Joined: 15 June 2010
This wasn't how it was meant to be! Here I was, amongst so many friends, who were all somehow together, and I was the only one all alone, in a pretty Saree, I must say, at my sister's wedding. Yes, it's me Riddhima Gupta, Anjali Gupta oops sorry, Anjali Joshi's sister. Atul is a sweetheart! He's the best jiju you could ask for. Well, I haven't really been able to compare him with others since he's the first and last Jiju of mine! But he's amazing, and best thing about him is that he loves Anjali to bits. I wish someone would love me like that!
Then, there's my going to be bhabi, Muskaan! She's engaged to Rahul, my brilliant, but slightly big-headed brother. So what, I still love him! But they were all around the hall, flitting about the guests, making sure everything was prim and proper for the first wedding reception in the family. And what was I doing? Sitting and sulking at the table, tired of putting on a fake smile at all my cousins. My group of friends consisted of Mayank and Nupur, both madly in love with each other, but who fight like a million times a day and Siddhant and Tamanna, so different but very much in love. Then there was Armaan Mallik, single like me, (in the long term I mean) who had every other girl falling for him. Armaan Mallik, the one name that always managed to send my heart in frenzy!
I remember when I was in college, Samrat introduced us to him. And I'm not afraid of admitting I had a slight crush on Samrat then. But somehow, we never got along that well! We were friends. Then, when Armaan joined our college, Samrat was long forgotten by me. Unfortunately for me, he turned out to be a real cassanova, in turn breaking my heart to millions of pieces! Not literally of course! Well, exaggeration has its limit! No, when I got to know how he was, I was just slightly disappointed. But Armaan and I got on really well. Actually, after a few months of knowing him, I could see that I was myself around him! At that time, Siddhant and Tamanna hadn't fallen in love, and Mayank and Nupur were known as Tom and Jerry respectively. But obviously, Armaan had a million girls after him. From the popular ones (and b***hs) like Tia, right down to the silent ones who weren't known to exist, like Priya. Then who the hell was I?
But as time grew on, and our friendship deepened, I found myself getting more attached to him. Sure Armaan was a flirt, but he never hurt any girl's feelings. Through those message rallies between us that kept me awake during the night, and made me snooze in lectures, I found out that he wasn't like other guys at all. He respected girls who respected themselves, and knew what love is. Was that why he never dated any girl? Either way, the more I knew him, the more I fell for him. Deeply. I remember one such time, where we had a conversation between us, without any disturbance.
"You know I thought you would be the regular, flirt date, ditch and move on, when I saw you," I admitted, sitting on a huge rock. We had organized a picnic, and were sitting with Sid, until we made him fetch us drinks. He was so sweet in those matters.
"And I thought you were the regular snob who thought she was above everybody."
"What?? You..!!! Urghh!!!! How could you think that?"
"Because you didn't talk to me at all when we first met. Remember at that party?"
"Well, you wanted me to throw myself all over you like Shana was doing? And God knows which other girls?"
"Not really, but it wouldn't hurt to talk now would it?" I shut up, wondering why I never did talk to him. It was that shock of seeing someone so different for the first time. I kept my distance because I was so..speechless after seeing him. Then obviously, the Micro Minnies threw themselves on him, and I didn't even get a chance to say anything beyond a 'hi' to him. But I guess it was better that way, after all it was the only way to control my feelings. At that time I had no clue that he was joining college as well!
"Heyy.." he clicked his fingers bringing me out of my reverie.
"I'm sorry I gave that impression. But I'm not a snob!" I narrowed my eyes at him.
"I wouldn't vouch for that'" And my mouth dropped in horror as I began beating him up.
"Idiot, jerk, moron, you prat! You deserve to go drown yourself! Actually can I do the honours?" I asked as soon as I was done with him. The closeness we shared was one thing, but the physical closeness between us when I was beating him up set my heart racing and I withdrew immediately. After that event, he called me Jungly Billy. A name he still uses occasionally.
"As long as you drown yourself too.." he replied.
"Like you'll let me live.." I muttered back. At that point, my Dad called and I got up turning my back on him.
"Yikes...Daddy's calling. I have to get it.."
"Sasurjee??" he asked with his eyebrows raised, and I froze at that. I turned to see him joking, and replied,
"You wish'" changing that into an 'I wish' inside my head, before I answered my call.
I was brought out of reams and reams of memories, as Armaan came and sat next to me, clearly out of breath with all the dancing he had done. I'm not much of a dancer. In fact, I don't have a problem with performance dancing, it's just the really close body on body dances that make me squirm with embarrassment since I hold most people a meter away from me. Why, because I'm scared of love. Actually not true. I simply adore 'Love'! The idea of it itself brings a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart! All those romantic novels, those romantic movies, made me believe that true love 'kitabon wala pyaar' does exist! After all, where there's smoke there's fire. I know this saying is used for rumours, but the concept is similar right? There has to be that sort of love somewhere for it to be thought up of! So I wasn't scared of love. I was scared of falling in love with the wrong guy. Hence keeping them at distance always did the trick. But with Armaan, I didn't want that distance anymore.
I offered him my coke and he drank it in one go. In response, my mouth dropped open.
"Oh, great. You know I couldn't have finished it off by myself," I thanked him sarcastically, and like a true gentleman, he asked the waiter to bring me another. Mayank and Nupur headed off to the dance floor, while I sat like a miserable old hag, cursing my luck. Why did everyone have someone to love and I didn't? Why did Anjali have Atul, Muskaan have Rahul, and I have NO one? Don't take me wrong, I am delighted that my sister found such an adorable husband. I wanted someone to love me just as much! Someone I loved! Someone like...Armaan! No use, it won't happen, I reprimanded myself for the millionth time. Anyways, I was getting bored in this reception. The food didn't look appealing, the decoration did nothing to improve my mood, and the fact that Anjali was going away from home sunk in as I sighed, trying to cover up my brimming eyes. Over all, my mood was CRAP! Then to top it all off, Simin, my cousin, and no doubt the hottest girl cousin, came up and pulled Armaan away to introduce him to a group of her friends (or show him off!)! Great, so I was stuck with two love birds at one table, none which can see the torment I was going through!
"Some friends they are," I whispered to myself. So instead, I looked at Armaan flirting, what's new, with a gang of girls. Yes, he was the centre of attention, and MY GUEST I wanted to scream at Simin, as I, RIDDHIMA, invited him and not SHE! But as usual, I shut my mouth, and went back to another of our conversations.
"But she's really fallen for you!" I was trying to get Armaan to see Jessica's point of view. Well, he was telling me the story of him and Jessica, and I was trying to be mutual. Heck, I was on Armaan's side already!
"No she hasn't. She claims to love me. Those girls, who throw themselves on guys at the first glance have no idea what love is!" he replied. "Anyway, if she did love me, she wouldn't have openly flirted with my cousin, and made out with him, and then deny it."
"Yeah you're right, she doesn't deserve you. Well done for rejecting her! She needed that!" Jessica was a girl with the most fickle mind I had ever seen, let alone met and gotten to know! She seemed to swim through guys as though it was the most natural thing in the world!
"So'did you just reject her coz of this reason...or is there more?" I asked slyly.
"There's more. I'm crushing on someone else." He replied as he stared into space. "A girl back in London."
Well, I really didn't expect him to take my name did I? Anyways, this was quite a few months, back, and at that time I had better things to concentrate on, like my studies! Which I did no doubt, considering I was taking my finals in May. And then, a fact I had observed since ages was that people had a lot of influence over your decisions. And Armaan was liked by everyone. If, and that was a big IF, we dated, others were likely to have a lot of influence on our actions. No prizes for guessing the b***hs' names first! But it was July now, and we had finished college, and it was the perfect time for a wedding in Nottingham, and everyone we knew from all over England and India was invited. Perfect setting right? Not really as you can see. My gang was under strict orders not to dare leave this place before my sister's wedding took place. But Samrat never listened to anyone anyway! After apologizing sincerely, or so he put it, he rushed off south to meet his parents, and I wonder who else. Well, at least the rest were here. But fat lot of difference it made to my mood now. Since everyone, sans Armaan, was so lost each other, I found myself getting constantly bored, seated in one place!
"Riddhima, you know you could help, with so many guests around. Why aren't with your friends then?" Mumma asked me, while I pestered her in the kitchen.
"Yeah I would be, if Simin didn't hog on to the only one who's not got a date. The rest don't need me!" I whined.
"Well, why don't you go with Simin and her friends then?" I made a face instead.
"I'd much rather die of boredom than go with Simin! Mumma, look at the way she's flaunting around!" My Mum laughed. It was a known fact that Simin wasn't the most loved cousin in our family.
"Padma'" My Dad called.
Yes, Dad is Dr Shashank Gupta. A famous Doctor, always out for business trips. But no work at his daughter's wedding. My mum was also a doctor. But after a while, she left work to look after us Shaitaans, as Nani puts it. I love Nani a hell lot! She's every bit as sweet as she portrays herself. However, only to me as I'm the dearest to her. We fight a lot as well, but she misses me the most when I go away!
I stomped away in my black with red bordered Saree. I was done trying to look elegant in this wear. So far the only compliments I had received were from friends and family members. Oh, and Auntys and Uncles with their "Vah beti kitni badi hogayi tu"... 'Well technically, if you meet me after a good 5 or 7 years, you really don't expect me to be the 14 year old stroppy, hitting puberty and annoying girl did you now?!' Was what I wanted to reply, but a sardonic smile and innocent blinking did the work anyway in a much politer way. The thing that bothered me was that Armaan hadn't said a word to me about how I looked. Did I not carry the saree off as well I thought I would? Ahh damn Anjali for forcing me into this. But then this may be one of the last times she would force me into anything. After all, she was leaving with Atul wasn't she? But I'd cried enough, so I went to resume my original place only to find it empty. Well big deal. Elbow on the table, head on my palm and fingers in my hair, I messed around with the fork.
"Bored at your own sister's wedding huh?" A voice came from beside me, startling me back to reality. I found Armaan sitting next to me and sat up straight.
"Tell me about it. But you seemed to be enjoying yourself."
"Yeah I was. It's a treat for any guy to have a bunch of girls around him."
My mood was not improving as he continued his chatter.
"Let's take a walk, I feel kind of suffocated in this hall." As we headed outside we were accosted by a few more giggly girls who I didn't even know existed.
"Hey Armaan.. we've heard so much about you.."
"Oh God, you must be kidding me'" I whispered as Armaan winked at me.
"Go ahead. I'll join you."
"Should I really expect you?" I asked with a teasing hint in my voice. He shrugged his shoulders and I headed forward. Armaan was MY guest! Couldn't I have him for one minute to myself! Sheesh, how hard was it to keep away?! I had been doing that for what, nearly a whole year, take a few months away?! But I still wondered around aimlessly, going as far away from the music as I could. Obviously, I had to stay within the hotel grounds, (which were vast!) and pretty soon, I came across to the pool area.
I didn't have much time to get lost in my thoughts as I always do, before I felt someone stand next to me.
"Wow, you managed to escape them pretty fast!" I said impressed and he just nodded in reply. "Miracle, or they just found out the real jerk inside you?" I rolled my tongue in my mouth as I teased him
"Definitely miracle." He replied. "So what do you plan on doing now?"
"What do you mean now? Obviously wait here till I'm satisfied with myself, and I get over my stupid mood then go back."
"I wasn't talking about now now!" he sighed and lightly hit the back of my head.
"Ouch!" I replied rubbing my head, glad I had left it loose without any pins that might have poked me!
"Now that College is over'" he whispered.
"I don't know. Probably get a post graduate degree in International Relations and see where life takes me." I replied thoughtfully. True, I hadn't given it much thought. I always thought of staying with my parents and the thought of not being with my gang suddenly hit me. The thought of not being with Armaan...
"What about you?"
"I don't know...probably USA, and look for a place for my internship as a Doctor." His words struck me light a bolt of lightening.
"You're going to the US?"
"I'm not sure about it..." he replied and I nodded. I felt my heart drop low, and my throat get stuck. Don't cry, it's not a reason to cry! I reprimanded myself. We had been good friends over the past year, and probably somehow, someday, I'll find someone who really loves me. Armaan was just a strong infatuation. I saw him staring out at the pool, lost in his thoughts. It was huge, and from far, looked like a massive blue football! But right now, with lights shining inside it, on its edge and with the stillness of the water, it looked breathtaking.
"The pool looks so beautiful doesn't it?" was the only question that came to my mind, while I tried diverting the thought of him leaving.
"Not more than you..." he replied, making my head whip around to stare at him. He had not removed his gaze from the pool, and was standing still, with his arms folded.
"Flirting with friends isn't allowed!" I joked trying to make the atmosphere lighter.
"I wasn't flirting.." was his straight, blunt reply.
"Thanks..." I whispered, unsure of myself or where this conversation was heading.
"Ridzy..." he whispered, turning towards me and moving closer. I froze in the moment and looked into his clear, crystal blue eyes which held so many emotions that I found it hard to read them. It was the first time I had seen something different in him. What it was, I had no idea. However, it seemed directed at me, straight from his heart through his eyes.
"I...I'm not sure how to say it. But here goes." He took a deep breath and held my hand. Somehow, I couldn't take it away from his hold. In fact, I never could. I held my breath and closed my eyes as a very small part of me anticipated it.
"Riddhima...I love you" he whispered, but every word was heard in this silent night. The music seemed far, far away, and those three words repeated themselves in my soul over and over again. I opened my eyes to look into his which held oceans of sincerity and truth behind them.
"The first time I saw you, I knew you were different. And the more I got to know you, the more I wished I was in Sid's place, coz he knew you more than me and it made me so...jealous...I wanted to know you more than anyone. You were so different from everyone. Probably, like Sid, you only take me as a good friend and I shouldn't have told you, but it's harder keeping it in than letting it out..." I stared at him shocked. Couldn't he really read what was in my eyes? With every word, his grip on my hand was loosening and I felt as though I was losing him forever. Instead, I tightened my own grip in his hand, and before he could continue, I told him what I had been dying to tell him for ages!
"I love you too." He stopped his monologue, and stared at me, surprised. I nodded, smiling,
"I love you too Armaan. I thought it was a crush I would get over. But with time it grew deeper. And seeing you around so many girls made me think I was just a friend anyway. Especially after you told me about your crush back in London." I could feel tears threatening their entrance. Did I have to be so sentimental at the littlest things? But he laughed slightly as he brought my hands closer to his lips.
"That was a crush that never grew. But with you, I fell for you the moment our eyes met in the party." I felt my tearful smile become wider as I put my arms around his neck. Feeling his arms circle my waist quickened my heartbeat by a million folds. The very touch I had wished for so much! Moments ago, I had wanted him to myself for at least a minute. But now, I had him to myself for a lifetime! I felt his arms around me tighten, as he buried his head in my neck.
"You do know what this means don't you Mallik?" I whispered. "No more flirting with anyone. Even if it's my cousin!"
"Aapka hukm saraankhon pe" he replied, as we split apart, his arms still around my waist while mine were on his shoulders. His smile was genuine, it was so perfect!
"So, love at first sight?" he asked.
"I never believed in that." I scrunched up my nose as he kissed it cutely, making me smile. "But it sounds so right." I continued and he nodded.
He put a strand of hair behind my ear then framed my face, his smile not leaving his face.
"I love you so much! Meri Jungly Billy'" he whispered, making me laugh slightly. I looked at his hair ruffling in the slight breeze, and then back into his eyes which mirrored his heart. Why was I so sure that my name would be the only one there till eternity? I could see him leaning closer, and felt myself loose control as I felt his hot breath on my lips. But after that, the wonderful sensation of his soft lips moulding against mine took over, as I responded almost immediately. With his securing arms on my back, I twisted my hands into his silky hair, pulling them lightly. He was all mine!
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