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Joined: 15 June 2010
I need you here with me now
Coz you've got that one thing
So get out get out get out of my head
And fall into my arms instead.
Armaan was finding his situation suiting the lyrics quite well as he watched Riddhima twirl in front of the mirror with a deep blue halter neck dress in front of her. The song played on the speakers in the shop, as he sighed to himself. Why, why had he agreed to this torture? He wondered. Abhi shot him a sympathetic look.
"Dunno why you're being so pitiful to me." Armaan murmured out loud. He saw Nikki shake her head and Riddhima put the dress back on the stand. He would have groaned if this hadn't happened for the last half an hour! "You're on the same boat."
"Yeah, but I'm used to it." Abhi grinned as Armaan nodded. "You, however, don't seem to have had much experience in this line."
"Any experience would be better."
"What?" Abhi's shock was evident in his voice, as they turned away from the girls. "You mean to say, you've not had any experience with girls and shopping?"
"Is that a bad thing?" Armaan laughed nervously.
"No.." came Abhi's quick reply. "But then, does that mean you haven't had any girl before?" Armaan didn't answer straight away. Instead, he looked away, and shrugged his shoulders. "You flirt with every other girl you can see in the hospital, you pretend to be Riddhima's boyfriend, and you haven't had any experience, what so ever?"
Armaan shook his head.
"I just never believed in relationships. Never seemed right." He defended himself.
"But dude, I'm impressed. You of all people, haven't had any girlfriend?" Abhi face suddenly changed as realization hit him. "How much do you love her?" he asked softly, and Armaan glanced up at him. With the way Abhi was looking at him, he knew there was no way her could lie to him. So really, there was no point. But he couldn't bring himself to say the truth either. Instead, he just looked away. That was when they heard Nikki calling out,
"Ridz, tu wahaan kya kar rahi hai? Check this dress out."
They turned to see Riddhima standing there, her face white, guilt pouring out of her eyes. As soon as Armaan's eyes met hers, she looked away, unable to hold the gaze for more than a second.
"Uhmm..I'll be back." Abhi said uncomfortably and went away to where Nikki was.
Riddhima felt like killing herself! How had she asked him, of all people, to help her get back with Sid? How had she not noticed the depth of his feelings? And why was it that when she knew he loved her, she still couldn't feel the same? But was that true, a snide remark filled her brain. What about the way she felt when he touched her? What about the way she got along with him so wonderfully? What about the way she always smiled when she remembered their conversations? That was probably just stupid hormones, which would fade. She had been with Sid for a year! Was that nothing? Was that just hormones messing with her feelings? But then again, how sure was she that was love? Love wasn't selfish. Love was.. Armaan. But somehow, it didn't seem right! No, it wasn't right! Her and Sid was something different. It was real. That's why she was trying so hard to get him back.
"Riddhima..what Abhi said was.."
"Was it true?" she whispered.
"It will not change anything between us. It's nothing. Just forget it." He masked everything, even though his pumping heart refused to do the same act. It bleated at this lie, begging to tell her the truth, begging to take her into his arms.
"That's not what's bothering me." She replied quietly.
"Then what is?" he questioned her.
She shook her head, not knowing the words to put her mixed emotions in.
"I think we should get going." She replied, after a long pause. Turning around, she walked a few steps and realized Armaan wasn't behind her. Stopping, she turned back to see him in the same position with anguish visible in his eyes, though his face portrayed a calm, undisturbed sea. She swallowed. "Armaan," she called, breaking him out of his reverie. She went back those few steps until she stood right in front of him, staring into his gorgeous hues. Finally, before she could think, before she could process her actions, she threw her hands around his neck, pushing her body up against his.
"I'm sorry." She whispered into his ears.
Armaan however, was too numb to respond. Honestly, what was she playing at? Didn't she know he didn't need any pity! Especially not from her! If there was anything she could offer him. Then love would be the greatest thing of all. But a hug, as what? A sort of consolation gift?
Instead of putting his arms around her, like some part of him almost physically forced him to, he put his hands on her waist and slowly prized her apart, leaving her astounded.
"I think we should get going."
And without waiting for her words, he walked forwards, putting on his sun glasses so that no one could see the emotional torture he was sitting through silently. Well, he had always been good at hiding his feelings hadn't he? Then why not once more?
Riddhima was left standing in the same place, confusion clouding everything in her sight. She hadn't meant to hug him like! Honest! She just didn't know how it happened. It wasn't supposed to happen either. But suddenly, being within less than half a meter from him, that was she could think of. And she knew Armaan felt embarrassed about her actions. Heck, she felt embarrassed herself! She never thought she could stoop so low! But then again, she never thought she'd ever use someone to get someone else for her own happiness, her heart chided her. Ouch, her brain whispered. Ouch indeed, heart replied back. And she probably deserved every single bit of scorn coming from every angle of her body. With humiliation and self-hatred filled up inside her, she finally forced herself to walk over towards the others, putting on a smile that didn't reach her eyes. Well, that was something she had to get used to.
* * * * * * *
"We aren't doing this are we?" she groaned, as she sat with Armaan in the caf a couple of days later.
"Don't ask me. I never thought of myself as the stalker type either." His sour voice made her smile. "What?" he asked astounded at her grin.
"You look so cute when you're pissed off. It should happen more often."
"So, Dr Riddhima Gupta thinks I'm cute?" He caught on quickly raising his eyebrows at her. She rolled her eyes in response, as she waited for her coffee.
"Only when you're angry. Don't get big headed." She teased, but frowned when Armaan smirked further.
"Please eh. I have no intention of becoming like you."
Huh?! He had not just called her big headed had he? Had he? Her mouth dropped open in high insult as the words fully registered themselves in her brain. She narrowed her eyes at him and replied quickly,
"You wouldn't be able to be like me even in your dreams."
"Yeah, sad individual who can't get over her first crush? I don't think I'd.." Armaan shut up as he realized his words. Riddhima's face dropped as she heard Armaan's quick witted reply. Ouch. That stung somewhere. Was she really some 'sad individual', she wondered as she recalled the phrase. "I'm sorry.." he whispered quickly. "I really didn't mean it that way."
"It's ok. I guess I am a sad individual anyway." She replied quietly, not knowing what else to say or feel. It was downright stupid! She should have just gotten over Sid and moved on with life! Wouldn't that have made things easier? Yes, part of her replied. But moving on and hurting twenty four seven would not have helped anyone, much less her. The mere fact she was doing something about it, trying to prove that her love, hang on, 'love', for Sid was true, that she could win him back, was clear proof that she wasn't fickle minded right? Then why did she feel so disgusted? Why did she feel so disgusted at herself for using Armaan? Why did she feel so disgusted at herself for sabotaging Sid's dates, with Nikki, like she and Armaan were doing now? Why? This was wrong!
"Look, forget I said that, ok."
Hah, yeah right. She had degraded herself to such a low level that she couldn't even face herself.
"You know what, I don't want to do this anymore." With a final filthy look at Sid, who was now trying to manage a very irritated Payal because their order was half an hour late, she got up and swiftly swept out of the caf, not giving Armaan another glance.
Nikki's plan was to make Sid realize what a gem of a person he had lost, by making Riddhima and Armaan go through the same situation. Armaan would apologize to her, loud enough so Sid could hear, because their order was late as well (courtesy Nikki) and she would, unlike Payal, tell him it wasn't his fault and calmly, not make a huge scene. This would leave Armaan not embarrassed, unlike Sid, who was now giving furtive apologetic looks around to other customers. Their plan was working fine, and Riddhima was all ready to go ahead with it, giggles bubbling up inside her. Just one statement, and her mood had taken a complete turn with the situation seeming disgusting instead of funny.
She hated herself! She hated Sid! And she hated at the low level she had dropped down at! This wasn't her. It just wasn't! She hated how she had changed herself just to get back someone she loved once upon a time. And most of all, she hated how she'd dragged Armaan into it, and shown him what a third grade character she had.
Looking back, she saw the streets devoid of anyone running up to her. Well, she shouldn't really expect Armaan to come running after her all his life should she? And this was blatant proof that he hadn't really been sorry about what he said. He'd actually thought of it. Well, how could she blame him, when she herself was feeling this way?
Not for the first time, Riddhima had this gutting feeling that what she was doing all along was very, very wrong.
* * * * * * *
Riddhima was feeling restless. She didn't know why. Everything inside her was just throbbing continuously, while she paced up and down her living room. Was it because of what had happened over the past few weeks? Was it because of the way she had acted? Changed? What was it?! She questioned. It was as though something was going away from her, something she held on to dearly, and she was doing nothing to stop it! But what was that something?! Not knowing what else to do, she picked up her phone, and called the only person who could probably make her feel better at a time like this.
"I told you this place manages to calm your nerves." He said as they settled themselves on the shore, the dark sky enclosing them in its mysteries and the waves conveying every little secret they knew.
"Yeah.." she whispered, making herself comfortable and removing her sandals which were giving her feet hell after walking continuously along the line of the beach. She drew in a deep breath, calming her racing heart. "Armaan, would you ever go back to Delhi?" she questioned, not caring about how deserted the place was. Somehow, his presence made her feel safe, secure.
"I don't know." He replied. "Delhi.." he sighed before he continued, and she waited patiently. It was one of those between them, where each had learnt what to expect from the other. "It'll remind me of Muski."
"Muski?" she questioned, and from Armaan's sudden smile, knew that it was someone very close to him.
"My younger sister. She's in the UK now. I persuaded Mom and Dad to send her there six years ago, when their continuous fights would leave her in tears. She was only twelve at that time, and she'd come into my room at nights and cry, thinking we were the cause of their fights. Obviously, being eighteen at that time I knew she was wrong. So I thought the best thing to do would be to send her away. It hurt a lot." He finished off. Riddhima couldn't help but feel awful on his behalf.
"Do you.. you know speak to her?"
"Oh yeah, she does come down in holidays. But it's not enough. She thought I'd abandoned her at first and wouldn't speak to me for ages. But now that she'd grown up, she's realized it. And though we Skype a lot when she's over there, I wish she was here."
"Why don't you call her back?" She questioned softly. "It would be good for both of you."
"After she finishes her degree, I might. It's awful changing learning strategies and syllabuses all of a sudden." He looked to the side and smiled at her while she looked on thoughtfully.
Unlike her, Armaan was a hell lot stronger. He didn't make stupid decisions like she did. And he learnt to move on in life, something she still hadn't learnt to do.
"Don't you think your parents miss you?" she asked.
"Well, they're not together anymore, which is part of the reason I ran away from Delhi. And I do go see them once in a month, or two so it's not a big deal."
She remained silent, enjoying the wind gushing past her face, leaving a sense of serenity around her. This was exactly what she had been looking for an hour back. And she wasn't surprised when she found it with Armaan.
"I guess after losing my parents, I have a habit of holding on to everything I've ever loved," she gave a sarcastic, grim laugh before she continued. "Including, well.. Sid."
"I would think it's natural." He said thinking, if love was all she wanted, he was ready to put himself down at her feet. But there might have been something missing in that.
"I'm sorry I give the impression that I have such a low character." She voiced her insecurities. "But I thought Sid and I had that, you know, forever thing."
"I don't think you have a low character. I've known you for a good seven, maybe eight months. And I'm not judging you on the pretext of the few weeks where you've been at your weakest."
She couldn't help but turn her face to gaze at him with amazement. Even though the wind was pulling random strands of hair across her face, she didn't want to tear eyes away from his profile. Even though she was suddenly feeling goose bumps on her bare arms and her body (which her dress was not doing much to protect from the chilly breeze) she didn't dare look away. Why? She didn't know the answer to that. It wasn't as though she was locked into his captivating eyes, because he was staring out at the crashing waves. Then what made her not want to change her view right now? She wouldn't know.
If this was too intense for her, she had no idea what to do when his adorable baby blue met her soft green, with tenderness she didn't know could ever exist! But there was this light that shone out from some depth she wasn't aware of at all!
She saw his hand lift up, but wasn't paying attention until she felt the contact of his flawless skin on hers. He removed the loose tendrils that covered her face, and she had to tear her eyes away from. How could he even bear to touch her? He should hate her for what she was probably putting him through! Something a lot more torturous than she herself was going through.
"You look beatiful." He complimented her, as she felt her face flush scarlet. He actually meant it, didn't he? Unlike the other night. Behind this very simple gesture, she found out Armaan liked simple things. Did that mean he thought she looked better when she was simply dressed? Sid on the other hand, was a spoilt brat. He loved everything in fashion, everything that was trendy. He liked exquisite and glamorous ornaments. He was such a child. But wasn't his childishness a reason she had fallen for him?
"We should go." She cut the atmosphere with her words. He just nodded, and they both got up simultaneously. As she trailed forward, Armaan took one look at her retreating back, and wiped the tiny tear that formed in the corner of his eyes. He had grown more used to her in the past few weeks than he had in the past few months. And he wasn't sure, that once she got together with Sid, if he would get to spend quality time with her like he was spending now. Sid wouldn't like that. The truth sunk horribly. The time was getting closer to hand her over. And he hated himself for agreeing to do this in the first place.
* * * * * * *
Riddhima was closing her locker, when she turned to see Armaan with his dimpled smile. She didn't know why, but this automatically put a smile on her face.
"Don't smile so much, people will think you're really in love with me." He winked, making her groan as she made her way out of the room. He followed.
"Get over those cheesy dialogues of your Mallik."
"Cheesy maybe, but you know girls die over these."
"Urgh, please, not all girls."
"Oh yeah, let me prove it to you." He flashed his dimples as they walked along the corridor and accosted a random intern, whose name Riddhima didn't even know. Her eyes widened as he gave her one his most charming smiles, and said, "Hey beautiful. Why haven't I seen you around before? I really must have been blind."
Riddhima grit her teeth and narrowed her eyes when she saw the intern, who she now found out was called Dimple, blush furiously and give Armaan a shy smile. From a distance, she saw Armaan continue his easy chatter with her, while Dimple could barely put in a word or two, not able to believe her luck that her senior, Dr Armaan Mallik, had noticed her!
"Dr Mallik," Riddhima interrupted, feeling a monster in the pit of her stomach growl at this certain good for nothing intern. She shot a killer glare at her then turned to Armaan, linked his hand with hers, and said, "We have to report to the nurse station."
"Sure Dr Gupta." He replied, a small smile playing around his face, as he glanced at her.
"Uh..Armaan. You wanted my number?" Riddhima couldn't help but fume at this woman's courage. Hadn't she freaking heard the rumours about them two? Because Riddhima sure had, being the base of these very rumours!
"Miss Dimple, I'm sure you have a lot of time to exchange numbers later on in your life. For now, he has to report to duty, and I'm pretty sure you have to get back to the same!" The young girl quailed under Riddhima's furious daggers that were directly aimed at her, and without saying a word, hurried off in the opposite direction, then realizing it was the wrong one, made a one eighty turn with a red face, stepping into a nearby room to keep herself out of that searing, piercing gaze.
Why was Armaan such a chance pe dance? His flirting with that young intern did not go down well with Riddhima, and now his smirk was doing everything to make her boil in fury!
"Why do you have to flirt with all these baccha log?" she asked, making sure her nails were digging into his arm. Armaan winced.
"Look, I'm sorry. Sheesh, who'd thought you would get so jealous?" Armaan couldn't help but grin at her confused face.
"I.. I wasn't jealous! I was just.. you know if we're doing this Sid thing.." she mumbled, "We have to make it look real right?"
"So you were pretending to be jealous?" he asked sincerely.
"What? NO!" was her immediate reply. Pretending to be jealous? This fire that rushed through every vein in her body, and he was calling it pretense jealousy? Could she please murder him?! Any way would be great. Strangling seemed like the best option for now! But then reality struck. Then why was she so bothered when Armaan was flirting with that intern? She saw his raised eyebrows and corrected herself. "I mean, yes! And I wasn't jealous!" Riddhima furiously denied it.
"Are you sure?" he asked once again, and this time turned her to look into her eyes. But she couldn't meet them.
She didn't know what this thing was she was feeling. It was never there with Sid! When she had initially dated Sid, this sort of intensity was never there. But with Armaan, his one look could sometimes make her feel like the most beautiful person alive like that other night on the beach, or the biggest criminal the world had ever set eyes on. All merely for not reciprocating his feelings. But then again, something slyly cropped up in the back of her mind, taunting her. Was that true? Did she really not reciprocate his feelings?
"Armaan, we have to go." And somehow or the other, despite his grip on her, despite his question and confusion filled hues, she freed herself and ran away, leaving him clueless.
* * * * * * *
Riddhima was in the locker room at the end of the day, feeling the worst she had in ages! Nikki had tried to console her, but time had been too short. She didn't know what to say, what to do, what to feel anymore, and the fact she had been avoiding Armaan the whole day made her squirm.
Her mind went back to a few hours back when Armaan had accosted her in the canteen, and requested a talk in front of everyone. She had made a 'work' excuse and left, while he frowned at her, the tension evident between them to every other face present. He'd tried once again in the general ward, while Sid was there and this time she had totally ignored him, causing a fire to brew, which she was sure would not fade until he actually spoke with her. But she didn't have the courage. Yes, she was weak, she was stupid, however, there was no way she could face all these questions, all these emotions now. Impossible.
Riddhima jumped when she heard his voice behind her, and shut her locker door.
"Uhmm.. mujhe jaana hai." She whispered her eyes glued to the floor. But when she made to go right, he barred her exit with his left arm. The same happened the other way, and this time, she knew she was truly trapped. There was no way out for her. Especially now.
"What are you doing, Riddhima?" he questioned once more. "Just please, tell me what's going on in your mind. I think I've taken enough bullshit for a day."
"Armaan, what are you talking about?" she feigned ignorance, and stole her gaze away again.
"You don't know what I'm talking about?" He grit his teeth, trying his utmost to remain in a calm position. "You don't know what I'm talking about?" Her eyes glued to the floor, but she could feel his close breath on her bent head. Why was this making her more nervous than it should? Why was everything suddenly so blurred? Why weren't the pieces in this puzzle fitting the right places? "Dammit Riddhima! My thoughts affect you. My words affect you. My closeness affects you, and don't deny it!" He interrupted her as she opened her mouth to argue back. "I'm the one you call when you feel lonely, I'm the one you always turn to these days and you get jealous when I'm with other girls. What does this suggest?" His voice became softer. "Admit it. To yourself. And to me. Please."
Riddhima's thoughts were foggy. He was right. Every single word of his was true. And there was no way she could deny it. Then why, why was she still afraid of giving in to this feeling that was pulsing through her veins? Did it mean because she had to weave a new dream? A new dream that would probably break her if it shattered into nothingness, like Sid? Was she so bent on fixing the wrong things in life? And where did Armaan stand, compared to her? He deserved better didn't he? Much better! And even you threw that bit aside. What exactly were her feelings regarding him and Sid? Wasn't Sid the one she had taken all this trouble for? Wasn't it Sid whom she loved? Loved? What exactly was love? The attraction she had had to Sid, or this unexplainable mysterious emotion that ran through her every time anything to do with Armaan cropped up?
"Armaan. What are you trying to say?" her quiet voice was clearly heard.
"As if you don't know." His grim voice made her look up. But when she continued her silence he added, "You really don't?" she shook her head. "Why don't you ask your heart that question?"
"My heart doesn't give me any answers." She put across blankly.
"Or maybe you're just refusing to see them." He replied. "You're in constant denial. Because this world, this dream you built around yourself concerning Sid is crumbling, and you hate the thought of that. It's tearing you apart."
"You don't know anything Armaan!" she spoke slowly, anger getting the better of her. How could he figure all that out when he'd only known her for just a few months? She was being torn apart because of her own dreams?
"I don't? I've seen you break Riddhima. I've seen you try and put yourself together but miserably fail for the past four months. And whenever I tried to help, you always put this invisible wall around yourself stopping anyone, especially me from helping you. Why? Why is it that after finally letting me inside, you're so hell bent on pushing me away?! What are you scared of? Your feelings? Or maybe the thought that you've grown to love.."
"Don't Armaan!" she interrupted with a steady voice, her eyes blazing at what he'd just tried to suggest. The next second she spoke slowly. "I don't know what is happening to me. Everything we thought about, planned, is just falling apart. And I don't know what to make of it. You tell me. What can I make of it? Please?" she looked up at him, pleading for something which no one could make out. "I could ask for time, but that will leave me more confused than before! And I don't want to ask anything off you because you've given too much already. If I had it all planned, then why is everything going wrong? Where am I going wrong? Tell me. Please tell me." She begged. "And what you're suggesting can't be true. It just can't. And it isn't." she continued her furious denial. "That's why I hate myself for dragging you into this as well. What am I supposed to do?"
Armaan sighed as he took one step back.
"That's for you to decide Riddhima. I think it's time we went our separate ways. It's getting too much."
Riddhima looked up once more, knowing the outer and probably inner meaning behind his words. He had had enough. And she honestly could not blame him. What she found a shame was that she was still having a hard time figuring out her feelings. Sid's reactions had told her all she needed. That somewhere, their plan had been successful, but the only reason it was falling apart was because somewhere, something felt so wrong during the whole charade they were playing! Somewhere it had become so real, that it had left her dumbfounded. And something about the whole situation was so amiss; that was the thing she couldn't put her finger on.
"No Riddhima. You decide. I guess I'll see you at the Christmas party tomorrow."
And with that, he left. He didn't see her fixed stare on his back. He didn't see the tear drop from her eye, which she quickly wiped away. So emotionally occupied he was, that he didn't even see Sid's half confused, half shocked face which rotated between both, Armaan and Riddhima, at the edge of the door to the room.
*******************Chapter 4..!! Done and dusted.. 4 will be up as well..hopefully by the end of the day.. if not then tomorrow..maybe.. And I think that will be the end..
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Joined: 15 June 2010
Armaan shut his eyes, unable to see the image in front of him. She was being led away, so easily, onto the dance floor, and his heart screamed at him to stop her! To take her away and hide her from the world! He could feel his hand twitch in the last attempt to call her back, but stopped it immediately. She was happy! And that was all he cared for. That was all he wanted to see. Her happy. She turned back, and he gave her a small smile to show how he was unaffected. Lies! He never realized how crucial those past weeks with her were, that now each and every moment of it was etched into every single cell inside him. He could feel a lump form in his throat and his eyes tear up as he saw them on the dance floor. So she didn't really love him, like he thought she had. She had no feelings for him what-so-ever. Boy did that hurt.
'He takes your hand, I die a little,
I watch your eyes, and I'm in riddles'
The slow lyrics for all the 'couples' out there blared into his face as reality sunk in. This was the time where he would hand her over to Sid. This was the time where he had to step out of the equation. He turned around, back to the bar, as a small drop escaped the dams he'd built up and for the first time ever, ordered the strongest drink the bartender could make. It should help, was his bitter thought as he shut his eyes and devoured the whole thing in one go. The liquid burned down his throat, causing him to open his eyes once more as he faced the dance floor. The pain should be numbed, shouldn't it? It had to be! But he saw Sid holding her close, and if anything, it worsened every little pang of pain that he felt. No, that drink didn't help at all! Or maybe this pain, it was just too intense to be overcome by one drink.
'But I see you with him slow dancing,
Tearing me apart coz you don't see.
Whenever you kiss him, I'm breaking,
Oh how I wish that was me.'
Armaan felt himself swallowing once more, hoping that thick thing inside his throat would suddenly disappear. Hah, nice try, his body responded. That's when he demanded for another drink. And that didn't help either. It worsened his pain as he saw Sid's arms around her, possessively. Every single detail about their posture killed him slowly. It wasn't as though he hadn't been expecting it. He had, and he'd prepared himself for it. But nothing prepared him for the searing anguish which went right through the core of his being and spread slowly like boiling oil, rendering every organ in his body lifeless! So he ordered one more drink. And another. And another. And he kept going, letting the fluid burn into his insides, surely this is much better than what he was going through before, he wondered, as he felt his vision blur.
"Riddhima..Sid" he whispered to himself, trying to make sense of the situation he was entrapped in. But where were they? Shouldn't he congratulate them? Shouldn't he finally go up to Sid and tell him he won? That his love pulled Riddhima back? Else she would have run back to him, Armaan. And he would have been the happiest person alive! NO! She didn't belong to him. No matter how much he loved her. No matter how much he adored her with every ounce of breath he took. She wasn't his. Never was! He had just been reading too much into everything. He had just taken her friendship as a possible sign of love. It wasn't like that at all. And she was true. She would only go for the guy she loved. He loved her for listening to her heart. But just once, just once, he begged. Would she listen to his? If he put himself down, throw all his guards away, tell her what he felt about her, would she listen to him?
Armaan got off the stool, stumbling once. Remarkably, he held the counter and managed to pull himself back up, blinking furiously in the process.
"I'm fine!" he called to the bartender, who wasn't even looking at him. "And I thought you were the only person that cared. Tch, Armaan, if she doesn't care, what makes you think he will? Stupid." Armaan pouted, after hitting the back of head which he surprisingly didn't feel! But his mission suddenly came back to him and he set off.
It was all fine not being able to see Riddhima and Sid in this blur that had taken over, but he wanted to tell her his feelings! He didn't care what would happen! And then again, what was the worst she could do? Slap him? Hah, who cared! Maybe the slap would lessen this internal torture. No it wouldn't! Something menacingly replied back inside him. Nothing would. Well, telling her might. He made his way to the dance floor. How did he recognize it? Well, shaking foggy images did the trick. Now what was Riddhima wearing? Oh right, a purplish dress top, paired with black jeans and boots. Her hair was flowing, and she'd put minimal make up on her face. Nahh, it was impossible to forget her when she looked so breathtaking!
"Armaan," he heard the same voice he'd been craving to hear all along, spun around and lost his balance. But her hand stretched out to save him, to hold him, which she did, as a worried expression took over the initial relief. "Are you drunk?" she asked him, as she pulled him into her embrace so she could stable him. But he pulled out immediately.
"Stupid question." He sang. "Who wouldn't be?"
"Armaan let's go home."
"No, listen, I want to tell you something." He said urgently, his eyes wide. She couldn't help but find a small smile take over on her face.
"Really? I'm listening."
"I wanted to tell you, that.." he paused, then frowned.
"That..?" she urged, curiously.
"That.." his face contorted into confusion as he stared at some random corner.
He looked back at her, his visage guilt ridden, while she practically had to bite her lips to stop herself from giggling at his adorable expression.
"Main bhool gayya." He whispered as though he'd done the biggest crime of the century! She smiled and his face turned into utmost horror. "Tum hass rahi ho? It was important!" he said indignantly. She quickly straightened her expressions, put a hand on his cheek, resisting the urge to pull them, when she saw his lower lip pucker slightly, while his gorgeous blue eyes were fixed on her.
"Toh yaad aajayega. For now, let's go home."
"No." he replied stubbornly.
"Armaan, please bachpana chodo."
"Main baccha nahin hoon. And no!" he scowled at her statement, proving otherwise.
"Ok fine, sorry. Please let's go?" she asked, sweetly.
"Riddhima!" he mimicked.
And finally, after a lot of insisting from her side, a lot of pleading and pouts from his to do the exact opposite, she managed to toughen up and lead him to his car.
She had a lot of thinking to do, she figured as she drove towards Armaan's house and let him sleep with his head resting against the window. She remembered how Sid had asked her for a dance, and instead of her heart leaping up in joy - like it ideally should have! - all she could think about was Armaan! Nevertheless, she accepted, not knowing what else she could do. And when he led her away, she took one look back at Armaan, the guy who'd always been there for her ever since she'd known him, and despite his encouraging smile, could see eons of agony hidden in his eyes. In the weeks she had spent closer to him than before, she knew that to know his real feelings, one had to delve into his eyes, because acting was so natural for him. Not that she blamed him, but.. She could swear that torment he was hiding slowly killed her inside. And yet, she couldn't pin point exactly why it was she felt like that!
However, she had still gone forward with Sid. Though something kept holding her back. And she had still let Sid hold her close. Riddhima felt herself smile grimly as she remembered how she had seeked refuge from their shoes for the mere reason of not being able to look into his eyes! His eyes had something in them as well! Urgh, what was it with people and eyes? She mused. But it was true. There was something of that old spark back in them, which she couldn't face. No, she didn't want to face! Why? There was no answer. So she broke away earlier than she should have, with the normal bathroom excuse, and went to look for Armaan instead, hoping he'd have the answers. After a good few minutes of looking around, hoping he hadn't just left, she finally found him, albeit, drunk. But he was there. And she honestly didn't know what to feel at the moment, besides knowing one thing straight. She had to drop Armaan home somehow or the other. Before he did something, to himself, or to others. Therefore, after texting 'emergency' to Sid and Nikki (who had un-surprisingly disappeared) she drove off.
"Armaan, chalo, so jao." He wasn't sleepy anymore. But he loved how she was taking care of him, removing his shoes, pulling up the blankets, fluffing up his pillows.
"Riddhimaaa.." he called, dragging the last syllable out, and holding her hand to prevent her from going. His voice turned soft and pleading. "Don't leave me. Everyone does."
"Ssh..I won't leave you." She whispered.
"Liar!" he accused her, his eyes tearing up. "You will. Why do I push everyone away from me? It was Muskaan first, then Mom and Dad, now you.."
"Armaan, you're the most selfless person I know, that's why."
"Why though? It was so hard, seeing you with.. with.. Sid." She froze for a moment, then went to sit next to him. "to think I have to do that every day.." he muttered quietly. Riddhima couldn't help, but run a hand through his hair lovingly, while he closed his eyes in pure bliss. Her intestines clenched up.
"Armaan, you're drunk. Please let's do this tomorrow."
"No." Was his stubborn reply and in the next moment, he pulled her onto him with a jerk, startling her. It was until she noticed his his face was less than a centimeter away from hers and he was gazing at her with all his heart pouring out, did she feel blood rush up to her cheeks and her eye lashes drop low. "You're so beautiful." He whispered in response. "And it's your inside which makes you even more so."
"Don't, Armaan." She murmured. "I don't deserve you. You want someone new. Someone who hasn't already broken your heart."
"Tch.." he refuted her words and turned around suddenly so that he was on top of her now, and the blanket was entangled between them. Smoothly, he blew away the tendrils that had fallen onto her face. "Sometimes, I think that somewhere deep in here," he placed his hand on her remarkably speeding heart, making her flush with colour as his hands brushed her femininity. "You have something for me. But then, sometimes it's not there at all. Your whole heart is for Sid isn't it?" he questioned, broken, and Riddhima couldn't help but shake her head as her own tears formed.
"It used to be. But now I don't know anymore." She admitted, knowing that she was laying her emotions bare in front him, while he probably wouldn't even remember in the morning. "I don't know anything Armaan. Part of me wants to slap him, tell him to stay away from me for the rest of our lives. And then I wonder if that's the case, then why did I go through all that trouble for him? Surely it's just natural for me to be a bit.. resentful. Right?" She questioned, hoping he would answer her back. Instead, he just smiled, and replied,
"Take your decision when you want to. From my side, you have all the time in the world." His face inched closer to hers, his breath causing havoc on her lips! She didn't dare breathe and not knowing what to do, she shut her eyes. Should she really just let him? Half of her jumped at the idea, while the other half just frowned, reprimanding her for being such a filthy hypocrite!
"Yaad aagaya." She heard him whisper hoarsely and couldn't have ever guessed his next sentence. "I love you," his tender voice made way to her ears, and her eyes opened of their own accord at those three magical words. How intense they sounded! And how meaningful, coming from his mouth. "But you don't have to love me back." He continued. "As long as you're happy." It took a while for Riddhima to notice that tears were streaming down the sides of her face as she tried to comprehend these unexplainable, convoluted emotions she was being put through.
His lips brushed her neck, then curved as he settled his head over there and shifted about slightly until he got comfortable. Within no time at all, through her continuous caresses on his hair and scalp, she felt his even breathing, telling her he'd finally gone to sleep after a long, long day.
* * * * *
"I hate you, Riddhima!" she muttered as she drove Armaan's car through the empty roads an hour later.
'Travelling I only stop at exits,
Wondering if I'll stay,
Young and restless living this way I stress less.
I want to, pull away when the dream dies,
The pain sets in and I don't cry,
I only feel gravity and I wonder why.
Flames to dust,
Lovers to Friends,
Why do all good things come to an end?'
Sighing in frustration, she switched off the radio, which had Nelly Furtado's melodious voice filling it. Stupid song! Stupid radio guy that had to put it on. Urgh! Instead of helping it just made things worse. She couldn't believe she was stuck between two guys, something she had never dreamed of! And it wasn't as though both loved her. Well, actually, they did. And she didn't know who she should now chose. Why, why, why? Why did life have to be so complicated?
Parking the car at the beach, she banged her hand on the steering wheel, then realizing it was Armaan's car, whispered a 'sorry' and started caressing it instead. Hah, like that would help. The cold wind hit her like a gale as soon as she stepped out, onto the deserted terrain. Somehow, without Armaan, this place seemed a lot creepier and eerier. But she forced herself to remain rooted at that particular area.
"I've had my fair share of faith in you. Maybe not too much, but at you could help me a bit. Please." She asked, looking up at the sky. Maybe the final answer was really there. "Just one sign. Any sign to tell me what to feel. Anything will do. Please, please, please, please, pleeeaaase?"
Her eyes shut tight, and she leaned against the bonnet of the car. What was it with all this confusion in her mind? She sighed once and thought back to an hour ago. A soft smile formed on her face when she remembered their almost kiss, the way he slept peacefully, his head buried in her neck, the way he'd confessed his feelings. He'd done so much for her, and it would be wrong to say she didn't have feelings for him, she concluded. Wrong as in untrue. No, she did have feelings for him. But was it love? Or was he just some sort of sub-conscious back up? Or maybe it was her hormones acting weird. If anything, she was scared that if she did choose him, one day she might just wake up and realize that sweet as he is, she never loved him, it was just her stupid hormones acting up at a time like this, and she would be forced to hurt him. All over again. But then again, with love wasn't it actually just hormonal stuff?
And it could be the same with Sid as well right? Well, with Sid it had been different, actually. She'd been in a relationship with him, a proper one, where that attraction between them had been mutual. She'd giggled at his jokes, laughed at his stupidity, kissed him a few times, smiled to herself when she thought of a future with him. All these things. And yet with Armaan, everything seemed a lot more intense. A lot more, well, permanent. With Armaan, she'd laughed, enjoyed, and actually learnt to smile whole heartedly again. When she'd finally let him in, she'd realized just how beautiful he could make her day with his smallest of actions. Be it kidding around with the kids, or trying to get a patient to have some medication. Or even looking down with a slight grin on his face, while Keerti had a real go at him because of his behavior. Everything about Armaan was just so pulling, she couldn't help but get more attached to him as the days flew past.
Then why was she having such a difficult time deciding between the two? Only because she'd put in a so much to get Sid to like her again. No, to realize what mistake he'd made by letting her go. And now was it really a mistake? Come to think of it, if she ever got together with Sid again, would she be able to fully trust him to not break her heart once more? No. And with Armaan.. well he'd never given her a reason to think otherwise right?
Her mind reverted to Sid again, his smiling face, the times they'd spent together. No doubt they had been beautiful. But Armaan's charming dimples cropped up once more accompanied by his mischievous wink. She'd had a fair share of fun with him too. Their late night phone rallies, their arguing, their small, knowing smiles and eye locks when they shared an inside joke, their hands clapping in a hi-five whenever poor Payal or Sid was embarrassed. Once more, she forced herself to think of what she, Nikki and Armaan had all worked for. She had been so sure of what she wanted then. Now, now things were different. Forcing herself, she remembered the intimate moments between her and Sid. Not that she'd let him go beyond a kiss in the almost year they'd been together. She shut her eyes automatically and tipped her head to let it bathe in the moonlight that shone so clearly over the now pitch black waters growling at the shore. Immediately, Armaan's image came up to her and grabbed her waist. Her lips curved automatically as she pictured him dipping his head and claiming them. He then trailed needing kisses softly, down to her neck, leaving Riddhima trembling with joy.
She slowly opened her eyes, and this time, shut them to remember Sid once more. Immediately, she felt her face contort into disgust as she imagined him doing what imaginary Armaan had. Her eyes snapped open. This surely meant that she felt Armaan had more right on her body than Sid did right? Was she lusting on Armaan? The questioned loomed in her head while she groaned suddenly as this new diversion took place! So if that was the case, what she felt for Sid was love? But then where was that intensity between her and Sid, that she shared with Armaan? Was that intensity love, and what she had had with Sid was mere infatuation? Or was she just lusting for Armaan full stop? No, that couldn't be right. Intensity was ever there with Armaan, but there was something else that held her with him like gravity! It was way more than his body. Love? Couldn't be, because if it was, then she would have felt the same for Sid, some part of her scoffed. Aha, or maybe she never really loved Sid. So here were the two arguments she'd narrowed it down to, amongst the whole mess that had been there inside her. Did she really love Sid? Yes, then this thing with Armaan shouldn't have been in existence. No, then was this thing with Armaan really love? And if it was, did she deserve him?
Great. And another diversion. Did she really deserve Armaan? Everything inside her screamed out NO in capital, bold, highlighted letters. No, she'd taken advantage of his feelings for her. No, she'd used him! No, she'd taken him for granted. No, she'd been so hell bent on being with Sid that she refused to see the love pouring out of his heart for her. No, she'd ignored all his steps towards her, for her, because she'd been looking so desperately at Sid's back which was turned to her. And the biggest 'No' ever, because she'd hurt him so much all this time, that even if she wanted to, she'd be afraid of healing it, in case she prick him again.
Ok, screw looking at the problem this way. It had too many muddles for one to be able to see it properly.
"Another perspective." She found herself whispering.
Nikki. She'd put in so much time and effort for Sid to realize his feelings for Riddhima. No, bad perspective. What would people say if she got with Armaan. Well they already knew, and the gossip page was hard to miss amongst the 'Nurse Weekly' tabloid. Riddhima found herself giggling at the small metaphor. But then again, if she went back to Sid, people would just whisper that she's bouncing between two hot guys and she'll be named the official skank of the hospital. No, she didn't want that title! Another bad perspective.
So what now. Yeah. Sid. If they actually started dating again, she could have those beautiful moments with him that she had missed when they broke apart. Hey hang on, why didn't they seem as beautiful anymore? On the contrary, the light heartedness with Armaan was what suddenly filled her mind. And how would Armaan deal with it if she and Sid were together in the hospital? What would he feel? Probably mask everything coz he was so bloody darn good at that. But she could read right through him couldn't she? She would be able to tell. And seeing him like would make her guilty to such an extent that it would probably tear her apart! Why did she feel like that? Why was she so confused? And why, she noticed, that during her whole stream of thoughts, everything always directed back to Armaan? His thoughts. His feelings. His touch. His smile. His eyes. His pranks. His antics.
Her phone suddenly rang shrilly, making her jump out of her thoughts immediately.
'Sid calling' flashed on the phone and slightly hesitantly, she picked up, not knowing what to expect, or why he was calling at one am in the middle of the night.
"Hey.." she answered the phone, and was met with a very nervous
"Yeah, hi. What's up." She asked, not really in the mood to talk at the moment, knowing she should probably return Armaan's car.
"Nothing. Just, uhmm, you ok?" he asked, and she heard him sigh in utter frustration. Ohkk.
"Yeah I'm fine. Why did you call at this hour? Everything good?"
"Yeah, yeah, everything's fine. I was just wondering.. uhmm you're not busy are you? I mean, you've left the hospital right?"
Her eyebrows arched in slight guilt at the small lie she'd texted him.
"No, no I'm not. Not anymore." She replied, a bit too brightly, for her liking, then cringed. "So, did you have any work?"
"Not work.. but uhmm.. I was just, uhmm.. thinking you know.. if you don't mind that is. There's a friend's party on New year's eve, and I.. I need a date. Would you.. uhmm.. like to accompany me? It's a beach party, so it doesn't need to be too fancy." He stopped, evidently finished, and Riddhima stood still, not being able to believe what was happening. This call from Sid, was it the sign she'd been looking for, that she should choose Sid? "Riddhima, you there?" Sid asked concerned, and she replied,
"Yeah I am. Sorry..just..uhmm.."
"I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have asked you. Just thought you and Armaan were not together anymore and made the most randomest guess ever. I'm sorry, obviously you're still with Armaan and I was just stupid.."
"Sid, shut up!" she said into the phone, his continuous blabbering and sorries giving her a small ear ache.
"So you're not with Armaan?" he asked, hope laced in his voice.
She sighed, wondering what her answer should be. She'd worked for this. Spent the past five weeks looking forward to this day. Spent three months before, hoping for this day. And now that it was finally here, she was - hey presto, what a new feeling! Her mind sarcastically voiced - confused! FINE! She gave up. If this was a feeling she had to be graced with twenty four seven at the moment, she would just go with the flow. Enough!
"No I'm not with Armaan." She whispered.
"Then..?" he asked, hesitancy replacing hope, while he waited for her answer.
"Yeah. I'd like to go with you to your friend's party." She replied, smiling forcefully at no one in particular. Immediately, she thought of Armaan and felt something inside her push her to the floor.
"Great!" Sid replied enthusiastically. "So I'll pick you up next week? Urgh, forget that, we'll decide the details at the hospital."
"Yeah.." she bit her lower lip.
"Awesome. Good night then."
"Good night, oh and Sid.."
Maybe it was a sign from the one up there that she should be with Sid. Even if she felt something for Armaan, he didn't deserve her. He deserved better. Much better than her. And that thought was probably the main reason her eyes clouded up as she drove back to his house in the dead of the night.
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