"Armaan and Ridhima..." Muskaan sighed and sipped her coffee and gave a sad smile to doctor Keerti at their usual booth in the Sanjeevni Cafeteria. Keerti on the other had juice and was making a checklist of the things she would need during her stay at Gupta House.
"It's so strange na doctor Muskaan, two names which we didn't mention together in the past months suddenly became the reason for all of us to be together, to forget past mistakes and make amends in relationships." Keerti put her hand on Muskaan and followed Muskaan's gaze and stood up only to find Nikki there with teary eyes.
"Nikki.." Muskaan whispered and pulled Nikki into a big hug as tears rolled down Nikki's eyes.
"Armaan is suffering and left us for our happiness, Ridhima doesn't hate him anymore.." Nikki broke into a giggle while crying while Muskaan nodded with a sobbing laugh.
"Haan yaar wo gadha Armaan, kitna pareshaan kiya na humko! Aane dai phir khabar lenge.." Muskaan sulked and smiled at Nikki.
They all settled on chairs and called for snacks as the girls cleared their eyes.
"Doctor Nikita, aapko kaise?" Keerti asked, almost confused.
"Rahul called late, last night. Usko shayad Billy uncle nai bataya." Nikki said being a little varied and stared at Muskaan to see her reactions. She almost said Ridhima but that was not her secret to tell, that all this while Rahul and Ridhima, were in contact. It wasn't unknown to anyone what happened with Rahul - Muskaan's relationship amidst the tragedy-filled months, post the shootout. All of their lives turned upside down somehow in the last year.
Nikki wasn't affected would be an understatement. Abandoned by her best friend again came second to her because she was already dealing with another betrayal by the love of her life, omission of a truth wasn't great for her when she was already dealing with trust issues with him. They were in a great relationship, no doubt, but what he did during Keerti Mam- Shubhankar Sir's wedding didn't help the little insecurity she had and with Jiya arriving on the day she needed someone too much for her own good, her miseries only increased and she didn't bother listening to Abhi until later. Armaan going away only gave her more anxiety than she already felt, Rahul was the one who picked her up when she couldn't even show her face to Ridhima as she came in terms with her best friend's betrayal with the other best friend of hers.
Muskaan dealt with her problems, she understood Ridhima better at that point in their lives, whatever happened, whatever they talked, it always stayed between Ridhima and Muskaan, of course, she got little details from Atul but they were only the things that everyone somehow knew.
Keerti Mam turned out to be their biggest strength and distraction from the problems, anyway. Her pregnancy brought more work for them, her scolding made them check on themselves, she was the one who made the have breaks and no overtime. She was the mentor, the elder sister, the mom, all at once. She used to bring Navneeta for them to take their minds off from everything during the first some months.
Nikki didn't know about Rahul keeping updates on Armaan would be a lie, of course, she knew. If the few slips-off weren't everything, the sound of Billy Uncle or Ananya Aunty, either in the background, did give it away. She just didn't bother asking. Instead of some half-baked truths, she preferred the full ones and if any of them wasn't willing to tell her, she cared less. She was working on building herself up. She didn't want to pry, she couldn't afford any more bad news, was another reason obviously.
She smiled at Muskaan when Muskaan congratulated her and asked her to show the ring.
"Yeh dekh. Ridhima helped Abhi in choosing this." Nikki forwarded her hand and showed her the ring.
"And ask Ridhima who else gave second opinions when she forwarded those pictures to me via texting?" Muskaan raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders.
"Really, you ?" Nikki whisper shouted.
"Haan aur nahi toh kya, I couldn't come but before everything happened, Atul and I were the only people excited about you two getting hitched." Muskaan giggled and slapped lightly on Nikki's back.
"Really? Rehne dai Muskaan, pata hai Mam except for Ridhima, all of them were Armaan's chamchaas. Remember the boxing match Muski ?" Nikki looked at Keerti as she continued and then pointed her finger at Muskaan.
"Arrey lekin hum kuch bhi kahe, hero is always right and hero toh apni basket kai kehne par hi chalta hai na ? Either way Nikki we all would've supported you considering the amazing change Dr. Modi had as I have heard from Atul."Muskaan winked at her and Keerti smiled at the two.
"Thank You for your input anyways. Isiliye abhi shaadi nahi ki, Armaan aur Ridhima kai bina no shaadi. Pehle hum Delhi sai vaapis aane kai baad hi karnewaale thai but now I think we could wait for Armaan as Ridhima is definitely going to get him back." Nikki rested her head on the table and sighed.
Keerti thought about her words again, as she said two names everyone couldn't bear to take together are the reason for everyone's joy and sadness. Sadness, she hoped would be a short stance because she couldn't wait to have the two people who made Sanjeevni the way it was, home, back.
She internally laughed at how casually they mentioned of their past as if it was yesterday while some days ago, they couldn't just talk about everything without bursting into tears. It did hurt so much.
Armaan stared at the numerous sketches he made of her, from her giggling face to crying face, to her puppy dog pout face to her face filled with fear and worry, he wanted to remember, seep in every memory as he never wanted to forget her. TBI's one of the major after effects were memory loss if medicines weren't taken on proper time, but with his panic attacks, they feared of him forgetting much more, of course, he remembered everything before his memory loss but the latter? He didn't. He didn't remember the moment Ridhima took a bullet for him, the moment when she smiled at him as if saying goodbye before falling on him, it was much later after his therapies he remembered it all. The lisp and forgetting his sense of walking suddenly while walking didn't help his anxieties and thus the anger attacks.
He couldn't fathom to stand with her at the same place while his complications might have been permanent but he knew she would get better, he was the one who suggested group therapy when all he used to talk about to his psychologist was Ridhima's condition at first, asking her to use her laptop for the reports Padma used to mail him on his insistence, his physiologist helped him research Ridhima's condition, his neurologist helped him get connected with few other doctors as well and he got more help. Afterall all that research was everything that helped him keep his sane, keep his calm.
He never asked her doctor or her therapist for how she was doing, all he used to get the reports Padma Mom had her reach and whenever Ridhima's condition deteriorated, he felt so much anger for not being able to do anything, for being away from her, he never hated himself so much before that.
Ridhima Gupta will always be his epic love, the one true love, the person who was his everything, his ending and his beginning, she was his reason for living.
He never realized before but watching her so weak yet so strong, made him look at her with so much wonder and pride. She was a symphony, she was a burning wrath of time that he wanted to catch up with but every force against his desires was trying to stop him. He knew she could help him in every way but he couldn't bear hurting her amidst the process, he had done that enough. He wanted her to be close yet far away but he didn't want to keep her hanging either, waiting for him while balancing her professional life which wasn't easy either. He wanted her to have that freedom, that liberty to be able to fly freely rather than flying with a restriction. He wanted the world for her, he wants it for himself as well but he didn't want to be selfish. He was propelled within what he wanted to do and what he desired and everything was in a conflict that maybe talking to her would solve.
Maybe it wasn't as hard as he thought, but it was definitely not easy, he knew.
Ridhima looked super different with the aura she walked along, Sid wondered. She was a f**king mess, she was judgy, she was the too much of a feminist for him. He wanted to break that stupid sanjeevni reputation of her's so badly, she was way too proud. He couldn't forget the moment she threw that blank ink on his face, he knew him going for his part of the bet didn't do any harm to her but only him. Dr. Keerti shouted at him as if Dr. Ridhima was some goddess, some epitome of perfection. He scoffed remembering her being so emotional while looking at that patient's struggles, it was almost like mocking for him. Not respecting someone's privacy but again it shouldn't be him talking about privacy but in his defense, it was just to teach her a lesson.
He looked who Ridhima came with, Dr. Shashank. Off course, it was the reason for her too much giddiness. Overly proud daughter of an amazing doctor. He wondered why his bhaiya and bhabhi were so happy to see her, but maybe it was because they were interns together. He shook his head to remove all those thoughts and concentrated on the patient.
Suddenly a patient sitting on the bench writhed, as if almost in a fit but then suddenly he spilled out blood from his mouth, too much for their own good, along with some gooey substance as he pulled other people and children along with two nurses to the other side asking them to calm down and settle under the tent while Ridhima and Dr.Shashank took care of the patient, having him pulled over a stretcher and settled inside the ambulance.
Armaan waited for her to come as he was all clear to go, he was so surprised but anyways this was the first time he didn't need any medication for his anger, as his therapist has told him countless times to find that one floor to stand on with his feet gripping on tight, it would be his calming spot, someone loving him was it, he always knew and today when Dr. Shashank spoke all that to him, it wasn't it, it wasn't love, it was acceptance, something he craved for, accepting him the way he was.
She must have been informed by Billy, who he was kidding? Billy texted her in front of him. He sighed and sat on his bed playing ludo on his mobile.
He waited and waited, it was worth it, or was it? He wondered and continued to play Ludo.
A/N: Okay so by now you guys would be familiar with the length of the posts. Anyways, here you go with Chapter 12. I am expecting joota-chappals but remember we have to keep this story going on. I have literally so much exciting stuff on this to do. It's like how I want my TV show to be if I ever make one. Talking about everything and anything, two people in love and also the good and stuff no one really shows, I mean only books do that you know.
But everything apart Armaan is going through stuff, it isn't easy for his state to turn upside down with one instance, he needs self-love. He needs to understand, the acceptance he desires is toxic and what he needs is to accept himself. I am not happy with my baby sad but with love, it comes sadness because pain is the cost of living.
(slight chori ki hui line from TVD finale)
Rahul - Ridhima conversation will be in Extra Chapters or maybe further in a Rahul - Armaan conversation as a flashback.