Joined: 27 September 2010
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Joined: 27 September 2010
Chapter 30: To A New Start!:-
"To the left!" I sighed. "Armaan I said more to the left! And the thing is crooked!" I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Moving in had been tougher than I had expected; it had a lot more than just moving ourselves! It had been over 2 weeks since I had decided to stay back, and those 2 weeks had Armaan and me behaving like we were already married. We had gotten a rental apartment, my choice of course! The apartment had been a little over our budget, but on my demand, Armaan had decided to go ahead with it anyway. Since he had refused to take any kind of help from Papa, since he was already funding his course, it was going to compel the two of us to work our way through the rents, the maintenance and our own survival. I was okay with it, for me it was just another adventure, and I had always wanted to stay alone without any parental guidance! As for Armaan, he would be getting paid for his internship anyway, so he had nothing to worry about. Coming to my career, I had already started applying for jobs at editorial levels in magazines and newspapers. I still awaited a call from them, at least for an interview if not a job!
The apartment had been the best we had seen so far, with two small bedrooms with a built-in kitchen in the living room itself. The only problem had been the single washroom, and since both Armaan and me were used to hogging it for a long time, that would be an issue. But we would deal with it!
"Are you kidding me, Munchkin its straight man!" He yelled, standing on the couch, trying to settle an enlarged picture of the two of us up on the wall.
"Armaan its crooked, come 'ere, look for yourself!" I sighed. Grumbling, he stood next to where I was sitting on the floor, and twisted his face in different angles to cross-check my observation. His nose scrunched up in concentration, it was the most adorable sight. I giggled, as his lips slightly pouted in his hard observation skills.
"What? Why you laughing?" He asked, frowning, looking down at me.
"Nothing, you're just a very cute person!" I grinned up at him.
"What can I say honey, I'm just a mixture of cute, hot and cool!" He said proudly, whisking his invisible collar.
"You missed conceited!" I grinned sceptically. He shrugged.
"That too!" He nodded and stood up on the couch yet again to fix the picture.
I smiled, looking around at the small apartment. It was cosy, homely, warm, and just perfect. We hadn't done it up of course, most of the things like the small table, the dining chairs, the old couch; all of it had been taken from the old collection of furniture in Armaan's shed, which had been preserved, perhaps, for a time like this. Mumma had been more than happy to give it all away. With help from her, Rhea, Andrea and Sid, we had been able to clean up, and set up the apartment in a matter of 4 days. At least, now, it was liveable.
We had been living there since the past 2 days, and for me, life couldn't be more perfect. I couldn't explain the turbulent feelings in my heart, but this time, I was at peace with them. The anxiety, the excitement, the feeling of belonging, and the feeling of security, that I would never be alone was unexplainable.
"Is it fine now?" He asked still standing on the couch. I gazed at the picture - my favourite one of all times, from Armaan's b'day with his face full of cake and he hugging me.
"Its perfect!" I smiled dreamily. I saw him grin back at me. He probably knew what I was thinking about.
He let out an exhausted sigh and perched on the couch, closing his eyes. Smiling, I walked and sat next to him, placing my head on his shoulder.
"I'm so tired!" He groaned.
"I have something for you!" I smiled at him.
"What?" He frowned. I held up a piece of paper in front of his eyes. "What's in this?" He asked, as I handed him the long piece of paper. "Riddhima, you're already divorcing me?" He said in an incredibly annoying dramatic tone.
"Oh, shut up!" I rolled my eyes. "This, my friend, has ground rules, each of which, we're going to follow!" I smiled at him, while he cocked an eyebrow.
"Ground rules? Are you serious?" He asked.
"Uh-huh!" I nodded happily. "Go on! Read it!" I urged, eagerly.
"Okay!" He said uncertainly and cleared his throat.
"Rule 1) Riddhima won't wear the ring, until she's ready for it!" He read. He looked at me, and I bit my lip, wondering if that offended him. "Okay, accepted, but I'm going to wear mine!" He said.
"No! Then what's the point! Armaan, I don't want to be called your 'fianc' yet! I mean, obviously I had to pretend in front of Mum-Dad and Mumma-Papa, but that was because they wouldn't allow otherwise! But, like I said, I need time!" I pleaded with him.
"Riddhima your are sure about us right? That's not the reason why you're holding back?" He asked, and I could see the fear in his eyes.
"Baby of course not! I told you the reason! I don't want to jump roles! And besides, we still have to be officially engaged right? The complete desi way!" I grinned at him. I relaxed when I saw him nod and hold my hand, squeezing it in assurance.
"Fine!" He smiled. He removed his ring, but instead of putting it away, he placed it in his other finger. "This way, I can wear it, and no one will know its an engagement ring! Happy? And the day, we officially get engaged, in front of the entire world, I'll just change the finger!" He grinned and winked at me. I smiled happily. "So, we come to the next rule!"
"Rule 2) We're going to take turns in cooking during weekdays! Saturday would be take-out, and every Sunday Armaan is going to make me breakfast in bed, with cupcakes?" He mused. He looked at me with disbelief written all over his face.
"I told you I wouldn't be easy! Best of luck!" I smiled and gave him a thumbs-up. He leaned in and kissed my thumb, and smiled at me cheekily.
"Anything you say Your Highness! But YOU'RE going to cook? Riddhima, I doubt you can exit a kitchen without creating a disaster!" He winked.
"You're there na, for help? And I always have a recipe book at my aid. You'll have to eat what I make! I'll get better with time, kapische!" I said earnestly. He grinned and kissed my forehead. "Read on!" I urged him, before he noticed the blood rushing to my cheeks.
"Rule 3) Riddhima gets to watch the TV without Armaan's interference during - Castle and How I Met Your Mother." He glared at me. "There's no way I'm following this one! What if I want to watch football? Or cricket? Or, or-"
"There's a clause at the bottom for that." I pointed to the bottom of the page.
"Until and unless India during cricket, and Manchester United or Spain during football are playing, no exceptions. Conditions apply." He read out. He rolled his eyes. "We'll see about this one! You can't just hog the TV!" He declared.
"What? What's your priority Armaan? The TV or me?" I asked. His jaw dropped at the unfairness of the question.
"Hey! That's unfair! Where does priority come from? And in that case, even I should be your priority!" He argued angrily.
"Oh, you are baby, of course! But I do love Castle and Barney! You know that!" I gave him my most adorable pouts and saw his face melting.
"Fine!" He said disgruntled.
"Rule 4) Only Good Morning and Good Night kisses will be permitted. No making out before dinner. No exceptions." He read. He looked at me with an expression of part disbelief, part amusement, part smiling. "You're giving timings for kissing, making out?" He confirmed. I nodded.
"Its essential we have rules for this! And oh, there's another clause in that rule." I pointed to the end of the paper again.
"Nothing below neck region?" He asked in disbelief.
"So we don't go overboard!" I nodded and grinned.
"Yeah, in this case, we'll see how much you follow this rule, and oh, this clause as well!" He smirked cheekily, rolling his eyes. I had no idea what he meant.
"Rule 5) If Riddhima hears Armaan flirting with stupid bimbos who flaunt their asses in their mini-skirts'" He stopped abruptly. "Riddhima, seriously? You've made a rule for THIS?" He asked, his eyes wide.
"At least finish the rule!" I said exasperated.
"'mini skirts, she's allowed to punch him, slap him, give him silent treatment for a month, and if it gets worse, is allowed to put him on probation." He frowned. "Probation?" He asked.
"Yeah. That means you'll have to sleep outside the apartment. Whether its for a day, or two, or three, well that depends on who you flirt with and for how much time!" I said matter-of-factly.
"I'm tearing this up!" He declared. I stared at him shocked.
"What? No! Why! I spent an hour making this!" I snatched it out of his hand.
"Because this is going overboard! You can't kick me out of my own apartment!" He muttered angrily.
"Your apartment? Its our apartment! Remember that!" I replied in the same tone. "And fine, I'll cancel that part!" I narrowed my eyes at him, but nevertheless, cancelled the part.
"And the rest as well!" He pointed at the paper.
"Is it that overboard?" I asked. He nodded in an 'obviously' sort of way. "Fine!" I mumbled. "I'll make the silent treatment for a week instead of a month!" I cancelled 'month' and scribbled 'week' instead. "There!" I gave him the paper back. He sighed, exasperated.
"There's more?" He asked. I nodded.
"Rule 6) Every time we fight, if Armaan doesn't apologize within 24 hours, he gets silent treatment for the rest of the month." He read. "And what if its your fault?" he asked sceptically.
"That's my problem!" I shrugged. "Read on!" I urged.
"Rule 7) Armaan has to take me out on a special date once every month?" He read, frowning. "No way!" He said quickly.
"What? That's an easy one!" I said shocked.
"Don't you remember the last time I took you out on a special date?" He glared at me.
"Hey, I made up for it! I mean, I made a very public display of my affection for you at the airport! I think that declares us as quits!" I smiled at him, and saw him roll his eyes.
"I can't promise about that one! What if I don't have the time?!" He asked.
"Well, I'll decide that, if you should be excused or not!" I said happily. He sighed helplessly.
"Rule 8) Armaan is not allowed to yell at me, be rude to me, and is not allowed to shout at me when I do something stupid!" He looked at me. "Shouldn't this be for both of us?" He asked.
"Fine. For both of us then!" I rolled my eyes.
"That's it? Only so many rules?" He asked sardonically.
"You want more?" I asked with raised eyebrows.
"No, its okay! I can live a disciplined life with my girlfriend with these!" He smiled at me sceptically.
"Of course, if later, I feel like adding any rules, I'll add them!" I took the paper from his hands and neatly folded it.
"And what about my set of rules?" He asked. "This one's pretty one-sided." He said cheekily.
"Well if you have any, let me know! I'll see if I can follow them!" I winked at him.
"There's just one rule!" He thought for a moment and said. I looked at him questioningly. "You're not allowed to leave me or stop loving me!" He encircled me by my waist, pulling me on his lap and kissed my cheek.
"Deal!" I said softly and pulled him into a soft kiss. It wasn't exactly a goodnight kiss, but hey, there can be some exceptions!
"Munchkin?" I heard Armaan call out. Finally, I thought! It had been 2 hours since he left, and I had been waiting desperately for him to get home. I saw him standing at the door, holding a big box, which I guessed was heavy, because I could hear his heavy breathing. I saw him place it on the floor and sigh.
"Armaan!" I squealed and ran straight into his arms.
"Munchkin!" He said, surprised, probably at my sudden hug.
"Armaan, they called!" I said excitedly, hugging him tighter.
"Who 'they'?" He pulled out, looking at me curiously.
"The execs from Smart Magazine! I got myself an interview tomorrow!" I said delighted, and saw his face break into a smile.
"Oh sweetheart that's great!" He pulled me back into his arms.
"Thank God! I almost lost hope! Its been so long since I applied, and this is the first call I got! I just hope it goes right!" I said nervously.
"Hey, you're going to get it okay?" He smiled at me, kissing my forehead. That was enough to calm my nerves.
"Can you come with me tomorrow?" I asked, chewing on my lip.
"I would've even if you didn't want me to Munchkin!" He smiled at me. I smiled back happily. I finally turned my gaze to the box.
"What's in there?" I asked, his arms still holding me.
"Uh, that is, yours!" He said.
"Mine?" I frowned.
"Yeah, Mum said it just got delivered today. Its from your parents!" He replied.
"Oh finally!" I jumped, clapping my hands excitedly. "Its been ages!" I said.
"Ages? Since what?" He asked.
"Oh, nothing! Mum told me she's sending all my stuff here to Cali, so in case I need anything! She was worried why it hadn't reached till now! I'll call her and tell her its here!" I smiled and pulled the box which was too heavy for me to carry. Sitting in front of it, I gazed at it for a couple of seconds. I brought the screwdrivers to break it open, and sighed when I looked inside it.
"WOW!" I heard Armaan say.
"I know! Mum's sent everything!" I said happily. I gazed down at my old books, my soft toys, my photo frames, my other personal items. "Its almost like she's kicking me out!" I laughed.
"So many soft toys?" Armaan frowned, picking up one. "You don't still name them do you?" He asked curiously.
"You remember that?" I grinned. "And of course I still name them! That one you're holding is Mr. Buttons, but people close to me can call him Mr. Cuddly Heart!" I said happily. Armaan raised his eyebrows in a 'Why did I ask?' sort of way. "Then this one is Baby Ele!" I handed him a tiny, green and orange elephant. He nodded; I could see he was least interested. "This one is Hugsie, inspired by Joey's Hugsie from Friends, since it looks a lot like his penguin!!" I gave him a snowman with a multi-colored hat. "And this one's Bunny!" I passed him a small yellow rabbit.
"You guys make a big happy family!" Armaan smiled sardonically. "I'm so jealous!" He said in a monotone.
"Aww, baby its okay! I'm sure they wouldn't mind including you as well!" I pulled his cheek.
"Riddhima not the cheeks!" He glared at me while I shrugged. "And oh my God, please tell me those books are going to remain in that box!" His eyes widened as I pulled out stacks of books.
"Are you mad? I'm going to get a book-case so we can keep them properly!" I continued heaving the books out.
"Do you have EVERY book ever written?" He took a book and twisted and turned it as if it was a tiny alien spaceship.
"I wish I did! But no!" I said wistfully.
"Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Sandra Brown, John Grisham, Robin Cook! You seem a big fan of mystery writers!" He gazed at my books in awe.
"I am! But not only mystery! I love romance as well! Here they are!" I stacked out another pile of books in his hands.
'Cecilia Ahern, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella! And oh of course! Your beloved Harry Potters! Basically all I won't be interested in!" He smiled at me sceptically. I rolled my eyes.
"If you take a break from your po*no mags, I'm sure you'll be interested in Robin Cook if not anyone else! He writes about medical mysteries!" I smirked at him, when I saw his eyes widen.
"Uh, po*no mags?" He asked nervously.
"Kill the act Armaan! I've seen those in your room at home! Stashed under your bed linen!" I smirked and didn't have to look at him to sense his 'Oh Shit!'. "No wonder you never let Mum change your bed linen! But since you knew she would change it after every two weeks, you were careful to sneak them out before that time came!" I grinned as his expressions turned scandalous. It felt good to torture him with his secrets which were known facts to me.
"How'd you know?" He asked, his voice a whisper.
"It doesn't take a detective to guess that! While you were in Uni once and I was on break because I wasn't well or something, I was bored. So I offered to do some early cleaning for Mum. She was more than happy, since your room is always such a mess! And you don't let anyone touch your things! And you would always create a ruckus on cleaning weekends, so when I offered to tidy your room in your absence, Mum was more than happy to oblige!" I winked at him and saw him mutter a faint 'Bitch'. "And then, guess what I found?" I smirked.
"Does Mum know?" He asked nervously. Aww, my heart sighed at his cuteness. I ruffled his hair and laughed.
"No!" I giggled and saw him roll his eyes.
"Can we get back to your treasure chest now? If you're done laughing?" He muttered, pulling out another pile of books. "What are these? They don't look like story-books?" He asked.
"Oh, those are my personal diaries from over the years! I can't believe Mum knew where I hid them! I wish she didn't read any! She definitely wouldn't be happy!" I scratched my head and pulled one from his hand, scanning its pages.
"One question! What're you going to do with these anyway? Except read them once or twice!" Armaan asked me in awe.
"Armaan, these books are memories of my entire childhood, not to mention my growing up years! Its got so much of value!" I smiled as I read the warning note for anyone who tried reading it without my permission on the first page of one of my diaries. "And I do have some more plans with these!" I smiled at him.
"Um, nothing you should know!" I said nervously.
"Tell me!" He smiled.
"Promise you won't laugh, won't make silly jokes, and won't freak out!" I bit my lip.
"The first two I can understand, but why would I freak out?" He frowned.
"Well'" I sighed. "You see, if we have a daughter, then I plan on giving these books to her on her birthday, one by one, in sequence, and coinciding with her age and the age I wrote them at! Like if she's 16, I give her the diary I wrote when I was 16!" I felt blood rush up to my cheeks, at a fact I hadn't shared with anyone. This had been my little secret till now, since it was embarrassing in a way.
I looked at him stare at me for a moment, and as expected, I saw him laugh out loud. His guffawing continued for a few moments. I didn't blame him. It was a very stupid thing, but still it was something I had always wanted to do.
"Sorry!" He said in between his laughs. I shrugged. "Munchkin I'm sorry, but'You know'Anyone would have laughed! I bet everyone who you said this to must have!" He chuckled a bit more.
"Armaan you're the only one who knows this. Because its with you that I want to spend my life with, grow old with, have babies with. And I'm not going to tell anyone else about this either! Its stupid, I know, not to mention incredibly far-fetched. But if there's anything I've dreamed about, its this!" I said earnestly and saw his smile falter. "I know you seem to think that I'm not sure of our relationship and that's why I'm still not referring to us as 'engaged', and I can't do anything about it. But, I do have dreams which I've woven since I was a child. Only difference, now I know who I want to be with to make all those come true." I gave him a small smile before turning back to the box and pulling out some other things.
I felt his hand on mine and turned to him, avoiding his eyes. He pulled me closer to him, soon pulling me on his lap and cupped my face, making me look at him.
"I won't lie to you Riddhima, but that was exactly what I thought. That you refused to wear the ring because you didn't trust our relationship." He said seriously. I sighed. "But now I can see what you meant. You're not unsure of our relationship. I can see that surety in your eyes. You're just that kind of a person aren't you?!" He was speaking more to himself than me. I knew that. But his gaze was still stuck on mine. "You always look for an adventure in everything. Something new to experience in everything that happens?" He was stating it but I nodded in affirmation to tell him he was right. "When I saw you for the first time after 9 years, at the beach, I thought I saw my 9-year-old best friend in your eyes!" He said softly, his breath kissing my face. I smiled at him as he said that. "And then, I found out it was you after all!" He smiled, his dimples showing. "Riddhima, that time, those first few initial days, I saw something in your eyes'." I looked at him questioningly. "Like you were looking for something. Like you were looking for a part of yourself, like you were looking for an adventure'I could understand your anxiety and excitement, but I couldn't understand why you were so hell bent on finding yourself a fairy-tale. But then, I realized that you indeed were still that 9-year-old girl who used to run behind me when I ran away with her book of fairy-tales. You're still that person! One curious little soul aren't you?" He grinned. I laughed with him. "I have to ask two things'" He continued. I looked at him expectantly. "Is that why you want to go slow in this relationship? Are you looking for some stupid, incredibly romantic fairy-tale in this as well?" He asked inquisitively.
I nodded and smiled. "Yes, I am! Because our love-story's been nothing short of a fairy-tale has it?" I asked winking at him. He shook his head, seconding my thoughts. "Next question?" I asked expectantly. He took a deep breath before continuing.
"Did you find what you were looking for?" He asked. I frowned, confused. "When you came to Cali. Did you find what you were looking for? Did you find your adventure? That part of you that you were looking for? Did you find your dream?" He asked me, his eyes boring into mine. I smiled looking at how desperate he was for the answers.
"Yeah..I did'I found my adventure. And as for my dream and that part of me I was looking for, well I'm looking at it right now!" I put my hands around his neck, snuggling closer to him, but not breaking our eye contact. I saw his dimples deepen.
He leaned in and captured my lips. His arms tightened their grip around me, pulling me closer to him, if that was possible. I ruffled his hair, suddenly overwhelmed at the passion bursting in my heart. Need of breath finally pulled us apart.
"Any more questions?" I asked, grinning at him. He shook his head, his dimples deepening.
"I feel like I know you a 100 times better than I did 10 minutes ago!" He laughed pulling me into a warm embrace. Sighing peacefully, I rested my head on his shoulder, hiding my head in his neck.
"Armaan?" I whispered.
"Hmm?" He replied.
"I love you!" I whispered, rubbing my nose along the side of his neck.
"I love you too Munchkin!" I could hear the smile in his voice. I felt him place a kiss on the top of my head. I looked back up at him, and blushed at how much I had revealed, or rather, how much he had revealed about myself in the last few minutes. Disentangling myself from him, I plopped back onto the floor, too embarrassed to say anything.
"Uh, Mum sent all my movie-collection as well!" I broke the ice after our heart-to-heart.
"Again, all Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan movies. Not to mention girly chick flicks. Please tell me you're not going to make me watch them!" He pleaded. I laughed and rolled my eyes. "Horror movies as well huh?" He asked holding up DVDs of The Ring, The Omen, Mirrors, in his hands.
"Don't worry, I won't make you watch those either!" I winked at him and saw him glare back.
"Hey, I'm human!" He argued, sulking. I kissed his cheek once and smiled.
"A very cute human at that!" I grinned at him.
"Riddhima, what's this?" He pulled out a long scarf-like thing from the box. My eyes widened. There goes another embarrassing secret. "Hey isn't this your blanky?" He asked waving it in my face.
"Uh'." I said uncertainly. I couldn't believe he still remembered that!
"It is! I remember annoying you by stealing it! You used to bawl your eyes out every time!" He guffawed like a jerk. "Mommy, Amaan took my blanky!" He imitated my voice. "You couldn't even pronounce my name that time! 'Amaan'! I remember that!" He laughed. I glared at him and snatched my precious blanky out of his cold hands.
"I was 3 Armaan! I had just started talking! Your name was difficult for a 3-year-old!" I argued, getting flustered.
"Whatever, why is this here anyway? Please don't tell me you still sleep with it! You didn't have it up till now these past 3 years in Cali!"
"I don't know why Mum's sent that! I lost the habit of sleeping with it when I came here!" I frowned.
"So you did sleep with it before you came here! Who the hell am I in love with?" He looked scandalized, but I knew better than to fall for his sick jokes.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh all you want!" I rolled my eyes. "And hey, look at this'There's an album here'" I picked up an old album. "I don't remember having this!" I frowned.
"Probably your Mum's sent it just like that!" He shrugged.
"I know why she sent it!" I smiled, looking at the pictures.
"Why?" He peeped in.
"Because they're pictures of us!" I said softly, looking at those old pictures.
"Is that us?" Armaan exclaimed. I nodded. I leaned back against his frame when I felt him move behind me, resting his chin on my shoulder.
There were all sorts of pictures, showing Armaan and me growing up together, with a tiny Rhea with us. From me in pig-tails, to Armaan in nothing besides a diaper and posing like superman, the photographs were telling us that we indeed had been best friends all our lives'.
"Look that's our first day of playschool! And I think that's our playschool teacher!" I gazed at the photograph and felt Armaan lean down on me to get a closer look.
"She was hot!" He whispered. I thumped his head, putting my arm around his neck. "Ow! Sorry!" He muttered. I rolled my eyes and continued scanning through the album.
"Aww, that's so adorable! Rhea will kill us if she sees it though!" I giggled at the photo in front of me. It had Armaan and me showing our teeth while Rhea was crying sitting in her baby-seat. "Aww, Armaan you were so cute!" I exclaimed, as I saw his naked picture, where he was grinning like a fool. I saw him snatch the album from my hand and continued laughing.
"I'm going to burn that one!" He muttered.
"No way!" I snatched the album back.
"Btw, Munchkin, if you want, I can give you a replay of this picture! I bet this time the 'cute' will turn to 'hot'!" He muttered huskily in my ear. But he had to try more than that to get me fazed!
"Self-obsessed as you are, I knew this was coming! So I'm just going to say, no comments!" I smirked at him and saw him grin.
"This album is priceless!" I sighed, hugging it to myself. I felt Armaan put his arms around me.
"It is!" He spoke into my hair. I knew where this was going to go, so I pulled out of his arms.
"Help me put all this in a better place!" I declared and heard him groan.
I began picking up the books first and placing them back in the box till I got a book case for them.
"Oh my God he's back again!" I jumped when I heard Armaan shout out loud.
"Armaan what the hell is wrong with you? And who's back?" I asked, lost.
"This Aakash moron! Riddhima you have his pictures everywhere!" He said angrily, holding up one of my diaries. I looked at the picture stuck on the page and smiled.
"Armaan that's not Aakas-" I stopped abruptly when I realized what I'd said. Armaan still thought the guy in the picture was Aakash.
"What'd you say?" He narrowed his eyes at me. I gulped.
"Nothing! Give me the book!" I tried taking my diary back from but he wouldn't give it.
"Riddhima who is he? You said he's not Aakash!" He asked again. I knew it was time for the truth.
"I guess its time you know!" I sighed feeling a weight on my heart.
"Time I know what?" He asked, frowning.
"This person in the picture is not Aakash'Its my cousin'Krish.." I mumbled. I knew I should stop at that, but I knew what was coming next.
"Oh my God that's Krish?" He exclaimed. I anticipated that reaction. "I can't recognise him! When was this?" He asked.
"When I was 17'He was just 19..." I mumbled. Armaan probably failed to notice my fallen face as he continued to wallow in his excitement.
"I barely remember him! I mean I just remember how much he and I used to annoy you together!" Armaan laughed. I smiled and nodded. "But I still hardly remember anything else about him!" Armaan sighed.
"You wouldn't! We were I think 6 when he Ananya Chachi and Chachu moved to India'" I sighed and saw him nod.
"He looks so different! Looks pale though! But still, he definitely looks like a different person, than what he was when he was 8!" Armaan laughed. I drew in a deep breath; I knew what was coming next.
"But one sec, why did you tell me he was Aakash then?" Armaan asked the expected question.
"I didn't tell you! You assumed!" I argued.
"But you didn't correct me either!" He frowned.
"You know, he hated Aakash just the way you do!" I laughed, remembering how Krish would curse the hell out of him. "For different reasons though!"
"Why did he hate Aakash?"
"Because he hurt me. When I told Krish about him cheating on me, he went ballistic. He swore he was going to punch the shit out of him!" I smiled at the memory.
"Did he?" Armaan asked.
"What?" I asked confused.
"Did he punch the shit out of Aakash?" Armaan asked.
"No!" I said sadly.
"Why not? This basta-I mean, the jerk deserved that!" Armaan scowled. I smiled. I knew if Armaan ever came across Aakash, he would surely punch him.
"Because Krish never got the chance. He passed away a week after that conversation'" I said quietly. The echo of the silence that surrounded the room parred Armaan's shock'I could tell from his silence that he was beyond stunned to hear that. I felt tears brim my eyes. I hadn't talked about this to anyone, not even my parents. It was still a raw wound, since it was unattended for so long. "He was the reason we shifted to India in the first place'Krish was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 12'We shifted to India so that Mum and Dad could be there for Chacha-Chachi'I always missed having a sibling'But Krish was more like a real brother to me anyway! He would go to school like any other kid, but on days he would be feeling too weak, he would skip. I would skip with him to keep him company through the day. He was my bestest friend! I trusted him more than anyone else in this world." My voice broke and I allowed myself to take a pause before continuing. I felt Armaan's arms surround me from the back and instantly let myself loose. I could lose control; my pillar was behind me to support me. I felt strength pump up and continued'
"He started with his chemo soon. He used to hate going to school at that time, because he was considered a monster there. Stupid psychopaths shunned him out. I used to feel pathetic seeing my own brother like that. I used fight with all those people who used to call him names. Mum and Dad were way worried about the way I was going. Krish told me to calm down and made me promise I wouldn't fight again. In return he promised he would do the fighting instead'And he did. The treatment was helping, his condition was better. He became extremely weak by the end of it, but the doctors thought they had him cured. We all were on top of the world. He was way over-the-moon'" I smiled, but it soon vanished when I remembered the relapse he had suffered shortly before my 17th birthday.
"But, we don't know how, he relapsed back, and this time, it took a lot of gruelling sessions of chemo to keep him stronger, but he was weakening anyway. He looked terrible by the end of it. That picture, he looks pale because he had just started with chemo at the time. He hated it, but we made him do it anyway. I made him do it. I couldn't even imagine what would happen if he-" I let out a sob. Armaan whispered a 'shush' and rubbed my back whilst I rested my head on his shoulder, snuggling closer into him. I hated going back into those days. They had been the worst days of my life, and I had always kept away from revealing them to anyone. But Armaan had to know.
"The last few days were bad. Krish had refused to see me, probably so I wouldn't see him in that condition. But I was still hurt when he just started pushing me away. His days would normally pass in the hospital anyway, so they decided to keep him there. I wasn't allowed to see him. But I had to, and once after I had a breakdown, Krish finally agreed to see me. He looked pathetic. I broke down again when I saw him. But he told me he didn't care. He was going to fight anyway because he'd promised me he would. And then I realized that he was still holding on because I told him to'And then I-" I broke off and hugged Armaan who kissed my head once and tightened his hold around me. "I told him to let go'And he did'" I cried the long impending tears that I had stopped over all these years. Armaan just held me, didn't share nay words of wisdom or sympathy like everyone had post-Krish's death, and for that, I was thankful to him. He understood I needed to cry it out.
"He was just going to celebrate his 21st b'day that year! And he couldn't! Because I told him to let go! First I told him to suffer and then I told him to let go when he was trying so hard! All that suffering was for nothing!" I clung to Armaan as if he was my life-support and wept, something I had wanted to do since so long. But this time I had someone I could rely on. My parents had been too busy consoling Chacha-Chachi, and although they tried talking to me about it, I always hid myself beneath a mask, never letting them inside. But with Armaan, it was unnecessary. He looked through all my masks anyway.
"Honey this wasn't your fault. He fought because he loved you Munchkin! He was your brother, he loved you! And you didn't make him suffer. In fact you gave him the moral support he needed to fight. And as for asking him to let go, Riddhima, you spared him long hours, days, maybe months of pain. He suffered a lot less baby!" He wiped my tears which just wouldn't stop. I looked into his eyes, which were anxious, worried, concerned, but most of all, filled with eons of love. Only for me. But I also found them questioning me. "Why didn't you tell me this Riddhima. Its been almost 4 years now and you kept this from me all these years'?" He asked, his tone suggested his hurt.
"I came to Cali approximately 6 months after it happened. I couldn't stand being there, I needed some time off where no one would talk about it, where no one would share their words of wisdom and tell me he's in a better place now'How can that be a better place? If it is, then people should readily be killing themselves! I was so annoyed with all that crap, I decided to come here as soon as I got my acceptance letter. Dad wasn't too happy, but I tried convincing, fighting, everything it took for him to send me here. And I came here, and all I wanted was a refuge. I didn't want to talk about it to anyone and I realized that you guys here had no idea about it. I think Mumma-Papa did, because they asked me about how Krish's family were dealing with it. I told them, and after that they didn't talk about it again. You, I doubt, even remembered him before today, and Rhea was way too small so she wouldn't know Krish'" I sighed, finally having let gone of all that pain.
"But still'You could have told me'Especially when I found his picture below your pillow!" Armaan asked softly.
"I know I could've, but I didn't want to'You remember my first night here? I was crying and told you I missed Mum and Dad?" I asked. Armaan nodded. "It was because of him I was crying. I missed him a whole lot so much! But after that I promised him and myself that I wouldn't cry. And I didn't. It remained buried. Until today. I never let anyone tread over this path. It was dangerous territory, and I hate crying like a helpless freak, and so I just buried it all'Never talked to anyone about it. When you found that picture, I was dismayed that I would have to talk about it. I just wasn't ready. But then I realized that you thought that that guy in the picture was Aakash, and so I played along. Of course, at that time I even wanted to see how you react. I loved seeing you get jealous." I smiled slightly and shrugged, my eyes now empty of all the water it possessed.
"Riddhima its not good to do that! This entire is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and you're supposed to do anything but bury it like that!" Armaan whispered, completely ignoring the latter part of what I'd said. I nodded.
"I know all that crap. But this was my way of dealing with it." I shrugged. I fell into his arms again and shut my eyes. I relaxed a little when I felt his arms around me, pulling me to himself. "Armaan?" I whispered. He looked down at me in response. I smiled at him slightly. "Thank you!" I placed my hand on his cheek. He kissed my palm once and whispered a 'For what?'. "For being there, for not asking too many questions and for listening without trying to be nice to me." He smiled and kissed my forehead.
"Always!" He murmured. I hugged him tighter.
Finally, after a gap of 4 whole years, I had finally let gone of something that had been drowned amidst everything that had happened over the past 4 years. I wondered if Krish had felt this relief when he had let gone, the relief I was feeling right now. If he had, then maybe, just maybe, I really had spared him longer days of torture. I smiled a little at the thought. Maybe he really was in a better place now'
"Munchkin, wherever he is right now, he's proud of you, and is going to smile at how happy you are!" I heard Armaan say and looked back up at him.
"I haven't done anything extraordinary as such to make him proud!" I mumbled slowly, and felt my heart sink again.
"You don't need to do extraordinary things to make someone you love proud of you! He's going to be proud of who you are today! Just like your parents, my parents'" He murmured. "And me'" He added. I smiled at him. "And I'm proud of myself as well, for falling for you Munchkin! You're perfect!" He smiled at me.
"Armaan!" I laughed. "You know I'm not! At least say something real and existent to make me feel better! At least don't lie so blatantly! I'm a package of imperfections!" I smiled.
"I meant you're perfect for me! If you would've been perfect for everyone, you wouldn't have chosen to fall for me right?" He winked at me. But this time, I corrected him.
"I would've chosen you anyway Armaan! If I'm perfect for you, you're perfect for me! Unlike everyone else I tried talking to, you just listened to me, let me cry it out. Anyone else would have stopped me, would have sympathized with me. And that's what I didn't want. And if there's anyone I've trusted so much after Krish, its you. I trust you even more than how much I trusted him." I kissed his cheek and remained in his embrace. "And for all of this you've given me, thank you!" I whispered.
"I'm always here baby! You're my Munchkin! You belong to me, so if I don't do all of this, who else? Don't consider yourself a catch. You were fortunate I fell for you, or no one would've risked being driven mad by being with you!" Armaan scoffed as my jaw dropped. And as it was, Armaan 'Peanuts' Mallik was back. We were back to square one.
Okay, so I changed the name of the chapter! The suggestion came from my friend! So I decided to name it that because it best summarised the entire chapter!
But thank you everyone for all your suggestions! Hehe, at least now I know my FF can get you guys thinking!
And as for the chapter! Well, now the mystery boy in the picture is no longer a mystery! I know its sort of depressing, but I had this planned all along! I hadn't planned for it to come out this way, nor had I planed for it to come out in this chapter! But it just...Slipped...! So, I hope that's one question of your's that is answered! Hope you liked the part though!
This part is complete for now! I might continue the next installment in this chapter itself, because I want the Vegas part to be another chapter! But I don't know yet, so I'm just going to declare it complete for now!
Please do comment and let me know! And please help me out with the chapter name!
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