Hey guys, as I seem to be on a story-ending spree, here I come with the last shot to this tale. It was a pleasure writing this story, I got this idea while I was preparing to sleep and since then, there had been this urge to share this story with you all. Thanks a lot for the immense love you have given this book and cheers to Lakshya and his ‘Myra’ Ragini who shall definitely have their happily ever after. Oh, and I have the biggest twist waiting for you as we reach the climax of this story. Wait for the twist to unfold…………
“One two three………Marwari nahi khaate machhi!”
I lifted an eyebrow in amusement as I saw Lakshya muttering the above line again and again as he paced the length of the room. This was his quirky habit of trying to calm himself down. He would just say three consecutive numbers and make up a stupid rhyme to match them and keep muttering them and walking till his anger cooled down. I found it rather endearing and his rhymes never failed to amuse me.
“You will create a hole in the carpet if you walk more Mr. Maheshwari!” I said lazily as I stretched. Lakshya huffed in indignation.
“I feel like punching something. You did just save me from punching the mirror in my anger, didn’t you Myra?”
“That would have been nasty Lakshya. There would have been blood and you would have been hurt. I hate seeing you hurt.”
Lakshya smiled at this and sat down beside me gently. I rubbed his palm in a comforting manner.
“I hate it when things go against my plans, you know Myra? Being stuck here in Kolkata for such an extended period was NOT a part of my plan at all. And nor was you being here with me a plan. It is VERY frustrating. I am dying to go to our own home, settle in the balcony with a cup of steaming hot coffee and have just you, me and our chun-mun……..”
“Stop calling those lizards, flies and mosquitoes our chun-mun, for God’s sake!”
“…and then go to our office, work hard and then return home with you and cook and eat and sleep!” continued Lakshya, ignoring me. I gave a sigh in exasperation.
“If I had a family, I would have LOVED being with them and spending as much time with them as possible. Why do you act this way Lakshya? You are so lucky to have a family, I don’t even…….”
“Am I not your family? Am I not enough?” Lakshya asked quietly. I hit him on the back of his head.
“You know I don’t mean it that way. It’s just that…..sometimes I wish I too had a mother. Your mother loves you Lakshya, loves you more than I do perhaps. I see her constantly looking at you and doing things she thinks you like, it is another thing altogether that you get irritated by them because you don’t like them. She cares.”
“Myra, no offence, but I hope you realise the irony in what you are saying. She is my mother and by rule, she is supposed to know me and my preferences best. However, she doesn’t know ANYTHING. She thinks I like tea while I like coffee. She thinks I like aloo puri while I like aloo paratha. She thinks I like red while I like blue. She thinks women like Pooja Vyas are the best for me while it is common knowledge that only Ragini Maheshwari is the best for me, and also my choice. Heck, she always does things she THINKS I like. She has never asked me, you know? It seems, I am supposed to like everything that my father likes, just like how Adarsh Bhaiya and Sanskaar behave. That’s NOT how I roll.”
“She tries, at least…..”
“Oh come on, she has been trying this for YEARS. I think these years were enough time for her to realise that I do not prefer things the way she insists I prefer. I have been very vocal about what I want, and once or twice, they have relented, but on the condition that my choice try to become a model for their choice. You know, I told you once that I wanted to marry a girl who was modern and all and they agreed but they insisted that she become a model Marwari Maheshwari Bahu after marriage. Like, impose restrictions on my own choices? Is that how I am supposed to live? Is that how YOU want me to live, Myra?”
I gave a deep sigh. He had a very valid point. It has been a month since we have been living here and I have noticed how his mother keeps on doing things for him her own way, without considering his choices. When I try to tell her, she tells me that she is the mother and knows her son best. I don’t doubt her affection or her intentions but it troubles me when I see Lakshya unhappy or upset because he didn’t like something she seems to think he does. I wonder sometimes, how is it that Lakshya’s family dynamics are such? How is it that his own mother doesn’t know what he likes? How is it that his own father tries to dictate his choices even after he has grown up and gotten married? How is it that the others do not have a problem with this?
Today, Lakshya had to go for a very urgent meeting to Newtown but as he was about to leave, his mother stopped him, saying that she was making his favourite Malpuye. I know that Lakshya doesn’t like them and such reasons were never going to work for him to cancel a meeting. Lakshya tried to tell her that politely but she took offence. She started badmouthing me, accusing me of instigating her son against her. What started as a minor disagreement between Lakshya and his mother grew into a full blown fight which resulted in Lakshya being unable to leave for the meeting on time and having to postpone it as a result. There were heated exchanges, scandalous allegations, dirty looks and emotional outbursts. Thankfully, I was spared as Lakshya had requested me to go back to our room and not hear what was happening and I was glad to do so. Yet I knew that there had been a big argument as Lakshya was now in a rage.
Lakshya took a deep breath. “Leave it Myra, I guess I will just go tomorrow and hold the meeting. It is of no use…………we will fight, then make up but we will never change.”
“But she is your mother Lakshya. When you told me to leave the hall, I did so quietly as I knew that this was something you had to discuss with your family. It is obvious they don’t like me, but it is even more obvious that they love you. I didn’t hear a word because I respect you all. Did someone say something to rattle you so?”
“What didn’t they say? Called me foolish for being with you. Called me spineless for seeking your counsel and help in matters which are supposed to be solved by me as a man. Called you over smart and cunning. Called me rebellious. In short, Mr. and Mrs. Lakshya Maheshwari have been insulted in every possible way.”
“I don’t mind the insults……”
“I do. Is this how a family works, my dear? The elders insult the young and the young listen silently if they are docile and rant off if rebellious. There is underlying tension evident between the members, all the hate and the dissatisfaction is simmering within, ready to burst out like a volcano. Is this how a family lives?”
I sighed. He always had a point. Damn him, why is he so smart? And why does he love me so much? Sometimes, I feel his mother is right. Almost 80% of his actions against the family are made keeping me in mind. I really have been a cause of tension between him and his family. And I was hating it. My fear of losing him one day due to the divide between his family and us is resurfacing now.
“But Lakshya, isn’t it still your duty to keep trying to make your point known? They are your parents, this isn’t going to change. They deserve every bit of the time and effort you are putting on them and their happiness, because they put theirs to bring you up in such privilege. Most people your age cannot even imagine the amount of luxury you have been provided with since childhood. They have done their best and understand that THIS was their best. Now, it falls on you to give YOUR best. Even if it differs from their idea of best, just be sincere in your bidding. Everything will be fine.”
Lakshya smiled at me. “You really do not understand the dynamics of this family Myra. Our capacity doesn’t matter here, the desired end does. Papa didn’t care that I was fresh in his junk business and I had no idea of how things went, he just cared for the deal that should be ours. When we delegate a duty to someone, it is with full knowledge of their strength, weakness, USP and working habits, but Dad doesn’t care. And this is how the family runs as well. Because he has a junk business, Adarsh Bhaiya should take commerce. Because Sanskaar is showing a keen interest in his business, Lakshya should do the same. Arrey mazaak hai kya? Matlab, kuch bhi hoga?”
“Okay, do one thing, leave it. Umm, you told me you wanted to take me to dinner at this upshot Thai restaurant where they served the best Thai curry, where the hell is that plan now? Or am I to make the best of the tinde ki sabzi made today?”
“Myra, my love, that’s a superb idea! I don’t like tinde, sounds like Tinder which is an app for all desperate losers wanting a hookup……”
“Please, don’t forget that Omi met Ojasvi on Tinder. And they are very happy.”
“Arrey that is a one in a million case. Rest don’t get anything, other than a thenga.”
“Stop being a judgemental ass. Not everybody gets to meet their significant others near themselves in their lives. In fact sometimes, destiny literally places your soulmate in front of you. But then some have to search themselves, and if such apps help, so be it. By the way, how did we meet?”
Lakshya shifted a little. “Wo….wo, my parents got your rishta. They thought you would suit. So I went to your college to meet you and there we chatted. You fell for me at first sight, I didn’t, after all I am a sakht launda……….” Lakshya smirked. I hit his head with a pillow.
We laughed as he recalled the memory, while I laughed seeing his nose crinkle funnily as he laughed. “Do you know what you were wearing Myra? It was….”
“……..a yellow and purple anarkali suit.” I completed and froze. Similarly, Lakshya froze beside me.
“How do you know?” Lakshya asked in shock.
“I don’t know. It…it came to me. Like, in a flash, and I just got verbal diarrhoea.”
Lakshya looked at me with an uneasy look on his face. I smiled back, unsure of what this meant. His face relaxed and he gave me a peck on my cheek. “Wear something nice, we shall eat Thai rice!” he whispered. I grimaced at his poor rhyming while he moved towards the washroom while adjusting his collars, pleased with himself.
SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. Did Myra just get a flashback? Oh God, does this mean she is getting her memory back?
I opened the tap and splashed the cold water on my face repeatedly. No. This cannot happen. She cannot remember anything. Everything would be over if she got an inkling of my lies.
I looked at my face in the mirror. There was a healthy glow to my skin yet, there were eyebags under my eyes. It was all due to stress. This one month in this Mansion had made me take too much stress for my body to co-operate with me. I rubbed my temples to soothe the pain that was slowly increasing.
This place is jinxed, I swear. Whenever I come here, I go with a headache. One month, and everybody had already made me half-mad. I could notice their suspicious activities, they were definitely up to something. And this constant keeping an eye on them, along with caring for my business and spending time with my wife was making me tired. I was always wary of everyone in this house, even Chacha ji, who I had found going through my drawers one day. Nobody, not even the servants, could be trusted.
I recalled what happened this morning……….
“But Lakshya, I am making Malpuye beta. I know you love them. Eat them and go, it would just take an hour more.”
“Maa, first things first, I do NOT like Malpuye, I like pancakes and they aren’t the same thing. Also, no food is going to make me cancel or postpone my million dollar deal with a foreign client. If you think Malpuye can make me stay behind and suffer crores worth of losses, then you obviously do not know me.”
Maa’s lower lip trembled. “You have changed so much beta. Can’t you stay back and eat a sweet dish your mother made for you? Do some crores matter more than your mother’s happiness?”
“I would like to ask the same thing. Does a Malpua matter more than your son’s success and happiness?”
Maa’s eyes flashed. “I know why you are saying this. That Ragini must have brainwashed you. She is your business partner na, she must have fixed up this deal to make you go away to Newcastle, away from us. She hates us but you know what, we hate her more!”
I spun around, horrified. Ragini stood on the staircase, with a pale face. She had probably heard what Maa had said. Maa turned towards her and advanced upon her.
“Aa gayi aap? Very good. You did this na? You are sending him away on purpose, to keep him away from us, his own family. For your own selfish personal reasons, you want to create a divide between my son and I. But let me tell you, you uncultivated middle-class nobody, that no woman can break a mother’s relationship with her son. Come what may, he will choose me over you. Start counting your time in his life!”
My blood boiled as I saw Myra further getting paler as Maa verbally abused her. I gently took her arm and whispered in her ear, “She gets fits. She is getting one right now. Go away quickly, before it spreads and you get one!”
Ragini smiled faintly at my words and nodding to me, rushed upstairs. I turned towards Maa in anger. “Is this how you talk to someone Maa? Is this how ‘cultivated and high class women’ like you talk to a woman?”
Papa shouted, “LAKSHYA! MIND YOUR TONGUE!”
“I am talking to my mother, please do not interfere here, at least. Haan toh, maa. You grew up in a rich family somewhere near Bikaner, is this how you were taught to talk to people?”
“Are you insulting me for that third-grade woman?”
“No, I am just trying to make you realise that you aren’t the pure and nice person you portray yourself to be. You have insulted my wife, and in that process, me, for Ragini is MY choice. She ceased to be your choice the day you guys threw her out but became mine that night. And by insulting my wife, you are insulting me!”
“You should be insulted for the choices you make anyway Lakshya, if that woman is your choice…..” Papa said.
“Yeah of course Papa. But you see, I cannot regret my choices, as they are the ones that have established me as an independent entrepreneur, rather than the mindless disguised unemployed people Adarsh Bhaiya and Sanskaar are today, whose work product is zero and who cannot even boast of a private income and still depend on you for pocket money….”
I could see that I had raised the temperature in the atmosphere. Nostrils were flaring, faces were going red, hands were turning into fists and bodies were shaking with rage. I smirked as I stuffed my hands in my pocket.
“Your wife tried to kill Swara!” Sanskaar shouted. I gave him a bored look as I replied, “You drugged Swara and tried to throw acid on her face.”
Everybody gasped at this new bit of information while Sanskaar turned red. “That was in the past. I was blinded by revenge. And I did apologize.”
“Fair enough. Even Ragini was blinded by revenge for the injustice she went through. And let’s be fair, you guys didn’t allow her to apologise. You threw her out before that.”
There was silence. I tried suppressing my laughter as I saw everyone around me trying to find a comeback.
“But that doesn’t make Ragini innocent of all the crimes she has done. And such a wife wouldn’t do for you, you deserve the best.”
“Qaayde se, even Sanskaar isn’t innocent then. Yet here he is, living under this roof, eating happily, married to the one he loves. Then why not Ragini? Because Sanskaar is a son of the house? Well, then even I am. And I want Ragini as my wife. Also, if I deserve the best, then please don’t make Malpuye, make mud cake instead!”
“This is a serious issue Lakshya. You cannot be with Ragini. She is a sinner. She cheated all of us.” Adarsh Bhaiya said.
“Even you are a sinner Bhai, you cheated on your own wife. I hope everyone remembers that night.” I replied.
Everyone looked at me in shock while I finger-combed my hair.
“She has shamed our name.” Chacha ji said.
“Your son didn’t? When he acted to be mad and then brought in a woman as his wife who he lived with, despite not being married to?” I counter-questioned.
“You cannot talk to my Papa like that, you brat!” Sanskaar raged.
“Oh but you can come and try to sabotage my Papa’s life and reputation for a misplaced revenge and then expect to act holy?” I asked him.
I knew I was making valid points to their stupid accusations. I waited for their next batch of onslaughts.
“She doesn’t know anything yet. Have you wondered what would happen if she recalls everything?” Swara asked quietly.
I froze. She had hit me where it hurt. I looked at her smirking face and narrowed my eyes. “Whatever happens, it would be for good. I have enough trust on Myra to know that she would choose what makes her and I happy, rather than what seems convenient. She isn’t like you, who oscillates between two brothers, married to one and asking favours from the other. She knows where her happiness lies and history shall repeat. Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari neé Gadodia would take whatever she wants- by hook or by crook.”
Sanskaar inhaled sharply as he looked at Swara who had gone green. Everybody looked at her, questions in their eyes while she bent her head, averting her eyes to the floor.
“What happened? Why did you stop your lecture? I am not even going to say that Ragini was not wrong in what she did to you, she was. But then, it wasn’t her own handiwork, Sanskaar is equally responsible. We all have trampled on her for our own selfish gains. Why is it that we have the license to live peacefully while she doesn’t? You keep questioning her sisterly love for you, where was yours when you agreed to marry me? You keep on saying you did it for her, then why are you behind me NOW? Swara Sanskaar Maheshwari, you are just jealous. You wanted a life of luxury where you were the centre of attention. You have it now, what stops you from moving on? Why are you still behind me? You want us brothers to war for you, you want us to fight to gain your attention and love and you want everyone to look up to you or be jealous of you but this is not some stupid movie, this is real life. I made my decision of marrying Ragini that day with open eyes and even though I am ashamed that I didn’t stand up to my vows till her truth came out, I know for a fact that her responsibility was mine. When you all left her, I didn’t because she was MY wife, by my choice and my own actions. I protected her, I cared for her, I helped her stand on her own feet, I did everything I should have done since I filled her hairline. I did everything I should have done as her husband. Somewhere along, I fell for the woman in front of me. And it was an added blessing that she was my wife already, it was as if God wanted this. Now tell me, how many of you actually did what they should have done towards her? How come you allowed your own sister to be turned out so late into the night? She was evil, you weren’t. Couldn’t you apply your overactive brain and figure out that her being out alone at midnight was dangerous? Leave the duties of a sister, you couldn’t even complete the duties of a human being, not just you, but ALL of you. Then how are you all different from the Ragini of the past?”
I looked at Maa significantly. “I know you love me and I love you too but please don’t think that you know everything about me. You don’t. You only know what Papa approves of and you apply those to every member of the family. Papa loves Malpuye and tea, I love pancakes and coffee. I know you want the best for me, but please understand that at my age and my position, I know what is best for me. You have educated me, what is the use of that expensive education if I still have to consult you for every small thing? I won’t stand for what you all stand for just because you are family. I have set up a life for myself where I am independent and play on my own rules. I am not always right, but at least I am learning. I am independent and strong. Isn’t that what every parent wants for his or her child? Isn’t it what you want for me, Maa-Papa?”
“Lakshya, you think this woman is the best thing to have happened to you?” Maa asked.
“Yes Maa. I am not the ideal son you think I am. I am not ‘pure’ like you think I am. When I was in London, I visited clubs, pubs and all sort of weird places, I smoked and drunk alcohol and ate non-vegetarian food, I dated all sorts of girls- white, African and Asian. I am not perfect. Nothing could have transformed me. Love did, though. Ragini came into my life, I fell in love and I got the direction I was missing. Why do you want to steal this from me? Why?”
I shook my head as I walked back upstairs, texting my PA to postpone the meeting. This won’t do. I shall have to get out of this place as soon as I could.
*END OF FLASHBACK*
“ARREY LAKSHYA, GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM STOOPPPAAADDD” Ragini shouted. I quickly patted my face dry with a towel and glancing at my reflection one last time, opened the door, to allow my wife to enter the washroom. Looking at her beautiful brown intoxicating eyes, I knew I had taken the right decision. We would have to leave.
I looked ahead blankly as all of us sat, having dinner. Lakshya and Ragini had left to have dinner outside. This woman has changed my son. We had to eliminate her from his life if we wanted Lakshya back.
“Annapurna, eat something. Stop playing with the food!” His Papa said. I nodded at him and took some rice, grimacing at how wet it was. This useless Swara has been a part of our family for about a year now, neither she has learnt how to cook the rice properly, nor she has given an heir. Pathetic creature!
“Bhaisaa, what do we do about this Lakshya and Ragini thing now?” Ram asked.
“Karna kya hai? The water has gone above our heads. We have to break their relationship if we have to survive.” I replied.
“I……I have a plan.” Swara muttered. I looked at the Bengali girl in front of me. I had no liking for her, I was just tolerating her for Sanskaar. Since knowing that she had been eyeing my son as well, I was infuriated with her.
“We don’t need your ideas now, thank you. Please focus on getting my son out of your system first.” I told her coldly.
“Annapurna, you do not have the option of playing high and mighty right now. The sooner the deed is done, the better. If Swara’s idea can work, then we shall use it. Speak Swara.” his Papa said to me sharply.
Swara relayed her plan and it had merit. I was a little impressed. Yes, Lakshya would be heartbroken but what is a heartbreak that cannot be solved with a new woman? And after this plan is achieved, I shall throw this Swara out as well. She is a danger to the harmony of this house, with her mind. She is as dirty as her sister, that Ragini. May the Lord be with us!
I smiled as I stepped in the house. I had set up a perfect plan to make Ragini and I rush back to Newcastle. We wouldn’t be able to stay here anymore, Ragini herself would request us to go back.
As I walked towards my room, I could see everybody giving me weird looks. Who cares, I will be out of this place soon, lol.
I entered my room and found Dear Mrs. Lakshya Maheshwari sprawled across the floor in a weird yoga position. I looked at her, lifting an eyebrow.
“What are you doing Myra?”
“This is a new way of washing utensils. I am trying this.”
“Oh well, my bad. Why are you doing yoga at THIS time of the night?”
“Yoga is life. Yoga teaches us a lot of things. One should always do yoga. I am currently doing this to increase my flexibility.”
“What do you need flexibility for?”
“To hang around your neck like Betaal successfully. And of course, s*x.”
“Go ahead, I am all for your flexibility!” I replied smirking. She gave a chuckle and stood up, giving me a sweet kiss on my lips.
“And how are you tonight Lakshya?”
“I am fine. However, the situation isn’t good back in Newcastle. We will have to return tonight.”
A look of concern came across Myra’s beautiful features and I smoothened them. “Nothing big, just that Sharmila Kaki has to go to the Char Dham yaatra with her sister. Plus, there are reported cases of burglary happening in nearby areas. We can’t leave the house empty, we will have to go there, despite the security. Plus, the work has to be started on the Van Millicent tender and we need to put in our best shot, as business partners. It can’t be done here, in any case. I know you want us to solve the issues between the family but right now, it will have to wait.”
“See Lakshya, I have no problem in moving since the issues you have listed require immediate action. Let us talk to your family and try to convince them.” Ragini replied. I smiled and kissed her forehead as we held hands and moved downstairs.
The entire family was present. I held Ragini’s hand tighter and announced, “Ragini and I have to return to Newcastle tonight. I have urgent work there.”
“What work?” Adarsh Bhaiya asked. I rolled my eyes.
“The area is infested with burglars and our caretaker is leaving for her Char Dham Yaatra. Meanwhile, we both have to start working on the foreign tender as well. Both of these, in combination, are good enough reasons to go home.”
“If you have to go, then I won’t stop you. But please keep coming back to meet us now and then Lakshya. We are your aged parents and we need you.” Papa said. I looked at him, stumped. Was he really allowing us to leave so easily? Really? Or was this a plan?
I looked around and saw everybody nodding their heads at his statement. Inki Ganga raato-raat ulti kaise behne lagi?
“Lakshya, my son, I am sure disappointed with your choice but I am your mother after all, so I shall become happy in your happiness. Keep coming to meet us, we shall not ask for anything more.” Maa replied. I went to my parents with Ragini and touching their feet, took their blessings. We took every elder’s blessing and then, moved upstairs. I locked the door to the room and looked at Ragini in awe.
“What the hell! What happened to them?”
Ragini gave me a wide smile. “Your words worked Lakshya! I don’t know what you said to everyone during your heated exchange that day, but it seems your words had their effect on them! They have been behaving differently since then and I am so happy now that all is well.”
Could it be? Could my heartfelt words have melted their hearts? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I had my chance. I had to snatch it before it went away.
“Pack your bags. We are leaving in an hour.”
An hour later, after taking the blessings of everyone, we sat in the car. As the car drove through the busy streets of Kolkata, I took a deep breath. Ragini would never know of the truth. God was with me. Everything was well. My love had won.
I took a deep breath as I looked at the little flecks of fire shoot up in the air. The sparks provided me with a comforting warmth while I sat huddled close to the bonfire Lakshya had made.
We were back to our Home Sweet Home and Lakshya had thought it fit to celebrate the occasion by preparing a bonfire, along with arranging for a barbecue with some beer. He was currently preparing for the barbecue in the other corner of the garden. I smiled as I thought of him. He is the best man a woman can dream of. I am so lucky to have a husband like him.
“Ji Sharmila Kaki?”
“Woh, you told me I could take your red bag with me to the yaatra…….”
“Ji Kaki, you can take it. Why are you asking again?”
“No beta, actually when I was removing your stuff from it, I found this leather bound file in it. It is labelled yours and seems important. Shall I put it somewhere safely?”
I turned around and saw the brown leather file in the hands of Sharmila Kaki. I smiled at her as I took it from her. “No need, you continue your packing. I shall keep this in its rightful place. Don’t worry.”
Kaki smiled at me fondly and went inside. I looked at the file in my hands and closed my eyes, recalling the past…………………
“Pari Bhabhi, I need to talk to you.”
“What is it?”
“I know what you are hiding.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know you are administering sleeping pills to Maa!”
Pari Bhabhi looked at me, shocked out of her wits. I smirked as I showed her the blood test report of Lakshya’s mother which showed increased drowsiness due to intake of sleeping pills and alongside it was a picture of Pari Bhabhi putting pills in Maa’s tea. Pari Bhabhi started sweating badly.
“What do you want?” she stuttered nervously.
“Support me. Start filling in others’ ears my merits and reasons why Lakshya and I should be together. Make sure I am informed of all the plans you guys make. And you are to tell no one of our deal. Am I clear?”
“What do you need?”
“Some time. I need to talk to you about something important.”
“I don’t think I have anything important to discuss with you.”
“I have. Since I am carrying in my hands the bank statements of Maheshwari Industries along with your own bank statements. Aap toh Adarsh bete se namak haraam ban gaye! Stealing from your own father?”
Adarsh Bhaiya looked at me in shock while I handed him the documents. I smirked as he tore them off. “Poof Bhaiya, you think I am dumb? I am the CFO of Myra Industries, you think I don’t have copies to share with Papa Ji?”
“W…what do you want?”
“Support. I need you to keep me informed of all conspiracies against me and Lakshya and I want you to start speaking in my favour whenever discussions are held about us. And don’t you dare breathe a word of this conversation to anyone.”
“I will do it. Just don’t release these documents please.”
“You perform, I perform. Deal.”
“Tch, Tch Chachaji. Carrying out illegal trade in your elder brother’s name? So that if you get caught, the blame falls on Papa Ji?”
“W….what do you mean? What bullshit are you sprouting?”
“Arrey see na, the Old Kolkata’s branch has gold junk in it. And everybody knows who handles that region. And I hope you know that gold smuggling is illegal……..”
“What proof do you have?”
“See na, these photos of you with that smuggler Rathi, along with the gold sample photos from Old Kolkata’s godown…..I think this shall be sufficient proof for Papaji and the police…….”
“Na…na beta. Please. Tell me, do you want some percentage?”
“You misunderstood me. I don’t need gold, I am not your wife. I need support. I need you to support me and Lakshya’s togetherness. And I want you to keep me informed of all happening against me. Can you do it?”
“How do I know you will keep your end of the bargain?”
“The same way I will know whether you kept yours or not. Deal?”
“Do not repeat the particulars of this conversation to anyone.”
“I am not fond of suicide, thank you very much!”
“Chachi Ji, I need a favour.”
“I am not helping you in anything, you dirty woman!”
“Par Chachi Ji, the tantrik you meet to do black magic on Maa is working really well. I want his number too!”
“Ke……ke bol Rahi hai? What are you saying?”
“Arrey don’t act so coy. See, I have pictures of you with him. What is this lemon you keep in the middle for?”
“R…Rag….Ragini! Where did you get these pictures from?”
“I clicked them. You see, I was interested to know how a tantrik who had never met Maa could do some dark magic on her to make her lose her mind. So I followed you. Do you think Maa would be impressed?”
“Don’t…please don’t do that. You know how Jiji gets. She has been harping on and on about Swara and Sanskaar. And I am fed up of her.”
“You didn’t answer my question. Do you think Maa would be impressed?”
“Please Ragini, don’t tell anyone. I will do whatever you say.”
“Support me. Tell everybody that Lakshya and Ragini look like Shiv-Parvati, and it is a sin to keep them away from each other. You can do that na?”
“Haan Haan. Please don’t show these pictures to anyone and don’t tell about this conversation to anybody. I shall do all you ask me to.”
“Great, I was about to say the same. You seem smart!”
“Uttara, are you feeling better now?”
“I wish my fever brings you down as well, and you die!”
“Umm, never knew one could develop fever after undergoing an abortion……..”
The beads of sweat on Uttara’s face made me smirk.
“I had a nice little chat with your gynae. She told me that it went perfectly. Now when should I discuss this with your parents…….”
“Ragini Bhabhi, please. Please, it was a mistake. Rajat cheated me. He….he told me he would marry me but he left me after I told him I was carrying his child.”
“Do you understand now, how it feels when the ones you love turn out to be your biggest enemies? I felt that way once too. I shall help you gain your revenge on Rajat. He shall be punished. I shall also keep this secret. But I need you to help me.”
“I shall help your case Bhabhi. I shall tell everyone that Lakshya bhai genuinely seems happy with you which, to be honest, he does. Thank you for helping him with his business.”
“Thank you Uttara. He deserves the best. I try to be the best too. Don’t tell about this chat to anyone. Take care of your ‘fever’, I shall tell you about Rajat’s status as soon as I catch hold of him.”
“How is Kavita, Sanskaar?”
“Arrey that ex-girlfriend for whom you wanted to slaughter everyone. The one who turned out to be alive after all!”
“Kavita is dead. I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Haww. I am sure Kavita disagrees. She told me you have promised her that you would leave Swara soon and marry her so that you could live happily with her and the little one she is carrying……..”
“She did WHAT?”
“I wonder how the family would react though. I mean, they tolerated Swara just for you. When they get to know that you are cheating them again by cheating on Swara with the presumed dead Kavita and have already made her pregnant as well, I think they will get 440 volt ka jhatka!”
“What proof do you have?”
“Kavita talks to a woman in the park daily. They are best friends. I think you know that. Do you know who the woman is? She is tall, beautiful, wears a chiffon sari and looks a lot like your younger cousin Lakshya’s wife, Ragini.”
“What do you want?”
“Keep repeating like a parrot that Lakshya and Ragini are meant to be together. And don’t dare vomit out what happened right now.”
“I knew you didn’t change……”
“Seekha aap hi se hai Guruji. Deal?”
“Swara, are the formalities complete?”
“The property ones. You forged Papa Ji’s signatures to transfer some land in your father’s name, didn’t you? For his new business?”
“WHAT ARE YOU SAYING YOU ©%¢|”
“Why are you shouting, are you missing your fish markets? Khair, you do visit them once a week to have fried fish, I know that.”
“What do you want Ragini?”
“Stay away from my lovely Lakshya. And tell everyone that Ragini really does love him. Ask your family to stay away from this mess. Oh, and ditch that stupid plan you had suggested to everyone to separate Lakshya and I. It ain’t happening. And keep this conversation we had within your own self.”
“What would you do otherwise?”
“I could always suggest Papa Ji to take notice of some of his land plots outside the city……..or I could hand him over the copy of the property transfer papers where you have given your signatures as a witness……..”
“I shall do it.”
I stood smiling, sewing Lakshya a handkerchief as I thought about the various copies I had against the members of the Maheshwari clan. A few days of work had yielded such good results, all the family secrets were tumbling out like dead bodies from walls!
A knock broke my reverie and I turned to see Lakshya’s parents standing at the door. I could hear his mother whisper in his father’s ears, “The rest of the family may be singing this woman’s praises, but I shall not. Let us do it.”
They both walked in. Papa Ji started speaking.
“Ragini beta, you should sit down. We have something to tell you.”
I sat down on the sofa, continuing my sewing and asked them to take a seat as well. They sat and then looked at each other.
“Beta, we have come to tell you the truth.”
“I wonder what truth you would tell a person who already knows everything.” I replied, not averting my eyes off the handkerchief. This one particular stitch was complex!
“Ragini, you do not understand. We have to tell you about the past!”
“Past is told only to those who forget it. Not to those who remember it, Maa!” I replied calmly.
I could hear their collective gasps as I set aside my work and looked at them. They looked pale.
“You…….you remember everything? You were lying all this while?”
“No, no. Actually, I really did forget everything. But I got my memory back the day I came here. I fainted, remember?”
As realisation dawned join their faces, I smirked.
“I almost got caught by Lakshya. He was telling me about our meeting in my college and I let slip what I had been wearing that day. Oh God, that was a narrow escape!”
“You are….lying to Lakshya?”
“Tit for tat. He lied to me, I am lying to him. Just like how he thinks I need not know some things, I think he needs not know of some things!”
“What have you said to the family members? They are singing your praises, despite their clear distaste for you.”
“Let us say that they are now charmed by the phenomenon called Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari. Don’t you think I am charming Maa? That’s why you chose me to be your son’s bride.”
“We will tell Lakshya.”
“What makes you think he will believe you? He is extremely wary of you all now, thanks to your own methods of pushing him. Plus, he knows me more than you all do, why would be have a reason to suspect that I am lying to him?”
“I don’t know what you shall do but you know what I shall do? I shall tell all the family members that the Maheshwari Industries is in extreme latent losses! I shall tell everyone that you both are hiding the fact that the coffers are empty and there is nothing left for the sons and the younger brother to inherit! Imagine the fun there shall be! It shall be a carnival!”
“Ragini, you haven’t changed at all. You are a cheat, a lying wench…..”
“I am just the woman who was grossly denied what she desired and deserved! And now that she has had a taste of what she had always dreamt of, she shall not step back. I am Mrs. Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari and I will not let anyone change it! Not Swara, nor you, nor Lakshya, nor ANYONE!” I snarled.
“What do you want?” Papa Ji asked, rubbing his temples.
“I want you to leave us and let us be. I want you to understand that no one can love your son the way I do and that no one can make him happier than I. I want you to see the happiness your son has with me. Visit us in Newcastle one day, see how happy and relaxed Lakshya stays. Deep down, I know you always wanted your son to have the best in his life, which is why you sent him to London. He has achieved that best Papa Ji, open your eyes and see.” I replied softly.
“You both have created a relationship on lies and deceit. You were not like this Ragini. What happened to you?” Maa said as she looked at me with tears in her eyes.
“Growing up, I was always handed things by my Dadi. Things I liked, things I disliked, all were given to me in my hands by her. I never knew how to work for something. Then, a prince came in my life. He came with his beautiful smile that charmed me and I knew that all my suffering didn’t matter if I could have him. And he was meant for me. I was promised a happily ever after. Do you know how it feels when you have been given love and happiness, only for it to be snatched away? I know. I had no choice but to fight for what I thought was mine. And I did fight, only that I didn’t know what rules to play by. Most of my battles ended up damaging others but I did get what I wanted. Don’t you see Maa-Papa? He is happy. So am I. How does it matter then? How does it matter that a few lies were spoken to create a relationship that has given immense happiness to two of the most deserving people?”
“Such relationships don’t last forever Ragini. I don’t want Lakshya to break. Nor do I want to see you in your form again.” Papa Ji said.
“I have full faith that Lakshya would tell me one day. He isn’t a deceiver. He will come clean one day and that shall be the day I would come clean about my little lie as well. You don’t realise why I am doing what I am doing. Lakshya has this strange notion in his head that if I get to know that I did bad deeds in my past, I shall drown myself in guilt and love him less, for I shall think of myself as undeserving. He thinks that if I know that I have a family, my love shall be divided. He needs to understand that my love on him is supreme, nothing or no one takes precedence over it. The day he gets secure in this knowledge, he shall tell me. And I shall tell him as well. Till then, jaisa chal raha hai, waisa chalne do.”
“I do not understand how you both keep your relationship but if you need help, feel free to ask.”
“You need help, not us. Put some of your properties on lease and recover your debts. I can buy them if you want. Then slowly rebuild your empire. And do come and visit us.”
“I have arthritis, I can’t come.” Maa said with petulance.
“I wonder where this arthritis was when you rushed up here from your room downstairs to tell me some ‘truths’. But as you wish. I shan’t force.”
Maa and Papa Ji left and soon after, Lakshya arrived, telling me that we had to leave. I knew he had arranged it all. But I let him act as if he had no role. Whatever makes him happy.
*END OF FLASHBACK*
I smiled as I looked at the file which contained a copy of each Maheshwari’s dirty secret. It wasn’t needed now. I threw it in the fire in front of me and as a bunch of sparks rose up violently, Lakshya came running to me.
“Arrey Myra, what happened? Why did the fire increase suddenly?”
“I threw some twigs and wooden slabs.”
“Be careful my love. What would I do if something happened to you?” he asked as he hugged me and pat my back. I smiled as his manly scent surrounded me. Fitoor hai, Chahat hai. God was with me. Everything was well. My love had won.
And it’s a wrap for Fitoor. I hadn’t planned this ending, in fact I thought to go the usual lovey-dovey way but I think for such a hatke premise, the climax should be hatke as well. Do drop by your comments and tell me how you liked it.❤️❤️❤️