Hey Guys!! I am sure a lot of you would be upset with me because of the gap, but I was unwell and too much work piled up. I could not get to update. Anyway, here is the new update. Hope you guys like it 🙂
PS : I will be responding to all the comments tomorrow 🙂
Previous Episode : http://www.tellyupdates.com/raglak-ends-us-episode-3/
On my drive home, I just couldn’t get over the day I’d had. To think it had started off so hopeful, only to end with my ex-boyfriend and would-be boss staring at me on the dance floor. It was odd. I thought he would have just left after he paid for dinner, but he stayed and watched me dance with Naveen.
Then, as soon as the dance was over, he just walked out. Afterward Naveen and Preeta both questioned me about him. I didn’t give them all the gory details, just a very brief overview.
“He looks like a man that knows regret,” Preeta remarked.
Don’t we all know regret? Like me. I regretted going to work today, and a little of me regretted my snotty attitude. So much so, I called Shikha as soon as I got home. I needed her to make me feel better. I told her the whole crazy dinner story, and I asked her if I was out of line and why I couldn’t control my snarkiness.
She laughed hard. “Oh honey, don’t be so hard on yourself. He’s lucky you didn’t punch him. It’s his own fault for leaving you with so much pent up anger. He’s the one that chose to walk away without even giving you a reason.”
“Panda, he didn’t love me. End of story. What better reason is there than that?”
“Ragini, that’s just nonsense. Real men don’t walk away and never speak to you again just because you say you love them, Ok. And they don’t just show up out of the blue thirteen years later for no reason either.”
“Ok, wise one, what possible reason could there be?”
“Did you find out if he’s married?”
It drove me nuts when she responded with a question not an answer.
She did that more often than I liked.
“I didn’t ask, but he didn’t have a ring on. But hold on, I wanted to google him. Let me put you on speaker.”
I set my phone down and typed in Lakshya Maheshwari on my laptop. The first listing was for an attractive actor that shared his name, but I didn’t have time to ogle handsome men online. I scrolled down the page and found an article about the sale of his software company, LRM Inc. It sold for a cool Thirty Crores.
Wow! I scrolled a bit further down as I listened to my sister bark commands at my nieces, who were balking at going to bed. One of them yelled, “Come save us, Ragini Masi!”
“Just wait until you have your own,” Shikha retorted.
“I can’t wait,” I said sadly.
“Ragini, you’re going to have your own.”
I hope so, I thought to myself. It was then I found a very interesting article. Well, well, it looked like Lakshya married Delhi socialite, Kavya Singhania, eight years ago. Their engagement photo was pretty hoity toity. Lakshya was in a black tuxedo and she was in some silver and royal blue semi – traditional gown. She was what I would call a human Barbie with overdone make-up and hair and botoxed features. I was just about ready to tell my sister he was married when another article caught my eye from two years ago.
Shikha was now yelling for Vidyut to come deal with his offspring.
“Hey, Panda, looks like he’s divorced.” I chimed in before she really raised her voice. “Or at least he was a couple of years ago.”
“Does he have kids?”
I scrolled down the article. It was a gossip column from the Asian Chronicle. I couldn’t believe Lakshya was popular enough to get mentioned in the society pages. No wonder he looked like a runway model now. I honestly preferred the nerdy version. Don’t get me wrong, he was way easy on the eyes, but there was something sweet and innocent about the man I knew so long ago.
Now he looked like he lived in a boardroom.
“Ok, here we go. ‘There were no children from the union.’ There you go, no kids, at least not from Ms. I-May-Tip-Over-Because-My-Head-And-Heels-Are-So-Big.”
Shikha laughed. “Send me a picture of her.” I snapped a picture like a thirteen year old girl and texted it to her.
“My, my …” Shikha responded.
“I know, right.”
“You’re way prettier.”
“Thanks, Panda, but I don’t care.”
“Sure you don’t.”
“Really, I don’t. Why would I?”
“Every woman cares about who their ex-boyfriends end up with, even if there are no longer any feelings there.”
“Well, I don’t. It was a long time ago.”
“Don’t get knots in your stomach, Baby Girl.”
I set my laptop down and lay down on my couch. “Sorry, it’s been a long day. I just thought I would never see him again. It was something I had come to terms with. And now here he is, and not only that, but I could be working for him. What do I do?”
“Honey, I think you need to be honest with yourself about why you don’t want to work with him, and if you can come to terms with that, then I think you should go back and show him what Ragini Gadodia’s made of.”
“What you mean, be honest with myself?”
“I think you know. Goodnight, Baby Girl.”
“If you say so. Goodnight, Panda.”
I set my phone down and sighed. Tom took that as his invitation to come and pounce on me. For some reason, he loved lying on my abdomen. As I lazily stroked Tom, I tried to process the day, especially what my sister had just said. I wasn’t sure what she was getting at, but it did make me think about why I had such a strong reaction to working with him. The obvious reason was that I wanted that job and I felt like I deserved it, but I knew if someone besides him had been given the job, I wouldn’t have quit today. Sure, I would have been drowning myself in a bowl full of halwa out of disappointment, but I wouldn’t have been unemployed. I also would have been civil and put on my game face.
Speaking of sweet, I got up and traded my clothes for a night shirt and then made my way to my kitchen and pulled out my dad’s recipe for my favourite halwa. I needed my dad’s lawyer mind, or just his arms. A good hug would do nicely right now. I missed him so much. His life had been cut too short by a brain haemorrhage. We were told he died in a matter of minutes.
Our only consolation was that he died doing what he loved, defending the weak and the innocent. My dad was my hero. He could have been a wealthy man if he had wanted to be because he was a brilliant attorney, but he only took paying cases so he could take more pro bono ones. Don’t get me wrong, we lived a good life, but we weren’t spoiled, except in the ways that mattered most.
As I stirred my ingredients on the stove to the perfect consistency, I tried to self-diagnose. What was it about Lakshya Maheshwari that I couldn’t come to terms with? I had come to terms with the fact that he didn’t love me. I knew when I told him, so many years ago, he probably wouldn’t reciprocate. His favourite line was, “I’m crazy for you, Ragini.” Or sometimes, “You drive me crazy, Ragini.” Sometimes he meant that endearingly, but I knew I did drive him crazy.
We were very different people, but at the time, that was one of the things I loved about our relationship. He helped me enjoy quiet, simple pleasures, like hikes and art galleries. And I managed to get him to be loud and crazy once in a while, like when I dragged him to the paint ball zone and we threw, well paint balls at each other, or when I pulled him up on one of the campus benches and made him slow dance with me for everyone to see, just because I liked the song playing on my iPod. He used to give me that look that said, I can’t believe I’m doing this, and then he would kiss me as if to say, “I’d do anything for you.” Maybe that’s why I thought he might return the sentiment.
We were so happy together. I mean, truly happy together. As different as we were, we never fought, and there was never any drama. That’s why it took me so long to get over him. When he walked away, I felt like someone had removed all the oxygen from the air, but foolishly I thought he just needed to come to terms with it and he would realize it didn’t change anything. I expected him to come back that night or at least the next day, because surely he missed me like I missed him. But he didn’t. He wouldn’t even answer my phone calls. He had removed me from his life permanently, with no thought at all.
With a large bowl of my halwa, I sat back down on the couch and did a little bit more digging into Lakshya’s past. It probably wasn’t a healthy thing to do. I had never had any desire to research old boyfriends, and I had tried very hard to never know anything more of Lakshya. That’s why I let my relationship with his sister fade away.
I’d always regretted that, though, because we really were like two peas in a pod, but I just couldn’t stand the reminder of Lakshya. Even if we didn’t talk about him, she was a reminder of that pain. Oh, well, he was here now, so I guess it wasn’t going to hurt to pry.
First I started with LRM, Inc. I assumed that was for his initials, Lakshya Ram Maheshwari.
His dad’s name was Ram Prasad Maheshwari, but he went by Ram, because Ram Prasad was too formal. It looked like he started LRM ten years ago. Initially it started with a free web-based project management tool.
From the sounds of it, it became quite well used and garnered the attention of investors. Interestingly enough, Sachin Singhania, Miss Botoxed Barbie’s father, was one of those investors. From there, it looked like LRM developed several web-based business solution products, ranging from project management to accounting and even marketing. I always knew he was borderline genius and he would make it big.
I wondered if he’d met the socialite first or the daddy. I had to say, I really was surprised by his choice of wife. Of course, the timing was right on his schedule. He thought he should be married somewhere between twenty-eight and thirty. That was the optimal age in his mind.
He figured he would be enough into his career, but not too far in. That was important because he didn’t want a woman who was only attracted to his money. Looks like he got his wish as his ex-wife came from money. I used to laugh at him and tell him not to overthink things. I would also tease him that I would never marry him for his money. He would just look at me funny, but he would never acknowledge it.
I should have known then that he never thought I’d be the one he would marry. I, on the other hand, thought it was perfect. When he was twenty-nine, I would just have graduated from college. He would never have to worry about me marrying him for his money because I fell in love with him as a student. Too bad he wanted a wealthy wife.
It looked like the only part of his plan that hadn’t happened as he planned was children. He wanted two children, maybe three, and they were to be spaced out two and half years apart; he read somewhere this was most optimal for the children and the mother’s health. He wanted to be done having children by the time he was forty. I laughed at myself.
Why I remembered all this nonsense, I had no idea. Ok, I had an idea … It was because I had pictured myself as Mrs. Lakshya Maheshwari, wife and mother extraordinaire, so many times. Obviously, I had been young and delusional. As I kept scrolling through pages, I wondered why he was divorced. I couldn’t find any additional information other than that he had filed for divorce and sited the catch all: irreconcilable differences. The only thing I found of interest was Miss Botoxed Barbie was already remarried to a guy named Kartik Kapoor. I wondered if that bothered Lakshya and if he was still in love with his ex-wife. I don’t know why I wondered.
I practically licked my bowl clean before I called it a night and turned off my laptop. It had been a long and very weird day. It felt very surreal as I lay in bed and waited for the sleep to come; all I could think about was Lakshya. The old Lakshya, the Lakshya I used to love. The Lakshya that made me study charts for my final exams and supplied me with diet Pepsi during said finals, even though he thought it wasn’t good for me.
The Lakshya who would call me in the middle of the night because he had a brilliant idea and he just wanted to share it with me. The Lakshya that had worked extra hours just so he had enough money to buy me a birthday gift, an expensive perfume I adored. It was a small bottle, but I didn’t care. I wouldn’t have cared if he had bought me anything at all. His homemade banana bread alone was perfect.
I hadn’t tortured myself like this in years. I was over him. So, so over him. I would be a fool to be anything but. You can’t hold a candle for a man that you haven’t seen in almost thirteen years. The fact that I’d never found anyone else that made me as happy as him, or that I connected with like I did him, didn’t mean anything, right? It only meant I had to keep looking. Surely someone other than Lakshya Maheshwari could make me happy and could love me as much as I loved him. And it wasn’t that I hadn’t had some nice relationships in the past ten years or so, but they’d never had the spark and the overwhelming ‘yes this is it’ feel. And I wasn’t going to settle for less than that.
Some would say, “At eighteen and nineteen, how do you even know what this is or what love feels like, for that matter?” And maybe I hadn’t, but I knew I’d never been as happy with anyone else, and I’d never felt that connection and spark with another man. My only problem was choosing a man that didn’t love me back. Ok, it wasn’t my only problem, because now he was back and he wanted to be my boss.
So, I had to decide. Could I work with Lakshya or should I start polishing my résumé? Or should I be booking a cruise? Door number three sounded fabulous. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but hey, you only live once. Right. As much as I liked fun, I would never, until I knew I had a job. I wouldn’t be able to relax, so it would be pointless. So maybe that’s what I would do. Secure employment, tell them I couldn’t start for two weeks, an then book a cruise or fly off the radar for a bit. Anywhere warm with sandy beaches and hot single men. I laughed to myself. I was all talk. I hated the single scene, which might just be the reason I was still single. Maybe I should hit the library, it worked the first time. Too bad hardly anyone went to the library anymore, and even if they did, I was too old for them now.
I laid in bed and thought and thought and thought some more. Then I dreamt about him. I hadn’t dreamt about him in a long time, which was a good thing, because it usually was me crying and feeling hopeless and hollow; I would wake up and have to remind myself it was ok and it was just a dream, even though I had felt that way for a long time after he broke up with me. It was a terrible feeling. But this dream, in a way, was worse. This dream reminded me of why I had loved him so long ago. It reminded me of what it felt like to be enfolded in his arms and warmly kissed by him. For a moment, when I awoke, I craved him and that feeling.
I sat up and threw my pillow. Why did he have to come back here and get into my head? I had kicked him out of it so long ago, or at least I thought I had. I crawled out of bed dead tired. That had been the worst night’s sleep I’d had in forever, and he was to blame. Again. I was still no closer to knowing what I should do, or figuring out what my sister meant about being honest with myself about why I didn’t want to work with him and if I could come to terms with it.
I got dressed and headed to the Gym Arena for a workout. They didn’t offer dance classes on Saturday mornings, but Zumba would suffice. I would take anything that made me sweat profusely and helped me not to think about Lakshya for just a bit. On the way to the gym, Aparna Aunty called. “Honey, Anirudh and I are so worried about you. Are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” That was mostly true.
“Are you sure?” She knew me too well.
I took in a deep breath. “Yes, I’m sure.”
“Well, I’m here if you need to talk.”
“Thanks, Aparna. Tell Boss not to worry about me.”
“Why don’t you tell him yourself when you come over for dinner tonight? Are you free?”
I would never dream of missing dinner at their house. “What time should I be there?”
Aunty and Boss had been so good to me. Aparna had been our surrogate mother. She was the one to talk to Shikha and me about periods and boys. She even helped us shop for all our traditional days and college fests. She was my dad’s equivalent to a super hero.
Oddly enough, I could have been their daughter-in-law. I dated their son, Samir, while I was in graduation. He was a few years older than me, but he could never seem to get his act together. Thankfully, his parents didn’t hate me when I broke up with him. They knew Samir had issues. I honestly only stayed with him so long because of his parents and part of me wanted it to work out. I loved them, but I never loved Samir in that way. Samir wasn’t happy at all when I broke it off, but it was one of the best decisions I’d ever made.
Samir was now a beach bum in Goa, working as little as he possibly could, and getting in trouble on a regular basis. He’d never really grown up, and he’d caused his parents a lot of heartache. Anirudh even had to fire him. He was nothing like his brother, Ankush, who was a successful accountant and owned his own firm in Hyderabad. Ankush was married to the sweetest woman, Simran, and they had three adorable kids, two boys and a girl.
I knew Boss and Aunty would be spending a majority of their time now in Hyderabad. Aunty loved being a Dadi more than breathing. I was going to miss them, but I was happy for them. They deserved any and all happiness that came their way. I was truly blessed to know them. Thinking about them made me more in favour of going back to Rumtek, even if I wasn’t the Director; I would still have influence, and I would make sure Mr. Hot Shot didn’t screw anything up. If only I didn’t have to work with Mr. Hot Shot. I was so confused!
Zumba gave me my much needed endorphin boost, and then I looked at the forecast. It was going to be sunny today! That improved my mood by leaps and bounds. I was ready for winter to be over. In honour of the warm temps, I decided to procrastinate doing Saturday chores and instead headed to Shikha’s to grab my nieces. We were going to the park and then out to lunch and whatever else they could talk me into.
My sister and Vidyut were more than happy to have a childless day. I hoped someday, after fifteen years of marriage, I would be sappily in love with my husband. I knew they didn’t have a perfect marriage, and they argued like normal couples, but they still had it for each other. Arushi and Arika were ecstatic; I just got them out of their Saturday chores too. What were masis for, anyway? As I watched my nieces play along with every other kid in the park, it seemed, I couldn’t help but think of Lakshya. We had spent several dates at the park near my campus. They were cheap dates, but what’s more romantic than your boyfriend pushing you on a swing or stroking your hair as you laid your head in his lap while he studied macroeconomics? Not much, in my book. I missed those kinds of simple dates. Most men think they need to spend a lot of money and take you somewhere exclusive, but I wished someone would just take me to the park and walk barefoot with me in the cool grass or push me on a swing or feed me butter and jam sandwiches while we watched the clouds in the sky. I also wished I would have never fallen in love with Lakshya Maheshwari.
After the park, the girls and I made our way to a new pizzeria in town that made great pizza and, oddly enough, even better Pop Tates. Their desserts were pretty good too. I loved being with my nieces. They reminded me so much of their mother and I, except Arushi was like her daddy; Arika could have been mine. We shared the same dark chocolate hair and the deep brown eyes that we inherited from my dad. They were the best of friends and the worst of enemies, just like Panda and I had been growing up. Thankfully, we were just best of friends now. I knew Arushi and Arika would eventually get there too. Quite honestly, I enjoyed watching their little tiffs. It drove my sister nuts, but I didn’t live with it day in and day out, so for me it was entertaining.
Arushi had my sister’s personality, sweet and a little snarky. Arika was like me, more snarky than sweet. Her nickname of “Smeany” (mixture of Snarky and mean) suited her well. We rounded out our day together at Hobby Ideas because I’m a sucker when it comes to them, and I have no one else to spoil. I knew my sister wouldn’t love me for it. That’s why I would just be dropping them off and waving to my sister from the car. She could reprimand me by phone later, and I’m sure she would.
When I got home, I showered quickly and did something I hadn’t done in years while I waited for my hair to dry. I figured it was about time, and maybe it would help me solve my little issue.
My dad had encouraged me and my sister to keep a diary for every year of our life. Some years I was better than others, but I had one for every year since I was sixteen, even though some of them were spotty. They were filled with my thoughts and sometimes every day, random things; they also had pictures and awards and notes and cards from friends in them, or anything else I found of value. When I reminisced, there were always two I skipped, my eighteen- and nineteen-year-old ones, for obvious reasons, but today they we were going to see the light of day. So many times I almost ripped out the pages that contained anything to do with Lakshya, but I thought someday I would regret that. I thought someday I would be able to look back and not cry because it was over, but smile because it happened. That day had never come.
As I sat on my bed, I almost reverently cracked open the pages of diary eighteen. Then, before I changed my mind, I skipped to the pages that contained Lakshya. The first entry I came to was about the first time I had met him. I had to smile at my stupid young self, writing about whether I would be able to concentrate around my new math tutor because he was hot. But I also made fun of him because he was so serious. There were several more entries of me saying how much I liked him, and I thought maybe he liked me too. I read about the 87 marks I received on my first math test after Lakshya had started tutoring me and how I was so happy about it, I kissed him spontaneously at the next tutoring session. I wrote about his confused reaction. I knew he liked it, and he even reciprocated, but he left in a hurry and told me we shouldn’t do that again.
But I was persistent, and after several weeks, he finally said he was done resisting me. I could feel the joy leap off the pages as I read about us becoming an “official” couple. There were several pictures of us together. I particularly loved the Holi pictures. It was my first holiday away from Panda and Dad. Panda was at her University in Mumbai and Dad was travelling for work, but Lakshya and his family kept me from being homesick. It was one of my most favourite Holi ever. There were pictures of us during Holika Dahan and then next day when we played with colours.
I’d made Lakshya help too. He was right, we had worked well together. That was the college’s most successful drive to date, as far as I knew. I flipped through page after page of happy memories, and then one particular passage jumped out at me dated February 10, 2004. It read:
Today I asked my dad how he knew he loved my mom and how she was the one, or did he know she was the one. I mean, she passed away so early in my life, I never got to see them together. It got quiet on the other end of the phone, but then he said, Ragini, you just know when you know, it will be the most undeniable, peaceful all-encompassing feeling. It will be like drowning in pure intelligence. Then he told me that he did feel that way about my mom. She was his best friend, his other half. His ultimate soul mate. It made me cry. I told him that I was in love with Lakshya. I thought he might laugh at me or maybe even be upset, but all he said was, I’m happy for you, but don’t get too carried away, you’re young. I told him I would try, but I’ve been drowning in that pure intelligence for some time now. I haven’t told Lakshya because he frequently worries about our age difference and besides, I think the man should say it first. I just hope I can hold it in. I’ve almost told him on several occasions. Anyway, it’s late and I should probably go to bed.
The tears started to fall softly down my cheek. My sister was right. That was my problem. I knew, with every fiber of my being, I was meant to be with Lakshya. I knew even at eighteen years of age, but he’d made his choice and there was nothing I could do about that, no matter how right I knew we were for each other. How do you come to terms with someone that robbed you of such a thing, especially when you’ve never been able to find it again?
I flipped through the rest of eighteen and the first part of nineteen. I stopped before I got to the breaking-up part. It was still gut wrenching for me. I could still remember that hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach that lasted for days. Admittedly, some of it still existed. I stood up quickly and wiped away my tears. I’d had enough; I packed the diaries away in an out-of-place spot. I didn’t want to see them anymore. That’s when the anger and the determination came. I wasn’t going to allow Lakshya to rob me of anything else. I loved my job at Rumtek, and I belonged there, whether he was there or not.