The New Year Party.
The next few days passed in a blur of work. The Goa trip was scheduled for the 10th of Jan and the gang had to finish up all their work before that. So, they were pulling extra hours and shifts, covering for other doctors now so that they could cover for the gang when they went on vacation.
The interns really cribbed about the long hours, not accustomed to such gruelling work schedules, but plodded through because they knew that they wouldn't get to go on vacation if they didn't work now.
With all the work, the gang hadn't gotten time to actually hang out and chill like they did, but what little time they did have together was dominated by talks of Armaan and Riddhima's potential engagement. Ever since Armaan had admitted to having the ring, excitement had been rife within the gang and they were excitedly anticipating the day it finally happened. Any chance they got, they would corner Armaan and interrogate him, but he refused to say a word, which was making them agitated, especially because it was so difficult for them to keep this from Riddhima. Muskaan had already almost slipped several times, but thankfully, someone would always arrive at the right moment and handle the conversation before Muskaan blurted it all out.
This was making Riddhima a little suspicious and she had aired her doubts in front of Armaan, stating that she knew he was planning something, and something huge by the looks of it and asked him to come clean immediately. Armaan had denied everything and told her that he thought that Muskaan had finally lost it because she was in a happy relationship with Rahul now. Or maybe the excitement of the trip was getting to her (Muskaan). He assured her that he wasn't planning anything at all. After a long interrogation, Riddhima finally let it go.
But, the others bore the brunt of that one conversation as Armaan lectured them all to keep their mouths shut or he'd uninvite everyone from the wedding, whenever it happened, no matter what anyone said. Knowing that Armaan was capable of doing that, everyone had kept their mouths tightly shut after that and Muskaan had been on the receiving end of a lot of hateful glares post said lecture.
Thankfully, things had settled since then and Riddhima had also written it off as excitement from Muskaan and forgotten about the whole thing. Armaan had been extremely relieved when that happened. His surprise was a go and he was absolutely, completely, wholly excited for it.
The morning of 7th Jan, Riddhima woke up to a room full of flowers. All kinds and colours of them. It was like a florist's shop inside her room.
She looked around, absolutely surprised. She was definitely not expecting something like this today, so she kept wondering as to why Armaan had done this. Because, of course, it was Armaan who had done this. Who else would such a thing for her? And, more importantly, how had he done it? As far as Riddhima knew her dad, he wouldn't have allowed this, even if he was incredibly fond of Armaan.
But, more than that, Riddhima was extremely surprised that Armaan hadn't stuck around to see her reaction to those flowers first thing in the morning. It was so unlike him!
She fumbled around the bed, removing the comforter from her body, to get up and take a closer look when her fingers found a piece of paper. She hastily snatched it up and opened the red envelope to see a handwritten note from Armaan.
Happy Anniversary, my love.
Phool dekhke zyada surprise mat hona. Mujhe pata hai, tum phir bhool gayi hogi, toh tumhe yaad dila du, ki aaj ke din hi, 3 saal pehle, tumne mujhse pehli baar apne pyaar ka izhaar kiya tha.
I know, right! 3 saal! Kitna time ho gaya hai, lekin kabhi kabhi lagta hai ki kal ki hi baat toh thi, jab wahaan OPD mein tumne 100 baar I Hate You bolke finally, ek baar I Love You bol hi diya.
And, I want to celebrate! Itna bada din hai. 3 saal ho gaye humein ek saath, toh celebration toh bannti hai! Ab, tum naatak mat karna. Hospital mein maine baat karli hai aur ghar pe bhi permission leli hai, so no excuses.
Waise toh main ruk kar tumhe khud wish karna chaahta tha, aur tumhaara reaction bhi dekhna chaahta tha, lekin hospital mein emergency hai toh mujhe jaana pad raha hai. But, hum hospital mein milenge. Breakfast karke mat aana, I'm waiting for you.
Aur haan, please woh dress pehen ke aana jo maine side table pe rakhi hai.
I love you so much, baby. Yeh 1,068 flowers, each for everyday we've been together, even when we weren't. Thank you for coming in my life and making it so beautiful.
Happy Anniversary once again. Aur please, jaldi aaona! I'm really missing you!
Tumhaara Armaan <3
Riddhima read and re-read the letter several times, tears prickling in her eyes at the memories that accosted her. Every moment she'd spent with Armaan had been beautiful, but the day she'd expressed her feelings for the first time had been special, because that's when their journey really began. They had been pussyfooting around each other for weeks before Riddhima found the courage to finally admit it out loud that she loved Armaan and since then, her life had been beautiful.
It hadn't been perfect. There had been a lot of ups and downs, but through it all, Armaan had been an unwavering constant by her side, guiding her and protecting her and loving her. And for that, she was extremely grateful.
Today, it was 3 years to the day and she couldn't believe it had been so long. It really did feel like it all started yesterday. With Armaan, each day had been full of immense love and boundless happiness. She couldn't wait for the rest of her life, knowing that Armaan would be there through it all.
She got out of bed and unwrapped the gift on her bedside table.
It wasn't what she usually wore to work, but she couldn't deny that she absolutely loved it. So, she quickly took a shower and tried it on.
Then, she walked to the flower arrangements and sat there, admiring them for a long time. She smelt them and caressed them, feeling the smooth petals beneath her fingers and sighed. They were all so gorgeous. Not wanting to forget this gesture, Riddhima picked a flower of each type and found a wooden chest to keep them in.
Once she was done, she rushed out of her room, wanting to reach the hospital quickly, knowing that Armaan was waiting for her over breakfast.
"Uth gayi, Riddhima? Chal, aaja. Naashta karle," Padma called her daughter.
"Nahi, Maa. Mujhe late ho gaya hai. Main hospital jaa rahi hu. Aap Di ko utha dena time se," Riddhima answered.
"Anjali toh kabki jaa chuki. Usse subah page aaya tha last minute shift cover karne. Toh chali gayi," Padma informed her.
"Okay! Main bhi jaa rahi hu ab! Byeee!" Riddhima shouted, rushing out the door.
Padma shared a look with Shashank and they both laughed. "Dono ki dono bilkul ek jaisi hai," Padma commented. "Har roz subah aise hi jaldi jaldi mein nikal jaati hai. 10 minute jaldi uthne mein kya jaata hai? Kamse kam naashta toh achche se karke jaaye."
"Rehne do, Padma. Yeh dono nahi sudharne wali. Waise Dr. Keerti batati hai mujhe ki yeh saare dost milke Sanjeevani ke cafe mein nasshta kar lete hai, break ke waqt," Shashank answered, placating his wife.
Riddhima smiled widely as she stepped into Sanjeevani today. She couldn't wait to see Armaan. She needed to give him a tight hug to thank him for the flowers. Maybe a kiss or two if he behaved.
She was walking along the corridor when an arm pulled her into the fire escape. Riddhima smiled knowingly and wasted no time in wrapping her arms around Armaan.
"I love you," she mumbled into his shoulder.
"I love you, too," Armaan replied, kissing her neck.
Riddhima made no move to step away from the hug, which surprised Armaan.
"Kya baat hai? Aaj bada pyaar aa raha hai?" He asked, teasing.
Riddhima smiled. "You're the best," she answered, hugging him tighter and kissing his cheek. "Thank you for the flowers. And the outfit."
Armaan smiled. "Dekhne toh do, kitni achchi lag rahi ho in kapdo mein," he whined, pulling away from the hug, which caused Riddhima to pout.
"Absolutely breathtaking," Armaan told her, looking straight into her eyes. Riddhima blushed.
"Armaan!" She scolded, turning around to hide her blush.
Armaan chuckled softly and hugged her from behind, nuzzling his nose in her neck and placing a soft kiss there.
"Hmmm, you smell so good," he told her, breathing her hair in. The scent was absolutely intoxicating.
"Armaan!" Riddhima breathed, her voice cracking at the sensations running through her body.
Armaan pulled back slightly and turned Riddhima in his arms so that she was facing him.
Riddhima grinned and stood on her tiptoes, placing her lips on Armaan's for a soft kiss. They kissed slowly for a few minutes before Armaan deepened the kiss and tightened his arms around Riddhima, pulling her body flush against his.
When it got necessary for them to breathe, Armaan pulled back and peppered kisses all over her face and neck, mumbling sweet nothings in between each kiss, revelling in Riddhima's soft moans and heavy breathing.
They were brought out of their daze by the ringing of Armaan's pager.
"Kya, yaar! Pyaar ka dushman!" Armaan moaned, pulling away.
Riddhima laughed softly. "Hum hospital kaam karne aate hai, Dr. Mallik, romance karne nahi. Jaiye."
"Klik," Armaan clicked his tongue.
"Armaan, baby, emergency hogi na," Riddhima tried to explain. Armaan sighed and opened his pager.
"No emergency! Thank God!" Armaan replied. "Bas Abhi hai. He's been harassing me since morning. Nikki aur uski kuch ladai ho gayi hai."
"Oh no! Is everything okay?" Riddhima asked, worried.
"It's all good. Bas woh kuch zyada hi overprotective ho raha hai aur Nikki ab irritate ho chuki hai," Armaan told her.
Riddhima sighed. "Paagal hai yeh ladki. Maine usse kaha tha ki main Abhi se baat kar lungi. Jhagda na kare. Lekin yeh sunnti hi nahi hai! Kya karu main iska?"
"Tum chodo na. Woh Moody handle kar lega. After all uski biwi hai. Kaise manana hai usse pata hona chahiye," Armaan answered.
"Lekin Armaan..." Riddhima tried to say something but was cut off.
"Kuch lekin wekin nahi. Chalo breakfast karte hai. Bohot bhook lagi hai," he whined.
"Okay, chalo," Riddhima agreed, taking her hand in his and moving out of the fire escape.
She was surprised when Armaan made no move to follow her.
"Armaan, breakfast nahi karna?" She asked.
"Karna haina," Armaan replied.
"Toh chalo, cafeteria chalte hain," she told him.
"No way! Unn sab kabab mein haddiyon ke beech? No thanks! Hum wahaan jaake baithenge nahi ki koi aa jaayega disturb karne," Armaan said.
"Toh kahaan?" Riddhima asked.
"Chalo na, bahaar chalte hain. Yahaan paas mein haina cafe, wahin pe. Jaldi waapas aa jaayenge," Armaan suggested.
"Theek hai, chalo," Riddhima agreed.
Armaan grinned and guided Riddhima out. Since the cafe was only a 10 minute walk from the hospital, they decided to walk instead of taking the car, wanting to spend more time together.
Riddhima grinned at Armaan's eagerness on being alone as they walked down the road, hand in hand. He was continuously blabbering about something or the other, making her laugh. He looked so freaking happy that Riddhima couldn't help but bask in it.
When they reached the cafe, Riddhima was surprised to see that it was empty because it was almost always packed with a ton of people at any given time.
"Armaan, yahaan log kyu nahi hai?" She asked.
"Maine kaha tha na, aaj no kabab mein haddis," Armaan answered.
"WHAT?!" Riddhima exclaimed. "Don't tell me tumne poora cafe book kar liya!"
Armaan smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of his neck. "Uhhh... Agar tum nahi chaahti toh main nahi kahunga, lekin maine sach mein poora cafe book kiya hai."
"Tum poore paagal ho. Pata haina tumhe?" She asked, shaking her head fondly.
Armaan shrugged. "Pata hai. Tum din mein kamse kam 100 baar kehti ho. Chaahu bhi toh nahi bhool sakta."
"Baby, you're so cute!" Riddhima told him, pulling one of his cheeks and kissing the other.
"Ab chalein kya? Mujhe bohot bhook lagi hai," Armaan whined.
They shared a hearty breakfast with all their favourite food, feeding each other and just messing around. It was the most relaxed either of them had felt in days.
After eating, they reluctantly made their way back to the hospital, reaching just in time for their duties to start.
"Waah, Ridzy! Aaj badi tota lag rahi hai," Muskaan wolf whistled on seeing Riddhima. The couple had just entered the locker room where the others were chilling before they had to work.
Riddhima blushed. "Kya Muski!" She moaned.
"Arre, sach bol rahi hu. Aaj badi hot lag rahi hai," Muskaan insisted. "Haina Nikki?" She turned to Nikki for a second opinion.
Nikki nodded eagerly. "Aaj badi achchi lag rahi hai, Ridzy. Seriously."
Riddhima blushed even deeper.
"Waise, baat kya hai?" Atul asked. "Ridz, waise toh tune aise kapde kabhi nahi pehne duty pe."
Seeing that Riddhima was getting embarrassed by their constant stream of questions and knowing it would be even worse if they found out that he'd gifted it to her, Armaan came to her rescue.
"Tumlog kyu itna interest le rahe ho? Usse itna taadne ki zaroorat nahi hai," Armaan announced.
"Lo aa gaye humaare possessive aashiq," Muskaan taunted.
"Seriously, Armaan. Hum toh bas usse compliment de rahe the. Ab tujhe usme bhi problem hai?" Nikki asked. "Tu na, ek kaam kar, usse band karde ek kamre mein aur chaabi kisiko mat de. Tere alawa usse koi baat bhi nahi kar paayega."
"Nikki! Rehne dena," Riddhima interrupted. Since Armaan had been pampering her so much since morning, she wasn't liking all this teasing from their friends.
"Hayye, Nikki! Yahaan toh aag dono jagah barabar ki lagi hai," Muskaan laughed.
"Haan, bhai. Aaj badi tarafdaari ho rahi hai Armaan ki. Baat kya hai?" Rahul asked.
"Tumlog chaahte kya ho, yaar? Matlab, jab hum ladte hai toh bhi tum logon ko problem hoti hai. Ab aaj hum saath saath reh rahe hai toh bhi tumlogon ko issue hai. Chaahte kya ho?" Armaan cribbed.
"Bhadakta kya hai, yaar. Hum toh bas mazaak kar rahe hain," Atul pouted. "Ek toh aaj tum dono saath mein itne achche dikh rahe ho toh tumlogon ko compliment diya. Phir bhi tujhe problem hai."
Riddhima laughed at his cuteness and hugged him. "You're cho cute!" She exclaimed, pulling his cheeks. "Thank you, Atul."
Everyone's pagers rang then, and they all got to work, but Armaan still managed to steal a quick kiss and hug before rushing off to his duty.
When lunch rolled around, Riddhima was given a sophisticated looking invite by one of the kids from the Childrens' Ward, inviting her to lunch at the terrace.
"Yeh Armaan bhi na, ekdum paagal hai! Pata nahi kya kya karta rehta hai!" Riddhima muttered to herself, walking towards the terrace.
"Kyu? Ab kya kiya usne?" Abhi asked.
He'd been walking down the corridor and heard Riddhima muttering to herself, so stopped to ask her if everything was fine.
Riddhima shook her head and showed him the invite.
"Waah! Badi pampering ho rahi hai aaj? Baat kya hai?" Abhi teased.
Reading the invite carefully, he asked, "Kaunsi anniversary hai? Humein bhi toh pata chale."
Riddhima blushed. "Ku... Kuch nahi, Abhi. Tumhe pata haina. Armaan toh kuch bhi karta rehta hai."
"Aise kaise? Itna blush kar rahi ho. Kuch toh hai," Abhi insisted.
"Kya chal raha hai?" Rahul asked, seeing the two talking in the middle of the hallway.
Abhi immediately showed him the invite.
"Hayyyeee! Bada romantic ho raha hai, Armaan! Kaunsi anniversary hai aaj?" Rahul asked.
"Yahi toh main pooch raha hu," Abhi said. "Lekin yeh toh kuch bol hi nahi rahi."
"Tum dono ko kuch kaam nahi hai kya? Jabse mujhe interrogate kar rahe ho! Jao na. Aur mujhe bhi jaane do," Riddhima scolded.
"Kyu? Kahaan jaane mein late ho rahi hai? Armaan ke paas?" Rahul teased.
"Rahul," Riddhima warned.
"Arre, kya Rahul? Main toh bas generally pooch raha hu. Uske paas hi jaa rahi haina?" Rahul asked.
"Main kahin bhi jau, tujhe kya? Aur yeh mujhe waapas de," she demanded the invite back.
"Ab Armaan ke diye hue paper se bhi doori bardaasht nahi hoti? Kya pyaar hai!" Rahul continued teasing.
"Rahul! Bas kar ab. Bohot ho raha hai," Riddhima said. "Invite waapas de aur jaa apna kaam kar."
"Nahi deta. Kya kar legi?" Rahul dared.
"Tujhe toh main..." Riddhima advanced towards him, but he threw the invite towards Abhi and made a run for it. Riddhima chased Abhi, who, mindful of his reputation in the hospital, gave the invite to her without much prompting. He really did want to tease her and had they been somewhere else, Abhi definitely would have given her a hard time before giving it back, but unlike his crazy platoon of friends, he had rep to protect. He couldn't be seen running around Sanjeevani like a schoolboy.
"Thanks, Abhi!" Riddhima exclaimed, giving him a quick hug.
Abhi grinned in response and chuckled as he saw her skip to the terrace.
Anjali, Muskaan, Nikki & Atul were all sitting in the cafeteria, waiting for the others to get there for lunch when Abhi & Rahul arrived.
"Lo, aa gaye yeh dono bhi! Kitna time lagaate ho, yaar! Kitni bhook lag rahi hai!" Muskaan cribbed.
"Tujhe toh hamesha hi bhook lagti hai, Muskaan. Isme naya kya hai?" Rahul taunted.
"Dekh, Rahul, tu mera mood mat kharab kar. Waise hi kabse tumhaara wait kar rahe hain!" Muskaan scolded.
"Aur yeh Ridz aur Armaan kahaan reh gaye?" Atul whined. "Ab tak toh aa jaana chahiye tha."
Rahul & Abhi looked at each other and smirked.
"Woh dono nahi aa rahe aaj," Abhi announced.
"Kyu, unn dono ko bhook nahi lagti kya?" Atul asked.
"Samjha kar, Champ. Aaj woh dono ki special wali lunch date hai," Rahul answered.
"What? Aaj achaanak? Kyu?" Nikki asked.
"Some anniversary," Abhi said. "Humne Riddhima se poochne ki koshish ki, lekin usne kuch bola hi nahi. Tumlogon ko toh pata hai woh kaisi shy hai."
"Anniversary?" Anjali wondered. "Kis cheez ki?"
Rahul & Abhi shrugged.
"Guys! Aaj Armaan aur Riddhima ke liye special hai. Kahin Armaan aaj hi toh?" Nikki exclaimed suddenly.
"OH MY GOD! YES!" The rest of the gang echoed.
"Pata karna padega! Muskaan said. "Chalo, chalte hain."
The gang all tiptoed to the terrace to spy on our happy couple.
[Continued...]Edited by DMGThings - 3 years ago
Riddhima opened the door to the terrace and was pleasantly surprised to see the table settings for two.
The table was set in the middle of the terrace surrounded by a canopy of flowing curtains. The tabletop was adorned with a beautiful centerpiece and cutlery. Soft music was playing in the background.
[Imagine such a setting, but without candles and on the terrace instead of the beach.]
"Armaan?" Riddhima called softly, not wanting to spoil the peace of the setting.
As if waiting for her to call him, Armaan appeared, hugging Riddhima. "Hi, Basket!" He greeted her, kissing her forehead.
"Hi," Riddhima whispered. "This is absolutely beautiful, Armaan. I love it."
Armaan grinned in response. "Ready?" He asked.
Riddhima nodded her ascent. Armaan looped his arm through Riddhima's and walked her to the canopy. He pulled a chair out for her and helped her sit in it. Then, he kissed the top of her head and sat in the other chair beside her.
"So romantic!" Nikki whispered, tearing up a little. The gang was hiding behind the entrance of the terrace and watching them.
"I know!" Muskaan agreed. "Rahul, tu aisa kyu nahi hai?"
"Main beech mein kahaan se aa gaya?" Rahul moaned.
"Tu hi toh aayega. Ab Armaan toh yeh sab mere liye nahi karega na. Tujhe hi karna padega. Sadly. Lekin tu kahaan itna romantic aur thoughtful hai," Muskaan complained.
"Arre lekin..." Rahul tried to defend himself.
"Rehne de, Muski," Nikki interrupted. "Hum sab Ridzy jaise lucky thodi hai."
"Aisa kyu keh rahi ho?" Abhi asked.
"Tum toh rehne hi do, Dr. Modi. I'm not interested in talking to you!" Nikki snapped. "Kabhi tumne aise mere liye date plan ki? Nahi! Bas saara din kaam, kaam, kaam. Aur ab, ab toh mujhe hilne bhi nahi dete! Tum kya chaahte ho? Uss bed pe pade pade main boriyat se marr jau?"
"Nahi, baby! Aisa mat kaho! Main... I'll take you out on a date! Isse bhi better," Abhi pleaded.
"Yaar, tumlog apni yeh domestic dispute kahin aur leke jaaoge?" Rahul asked, irritated. "Abhi wahaan concentrate karte hain." He pointed towards Armaan and Riddhima.
Here, the blissful couple was completely unaware of the fact that their best friends were spying on them, but woh kehta haina, ignorance is bliss, toh achcha hi hai. Because, had Armaan found them peeking, the sermon he'd give would make the last lecture look like a walk in the park.
Armaan really wanted today to be perfect and it wouldn't be if his friends didn't keep their long nose out of it. He wanted it to be a day that Riddhima remembered for the rest of their lives, because today he was going to ask her to be his wife. Yes, finally. After everything that happened, all the mishaps, his insecurities and hers, he was finally leaving it all behind to propose to her.
Armaan had been toying with the idea since they were in Paris and he'd seen the ring, but couldn't bring himself to do it then. It hadn't seemed right and after everything that had went wrong for them before, Armaan had resolved that he wouldn't take a step further in their relationship till he was completely sure. So, the ring had sat in his pockets for 2 months, going everywhere he went.
Yes, it was partly because he didn't want Riddhima to find it lying around, but also, because he wanted to have it on him in case he couldn't hold back any longer and wanted to propose then and there.
The idea for proposing on the day they'd confessed for the first time came to him about 3 weeks ago. It was around that time that Armaan had realized that he was ready to start a new life with Riddhima. A life with her as his wife. He'd been so delirious about the realization that he'd actually wanted to propose there and then but then realized that he'd never actually proposed to her properly.
The first time round, after Shashank had accepted their relationship, their parents had gotten involved and before Armaan knew it, they had a roka ceremony. It seemed pointless to propose after that and so he hadn't. Later, after he'd lost his memory and fallen for Riddhima again, he'd proposed to her in the Path Lab without a ring, or a proper speech. Of course, that proposal had been beautiful in itself because Riddhima had said yes and then hugged him, but this time round, Armaan wanted it to be perfect.
So, he'd started planning immediately. He'd called Papa first and asked for his blessings to propose. Even though Armaan knew that their differences had been long resolved and that Papa was happy about their relationship, Armaan had still been really nervous to ask him. But, he shouldn't have been, because Papa was absolutely overjoyed on receiving the news and had agreed instantly. Armaan sworn him to secrecy and so no one, not even Mumma (Padma) knew that Armaan was planning to propose today.
Once he had the blessing, he'd gone about preparing for the day. Thousands of arrangements had to be done, right from the flowers to breakfast and lunch and then finally dinner. Armaan had been extremely busy because Dr. Keerti had been assigning them crazy hours and then there was the concert to prep for in addition to making sure everything was perfect for today. But, in the end, Armaan was glad that everything had turned out to be perfect.
"Armaan?" Riddhima called him, bringing him out of his thoughts.
"Bolo, Basket," Armaan answered.
"Kahaan khoye hue ho?" She asked.
"Kahin nahi. Bas, tumhaare baare mein soch raha tha. Aaj tum kitni zyada beautiful lag rahi ho," Armaan replied.
"Armaan!" Riddhima scolded. "Kabhi toh flirt karna band kar diya karo!"
Armaan chuckled. "Naaahhh. Mujhe toh bohot mazaa aata hai."
"Achcha yeh sab chodo," Riddhima said. "Yeh batao, aaj woh saare flowers kaise andar le aaye? Ghar pe kisine kuch poocha nahi?"
Armaan bit his tongue. He'd talked to Papa about his plans (only vaguely because no one would know just how he proposed before Riddhima did) and asked for permission to gift Riddhima with the flowers because he knew it would be a hassle to deal with them later. And, he was also worried that maybe Papa wouldn't like Armaan doing that. But, Papa had surprised him again and gone as far as helping him by keeping Mumma occupied while he sneaked all the bouquets into Riddhima's room.
"Uhhh... Woh toh... Woh bas le aaya!" Armaan answered.
"Haan, par kaise? Papa se kaise bache?" Riddhima asked.
"Isme Sasurjee kahaan se beech mein aa gaye?" Armaan questioned, confused.
"Armaan! Papa se chupake hi laaye na saare flowers?" Riddhima asked.
"Nahi! Paagal ho kya? Unse kaise chupata? Meri baat alag hai. Main toh pipe se chadhke tumhaare room mein aa jaata hu. Lekin bechaare phool toh nahi aa sakte na? Toh mujhe darwaaze se hi aana pada," Armaan told her.
"Toh matlab, Papa ko pata hai?" Riddhima asked, surprised.
"Aur unhone tumhe daanta nahi?" She questioned, surprised.
"Bilkul nahi!" Armaan replied. "Ab kya haina, mera charm unpe bhi finally chalne laga hai."
Riddhima just laughed at him. This boy was so overconfident at times.
The rest of their lunch passed in a similar fashion, with them teasing each other and having fun, enjoying each other's company.
"Yaar! Isne toh propose hi nahi kiya!" Atul whined when Armaan and Riddhima started to wind up. "Mujhe laga yeh aaj karne wala hai."
"Mujhe bhi!" Muskaan moaned.
"Tum log itna stress kyu le rahe ho? Abhi aadha din baaki hai! Ho sakta hai dinner pe kare," Rahul explained.
"Toh matlab ab saara din inn dono ka peecha karna padega yeh dekhne ke liye ki woh kab karta hai?" Abhi asked, horrified. "Hospital mein itna kaam hai!"
"Waise, Abhi, hum yeh karne waale toh nahi the, but it's a really good idea!" Anjali cheered.
Abhi facepalmed on giving them the stupid idea. Knowing these stupid people, they would follow through and now, at least one of them would be tailing Armaan & Riddhima all day.
"Guys! Chupo! Woh dono aa rahe hain!" Nikki exclaimed suddenly and everyone hid themselves.
Armaan & Riddhima left the terrace, still lost in their own world, not paying attention to their surroundings.
The deliveries started about an hour later. The first thing that Riddhima received was a red basketball with a smiley face on it and a note that read, "All love stories are great, but ours is best. <3"
After that, it was a soft toy of a dog. The card with it read, "Ab hum akele nahi hai, toh humaare doggie ko bhi akela nahi hona chahiye na? Isliye, uske liye yeh new partner."
Clearly, Armaan was referring to the one dog soft toy that they co owned, the one she'd gifted to him last year, as a reminder that they would win their fight against the world and fulfill all their dreams.
His cuteness made Riddhima want to hug him tight and never let go.
After the soft toy arrived the chocolates. It had an assortment of all of Riddhima's favourite chocolates wrapped neatly and placed in a box, along with a cute little teddy bear. The note attached read, "Because even sweetness needs some sweets at times."
Then, came the arrangement of cookies that formed the words, I love you'. The card simply read, "Forever."
Then came the unicorn plushie. Riddhima had wanted one since they'd watched Despicable Me a few months ago. And Armaan knew that very well. "You're unique like this unicorn. Also, I know you've wanted one for months, so here it is! Aur koi khwaaish ho toh bataiye ga, yeh banda usse bhi poori karega!" The note read. This one made her tear up and she spent the next few minutes in the Fire Escape re-reading the note.
Then, it was time for an assortment of Harry Potter inspired presents. Riddhima absolutely loved the books and was always harping on about them. She'd made Armaan read them too and though Armaan didn't find them absolutely perfect works of art that can never be replicated forever' like Riddhima did, he certainly enjoyed them a lot. He just wasn't obsessed like Riddhima was. It was all packed neatly in a trunk like bag that had the Hogwarts crest emblazoned on it. "Never say I don't feed your Harry Potter obsessions, ever again! I hope this satisfies you, Madame." The note read.
Riddhima laughed remembering the one time she'd complained to Armaan that despite the fact he was always buying her something or the other several times a week, he never bought her Harry Potter related stuff even though he knew how much she loved it.
(A charm for her bracelet)
He also sent her a photo album that consisted of their pictures, right from the beginning of their internship days till now. "Waise toh each moment that I spend with you is amazing, but here are some of my favourites, that I shall cherish for always." The note read.
The last and final gift was a care package that was full to the brim with all kinds of stuff - comfy pajamas, a hoodie, a few of her favourite movies, chocolates, her comfort food - Pringles & Maggi, fluffy socks, fuzzy slippers, an iPod docked with all her favourite music, a blankie, several packets of coffee, scented candles, bath bombs, a bathrobe, subscriptions to her favourite magazines, a few novels she adored, a spa certificate which could be used for the entire year, some makeup, coupons to her favourite bakery and restaurants, photographs and a few letters by him.
The note along with it read, "My baby needs to pamper herself and indulge in a few guilty pleasures, even when I'm not around. <3"
[Continued...]Edited by DMGThings - 3 years ago
The entire day was full of one surprise after the other and Riddhima couldn't remember the last time someone had done something so grand and thoughtful and absolutely amazing for her. She was so very lucky to have someone like Armaan in her life who was so caring and thoughtful and indulgent. Not many people had someone like that in their lives and Riddhima thought it was a luck of the draw that the one person she'd chosen to spend her life with was the one who did all this for her.
The entire day, she tried to find Armaan to talk to him, hug him, kiss him as thank you for absolutely amazing presents, but couldn't find him. He was really busy with work and for the first time, Riddhima was cursing this hectic schedule which wasn't letting her meet Armaan.
Armaan, on the other hand, was busy trying to save the day from an unexpected complication. Shortly after his lunch date with Riddhima on the terrace, he'd overheard Atul & Muskaan talking.
"Yaar, yeh Armaan sach much aaj propose karne wala hai kya?" Atul asked.
"Oyye, Atul! Tune dekha nahi kya? Kaise usne itne arrangements karaye the Ridz ke liye? Aur fir woh Modi & Rahul bol rahe the na, ki aaj unki koi anniversary hai? Toh ho sakta hai kar raha ho!" Muskaan answered, excitedly.
"Agar aisa sachmuch hua toh kitna mazaa aayega na?" Atul questioned.
"Haan, yaar!! Bohot mazaa aayega! Armaan aur Ridzy ki shaadi! Itne saare functions honge aur naach gaana. But sabse main baat, kitna achcha khana hoga!" Muskaan rambled.
"Wow, yaar! Achcha khana? Yes!! Bohot mazaa aayega!" Atul exclaimed.
"Lekin, ek baat bata? Mujhe kya Armaan ko follow karna zaroori hai? Mujhe Anjali ke paas jaana hai!" Atul whined.
"Oyye, tu faltu ki bakwaas mat kar. First shift apni hai. Tu Armaan ko follow karega aur main Ridzy ko. Tu Anjali se 2 ghante baad mil lena! Samjha?" Muskaan ordered.
"Kya?!?! 2 ghante? Itne time tak Anjali ko dekhe bina kaise rahunga?" Atul cried. "Nahi, nahi. Mujhe Anjali se milna hai. Bas. Abhi hi milna hai."
"Dekh, Champ, tu mera dimaag mat kharab kar. Agar tere Anjali, Anjali ke chakkar mein Armaan ne Ridz ko propose kar diya, aur humne woh dekhna miss kar diya, toh main tera khoon kar dungi. Samjha?" Muskaan threatened.
"Th... Theek... Theek hai! Itna bhadakti kyu hai? Nahi milunga Anjali se. Chal ab, chalte hai. Jaldi jaunga toh meri shift jaldi khatam hogi. Fir main usse mil paunga!" Atul answered.
"Haan, theek hai. Chal, chalte hain!" Muskaan agreed.
So, his idiotic friends had some how gotten wind that today was special and strongly suspected he would propose. Well, atleast he couldn't say that they didn't know him well. But, these idiots were intent on spoiling it! He couldn't have them tailing him or Riddhima the entire day! They couldn't be there when he proposed! That was something that was only for him & Riddhima. No one else was allowed to be there at that time.
But, if his friends knew him well, he knew them too. If he tried to reason with them like a normal person and ask them to leave it alone, they would never listen. In fact, his disapproval would only make them more determined to be there. So, he would have to do something else to stop them from being there.
And, suddenly, he was struck with an idea! He laughed evilly before rushing to execute step one of his plan.
Dr. Shubhankar was not having a good day. He had too much work, he hadn't slept much the night before Samrat was sick, Navneeta had somehow managed to steal his favourite pen before he left the house today and him and Keerti had had an argument on the way to the hospital. Suffice it to say, things were not looking good and all he wanted was the day to get over so that he could go home and sleep.
"Arre, Dr. Shubhankar! Kaise ho aap?" Armaan asked, flouncing in his cabin.
"Dr. Armaan, main is waqt bohot tension mein hu. Please abhi mujhe pareshaan mat kijiye," Shubhankar answered.
"Kya hua, sir? Any problem?" Armaan asked.
"Problem hi problem hai, Dr. Armaan! Ek toh yeh Goa trip se pehle itna kaam hai. Aur upar se, aaj subah meri aur Keerti ki ladai bhi ho gayi, toh ab woh mujhse gussa hai. Baat bhi nahi kar rahi," Shubhankar cribbed.
"Oh, no, sir! Ab... Ab aap kya karenge?" Armaan questioned.
"Main... Main kya karu? Mujhe toh kuch samajh hi nahi aa raha!" Shubhankar moaned. But, then, he was struck with an idea.
"Dr. Armaan! Aap... Aap meri help karenge na? Please!" Shubhankar pleaded.
"Sir... Main?" Armaan questioned.
"Haan, Dr. Armaan. Aap! Ab... Aap hi hai jo meri madad kar sakte hain. Aur dekhiye, aapko karni hi padegi. Main aapka senior hu aur yeh mera order hai ki aap meri help kare. Okay?" Shubhankar asked. In the middle of his rant, he'd gotten up from his chair and was now towering over Armaan, pointing a finger at him.
"Of... Of course, sir. Main bilkul aapki help karunga," Armaan told Shubhankar.
"Really?" Shubhankar asked, peering down.
"Really," Armaan replied.
"Thank you, Dr. Armaan!" Shubhankar exclaimed, hugging him tight.
"You're... You're welcome, sir," Armaan wheezed.
"Chaliye, phir. Chalte hain," Shubhankar said, excited.
"Ka... Kahaan, sir?" Armaan asked, confused.
"Keerti ko manane! Aur kahaan?" Shubhankar answered.
"Oh, yes. Chaliye!" Armaan agreed.
Atul was watching the interaction from outside Shubhankar's cabin, confused. Why was Armaan talking to Shubhankar? The newly soundproofed rooms weren't allowing him to listen to the conversation. When Shubhankar & Armaan came out from the cabin, Atul hid behind a plant, but Armaan saw him.
Not today, Champ. Aaj toh tumlog kuch nahi kar paaoge, Armaan thought to himself before walking away with Shubhankar, all the while grinning smugly at his plan.
"So, plan kya hai?" Shubhankar asked Armaan as the two of them spied on Keerti from afar. She was, as always, scolding a staff member for something or the other.
The two had met up with each other almost an hour after their discussion in Shubhankar's cabin. Armaan had asked for some time to arrange everything for manaofying Keerti.
"Sir, woh sab tension aap mat lijiye. Uska sab intezaam hai," Armaan replied.
Shubhankar watched in fascination as a waiter from the cafeteria brought Keerti coffee along with a note. Keerti frowned at first, but then, reading the note and looking at the coffee, she allowed herself a small smile before resuming her work.
"Yeh kya hua? Keerti muskura kyu rahi thi?" Shubhankar asked, confused.
"Arre, sir! Ab, aapne itne pyaar se unke liye coffee bhijwayi, saath mein sorry ka note bhi bheja, toh khush toh hogi na," Armaan told Shubhankar.
"Lekin maine toh aisa kuch nahi kiya!" Shubhankar exclaimed. "Kahin koi aur insaan mera naam leke Keerti ko impress karne ki koshish toh nahi kar raha?"
Armaan hit his forehead. Inka kuch nahi hone wala, he thought to himself. Kahaan phans gaya main bhi? Ek taraf aise kamine dost aur doosri taraf yeh!
"Sir," Armaan explained, as calmly as he could, "woh coffee aapne hi bhijwayi hai. I mean, maine bhijwayi, aapke naam se. Taaki Dr. Keerti ka gussa shaant ho jaaye."
"Ohhh!" Shubhankar exclaimed. "Thank you, Dr. Armaan!"
"You're welcome, sir. Lekin abhi toh bas shuruaat hai. Itni jaldi Dr. Keerti ka Hitler wala dil pighalne wala nahi hai," Armaan said.
Shubhankar glared at Armaan for calling Keerti Hitler, which made him gulp.
"So... Sorry, sir," he said. "Mera... Mera woh matlab nahi tha..." He tried to explain.
"It's okay, Dr. Armaan. Keerti sach mein Hitler hi hai," Shubhankar replied. "Isliye toh dekhona, har baat pe kitna gussa ho jaati hai."
Armaan breathed a sigh of relief at that.
"Ab chaliye. Step two," Armaan announced.
They followed Keerti to the nurse station. She asked the nurse for a file and smiled again when she opened it. "So cute," she murmured quietly.
"Kya hua, Dr. Keerti?" The nurse on duty asked.
"Kuch nahi," Keerti replied, shaking her head. "Thank you."
"Ab kya hua?" Shubhankar, the clueless senior, asked.
"Sir, aapne file mein bhi toh sorry note daala tha Dr. Keerti ke liye," Armaan explained.
"Ohhh," Shubhankar breathed.
"Yes. Dekha, har step pe, Dr. Keerti ka gussa thoda kam ho raha hai," Armaan said.
"Ho toh raha hai. Ab aur kitne steps?" Shubhankar asked.
"Bas 2 aur," Armaan replied. "Chaliye. Time for step 3."
They continued following Keerti to her cabin, where a bouquet of yellow daisies waited for her.
Keerti was surprised to see the flowers and all her anger vanished instantly.
Armaan & Shubhankar grinned at each other from outside the cabin as they saw her caress the flowers lovingly.
"Wow! Keerti toh bohot khush lag rahi hai," Shubhankar observed.
"Bas, ab aap unhe dinner date ke liye poochiye aur dekhiye, unka saara gussa gayab!" Armaan stated.
"Dinner date ke liye? Main?" Shubhankar asked, sweating nervously.
"Aap mahi poochenge toh kaun poochega? Sir, Dr. Keerti aapki wife hai. Aur apni wife ko kabhi kabbi dinner pe le jaa sakte hai," Armaan explained.
"Lekin agar unhone mana kar diya toh?" Shubhankar asked, worried.
"Nahi, sir. Manaa nahi karegi. Pakka promise. Yeh sab Armaan Mallik ka tried and tested formula hai. Kabhi fail nahi hota," Armaan replied confidently.
"Theek hai. Pooch leta hu," Shubhankar said. "Lekin leke kahaan jau?"
"Aap kyu tension lete ho, sir? Have no fear when Armaan is here. Saare reservations ho gaye hai," Armaan replied. "Aap bas Dr. Keerti se pooch lo."
"Okay, Dr. Armaan. Aap keh rahe hain toh main pooch leta hu," Shubhankar agreed.
"Great! Aap jaiye andar, main yahin aapka wait kar raha hu," Armaan replied.
Shubhankar went inside, extremely nervous. He kept glancing back at Armaan who kept urging him to go and talk.
Armaan watched as Shubhankar talked to Keerti and she smiled at him, nodding yes. They spoke for a few more minutes before Shubhankar came outside.
"Thank you, Dr. Armaan!" He exclaimed, pulling Armaan in for a tight hug. "Aapne sab sahi kar diya! Keerti ka gussa bhi thanda ho gaya aur woh dinner pe jaane ke liye bhi maan gayi."
"Congratulations, sir! Yeh toh bohot achchi baat hai," Armaan replied.
"Chaliye, aapki help ki wajah se yeh sab hua toh aaj meri taraf se canteen mein coffee party aapke liye," Shubhankar stated. "Itna toh main kar hi sakta hu. After all, I'm your senior."
"Thank you, sir. Lekin, agar yeh coffee party ke badle, ab aap meri help kare toh?" Armaan asked.
"Of course, Dr. Armaan. Anything. Boliye, kya help chahiye aapko?" Shubhankar asked.
Armaan looked around and found Rahul peeking out from behind the wall.
"Yahaan nahi, sir. Top secret hai. Chaliye, Dr. Keerti ke cabin mein chalte hain. Actually, aap dono hi hain, jo meri help kar sakte hain," Armaan said, making a bechara face.
"Oh, of course. Chaliye. Andar chaliye," Shubhankar replied instantly. The two of them then went inside Keerti's cabin.
"Arre, Shubhankar! Kya hua? Abhi abhi toh tum gaye the yahaan se," Keerti asked when she saw Shubhankar in her cabin again.
"Woh, actually, Keerti, Dr. Armaan ko humaari help ki zaroorat hai," Shubhankar replied.
Keerti looked at Armaan, who was looking at the ground as if it was the most interesting thing ever.
"Kahiye, Dr. Armaan. Kya help kar sakte hain hum aapki?" Keerti asked.
"Ma'am, woh actually, it's a little personal," Armaan started.
"Bataiye na. Hum aapki jo bhi help kar sakte hain, hum bilkul karenge," Keerti assured him.
"Uhhh... Kya aap aaj mere aur Riddhima ke alawa sabko night duty de sakti hain?" Armaan asked hesitantly.
"What? Kyu?" Keerti asked, confused.
"Uh... It's just... Please. It's important," Armaan answered.
"Dekhiye, Dr. Armaan, sirf isliye kyuki aap chaahte hain, main kisiko night duty nahi dene wali. Yahaan kis waqt, kaun, kahaan pe duty karega, yeh decision mera hoga. Aapka nahi. Toh agar sirf yahi baat hai, toh aap jaa sakte hain," Keerti dismissed Armaan.
"Dr. Keerti! Please! Aap... Aap samajh nahi rahi hain! It's very important!" Armaan cried desperately.
"Achcha. Itna bhi kya important hai? Zara main bhi toh sunu," Keerti demanded.
"Keerti..." Shubhankar tried to say something, but when Keerti glared at him, he turned to Armaan and said, "bilkul sahi keh rahi hai. Aisa kya reason hai, Dr. Armaan?"
"Uh... Woh... Actually... Actually Dr. Keerti, woh... Woh aaj... Aaj main Riddhima ko bohot dino baad date pe le jaa raha hu," Armaan explained.
"Toh isse baaki sab ka kya lena dena hai, Dr. Armaan?" Keerti asked.
"Ma'am, aaj subah se... Pata nahi kyu, koi na koi mujhe follow kar raha hai. Pehle Atul tha, ab Rahul. Aap... Aap bahar dekhiye, zaroor... Zaroor aapke cabin ke bahar khada hoke sunn raha hoga," Armaan lamented.
Dr. Keerti immediately opened the door of the cabin and sure enough, she saw Rahul trying to peek from behind an array of plants.
"DR. RAHUL!" she thundered.
Rahul swallowed heavily on hearing her screech. Aaj toh tu gaya beta, he thought to himself.
"Ye... Yes, Dr. Keerti?" He asked, coming out of his hiding place.
"Kya wahaan, paudhon ke peeche koi patient hai aapka?" She asked him.
"No... No ma'am," Rahul stuttered.
"Achcha. Toh? Kya koi patient wahaan check up karaane aane wala hai?" She questioned.
Rahul shook his head vehemently.
"Toh aap yahaan kya kar rahe hain?" She asked dangerously.
"Ma'am woh... Ma'am main... Actually... Woh... Main... Woh..." He fumbled, not knowing what to say.
"Agar main jo duties aapko deti hu, woh itni kam hai ki aapke paas itni fursat hai ki aap Sanjeevani mein ghumte rahein, toh kalse aapki duties double kar di jaayengi," Keerti said.
"No... No, ma'am! I'm sorry, ma'am! But... Ma'am main akela nahi hu! Uh... Woh... Dr. Anjali bhi hai mere saath," he pointed to Anjali who was peeking from behind the wall.
"Dr. Anjali!" Keerti exclaimed, aghast.
"Woh... Uh... Sorry, Dr. Keerti," Anjali said.
"Aap dono ki aaj night duty hai," Keerti declared and then walked back into her cabin.
Rahul & Anjali didn't dare protest knowing that if they said something, their duties would immediately be doubled.
"Idiot!" Anjali exclaimed once Keerti was inside. "Mujhe kyu phasaya?"
"Oho! Matlab main akele phasu?" Rahul asked.
"Arre, agar tu mera naam nahi leta, toh at least main toh dekh paati na, Armaan ko. Ab hum proposal miss kar denge!" Anjali moaned.
"Aap dono abhi bhi yahin hai?" Keerti asked, opening the door again. "Get back to work. Now." She commanded.
"Yes, ma'am!" They both exclaimed in unison and then left.
"Yes, Dr. Armaan," Keerti said, sitting back down. "Kya keh rahe the aap?"
"Uh... Nothing, Dr. Keerti. Thank you! Ab mujhe aapki koi aur help nahi chahiye," Armaan grinned, skipping outside the room.
Dr. Keerti had removed the two main players from the equation. Cutting off the rest would be a cakewalk.
He called Atul in disguise and told him about some fake prize he'd won of an all you can eat buffet for two that was valid only for the day. Atul, in his excitement, had blurted it all out to Muskaan, who had squealed in joy and the two had immediately made plans to go there for dinner. Two more down. Two to go.
Nikki was easy. The pregnancy anyway made her tired and so, she went home early everyday. There was no way she'd have the energy to follow Armaan & Riddhima late at night to see what they were upto.
Now, the only problem that remained was Abhi. But, Armaan had a plan for that, too.
Abhi had been constantly asking him for advice on how to handle Nikki these days, because her mood swings were giving him a whiplash. And, Armaan, being the good friend that he was, decided that now would be the perfect time to help Abhi out.
So, he marched into Abhi's cabin, and the two of them had a long discussion with Armaan giving Abhi a lot of tips to handle a cranky Nikki that he'd gained because of years of experience. Abhi had been so very thankful for his help that he'd promised to return the favour in any way that he could. Armaan had smirked and immediately asked him to stay back late today, to look after some of his critical patients, because he had plans with his parents and couldn't work till late like he wanted to.
Abhi, who'd just vowed to help Armaan, couldn't say no even though he desperately wanted to. And, so, he was stuck covering for Armaan till late.
Now that all threats had been neutralized, Armaan heaved a sigh. The plan was still a go, and it would all be perfect!
Riddhima walked down the corridor of Sanjeevani, lost in thought, blushing to herself. She was remembering her breakfast and lunch date with Armaan today and how attentive and affectionate he was being. Today had been absolutely mesmerizing for her, with so many presents and spending much needed quality time with her boy. It felt like they hadn't had time for themselves for a long time now with everything that had been happening around them. But, today? Today had been all about them and only them. And she loved that.
She was thinking about what present to get for Armaan, when someone pulled her into the fire escape.
"Hi, gorgeous," Armaan murmured silkily. "I missed you."
Riddhima smiled, but then made a face at him. "Rehne do. Jhooth bolne ki koi zaroorat nahi hai," she said, miffed.
"Nahi, Basket. Main jhooth kyu bolunga? I really missed you!" Armaan insisted.
"Koi miss - wiss nahi kiya tumne mujhe. Agar kiya hota, toh milne nahi aate? Subah se dekh rahi hu, koi ata pata hi nahi hai tumhaara. Shaam ho gayi hai. Lunch pe mile humein almost 5 ghante ho gaye hain aur tumhe ab time mila hai?" She asked.
"Sorry, baby," Armaan replied earnestly. "Par main kya karu? Aaj kitna zyada kaam tha!" It was better to not mention the fact that the work he'd been busy all day doing was making sure their friends didn't jeopardize his proposal.
"Haan, haan. Saara kaam tum aaj hi kar lena bas. Mere liye toh time hi nahi hai tumhaare paas," Riddhima cribbed.
"Arre, tumhaare liye toh time hi time hai. Lekin... Woh Gabbar. Humaare pyaar ki dushman haina! Kya karu main? Tumhe pata hai, aaj Rahul aur Anjali ko night duty dedi unhone. Dr. Shubhankar ke saath kuch jhagda hua toh saara gussa un dono pe nikaal diya. Main aisi risk nahi le sakta tha na," Armaan rambled.
Riddhima gazed at him with a small smile on her face as he cutely explained to her, the reason as to why he was unable to meet her.
Unable to stop herself, she pulled him into a hug. "I love you!" She declared.
"I love you, too," Armaan replied, kissing her head.
"Gifts pasand aaye?" He asked her.
"Bohot, bohot, bohot zyada," Riddhima replied. "Thank you so much!"
Armaan grinned. "Good."
"Armaan, aaj ka din... Aaj ka din meri life ka best din raha hai. Tumne yeh mere liye itna special banaya, maine kabhi socha bhi nahi tha ki koi mere liye itna sab kar sakta hai," she told him honestly.
"Abhi din poora nahi hua hai, Madame. Aur waise bhi, aaj ka din hai hi itna khaas. Aur meri jaan ke liye sab kuch best hona chahiye. Absolutely perfect," he replied.
Riddhima smiled at him and kissed him, unable to articulate just how much all of this meant to her.
Armaan smiled into the kiss, pulling her closer to him and deepening it. They kissed languidly for a few minutes before pulling back.
Riddhima hugged him again and his her face in his chest, kissing right above his heart. "Pata hai, main bohot, bohot, bohot lucky hu, ki mujhe tum mile."
"Woh toh tum ho," he replied cheekily.
"Armaan!" Riddhima reprimanded, swatting his back.
"What? Main toh bas tumhaari baat se agree kar raha tha. Waise toh tum hamesha kehti ho ki main tumhaari koi baat nahi sunnta, aur aaj sunn raha hu, toh bhi tum mujhe maar rahi ho. Decide karlo. Tumhaari baat maanu ya nahi?" He asked.
In reply, he got another smack to his back.
"Ow!" He exclaimed. "Achcha baba. No mazaak."
They stayed like that for a few minutes, wrapped in each others arms.
"Achcha, ab chalo," Armaan said. "Ready ho jao. Raat ko dinner ke liye jaana hai."
"Hmmm," Riddhima mumbled, making no move to step back.
Armaan smiled widely and snuggled closer to her, basking in the feel of having her in his arms.
"Jaan," Armaan tried again, a few minutes later. "Hum late ho jaayenge."
"Mujhe nahi jaana kahin. Hum yahin rehte haina," Riddhima whined.
Armaan couldn't help but grin. His baby was the cutest.
"Please, sweetheart," Armaan coaxed. "Dinner pe tumhaare liye surprise hai."
"Ek aur surprise?!?!" Riddhima exclaimed. "Aur kya bacha reh gaya hai ab?" She asked him.
"Woh toh surprise haina, Jaana! Ab agar tum dinner pe nahi chalogi toh main kaise dunga?" Armaan asked.
"Achcha, theek hai. Chalte hain. But, iske baad no more surprises, okay?" Riddhima asked.
"Okay," Armaan agreed readily.
"Theek hai, chalo," Riddhima replied. She took his hand in hers and pulled him out of the Fire Escape.
"Tum parking lot mein mera wait karo. Main 2 minute mein aaya," Armaan told her. Riddhima acquiesced and made her way out.
Armaan double checked to make sure that all their nosy, kabab mein haddi friends were busy. Atul, Muskaan & Nikki had already left for the day as the duty nurse informed him. He spied on Abhi working diligently in his cabin. Rahul & Anjali were also busy with their duties.
Relieved, Armaan left the hospital.
When he parked the car outside the Gupta Mansion, Riddhima leaned over the console and gave him a soft kiss. Armaan smiled at her and turned to pick some stuff out of the backseat. He handed a bag to Riddhima.
"Ab yeh kya hai?" She asked.
"Dinner pe pehenne," Armaan explained.
Riddhima just shook her head, exasperated. "Tumhaara kuch nahi ho sakta."
Armaan grinned at her. "Jaanta hu."
He opened his door and walked around the car, opening Riddhima's as well.
He helped her out and immediately pulled her into a hug. "I'm gonna miss you."
"Armaan, bas ab thode time mein hum waapas milne waale haina," Riddhima placated him.
"Haan, lekin main miss toh karinga na," Armaan pouted.
"Ab tumhi chaahte ho aise tayyar hoke dinner pe jaana toh main kya karu?" Riddhima asked. "Kaha tha kahin nahi jaate, lekin tunhaara surprise aaj hi dena zaroori haina!"
"Jaan, please! Ab aise mat bolo. Mujhe pata hai ki main hi insist kar raha hu, lekin toh bhi, miss toh karunga hi. Magar dinner pe toh hum jaayenge," he declared.
"Achcha, baba. Main kuch nahi bolungi. Ab tum jao. Jaoge nahi toh waapas kaise aoge?" She asked.
"Hmmm," Armaan mumbled, pulling her closer and nuzzling into her neck.
"Ar... Armaan!" Riddhima giggled. "Jaane ke liye kahaa maine, paas aane ke liye nahi."
"Hmmm," Armaan answered, still making no move to let her go.
"Armaan! Baby! Please! Mujhe tumhaara yeh surprise dekhna hai. Toh ab tum jao. Hum 1 ghante mein milte hai, okay?" Riddhima asked, pushing him away.
Armaan made a face, but nodded.
"Okay, fine!" He agreed. Then, he proceeded to kiss the breath out of her.
"I love you! Bye! He mumbled, letting her go. He sat in his car and drove off, leaving Riddhima in a daze.
Riddhima walked inside the house, still reeling from Armaan's passionate kiss. She went up straight to her room, not stopping to talk to her mom like she usually did.
Her room was still full of the flowers from morning and the thought made her smile. Then, she realized that they hadn't brought any of Armaan's other presents back home and pouted. She decided that after dinner, her and Armaan would go to the hospital and bring everything home.
She opened the bag Armaan had given her and pulled out a gorgeous dress, a set of heels and matching earrings.
She paired it with the charm bracelet and pendant that Armaan had given her on various other occasions.
After getting ready, she found the present she'd bought for Armaan a couple months ago, intent on giving it to him for their anniversary. A promise ring of her own, just like the one Armaan had given her in Paris. She knew that Armaan was still battling the idea of moving forward and though she'd told him time and again that she didn't mind waiting, she wanted to give him a tangible reminder that she was really okay with waiting.
The ring was no match to all the presents he'd showered on her since morning, but she hoped Armaan would appreciate the gesture.
When she was done, she went downstairs to wait for Armaan, but was surprised to see Mom & Dad sitting in the living room, laughing and joking with her parents.
"Mom! Dad! she exclaimed. "Aap kab aaye?"
Billy and Ananya hugged her before Billy said, "Bas abhi hi. Ab tum aur Armaan toh jaa rahe ho dinner pe, toh humne socha hum saath mein hi khana kha lete hai. Kyu Shanky?"
"Haan, bhai. Ab bachchon ke paas toh humaare liye waqt kahaan hai?" Shashank lamented.
"Papa! Aap aisa kyu bol rahe ho? Aapke liye toh mere paas hamesha time hota hai. Aap sab hi itne busy hote ho. Mom aur Dad bhi toh itne time baad Delhi se aaye hain milne," Riddhima pouted.
"Sorry, Princess. But, kya karu? Wahaan bhi itna kaam hota hai. Mera bas chale toh main yahin aake rehne lagu. Lekin... Woh tera Armaan haina? Ek number ka Hitler hai! Saara din bas kaam hi karta rehta hai. Party sharty toh karna bhool hi gaya hai. Aur thoda sa kuch enjoy karne ki koshish karo, toh itna bhaashan deta hai, kya batau main!" Billy whined.
The others in the room laughed at that.
"Tum rehne do, Billy. Armaan bilkul sahi karta hai. Warna tumhaara kya bharosa? Uske ghar ko kabaad khana bana doge tum," Ananya stated.
"Waise, aaj toh meri beti bohot hi zyada pyaari lag rahi hai, haina?" Billy asked.
"Haan, bhaisaab. Bohot pyaari lag rahi hai," Padma seconded.
Riddhima blushed a deep red on hearing their compliments. Before she could be embarrassed further, a horn blew, demanding everyone's attention.
"Lo... Aa gaye laad sahab," Billy said. "Ab tum bahar nahi gayi toh aise hi horn bajata rahega. Jao."
Riddhima smiled and hugged everyone.
"Have fun, beta," Shashank told her.
Riddhima grinned at him and rushed out of the house. Armaan was waiting with his arms across his chest, leaning against the bonnet of the car.
He was looking absolutely dapper in his tuxedo.
"Hi, baby!" Riddhima greeted him. He smiled at her leaned down to kiss her cheek.
"Hi, Basket," he replied.
"Chalein?" He asked. Riddhima nodded eagerly. He helped her into the car and sat himself before driving away.
He drove them to the basketball court. Riddhima was absolutely mesmerized on seeing it. The entire court was covered in candles and rose petals, with a table right in the middle.
"It's absolutely beautiful," she breathed.
"Not as much as you," Armaan replied. "You look stunningly breathtaking," he said, fingering her pendant.
Riddhima blushed at his compliment. Armaan grinned and pulled her into his arms. He kissed her softly.
"Dance?" He asked.
"There's no music," Riddhima answered.
Armaan chuckled & pulled her closer. He hummed softly in Riddhima's ear before singing.
When your legs don't work like they used to before
And I can't sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?
(Riddhima rested her head on Armaan's chest, listening to his heartbeat.)
And, darling, I will be loving you 'til we're 70
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, meI fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am
(Armaan kissed Riddhima's head and nuzzled his face in her hair.)
So, honey, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are
(Riddhima kissed his chest, causing Armaan to tighten his arms around her.)
When my hair's all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don't remember my name
When my hands don't play the strings the same way (mmm...)
I know you will still love me the same
(Riddhima snuggled closer to Armaan and sighed in contentment, making Armaan smile and kiss her temple.)
'Cause, honey, your soul could never grow old, it's evergreen
And, baby, your smile's forever in my mind and memory
I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it's all part of a plan
Well, I'll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you'll understand
(Armaan pulled back, just a little and rested his forehead on Riddhima's, looking her directly in the eye.)
That, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
Thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are (oh, oh)
(Riddhima blushed at his intense gaze and Armaan grinned, pulling her closer and kissing her nose.)
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, lo-ud
So, baby, now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
But maybe we found love right where we are
Oh, baby, we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are
When Armaan finished singing, he leaned in and kissed Riddhima, softly yet passionately. They kissed for a few minutes, wrapped up in each other before the sound of a firecracker bursting pulled them apart.
"Wow!" Riddhima exclaimed, forgetting all about the music and the dance, as she looked up in the sky.
Armaan took a deep breath in anticipation. He was not nervous. Not at all. He knew that this was the right step. He was ready. And, he knew Riddhima had been ready forever. She wouldn't say no. He knew she wouldn't.
Riddhima watched in fascination as the fireworks started to transform into alphabets.
"Marry me, Basket," she read out loud and gasped.
She hadn't been expecting this at all. Armaan hadn't given any indication that he was ready. She definitely did not see this coming.
"Armaan!" She breathed turning to look at him. He was already kneeling in front of her. On both knees.
Sitting on one knee seemed insufficient. He wasn't asking a girl to marry him. No. He was praying to the one woman, who he thought was a goddess, the one who'd changed his life completely, who'd made him a better man, who'd filled his life with insurmountable love and happiness and togetherness.
"Riddhima Gupta," he began. "I know... Main thoda late hu. Actually, bohot late hu. Poore 3 saal, par, kya karu? Tumhe pata haina, main thoda stupid hu. Waise toh yeh teesri baar hai, but, woh kehte haina, third time's the charm, so I hope ki iss baar sab achche se ho.
Main, Armaan Mallik, tumse vada karta hu, ki main tumse bohot pyaar karta hu. Aur apni saari zindagi, sirf tumse pyaar karunga. Marrte dam tak, aur uske baad bhi.
I love you, Basket. Tabse jabse tumhe pehli baar dekha hai. Jab hum ladte the, ek doosre ko prank karte the, tabse. Tab bhi tumse pyaar karta tha jab sabse kehta tha ki tum sirf meri dost ho aur tab bhi jab tumse baat tak nahi karta tha. Jab accident hua aur amnesia ho gaya, tab bhi, mere dil ko tum hamesha yaad thi, hamesha sochta tha, aisa kya hai iss ladki mein jo main khichaa chala jaata hu.
Sanjeevani mein aane ke baad, meri zindagi itni haseen sirf tumhaari wajah se bann gayi. Tumne mujhe itni khushi di hai jo maine kabhi socha bhi nahi tha. Tumne mujhe family di hai, Basket. Woh cheez jo mere paas isse pehle kabhi nahi thi. Mere liye iss baat ke kya maayne hai, shayad main tumhe kabhi nahi samjha paunga, lekin koshish karna chaahta hu, ki tum jaano tum mere liye kitni important ho. Aur hamesha rahogi.
I know ki main tumhe bohot satata hu, bohot pareshaan karta hu, but I really love you, Jaan. And, I promise, ki main hamesha, sirf aur sirf tumse hi pyaar karunga. Forever and ever. Chaahe hum kitna bhi lade, main tumhe kitna bhi chidhau, chaahe kuch bhi ho jaaye, main chaahta hu ki tum hamesha mere saath raho, mere paas raho.
Isliye, aaj, uss din jis din humne pehli baar apne pyaar ka izhaar kiya tha, uss jagah par jahaan humaari kahaani shuru hui thi, tumse ek sawaal poochna chaahta hu. Chaahta hu ki tum haan kehke mujhe iss duniya ka sabse khush aur lucky insaan banao.
Bolo, Basket, kya mera saath dogi? Har mausam mein, dhoop mein, chaon mein, achche waqt mein, bure waqt mein, har din, har pal, kya tum hamesha mere saath rahogi? Shaadi karogi mujhse?"
Riddhima couldn't stop crying at his heartfelt words. Try as she might, tears just kept falling and falling. Sometime during his speech, Riddhima gave up on trying to wipe them and just admired the beauty of this moment. It was everything she'd ever wanted and more.
She dropped to her knees too, and kissed Armaan with everything she had.
"Hamesha tumhaare saath rahungi!" she answered breathlessly when they pulled back.
Armaan teared up at her answer and kissed her again, their tears streaming down both their faces, large grins on their faces.
"I love you, Baby," she whispered.
"I love you, too, three, four, five, raised to infinity," he replied.
Smiling he removed the ring from his pocket and made her wear it.
"Bohot zyada sundar hai, Armaan," Riddhima breathed, admiring her ring.
"Tumhaare saamne toh kuch bhi nahi hai," Armaan replied.
Riddhima blushed. Armaan grinned and kissed her passionately, pulling her into him such that there was no space between them. They kissed for a few minutes and then Armaan pulled back, hugging Riddhima so that her entire frame was wrapped in his arms. He kissed the top of her head and they both stayed like that for what seemed to be an eternity.
"Thank you, Basket. Aaj... Aaj tumne mujhe itni badi khushi di hai ki main... Main express bhi nahi kar sakta," Armaan told her, a few tears leaking from his eyes.
Riddhima smiled and pulled back. She was crying too.
"Jaanti hu," she said. "Aaj... Main bhi toh utni khush hu."
"Really?" Armaan asked.
"Really, really," Riddhima replied.
"Mujhse zyada khush toh bilkul nahi ho," Armaan teased.
Riddhima laughed. "Waise main bhi tumhaare liye kuch laayi hu," she told him.
"Kya?" Armaan asked excitedly.
"Pehle aankhen band karo," Riddhima instructed.
"Jaan! Aise hi batado na," Armaan whined.
"Armaan! Aankhen band karo. Aur haath aage badhao," Riddhima told him stubbornly.
Armaan sighed but did as he was asked. Riddhima removed the ring from her clutch, the one she was going to give Armaan as a promise of togetherness and slipped it into his finger.
Armaan opened his eyes when he felt it and looked down at his finger in awe.
"Basket..." He breathed, disbelieving.
Riddhima grinned sheepishly. "Yeh tumhe dena chaahti thi, mera vaada ki hum hamesha saath rahenge."
Armaan hugged her tightly, swallowing her frame in his arms as he cried at her words. It was the perfect gesture and he was overwhelmed by everything that had happened in such a short span of time.
Riddhima understood what he was going through and hugged him close to her, letting him drain his excess emotions so that he could feel better.
Sometime later, Armaan pulled back and smiled at her. "Thank you, Basket. Aaj ka din meri life ka sabse achcha din hai."
"Mera bhi," Riddhima replied, grinning.
They hugged again, losing themselves in each other, forgetting the rest of the world. In that moment, it was just Armaan and his Basket and their promise of forever.
There you have it! The much anticipated proposal!
I know sabne iska bohot, bohot, bohot wait kiya hai! For that, I'm sorry, but I hope that this update made up for waiting for 3.5 years. Yes, the proposal was first mentioned in Chapter 11 of this story which was uploaded on 22 Jan 2015. Aur ab, 3.5 years baad, finally, Armaan ne propose kar hi diya!
So, I hope you enjoyed it!
A whooping 11,250 words in this chapter, but ab, Armaan propose kar raha tha, yaar. Itna toh banta hai. I tried to incorporate all the elements that made DMG DMG and put them in this chapter, and I hope I succeeded.
Agar iss chapter pe kisine chota sa comment kiya, toh laptop mein ghusske maarungi! Likhna toh kya, iss chapter ko word se IF pe upload karne mein mujhe 1.5 ghante se zyada time laga hai!
Waise, I was going to update on the weekend, but mujhse control hi nahi hua, isliye kal raat mein late tak likha aur ab aaj update kar diya! Sach sach batana, kisine expect kiya tha ki yeh wala chapter proposal ka hoga? Ya sab yehi soch rahe the ki ab trip ki planning start ho jaayegi? :p
It was so difficult to net let any clues, even small ones slip in the promos isliye aise wale daale the. Promo dhoondne mein hi kitna time lagta tha kyuki iss chapter mein toh har 2 para ke baad koi clue hai. :p
Anyway, I hope y'all enjoyed! Please COMMENT!
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