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The exams went okay. Chemistry went bad. Maths went sad. Others were good. So let’s stop the nonsense and come to the important stuff.
Recap: Ragini ke choozon ne ki discuss apni nose-poking Mausi, Ragini Ki behen Ki choozi ko mila ek kaagaz Ka tukda jispe thha raaz jisne machaya teeno choozon mein tehelka. Ragini ko chadhi jawaani jab aaye yaad ateet ke romantic lamhe, Ragini bani Kung-fu master, Lakshya ne bhi dikhaye kartav Aur phir mile CID ke agle 2 recruits ke Maa-Baap in a filmy style.
The place was smelling like shit. Actually no, like ROTTEN SHIT! It was a morgue, so yeah, even a dumb person could have told me that it smelt bad but I had no idea that it would be THIS bad. I covered my nose in disgust while beside me, Ranveer made a choked expression. I had half a mind to spray the perfume given by Dad to me over here.
Thinking about Dad made tears come to my eyes involuntarily. We have been together for just one and a half months but this period has undoubtedly been one of the best in my life. He is just like me………or rather, I am just like him. I had always wondered what Mom could have seen in him but when we got to know him, we realised why Mom had been so crazy about him. Cause he was absolutely amazing. And he looked absolutely gorgeous with Mom beside him. Even if she had a rolling pin in her hand, ready to strike him with it in anger while he was looking at her as if she stole his precious Audi. They were this passionate. My mind went back to that particular incident.
“Oppa Gangnam Style!……..op, op, op, op, oppa Gangnam Style!” I danced to the catchy song. Ranveer was sitting on the couch, looking at me in confusion.
“Why are you trying to do the steps of Harlem Shake in Gangnam Style?” He asked me. I rolled my eyes at him. “Mah life, mah rules!” I said to him. Dad entered and saw me. He started chuckling.
“You know, since you shake that booty so well, have you ever thought to try a belly and lap dance?” He asked me. Ranveer looked at him in horror while I furrowed my eyebrows. Not a bad idea. I could TRY. Nothing wrong with it. But who would teach me?
‘Abbey single charge, double battery! Pagal Hai kya tu? Belly dance karega?’ Ranveer’s voice came in my head. I pushed it out. He glared at me.
“When I was your age, I performed a lap dance on Sanskaar Bhai. He was…………………traumatised!” Dad said with a faraway look in his eyes. We smiled at him.
“Won’t you teach me?” I asked him. He looked at me strangely. “You want me to teach you?” He asked. I nodded. He smiled at me happily and came forward.
“So now, you rotate your hands amd hips like this………….”
Fifteen minutes later, Mom entered with a plate of Hakka noodles and came upon the horrific sight of her husband(she thought he was her ex, but we know better) and one of her sons performing a lap dance on her other son who looked as if he had been crushed by a bulldozer. She screeched, “WHAT ARE YOU BOTH DOING?”
Both of us looked up in alarm at her. I noticed Ranveer heave a sigh of relief as the colour returned to his face. And Dad seemed more scared than I was. I stifled a giggle.
“Umm……I…..I…..” Dad stuttered cutely. I wanted to pinch his cheeks!
“You were teaching my son the art of forcing himself upon his brother?” Mom asked sharply. Dad looked at me for help. I found out that the floor of my room was made up of maple wood.
“Umm, no. Ruhaan likes to dance, so I was teaching him a particular dance form. That’s it!” He said. I smirked. Ouch Dad! You made a wrong move!
“You were teaching him dance? Really? What? Lap dance? IS MY SON A STRIPPER?” She screamed at him. I smirked. More to come, more to come!
“SHUT UP! They are respectable children. And Ranveer, my poor boy, he is scarred for life! You are such a jerk!”
“Hey, shut it! They are my sons too! I was just spending quality time with them. You have no business poking your nose in between. Or have you started copying your sister……….?”
“Don’t say anything about Swara! She has more sense in her head than you can ever get in your seven births! She is absolutely right, you are such a bad influence………….”
I sneaked a glance at Ranveer and found that he was helping himself to the plate of Hakka noodles, watching the drama with amusement! I ran towards him and sat down beside him. We smiled at each other and started eating, enjoying the show.
“WO to bachcha Hai, the poor boy doesn’t know what kind of a man you are……………”
“The same way he doesn’t know what kind of a woman YOU are……………”
“You are so shameless! Instead of giving them moral values and helping Ruhaan in his Business Studies project, you are teaching him how to dance on somebody’s lap! Where will that come into use?”
“Yes, you help him in his studies a lot, don’t you? Since you have arrived, I haven’t seen you teaching the kids even for a minute! So stop lecturing me!”
Mom’s rolling pin was out and ready in its position to collide with Dad’s head. Dad’s eyes were a confusing mixture of red and black. Ranveer brushed his hands on his jeans and stood up.
“That’s it. Enough for today. The rest of it can be tackled later. Aaj Ka quota khatam!” He said, snatching the rolling pin from Mom’s hand. Mom huffed at Dad in annoyance.
“The children are here so you have been saved. However…………..” she wagged her finger at him menacingly. Dad sneered at her. She glared at him for one last time and went away.
Ranveer and Dad sat down on the sofa and helped themselves to the noodles. Then, we three looked at each other and burst out laughing.
***End of Flashback****
Such was life with Dad. Cool, full of fun and full of life. Granted that he and Mom fought a lot, but somewhere, I could feel the love. It was just frustration. The frustration of living separately for sixteen long years. The frustration of being unable to move on. The frustration of pining for each other yet unable to unite. That frustration came out as anger and gave Ranveer and I daily doses of high voltage drama. Which was most of the times, amusing.
“Ye waali body. Please check and identify if it is your relation.” The wardboy said.
Even though Ranveer and I are minors, we begged to be taken to the morgue. Ranveer was particularly insistent, he wanted to see the clothes. I was scared but tagged along. Somewhere, in my heart, I knew that Dad was alive.
The man lifted the sheet off the body and Ranveer and I flinched. It was burnt totally. The clothes were Dad’s. Golden sherwani, maroon salwar and maroon dupatta. However, I noticed that the man seemed huger than Dad is. Obviously, it wasn’t Dad.
“It isn’t Dad. This man is bulkier than my father. And…………..” Ranveer trailed, looking as if he was about to get caught saying something.
“Even I think that it isn’t my brother. Thank you for the help, even if this man is wearing clothes similar to my brother, I am sure he isn’t Lakshya.” Mausaji said. He shook hands with the doctor present and we came out.
Mausaji is awesome. He is a milder and more mature version of Dad. He smiles a lot and helps us often in separating Mom and Dad when they are ready to pull each others’ hair. I am glad that he came with us. His presence is soothing.
“Children, you go to the car and wait. I will inform the staff to keep a lookout for Ragini and Lakshya. It will take just five minutes.” He said and we nodded.
As we walked to the car, Ranveer heaved a sigh of relief. “Phew, that had been close! I was about to tell the other reason!” He said.
I recalled that he had trailed off. I asked him about it.
Ranveer turned to me. “Obviously, it COUlDN’T have been Dad. I knew it the instant Swara Mausi described the body. I came here just to confirm.” He said. I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. How did he know?
“Abbey, Mausi said that the body had a maroon dupatta. And remember, we three saw Dad’s dupatta lying in the forest through the drone camera?” He said. My eyes widened. Of course! It couldn’t have been Dad! I looked at my brother in awe. “You are so smart!” I whispered. He rolled his eyes. “Well, I didn’t enter Mensa by dancing on someone’s lap!” He remarked drily. I smacked him on the back of his head while he gave a wolfish grin.
All was okay till now.
We were still in each other’s arms. Smiling happily. Crying. Tightly hugging. After some time, Lakshya pulled away and looked into my eyes.
Standing like this, in each other’s arms, I recalled the time we came to know that I was expecting.
A very hungry Lakshya was opening up every jar in the kitchen in search of food. I was looking at him from the door dispassionately as he was taking the jars out but not keeping them back. Which meant extra work for me.
“Abbey itna bada kitchen and not even some snack to eat? Huh.” Lakshya muttered to himself crossly while I controlled a giggle. He is so cute!
Swara entered the kitchen from the other side and saw Lakshya and scowled. “Now I know who has been eating the chocolate biscuits kept in the right shelf. You chor!” Swara glared at him. Lakshya brightened.
“There are chocolate biscuits in the right shelf? Really? Thank you so much Aloo…………..” Lakshya said happily as he took out the jar of the biscuits and helped himself.
Lakshya calls Swara Aloo because she is…………chubby. If it helps, he calls me Golu because my face is round and chubby. He thinks that I look like a doll. I blushed as I thought of that.
Swara slapped her forehead in irritation. Lakshya smirked at her as he ate another biscuit. I looked at both of them. Warily. They were soon going to start another battle.
“I don’t understand how Ragini puts up with you.” Swara said with irritation.
“The same way she puts up with you.”
“Oh please! I am far better than you!
“Says everyone. You are a selfish man who even tried to kill my Ragini…”
I widened my eyes in horror as Lakshya went pale and rigid. No, no, no……………
I entered the kitchen hurriedly and my plan worked because seeing me, both quietened down. I acted as if I hadn’t heard anything. I looked at Lakshya and asked him sweetly, “Ji aap yahan? Kuch chahiye?” Lakshya muttered something which sounded suspiciously like ‘Iss Aloo se chhutkara’ but I ignored it. “Kuch khaane ko. I am hungry.” He said. I smiled at him and said, “You go, I will bring bhelpuri.”
Lakshya gave me such a wide grin that I was afraid my heart would come out and start doing disco there.
Swara gave me a hopeful look and I smiled at her. “I will send it for you too.” Her smile went as wide as Lakshya’s. She skipped happily.
At night, as I was combing my hair, suddenly, I felt faint. Lakshya, who was beside me, and is unusually vain, thought that I was swooning over his ‘gorgeous night look’. Until I fell there, right in his arms, unconscious.
When I woke up, I found the entire Maheshwari family surrounding my bed in various positions and with differing expressions on their faces. And then I turned a little and gave a start as I saw Lakshya almost an inch away from me, and I could see the not-so-pleasant sight of his large nostrils.
“Mr. Maheshwari, you are making it difficult for her to breathe. Relax, she is fine and even conscious now. I will check her again.” A man, who I identified as our family doctor said. Lakshya, however, refused to budge. Sanskaar had to step in to pull him away as his frantic eyes were locked with mine.
“Ohho. You have been checking her for an hour now. Why do you want to check more? Is she a Maths paper of Class 12th Boards that you will keep on checking and rechecking? And still not find anything?” Lakshya asked him. The people in the room smiled while I gave a giggle. Lakshya looked at me happily.
“I have a suspicion about what is wrong with her. I just wanted to confirm.” The doctor smiled and told him. Lakshya’s eyes widened.
“Abhi toh you said that she is totally fine. And now you are saying something is wrong with her. Why are you so confused? That is my work. Is something really wrong with her? Tell me Na. I am her only husband!” Lakshya whined. Everyone raised their eyebrows at his last comment.
“Haan toh you mean to say that my sister is polyandrous? You cow….” Swara glared at him and he waved her off.
“Apna gutter mind expose mat karo Swara. Yahan ke logon par Jo achha impression hai, it will get ruined! Seal your mouth with a tape. Transparent one, it will look normal. And then my world and my life would become peaceful and normal…………”
“And you also shut up. My ears bleed when you start speaking………”
“Then stop being so harsh with the earbuds that you use everyday to clean your earwax!”
“You are so cheap and disgusting…..”
“Ahem, ahem. Umm……….Mr. Maheshwari? You want to know what happened to your wife?” The doctor asks. Lakshya leaves Swara and nods his head up and down.
“Your wife is…………”
“Ragini. I know…….my wife is Ragini. You tell me what is WRONG with her.” Lakshya says as a matter of fact and I giggle again.
“She is expecting.”
“Expecting your diagnosis. I know. Why are you talking like I am a child? Come to the point na.”
“Your wife is pregnant. She is expecting a child……….”
My heart stopped. And then suddenly, it started beating hard. Very hard. So hard, that I was afraid that it would explode. I am pregnant. I am going to become a mother. Oh my God!
I looked over at Lakshya and found him looking at the doctor. He blinked repeatedly and then, as the words registered in his mind, his face projected sheer joy.
“Ragini pregnant? I am going to become a father? Yay! Yippee! Suna aap logon ne. Maa? Papa? You both are going to become grandparents. I am going to have a child. It shall be a boy. With my good looks and my superb brain. And………Ragini’s efficiency. And her sweetness. Yes. That would be very good. Stop looking at me like that Aloo. Grow up and become mature. Now you are going to become a Mausi and a Badi Maa. Act like one!” Lakshya said in a hurry as he skipped about happily in the room.
Everybody hugged me and kissed me, congratulating me. Sanskaar patted Lakshya on the back who was busy in trying to trouble the doctor and ask him what precautions needed to be taken. Swara clapped happily and informed everyone at Baadi who went gaga with happiness.
Among all this chaos, I kept my hand on my belly and rested it there, tears of joy prickling at my eyes. My world seemed complete. Perfect. I looked over at Lakshya who was grinning from ear to ear, telling everybody that his child, boy or girl, would be VERY VERY good looking and very intelligent. And very talkative. We made eye contact and he immediately came over and kissed me on my head, muttering thanks again and again. I wrapped my arms around him and we were left alone to have privacy.
“Dekhna Ragini. My child would look just like me and would be very funny, talented, very intelligent and very talkative. And yes, naughty too. And sarcastic also. Because that is so cool!”
I smiled and nodded, not knowing that each of his dream description would come true.
****End of Flashback****
Well, Ranveer and Ruhaan were exactly how Lakshya had wanted them to be. Both looked just like him and while one was intelligent and sarcastic, the other was funny and naughty and talkative. And both were talented and cool. I sighed in happiness.I looked at Lakshya again.
“Hi!” He said. My smile vanished. We see each other after almost a week, fighting in this jungle for survival, and all that he can say is Hi? Hain?
“Umm……..Ragini…….you, you are okay right?” He asked me. I smiled sweetly at him and nodded. Then I frowned as I looked at his bloodstained sherwani which was ripped at some places. I cleaned it up with my sari and looked up to find him smiling down at me fondly.
“Aap theek Hain Na?” I asked him. He stroked my face with his knuckles, nodding slowly. I smiled at him again. Things were going amazing.
I looked at my torch batteries again. What I was doing was perfectly legal, right? I mean, it wasn’t as if I was stealing or anything. Just……….snooping around. For evidence. To save my parents. The image of both of them came to my mind and all my second thoughts on this subject went flying off.
Things are becoming seriously complicated. Twisted. And I have still not found my parents, even though it has been a week. Since it was cloudy for a few days, Ranveer’s drone wasn’t functioning. It had just started now and he was taking watch. Meanwhile, I decided to be useful and search Dad’s room for some clue. Suhani volunteered to help along with that cutie Sanya who was back from her trip with Chhoti Dadi.
We met outside Dad’s room. I squared my shoulders and looked at both the sisters.
“Now, I am ACP Pradyuman while you, Suhani, are Daya and Sanya is Abhijit. Ranveer is Dr. Salunkhe who will inspect our findings. Understood?” I asked them in a commanding voice. Both grinned and nodded.
“Hmm………Sanya…..I mean Abhijit! You will stay outside in your position and guard the room while I and Suh…Daya will look inside for evidence. Understood?” I asked the cutie who nodded seriously and widened her eyes.
“Lock the door after we enter and keep watch. If anybody comes, you have the walkie-talkie. Use it and inform us. We will switch off the light. We will tell you when our mission is over and then quietly open the door and let us out. Any questions?” I asked. She nodded.
“Bhai….I mean ACP Sir, how much time would it take? Because my favourite Barbie Movie is going to come at 5 and I don’t want to miss it.” She asked me cutely and I gave her a lopsided smile.
“Dont worry kiddo. I have already enabled the recoder on and the movie would get recorded. You focus on the mission. Top secret. You want Chachu and Mausi back, right?”
Sanya is a great favourite of Dad who loves spoiling her, saying that she is a cute little angel who needs to be dressed in the best clothes that he designs. Sanya thought that Dad was the best until she met Mom. Mom’s cuteness, which is at par with her own, and my Mom’s lovely voice and food and her care had made Sanya shift parties faster than Dad could say ‘Mere Bhai ki beti.’
She nodded her head strongly and assumed a strict and focussed expression. I glanced at Suhani who smiled. I nodded back and looked at my makeshift Abhijit.
“Ready? Mission Raglak: Clue Hunt starts!” I said and Sanya and Suhani nodded.
“Kuchh toh gadbad hai Daya Aur Abhijit! Pata lagana padega! Daya……darwaaza tod do!” I said in typical Pradyuman-style while Suhani unlocked the door. We went inside.
“Daya…..yahan main dekhta Hoon. Tum wahan dekho.” I said to Suhani. She nodded with a grin and started searching.
Now the problem in this search was that we had no idea what we were exactly looking for. It wasn’t as if there would be a box labelled ‘Clue to the Disappearance of Ragini and Lakshya’ here. We had to search for something. And we had no idea what we were searching for. Which was, I had to admit, a MAJOR problem.
For about half an hour, we continued the search. I don’t know why, but I felt as if someone had already been in the room. Bade Dadu had ordered Mom and Dad’s rooms to be locked, so if anyone was here, and had searched for something, which was obvious by how the things were arranged, it meant serious sh*t.
“Bhai don’t you think this room is a bit………….different? I mean, I have been here so many times, but something about here seems odd today.” Suhani said, echoing my doubts. Good. It meant they weren’t doubts. They were facts.
“The room looks touched up. And clean. Neat and ordered. And we know how neat and ordered Dad can be…….” I said sarcastically. Suhani gave me an awkward grin which I wasn’t able to place. Why did she grin like that?
“Bhai I don’t think we will find anything like this. To be honest, I think we are looking for papers. Or some stuff. And such ‘stuff’ is normally kept in cupboards.” Suhani said. I nodded my head in agreement. She was absolutely right! Must be my influence.
We tried opening the cupboard but it was locked. Suhani gave me her hair pin with a haunted smile on her face. I smirked and picked the lock. I am a master at it. Specially back in Delhi, when I was stealing my favourite candies from the shelves.
The cupboard opened with a creak and we attacked it. Piles of clothes, and deodorants were kept inside and I finally solved the mystery behind my Dad’s new outfits every day. There was a picture of Mom, Ruhaan and I in a corner and a pang of pain and sadness wrenched my heart. Dad…….if only you had been more forceful in getting back with Mom.
We searched again but nothing of import came up. I came across a few sheets of really cool designs while Suhani, to her immense sense of déjà vu, found herself in possession of legal documents about piracy, copyright, new land for setting up factory units etc. We also found some bills and business letters. And a chequebook. I liked it. A lot.
“Oh Gosh………another legal document? Ye Chachu designer Hain ki lawyer? My goodness, if I have to deal with such paperwork in my adulthood, I will go crazy!” Suhani muttered while I patted her back sympathetically.
Suddenly,my eyes fell on a wooden box, kept deep inside. I picked it up. A latch closed it which I opened and there, on the wooden base, a yellowish paper was kept neatly folded. It seemed well read and was slightly torn at the ends. A letter!
“Why am I getting the feeling that this piece of paper is exactly what we are looking for?” Suhani whispered beside me. I looked at her. Large intelligent brown eyes looked up at me from behind the pink plastic spectacles. I nodded to her.
“Daya……..isse Salunkhe ke pass Bhej do!”
I took a deep breath as I stood outside Swara Mausi’s room. Ruhaan and Suhani were nowhere to be found and the drone was charging so, of no use. I had free time so I decided to have a pleasant chat with my dodgy Mausi.
I knocked and a faint ‘Come In’ came. I opened the door and entered her room and saw her sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, wearing a yellow and black designer Bengali sari and looking a picture of grace and elegance. Unfortunately for her, I was in no mood to praise her beauty. I meant business. Straight and to the point.
She looked up at me and smiled, motioning for me to sit down. “Tea?” She asked me. I shook my head. “It has caffeine and nicotine in it. It is addictive.” I replied. She smiled at me. “Well, I am already addicted. So I can agree fully.” She replied. Mausi isn’t stupid. She knows that I came to have a serious discussion. She was just having a pleasant chat to delay it.
“I wanted to talk about that day, when I accidentally eavesdropped on your Convo with Nani. About your……..story.” I said to her. She set her cup down and looked at me. “Yes. I was expecting you to come. That dead body thing delayed this conversation but now, I think we need to to do this.” She replied.
Mausi is a good woman who married a good man, had two good kids and lead a generally good life. Gathering from the ‘goodness’ I have seen myself and heard about her, she is the prime example of goodness. But these recent revelations have forced me to admit that her ‘goodness’ lies only till her own. She is good to all those who she loves and cares for. And my father isn’t one of them.
“Why did you interfere in between their matter Mausi? Between Mom and Dad? You are the reason behind their separation……….”
“I am not. Your dad’s deeds are the reason. You heard that story, so you would know that I didn’t approve of him even then. But I didn’t act upon it because I thought that he would reform. And then it seemed like he had, only to turn out that he hadn’t. He broke Ragini’s heart and her trust. His karma came to bite him. I had no role to play in it.”
“You were the catalyst Mausi. It was you who put that idea in Mom’s head because let us face it, Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari of that time had no guts to leave her beloved husband. Nor did she have such a wish. But she did. Shocking everyone but actually, no one. And that didn’t happen just like that……….”
“What do you mean by Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari of that time? She isn’t Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari now.”
“We know the divorce never got through. My parents are still a lawfully wedded couple and you knew that too. I will touch upon it later. Right now, my question. Why did you do it?”
Mausi sat back and placed her hands on her lap, looking at me silently. Her eyes reflected many emotions but one was very clear to me. Determination. There would be no stopping her now. She would say her bit.
“Ragini is my only sister. Half sister, but only sister. A very good sister who did some mistakes but then, she is human and as her elder sibling, I forgave her. Because I love her. You know how it is? You lived with Ruhaan as your only brother for almost sixteen years. And as an elder sibling, isn’t there always a feeling of responsibility towards him and concern over his well being?” She asked me.
I nodded. Her each word was correct. Despite being twins, I am elder by two minutes and that has automatically made me look out for him all through my growing years.
“Ragini and I were next door neighbours who went to the same school and the same music academy. We played together with other kids even though our families were warring. I had ALWAYS had a sisterly feeling towards her. Which is a reason why I came stomping to this place when Ragini told me she was marrying a boy from here. I wanted to see and confirm whether he was good enough or not. And my conclusion had been against him. And today, almost seventeen years later, it is still the same.”
I nodded. I had heard of that incident when Mausi came inside this very house in her swagger and demanded to meet everyone and see if her friend was going to a good family or not.
“Your mother was pregnant. Lakshya seemed happy initially but then, he started acting weird. He would avoid her like she had plague and slept alone. He didn’t talk to her. A pregnant woman needs all the love and the care in this world and Ragini wasn’t getting it from the one person who she wanted it from. Your father. Her husband. And then……he accused her of carrying another man’s child in her womb. When the doctor declared it was twins, it started troubling me. Surely, a man as irresponsible and impulsive as your father wasn’t capable of handling twins. But still, I kept quiet. Cause it wasn’t my place, as you rightly said. But then Lakshya crossed all his limits. On the day of his and Ragini’s first wedding anniversary, we got a call and rushed to a hotel and found him in bed with an ex girlfriend of his, naked, drunk and unconscious. Ragini was heartbroken. She had given him her everything. And he returned everything to her with such a slap on her faith.”
“So is that the only reason you don’t like Dad? That he was horrible to Mom? I don’t think so. There is something else. Something………”
“I hate him because I have lost my sister due to him. Twice.”
I started. What? What did she mean?
Mausi took a deep breath. “Ragini and I are soul sisters. I am the sunshine while she is the moonlight. I am Swara and she is Ragini. And together, we are Swaragini. And our beautiful bond broke because of a man. Because both of us fell for the same man. Can you believe the ridiculousness of this? My beautiful innocent sister tried to take my life because of HIM. Lakshya Maheshwari. He came in between us. He split our relationship. Thank God that Ragini and I love each other so much. We went back to normal. And then he struck again and I had to stay away from my beloved baby sister for sixteen long years. Sixteen………” Her voice choked as tears pooled her eyes.
Gosh, she is strange. She asked Mom to leave, so isn’t she responsible? Mom went away because SHE sent Mom away. But well, the crux of my question was answered. Dad was a bad influence and his despicable actions led Mausi to save Mom from him. Okay. But then why did she call us back?
“Abbey Kahan Marr gaya Ye Einstein? Dhoondho saale ko……….” I muttered in agitation as I paced the length of my room. Suhani was sitting cross legged on the bed and flipping through the tablet, the drone was working fine. Sanya the little munchkin was watching her precious Barbie Movie in her room with a bowl of popcorn.
Suhani looked up at me. “Bhai chill. He must have gone somewhere important. You know na, he is a no nonsense type. Must be useful stuff.” She said casually.
I huffed in annoyance and sat on the bed. The wooden box was placed on a purple cushion in all its glory. It seemed like some wicked treasure casket which had hidden secrets to gold and jewels or perhaps, the map to the other world. I sighed. I am going mad.
“Okay, fine. Let us do one thing. Let us read the letter and then place it back. We will briefly explain everything to Ranveer Bhai when he comes. It will save time.” Suhani said as she placed the tablet down. I nodded and grinned at her. Smart chick………
We opened the box and took out the letter gingerly. We looked at each other and nodded. Okay, here we go.
As soon as we started reading, a strange feeling gripped my stomach. With each passing sentence, my mind went blanker and my heart, heavier. Beside me, Suhani read on incredulously.
If you are reading this letter, it means that I have already left. Well, it had to happen, right? Any self respecting woman would never want to live with a man who treats her as horribly as you have treated me. You have broken my heart, used me, kidnapped me, tried to murder me and then cheated on me. Moreover, you have accused me of having a loose character. I have no idea who put this idea in your mind that these children aren’t yours. But whoever it was, was absolutely right. They aren’t.
Haan Lakshya, humne ki hai bewafaayi. Humne aapko dhokha Diya. While you were busy in ignoring me, another man became my rock, my companion, my friend and eventually……..my soulmate. I have fallen in love with Karthik and the children I carry in my womb are the result of our love. I had been so sorry and downright guilty but then you are a cheat yourself, so what should I fear. Why should I fear?
Things cannot be sorted between us anymore. I took your signatures on the divorce papers and now we are officially divorced. I am free to live with the TRUE love of my life, my Karthik. The father of my babies. I wish you all the best in life too. I am leaving the place and well, if you want to, show this letter to everyone. The humiliation will be yours and I wouldn’t even care, because I would be far away from you all. You have brought us to this stage Lakshya. Had you loved me back a little earlier, and been a good and faithful husband, the children in my womb would have been yours and I would have been in your arms. But now, that cannot happen. So goodbye and good luck.
My blood ran cold. What. The. F*ck? Ab yeh Kya nayi musibat hai? Why did she lie to Dad that the children weren’t his? And who in the name of Mom’s Dadi’s Dear Khatu Shyam Ji, is this Karthik?
“Ye Kya hai? Original hai ki fake?” Suhani asked. I looked at her with a heavy heart. She thinks this letter is crafted. Poor girl…………..
“What? Don’t look at me like that! Someone’s already entered Chachu’s room and poked around. So what if this is a trap? To mislead whosoever finds it? Because to be honest, Mausi’s Disappearance can now be attributed to Chachu, who did this crime of passion to seek revenge…….” She said.
She had a point. Someone already touched the things. What if that someone kept the letter there? To mess things up further?
“Why did you call us back? When the idea of Mom and Dad together so clearly put you off?” I asked her. She smiled at me ruefully.
“I don’t hate Lakshya as much as I love you both and your mother.”
“Mausi, we know that. But what was the real reason behind it. And don’t give me the Badi-Maa-was-ill story. It is fake, we know that.”
“Hey Durga Maa! How much do you kids know? And how did you know? Pakka mere aur Ragini ke khoon ho!”
“Fine. About a month before you guys came, Lakshya had an accident. He escaped unhurt but it could have been life threatening. This almost-tragedy made Badi Maa very worried and she implored Bade Papa to include Lakshya in his will.”
“Include Dad in his will? Wasn’t he already a part of it?”
“When Ragini left, Lakshya was kicked our of the house by Bade Papa and disowned as a potential heir. And so were you both since Lakshya claimed that you guys weren’t his. On Badi Maa’s insistence, he was allowed to stay here after some years. She loves her son and even he loves her so it couldn’t be avoided. Lakshya lives and works in Mumbai but he comes here on holidays. But it was only after this accident that there was a discussion to include him in the will. But since he didn’t have any offspring, as was thought at that time, if he died, his portion would be distributed amongst the rest. Had he had a wife and children, they would have been provided for. So after this happened, suddenly, Lakshya was in danger. There were constant attempts to his life. I was worried that someone was trying to bump him off- could be a business rival or an enemy. But whoever that was, what mattered to me was you both. You deserve the inheritance and Ranveer has a right over this mansion. It is his birthright. If Lakshya died, his portion would be divided between us. And I wanted you both to get it. So I made this plan to bring you here.”
“How did you do this?” I asked. Rather impressed.
“Arrey, you both look just like him, Ragini told me and showed me a picture. Half work to secure your inheritance was done. No need for DNA tests and other stuff. You are Maheshwaris. So I called up Ragini for the Pooja and made the Badi Maa waala bahana. Here, I said that I tracked Ragini through Facebook and she has uploaded pictures of you which prove you are Lakshya’s sons. Immediately, everyone wanted to see you. And it happened. And now, since Ragini is Lakshya’s wife and you are the true heirs, you both are secure!” She said happily.
Even though what she did was insane, I felt choked with emotion. She did it out of love for us. I felt grateful to her. I smiled at her and asked, “You love us so much that you did so much?”
Mausi looked haunted for a moment. Then, she quietly said, “I had a son.”
I looked up at her sharply. What? She had a son?
“Stillborn. Pari Bhabhi and I went into labour within an hour of each other. While she delivered a healthy baby boy, I delivered a stillborn one. Doctors attributed it to the fact that my second pregnancy was way too early since I had given birth to Suhani just an year back. And they were right. My son was born highly weak. It makes me very upset. Not that I lost a son, but that I lost a child of mine. Maybe that was the punishment God gave to me for breaking up your family. And I have accepted it. Maybe all I did was more of a redemption………….”
Sympathy ran through me as I looked at her. A good and virtuous woman who only wanted happiness for her sister but ended up destroying so many lives. And lost her baby. She didn’t even hear him cry. She didn’t even see his eyes. My eyes watered as I thought of the pain she has seen and the courage she has shown. She was dabbing at her moist eyes with a handkerchief.
“You are looking pretty. This colour suits you.” I told her honestly. She looked up and smiled. “Thanks, I bought it from Lakshya’ store but I wear it only when he isn’t at home. Can’t boost his ego na. He will bloat up and fly and make life miserable for me.” She replied honestly too.
And with this, I knew that I had grown a new respect for my incorrigible aunt and the bond between us had deepened.
I watched dreamily as Lakshya splashed in the water. He looked so cute and yet, so hot. Perfect. This vision was a soothing balm for my sore eyes.
“My boys have gone after him. Strong, handsome, sturdy and so……..WOW!” I thought happily as I checked out Lakshya’s six pack abs from which, water droplets were sliding down to his navel. He was coming out of the water and running his fingers through his wet hair.
“Oh god, Garmi bad gayi hai Na? It is too hot!” Lakshya said and I nodded without thinking. Because I was busy staring at him.
“View bhi is very nice. Very………..defined. And distinct. And brownish and wet. Hain Na?” He asked again. I again nodded smilingly.
“Ragini……..you seem to be enjoying, aren’t you?” He asked teasingly and his tone finally made me come back to earth. As I replayed our conversation, my cheeks reddened and I lowered my gaze while Lakshya started laughing.
“You are so cute! And you find me attractive? I am over the moon. You know how much I wanted to be with you. Do you?”
I shook my head. No. I didn’t know. But I wanted to.
Lakshya took my hands in his and looked at me earnestly. “I…..I love you Ragini. Still. As much as I did back then. In fact, deeper than those times. Because now that I have lost you once, I know how much you mean to me and how important you are for my existence and my sanity. So I want to confess that I love you still. I have loved you for these sixteen years. I have lived you for sixteen years. I have a huge photo of you hung in my bedroom and I look at it every night before I go to sleep and I wake up to your smiling face too. And all my Indian wear is designed by me keeping you in mind. And that I have not eaten my favourite Aloo paratha for sixteen years because I like them just as you make them. And that I dream about you often. You come in a pink lehenga, dressed as a bride, smile at me and say, “Lakshya? Aapko kuchh chahiye?” And I reply, ‘Mujhe TUM chahiye!’ And then you blush and run away.”
I was blushing now. Oh God! He has thought about me so much. Well, even I have thought about him. Quite a lot of times. All the time.
Lakshya was looking at me with a clear, ‘I adore you, you are my lifeline’ look on his face. I smiled at him and hugged him tight.
No one would come between us. And that isn’t me who is saying this. It is the Ragini Gadodia who did all sort of wicked things to make this fact true. Seventeen years ago. Only that this time, Lakshya Maheshwari was on my side.
Done. Okay? So the Raglak confrontation about Karthik would come later. And now……..I increase the speed of my story!
Do tell me how you liked the update.😘
Up Next: Raglak discuss Karthik and his existence while the Twins and Suhani discuss Ragini’s letter. Suhani finds something unbelievable. Pehli Jhalak of the culprit.