Armaan was at the basketball court, searching for someone.
"Yaar ye champ kahaan reh gaya? Baat toh aise kar raha tha jaise yahaan koi marr raha ho. Abhi khudka koi thikaana hi nahi hai", he said, getting agitated wirh every passing second.
While waiting for Atul, he took a second to look around the place.
Thousands of memories flooded him. This place was very special to him. It was here that he had met Riddhima for the first time. Riddhima, his love, his life, his everything. He wanted to see her beautiful face again, feel her arms around him when she hugged him, feel her pressed against his body as he held her close, and see her beautiful smile, her expressive eyes. He wanted his Basket.
He was thinking about Riddhima, when he felt the air pick up a speed and he started having a tingling feeling in his stomach, tell tale signs that his Riddhima was near. He could feel her around him, in the air. He turned towards the entrance of the court and was surprised.
It really was Riddhima in front of him! He couldn't believe his eyes. He was seeing her after 10 long months. All this time he wanted to see her face, look into her eyes to see the love in them, feel her arms around him and take her in his arms! She had only gotten more beautiful with time. He couldn't remember a time where she looked more beautiful than now! He just stood there, admiring her beauty.
Riddhima was shocked to see Armaan in front of her. Her Armaan whom she had been waiting for, for so long. She knew that one day he would come back for her. It was the reason why she hadn't married Sid even after so much pressure from her family. And, he was finally here. She took a moment to bask in triumph of her love.
Both of them were just staring at each other, not able to believe that the other was finally in front of them. Unbidden, tears started falling from their eyes on seeing the love of their life after such a long separation.
Riddhima moved forward slowly, savoring the moment. When she reached Armaan, she tentatively raised her hand and brushed Armaan's cheek. Armaan eagerly leaned into her touch.
The feel of her skin on his after so long sent Armaan's heart beating in overdrive. Still, he was hesitating as he didn't know if Riddhima had forgiven him or not. He wanted to take her in his arms & never let go but somehow he controlled himself. Riddhima on the other hand had no such qualms and throw herself against him, wanting to feel his arms around her.
As soon as she was in his arms she was home. She felt happy, content and at peace. All her worries vanished and she felt that void in her chest fill after 10 months. But she still needed to make sure she wasn't dreaming and he was really here. So, she started kissing any and every part of him she could reach. His arm, his chest, his shoulder, his collarbone, his chin.
Seeing as Riddhima was uninhibited, Armaan returned her kisses along her cheek, neck, collar bone and any inch of her face he could find. The two lovers spent sometime like this, reassuring the other of their presence.
"I love you, Armaan", Riddhima said.
Armaan's face lit up on hearing this and a huge smile adorned his face.
"I love you too, Basket", he replied. The smile that graced her face on hearing him say that could have put the actors in toothpaste ads to shame! Those words were music to her ears. She had been dieing to hear them from him since the day she had woken up after the shootout.
"Ab mujhe kabhi chod kar nahi jaaoge na?" she asked.
"Kabhi nahi", he answered.
"Nahi Armaan promise karo, mujhe ab kabhi nahi chodkar jaaoge. Agar tumhe lage ki mere liye tumhaara jaana hi sahi hai tab bhi nahi. Jaise tumne abhi kiya, ab fir kabhi nahi karoge ", she explained.
"Main aisa waada kaise kar sakta hu? Agar meri wajah se tumhe kuch bhi pareshaani hogi toh achcha yahi hoga na ki main chale jaoo...?" he was interrupted in between as Riddhima kept her hand on his mouth. She shook her head no and Armaan kissed her hand before removing it from his mouth and continuing, "tum samajh nahi rahi ho Riddhima..."
"Nahi tum nahi samajh rahe ho. Agar tumhaari jagah main hoti Aur mujhe kuch hone waala hota Toh Kya tum chaahte ki main chale jau?" she questioned.
Armaan said no without even giving it a thought.
"Toh ussi tarah main bhi nahi chaahti ki tum chale hai", Riddhima explained to him.
"Theek hai, theek hai. Zyada hero mat bano", Armaan joked.
Riddhima bought her hand forward and asked him again, "Promise?"
"Promise", he replied, keeping his hand atop of hers, "Magar tum promise karo ki tum bhi mujhe kabhi chod kar nahi jaaogi."
Riddhima bought her other hand to cover both their hands and said, "Promise."
And then they hugged each other tightly.
After a while they were sitting on the stands of the court with Riddhima in Armaan's lap and her head on his shoulder with Armaan's head atop of hers. They were talking about the dreadful 10 months they spent without each other.
"Pata hai Riddhima, main bohot darr gaya tha. Mujhe apni baaki zindagi ek paagal ki tarah nahi guzaarni thi. Panchgani mein mere doctors ne mujhe Canada bheja, for treatment. Toh main wahan chala gaya. Magar anjaan jagah, anjaan log dekhakr main bohot seham gaya tha. Aur kuch waqt ke baad toh treatments se bhi kuch farak nahi pad raha tha. Isliye main wahaan se India waapas aa gaya. Socha ki jitne din hai, un gareeb gaonwaalo ki madad kardu. Har din sirf tumhaare baare mein sochta tha. Aur bohot rota tha ye sochkar ki ab toh Meri Riddhima is duniya mein mujhse sabse zyada nafrat karti hogi", he shuddered to even think about it.
Riddhima put her hand on his mouth to stop him. She then said, "Aisa phir kabhi mat sochna. Main tumse kabhi nafrat kar hi nahi sakti", saying so she kissed his cheek.
Armaan was shocked by the sudden affection, but grinned anyway and kissed her forehead.
And then he continued, "Par fir tum wahaan aayi, mujhe dhoondte hue. Aur mujhe pata chala ki tum ab bhi mujhse pyaar karti ho. Woh din meri zindagi mein sabse khushi ka din tha. Tumhe andaaza bhi nahi hai ki uss din tumhe wahan chodkar jaana kitna mushkil tha mere liye", Armaan was saying.
"Toh fir gaye kyu?" she asked.
"Agar main us waqt nahi jaata toh tum mujhe jaane nahi deti. Tumhaare jaane ke baad maine decide kiya ki firse treatment karau. Mujhe tumhaare paas waapas aana thana. Ab jab mujhe pata chala ki tum mera intezaar kar rahi ho toh jald se jald theek hona chahta tha. Aur dekho ab tumhaare saamne hu", he finished with tears in his eyes. Riddhima was crying too.
"Ab hamesha mere saamne hi rehna", she said and he nodded happily.
"In 10 mahino mein tumne kya kiya Riddhima? Main sab kuch jann na chahta hu", he said.
"Maine? Tumhaare jaane ke baad kuch time ke liye toh mujhe yakeen hi nahi hua. Mujhe laga ki tum mere saath phirse koi prank khel rahe ho. Par fir jab tum mujhse 3 din tak milne hi nahi aaye, tab yakeen ho gaya ki tum sachmuch jaa chuke ho", she said.
Armaan felt guilty and immediately started to apologise, "Basket I'm so..."
But he didn't get to complete as Riddhima put her fingers on his lips.
"It's okay Armaan. Maine tumhe kaha na. Ab jab mujhe tumhaare jaane ki asli wajah pata hai, toh maine tumhe maaf kiya. Balki main sochti hu ki main kitni lucky hu ki tum mujhse itna pyaar karte ho ki meri khushi ke liye kuch bhi kar sakte ho. Magar ab yaad rakhna ki meri khushi sirf tumhaare saath hai."
Riddhima took a deep breath before continuing, "Doctors ne bohot alag treatments try kiye, but jab kuch nahi hua toh sabne maan liya ki main chal nahi paungi. Magar Rahul nahi. Usse vishwaas tha ki main theek ho sakti hu. Isliye woh mujhe apne saath le gaya and wahaan London mein meri treatment karaayi. Uski mom bohot successful orthopaedic surgeon hai. Unki treatment se main kuch mahino mein theek ho gayi. Is sab mein Rahul ne meri bohot help ki. Agar woh nahi hota toh pata nahi main kya karti", she said.
Armaan was having mixed emotions about this. On one hand, he was happy that someone had been there to help Riddhima through the toughest phase of her life. On the other, he was sad that it wasn't him. He had vowed to be by her side forever and he had left her when she needed him the most. He felt guilty about this.
Riddhima could see his inner turmoil and very well knew the reason behind it. So she tried to make the mood lighter, "Pata hai, main aur Aunty ne na milkar Rahul ko bohot pareshaan kiya. Har roz koi na koi nayi shararat karti thi main usse irritate karne. Hospital ki ek nurse ko uspe crush tha, toh maine usse keh diya ki Rahul ko bhi woh bohot pasand hai. Toh woh saara time uske peeche padi rehti thi, Sister Lovely ki tarah", she finished laughing.
It worked. Armaan started laughing as well.
"Us Rahul ki toh shakal dekhne waali hogi!" he exclaimed.
After laughing for a few minutes he asked Riddhima to continue.
She wasn't sure how he would handle what was ahead. She didn't want him to be bitter towards her dad for trying to get her to marry Sid.
Armaan could sense the uneasiness from her and said, "Kya hua Riddhima? Tum itni uncomfortable kyu lag rahi ho?"
"Armaan jo hua woh tumhe kaise batau samajh nahi aa raha", she said.
"Aisa kya hua tha Riddhima? Tum theek hona? Kisine tumhe kuch kiya? Batao mujhe..." he said, trying to comfort her.
"Par promise karo tum papa se gussa nahi hoge", she said.
Armaan was confused as to why he would be angry at Dr.Shashank but nodded anyways.
"Fir main Rahul aur Aunty ke saath London mein rehne lagi. Yahaan waapas nahi aana chaahti thi. Par papa ke bohot force karne pe main aa gayi and then Sanjeevani bhi join kar liya. But, woh Dr.Siddhant ke saath kuch problems ho gaye. Toh mujhe sabak sikhaane woh raat ko mere kamre mein aaya jab main so rahi thi and humaari ek hi bed pe soye hue pictures le li", she said.
Armaan was furious to hear this! That bas***d. He was going to kill him!
"Woh kamina! Usko toh main batata hu! Besharam kahin ka, woh kaise kar sakta hai kisike saath aisa, tumhare saath aisa! Aur uske ye sab karne ke baad bhi Dr. Shashank ne usse yahaan rehne diya?" he fumed in anger.
"Armaan...shhh...bas bas it's Ok", Riddhima said, hugging him tight.
They stayed like this for a while, not uttering a word. Armaan started to calm down in her embrace, breathing her in.
Seeing that he was more or less calm now, Riddhima continued, "Un photos ki wajah se Sanjeevani mein sab tarah ki tarah ki baatein karne lage and dad ko bhi pata chal gaya and he was disappointed in me, jabki unhe saari sachai nahi pata thi. Ussi waqt mujhe tumhaare baare mein pata chala aur fir is baat par mere aur papa ke beech problems badh gaye. Jab mujhe pata chala ki tum mujhse ab bhi pyaar karte ho mujhe sirf tumhe dhoondna tha. Isliye main aur Atul tumhe dhoondne nikal gaye. Us din jab tum woh letter chod gaye toh Atul mujhe waapas le aaya. Jab main yahaan aayi toh dekha ki papa ne meri aur Sid ki shaadi fix kardi thi", she gave him time to digest the news.
Armaan was flabbergasted. He didn't know what to say! His hold on Riddhima tightened automatically, never wanting to let her go. He buried his face in her hair and inhaled deeply. He was trying to stop the tears from falling but after a few tries, he gave up.
When he raised his head, Riddhima was shocked to see him crying.
"Armaan", she asked questioningly.
She wiped his tears and hugged him hard.
"Main sirf tumhaari hu, aur kisiki nahi. I love you",she said.
A hundred watt smile appeared on his face and he hugged her again and kissed her forehead, before replying, "I love you, too."
She then continued, "But of course, maine saaf manaa kar diya. Bohot tamaasha hua, but finally papa meri baat maan gaye. Bohot baar kaha sabne, ki koi faayda nahi hoga. Ki main apna time waste kar rahi hu. Tum waapas nahi aaoge. But mujhe yakeen tha ki Mera Armaan mere paas waapas zaroor aayega. Aur dekho, tum aa gaye. I love you", she said.
"I love you, too", he replied.
And then Riddhima hugged him like there was no tomorrow.
Armaan was really happy that Riddhima wasn't shying away from physical contact now.
But their moment was ruined when Armaan's pager buzzed, "Arre yaar, is pager ko ab bhi mujhse problem hai", Armaan said exasperated.
Riddhima just laughed and pulled him up with her to go.
And the eagerly awaited for chapter is finally here!
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In other news, I had my company's annual event today, and the host was Samir Kochhar!!! OMG! That guy is hot!!! Obviously not Karan hot, but hot nonetheless! And he was standing not 2 feet away from me!! AAAHHH! Feeling so smug! :P
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