Hi guys, Bela is back!!!!!
Lovely comments and lovely readers. I love you all! Thank you so much for the love.
Just a few more episodes. 3-5, I guess. After that, this story would be over. Thank you for staying with me through this journey and I hope we stay together till the end.
As promised, this episode would have Raglak(the real one), Raglak(featuring alter ego of Lakshya) and a bit of Ragsan.
Links to the previous episodes:
Let’s start the episode………….
Tick tock, tick tock…………..the clock on the wall went on and on. It was 1 am but still, sleep evaded me. I turned to my right and saw the love of my life sucking his thumb and sleeping peacefully. Hugging me tightly.
I smiled and started stroking his hair. It is so confusing. He loves me, he loves me not. I have no idea what is going on.
He kept a fast for me. No other man in both the families did(except Sanskaar who was forced to cut it short due to his anaemia). Papa loves Shomi Maa yet he didn’t fast. Dadaji never fasted. No man in the Maheshwari family did. But Lakshya fasted. For me.
Since the night I found the other SIM in his phone, I was avoiding him. Not because I was angry. But because I was hurt. Defeated. I didn’t want to be close to him, knowing that he is the reason I have cried myself to sleep for the past many months. I didn’t want to feel loved when my mind had a fear that maybe it was all fake. And most importantly, I didn’t want to question him. Question my love. Because I wasn’t ready for the answers. I was afraid that I would find something which would break my heart. And I wasn’t ready to have it done.
I have no idea why he is doing all this. I have no idea what he is getting by doing all this. I have no idea why I was dragged into this mess. And I have no energy left in me to fight him. If it had been someone else, maybe I would have fought tooth and nail. But this was Lakshya. My first love. My only love. I couldn’t fight him even if I had to spend the rest of my life feeling betrayed and used.
I remembered an incident before my marriage when Lakshya was staying with us in the Baadi.
I was cooking spaghetti pasta since no one was in the house. Dadi didn’t like such food items but she wasn’t at home and had gone for a jagrata which would go on till early morning. Dadaji had accompanied her. Papa and Shomi Maa had been forced to go on a date by Swara who was currently lounging lazily on the sofa with a self-satisfied smile on her face. Lakshya was sitting across her and was engrossed in watching a football match.
I smiled. Lakshya liked pasta(he liked anything edible but he liked pasta too). It was one reason why I was cooking it. As I added the oregano, the delicious aroma spread across the house. Swara opened her eyes and smiled like a lunatic. Lakshya turned his head and started sniffing dreamily. Seeing him like that, my heart started fluttering.
“RAGINI!” He called out in a sing-song voice. “Is that our dinner?”
I peeked out of the kitchen and nodded. Both of them clapped their hands in delight. I frowned. They were so similar………….like twins!
Suddenly, Swara’s phone rang. She picked it up.
“Haan, Sheena. Bol. Yep. Oh Shit! I forgot! It skipped my mind. I am so sorry! Okay, I am coming. But I will be back by 10. I can’t stay out late at night. Can you pick me up in ten minutes? Fine. Thanks. Bye!”
Swara disconnected the call and looked at us. Apparently, her friend Sheena had called her to remind her that it was the birthday of Avani, another friend. They were going to her house to celebrate and Swara was invited too.
Swara asked us whether we both would like to join her. I shook my head and told her that I couldn’t leave the house empty. Then, I asked her to take Lakshya with her.
I went back to the kitchen and looked at the pasta sadly. Only I was left to eat it. Ten minutes later, I heard Swara calling from the drawing room that she was leaving. I went out to lock the door after they had gone. I waved at her and locked the door.
I turned back and to my astonishment, saw Lakshya still sitting on the couch with one leg sprawled lazily over one arm of the couch. He raised his eyebrow at me.
“Didn’t you go with Swara? Why? You will get bored here.” I told him.
He stood up and came closer to me. My heart started beating erratically. He stopped a few inches away from me and looked at my eyes.
“Jitni bholi dikhti ho, utni hi smart ho tum! What did you think, that I would fall into your trap and go out with Swara to spend time with her stupid bimbo friends who keep giggling at me? So that your way is clear and you can eat that delicious smelling pasta on your own? No ways! Mera naam bhi Lucky hai! You can’t fool me pretty lady!” He said arrogantly.
A smile came on my face at his antics. Did he really think I wanted him to go? Stupid fellow! I would NEVER want him to go away from me. I had insisted that he go with Swara because I knew he would become bored in my company and he found Swara to be more interesting than I was………………………….
He clicked his fingers in front of my face. “Conspiring to get me out or wondering how I was able to decipher your conspiracy? Don’t think too much. You are stuck with me. You will have to share that pasta, sweetheart!”
I smiled at him and went inside to fetch it. As I was taking out the bowls, my mind replayed our conversation and I froze.
Lakshya had called me ‘pretty lady’ and ‘sweetheart’! OMG! Lakshya had called me those words. I was over the moon! I started dancing in the kitchen.
Suddenly, everything became dark. I heard a shriek from outside and ran over there to see what had happened.
As I was running, I collided with something really hard and lost my balance. I fell backwards on the sofa and someone fell on top of me. Lakshya.
The place was entirely dark save for the moonlight which was coming from the window. I could see Lakshya’s face, a mere inches away from mine. He really was handsome. He looked at me and we had an eye lock. I looked into his beautiful eyes and got lost in them……………………..
Lakshya’s stomach growled. Our moment broken, we hurriedly scrambled and stood up. Both of us started blushing.
“Sorry, wo main darr……..”
“Maaf kijiye, humne aapko…….”
We spoke together, trying to explain to the other, our version of what happened. And both of us didn’t understand the other one.
Finally, we stopped and looked at each other. And then burst out laughing. He looked amazing when he smiled or laughed. I smiled looking at him.
“Power cut hogaya. Now what?” Asked Lakshya.
I told him to fetch the candles. I brought our dinner outside and we lit the candles and sat down to eat.
Lakshya took a bite first and then closed his eyes and swayed. He opened them and looked at me.
“Amazing Ragini! Absolutely brilliant. I can’t believe it is the first time you have made it! I love it!” He said.
I smiled at him and said thank you and started eating.
Silence ensued. Both of us were were busy eating and thinking. After a few minutes, Lakshya spoke up.
“You know what Ragini? You are lucky. You are having a candlelight dinner with Lakshya Maheshwari aka Lucky! Thousands of girls would die to be in your place tonight. And here, you are the one who Lucky is having his first candlelight dinner with.” he said with a smirk.
I thanked him politely in a voice dripping with sarcasm for the great honour he had bestowed on me. He laughed at my sarcasm while I smiled.
The ice had broken. Till that day, we had been friends but hadn’t really talked much about ourselves. But that night changed everything. Lakshya and I talked for the entire dinner, sharing school adventures, funny childhood stories and comparing our notes on the people we mutually knew. There was laughter throughout the dinner.
Lakshya finished his fourth serving of the pasta and looked at me expectantly. I looked at my plate and then, at him. He smirked and leaned forward and took a bite from my plate. I made an irritated face but couldn’t say anything as my mouth was already filled.
As we both started eating, I realised that both of us had the two ends of the same spaghetti noodle in our mouths. Lakshya realised that too because he stopped chewing.
We looked at each other, mouths filled and a noodle between our mouths, looking ridiculously silly. Lakshya leaned over towards me.
My heart started to do tango. I closed my eyes and smelled his cologne as he came closer and closer…………….
I heard a sound close to my lips. I opened my eyes and saw Lakshya sitting back, slurping the spaghetti noodle we had been sharing into his mouth. Meanwhile, I was left with an inch of the noodle, hanging on my chin.
I gave him a mock angry glare while he started giggling. It soon turned into full blown laughter and I joined him.
That night, I became his friend. A real friend. Not just a namesake. That night, I really fell in love. With my friend. My Lakshya.
*End of Flashback*
Those moments had been so good. Life hadn’t showed its true colours till then. We had been two innocent souls who were friends.
It was because of moments like these that I hesitated to confront Lakshya and accuse him straightaway. These moments had been real, at least I thought so. I didn’t want to know that they had all been fake.
I closed my eyes. I pictured Lakshya smiling at me and then, his face when I made him drink water as part of the Karwa Chauth. I did not know who he was anymore. I did not know who I was anymore. I just knew that I loved him. And that maybe, somewhere, he loved me too.
Things seem a bit better now. Ragini has started talking to me again. It seems things are normal between us now.
I walked inside our room and found Ragini sitting in front of the dressing table, combing her hair. I smiled.
She was wearing a pink sari and looking absolutely gorgeous. I walked towards her and held her hand to stop her. She looked at me with questioning eyes.
I took the comb from her hand and leaned towards her and started combing them myself. She looked at me sweetly while I gently untangled her hair with my fingers and then combed them.
Next, I took her bangles and made her wear them. She blushed prettily while I smiled. I made her wear her necklace and then her earrings. I flicked them gently and they jingled, making sweet noises which brought a smile to her face. I looked at her through the mirror as I made her wear her maangtika.
I made her stand and look at me. She shly and dropped her gaze. Aww………………I would go crazy one day!
I made small circles with my thumbs on her cheeks. They turned a brilliant shade of pink. Her eyes fluttered and she peeked up at me.
I gave my ‘special dimpled smile’ which I normally reserved for her. She turned away and bent down to take something. I found her holding a small bottle. She flicked her eyes at it, pointing at me to open it. I took it from her and opened it. And instantly smiled. It was her sindoor.
“Can you apply it on my hairline?” She asked me sweetly. I smiled at her. Suddenly, things started turning a black……………………..
Ragini was looking so hot! Simply Wow! She asked Lakshya to fill her hairline with sindoor. I couldn’t stop myself.
I slowly took over Lakshya’s mind. As soon as I gained full control, I looked at her to make sure she didn’t notice any change.
She was looking at the ground and blushing. I smiled and took a pinch of the sindoor.
She looked up at me and then frowned. I raised my hand to apply the sindoor.
As I was about to apply it, she held my wrist tightly. I became shocked. She raised her eyes and looked at me inquisitively.
I detected a question in her eyes. And that scared me. For a moment, I thought that she knew. She had found out. My heart was beating fast. Did she know?
“Bhabhi………..Badi Maalkin is calling you.” A servant came from nowhere. Ragini stepped back and took the sindoor with her and stepped out of the room.
Damn! I lost such a good chance to lay my claim on her. Such a golden chance! Ugh….
I banged my hand against the wall and it started bleeding. As blood poured out, I looked at the picture of Ragini on the wall.
I used the blood on my thumb and filled her forehead in the picture. I smirked.
Ragini would be mine. By hook or by crook.
I blinked. I blinked again. Where was she? Didn’t she ask me to fill her hairline? And how come my hand was bleeding?
God! These lapses in my memory scared me. I had gone to meet Dr. Shobhit Sen a few months ago. But I couldn’t meet him. It seemed like I would have to fix an appointment again.
I bandaged my hand and went downstairs. There were people all over the place. Sanskaar was being measured for his sherwani.
I plopped down on the sofa and crossed my legs. Papa gave me an annoyed look while I simply smirked.
“Lakshya, sit down with grace! At least don’t act like a hooligan in front of outsiders.” He said in a hushed angry tone.
I took a banana from the table and started eating it, totally ignoring him. He huffed in annoyance and went away.
When Sanskaar was finished, I was called for the measurement. I refused, stating that I preferred a designer sherwani from a showroom. I am Lakshya! I have a reputation!
Ragini came and asked for her measurements to be done. I looked at the man who was doing the measurements. He seemed too eager to do it. I scowled at him.
“Give me the measuring tape, I will measure her!” I told him.
Everybody started protesting but I stood my ground. After a bit of reluctance, the man gave me the tape.
I moved closer to Ragini who had started blushing hard. I started measuring her arms, legs, wrists, shoulders and ankles.
All the while, Ragini’s face was a bright red. Everyone around us were looking here and there. I smirked and stepped closer to her. She gave me a startled look.
“What happened Ragini? All okay?” I asked her in an overly sweet voice.
I then measured her waist. While I was doing so, I pinched her.
Ragini shrieked and jumped. Everybody looked at her. She gave a sheepish smile and said, “I felt ticklish!”
I bit the insides of my cheek to control my laughter. I was enjoying this. And soon enough, the enjoyment turned to embarrassment.
Ragini’s bust had to measured. I looked at her while she looked at the floor. I looked around and everyone was smiling coyly.
My hands started shaking as I stretched them to measure her chest. As soon as it got over, I flung the tape at the tailor and ran away. I swear, I could hear everybody laughing!
“Haan Shona. Okay. Done. Okay. Okay. Haan. Pakka. Arrey bola na, pakka. Promise. Bye. I love you too.” I said for the millionth time.
I disconnected the call and looked at the wallpaper. It was of Swara and I on her Mehndi day with Lakshya. Swara was smiling beautifully while I was looking at her. Ragini had clicked it randomly.
I stared at the picture with a dreamy look on my face. I zoomed the picture to look at Swara’s eyes. Instead, my eyes fell on something else.
Just behind Swara was standing a man. He seemed familiar. I racked my brain to recall…………..
Yes! It was the same man I had seen in the store that day. The one who was carrying Ragini’s pictures. I zoomed on his face. Yes, it was him!
I called up Swara and asked her to meet me at lunch. Meanwhile, I saved his cropped picture on my mobile. I sent that picture to my man, asking him to collect as much information as he could, about him.
I couldn’t understand it. It hadn’t felt right. I myself asked Lakshya to apply sindoor on my forehead but I stopped him. But I had no questions about it.
For the first time in my life, I had felt uncomfortable with him. I don’t know why, but suddenly, I started getting the wrong vibes from him. It had puzzled me. There were things which weren’t correct.
For one, Lakshya’s eyes had seemed darker than they normally are. They were deep and had looked haunted. I didn’t feel the warmth in them which I usually associated with Lakshya.
Secondly, the way his face looked. There was a shadow over his face. It didn’t seem like the usual exuberant and happy Lakshya. My Lakshya.
And thirdly, and most importantly, was the use of his hand. He had used his left hand to fill the sindoor but I know that he is a ‘righty’. He uses his right hand for all his work. Then how come did he use his left hand?
All these things, separately, didn’t seem so important. But together, at that time, they had pointed to something fishy. The wrong vibes, the wrong energies, the little changes………………it seemed as if I wasn’t with Lakshya anymore. I was with someone else. Someone darker.
I shook my head. Maybe I was imagining things. It was expected, since I knew what he was doing. I hadn’t received another call or message from him. But I had decided. If I ever get the ‘blackmailer’s’ call again, I will confront Lakshya.
“Shopping jaayenge! Shopping jaayenge! Loot machayenge! Sanskaar ko kangaal karayenge!” Swara was singing excitedly.
I shook my head. I was driving the car while Sanskaar sat beside me. Behind us were our wives(wife to be in Sanskaar’s case). Swara, a naturally good singer, was utilising the moment to showcase her ‘bathroom singing skills’. She was singing some random, self composed song which highlighted her happiness at being taken to shopping and her plan to bankrupt Sanskaar. He, meanwhile, looked happy at the prospect of being robbed by Swara and was providing the background score for this horrible song.
I looked at Ragini through the rear view mirror. She seemed tortured. Our eyes met and she gave me a suicidal look. I rolled my eyes and looked at her amusedly. She gave me a smirk.
We reached the mall and I parked the car. I went out and held Ragini’s hand. She looked up at me and smiled. I smiled right back.
“Romance to hoga Baad mein, pehle hum bhelpuri khaayenge! Kaam to hoga baad mein, pehle hum dhoom machayenge!” Swara cackled.
Sanskaar was introducing a sound which sounded like a mix between a classical and a pop tune. Then, to my and Ragini’s horror, he started a rap!
“Tu meri rani, main tera raja
Bajaunga tere gaane Ka baja.
Aaj hai time tu mujhse Pyaar karle
Shopping bag mein samaan bhar le
And don’t you worry about the bill
My dear Shona, just take a chill pill!
Aaj aaya hai tujhpe Pyaar bada
Karunga poori life intezaar tera
Dil ki queen hai, tu Jaane bhi
Then why do you want to loot me?
Hai to ye mere dil Ki aadhi baat
Baaki sunaunga at our suhaagraat
Mann mein to hain laddoo phute,
Par Raglak ab maarenge joote…!”
Ragini looked as if she had seen a ghost. She looked horrified.
I felt pukish, seeing my brother and his fiancée making a spectacle of themselves in public, giggling and jumping, clapping their hands in glee.
As if this wasn’t enough, then they both started doing random Govinda steps.
I looked at Ragini and nodded. 3…….2……..1……….RUN!
We ran inside hand in hand, leaving the two lovebirds to squawk their hearts out.
Catching our breath, we looked at each other and burst out laughing. Ragini leaned on me for support while I involuntarily hugged her with one arm. We laughed hard, mimicking them and making our reply to their song.
“Joote toh hain badi Chhoti saza
Sar phodne mein hai asli maza!
Dekh mere Bhai, Badi simple hai baat
Bajaunga chaante phir marunga laat.”
I made a hip hop gesture and looked at Ragini who started her rap.
“Hum toh hain thehre devil Ki amma
Yaad dilayenge tumhe tumhari mamma.
Bagwati se sar par maarenge chaar
Hoga Swasan aur Raglak mein waar!”
Ragini smiled crookedly. I came closer to her.
“But you have to admit. ‘Raglak’ sounds good. Fabulous, actually!” I whispered in her ear.
Ragini turned red and stepped back. I smiled at her and followed her. To a shoe showroom!
After three hours of different tortures, in the form of lehengas, saris, blouses, suits, duppate, shoes, and jewellery, we FINALLY entered a last store from where Ragini and Swara had to buy saris for themselves. It was a newly opened showroom of a renowned brand.
They entered the women’s section and we both stayed back. I, meanwhile, started looking at the bills.
True to her word, Swara had left no stone unturned to shove me on the roads. Unfortunately for her, I am a rich man due to my successful business. And now that I was also getting my share from the Maheshwari business, my income was great. I smiled and looked at Lucky.
He was looking around at the store. He was murmuring some things while looking at the walls and decor. Suddenly, a wide smile appeared on his face. He looked around and spotting the manager, went to him.
I followed him.
“Excuse me, I must say that the decor and design are brilliant! It is unlike your other showrooms.” Lakshya told him.
The manager was pleased. He replied, “Yes sir. This time the decor and design’s contract was handed over to ‘Elite Landscapes Pvt. Ltd.’ A designer working for them did this. Mighty brilliant job. We have been getting a good feedback.”
Lakshya proudly congratulated him. I stood there confused. Lakshya was praising the decor? Uh? He noticed such things?
Someone tapped on my shoulder. I turned around to find my dear Shona smiling up at me like she had hit the jackpot. Which, it turned out, she had.
“Sankyyyyy………I have found some dresses which I liked very much. Can you please come and help me choose?” She whined.
I smiled and let her take me to the torture chamber. I signed Lakshya to come after us.
We entered and saw Ragini still browsing through the stacks of dresses. Lakshya ran over to her and started giving his Yay’s and Nay’s.
Swara dragged me to a corner and showed me her ‘choices’. 48 pieces of clothes!
I looked at her, beserk. WTH? I was supposed to choose from this? I shook my head while she nodded. I turned and found Lakshya trying desperately to flirt with Ragini who wasn’t giving him the time of the day. He was picking up dresses for her to try on while she took one look at them and discarded them. He would then pout and say something to which Ragini wouldn’t reply. And the process repeated.
I flew my arms wildly to catch his attention. I had to get out of Swara’s clutches who was busy in telling me about the sequins and necklines of her choices.
Finally, Lakshya looked up and saw me. I pointed at Swara and then made a motion of my hand across my neck in a ‘khallas’ way. I then folded my hands.
He nodded at me and then grinned evily. He came up to us and I breathed a sigh of relief………….
“Swara, what kind of a bride are you? It is your wedding! No pink dresses? Huh? Which girl does that? Only red and green? It ain’t Christmas! Add some yellow, orange and pink. And maroon. Go quick! Bhai will wait here.”
Swara nodded like a child who had been told that she could receive a gold medal if she did some changes in her work. She scurried off to the bridal section, screaming for a helper.
I gave him a shocked look. Betrayal! A big betrayal! I looked at him murderously while he gave me a devilish smile and walked away. You reach home Lucky! You will regret the day you decided to mess with me!
I saw him trying to catch Ragini’s attention, albeit unsuccessfully. She was still busy in choosing a sari. I shook my head at them. They were strange.
My phone rang. I picked it up and went out to talk.
“Boss, it is me. Aurobindo. I have information on the man whose picture you sent. Kartik Rai. He is a small time goon. Does odd jobs. Not the man your sister in law is supposed to have dealings with.”
I frowned. Then what was he doing with her pictures? I asked him.
“I have information on that too. He is stalking her. Not on his own though. Being paid for it. I took out his call records and he has been calling her a lot for the past six months. And another number. Each call made to your sister in law is just a few minutes after a call from this number.”
“Whose number is it?”
He paused. My heart sank. An unknown fear crept in my heart.
“Your brother. Lakshya!”
I was shocked. Lakshya had paid someone to stalk Ragini? Was he keeping tabs on her? What for?
“Are you sure? 100%? If this turns out to be false, I won’t spare you.”
“I am damn sure sir. In fact, your brother had been in the store himself when I had gone there to check. He was saying that he had no idea how that SIM had come into his mobile. He submitted it.”
What? What was going on here?
“Anything else? Any important information?”
“Sir, your brother is himself being stalked by this Kartik. As well as you. And your fiancée. In fact, every member of your and Ragini’s family is being watched.”
I immediately straightened up. This was serious. Someone was stalking us. Who could it be? Business rivals? Enemies?
“Boss, I have information that Kartik will be going to Avondey Mall today at 5 p.m. If you wish, you can confront him.”
Avondey Mall? That is where I was right now! I looked at my watch. 5:15 p.m. This means, he was already inside!
I looked around. I couldn’t spot him.
“Sanskaar? What are you doing here outside? Come inside with me.” Swara came up behind me. I turned around and froze.
Kartik was standing right in front of me, watching Ragini and Lakshya inside the store, who were kind of romancing.
I pointed him out to Swara and told her what Aurobindo had told me. We nodded at each other.
We started approaching him. He saw us and started running. We ran after him and soon, cornered him in an isolated alley. As he tried to run away, I held him by his collar.
“Spit it out. Who are you and who are you doing this for?” I growled at him.
He tried struggling. Swara slapped him. After five minutes of struggle and threats, I finally punched him and held his throat. He started spluttering.
“Who are you doing this for?” I asked him again.
“I don’t know who he is. I was just being paid to do the job he said.” He managed out.
I gave him another punch. “You don’t know who he was? What do you think I am, a fool?”
He joined his hands. We cornered him again.
“What job was he paying you for? Tell the truth or I will hand you over to the police……!”
He looked between us, his eyes full of fear. Swara gave him a threatening look.
“He paid me to blackmail Ragini.”
Swara held him by his throat. “Blackmail her for what? How did you do it?”
“I don’t know why he asked me to blackmail her.”
“What did you ask her to do as a part of that blackmail?” I asked him, rubbing my temples.
He looked at us. Then he took a deep breath.
I stood there, numb. Ragini had been blackmailed. She had been forced to do everything. Kartik had revealed the entire sequence of events which happened since my engagement with Lakshya. He also revealed his hand in this.
I felt like fainting. My poor Ragu. My poor baby sister! She had to go through so much. Just for mine and Lakshya’s sake. She had to bear this torture all alone.
I had always prided myself in being a good sister. I understood Ragini, felt for her, forgave her. Protected her and supported her. Now, I couldn’t help but feel that it was Ragini all along, who had been supporting and protecting me. She had put her own life and dreams at stake to save me. She had risked her reputation, her innocence, her dignity to ensure that I stay safe and happy.
And what did I do? I thought just about myself. I never stopped once to think that how could a girl like Ragini, who had so much empathy for others and was always so caring, do all this. I never once stopped and asked her, WHY? I just accused and threatened. I never asked her why.
“I am helpless Swara. I cannot do anything you ask me to do.”
Her voice kept ringing in my ears. She had tried! She had tried so hard to give me a hint. A hint to detect her pain. But I had been so bull headed that I failed to see my sister fighting so hard.
I had failed my childhood friend. I had failed my sister. Swara had failed her Ragini.
I stood up with determination and nodded to Sanskaar. You aren’t alone now Ragini. I am with you now. Sanskaar is with you. We will fight together. Whoever this is, he will have to pay. I will ensure that all of us get justice. That is my promise to you.
I was in a very good mood. Lakshya had just told me that the interiors of this store had been his design. The design credits had been taken by his firm but it was being appreciated and Lakshya had already received his pay sans commission a week ago. He didn’t have an idea then,where his design had been used. But we did now. I was so proud of him. He was so happy. We wanted to reach back home quickly and celebrate but one thing stopped us.
Swara wasn’t picking up her phone. Nor was Sanskaar. Where were they? Romancing in a corner? Ughh……..
Beside me, Lakshya was looking curiously at a piece of clothing. I stifled a giggle. How do I tell him that he was trying to hold a lingerie?
A shop assistant passed him and gave him a dirty look. He smiled at her, oblivious to her disapproving gaze, and she went away, disgusted.
He gave me a confused look. I shook my head at him.
“Why did she react like that? What is this………..thing?” He asked me.
“I wear such things under my clothes on special occasions.” I told him, trying to maintain a straight face.
Realisation dawned on his face. He looked at me apprehensively.
“Is this a……….?”
I smirked. This is fun! I was enjoying this.
“Yes Lakshya. They are women’s underclothes!”
Lakshya dropped them as if his hand had been burned. I burst out laughing, seeing his condition while his ears turned pink in embarrassment.
“Don’t laugh. Please. Just don’t. Have some pity.” He whispered in a shocked manner.
I smiled triumphantly at him. Swara and Sanskaar came inside. Both looked tensed and were staring at me constantly. I looked at them inquisitively.
We reached home and Lakshya went to his work. Swara excused herself, claiming a headache and went to her room. She was acting strange since she and Sanskaar had returned.
“Ragini, can I talk to you for a while?” Sanskaar asked me.
I turned around and gave him a smile and nodded. We went to the garden and sat down on a bench.
For a few minutes, there was complete silence amongst us. I wondered what he wanted to talk to me about.
“I know everything Ragini. I know that you had been blackmailed!” He said in a rush.
I froze. Oh my god! How did he know? Who told him? No, I couldn’t tell him the truth. He won’t believe it. He would never believe that Lakshya……………………
“Ragini. I dont know who did this. But I know that it was done. Swara knows too. We caught the man who had blackmailed you. He said he was paid by someone else. He told us the truth Ragini. Say something, please?” Sanskaar said to me.
The memories flashed in my mind. How I had been kidnapped. How I had been blackmailed. How I had done all those things. How I had lived in guilt.
“So you know. Good. Don’t tell this to anybody. I do not want to bring anyone into danger.” I told him detachedly.
Sanskaar took my hand in his and started drawing small circles on my palm with his thumb. He squeezed my hand and said, “Ragini, I am sorry. We both are. Swara and I.”
“Why? Why should you be sorry? You didn’t do anything wrong. I did………” I trailed.
“NO! You didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, you tried to save us. Save Swara. And she………..she is sorry. For not trusting you enough to find out the reason behind your behaviour, for not supporting you and for not being there when you needed her the most. I am sorry too.” He said in a sad voice.
I kept my hand over his and squeezed it. “Never say that Swara didn’t support me. She did. Even though she didn’t know why I was doing this, even though at that time, I was her culprit, she never left me. She was always the elder sister who protected me. But I had to do this. I had to to do as he said. I had to snatch her first love from her……………..”
“RAGINI!” I heard someone shouting. We turned around and saw Swara, full of anger.
She came towards me and slapped me. I looked at her in shock.
“You stupid, silly, innocent, naive…………..amazing girl! Didn’t you think even once before doing all this, what would happen to you? Chali gayi khaai mein koodne! You ruined your life. For whom? Me? An elder sister who didn’t treat you like she should have. Who worried more for herself and her reputation rather than you? For Lakshya? Who didn’t even love you at that time? Why? Ragini……….we didn’t deserve this kindness. We never thought about you when we were getting married. For us, it was all about our dreams, our relationship, our lives and our future. I never once thought about you. How you must have felt when you saw your sister with your love………………”
“He was your love too, Swara. And it didn’t matter whether I loved him or not. He loved YOU. Not me.”
“He never loved me. And I never loved him. I thought I did but now that I know what love is really all about, I don’t think I ever loved him. I was just infatuated. And he…………..he refused to even admit that he loved me. He liked me. But there was no love Ragini. It was obvious that you were the one who he would have been the happiest with. Like he is now. But I came in between……………..”
“There was nothing there, in the first place, to come in between of. It was my one-sided love. There was no reciprocal from his side.”
“Ragini, the point is that you sacrificed so much for us. You shouldn’t have done that. Why did you do that?”
“Because I love you Swara. Since childhood, you have been my best friend. When other people used to bully me and make fun of me, you would stand up for me. When my tiffin fell down and I was hungry, you shared your tiffin with me. When no child in the Baadi used to play with me, you did. You have always been kind to me. I always wished for a sister, and then, I got you. I always prayed for a mother, and I got Shomi Maa. You are my family. And I would do anything to protect you.”
Swara hugged me tightly and kissed my forehead. Tears flew from our eyes. We clung to each other, needing the other, to fill the voids that had been created due to the other’s absence.
“Why didn’t you tell me Ragini? Why? Couldn’t you share this with your Swara? If Swaragini had been together, uss blackmailer Ki band Baja dete!”
“So do it now. You aren’t alone anymore. We are with you. We will fight this battle with you.” Sanskaar said finally.
We looked at him. His eyes were moist. He came forward.
“Ragini, I want to thank you. For the past six months, I had been trying so hard to make Swara happy and to see her smile. She may have smiled, but somewhere, she was empty. And you have completed that emptiness. I am so happy that Swara is happy. Oh, and you too Ragini! I am happy that you are happy!” Sanskaar said sheepishly.
We looked at each other. Swara gave a smile and took out her phone. “Selfie time, sweethearts!” She called out.
We struck a pose. Swara was in the middle, smiling widely, while I and Sanskaar were on her either side, kissing her on her cheek. We clicked many such selfies in different poses. And then, we chatted about random things for some time.
Swara remembered something and went back inside. Sanskaar turned to me.
“Did you get any message or a phone call from him again?” he asked.
I shook my head. He frowned. “Is there anybody you have a doubt on?” He tried.
Images of Lakshya swarmed my mind. I shook my head again. He gave a frustrated sigh.
“I feel pathetic Ragini. I was unable to protect my best friend, my love and my brother from this mess. I was unable to protect myself! I am the worst friend you could have asked for.” He said despondently.
I held him by the shoulders. “Mr. Sanskaar Ramprasad Maheshwari! You are NOT the worst friend. In fact, you are the best! You are amazing. The first guy friend I ever had. The first guy who didn’t tease me because I wore anarkalis. The first guy who taught me to live for myself.
You are the guy who made me laugh. You are the crazy man who walked the entire opposite way just to drop me back safely home at night when we had stayed back in college. You are the friend who called me up at 11:55 pm on the eve of my birthday and kept on saying nonsense to ensure that you would be the first one to wish me. You were the true friend who used to stay up late at night, just to make notes for me which helped me top. You were the only friend I had in my college. And I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
Without you, college wouldn’t have been possible. Without you, studies would have been difficult. Without you, those three years of my life would have been dull.
You are one of the best men I have known Sanskaar. You have been with me in all my important milestones. You are my mentor, my friend, my guide, my rock, my strength, my role model. And I love you Sanskaar. I just love you.”
Saying this, I hugged him tight. He hugged me back. I was so happy, I had got my sister and best friend back……………suddenly I heard a gasp.
We broke apart and turned around to see Lakshya standing behind us, his eyes full of tears and a single rose in his hand crushed and the thorns pricking him, drawing blood from his hand.
How was it? Sorry, didn’t include the Ragini finding Lakshya’s reports part. I have decided to change the way she gets to know his truth.
Please comment. Constructive criticism always invited.
Up Next: Raglak confrontation, Lakshya angry with Ragini. Ragini gets advice from an unexpected source(cameo of a beloved character) and she gets to know his truth.
Credit to: Bela