On Wednesday afternoon, Armaan bumped into Abhi and while he was briefing him about the arrangements of the party, he noticed Nikki passing by.
"Nikki don't forget tomorrow is the party,” he called out to her.
Nikki stopped and not looking at Abhi, said "I am sorry Armaan, I can't make it to the party as I have something else to do" She then walked away leaving Armaan baffled. Abhi felt a tightening in his chest. He told Armaan he would talk to him later and without glancing at him walked towards his cabin, leaving Armaan wondering why everyone was behaving weird that day!
In the evening, Adi and Sheetal visited Nikki at home and pleaded with her to come to the party but she politely declined. She told them that she was very fond of them and respected them a lot but she just can't bring herself to come. She implored with them not to force her and they reluctantly agreed.
“This is so sad Jaan, I love both of them," Sheetal told Adi sadly as they were seated in the car. "Just can’t bear to see them like this.”
Adi nodded his agreement. “No matter what they decide or tell themselves, these two nuts always follow their heart. Don’t worry I am sure Nikki will be there at the party” Adi assured her with a smile.
“I really hope so!”
The party was in full swing. Everyone were having fun as true to his reputation Armaan proved to be the best organiser and kept everyone entertained.
Abhi was standing in a corner, looking sad and morose. He gave a faint smile to whoever greeted him.
"There is my handsome boy" Sr. Puri came up from behind and slapped him on the back. "Where is your partner and my sweetie pie?" Abhi's lips twitched in a weak smile.
"Missing her are you?” Sr. Puri asked having noticed sadness on his face. "Why hasn't she come as yet ? You should have gone and brought her yourself!"
‘How do I tell him Nikki won't be coming.’ Abhi wondered .
"Nikki isn't coming," he told him finally after mustering courage and finding his voice.
“Naughty Boy!” Sr. Puri tweaked his ear. “Pulling my leg aren't you ?”
“No, Really!" Abhi shook his head as he tried to convince him
"Then who is that behind you ?"
Abhi swirled and his heart stopped beating for a moment. He saw Nikki walking towards them. She was looking gorgeous in a red, indian suit. When she reached them, she stood near Abhi, but, ignored him. A delighted Sr. Puri stretched his arms towards her and hugged her tightly.
"You are looking even more beautiful today!" he told her. Nikki gave him a shy smile. "See this Naughty Boy was pulling my leg. He said you were not coming,” he thumped Abhi on the back .
"She is my girl!” he told Abhi with pride “She never breaks her promise, Right sweetheart?"
Nikki nodded her head. "Yes,” she gave him a fond smile. “I came only for you,"
Ouch ! Abhi winced inwardly, knowing the jibe was for him.
“You both playing games with an old man, aren’t you,” Sr. Puri teased. “Don’t I know how much you want to be with each other?“
Seeing them fluster, he laughed aloud.
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll leave you both alone now and go find Maya. Have a nice time and don’t leave each other okay?,” he warned tenderly.
After he left Nikki and Abhi kept mum and avoided looking at each other.
"You finally made it,Nikki" Adi came up from behind them and embraced Nikki warmly.
"I did not want to come,” Nikki told him “but then I thought of your parents. I want them to leave this place, happy and satisfied, Adi"
"Thank you," Adi said with deep gratitude in his eyes.
"Hey Nikki, you've finally come!” An excited Armaan came to them and hugged Nikki “where were you ? Come on the others are waiting for you" Excusing himself from Adi and Abhi, he dragged Nikki away. Adi and Abhi looked sadly at each other.
Sometime later, while Nikki was with her intern group, her eyes kept searching for Abhi. He was standing across with Simi, behind a couple of people. Simi was gesticulating while talking to him and Abhi kept smiling at her. Jealousy begain to flit inside her giving rise to resentment.
"How does it matter to me what he does?” she told herself mentally “why should I care ? Let him do what he wants"
Try as much as she could, she could not keep her eyes away from him. So caught up was she in watching Abhi, she did not realize that Armaan and Riddhima got into an argument. Annoyed with him, Riddhima walked away.
Sr. Puri addresses the group "Come on all you youngsters. Get on to the dance floor See how this old man leads! You all follow" He tells the DJ to start playing the music
The song Rock and Roll Soniye from Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna started playing.
Sr. Puri pulled his wife on to the floor and to everyone's amusement he sang
Hey what's with you baby
I never never never never never felt this way before
Hey come a little closer
Baby, baby baby wanna steal your heart away
(Embarassed, Maya slapped him playfully on his cheek)
Adi joined his father and pulled Sheetal on the dance floor. He and his father began singing to their wives :
Are gore gore mukhde (be my love), chand ke tukde (be my love)
Kaali kaali zulfein (be my love), neeli neeli aankhen (be my love)
Khwaab dikhaade raah bhula de, hosh uda de sab ke
Chain mita de, tan sulga de, mann mein de masti ghol
Embarrassed with her big belly, Sheetal shyly ran away with Adi following behind her.
Armaan tried to pull Ridz in to dance but she refused. He joined everyone else as they danced to the chorus. Abhi, Nikki and Riddhima watched in silence as everyone swayed to
Rock and roll soniye, dole yeh man tere liye
Rock and roll soniye, kabhi tu bhi toh mere sang dol
Armaan finally managed to pull Ridz on the floor and sang
Yeh lachkile se tan, yeh balkhate badan
Pehle dil hai maangte, phir maangte hain jaan
Atul pulled Anjali, singing
Yeh rangeen bijliyaan, yeh jaadu karniyan
Dekhein hai sau baar par hoon aaj bhi hairan
As Riddhima and Anjali tried to escape Armaan-Atul block their way and sing
Oh dekho aaye, oh dekho jaaye
Kis naaz se nakhre se jhoom ke
Apsaraayen,haseenayen ek pal ko jo dekhle ghoom ke
Armaan then cornered an annoyed Riddhima and sang
Oh saare zamana ho diwana duniya gire kadmon pe
Phir bhi yeh pariyan, husn ki kaliyan samjhe na pyar ke bol
The whole group, except Abhi and Nikki, continued dancing
Rock and roll soniye, dole yeh ban tere liye
Rock and roll soniye, kabhi tu bhi toh mere sang dol
Much to everyone's amusement,Adi and Sr. Puri then swing to
"Oh sar pe topi laal, haath mein resham ka rumaal ho tera kya kehna
Sexy Sam, sexy Sam,wham bam wham bam thank you Sam oh shava, oh shava
Gore gore gaal, gaal par uljhe uljhe baal ho tera kya kehna
Sexy Sam, sexy Sam, oh balle balle balle
Sr. Puri noticed Abhi and Nikki were not dancing and were standing away from each other. Going near them, he invited them to dance.
Abhi glanced at Nikki and tauntingly sang
Yeh dilbar yeh haseen, yeh toh jaane nahin
Pyar hai kya cheez aur hoti wafa hai kya
Nikki icily returned,
"Yeh pal bar ke sanam, inko kis ka hai gham
Hum pe kya guzri bhala inko pata hai kya"
Armaan pulled Nikki on the dance floor. Deliberately ignoring Abhi and Riddhima who were standing on either side of them, they sang
"Yeh anjaane, yeh begaane behka hai kya jazbaat se
Na yeh jaane, na yeh maane dil toote hain inke haathon se "
Once again going nearer to Riddhima, Armaan sang
"Oh aag se thandak barf se garmi maang ke hum pachtaaye
Kya na bhulayein, humne gavaayen din kitne anmol "
Sr. Puri pulled Abhi and Nikki on either side of him and they join in dancing with the others
"Rock and roll soniye, dole yeh man tere liye
Rock and roll soniye, kabhi tu bhi toh mere sang dol
When the song finished, a happy Sr. Puri, once again, pulled Abhi and Nikki on either side of him and hugged them warmly. As Abhi and Nikki put their arms around him, their hands meet and their touch sent electrifying sensations into their system. Awkwardly, they then pulled their hands away.
The party continued to rock. Nikki stuck to her friends for most of the evening. At times when she saw Abhi was not around Sheetal, Maya and Sr. Puri, she chatted with them.
Towards the end of the evening, Sr. Puri asked the DJ to end the evening with a nice romantic number and requested all couples to come on to the dance floor.
The DJ plays Baahon ki Darmiyaan.
"Why aren’t the two of you dancing ?” Sr. Puri demanded of Abhi and Nikki. He took Nikki’s hand and put it in Abhi’s. “Come on, Go and dance!” he shoved them gently to the dance floor.
Abhi and Nikki walked siffly, hand in hand on to the dance floor.
The lights were dimmed. Realising they were being watched by the Puris, they glanced diffidently at each other.
Abhi put one hand around Nikki’s waist and gently pulled her closer towards him while he held her hand with his other hand. They stared at each other and with eyes rapt in a hypnotic spell, they slowly began to sway to the beat of the music.
Unspoken pain, awareness, yearning, passion, a whole gamut of emotions slowly swept over them.
Every word of the song also echoed their sentiments.
Khulte Khulte Band Honth, labhon ki ye ankahi,
Mujshe keh Rahi hai ke badne de bekhudi,
Mile yun ki Daud jaayein nas nas mein bijliyaan
Captivated by her alluring face, Abhi found himself moving even more closer to her. The warmth of his breath on her face, the smell of his aftershave sent Nikki to heady heights. His caressing finger on her back sent tingling sensations into her electrifying her whole body. She ached for him to take her into his arms and closing her eyes, fervently hoped this enchanting moment between them didn't end. .
‘Nikki” She detected passion in his whisper and opening her eyes, looked at him. She saw stark desire in his eyes and coloured deeply. She wanted to throw her ear around him and sink deep into him, but, the reality of their relationship suddenly hit hard into her.
‘No, No’ she mentally reminded herself. ‘This cannot be. I must not fall weak.’
Abhi saw the distress on her face and anxiously asked if she was okay. The deep concern in his voice, brought a lump in her throat. Her eyes began to well up with tears and she quickly withdrew her hand from him and dashed out of the room towards the open lawn.
Why can't I control my feelings where he is concerned. Why do these feelings keep stirring whenever he is near me!" she cried tearfully
Someone hovered over her shoulder and handed a tissue to her. Her eyes misty with tears, Nikki took it and after wiping them she looked up at the person and saw it was Simi.
"Are you crying because you finally realised that there is no future, for you and Abhi?" Nikki was not surprised hearing the contempt in Simi’s voice.
"if you haven't realised this then you better do, because, as long as I am around, Abhi will not care about anyone else. He is only mine"
"So I was right, you haven't changed at all!" Nikki told her with disgust on her face. "Well, what Simi wants she gets!” she said smugly
" Do you really think that my car broke down that day on the cliff ?” she smiled evilly
“No it was my plan. I saw you both drop Adi and Sheetal off. So I got the elders dropped off and followed you" Nikki was appalled.
“See I am going to try my best and win back Abhi.” Simi informed her casually. "He has already started melting. Its only a matter of time, I'll get him to love me again, soon."
"Love is never manipulated,” Nikki retorted confidently “Love just happens. When you have to try so hard to achieve love, then it can't really be love! These are only cheap games"
Simi seethed hearing Nikki’s words. "What are you ? You are a big schemer yourself,” she spewed venom at Nikki. “and you accuse me of scheming? You, yourself are trying to take my Abhi away from me.”
“I warn you,” she pointed a finger at Nikki. “If you try to get close to Abhi, I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you, you Bloody Bitch!”
"SIMI!" Abhi’s thunderous voice made both women quiver with fear.
With quick angry strides he reached them.
"How dare you ?” incensed with fury, he shook Simi by the shoulder “How dare you talk to Nikki like that?” Nikki and Simi were both taken aback.
"Abhi, its not what you are thinking," Simi tried to sweet talk him.
"I knew you were upto something.” Abhi snapped angrily. “That is why I went soft on you and not because I care about you. I wanted to see how much lower could you stoop."
Standing behind him, Nikki is in a state of confusion. “Abhi was blasting Simi for her! This was too good to be true!”
Simi wanted to say something but cowered under Abhi’s blazing gaze.
"Look Simi, let me make it clear to you, for the last time!” He had raised a warning finger at her “I repeat once again, for the last time, whether I have anyone in my life or not, I definitely have nothing for you. I have no feelings for you at all. Do you get that ? Infact I don't even feel any hatred for you. I tolerate you being around just because of your father and Uncle, otherwise you cease to exist for me." Simi turned deathly pale as he razed her aspiratons to the ground. .
Nikki was about to touch his arm in a bid to calm him down. but stopped herself from doing so.
Looking at the hatred in Abhi’s eyes, Simi’s eyes began to well up with tears. Glancing at Nikki over Abhi’s shoulder and then back at Abhi, she ran away.
"Why are you so angry with her ?” Nikki asked him softly. Taking a deep breath, Abhi turned around to face her.
“She said the same things what you accused me of ."
Abhi wished he could wipe away the hurt that was glistened in her eyes.
"Atleast she is nobody to me,” Nikki's tone was laden with sadness. “ so it doesn't hurt at all. But You ?" choked beyond control, she turned around and walked away. Realising he had no right to stop her, Abhi agonizingly watched her go .
People began to leave the party. Nikki went up to Armaan and asked him if he would drop her home.
"Of course, I’ll drop you" Armaan told her.
Hugging Sheetal, Maya and Sr. Puri, Nikki wished them goodbye. They tell her that they are really happy to have met her.
“Nikki we are leaving on Sunday and hope to see you before that.” Maya told her as she embraced her warmly. Nikki gave her a faint smile.
"Abhi is dropping you right?” Sr. Puri asked Nikki.
Armaan and Riddhima had come to wish goodbye to the Puris. "its okay Sir, I'll drop Nikki,” Armaan told him. "Her house is on the way."
Sr. Puri says "Oh, ok, I guess its late too and Abhi seems to have an early morning flight."
"Anyways, Armaan thank you,” He extended his hand to Armaan “you've done a great job in organising the party. After such a long time, we all had fun."
“Thank you sir,” replied Armaan shaking his hand.
Smiling at the Puris, Riddhima thanked them and said “Goodbye”
"You better take care Armaan, you've got two pretty ladies with you!" Sr. Puri teased.
"Oh Sir, now you know why I feel so secure tonight," Armaan said winking at him.
As the ladies chuckled , Sr. Puri laughed out aloud. They then take their leave and walk away.
Just ast they reached the door, Abhi and Adi were walking in. Seeing Nikki leaving with Armaan and Riddhima, Abhi froze.
"Dr. Modi, I hope you liked the party?" Armaan asked him.
Extending his hand to Armaan, Abhi says, "It was great! Thank you ! You've done a great job!" he smilesd at him.
"Its my pleasure,” Armaan shook his hand. “We've had fun too."
Try as much they could, Abhi and Nikki couldn’t help stealing glances at each other which was well noticed by Adi and Riddhima.
"Nikki we'll drop you" Adi offered
"Its okay I am dropping Nikki,” Armaan informed him. “her house is on the way.” Abhi and Nikki looked despondently at each other. “Ladies, shall we leave?” Armaan asked Riddhima and Nikki and when they nodded their head, he walked out.
“Thank you Dr. Modi,” Riddhima said to Abhi who reciprocated the same to her. With a smile at Adi, Riddhima followed Armaan out.
"Thanks for coming Nikki.” Adi told her as he hugged her. “Whether anyone is happy or not, atleast Mom and Dad will go back with happiness. Thanks so much," his voice was emotionally heavy.
Nikki was close to tears. She smiled faintly at him.
When she stepped ahead, she found Abhi in front.
The pangs of parting is reflected in both their eyes.
She tore her gaze away and without uttering a word, she walked away. Once outside, the tears which she had latched on to for so long, poured like rain all over her face. As she neared Armaan's car, she quickly wiped them away.
Adi was observing Abhi who is rooted to the spot as if he as shell shocked. Few seconds later, his eyes moist and swallowing a lump in his throat, he quietly walked away.
"Why God ? Why is this happening ?” Adi implored looking heavenwards. “Can't you do something ?" He was filled with despair.
Nikki angrily pulled the pillow over her face. Why can’t she get some sleep. Her body is exhausted, her emotions overwrought, then why is sleep being so harsh to her, she wondered She realised it was all because of Abhi and scowled at his picture that was lying on her bedside table. She picked it up and quickly put it in the drawer below. She couldn't trust herself to look at him! She would be stuck the whole night just looking at his picture!
Lying on the bed Abhi was thinking about Nikki. Sleep was also playing truant with him. In a couple of hours he had to leave for the airport. He shut his eyes tightly hoping to get some sleep, but, it was all in vain.
Nikki’s face kept haunting him. He was reminded of their moments over the past week. The good and the bad. The kiss after the ice-cream, the beautiful moments in the cloud on the cliff, them dancing to baahon ki darmiyaan, the angst in his office, the final break up at Nikki’s place all keep flashing before his face.
Thoughts of Abhi had still not allowed Nikki to sleep. She was reminiscing how protective his arms were, it felt like heaven being in them. Those eyes, full of intensity and passion, unknowingly they draw her closer to him. His touch on her face was so excitingly sensuous, she always found it difficult to resist. She sighed deeply Those cherishable moments were now all things of the past. It could never be hers anymore.
Abhi was remembering Nikki's smile, her eyes. They were so mesmerizingly beautiful! Everytime he looked at them, they pulled out his soul from within. That luscious hair, those quivering, kissable lips, the glow of her cheek, all the time, make him want to reach out and touch them. He was fortunate to touch them. They could have been his forever, but now he has lost it all somehow.
The ringing of the alarm clock told him, he had to leave for the airport. Stretching his arms, he climbed out of bed.
ITS TIME TO DEPART.
Nikki was woken up by the incessant ring of the telephone. Groggily she sat up. She remembered being awake till dawn. With difficulty she reached for the phone and mumbled “Hello”
“Nikki, seems like bad news,” Adi's frantic voice sent a chill into her spine. "the flight which Abhi took to Delhi has gone missing"
Nikki felt her whole world spinning dizzily.
TO BE CONTINUED