"Tumhse milna, pyaar karna, meri kismat mein thha, bas tum hi meri kismat mein nahi thhe Armaan" thought Shilpa, looking at Armaan's photograph in her hand.
"Armaan toh hamesha se hi Riddhima ka thha na, toh mujhe tumse pyaar kyon hua?" she cried.
"Jab yeh kahaani Armaan aurr Riddhima ki thhi, toh mujhe iss sab ke beech kyon le aaye tum? Khud toh aage badh gaye aurr mujhe, mujhe ussi mod par chod diya, jahan tumhaari saansien mujhse judi thhi."
"Bohot door chale gaye ho Armaan..2 saal beet chuke hain tumse alag hue, magar phhir bhi lagta hai ki jaise waqt aage badah hi nahi. Tumse alag hone ka faisala mera thha, lekin mujhe majboor tumne kiya..aisa lagta hai ki zindagi aage badh gayi par main nahi.."
"Aaj bhi tumse bohot pyaar karti hoon, tum meri saans banker mere saath ho...Armaan ne bhale hi Shilpa se pyaar na kiya ho, lekin Shilpa, Shilpa ne toh sirf Armaan se hi pyaar kiya hai, aurr yeh pyaar kabhi kam nahi hoga..."
*I think it's because of the deletion of unnecessary posts that caused such a change in the change in pages and posts number of the updates so for readers facilitation, I have made this correct index for thread #1 of the SS which is now locked, so I am starting this second thread for further updates.
Riddhima was in the corridor, just outside her and Armaan's hotel rooms and was talking to her family, her parents and Sid, informing them that they had found Shilpa but was left speechless when she saw Armaan coming towards her smiling like a fool, carrying a few shopping bags himself followed by two men who were carrying the rest of Armaan's purchase.
She smiled at first thinking that he may have bought it all for Shilpa but then her eyes narrowed thinking that trying to woo Shilpa with such gifts wasn't a good idea maybe. She ended the call hastily with a proper goodbye and then walked towards Armaan who on seeing her rushed to hug her tightly.
"Armaan? Riddhima's voice held a query.
Armaan broke the hug and then pulled Riddhima with him in his room. He placed all the stuff he had brought on the bed and began showing them to Riddhima. First came the pink colored teddy bear;
"Ridzi how's this? This is the softest bear I could find, it came in three other colors but I think girls like pink the best so I bought this one. Armaan said showing Riddhima the soft toy.
Not waiting for Riddhima's reply Armaan showed her the next toy that he had bought for Asmaani, a pull, and sing puppy. "Armaan yeh...
"Isn't it cute? See, if you press these buttons it will play songs and this one will make it bark. I bought this one because it is customizable, I am going to add the song that Dad and Mom used to sing for me in this. Achha hai na?
Again Riddhima wasn't given a chance to reply as Armaan continued showing her his purchase. Next, he showed her a set of a t-shirt and a onesie that had something written over it.
Riddhima was about to interrupt Armaan this time before he could start telling her about how good that stuff is but froze a few seconds later as she read what was written on the black t-shirt and pink onesie;
Her eyes widened, breathe got hitched and heart picked up the pace of beating as she grasped what all this meant. But she wanted to be sure of it first, "Armaan yeh sab...
Armaan read the question in Riddhima's teary gaze and with the expressions mirroring hers he replied, "Meri Asmaani k liye. Riddhima's hand flew over her mouth as she tried to rein in her sobs. Armaan held Riddhima by her shoulders, knowing well that Riddhima must have guessed by now.
"I have a daughter Riddhima, meri beti, Asmaani. Mine and Shona's baby girl. Now I understand what must have happened. Remember that phone call from Shona years back? She must have called me to tell me about Asmaani's existence but hearing your voice, a misunderstanding that you and I got together she ended the call and never called again.
The dam of Riddhima's emotions broke free and tears started running down her cheeks, "Asmaani? she whispered in a broken tone. "Tumhaari aurr Shilpa ki beti? she croaked out the words.
Armaan, who was shedding tears of joy himself nodded his head in positive with great enthusiasm, "Yes Basket! Asmaani, mine and Shona's daughter, your niece, my Asmaani Basket, mine.
Riddhima's lips curved upwards in a huge smile, "My niece? My little sister's little girl. Armaan I am so happy. She smiled through tears and hugged him tightly as the swayed in happiness. Riddhima came out of the hug, "How's she? Kaisi dikhti hai woh? Is she like you or Shilpa? Tumharae paas uski koi photo hai? she demanded.
"Arre arre shaant ho ja meri maa! Shaant! Relax. Armaan exclaimed putting his hand over Riddhima's mouth, "Hai mere paas photo. Wait, I'll show you. Said Armaan and began looking for his cell phone under the piles of shopping bags.
"You know Basket, Asmaani is just like me. She looks exactly like me, gorgeous. Riddhima rolled her eyes at that, so self-obsessed Malik was back, haan.
"She's so cute and so very intelligent. You know she knew that who I was, I mean she called me Paa. Can you believe that? said Armaan as he looked into the shopping bags trying to find his cell phone.
Riddhima's patience was wearing out, she was dying to see how her niece looked, "Armaan dekho uss bag mein hoga shayad. She said pointing to a bag that Armaan hadn't checked.
Armaan picked up that bag and emptied its contents on the bed as he said, "And she's super adorable! I was awed by her intelligence and the cute noises she makes. She's so very intelligent, did I tell you that? Do you know she was the one who found me, she came to me and called me Paa. She knows Basket! She knows who I am to her.
Riddhima huffed in annoyance; Armaan was talking and not looking properly for his cell phone. She wanted to see how her niece looked and Armaan! Damn his phone! She unlocked her phone and dialed Armaan's number, hoping that it would ring so Armaan will be able to find the cell phone and yes! Success was the outcome as Armaan's cell phone went off. Much to Riddhima's annoyance, Armaan cell phone was in his pants pocket only.
Armaan gave Riddhima a sheepish smile and showed her Asmaani's photo that he was now using as the wallpaper of his cell phone. Looking like a proud Dad that he was, Armaan showed Riddhima the photo of his firstborn.
With shaky hands, Riddhima took the cell phone from Armaan and stared at the screen that was displaying her niece's photograph. Milky white skin, silky black soft curls, those blue-grey eyes and those dimples. "Aaawww.. Riddhima awed at the cute and adorable little thing that her niece was. "Armaan you were right, she looks exactly like you. A carbon copy indeed. She just couldn't move her eyes off the picture. "But she is way cuter than you. She quipped.
Armaan just grinned widely in response and took his phone back from Riddhima and kissed the screen once before putting his phone away. "You said she knew who you were, but how? And what about Shilpa? Did you talk to her? Riddhima asked.
"Hhhmm.. Armaan sat down on the bed and started sorting out the mess that he had created, "I don't know how exactly she knew who I was but she knew. I mean, when I was at the mall shopping for Shilpa it was there when I heard her cry, a soft tug on my pants and when I looked down I was greeted by the sight of my daughter. You should have been there so you could have seen the way she snuggled close into my arms as if she felt safe and secure there. I can't describe how contented I had felt having her in my arms. Armaan sighed, "And then she called me Paa', hush. Riddhima smiled seeing how happy, contented and at peace Armaan looked. The last time he looked this happy was two years ago when he was with Shilpa. When Shilpa left she took a piece of Armaan with her and now after two long years, Armaan finally found that missing piece of soul within his daughter. She was very happy for him.
"And about Shilpa..well.. Armaan then told Riddhima all about he and Shilpa had talked about at the cliff, the happy mood turning a bit somber.
Riddhima went over and sat beside Armaan hugging him sideways, "Don't worry Armaan sab theek ho jayega. Shilpa doesn't know the whole truth and you have hurt her feelings by marrying her to make me jealous, so of course she is going to be angry. Give her time and tell her the truth, believe me it will make everything fine.
"I hope so. Smiled Armaan.
"Achha clao abhi. Said Riddhima tugging at his arm. "Kahan? he asked.
"Come let's call everybody and tell them about Asmaani! They will be so excited. Arre ab chalo bhi! Riddhima excitedly dragged Armaan towards the living room. She called Shashank and then Sid and informed them that she needed to talk about something important and asked them to gather so they all could talk via Skype.
It was an hour later that they finally made the call. "Kya hua beta? Kya zaroori baat karni thhi? asked a worried Shashank.
"Tell na beta, what happened? Is Shilpa okay? Did you get the chance to talk to her? What happened Armaan, what's this about? asked an overly worried Padma. Ananya's expressions were exactly similar to Padma's. Shilpa wasn't her daughter in law only, but the woman, the angel who gave her son a reason to smile, a reason to move on from pain and find peace.
"Maa, Papa relax! I called you to tell you about the huge news! The good kind of. In fact, it's a very very very happy news! Riddhima said with great enthusiasm making Armaan shake his head, the grin on his face, the evidence of his happiness.
"Shilpa maan gayi? Sid jumped slightly in his seat, feeling happy for his friend. The only person that can put that huge smile on his face is Shilpa and Shilpa alone. Armaan looked happy so of course, it meant that Shilpa and Armaan had reconciled.
Sid's statement made Shashank, Padma, Billy, Ananya, Bi, and Nani happy as well. They were thinking the same thing as Sid, they knew that Armaan's happiness is in direct relationship with the presence of Shilpa in his life so well they joined the points and formed the said expressed thought.
Riddhima stretched her lips in a slight smile, "Nahi, she didn't agree. Yet.
"Kya matlab? asked Nani.
"Well Shilpa still doesn't know the entire truth so no, she and Armaan are still not together. interrupting Riddhima in mid, Padma asked, "So what's the good news beta?
"Good news? mused Sid and suddenly a thought struck him that made him squeal, "Are you pregnant? and once again everybody was staring at Sid.
Riddhima glared at her husband hoping that she could smack him on the head while Armaan burst into peals of laughter. "Sid! Stop interrupting me. She glared at him, "And I am not pregnant! she exclaimed.
Sid's excitement simmered down while the others except Riddhima had a light laugh at his expense. "Then what's the good news? asked Billy, "Sunny boy, arre mujhe toh bata yaar. He added.
Armaan didn't reply but instead picked up his cell phone and did something on it making others frown in confusion, "Armaan what are you doing beta? asked Ananya and a second later the different sounds of notification tone filled the silence.
"I have sent you all something, have a look at it. Said Armaan sending them mischief filled look, the smile on his face still intact. Riddhima smiled at that and they both waited for their family's reactions.
Billy blinked his eyes once and then twice. He was left confused when he saw the message that Armaan had sent him, a baby's picture. A baby that looked awfully similar to Armaan in looks or maybe it was Armaan's photograph. He raised his head and looked at everybody. He noticed that Shashank, Padma, Sid, and Vinita ji (Nani) were looking more confused than he was while Bi and Ananya's expression was a bit weird, they kinda looked taken aback. But why?
"Annie when did we made Armaan wear a frock and tied his hair this girly way? I don't remember this photograph, do you? Hhmm? What about you Bi? asked Billy.
"This is not Armaan's photograph Billy. Ananya replied. She then turned to face the screen and asked Armaan, "Beta I don't want to raise my hopes and assume something. Tell us please, who is this child?
Armaan wasn't surprised that his Mom and Bi were the ones to realize what the said photograph meant for Armaan, "Mom, Bi. Meet Asmaani.
Ananya gasped and clutched Bi's hand tight in hers. "Toh jo hum soch rahe hain woh sahi hai, sach hai? asked Bi.
"What is it Bi, Ananya? asked Shashank.
"Yaar humme bhi toh batao ki baat kya hai? Who is this Asmaani? asked Billy, his tone full of impatience.
Armaan smirked and said, "Think Dad, think. Who do you think the baby girl is?
"Armaan please batao na yeh ho kya raha hai? Seedhe seedhe bolo na ki yeh kiski photo hai! Demanded Padma.
"This is the photograph of your granddaughter, Armaan paused for a moment taking in everybody's reactions.
Ananya and Bi were the first ones to react. They cried out of joy and hugged each other while Billy looked at the pair with confusion. Padma and Nani looked as if they knew what Armaan was talking about but they wanted to be sure. Shashank, on the other hand, was looking a bit emotional, as if he would cry anytime now whereas Sid was the only one who was grinning like a fool.
"What is this? Clear it for me, my boy. Billy said.
Armaan shook his head lightly and cleared it for his father, "Papa main papa ban gaya! he sang and in response Billy's eyes widened in utter surprise, his mouth hung open, "What did you say? Billy asked wanting to be sure.
The ladies started hugging each other in congratulations, Shashank smacked Billy's head upside down, so unlike his character and said, "Arre! You have become a grandfather now Billy! Ismein itna confuse hone ki kya baat hai?
"Armaan.. trailed of Billy.
"Yes, dad. Asmaani is mine and Shona's daughter. Our firstborn, your granddaughter.
Billy lowered his head and looked at the photograph of the baby who he now knew was his granddaughter. His granddaughter, his son's daughter, his own blood. He was transported back to the time he had seen his son for the first time. He had instantly fallen in love with the sweet little baby wrapped securely in a soft blue blanket as he slept in his crib. The joy, the happiness, those emotions that he had felt that time were indescribable. And today, today he was looking at the same son's daughter and once again he was feeling all those emotions. For the third time in his life, Balwinder Malik fell head over heels in love.
"Armaan. I don't know what will you do but what I know is that you have to bring Shilpa and Asmaani back. Bring them back home, son.
"I will Dad, I will.
The Next Day
Dressed in a simple peach-colored anarkali suit, Riddhima was standing beside Armaan and in front of Shilpa's house. They were holding all the stuff that Armaan had brought for Asmaani whereas Riddhima had another thing in her bag, something that she had asked Sid to send her yesterday, something that she had brought for Shilpa.
Armaan rang the doorbell thrice before Shilpa finally opened the door, she looked a bit spooked, just a little though. Riddhima stepped close and hugged her sister, the thing that she had wanted to do from the moment she got to know that Shilpa was her sister. Shilpa blinked back her tears as she hugged her sister back, the sister for whom she had entered Sanjeevani at first but then stayed for Armaan.
"Riddhima aap.. Shilpa was thinking of what to say as she broke out of the hug.
"Di. Riddhima muttered.
"What? Shilpa was baffled.
"Call me Riddhima di, please. I am your elder sister na so please call me Di, hhmm. Riddhima said wiping the tears from the corner of Shilpa's eyes.
Shilpa smiled through her tears, finally, she got her Di, her dearest elder sister. "Di. She whispered the word with all the pent-up emotions.
"Now come on let's get inside. I am dying to meet my niece. Kahan hai Asmaani? Riddhima asked making Shilpa smile. All this time Armaan was just standing there at a side, close but gave the space for the sisters to have their moment.
Shilpa looked at Armaan when she said, "She's inside, playing with her toys. Aaiye andar chalte hain. And then lead them inside her house.
"Asmaani bachha look who's here. Said Shilpa picking up the girl in her arms. "Look, she said as she pointed a finger in the direction where Armaan and Riddhima stood.
"Paa! Asmaani squeaked stretching her arms wide open.
Armaan went forward and took his daughter in his arms and started talking to her while Riddhima stood still at the spot watching the father and daughter duo. Her eyes grew misty as she watched Asmaani kiss Armaan on the cheek. So adorable! Riddhima watched them with pure adoration shining in her eyes. She just hoped that she would be able to make Shilpa understand the whole thing so that this family could be together forever, complete.
Shilpa tugged at Riddhima's hand and brought her closer, "Asmaani do you know who's she? Shilpa asked bringing Asmaani's attention on Riddhima. Riddhima was left awestruck as Asmaani stared at her taking in her appearance. Asmaani tilted her head lightly but kept staring at Riddhima with her beautiful big blue-grey eyes. Shilpa smiled and hoped that her daughter would recognize her maasi the same way she had recognized her father.
"Maa-chi! Asmaani squealed and giggled as she wiggled in Armaan's hold, stretching her arms towards Riddhima for her to be held.
Riddhima couldn't stop her tears from flowing down her cheeks as she took her niece in her arms and hugged her tightly, "How does she know? she asked.
"I have been showing everybody's pictures and telling her about what her relationship is with them. So she knows. Answered Shilpa.
Riddhima smiled and held Asmaani in her arms in such a way that they were face to face. "Aaww mera bachha, you know your Maasi hhmm? she talked in a baby voice.
Asmaani smiled and placed her little hands on Riddhima's cheeks and said, "Maa-chi again. Riddhima awed and kissed Asmaani on the cheek. Riddhima played with Asmaani for few minutes and until Armaan took her away to show her all the toys and stuff that he had brought for Asmaani. While Asmaani was keeping Armaan busy, Riddhima took Shilpa aside to talk.
They went into the kitchen and started preparing some snacks. It was Shilpa who spoke first, "Kya hua Di? she asked.
"I..I wanted to apologize to you.
Shilpa frowned, "What for?
Riddhima started fidgeting with the hem of her dupatta as she replied, "For everything sweetheart. For being so rude to you without a good reason and for coming between you and Armaan.
Shilpa flinched, "Di please, you didn't come between us, there was never us' to start with.
Riddhima held Shilpa's hand in hers, "Shilpa, Armaan loves you. He loves you more than anything and anyone in the world. He fell in love with you the moment you entered his life because you were what Armaan was in past. You made him feel, made him fall. It's because of me, my emotions and the mixed signals that I kept giving made Armaan confused.
"Yeah! Confused enough that after having sex with me he professed his love for you. Shilpa didn't want to but he tone had the tint of a taunt and sarcasm.
"SAY WHAT?! Riddhima didn't know about that. They had thought that Shilpa had left Armaan because she got to know that Armaan had married her just make Riddhima jealous. Oh! What?
Shilpa closed her eyes and leaned against the kitchen and told Riddhima about the reason behind her leaving Armaan. As Shilpa talked about it, it all became clearer for Riddhima. It sounded so much like the dream that Armaan had talked about in one of the sessions.
"Oh my God! Shilpa, you have misunderstood the whole thing! What happened that night after you two..umm..had consummated your marriage, whatever happened, the things that Armaan murmured about was all a part of his dream.
Shilpa looked visibly confused, "Di what are you saying.
Riddhima sighed and pulled about the CDs of all the sessions that Armaan had with Sid. Though it was a clear breach of doctor-patient confidentiality but Shilpa really needed to hear all this, she needed to know about how much had Armaan suffered.
"Listen to these, hmm. It will clear all your doubts and misunderstandings. Believe me. Riddhima said placing a hand over Shilpa's cheek.