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Reposted.For the lovely ladies...Tashu : Happy Belated Birthday babe <3 too late a gift, I know...but hope you like it, Love You <3 And Rhea ..Because I love you too <3
Part 19(B) : With you, not Without you
3rd August, 2002
(3.05 am in the morning)
"Armaan?", she was surprised.
Beyond words, he hugged her. He was sobbing slightly," I broke up with her..", were the only words she could make out of the jumbled voice.
Her mind went into a frenzy. she didn't know what to do, but could only feel his strong arms holding her tight, his breath close to her neck as he whispered within his sobs, and his voice vibrating in her mind. What did he mean by he broke with her? Nishi? He broke up with Nishi? But why the hell...?
Riddhima closed her eyes and controlled her thoughts, forcing herself to tear herself away from him. He had stopped sobbing now, and looked much better, although his eyes were still slightly reddish. He looked upset, and that was the only thing that made her feel a pang in her heart. He was upset that he'd broke up with Nishi. That means, he didn't want to break up with her. That means he reallu liked her. 'That means, he didn't come for you, Ridz', said her mind softly.
"Are you okay?", she asked gently, ignoring the little war going on insider her head.
He nodded, "Can I come in?", he asked in a small voice.
Thats when she noticed that they were still standing at the door. She nodded, and followed him inside after closing the door. He sat down and knotted his hands, and let out a deep breath. She cleared her throat.
"Yes...Hey, Basket. I'm so sorry-"
"That you spoiled my sleep? Don't worry, Armaan, I wasn't getting any sleep anyway. And..What are best friends for?", she smiled.
He returned the smile. She silently went to prepare the coffee, and felt too lazy to turn on the gas again. She just switched on the microwave, put the coffee, sugar and milk to the right amounts he loved, and started the microwave.
Her mind wandered. He still sat there, his head in his hands. She had never seen Armaan like that. He was so upset on breaking off with Nishi? Obviously, her mind said, she's close to him. Close enough to be special for him. 'But he said he didn't love her', she fought back. Riddhima held her head and massaged it with her fingers. The day already had been more hectic than she could take. First Rehaan, then this. She sighed.
The microwave beeped, and she jolted back to life. Silently pouring the coffee into the two cups, she wondered what he would say. What she would say. Would-
She let out a sudden hiss. She had spilled her coffee unto her finger, and the hot liquid was literally burning her skin. She let out the tap immediately, and blowed air into it. Better.
"Here.", she said, holding out the cup to him. He took it, and watched her sit down beside him.
They both took a sip first. After a short silence, he finally looked at her and said, "I broke up with Nishi."
"If you don't mind...", she hesitated,"May I ask you why?"
"Ofcourse. Thats why I'm here...to tell you. Basket, I'm not upset because...because I broke up with her. Trust me, I'm more than glad that it happened. Because I was fooling myself and her,thinking that we had a relationship. I...I never loved her. Its just that, I never talked so rudely with anyone I care before. And Nishi and I...we were always great friends. She's always been by my side, and I know that she has feelings for me. But the way I broke up with her...I can't believe I did it like that. She looked broken."
"What did you do Armaan?", she whispered, scared.
"After I left your house, I went to meet Nishi. She had called me urgently. To be frank, I didn't know what to do. My mind was so full of Rehaan, and you...and the way he hurt you, and that I wasn't there...I felt so frustrated. When I reached her, I didn't hear a word she said. She was upset again, I think because of her parents, or her brother drinking again. I...didn't do it intentionally, Basket. She caught me not responding, and thought that I,too...didn't love her like everyone else didn't. I was angry, Riddhima...and I told her that yes, I didn't. I told her that she should've understood that I was with you...and that was the time, she accused that you were more important to me than she was. I got way angrier. Basket I can tolerate anything, but not anyone saying wrong things about you. You have that place in my life which no one can take away. Never. And I told her that. We got into a fight...and..."
"And?", Riddhima realised she was holding her breath.
"And I called her selfish, and a attention-seeker. I didn't even realise what I was saying. The next thing I knew, she had tears in her eyes, and asked me if that was really what I thought. I was speechless, Basket. I tried to amend what I said, and then, the next thing I heard from her side was, 'Do you still think we're together?', and I...well, held my head, and whispered,'I guess we're over, Nish.'.."
"What?", she stood up, looking shocked, "Armaan she LOVES you! She really does, okay? Fine, you don't...but atleast you could've shown a little kindness? You know you hurt her so much?"
"I know. I know. And damn, that's exactly why I was crying. I feel like a idiot. Not an idiot, like an heartless creature. But I swear I didn't do it intentionally..."
His voice was shaking. She sighed and held his hand.
"Armaan...I understand, Okay? But I think you can sort this out. No, I'm not telling you to date her again. I'm just telling you to apologise. Try to talk, you know..."
"Yeah, but I just feel so guilty. I..."
She squeezed his hand once, " Ammu, its okay. You know how Rajeev uncle used to say, 'Whatever is meant to happen, will happen, and nothing can stop it?' So I guess, you should look at the better side of this."
He nodded,"Guess so. Thanks Basket. I just needed to let this out. And I'm sorry, again."
"Okay, Okay. I know. Now don't put in SRK's dialogue. "
She smiled. "Basket, get me more coffee, please?"
She rolled her eyes, "Okay."
She collected the cups, and went into the kitchen again. With a cup for him the second time, she sat down beside him, stirring the coffee. She was about to hand him the cup when she felt his head hitting her shoulder, and looked at him sleeping with his mouth slightly open. She smiled, knowing exactly why she loved him so much. Keeping the coffee aside, she shifted, and soon, they looked like a perfect couple, away in dreamland.
"OMEGOOOSSHH!", a loud voice startled her out of her sleep. Riddhima's eyes jolted open to see her cousin leaping wildly, still in her nightclothes, squealing in delight as she looked at them. She realized what a position she and Armaan were in. He flinched and put his head to the other side, while she quickly stood up and fixed herself.
"Nik...NIK!", She whispered urgently and pulled her to her room.
"God, Ridz! You DIDN'T TELL ME!", she accused.
"What didn't I tell you?"
"That you and Armaan are TOGETHERRR! Weee This is News! MuskiRahulAtulAbhiAnjie would be so excited! Oh but wait...has he broken up with Nish? OHMAN I so knew it. I TOLD YOU SO-"
"Shut up!",she cut her banter and scolded, "And Listen to me. Yes, Armaan did break up with Nish, in a fight...and he came home last night because he was upset and wanted to talk about it. But, WE ARE NOT TOGETHER. Because.", she huffed, "He doesn't love me."
Nikki paused to look at her cousin, and realised she was serious.
"Awh, no!", she said, disappointed, "Ridz, he DOES love you! I know that because after you, I know Armaan best! He just hasn't realised it yet, duffer. But why don't YOU make him realise that you two are meant to be together?"
" 'Why don't you make him realise that you're meant to be together?' ", she made a mock imitation of her cousin, "Niks come on! He's my best friend, above everything, Okay. I just don't want to complicate things further. I-...Ow. Shit."
"What?", Nikki said immediately, worried.
"Its that terrible headache again. Damn. I'm having these often, and it makes my vision blurry sometimes."
"I told you to get your eyes checked. I bet you've got power. Ridz, you're going today to Dr. Digvijay when we go to college, cool?"
"Yeah, but glasses..."
"Ridz.", she gave her a stern look.
"Okay, Okay, I'll go. Pakka.", Nikki smiled, satisfied.
Riddhima shook her head, thinking she should make some coffee, it always made her headaches less. Coffee...that reminded her, Armaan! She'd left him sleeping in the sofa in her living room! She went straight to the living room, to find no Armaan there. She looked around half-confused, and half-worried, because she knew, when Armaan was upset, he could do anything paranoid. Then she noticed a note lying on the table, adorned with his familiar handwriting.
Basket, Good Morning :)
Don't worry I'm fine (I mean this, I actually feel so much better, thanks to you), and I've not become Mr.India or something (haha). I've gone home, I heard you were talking to Nikki, and Ma had called, so I went home without telling you that I was going. Think I'm gonna get into trouble :P
See ya in college
She sighed at the note and murmured 'Good morning Armaan' to herself. She turned to go towards the kitchen. Loads to do today.
Nishita kept walking with her head bowed, not caring where she was going. Her mind was full of thoughts, it actually pained after crying so much the last night. She was never going to forget the previous night. What was she thinking when she accused Armaan like that? She understood he was upset right from when she saw him, and still? She knew he didn't love her. Ofcourse she was special to him, he had always taken care of her...but did that have to mean he loved her? 'No', came a soft reply from her mind. And she also knew that he loved Riddhima, she was meant for him right from the start, he just hadn't realised it.
But selfish, attention-seeker? Was she really becoming that? 'Maybe yes, thats why everyone hates you', she told herself. She never wanted to come in anybody's way. But was it really her fault- that she fell in love with a guy who didn't love her back, that she had parents who didn't give a shit about her, that she had a brother who loved her to death, but came home drunk everyday, leading to his health detoriating? She didn't know.
"Nish!", she heard a voice and looked up, halting. She knew who it was.
Afraid to look back, she figdeted with her bag, and the end of her top. She hadn't even cared what she was wearing. Or whether her hair was okay, and whether the puffiness of her eyes had gone.
"Nish.", he was panting as he took her name, and halted.Hesitantly, she looked back.
"Can we...um, talk?", he said as carefully as possible.
She just glanced at him, and nodded.
At the canteen, she noticed as he knotted his fingers and rubbed them constantly, and looked here and there, maybe trying to say something. She knew Armaan, he wanted to apologise. But personally, she had no strength to ask him. After a long pause, he sighed.
"I'm sorry, Nish.", he started softly. She looked up at him now.
"No, um, let me say.", he said, his eyes closed, "I was angry yesterday. And trust me, it was not because of you. It was because of this guy...Actually leave that. Whatever I said, yesterday, I swear it was unintentional. I wasn't in my senses. After I told you all that, I regretted it the second moment. Almost the whole night I wanted to apologise, but I couldn't muster up courage. I'm really...really sorry. You are...", he let out a breath, "You really matter to me, you know that right? And I don't think of you a word of those things I told you last night.", he paused.
Nishi felt herself relaxing. She knew deep down that he was telling the truth, his eyes just reflected that. Somehow more than half of her burden had lessened just listening to her. She was happy- atleast she mattered to him. Thats what was important to her.
"I forgive you.", she said gently.
"Wha- Really?", he asked, surprised, his eyes twinkling with hope.
"Yes, Armaan. Really. I think I always knew you didn't love me.", she ended softly.
"You don't have to explain anything Armaan. Our breakup would happen anyway, and it happened. But have you really understood why you got so angry last night?"
He looked at her silently, his brows furrowed in confusion.
"Because I told you that you give more time to Riddhima than to me." He nodded silently.
"Armaan I'm not angry with you, seriously. But I don't understand how you're being foolish. You really don't understand what she means to you?"
"Ofcourse she's very special, she is my best-"
"You Love her.", she cut her off, and he looked at her shocked.
"Ya, Armaan. Obviously. You two,...you were like, always meant to be together. She loves you, and maybe she's realised it too, but you...can't you see how much you love Her?"
"Nish I don't get you. I mean yeah, we're very close...but that doesn't mean anything. She's just my best friend!", he protested.
"You really think...that just best friends remember each other for 9 years so vividly, just best friends go crazzy when the other is not there, just best friends crave for each other to spend a day alone? Just best friends go mad for that one smile on the other's face, just best friends pretend to be a secret admirer, and just best friends tell each other all the time that they'll be together forever?"
He was speechless. She was partly right, maybe fully. He consiously thought,'Thank God Nish doesn't know how I love Basket's eyes, and when she touches me, I feel electricity-type thing- Oh Wait. Crap Armaan. Crap.' He looked at her in shock, and he smiled back.
"You Love Her, Armaan. And don't think I'm forcing you. I'm telling you what you already feel, just that you're going to realise it soon. I hope so.", saying this, she got up to go.
He sat there, thinking over random moments. He held his head in his hands. What should he do? Luckily, he knew the answer. Atleast the person who could help him find it.
He had never thought he would be nervous to ring the doorbell of his own house. Actually, not nervous. It was more like restlessness. This restlessness, he remember fuzzily, he'd felt when Riddhima had left Shimla. Unknowningly, a small smile crept up his face...It was weird, and in a way comforting, how his 'Basket' was present in every thought of his. But could it really be-
He stopped thinking at the click of the door opening. His mother stood at the door,her one hand holding her dupatta, which had flour stains on it. He couldn't help grinning at the way she looked at him. When he'd come in, she asked immediately, "What are you doing at home so early? Ammu its just-"
"I know, Ma.", he held her by the shoulders, "But today is Saturday, and we don't have much classes anyways due to the fest practise.", he paused, and his voice grew a tone graver, "I needed to ask you something."
His mother raised her eyebrows. She knew her son was rarely serious, and when he really was, she could read it in his eyes. She could, this time as well. But there was this thing in his voice- he wasn't upset. Not the way he was when he'd come back the previous night after breaking up with his girlfriend. Somehow she was relieved, because she knew he hadn't loved her anyway. But today when he came back from Riddhima's house, he had this glow on his face, which made her ask no questions to him.
"What is it?", she asked cautiously.
"Sit down first.", he said, and made her sit down on the sofa, and plumped himself down beside her.
"I...had a talk with Nish.",he said hesistantly.
"She said she was okay with the fact that we'd broken up...that she expected it anyway, and she said something else too..."
He knotted his fingers, and his mother's eyes followed the movement. "What did she say Armaan?"
He was silent, and she saw he gulped silently three times in a row.
"Mum,How do you understand that you're in love?", he asked after a long pause.
She was surprised, "What?"
"Answer the question na, Ma..."
She smiled secretively at him and said, "Well, I don't really know. My mother said that, whenever you look at the other person and you can picturise your whole future with him/her at that very moment, you know you've found true love. Whenever you are with the person, and you suddenly feel that you'd be the luckiest person in the whole world if he/she would always with you, then you're definetely in love with that person. I don't know if what me mother said is true. Although, it worked for me. Thats how I found Rajeev.", she ended softly.
He knotted his fingers together, and looked at them, "Ma..", he said softly, "Do you think, Riddhima is my future? I mean...", he trailed off, only to look at his mother's knowingly-smile face.
"I want this to be fully true. I don't want it to be a desicion taken in the flow-of-the-moment. Ma, if its Riddhima, and if its love...It..just has to be Forever."
"I can't say whether you'll stay together forever, but there's one thing I have to say- If someone's going to be your life partner, she has to be your friend first. A very good friend...who can accept you even with your flaws, who understands you, loves you, cares for you, and scolds you also, if necessary. If you ask me, in your life...there is no one like that but Riddhima."
He didn't know why, but his heart was thumping. It was a happy-exciting-sad-overwhelming-nervous kind of feeling, with all the emotions warming his heart, and he found himself closing his eyes, and looking at her face, her hair flying as it danced with the wind. Does it really happen that way? He thought of Rahul, and the way he looked at Muskaan sometimes, with his eyes soft, and says, 'I Love her, man. Just the way she is.'...And suddenly, he felt he could say the same.
He opened his eyes, and saw his mother smiling at him. Beyond words, he hugged her. "Thanks Ma.", he said softly.
"But wait.", he left her, suprised at the sudden change of tone, "Ammu...one thing that irks me, is that you didn't ask me even once about what I think of Riddhima's feelings. Have you thought about her?"
He shifted in his place, and cleared his throat, "Actually Ma...about that. Yesterday, I overheard her saying to someone that she loves me...I was stunned, and couldn't believe it myself...and maybe that's why I was so disturbed. But there's one thing I significantly remember...Something in her voice told me she wasn't lying, and today the feeling is even stronger after the way she handled me last night...I guess I needed her."
"Costumes?", she looked up at him.
"Well er...they're confused about the dance bit. The girls are kinda arguing."
She gave an exasperated look,"Not check,then. What about guests?"
"All done, just needs Princy's approval."
"What!", she spat out, holding her file away,"Its still not done?When are you planning to do it anyway? Next fest? RAHUL!"
"Sorry, I er- em.."
"When will you confirm the guests if you haven't taken the approval? And who the hell is going to tell the guests a huge 'NO' if the Princy disapproves?", she held her head, "Go. Go now.", she said, and Rahul scuttled away before he had to hear anything further.
She walked ahead, and stopped near a stall. Nikkita sat arranging the list of names, and her phone, looking from one to another with full concentration. Sensing someone standing, she looked up.
"Hey Ridz.", she gave a small smile.
"All colleges have got the invite, Nik? And have they sent you the confirmation officially?"
Nikki's brows furrowed,"Uh..Well,yeah, almost. Invites have been sent to all, some pending confirmations are there,one or two. I'm just,", she moved her hands to show the list,"arranging the list of the performances of all days."
"Okay.", Riddhima gave her a light pat, and a smile, and moved forward.
"Ridzi!", she heard her cousin call from behind, and moved back to her.
"Hm?", she asked, eyebrows raised.
"Did you go to Dr.Digvijay yesterday?", she asked suspisiciously.
She gave a sheepish smile, and Nikki's eyes narrowed, "Go right now,Riddhima Gupta, otherwise I'm telling Armaan.And then you know whats gonna happen."
Riddhima rolled her eyes,"He'll know anyway.", she said dryily.
"Ridz.",Nikki's voice told her that she was serious about it, and she nodded, guestering she would go.
Thinking of Armaan...she thought why he hadn't turned up yet. He wasn't this late. Yesterday, he behaved all strange. Not really strange,he just looked different. Like he was looking at her differently, when he said she looked good in her blue kurti (he always said that,though), like he was talking in a all together different manner when he was bidding her a good night...Or she was overthinking.
"Riddhima.",startled, she came back to earth, and saw her classmate, Gautam, all tensed up.
"Gautam, what happened?", she asked concerned.
"The people with the background just called.They won't do our fest background desigining.They've cancelled the deal!"
"WHAT?", she nearly shouted, her mind spinning,"Oh no no no no. How could they?They promised! They can't just...say no at the Last Moment!!"
"I know.",he shouted as tense as she felt,"They're saying they've got another project to do,and thats on the same deadline. They're getting more money for that project, so. I've got a huge argument with them, but nothing worked out."
"Hey Basket!",she heard Armaan's voice and then noticed him walk up to her,a smile on his face. He'd shaved, and looked so good in that soothing light-green shirt, she felt she could faint.
"Armaan.Where were you!", she said, half-relieved, and half-angry.
"Sorry.", he looked so, "But what happened?", he asked, concerned.
She went on to explain everything, Gautam filling in the details.Armaan's brows knitted together for a while, and he thought while rubbing his chin, and then finally said,
"Gautam, do you think we can get paints?"
"Yeah sure!",the other said brightly,"That'll be cheaper in our bugdet anyway, and since we're not paying the designers, we'll get it. And within maybe one hour or two."
"Great. Then go get someone,and go to the paint shop. I'll text you the colours.", he nodded and hurried off.
"Armaan what are you thinking?Possibly not..."
He grinned,"Exactly. We're gonna design it. Don't worry,I'll ask the seniors to help, afterall it's their fest too. And we'll be better in doing the design, since we know exactly what we want. Plus, time's less, so we wouldn't get any other designer anyway. Money,time saved.", he said in one go, answering all her unasked questions.
Riddhima couldn't held but smile at him. He could be so lovable at times.
"And hey, we match.",he smiled as if he was proud of it. She looked down to see herself in a light green kurti she'd picked randomly today, and blue jeans.
"Hey, Miss wondering. We've got work to do!", he said, and laughed.
He smiled to himself. She had to admit, like all others, that the painted background looked like heaven. They'd made three huge backgrounds, and painted half the props, within 3 hours 30 minutes of strenous work, with second, third and first year students, even the participants included, doing the backgrounds, and props respectively. It was a HUGE achievement. Like Huge. Armaan prayed that this time their college fest should be the best in Mumbai.
The whole of the painting time, he couldn't keep his eyes off her. Like she looked like...he couldn't compare it with any other thing, or someone else. She looked just his Basket, who he adored, loved, and cared for like he did for no one else. The paint stained her cheeks sometimes, and they way they shared a eyelock when he removed the paint, or the way she laughed, her laugh ringing in his ears when there was red paint on his nose, or the way he hesistantly put forward his hand to remove the strand of hair that had fallen on her face, and the way he felt as if the flutter in his heart was shared by hers as her cheeks pinked, those moments were something he wished he could have a 'rewind button' for. He just knew he loved her. So did Nikki and the others. Muskaan came over and asked him directly anyway, since they were noticing him...and he couldn't lie. It was like practically everyone knew that he loved her...only he was the idiot right there who couldn't realise it earlier.
He sighed, picking up his bag.He had go pickup Riddhima from the market, she said she had some work and left early. Something with her eyes. And he was relieved in a way. That girl needed a little break, she'd worked so much from the morning, even before he'd come to college.
As he moved out of the auditorium, closing the door, and then to the corridoor, he saw people grinning up at him. Okay, Armaan Mallik was used to attention, but this much? He narrowed his eyes in confusion, and then started walking.
"Congrats Man.", said a guy.
"Thanks, but why-", before he could complete, the guy had patted his shoulder, grinned, and left.
What the hell?
"Hey Armaan.Heard it all. I'm really happy for you dude."
"Good going Armaan!Congo dude!"
The girls too,"Guess it happened for the better! You two are just MEANT for each other."
"Wohhoo Armaan. Congo man!"
But nobody told him why they were congratulating him. His head was spinning. He just looked at the backs of people confused,stupefied, who looked back, and grinned/giggled at him.What the hell was happening?
"Armaan!", he looked forward to see his senior, Tanya, smiling up at him. She went forward and hugged him.
"I'm SOOO happy for you. Congrats!", she said enthusiastically.
"But WHY?", he said, louder than he wanted it to sound. It was almost a pleading kind of tone, and Tanya looked surprised.
"Why?Armaan!", she laughed, hitting his arm,"Don't act innocent!"
"I'm not..trust me.", he continued in his pleading tone,"Seriously. Tell me...Why is everyone in the college congratulating me?!"
She kept one hand on her hip,"Seriously. Okay.", she raised a hand and shook her head,"Its because you love Ridzi, and you're gonna tell her soon."
"Ya,I- what? How the hell do you know?", he said, stunned. 'My God, am I so predictable?',he thought dimly.
Tanya rolled her eyes,"Uh,come on. The whole college knows. Your friends told us."
"Friends?", his voice rose to an octave, and he paused,"Can you specify which friends?"
"Yeah, Rahul,Atul,Abhimanyu.", she said non-chalantly,"and in case you're looking for them...they're at the canteen.", she grinned a knowing smile at him and walked off. Armaan called a 'Thanks!' after her, and stalked to the canteen, fuming.
There the three boys he was looking for, were arguing over a video game. He couldn't believe how impossible these three could be. As soon as he approached them, and they noticed him, they looked at each other, gulped, and grinned widely at Armaan, a 'we-are-so-innocent' kind of smile.
"Who said it?", he came straight to the point. The three immediately pointed to each other.
Armaan closed his eyes,"Don't make me hit you. Who said it?"
Rahul stood up,"Okay, listen. Don't freak out. We didn't mean to...actually, we were discussing about you and Ridzi, and we were like so happy that you FINALLY realised that you love her, and then Atul came over, and heard it and was so excited that he shouted out,'ARMAAN LOVES RIDZI! FINALLY!' And the whole canteen looked up.Thats what happened.", he sighed.
"Great. Now the whole college knows. Thanks Kameeno.", he clenched his teeth at his three idiot friends.
"We swear we didn't do it on purpose. Its because you were all lost in the fest decorations and all, and we saw that picture of you and Ridz, so you know...", Rahul said.
"Wait. Picture? What Picture are you talking about?"
Abhi suddenly started half-hiccuping,half-laughing in a weird way. "My Girlfriend.",he raised his eyebrows and said proudly.
Armaan frowned,"Okay so you guys saw Nikki's photo, and you guys guessed that I love Riddhima?"
"Arrey no Armaan. See this.", Atul waved away, and grabbed Abhi's phone.
"Abbey oye!",Abhi protested at once, and got three 'Dare-you-got-a-problem' kinda look,"Fine.",he grumbled.
Atul found the picture he was looking for and showed it to Armaan. He looked at it intently, and unintentionally started wondering how beautiful the picture was. Their hands were interwined, his head was on her shoulder, and hers on his, and both had a light smile on their faces. He wondered how Nikki had managed to capture a perfect shot like this, when she would literally be dancing with excitement. He couldn't help but smile.
Finally, he looked up,"Can I keep this?"
The three boys looked at each other, then back at him,and grinned. "Rakhle,Rakhle beta...kuch din baad shaadi ki photo bhi rakhega.", Rahul said, and got a playful punch on his arm.
Armaan quickly saved the photo and excused himself, for he had to pickup his lady love.
He pursed his lips and waited impatiently, checking his watch. First of all, he was confused about why Riddhima had asked him to wait outside a optical store. Second,she was late. Third,he hadn't seen her for a long time. Fourth,he missed her...You get the point. He shook his leg,and almost started to bite his nails, when a sharp voice came from behind him.
"No nail biting Armaan!Bad habit!"
He knew the voice too well, but waited for her to come round to the passenger seat.
"Where were you? And why the hell am I waiting outside a optical store? Is everything okay? And whats that in your hand?", he said it in one go, pointing to the packet in her hand.
Riddhima raised her hand,"Chill. Really. I went to Dr.Digvijay, then I got these fruits, and then I came to the optical store.", he started to open his mouth,"Wait. Let me finish.", he closed his mouth and nodded,"Um, well. I've been having his headaches lately, especially when I study late at night, or in low light. Nikki literally pestered me to death, till I came here to Dr.Digvijay to check my power. I do have power, +1, and since its for near vision...Dr.Digvijay said it wouldn't be much of a problem. However, he suggested that I should wear my glasses almost all the time for about 2-3 months, after that I could only need them for studying purposes.",she finished.
"Why didn't you tell me?", he wanted to know.
"I did...now.", she shrugged.
"Okay so...where are your glasses?", he had already started peeking into the plastics.
She shook her head like she already knew that he'd ask that question, and brought out the glasses to show him. Although she hated it...she had to admit it was a cute frame. It was fully rimmed, thin, and purple in colour.
"Hey, these are really nice. Come on, wear them!", he said excitedly and tried to push it on her nose.
"Uh,Armaan...Wait!", she said frowning. She put her other packets on the back seat, and put the glasses on.
"Happy now?", she said.
Armaan held his chin,looked sideways, and finally smiled.
"Nice.Very nice. You look so cute, Basket.", he laughed and pulled her cheeks.
She groaned, "I look so ugly in these glasses, like a buddhi. Everyone's going to hate me."
"You really think your friends are gonna jugde you on a frame of glasses? Basket Really..."
"I don't know. I'm going to feel so out of place. Like everyone out there is so beautiful. I was toh un-beautiful aise hi, now its like..."
"Wait. What? You think you're...Un-beautiful?", he said, cupping her face into his palms.
"You're the most beautiful girl I know...", he said meaningfully.
Suddenly she was aware how close their faces were. Sparks went down her spine, and all she could think of was, Armaan was this close to her. Her Armaan. Armaan.
"Armaan...", she whispered.
"No matter what, I'm going to love you in every form of yours...", he said without thinking.
And thats when her mind stopped reacting, as her heart screamed, 'WHAT!' in half-confusion, and half-joy.For a long time, neither did she stop gazing at his face, nor did he remove his eyes from hers. Her heart was suddenly racing, and she felt she could almost cry. Oh how badly she had wanted to hear this from him! But could he really...Really..?
He suddenly jolted back to present, and realized he had gone far beyond what he should have. Hesitating with himself, he sat straight and adjusted his position, and quickly started the engine. She sat there baffled, not knowing how to react, or better, how to say anything. It was getting so awkward.But still, she had to know.
"Uhm, I...just...er,remembered. Mom asked for...um, errands.I'll drop you home..um,then I'll come."
"Shouldn't get late.",he cut her off, and she knotted her fingers, not wanting to increase the tension. He didn't speak a word on the way to her house. She felt so awkward, although she couldn't help but admit that the moment, that feeling that transpired...It was the most beautiful thing ever. And somehow, she knew the answer to the question she wanted to ask. It was almost obvious, she could feel the truth behind that words when he said he loved her. This time, unlike all other times,it was like the words did have a deeper meaning than that was expressed. He did love her. And not just like a friend.
But the whole thing had turned so strange. Why couldn't he tell her properly? Or was he scared? She was almost tempted to tell her that she loved him too. How much, he couldn't even begin to imagine. But what if he didn't mean what she was thinking? There were loads of ifs and buts. She just had to understand what the whole thing was about. Because if there was nothing, she could live with it, but she couldn't let her friendship with Armaan go down the drain. She wanted and needed him as a friend much more than anything else. Her best friend.
She could feel his tension and hesitation, as his fingers impatiently and nervously tapped on the steering wheel, and didn't say anything. Somehow it had hurt her, it was almost like he'd left her stranded on a island alone with everything but himself. She sighed to herself as she noticed him look at her the umteempth time from the corner of her eyes.
"We're home.", he said.
She turned to collect her things, and closed the door behind. She had started to walk already, with that terrible sinking feeling irking her constantly. 'Just call me back once, Armaan...Just once.', she thought desperatly with closed eyes.
"Basket!",she heard him call, and her heart raced again, she couldn't just stop the smile that reached her face. She turned quickly.
He was standing half-outside the car, and slowly, nervously, waved. "Good night! Just had to say this!", he smiled.
Her heart sank,"Night,Armaan.", she muttered and walked off.
It had been the worst two days of his life. He'd never felt so guilty, so helpless, and at the same time, so angry at himself. He couldn't believe that he'd said all that...after everything that he thought he'd say! And after that..Errands? That was the most pathetic gateway ever. For the first time since he knew her, it was awkward with her. Awkward. With Riddhima. His Basket. His Best friend. What the hell had he got himself into?
And to top the cake, she was totally avoiding him. There were vague replies to his texts, 'I'm busy', reply to his calls, and changing topics infront of him from the last two days.He hadn't dropped her home, or picked her up. He hadn't gone to the beach or had ice-cream. He couldn't understand what she was going through...Shit, ofcourse she was going through hell. He had just left her hanging, and till now, he hadn't had the courage to admit to her that whatever he said that day was true, every word of it.
But now, sitting in the auditorium, and watching her work like a maniac, going over everything like for the fourth or fifth time, mechanically, made him guiltier. He could see it in her very walk that she wasn't okay. She was far from okay. The worst bit was, he was the reason. Urgh, he felt like the worst person in the world. The most foolish, coward person. And he just had to talk to her today.
The practices finished within an hour, and slowly he and Riddhima bid everyone goodbye, remonding them once again of their duties. He half-smiled at his friends who patted his shoulder and left. At last, only he, Riddhima and Raghav were in the room, packing up.
"Hey, Raghav...have you seen Nikki?", she asked, wrapping up the papers on the stage carefully.
"Yeah, she went home early, she didn't feel well.", came his voice from the backstage.
Riddhima held her head,"Oh, yeah. She told me.", she bit her lips, paused, and yelled again,"Raghav, can you please drop me home? I guess Nikki took the car."
Armaan stiffened, realising suddenly how much she hated him. He just had to tell her, right now, or never. It was almost suffocating how she had plainly ignored him. Meanwhile, Raghav entered the stage,"Yeah, okay."
"Uhm, Raghav, you go ahead. I'll drop her.", Armaan quickly put in.
"You sure?", he asked.
"Yeah. You go ahead.", he saw her open her mouth to protest, but quickly glared at her.
They saw Raghav leave, and she turned to him.
"He could have dropped me,Armaan. His house was on the same lane."
"So is mine.", he stated slowly.
"Armaan please. Anyways you have loads to do all the time right? Errands maybe?", she turned away,"Anyways, fine. I'll get a cab."
She started to leave, but stopped when he held her hand. "What?", she asked without turning.
"We need to talk."
"No, we don't. Atleast I don't want to."
"Look at me,Basket. Once. Please.", she closed her eyes, sighed, and turned back.
"Go ahead. I'll just listen. Not talk."
He smiled slightly,"Thank you."
There was a pause, after which he started,"Basket, I...I've been feeling terrible since the last two days. You're not talking to me, clearly avoiding me. And even if you had been talking, I would've felt this guilty, and this angry at myself anyway. Its..its a terrible,horrible feeling. I know that you've got every right to be angry , and that day, whatever I said...Its bound to hurt you since you knew that I was just making up an excuse. But Riddhima..", he slowly held her hand,"I had to tell you that...every word, that I said that day...was true. And...Incomplete.", he paused again.
She felt her eyes welling up. Once she knew how much it hurt to avoid him. And finally, he was saying everything that she wanted him to say. And it all felt so right, his hand warmed up in hers, she could feel her heartbeats racing, like his. She waited patiently, controlling the urge to hug him.
"I wanted to say a lot more. Like you're not just the most beautiful person I know. You're a part of me. I just can't do without you. I feel like shit when you aren't around, and when you are, I feel like heaven. You're my best friend, my guide, my ..mess-manager. My Emergency hotline. I amn't bragging when I say that you're practically everything I would ever, ever want in life...ever need in life. I amn't bragging when I say that you're that part of the puzzle that was missing all along in my life. And I certainly amn't lying when I say...that I..", his eyes met hers,"That I love you. So much."
She stood there speechless. She could never imgaine that Armaan would be saying all that to her, that too, in such a beautiful way. Letting her tear flow, she pulled his hand towards him, and hugged him. His hands went around her waist at once, like he was embracing her for the last time. She held on tighter to his neck, and whispered slowly,"I was so angry at you. And I'm sorry...it was terrible having to avoid you. But all I wanted...was to hear that you loved me."
She felt him kiss her hair,"I do. I really do."
"I do too.", she whispered again, hiding her face in the crane of his neck.
He pulled out,and said,"Hey, thats not fair. I gave such a huge speech, and all you say is 'I do too'? Thats so unfair.", he made a face.
Riddhima laughed lightly,"I'll say it...but on one condition. You're going to be my best friend first, then anything else."
He grinned in a knowing,naughty way,"What else?"
"Armaan!", she blushed and hit his shoulder, sinking into his arms again.
He laughed,"Yeah, ok. Promise. Now say it."
"Love you.", she muttered.
He silently kissed her forehead,"I do too."
Muskaan had to come out of the kitchen. She couldn't stop coughing, and she didn't have that much energy to go into the kitchen again for water. With every cough, she felt dizzier, and weaker. Her footsteps were scattered,uncoordinated. She coughed again, this time feeling like she couldn't even open her eyes. Walking incoherently, she felt her sofa...
And she no longer feel the anything else, except that she was hitting the cold black marble floor.
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Joined: 16 March 2009
NOTEGuys, this is just to apologise to you. I haven't been busy since I've been back from Dubai,I admit that. And I also have to tell you, that I had finished writing this part on 18th. Call it bad luck or coincidence, my house suffered a short circuit that night, and we were in complete darkness for two nights before the line was secured. Then I discovered that my modem's adapter is burnt off, and so my Dad's in a process to get a nw modem...yes, you got it right, it hasn't been fixed. I'm really sorry to keep you waiting, esp. Rhea, Tashu, Radhu, Anamika...people who always support me. I'm sorry.Also, the next part of Believe is half-written, and I will be able to update it only after my modem's fixed. So sorry for that delay as well. This update is from my brother's lent plug-to-serve, so you can thank him all you want. Sorry for boring you, and making you wait. Love you always <3 For people who are waiting for PMs, it'll be after my Believe update. Soweyy, but I don't want to bother my Dad, that's it :) Thanks for waiting guys <3
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