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Flashback: Two Years Ago…
A luxurious car roll on Kolkata’s roads as music fills the interior space where a young girl is sitting on backside seat, her eyes hidden behind big black sunglasses, her long silky curled hair gathered aside on one shoulder and headphones in her ears, she’s enjoying a song when her phone rings, a wide smile curves her lips as she pick up:
“- hey Laksh’! … I missed you too… ha ha… good trip a bit too long, but no problems… ha ha… you’re right… ok baba, promise, I’ll take care!… really!?!?… okey then… see you tonight… bye!”
When she hangs off, the wallpaper her screen shows makes her smile wider, the rest of her journey flows over the precious memories she gathered during the whole last month she passed at Ladakh in Kashemir…
Some hours later, the car finally passes the Gadodia’s Mansion sculptured gates, she salutes back the guard smilingly and don’t wait for the driver when he carks in front of the main huge building.
Putting her bag over her back, she gets down brushing her hair back by her sunglasses looking up to the richly decorated mansion…
In her fair blue jeans and white sleeveless long veiled top, strapped flat sandals, it was hard to believe that she’s this house’s elder daughter…
One of her eyebrows shoot up surprised, Laksh’ have told her that his family was invited tonight, but no one told her that there was some celebration for that!
She bangs her head with her hand shaking it:
“- silly Swara! How could anyone tell you… there was no network where you were buddu!!!”
She thanks the driver who rolls her luggage inside and takes the first stairs to the entry but a melodious voice stops her from inside:
“- roko roko roko!!!!”
A young girl comes hurriedly a pooja tali in hands, in yellow anarkali, a braid over her right shoulder and beautiful colored bangels tinkling on her wrists, she welcomes her traditionally making her roll her eyes stuffing some Prasad in her mouth to shut her protestations…
“- thank you Ragini-ma! Should I to bend to your feet for blessings??”
Following her own words, Swara leans down but is shockingly stopped by her younger sister:
“- pagal tum!? You’re mere didi hai… ”
“- ha… ha… and you’re mere pyaree chote behen hai! So I can pull your ear for scolding your elder na?”
Ragini holds on her ear saying:
But Swara shakes her head stopping her, she takes her hand off saying:
“- arey! I’m just kidding na!… you know what? I missed you drambazz!!!”
Ragini smiles maliciously to her and both plunge in each other embrace in a so missed hug… when they part, their eyes are fill with tears of joy and nostalgia… since three years, it’s the first time, they stay separated for a so long period.
Wiping their tears, their eyes search instinctively their mother’s portrait at the end of the corridor… a huge garnished with flowers photo of Mrs Sharmista Gadodia who died at Ragini’s birth, Swara was just one year old and the two sister have no any memory of the great woman people talk about around them…
Putting the tali on a side table, Ragini joins Swara under their mother’s photo and together, they light a candle joining their hands in a silent prayer.
Suddenly, a voice reasons in the mansion calling for them:
“- have you planned to pass the whole day there you two!?!?…”
They both burst out laughing opening their eyes, the voice calls for them again:
“- Swara, Ragini!!! I’m not joking… time for you both to get prepared for tonight party! Don’t oblige me to come and search you!”
They both reply with same voice:
“- Dadi-ma!!! Swara and Ragini, nahi hai!… SWARAGINI!!”
Insisting to take her bag, Ragini is about to put on her shoulder when it touches the tali making it fall to the ground in a deafening sound, at her shocked reaction, Swara replies:
“- arey Ragini… don’t be so superstitious, you know that I don’t believe in such things!”
Walking to their rooms between the domestics occupied finishing the celebration’s preparations, Ragini tells her sister that her father is giving a big party and he invited family, friends and business partners… even media will be present.
“- ha… Laksh’ told me about it…”
Ragini’s voice failed to cover her surprise, her sister explains:
“- he called me when I landed to take news… I really missed him during this month too”
Ragini has a small smile opening her sister’s room door. Swara’s eyes become huger seeing all the stuff covering her bed… a purple sari with heavy silver pearling handwork, matching jewelries, high heeled sandals…
Replying her unspoken question, Ragini says detailing her from toe to hair smilingly:
“- Durga Prasad Maheshwari can have a heart attack knowing that his best friend’s daughter is a so modern girl”
Swara sighs rolling her eyes as she falls on her bed tiredly:
“- Ragini… Durga Prasad Maheshwari ji’s point of view about me is really the last of my priorities… you carry on with your perfect future bahu’s character…”
She smirks adding:
“- Perfect!!! This shade of blush and shy smile is just so perfect!”
Joining her on the bed, they both burst out laughing heartily, Swara takes her sari and covers her sister’s head playfully making a sigh to say that she looks perfect, then putting her hands in front of her own face, she parts them shocking her with the horrible mimic she was doing behind them…
At the door, their father was smiling tears filling his eyes, no one could imagine that those sisters barely knew each other three years ago, from occasion to other, they just catch up with random news over by internet… but since Swara’s return home, her light spirit and joyful soul spread happiness and laughs in the huge mansion, turning it from house to home as she gained rapidly almost everyone’s heart…
He bends to his mother’s feet taking blessings and says :
“- they look beautiful, hai na Ma?”
She smiles to him agreeing, then looks to the two girls who are busy chatting… or it’s mostly Swara talking endlessly about her camp and Ragini listening her eyes wide opened with wonder.
She frowns, she doesn’t really like the effects of this bengali’s education granddaughter she inherited since Shoba’s death.
The relation between Gadodia and Boss families has been ruled with business interest and despite the fact that Sharmista has been a perfect marwaren bahu, she never really accepted her but couldn’t argue with her husband.
this why after her death, she took care to have the less relation with Boss family possible by separating the two orphans so every family has her part… up bringing Ragini in a strict traditional environment, she has always forbidden her from taking model of her spoiled elder sister.
But then Swara came back home and despite all her attempts, she never gave her any occasion to complain or spoil her relation with her father or sister… every time, thei eyes meet, she feels like she’s reading deep inside her heart and it filled her heart with defeated hatred.
Ragini stands up immediately saying:
“- ji, Dadi-ma?”
“- didn’t I say that it was time to get ready?”
“- ji, Dadi-ma… I… I was…”
“- challo beta, guests will start arriving in less a hour…”
“- ji, Dadi-ma…”
Without looking back, Ragini heads toward her room looking down avoiding her Dadi’s scolding eyes, Shekar presses her head giving her blessing when she passes by his side.
Swara approaches her father first, bending down for blessing then hugging him tightly saying:
“- I missed you baba…”
He blushes a bit still not used to a so informal kind of relation he has with his elder daughter. He simply replies caressing her hair:
“- me too, Shona…”
When she bends to her Dadi’s feet, she barely feels her hand blessing her as she gets up smiling to her:
“- pranam Dadi… everything okey?”
Parvathi shows her the stuff covering her bed and says trying to mask her stern tone:
“- you’ll be able to get ready alone or should I come back to help you with the sari…”
“- don’t worry Dadi… I should be able to do it by myself…”
As his usual, Shekar fails to notice the fake smiles both women are exchanging in his presence and soon he leaves with his mother asking Swara to get ready quickly.
Finally alone, Swara starts unpacking her luggage, she finds a group photo where all the so typical trisomic children of her association and the staff who accompanied her, a small boy was sitting on her lap covering the guy at her right side’s eyes playfully which makes her smile at the memory of that moment…
She goes to the wall where all kind of photos where hanging… trips… sport competitions… climbing… sailing… hiking… those who she motherly names “her children” have visited several countries all over those years… looking back to the expensive clothes and jewelries exposed on her bed, she feels disgusted that there is so many starving and ill people in the world and she’s just here enjoying to be born in a rich family!
The party starts a hour later and Gadodia’s Mansion is slowly filled with all the invited people who between their usual talkies, they wonder what was the occasion of a so big party.
Finally, the main guests are welcomed by Shekar and his mother. Durga Prasad Maheshwari, his wife Annapurna ji, his unique son Lakshya and his younger brother Adarsh who is accompanied with his wife, Parineetha… the Maheshwaris are all present and soon other guests start guessing the occasion looking to all the gifts they came with.
“- Shekar, my brother… this has been a so awaited moment for both families since more than twenty years now… how long will you make us wait more?”
Shekar smiles back to him as his mother replies:
“- Durga Prasad beta… we’ve waiting for this as much as you… hamara friendship is today becoming relationship but you’re so eager because you’re gaining a daughter when we are losing her…”
Annapurna exclaims joyfully:
“- arey Kaki-sa… you’re gaining a son too… hamara Lakshya is as your grandson as your lovely Swara and Ragini…”
Shekar finally announces:
“- and here are my sun and moon… Swara and Ragini… mereSwaragini…”
The two girls were standing upstairs their hands joined,, in her pink sari with golden pearling same handwork… the two sisters look like twins.
Swara searches the point her sister’s eyes were focusing on, but the clapping sound disturb her and she just follows her sister’s steps down. They reach their father and Dadi who introduce them to the Maheshwari family, Parvathi starts with Ragini:
“- this is Ragini, the younger daughter of our house and the calmer too… she’s still at college and spend her time between studies and home…”
Ragini joins her hands saluting them politely and bends to elder’s feet taking blessing unable to look in anyone’s eyes.
Shekar then introduces Swara, pride filling his voice saying:
“- Swara is my eldest daughter, she’s not yet graduated but keeps herself already busy with all kinds of annexed activities… she already started working in the family company… and…”
Durga Prasa cuts him continuing at his place:
“- and who doesn’t know her charity’s activities… her association is one of the most famous in the continent, we all should learn from you how to devote ourselves for other beta…”
Keeping his hand over her head, Swara blushes surprising herself, she bends to his feet then gets up joining her hands saying:
“- Uncle, there is nothing to be famous about, you know… I’m not doing this for fame or praises… we all have this unknown chance to come to this world with health in our bodies and rupees in our pockets… advantage is that sharing a bit of it will never decrease both of them”
When Paravathi and Annapurna frown feeling that Swara’s words are a masked accusation like only poor can throw at riches’ faces… Ragini widen her eyes to Swara telling her that she just messed up but is surprised at the old man’s reaction who smiles brightly saying:
“- You were so right, Shekar… you daughter is much mature than you… Swara beta… I’m so proud to see that even in the so spoiled new generation; there is young people like you who know the real values of life…”
After diner, Swara who was on the balcony busy on her phone is startled as Laksh’ takes it from her hands playfully:
Ragini tapes her shoulder from the other side looking to her interrogatively:
“- Ragini!? Arey… tell him to give back my phone!”
“- kyu? Any important work?”
Ragini’s teasing is followed by Lalsh who acts like checking her phone:
“- Or… any important person…”
Swara frowns trying to snatch her phone from his hands:
“- stop it Laksh!… Ragini!?”
As he just threw the phone to her sister in her back, she turns to her sister asking her:
“- deko Ragini… main apke didi, hai na!? I warn you… if you don’t… Laksh’!”
Ragini has just thrown back the phone to Laksh :
“- Laksh… you’re the worst best friend on the earth!”
“- really!!! Ha ha…. Madam I can impress Durga Prasad Maheshwari from the first sight!!!”
She rolls her eyes folding her arms on her chest defeated… seeing that she was really upset, Ragini snatches the phone from his hands saying:
“- Sorry Swara… didn’t mean to…”
Swara takes a deep breath before as Laksh’ adds:
“- kya hua Swara? you’re generally the prankest between us…”
She shakes her head trying to chase her bad mood and replies:
“- it’s just… I’m just tired and worried… really couldn’t they wait for some other day for this party?”
“- sorry… I think that it’s my family’s fault… Papa has an important business trip tomorrow… he’ll be in London for the following two weeks…”
Ragini unfolds Swara’s arms taking her hands in hers asking:
“- why are you worried, Swara? What happened at Ladakh?”
Swara’s eyes are immediately filled with tears at the evocation worrying them both, but she turns away gulping back her tears saying:
“- do you remember, Arjun? The small boy who needs a heart transplant donor?”
They both agree, Arjun is the closest child in the association to Swara’s heart, because he’s the most vulnerable, orphan and suffering from Down syndrome and cardiac severe problem, he has no one but her…
“- he just found a donor in States… I just wanted to be with him in this trip… but papa insisted that I have to be back now and I’m worried as he never traveled by plane without me… I don’t know if…”
“- Swara didi, Ragini didi… your Dadi is asking for the three of you, now!”
A domestic cuts her obliging them all to return back to the party where Gadodia and Maheshwari’s families are about announcing something.
Laksh and Ragini looks to each other smiling while she checks her phone again listening absent mindedly to Durga Prasag’s speeches about friendship of years… promises to be fulfilled and new kind of relationship making them family… Laksh’ takes Ragini’s hand secretly when they all hear the old man says:
“- this why, we’re happy today to announce that we’re becoming family as I’m taking Shekar’s daughter as Maheshwari’s bahu… priest has been consulted and the marriage will be celebrated in two weeks… you’re all invited to witness the marriage of Lakshya Maheshwari and Swara Gadodia”
Swara’s phone falls to the ground in a deafening sound as Laksh and Ragini look to each other shockingly snatching their hands from each other grip… looking back to her, they see her eyes widened with shock eyes filled with eyes, her trembling lips murmuring repeatidly:
“- that’s impossible… that’s impossible… just impossible…”
As Shekar and Durga Prasad share a brotherhood tight hug, her feet walks back slowly until she’s out of the guests eyes, then putting her hand over her lips to stop her from screaming, she runs up to her room.
Laksh who can’t bear what’s happening in their lives suddenly, goes out to the balcony while Ragini follows her sister up… she’s shocked to find her crying badly sitting on the ground.
She sits face to her trying to hide her own tears, she’s unable to find any words and can’t even understand her sister’s state who just keeps saying:
“- this is impossible… Ragini… you’re hearing me? I can’t marry Laksh… I’m… I just can’t… Laksh’ has always been for Ragini, Ragini has always been for Laksh, hai na? isn’t what you all has always said since our birth?”
Dadi who stands at the door says:
“- false… Maheshwari and Gadodia has always been meant to be one family… Laksh was for Ragini before you come back… you’re the elder daughter of this house now… Laksh’ is your right… your sister’s nahi…”
“- kya bakwas!!!!! Have you all gone mad!? You can’t play with our destinies just like that… you tell her Ragini…”
Ragini wipes her tears before saying wiping her sister’s cheeks too:
“- congratulation Swara…”
To Be Continued…