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Chapter 18: My heart's a stereo
Armaan woke up to the sunlight streaming through the windows in the morning. He scrunched his eyes as the previous day's events flooded through his memory. He was so happy, so elevated to see Riddhima. The joy of her still caring about him was out of this world. He wanted this happiness, this elevation he got in his heart whenever they spent time together, whenever he saw love for him in his eyes. Suddenly, this was all he wanted right now. This was all that mattered to him. His heart has seen the worst kind of heartbreaks in life and he feared Riddhima would feel the same way had he involved her in his life. But his lonely heart was tired of running away. Running away from the fact that he loved her so much that he couldn't live without her and also by some miracle she felt the same way about him too. He could see it in her eyes, like he saw it yesterday. The huge weight he had in his heart finally felt lifted, like he was freed from being chained up for days. It all made sense to him, what Muskaan was telling him, what Riddhima always indicated to him, what Nikki always lectured him about. All those problems he predicted they would face if they got together in the future was highly a prediction, with no solid proof whatsoever. So why not take a chance at destiny, why not give his heart back the one thing it has truly craved for all his love. So he got out of bed in one stride as this epiphany dawned on him. He quickly showered and ran downstairs, to get Riddhima back, to get his life back.
"Riddhima how could you go alone Beta? You'l get lost, its very tricky to get to the clinic and Its not safe either. Wait I'll call Ramu again, wonder why he isn't picking up his phone", Dadi said while calling her driver once again on the phone. "Nahi Dadi. It's alright. I'll go by myself, besides I've been here before, so it shouldn't be much of a problem", she said trying to convince Dadi. "But Riddhima-", he was cut off my Armaan who came out of the Kitchen with a glance of orange Juice, "Good Morning Dadi, What's going on?", he asked eyeing Riddhima who was avoiding eye contact with him religiously. "Oh Good! Ammy, you remember the Hospital Clinic we have here. Can you go drop her off, the driver isn't here either and Bechari ko late ho raha ha", Dadi asked him. Riddhima panicked at her suggestion, "Nahi Dadi, Its okay Main chali jawungi", "Nahi Riddhima. Its not sage beta", she retaliated. Armaan grinned a little thinking this was the best chance to start his apology, so he jumped at the opportunity, "Ha…Miss. Riddhima. Please It's no trouble at all. I'll drop you off…kyu Dadi", he said suppressing his grin. She scowled at him a little for playing dirty and had no choice but to follow after him as Dadi sternly asked her to go. She went and sat next to him in the front and looked away, prepared to give him the silent treatment , come what may. Armaan grilled a little as he saw the scowl on her face, be it for a second he was able to get rid of the emptiness in her eyes.
He ket stealing glances at her as he drove, unable to decide how to start the conversation, but he remembered she reacted the most whenever they fought or whenever he irritated her, so he decided irritation it was. Atleast he'd get some response from her. "Waise Basket, Tum yahi kya kar rahi ho? Are you sure Mumbai won't be in a crisis if their favorite doctor left town for a while", he grinned at her to which she didn't respond at all. "how's Anjie and Atul". No Resonse Again. "Waise Tum chup chap bikul acchi nahi lagthi." She didn't respond yet again. So he kept firing statements at her. "I hope you haven't been beating up too many goons lately." "Your hair actually has a red tint to it. I didn't notice it before. Kyat um hair dye karti ho?" Riddhima just clenched her teeth as she heard his continuous rambling, "Ignore what he's saying" 'Ignore what he's saying", her mind kept chanting. Getting no response for her he went for the kill, "Waise Dr. Shruti kaisi hai? Did she ask about me? I actually-" "Enough Mr. Mallik. Agar app chup chap nahi bait sakte hain tho I'll get out right now", she said with her clenched teeth. BINGO! She responded, he knew she would which was exactly why he bought up dr. shruti. Oh how adorable she looked with that scowl on, how could he be so stupid to have ever left her and given so much pain. But that didn't matter now, because she was his number one priority, she has always been. He would shower her with so much love that every wound he gave her would heal away. He suppressed his smile seeing her scowl. "Arre Basket, I was just asking about DR-" "Enough Mr. Mallik. Firstly Mera naam Riddhima hain. Riddhima Gupta. And secondly I'm getting out right now if you don't stop talking", she threatened. The Dr. Shruti mention didn't go well with Riddhima, jealously spang through her veins as she involuntarily ignored the little advice her mind was giving her. "Kuch jalni ki smell nahi aa rahi." "STOP THE CAR! I don't want to listen to your nonsense Armaan. I'll jump out of the car if you don't stop", she screamed at him. Armaan jerked the car to a stop, "Fine Get out of the car! I don't like to listen to your screaming either", he teased. RIddhima's jaw dropped, forgetting all anger and pain for a moment, "You're asking me to get out? Fine I'll go! I don't even want to look at your face!", she turned getting out of the car only to realize she was in front of the clinic. Armaan swiftly took a u-turn and came near where Riddhima was standing, he rolled down his window and said, "Oyy Doctor! I know you want to spend more time with me, but tera clinic aa gaye", he winked as her jaw dropped again. "What rubbish! I just told you don't want to see your face", she said while turning away. "Its okay Basket, denial is the first step, but mooh tho band karo, warna macchar chale jayenge! Waise pehli bhi keh chukka hoon, but Mujhe sirf ek hi doctor ki specialities chahiye! And you know who that doctor is", he winked when she turned around, and drove away leaving a fuming Riddhima behind. She walked into the clinic muttering a million curses about him in her head. But she was also happy in a small corner of her heart about how he was trying to get her to talk, but then he left her. Right, 'he left you, he left you', she kept chanting in her head.
Riddhima had finished her lunch at the cafeteria after her long meeting with the clinic administrative and now she had some cases to attend to, as she stepped out of the cafeteria, her shoe stumbled upon a piece of paper stuck to the ground. She got a closer look at it and it read, "Dr. Basket please forgive me". And that was not it, what shocked her beyond her wits was that there was a trail of paper leading one after one with arrows and apology notes, leading her to one of the exits. She panicked and quickly followed out, unable to believe he would do something so crazy, what would happen if anyone in the hospital found out, she saw some nurses giggling at the notes as she discretely tried to follow it outside. When she got to one of the exit door, there was a huge heart shaped board outside decorated with her favorite pink roses, and it read, "I really mean it! Please forgive me!" She couldn't believe the fact he was doing all this. How could he expect her to forgive so easily, what did he want from her? That she would forgive him and that he'd leave her again, just like he left her. She didn't want to be played with again. But then her heart twisted at not taking him back, she wanted him back in her life. She loved him so much, but she couldn't endure another episode of the month she had endured when he had left. It'll be easier to let go, if she didn't even have a chance to hope again, the pain would be easier. She turned to go back when a another board to the side read, "I'll never leave you again", and her silly heart swelled up with hope, at the possibility maybe he wants to give it a shot for lifetime. But should she give in so easily? She was so confused. She wiped the tears that were beginning to form in her eyes and turned back to go inside, trying not to look at any of those papers. She busied herself in cases all throughout the day, when she got a call in her temporary office from Dadi. She told her Armaan would come pick her up at 5 and that she had to go for a bhajan at someone's house, she won't be back till ten in the night and that she should eat and go to sleep. Riddhima sighed at that, she didn't want to go back to the house, where she would be alone with Armaan, she was too exhausted, the past month's events taking a toll at her. She didn't want to go home with Armaan either, so after work, she asked someone if there was a bus that took her to Dadi's house and luckily there was a bus stop right next to the hospital. So she finished her work and went near the bus stop where there were people already waiting.
Armaan looked for her all over the hospital after paying the ward boys for putting up the papers for him. He felt sad when he saw Riddhima turn away from his apology messages and even worse when he saw her wiping her unshed tears, but he decided to not give up. He did leave her and she had every right to be angry with him. When the administrative told him, Riddhima had already left, he panicked. It wasn't safe for a girl to be alone at this time, especially when the house was twenty minutes away. He got out of the hospital and started to look for her when he saw her waiting at the bus stop, relief washed all over him. "Riddhima, Let's go! Dadi told me to pick you up he said", holding her hand. "haath chodo Armaan. I'm not coming anywhere with you. So it'd be better if you leave me and don't create a scene here", she added sternly. Armaan sighed, ofcourse she wasn't going to come with him, she was a stubborn girl and when she was angry god help him, but he couldn't leave let her go alone, moreover he didn't want to let her go alone, he just got her back and wanted to spend as muc time with her as possible, so he hatched up a plan. "Riddhima, please ghar chalo mere saath! I'm really sorry", he said a little loudly and two old aged ladies turned to look at them. "Fine If you're angry with me, then don't talk to me. But please don't leave me and go", he said and Riddhima just looked at him confused, what was he saying? "What happened beta?", one of the ladies asked him. "Aunty please tell her to come home with me, It's getting pretty dark and we live really far away", he said taking full opportunity of it. Riddhima just scowled at him, "Haa Beta, You should go with him. Jhagde tho hum sab ki hothe hai. IT doesn't mean you leave your husband and come out of the house", she said. Riddhima eyes widened at the word 'husband', but before she could say something Armaan interrupted her. "Haa RIddhima, listen to Aunty atleast. If not for me, atleast for the sake of our four kids, come back home. They've been crying since afternoon for you", he said trying to suppress laughing at her fuming face. He wiggled his eyebrows when the aunty told her to go. "Atleast go for your kids, they've been crying for you. Everyone Fights, but that doesn't mean you leave your house", an aunty told her. "yes, Beta go home to your husband and kids", another aunty encouraged her while Armaan just nodded with all of them innocently. The whole bus stop pushed Riddhima t go with him and she had no choice but to follow him to the car. She got into the car trying very hard to not scream at him while Armaan was doing somersaults in his head as she got in and tried very hard not to laugh at her face expressions. But when He saw that she was giving her deadly glare today and decided not to push his luck, lest she actually decided to eat him alive, so he just sat quiet and drove. "uhh, Riddhima! I actually need to go pick up a few things from the store near the beach, do you mind if…", he trailed off and she shook a 'no' without even sparing him a glance. He sighed and parked the car, "I'll be back in five minutes, don't worry or actually you can come with me if you want", he said, he knew she was afraid of being alone in the dark. "No thanks! Mr. Mallik! I'm fine without you", she said acidly and he sighed as he got out of the car and locked it. No matter how much he tried, the hurt of leaving her and the hurt of hurting her by leaving came back to him. Why god did he ever have to be so stupid? Riddhima closed her eyes giving up on everything as her head throbbed in pain. She tried to push every thought of him from her mind and leaned back in the seat, falling into a deep slumber.
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