Joined: 09 May 2010
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Welcome to Thread 7 people!! I have to start a new thread while the previous part still remains incomplete.. i am trying to complete that soon, i.e, by the end of this day! and hopefully will fill the space below sooner than expected!
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The Shashank Redemption - Part 1
He stood in front of the door at early seven in the morning, not a second late today, wondering what awaited him at the other side.. He knew he shouldn't delay ringing the bell any further.. But the dread of facing the terror called Shanky aka sasurji was holding him back.. After what happened last night, he wondered if he was still welcome for breakfast.. He didn't care if he wasn't.. Not like he was dying to have breakfast with sasurji.. But he didn't want to throw attitude to add fuel to the fire, coz Shanky was highly inflammable at the moment.. Last night he had come to pick him and Riddhima up at the airport.. And the moment he had seen that glare in his eyes, he had known that the drive back home wasn't going to be a pleasant one.. And even the presence of Padma mom standing by his side wasn't comforting at that time.. And Dr. Shashank I-Can-Kill-You-With-My-Glare Gupta did full justice to his glaring talent by teaming it up with sarcastic taunts which had by the end of the drive, become an affrontation, with him insulting their entire generation and their ways.. Padma mom had seemed a little angry too.. But when Dr. Shashank's anger got out of hand, she had tried to calm him down. "Nahi Padma.. Mujhe kehne do.. Matlab koi discipline hi nahi hai.. These people don't have any rules to go by.. They just do what they want to do.. Kisi aur ki koi fikar hi nahi hai.. This generation I tell you.. Anjali bhi aisa hi karti thi.. Late night parties and sleep overs.. And I don't know what type of friends she had.. Riddhima se expect nahi kiya tha.. Lekin akhir behen kiski hai.. Upar se Dr. Mallik saath ho toh kya baat hai.. I am just glad that he hasn't come back with another tattoo on his arm.. Doctors hain aap dono.. Zara bhi resposibility nahi hai kya?.. Maine tum dono ko saath iss liye bheja tha so that you spend quality time together.. Wahan aawaragardi karne nahi bheja tha.. ", he berated them like never before, ignoring his wife's attempts to make peace between them.. But Riddhima had had enough.. She had been listening to his taunts throughout the drive and had not said a word since she knew he was kind of right in his place.. But now he was just getting on her nerves.. She could never bear him saying anything against Armaan.. "Papa.. Aap yeh kya keh rahe hai.. Don't talk if you don't know anything.. You weren't even there..", she raised her voice in defense.. She knew he was angry.. But there was a limit to everything..
"Yeah.. And you took full advantage of that fact.. haina Riddhima.. I had made arrangements for you to stay at a five star hotel.. I don't think that would have been inconvenient in any way.. I wonder then, what made you stay with him..", he confronted her, shutting her up at once.. What was she to say to that.. It was true that they had completely taken advantage of the fact that there was no one to disturb them or answer to.. And staying together was her idea after all..
Armaan saw her expression.. She was guilty as charged.. But Dr. Shashank didn't have to know the truth.. There was no point.. It would only make him more angry.. So he intervened, talking to him in a calm and manipulative tone.. "Sir actually.. Mujhe surgery ke liye late ho raha tha.. So we went to the apartment first.. Main shaam ko Riddhima ko hotel drop karne bhi waala tha.. But then Singapore ghumte ghumte bohot late ho gaya.. And the apartment was closer, so we just crashed in there..", he put it as sincerely as he could..
But Dr. Shashank didn't buy it.. "Crashed in there!.. Suna Padma.. Kaisi language hai inki.. I don't even want to know what 'crashing in' means.. ", ever since they had left for Singapore all he could think of was Anjali's 'pre-wedding honeymoon comment'.. It had made him uncomfortable, but he had let it go.. But when he found out that they were staying together, he had lost his head.. He really felt like this new generation had no limits and no rules to live by.. They just did what they thought was right.. And even if they knew it was wrong, it didn't bother them much..
Padma mom however, was up with the times and understood her children.. Though she did find the idea of them living together before marriage and stuff quite scandalizing, she had realized soon enough that there was nothing to worry about.. Both of them were engaged to be married and did have the right to make their own decisions.. At least they were not like the other kids of their time who changed partners like they changed clothes.. At least she was sure that these two knew their responsibilities and truly were in love with each other.. And that, her husband needed to realize.. "Shashank.. Aap bhi na.. Bacche nahi hai who dono..", she reprimanded him..
And Riddhima was grateful that at least her mom understood them.. "Exactly papa.. I am sorry.. I know humse galti ho gayi ki humne aapko call nahi kiya.. Lekin I don't see what is wrong in me staying with him.. And let me tell you it was completely my decision.. ", she stated, provoked by her dads overreaction to them living together.. But Armaan didn't think it was a good idea to stoke the fire that was already combusting her dad, "Riddhima..", he said in a reprimanding tone.. Why did she have to open her mouth when his lie had already settled the matter..
Riddhima however was really mad at her dad for being so narrow minded.. "No Armaan.. Tum hi keh rahe the na that we are not eighteen year old teens to lie to him.. Toh ab jhoot kyun bol rahe ho.. I know I wasn't doing anything wrong..", he looked at her warily.. If Dr. Shashank was being unfair in berating them like this, she was being downright rude and that was not helping their cause at all.. Both father and daughter were exactly the same.. Once they got angry then god help the world!.. But this time they were pitted against each other.. He wondered if it was a good thing for the world or worse.. Coz he certainly wasn't enjoying this..
Riddhima's shameless back answers and her refusal to accept her fault was only agitating Dr. Shashank more and driving him over the edge.. "Of course.. Staying with a guy before you get married to him is not wrong at all.. Wandering out on the streets till three and four in the morning is not wrong at all.. Dus gyara baje inki subah hoti hai.. That is not wrong at all.. Yelling rudely into the phone at your parents is not wrong at all.. ", he raised his voice, almost shouting at her..
And to Armaan's surprise she raised her voice to match his as she shouted back.. "Papa.. Woh neend mein tha.. Aur hum raat ko sirf ghumne gaye the.. Coz we had only that one night with us.. Its not like we were sitting in some shady pub and doing drugs.."
"Bas wohi baaki reh gaya hai..", Dr. Shashank quipped under his breath, taken aback by the tone his daughter was using with him..
And Padma had had enough.. These two were the limit.. Now she had to put a stop to this.. "Enough you two.. Shashank.. Ab jo ho gaya who ho gaya.. Ab hum usse change toh nahi ker sakte na.. Leave it now..", she scolded him, then turned to her daughter.. "And Riddhima, apne papa se aise baat karte hain kya.. Just because you've grown up doesn't mean you can talk to him the way you want.. And if you are so responsible then you should have taken care to call us and at least let us know that you had forgotten your phone.. Pata hain kitne pareshaan the hum when both of you were not answering our calls.. Tum dono saath the toh saari duniya ko bhul gaye.. Yeh nahi socha ki humpar kya guzar rahi hogi.. Armaan.. At least tum toh responsible ho na.. Tum bhi bhul gaye..", she put in a word or two to him also as he sat there quietly watching the Gupta family feud..
"Sorry..", he said in a small voice, looking down in shame.. Though Dr. Shashank was overreacting and being 'Shanky', he knew Padma mom was right.. And he felt guilty whenever she was hurt.. But as always she forgave them even before they started feeling guilty.. "Now forget everything.. What's done is done.. Next time yaad rakhna.."
"What next time.. There is going to be no next time..", Dr. Shashank's words sent his heart in a mad frenzy!!. There is going to be no next time!!!
"Papa!!..", Riddhima shouted, shocked that he would say such a thing.. She looked at Armaan and wondered if he would panic at those words.. But before she could pacify him in any way the car stopped and Dr. Shashank spoke again.. "Dr. Mallik.. Aapka ghar aa gaya.. Samaan nikaal lijiye.. And Dr. Gupta.. Kya aap bhi yahan utarna chahti hain?.. Go ahead.. Why don't you two just move in together?.. ", and though Armaan's heart did a flip at that last comment of his, he knew that he was being more sarcastic than he had ever been in his life.. Without much further ado, he got out, took his stuff from the back of the car and said a small goodnight to Riddhima and Padma mom.. Dr. Shashank didn't even wait for him to get inside his house and drove away, leaving him standing outside with four five bags and a guitar on his back.. Riddhima had of course called him later and assured him that it was just a passing phase.. Her papa was just being her papa.. And she was really angry with him.. And had declared that she wouldn't talk to him till he opens his head and tries to understand them at least.. But he had tried to calm her down.. Not coz he thought Dr. Shashank was completely right.. But coz he knew she wasn't completely right either.. And this sort of a behavior from her was only going to make matters worse between them..
He sighed, hoping that things had cooled down over the night and finally rang the bell.. Naani answered the door and gave him a fake smile.. Apparently she had heard of them living together and alone in Singapore and didn't like the idea much.. But at least she wasn't voicing her opinion.. Not when things were already so tensed in the house.. Padma mom saw him come in and greeted him cheerfully.. That was the only cheerful moment they had all morning.. Breakfast was quiet, with Shanky throwing his all famous and deadly glares in his direction, while Riddhima returned those glares back to her dad on his behalf.. If he was a third party watching this breakfast scene from the outside, he was sure this would look comical.. But he could hardly bring himself to laugh at this moment.. Lest sasurji stab that fork into him that he was using to practically murder that omelet instead of eating it..
"Oye hoye.. Aa gaye Romeo and Juliet from their honeymoon..", Nikki teased the two of them as they walked in through the main door of Sanjeevni.. But both of them were in no mood for this teasing session, "Shut up Nikki.. Teri yaadash chali gayi hai kya?.. Honeymoon pe tu gayi thi.. And where's your patidev?..", Armaan retorted as he put an arm around her and walked on while Riddhima who was still in a bad mood, continued with her frown.. Nikki noticed her frustration and asked Armaan.."Isse kya hua?.."
"Shanky..", he said, changing his answer quickly to "Sasurji..", the moment he saw her glare at him..
"Kyun ab kya hua?.. I thought sasurji was very happy with you two and it was his idea to send both of you there.. Anjie was telling us..", she asked him, as they entered the resident's cabin.. Rahul and Muskaan were already there, reading some file.. "Look who's back!.. So how was the pre-wedding honeymoon.. Or should I say post engagement honeymoon..", Rahul asked with a teasing grin the moment he saw them walk in.. Armaan gave him a glare as that comment of his only added to Riddhima's irritation.. He indicated to him to shut up through his eyes.. Rahul got the hint and shut up.. But Muskaan got excited when she saw Riddhima and went running to hug her.. "Yay!!.. Finally you're back.. Toh kya kya kiya?.. Photos toh liye na.. Humne kal hi Abhi aur Nikki ke honeymoon pictures dekhe.. They seemed to have a lot of fun!.. ", she said, winking at Nikki..
"Muski shut up yaar.. Tum log ab bore nahi ho gaye kya.. Humari shaadi ko do hafte ho gaye hain.. Abhi bhi chidha rahe ho.. I mean shaadi ke baad fun nahi karenge toh kya karenge.. Look at these two.. Yeh toh shaadi ke pehle hi..", Nikki started teasing them again, parrying the attack from herself towards Armaan and Riddhima..
Riddhima however, was at the end of her tolerance levels.. "Just shut it guys.. Don't irritate me.. Bohot ho gaya.. Mujhe bohot kaam hai.. I'll see you guys at lunch..", and taking her files, she stormed off towards Atul's cabin..
Armaan just watched her walk out, disturbed a little by the fact that she didn't even look at him once before leaving, let alone saying a 'bye' or a 'have a nice day'.. But she was hardly having a nice day herself.. So there was no point in expecting that from her.. Sighing he made to walk out of there and into his cabin.. But before he could do that Abhi walked in, "Hey!!. What's up with Riddhima.. I just asked her how her trip to Singapore was and all I got was a glare ..", he had been coming towards the cabin when she was exiting and had not gotten a very cheerful 'hey' in return for his..
"Kucch nahi yaar.. Sasurji is mad at us..", he said in short and tried to get away before they start teasing him.. But too late.. Abhi had already started with his 'honeymoon' comment, "Kyun.. Did the stories of what you did on your honeymoon reach him.. That isn't a good thing!.." making all of them snicker again..
Armaan got irritated now.. More coz Abhi had probably hit a raw nerve.. "Stop it guys.. Both of us were on business visas.. Main wahan surgery karne gaya tha.. Party karne nahi.. Please stop with this juvenile behavior now.. And Basket ke saamne toh bilkul mat chidhana.. She's really not in a mood for this.."
"Chill bro.. Hum toh mazaak kar rahe the.. Anyway.. Forget that .. Could you tell me how long it takes for a visa application to Singapore to be processed.. I might have to go there for a surgery on behalf of Dr. Shashank.. ", Rahul asked, changing the topic.. He knew better than to anger an already irritated Armaan.. The safest option was to distract him by asking him a question.. Plus he had been given a case by Dr. Shashank recently and the surgery was scheduled for next month.. He had to start applying if he had to make it on time..
Armaan was well distracted by that question as he answered, "There's no need for you to apply Rahul.. Tera kaam immediately ho jayega.. I mean if Sanjeevni is sending you, you just have to fill a form and you get visa on arrival within 24 hours.."
"Haan.. All the junior and senior residents of Sanjeevni and the heads of departments have a one year business visa to Singapore.. Its because of that MoU we signed with Medico.. Remember you filled that form two months back.. ", he reminded him.. But Rahul didn't seem to remember.. There was so much paper work they did and the admin sent them so many things to sign on that he must have missed it.. So had Nikki.. "Oh.. That was for the Visa.. I didn't know this..", she quipped..
"Yeah.. I didn't know it either.. That is why I used to think how Dr. Shashank just orders me to go to Singapore any time.. Abhi Riddhima ka visa dekha toh pata chala.. Sabke approval dates same hai.. Anjie told me that they have some contract that they have to renew every year.."
"You didn't know this?..", Abhi asked condescendingly.. "Tum log koi bhi papers pe sign kar dete ho kya bina padhe.. "
"Theek hai Mr. Know-it-all.. Don't be so smug.. Chalo.. Time for rounds.. Mujhe who patient ke baare mein discuss karna tha..", Nikki said as she started walking out of the cabin with Abhi following her like she was his senior!..
Armaan couldn't help but tease them, "Are you sure tum dono case discuss karne hi jaa rahe ho?.."
"Shut up moron..", she yelled before she disappeared behind the door..
"Awesome.. Toh mera ek kaam kam hua.. I guess we should also make Singapore our honeymoon destination Muskaan.. We should really learn something from Armaan and Riddhima.. Kaam toh kaam.. aur saath mein honeymoon..", Rahul couldn't help but tease Armaan as he felt relieved that he didn't have one more thing to run around in their busy schedule..
"Yeah.. Yeah.. Keep talking and I might just punch you..", Armaan threatened him walking towards the door..
"Darta nahi hoon main tujhse samjha na.. ", Rahul retorted, returning the threatening glare..
"Tu mil mujhe baad mein.. Abhi toh I gotto go..", Armaan said as he walked out.. "Any time..", was Rahul's retort.. But this time his face broke into a grin as did Armaan's.. It just reminded them of their college days.. Rahul saw Armaan walk away, shaking his head and grinning to himself..
"Chal Muskaan.. Main chalta hoon..", he turned to Muskaan.. He had OPD duty early this morning..
Muskaan however wasn't listening.. Her mind was stuck on something Rahul said a few minutes ago.. She realized suddenly that they had not been to a honeymoon at all.. She felt a pinch as she thought of how Nikki and Abhi and even Anjali and Atul had such a normal wedding and a honeymoon.. Now Armaan and Riddhima were headed the same way.. They toh went even before they got married.. And though she knew that they were being silly by calling it their honeymoon and stuff, they got time to spend with each other.. What they did in that time, was their personal matter.. And maybe they did make it a real honeymoon.. She knew they were too deep into each other now.. But that was besides the point.. What bothered her, was that she didn't get an opportunity to get a proper wedding, let alone a honeymoon.. She didn't even remember how and when they got married, coz for most of that time she was under tension that she was marrying a guy she doesn't love.. She would have loved to fallen in love with him first and then plan a wedding with him.. All that anticipation.. All that nervousness.. She didn't get to experience that at all.. And though she was happily married and in love with Rahul, she wished she could have that normalcy.. "Oye.. Tujhe kya hua?.. Kahan kho gayi?..', He asked her, when she didn't answer him for the longest time.. "Kucch.. Kucch nahi.. Mujhe bhi nikalna chahiye.. ", and taking her file and lab coat, she walked out of the cabin before him, leaving him behind, wondering why she was being so weird!
"Riddhima.. She's sinking.. Hurry up.. This is our last chance.. ", Atul almost shouted as he delivered CPR to the eight year old leukemia patient that they had worked so hard on.. She had always been unstable, but they had managed to keep her up for almost six to eight months now.. And just when they had started to get some hope, she had suffered a relapse again today.. Riddhima had been in the OPD all morning and just when she was about to go back to the cabin to catch come rest, Atul had paged her.. Though they had worked on this case together, she had mostly handled the patient.. She administered the required injections to the patient as quick as she could and only hoped that she would be able to save this little child like she had once before..
"Her heart rate has come to normal.. I think she'll be fine..", Atul said as he saw the stabilizing beats and eased breathing.. The medicines must have worked.. But he knew they were walking on a fine line here.. She was pretty much on the threshold between life and death..
"Dr. Arjun.. Monitor her for twenty four hours and report to me every hour..", Riddhima instructed the intern and then the nurse, following Atul out of the ICU.. They discussed the case quickly and came to the conclusion that this was it. Riddhima didn't want to believe it.. She hated it when she couldn't save a patient.. But now truly, everything was in the hands of that unknown power she called Bhagwaanji.. The worst part was that she was the one who had to break this news to the girl's parents and family..
"Hey!.. Kya hua?.. Headache?..", Armaan asked as he saw her sitting at her desk in her cabin with her head in her hands.. He had not seen her in the canteen for lunch, so he came here looking for her..
"Yeah.. And tension.. I'm losing a patient.. And I just told her parents that she might not live to see the morrow.. ", she said, her voice choking.. She was defeated.. There was nothing left to be done.. Armaan saw her state and went up to her, pulling up a chair next to her.. "Hey.. Don't worry ok.. There's only so much we can do.. Now you can only leave it to God.. "
"I know.. But.. I hate this feeling.. ", she said, sniffing, trying to control her emotions.. "Aaj ka din hi kharaab hai!..", she cursed.. She was still mad at her dad and had so much to catch up with.. She had to do double duty to make up for the two days that she was having fun.. And now, this new tension had come up..
"I know how it feels Basket.. When I was trying to save Mr. Sinha, you don't know what I went through.. But sometimes it just boils down to fate..", he could completely empathize with Riddhima at this moment.. and he had to agree, it was a terrible feeling.. But this was a part and parcel of a doctor's life.. They didn't have room for emotions when it came to patients.. They had to move on..
"Yeah.. Try telling that to the father of an eight year old.. " , she said bitterly.. Sometimes she wondered why she became a doctor.. This wasn't what she had signed up for..
"Common Basket.. Let it go.. Yeh toh humhare career ki shuruwaat hi hai.. Aur kaafi kucch dekhna hai hume.. Try thinking about something else.. And you know what will help.. A nice yummy lunch.. chalo.. Lets go..", he tried to cheer her up, pulling her up by her arm as he got up..
But Riddhima didn't want to go, "I don't want to eat Armaan.. Tum jao.."
"No naatak Basket.. Chalo.. Lets go.. Everyone's waiting.. ", he didn't listen to her at all, dragging her out of the cabin and to the canteen..
They came to the canteen to see all their friends gathered there.. Apart from a glum looking Atul all of them seemed to be in a very cheerful mood.. Riddhima just wanted to get away from there.. She didn't want all the teasing again.. But Armaan didn't let her go.. And to her surprise no one teased her about their Singapore trip.. She didn't know about how Armaan had banned all of them from teasing her, but she was thankful that something had put some sense into her friends.. They used this lunchtime to catch up with each others' lives..
"So.. How was your Singapore trip.. Humare liye kucch laya ya nahi..", Nikki asked Riddhima after she finished telling them about her week in Mauritius and gushing about how romantic Abhi was.. Though Abhi was embarrassed, he didn't say anything coz no one teased him about it.. Nikki gave Riddhima a bracelet made of shells that she had also got for Muskaan and Anjali.. When Armaan asked for his gift, she smacked him on his head to fulfill his wish..
Riddhima smiled as she put on the bracelet and answered.. "Of course I got stuff for all you guys.. But those are Christmas presents.. Kucch din wait kar lo.. But I had such an awesome time shopping for them.. Pata hai wahan har jagah Christmas sale laga tha.. I shopped so much..", she told them excitedly, forgetting about her patient and other tensions temporarily..
"Sara Singapore khareed ke layi hai.. You wont believe she has reached the limit of all three of her credit cards.. Next month ka bill bharte bharte do mahine ki salary nikal jaayegi madam ki..", Armaan commented sarcastically..
"You shut up!.. You didn't have so much of a problem when I bought you that Game that you so badly wanted for your X-Box.. ", she retorted..
But he pointed out immediately.. "Hey.. I paid for that game!.."
"Coz I ran out of cash.. Don't worry I will return the money to you.."
"Sirf bolti hai.. Karti toh kucch nahi hai.. Who Nikki ki Beetle ka hisaab abhi bhi baaki hai.. "
"Toh de dungi.. Send me the accounts.. "
"Ridzi!.. Enough you two.. Stop bickering and tell us what else you did.. Don't tell me sirf hospital jaakar ghar mein baithe rahe.. ", Anjali asked her.. And at once Riddhima's attention was diverted back to her Singapore trip for good, "Of course not Di.. We went so many places.. I still cant believe I did so much in two days.. The hospital there is so huge and well constructed di.. Its amazing.. And the city is planned so well.. And Armaan took me up the Sky tower observatory, from where you could see the whole of Singapore and Indonesia too.. And.. You know after that..", and she continued, describing in detail the wonderful experience she had in Singapore.. Everything from how beautiful Singapore looked from up the tower and how romantic the restaurant was.. Armaan just watched her as she recounted her experience.. And though he knew she had had the time of her life, hearing her bragging about how thoughtful and romantic he was made him feel proud of himself..
All of them were in splits when she told them about Dilruba and his Rupali.. And then about Helen and Raina.. "Poor girl was so nervous.. "
"Armaan waise bhi has that effect on his interns.. Especially the female interns..", Rahul commented as he heard that..
Riddhima scrunched her brows, not understanding what had brought that on.. But she let it go.. It was true that Armaan did have an effect on anything that was female.. Without bothering too much about that, she started recounting that incident.. of course skipping the parts that were close to her heart.. Like the part where he gave her chocolates coz he was so sure that she wouldn't eat without him.. But even in her censored versions she could not fail to mention Johnny and June and that bike race.. "You got drunk!!", Nikki exclaimed when Riddhima told them about the after-party at the bar.. Armaan raised his eyebrows in shock at the same time, glaring at Riddhima for bringing that up.. She giggled as she told them how he couldn't differentiate between coke and alcohol.. The guys had quite a time teasing him about it.. But the last nail in the coffin was when Riddhima in her excitement took out her phone, "Oh you have to see this..", Armaan knew at once what that was.. That was the MMS that Johnny had sent them in the morning to remind them how their basics were so good.. They still remembered what they were taught in nursery school!.. He had deleted that video from his phone.. But even after promising to him, she had not still deleted it from hers.. And no way in hell was he going to let her show that to his friends.. "Basket.. Stop it.. Give me that phone..", he tried to snatch it from her hand..
"No.. Armaan.. ", she couldn't stop her laughter as she tried to put on the video.. But he held her hand and tried to force the phone out of her hand.., "Kya hai Ridzi.. Armaan we want to see it.. ", Anjali said as she saw them play tug of war with that phone of hers..
"But I don't want you to see it.. ", Armaan said as he got up, trying with all his might to get the phone out of her hand..
"Armaan.. Stop it.. Dikhane de na kya hai..", Nikki said, trying to help Riddhima to not let the phone go..
Rahul and Abhi also asked Armaan to let go of the phone.. But he was determined to not make a fool of himself in front of all of them.. And currently he was mad at Riddhima for bringing that up.. He didn't understand why she wanted to make a fool of themselves.. Coz she should be equally embarrassed by the state they were in.. But she had enjoyed teasing him so much, that she had forgotten that she was equally, if not more drunk that night.. Atul saw them all create a scene and thought of helping his friends solve the problem.. So he paged Armaan from his pager to distract him.. The moment his pager rang Armaan got distracted and Riddhima got the opportunity to snatch the phone out of his reach.. But when he read 'Gotcha!', on the display screen, he glared at Atul and at once made a lunge for Riddhima's phone.. But this time she got up to run away from him.. And he followed her.. They played a mini catch-me-if-you-can around their lunch table, much to the amusement of all the people who were having lunch there, "Riddhima.. Mujhe phone de do.. "
"Nahi.. Let me show it to them na Armaan.."
"You were supposed to delete that video Basket.. Aren't you embarrassed about it too.. You started singing the rhymes.."
"At least I didn't sing Tum toh tehere Pardesi.. I didn't know you were an Altaf Raja fan.."
"What.. You sang what!!", Nikki could not believe her ears.. Abhi and Rahul were in splits while Muskaan and Atul were controlling their guffaws as the spectators looked on, Riddhima running and Armaan chasing her.. Each time she'd change her direction and he would follow her.. "Basket.. Bohot ho gaya.. Lunch is about to get over.. Stop this game.. ", he warned her, stopping for two seconds.. She stopped too, but stood away from him as she retorted.. "You let me stop this game Armaan.. I'll just play this video and done.. "
"No way in hell am I going to let you do that.. Give me the damn phone Basket.."
"Come get it yourself baby..", she said cheekily, winking at him.. That was it for Armaan.. Without a warning he sped towards her.. She realized a second too late and ran out of his reach.. But he caught hold of her dupatta.. And in that moment, her phone flew out of her hand and dropped to the floor, her heels slipped under her, and she was about to go crashing to the floor.. Armaan lunged forward to save her from the fall and was successful too, but in the process he bumped into a waiter, knocking out the tray of food he was carrying.. And to his utter shock and horror the food got spilled not only on the floor but also a very angry looking Dr. Shanky Gupta, who was now giving both of them his trademark terrorizing glare.. Making matters worse was the back ground music to this scene, coming from Riddhima's phone that was fallen on the floor.. "Drinking Vodka.. No papa.. Telling lies.. No papa.. Open your mouth.. Open na Armaan..".....
Armaan made Riddhima stand properly and gulped as he picked up her phone that was showing their crazy behavior on the wide screen that her touch phone had.. She had the video open and in the moment when they crashed, the play button must have gotten pressed by mistake.. He tried to shut the video off as fast as he could but not before Dr. Shashank saw the image of him standing on the bar top and singing with a bottle of beer in his hand!.. At that moment he knew, they were not just screwed.. They were screwed bad!!
He saw her come into the cabin and stood up from the couch that he was sitting on at once.. "Basket what did he say..", he asked her, going up to her.. A very angry Dr. Shashank had stormed out of the canteen in rage.. The only thing that had stopped him from slapping both of them right across their faces was the number of people gathered there.. And also the fact that his hand was full of the pasta that the waiter had spilled on him thanks to the two of them.. He had called Riddhima to meet him in his office.. When Armaan had accompanied her there, he had asked him to get out, trying very hard not to yell at him.. The throbbing vein in his temple was not a good sign and Armaan didn't think challenging him at this point was a good idea.. He was scared for Riddhima.. But he trusted Shanky enough and knew he loved his daughter.. But he was sure she was in for a earful today..
"Forget it Armaan.. I don't want to talk about it.. ", she snapped, her tone rude.. She didn't even bother to look at him..
"Basket.. Common tell me damn it.. I am sure he isn't too proud that you still remember your nursery rhymes.. ", he asked her bitterly, hurt by her behavior..
"Just let it go Armaan.. Mera mood already off hai.. Don't piss me off even more.. ", she raised her voice, as she looked for her file.. But when she started walking out on him, he held her arm tight and pulled her back, "Stop acting like it is all my fault Riddhima.. You were the one who wanted to show the video to everyone.. Are you happy now that everyone saw it.. Including your papa.. ", he seethed, mad at her for the blunder that could have been avoided..
"Mujhe jaane do Armaan.. Mujhe kaam karna hai.. ", she said, trying to control the tears that were ready to spill out of her eyes.. The damned day was only cursed!!..
"Basket.. I have a right to know.. I am sure he thinks it was my idea to get you drunk.. But let me tell you something.. If he tries to separate us because of such a stupid reason..", but he couldn't finish his tirade as she yelled in interruption.. "Stop it Armaan!!.. Please.. Stop shouting.. Why is everyone shouting at me!!..", and she broke down, her angry tears spilling out of her eyes as she tried to stifle her sobs.. Armaan loosened the grip on her arm at once, her tears making him feel guilty of shouting at her.. He took her in a tight hug as he apologized, "I'm sorry.. I am so sorry Basket.. I am not yelling at you ok.. Please don't cry.. I am sorry.. We wont talk about it if you don't want to..", he assured her, kissing her hair lovingly, rubbing her back to ease her sobs, as she cried on, hiding her face in his chest, holding on to him tight.. She didn't know why everything was going wrong today.. Like God was making her payback for something she did.. Only he didn't know what.. Unnecessary complication were making their way into their life.. Finally the building tension of the day, had come out, and she felt better as she poured it out, tight in his embrace as he caressed her lovingly, assuring her that he was there with her and would make everything alright..
After he was sure she had calmed down, he pulled out and started dragging her out of the cabin.. "Armaan kahan le jaa rahe ho?..", she asked as she wondered where he was taking her.. And all her doubts were cleared when he took her to the fire escape and then up the flight of stairs to the terrace.. Taking her to their favorite spot next to the parapet, he pulled her down on his lap and cradled her to his chest, holding her tight to himself.. And she let him hold her, putting the fact that she had to go on rounds at the back of her mind.. She really needed to cool down.. And what better way than this.. She smiled as he slowly started kissing her neckline, pulling her dupatta out of his way.. And soon he had captured her lips in a gentle but passionate kiss.. And she kissed him back, pouring out all the frustration that had cornered her today..
"You want to talk Riddhima..", he asked her cautiously, as they sat quietly for sometime after they were satisfied with the kiss.. Now that she had calmed down considerably, he dared to ask her.. He didn't want to piss her off.. But he knew talking about it would make her feel better.. Apart from that, he had to know.. He was the reason all this had happened.. He just hoped that Dr. Shashank hasn't changed his mind about him..
And she guessed his insecurity right as she answered.. "Don't worry Armaan.. He hasn't asked me to stay away from you.. Not yet anyway.. "
He was relieved as he heard that but didn't say anything about it.. Instead he just asked, "Then what else did he say.. ", now it was time to rid her off that tension..
"What do you think he said Armaan?.. He yelled at me like he never has before.. He said I let him down and he didn't expect me to behave like this.. Then I don't know from where the topic of us living together came up again.. And then he started saying how I don't understand the difference between right and wrong anymore.. And what not.. You don't want to know.. And then I did something stupid.. Instead of apologizing and ending the matter, I yelled back at him for being narrow minded.. I didn't know why I did that.. But I was so angry at that time, that I just couldn't stop myself.."
"I bet he taunted you about me.. That is the only time you yell back at your papa..", he answered as he heard her.. He didn't miss her deliberate attempts at leaving out all the insults that her dad had thrown at him.. And he knew he had caught her in the wrong, coz she looked away from him and answered.. "Whatever Armaan.. The point is.. I am not talking to him now.. The way he was yelling Armaan.. Bahar tak awaaz jaa rahi thi.. Dr. Shubhankar ne andar aakar dekha bhi.. Aur I think he went and told Di about it.. Coz after some time Di came and stopped the argument between the two of us.. It was so embarrassing.. ", she complained to him about her papa..
But Armaan seemed to side with his sasurji.. Did she really expect him to say, 'Well done beta! I am proud that you got drunk with your fiance and then crashed in his apartment!', "Basket.. You cant really blame him for yelling at us can you?.. After what he saw on your phone.. "
"Yeah.. But I am not a ten year old anymore Armaan.. Aisa toh unhone kabhi tab bhi nahi danta tha jab main actually das saal ki thi..", she retorted angrily..
"But you were behaving like a ten year old Basket.. Playing pakda pakdi in the canteen doesn't really suit a 26 year old doctor.. And I am sure the food that spoilt his favorite suit did not do anything to cool his temper..", he pointed out to make her even more angry.. "Why are you taking his side Armaan?.. Do you want to know what all he was saying against you.."
"I'd love to.. But I am sure you wont tell me.. So its ok.. I think I already know what kind of an opinion he has about me.. He has accepted us and knows that we love each other.. But I am sure he thinks I have spoilt you somehow..", he told her exactly what he felt was true.. It was probably true..
But Riddhima found her dad's ways a little unfair.. "I don't understand Armaan.. Jab Di had come home drunk, tab also he had not shouted at her like this.. She always got away with just silent treatment.. And at that time she wasn't even legal.. I am an adult.. I can do what I want to.. He cant have a control on everything I do..", with all the freedom that she was enjoying with Armaan her rebellious streak had suddenly taken over.. What she didn't realize and Armaan rightly pointed out was.. "But you gave him that control Basket.. You should have had this fight with him ten years back.. Then probably it wouldn't have hurt him so much now.. "
"Armaan.. Bakwas mat karo.."
"Main bakwas nahi kar raha Riddhima.. You were always his perfect daughter.. You didn't rebel when normal kids, like your Di, rebel their parents and start growing up.. You just always listened to him and did what he said.. to please him or whatever, I don't know.. Not that it is a bad thing.. But then, now that he sees you doing things that he never imagined you to be doing, it obviously hurts more.. ", his logic was perfect.. And Riddhima didn't like that one bit.. Why was he such a good boy! "Why doesn't he just understand that I am not a kid anymore.. "
"He cant Basket.. It's a social condition known as a Generation Gap.. It's the biggest hole ever.. And normal parents get over it by the time their children become adults, but sasurji to hain hi one in a million.. Just like my Basket.. ", he concluded his gyaan..
"Shut up.. And how do you know so much about all this..", she wondered her question aloud.. She could have never imaging someone who didn't have parents while growing up to know so much about the generation gap!
"I've seen Nikki bicker with her parents continuously through high school and junior college.. I have listened to hours and hours of how they don't understand her.. And how she's so happy that she is in boarding school away from them.. ", he told her of how Nikki had gone through the same thing, but that was years back.. And he told her the only solution to this problem too.. "Basket.. There's only one way out of this now.. One of you has to understand.. Now since you claim to be a responsible adult and all that you know.. ", he said, waving his hand in explanation, "I think you should do the honors of calling for truce.. Coz I thing we really hurt him by ignoring him completely that night.. And now that he knows what we were actually doing while he was sitting worried for us here, he is sure to not be an understanding papa.. "
"But mamma toh understood.."
"Did your mamma see us run around the canteen and hear our drunken orgy.. If she would have I am sure she would have been mad too.. She wouldn't have lost her head like that .. But what can I say.. Sasurji ke mamle mein mera bad luck thoda kharaab hai.. He always catches me in the wrong place at the wrong time.. And now that you are a part of my existence, you have to bear the curse too..", he joked half-heartedly..
"Shut up.. You aren't cursed.. It was my stupidity.. I am sorry.. I shouldn't have started the whole topic about you getting drunk..", she knew she was at fault. She shouldn't have been so pushy if he didn't want her to show that video to everyone.. But Armaan wasn't going to let her take the blame so easily.. "No Riddhima.. Its my fault.. I shouldn't have started chasing you around.. Unn kamino ne dekha hota toh theek hota.. At least your papa wouldn't have seen it.. ", he really wished, he would have let her show that video instead of creating a scene at lunch!
"Not but.. I was just being insensitive..", she started to take back the blame on herself.. But he stopped her in good time.. "Ok stop.. I have work to do.. And so do you.. Lets decide who's fault it was later ok?.. Bas promise me ki aaj raat ko ghar jaakar you will apologize to Dr. Shashank.. On both our behalves.. ", he asked of her.
She frowned, not liking the idea at all.. "But.."
"No buts Basket.. Please.. Just end the jhagda here.. Its better for both of you.. And for me too.. Please..", he pleaded.. And it worked well for him as she said.. "Ok.. "
"Alright then.. Chalo.. Dr. Payal intezaar kar rahi hongi.. She had some case to discuss.. There's some complicated surgery coming up.. Tumhari patient kaisi hai..", he asked, getting up as they walked out the terrace and down the stairs, back to work..
"Ab tak toh stable hai.. I just hope her condition improves.. Chances toh kam lag rahe hain.. ", she told him sadly.. But her mood had improved considerably after that talk with him.. This talking really helps..
"Marrow transplant nahi ho sakta?..", he asked her to hear from her.. "Donors nahi match ho rahe.. Both parents are non-matches and she doesn't have siblings.. ", and they discussed the case on before going their separate ways as they walked out of the fire escape, promising to see each other at dinner, hoping that Dr. Shanky will be in a better mood by then!..
Muskaan was sitting in the residents' cabin at the end of the day waiting for Rahul to finish his work so they could go home together.. This happened almost everyday now a days.. She would finish her work everyday and wait here for at least half an hour doing time pass till he was done with his work.. On the days that he worked till late, she would go home alone by rickshaw or taxi and wait for him at home instead.. Most of the time, he used to be very tired and not in any mood to go out when they came home.. They would have the dinner that the maid would cook in their absence and then watch some TV before going off to sleep.. Sundays were reserved for romance.. They would go out for a long drive or sometimes go out for either lunch or dinner.. Or just spend the entire day in bed.. But many times that too wasn't possible if she'd get called for an emergency delivery or something else came up at the hospital.. She had not realized how boring her life had become while everyone else around her had such masala in their lives.. Abhi and Nikki were newly married.. Armaan and Riddhima were having so much fun.. Though she was sure they were going to have a different kind of fun after what happened in the canteen today, she found the whole drama pretty entertaining.. Even though she sympathized with them.. Poor souls just couldn't catch a break.. Something or the other always created problems in their life.. But all the same, she thought at least they never got bored.. But then she felt guilty for thinking like that.. If she tells Rahul that she's bored, he was sure to feel hurt.. Everyone has their own life and their own fate to live by.. It was unfortunate the way they got married.. But he had only done her a favor by marrying her at that time.. To think of it.. Their wedding itself was the filmiest one of all.. Maybe that was the biggest drama of her life.. There was no need for more.. But whenever she thought of the grand wedding and all the masti at her friends' weddings, she always felt she missed out on the fun.. None of her friends except Armaan and Riddhima had attended her wedding.. Upar se they didn't even go for a honeymoon.. But that was only because she had refused to go.. She remembered Rahul's mom asking them to go out for sometime.. But she had been apprehensive and Rahul had wriggled out of that spot by making some excuse of having too much work..
"Hey Muskaan.. Ghar nahi gayi ab tak..", Riddhima asked her as she entered the cabin to take her stuff.. She was late today coz she had to do double duty and was surprised that she wasn't the only one working late..
"Rahul ka wait kar rahi thi.. He'll just take some more time.. Waise Armaan aaya tha.. He's asked you to call him so he can come to pick you up.. Woh tere ghar gaya hai..", she informed Riddhima.. Armaan had come earlier and told her that how Riddhima had double duty and he had finished his work.. But he was going home and would come back to get Riddhima when she was done..
Riddhima was surprised.. Why would he go home when she wasn't there?.. "Theek hai.. But its ok.. I'll just take a cab.. ", she didn't want to trouble him.. She could travel on her own for one day.. In fact she should probably get her own car from tomorrow.. At least until this double duty naatak doesn't get over..
"Waise Ridzi.. Dr. Shashank ne kya kaha.. I'm sure he wasn't too happy to see you running around like that.. I swear, meri toh jaan hi nikal gayi thi.. Armaan bechara dar ke maare mar gaya hoga.. ", Muskaan asked her.. She was quite a gossip that way.. But it wasn't so funny to Riddhima.. She remembered that she had to go home and sort that issue with her dad.. "Chod na Muski.. Its not like we can do anything about it now.. I am tired.. Mujhe chalna chahiye..", she said, taking her bag and walking towards the door..
Muskaan realized this wasn't the best thing to ask her friend who was already in so much tension.. "Ridzi.. Sorry.. I wasn't making fun.. Just.. You know.. Waise.. You guys seemed to have a lot of fun in Singapore.. In full Armaan style!", she changed the topic, asking her excitedly.. The drunk Armaan and Riddhima surely looked like they were having the time of their life..
Riddhima smiled at that.. The very mention of all the fun she had in Singapore lightened up her mood.. "Yeah.. The best two days of my life!.. Itna mazaa toh mujhe Goa mein bhi nahi aaya tha.."
"Of course.. Iss baar hum nahi the na tumhe disturb karne ke liye..", she just couldn't help but tease her..
"Stop it Muski.. Stop being so childish now.. ", Riddhima reprimanded her but blushed anyway..
"Toh itna blush kyun kar rahi hai?.. ", she teased her again.. Then thinking of something she asked, "Ridzi.. Ek baat bata.. Have you guys.. You know..", she asked hesitantly, not sure if it was appropriate.. But Riddhima was her best friend.. And though they had never discussed this before, she thought it wasn't that scandalizing that she talk to her best friend about it..
Riddhima however was extremely scandalized.. Her eyes opened wide as she realized what she meant.. Why would she ask such a thing?.. "No Muski!.. I mean.. No.. Of course not!.. Its not like that..", she stuttered, going completely red in the face..
"Chill yaar.. Itna kyun bhadak rahi hai.. Theek hai.. Maine toh bas aise hi pucha.. Tum log humesha ek dusre se chipke hue hote ho toh I asked.. Itna toh I can ask na..", Muskaan defended herself.. She remembered having that discussion with Nikki before she got married.. She had been surprised that Nikki and Abhi had waited till they got married.. But she was happy to lend a ear to the nervous Nikki.. Riddhima had been depressed at that time and plus they didn't really think she would talk about this stuff.. She was sure now, after seeing her reaction..
Riddhima wondered if she was being a prude, behaving like she was in school or something.. But whatever it was, she wasn't comfortable discussing things like this with her friends.. Not yet anyway.. "Aisi baat nahi hai Muski.. But we haven't.. And please.. We're not always chipka hua .. What do you mean.. And I don't want to discuss about this.. Teri shaadi ho gayi hai toh tu shamelessly kucch bhi puch rahi hai.. I find it very very awkward.. ", she remembered how awkward it was when her Di had also confronted her about this when she had thought Armaan and Riddhima had gotten too close..
Muskaan just smiled at her silly friend.. "Accha theek hai.. Lets not talk about it.."
"Thank you.. Ab main jaun?..", and she started towards the door again..
"Sure!.. But you can talk to me about it if and when you feel like.. ", Muskaan added with a wink..
She smiled in return.. "Thanks Muski.. But I am hundred percent sure I wont have to discuss anything like this with you..", she was pretty sure.. Yes..
"We'll see.. Chal bye.. "
"Bye.. ", but as she started to leave, she stopped and turned back to her.. "Waise Muski.. Tu khush hai na.. I mean.. Everything ok between you and Rahul..", she realized that she had been so busy all this while with her own life that she had completely forgotten about her friends.. She hoped that Muskaan was happy with Rahul.. They did look happy.. But considering the circumstances in which they got married, she wondered if things were settled now.. It was almost going to be a year..
Muskaan nodded as she answered.. "Of course.. He's all I could ever ask for.. You know I am so lucky.. I actually fell in love with the guy after I got married to him.. Maine kabhi aisa nahi socha tha..", she told her, thinking of how much she's in love with her husband.. She had always imagined she would get married to someone she is in love with.. But she was sure that even if they had not gotten married, she would have surely fallen for Rahul some day.. They were meant to be..
Riddhima smiled at that reply of hers.. "Maine bhi kabhi nahi socha tha ki mujhe Armaan jaise insaan se pyaar hoga.. Ya kabhi mujhe kisi se pyaar hoga bhi.. You know how I had just given up right..", they used to have thes long discussions on how there were no guys left in this world for them and how they are going to end up alone.. Cranky old maids with no one to call their own..
Muskaan giggled as she remembered that.. "We.. We had given up..", she reminded her.. Then added.." Yaad hai our pact.. "
Riddhima giggled as she remembered their stupid pact.. Well they had made this pact when they had really thought that no man in this world was good enough for them.. And if there was, he was either married, booked or gay.. And though they got this idea from watching that episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, they had given it their own new angle.. So they had made a pact that if they don't find anyone by the time they were 40, they would move in together.. Or probably get married.. Since it was legal and all now.. At least they wouldn't end up being lonely spinceters.. They had had quite a few jokes amongst themselves regarding this pact.. Of course now that pact stood invalid since both had found someone.. "Yeah.. Lets not talk about it.. Armaan aur Rahul ko heart attack aa jayega..", she said, laughing at how stupid they were..
"Look at the good thing.. If they ditch us we still have each other..", Muskaan winked at her as she said..
They laughed together at that, thinking of all the fun they had together.. "I miss you Muski.. Its been so long since we've just spoken to each other like this.. Or gossiped.. You know..", she sighed.. It had really been long..
"Yeah I know.. Chal aaj bahar chalte hai.. Just the two of us.. We'll ditch the guys..", Muskaan said excitedly.. They really needed to catch up with each other..
Riddhima really wanted to go.. But she had something important to do today.. Not that she really was looking forward to it. But she had to.. "Sorry Muski.. Aaj possible nahi hoga.. Aaj I have to go home and sort things out with papa.. You know.. Things are a little tensed.. He's really mad us.."
"Well .. What else do you expect.. Forget the running around that you were doing in the canteen, but he saw you in that drunk state.. I mean.. He isn't going to be proud of that, is he?", Muskaan told her matter-of-factly..
But Riddhima got irritated that everyone was siding with her papa today.. Why couldn't they see how unfair it was on her.. "I know he feels angry and all Muskaan.. I understand he has a right to be angry.. But the way he yelled at me was not nice ok.. Even yesterday all the way back from the airport, he was taunting and scolding me like a teenager.."
"Ridzi.. Whatever you say, you cant expect him to be happy about what you did.."
"I don't expect him to be happy.. I just want him to accept it.. Fine.. Just because he found out that I got drunk once doesn't mean that I've become another person altogether.. Khud toh New year's eve pe kitna peete hain apne friends ke saath.. Har saal.. What about that.. When I used to stop him, he would say he is a social drinker.. And its not bad when you drink occasionally.. When I would want to try it, he would say that it is for adults and not for children.. Now toh I am an adult na.. Its wrong when I do it.. When he does it, its just for fun and relaxation.. Yeh accha hai..", she got agitated as she finished her rant..
Muskaan understood her point, but still.. "Ridzi.. Unhe toh aisa hi lagega na.. He's your papa..", she told her softly, hoping she would not get frustrated and angry again..
Riddhima sighed at that.. "I know.. And I wouldn't have said anything.. But he unnecessarily drags Armaan into everything.. Armaan ne kucch kiya bhi nahi.. Uss bichare ko toh pata bhi nahi tha ki who kya pi raha hai.. Har cheez ke liye usse blame kar dete hain.. And sometimes he is so narrow minded.. Its not like Armaan and me don't know what's right and what's wrong.. ", she complained..
"Calm down yaar Ridzi.. I understand ki parents unfair ho sakte hain.. Lekin.. To tell you the truth tu bohot lucky hai.. I mean.. Dr. Shashank ne khud hokar tujhe Armaan ke saath bheja.. I don't think mere papaji kabhi bhi aisa karte.. In fact tumhe bohot freedom hai.. Apne khud ke decisions lene ka freedom.. Choti choti cheezein you know.. Like I am sure Dr. Shashank has never had a problem with you wearing a skirt.. Mere ghar mein toh hungama ho jaata tha.. Tu toh jaanti hai kaise shaadi ke liye peeche pade the.. Har ek cheez mein interference.. Iss liye toh maine college yahin pe karne ka faisla liye.. Ghar se dur at least who chik chik toh kam hui.. And even when I was here, din mein char paanch baar phone karte the, to ask me where I am.. Then they used to call up my landlady and ask her whether I was at home.. To make sure I don't party around..", Muskaan started with her rant this time.. No one.. Absolutely no one could stop complaining about their parents once they started.. Like Muskaan had.. "Not like I didn't manage to trick them when I really wanted to go out.. But.. I know I was not doing anything wrong.. But for them.. If they found out they would kill me.. And aisa nahi hai ki I don't love them.. Mummy or papaji bhi mujhse bohot pyaar karte hain.. But they are of a different school of thought.. And plus humara joint family hain na.. Toh hazaar logon ke taane sunne padte hain.. That is why they cant even support me even when they know I am right.. Uss hisaab se Padma aunty and Dr. Shashank are pretty cool.. Dr. Shashank thode terrorizing hain.. Especially tere Armaan ke liye.. But then you know what they say about a girl's father and the guy right.. I am sure he'll get over it..", Riddhima understood exactly what Muskaan was telling her.. She was right.. She was so lucky to have such awesome parents in her mom and dad.. Her mom toh was cool only.. But her dad was damn cool too.. Only her definition of cool had changed and his had not.. But he loved her more than anything else in this world.. Till now she was just thinking of how unfair he's being.. She forgot to recollect those times, which were many many more in number, when he had been the perfect dad.. When they had started using pens for the first time in school, he bought her a Parker roller, which she had proudly shown off to her other ink-pen using friends.. When all her other friends travelled by bus or rickshaw, she had a chauffer driven BMW.. When she would sometimes get a 94 % in her exams instead of 98 % and her mom would scold her and compare her to her classmates, her dad would shut her mom up and buy her an ice cream.. He would tell her that she had done very well but there's always room for improvement.. Not once did he scold her or compare her to others.. He always supported her.. Especially when she would fight with her Di.. He would always take her side.. So much that once her Di had made a big scene in the house telling him that he was partial towards her and that he loved his younger daughter more.. She knew that wasn't true.. But then it was kind of true, her dad was a little more affectionate towards her.. She shouldn't have felt happy about it.. But she couldn't help that feeling at all.. And now that she thought of the afternoon incident, in the bigger picture, it was just a stupid fight.. Even if she becomes a hundred years old, she would always remain his daughter and he would always have the right to scold her.. Armaan was right.. One of them had to understand.. And she had understood well.. It was time to make peace..
The click of the opening door distracted her from her thoughts, "Chal Muskaan.. Aaj bohot late ho gaya.. And aaj who maid bhi nahi aane waali thi.. Lets just order pizza or something.. Tu khaana wana bana mat abhi.." Rahul came in hurriedly without looking at who was there and started winding up his stuff..
Riddhima and Muskaan looked at him and smiled.. When he got no answer, he looked up to see both of them smiling at him.. He gave them back a sheepish smile.. "Hey! Riddhima.. Tum abhi tak yahin ho?.. Dr. Shashank and Armaan toh dono kabke ghar chale gaye.."
Riddhima heard that, and her eyes widened.. No no no.. Armaan and papa.. Dono at home.. Without her.. That wasn't a good idea at all.. "Oh crap!!!", she hurriedly started to leave, hoping a mahabharat hasn't broken out at home..
"Armaan.. Tum itne jaldi aa gaye.. Riddhima kahan hai?..", Padma asked as she saw a grinning Armaan, sans his Riddhima, at the doorstep..
"Usse double duty thi.. She'll get a little late.. So am I not allowed to come here unless she's there?..", he asked, jokingly..
Padma chuckled at that, "Chup kar.. Come in fast.. Meri daal jal jaegi.. Stove pe rakh ke aayi hoon..", and she hurried back to the kitchen, Armaan right behind her..
"Fridge se paani le lo.. Aur Kucch khana hai.. Bhook lagi hogi na?..", Padma asked him as she stirred the daal..
"No thanks Padma mom.. Sab saath mein dinner karenge..", he turned down her offer as he drank water from the bottle and put it back in the fridge.. She was still stirring the daal.. He saw her, then cautiously started with what he had actually come here for.. "Waise.. Padma mom.. Aaj na.. Sanjeevni mein.. Hungama hua.. In the afternoon.." He knew that Dr. Shashank was completely under Padma mom's control and she was the only one who could calm him down.. Besides if sasurji told her about the afternoon incident, it would be mostly from his perspective and that was sure to get even the very sweet and understanding Padma mom angry.. He didn't want Riddhima to face her wrath too.. So he had come to tell her the story himself.. Though a little from their point of view.. So that at least they would have Padma mom to neutralize Dr. Shashank's acidic temper..
"Kyun kya hua?..", Padma asked him, looking up from her work as she heard him..
Armaan sighed, "Kucch nahi.. Who .. Dr. Shashank ne mujhe aur Riddhima ko..", the moment he said that, Padma looked at him, "Kya kar rahe the tum dono..", she asked suspiciously..
"Pakda pakdi khel rahe the.. canteen mein..", Armaan answered warily, only to make Padma mom scowl,"Kya?.. Armaan!..", she giggled a little at that thought.. They were such kids!..
"Who apki beti ki galti hai.. She's become so naughty I tell you.. She doesn't listen to me only..", he complained to his Padma mom.. She however found it very amusing and asked, "Toh kya hua?..", getting back to chopping veggies for the salad..
Armaan sighed, grinning foolishly as he narrated.. "Toh we were running around.. And then.. She almost fell.. I caught her.. Crashed into a waiter.. And the tray full of food fell on.. Dr. Shashank..", he concluded, only to make Padma mom go, "What!!.."
"Yeah.. His favorite suit got spoilt..", Armaan said, twitching his nose as he remembered the state his suit was in..
"Which one was he wearing today.. Haan that grey waala na.. I know.. That's his favorite..", Padma said, recollecting what he had worn to work today..
Armaan smiled at how calm Padma mom was.. Of all the things she could focus on, she was cross checking if he was indeed wearing his favorite suit.. But he knew it was.. "I know.. "
"How do you know..", she asked him suspiciously..
"You don't know Padma mom maine sasurji ko patane ke liye kitne papad bele hain.. I used to stalk him everyday.. I have statistically derived it.. Of all the suits he has, this one was the most frequently used and hence his favorite.. Maths can hardly ever go wrong.. ", he told her proudly.. She laughed at that.. "So smart of you Armaan.. Try telling him that.. He might get impressed.. ", and she continued to giggle.. Armaan knew he had not told her the entire truth yet.. But her calm reactions were a good indication.. So he went on.. "You think so.. Coz I really need to do that right now.. He is really mad at the two of us.."
"What did he say.. ", she asked him casually.. Obviously he must have shouted at them..
"I don't know exactly.. Coz he yelled only at Basket.. I mean Riddhima.. Usse bohot bohot jhada..you know.. Bahar tak awaaz aa rahi thi.. Finally Anjali had to intervene..", he told her, his tone almost complaining.. And it had the right effect, coz Padma scrunched her brows at her husband's so called over reaction.. "Really?.. All this coz you were running around in the canteen.. Shashank bhi na.. He has outdone himself this time.."
And now was the time to make the big revelation.. "Uh.. Actually.. I think the video also must have added to his spoilt suit..", he told her like he was trying to defend his sasurji this time..
"What video?..", obviously Padma wasn't going to ignore that..
He got nervous this time, wondering how he should tell her.. "Uh.. Woh kya hai na Padma mom.. Hum jab Singapore mein the na.. Toh.. Woh.. Wegodrunk..", he said fast.. "And one of my friends took a video.. And Dr. Shashank saw it.. ", he said, his heart beating fast, hoping that she had not heard him properly.. But she was hardly going to let it go.. She just hoped she had not heard what she thought he had said right.. "What!!.. What did you do in Singapore..", she asked, her voice rose a little..
"Woh.. Humne kucch.. zyada pi li..", Armaan stammered as he told her the truth, hanging his head on shame.. And he got quite a reaction to that.. "Kya?..", she glared at him angrily..
"Galti se..", he added, realizing that she wasn't taking it well..
But Padma was dwelling on another point altogether.. She knew Anjali used to drink.. She had come home drunk once.. But she had trusted Riddhima not to go that way.. "Riddhima drinks?.. She didn't tell me.."
'Uh oh!' was all Armaan could think of at this moment.. He had not considered that the fact that Riddhim drinks, let alone that she got drunk would be a matter of concern.. "Nahi.. Of course not.. Riddhima doesn't drink.. Woh kya hai na.. We ordered coke.. Hume toh pata bhi nahi tha ki usme sharaab milai hai.. I swear.. Really.. Main toh bilkul peeta nahi hoon.. Promise.. Really!", he tried his best at convincing her, hoping he had not made matters worse..
But Padma was not blind.. She could see that Armaan was trying to save her.. "Aane do Riddhima ko.. Dekhti hoon.. I have never ever even tasted alcohol of any kind in my life.. Except when they use wine in some of the recipes.. "
"Padma mom.. Please.. Uski galti nahi thi.. I swear.. And Dr. Shashank already usse bohot naraaz hai.. Please.. Aap bhi..", he pleaded this time.. He had made matters worse..
"Toh obviously naraaz honge.. He's right this time.. ", she said angrily and shut the stove.. The daal apparently had boiled enough.. So had Padma mom's temper..
But he had to mitigate her rage before Riddhima gets a double blow in one day.. "I know Padma mom.. But.. You know.. He shouted at her so much.. Bahar tak awaaz aa rahi thi.. She was really embarrassed..", he almost complained about the unfairness of it all, wondering if she would buy it.. And she kind of did.. "Shashank bhi na.. He doesn't know how to deal with his children.. Chilla ne se koi baat solve nahi hoti.. "
"Exactly.. Aur badhti hai.. Like aaj badhi.. Riddhima just couldn't help but shout back..", he finally made the last revelation, hoping she wouldn't focus too much on that.. "What!.. She shouted back!!.. This girl is the limit.. Ek toh galti karo.. Aur phir daant bhi nahi khaani hoti.. Sab Anjali se hi seekha hai isne.. I don't know what has gotten into her.. Who pehle bilkul aisi nahi thi..", Padma started her tirade.. But Armaan interrupted.. And this time seriously, "Kyunki pehle main nahi tha na.. She had no one to defend.. You know how much sasurji likes me na Padma mom..", he said sarcastically, "He thinks I got her drunk.. And I am sure he must have insulted me..", then scoffed, " Pagal hai pata hai.. She'll hear anything against herself.. But when someone says something about me, she gets crazy.."
Padma understood what he was saying.. It was true.. "She's right Armaan.. Agar koi Shashank ke baare mein kucch kahe toh mujhe bhi bura lagta hai.. Koi mere baccho ke baare mein bura kahe toh mujhe bhi accha nahi lagta.. But she should understand that its her own father who she's talking to.. You are not the only person she has in her life.. ", she made her point clear.. Fine.. Her husband was wrong in insulting Armaan at the first opportunity he got.. But Riddhima cant just insult her father back.. Especially not when it is her fault..
"I know Padma mom.. But when I make fun of sasurji..", then realizing what he said, he bit his tongue as Padma glared at him.. Clearing his throat he tried to mend that statement.. "Matlab I don't.. But if anyone.. You know.. Says something against Dr. Shashank, she defends him too.. Even if she's mad at him.. She loves him too.. And she knows how much you love her.. Its just that.. You know.. Lets just.. Forget all this.. What I am saying is that.. We are sorry for what happened.. But.. I think we should do something to stop this fight now.. I mean.. I think you should talk to.. Dr. Shashank.. ", he finally said what he had really come to ask for..
"I don't know Armaan.. I think they should sort it out themselves.. Riddhima ko apni galti manni chahiye..", she said, reluctant to go against Shashank when she knew he was right.. And as far as Riddhima was concerned, they had never felt the need to really scold her before.. Coz she always did the right things.. She was like the perfect daughter.. She had to learn that she couldn't always be right..
Armaan was worried with that response, but before he could put in another case for Riddhima, the doorbell rang..
"Will you open the door Armaan.. I'll just toss this salad and set the table.. ", Padma requested him, but her tone wasn't very friendly this time..
Armaan sighed and went to the door.. He thought of checking through the peephole whether it was his Riddhima or Dr. Shashank.. And his heart jumped out of his chest, the terror returning to his eyes as he saw a black pair glaring at him from the other side.. They looked even scarier when they were magnified by the concave lens of the peephole.. Gulping at that sight, he slowly opened the door, to welcome Satan home..
"Good evening sir!..", Armaan wished him as he entered.. The moment Dr. Shashank saw him at the door, the frown that was already present on his face, deepened.. Then he made a straight face, trying not to show any emotion and walked past him, just grunting in response.. Armaan knew then that this evening was certainly not going to be good..
"Arre aap akele aayen hain.. Riddhima nahi aayi aapke saath..", Padma asked as she came out of the kitchen having finished her work..
Shashank was surprised that she isn't home yet and still Armaan was here.. "Mujhe nahi pata tha who akeli aane waali hain.. Roz toh.. Mere saath nahi aati.. Kisi aur ke saath hi time spend karna hota hai usse..", he couldn't help but taunt..
Armaan looked down, while Padma reprimanded him.. "Shashank.. Aap kyun phir se inn baaton ko lekar baith gaye..", she understood now why Armaan had come to ask her for help.. Her husband was indeed in a foul mood..
Shashank however was even more pissed at the fact that she was siding with the kids again.. "Tum jaanti bhi ho aaj Sanjeevni mein kya hua..", he asked her, giving Armaan his loathsome glares..
"Sab jaanti hoon.. Armaan ne mujhe sab bata diya hai..", Padma told him, raising her voice to match his..
Shashank's jaw clenched at that, mad at the fact that Armaan had already taken her in confidence.. "Don't tell me tum ab bhi inki side le rahi ho.. I don't even know if he's told you the truth..", he spat.. Armaan just stood there, not saying a word.. Anything he said now, would be the start of a new argument.. So he just shut up..
Padma also thought it was better to avoid the topic till Riddhima apologized to him for her behavior.. Surely that was the only thing that was going to tame him now.. "Shashank bohot ho gaya.. Iss tarah baat badhane se koi fayda hai kya.. Chodiye na.. Chaliye.. Go freshen up.. Main khana lagati hoon..", she beckoned him to go change, in the hope that he lets go of this topic now.. He nodded, but not before glowering at an already horrified Armaan.. Armaan watched him go and made a face at his back.. Such a sadu!!.. But the next moment he saw Padma mom looking at him with an angry frown, and he quickly changed his expression, chuckling sheepishly at her.. When she didn't buy that, he just quietly went and sat on the couch, taking out his phone fast.. He had to get his Basket back.. She was the only one who could save him here.. As Padma saw him escape to the living room, she couldn't help but giggle.. He was so cute.. She couldn't understand how Shashank could remain angry with him for so long..
"Basket.. Are you done.. I am coming to pick you up..", he said fast into the phone as soon as she answered, even before she could say a 'hello'..
"Koi zaroorat nahi hai Armaan.. I'm almost home.. ", she told him, wondering why he was sounding so nervous..
"But I told Muskaan to tell you.. ", he had started, but she saved him the trouble, "I know.. I know Armaan.. But Muskaan and Rahul bhi tabhi nikal rahe the toh they gave me a lift.. Main unhi ke saath hoon..", she informed him, as he heard Muskaan shout out her 'hi' from near Riddhima..
He smiled, satisfied by that, but still disappointed that he missed out on a drive with her.. "Oh.. Ok then.. Please jaldi aa jao.."
"Kyun.. Kya hua?.. Papa ghar pe aa gaye kya?..", she asked him wryly
"Haan..", came his soft reply..
"Unhone kucch kaha toh nahi..", afraid that he must have insulted him in her absence..
And Armaan recognized the contempt in her tone and said quickly to calm her down, "Nahi.. Of course not.. You remember what we discussed in the afternoon right.. ", he asked her warily, hoping that she was going to apologize..
She sighed at that, grateful that her dad had not created a scene yet, "Yeah.. I've realized I shouldn't have shouted back at him.. I'll sort everything out today..", she assured him..
"Thank God!.. I cant stand those glares anymore.. ", he sighed in relief at that.. She did really sound sorry..
"Armaan.. Tum bhi na.. K bye guys.. Thanks.. See you tomorrow..", he heard her bid her farewell to Muskaan and Rahul and their muffled byes too.. He quickly got up to get the door, relieved that she was here..
"Hey!..", he said, opening the door just as she was about to ring the bell.. She smiled as she saw him open the door for her.. This was the first time this was happening.. He had never let her in to her own house.. That took her back to her question, "Tum mujhe chodkar kyun aa gaye Armaan.. Why didn't you wait for me.. "
"I was just getting bored sitting in the hospital Basket.. So I thought I'll come and chat with my mother-in-law.. ", he told her as he welcomed her with a soft kiss on her forehead.. She walked in, smiling at his welcome as she replied to his comment.. "Whatever happened to Padma mom.."
"Today she's behaving like my mother-in-law..", he told her, only to hear his name in a chorus..
"Armaan!!..", both Padma mom and Riddhima looked at him.. That's when he realized, how Riddhima had Padma mom's green eyes while Dr. Shashank's glare.. That was quite a deadly combination.. It was quite amusing too.. But he knew better than to laugh and make his Basket mad at him too.. So he quickly apologized.. "Sorry.. Sorry.. I .. Really.. I think I should get myself checked for foot-in-the-mouth disorder..", he joked.. But that grin on his face got wiped off when he heard that sneering voice from behind him, "While at that you should also probably get your head checked for internal damage.. ", apparently the shower had not done anything to cool down the very hot Shanky who looked like he had come fresh from the infernos of hell..
"Papa.. ", Riddhima raised her voice at that pretty rude comment of his..
"It was a joke..", Shashank looked away from her and muttered..
But she wasn't going to take that.. "I don't like such jokes.. ", she could insult him all she wanted but no one else was allowed to do that!
Armaan was alarmed.. This surely looked like the start of a new argument.. "Basket.. Wasn't there something you wanted to tell Dr. Shashank.. ", he said, before Dr. Shanky could think of another insult to throw his way..
Riddhima looked at him as he said that.. Finally she gave in to his pleading eyes as she said.. "Yeah.. Well.. I am sorry.. I shouldn't have shouted at you.. It was rude.. ", her insouciant tone wasn't really articulating her apologetic feelings well.. Coz instead of accepting the apology Dr. Shashank said, "I don't think that's the only thing you should be sorry for.. "
Riddhima controlled her building temper at the acerbic tone he had used and continued.. "I shouldn't have been running around the hospital canteen.. And I should've called you from Singapore or at least informed about my whereabouts.. ", she said with a lot of difficulty.. Armaan knew this was her threshold.. Another caustic remark from sasurji and hell would break loose.. So he intervened.. "I'm sorry too.. I should've taken care of that too.. It was also my responsibility..", he said, looking at Padma aunty first and then at Dr. Shashank..
"Yeah.. You don't talk about responsibility..", came Shanky's derisive retort..
Riddhima was about to blast at that, but Padma mom intervened this time.. "Shashank.. Enough abhi.. Maafi maang rahe hain na dono.. Maaf kar bhi do.. You wont do this again right..", she asked the two of them.. Armaan was holding Riddhima's hand tight to stop her from back answering while she just glared in her papa's direction.. Armaan apologized for the two of them.. "Of course Padma mom.. We will never ever do such a thing again.."
Dr. Shashank didn't say anything to that and just seated himself at the dining table.. Armaan let Riddhima go as she went to get changed and stuff, while Padma started serving dinner.. Just as he was about to sit at the table the doorbell rang again.. So without waiting for any instructions he went to get the door.. And this time it was Anjali and Atul.. "Hey!.. Chehre pe bara baje hain.. Let me guess.. Ridzi and Papa ka hot and cold war abhi bhi chalu hai.. ", Anjali asked as she saw Armaan's sullen expressions at the door.. Atul just snickered in the background as they came in..
"Don't even ask.. ". He replied, hopelessly.. He just hoped this dinner wasn't going to turn into World War 3!..
"Don't worry.. Iss liye toh hum aaye hain.. Akhir saali kiss din kaam aayegi..", Anjali said as she proceeded to the dining area.. "Hey Papa.. Mamma.. Where's Ridzi.. And naani kahan hai?..", came her hundred questions the moment she saw her family..
Padma smiled and went up to hug her.. "Kaise aana hua Anjali.. Aao Atul..", she welcomed them and then answered her questions, "Ridzi abhi abhi aayi hai.. She's coming.. And tumhari Naani Lonavla gayi hai.. Aaj Raunak ka birthday hai na.. Toh Bua's organized a party.. Thodi help bhi ho jayegi.."
"Aaj Raunak ka birhtday hai?.. Armaan.. Why didn't you tell me..", Riddhima who had heard her mom as she came back all fresh and in her mickey mouse jammies was surprised by what she heard.. Surely Armaan would know that it was Raunak's birthday.. "Actually I wished him in the morning.. And then sab drama hua toh I forgot..", he looked at her guiltily.. He wanted to tell her, but after what happened in the morning and the afternoon, he had completely forgotten..
"Yeah.. Make more excuses.. Aur kya aata hai tumhari generation ko..", Shashank's hundredth taunt came their way.. He could just find any excuse to shoot his accusations and comments.. They didn't even know and probably nor did he as to why he was angry with them anymore.. And Riddhima wasn't taking it too well.. Armaan knew that she was at the end of her tether now.. However Saali sahiba came to his rescue as promised.. "Papa.. Yeh aap kyun humari generation pe itna bhadak rahe hain.. Galti Armaan Riddhima ne ki hai, galiyan hum sab kha rahe hai..", Anjali complained, her tone mocking.. Padma giggled as Riddhima gave her a fake smile.. Atul just sighed in relief as did Armaan..
That diffused the tension a little as Riddhima let the topic go and quickly made a birthday call to Raunak.. After she was done she asked Armaan, "Tum gaye kyun nahi Raunak ke birthday par.. Bichara was missing you so much.. ", she asked him, seating herself next to him as she started eating dinner.. All of them had already started while she was talking to Raunak and then to Dadaji and Dadi.. Raunak had told her that Armaan had promised to come but couldn't make it.. She had made an excuse for him saying that he was too busy in his work..
Armaan just avoided her eye as he replied laconically, "I was busy..".. He knew he could have gone.. But Riddhima was busy and needed him more here.. What with sasurji throwing his share of insults at her too.. If he would have told her she would have forced him to go.. Besides, he was going next weekend for Christmas.. He could meet him then..
"Shaam ko toh jaa sakte the na Armaan.. ", Riddhima told him, wondering why he didn't go.. He was pretty close to Raunak..
"I am going for Christmas next Saturday Basket.. Tab mill lunga.. I said sorry to him also..", he told her.. Shashank however didn't like the fact that Riddhima had ears only for Armaan even when they were sitting at the table with the family.. Even he had called up and wished Raunak.. She could have asked him too.. But she had to ask her Armaan.. So he ignored their conversation completely and started asking Atul, "So.. Atul.. Kaam kaisa chal raha hai?.. And how are your plants.. ", he purposely asked loudly so that Riddhima couldn't continue her conversation with Armaan..
Atul jumped at that sudden question that was thrown at him.. But answered it anyway.. How could he ignore a plant question!.. "Sab theek hai papa.. I just added two species of date palms to my garden.. But I was wondering if they would grow in the humidity of Mumbai.. I hope they do.. ", he told him enthusiastically..
"Hmm.. Waise you do a great thing Atul.. Our environment really needs to be protected..", he told him proudly.. It was really a great thing.. Though sometimes he thought he went overboard a little, he really felt that Atul's sensitivity towards the environment was really something to be proud of..
"I know sir.. In fact our Go Green club has organized an event.. Green Christmas.. We have these potted Bonsai Christmas trees that are suited to this environment and you can keep them at home or in your garden and decorate them when Christmas is near.. Plus we have also started the 'hug a tree' movement where we go and form a human fence around the trees that we know are going to be unnecessarily cut.. That's our Christmas gift to the trees.. ", Atul told him seriously.. When it came to his plants he could talk on and on for hours.. Even to his sasurji who he mostly otherwise avoided having a long conversation with.
But Anjali always got annoyed when he started with his Go Green club.."Atul.. Enough of your green stuff now.. Please.. Mujhe bore ho raha hai.. Lets talk about something else.. So Ridzi.. What all did you shop for in Singapore.. "
"Well.. So much.. You wont believe it Di.. I got these really smart dresses and boots.. I'll show you after dinner.. Oh they were so amazing.."
"I had to pick her up and carry her out before she bought the whole store off..", Armaan made fun of his shopping crazy fiancee.. But Dr. Shashank didn't find the whole 'carry her out' comment very funny.. So he changed his words.. "I mean.. I had to drag her out.. ", but that only deepened Shanky's scowl.. "Never mind.. You continue..", he just gave up.. But before Riddhima could start with her shoes-and-clothes story, Padma changed the topic, taking it far away from Singapore.. "Anjali.. Tumhari wedding anniversary hai na next month.."
"Arre haan main toh bhul hi gayi thi..", Riddhima blurted.. She had been so preoccupied with so much happening in her life, she had completely forgotten..
And that gave her papa another reason to taunt her.. "Kucch logon ke alava yaad bhi kya rehta hai tumhe aaj kal..", this insinuation of his would have created a bang.. Only.. "Shashank!!..", Padma scolded him in front of everyone.. Enough is enough!
The tension at the table could have been cut by a knife.. Everyone waited with bated breath to see Dr. Shashank's reaction to that.. But he didn't want to create a scene either.. Riddhima didn't say anything coz Armaan was holding her hand under the table to calm her down.. When he didn't say anything for a long time Armaan tried to get things back to normal, pretending that didn't happen.. "Hey.. Cool Champ .. I don't believe tumhari shaadi ko ek saal ho gaya.. Wow!.. That's a long time.. ", he said, thinking more about his relationship with Riddhima.. Coz just two days after Atul and Anjai's wedding was the day they confessed their feelings for each other.. Well, he confessed, but what the heck!
"Yeah.. I know.. Aisa lagta hi nahi hai ki ek saal ho gaya.. Its like I just got married yesterday.. ", Anjali said as the tension slowly diffused.. Atul raised his eyebrows and then sighed in relief again.. This dinner was a really bad idea.. And just like that, throughout dinner, they discussed their plans for the anniversary, with Shashank ignoring Armaan and speaking only to Atul and sometimes Anjali.. So much that when he asked for rice and Armaan offered to pass on the bowl to him, he said that he changed his mind about having rice.. Riddhima felt really insulted though Armaan just brushed it off saying that rice wasn't good for health anyway.. But the final nail was when Dr. Shashank chewed on a chili by mistake and Armaan hurriedly offered him a glass of water.. In all the hurry the water got spilled on his sasurji and "Mere kapdo ke peeche kyun pade hain aaj aap Dr. Mallik.. What is wrong with you..", he almost shouted and left the table angrily.. Armaan just sat there wondering what should be done.. Dr. Shanky had really screwed him bad today.. Riddhima was right.. Aaj ka din hi kharaab hai!..
"Forget it na Basket.. Meri bhi galti thi.. Now don't create a scene ok.. ", he was trying to pacify a very agitated Riddhima as she came to see him off at his car after Atul and Anjali left.. Thankfully the desert had been cooler than the dinner.. Probably the ice-cream and Atul's Go Green club worked wonders for Dr. Shashank's temper.. But Riddhima's temper was tried and tested too many times today and stretched to the limit and beyond.. She was so mad at her papa.. She just wanted to scream at someone..
"Armaan.. Tum jao.. You are anyway going to take his side.. Forget it.. ", she told him angrily.. She couldn't understand this.. He had asked her to apologize.. She had apologized.. But her dad wasn't ready to back out of the war.. If he could be at his belligerent best, then she was his daughter.. She could be as thick headed.. There was no need for him to insult Armaan like that.. And not once but a hundred times over.. He could probably take it.. She couldn't!!..
"Riddhima.. Common.. Its just a stupid fight.. Just listen to him.. Ek kaan se suno and dusre se nikaldo.. He's just angry.. Let him finish his stock of taunts.. Apne aap tumhe maaf ker denge..", he explained to her in the calmest tone he had..
"Nahi chahiye mujhe unki maafi Armaan.. How can he treat you like that.. I don't understand why he hates you so much.. Singapore jaane se pehle he had accepted you and now.. Its So irritating.. I don't understand him at all..", she almost screamed in her mad rage.. She couldn't say anything inside, so she was taking out all her frustration outside..
Armaan however tried to be his calm self.. "Basket.. He doesn't hate me.. Its just that he's angry right now.. He thinks I got you drunk and then we stayed together.. So he probably thinks we did it and stuff.. He's bound to be angry.. I mean.. Can you believe my luck.. I am getting hanged for a crime I didn't even do.. We should have really done it.. At least all this would be worth it then..", he said cheekily, winking at her.. According to Armaan, any situation could be handled with a witty repartee.. Riddhima however couldn't disagree with him more.. Coz she didn't whine out his name like she always does, taking him rather seriously, not paying attention to the funny part of that statement.."Doesn't he trust me?..", she asked more to herself than to him..
"He does.. But I am not sure he trusts me.. And I've already made you such a brat.. He obviously thinks I am having a bad effect on you.. Plus it gets him mad that you defend me all the time.. Maybe you should curse me in front of him.. That'll surely work..", he knew exactly what was hurting Dr. Shashank so much..
"Why would I curse you..", she made a face as she asked..
"Arre mere samne mujhe gaaliyan deti ho.. Try cursing me behind my back once.. I am sure you can manage at least 'I hate you Armaan.. I hate you..'.. I am sure that'll make him really happy..", he told her dramatically..
This time she couldn't help but smile, though very reluctantly.. "Shut up.. And go now.. Otherwise again he'll taunt me when I go in.."
"Even if he does.. Just listen and forget it ok.. Please.. For me..", and how could she say no to that cute pout of his.. "Ok.."
"Bye.. ", he said as he got into his car..
"Bye.. I love you..", she tried to kiss him, but he moved back.. What if Shanky was keeping an eye..
"I love you too..", he replied, just giving her a quick peck on her cheek, settling in his car and then driving off..
Armaan was wrong in thinking that Shanky would be keeping an eye on them.. Coz he was busy bitching about him to Padma.. Padma however, was least interested.. She thought Shashank was now being unfair to them.. "Shashank aap bhi na.. Kyun itna gussa bhara hua hai aap mein.. Dono ne maafi mang li thi.. Kya zaroorat thi itna naatak karne ki.. Riddhima ki jagah main hoti toh patanahi ab tak kya kiya hota.. Yeh toh accha hai ki Armaan controls Riddhima.. ", she scolding him for his behavior tonight..
But Shashank was even more agitated as he heard that.. "Exactly.. Armaan has complete control over Riddhima.. Where is my daughter Padma?.. Pyaar karna theek hai. Lekin itna influence ho jaana.. I mean she doesn't understand the difference between right and wrong.. Have you ever seen her shout at me the way she does now-a-days.. Never in my life till now have I even felt the need to scold her.. Anjali ko humesha daanta tha.. Lekin Riddhima was such a perfect daughter.. Aur ab dekho.. Anjali Atul ke saath rehke kitni samajhdaar ho gayi hai.. And Riddhima.. " he paused, his imagination throwing images of their carousal in Singapore.. That's when Padma realized that Riddhima was standing at the door and had probably heard him, coz she surely looked hurt.. "Shashank.. ", she tried to stop him but he didn't "I never thought meri Riddhima aisa kucch karegi.. What can I say.. Its like I don't even know her anymore.. At least Anjali is better in her choice I daresay.. "
"How could you.. How could you even say that.. Papa how could you say that..", she asked, her voice quivering half in anger and half in pain.. She had come into the house to hear her papa shouting in his room.. So she went in to see why he was fighting with her mom now.. And what she got to hear completely broke her heart..
"Riddhima.. I was just stating the truth..", he said, not shouting this time, but his tone was curt..
But Riddhima was completely shattered.. "I don't believe you.. I just don't believe my papa thinks that of me.. ", angry tears started to roll down her cheeks as she tried hard to control her emotions..
"Riddhima.. ", he started softly, guilty that he had hurt her.. He could see it in her eyes.. But she didn't let him speak this time.. "No papa.. Enough of this crap now.. I am not going to shut up.. Maine aapse maafi bhi maagi.. Ab kya chihiye aapko.. ", she had been listening to him all evening just coz Armaan was there.. But now she wasn't going to shut up..
Shashank's temper started to rise again at the mention of that.. "Maafi maangi.. Lekin uss Armaan ke kehne par.. ", that hurt him most.. She didn't apologize coz she was sorry.. She did that coz Armaan asked her to..
"Toh kya hua?.. Kya aapse maafi mangna galat hai.. Apparently I shouldn't have listened to him.. In fact he's wrong.. He's got it all wrong about you.. He thinks you don't hate him.. ", she yelled back..
"I don't hate him Riddhima..", his tone softened at that.. He didn't hate him.. He just was hurt by him..
"Really.. That is why you humiliated him in front of everyone tonight.. Did you ever think how hurt I will feel.. He didn't say a word to you papa.. And you continued.. ", she broke off as her voice choked.. Her tears gushed out.. She couldn't keep her emotions in check.. She really felt bad at the way her papa was behaving with him.. Its was so embarrassing..
the one thing that he didn't like was her siding with him even when he was wrong.., "What would he say Riddhima.. He is guilty as charged.."
"No he's not.. He's not done anything.. Jo bhi kiya hai maine kiya hai.. Its not about Armaan papa. Its about me.."
"And he is the reason you are what you are right now.. He is the reason you have the nerve to get drunk and dance around the street.. He is the reason you forgot to call me back. He is the reason you think tattoos are cool and being in a live in relationship is not a big deal.."
"That is so not true papa.. That is so not true.. You are right.. You don't know me.. You didn't know me ever.. Just because I listened to every single damned thing you said.. I always listened to you papa.. I always did.. Even if I really wanted something.. I always listened papa.. I spent all my Saturday nights at home, studying when all my friends used to party coz you said I shouldn't.. Coz I was different.. I wanted to go papa.. I always wanted to.. I wanted to take up research after I finished med school.. But I didn't.. Coz you said that I should become a pediatrician.. I didn't want to.. But I convinced myself that you were always right.. So I listened.. Every small little thing papa.. I wanted a black car.. But you said blue is my color.. So it became my color.. I always defended you when you would go for your long tours and mamma would fight with you.. I used to feel so bad when you would.. Leave us.. And go.. I didn't have so many friends.. You know you were one of my closest ones.. But still I sided with you.. For the sake of that friendship.. I always tried to be your perfect daughter.. I stifled so many of my desires just coz I thought you wouldn't approve of them.. And Armaan's not the one who's made me believe in all these things that you said.. I believed in them before too.. I grew up papa.. You didn't.. I love you.. But I am not the same ten year old who thinks the coolest way to spend your Sunday is to play Anatomy Pictionary or Doctors' Scrabble.. I changed long ago.. You just didn't realize.. Heck you protected me so much, that I also didn't realize what I was missing out on.. Your word was the last word.. I changed my heart every time you disagreed with me so I could agree with you.. But just once.. Just this once I cant.. Just this one thing, this one person.. that is closer to my heart than anything else in this world.. I don't want anything else.. He makes me feel free papa.. I don't feel bound.. Or overprotected.. And he is crazy.. But he is my Armaan.. I wont hear a word against him.. And don't say anything to him please.. Even last time he went away coz you couldn't control your anger.. He left me because of you.. Don't do this please.. Just stay away from him..", the tears had started coming fast now, her voice breaking as she shouted out her heart to him.. Things that she had kept in for so long.. Things that she never thought she would say to him.. Shashank was stunned at what he heard.. It was like his world came crashing down.. It what like the confrontation he had with Anjali ten years ago when she accused him of loving Riddhima more than her.. Only this time it was ten times more painful.. He saw her break down, then gather herself, as she started to walk away..
"Riddhima.. ", Padma called out, following her out as she saw her make her way to the door..
"Mamma please mujhe jane do..", she replied rudely walking out into the night.. Padma was even more worried when she didn't take her car and just started walking out of the gate.. She followed her as fast as she could, but Riddhima wasn't slowing down.. "Where are you going..", she called out angrily..
"To hell.. Why do you care.." , came back Riddhima's shameless retort..
"Riddhima .. Stop misbehaving.. Get in.. ", she ordered her daughter, only to hear, "Bhul gaye mamma.. I am not the same Riddhima anymore.. " and she disappeared around the turn before she could hear her mom call her "Riddhima.. ", Padma sighed in defeat.. What the hell was going on!
"Oye heroine.. Kahan jaa rahi hai?..", she was startled as she heard that voice suddenly in her ear.. But she relaxed soon enough realizing who it was.. "Armaan.. Please leave me alone.. Mera mood nahi hai..", she said, not sparing him even a glance..
Armaan just walked along, keeping up with her brisk pace.. Padma mom had called him up a few minutes back and had him worried when she had started crying on the phone.. When she told him what had happened, he immediately drove back.. When he saw Riddhima storming away in the middle of the road in the middle of the night in her Mickey mouse PJs, he parked his car at a distance and caught up with her..
The way she was charging like an angry bull he hoped she wouldn't eat him alive.. But he had hoped in vain.. Yes.. She was going to eat him alive..
"Riddhima.. Enough.. Ab kucch zyada ho raha hai.. What did I tell you about not arguing with your papa..", he scolded her when she didn't respond to his tenth 'Basket stop..'
And at this remark of his, she stopped abruptly and shouted at him.. "Armaan.. Don't talk if you don't understand anything ok.. Nobody understands me.. "
"You're ten years late Basket.. The validity of using that dialogue can be extended for a maximum of 3 or 4 years.. Ten years not allowed..", and that flippant remark wasn't going to help him..
Coz Riddhima was mad enough to say.. "You think you're so funny Armaan.. Tumhe yeh sab kabhi face nahi karna pada na.. You wont understand.." Armaan just stared at her as he heard her say that.. And her expressions turned from being enraged to extreme guilt as she realized what she had said in her mad fury.. How.. How in the world had those words come out of her mouth.. Tears made their way out, her eyes closing in defeat as she buried her face in her hands, "I'm sorry.. I m so sorry.. I m so messed up right now Armaan.. Just leave me alone.."
"I wont Basket.. I promise I never will.. Even if your papa gives me the choicest of gaalis he knows, I wont leave you..", he said calmly, ignoring her comment.. He knew she was angry.. Plus his endurance levels had gone up now.. What with Shanky being his sasurji..
Riddhima looked at him, surprised by what he said, "Armaan!!.. Mamma told you everything.. ", she asked., mad at her mom for opening her mouth now..
"Basket.. Do you realize that you are not mad at your papa.. You are just scared that I will leave you if your papa says something.. But I wont.. Not this time.. Not ever.. I promise.. ", he assured her, holding her by her shoulders..
She looked away at that.. "That is not true Armaan.. This is between me and my papa.. Do you know how embarrassing it is for me.. The way he behaves with you.."
"Why Basket.. I agree he goes overboard.. But he has that much of a right on me..", he tried to reason with her.. She didn't get his point though.. Or maybe she didn't want to.. She was still angry.. And anger doesn't let you think straight.. "I don't want to discuss this Armaan.. I need to think.. Please.. "
"I understand.. I will let you think Basket.. But you don't need to be here to think.. Lets go home.."
"No.. I don't want to go back there.."
"Accha.. Lets go back to our place..", he offered..
"Riddhima.. Utha ke le jaunga.. I don't care.. "
"Kar lo jo karna hai.." and that was it!.. Armaan hauled her on his shoulder as he carried her back to his car.. She kicked and slapped and hit him, cursing him aloud, "Junglee.. You idiot.. You moron.. Put me down.. " but he didn't listen to her.. He dumped her in the back of the car, activated the child locking system so she couldn't get out and got behind the wheel as he zoomed her back home.. When she refused to get out of the car, he literally dragged her and finally dumped her in her room..
"Are you going to kiss me..", he asked her straight away from the door, as he was about to leave her room..
"You wish!", she seethed, still scowling at the way he had treated her..
"I thought as much.. ", was all he muttered before shutting the door close.. Bidding Padma mom a goodnight for the second time, he left Riddhima to ruminate on what had been and what had become of her life..
So she thought.. And thought all night long.. She thought throughout the next day.. And the night after that.. She thought a lot.. But she didn't come to any conclusion except that she was mad at her papa for not only insulting her Armaan but also dethroning her from the favorite daughter spot.. Even thought it was childish, she was really proud to be her papa's daughter.. But for him she wasn't the same daughter anymore.. Then maybe she should show him how the changed person that she was.. It had been quite a few days now.. She had not talked to her dad.. Nor had he tried to talk to her.. Armaan however, was by her side just like he had promised her.. But he had also made an alliance with Padma mom so they could mend things between the stubborn father daughter pair.. To live up to this onerous task, they had tried every trick in the book.. They had tried making their favorite food for dinner.. They had tried playing Anatomy Pictionary.. They had tried emotional blackmail.. They had tried Basketball.. Apparently Dr. Shashank liked basketball too.. But evidently that worked only between former best friends turned lovers and did nothing to solve fights between parents and their children.. It did however trigger a fight with your fiance if she knows you cheated and let her dad win.. And so she would avoid talking to him too.. Coz every time they got any alone time, he would start with his Bhashan of how her dad was right after all and how she should apologize.. But she was obstinate to say the least.. She didn't pay heed to his pleadings.. Nor did she listen to her Di.. She would just talk to her friends.. Spend a lot of time with Muskaan and Nikki.. Once she even accompanied Rahul and Muskaan on their movie date playing the famous kabaab mein haddi coz Armaan was busy and her dad would be home.. Apart from that, her work kept her busy.. She would shed a few tears when she was alone at night, remembering the hurtful words her father used.. And imagining what Armaan must have felt being insulted like that.. Sometimes she would think of what Armaan tried to tell her.. About how she was being stupid by dragging this whole thing.. She should just talk to her papa and finish this off.. But then she remembered that she had already tried to do that.. But it didn't work.. Instead her dad found more excuses to quarrel with her and insult Armaan.. So she had decided that she would continue with this silent treatment.. The only silver lining in this whole mess was the condition of her patient which was miraculously improving.. Now they were hoping to keep her up till a suitable donor comes along..
"Basket's smiling?.. Kya baat hai.. Did you dump Mr. Frown and Mr. Angry Glare.. Or have you forgotten them home.. ", Armaan asked as he saw a visibly cheerful Riddhima in the corridor..
"Ha ha.. So funny!..", she mocked him..
"You need to practice the sarcasm Basket.. You havent mastered the art yet..", he teased her again..
"Shut up Armaan.. Mera mood accha hai.. Kharaab mat karo.."
"Really?.. Kya hua.. Did Dr. Shashank forgive us?..", he asked excitedly.. Riddhima just rolled her eyes at that! That's all he could think of!"I don't want to talk about all that Armaan.. You know what.. Tum jao.. Mujhe nahi baat karni tumse..", she didn't want another long lecture of how she was being a teenager and how she should understand her papa.. Why didn't he understand that her papa didn't understand him at all.. Why was he so keen on being so selfless and giving..
Armaan knew she was avoiding him because of his lectures lately.. But he was so restless about the fact that things were not well between her and her papa.. That was all there was on his mind 24 x 7.. He didn't like the tension and the perpetual frown on Riddhima's face.. And Shanky had learnt new ways of glaring.. Now he added the one-eye-brow-raised glare.. Or the flared-nostril-charging-bull glare.. But the worst was when he glowered at him from above his glasses that would slip down his nose sometimes.. Those dilated pupils of his looked like they could suck him in through a portal and banish him into another world.. A world where there was only the dark black oblivion.. And no Riddhima.. Just the thought made him shiver.. But today, for a change, at least he got to see a smile on Riddhima's face.. He had missed that.. He had missed her.. So he thought he should probably take advantage of this good mood of hers.. "Accha theek hai.. No talking about sasurji.. Tell me why are you so happy?.."
And Riddhima took that offer at once as she started to tell him.. "Meri who patient hai na.. She's improving.. Aaj toh she actually walked.. I feel so nice Armaan.. I cant tell you.."
He could see the happiness in her eyes.. Yes.. It was satisfying.. That feeling of curing someone.. Of relieving them of their pain.. "Congratulations..", he uttered as he stared at the glow on her face..
Riddhima smiled as she saw him stare at her.. She really missed him.. In all the jhagda jhagdi with her father, she had ignored Armaan.. She had even ended up fighting with him.. And to think of it, he was the one who she was trying to protect in the first place.. "Armaan.. Aaj dinner ke liye free ho kya?.. I was thinking I'll come home..", she asked him, hoping he was free now.. It had been a few days since she had been to their place.. Most of the times she had been too busy, or in no mood.. Sometimes he had been busy.. And at that one other time, when she had last gone home three days back, she had stormed out of there coz he kept lecturing her on how her dad was right.. Sometimes she wondered if her dad did some voodoo and possessed Armaan to make her feel guilty again and again.. But for once, she was free and happy tonight.. And she wanted to be with Armaan.. Her Armaan.. Not your-papa's-right Armaan..
And your-papa's-right Armaan spoke in response.. "But Dr. Shashank..", inspite of not being on talking terms with him, he had religiously gone to her place for every breakfast and dinner, enduring sasurji's attempts at murdering him with his eyes.. It was almost as if he was mumbling silent curses under his breath and concentrating hard.. Once he really imagined sasurji with a wand going, 'Crucio!'.. Thankfully he had not used 'Avada Kedavra' yet!.. But when Riddhima would catch him doing it, he used to stop at once, quickly finish eating and go to his room.. Some times Armaan felt bad for him.. It wasn't really his fault.. But he had a rather acidic tongue which tended to sting and burn people's hearts.. Especially the sensitive one's like Riddhima's.. He had managed to break a toughie (or so he though of himself)like him.. Compared to that Riddhima was pretty soft on the inside.. And this time he had hurt her bad.. So bad that she had built a wall of indifference around her.. And that reflected well in her response.. "Like he cares.. Baat toh karte nahi hai.. Why should we impose ourselves on him..", she said bitterly..
"Riddhima..", he took that explanatory tone again.. But that just ticked her off.. "Please Armaan don't start with the lecture again!.. You know.. Just forget it.. Main Muski ke saath dinner karne chali jaungi.." and she started to storm off.. But he held her hand, "Ruk ja meri Jhansi ki raani.. What is with you.. Like you're perpetually PMSing.. "
"Armaan!!.. You think..", she seethed, clenching her teeth in mad rage.. But he didn't let her continue.. "Shh.. Now shut up and listen.. I wont talk about your papa at all.. Lets go home.. I really miss you.. Plus.. I haven't unpacked yet.. Tumhe accha lagta haina yeh sab kaam.. Tumhare liye choda hai..", he told her half-teasing, half-hoping that she'd help him out with it.. Coz he was in no mood to do it alone..
"So useless Armaan.. Main nahi unpack karne waali tumhara saamaan.. In fact.. We are going home.. I will watch TV.. You will cook.. And then I will eat.. That's it..", she declared..
"Hail Hitler..", he raised his arm with his fist closed in the typical salute to Hitler as he followed her into the cabin so she could take her stuff..
"What!.. " and they bickered on all the way back home.. And as demanded by Riddhima, Armaan made dinner and then they ate as they watched an episode of Castle (lol!) that was playing on TV.. She had her legs on his lap, while she still sat on the couch and her head was leaned against his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his waist.. As Armaan watched the murder mystery playing on TV, half of his brain was still working on ideas to mend things between Dr. Shanky and his stubborn daughter.. So deep was he involved in that thought that he started seeing Shanky in the TV too.. Confused, he shook his head to clear it of his sasurji's image and watched Castle bicker with that hot Detective that he worked with.. He didn't follow it much.. But Riddhima did.. So.. It was given that he had to appreciate it whether he liked it or not.. He was so lost in his own analysis that he didn't realize when the show got over and Riddhima switched the TV off.. The complicated brain of his finally registered his surroundings when he felt her lips on his neck, kissing him softly, hoping he'll kiss them back.. When he looked at her, he could see that she craved for this moment.. Just as he did.. Just one moment, free of all the right and wrong and Shanky and papa and mamma.. Just them.. But the moment their lips met, he got this feeling that someone was watching them.. So he pulled out to look around.. When Riddhima asked him why he was being so weird he just, kissed her back, closing his eyes to the world around him.. But all through the kiss all he could imagine was Shanky glaring at him, his brain screaming out in guilt..
Riddhima looked at him weirdly as he stopped responding.. "Armaan.. Are you ok?.."
"Basket.. Please talk to your dad.. He's haunting me..", he finally blurted..
And needless to say, that set her off.. "You're the limit Armaan.. I am kissing you and all you can think of is my dad!!.. "
"What can I do.. Its like he's omnipresent.. And omniscient.. And whatever.. ", he said animatedly, worry reflecting in his eyes as he searched the place for him..
"You think all this is funny Armaan.. Coz let me tell you it is not.. I am trying hard to forget everything.. And all you do is make me feel guilty all the time.. ", she shouted at him as she got away..
"Basket.. I don't.. I'm sorry.. It just doesn't feel right ok.. I cant be happy till you are happy.. And you cant be happy till you sort things with your dad.. And you can try forgetting it all you want but you wont be able to.. "
"Try using another dialogue Armaan.. You've already used that one.. Anyway.. I'm going home.. Or he'll think I'm staying over again.. Or worse.. That I've moved in with you.. Or we secretly got married.. Or..", and on and on went her rant.. He tried to stop her.. But she didn't listen and went home anyway.. Armaan sighed as he saw her car leave.. When was this going to end!!
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