Okay, okay. I know I am late. VERY LATE. I plead guilty and so……here comes the epilogue of Tera Mera Rishta Purana.
“And then we turn around and raise our hands and push them up and down. Like this.” Ruhaan said to Ansh and Suhani as he taught them the step. We all were currently rehearsing our dance performances for Mom and Dad’s wedding sangeet.
Ansh tried to do so. “Like weightlifting Bhai?” He asked. Ruhaan nodded and Ansh did that. Except, that he looked as if he had rickets. And that Titanic had been thrown on him and he was trying to lift it.
“No baba. No! Doing it all wrong. Wait, see, turn around………..” Ruhaan was saying and as he turned around a little too enthusiastically, he slipped and fell on the floor. ‘Bhai-Bhakt’ Ansh replicated the move and joined Ruhaan on the floor while behind me, Suhani groaned.
“They are gonna break their bones and then……there will be no performance! At least, not from them.” Suhani said as she looked over at Mom and Dad who were enjoying the close proximity that their dance steps provided. Dad had an idiotic grin on his face while Mom was blushing.
“Look over there.” I said, pointing to Mausi and Mausaji who were not trailing in their romance too. His hands were on her waist while hers were on his chest and they were looking at each other as if the other one was the loveliest creature on this earth.
Suhani sighed. “Even Bade Dadu and Badi Dadi are having fun.”
The aforementioned couple were a little conservative as compared to their ‘we don’t give a duck, PDA is our religion’ children. Dadu was trying what seemed to me to be a disco step while Dadi Maa was trying to be Sadhna in her yellow sari. They were looking kinda cute. Kinda.
“Abbey oh dhakkan! Haath de. Give your hand.” Ruhaan screamed at me and I pulled him up. Suhani helped Ansh stand. He looked at her with a wide smile on his face while she grinned back. Ruhaan looked at me and we both smiled too.
It has been six months to that night. Ansh and I have healed completely. He was very happy to be reunited with his actual parents and was very happy to have sisters too. They were all a happy family now. He still looked up to Bade Papa though but he totally ignored Badi Maa. That was the only unfortunate consequence of this mess.
I looked over at Badi Maa, who was sitting on the sofa with a passive look on her face. Bade Papa came to her and lifted her up gently as he helped her to her wheelchair and took her to the room where her physiotherapist waited. After her accident, she was handicapped for life as her legs lost their muscles. She had been advised regular physiotherapy to keep her hands and shoulders working. Despite such unfortunate circumstances, she was still okay. Maybe she had realised that it was her punishment. She had accepted her fate and had embraced the love Bade Papa showered on her gratefully. Swara Mausi and she still shared cold vibes but everyone else had forgiven her, mostly because of pity. She now tried to be a part of every family thing as much as she could and for the last six months, we hadn’t had any reason to be angry with her or complain about her.
“You know what dude? Leave it. Do another step. Here, look at me…….” Ruhaan said again as he did another step. Ansh followed it this time and so, the rehearsal continued.
Ruhaan and I are now seventeen year olds who are happy college-going guys. That useless jerk managed to go to St. Stephens while I am doing Computer Engineering from IIT Delhi. Mom and Dad were on the moon when our results had come. Dad had looked at us in awe for a week straight while Mom had been showing us off to whoever passed her way, to their misfortune.
Dad whispered something in Mom’s ear and she giggled while he smiled goofily. A smile came to my lips as I saw them.
Dad had decided to shift his business to Delhi so that he could stay close to us. Designing in Delhi was quite profitable anyways, and he could live with Mom, who had a successful kitchen service. Additionally, Ruhaan and I were also studying in Delhi. For the past six months, Dad had been very busy with the transfer and paperwork. After his wedding, he was to join us in Delhi. And now, Ruhaan and I had been legally named Maheshwaris.
“Bhai, you won’t practise?” Ansh asked. I smiled at him. He shared a very close relationship with all of us now yet, he considered me his idol. I stood up and followed him to where Ruhaan and the dance instructor were having a war about the choice of songs.
“Lakshya weds Ragini. No. Ragini weds Lakshya. Umm……..Ragini and Lakshya’s wedding? Hurrrrrrrr” I said in irritation as I scribbled the message I wanted to be printed on our cards. I drew a heart and wrote Raglak on it. Somehow, I just love this word. Raglak. Ragini and Lakshya. Incomplete and meaningless alone yet give a beautiful meaning if joined together. A blush came to my face.
“Camera Lao bhaiyo, Daddy Ji laal ho gaye!” Ruhaan’s voice came as he sauntered into the room. His gaze naturally went to the bowl of Chilly Paneer on my table which I had been eating and soon, he was helping himself to it. Without my permission, of course.
“Haan toh, what has got you all pinky pinky?” Ruhaan asked as he shifted the capsicum aside and popped a piece of Paneer into his mouth. Ranveer walked in just then and looked at me. Then at Ruhaan. Then at the bowl of Chilly Paneer. I sighed in resignation. Forget the food now.
“What are you doing Dad?” Ranveer asked as he munched on the leftover capsicum pieces his twin had presented to him lovingly. He picked up the paper I was working on.
In less than a month’s time, I would be shifting in permanently with Ruhaan and Ragini. Ranveer stayed in the hostel but came over at weekends. Twice a month, all of us came to Kolkata. I had been shuttling between Delhi and Mumbai, taking care of my work while Ragini had been working as well as house hunting. We had finally found a perfect home for us which was close to the IIT-D campus. It was undergoing renovation but we would take possession after our marriage.
Our wedding was being solely organised by our sons. They had taken it upon themselves to hire the caterers, the decorators, organising and making the guest list, photographers, everything. They were acting as proper wedding planners. Sometimes, I think that these two are more excited than Ragini and I are about this. Which says something.
“Do one thing Dad. Put a picture of you and Mom on the top and below it, write, ‘ We cordially invite you to attend the wedding of Ragini and Lakshya’. It will look good.” Ruhaan said. Ranveer clucked.
“No, no. Very formal and boring. Do one thing, put that picture but write some sort of a rhyme. You know, love poem or something.” He suggested.
The three of us looked at each other and said simultaneously, “GOOGLE!”
Now, if anyone of you had known about my story with Ragini, you must know that Google has played a very important role in expressing my love to her. The last time I confessed my love, I actually spent an hour surfing the net for love quotes. I was pleased to know that my sons too, used the Internet optimally for their own satisfaction. Ranveer used it for information on various gadgets while Ruhaan used it for information on various……..activities. Only one site though. www.x………………..
“Papa, here is one. Listen. ‘A single man is an incomplete animal. He resembles the odd half of a pair of scissors’. How is it?” Ruhaan asked.
I raised my eyebrow. “You mean to say I was an animal all these seventeen years?”
“No no. Benjamin Franklin said so. It is his quote. Trashy, I know. I will find something else.”
“Dad, look at this one. ‘Those marriages generally abound most with love and constancy that are preceded by a long courtship’. I guess this is okay.” Ranveer said.
I scratched my head in confusion. “Par Ragini and I had an arranged marriage! And we fell in love after marriage. And a lot of Kaand done by both of us. No. It doesn’t suit.”
“Oye! See this one. ‘Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he is not the man she married?’ Hain na faadu baat?” Ruhaan asked.
Ranveer and I took turns in beating him up and soon we were back to work.
“Marriages are made in heaven?” I asked them. Both shook their heads violently.
“Too clichéd and overused.” Came their reply.
“All marriages are happy. It is the living together afterwards that causes all the trouble.” Ruhaan said. He received a slap on his head from his twin.
“This one looks good. ‘A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then……..” Ranveer paled. I leaned over to look and then narrowed my eyes at him. He looked a bit sorry.
“….Then he is finished. I know, I read this one earlier. Thanks bro!” Ruhaan said in a cheerful tone. I slapped my head in irritation.
“If you both continue giving me these quotes na, Ragini will leave me. And then………I won’t leave you both!” I threatened them. They nodded together with wide eyes.
“Ek last Dad. Just this one. ‘When a man opens the car door for his wife, it is either a new car or a new wife!’ Said by Prince Philip of UK!” Ruhaan said happily. I banged my head on the wall in reply.
After two hours of brainstorming, shrieking, and pulling each other’s hair, our work was complete, so when Ragini came up to see exactly what her boys were up to, she found a blueprint of a beautiful wedding invite in front of her. I sat back and admired our work.
It was a golden card in the form of a flap which opened from all sides. All sides had a photo of Ragini and I. On the base, in Ranveer’s perfect hand, were written the words:
‘Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. It is not finding someone to live with, it is finding someone you can’t live without. Take it away and our earth is a tomb.
Ranveer and Ruhaan Maheshwari
cordially invite you for the
Of their beloved parents
Ragini and Lakshya Maheshwari
Eighteen years to the date they first united’
Ragini had tears in her eyes as she read the card. She looked up and gave us all big sloppy kisses. The four of us hugged each other tightly and then Mom drew back.
“Such nice words. Who wrote them?” She asked as she wiped her tears with the handkerchief I had gallantly given to her. She then blew her nose on it, wiping off the smile on my face in an instant.
“Arrey, who else? Ranveer, my bro of course! He writes so well, you know.” Ruhaan said. Ragini smiled at them and pinched Ranveer’s cheek. “Thank you Mera baby!”
Ranveer looked at Ruhaan who looked at me. It looked like a chain so, I looked at Ragini. Ragini looked at Ranveer. Just then, Swara came and looked at ALL OF US.
“Umm…….Ragini? You came here to call everyone for lunch na?”
Hearing the word ‘lunch’, my strapping young lads charged out of the room like bulls while Swara followed them. Ragini looked at me.
“I love this card. I wanted such a card only. Our sons are so good na?”
“Very good.” I replied, recalling Ruhaan’s web history and Ranveer’s phone gallery which was full of his own pictures.
“Just like you!”
“Just like me!” I murmured as I recalled the time Sanskaar Bhai had caught me with my own web history and of course, the five 32 GB SD cards which were full of my own pictures.
Ragini wrapped her arms around me. I smiled at her. We walked down slowly, hand in hand, anticipating our future together.
“Haan to hum kaise lag Rahe……..AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!” I screamed in horror as I saw my reflection. This couldn’t be me. No. Never.
My face was painted white with powder and water while my lips were painted a bright pink. Matching blush and eyeshadow marred my features. The black kajal and eyeliner were grossly overdone. I flared my nostrils and looked at the culprit. Chachiji.
She stood there, inspecting her handiwork. She put a Nazar ka teeka behind my ear. “And now, you are ready to go down!” She clapped in delight. I looked at Maa who had a sympathetic look on her face. The door banged open and Lakshya came running inside.
“What happened? Haan, what happened? I heard Ragini scream, where is she? Is she fine?” His eyes then fell on me. “Who is this tacky clown and what is she doing here in my Ragini’s room?”
Tears came to my eyes and I burst out crying. Lakshya realised belatedly that the ‘clown’ was actually his own beloved fiancée. Needless to say, he was in a soup. Hot one.
He rushed over to me and pulled me into a fierce hug. “Allay Mela bachcha, why is my queen crying? Haan? Because of bad make up? Hain? Now give your Lakshya Ji a smile. Nice waali.” He said in my ear soothingly as he drew circles on my back. I felt a bit better and my cries reduced to sobs. Lakshya kissed me on my cheek.
“Why are you crying Ragini? I did your make up myself! You know, before my marriage, I was Miss. Dholpur! I was the beauty queen of my village. But then Ram’s proposal came………” Chachiji trailed. Her eyes became misty.
I greatly admire Chachiji for the courage she has shown. Despite being alone now, she was still happy for Lakshya and I. She had become a little less exuberant but was still the same in many ways. Her life now revolved around her grandkids, calling them the ‘Faboolus Five’ or the ‘Pagal Paanch’. Ruhaan, her ‘boyfriend’, remains her favourite though. He is the one who always manages to lift her spirits up. She is fighting well and all of us are proud of her.
“You did her make up? I guess I should have known………” Lakshya said. Chachiji smiled at him, not catching his true meaning. She is still so naive sometimes, I can’t help but feel bad for her.
Ruhaan walked in, hands in his pocket. “I heard that this place was about to be flooded? And what is this Sujju darling? Tears? Why tears, when Ruhaan is here?” He asked lightly. Chachiji smiled and slapped his shoulder lightly.
“Mom, why have you applied a layer of cake cream on your face? Through you are looking beautiful as always…………….” Ruhaan said.
Swara coughed a little. “Mom, I was saying that this make up is a bit too loud for tonight. It is just the sangeet, not the wedding. When Ragini dances, all that make up would come flowing down.”
Chachiji nodded in agreement. “Je to tune bilkul sahi kaha. Right. Ragini, remove this. We will do something lighter with you.”
Ruhaan, my dear boy, understood that Chachiji was about to attack me again. He dragged her out, saying he wanted to show her something. Lakshya looked at me.
“Don’t worry Ragini. Relax. Nothing is under control.” he grinned at me. I smiled back.
Swara sniffed. “What do you mean haan? Nothing is under control? Why?” she demanded to know.
“Keep quiet Swara.”
“I won’t keep quiet. My mouth, my freedom of speech.”
“And my freedom of self defence. Shall I knock you off?”
“You wish! I will give you such a slap na, your teeth will come off!”
“And I will return this sweet gesture by picking you up and throwing you out of the window!”
“Sanskaar won’t leave you.”
“Bhai wouldn’t be able to leave you first. You will be bedridden na, isliye…………”
I put my hands on my ears and shouted at them to get out. The murderous expression on my face induced the two frenemies to bolt out of the room at a speed Usain Bolt himself would be jealous of. I kicked the chair in anger and clutched my paining foot a second later, hopping about the room.
“Good evening ladies and not so gentle men! Today I, Ruhaan the Handsome and my brother Ranveer the Less Handsome, thank you all for wasting your time………..err, taking time off your precious time to celebrate the joyous occasion of my parents’ sangeet. Let the fun BEGIN!!!!!” I said as everybody roared.
Suddenly, the lights went off. A single spotlight lit up and moved towards the top of the staircase. Everybody looked on transfixed as the couple descended.
Mom was wearing a champagne silver and white lehenga and her hair was done half-up, half-down, falling down her back in rings. She wore large silver jhumkas and silver maangtika with pearls attached to it which went to the back of her head from either of her temples. Dad wore a champagne coloured achkan with black embroidery on it, along with white Jodhpuri pajamas. Both looked royal and resplendent in their outfits, specially designed by Dad.
Soft romantic music played as they descended the stairs, Mom holding Dad’s arm. Behind me, Ranveer whispered, “No wonder they both were so excited. They are looking amazing!” I nodded my head mutely, too occupied with seeing them to formulate a proper response.
Dad led Mom to the centre stage and placed his hands on her waist. Mom wrapped hers around his neck and both started swaying. Kaun Mujhe started playing.
It was so tough to try and look anywhere else. Somehow, Mom and Dad were exuding a magnetic aura which induced everyone around to watch in a daze as the lovebirds danced away, oblivious to the intoxicating effect they were having on everybody present. They looked celestial. They were glowing. They were beautiful. My parents.
Next, Ansh danced on Let’s Naacho. He was doing it brilliantly, I felt so proud of myself. Because I taught him na, isliye!
Next came Sanya dancing cutely on London Thumakda. Everyone was having so much fun watching her that soon, all the ladies of the family joined her. The men whooped and cheered as the ladies slayed it on the floor. I couldn’t resist and soon, I was in the middle, giving thumkas which rivalled Malaika Arora Khan’s.
Swara Mausi and Sanskaar Mausaji entered the floor, gliding across it on Teri Fariyaad. Mausi looked beautiful in her dark blue and baby pink Lakshya lehenga while Mausaji wore matching royal blue achkan. They danced romantically and Ranveer sniggered, pointing to a swooning Suhani and an overexcited Ansh who were standing close to their dancing parents. I spied Sanya shoving Soya Tikki down her gullet. I would see to it later. Pakka.
Next came a Dabangg Bade Dadu and a blushing Badi Dadi who danced on some old song whose name I don’t remember. No offence, but I don’t care!
Next came my Sujju darling, dancing to Bahara. I smiled as I saw her smiling face. Her trauma has lessened with time, her wounds have started healing but how can one forget the insult? After almost forty years of marriage, when a woman comes to know that her husband was an infidel who tried to murder his family, how would she react? How would she cope?
I have to say, I greatly admire the women of our family. They are so courageous, so brave, so calm and level headed and above all, so strong willed and determined. Whether it was Mom, who refused to stay with a supposedly cheating husband and decided to bring up her kids all alone, or Mausi, who forgave her sister for the ultimate betrayal and held up her head high and supported her and us, even after losing her son, or Chhoti Dadi. All were strong personalities. Idols.
As my performance with Suhani neared, I went to search for her. She was standing with……ahem, Karan Jaiswal, flaring her nostrils and wagging her finger at him.
In her cream and magenta lehenga, curls framing her face and the spectacles off, Suhani looked very much like her mother, my dangerous Swara Mausi. Beautiful. I reached over to her and heard her hissing at Karan.
“You are a big waala jerk. Okay? Really big. Stupid ass! Be happy that I have a performance to give right now, or else, main dekh leti tujhe!”
Okay, the situation wasn’t really pleasant. I reached her and gave them the smile that Mom claims gives her heart serious flutters. Cause it resembles Dad’s. Suhani calmed down seeing me.
“Next is our turn. And then, all of us cousins are dancing. You ready bro?” I asked her. She nodded and then glared at her former crush one last time. She took my arm and dragged me away.
“Chu-chu, stupid, gawar! Says that he would consider thinking about us since I am looking hot tonight! And to think that I liked him once!” She muttered angrily. I chuckled but stopped when she turned the glare towards me. Apna Apna dekhna padta hai!
Ranveer, Suhani and I danced to Radha and Sau Tarah. It was a fun piece and I could see that everyone was enjoying. Ansh and Sanya joined us soon and all of us danced to Beat Pe Booty. I controlled my laughter as I saw Dad shaking his own booty, looking at me proudly. He taught me belly dance na. I waved at him, asking him to join us. He came running at an alarming speed and started dancing. All of us were laughing and dancing together, having real fun. Mom was shuttling her eyes between Ranveer, Dad and I, confused as to who to look at.
Next, Ranveer and I danced solely on Cheap Thrills. No invitation needed, EVERYBODY joined us on the floor soon. I stopped and looked around with a smile. Sanya was spanking Ansh’s back with her duppata as she jumped and danced enthusiastically while Ansh was doing something. I don’t want to call it a dance step. Suhani was swaying her hips with Chhoti Dadi while Mom’s Dadi was looking on, scandalised. She still shares a rocky relationship with Mom even though Mom is always respectful. Some things can’t become okay so easily. Mom and Dad were grinding against each other and so were Mausi and Mausaji. I smiled as I saw Bade Papa swaying gently, holding Badi Maa in his arms and lifting her up a little. It was a beautiful sight. This was my family. My family. My eyes teared up.
“Senti hona band Kar and dance donkey!” Ranveer whispered as he pumped his fist in the air. I wiped the tears and joined in, enjoying fully.
“Swara, pakka na I am looking okay? Haan?” I asked again, worried. I think the bronzer has been used too liberally.
Swara glared at me. “For the last time Ragini, you are looking BEAUTIFUL! Now shut up and enjoy these pre-wedding jitters.”
I was about to bite my nails but Swara swatted my hand away. I put my hands on my lap and started fiddling with my fingers.
In less than an hour, Lakshya and I would be united forever. Though I was really happy, I was also worried. Something was bothering me. Something was wrong……………………
And then I realised. I wasn’t wearing perfume! Oh God! NO!
Quickly, I sprayed a lot of Yardley Red Rose perfume on myself. Now I was happy. Everything was perfect.
A whistle came to my ears and I turned around to see my two sons standing with their jaws dropped to the floor. I wasn’t sure which one of them whistled though.
“Mommy, you look so beautiful! And it is time to go down to the mandap. But……………” Ranveer trailed as he looked at Ruhaan. I smiled as I understood.
The three of us said in unison, “Let us take a selfie first!” I laughed delightfully as they rushed to my either side. Ruhaan whipped out his new iPhone 7 which was Lakshya’s gift (‘Ragini, I didn’t gift him anything till now na, isliye!’ Lakshya had said) while Ranveer pulled Swara too. We said ‘Soup’ as we pouted. A few seconds before the picture was clicked, Suhani came from nowhere and adjusted in between. The selfie came out perfect.
“Chalo, Chalo, time to go down and get Mausi and Chachu married. Fatafat se. The food is getting cold na!” Suhani said. Ranveer and Ruhaan nodded in understanding while I slapped my head. Bhukkad bachche!
As I descended down the stairs, I saw Lakshya looking at me with his mouth open. I controlled my giggle as I went towards him.
The pink lehenga Lakshya had designed was simple, yet beautiful. Combined with my jewellery, I knew I was looking good. I blushed as I saw Lakshya in his purple sherwani with gold embroidery. He was looking so dashing! The love shone in his eyes as I advanced towards him. I looked around and saw the smiling faces of my loved ones. This was indeed a happy moment. The happiest for me, actually. Tears came unbridled to my eyes. I pushed them back when I saw Lakshya shaking his head softly, gesturing to me to not cry.
As I sat beside him, I looked at him. Memories of the past, my first meeting with him, his stay at our house, our marriage, our blissful days together, our love, his antics, his smile- all came to me in flashes. I realised that I had actually, subconsciously, brought up our kids just like he himself was. Maybe that gave me the strength to live alone all these years. Knowing that I had him close to me, in the form of the symbols of our love, our children.
“You are looking beautiful Ragini.” Lakshya said, a little pink in the cheeks. I smiled.
“I am beautiful because you love me.” I replied. Lakshya smiled happily and leaned in to kiss me but realised where we were. He quickly leaned back, red in the face. Everybody started laughing.
“Arrey don’t worry, aapko poora mauka milega! Ranveer and I are gifting you a honeymoon package to Vienna and Paris. And Vaishno Devi!” Ruhaan said. Everyone burst out laughing again. Lakshya, who was smiling crazily at the word honeymoon, looked at his knees worriedly when Vaishno Devi was mentioned.
“Haan, honeymoon package, paid for by Dad’s money! Ruhaan borrowed small sums throughout these six months every week and saved up to pay for the honeymoon. So effectively, Dad ke paiso se hi ye Dad ko gift de raha hai!” Ranveer said sourly. Everyone laughed again and even I joined while Lakshya looked at Ruhaan proudly.
“You will become a businessman for sure! And not aisa-waisa. A chor businessman!” Lakshya said proudly. Ruhaan bowed gracefully. The entire hall, including Pandit Ji were laughing now.
The rituals went flawlessly. Ranveer and Ruhaan had outdone themselves with the arrangements. I was proud of them. As I moved around with Lakshya, our hands entwined, greeting the guests, I saw them picking out red roses from the flower arrangements and giving them to the young girls randomly, flirting all the while. I laughed. Lakshya looked where I was looking and joined me in laughter.
“They have grown up. And I kind of feel bad. I didn’t see them as children na!” Lakshya said wistfully. I clutched his arm.
Lakshya looked down at me. “Koi nahi! Let us try for a girl this time. We will name her with L!” He said, winking suggestively. I blushed beet red and smacked his shoulder as he laughed.
I sighed as I looked at my sons who were mostly successful in charming the ladies. “They are so like you!”
Lakshya nodded. “But with better luck. Even though I was named Lucky, I wasn’t really very lucky with women. Before I met you of course!”
“What do you think, will they get good life partners?” I asked him. He looked at me.
“If they are Lakshya, then I am sure that they will definitely get their Ragini!” He said. I smiled and placed my head on his shoulder, sighing contentedly. He kissed the top of my head.
As we watched Ranveer and Ruhaan talking to two girls, I looked around. Everyone was happy. Everyone was content. Everything was okay. Lakshya was mine again. I was Lakshya’s again. Just like we were always supposed to be.
I was finally at peace.
So, done. Just in case you didn’t realise, the wedding clothes were the same as those in the serial when Lakshya married Kavya. But here he married Ragini.
Thank you all so much! Comment one last time? Till then, keep dreaming and keep loving. With this, Bela the Extreme Vela signs off. For now. 😉