoped this wasn't an endearment.. But it would be equally weird if it turned out to be his name.. But she was more curious to know who he was when he asked Armaan, rolling up his sleeves threateningly.. "Kaun hai?.. Kaun aapko tang karta hai sir.. Main usko chodega nai.. Aap bolo mereko.."
"Chill yaar Dilruba.. Aur yeh 'sir' kya laga rakha hai.. Maine bola tha na, call me Armaan.. Aur mujhe koi tang kar 'raha' nahi tha.. 'Rahi' thi.. ", and he pointed at Riddhima as the so called Dilruba noticed her for the first time.. And as soon as he saw her he exclaimed, "Riddhima baby.. Yeh Riddhima baby hai na?.. Dacter Shashank bole the aap bhi aaegi.."
Armaan laughed, while Riddhima scowled at that, "Abbe Riddhima baby nahi, bhabhi bol.. "
"Armaan!!", Riddhima spoke out for the first time as he said that.. Dilruba looked at them confused, when Armaan said, "Accha ab tu gaadi toh nikaal.. Yahin khada rakhega kya Riddhima baby ko?.. "
"Armaan!!..", he heard her say as he started towards the parking area, leaving her behind again.. She hurried behind him as she saw him fight with Dilruba who was trying to take the trolley from him..
When they were finally settled in the car with their luggage and stuff, Dilruba drove them out of the airport terminal and onto the roads of Singapore.. It was early 8 in the morning and the sun had probably just come up an hour ago.. Riddhima smiled as she saw the new surroundings admiring the beauty of the place that she had always cursed in her head.. But the reasons of course were different.. Now as she drove through the city, she looked at the place in awe.. She had of course been out of the country before.. But never to Singapore.. She remembered when she had gone to Disneyland when she was around twelve with her parents, Di and nani.. They had had a lot of fun then.. And one summer when she was a little older and her papa had managed a week full of holidays, they had gone off to Dubai.. She remembered shopping like a maniac at the Shopping festival there.. But this trip was different.. On this one, she was with Armaan.. And that brought a load full of excitement.. Now that they were finally here, she didn't feel that tension she had felt the whole day yesterday about accompanying him there.. She had thought it would be extremely painful for him.. But the way he was talking to this driver with the weird name, it didn't look like he was in any kind of pain.. And though he was sitting in the front coz he was still mad at her, she knew that he was happy.. Happy that she was with him.. She wondered if he would have felt different if she wouldn't have come with him.. Maybe it was best not to think about that nor discuss it in any kind of way.. As she was looking out the window, enjoying the view, Armaan was explaining to Dilruba why he disappeared for a week all of a sudden.. When he told him that he got engaged he congratulated him right away, "Mubarak ho Sir.. Aur Riddhima baby aapko bhi..", he looked behind for a second as Riddhima looked away from the window and towards him, smiling, as she acknowledged his wishes..
"Yaar Dilruba who almost tere umar ki hai.. Usse baby bulate hue sharam nahi aati.. Who bhi mere saamne..", Armaan asked him, grinning at him..
"Kya sir aap bhi..", Dilruba blushed as he looked apologetically at Riddhima who was now glaring at the back of Armaan's head..
"Waise.. Riddhima baby.. ", he quickly tried to change the topic, "Dacter Shashank bohot aacha aadmi hain.."
Armaan snorted at that compliment of his and that made Riddhima smack him on his head as Dilruba continued, "Mere paas naukri nahi tha toh usne bheja mereko yahan.. Hospital mein driver ke kaam ke liye.. Idhar driver ke kaam ko bhi accha paisa milta hai.. Unke wajah se aaj main settle ho gaya hai.. "
"Dilruba.. Zyaada tareef mat kar tere Dacter Shashank ki.. Jiss din tu unka gussa dekhega na.. Uss din tu apna naam bhi bhul jaayega.. Waise bhul hi jaaye toh accha hai.. Iss ajeeb naam se chutkara toh milega tujhe.. ", Armaan teased him as well as Dr. Shashank at the same time and that didn't improve Riddhima's mood at all.. "Armaan stop being so mean..", she scolded him..
But Dilruba defended his Armaan sir.. "Nai Riddhima baby.. Aise toh chalta hai.. Sir mereko humsha chidatha hai.. Waise mera naam thoda alag hai na.. Socha badal ke dekhta hai.. Lekin phir mujhe yaaad nahi rehta ki mera naam kya hai.. Ab Dilruba ka aadat ho gaya na.. "
"Haan yaar.. Yeh toh sahi baat hai.. Dilruba ka toh hume bhi aadat ho gaya hai..", Armaan teased him, copying his accent..
Dilruba just laughed with him and then spoke to Riddhima, "Armaan sir bohot khush lag raha hai.. Bilkul pehli baar aaya tha tab ke jaisa.. Pichle baar gaya tha toh bohot sad tha.. Pata nahi.. Mere se bhi baat nahi karta tha.. Aise chidhata bhi nahi tha.. "
Riddhima who was fuming at Armaan a few seconds ago, melted at once as she heard what Dilruba had so casually said.. She knew what he was talking about.. So everyone around him had noticed.. People who hardly ever knew him had noticed what he had become.. And that she now saw clearly in his stiff posture as he turned a little to see her reaction, then turning to Dilruba said, "Tu who sab chod na.. Tu yeh bata.. Teri Rupali kaisi hai?..", he tried to change the topic.. And the jolly Dilruba took that change very smoothly, "Mast hai sir.. Ab toh maa banne waali hai..", he told Armaan, blushing a little as he did..
"Waah waah waah.. Congratulations.. Mere bhai..", Armaan congratulated him with a thump on his back.. Riddhima smiled at that as she too put in a "Congratulations.. Kaunsa mahina chal raha hai?..", she asked him, not knowing what else she could say..
"Pehla khatam hone ko aaya hai Riddhima baby.. Ab bas ek aur mahina hai.. Sir aapko chahiye rehga kya ek baccha?.. Doctor bole che hai.. Main kaise sambhalega..", Dilruba told him the difficulties he was facing as Riddhima's face contorted in confusion.. Either this man was not familiar with the human reproductive cycle or she had missed a point.. Plus he was offering Armaan a baby out of six!!.. Oh wait a minute.. And almost as soon as she realized what the deal could be Armaan made it clear, "Don't think so much Basket.. Rupali Dilruba ki Billi hai, Biwi nahi.." to which Dilruba replied sheepishly, "Kya sir aap bhi.." as Armaan laughed at the two of them.. Riddhima couldn't help but give in to her smile at that..
And for the rest of the drive Armaan gave Dilruba a hundred and ten reasons as to why he cant take one of Rupali's babies, including the fact that he was more of a dog person and also that he was here only for two days and it would be difficult transporting an animal back home. For one, it would create a lot of problem for him at customs.. As soon as he heard that Dilruba exclaimed, "Aap idhar nahi rahega sir??.. Aisa kaisa jaa sakta hai aap.. Last time aap gaya toh bola teen din mein aayega.. Phir gayab ho gaya.. Dusra diver log bola ki aap nahi aayega.. Lekin aap aaya.. Main kitna kush tha jab Dacter Shashank ne khud phone kara.. Aapka aur khaas kar Riddhima baby ka khayal rakhne ke liye.. Ab aap bol raha hai aap do din mein wapas jaega.. "
"Jaana toh padega na yaar Dilruba.. Idhar tu hai.. Lekin udhar meri asli Dilruba hai.. I am sorry.. Choose karna thoda mushkil hai.. Lekin ab engagemtnt ho gayi hai.. Ab kucch nahi ho sakta..", he teased Riddhima as her smile turned into a scowl once again.. "Armaan.. Tum apna muh band nahi rakh sakte na.. "
"Not after what you did on the flight Basket.. Armaan will strike back!! ", he said, grinning his evil smile as Dilruba smiled impishly at them.. And before they realized they had reached their destination.. As the car stopped Riddhima looked out of the window at the structure in front of her.. "Wow!.. Armaan I thought that you lived in an apartment.. This looks nothing short of a five star hotel..", she said, so much in awe of the sight she saw in front of her that she forgot she was angry with Armaan..
Armaan shook his head at her stupidity and retorted, "Coz this is a five star hotel Basket.. The resort in which my mahaan sasurji has booked a suite for you.. Apna samaan lo and get going.. Main yahan kaam karne aaya hoon.. Time pass karne ke liye time nahi hai mere paas..", he said as he got out of the car and opened the door for her before Dilruba could do the honors.. But Riddhima just crossed her arms across her front and frowned, refusing to get out of the car.. "I am not going.. Tum pagal ho kya Armaan.. How can I go alone in there..", she protested as she saw a few bell boys come towards their silver Civic to take her luggage and show her in, while Dilruba started taking her luggage out of the back of the car..
"I was kidding Basket.. I'll help you take your stuff in.. Now naatak mat karo.. Baad mein lad lena.. I really have to go through the case again.. The surgery is at 12 I think.. I should be there at least an hour in advance.. And then..", but she cut off his rant, "Armaan.. Shut up.. I know as much as you do about surgeries and all the pre op routines.. But that does not mean I am going in there.. Not even if you help me take my bags in there.. Not unless you come in with me.. Besides.. I want to see your apartment.. Please.. ", she declared, that frown still on her face as she finished, stubbornly sitting where she was in the car..
Armaan raised his eyebrows, in surprise as well as frustration.. "And what about Dr. Shashank?.. What if he calls here to check on you.. ", he asked her, unable to believe she was throwing a tantrum.. Not when he was scheduled to operate on someone in a few hours and he had not even gotten enough sleep..
But Riddhima was as adamant as ever.. "I don't care Armaan..", she said obstinately..
"Please.. Tumhari wajah se humesha main latakta hoon.. ", Armaan complained as she just refused to budge.. Obviously Dr. Shashank would think he has asked her to join him in his apartment, like he was some kind of sleaze ball looking for the first opportunity he gets to bed his daughter.. Fathers can sometimes get so irritating.. And for once, Riddhima was on his side.. But she also thought that Armaan was being ridiculous by taking her dad seriously.. Not especially when he had the guts to climb in through the balcony into her room, when her entire family was in there too.. "Armaan parso raat tum mere kamre mein pipe chadke aaye the.. Are you serious?.. Papa was in the same damn house at that time.. At least now we are in a different country.. Anyway.. Maine decide kar liya hai.. I am coming with you whether you like it or not.. Dilruba.. I mean.. ", she faltered as she felt weird taking his name.. But then ignoring that she continued, "Armaan ke apartment le chalo.. Main yahan nahi utarne waali.. "
Dilruba however had his own set of orders to follow.. "Lekin Riddhima baby Dacter Shashank ne bola tha aapko sirf yahan pe chodne ka.. Aur dhyaan rakhne ka ke aap Armaan sir ke ghar mein nahi jaaega.."
Armaan and Riddhima both couldn't believe what they heard.. But Armaan wasn't as surprised, as soon that shock turned into a smirk.. "Sun liya.. Riddhima baby.. Sasurji toh saala yahan bhi peecha nahi chodte..", he cursed..
"Armaan!!", she reprimanded him..
"What Armaan!.. You never say anything to sasurji.."
"Armaan.. I don't care.. I am not getting out of this car.."
"Basket I am in a hurry.."
"I will take a cab if this Dilruba doesn't take me home I swear.. ", she threatened him..
So he tried using a calmer tone.. "Basket.."
But that was hardly going to work.. "Don't Basket me Armaan.. I am not staying here.. That's final.." and she said that, looking straight into his eyes as a bunch of the hotel staff and Dilruba looked on.. Armaan needed just one look in those eyes of hers to make the decision.. She was going with him.. He wanted this from the beginning.. But after Sasurji's threat he had reconsidered it.. But if she wanted to stay with him he wasn't going to stop her.. Sasurji can do what he wants to.. They can deal with him later.. So making up his mind, he turned to Dilruba.. "Dilruba.. Chal ghar chal.."
"Lekin Dacter Shashank..", he had orders from above that he couldn't disobey..
Armaan rolled his eyes at that.. "Arre yaar.. Tu tere Dacter Shashank ko zyaada pyaar karta hai ya mujhe.."
"Kya sir aap bhi.. Aisa kaise main bol sakta hai..", he asked him, not happy with the unfairness of that question..
So Armaan decided to use his ultimate weapon.. The emotional blackmail.. It always works.. "Accha bata.. Teri Rupali ko jab diarrhea hua tha toh tujhe car kisne udhar diya tha.. Tere Dacter Shashank the yahan pe?.. Nahin na.. ", he reminded him of the one time in his two week stay here when his cat had fallen really sick and in that time of emergency, Armaan had lent him the car to take his beloved to the vet..
Dilruba was in a dilemma.. He didn't know whose orders to follow.. But then Rupali was closest to his heart.. And his Armaan sir was a good man.. He always treated him like a friend and not his employee or driver.. He could do him this much of a favor.. "Accha theek hai.. Lekin Dacter Shashank ko nahin pata chalna chahiye.. Nahi toh..", but Riddhima spoke before he could voice his fear to assure him.. "Don't worry Dilruba.. Papa kucch nahi karenge.. Main unhe sambhal lungi.."
And that seemed to convince him as he got behind the wheel again and steered them home.. Finally..
"Basket.. I am going in for a shower.. Tumhe sona hai toh so jao.. Nahi toh maine Dilruba ko breakfast lane ke liye kaha hai.. Eat it if your hungry.. ", he called out as he rushed to his room, first thing they got in after he unlocked the door to his apartment, taking off his superman t-shirt that he had worn for the travel over his head and threw it on the couch..
Riddhima saw him disappear behind a door.. But she was hardly listening to him, nor paying attention to what he was doing.. She was just lost in taking in the whole place, still at the door, looking in to the abode that had been his refuge when he was away from her.. More mentally than physically.. And the first evidence of that was her name scratched on the shoe rack with a key or something.. She could imagine him standing there with his head leaned in defeat against the wall as he carved her name on anything that he got hold of.. And that feeling wasn't a very nice one.. As she slowly made her way in the apartment, she realized that it was all dusty, obviously, but apart from that t-shirt that he had just thrown on the couch, there was no evidence that anyone ever lived here, let alone just a week back.. Even though the place was well furnished, it somehow looked empty.. No newspapers.. No magazines.. No flowers.. No vases.. Nothing decorative at all.. Just an ensemble of color coordinated upscale furniture.. She wondered where he had put all the stuff that he had gotten here from Mumbai.. Didn't look like he had unpacked any of it.. And she was right to think that.. As she took his t-shirt and turned it the right side out to put it in where it belongs, dragging his bags and hers into his room, she found all his other bags lying as they were.. Only one bag was unpacked.. Apart from that.. The small Ganpati idol that her mom had gifted him on his birthday was lying on his side table along with just a book.. She recognized that book at once.. That was her book.. The Time Traveller's Wife.. She had been reading it when she had left it at his place and then never got the opportunity to finish it.. Now she knew why she couldn't find it.. He had just picked up everything from his room and brought it here.. Especially all her stuff.. A lone tear trickled down her cheek as she took the book remembering the times when she used to read it and he used to call her boring.. As those times came back to her, she felt this weird feeling.. Like she wanted to smile and cry at the same time.. She didn't like this feeling that was coming over her.. This place was as good as haunted.. Haunted by his pain.. By their pain.. But she didn't get more time to dwell on that thought as she felt a pair of hands creep around her waist from behind, that scent of his unmistakable, and the touch of his lips on her earlobe much too familiar.. "Kya soch rahi ho?.. ", he whispered into her ears.. She closed her eyes, that touch, that voice calming her down instantly as turned around to look at him, "I love you.." was all she could say as all those feeling took over her the moment their eyes met .. It wasn't insecurity.. It was just the ghost of the pain that they both had gone through.. He had seen hers.. He would never show his to her.. But she could see.. Right through every silent corner in this place.. Right through those words that Dilruba had uttered without knowing what that actually meant..
Armaan saw the tears in her eyes and took her face in his hands, "Basket.. I love you too.. And I am with you.. You are with me now.. Lets just forget what happened ok..", she nodded as she saw the confidence in his eyes and hugged him smiling a little.. He hugged her back, holding her tight for some time.. Then pulling her out her gave her a soft kiss saying, "Chalo.. I really have to go through the case a little, then probably catch a wink.. Tum bhi so jao.. I don't think you could sleep well sitting next to that good looking stranger.. "
"So you admit he was good looking..", she caught him in his words, as she asked him, tongue in cheek..
"No.. He was, according to you.. And I don't trust your judgement at all.. If you say someone looks good, they most definitely don't.. ", he retorted smartly..
Only she was smarter.. "In that case.. I think you're very very very good looking.. And you don't know how hot you're looking right now.. ", she said seductively, then winking at him pushed him aside and walked towards the washroom..
"So funny Basket.. Good thing no one can hear us.. Coz if they could, they'd know how lame you are..", he tried to put her down, but her triumphant grin was irrepressible..
"Any how.. I need to get back to work.. Tum fresh ho jao, ya phir araam kar lo..", he added as he walked towards the door with his laptop bag..
"I think I am going to clean this place.. Its so dusty.. ", Riddhima told him only to make him grin.. How typical!! "You're unbelievable.. ", he exclaimed.. And just as he was about to get out of the room, she called out.. "And Armaan.. I'm hungry.."
"You get ready.. I'll just call that Dilruba and ask what's taking him so long.. ", and as he said that, the doorbell rang.. "Lo aa gaya hoga.." he said going off to answer the door as Riddhima went in to freshen up, smiling to herself.. Just a moment with him, and she felt so much better than what she had a few minutes ago.. than what she had all this while.. all along.. since the day he had left her and come to this very place..
Armaan was sitting on the couch with his laptop in his lap, his glasses on, and a few papers sprawled around him, engrossed in his work, when Riddhima came out of his room with a ring binder and her book in her hand.. She sat on the couch next to Armaan with a huff and put her head on his shoulder leaning on him sideways.. "God!! I am so tired..", she sighed..
"Did I tell you to go clean the whole house.. Riddhima I had not even entered that other bedroom.. We are leaving tomorrow.. Yeh sab karne ki kya zaroorat thi..", he spoke, looking still into his laptop screen as she made a face at his comment.. Instead of appreciating her work he was still arguing with her about cleaning.. He had already tried dissuading her and she had obviously ignored all his attempts and had spent the last one hour mopping the entire place with the magic mop.. And though she was tired and sleepy, now she felt satisfied.. Cleaning was the most satisfying activity for her.. She always enjoyed cleaning and organizing.. So this dusty and murky house was a treat for her.. Plus while on the job she came across some things of Armaan's that she didn't know he had.. Like she didn't know earlier that he wore superhero underwear.. All his trunk briefs had Superman, Batman, Justice League or Flash on them, with Superman obviously being the most popular.. She had noticed the waist bands of his trunks through his low-rise denims before when he bent over or if he wore a short T-shirt.. But she had never understood, the way she understood today, why it read stuff like 'Man of Steel' and 'The Dark Knight' or 'Extreme Justice'.. She couldn't suppress her giggles at that.. But apart from his 'items', she had also come across this binder next to his guitar that she was very curious about.. She had shamelessly flipped through it and saw printed sheets of songs in it.. A few marks and notes were there in Armaan's handwriting which had made her curious.. And that was what she had come to ask him about.. So before he started arguing with her about her love for cleanliness, she asked him, "Yeh kya hai Armaan.."
He didn't look away from the screen for even a second as he replied, "Kya?.."
"Armaan.. Look at this.. It has some songs in it.. I don't even know half the songs..", as soon as he heard that he looked up from his reading at what she had discovered and smiled, "Oh that.. Those are just the chords of all the songs I play.. Its very old.. Mere college ke time ka hai.. I found it when I was shifting.. And I did need it.. I have completely lost touch of the guitar.. I couldn't remember the chords to most of the songs I used to play before.. "
Riddhima twitched her nose, most of what he said sounding like Greek and Latin to her.. She didn't realize that playing music involved taking notes and remembering so much.. Though she knew that people studied music and composed it using notes and complicated other stuff, she had never been associated with anyone who played music.. No one in her family did.. Nikki had told her she played the Synthesizer when she was younger, but she had never played for her.. And as far as Armaan was concerned, he dabbled into so many things that she had never realized that he could take his music so seriously.. "This is quite impressive Armaan.. I never thought you were so much into it.. "
"Basket.. I am not that good.. Yeh toh bas.. Tumhari yaad aati thi toh I used to play to distract myself sometimes..", he brushed off her comment lightly, surprised himself and surprising her that he could talk about that time so easily.. And it really didn't hurt that much anymore.. But he thought it was best to change the topic before the hurt returned.. So before she could reply to that he said, "You know when we were in college we had this amateur band.. Not a band exactly.. But aise hi.. A few of us used to jam together.. Rahul, Nikki and there was this girl Shipra who used to play the drums..", he told her, a small smile on his face as he reminisced his college days in Kasauli.. They were such a typical bunch of wannabe teens who thought having a band was the coolest thing in the world.. Well maybe it was.. But not with the amount of talent or passion that they had towards it.. It was quite superficial.. But it sure did get him a lot of attention.. And that he never complained about!
Riddhima was rather pleasantly surprised on hearing Nikki's name.. It always happened when Armaan spoke about their time together in college.. It was like there were two Nikkis.. The one that Armaan knew in college and the one that she knew.. "oh so Nikki was a part of your band!!..", she exclaimed..
"Yeah We used to play at intercollege competitions sometimes.. But seriously.. I am not that great.. ", he tried to sound modest.. He knew that they weren't that great.. In fact, now that he thought of it, it was quite embarrassing.. He liked playing the guitar.. It gives him peace of mind when he is upset or something.. But it is essentially for himself.. Performing for others is not what he would want to do really..
But Riddhima was pretty impressed by that fact.. "Well I don't know how to play anything.. So considering that I think you are pretty cool.." She had also had a fantasy when she was that age, of being in one of those underground bands that the cool people in her college were a part of.. But she didn't know how to play any instrument.. She had always been so busy with her books that she had never tried to explore a talent in music if she had one.. So compared to that, she found Armaan really cool..
"Oh if this crap impresses you, you should go and see Rahul's notes.. Or better still hear him play.. He was the most passionate about the music amongst all of us.. He was our lead singer.. He even knows how to read music.. "
"Rahul plays the guitar!.. I didn't know that.. And wow.. Lead singer.. ", she was really surprised by that piece of information.. She always thought Rahul to be more of an introvert.. Lead singer was a contradiction to that!..
Armaan sighed at that reaction of hers.. Yeah.. Rahul had always cared more about the band than any of the others, and that included him.. He had really been upset when the band practically broke after Nikki left.. No one else was sincere enough nor had the time to dedicate towards this weekly activity of theirs.. They were much too busy as the second year in college started taking its toll.. Just like his work was taking now.. He so wished he could just sit here and talk to Riddhima about everything and anything that she wanted to know.. Hear from her all that he didnt know about her.. just sit back and relax.. But he couldn't.. He had work to do.. He had finished reading the case twice already.. And was more than prepared.. Plus it was quite a routine surgery.. But he always liked to be thinking about the case before the surgery so that he doesn't miss any point in case an emergency situation arises.. And Dr. Shubhankar also would not be available to help him here.. So he decided to continue this conversation with her later.. "Yeah.. Well can I please get back to my case now.."
But Riddhima was in full holiday mode.. "Only if you play me something.."
"Not now Basket.. I am out of practice.. Plus I don't want to make a fool of myself in front of you..", he obviously wasn't going to play now.. And he would certainly try to avoid letting that happen anytime soon.. He wasn't in the best of his playing forms at the moment..
"Tch.. Armaan.. Please.. You've made a fool of yourself in front of me so many times now.. How does it matter..", she countered in a whine..
Armaan chuckled at that response of hers.. "Yeah.. That makes me feel so much better Basket.. Fine.. Later.. Aaj raat ko.. Theek hai..", he gave in, buying time..
But Riddhima was disappointed.. Not so much because he refused to play, but more coz she thought he'll take her out and show her around or something.. "Aaj raat ko tumhara guitar bajaane ka plan hai?..", she asked him, hoping that her time here wouldn't be wasted in the hospital itself.. But Armaan twisted her words as he always does, smirking as he said, "Kyun?.. Tumhara kucch aur plan hai kya?.. I don't mind your idea either.. ", and Riddhima's mouth opened in shock as she saw him wink at her and she smacked his shoulder hard, "Armaan!!"
"Oh now I understand why you wanted to come here instead of the resort..", he teased her further, finally getting the satisfaction of seeing that scowl on her face..
"Armaan!!.. Enough.. I don't want to talk to you now.. I have to finish this book..", she said, moving away from him to the other end of the couch..
"Oh God Basket.. Don't waste your time.. The zombies take the time machine from the guy and he's stuck in the future..", he told her as she flipped through the book trying to find the page where she wanted to read further from..
"Armaan!.. There are no zombies or a time machine in this book.. Main tumhe pagal lagti hoon kya.."
"How would you know.. I have read it.. You haven't..", he pointed out with a grin..
"For your information Dr. Mallik.. I have read this book twice.. "
"And you're reading it again?!!.. Why would you do that.. I couldn't even finish reading it once.. Why does the dude keep disappearing.. Its so absurd..", he couldn't believe she could sit through that book for the third time.. He had brought it here with him.. And one of his time passing activities used to be, staring at the cover page and remembering the times she had tried reading it at his place and he had almost always distracted her.. Once he had tried reading it out of curiosity, but found it utterly uninteresting.. So he had just returned to staring at the cover and thinking about her..
Riddhima didn't take that 'absurd' comment of his well.. She didn't absolutely love the book.. But it was nice.. And pretty different.. Plus who was he anyway to judge the book.. He's obviously not read it.. "Its not.. Its so romantic.. They fall for each other at different time points in their life.. How cool is that.."
"What is so romantic in that.. And why would a fifteen year old fall for a forty year old..", he asked her from what little he had read of the book..
"Coz that is how it happened in the future.. I mean.. What a complex idea that is.. Isn't it awesome.. ", she couldnt look beyond the complex and tragic romance, while he could do nothing but mock it.. "Yeah.. So awesome that I cant read beyond page one.. "
"Oh you just cant look beyond your stupid comic books.. Just say it that its too complicated for you..", she asked him superciliously, irritated by his constant counter arguments.. Why couldn't he just agree with her!..
Armaan was obviously provoked by that jibe of hers.. What was wrong with comics.. And so what if he didn't think so great of the book.. Why did he have to agree with her!!.. "I don't want to understand that crap Basket.. It makes no sense.. It is a product of someone's weird imagination.. It doesn't exist for real..", he tried to counter her again..
"Yeah.. And I am sure Superman exists in the real world.. ", she mocked him..
"Of course he does.. He's sitting right in front of you..", was his apparently witty reply.. Riddhima rolled her eyes at that.. Not again!!, "Armaan.. Don't you think you're obsessive about your comic book stuff.. Especially Superman.. I mean.. Grow up.. Your twenty-six, going to be twenty seven..", but before she could finish, he started.., "Hey.. There's no age limit on reading comics or liking a character.. And look who's talking about being obsessive.. You're the one who's reading that freak of a book for the third time.. That is called being obsessive.."
"At least I don't have superheroes printed on my underwear.. I mean.. Why would you want Batman down there..", she couldn't help but blurt in the heat of the argument.. Armaan's eyes popped out the moment he heard that.. Then slowly as he understood what she had said his ears started turning red and he exclaimed, "Basket!.. You touched my bag!!.. Why would you do that.."
"Coz it was half open.. And none of your clothes were folded properly.. I couldn't stand the mess.. Plus I was pretty intrigued by Justice League.. ", she giggled at that.. It was so much fun to watch an embarrassed and crimson Armaan.. She had thought that almost nothing could embarrass him..
Armaan frowned as he heard that, trying to defend himself, "I packed my bags in a hurry last morning.. Warna I keep my 'items' in a secret compartment in my bag.. And you better keep your hands out of my bag..", he warned her with a scowl.. But Riddhima burst out laughing at what she heard.. She couldn't believe it.. "Why would you do that.. Secret compartment.. Oh god Armaan.. You are so cute.. " and she continued laughing, holding her stomach now as his scowl worsened.. "Shut up Basket.. Don't call me cute.. And what is your problem.. At least I don't match all my items to my clothes like you do.. What is with the matching anyway..", he asked her.. He had noticed that all her inner clothes match not only each other but also the outer one's shade for shade.. He obviously had not planned on asking her about it.. But she had asked for it herself.. His smirk returned as he saw her cheeks color at that comment.. "What.. Armaan.. What is your problem.. And how the hell do you know that I match.. I mean.. ", she stammered, embarrassed by his remark.. "I know a lot of things that you think I don't sweetheart.. ", he winked at her naughtily as she went, "Armaan!!.. "
"What?.. You were the one who started talking about this.. ", he pointed out..
She glared at him and then turned back to her book.. "Shut up.. And let me read.. ", she said, pretending to read through her frown..
"Yeah.. Same goes for you.. Kab se chapar chapar kar rahi hai..", he said, looking back into his laptop as h heard her.. "I am not talking to you now.. "
"Good for me..", he retorted.. But then he couldn't help but smile to himself when she made a face at him in response and returned to her book..
As she got engrossed in the story, Armaan yawned while skimming through the case one last time.. When he was done he took off his glasses, shut his laptop and keeping it on the center table he said, "Basket.. I think I'll sleep for sometime.. Mujhe ek ghante mein utha dena.. "
"Hmm..", she replied, without looking up from the book, lost in the story completely.. He smiled at her, then giving her a soft kiss on her cheek, he got up to go to his room.. But then he changed his mind and sat back on the couch.. She looked up from her book when she felt his head in her lap.. He had decided to sleep on the couch itself as he adjusted his himself in the small place, now burying his face in her stomach.. She smiled at his antics.. And though she felt a jolt in her stomach at that action of his, she let him be, running her hand through his hair, putting him to sleep as she returned to reading her book.. He smiled, feeling blissful by her touch and fragrance as sleep finally took over.. When she was sure he was asleep, she bent down and kissed his earlobe whispering an 'I love you', before going back to her book..
"Wow!!..", she exclaimed seeing the hospital building as Dilruba parked their car in the parking.. Armaan smiled as he heard her hundredth wow.. She had been appreciating the architecture of the city throughout the drive to the hospital, much to Armaan's amusement.. She had thrown another tantrum when he had suggested her to stay back home and get some sleep till he finishes the surgery and gets back home.. But she just wouldn't listen.. So he had no choice but to let her come.. And it was quite entertaining and surprising to have her comment on everything that she noticed around her, including the way the people dressed, the malls that she would like to shop at and even the bridges and other structures that he had never ever bothered to notice.. Normally he had a love for travel too and always appreciated the culture and architecture of the places he wandered to.. But when he came here the first time, he was on a tight schedule and had hardly gotten time to go around.. Plus he had been under the tension of getting caught by Dr. Shashank because of Riddhima's blunder.. The second time around he was as good as a dead man walking around the streets.. His work was the only thing that kept him from going insane.. So he had hardly noticed what she was noticing now.. Now that he looked at the same place through her eyes, which were in awe of what they were seeing, he felt like this was a completely different place than what it was a week ago.. He just realized how beautiful it was.. He had cursed it for no reason.. Even the damn hospital looked 'wow' just like she had described it.. As he entered through to the corridor with her, everyone who knew him there greeted him a good afternoon while staring curiously at Riddhima, who was surprisingly holding his hand unabashedly, not a hint of embarrassment in the way she was proudly walking with him and smiling back at the curious people.. "Armaan.. Why are these people looking at me like that..", she asked when she started to get a little uncomfortable under the surprised gazes.. She had not realized that she was holding his hand until he said, "Coz you're holding my hand and walking like you own me or something.. And I don't think they have seen us like this before.. Plus.. This is a hospital.. People don't normally look so happy here..", he said coolly, but couldn't hide his smirk.. Riddhima quickly retracted her hand from his.. Only he didn't let it go.. "Armaan.. Haath chodo.."
"Yeh haath humne chodne ke liye nahi pakda hai jaani..", he said dramatically..
"Chi.. That is the sadest bollywood dialogue you have used till date Armaan.. Leave my hand.. People are staring.. ", she hissed back in frustration..
"You didn't have a problem a little while back..", he asked her innocently..
"Armaan.. Stop it.. Leave my hand.. "
"Good morning sir..", one of the interns wished him, grinning, as he grinned back at her and wished her a good morning with a wink.. Riddhima on the other hand was still struggling to get her hand out of his hold as he led her across the reception area..
"Ah.. Aarman Maalik.. Where you disappear my baby..", a lady called out as Armaan and Riddhima were arguing silently while they were passing through the corridor, Armaan holding onto her hand tight as she tried to get it out.. They stopped their struggle as soon as they heard the voice and looked in the direction it came from.. Armaan left Riddhima's hand at once as he saw the lady standing near the nurse station.. "Helen!.. How is my sweetheart.. I missed you so much.. ", he greeted her as he went over and took her in a hug.. Riddhima smiled as she saw them hug each other like long lost friends.. And that was only because Helen was quite an old Chinese lady, almost as old as her mom, and from the uniform she was wearing, looked like she was a nurse..
"Don't lie Aarman..", she said in her nasal Chinese acccent.. "You not call me even once.. You not tell me that you not coming back.. ", Armaan smiled as he saw her fake frown and holding her by her shoulders said, "I am sorry.. I was caught up in a few things.. But see, now I've come only to see you.. And someone's looking beautiful.. Has Romeo come back from China.. ", he asked her, naughtily raising his eyebrows..
And that made her forget her fake pretence of anger , blushing as she replied.. "I look beautiful always baby.. But I see someone really happy.. And I see why.. ",she said in her broken English, looking at Riddhima and smiling her beautiful smile.. Riddhima smiled back, blushing a little as she looked at a grinning Armaan and then back at Helen.. "Hi.. I'm Riddhima.. Armaan's fiancee.."
"Oooh.. This is why he not come back.. Aah.. Reedhima.. Now I know why he not look even once at all beautiful young nurse.. I wonder if he like Sam.. But Sam says he show no signs.. So I wonder why.. Now I know why.. He has so beautiful girlfriend..", Helen complimented her as she blushed.. Armaan couldn't help but sigh at the sight.. And those words that Riddhima uttered still ringing in his head.. In a place where almost everyone knew Dr. Shashank, she introduced herself as 'his fiancee' and not Dr. Shashank's daughter.. He felt so awesome just to think of it.. Riddhima was also lost in similar thoughts.. She realized it after she said it.. And her heart fluttered at the realization that she unknowingly had accepted her new identity.. It had come out instinctively and that made her blush more than Helen's comment..
"Ok.. Helen.. Too much information.. And go tell Sam that even if I did show the signs I wouldn't have gone out with him.. He's not my type.. ", he joked to stop Helen's continuous train of compliments to his very deserving but embarrassed fiancee..
As Riddhima exclaimed an "Armaan!!.." in response to what he said, he winked at her and then continued "What.. Aren't you happy that I am straight.. And you don't know Sam.. He's the chemist at the hospital pharmacy.. He wears thick gold chains around his neck and wears bright red shirts.. I'd go blind if I date him..", he laughed at his own joke as Helen giggled.. But before the shock on Riddhima's face could translate in another 'Armaan!!' he said, "Oh and by the way, she is Helen.. The head nurse of this hospital who I love very much..", he introduced, this time winking at Helen..
"That is why you hide this from me..", the sarcasm in her voice was difficult to make out, her voice and tone too sweet to be derisive.. "You not tell me about Reedhima.. So you not eat lunch everyday because you miss her.. And you not tell me once.. ", she complained.. Armaan's ears turned red in embarrassment as he indicated with his eyes and a finger on his lips to shut her up.. He didn't want Riddhima to hear about his miseries.. Not now.. Now that it didn't matter.. But Riddhima had seen him.. Helen ignored his pleas as she scolded him "Oh.. I am telling Reedhima how you trouble me everyday.. You know Reedhima.. He not talk to me.. Not talk to anybody.. Just do his work everyday.. He not eat his lunch also.. He become so weak..", she complained to Riddhima, who felt a pang of guilt as she heard that.. Her smile disappeared as she looked at Armaan, clearly imagining his behavior.. "Armaan..", she asked in a small voice.. Armaan cringed for a second then quickly started to go away from there, "Uh.. I have to go.. Surgery remember.. "
"Armaan!", she called out in surprise, raising her eyebrows unable to believe that he was running away..
"Bye..Helen.. Will you show her around if you have time.. ", he called out his request to Helen..
"Oh yeah yeah.. I do that.. ", she chuckled and waved out to him..
Riddhima looked at her, then back at a retreating Armaan and called out.. "Armaan .. All the best!!", she had wanted to wish him a more personal best of luck, but it didn't look like that was going to happen.. So she just called out across the distance between them.. But Armaan didn't accept her wishes with the standard 'Thank you'.. He went on to say.. "I love you.." all across the corridor..
"Armaan!!.." she glared at his cheek.. He grinned naughtily at that and replied.. "I wasn't talking to you Basket.. I was talking to Helen.. I love you sweetheart.. ", and winking at her, he waved to both the beautiful ladies in front of him and disappeared around a turn..
Helen chuckled as she watched their little banter.. She didnt know Armaan was really this naughty.. And though she had hardly known him for two weeks, she felt attached to him.. She saw a blushing Riddhima still staring at the spot where he was a few moments ago and sighed.. "Ah Aarman.. He is my baby.. You know when he come first time, all nurses think he is very hot.. But he says he think I am most beautiful nurse he ever see.. He make me blush.. You know Romeo.. My husband.. He go to China and there is this earthquake that time.. I worry for him a lot.. But Aarman say, nothing will happen to Romeo and that day he call after three days.. I never is so happy.. He is very good.. Very nice..", she told Riddhima, who couldn't help but smile at that.. "Don't let him hear that Helen.. He already has a big head.. Especially coz he thinks he looks so good.. "
"Of course he look good.. But he is also good.. You know.. I can say it better in Chinese.. My English not very good.. But Aarman like so cheery.. So happy.. Make everyone happy.. You are very lucky girl..", she told Riddhima as she led her in the other direction..
"I know.. I am very lucky.. ", she said softly, more to herself than to Helen.. She knew she was.. But that lunch thing was still on her mind.. She knew how that felt.. She had also lost her apatite when he was here away from her.. But she had ten different people around her to force food down her throat.. Armaan, however, had been alone here.. No one to look after him.. She had not realized this before.. And she knew he wouldn't tell her all this.. And though it didn't matter anymore, she just couldn't help but want to know what he had gone through.. She had shared her pain with him.. In fact also blamed him for it.. But he had never said a word.. Nor would he.. But other people could.. "So he skipped lunch everyday?.." she asked Helen, bringing up the topic again..
"Yeah.. He looks very sad.. He not talk to people nicely.. He not talk to me nicely.. And he not smile that wonderful smile he has.. He not eat lunch.. He become so weak.. Now he look good.. He look like he is in love.. And now you with him.. ", Helen responded, giving her a very vivid picture of the way he suffered.. And she wasn't very pleased hearing all that, almost getting angry at him for that.. "He's crazy.. And you'd think being a doctor he would at least practice what he tells his patients.. ", she said, frowning to herself..
"Yeah.. That is what I say.. If doctor has to behave like that.. What will patients do?.. But one day I say to him that enough is enough.. He complain that he not hungry.. But I tell him that he is like my baby.. And I cannot let him be hungry.. I tell him I feel like his mommy feel when he not eat at home.. That make him shut up.. Then he eat.. You know.. I force him.. Blackmail.. ", Helen raised her eyebrows naughtily and chuckled, opening a door for Riddhima.. "This is his cabin.. You wait here.. I come later and take you to see hospital..", she told her.. Riddhima nodded and returned a smile at the old lady.. Though Helen thought that she had played her cards smartly while tackling Armaan, like she was tricking a small kid, Riddhima knew why exactly that blackmail of hers had worked.. Armaan loved his mom more than anything in this world.. And he would have done anything that was asked of him if that kind of blackmail was used.. and she was glad that Helen had used it..
"Helen.. " she called out as she saw her leave..
"Yeah..", she turned around to ask..
"Thank you so much for taking care of Armaan.. ", Riddhima smiled at her as she thanked her.. She was really grateful to her to have taken care of him when she wasn't around..
Helen smiled at her from the door and replied.. "Oh.. He is my baby.. No need of thank you.. ", then turned around to leave.. Riddhima smiled, but before she could take a seat on the couch she turned towards the door as she heard Helen again.. "Reedhima.. He also very lucky that you love him so much..", and with a wink, she left Riddhima smiling to herself..
After some time Helen returned and took her around to see the hospital.. When she saw her dad's temporary cabin, she told Helen that she was his daughter.. She was mighty surprised at that and then started to praise Dr. Shashank.. Riddhima was amused when she told her that her dad was a handsome man and quite a dish.. Like he was some Armaan equivalent for women in their fifties.. Helen entertained her throughout their tour with such light conversations.. Riddhima had a good time seeing the place and was pretty impressed with it.. But the most interesting part of the tour was when they were going through the private ward and she saw Armaan through the tiny window in the door of the ward.. He was talking to the patient before he is sedated and operated upon.. He always made it a point to do that.. So did she.. It made the patient less frightened of the surgery.. She didn't go in or disturb him, just hoped that he finishes his work quickly and then showers all his attention only on her.. After the tour Helen dropped her back to his cabin and set off to her duty.. Riddhima looked around and much like his apartment, it showed no signs of inhabitation.. Everything was neatly arranged and there was nothing that belonged to him that was kept there.. His cabin back in Sanjeevni had been quite untidy, files all over the place, his laptop open on his desk most of the times.. And of course one of their Mahabaleshwar trip pictures, where he was holding her close around her waist from the back, grinning sheepishly at the camera while she had an embarrassed smile on her face, was his desktop wallpaper.. She used to always blush when she looked at it, remembering the way her friends were encouraging him to hold her closer and 'oohing' as Atul had clicked the picture.. Apart from that, the Ganpati idol her mom gave him used to be on his desk and sometimes even a comic or two would be sprawled on it along with his files.. She couldn't even see his PSP around.. This was so not Armaan.. He never belonged here.. He always belonged with her.. Plus he was happy.. This place didn't bother him as much as she thought it would.. And this she could tell by the reactions of the people around him.. Dilruba and Helen both had commented on how happy he's looking compared to the last time they saw him.. And why wouldn't he be.. Obviously she was with him.. She was sure he would have been sulking all through his trip here, had she not come with him.. She was lost in her own thoughts, settled comfortably behind his desk, when someone knocked on the door to come in.. Startled she turned towards the door to see a young Indian girl smiling at her.. "Hi.. My name is Raina.. I m an intern here.. Actually Armaan sir has asked me to take you out for lunch.. The surgery will take some more time.. He's busy.."
Riddhima was surprised at that, and her smile widened, "Raina.. Raina right?.. You go ahead.. I am not really hungry..", she refused her offer, even as her heart fluttered at his thoughtfulness.. Though he was so busy, he made sure that she was comfortable.. And like all he ever did, this touched her heart.. But she didn't feel like eating without him..
But that response of hers disturbed Raina very much, "Ma'am.. He said you'd say that.. But he asked me to insist that you have your lunch on time..", she told her sweetly..
Riddhima chuckled at that.. Armaan was such a nautanki.. And this was so embarrassing.. But she wasn't going to eat if he was going to stay hungry.. She just didn't feel like.. "Raina.. Tell him that I am not hungry..", she told her, her decision firm..
Raina's forehead creased with worry lines at that.. "Maam I am sorry.. But his exact words were 'Force her to eat if she refuses polite requests'.. And if I am not successful.. then.. he wont give me a recommendation.. for the NSU Cardiology meet.. Please don't do this to me..", she pleaded.. She looked next to tears.. Riddhima's eyes widened in shock at that.. How dare he!! Armaan was going to have it from her!.. He scared the poor girl.. "What!.. Let me see how he doesn't give you a recommendation.. What sort of a behavior is this.. And what does he mean by 'force her to eat'.. I am not eating.. And how can he blackmail interns?.. You don't worry Raina.. I am sure he isn't serious.. He's just being a jerk.. ", more like he's just being Armaan.. And she wasn't going to fall for his schemes..
"No ma'am.. He was pretty serious.. ", the intern told her, worried that she might lose out on her opportunity..
Riddhima just shook her head in disbelief.. He had really frightened the poor thing.. She knew he obviously wouldn't do that.. But that didn't give him the right to put her under so much stress.. And this Raina was also so stupid that she fell for it.. Apart from being a good doctor he was also a very good actor.. Who was going to tell her that?!! But she was firm on one thing.. She wasn't going to change her mind about lunch because of his stupid tricks.. "Don't worry.. Trust me.. I'll make sure you get the recommendation.. But please.. I really don't want to eat right now.. ", she tried to convince her the best she could..
Raina made a small face and nodded her head.. What other choice did she have.. But before she left she gave Riddhima two bars of chocolate and said, "Armaan sir had said that you might not listen at all.. And in that case I should give you these.."
Riddhima couldn't help but give in to her giggles at that.. He was so cute.. That mad ass of a man.. Only he could make her irritated and still make her laugh at the same time.. Oh god! What was she going to do with him!
Armaan walked back towards his cabin after finally having finished the surgery.. He had instructed the nurses and also referred the patient to a cardiologist in another hospital in Singapore for the post operation check ups etc.. Then he had spoken to Dr. Khorana, bidding a final adieu, and handing in his resignation himself.. He felt bad that he had to leave, but this was not where he belonged.. Sanjeevni was and will always be closest to his heart.. And he knew at the back of his mind that it was because it gave him his Riddhima.. He smiled as he thought of her.. He hoped that she had her lunch.. But somewhere he was sure that she must have not.. When he entered his cabin, he found Riddhima sleeping with her head on his desk a small smile on her lips and a few strands of her hair falling on her face.. He smiled at that sight sighing as he pulled up a chair next to her, just looking at her as he leaned on his desk.. He shifted the hair that was falling on her face lightly to get a better view, but careful not to wake her up.. She looked so cute, he could watch her like that forever.. But if she had not eaten, then she must be hungry.. Coz he certainly was.. Plus, they had to get back home quickly to get ready, so he could get his plan into action.. She was certainly going to have a good time tonight.. But for that to happen, she would have to get up first.. "Riddhima..", he called out softly, not wanting to startle her.. That smile was too sweet to be disturbed.. But Riddhima was probably deep in her dream world.. "Basket!", he called out a little louder.. But that really didn't solve the purpose.. She only twitched her nose a little and continued to sleep.. He chuckled silently at that, shaking his head as he poked a finger into her hand that she had rested her head upon.. God! She really was deep in slumber, coz that didn't wake her up either.. Now he could hold that itch of irritating her any longer.. He bent in closer to her ear, softly kissed it first, then "Basket!!", he said loudly, startling her out of her sleep, her heart racing, his booming voice still ringing in her ears.. "Armaan!!.. Tum paagal ho kya..", she asked, frustrated at having been woken up in the middle of such a sound sleep.. He laughed at her state.. "Main toh pehle se hi paagal hoon.. But when I am hungry aur bhi paagal ho jaata hoon.. Can we please go and eat.."
"Yeah.. I am starving too.."
"And whose fault is it?.. I told you to have lunch!! But tum toh baat sunnti hi nahi ho.. "
"Speaking of lunch Dr. Mallik.. How dare you blackmail your intern like that.. Yeh koi tareeka hota hai kya Armaan.. Poor girl was so stressed out.. She was talking about forcing Me to eat.. What do mean by forcing haan.. Tum.. Tum..", she pointed her finger angrily, not being able to string two words together in her rage..
He held her finger and kissed the tip.. "Main.. Main..", he imitated her as he said.. " Shuru ho gaya tumhara.. Kitna chik chik karti ho Basket.. And That Dr. Raina is so stupid.. I have mailed in her reco to NSU three days ago.. Only if she'd care to open her inbox and see it.. I was just messing around with her yaar.."
Riddhima calmed down a little as she heard that, but reprimanded him anyway.."Woh bechari kitni tension mein thi Armaan.."
"Par tum itna tension kyun le rahi ho.. Chalo lets go home and get ready.. We have to leave quickly.. ", he got out of his seat and pulled her up by her hand..
This excited her immediately as she asked him, trying not to look too enthusiastic.. "Where are we going Armaan.."
He gathered his files and folders that he needed to take back and started walking out of the cabin, her hand in his, dragging her out as he said.. , "Tum chalo toh sahi.. We'll just say a bye to Helen and I have to tell Dr. Raina how stupid she is.."
"I wont really tell her that Basket.."
And they bickered on till they found Helen.. She was in tears as she learnt that Armaan was shifting back to India permanently.. Armaan, like all guys do, tried t make a joke out of it and made her laugh between her tears.. Riddhima felt bad.. But this was how it worked..
Raina, on the other hand, shrieked her 'thank you' and even hugged Armaan in her excitement when Armaan told her that he had already done the needful.. Riddhima was happy to see her, but she quickly pulled Armaan out of the hug and dragged him out.. Dilruba drove them home, giving his running commentary about the places as they passed them, and recommending which all places are a must visit in Singapore.. Armaan, who was now relaxed haveing finished the surgery, put his restless mind and energy into troubling Riddhima.. While she was intently listening to Dilruba trying to make sense of his unusual hindi, Armaan slowly managed to creep closer to her.. Then slyly put his arm around her waist, pulling her closer.. She tried to push his arm away, but didn't bother much and continued to ask Dilruba about the good shopping malls here and if there was any sale going on.. But when she felt Armaan's hand slip under her shirt, she glared at him and slapped his hand away.. But he obviously didn't let go.. Moreover, he pecked her shoulder that was bare owing to the halter neck of her shirt.. "Armaan.. Stop it..", she hissed as she tried to move away from him..
Dilruba, surprised that he couldn't see his Armaan sir in the back seat from the rearview mirror, turned around to check where he had disappeared, as he was giving Riddhima a long list of the shopping centers she should check out.. And he looked in the front almost as soon as he turned behind, blushing at what met his sight.. Suddenly, he shut off his commentary, and quietly drove on to give them privacy..
Riddhima saw him turn around and turned a deep crimson, struggling now, to get out of Armaan's hold.. Armaan, however, continued his so called romance shamelessly till they reached home..
She refused to talk to him as she banged the door of their apartment shut, angry at his lack of shame.. "You're such a jerk Armaan.. ", she glared at him as he chuckled.. "I know.. And now that I have finished all the work I had here, I have the next 24 hours to be the biggest jerk in the world..", he replied only to make her whine, "Oh God!..", she had given up..
"No no.. Say oh Armaan!.. Trust me.. You're going to love it..", he winked at her as he leaned in closer..
"Don't you dare come close to me..", she kept him away with one hand on his chest and the forefinger of the other pointing at him threateningly..
"Who's coming close to you.. I am just going in for a shower.. Get ready till then.. And please hurry.. We have to make it on time..", he said, as he pushed the door open behind her, smirking at her over reactions..
She stood at the door dumbfounded for a second as he entered the room without looking back at her.. That's when she realized what he said and that made her eager to know where he was taking her and why he was in such a hurry.. "Where are we going Armaan.." she couldn't help but ask him.. He unbuttoned his black shirt, walking towards her as he said in a husky voice.. "Wait and watch Basket.. You are going to have the best night of your life.. You are going to experience something that you have never before", she gulped as she realized the distance between them was covered.. Leaning away from him, she saw him wink at her, scowling as he did, "Armaan.. Stop it.."
"Stop what?.. Basket if you want to change then please change fast, coz if you aren't ready by the time I come out of the bathroom, I swear main tumhe chodkar chala jaunga..", he told her, pushing her aside a little, taking the towel from the bag that was behind her.. Riddhima's mouth opened wide as did her eyes at that.. "What.. Tum mujhe chodkar jaoge.. Fine chale jao.. I don't even want to come with you.."
"Yay!!", he said, faking cheer as he finally went in for his shower, leaving a fuming to herself.. She kept cursing him under his breath but soon the thought of what she would wear this evening distracted her.. And almost immediately, a smile lit up her face as she realized what she really wanted to wear..
When Armaan came out of the shower he didn't see her in the room.. He thought she must have gone to the other room to change.. Hopefully she wont take too long to dress up, coz he wanted to make it on time .. They were leaving tomorrow and this was the only chance he had.. He couldn't show her the whole of Singapore in one evening, but for this.. And he particularly wanted to be there before the sun sets.. He rummaged in his bag and put on a grey t-shirt over the denims that he was wearing.. Picking up his black jacket and making sure he had his wallet, passport and other essentials he walked out of the room, excited and also apprehensive, hoping that Riddhima would enjoy the experience.. He was surprised to see her sitting on the couch, changed, and waiting for him.. His heart did a flip or two when she got up to face him, anticipating his reaction.. She was wondering if she was looking ok.. And Armaan's reactions were always a good indication.. But then he had never had a problem with what she wore.. But she had never really worn a dress as short as this one.. It was more like a slightly long sweater, that fit her just right, landing at the middle of the length of her thighs.. It didn't cling on to her, nor was it oversized.. And with its long sleeves that covered her arms completely, it was more smart than anything else, but its wide v-neck and the deliberate show of her thin silver halter strap was what made it look sexy.. Oh and how could she forget the matching booties.. She knew it looked really sexy, coz of the number of time she had seen it on her Di.. It actually belonged to Anjali and she had always wanted to wear it.. But her Di never let her.. Well also coz she was a little chubby back in her college days.. Her di used to say that she'll look like she has forgotten to wear her pants if she put it on.. But of course now she was much different from that time.. Plus her di had given this dress to her when she was shifting to Atul's place when they got married.. But she had not found the right opportunity to wear it.. She couldn't really go out to a mall in Mumbai wearing this.. She didn't even party much.. And whenever she did, she always put off wearing this one, coz she thought she would not be able to carry it off as well as her Di had.. And now, the way Armaan was looking at her made her nervous, wondering if she should just put on a pair of denims and a t-shirt.. "Armaan.. Is this fine?..", she asked him softly, giving him a nervous smile.. Armaan, who had forgotten to breathe, came out of his daze and smiled as he looked away.. He wondered why she wanted to know if he thought she was looking fine, coz if he had to describe her, 'fine' would not be exactly the word he'd use.. She was looking downright sexy and hot, not to mention smart and chic at the same time.. He had always noticed and wondered what it was about her that was different.. She could carry off the most revealing of clothes so casually, without looking vulgar in the least.. He guessed it was a lot to do with her personality.. She looked pretty, but never a headless bombshell.. She didn't look like a model.. But there was something that was hypnotizingly attractive about her.. He didn't know if he was biased coz he was so much in love with her, but he had never felt so attracted by any woman ever in his life.. She was something else.. She always looked intelligent.. Someone who knows what she is doing.. And someone who you cant fool around with.. She carried off everything well.. Saris, skirts, shorts.. She even made simple denim jeans look different on her.. But he liked her best in her kurtis and chudidaars, his favorite part of that outfit being the duppatta.. He just loved it when it brushed past his hand or fluttered around her as she moved.. He loved to play with the corners of her dupatta when they would just sit and talk.. But his soft corner for that outfit of hers was also owing to the fact that when he fell in love with her, that was what he had seen on her most of the time.. But of course, as time passed, nothing she wore really surprised him much.. She looked comfortable in all that she put on.. But tonight, he saw some anticipation in her eyes.. Like she wanted to know what he thought of what she was wearing.. But he couldn't put all his complicated thoughts in words.. He didn't want her to know he actually pays attention to what she wears so much.. Nor that it affects him so much.. Plus he just thought of something very funny as he looked at her from head to toe, noticing how she was nervous about the length of her dress.. So he grinned at her naughtily and couldn't help but joke.., "Basket.. I think you forgot to wear your pants.."
And as nervous as Riddhima was, that did it for her.. "I knew it.. I knew it.. I shouldn't have taken this from Di.. I can never carry it off.. Forget it.. You can leave me and go.. Coz I'll take another half an hour to find something else.. This is so unfair.. Di has nice long legs.. I so want to wear this and I..", she started whining, frowning as she tried to get back into the room to change, almost in tears.. Armaan laughed first at her reaction, but when she started to go back to the room he held her hand and pulled her back to him.. "Basket.. Basket.. I was joking.. I swear I was joking.. ", he tried to hold her, as she tried to let go..
"That is exactly what Di had said when I used to try on earlier..", she told him, trying to get away.. She had thought she looked fine when she put it on, but still was nervous about it.. She didn't even have her friends or Di to give her an opinion.. And this stupid moron could think of nothing but his damned jokes.. And if she thought he was done fooling around she was so wrong.. Coz his next reply was.. "I don't know about your Di.. But I certainly like the idea of you forgetting to wear your pants..", and between his guffaws, she yelled.. "Armaan!!.. Ab toh mina pakka change karungi.. I don't want to look like some s**t.. Just leave me..", she glared at him.. He tried to control his laughter, realizing that he had troubled her too much, "Arre.. I was kidding yaar.. Cant I joke a little with you.."
"A little!!.. Armaan tum bohot irritating ho.."
"Accha sorry.. I didn't know this was going to bother you so much.. Ab chalein..", he started to pull her to the door before she decides to change.. She didn't move first, but then let him drag her to the door.. But she still wasn't sure.. "Are you sure.. I mean.. I'll just change..", and she started to go in again.. But he didn't let her go as he serious said.. "Basket.. I swear your looking very very hot.. Like I wont be able to take my eyes off you.. But who wants to.. Right.. Toh please chalein.. ", she smiled, a blush creeping up her cheeks as he said that.. But it seemed like he was just saying it coz he was in a hurry and he didn't want her to change.. She wasn't sure still.. "Should I just..", she started, but he cut her off, latching the door and locking it as he pulled her to the elevator.. "Riddhima.. If it makes you feel better I'll take off my pants too.. ", and this time he completely pissed her off.. While he sniggered, she snatched her hand out of his and glared at him.. "Armaan!! I .. I .. Hate you.. ", she declared, her jaw clenched in anger..
He chuckled at that, pulling her into the elevator as it arrived.. "I know.. Now please lets go.. I've already called for a cab.. "
"Kyun Dilruba ko kya hua.. ", she asked him in spite of being mad at him..
"Maine usse chutti de di.. So that my dear Sasurji cant keep a track on us..", he said, sarcastically..
"Please Armaan.. Dilruba ne kaha tha na he wont tell papa anything.."
"Basket you don't know what kind of a relationship he shares with your papa.. ", he let out a laugh at that, shaking his head as she glared at him.. "No.. No.. Sorry that came out wrong.. I meant.. He worships Dr. Shashank.. And your papa knows that.. If he asks him sweetly once or twice, he can easily break him.. And I don't want to take that risk..", he corrected his statement and made his point, still chuckling silently at a glaring Riddhima.. "Why?.. Where are we going, ki tumhe itni chinta hai..", she asked him, frustrated by his behavior now, as the lift took them down..
"You'll see.. ", he winked at her, walking out as he held the door of the cab open for her.. "Bolo na Armaan.. Accha can we go shopping..", she asked hopefully.. She forgot about being mad at him as she tried to sell him the idea of shopping.. "No Basket.. No shopping tonight..", he told her right away, getting into the cab behind her.. He had better plans.. And she was going to love it.. At least he hoped so..
"Armaan!!", she whined trying to convince him, making a puppy dog face.
"I'll take you tomorrow na yaar.. Don't cry.."
"Tch.. ", she frowned, looking away.. Now she was back on her 'I hate Armaan Mallik' mode.. He smiled at her cute frown, shifting closer to her and kissed her on her cheek.. "Armaan!!" , she elbowed him away as the driver smirked at them from the front seat, driving them to wherever Armaan was taking her..
"Armaan.. What place is this.. ", she asked him, looking around as she looked at the crowd around her.. She knew they were on Sentosa island coz she had read the boards.. Thankfully Armaan had chosen to take the bridge instead of the cable cars.. Dilruba had told her that tourists preferred taking the cable car and it was an amazing view from up there.. But she knew that Armaan would take care of her fear of heights and not do anything stupid like that..
"Basket.. You trust me right..", was his reply, as she saw him give a thumbs up to a man in a booth, whose board read, 'Tiger Sky Tower'.. But before she could read the information bulletin at the booth, Armaan pulled her away from there.. She was really confused by his question and his behavior, wondering what was she in for.. She trusted him alright, but the only thing she didn't like about surprises was the secret part of it.. She always liked to be a part of the decision making.. Going blind like this made her uncomfortable.. "Thank god we're on time..", he said, pulling her towards a disc-shaped cabin that had glass walls .. She read 'Tiger Sky Tower' on a board nearby as she saw the cabin in front of her.. Behind the cabin, she saw a really tall tower that disappeared into the sky.. Maybe this was the tower.. She wondered, why so many people were gathered here to look at this structure.. It was nice, but just like a pole.. Maybe it had some historical significance.. But it didn't really look old.. It irritated her that Armaan was not ready to tell her anything.. Nor did he let her read the information bulletin.. He just dragged her into the cabin like he was in a hurry or something .. And he looked like he didn't want her to know what this place was.. She sensed the stealth in his behavior and asked "Armaan.. Why are you in such a hurry and what is with this tower..", looking around the cabin, the doors of which shut immediately as they entered it.. What she failed to notice was that there was no tower behind on the other side of the cabin..
Armaan took a seat at the periphery, looking relaxed now that they were finally in, "It's a make out zone Basket..", he told her with his naughty grin, pulling her on his lap as she frowned.. "What!.. Armaan stop it..", she wasn't going to fall for his pranks anymore..
"No I'm serious.. You like, take a ticket, get in the cabin, and half an hour of making out without anyone to disturb you..", he told her coolly, pulling her closer into him, resting his head on her shoulder.. She squirmed as she felt his hair tickle her skin, pushing him away.. There were people gathered around them, looking at them through the glass like they were animals in a zoo or something.. And Armaan was talking about making out.. Though she knew he was joking, she couldn't help but say, "Armaan I am not going to make out with you in public.."
"Common Basket.. I'm sure you want to.. And don't worry this is a one-way glass.. Those people cant see inside..", he told her, making her face him
"Shut up Armaan.. This is not a make out zone.. ",she said, wanting to get out of his lap..
"Don't waste my money yaar Basket.. I paid for this..", he whined mockingly, grinning at her discomfort.. But the good part was that he had managed to distract her enough.. So when she yelled, "I want to get out.. ", he let her go..
But as soon as Riddhima got up and walked to the door of the cabin, she realized they weren't at ground level anymore and the doors were sealed shut.. "Armaan!!! This thing is going up!!", she screamed as she saw the little Phillipino kids waving at them from earth.. He controlled his smirk as he walked up to her "Yes Basket! When we're at the top of this 110m long tower, we'll be one thirty one meters above sea level.. ", he told her excitedly, putting his arm around her waist and holding her from behind..
She lost her head as she heard that.. Why!! Why would he do this to her?.. "Armaan tum pagal ho kya!! You know I'm scared of heights.. I .. I .. Want to get out.. Please tell them to stop this thing.. Please..", she turned to look at him, feeling all betrayed as she shouted at him, pleading him to stop this.. Now she understood that the pole-like tower was not behind the cabin, it pass through the center of the cabin like a shaft.. She could now feel that the cabin was not only moving up, but also slowly rotating.. She hated this feeling of the blood rushing to her head.. She held onto him tight though she wanted nothing but to strangle him at the moment!.. Armaan held her close, "Basket.. Kucch nahi hoga.. Trust me..", he tried to calm her down.. He had anticipated this kind of a reaction from her.. He knew she was scared of heights more than anything else.. But he also knew that it wasn't a medical condition.. It was psychological and she could get over it if she tried.. Plus this thing was safer than the stupid trek she had undertaken just for him.. He knew it would scare her a little, but with him by her side, she wouldn't feel unsafe.. When she had told him how she always wanted experience things that she had missed out on because of this fear of hers, he decided he would give her the time of his life now that he had the chance to.. He wanted to free her of that fear of hers.. He wanted her to feel what he felt when he was at a great height.. It was an addictive feeling.. He knew she envied the freedom he had enjoyed in his life while she had always been protected.. And though he felt protective about her, he didn't want to let her fear fester and come in her way, when there was so much in life to experience.. Only if she tried, he was sure she would love this ride.. He had booked the entire cabin to themselves instead of taking a ride with the public, so that no one would disturb them.. He had hoped that they could steal a moment or two surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the view up there.. But with her eyes shut and face buried in his shoulder, he started doubting whether this was a good idea..
Riddhima on the other hand was pissed at him for being such an insensitive jerk.. She cursed herself for not having read about all places in Singapore before coming here.. She normally did that whenever she went out.. But this time she did not get the time to do it as everything happened so soon.. She barely got the opportunity to even convert currency.. And Armaan had taken advantage of her ignorance.. Even then he had the nerve of asking her to trust him.. "Armaan please.. Stop this thing..", she said, peeking a glance out the glass to see that they were quite high.. She could see the top of a few skyscrapers in the distance..
Armaan felt scared at the quiver in her voice.. Had he made a mistake and ruined this night for her.. He had been so sure she'll like it.. But she wasn't giving him a chance..
He pulled out a little, taking her face in his hands.. "Riddhima.. Look at me.. Don't you trust me.. I wont let anything happen to you.. I Promise.. ", he tried to convince her..
She looked into his eyes and melted a little.. Her heart was racing out of fear and her eyes had started to water, but she wanted to trust him.. She knew that he wouldn't let anything happen to her.. But she was skeptical.. "Please Riddhima.. I am sorry.. I just thought ki tumhe accha lagega.. I mean.. Tumne kaha tha na ki you always wonder what it would be like to experience height.. I know tumhe dar lagta hai.. But I am with you.. You really think I would let you do something if I thought it wasn't safe.. "
Riddhima heard him, her mind starting to tip.. She was really curious to know how it must feel to look down from a great height.. She had never done that before.. Not even from an airplane.. She had always wanted to.. And this was completely safe.. Armaan was with her.. She was sure he would never hurt her in any way.. But then her heart was thudding, reminding her of that nightmare.. What if those returned.. What if she fainted.. But maybe, it was worth the risk, her mind quipped, silencing her heart.. Armaan wouldn't have tricked her into this if he didn't think it was an experience of a lifetime.. She was sure of that much.. They were already half-way up.. She was not only wasting her own time and opportunity, but also his.. Making up her mind, she closed her eyes softly and turned around in his hold, to face the sight awaiting her eyes on the other side of the glass windows.. "Don't leave me Armaan..", she requested him softly and felt him move closer to her, holding her securely from behind, his chin resting on her shoulder..
He looked at her as she slowly opened her eyes and gasped at the sight she saw.. He felt her shudder a little and held her tighter, trying to calm her nerves.. They were almost at the top now.. And the height was certainly going to scare her a little.. But he smiled when he saw that beautiful smile of hers light up her face as those emerald eyes glittered in the fading orange glow of the setting sun..
"Wow!..", she exclaimed, almost inaudibly to herself, her heart skipping a few beats as it picked up its rhythm, this time out of exhilaration, not fear.. She couldn't believe her eyes.. She could see the whole city of Singapore and the Sentosa island from here.. As the cabin slowly rotated, the beaches and the sea came into view.. The water shimmered in the orange sun which was about to set.. A dark outline of a fleet of ships and their masts could be seen at the horizon.. The lush green of the forests and sanctuaries, the intricate design of the city, the coastline, the sea and the sun, all looked so beautiful from up here.. She couldn't describe the feeling she felt when she had opened her eyes to this sight.. Like she had been waiting for this moment all along, only she didn't know she was.. She felt liberated.. Like there was nothing that could tie her down ever.. Like she could fly if she wanted to.. Like she was on top of the world.. As the sky slowly turned pink from orange, she smiled a wider smile, taking in the breathtaking view.. "This is so beautiful..", she exclaimed almost in a whisper, completely forgetting that she was 131 meters above sea level.. She could stay here and admire this place forever.. But there was someone else who was busy admiring her.. She felt his eyes on her and turned a little to the side to look at him.. He had not taken his eyes off her the whole of five minutes that she had been staring at the what she saw in awe.. Her expressions were worth a million and he didn't want to miss a single one of them.. This was what he had wanted.. And the reverent smile on her face at experiencing what she was, convinced him that he had done the right thing by getting her here.. She didn't need to tell him how she felt at all.. He could read all those expressions and they made his heart and head light with excitement and awe.. He could probably look at her forever and never get bored.. "Yeah.. Beautiful is not even the word..", he said, not shifting his gaze from her.. Riddhima giggled at that, knowing very well he was referring to her and said, "Armaan.. You're the limit.. How can anyone be so cheesy.. ", she commented condescendingly, though she secretly liked that filmy dialogue of his..
He chuckled a little, "What can I say Basket.. You're my only inspiration.. You bring out the best in me..", he said proudly, kissing her on her cheek.. Her smug smile turned into a scowl as she understood what he meant.. But before she could yell at him for that or give him a witty retort, he turned her face a little more towards him with his palm on her cheek and took her in a kiss.. She smiled as she felt his lips on hers, gently kissing her, telling her how much he loves her.. And she kissed him back, thanking him for making her feel that freedom, that elation that she always felt when she was with him.. It didn't matter if it was on earth or high in the sky.. And they kissed each other as the sun set on them, bringing an end to another day, but a day they would remember for long.. Maybe always..
"I love you Riddhima..", he whispered as he pulled out from the kiss.. She opened her eyes to look into his deep blue ones, telling her so much more than his words did.. "I love you too..", she replied, though there was so much more that she wanted to say.. But she noticed that something was different.. What it was she couldn't point out.. She looked away from him and turned to look out again and that's when it hit her.. The sun had finally set on the world and the sky was now dark while the city below was lit up in colorful lights.. She could see the entire skyline of Singapore city and it looked breathtaking.. She had never seen anything like that before.. And now she understood why Armaan had been in such a hurry.. He had chosen the perfect time when she could see the whole of Singapore by day and by night.. He put so much thought in to everything he did.. It amazed her and sometimes made her wonder if he was for real or just her imagination.. But she was assured of his existence when she felt his lips on her neck, placing soft kisses as he held her tighter.. Her hand acted of its own as it went up in his hair, ruffling it, caressing his nape, making sure it was him and no other.. As the cabin descended, slowly rotating downwards, as it had ascended, she took in the whole of the city that she had labeled as hell.. Was it really?.. With him close by her side, and the experience that she just had, it was nothing short of heaven.. But then again, when he was with her, any place in the world or out of it would be her heaven.. As they descended back to earth and walked out of the cabin hand in hand, her mind refused to leave that picture, that ethereal experience she had just had had..
She looked around her and wondered if she was on planet earth.. Coz she just felt like she was in another world.. After the ride up and down the Tiger tower Armaan had brought her to this restaurant at the Siloso beach on Sentosa island.. It looked like a shack on the beach, but well lit and pretty crowded.. Armaan however, had led her out to the other side of the shack and onto the beach a little away, where there were smaller round wooden shacks with thatched shelters.. They were closer to the water and had a few lanterns hanging from the roof for light.. The bamboos that fenced them were tied around the wooden poles that kept the roof up.. A table for two in the center of each shack, making it, according to her, the most romantic ambience she could ever imagine.. Now she sat in one of these shelters, staring at the vast body of water in front of her, her hair waving due to the salty breeze that was kissing her face, while Armaan just watched her, entranced by her beautiful features that were glowing by the light of the lantern that hung from above them.. They sat there in silence for sometime, just listening to the waves as they came ashore and receded back, taking with them a little of the earth.. She took a deep breath in, breathing in the salty air, as she smiled and looked at Armaan as she realized something.. "Have you realized, we have never come out to eat at a restaurant in the past one year?.. I mean.. You've taken me on one date.. Who bhi private tha.. Oh god! We have never even ever gone for a movie date.. Armaan we're the most boring couple ever.. ", she declared, realizing how rarely they ever went out together..
And he agreed with her completely on this one.. "I know.. We should go out more often.. Hum bas ya toh Sanjeevni mein baithe hote hain ya ghar pe.. And aaj kal toh 'Tumhare' ghar pe.. Please lets tell sasurji that we'll eat out once a week.. With him that is.. And once a week, just the two of us.. ", he demanded, indirectly complaining about sasurji's unfair schedule..
That didn't go down well with Riddhima as she frowned.. "Armaan stop blaming papa for everything.. Papa ko pata chalne se pehle bhi hum kahin bahar nahi jaate the.. Its not his fault that you've taken me only on one date till now..", she complained..
"Please.. Today's date also counts haan.. And also all those dinners and breakfasts that I have cooked for you..", he retorted..
"Shut up.. That does not count.. It gets cancelled with all the dinners and breakfasts that I've cooked for you..", he didn't have an option but to reluctantly bow down in defeat to that.. "Fine.. When we get back, first thing we do is go for a movie date.. Is that ok?..", he told her as the attendant brought the food they had ordered..
"No.. The first thing we do is fix a date with the Pandit so he can decide when we can get married.. ", she replied as he thanked the attendant and asked him not to serve them.. Taking the servers himself, he started serving her as he replied.. "Eh.. I don't understand this concept Basket.. Why does the Pandit get to decide when we can get married.. Yaar shaadi humari hain.. Usse kya padi hai..", he really didn't understand the concept of this Pandit deciding a date for them..
Riddhima giggled as they started eating and replied.. "Armaan.. Tumne kabhi hindi movies nahi dekhe kya.. The Pandit always decides..", she told him, like it was some obvious golden rule..
"But I thought that happens only in movies..", he had really believed that.. He felt a little ignorant here.. He should find out more about these rituals before naani or Dr. Shashank find this flaw in him, he thought..
Riddhima however, found this really cute and explained to him.. "No silly.. It happens for real.. And naani believes a lot in all the astrology.. Toh shubh mahurat nikalkar hi shaadi hogi.."
Armaan's eyes widened at the possibilities as he heard that declaration.."And what if he says we have to wait for a year or something?..", he asked, wondering if something like that was possible.. He just wanted to get married to her as soon as possible.. No more time for any more drama..
"Then we wait..", she said casually.. Obviously, what else did he expect..
But Armaan did not expect her to say that and was flabbergasted by her answer.. "No.. Basket! That is not fair.. Then at least move in with me.. Kitne din aise.. ", he started complaining.. "Don't complain so much Armaan.. Panditji ne abhi tak kucch kaha nahi hai.. Will you stop making stories of you own..", she reprimanded his stupidity, getting back to her food..
Armaan was however looking for loopholes that would make his Basket his sooner than was possible.. "Why cant we just register ourselves in court and then get married the traditional way later.. I mean.. Then you can move in with me also.. Officially toh shaadi ho jaegi na..", he suggested, with an over pretence of innocence..
"Please.. Mujhe aise shaadi nahi karni..", she retorted.. Court marriage! How boring..
"Toh kaise karni hai.. "
"You know.. The whole five days waala shaadi.. Or at least three days.. I mean with the whole mehndi, sangeet, haldi and so on.. ", she told him matter-of-factly..
But that disturbed him a little.. "Crap!.. Matlab tumhara poora khaandaan aayega.. There will be so many people.. Just like Atul and Anjie's wedding.. And Abhi and Nikki's too..", he started imagining.. Hordes of people that he had never seen in his life, loads and tonnes of oily food and so much noise!!
"So what was wrong with their wedding.. ", she wondered.. She thought those weddings were what perfect weddings were made of..
Armaan took back his frown as he heard that.. He didn't want her to think that he had a problem with the kind of wedding she wanted.. Coz he didn't care what kind of a wedding they were having as long as she was happy with it.."Nothing.. Just that.. It was too loud.. And so tiring.. I mean.. I wouldn't want that kind of a wedding..", he said, diplomatically..
"Really?.. So you've thought of what kind of a wedding you want.. That is interesting..", she smirked, making him blush a little.. "No.. Nothing like that.. But whenever I imagined us getting married, I used to just imagine our close friends and family, a small mandap on a beach like this, and a small wedding ceremony at night under the stars.. Tum na.. Who.. Blue waala lehenga pehena.. ", he said, thinking about how he would always imagine them getting married.. And Riddhima was floored by that description.. It needed a little detailing but she could picture it too.. She smiled as she dreamily replied.."It sounds so beautiful.. But the bride wear red or yellow.. Not blue.. ", was her only problem in her imagination..
Armaan chuckled at her expression and said.. "Fine so wear red.. I haven't seen you in a red lehenga so I pictured the blue one.."
"Aur kya kya picture kiya tumne..", she asked for more details excitedly..
"How does it matter Basket.. Shaadi toh tumhare tareeke se hogi.. And I must say, mere ideas kabhi kbhi boring hote hai.. Ya stupid.. ", he acknowledged.. He didn't know much about these traditions and what would be romantic etc.. He just did what his heart told him to.. What he felt would make her feel nice..
"Don't say that Armaan.. Tumhare ideas sabse alag hote hain.. And I love them.. In fact I loved your shaadi waala idea.. And also this date.. This place is really beautiful.. I love the beach..", she told him, looking around again at the water as a smile formed on her lips..
"Well.. I had to na.. After scaring you like that, I thought lets try and be a little less of a jerk..", he chuckled, referring to their tower ride earlier this evening.. He felt a little guilty of scaring her like that..
"Shut up Armaan.. You know I really enjoyed that ride.. I cant tell you how I felt.. Like the first time we made out on the terrace.. Or like the time I got the tattoo.. You know.. I would never know how awesome it feels if you wouldn't have done this.. I cant tell you.. Its just something I feel..", she tried to tell him, but struggled with her words..
"I know how you feel Basket.. But I should have probably warned you.. ", he told her.. But she knew that if he would have warned her, she would have never agreed to go with him.. "If you would have told me and not tricked me like you did, I swear, main toh kabhi nahi aati tumhare saath.. But now I feel like going back up there.. Or maybe try something else.. How bout sky diving..", she said excitedly as the attendant arrived with the check they had called for after they were done eating.. "Wo wo wo.. Calm down.. Sky diving!.. Pagal ho kya..", he said, shaking his head in derision.. She wanted to sky dive! Really! For the rest of the time they were at the restaurant and even after they left from there, she kept trying to convince him that she could sky dive.. Or paraglide.. Or bungee-jump.. Armaan had scoffed and even pointed at her and laughed at that.. "Basket.. Bungee-jump baad mein kar lena.. Aaj raat ke liye, how bout bike racing?..", he asked her as they walked out on the street hand in hand.. He had wanted to keep that a surprise too.. But then after seeing that reaction of hers, he thought he better warn her..
"Bike racing?", she asked him curiously.. She didn't like the idea at all.. And it was already ten in the night..
"Actually Basket.. I had joined this racing club here when I had come the last time.. You know.. And there is a race on tonight.. Uh.. So I was thinking.. I mean.. Only if you want.. Nahi toh we head back home.. ", he told her, hoping she doesn't scold him about joining the club.. But he had to find distractions when he was alone here and this one did the job really well.. He had gotten a call from the club in the morning today that there was a race.. He wasn't sure though, if Riddhima would approve.. He hoped she did.. Coz he really liked this club.. It had an awesome track, great bikes and the crowd was good too.. Not like a sophisticated crowd, but at least not very rough..
Riddhima was skeptical about going racing.. But she was intrigued by the fact that he was offering her a ride.. She was never allowed to sit on a bike before.. And he was actually asking her to participate in a race with him.. It would probably be cool.. Plus she could see the excitement in his eyes at the prospect.. She didn't want him to feel that she was holding him back.. He had already don so much this evening that she has a good time.. she could surely do this much for him.. So to his utter surprise she nodded, "Theek hai.. Chalo.. ", he looked at her, his eyebrows raised as she giggled at the shock on his face.. This was going to be another one on her list of firsts.. and boy it was all happening in one night!
"You don't have to be scared Basket.. The people look scary.. But they are not.. They just look scary.. Samjhi na.. And here wear my jacket..", he took of his jacket and made her wear it, and holding her around her waist led her in.. She walked in with him, excited by the prospect.. If her papa knew she was going in some place like this he would be mad!! Mad was not even the word.. But she was excited.. She felt a sense of rebellion that she had rarely ever taken to in her boring life.. Plus she wasn't really worried as long as Armaan was with her.. If he was taking her here, then it definitely wasn't a dangerous place.. But the moment she saw the size of the man saying a deep throaty, "Hey!", to Armaan, in the poorly lit, so called club, she flinched.. He was huge with a can of beer in his hand.. Tall and bulky and big tattoos on his arms.. It did freak her.. "Its ok Basket.. That's Joe.. Hey Joe!.. This is Riddhima..", he introduced them.. And the moment Joe gave her smile, he looked like an oversized kid.. She couldn't help but giggle as she returned his hey!.. Armaan asked him where Johnny was and then led her to wherever Joe had directed him, all the while keeping her close with his arm around her waist..
"Hey Armaan.. Where the hell did you disappear to man!!", a deep bass voice called out to Armaan as they walked out to the other side of the club to where the track was.. Riddhima turned around with Armaan as he left her to greet the stranger who she assumed was Johnny.. Armaan had told her that he managed the club and was quite a nice guy.. What he had not told her was that he was almost around fifty with salt and pepper hair, tall, handsome with Hispanic features, and had the body of Schwarzenegger in Terminator, that she could see through his tight black t-shirt.. He almost looked like an army guy.. Only his glares were missing.. "Hey Johnny.. Wassup man!", she saw Armaan do the apparently cool hand shake with him as Johnny thumped Armaan's back.. "Wassup with you man.. You're actually smiling?.. And who's the pretty lady?..", he asked in his deep heavy voice..
"That's Riddhima, my fiancee.. And Riddhima.. This is Johnny..", he introduced them.. "Really?.. You are his fiance?.. She's too good for you son.. ", Johnny commented as he kissed Riddhima's hand lightly in a gentlemanly fashion.. Riddhima found it quite ironic and amusing as it disabused her of the notion that people like him could only wield guns and beat up people.. Armaan put his arm back around her waist, holding her close as he replied, "I know.. But she's mine.. So don't you dare try your luck", he joked as Johnny laughed a booming laugh.. "Oh.. Riddhima.. You tell me.. If I gave you a choice, wouldn't you choose me over him?..", he asked her this time, winking at her as Armaan chuckled..
"Yeah I guess.. Only if I'd met you before I met this jerk..", she answered with a wink, much to Armaan's surprise, as they all laughed at her reply, walking out towards the bike shed.. As they talked, while they showed her around, she became comfortable with Johnny at once.. Normally she didn't open up to people easily.. But he was quite a character and a lot like Armaan too.. He told her about his wife June, who was half Chinese and didn't like it that he worked here.. She was a fashion designer.. She also learnt that they had moved here five years back from the US after he took retirement from the army and June was transferred here by the fashion house she worked for.. Riddhima listened to him and told him about her family and their friends back home etc.. She couldn't believe she was talking to this stranger who she had just met a few minutes ago like they were long lost friends.. all of a sudden this club didn't seem to be shady anymore..
Armaan smiled as he saw the two of them make fun of him and high-five each other.. They were talking to each other like they knew each other and he was the outsider here.. Well he had to admit that she had spoken more than half of what he had spoken to Johnny in the one week that he had known him.. He was a nice fellow.. Didn't ask him many questions and always made him laugh when he came here to race everyday.. He would offer him a drink every night.. But he would refuse and go home to wallow in his misery.. But he had surely thrown a fit that night when Armaan had done that crazy stunt.. He could still remember how angry he was.. It was night of Riddhima's birthday.. After he had made that phone call to her, he had completely lost it.. He had been so confused and restless in pain at that point in time.. He didn't know what was right and wrong.. And so he had come here late that night.. Most of the guys had left.. He took his favorite bike from the bike shed and set off towards the ramps and tried doing the 'Superman Seat Grab'.. Only he had never done it before.. He had seen others do it and the danger it involved had tempted him to try it out.. Johnny was at the bar that night and had stayed back for some reason.. When he heard the noise of a bike in the ramps he walked in on Armaan running his bike off the ramp and doing a Superman stunt.. But his heart was in his mouth when he left the handle of his bike and couldn't get back to it.. Luckily he grabbed onto the tank of the bike and landed safely as he skid on the landing.. "You son of a bitch!!", he heard Johnny's booming voice in the background, the exact words that he had used when he had yelled at him that night.. It was only sheer luck that had saved him from breaking a lot of his bones that night.. Now he realized he was reiterating that incident to Riddhima, whose eyes were popping out of their sockets, "Armaan!!", she demanded angrily.. "What is he saying.. You jumped with your bike off that ramp??..", she pointed to the stunt ramps that they had come to see.. Johnny had explained to her some complicated stunt that Armaan had tried, but she had understood only this much.. And that was enough to get her blood boiling.. Armaan glared at Johnny, "You had to tell her, didn't you?..", he asked bitterly.. Why couldn't people just keep their mouths shut!!..
"Hey.. You were the asshole who did that stunt.. You had never done it before Armaan..", he yelled at him.. He still felt that he had not yelled at him enough that night.. He had realized that night that Armaan was probably depressed and tonight he could guess the reason too.. He had never seen Armaan so happy in the one week that he had interacted with him.. And after that night he had disappeared.. He had been worried for him, but he didn't have anything except his contact number, which was not available.. He had let it go, hoping that he was alright.. But tonight he was really happy to see this happy side of Armaan.. But he couldn't refrain himself from not telling Riddhima about his stupidities, lest he try something like that again.. it was really dangerous..
Armaan didn't answer him and turned to Riddhima.. It was important to pacify her before she throws a fit of anger, "Basket.. Don't listen to him.. Yahan sab yeh karte hain.. Its quite a routine thing.. "
"Hey!.. Don't talk to her in your language.. Whats it.. Hindi.. Yeah. And Ridheema. This is not so routine as he's making it out to be!", he told her, still agitated by what Armaan had done..
"Shut up yaar Johnny.. What the hell is your problem..", Armaan yelled back at him.. He was really pissing him off.. But this time Riddhima rose her voice.. "Don't yell at him.. Talk to me.. Tum aisa kaise behave karte ho Armaan.. You're so irresponsible sometimes.. ", she shouted as she started walking away from there.. She didn't want to fight in front of Johnny.. Though she had hit it off well with him, he was still a stranger..
Armaan followed her, sighing as he tried to apologize.. What other choice did he have.. "Accha.. I am sorry na Basket.. I m sorry.. I was stupid.. ", but when she continued to walk away, he held her hand and pulled her back to him, "I am sorry ok.. Please..", he pleaded.. And one look in his eyes melted her.. She was actually not only mad at him but also at herself.. Coz she knew what had brought that irrational behavior out of him.. But she didn't want to talk about it now.. Nor did he.. It was better to just let go.. "Tum phir se kabhi nahi karoge..", she asked him, finally deciding to forgive him..
But Armaan wasn't happy with that condition.. "Kabhi nahi?..", he asked her, flabbergasted at what she was asking from him.. He could always learn it right and try it!
But she glared at his reaction.. "Armaan.." and he had no choice but to give in.. "Fine.. Kabhi nahi.. Promise.. Now are you coming for the race.. ", he asked her, changing the topic quickly before she states more of her demands..
"No.. I am not.. And nor are you going in..", his jaw dropped at that declaration of hers.. "What.."
"Tumhara punishment..", was all she said, before starting to walk back towards the lounge area.. But Armaan wasn't going to give in this time.. "Main jaa raha hoon.. Tum nahi aaogi toh kisi aur ko peeche bitha dunga.. Hey Johnny, is Rosy here?..", he asked Johnny, who was putting on his helmet near his bike in the distance.. The race was about to begin..
"Yeah.. There she is..", he yelled back, pointing at a girl in a short skirt.. As soon as Riddhima heard Rosy, she turned to look at what they were talking about.. She was in no way going to let that thing accompany Armaan in the race.. "Fine.. Fine.. I'll come.. ", she started following Armaan in a hurry who had already started towards the bike shed.. "You sure..", he asked coolly, pretending he didn't care, but smirking to himself..
"Don't you dare take that Rosy chick.. ", she warned him as they passed her, him leading with a smirk and her following him with an angry scowl.. He led her to his bike, and handed her one helmet to put it on.. She didn't want to, but he forced her.. "Basket.. No one rides without a helmet..", he told her strictly.. She had no choice but to put it on.. Then he mounted his bike and asked her to get on.. Riddhima noticed that this bike was nothing like his superbike back home.. This one had a lean body, huge tires and almost no mud guards.. She made a face at the shabby state of it, "Chi.. This is so dirty.. Koi inn bikes ko saaf nahi karta kya?.." Armaan rolled his eyes as he heard her.. "Basket, tumhe safai ke alava aur kucch nahi sujhta kya.. Now shut up and sit..", he said, a finality in his tone.. She mounted herself carefully, pulling her dress as low as possible and made herself comfortable behind him..
"Put your arms around me and hold me tight..", he instructed her.. She did as she was told as he started the bike and it roared to life.. She could feel the excitement now.. Her pulse rate increasing as he took the bike out and onto the track.. She saw the other riders ready at the start point with their bikes and girls.. She giggled as she thought of how cool this was.. She was sure even her Di had not done this ever..
At the start point, there was a deafening roar of all the bikes, ready to speed..
Armaan pulled her hands tighter around himself as he yelled over the din.. "Basket.. Just hold on tight!!"
She nodded, as there was no point in answering him.. And before she could complete that thought, she heard a whistle and.. "Aaaaaaa'.!!!!!!!!", her scream could not even be heard over the noise the bikes were making.. She just shut her eyes and hugged Armaan tight as he increased the speed even further.. After controlling her erratic heartbeat, she opened her eyes to see them speeding past the other bikes.. She gulped at the speed and as they turned a corner, Armaan tilted the bike to maintain the speed and her heart skipped beats again.. But this time she didn't shut her eyes.. Nor did she scream.. She just watched as Armaan deftly maneuvered the bike between all hurdles.. It was quite a rush she got, the adrenaline pumping in her blood vessels as they jumped over a hurdle.. But she just held on to him and enjoyed the ride.. This sure was the ride of a life time.. Thirty minutes and ten laps later Armaan skidded to a halt at the finish line with his hands up rising up in victory.. That's when she realized that they had won the race.. And though it was just a stupid club race, she couldn't help but feel she had won the Motocross championship or something.. She felt his hands take hers off from the death grip they were holding him in, and in one swift motion, he had pulled her off the bike.. Then getting down himself, he took off his helmet and grinned at her.. She took off her helmet, dazed, by what had happened and before she knew it he smacked his lips on hers.. "I always wanted to do that..", he exclaimed, visible happy by his victory, now that he had gotten his victory kiss.. He normally went solo, or had some random chick on his backseat.. And no.. He didn't kiss random chicks!.. Riddhima just thought she was stuck in a weird dream as he led her back to the bar.. She certainly didnt belong to this world.. but it was hers nonetheless.. There was so much noise around them suddenly.. All these people who were pretty quiet before the race had now suddenly found their voices.. Johnny's wife June had also come to the bar.. She had come to pick him up as he had all plans of drinking.. He introduced them to her and they had quite a nice time together.. After having spent hours at the bar, fooling around, they had finally called it a night, at early four in the morning!!..
"Yes Papa..", Armaan joined in her song, matching her off key, grinning foolishly at his old friend in the front seat as Riddhima continued, "Drinking Vodka.."
"No Papa..", Armaan shook his head vigorously in a 'no'..
"Telling lies?..", she yelled back, and held his head straight..
"No papa.. ", he slurred, taking her hands off his face and holding her close as she giggled.. "Open your mouth..", she tried to open his mouth.. "Open na Armaan..", she tried to insert her finger between his lips to part them.. But he kept them shut, as he held her finger and said, "Shh.. Johnny ko gussa aa jaeyga.. We're not talking about you dude!! ", he told Johnny, pointing her finger at him, then turned to Riddhima again, "Maybe we should sing another song.." Riddhima seemed to agree with him and they had started with Jack and Jill now.. Johnny rolled his eyes at his drunk friends.. Both of them had refused to have a drink as they had met up at the bar after the race.. When June offered Riddhima a cocktail she had hesitantly taken up her offer when Armaan had given her the go ahead.. Armaan himself, however had strictly refused any of his offers of beer or whisky and just ordered a coke.. Now what Armaan didn't realize was that in a bar like this one, when you order 'Coke', you most certainly mean 'Rum & Coke' or 'Jack & Coke'.. Ignorant to this custom, Armaan had downed glass after glass of coke, which definitely wasn't virgin coz it had started to show its effect.. after his fifth glass he had declared loudly, raising his glass, "Basket!.. I love you.. Lets get married right now!! Eh.. Johnny.. Get us married na yaar.. Panditji will take too long.."
Riddhima who had had two Mojitos was still in her senses as she tried to shut him up.. But she was drunk enough, not to realize what could have been wrong with him.. She just scolded him a little and continued with her drink.. What Johnny didn't know was that Armaan normally did such weird things.. So she must've thought its one of his jokes..
"You'll have to stay here for fifteen days son.. That's the official law to get married in Singapore.. And after that probably wait for a year or two to get a date in court for a marriage.. ", he had replied, sipping on his whisky..
"What!!.. One year.. ", Armaan had exclaimed loudly.. "India is way ahead in this man.. We can just go to a temple.. And just put a red color powder on Riddhima's head.. And done.. We'll be married.. See.. So simple..", he told him, thumping his back.. "Haina Riddhima.. India is the best.. ", he told her proudly..
"Armaan.. I'm the one who's drinking and you're the one who's getting drunk.. This is called true love..", she had declared, giggling to herself, only to make June spit out her drink.. She was sure the third glass of Long Island Iced Tea had become a little too strong for Riddhima..
Johnny had just laughed, enjoying the entertainment at their expense as he said, "Oh.. In that case there are a lot of temples in Singapore too.. You may want to try them.."
"Shut up will you.. They are drunk..", June had reprimanded him as both of them had gotten excited at that prospect.. But June's comment had started another topic all together, "We're not drunk.. Armaan cant be drunk.. And I am certainly not drunk..", Riddhima stated.. Armaan looked at her for a minute and then said, "Maybe you are drunk.. Coz I'm feeling like I am floating or something.. He he.. You know.. True love..", he said and burst out laughing, Riddhima joining in.. Soon they had created a ruckus as the drinks got to their heads.. When Riddhima had held the menu in her hand, pointing at it, and started shouting at the bar man "I want to have Sex on the Beach!!.." and Armaan had started to dramatically yell, "No Basket!!.. You cant do this to me..", they had no choice but to call it a night.. They even had to drive them back home, coz they weren't too sure that they would find their way back on their own.. With a lot of difficulty, Johnny had managed to get their address out of Armaan and June had driven them back.. And as soon as they were in the car Riddhima had started with her nursery rhymes and Armaan was keeping up with her stupidity.. He laughed a little as they now were singing.. "Twinkle twinkle.."
"How I wonder.."
"What you are.."
"Up above the world so high.."
"Like a diamond in the sky.. Yay!!!", and Riddhima ended that, jumping up and down in her seat, clapping at her own brilliant poem..
"Common kids.. Time to go home..", Johnny called out to them as they got out of the car and thanking them walked into their building, and had now started with Humpty Dumpty.. Though they were walking fine, he didn't want them to get into someone else's house this late in the night, so he followed them into the lift and up to their floor.. By the time they had reached their apartment on the twelfth floor they had finished singing Three Blind Mice and Hot Cross Buns.. Armaan found Hot Cross Bun hilarious and was busy laughing as he tried to unlock his door.. Johnny chuckled, helping him to unlatch the door and handing him the key waited till they got in, "You kids have fun..", he winked at them and shut the door as he walked away..
Armaan and Riddhima looked at each other as they saw him leave and the door close.. "What does he mean by have fun?..", she asked him.. Stumbling in her inebriated state as she finally found the couch and landed on it with a thud.. Armaan landed right next to her and looked at her, still trying to figure out what Johnny meant by 'have fun'.. "I don't know Basket.. Its just the two of us now.. Hum dono akele kya fun kar sakte hain..", he wondered aloud as she leaned her head on his shoulder, moving closer to him..
"Pata nahi.. Tum yahan akele rehte the toh fun ke liye kya karte the.. ", she asked him as he pulled her on his lap..
He thought of all he used to do.. Then said.. "Kucch nahi.. Yahan baitha rehta tha.. Kabhi kabhi uss balcony mein jaata tha.. But Basket.. Don't go there..", he warned her in a whisper..
She looked at him and whispered back, "Why?..", she asked him, scrunching her eyebrows waiting for him to answer..
He signaled her to come closer and whispered in her ear.. "You cant breathe there.. No air..", he told her like it was the biggest secret in the world..
She looked confused first, then asked.. "Like vacuum.."
"Yeah.. Vacuum.. Its very painful.. Don't go there.. ", he said, shaking his head, a shiver running down his spine.. He didn't understand why his eyes were suddenly welling up..
"Armaan..", she said softly, making him look at her..
"Hmm..", he said as he looked at her through moist eyes..
"I think you're drunk.. How can there be vacuum in the balcony.. Its open..", even in her drunken stupor, she tried to reason with him..
"I don't know Basket.. But I don't want to try it again.. It hurts a lot.. ", he confessed, remembering the pain that he had felt.. In his drunken state he told her all that he wouldn't have otherwise said when his head was in the right place..
"Where..", she asked him softly..
"Here..", he pointed at his chest.. She looked at where he was pointing and then at the tear that was rolling down his cheek.. "Aww.. My baby.. ", she hugged him tight and kissed him on his chest at the place he pointed to.. "Now it wont hurt ok..", she assured him..
"Promise..", he asked her, pulling her closer, trying to bury his face in her neck..
"Promise..", she said as she continued to place soft kisses near his heart.. He slowly lay back on the couch, taking her wit h him, holding her close.. She kept kissing him softly, moving a little to his neck and then back to his chest, caressing him, assuring him that nothing would ever hurt him.. she wouldnt let anything hurt him.. And soon both had fallen asleep in each others' arms holding each other tight dead to the world that was waking up around them..
"Basket.. Stop laughing.. Its not funny..", he said sternly, his head in his hands, his jaw clenching as Riddhima burst in another fit of giggles.. They were sitting on the couch, still in the clothes they had been wearing last night, Riddhima leaning lazily on Armaan, while he tried to push her away angrily every time she teased him about last night.. It was almost ten o clock in the morning and Armaan had just started to accept that he actually got drunk!!.. He was the first one to get up, disturbed by the pounding in his head.. He had wondered why he was having this crazy headache and his stomach felt so empty.. He really needed to eat something.. When he realized that Riddhima was sleeping on him he moved her a little, to try and wake her up.. After a lot of failed attempts he had finally smacked her butt.. And she sat up straight at once.. She couldn't see anything as her hair was all covering her face, making her look kind of scary.. He chuckled at the messed up hairstyle of hers as he got up, pushing her off him, but held his head almost immediately as he felt it heavy.. And when she said, "Aah.. My head hurts.. I shouldn't have had so much to drink..", it struck him!! He had actually gotten drunk!!.. As all the events of the night and early this morning started to play in his head, color rose up his face, partly due to embarrassment and partly due to the anger that was building up inside him.. Riddhima who had apparently also been thinking on the same lines found all this very funny and had burst out laughing.. But the worst was when Johnny had sent him a good morning MMS.. He had recorded their very crazy and very very embarrassing Nursery rhyme marathon and had left Armaan fuming as they watched it.. Riddhima was pretty embarrassed by it too, but she had already been there done that.. Nothing embarrassed her anymore.. What tickled her more was Armaan's embarrassment.. She had never seen Armaan out of control like this.. She realized all of a sudden how in control of himself he always was.. Nothing ever took over him.. Except his desires when they made out.. But that was a different issue all together.. As she remembered the mad drunken revelry of theirs she couldn't hold in her giggles.. And though she did remember what he had told her when they got back home, she pushed it at the back of her mind, not wanting to focus too much on it.. What she focused on instead, was the way Armaan had stood up at the bar and sung 'Tum toh tehere Pardesi', holding a beer bottle for a mike as the mostly firang crowd looked on.. And they had actually seemed to enjoy it.. But she very smartly ignored the chorus she was singing in the background along with him, creating the perfect effect for the brilliant song that it was!!.. Armaan had not taken his embarrassment well and had called up Johnny to yell at him.. He should have stopped him from drinking the coke if he knew it was actually a mix.. But what could he have told him.. He didn't know why he had so much of a problem in drinking.. Riddhima however found it hilarious that he sang nursery rhymes along with her.. And Armaan had had enough of the teasing now.. When he asked her to stop teasing him she giggled some more, "It is funny Armaan.. So finally Dr. I-Don't-Drink Mallik got drunk.. Seriously Armaan.. Couldn't you taste the alcohol?!!..", she teased him..
"It tasted like coke Basket.. How was I supposed to know..", he defended himself, still holding his head in his hands..
"That is why you should always read the menu..", she told him, grinning as she held his arm while he removed it from her hold..
"Yeah.. So that you can try each and every cocktail that is available.. Basket! Really! Sex on the Beach!!..", he asked, finding it ridiculous that she actually had created such a scene when the bartender refused to serve her anymore of the cocktails, afraid that he'll poison her..
But Riddhima remembered his reaction to her madness.. And that she found funnier as she teased him again.. "At least I knew it was a cocktail.."
And Armaan flared up at that, nudging her away from him as she grinned at him teasingly.. "I know it's a cocktail.. Just because I don't drink doesn't mean I don't know anything about drinks.. Woh toh I was drunk iss liye kucch bhi bak raha tha..", he told her, agitated with all the teasing.. He didn't like to be on the receiving end ever.. And since the time she had come into his life, he had been on this side of the equation a few times more than he'd have liked.. Riddhima however, was reveling in his embarrassment as she commented.. "Yeah right.. That is why you couldn't tell a Rum & Coke apart from a Coca cola!.. You're so cute Armaan.. ", and she pulled his cheek, grinning at him naughtily..
"Stop calling me cute.. I am not cute.. ", he said through clenched teeth, glaring at her, slapping her hand away from his cheek..
"Oh yes you are.. And you're cuter when you're drunk.. Just like a little kid.. My baby..", and she pinched his cheek again as she tried taking him in a bear hug.. But he pushed her away slightly and frowned at her.. "Hey.. Stop calling me that..", he glared his warning..
"Stop calling you what Baby?", she asked, faking innocence at his mad glare..
"Stop it Basket..", he warned her as she giggled at his embarrassment.. This was so much fun!! She had never seen him this irritated..
"What should I stop Armaan baby.. ", she asked again, testing him to the limit..
"Riddhima.. Enough..", he threatened her, raising his voice..
"Aww.. Baby ko gussa aa gaya..", she teased him, pouting as she did..
"Riddhima.. Don't irritate yaar..", he yelled at her, scowling.. She was not helping his headache at all..
"Main kahan irritate kar rahi hoon baby.. Tum khud hi irritate ho rahe ho.."
"Basket you're the limit..", he got up in frustration, about to go to his room and freshen up.. But she held his hand to stop him and stood up straight.. "Every dog has his day Armaan.. Baby!.. Kal tumhara tha.. Aaj mera hai..", she winked at him coolly throwing some attitude.. It was so unlike her.. But with Armaan, sab chalta hai..
And Armaan's answer was just as bitchy.. "Such a b!tch..",he scowled, unable to believe the attitude she was throwing..
"I know..", she smirked and winked at his comment.. Armaan smiled a sly smile and tightened his grip on her hand, walking closer into her, leaning in threateningly as he said.. "Basket don't you think aaj kal tum kucch jyada hi baat karne lagi ho?.. I'll have to do something about it.."
But Riddhima wasn't about to be bogged down by his threats so easily.. "What can I say baby.. You're my only inspiration.. You just bring it out of me..", she said cheekily, throwing back his own dialogue at him..
"So smart.. Abhi dikhata hoon.. Dialogue chor.. ", he said, pulling her closer as she tried to back off.. But she failed miserably in saving herself and he had started to tickle her.. She giggled and screamed and struggled to get out of his hold as he held her tight with one hand and tickled her with another.. "Aaa.. !! Don't tickle.. Armaan.. Aaa!!"
"Pehle kaho you wont call me baby..", he blackmailed her, not backing down..
"Baby..", she shouted through her giggles..
"Riddhima.. ", he shouted, unable to believe her guts.. But in that moment he got distracted and she took advantage as she kicked his shins and pulled her hand out of his, running for her life.. "Aaa!!..", she screamed as he ran behind her, chasing her.. "Riddhima ki bacchi.. I am not going to leave you.."
"Pehle pakadke toh dikha Armaan baby.. ", she said, evading him, throwing the couch cushions on him.. They hardly had any effect on him as he continued his chase and finally had her cornered in his room.. She had tried to shut the door on him.. But he had managed to overpower her and barged into the room.. "Armaan.. Nai.. Aaa!!..", she ran from him and went and stood on the bed.. Armaan stopped, grinning at the trap she had fallen into.. And before she could think of another escape, he quickly took hold of her legs, tackling her, as she came crashing down with him on top of her, screaming her lungs out at that move of his.. She struggled to free herself uselessly as he had her pinned underneath him, holding her arms to her sides and her flailing legs under his long and strong ones.. "Armaan.. Chodo.. Get off me.."
"Na.. I don't think so.. Bohot mazaa aa raha tha na tumhe?..", he asked her, smirking as he blew a flick of hers off her eyes..
She scowled at that and tried to negotiate.. "Accha.. I wont call you baby.. "
"The deal isn't valid now Basket.. I am not leaving you.. Try all you want.. ", he winked at her as she struggled again, nuzzling her in the neck as she giggled, his hair tickling her bare skin that was showing through the wide neck of her dress.. "Armaan stop it.."
"Don't pretend Basket.. I know you don't want me to..", he said, pulling out to look into her eyes..
She looked back into his eyes and got lost in them, laying still under him.. She didn't know where that passion suddenly came from.. She didn't know what to say anymore.. But her lips involuntarily made the words, "Armaan.. Please..", she pleaded in a whisper, not sure if she was pleading him to let her go, or pleading him to never let her go..
Armaan smiled as he heard her whisper his name pleadingly.. And he knew she wasn't asking her release.. "Basket.. I think I just understood what Johnny meant by 'have fun'..", he said, as she grinned back at him, her heart thudding against her chest anticipating his next move..
Armaan could feel her heart, close to his own, both competing for the fastest beater contest.. He was sure the rush he felt now was nothing compared to riding his bike at 120kmph.. He felt lightheaded as he took in her fragrance, giving him a high no amount of alcohol ever could.. No amount of adventure was as adventurous as this ride.. He didn't know much about romance.. Or so he believed at least.. But he was sure this was going to be classified under the most romantic moments he's spent with her.. As he joined his lips with her parted one's which were pleading for his touch, he felt that crazy feeling again.. He would never get used to this feeling.. Each kiss of theirs felt like a first, bringing with it a new feeling .. And this time, it was pure passion.. As he kissed her, she struggled in his hold, asking him to let go of her hands.. And this time it was only so she could snake them up to his hair and explore him however the hell she wanted.. Having set her hands free, he brought his up to caress her face, as he slowly pulled out and moved down to her neck.. He pulled her dress off one shoulder and his ardent kisses made her moan his name out loud.. But he didn't seem to hear that appreciation as her hands on his back and under his t-shirt were driving him crazy.. He wouldn't remember his name if anyone asked him right now.. He turned over, pulling her over him now, as he caressed her back, going down her hips, while she placed soft kisses on his chest through his t-shirt.. But that wasn't good enough.. So she started to pull up his shirt wanting more contact with his skin.. He let out a laugh as she desperately tried to get it off him, not realizing that his arms were busy as his hands caressed her.. She stopped struggling when she heard him laugh and looked into that naughty sparkle in his eyes.. Color flooded her cheeks as she realized what they were up to.. But her desires overruled her embarrassment, taking his arms off her back, asking him to get his shirt off him.. "I don't like these t-shirts Armaan.. They are so inconvenient.. ", she complained as he chuckled, pulling off his shirt up his head as he laid back again.. She smiled shyly, but leaned in on his chest, placing soft kisses to build the passion once again.. But Armaan's naughty head could not help but compel him to shamelessly ask, "Basket.. How come you can take off my shirt whenever you want and I don't get the same privileges?.. Why cant I take this dress off you?.. "
She stopped her kissing, the moment she heard that, and arched her back up to look at him, with her hands on his chest.. And to his shock and utter disbelief she said, "Of course you can..", wiping that grin off his face.. "But you 'may' not..", she added and winked at him naughtily.. And that brought his grin back on, tightening his hold around her waist, "You so shouldn't have said that Basket.. You shouldn't have..", he said with a threatening smirk.. Riddhima realized she had invited trouble with her cheek and tried to run for it.. But he had her under him again and she felt his hand creeping up one of her legs, "Armaan.. Stop it.. Its not funny.. ", she warned him as his hand came close to her dress, that had already ridden up her thigh a little.. "I know Basket.. It isn't funny..", he replied in a husky voice.. She giggled in spite of herself, squirming in his hold.. She knew he wouldn't dare do anything inappropriate.. But then she started to wonder what the hell was inappropriate.. Not like what they were doing right now was appropriate.. Armaan realized she had stopped protesting and brought his hand up, caressing her face to catch her attention.. "Basket.. I was joking.. "
"I know..", she said, caressing his face, then pulling him back into a kiss.. They kissed each other, starting gently this time.. But as the fervor built up, they were interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone.. Realizing it was coming from around them, Armaan put out a hand to the side table and found a buzzing phone.. He cut it without looking at the number, not breaking the kiss all the while.. Riddhima wasn't bothered either.. He was all that mattered.. He kept cutting the call, lost in her passion.. But it kept ringing.. The fifth time it rang, he got frustrated, as he pulled out reluctantly, arching up a little, "Kaun hai yaar subah subah..", he yelled into the phone as he answered it without checking who it was, ready to kill the caller for disturbing their make out session..
"Dr. Shashank Gupta..", that strict voice from the other end, stopped Armaan's heart for a second, as his eyes widened in shock.. He sat up straight at once and threw the phone into Riddhima's hands like it was a ticking bomb, moving away from her as far as he could, scared for his life.. How does HE come to know??!
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dis shows hw dedicated u r 2 dis story n i appreciate u putting up an update jus 4 us..thx
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