Bela is back once again! I know, I know. It has been too long and half the population was wondering whether I was alive or not. I am. I was just busy in……………. Something. Very personal and a top secret. Okay? Very sorry if someone is really angry, I will try my best to update Cocktail within this week.
Anyways, coming to this episode, the dynamics have started changing now. Fast paced story, you see ????. Sorry if you find it short.?
So, let us begin…………….
“Where is it……….DAMN IT, where is it?” I muttered as I shuffled through my drawers. No seriously, WHERE WAS IT? I always keep it here, never do I shift my things………………..
Ragini. That woman legit loves to touch my belongings. She loves picking up my things and keeping them in a different place altogether. Huh.
“Are you looking for something?” The devil asked me. I closed my eyes, counted to five to control my rising anger and then turned to her. Madam was wearing a pretty chiffon parrot green sari today, with pink rose buds sewn on the pallu, smiling in her usual irritatingly sweet way. Her hair was wet and the room was smelling of her signature floral shampoo. It was nice, that smell. She wasn’t.
Ragini clicked her fingers in front of me, bringing me back to Earth. I looked at her and narrowed my eyes. I pointed to my drawers and asked, “You have been touching my things lately?”
Ragini’s gaze followed my fingers and she frowned in confusion. She looks rather cute with that expression. However, she herself isn’t cute!
“No, I have not been touching anything of yours since…………..That morning.” Ragini replied. She turned around to go but I pulled her back towards me. She fell on me and we both fell on the bed, her on top. The water droplets from her hair fell on my face as I looked at her. Her huge brown eyes bore into my black ones as I saw a faint rush of pink creep on her full cheeks. She definitely looked cute now. But I know she isn’t cute. Period. But she was seriously blushing now and even I felt warm in my face. My hand was on her smooth milky toffee waist while hers was on my chest. Her peony pink lips were wet and looked rather inviting……….
TOING TOING TOING TOING TOING.
Ragini’s phone rang. I furrowed my eyebrows as I listened to her ringtone. It was a sitar tune. It was a FRIGGIN sitar tune! I looked at the crazy owner who now realised our position and quickly scrambled off me. She picked up her phone and smiled. “Yes Swara? Shopping? Why? Achha, Haan. Sanskaar’s birthday. You didn’t buy something yet? Achha you were confused. Okay. Ya. Ten minutes? Why? You are putting eye liner? Okay. I will be there. Okay.”
Swara? She was talking to her? This Swara I tell you, nonsense lady! As if the trauma of losing her to my brother was not enough, now I would have to deal with her highly tuned Swaragini nonsense again. How come she forgives Ragini so easily? What is so special in Ragini? She isn’t cute, she just looks cute. Nor is she beautiful, she just looks beautiful. What is this mess?
I saw her about to leave again, when I cleared my throat. She turned around again and raised an eyebrow at me. How does she do that? I have tried a lot but I always end up raising both of my eyebrows. Never have I successfully raised a single one. I tried to do it again, but again, I raised both of my eyebrows. Ragini again assumed her ‘cute’ expression. I pointed to my drawers again and said, “Answer me, where is it? The blue one?”
She looked at me as if I told her that I was a woman. “How would I know? I have never touched them in my life.” She replied.
“Listen Ragini, I don’t have much time now, I am getting late. I have to go to office and before that I have to go to the lawyer…………..”
“So if you are getting late, find another one. Why blue?”
“Because it is my lucky one. And I need all the luck today, for I am to obtain a divorce from you!”
Ragini stiffened. Her face clouded. She looked at me and then took a deep breath. “I. Did. Not. Touch. Your. Things. Get. It. Straight.” She said slowly, emphasizing on each word as if I was a kid.
Anger bubbled up inside me. She must be lying. She always does. I trusted her so much, above even Swara and turns out, she was lying through her teeth. She doesn’t want this divorce to proceed. Maybe that is why she must have hidden it.
“Listen Ragini! I always keep it in this drawer. And now it is not there. You are the only one who is fond of misplacing my things, so that I have to come to you to ask. You are such an attention seeker…………..”
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Ragini yelled at me. I stopped speaking and looked as she glared at me with an expression similar to her Dadi’s. She looked scary. I gulped as I saw her advance on me.
“Attention seeker? Are you delusional Mr. Lakshya Maheshwari? Like, seriously? I misplace YOUR things to gain your attention? Hello, reality check! I have done FAR worse things to gain your attention. I don’t need to do these silly little things that people like you and Swara are fond of doing. I play my game my way, heart and soul! If I am saying I didn’t touch your drawers, I DID NOT TOUCH YOUR DRAWERS! Why would I even want to touch them, that disorganised cabinet of stinking clothes…………..”
“Excuse me! Stinking clothes?”
“Yes! Don’t even try to deny in front of me that you don’t bath daily! And then, that God forsaken deodorant of yours! I keep sneezing non stop, when I smell it. Your cupboards are a mess, your drawers are a chaos and don’t even get me started on your study, it is a DISASTER!”
I looked at the panting woman in front of me with wide eyes. Was she really Ragini? Never had she talked to me like that. Leave me, never had she talked to ANYONE like that. She was always polite, diplomatic, sweet and all good things. What had happened to her?
It seemed that she understood my confusion because she huffed in indignation and crossed her arms over her remarkable chest. She tilted her pelvis to her left and I swear, I was fascinated by this pose. Like, she looked a lot like my Chemistry teacher with whom I had wanted a little chemistry when I was her student back then…………………….
“You know what is your problem Lakshya? You are seriously very disorganised. Both you and Swara. What a perfect match you both would have made, I was a fool to even interfere!” Ragini screamed at me. I stood gaping at her. Ragini never raises her voice. Never. Is something wrong with her? Maybe her time of the month is going on……………….I have heard women often have mood swings during “those days”.
“Look, I am sorry for shouting on you like this but trust me on this one. I didn’t touch your belongings. My self respect hasn’t DIED you know?” Ragini whispered gently.
Somehow, her tone reeked of sincerity. I looked wistfully at my drawer again. Suddenly, I remembered that she called me disorganised. What! How dare she?
“I am not disorganised, okay? My clothes are always in the cupboard, not on the dressing table. And my shoes are in the shoe rack, not sofa. How can you call me disorganised, you patient of OCD?” I asked her angrily.
And then, right before my eyes, I saw a phenomenon. Have you ever seen a bull? When a red colour cloth is waved at it, its nostrils flare in anger and then it charges. Something very similar happened. Ragini turned red, her nostrils flared and then she charged. Not physically. Verbally.
“Your clothes are in the cupboard, done. HOW they are is my question. Instead of being stacked on top of each other, they are strewn all over the place, just like on the carts at the local Sunday market, where those bhaiyas shout “100 ke 2 Lelo”! Some of your clothes still have their tags on them. You throw your sweaty shirts back there instead of keeping them in the laundry basket. Your nightshirt smells of your eww deodorant while your brand new shirt smells of the mosquito repellent I spray at night. And for God’s sake, tell me, why don’t you scrub clean the back of your neck? Your collars have a line as black as the colour of my kajal! You can’t imagine the horror I face………..”
“Hey shut up! My deo isn’t eww. It costs me 2500 rupees…….”
“My one costs only 150 rupees and I smell like roses! What is the use of your expensive deodorant then?”
I stood silently. Her deo costs just 150 rupees? Where does she buy them from?
“Have you seen your study table? Hey maara Khatu Shyam Ji, that place is similar to that table that features in games in which you have to clear up the mess! I once saw your stained coffee mug next to your charger and on top of a bunch of papers which I later identified as your new project’s legal formalities. Not to forget, your fountain pen was on the chair. This is ridiculous. You know, even Swara is more organised than you. At least she knows that we don’t keep eatable items next to hardware and important papers.”
“Why are you comparing me to Swara?”
“Because you are too similar. You are the male version of Swara, just more vicious, stupid and more disorganised. I feel that your messy habits is one of the reasons why you both always make such fattu plans!”
I looked at her in shock. She called me male version of Swara? How? Do I eat fish? Am I Bengali? Do I love Sanskaar? Well I do, but not THAT way! And………………
“You both are so disorganised that it reflects in your plans. You made a plan to kidnap and kill me but it went for a toss. Swara makes plans which are useless but better than yours. Look at Sanskaar. He is such a neat freak and his plans are as methodical as him. All his plans have been successful, whether it was the craziness drama, the drama to malign Swara’s image with my help, my manipulation, the idea to marry Swara to expose me, the plan of actually exposing me. All his plans have substance and organisation. So they are foolproof and always successful. Even mine. All the plans, evil as they were, were actually successful because I am systematic and efficient. Learn from this. Your personality traits are reflected in your actions and trust me, people notice. If you get even 10% more orderly than before, you would automatically find your work easy to manage.”
I reflected on her words. She was kind of right. All those lecturers at college used to say that we need to be neat, tidy and methodical in order to achieve success. And Ragini’s points were absolutely valid, if harsh. But the question was, how to become methodical?
“Ragini, should I use Google to find out how to become more organised?” I asked her. She sighed and replied, “No. Start by decluttering. Throw away everything which you do not use and which you haven’t used for more than six months. Separate things which you use only once in a while. Then clean your drawers, your cupboards and your desk. You will feel lighter. Then, make a list. Of the places where it could be. What you are looking for. Spot for it there and you will find it. And make a resolution to ALWAYS keep things in their right place.”
Sounds cool. I nodded to her. She nodded back and was going away when I turned to her. “Ragini?” I called out. She turned back and raised an eyebrow. “Thanks. And ask Swara to buy Sanskaar a watch. God knows why, but he gets turned on when a woman buys him watches!”
She smiled softly and mouthed a thanks. She was about to leave when she stopped again. I looked up expectantly. Ragini opened her mouth and closed it again. I raised my eyebrows and that prompted her to start speaking.
“I……..I am sorry Lakshya. For whatever I have done till now. I really am. It is just that……I was genuinely naive enough to think that I could get you. I REALLY thought that we would be happy together. I have always dreamt of a husband who would love and care for me and I would also love him. I fell in love with you but made the mistake of thinking that I could make you Love me too. I thought I would do it. I have understood now that it cannot happen. And that I have ruined many lives in my foolishness. Some have brought themselves and their lives back on track but people like you and I, we are yet to find our footing in life. We are yet to make out something of this mess. Your position is similar to mine in that way. I am sorry for ruining everything for you. Trust me, I understand what you are going through. You and I have much in common in that respect. You and I, both have lost our loves. We both have had our dreams destroyed. I cannot claim to be a good friend but I can surely lend a sympathetic ear if you ever need one. At least I will get some relief thinking that I was able to do some good for you.” She said in a hesitant manner.
I felt for her at that point. Somewhere, after the night I saw her burn those things, I realised that she had put a lot at stake and lost her all. And it was her own fault but I feel bad that we cannot help her. We couldn’t then, and we cannot now. I could forgive her, more for my own peace of mind than anything else.
“Ragini, I forgive you for everything. But please, don’t expect anything from me. I CANNOT love you, come what may. You know, there are some things you don’t have control over. Love is the biggest of them. You can’t fall in or out of love by will. I cannot fall for you. You are just too…………” I faltered, unable to form words.
“Different?” She supplied. I nodded. She smiled softly at my gesture. “I agree. We are too different. Opposites can attract but COMPLETELY opposite people just don’t click. I understood it now, the hard way. Anyways, thanks a lot. I promise, I would not come in between you and your life. I will complete all my wifely duties till the divorce is finalised. And don’t worry, I won’t trouble you after that. We can’t be friends after what all has happened.” I nodded in assent and she smiled and nodded to me.
After she left, I scratched my head in confusion. Ragini told me so many things, where should I start from? Yes, list! Let me find it first. I took out a pen and a paper and wrote in a neat handwriting boldly on top of the paper:
WHERE I CAN FIND MY LUCKY BLUE UNDERWEAR
“It is a very decent and graceful gift. Plus Sanskaar loves watches, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, but he owns many pieces. I think I should buy him a pair of jeans.”
“No. Watch. I am telling you, he will love it. Even Lakshya thinks that he would like it if he gets gifted a new watch.”
“Ohho……..So it is Lakshya! I was wondering why you were being so insistent.”
I froze. Swara had no idea that Lakshya and I were divorcing. How would she react? Knowing her, she would definitely poke her nose in between and make some plan to work it out between us. I can’t let this happen.
Meanwhile, we entered a showroom and there Swara Sanskaar Maheshwari proceeded to start a fair as she ordered everyone around, yaying and naying their collections. I sat beside her, calmly sipping the orange juice I had asked for. After an entertaining show which lasted one hour and twenty six minutes, we finally left the store with a classic Rolex silver limited edition watch with us, much to my and evidently, the store staff’s relief. Swara was very satisfied with her purchase and was planning to wrap it and top it with a bar of Dairy Milk Oreo Silk chocolate. I know Sanskaar doesn’t eat chocolates. It is no wonder then, whose stomach this bar would ultimately settle down in. Sly girl!
We reached home and I, to my intense astonishment, found my room CLEAN. Seems like he had actually followed my advice. The clothes were arranged properly, the desk was clean and I could spot only a few things I could term useless. Good going.
I sat on the bed. I hadn’t meant to be so rude with him. But I just couldn’t help it. He acts like a child sometimes, speaks things out of line and in a tone that makes me cringe. I am a human being, someone who has done mistakes and is now repenting for them. There is no reason HE should be talking to me like that, not after what he did with me. I paid for his angst at my actions and the damage he suffered due to me by his own actions. We have become equal now. Just because we are divorcing each other, doesn’t mean he gets the license to be rude. He still doesn’t realise that all that he has done with me was also wrong. I don’t think he ever would.
Speaking of divorce, he must have got it legalised by now. It is possible that I am back to being Ragini Gadodia now. I sighed in pain. Even though I made a promise to myself that I would get over this, it is really hard. I lived this dream for so much time, I expected so much. And it was all going for a toss now, all thanks to my stupid belief that I could make Lakshya love me. I can’t. He can’t. And I have learnt it the hard way.
Sounds of footsteps broke my reverie as I quickly wiped my tears which had strayed from my eyes. I looked around and found Lakshya behind me.
“Everyone has arrived. I am going to announce our decision now.” Lakshya said. I nodded to him.
“I have to pack my things though. Not much, I am not taking back anything I received here. Just my phone, my personal jewellery, a few pairs of clothes and makeup. And yes, my body lotion.” I told him.
“Fine. Pack up quickly and get ready and come downstairs. Sanskaar is going to cut the cake in an hour.” He replied and walked away. I let out a huge sigh. This was it. I had no idea how everyone would react. Maa would be upset, Swara would get sad and Dadi Ma would get angry but apart from them, I don’t thinkanyone would really care. And I prefer things to be kept that way.
I opened the cupboard, took out my bag and started packing. Half an hour later, I went to the washroom, freshened up, picked up Sanskaar’s gift which I had bought and went downstairs.
It was Sanskaar’s twenty fifth birthday and while others would prefer a big party to celebrate, Sanskaar being Sanskaar, decided to do it in his style. He just wanted his near and dear ones close to him on this special day. He wanted to be close to his wife, who he was desperately in love with. He was happy that she had decided to give him a chance and so, this day was a very special one for him.
Downstairs, everyone had arrived. Everybody was clicking pictures while Sanskaar was opening all his gifts( he loves gifts, cannot even wait to cut the cake!). He opened the one from Swara and instantly, a huge smile graced his lips. He hugged her tightly and from the corner of my eyes, I saw Lakshya sniggering. I was surprised. I thought he would get jealous. Maybe he really had moved on.
I slowly advanced towards the birthday boy, my once best friend and guru. Everybody stopped talking and looked at me warily as I came in front of him. Sanskaar had stopped smiling but he wasn’t angry too. His face was blank.
“Happy birthday Sanskaar” I said to him as I handed my gift to him. It was not that special. Not amongst the many expensive bottles of perfumes, expensive shirts, a classic limited edition watch and trendy shoes. But it was a bit personalised. I hoped he would like it.
Sanskaar took the gift slowly. Sujata Chachi said, “What did this chhori bring for my son? I hope it doesn’t hurt him or Swara in any way!” She was hushed by her husband but she had managed to do what she aimed for. I was now highly uncomfortable.
Sanskaar opened the wrapper and pulled out the black leather diary, with an ‘S’ embroidered on it. Below, his name was engraved in gold in bold letters. With it was a pen which again had his initials printed on it. Seeing the gift, a soft smile graced his lips and he looked up at me.
He stood up slowly and as everyone watched with bated breaths, he came forward and hugged me lightly. “Thank you so much for them. They are lovely.” He whispered in my ear. I hugged him back and smilingly replied a thanks. He pulled back and smirked.
“I hope the pen has ink in it. I don’t trust you much, you know?” He said playfully. I smirked at him in reply. He chuckled and patted my head in a sign of fond comradeship. It was a beautiful feeling. At least for me.
The cake was cut, the songs were sung, the snacks were served and the speeches were made. We were now sitting in the living room and I was waiting for Lakshya to announce the news. He seemed to be trying. I signed him to do it now, as the conversation had ceased. He nodded briskly and cleared his throat audibly.
Everyone looked in his direction. He smiled nervously and started speaking. “I…..We………I mean Ragini and I had something to share with you all.”
Everyone looked at me promptly and I cursed Lakshya under my breath for his obvious lack of grace and tact. He looked at me apologetically and continued. “Ragini and I have filed for divorce.”
There was pin drop silence. Everybody looked at us and then at each other. And then, all hell broke loose.
“How, why, when?”
“Ragini is ready to divorce you?”
“What are you saying?”
“Is it necessary? You are husband and wife.”
“Is this a joke? Mazaak hai kya?”
“When did you take this decision? Why wasn’t I told?”
The last question was obviously uttered by my Dadi Ma and she looked in shock, as if it hadn’t been Lakshya but Dada Ji who had said those words. Lakshya was looking at everyone and was sweating profusely. I rubbed my temples, said a silent prayer and then, in a loud and authoritative voice said, “Enough!”
Everyone sat silently as they looked at me. I decided that Lakshya was not capable of handling this. I would have to take the reins of the conversation in my hands.
“Lakshya and I………..We……I mean I have finally realised that I was wrong. I am sorry for all my deeds and I want to correct them. And my repentance would begin with leaving Lakshya. We are not happy with each other and I don’t think we could ever be, we are too different from each other. We want different things in life, our lifestyles are starkly different, our likes, dislikes, thoughts, nothing match. I was living in a bubble when I thought earlier that these things would not prove a hindrance. I was wrong in what I did and we have decided to get divorced, start our lives on a new note and forget this.” I said in one go.
Everyone was looking at us in rapt attention. I smiled hesitantly. Finally, Maa came and patted my head fondly. “I would always wish that the situation had been different. Or your decision. But we cannot force you both and so, I support your decision. God bless you beta. May you walk on the right path from now on.”
Beside me, Lakshya took a deep sigh of relief. I looked at him and he smiled at me. It was ironical to me, how this smile was at the prospect of our separation. But it didn’t matter now. I had already chalked out the rest of my life. A life with no sign of him.
Little did I know that my plan was about to flop in the most crushing way possible as some events would force me to face harsh realities faster than I had imagined.
Done. Okay guys, Cocktail next. Goa still on.???