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On the other end, Padma mom and Armaan had completely run out of ideas to get the two idiots to make up.. "Padma mom.. This is completely gone out of hand now..", he complained.. He was sitting on the floor and his Padma mom was massaging his head with oil, since it was aching thanks to Riddhima and sasurji.. They had ignored each other during dinner and gone off into their rooms after quietly eating up, just like they used to these days.. Armaan, however, had stayed behind to discuss with Padma mom their next course of action..
"I know.. Why don't you try blackmailing Riddhima.. She listens to you.. ", Padma suggested.. She knew Armaan was the only one Riddhima listened to.. But her suggestion was kind of lame.. Obviously he would have tried that option.. "That's the problem.. None of my blackmailing or threatening has worked.. What should I tell her.. I'll stop talking to her.. She'll just say, fine go ahead.. Ek aur problem se chutkara mila..", he imitated Riddhima as he made weird actions with his hands, those typical of when he was irritated..
Padma giggled at that.. "I am proud of my daughter.. Apni Choti ungli pe nachati hai tumhe.. You have to keep men in check like that.."
"Really.. Toh go make your man dance na.. Itna toh kar nahi sakti.. Ungli pe dance.. My foot.. ", Armaan cursed as Padma mom smacked him on his shoulder before returning to the head massage..
"Accha.. Seriously socho.. Kya karna hai?..", she said seriously, like saying it again and again would yield the solution..
"I'm out of ideas.. The Armaan Mallik is completely out of ideas..", he declared dramatically, his hands up in defeat.. Padma sighed at that.. And then said softly and hesitatingly.. "Armaan.. Ek baat bataaun.. Jab Riddhima choti thi na.. She had fallen off the terrace.. ", she wasn't too sure if she should tell him.. She had wanted to in all these days.. But never got the opportunity.. And when she did, she thought better not to bring up that topic.. It was quite depressing.. But now that he was a part of the family, he should know..
But she was mighty surprised when he said.. "I know.."
"She told you?..", she asked, her eyes open wide in shock.. Riddhima never spoke about that incident to anyone!
"Yeah.. She did.. But she said that no one talks about it.. ", he told her, turning around to face her, still sitting on the floor.. He was pretty surprised himself that she had brought the topic up.. But it sounded like she wanted someone to talk to.. So he sat there and listened..
Padma looked at him as he sat in front of her, his knees bent, with his arms around them.. It was difficult to talk about this.. But since Riddhima had already told him, she might as well tell him her side of that story.. So she answered.. "Yeah.. You know why?.. Coz she used to get nightmares about it.. She used to tell us that they had stopped.. But we are her parents.. You think we wouldn't realize.. But she got over it slowly.. And we thought it was best not to remind her about it..That was such a horrible time for us Armaan.. But you know.. We came out of it.. For almost six to eight months after the accident Shashank didn't go to work.. He was a senior doctor at that time.. He used to stay at home and take care of his daughter.. Even a small little scratch on her used to get him worried.. And this accident was fatal.. I can still remember.. You know.. I can still remember when the doctor told us that she may not survive.. It was the hardest thing to hear in the world.. Like we almost died ourselves that day.. Shashank didn't leave any stone unturned to get her back.. He gave her the best doctors and the best medical facilities.. He had to support me.. He had to look after Anjali.. Ma was there to support us.. Lekin Riddhima ke papa pe kya guzri hai yeh sirf unhe hi pata hai.. Dheere dheere we forgot everything.. I think so did she.. But whenever we don't know where she is na.. We get so worked up.. Those terrible days come back to us.. That fear of losing her.. That is why we're so protective of her Armaan.. And she doesn't understand.. ", she was in tears as she narrated that incident.. Armaan could feel her pain.. It reflected in her green eyes.. They were just as expressive as Riddhima's.. And though he knew Riddhima had not really forgotten.. And he knew all that she faced as a consequence of that mishap.. For a moment he contemplated telling Padma mom her side of the story.. Of why she always listened to what they said.. But that was a secret that she had confided in him.. He wasn't about to break that.. So he got up to sit beside Padma mom on the couch and took her in a hug to let her cry.. "I'm sorry.. I'm sorry for all that she said Padma mom.. She said all that to defend me.. I'm sure she didn't mean it.. I'm sorry..", he knew she didn't.. It was just the anger and frustration.. It was good that it came out, but it had hurt her parents bad.. And he couldn't help but blame himself, at least partially, for the whole drama.. He should've just gone to Raunak's birthday.. That way Dr. Shashank wouldn't have humiliated him and Riddhima would not have lost her head! But then again, if everything always went right between him and Shanky it would be abnormal!.. And what was done was done.. He wondered now, if he should talk to Riddhima about this.. She wasn't the only one who had suffered.. Her parents had suffered more if not the same at least.. If that one nightmare had troubled her, her parents had lived through it!.. Before he could decide his next course of action he heard Riddhima's worried voice, "Armaan.. Mamma.. What is going on..", she saw Armaan consoling her mom as she cried.. She wondered if something was wrong..
Padma wiped her tears away and Armaan let her go, standing up to face Riddhima.. "Uh.. Nothing Basket.. She's just.. Tum aur Dr. Shashank baat nahi kar rahe na.. She's feeling bad..", he still wasn't sure if he should tell her.. He knew it will hurt her.. And when that was involved, he could never make a decision..
Riddhima just sighed, "Common mamma.. Just let it go.. Papa khud mujhse baat nahi karna chahte.. And I am not interested either.. I am not his perfect daughter anymore.. And please stop all this conspiring behind my back.. Its not going to work.."
"Riddhima.. Tum khud kyun baat ko badha rahi ho?..", Armaan asked again, hoping that he could convince her with Padma mom..
"Baat ko maine nahi papa ne badhaya hai.. And please don't start right now.. I have to go to Sanjeevni..", she declared exasperated by the same discussion over and over again..
Padma was surprised that she had to go to the hospital this late in the night.. "Beta.. Itni raat ko.."
"Mamma meri patient ke liye donor mill gaya hai.. Atul ka phone aaya tha.. We need to start the tests immediately.. ", she informed them..
"That's great news Riddhima..", Riddhima smiled as she heard him say that.. Finally they had moved on from her dad.. "Yeah I know.. Could you please drop me if your going home.. Mujhe drive karne ko bore ho raha hai..", she almost ordered her request..
And obviously Armaan was more than happy to oblige.. "Sure.. Chalo.. Bye Padma mom.. Kal milte hain.. And don't worry.. Basket ko jald hi akal aa jayegi and she'll apologize to Dr. Shashank..", he told Padma mom, pretending that Riddhima wasn't there at all..
"Shut up Armaan..", he grinned and followed her to the door as she huffed away angrily..
"Armaan.. Apna khayaal rakhna.. Headache ke liye kucch le lena.. And go home and sleep well.. Tum bhi tension mat lo..", Padma told him at the door..
"Aapke massage se sab theek ho gaya Padma mom.. Don't worry..", he told her and placing a kiss on her cheek he went to his car.. Riddhima who had heard that conversation was frowning when she asked, "You had a headache?.. Mujhe kyun nahi bataya?..", she hated it when he hid stuff like that from her..
"Its nothing Basket.. Lets go..", he shrugged it off as nothing and drove off towards Sanjeevni.. Throughout the drive Riddhima tried to ask him about his headache and if he wasn't feeling well.. But he just kept changing topics.. It was a mild headache and he didn't want to bother her when he knew she was so bothered by other things.. Though she put up a show of indifference he knew she was troubled by the tiff with her dad.. And right now she also had to go and work.. If she thought he wasn't well or something she would just worry about him without reason..
But Riddhima was feeling guilty.. In keeping up with the cold war with her dad, she had even missed that Armaan wasn't well.. Now that she looked at him carefully, he did look tired..
"Here you go.. Tell me when you're done.. I'll come to pick you up..", he said as he stopped the car at the gate of the hospital.. Riddhima hesitated for a second, contemplating if she should call Atul and tell him that she'll do all the tests tomorrow.. But she knew those tests were high on her priority list.. She couldn't delay them.. But she wasn't going to trouble him more, "No Armaan.. Main manage kar lungi.. You go home and araam karo.. You're looking so tired.. And last time when you looked like this tumhe bohot tez bukhaar aaya tha..", she reminded him as she thought about that time.. She had been so scared that he wasn't answering her calls..
"Yaar Basket.. Maine kaha na I'm fine.. Tum bekaar ka tension mat lo.. ", he countered and bent in to peck her cheek.. She smiled and was about to get out of the car, but her held her back.. When she looked at him curiously, he leaned in and kissed her lips softly.. "I love you.. ", he whispered as he let go of her..
She felt like giving him a tight hug and nice long kiss.. She had missed him so much.. But they were right in front of Sanjeevni and she had to work.. "I wish I didn't have to work Armaan.. I miss you..", she confessed, caressing his face..
"Should I come with you.. ", he asked her hopefully.. She had to work.. But he could stay back.. Not like she wouldn't take breaks..
But Riddhima didn't think that was a good idea, "No Armaan.. You're not well.. Tumhe ghar jana chahiye..", though she said those words, Armaan could sense the disappointment.. So without answering, he drove into the parking area.. "Armaan.. Go home.. Bohot ho gaya..", she started as she realized what he was doing..
"Basket.. If I'm not well, then what better place can I be.. I mean, hundreds of doctors and any medicine I want will be at my disposal.. Plus, meri Basket mere paas raahegi toh I'll be alright!..", he said as he started leading the way into the hospital.. Riddhima tried dissuading him, but he didn't listen to her at all.. She had no choice but to follow him in..
She worked almost all night.. There were lots of tests to be done.. A transplant was a high risk procedure.. A small little mistake could cost the patient their life.. And her patient was already at the brink.. She just hoped that this donor matched, coz this was her last chance.. Her blood group was rare and getting marrow donors in itself was very rare an event.. After working for almost three to four hours at a stretch she decided she should take a break.. She could also check on Armaan in the meanwhile.. She hoped he was not down with fever or anything.. He had surely looked tired.. She was glad though that he had decided to stay back.. That she could check on him whenever she wanted to gave her piece of mind.. This way he couldn't lie to her also.. Plus she could take care of him.. Yeah, the couch in his cabin was going to be uncomfortable for him compared to his bed.. But that was fine.. She had asked him to use the on-call room.. But he had said that he wasn't on call and lots of interns and doctors come in and out.. That would disturb him.. Rather disturb them.. Coz according to him they were going to use her break time, making out with each other.. Apparently he had missed making out with her in the hospital.. After they got engaged they spent a lot of time together after work.. So they hardly felt the need to get close during work hours.. But this last week had been awful.. They had hardly spent any time alone and without breaking into an argument.. She could see that he was fed up of it too.. That is why he had offered to stay back with her.. And she really didn't mind spending this break of hers doing anything that he wanted.. Provided he wasn't sick.. Coz then he needed his sleep more than anything.. She entered his cabin to see him sprawled on the couch, one leg hanging off it and the other bent at the knee.. One of his hands was also stretching out and the other was behind his head.. She giggled as she saw the small frown on his face.. Clearly he was uncomfortable.. She went up to him and first checked his forehead if it was too warm or clammy.. But he seemed fine.. Probably just tired.. Apart from the fact that he did not like his sleeping arrangement.. She stifled her giggle again, looking at him sleep like that.. He was so cute.. She kissed his forehead softly to wake him up.. "Armaan..", she called out his name when he didn't get up.. She thought maybe she should let him sleep.. But she really didn't want to waste this break time of hers.. Plus it would be better if he just goes home and sleeps. So she had to wake him up.. But he just frowned more and turned his side.. She turned him to her by his shoulder, "Tch.. Lemme sleep..", he drawled somnolently.. Riddhima couldn't stifle her giggles this time.. But then, something struck her.. An experiment.. She wondered what this sleepy head would do if she kisses him right now.. So out of curiosity, or so she liked to call it, she placed her lips on his.. At first she just brushed his lips lightly.. Then giving in to her desire, she nibbled his lips gently hoping for some response.. Armaan was still asleep, but that feeling of her lips on his was so familiar that he instinctively took her lips and kissed her back.. But his subconscious was in turmoil as these events occurred.. On one hand he had been dreaming about Dr. Shashank.. He was sharing a joke with his sasurji or something and then suddenly, he was kissing sasurji!!! He woke up with a start, pushing Riddhima away from him hoping it was a nightmare, his heart beat berserk.. When he saw her, his fast breathing started to slow down, realizing what was going on.. "Basket.. Don't ever ever ever.. Do that .. ", he told her, huffing as he tried to catch his breath..
"Armaan!!.. What is wrong with you..", she said, glaring at him, angry that he had pushed her so hard, she almost fell off the couch..
Armaan winced as he heard her.. He couldn't possibly tell her what was wrong with him.. So he just brushed aside all those thoughts and his silly dreams and looked at Riddhima, "Nothing.. Nothing.. Tumhara kaam ho gaya..", he asked her, hoping they could go home now..
"Nahi.. Break liya hai.. But you don't seem to want me here.. I'll just go..", and she started off towards the door, "Basket..", he called out, holding her hand and pulling her back down on the couch.. "I was sleeping ok.. You should've woken me up.. ", he told her, rubbing his sleepy eyes now..
"I thought that was a good way to wake you up..", she mumbled with a pout..
Armaan grinned at her pout and caressed her cheek, coloring it pink.. "Oye hoye.. It actually was.. But you see.. I was dreaming about some.. Uh.. Monster.. And then when you kissed me.. It was like I was kissing the monster.. See. So.. ", he cleverly replaced Shanky with Monster.. Well he was no less than a monster anyway..
"Chi.. And I thought you dreamt only about me.. Monsters Armaan!!.. How old are you?!!..", she asked him, making a face at even the thought of him kissing a monster.. From Armaan's point of view, it was better than kissing his sasurji at least.. Yuck!! He made a disgusted face at that thought.. Riddhima caught that expression of his, "Kya hua.. It was that bad!..", she asked him, grinning at his face..
"Yeah.. You will never know Basket.. Never ever ever.. ", he told her, scrunching his nose in disgust..
"Tch.. Tum aur tumhare stupid dreams Armaan.. I thought I'll spend time with you and tum ho ke..", he cut her in between as she started with her complaints.. "So.. What do you want to do?.. Sleep?.. Eat?.. Kiss?.. Make out?..", he laid out all the options for her to choose..
She smiled shyly as she looked away, her cheeks tainting pink.. And they turned crimson when she heard him say, "That blush on your face means.. Option four.. Make out.. So lets start.. "
But her shy smile turned into a scowl as she heard that.. "Armaan!!.. What is 'lets start'.. Its not some race.. Or some.. Show.. "
"Shut up and kiss me Basket.. Don't start your chapar chapar..", he said, irritated now that she was taking so long to kiss him..
"No..", she folded her arms across her front and frowned, looking away..
"What do you mean by 'no'.. Basket!", he asked, exasperated by this nakhra of hers..
But she was his stubborn Basket.."Now toh I'm not going to kiss you.. I hate it when people tell me what to do.. Stop bossing over me.."
But he wasn't less either.. If she could be difficult, he knew how to handle her well.. "Basket.. Fine.. You leave me no option.. ", and with that final statement, or warning, or whatever it was, he turned her to him and took her in a kiss, holding her tight to himself, one arm around her waist and the other holding her face.. She protested, struggling in his hold, but his passionate kiss just overruled her attempts and her lips just responded to him on their own.. Her hands made their way up to his hair as usual, while he kissed her in all his ardor.. Somewhere between that blissful kiss, her mind started to wonder about something that was different.. She fisted his hair when she felt him bite her lower lip.. And that is when she realized.. She could fist his hair!.. And as silly or mad it may sound, she was really happy and also a little turned on at the realization that his hair was finally back to its original length.. Coz she just couldn't help but run her hand sensually through his hair, bringing him closer to her.. As they ran out of breath, he proceeded for her neck, breathing heavily as he kissed her, her hands in his hair fuelling his passion.. She just held him close, running one hand down his back, "I missed you so much Armaan..", she whispered, her eyes shut, taking in all the feelings that were aroused in her.. His hands roved all over her as he tried to take in what he had missed for so long, for once forgetting that there was so much mess to clear up in their life.. But at the moment she was all that mattered.. Having regained their breaths, he went back to her lips, this time taking it slow, so he could savor her longer.. But just as they joined their lips, the door of the cabin opened "Oh.. I m so sorry..", they heard a shocked female high pitched voice and jumped out of their skins.. "Its allowed.. We're engaged!", he almost shouted in defense, his hand raised in front of him like someone was holding him at gunpoint, showing his ring to an embarrassed nurse, looking everywhere but at them, adding to Riddhima's embarrassment.. But she couldn't help but giggle at the shock on his face, not to mention the embarrassment of the poor nurse.. "Yes sir.. I know.. Congratulations..", was all she could manage in a small voice before she quickly set the reports on the table and almost ran out of the cabin.. Riddhima looked at Armaan sighing in relief and burst out laughing.. "Its not funny Basket.. Sasurji hote toh.."
Though she was embarrassed she couldn't help but laugh at his reaction.. And taking the reports she left him frowning as she blushed and giggled her way out of the cabin and back to work.. "Go home Armaan!.. Mujhe raat bhar yahin rukna padega.." Armaan just scowled as she left the cabin and buried his face in the couch, sleeping on his front this time, and back to his dreamland, hoping this time he would get to see his Basket and not her monster papa..
"Basket.. You're still here?..", he asked as he saw her almost running through the corridor during lunch.. She has asked him to go home early this morning coz she still had stuff to do.. Armaan had gone home just so he could get ready and come for duty.. But he had slept all night on the couch in his cabin.. He was however really worried about Riddhima.. She had been working all night and had not even gone home this morning..
"Yeah.. I'll talk to you later Armaan.. Main busy hoon..", she told him and hurried off to see the oncologist who was working with her on the case..
"But what about lunch?..", he called out as she turned the corner..
"Baad mein kar lungi.. You go ahead..", he heard her faint voice trail off as she disappeared out of sight.. He sighed and proceeded for lunch.. He had not gone to her place for breakfast today, coz he was already late.. Plus, she wasn't going to be there and he wanted to avoid any one on one encounters with the Shanky! So he had skipped breakfast altogether.. Now he was hungry but didn't feel like eating without Riddhima.. However, he had a surgery scheduled this afternoon and he knew better than to skip meals, being a doctor himself.. Especially when he was getting a terrible body ache.. And he even though he was trying to avoid it, he could not ignore his head that was pounding since morning.. So he decided to have lunch with his friends.. Only Atul wasn't there as he was working on the same case that Riddhima was working on.. After having lunch he went to his cabin to go through the case before the surgery.. His intern who was going to assist him was already waiting for him there.. "Good afternoon sir.. ", she wished him, grinning shyly, as he entered the cabin..
Armaan just shook his head in disbelief.. Get used to me woman! She had been assisting him for the last six months and she still looked at him like she was seeing him for the first time.. "Good afternoon Dr. Payal.. So.. I hope you've studied the case well..", he asked as he took his seat behind his desk, ignoring her expectant gaze..
His question startled her as she fumbled a little and then answered, "Yes sir.. But I didn't understand why we're not giving him a general anesthesia..", she asked him her doubt when he was settled..
Armaan raised his brow at that.. "Well.. I am sure you must have read about the new technique we're using that does not require a general anesthesia..", she had assisted him in two surgeries of a similar kind now and she still was asking such a question.. Sometimes he felt that she didn't pay enough attention.. Anyway, now was not the time to worry about that.. He explained to her the procedure again.. As he spoke his headache was worsening, so he started to massage his temples with one hand.. After he was done explaining, he stood up and sighed, "Chalo.. Lets go.. We should talk to the patient.. I hope they have wheeled him in.."
She nodded and stood up to leave but couldn't help but ask him, "Sir.. You don't look too well.. Are you ok?.."
Armaan heard the concern in her voice and as usual shrugged it off, "Its nothing.. I'll just take an Aspirin..", he rummaged the drawer for some pills and popping one in he gulped it down with water, before leading the way to the OT..
Armaan was waiting in his cabin for Riddhima.. Another day had come to an end and his Basket was still running around doing tests and stuff for the leukemia patient.. She could easily hand the samples to the technicians.. But the perfectionist that she was she overlooked each and every procedure, coz this case was very sensitive.. There was no room for error here.. He wasn't feeling too well and just wanted to go home now.. But he was waiting for Riddhima, hoping that she'll finish soon, so he could drive her back.. Just as he hoped that Riddhima came rushing into his cabin, "Armaan.. I wont be coming home.. Tum jao.."
"What?.. Riddhima tum kal raat se yahin ho.. Please lets go.. And did you even have lunch..", he was frustrated now with this over work.. What was she doing!..
Riddhima stopped at the door for a second just as she was about to leave when she heard that tone of his.. So finally she had managed to frustrate him.. She went over and hugged him tight once as she mumbled into his shoulder, "I'll go home late Armaan.. My patient.. She's really unstable.. Mujhe bohot tension aa raha hai.. And don't worry I ate a late lunch with Atul.. Who bhi mere saath rukne waala hai.. Theek hai.."
"Riddhima.. You'll fall sick like this.. Weren't you the one who used to keep telling me that..", he reminded her of the time he used to over work to impress his sasurji. That seemed such a long time ago now..
"Armaan.. That was your stupidity.. Main purposely yeh nahi kar rahi.. I have to be here.. I m not doing this out of choice.. ", she defended herself.. She wanted nothing but to go home and sleep at the moment.. But she had to stay here.. Her patient was quite critical, having suffered a relapse again.. They would have to hurry the transplant procedure.. But they couldn't do that till she was stable..
Armaan heard that and held her close.. Well.. She was right.. But he didn't like this self-torture.. She could at least come home for dinner.. "Main bhi rukta hoon tumhare saath.. We'll at least have dinner together..", he told her, nuzzling her neck..
"No Armaan.. Tum kal raat bhi yahin the.. Look at yourself.. You're looking so tired.. Please ghar jao.. I don't want you to fall sick..", she told him, pulling out a little..
"Basket.. You take hypocrisy to a new level.. Really.. ", he commented at her concern..
"Shut up and go Armaan.. You're wasting my time.. Accha.. Ek kaam karo.. Mere kapde ghar le jao..", she requested him..
"Kya?..", he asked, confused by what she said..
"Arre.. I showered here in Sanjeevni only na.. Toh I took some clothes from the changing room.. Just take these home so mamma can put them for a wash or something.. ", she told him, dragging him towards the residents' cabin so she could give them to him.. She handed him the bag and pecked him on his lips once, "I love you.. ", but when she held his face, she found it was warmer than usual.. "Armaan.. Tumhe bukhar aa raha hai.. You know what.. I'll ask mamma to send the driver.. Tum drive mat karo..", she was really concerned and now irritated that she couldn't take care of him..
But Armaan quickly refuted , "Its nothing Basket.. Don't make a big deal.. Main ghar jaakar so jaunga.. And I'll be fine.. I don't think its fever.. Tum jao.. You're getting late.."
She was disappointed as she realized that she was indeed getting late.. There was a lot to be done.. Pulling him in another soft kiss she bid him a goodbye and proceeded for her work.. Armaan sighed and set off towards her place.. He would just drop off her bag and go home.. He was exhausted.. Physically and emotionally.. Like the last two months were finally getting to him.. He had seen so many ups and downs and ups again.. So much of travelling, almost living out of his suitcase.. He still was in fact.. He had not unpacked yet.. He just wanted a good long night's sleep.. His eyes were burning, his body telling him that he had tested it enough.. Throughout the drive back, these thoughts occupied his mind.. His life was one big circus and he had to keep up with his acts.. But sometimes, he just needed a break from it all.. And it was only when he fell sick that he would get that time.. When he parked in front of her house, he sighed, hoping Dr. Shanky does not welcome him.. Coz he was in no mood for a Shanky welcome.. But when had God ever listened to him.. Shanky stood at the door the moment he rang the doorbell with his oh-so-welcoming glare.. "Good.. Uh.. Good evening sir..", he greeted him with a hopeful smile.. "Good evening..", Armaan was shocked beyond his wits to get that answer from him.. So much that his mouth was left open in shock.. Though his tone was curt, these were the first words his sasurji had said to him in two weeks now.. It was almost like he heard a baby say his first words! He was brought out of that shocked state of his by that stern voice again, "Padma ghar pe nahi hai.. ", he informed him in as few words as possible.. Armaan got his hint.. That meant 'you can get out of this house now.. I don't want to see your face..'
"Jee sir.. I mean.. Kahan gayi hai?..", he asked him, stammering as he did..
"Kisi friend ke beti ki shaadi mein.. Aapko kucch kaaam tha..", he asked him, not looking at him..
Armaan cautiously said, "Jee.. Who.. Riddhima ke kapde.. ", when Dr. Shashank shot him a furious glare he changed his words, "Yeh bag.. Drop karne aaya tha.. Riddhima wont be coming home tonight.. She's at the hospital..", he informed him.. He was sure that that was one thing Shanky wouldn't know, considering Riddhima wasn't talking to him..
"Kyun kya hua hai.. She wasn't home last night also..", Shashank asked, his tone softening this time.. He was worried for his daughter now..
"Uh.. Who actually.. Her leukemia patient is a little unstable.. So.. And they just got a donor.. So they're trying.. You know.. I.. Who..", he wondered what it was about Shanky that he could never string two words together in his presence.. Especially when he knew that there was no one else at home to save him.. He knew nani was still in Lonavla.. She had gotten along really well with Raunak's dadi.. And with Padma mom out of the house, Mogambo had the perfect opportunity to torture him to death.. What if he decided to finish him off right now.. So when he heard him say, "Oh I see.. Why don't you come in?..", he jumped.. "Nahi.. Nahi.. I'll just take your leave sir..", he replied scared to death by his offer..
"Are you sure.. Dinner nahi karenge?..", he asked him.. Not that he wanted to spend time with him.. But since he had dinner with them everyday, he thought it general courtesy..
"No sir.. I am not really hungry.. Aap yeh.. Bag..", he forwarded the bag to him, hoping he wont catch hold of him and drag him in!..
Dr. Shashank was amused by the fear on his face.. Was he really that scary.. He forwarded his hand to take the bag from him.. Armaan was in a hurry to hand it over to him and make a run for his life.. So he dropped the bag before Dr. Shashank could manage a firm grip on the handle.. Or like he thought, on his hand.. "Sorry.. Sorry sir.. ", he apologized as both of them bent down to pick the bag up.. As they were about to pick it up, their hands brushed each other.. And a shiver ran down Armaan's spine.. He looked up at Dr. Shashank at once, wondering what was going to be his next move.. He found him staring at him, the expression in his cold eyes had softened a little.. Armaan drew back his hand fast and got up.. He saw Dr. Shashank picking the bag up and then walking closer to him.. He stepped back a little wondering what monster Shanky had in store for him.. And he lost his head when he felt him put his hand forward towards his face, "Sir.. Aap yeh kya kar rahe hain?..", he suddenly remembered his awful dream last night and shut his eyes in fear.. Dr. Shashank scowled as he saw him retreating.. Was he going to eat him up?.. This guy could never get serious.. Not even when he was sick.. "Dr. Mallik.. Stop moving behind.. ", he ordered. Then putting out his hand he checked him for fever and found his body quite warm.. Armaan opened one eye as he felt the back of his hand near his jaw.. Then on his forehead.. Realizing that Shanky was not planning on killing him, nor on kissing him, which was worse than killing him, he opened both his eyes and chuckled sheepishly in relief..
"Get in Dr. Mallik.. I'll check your temperature.. You feel feverish.. Aapki aankhen bhi laal hain..", he told him in a very professional manner, having practiced medicine for so long..
But Armaan wasn't about to enter the Lion's den if it would cost him his life.. "Nahi sir.. I'm ok.. I'll just go home and sleep.."
"Dr. Mallik.. You know I am a doctor right?.. You think main itna bewakoof doctor hoon ki mujhe pata nahi chalega that you have fever.. Are you doubting my diagnosis..", he raised his voice in irritation..
Armaan gulped at that tone, "No sir.. I mean yes sir.. I mean.. I know you're a great doctor sir.. I .."
"Then get in right now.. You shouldn't drive in this condition..", he ordered him again..
"Sir but..", he started, only to hear Dr. Shashank's raised voice again, "Dr. Maillik.. Driving in this condition is almost like drinking and driving.. Your reflexes are compromised.. Khud ki nahi toh at least dusron ke baare mein sochiye..", he said and walked in, leaving Armaan no option but to follow him in.. Armaan cursed his luck, prayed for his safety and walked in shutting the door behind him.. But he didn't lock it, in case he needs to run out if things get out of hand..
Dr. Shashank checked Armaan's temperature and true to his diagnosis he was running a fever.. Though it wasn't very severe, he noticed that Armaan did look very exhausted.. He was sure he was getting a bad body ache and headache.. His eyes were almost shutting of their own accord.. But he was fighting to keep them open.. "Armaan.. I think you should lie down.. I'll get you some medicines.. ", he told him..
"Sir.. I'll just take a cab home..", he dared to challenge that order of his.. Did Shanky really think he'll feel better with him hovering around in a house that had no one else but him!..
But Shashank wasn't about to let him go.. "The guest room is there.. Agar aap nahi jaenge toh mujhe force karna padega.. I think both of us don't want that.. Plus.. If my daughter can stay at your place, I am sure there wont be a problem if you stay here.. ", he told him and walked into the kitchen..
Armaan's eyes were wide in shock at that threat of his.. So he got up and slowly made his way to the guest room without further arguments.. He couldn't believe Shanky.. If this was his way of caring for him, it sure was scary!.. The bed in the guest room looked so inviting to him.. And the moment he slumped on the bed, he let out a sigh of relief.. He was sure his fever was increasing slowly and it had surely increased since the time he had left from Sanjeevni.. He just hoped Riddhima doesn't find out.. She would surely leave all her work and run home.. He remembered the last time he had fallen sick, she had made such a big deal out of it. But still he wished she was there with him now.. It just made even falling sick enjoyable.. Unfortunately he had to make do with her dad this time.. And just then he saw Dr. Shashank come in with a tray in his hand.. He got up to sit straight at once as he saw him come in.. He set the tray on the side table and handed him a plate full of daal rice.. "Kha lijiye.. Then you can take the medicine..", he said, his tone a little caring this time.. It surely caught Armaan off guard.. This was the first time he was seeing this side of Shanky.. Had he really brought him food!..
Shashank saw Armaan staring at the plate in disbelief and said, "Don't worry.. Maine nahi banaya hai.."
Armaan looked up at him swiftly as he heard him.. "Nahi sir.. Aisa nahi hai.. I mean..", when he didn't know what to say, he just took the plate and started eating before Shanky offered to feed him with his own hands..
Shashank tried hard to hide the grin that was forming on his face.. Padma had told him how royally his cooking sucked.. But Armaan had just eaten it coz he had made it just for him.. Just so he doesn't feel bad. Well.. He had been on top of the moon.. But Padma had stopped him in good time with all his cooking experiments.. Now as he saw Armaan eat silently, sometimes throwing him wary glances, he felt like laughing at his silly son-in-law.. He acted like such a kid sometimes.. He took his plate and sat next to him as both sasurji and his damaad had dinner in silence.. After dinner was done, Shashank gave him some medicine, which Armaan thought of cross checking, hoping it wasn't poison.. But then Shanky was being sweet to him.. Sweet enough to kill him with a pill rather than the painful strangle or stab.. So he took it without a question.. "Sir.. Please don't tell Riddhima.. I mean.. She'll worry..", he requested Dr. Shashank.. He wondered what he would say.. Considering they weren't talking to each other..
But Shashank just nodded and said.. "Now go to sleep.. You'll feel better by morning..", and walked out of the room, with the tray that he had brought in earlier.. Armaan let out a sigh of relief and just stared at the door, recounting what had just happened.. Shanky wasn't that bad, he thought to himself.. Just like his daughter.. Both terrorized him.. But he knew they cared.. He had a little doubt about Shanky though, scared to shut his eyes.. What if he sleeps and never gets up.. With all these silly and crazy thoughts that could hound only someone as crazy as him, he finally fell asleep as his body couldn't take the torture any longer..
Dr. Shashank sat in the living room, watching TV, waiting for Padma to come home.. She had called a while back and said that she would get late.. After the news bulletin was over, he wondered if Armaan was asleep.. He thought he should check on him.. So he made his way to the guest room.. He saw Armaan sleeping peacefully.. But his blanket had gotten off him.. He wondered if he should straighten it.. Then without thinking much, he just pulled the corner and readjusted the blanket tucking him in properly.. He saw him move a little, disturbed perhaps by his movements.. He looked pretty innocent when he slept.. But when he was awake, he beat the Tasmanian devil when it came to his naughty behavior.. He chuckled as he remembered his face when he had invited him in tonight.. He knew he had always been scared of him since Riddhima came into his life.. And he knew that he didn't respect him just because he was Riddhima's father.. He knew Armaan held him like his own father.. Especially since he didn't have one.. He could see that in the way he behaved with him.. Respecting him, looking up to him, not wanting to hurt him.. He knew he was trying to get Riddhima talk to him.. But somehow he always managed to annoy him.. And though he had taken long to accept it, he too considered him like his own son.. Well he didn't have a son.. But like Padma said, if he ever had one, he would want one like Armaan.. Just a little less rebellious and minus all the tattoos though.. He knew that he didn't and couldn't love him as much as his daughter.. But he did love him all the same.. It was a little awkward to show that though.. Like it was right now.. He looked around to make sure no one was looking and slowly lowered his hand to Armaan's forehead.. Then stopped, thinking again.. Finally he stopped thinking and just listened to his heart as he ran a loving hand through his hair, caressing his forehead.. And as soon as he did that, he realized that his fever had increased.. Worried for him now, he hurried to the kitchen and got some ice in a bowl so he could place wet strips on his forehead.. He remembered he used to do that when Anjali or Riddhima used to get a fever..
Armaan opened his eyes as he felt wet and cold on his forehead.. As soon as he saw Shashank sitting next to him on the bed, he sat up straight.. "Armaan.. Lete raho.. Tumhara bukhar badh gaya hai.. You need rest..", he told him as he prodded him to lie down, pushing him down by his shoulder.. Armaan's eyes were wide with shock and surprise as he realized what Dr. Shashank had been doing.. "Aap yeh sab.. I mean.. I am ok sir.. Aapko takleef lene ki zaroorat nahi hai.."
"I know Armaan.. Now please lie down.. Mujhe takleef lene mein maza aata hai..", he told him sarcastically and continued placing the cold strips on his forehead..
Armaan looked at him like he had lost his head or something.. Like he was looking at the eighth wonder of the world.. Last night, this man was glaring at him and today he was taking care of him.. He really needed a psychiatrist, this man!
"I know Riddhima has asked you to keep away from me.. And I know you think I hate you.. But that is not true..", Dr. Shashank stated as he saw Armaan look at him weirdly..
Armaan couldn't believe what he was hearing.. And though he wanted to say 'Really?!' with all the sarcasm in the world, he said, "Nahi sir.. Aisa kucch nahi hai.. I just.. You know.."
"Yeah.. I know.. I know I have been angry with the two of you.. And I know I was a little too rude to you.. But that does not mean I hate you..", he confessed..
Armaan wanted to take him by his shoulders and shake him up!.. Did he even hear himself.. Crazy!! "I know sir..", he said softly, without voicing his actual thoughts..
"No you don't Armaan.."
'That's right', Armaan agreed with him in his mind.. Finally Shanky uncle was making sense..
"Armaan.. Who kya hai na.. Riddhima aur tumhare baare mein mujhe abhi abhi pata chala hai.. And then the whole drama happened.. I am sorry for that.. But since then.. Riddhima ko sirf tumhari fikar hoti hai.. I think that's normal.. I gues.. But honestly I feel left out.. And then what you people did in Singapore inspite of my warning.. I was angry.."
"I am sorry sir..", he apologized as he watched him change the wet strip from his forehead.. This was the first time Shanky was talking to him so calmly about this issue, minus all the taunts and the gibes.. He really did feel guilty today of taking advantage of his trust..
"Oh.. That's ok.. Bacche toh hote hi hain galtiyaan karne ke liye.. But I overreacted.. I am sorry.. Its just that Riddhima has changed so much.. And suddenly there is this thing.. She's engaged to you.. And she's going to get married to you.. She's going to leave me and go.. So suddenly.. You know.. I don't want her to go.." Armaan felt bad for him.. Especially after what Padma mom had told him last night.. He knew what Riddhima meant to him.. And it was going to be the most difficult thing in the world for him to let go of her.. "Agar aisi baat hai.. Toh we can wait sir.. I mean.. Itni jaldi karne ki zaroorat nahi hai..", his heart was screaming mad at his blatant lie.. He was dying to take her home with him.. But his sympathy and somewhere deep down, that love for him compelled him to say that..
Shashank chuckled.. He knew very well what Armaan must actually be thinking while saying those words.. "Nahi nahi Armaan.. Its ok.. I better get you guys married before you decide to move in together.."
"Sir.. We wont.. I mean.. Aisa kucch nahi.."
"Agar Riddhima chahe toh koi kucch nahi kar sakta..", Armaan had to agree to that.. If Riddhima decided, then even he couldn't dissuade her..
"Accha.. By the way.. Hum log tumhari shaadi ke baare mein bhule nahi hain.. Monday ko Panditji se appointment li hai.. I want you to be there.. Itne din he was busy.. ", he informed him.. Armaan blushed a little at that piece of information.. It was weird having Shanky discuss things like this with him.. He just nodded a little.. Then thought of something.. "Uh.. Sir.. Who.. Day after tomorrow.. Christmas hai. Toh I was going to the Lonavla orphanage.. Can Riddhima come with me.. I mean.. I have shifted my duty to Sunday.. We wont miss work..", he thought, since sasurji was in such a generous mood, he should take advantage of that..
Shashank nodded his head as he grinned, "Ab toh tumhari permission leni padegi Armaan.. Of course you can take her.. If she wants to go that is.. I mean.. She is very stubborn.."
'Just like you..', he wanted to say, but said, "Yeah.. I mean.. I'll ask her.. Waise sir.. I know this is between you and her.. But.. Please could you forgive her.."
"I'll talk to her.. ", he said in a soft voice.. He didn't know how to tell him that, he couldn't forgive her.. Coz he didn't have the right to.. She was the one who had to forgive him.. And he was too much of a coward to go talk to her.. Armaan sighed as he got that answer from him.. he didnt understand that if he could talk to hi so properly and forgive him so easily, what was holding him back from talking to his own daughter.. but he didnt argue any further as he watched him change the strip on his forehead.. as the silence took over he didnt realize when he fell asleep.. Dr. Shashank watched him sleep and caressed is forehead once, making sure that he was comfortable now.. And that's what Padma witnessed as she stood at the door of the guest room, a tear trickling down her cheek as she saw her apparently stone hearted husband take care of his son.. She didnt make a sound as she quietly went to her room to change, leaving Shashank to think over how he was going to reconcile with his daughter now..
She rang the doorbell and waited for someone to answer it.. But no one answered.. She wondered why?.. He should have been home.. She herself had sent him home earlier when he wanted to wait for her till she finished her work.. Maybe he had gone off to sleep.. It was pretty late actually and he had been working too.. "Yeh Chaabi kahan rakh di maine?..", she sighed out loud as she rummaged in her bag for her house keys.. Finally finding them, she unlocked the door and walked into the dark living room.. So he had probably gone off to sleep!.. But she wondered why a yellow light was flickering from the dining area.. And was it really the tune of her favorite song playing in the background?.. Her heartbeat increased at the thought.. Did he do all this for her?.. But why?.. She had to find out.. She just dumped her bag on the table in the living room and hurried towards the dining area.. When she reached there, she saw the dining table was laid out for dinner, the yellow candle light making it look picture perfect.. She peeped in the kitchen guessing he would be there.. But he wasn't.. Surprised he wasn't there, she frowned and turned, wondering if he had gone off to sleep after making all these arrangements.. But she was wrong.. Coz as she turned, she found him kneeling on one knee with a bunch of roses in his hands.. "Rahul!", she exclaimed his name in a whisper.. What was going on!!
"Hey Muskaan!", he greeted her with a grin..
"Tu aise kyun baitha hai?..", she asked him, going closer.. He could be so filmy sometimes!
"Tujhse kucch puchna tha?..", he replied, smiling his best smile..
Muskaan was a little confused.. Why wasn't he giving her the flowers and finishing his drama already!.. "Kya puchna hai?.. "
"Who.. Main soch raha tha ki hume shaadi karni chahiye.. ", he told her, wondering what her reaction would be..
Muskaan was surprised at what he said, her heart beat had picked up speed.. Was he really proposing to her.. She had always dreamt of this.. But she knew that she was one of those few who don't get this chance.. She couldn't believe he had done all this for her.. And so suddenly.. She wondered how he came to know what she wanted all the time.. She had never told any of this to him.. But this was exactly like she had imagined it would be.. Filmy!.. But that's what she was!.. A blush crept up her face as she figured what he was asking her.. but the anticipation in his eyes was so cute that she decided to tease him a little.. "Kya!! Par Rahul.. Humari shaadi toh already ho chuki hai!.. Who bhi ek dusre se..", she screamed dramatically..
Rahul was completely taken aback at that reaction.. He had so not expected this.. Was she that dumb! "I know Muskaan.. Par hum dobara bhi toh shaadi kar sakte hai na..", he tried to convince her..
But Muskaan was not done teasing him.. "Kya!.. Hai.. Main toh barbaad ho gayi.. Humari shaadi ko ek saal bhi nahi hua hai.. Aur tujhe dusri shaadi karni hai..", and she started fake sobbing loudly in her typical style and cursing her luck in Punjabi.. Rahul caught her naughty smile in the middle of her nautanki and decided to take revenge.. "Haan ek saal khatam hone ke khushi mein hi toh.. Main soch raha tha, humari wedding anniversary par hi phir se apni dusri barbaadi plan karun..", he told her remorsefully..
And that shut her up immediately as she directed her curses towards him.. And she wasn't pretending this time.. "Kameene.. Itna sadistic koi ho sakta hai kya?..", she knew he had caught her naatak.
"Toh tujhe itna oversmart banne ki zaroorat thi?.. Seedhe seedhe jawaab nahi de sakti thi.. ", he retorted back..
"Toh tu itna filmy ban raha tha.. Mujhse raha nahi gaya..", she giggled as she pointed out, how he was still sitting on one knee in front of her..
"Toh jaldi bol.. Shaadi karni hai ya nahi.. Mere ghutne dard kar rahe hai.. ", Rahul asked her, his tone irritated that she was making fun of him..
She frowned at his tone, "Aise puchega..".. How unromantic!!
"Ab filmy tujhe accha laga nahi.. Toh tere hi style mein puch raha tha..", he commented back his smart reply..
"Rahul.. Tu.. Kehna kya chahta hai haan.. Saaf saaf bol na..", she asked him, her hands on her hips, banding over him threateningly..
So without wasting more time he started.. "Muskaan Grewaal.. I want to, for some weird reason get married to you.. Again!!.. I don't know why I am doing this, but main chahta hoon ke humari anniversary pe hum phir se shaadi karen.. Iss baar apni marzi se.. Kisi majburi se nahi.. So will you marry me?.. Again!", he said very fast in one breath..
And by the time he had finished, Muskaan had tears in her eyes that were threatening to spill.. Hopefully they were tears of joy.. Coz the next thing she said was.."Do I even have a choice!..", in quite a broken voice..
Rahul chuckled at that as he got up and said, "I don't think so..", and pulled her in a tight hug.. Muskaan smiled as she hid himself in his chest, giving in to her tears.. Rahul held her tight, glad that he did this.. The smile on her face made it worth it.. He obviously had to thank Riddhima for this.. She had proven not that bad a kabaab mein haddi.. The last few days she had been tagging along with the on their dates and stuff.. And though he was irritated by that, Muskaan didn't mind her being around that much.. In all their gossip and catching up sessions, Muskaan had confessed to Riddhima how she had never been on a honeymoon and she wished she would have too had a normal life.. Well she obviously asked her to keep this a secret, but Riddhima, the good friend that she was, had come and tipped him off.. She had suggested to him that maybe he should take her out for a honeymoon.. He had not only taken that tip, but also improvised on it and as an anniversary gift he thought why not they get married again.. Not just for her.. But for him too.. Coz he certainly wasn't too happy with the circumstances they had gotten married in. he had known at that time that it was all but a compromise for her.. And now that she really loved him and wanted him with all her heart, he would gladly give her that what she deserves.. So he had planned this.. And though it didn't go exactly as he had pictured it, it was their moment.. It was what they were all about.. And this feeling of making her happy was so satisfying that he wished he had done this earlier.. But this was good timing too.. He parted from her a little to look at her radiant face as she blushed at the way he was looking at her.. "I love you Muskaan..", he told her, leaning in for a kiss.. She smiled and joined their lips as she mumbled, "I love you too.." on his lips before they got lost in the passion of that kiss.. Long after the kiss they stayed in each others' arms, the bouquet of roses lay forgotten on the floor, as they swayed to the soft music in the background.. When they had had enough of each other, and when their stomachs started to grumble, they proceeded for their candle light dinner.. "Thanks Rahul.. This is perfect.. Maine humesha aisa hi socha tha.. But yeh sab all of a sudden..", she asked him as they had dinner..
"Bas Muskaan.. Mujhe pata chal jaata hai.. So I called up papaji and dad.. And they were more than happy.. Toh agle mahine on our anniversary, we'll get married again.. The way you always wanted it.. ", he told her.. She was surprised that he had already thought of everything.. She surely was the luckiest girl on this planet.. She couldn't believe now, that she didn't fall in love with him on first sight, like he had.. But then this was life.. Didn't all that happen in movies.. But at times like these, she couldn't really draw a line between life and fantasy.. If reality was so beautiful, who wanted the dreams anyway!..
While Muskaan's reality was better than her dreams, Riddhima's reality had just given her a wake up call.. After working so hard on the case, her leukemia patient had suffered a major relapse again.. And this time it was worse than the last time.. This time it was almost fatal.. She felt so betrayed, so cheated, so frustrated and angry.. Nothing was going right.. Her personal life was a mess.. Her professional life was a bigger mess.. She kept reminding herself that she was a professional.. But she just couldn't keep away this disappointment from taking over her heart.. And that disappointment almost bordered on depression now due to tension, exhaustion, emotional upheavals and not to mention lack of sleep.. Like her dad's clod behavior and Armaan's health wasn't bothering her already!.. Now she had to go and tell the family again that their child would mostly not make it.. And this time it hurt more.. Coz just a day ago she had given the hope.. Now all that had gone down the drain.. She was certain no miracle was going to save her this time.. Coz miracles don't happen twice.. And not certainly twice in the same week!.. She tried to control the tears that were threatening to spill as she saw the worried faces of her patient's parents.. Taking a deep breath in, she walked up to them and looking at the girl's father in the eye she said "I'm sorry..", that's all she could utter.. And the moment those words left her mouth she saw his hopes shattering in his eyes.. She had purposely chosen the father.. Coz she thought men are capable of handling bad news better.. But she couldn't have been more wrong.. She almost gave in to her emotions when he shut his eyes and shook his head in denial, "Nahi.. Aisa nahi ho sakta.. Please try again doctor.. I know.. She'll live.."
She wanted to run away.. Run away from this world.. Into a world that had no problems.. Just happiness.. Unfortunately no such world existed.. And so before the dams broke loose she said, "I am sorry..", in a choked voice and turned around to leave, running into the nearest escape she had from all her problems.. The fire escape..
Atul was sitting on the couch in his cabin with his head between his hands. The normally happy-go-lucky guy that he was, he didn't remember the last time he was this depressed.. Being a doctor, he had seen his share of failure and deaths.. But this case went beyond disappointment and frustration.. They had worked really hard for this one.. And God had given them a second chance.. They had saved her one time too many now.. And this was surely her last relapse.. But this time it hurt, coz this time they had a donor.. They had a chance at curing her.. There was a possibility of saving her.. But now all that was in vain.. She was hanging onto last of her breaths.. She was too weak.. And they had to once again tell her family that they wouldn't be able to save her.. This time it would be a hundred times worse coz just a day ago they had given them hope.. This heartbreaking news was going to shatter them..
"Atul.. Common.. Tum aise give up nahi kar sakte.. You are a doctor.. ", Anjali kept a hand on his shoulder as she tried to encourage him.. She had gotten late to go home.. And when she found out about the condition of Atul's patient, she stayed back to give him some emotional support.. She knew it was distressing, but this was a part of a doctors life.. It however was easier said than done.. She herself had conveniently distanced herself from these things by choosing to get into the administrative section of the hospital. But she very well knew this feeling. And how much ever detached she claimed to be from a patient, she always felt miserable when a patient gave up.. But then there was only so much that a doctor could do!..
And Atul articulated those exact feelings when he said, "Its easier said than done Anjali.. Mujhe yahan ghutan ho rahi hai.. I cant even imagine Ridzi ka kya haal hoga.."
"Where is she?..", she asked, hoping her sensitive sister was doing fine.. If she had to guess, she must be sitting in the fire escape and crying her eyes out..
"She's telling the family.. She took the case.. Its her responsibility.. Last time bhi usi ne bataya tha.. I offered to tell them.. But she said she was a professional.. She could handle herself.. But I don't think so.. Her voice and eyes were a complete give away..", he told her, remembering how helpless and hopeless she had become when they learnt of this terrible new development..
"I know.. She's very sensitive..", Anjali agreed.. Her little sister was very sensitive.. If Atul was going through this hell, she sure must be going through worse..
"But she worked so hard on it Anjali.. She is here in the hospital since last night.. All of us on the team worked hard.. But she put her heart and soul into this.. If I am feeling so horrible, I cant even imagine what she's going through..", a tear rolled down the corner of his eye as he said that..
"Main samajh sakti hoon Atul.. I know its difficult.. But both of you should understand that this is all you can do.. You tried your best.. You worked hard.. What else can you do?..", Anjali caressed his face as she tried to console him..
But Atul was far from being consoled.. "I don't know.. Maybe you should ask the family of the patient.. We'll never know what they go through.. ", he said, looking away, to hide those tears.. He didn't know if he was more angry or more disappointed.. God had his ways of balancing their life.. The number of happy tears had to equal the number of the sad ones..
But Anjali reclined back on the couch at that comment of his, retreating her self into a pensive silence.. This statement of his had brought out bitter memories that she had long ago shelved into the deep abyss of her brain.. Coz those memories only brought immeasurable and unbearable pain.. Atul turned to her as he realized she had become silent all of a sudden.. "Kya hua Anjali.. You ok?..", he asked her, pulling her closer into him.. He wondered what had happened all of a sudden..
"Bas.. Kucch yaad aa gaya.. I know Atul.. I know what it is to be on the receiving end.. I know what the family must be going through.. ", she said, her voice choking as she held onto him tight.. He tried to look into her eyes, but she was hiding her face in his shoulder, "Anjali.. What are you saying.. Tum kiski baat kar rahi ho?..", she had never told him about this..
"Ridzi..", she whispered, without looking at him..
Atul was shocked beyond measure as he heard that.."What?.."
She wiped the tears that were rolling down her cheeks and pulled out to look at him, "Yeah.. When she was six or something.. She had.. You know.. She was so innocent.. It was around the same time.. It was Christmas.. She was annoying me about Santa Claus.. I obviously knew he didn't exist.. But she didn't want to believe me.. She kept annoying me.. So I told her that he comes down chimneys and she should go and wait for him on the terrace.. I sent her away so that she doesn't annoy me.. And that stupid idiot.. She actually went up.. When mamma sent me up to get her down, I saw she was at the edge of the parapet.. She was looking up in the sky waiting for her Santa and before I could stop her.. She.. She just fell Atul.. I saw her.. Fall.. I couldn't do anything.. I was.. I cant.. Tell you.. It was.. My fault.. I .. Sent her.. ", and she could say no more as she buried her face in his shoulder again and cried her pain out.. She had never told this to anyone.. But every Christmas this memory haunted her.. She blamed herself for the accident.. If she would not have sent her up to the terrace none of it would have ever happened.. But she didn't tell anyone about it.. She learnt to ignore it.. But around Christmas, it came back.. And she was feeling miserable since morning. Now Atul's comment had just prompted her to pour it out.. She had not meant to cry.. She wasn't a softie.. Or so she believed.. But this particular memory had haunted her all her life..
Atul just held onto her, supporting her like a good husband, a life partner should, caressing her back, trying to console her, "Its ok Anjali.. It was not your fault.. And everything is ok na now.. Kitni purani baat hai yeh.. Don't blame yourself.. Tum bhi toh choti si bacchi thi.. Agar tumhe pata hota aisa hone waala hai toh kya tum usse upar bhejti?.. It was destined to happen.."
Anjali controlled her tears at that and nodded as she came out of his embrace and looked at him, "Yeah.. I know.. But I feel so angry when I think about that you know.. Only if I wouldn't have done that.. It would have saved her and our family a lifetime of torture.. You don't know Atul.. Papa was so shattered when the doctor told us she wont survive.. They didn't tell me that time.. But I knew that they did.. I had overheard mom crying in nani's arms.. But papa suffered the most.. You know.. He's a very reserved person.. Zyaada express nahi karte apne aap ko.. He couldn't even cry.. But.. He took care of Riddhima.. And he took care of me and the whole house without shedding a single tear.. I cant even imagine what he must have gone through.. And still I was so stupid.. I accused him of loving Ridzi more.. ", and those tears started to flow again.. When Atul looked at her curiously she flicked away her tears, sniffing as she continued, "After the accident.. Papa became so protective of Ridzi.. And she for some reason became the world's best daughter.. She listened to every thing he said.. Even if she didn't like it.. As we grew, obviously comparisons were drawn between her and me.. And it made me really angry that she always was favoured in the house.. It was a fact that I was wrong most of the time.. But one day I got so angry that I accused papa of loving her more.. And that day I saw him cry for the first time.. I felt so rotten you know.. Mamma explained to me that it was only because of the accident that they took extra care of Ridzi.. And that made me feel even worse.. But papa is so cool you know.. Next day he pretended that nothing of that sort happened and he also pretended to scold Ridzi in front of me.. Did he really think I was that stupid..", she chuckled as she remembered that incident.. "Sometimes I used to feel that if I was in Ridzi's place on the terrace that day then I would also be special like her.. But then sometimes I used to feel bad for her.. Coz she was so overprotected.. She really was smothered by our love.. In fact papa still thinks of her like the delicate six year old who needs to be protected from anything and everyone.."
"Yeah.. I noticed that.. He over reacts everytime when it comes to Riddhima..", Atul told her..
"Yeah.. But its her fault also.. Even as a teenager she was such a saint I tell you.. She would listen to everything mamma papa said without protest.. Now that Armaan has made her realize what she has missed out, she is finally coming of her own.. But papa.. He cant bear his princess fooling around with Armaan, can he!"
Atul sighed at that.. "I hope they sort their differences soon.. Mujhe bechare Armaan pe taras aata hai.. I don't know how handles the two of them.. Main uski jagah pe hota na toh tumhe kabka chodke chala jaata.. "
"Atul!", she scolded him, whacking his shoulder..
He just chuckled sheepishly and said.. "Mazaak.."
"Mazaak!!", she rolled her eyes, making a face at his stupid mazaak.. Then getting up she asked, "Ghar chal rahe ho?.."
"Nahi.. I told Ridzi to go home.. I'll wait.. Who bichari kal raat se yahin hai..", he told her reclining back on the couch as he kissed the back of her hand that he was holding.. He felt much relaxed after talking to Anjali.. He always talked to her when he had a problem.. But today was the first time she had shared her problem with him.. She had left behind her I-don't-cry put up and let him take care of her.. He never thought about it earlier.. But he really felt nice that she had..
But Anjali was back to being herself as she took her hand back from him without responding.. "Ok.. Bye.. Good night!..", she said, trying very hard not to blush..
When she was at the door, he called out.. "Anjali.. I love you.."
"I know!..", she said, giving him a wink and left from there.. Atul just smiled to himself and sighed.. How he loved his wife!..
"Armaan!", she called out, but her voice wasn't loud enough for anyone to hear.. She was on the verge of a breakdown.. And her voice was choked with emotion.. Only she knew how she had managed to control herself till she got here.. She had already been upset about her patient.. And she really needed a support.. Normally in such situations she would go to her papa.. She remembered how he had supported her the first time when she had lost a patient at the table.. But she realized she couldn't turn to him tonight.. So she obviously turned to Armaan.. She knew he wasn't well.. And was probably sleeping, but she needed him.. She would just go and sleep next to him.. She wouldn't wake him up. Just being near him would be enough.. But when she reached Atul's cabin to tell him that she was going, she heard her Di's voice.. She was crying.. She was going to interrupt and ask them what was going on, but she saw her in Atul's arms and thought it was their private matter.. But she stopped at the door when she heard her name.. So she listened closely to all her Di told Atul.. And all that she heard, completely cut her up.. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.. All these years she thought that no one remembered that incident.. But from her Di's words it was clear that it was still fresh in her mind.. She felt bad that she was blaming herself.. She didn't remember anything at all about such a thing before falling.. That was probably due to the accident.. She was asked to repeat a year in school because of that too.. But her dad had pressurized the principal and she had been allowed to continue.. Her dad didn't want her to feel left out or out of place or like a failure. He always took care that nothing harm her, mentally or physically.. She knew he was protective about her because of that.. But now that she heard it from her Di, she understood why.. She could understand what he must have gone through.. And she had insulted his love.. How could she have accused him of stifling her.. She was so heartless.. She didn't deserve a papa like her.. She felt disgusted with herself.. And though she wanted to go and hug her Di and tell her that it wasn't her fault.. She couldn't.. All her life she had thought that she had suffered coz of that accident.. What she didn't see was how much people around her had suffered.. She had conveniently ignored that part.. And now she was ashamed of herself.. She couldn't take it anymore.. How was she ever going to face her papa.. All the emotional turmoil got to her as she hurried out of the hospital and took a cab straight to Armaan.. She had to confess to him, that she was wrong.. That she was such a heartless daughter.. He was the only one who would understand her and still love her.. But when she got here, she didn't find him in his room.. So she ran up to the terrace.. And her panic increased when she didn't find him there too.. She felt so lonely.. So broken.. Even he wasn't there.. She was already so emotionally drenched and now she had to worry about his whereabouts.. So she slowly moved around the house calling out his name, stifling her sobs.. She had given up.. Given up on the mess that had become of her life.. Defeated she slid down the wall of his room as she looked at the unpacked bags.. There was so much to sort out in her head that her body didn't respond to her mind that was screaming to find out where he was.. So she cried to her hearts content and when her sobs settled a little, her mind cleared.. For a moment she put the conversation that she had overheard at the back of her mind.. It was continuously ringing in her ears.. Forcing her mind on one problem at a time, she took her phone and dialed Armaan's number.. Her hands shook as she put the phone to her ear.. She hoped he was fine.. He should have been at home.. But he wasn't looking too well when he had left.. All sorts of thoughts came to her mind as she heard the phone ring.. But no one answered it for a long time.. She started crying again as he wasn't answering his phone, scared now as to where he could be.. She called him again and again.. She had almost given up, when suddenly he answered the phone on the last ring, "Armaan..", she said, before he could say a hello..
"Riddhima beta..", she heard her papa's worried voice from the other end.. And for some reason, she felt better instantly as she let out her tears again, "Papa.. Armaan's not at home.. Papa I don't know where he is.. Where could he go.. I cant find him..", she cried as she told him, completely forgetting that she had not been talking to him and also forgetting that he had answered Armaan's phone..
Shashank heard her cry and he felt a tug at his heart.. "Don't worry Riddhima.. Armaan is at home.. He is at our home.. Tum bhi ghar aa jao..", he told her in a soft voice..
Riddhima was surprised at that piece of information, "Who.. Who.. Wahan kya kar raha hai?..", she asked him, wiping her tears as she got up to go home..
"Who.. Uski tabyat kharaab thi.. Toh he stayed over.. ", he informed her.. He felt a little awkward.. He didn't want to tell her that he had been taking care of him..
"Kya hua usse.. Is he alright..", fresh tears made their way out as she heard that.. How many things could go wrong in a day..
"Don't worry Riddhima.. He's fine.. He's much better now.. Tum ghar aa jao..", he tried to convince her..
Riddhima heard his voice and at once felt better.. It was so assuring.. She could almost believe that Armaan was alright.. "Ji papa.. ", she said softly.. Shashank smiled as he heard that.. After such a long time he had heard that tone of hers.. Then he realized something, "Tum kaise aa rahi ho Riddhima?.."
"I'll take a cab..", she told him, locking the front door as she made her way out to the road..
"No Riddhima.. Abhi bohot raat ho gayi hai.. I'll come to pick you up.. Tum wahi ruko..", he would obviously not let her travel by cab at 12:30 in the night.. If she had her own car it was fine.. But he wouldn't let her take a cab..
"Nahi papa.. Its ok.. I'll come on my own.. Don't worry..", she told him, sniffing as she dried her tears off..
"No Riddhima.. You are not taking a cab.. Tum Armaan ke ghar ruko.. I'm coming to pick you up.. And don't argue with me.. ", he ordered and cut the call to quickly fetch his car keys.. He looked at Armaan sleeping on the bed and contemplated leaving his phone there.. Then he thought if anyone calls it might disturb him, so he took it with him.. Then he wondered if he should tell Padma.. He had come to check on Armaan a while back and had fallen off to sleep on the couch.. Padma must be asleep.. He didn't want to disturb her.. So he quietly sneaked out of the house and drove off to Armaan's house to get his daughter back home..
"Woh guest room mein hain..",he told her as he shut the door behind him.. He had found her sitting on the steps outside Armaan's house when he got there fifteen minutes back.. Her eyes were puffy from a lot of crying and she looked extremely tired and weary to him.. He hoped that juist the thought of Armaan going missing was not the reason for this state of hers,.. Coz even for some as sensitive as her, it was an overreaction.. He wondered what else could be the reason.. Maybe her patient.. She always took a professional failure badly.. But his heart wrenched at the sight of her.. She looked completely worn out.. Physically and emotionally.. Throughout the drive she had avoided looking at him.. There was this awkward silence that lingered between them.. Maybe she had not forgiven him.. She still didn't want to talk.. But he knew she needed to see Armaan right now.. He was sure that would make her feel better.. So when he saw her standing near the door, he told her where he had held his son-in-law hostage.. Or so his son-on-law believed!..
Riddhima was startled by her dad's voice as he told her where Armaan was.. But she wasn't thinking about that.. From the moment her dad had told her that he was ok and he was at her place, she had not thought about Armaan at all.. On the contrary, she had been thinking about her papa.. How he had come all the way in the middle of the night to fetch her.. How he didn't ask unwanted questions when he knew she didn't want to talk.. How he filled her in on Armaan's condition though she wasn't thinking about that.. Then she replayed her Di's words.. All that he had to go through because of her.. She realized that he was indeed the perfect dad.. She was the one who was imperfect.. She wondered how she should apologize to him.. She had insulted him so badly that she was ashamed of even facing him now, let alone talking to him.. She slowly moved towards the guest room as she thought of all that she had done.. And again her tears welled up in her eyes as they stung with the pain.. The pain that she had given him.. She could feel it now..
Shashank saw her move towards the guest room slowly and sighed.. She didn't seem so excited about seeing Armaan.. He wondered why she was so depressed.. He couldn't see his baby like this.. As she disappeared in the room, he followed her in to check if she was ok.. She was still standing in the middle of the room staring at Armaan when he came in.. She turned to look at him and then quickly turned away.. In that moment he saw something different in her eyes.. And he was sure it wasn't anger.. It probably was guilt.. He didn't understand why though.. He was the one who was guilty.. "Uh.. Kucch der phele temperature check kiya toh mild fever tha.. Around gyaara baje bohot badh gaya tha.. But I think the wet strips helped.. And I have given him this medicine.. Tum dekhlo.. And haan.. Uska phone.. I kept it.. I am sorry.. But I thought usse disturb hoga toh..", he started telling her to break the awkward silence.. He might as well utilize that time to fill her in on Armaan's conditions..
But Riddhima didn't feel better at hearing what he was telling her.. With every word he spoke her guilty mind screamed at her, her head pounded and all she wanted to do was cry.. Cry till the end of time.. Her papa, inspite of being mad at her had taken care of Armaan.. And she had treated him like crap.. She was so so horrible.. She couldn't believe it.. And she couldn't take it anymore when her dad forwarded his phone towards her.. Why was he so nice.. How come everyone around her was so nice.. She was such a pain.. A pain to everybody and a complication in their life.. All her frustration and guilt came rushing out as she started crying hiding her face in her hands..
Shashank got worried as he was her wilt like that.. He was sure she was going to collapse.. So he just help her by her shoulder and led her to the couch.. "Riddhima.. Beta what happened.. Armaan bilkul theek hai.. Nothing is wrong.. Bas thoda bukhaar hai..", he tried to calm her down..
But that only got more tears gushing out of her eyes as she sobbed.. Her mad father still thought she was crying because of Armaan.. She had been so selfish and thought only about Armaan and her feelings.. She had completely forgotten about her dad's feelings.. He had been with her and supported her all her life.. She could never repay him even if she wanted to..
Shashank looked at her warily.. He wondered if he should call Padma.. He didn't know if Riddhima even wanted him around.. When he got up to leave he heard her voice through her sobs, "Main bohot buri hoon papa.. I.. Am.. Such.. A.. Horrible daughter.. I am.. Sorry..", she said between her sobs, still hiding her face in her palms..
Shashank was shocked when he heard that.. Did he really hear her right.. He slowly took his seat next to her and made her look at him.. She had shut her eyes and was not ready to look at him and was just mumbling 'I am sorry'..
"Riddhima.. Riddhima beta look at me.. Tum buri nahi ho.. Who told you this rubbish haan.. Tell me.. You are my favorite daughter.. Haina..", his eyes watered as he caressed her face.. He hated to see his princess cry like this.. It was so heartbreaking..
Riddhima opened her eyes as she heard him say that, "I troubled you so much pap.. I don't deserve your love.. I am so.. Ungrateful.. You should hate me.."
"Riddhima.. Don't ever say that.. I can never ever hate you.. How can I hate my daughter baccha.. And tum toh meri princess ho.. Remember..", he consoled her taking her in his embrace.. She hugged him tight and cried again as she heard that.. "Papa I am sorry.. I am so sorry.. ", she chanted again as he tried to console her..
"No beta.. I am sorry.. I over reacted.. ", he apologized for his mistake.. She tried to control her tears as she pulled out and looked at him, "But.. I .. Should have called.. I know you must have been worried.. ", she told him..
"Yeah.. That I was.. ", he confessed.. Worried was not even the word.. He was freaked.. When he doesn't know where she is, it completely freaks him out..
"And then I shouted at you.. I am so sorry papa.."
"But that's only because I insulted your Armaan.. I am sure when anyone insults me you shout at them too.."
She nodded in agreement to that.. "But papa.. I am sorry I said all that to you.. I love you papa.. And thank you for loving me so much.."
"What do you mean by thank you beta.. Maine koi ehsaan kiya hain kya.. And don't apologize for all that you said.. It hurt me.. But I had to know.. Why didn't you tell me all this before Riddhima.. I thought you didn't like all that stuff.. I didn't know that you wanted to do research.. You know more than you words, it hurt me that you didn't tell me all this before.. Kyun humari har ek baat manti rahi Riddhima.. Anjali se kucch seekha nahi tumne?.."
"I thought.. I thought you'll stop loving me.. I didn't want to lose you papa..", she told him finally.. She had kept this fear of hers in her all her life.. And today she had finally said it to him..
Shashank was just shocked to hear that, "Riddhima.. How can you say that.. How could I ever stop loving you beta.. I am sorry I didn't ask you what you wanted.. I am sorry I took you for granted and kept unnecessary expectations.. But tum toh bata sakti thi.. How could you think that I'll stop loving you.. Aisa kabhi ho sakta hai kya.. I will never stop loving you Riddhima.. Whatever you do.. Whereever you go.. I will always love you.. Even if you start hating me.. I can never hate you.."
Riddhima burst into another bout of sobs as she heard those words.. She couldn't bring herself to tell him the reason.. Maybe she didn't need to.. It didn't matter.. But the relief that those words brought to her, nothing else could.. Shashank just hugged his daughter and let her cry to her hearts content.. After she had calmed down a little he made her look at him and said, "Now stop crying ok.. I don't like it when my princess cries.."
"And I don't like it when my papa cries.. You look so funny..", she said as she wiped the tear that was trickling down his cheek.. Both of them chuckled at that, feeling a hundred times lighter than what they were feeling fifteen minutes back..
"Please.. I wasn't crying.. I don't cry..", defended himself as he quickly wiped away his tears.. Riddhima laughed as she was his embarrassed expressions.. But suddenly they saw Armaan move on his bed.. Maybe they were making too much noise, "I think we should stop making noise.. Haina.. Warna the devil will wake up..", Shashank told her as he noticed Armaan move.. Riddhima raised her eyebrows and giggled with him, "Common papa he's not that bad.. And trust me.. Singapore mein jo bhi hua.. It was all my fault.. He was toh forcing me to stay at the hotel.. Maine hi usse kaha that I'll stay with him.. Who kya haina papa.. He has seen the worst days of his life there.. He was scared to go there alone.. I know he'll never tell me.. But I knew he was dreading that place.. I just wanted to be there with him.. ", she told him.. She surprisingly didn't find it awkward to share that piece of information.. But as soon as she said that they saw Armaan move again.. Ignoring his movements, Shashank commented, "Shaitaan ko bhi dar lagta hai, yeh pehli baat suna hai.." and he laughed silently at his own joke..
"Papa!..", Riddhima reprimanded him with a glare..
"But seriously Riddhima.. Mera koi beta nahi hai na.. Anjali comes close, but still she is my daughter.. And so I don't know how to handle boys.. Its just that.. You know.. Main bhi tumhari umar ka tha. And I very well know ki ladkon ke dimaag mein kya chalta hai.. I just.. you know.."
Riddhima heard that and giggled.. Her papa was probably ten years late in having this talk with her.. And what went on in Armaan's head was really undecipherable.. Her papa better not know what goes on in there.. , "Papa.. Don't worry about Armaan.. Uske dimaag mein aisa kucch nahi chalta.. Usse toh apne sad jokes se fursat nahi milti.. Humesha pareshaan karta rehta hai..", Riddhima complained and soon enough Armaan turned his side again.. Shashank looked at him, but then when he didn't move for a long time he continued bitching about his son-in-law.. It was such a relief to know that even Riddhima hates his crazy sense of humor.. "Thank god.. Someone agrees with me.. That is the most irritating habit of his.. But Padma finds it very charming.. Charming my foot..", he cursed.. If Padma could form a team with Armaan.. Then he was allowed to take his daughter under his wing..
"Yeah.. That is why they were planning all those things.. Seriously, mazaak karne se problems solve nahi hote..", Riddhima complained, taking out all her frustration now..
"I know.. They think they are so smart.. Par unke saare plans humne flop kiye..", Shashank told her very proudly..
"Yeah.. We should never fall for them.. ", she said a little louder, asserting that statement.. But when Armaan moved again, she got up, "I think we should just go from here.. Warna Shaitaan jaag jayega..", she said to make Shashank snort.. "Riddhima..", he mock glared at her as he moved to the door.. She was about to follow him out, but stopped and turned to look at Armaan.. Devil or no devil, she had really missed him.. She wanted to go and at least give him a good night peck.. Shashank saw the longing in her eyes as she stared at a sleeping Armaan.. "Riddhima.. Just check his temperature.. I hope fir se bukhaar nahi chadha ho.. Main sone jaa raha hoon.." Riddhima smiled at him as she saw through his bahana and nodded her head.. Blushing she made her way towards Armaan as her papa shut the door behind her..
She sat next to him on the bed and caressed his forehead, still thinking about her conversation with her dad.. She was so happy that everything was sorted now.. Armaan also didn't seem to have any fever.. She looked at her innocent devil and bent down to give him a soft kiss on his forehead, "I love you..", she whispered against his skin, letting her lips linger there.. But she jumped up when she heard his voice, "But I hate you.."
"Armaan!.. Tum jaag rahe ho.. ", she asked him, shocked at the suddenness of the realization, her hand on her chest trying to calm her beating heart..
"Obviously.. Tum itni zor zor se rogi toh jaag toh jaunga na.. 'main bohot buri hoon..'..", he mimicked her as her mouth opened wide in shock and anger.. "Armaan.. Tum humari baatein sunn rahe the.."
"You know Basket.. There is no mechanism in our body to shut our ears.. And good main sunn raha tha.. Warna I would never know.. Tum baap beti milkar kya gossip karte ho.. Wait till I tell Padma mom.. What did you call me.. Shaitaan.. And devil.. And don't even start with what scares me Basket.. Coz mujhe kisi bhi cheez se dar nahi lagta ok.. And Sasurji.. Tell him what goes on in my head is none of his business.. Main bhi tumhari umar ka tha my foot.. Thank god! Mujhe toh laga tha ki Shanky was born only six foot tall with a frown and a glare plastered on his face..", and he laughed at his own brilliant joke.. He had heard almost every word that had been spoken between the two.. He had pretended to be asleep coz he didn't want to disturb them when they were busy apologizing to each other.. But when they started bitching about him, he couldn't take it no more.. So he had waited to catch hold of Riddhima till she was alone with him.. And his victim had walked right into his arms..
Riddhima who had been trying to interrupt him from the time he started with his rant, now had lost her head at his latest remark.. "Armaan.. Enough.. Bohot ho gaya.. Its not funny.. ", and she got up to leave.. But he held her hand and pulled her back, swiftly laying his head in her lap..
"Armaan.. Hato.. Mujhe jaane do..", she struggled to get out of his hold.. But he just tightened it, moving closer to her, holding her close around her waist.. "Nahi jaane dunga.. Devil na I am.. I trouble you so much.. Now I'll show you how much I can trouble you.. Muahahaha..", he laughed his evil laugh threateningly..
"Armaan.. Shut up and let me go.."
Armaan was sleeping peacefully when suddenly he heard the alarm go off somewhere around him.. He arched his back up to see where it was coming from, when he noticed that Riddhima was right under him.. So she was what he had been holding onto all night.. He had not even realized when she had gotten into bed with him.. He saw her frown as the noise of the alarm was disturbing her.. He quickly reached out for the phone on the side table and switched off the alarm.. She was satisfied with that as she stopped frowning.. But when she tried to turn on her side, she couldn't coz he was almost on her.. She frowned again at that.. Armaan smiled as he saw her, observing her every movement.. God! He had missed her so so much.. He bent down to softly kiss her cheek as she tried to turn her side again.. Then moving from the cheek, he went to her throat, then her neck trailing kisses as her movements reduced, taking in the feeling of his gentle kisses.. She slowly opened her eyes as her sleepy brain made her aware of her surroundings.. But her body was way too tired.. She had not slept for 48 hours.. And when Armaan had not let her go at night.. She had just slipped into bed next to him.. It had looked just too inviting.. Now as she felt his lips on her skin, she ran her hand in his hair and pulled him out, "Armaan.. Stop doing that.. "
"Why?..", he asked her in a whisper, and went back to doing what he was..
"Armaan.. We're in the guest room of my house.. I hope papa hasn't come to check on you yet..", she replied as she tried to get up.. They had just sorted their differences yesterday.. And now she knew that her papa knew what goes on in Armaan's mind.. The last thing she wanted was for her papa to see them like this.. That would be the limit..
"Riddhima yaar.. I miss you.. ", he told her, his tone complaining as she sat up straight and he moved his head into her lap..
"I miss you too baby.. Par lets not test papa's patience for a few days at least..", she told him, kissing his forehead and holding him close as he moved in closer to her..
"Stop calling me that..", he mumbled sleepily against her stomach..
She giggled at that.. "Ok.. I wont.. But pehle mujhe chodo.. Let me check your temperature.. You're a little warm..", she negotiated her terms with him..
But he obstinately replied, "No.."
"Armaan.. ", but she knew he wouldn't listen.. So she said, "Baby.. You're not well.."
"Basket.. Stop calling me that yaar..", he whined as he pulled out to look at her, irritated by that endearment.. He was not a baby!!!
Riddhima got her chance as his grip loosened around her and she got out of his hold.. He just grumbled all through his check up and complained even more when she said that he had mild fever and was not supposed to move from the bed.. But he lost it when she left him and went to her room to change and catch come sleep..
Shashank had asked both Armaan and Riddhima to take leave from Sanjeevni today so they could rest.. For most of the day, Padma mom was fussing over Armaan.. And when she wasn't Riddhima was.. But at least he found that enjoyable as he could irritate her as much he wanted.. And then beyond a point she would just give up on him and walk out of the room.. But when he had refused to take his medicine she had threatened him that she wont come to Lonavla with him the next day.. Then there was hardly any choice left for him to make.. In the evening when he was finally feeling better, he had gone back to his place to get ready and come back to the Gupta's.. It was Christmas eve and Padma mom had cooked a delicious dinner for all of them.. She had also invited Abhi, Nikki, Rahul and Muskaan apart from Anjali and Atul.. Atul came with the good news that by some miracle, Riddhima's and his patient had become stable again and they had decided to wait till Monday for her surgery.. That elevated Riddhima's already high spirits.. She felt so free all of a sudden.. Today was a complete opposite of yesterday.. And she was loving it.. Muskaan and Rahul had announced about their wedding plans to the whole gang and were congratulated and teased quite a lot.. "Doosri baar same galti.. Pagal ho gaya hai kya?..", Armaan had interjected with a teasing grin.. But he had straightened his expressions when he saw Shanky glare at him.. Padma couldn't help but giggle along with the kids at that.. She was very happy, coz Dr. Shashank had told her about how everything was sorted between him and his princess.. But when Armaan told her of their gossip session, she refused to talk to Dr. Shashank.. Dr. Shashank had taken his revenge by telling Riddhima how Armaan should not be going to Lonavla coz he had still not recovered from his fever completely and needed rest.. Driving all the way to Lonavla was not a good idea for him.. Armaan wanted to take the jug full of water and pour it down his head at that.. That's when Atul suggested that Anjali and him could also go to the Orphanage and he could drive.. Hearing this, Rahul and Muskaan also felt like going.. Then how were Abhi and Nikki going to stay behind.. So finally much to Armaan's dismay, all of them decided to spend their Christmas in Lonavla.. All of them had great fun at dinner.. Atul had brought a bonsai Christmas tree from his Go Green club as a Christmas gift.. they all decorated the tree with the decrations that Riddhimma had saved up from the previous years.. And she also gave away all the gifts that she had bought for all of them from Singapore.. Finally the day came to an end and everyone left one by one, reminding each other to wake up early as they had to leave for Lonavla.. In the end, only Armaan was left behind.. He was helping Riddhima take all the desert bowls in the kitchen.. And obviously when they had dumped the bowls in the sink, he caught hold of her and pulled her to him, "Mera gift kahan hai?..", he asked her..
"Armaan.. Chodo.. I already gave you that game or whatever you wanted..", she said, trying to get out of his hold..
"But I don't want that.. You know what I want.."
"Armaan.. Stop behaving like kids.. I said I am not going to buy you the latest model of the PSP.. Its such a waste of money.. You already have one..", she scolded him.. He had been pestering her to get him that since quite some time now.. But she didn't agree with it.. When he said he'll buy it himself, she had threatened him that she'll never speak to him if he wastes money like that..
"Please Riddhima.. I wont trouble you ever again.. I promise..", he tried to butter her up..
"No Armaan.. And chalo.. Its getting late you have to leave..", she told him, a tone of finality in her voice..
"Please Riddhima.. ", he pleaded again..
"No..", she declared..
Armaan just frowned and let go of her.. Such a mom!! Riddhima giggled as she saw his frown.. God! could he get cuter!!.. she loved to tease her baby! So just when he was about to walk out of the kitchen he heard her call out, "Armaan!!.. Who counter pe kya pada hai..", he glanced at the counter, still frowning and looked ahead again to walk out of there.. But suddenly he realized what it had been and he turned around swiftly to see his new PSP sitting on the kitchen counter.. "Awesome!!.. Basket.. You're so cool yaar.. I knew it.. I knew you would get this for me..", he told her excitedly as he went to grab his new toy.. But Riddhima caught hold of it first and hid it behind her back, "You cant have it till I get my kiss..", she told him nonchalantly.. And that only made him grin as he pulled her in and gave her what she wanted.. When they were done, he was so dazed that he completely forgot about his new gift and walked out of the kitchen, leaving a blushing but giggling Riddhima behind..
Dr. Shashank and Padma accompanied Riddhima as she came to drop him at the door..
"Bye Padma mom.. The dinner was as usual heavenly.. Goodnight.. Goodnight sir.. ", he wished them as he started towards his car..
But Shashank stopped him before he could leave, "Why the partiality son!.. Padma ko mom.. Aur mujhe sir.. Bohot nainsaafi hai.."
Armaan didn't know if he was joking or Gabbar had decided to possess him suddenly, "Sorry sir.. Uh.. I mean.. Pa.. Uh.. Pa.. Uh.. Papa..", he said it, wincing as those words left his mouth, wondering if some explosion was going to take place.. But nothing happened.. When he opened his eyes, he saw Shanky grinning at him and Riddhima and Padma mom giggling at his condition..
Riddhima came with him to his car as he was still reeling under the shock of this changed equation.. Sasurji was now 'papa'.. It felt incomplete.. Maybe he should call him Shanky papa.. Yeah that sounds better.. He was brought out of his deep analysis by Riddhima, "Armaan.. Drive slowly.. And go home and sleep properly.. I would have asked you to stay.. But I want to spend time with papa.. I'll come home early tomorrow.. We'll leave from there.. Theek hai.. And I love you.. Goodnight..", and she gave him a tight kiss without letting him answer her.. He just wondered what had happened.. Shanky papa and his daughter had completely ruined his head..
Riddhima walked back to the door where her papa was waiting for her, "So.. What do you want to do?..", he asked her as they walked in, locking the door behind them..
"Anatomy Pictionary.. No but you always cheat.. The brain is not allowed.. but you never listen.. ands you always win easily.. ", she complained as her papa tried to defend himself..
"But you are a doctor too Riddhima.. Tumhe pata hona chahiye.. "
"No.. You cheat.. Lets play Doctor's scrabble.. I like that better.. "
"Fine whatever suits you.. But trust me, I will beat you anyway.. "
"Dekh lenge.. "
Padma watched the father daughter pair as they brought out the scrabble board and started their Scrabble marathon.. She knew this could go on all night.. So switching off the kitchen light she made her way to her room, smiling at the thought of her perfect family..
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That was just so SO SO GOOD!
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