Say Hello to Bela once again! Itni jaldi I came back, considering my track record! ?. But lemme inform you all that till 8th December, I will now be having my exams, so I won’t be able to post anything big. Hope you all understand. ?
Let’s get about Banjaare people and their secrets???
“He carries more secrets than you know he does. And they are not just normal secrets, they are burdens.”
“Do you know about Lakshya’s origins and his past?”
An unknown fear tugged at my heart as I looked at the woman in front of me again. Tia. She apparently held the key to the door that locked many secrets of my husband, secrets I wasn’t aware of. It was disconcerting and disheartening. Why had not Lakshya shared them with me?
“Don’t expect me to say anything you yourself haven’t been told by Laksh himself Mrs. Maheshwari. I know you both are in love, and I am sorry for shooting my bitterness on you.” Tia said.
I looked at her pleadingly. “Tia, I hope you do understand that if Lakshya hasn’t shared them with me, he hasn’t for some twisted reason of his own. He is clearly uncomfortable with his past but the truth is, I don’t care. He is my husband, I have seen him at his worst and NOTHING can ever make me leave him, unless of course he decides to pursue some other girl with nice legs……………..”
“Laksh has never cared about physical appearance. And he has no such thing for women with nice legs.”
“Obviously. He has craved for LOVE, not physical intimacy. And I know well that he loves you madly. And you do too.”
“Then why aren’t you telling me what I should be knowing?”
“Because it isn’t my truth to reveal. I have just one thing which is my duty to tell you.”
“But I want to know the truth. Tia, Lakshya will never tell me. And as hard as he tries, his past haunts him. I want to help him come out of it so that we can have happy lives.”
Tia looked at me hard and then, seemingly convinced of my sincerity, took a deep breath. “What I am about to tell you is the truth. I have no motives, there is no tampering. It is just plain solid truth. And the reason is because Laksh is the only friend I have truly had.” she said. I nodded and clasped my hands in front of me, on my lap.
“Laksh, Mummy Ji said, was brought to the orphanage when he was just a day old. He was in a very pathetic state, having been away from his mother and not fed well. The only thing he had with him was the hospital tag attached to his leg which read the name ‘Maheshwari’ and had the date of his birth written on it. Mummy Ji took him in and named him Laksh.”
I controlled my tears as I imagined a young baby Lakshya crying out, as he was being handed to Sharda. Tia continued.
“He has practically grown up here. He was a bright child, very eager to learn. I myself came to this orphanage when I was five, my parents had died in a crash. Laksh used to be isolated from the others and since I was new, I was in a similar state. We bonded over it and so, I can say that I know Laksh really well. He was smart, a bit of a loner and very easily irritated, but kind. He was funny. Anyways, when he was nine, some people came and adopted him. Ragini, you should have seen his face! I am convinced that he is happy with you because only once have I seen him this happy, in fact, lesser than today but still, happy. His eyes were shining with joy and hope as he went away.”
I frowned in surprise. Lakshya was adopted? But then………….
As if answering my question, Tia said, “To our shock, he came back two days later. And in a horrific state. His clothes were torn, his body was bruised, some bones were broken and he was covered in blood. But the worst thing was, that his eyes lost the sparkle they had.”
Torn clothes, bruised body, broken bones and blood. I felt chills down my spine as I realised what all of those corresponded to.
“Was he……….” I asked hesitantly, wishing I won’t hear what I assumed.
“We don’t know Ragini. I don’t, at least. Shar….Mummy Ji knew. Her husband, my late Papa Ji knew. And of course, Deven’s chacha knew since he was the one who completed the formalities. But we never came to know what all Laksh went through. Since that day, Laksh closed himself up, turning into the bitter man we know. He stood up to Deven’s bullying. He didn’t become stone-hearted, he was normal but since that day, he became reserved.”
I let out a breath as I closed my eyes. Tears were threatening to roll down anytime soon and I was having a hard time wiping out the image of Lakshya in the state that Tia had described him in. I felt a hand being pressed on mine and opening my eyes, I saw Tia looking at me sympathetically.
“Ragini, Laksh has gone through a lot. He has mopped floors, slept on dirty ones, gone hungry for days, had lice in his hair, faced rejections for being a poor orphan. He has worked REALLY hard to be where he is today. And I really believe that the happiness he has now is just the gift by God to him for clearing all his tests and coming out stronger. Many of us in the orphanage have become miserable, out of habit of being miserable, but Laksh wanted to rise above it all and so he did. It makes me very happy to see him in love with the right woman. I am glad you are with him. Please make sure he is happy always.”
“Nothing pleases me more than to see him happy. He is the best, even though he is quite a jerk at times……”
Tia laughed again. “You have no idea. He once sent Deven’s cousin to the forest behind at night, fooling her into believing that there is some treasure hidden below a tree. She stayed there all night and well, did find some gold coins. Only to realise later on that they had been planted there by Laksh and were actually those coin-shaped chocolates that you get wrapped in golden paper!”
I chuckled. So he has been this way for a long time. “Well at least she got some chocolates….”
“Nah, they were rotten.”
This time I burst out laughing. True jerk, Lakshya Maheshwari!
“There is one thing I wanted to tell you…….rather, give you.” Tia said quietly.
I furrowed my eyebrows. What would she want to give me?
I looked around, seeing if anyone was watching me or not. Seeing nobody, I quickly opened the bottle and took a tablet and popped it into my mouth, savouring the lovely taste.
“Stop stealing my Calcium Sandos you wimp!”
I whipped around and saw Deven standing there with his arms crossed in front of his chest. I looked at him shame-facedly and then, remembering who I am, straightened up.
“I am not stealing anything, I was just taking a tablet. Does it pain you to share, you miser?”
“Shut up, you bed-wetter!”
“You shut up, you mop-kisser!”
“I was drunk, okay?”
“So drunk that you fell in love with a mop and tried to kiss it? At least my bed wetting was linked to that night…….”
I stopped abruptly as the shadows of the past clouded me again. I saw Deven stiffening and I couldn’t help but smirk sardonically. At least someone else was suffering like me, mainly because of the knowledge he had of my condition…………..
“Deven, Pandit Ji is asking for you. Please come.” a man said as he came to Deven running. The latter nodded and followed the man, averting his eyes from mine. I took a deep breath as I watched him go. Good riddance! Smiling, I popped another calcium tablet into my mouth. So tasty!
I sneezed as I entered the dusty room on the top floor of the house, following Tia. This is where the thing is which she wanted to give me. I looked around and found that it was a store room. It was filled with boxes and cartons and unused furniture.
“Wait a minute.It must be in the cup board.” Tia said as she walked away to fetch the thing. I started looking around. I picked up a carton labelled ‘Photos’, dusted it and opened it. Sitting down, I started looking at the pictures one by one. They were all of the former residents of the orphanage. I spotted Lucky in many of them, sometimes frowning, sometimes smiling. I segregated all the ones that had him. Another album was full of baby photos and I recognised Lakshya in a few, just by looking at the eyes. I giggled as I found a picture of baby Lakshya splashing in water happily. I quickly took the picture out and stuffed it into my purse. Stealing is bad, but then the picture is of Lakshya and that too, a cute one!
I heard Tia’s voice behind me and stood up, dusting myself. She came forward with a packet in her hand. She gave it to me as I frowned. “Open it. Read the letter which is inside………”
“What the hell, what are you doing here?”
“Exactly what you are doing here, looking for my wife!”
Tia snatched the packet from my hands and stuffed it into my purse hurriedly. “Ragini, open this packet but not in front of Laksh please. And don’t tell the men that I gave you this. Please cover up, oh my God they are coming!”
In the heat of the moment, I picked up the photos of Lakshya I had collected and gave a few to Tia as she left my purse after stuffing the packet inside, just in time as the men entered. Deven stood at the door while Lakshya pushed him aside and entered swiftly. He hugged me tightly.
“Are you alright? Why were you not answering? What are you doing here, don’t you know that there are rats here and rats love to chew clothes and your clothes are so pretty and you don’t have a change of clothes with you so what would you wear if they got torn here and………”
“Lakshya, I brought Tia here with me to see your childhood pictures. And I am absolutely in love with them!” I lied calmly. Tia gave a feeble smile as the men looked at her to confirm. Lakshya snorted. “I was a dark fat baby who had eyes as huge as saucers………..”
“You were the loveliest baby I have ever seen.” I said to him sincerely and meaningfully, full of love as I looked into his black eyes. Knowing now of what happened with him, I felt a special need to protect him from the evils- the world’s and his own. I smiled as I wrapped my arms around him and sniffed his familiar scent happily. Lakshya stroked my hair as he pulled me closer.
“Uhm, I…..can you……argh! We have to go downstairs. The pooja is about to begin. We need you both, Tia and Laksh. And Ragini, if you want to come…..” Deven spluttered, clearly uncomfortable with my PDA with Lakshya. I smiled at him.
“Can you excuse me? Like, I know that there is no need of me there and you don’t even have that much space. Let all of your mother’s near and dear ones be there. I will join later, I wish to continue watching Lakshya’s pictures. And can I ask for a favour Deven Ji, if it isn’t much to ask……….” I said smoothly and sweetly in the end. I smirked internally as Deven gulped and smiled, clearly charmed.
“Anything madam, anything……”
“I want to take all of Lakshya’s childhood pictures. They are anyways gathering dust here in the storeroom, they will be better utilised at my home……….”
Deven looked as if he wanted to protest but I made a puppy face which renders even Lakshya Maheshwari powerless. What was this Deven in front of Lakshya? He easily gave in and smilingly nodded. Behind me, Lakshya grunted, “And that will be enough salivating at my wife, you fool! Let’s go!”
Deven looked at Tia, who had her eyes narrowed at him and quickly turned away and left. I turned to Tia and we both burst out laughing. Lakshya was sulking and cursing Deven under his breath and I kissed his nose to pacify him. It worked wonders, he was now looking at me eagerly, winking at me. I pushed him away gently and he passed his hand over his hair as he smiled goofily and followed Tia out, mouthing ‘I love you’ to me.
As they walked out, I started selecting the pictures I wanted to take home and stacked them up neatly. When that was done, I picked them up, went downstairs and joined everyone in the pooja, completely forgetting about the mysterious packet which lay inside my bag.
“Phew, that was one hell of a trip!” I exclaimed as I plopped down on the bed. Ragini had just come out of the washroom and was drying her face with a towel.
Ragini was acting very strange since we returned. She would zone out and think of something and whenever I would come close, she would just hug me tightly and keep kissing me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am loving this attention and love a lot but I know for a fact that she doesn’t seem to be too happy. There is nothing sensual about those moments, they are just comfortable moments. Ragini seems almost protective………..
“Is anything troubling you?”
“No. Not at all.” Ragini said as she climbed into the bed with me and quickly engulfed me in a hug. With my face pressed to her chest, other things seemed to fade into the background. I smilingly inhaled her scent, thanking my stars for providing me with this wonderful woman.
My phone buzzed and I cursed under my breath as I picked it up. It was my damned PA again. This time, apparently, the board had called an urgent meeting and I was obviously required to attend. I told him off and then morosely looked at Ragini who was laughing at my state. She kissed my nose(I love this act of hers) and shooed me away to work.
A few hours later, I returned home, happy with my day’s achievements. I called out for Ragini, ready to take her out for dinner. I was about to call out her name but then thought of giving my lovely wife a little surprise. Smirking, I went upstairs, light on my feet, making no noise. As soon as I entered our room, I looked around and to my astonishment, found it empty. I entered and looked further and then saw her sitting in the balcony, her back facing me. Relief flooded my veins as I went up to her.
I frowned. This was weird. Ragini never ignores me this way. I leaned down to look at her and found her asleep. There were tear stains on her cheeks and it was obvious that she had been crying before she fell asleep.
I instantly started cursing whosoever was responsible for my wife’s tears as I pulled Ragini into a hug. She stirred in her sleep and her eyes fluttered open. Seeing me, she gave a feeble sad smile and my heart started pounding restlessly. I cupped her cheeks and looked at her in the eye.
“What happened baby? Haan? Are you alright? Why were you crying? Did someone say anything to you? Who do I have to beat, tell me, I will go and do it quickly then I will take you for dinner also. Tell…………”
Ragini shushed me gently and stood up quickly, picking up a packet from the table in front of us. My eyes fell on it and i saw that it had a red saree along with a borla. I frowned in confusion.
“What is this Haan Meena? Since when did you start wearing borlas like Sujata Singhania, lol?” I was asking her when I saw a piece of paper slip from the packet. I picked it up. Behind me, Ragini started protesting. “Give it back to me Lucky, please.”
The paper was a letter. In a moment of realisation, I understood that Ragini was hiding something from me. I looked up at her and gave her a strict glare, conveying to her that her disapproval was of no use. Today, I would go to the root of the matter.
I opened the letter and saw Ragini’s face fall as I did. What was in it? As I started reading it, I understood why she was hiding it from me.
If you are reading this letter, I am sure you must be knowing that I am your mother in law, your husband’s unfortunate mother who left him in the orphanage. Please don’t hate me for this. I hope you will read this entire letter before you decide what to do with it.
I was in love with a man who was not worth it. He was a poor man while I belonged to an affluent family. He was my driver’s son and as we spent more time with each other, our feelings blossomed. I knew I was in love with him and soon, we became intimate. I submitted myself to him, dreaming of a beautiful future with him. Alas, he was only after me for my money. The day I got to know of it was the day I was told that I was pregnant. Somehow, I began hating the child inside me. Not only was it the symbol of the betrayal I had faced, the dirty blood of a miserable man, but I also felt that its arrival in my life had turned it upside down. I was shunned by my parents and they agreed to take me back on one condition- that I give up my baby. I readily agreed and gave birth in isolation in Darjeeling, away from home to save my reputation. As soon as my son was born, I sent him away to be taken to an orphanage, away from me forever.
Years later, now, I have a family of my own. I have two daughters and my husband loves me. However, my past haunts me still. I am plagued by the fact that I didn’t even look at my baby before I gave him away. I have no idea what he looks like, what his name is and how his life has been. All I know is that I left a young child. My child. I can never bring back the lost time but I really wish that I make some amends. My husband knows of my past and loves me still but my daughters don’t. And I know that they would be disgusted with me once they do which is why I am afraid of connecting with my son. However, I knew I had to reach out to him and so I went back to the orphanage to meet him. He has moved out and well, Sharda refused to tell me his name. I left the sari and the borla for you as gifts, since I know not what boys like for gifts. I requested Sharda to give them to you whenever you and my son visit so if you are reading this letter, I know that my token has reached its right hands. I am sorry for whatever happened and I wish that my son forgives me for what happened. I am afraid that I cannot allow you both to visit me, for the fear of upsetting my daughters. But I have jotted down my private email id. If he wishes, he can always contact me.
Thank you for coming into my son’s life. I pray for his well being a lot and I hope he excels in whatever field he is in. If you both don’t want to keep in touch, at least let me know my son’s name. Please. Keep him happy. God bless you both.
Loads of blessings and love,
Nayantara Maheshwari Vyas.”
Inexplicable rage shook me as I crushed the piece of paper angrily. Behind me, Ragini was pleading with me to see reason and pulling at my arm but all I knew was that my “mother” had just tried and successfully contacted my wife. I felt extremely hurt and betrayed.
I snatched the packet Ragini had in her hand and threw it on the ground in anger. This is ridiculous! This woman……..who claims to be my mother, this pathetic woman, how dare she?! And why did Ragini hide this from me? I turned to her in anger. Ragini was sobbing and while it broke my heart into a million pieces, seeing her in that state, I knew that my question was important. Why had Ragini not told me about this?
“Please just try and understand……..”
“I ASKED YOU WHY?!!”
I flinched at his tone. Lakshya never speaks to me in this tone. He was really angry and hurt. His face was red, his eyes were bloodshot and for the first time, after the day he confessed, I was feeling afraid of him.
“She is your mother Lakshya…….”
“And how do you know if this is true? Who gave this damned parcel to you?”
“That stupid woman……..”
“Please Lucky. This is a letter from your mother……”
“I have no mother! There is only one woman I consider as my mother and that is your mother, Janki Gadodia, who I unfortunately could never meet. Apart from her, I do not know of any mother.”
“Lakshya, please, you will never be able to change…….”
“Change what? Haan Ragini? Change what? My parentage? My past? My childhood? My…..misery? I know nothing will change all that I have hated in my life and trust me, I do not want to change ANYTHING. I want to remain as an orphan who grew up in an orphanage alone and then made it to the top himself. It is this woman and YOU who are trying to change my past! I do not want any sort of contact with anyone who claims to be my parent. Especially Mrs. Vyas………”
“She was betrayed Lucky. And she fell pregnant before marriage……”
“Then why the hell did she give birth to me? Why didn’t she just abort me? She brought me to this world only to push me into the darkness of it Ragini. You came with me to the orphanage, tell me, does anyone deserve to live the way those kids do? I send money there regularly, hoping that at least someone will live a life better than I did but NO, that money is clearly consumed by Deven, as we saw! Ragini, I have seen nothing but pain in my life and now, I am finally living with joy. I do not want my past to spoil my present and my future with you. I want to leave that orphanage behind me. I want to leave my past behind me.” Saying this, Lakshya broke down.
I could myself not stop the constant streams of tears that were rolling down my cheeks. I wiped them off. Sitting next to Lakshya, I gently started speaking. “Tia…..told me of your past. Your adoption.”
Beside me, Lakshya stiffened. I knew that he was angry. I continued speaking. “I am so disappointed Lakshya that you never spoke to me about it. I thought we made our relationship on trust…….”
“Trust? Seriously Ragini? You think I never told you anything because I don’t trust you and our relationship? Did it occur to you that I probably didn’t tell you anything because I do not want to recall those memories ever again?” Lakshya asked in a cool voice.
My blood froze. Damn, I never thought this way! It never occurred to me that Lakshya obviously has very bad memories of it and would not want to remember them again. A wave of guilt washed over me as a fresh set of tears started rolling down. It was heartbreaking to realise that I had wrongfully doubted Lucky and hurt him……….again.
“I….I am sorry. I was just so brokenhearted about it all, I thought you were probably scared to admit it…….I am so sorry Lucky…..”
I felt a strong hand pull me and next I knew, I was in Lakshya’s arms. I started sobbing profusely while I knew he was doing the same. We cried for sometime and as we slowly started to calm down, Lakshya started speaking.
“I was taken to a place where there were many other boys like me. We were going to be sent for different works- some as child slaves, others as labourers to the Middle East, some to circuses while some were going to be sold off as escorts or for organ donation. I had no idea where I was to be sent but I did hear some men saying that a few of us new ones would be sent to Mumbai to become beggars, as a part of the drug mafia’s racket. I knew, Ragini, that whatever happened, it would not be good. I would live a life of doom. I decided to run away. I implored the other boys to run away with me but none was willing, they had been brainwashed into believing that their lives would turn out better. So I decided to run away alone. Unfortunately for me, I was caught by some of those men. I was tied up, beaten and then drugged. When I woke up the next day, I was covered in blood, my stomach and butt were paining and I was lying near a heap of garbage. I……I don’t know myself what happened with me Ragini. They probably thought I was dead and left me there to rot but I went back to the orphanage.
Deven’s chacha had completed the formalities and when I returned, he was sent away by Deven’s father for doing what he did. I spotted him there in the funeral ceremony that day and I was scared. But I know that if I have to live, I would have to forget what happened. Deven knows, Tia knows, their chacha knows, I know and now, you know. Deven and Tia will never say anything to anyone because they are in guilt of what happened, since it was Deven’s chacha because of whom this happened. That man himself would never say anything because he would be jailed for it. That leaves you and me. And I know that you would never say anything about it. Please don’t Ragini. I do not want to remember anything. I am genuinely happy for the first time in my life with you. I want to live my life happily. It is my request, do not sympathize with me for what happened and don’t think that my knowledge of you knowing would make me ashamed to face you. I love you too much.”
“I am sorry for digging up your old wounds……”
“Don’t be. You are my wife, you should have known. If you feel that you cannot live with me and my dark past, you are……….”
“I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE LEAVING YOU!”
“I was about to say the same thing. Even if you cannot live with it, you will have to bear with it cause I ain’t letting you leave me ever.”
I looked at him in shock while he looked at me with a poker face. Then both of us burst out laughing.
“You are a jerk, you know?”
“I know. A jerk son of a jerk father who was the son of a driver.”
“It doesn’t matter Lakshya. Whose son you were has no value because you are a self made man.”
“But my father was a jerk, a mercenary jerk!”
“But then he must have been very handsome and charming if he managed to make your mother fall for him.”
“Hmm, true. Or maybe she was plain dumb, just like that Swara who, I must tell you, watches Oggy and the Cockroaches!”
“Yes. I saw her watching it on YouTube when I went to meet her once. I, toh, almost fainted! I am so glad that I married you!”
“Good. So am I.”
“You won’t leave now, would you?”
And there, I saw the same Lakshya who had asked me the same exact question all those months back, when he had been drunk and bankrupt and I had put him to bed. The same innocence, the same insecurity, the same loneliness. All our moments from that moment came rushing to me and I felt my eyes tear up as I realised how far we had come together. How much in love I had fallen.
“I would never leave you. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I love you more.”
Lakshya turned me towards him and in a fraction of a second, I found myself sitting on his lap. He looked at me in the eye. “And I love you the most. Always remember that. And well, if you want, you can email that woman and tell her who I am, she will eat dirt when she realises who she left! But please haan, don’t wear that sari she sent, so cheap and down market it is, just like what Mrs. Hooda was wearing that day………..”
I controlled my laughter as Lakshya went on to explain, just like Swara, how fake Mrs. Hooda’s sari looked. He then gave me an explaination of how a good sari should be. I mentally noted down all the points to use them in future as I looked at Lakshya. He looked truly happy. Like, really happy. I smiled and kissed his nose. He blushed pink and then suggestively raised his eyebrows.
The rest of the of the night was, let us say, very pleasantly occupied.
“Dear Mrs. Vyas,
This is your daughter in law. I received the sari and the borla and while I must say that I appreciate your act, the quality of the material of both has been disapproved of by my husband and your unwanted son. He believes that he saw a similar sari being worn by the maid in our house who does the pochha. He is very particular about it, you see.
Now coming to the letter, it was full of emotions, but sadly, all the wrong ones. I was sympathizing with you initially but as soon as my husband broke down in front of me when he saw the letter, I realised that you have been wrong since the beginning. He rightly pointed out that you had no need to give birth to him if you did not want him, though I have to thank you for doing so. I have the world’s most handsome and amazing husband. Another fact that I realised later was that in your entire letter, you showed no actual remorse. You were bent on proving your actions correct and even in the end, you gave more importance to your daughters than the son you unceremoniously dumped in a pathetic orphanage. My husband doesn’t mind a bit, he has a lot to think of, but I take offence. There was absolutely no need for you to pen down that letter, leave the gifts and all when you don’t really mean it. You have just upsetted us.
Now, I am sorry for all your sufferings but believe me, your son has gone through WORSE. And still he lives and loves hard. He is quite put out that he is the son of a driver’s son but takes pleasure in the fact that no one knows. And that you were affluent. Man ego and all, can’t help it. So I wrote to tell you this that I request you to NEVER try and contact us again. Never. He hates it and now, so do I. You have done the damage and you don’t even want to rectify it properly and so don’t we. We are happy in our lives where your son is doing extremely well and I am too. We aren’t planning kids as of now, but we will, eventually. We don’t need anyone else in our lives at all. Hope you get it. Just like how you asserted again and again that you don’t want to upset your daughters, I assert again and again that I don’t want to upset my husband, who was anger personified when he saw your gifts and letter. For the sake of my happiness, cease all contact with us. Thank you for your gifts and all, my husband has received his closure.
Receiving your blessings,
Ragini L. Maheshwari
P.S. I think you may have guessed it already but still. His name is Lakshya. Lakshya Maheshwari. The same man whose face seems to be permanently printed in your newspapers. He likes his face too much.
Phewwwww. Tough to write. But still, an enjoyable experience. Thanks a lot guys and please do comment and like it if you liked it.?
Cocktail next ❤