Hey guys…….Bela here with a Two Shot for you all. It is on Raglak.
What happens when a misogynistic jerk and an indifferent woman join their fates forcibly? What happens when two lonely broken souls decide to spend their lives together? Do they have their happily ever after? Does this arrangement work? Kya milta hai inn banjaaron ko ghar?
I entered my father’s study after knocking. He was sitting on his armchair, leaned back and deep in thought. He looked up at me as I entered and gave me a small smile.
“You called me? Do you need anything? ” I asked him bluntly.
“Can’t I ask my daughter to come and meet me without wanting something?” He asked me.
“Do you really wish to know?” I asked him wryly.
My father, Shekhar Gadodia, is a famous businessman. He and I share a stormy relationship. The only reason why I even listen to him is to honour my dead mother, his first wife, Janki Gadodia. And maybe because I love him. A tiny bit.
“Sit down. I need to discuss something very important with you.” He said.
“Important to whom, Dad?” I shot at him.
I knew I had asked the right question because his eyes hardened. I observed him closely. His eyes had bags underneath them and he looked older than his years.
“Are you fine? You look tired and………….disturbed. Anything to do with Swara and her recent………..adventure?” I asked him slowly.
He looked up at me with a jerk. His eyes softened and he smiled bitterly. “You are the only person in this world who seems to have observed that.” He replied sadly.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I am my mother’s daughter.” I replied.
Dad leaned back against his chair and looked at me closely for a minute. I felt uncomfortable with this scrutiny. After a while, he remarked, “You are a really beautiful woman Ragini.”
“Thank you?” I told him, uncertain of where this conversation was leading.
“You are 26 years old Ragini. You have established yourself as a cardiologist in a leading hospital of the city. You are beautiful, intelligent, smart, well settled and you have a good heart. Don’t you think it is time for you to settle down?” Dad asked me.
My eyebrows shot up to my hairline. Marriage? Like, seriously? I, Ragini Gadodia, poster girl for independent and single women, should get married? Why? What is the need? I am happy the way I am. I don’t need a man to complete my life. I told Dad so, in no uncertain terms.
Dad took a deep breath. “I want to see you settled down. In fact, I have a man in mind for you. Lakshya Maheshwari, the famous businessman, you know? He is 28, well settled, intelligent and independent. I doubt he would have any problems with you working. I met him at a party some weeks ago. And I can’t help but notice how well suited you are to each other.”
I made a ball with my fists to control my rising anger. Great, a boy has already been chosen! Gaon basa nahi, ghar mein TV aur AC pehle hi laga diye! No ways, am I going to marry this Lakshya Maheshwari. I know very well that people like him and my Dad look not for a wife, but for an arm candy. A trophy wife. And I do not want to be one. And to think of it, I am really not qualified to become one as well.
Despite what Dad says, I know that I am not a very beautiful woman. I am 5’6 with a slim waist, round hips and a fine bust but my nose is rather…..cute. My eyes are brown and my hair is confused whether it is brown or black. My lips are okayish and my cheeks are full, giving me a rather round and chubby face. Maybe that is why my friends don’t take me seriously. Because I have a baby face. At any rate, I am not as beautiful as Dad’s other daughter. Swara.
Swara is four years younger than me and the daughter of Dad’s mistress turned second wife Sharmishtha Bose. She was born out of wedlock while my father had been married to my mother. Obviously, Maa had no idea what was going on behind her back. When she got to know about it 2 years later, she seperated from him and went to live with her parents, my grandpa and grandma. A year later, she died while I was just 7. Getting a license, Dad married Sharmishtha aunty and so, became one with his family. And I was brought up by my maternal grandparents with monthly visits from my father.
I had never met Swara. But she was a very popular social figure at just 22, obviously, being my Dad’s daughter. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if half of the population out there doesn’t even know that I am Shekhar Gadodia’s daughter. I never came out with him. To the world, Shekhar Gadodia’s wife is Sharmishtha Gadodia and they have only one daughter, Swara Gadodia. I am the lesser known ‘other daughter’. This status has been given to me because Swara is the paparazzi’s darling. She is a part time model, part socialite and is also studying interior decorating. Popular. I have seen her in the newspapers and gossip magazines and I can never deny that she is really beautiful. Must be her mother’s genes, I thought to myself as I looked at my father’s long nose and crinkled eyes.
“Ragini, I know that you are reluctant for this. But dear, think of yourself. How long will you live alone? Everyone needs a partner. I wish to see you settled. So does your mother, I am sure. She would always dress you up as a bride when you were younger and has a separate locker filled with jewellery for your marriage. Had she been amongst us today, she would have badly wanted you to settle down. At least for her last wish, consider this proposal. I sent your picture to him and he really looks forward to meeting you. Meet him once. I am sure you would like him. I told him so as well. Please keep up your father’s honour and meet him.” Dad said.
Great! Emotional blackmail in the name of my mother’s last wish and father’s respect! Amazing! I know that I am done for! It is as good as being married. Arranged, obviously. I couldn’t believe this! I, Ragini Gadodia, will be having an arranged marriage! But if I really think of it, it is okay. I wouldn’t be pestered with this stuff again either by my Dad or by those horny colleagues of mine who would ‘love to marry me’. And I could live my life the way I want if I just strike a deal with him and do as he requires me to. Like a contract. An agreement. I smirked lightly.
I nodded to him briskly and stood up and went out to breathe. Lakshya Maheshwari. Let’s see who you are and what you are…………….
The meeting went……well. Ragini Gadodia. Elder daughter of Shekhar Gadodia. Beautiful, was the word that had come to my mind when I had seen her picture first. Beautiful in a very different way from her sister Swara. While Swara is a very attractive type beautiful, Ragini is a classic, poised beautiful. Her features are amazing and her grace was visible even in that 8X10 photo. Good, at least my eyes wouldn’t get sore.
Let’s get one thing straight. I do not have a heart. Duffers, I mean I do have a heart but there is no love in it! I don’t even understand this nonsensical concept of ‘Pyaar, mohabbat, ishq etc.’ I have never had someone who loves me or who I love. I am an orphan who grew up in an old, worn down orphanage with some 40-odd children, each trampling down the other to survive. Maybe that is where I got my survival instinct from. I was always a bright student so I got a scholarship to a good school and eventually, the university. I took up investment banking with only one thing on my mind: money. There is loads of it in that profession. Obviously, my brilliance helped me in establishing myself as a leading banker of the country even before I turned 30.
Like every other businessman, I needed a wife. More like a trophy wife, actually. Someone rich and well connected to help me expand my circle and someone classy and elegant who I could flaunt. And then I met Swara.
Swara Gadodia was six years younger than me. I met her first at a party. The first word that came to my mind on seeing her, surprisingly, had been shallow. She was shallow as hell. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t usually judge a woman based on her intellect alone, but something about her reeked of selfishness and arrogance. Two traits celebrated among the elite circle but which irritate me personally. There can only be one person with these qualities in a relationship and that would be me. Yes, I had decided to court her. She was pleasing to the eye, rich, well connected and had a very famous and powerful name of ‘Gadodia’ attached to her. I would take care of her attitude problems after the marriage. She is anyways too immature, she would mature one day and realise that I am not her father who spoils her silly.
Now not to sound pompous and conceited, but I am handsome. Very handsome. Suave. And rich. And classy. A dream man to many. I am the media’s darling and so, when I approached Swara, it was obvious that she would jump at me. Which she did. And I bestowed my attentions in the sleekest way possible. To put it in desi words, main dheel de raha thha aur WO lapet rahi thhi! But we never went exclusive. We were spotted hanging out together a few times but with friends. So the media didn’t speculate. And thank God for that! Because had we started rumours, I would have become the laughing stock of the world now!
I had talked to her father about us and received his assurance that he would get his daughter married to me. And two days later, as our engagement was about to be announced, I was called to the Gadodia mansion. On reaching there, I was greeted by the sight of my pseudo fiancée holding hands with another man, with sindoor in her hairline and a garland and mangalsutra around her neck. I recognised the man as Sanskaar, the son of the famous businessman Ramprasad Singhania. He had always accompanied Swara and I when we went out with her friends(cause I had none.)
To say that I was angry would be a gross understatement. I was livid with rage and I would have broken that silly girl’s head had there not been her entire family present. I had to make do with glaring daggers at her while she had her head bowed down.
Stupid girl! Wasted almost a month of my busy life! If she didn’t want to marry me, she should have told me so. It isn’t as if I have a shortage of girls to choose from. I may be choosy but I would have managed brilliantly. I was escorted to Shekhar Gadodia’s study to cool down while he managed that foolish daughter of his.
I had been sitting on the couch, rubbing my temples and counting to ten when I saw it. A photo frame on his side table. It had him with another woman beside him, both smiling. For a moment, I thought that she may be the other woman. Nothing horrifying about it, I know too well that many men in our circles keep mistresses half their age. However, on closer inspection, I found some similarities in their features. Obviously, the woman in the photo was far more good looking than Shekhar Gadodia could ever be, but features like the roundness of cheeks and their round faces matched. Some even matched with Swara. And then I recalled hearing about his first wife and daughter in hushed tones in the drawing rooms of illustrious women. Not that I gossip. But these types of information do come handy sometimes. Like they did now.
As soon as I reached home that night, I called up my man and instructed him to find out each and every detail he could about Shekhar Gadodia’s other daughter.
The next morning, the report was ready on my desk. I had been right. She had been the daughter. The elder one. Ragini Gadodia, 26, cardiologist. Lives alone in her maternal grandparents’ home who died a few years back. Daughter of the first wife who died early.
I had been positive with glee. Now, I would show that man how to cheat! Yea, that’s right. In exchange for Swara’s hand, I had transferred an amount of Rs. 75 crore in his account as a shareholder. He really needed that money. And now, when there was no relation between us, I had planned to sell those shares. Until now.
I sweetly blackmailed that oldie into setting me up with his LEGITIMATE daughter, pointing out that he had promised to ‘get his daughter married to me’. Wasn’t Ragini his daughter? So, as he promised, shouldn’t she be marrying me?
He had been reluctant, I could tell that. He tried to reason with me that Ragini was a fiercely independent lady who would never bow down to pressure. So I threatened him that I would withdraw my money and leave him and his sorry a** on the streets. I advised him to think of it and use emotional blackmail as a tool to convince his daughter. I guess that worked. The next evening, I received a message from him that she was willing to meet me. He arranged a party at his house to announce his daughter Swara’s ‘low key wedding’ with Sanskaar. And there, I met her for the first time.
I had been dressed in a silk black shirt, with the first few buttons open, revealing my sculpted chest. I had on black pants and a black well fitting coat and a small red silk handkerchief inside the br*ast pocket. My hair was well styled and I knew that I was looking hot. I entered the ballroom and presented the newly weds a rose bouquet and smiled charmingly. Swara looked a bit uncomfortable and I really enjoyed that. Sanskaar glared at me and I smiled back.
I went out to receive an important call and when I came back, I collided with someone. It was a woman. Instinctively, I held her by her waist to stop her from falling down. She dipped a little as she fell back while I held her. The ‘romantic pose’. I saw a pair of beautiful brown eyes staring up at me. I passed my eyes from her eyes to her lips, painted deep red and looking ripe. I saw her face and smiled. Ragini. Amazing! My future wife just fell in my arms! I helped her to her feet and kissed her hand while she blushed prettily, yet thanking me graciously with her poise intact, even though we knew that the entire ballroom was watching us. I smiled at her and escorted her to her father. We were formally introduced and then, left alone to talk.
I have to say one thing, that woman is something! Yes, she is a woman alright! She is smart, funny, witty, well informed and the best of all, sarcastic(I was tempted to to go down on one knee and propose to her right away when I detected her sarcasm!). I don’t remember ever enjoying female company as well as I did with her. There was something about her, which was appealing. She has an aura of mystery about her which is very exciting. No, I didn’t fall for her. Just realised that I had found someone far better suited to me than that silly bird Swara.
We agreed on a few terms. She would continue practising as a doctor. I wouldn’t interfere in her personal matters and the same applied to her. I was not to dictate to her what she should do in her life and ditto for her. I explained to her that she would have to host as well as accompany me to social events as my wife and be……..prepared for that. She nodded, obviously knowing that I would mention that. I kind of forget sometimes that she is also a Gadodia. We would live as two strangers in a house, husband and wife to the world but have our separate lives. No interference. No disturbance. No headaches. It was perfect. At least she understood it herself. Having discussed these things, we decided to get married. I know it was a quick and rather abrupt decision, but hey, we are going to be just like two housemates. She is just shifting in. And changing her surname. And marital status. That’s it. Anyways, she didn’t really have a choice. Although I forbade her father from disclosing the entire contents of our agreement to her(lest she thinks of me as a creepy despo), I knew that she had been cornered. She had no choice.
I sat back comfortably on my recliner and looked at the ceiling. That’s it. Wife arranged. Mission accomplished.
On a bright sunny morning, we held a press conference to announce my marriage to Lakshya. That is what I am supposed to call him in front of everyone.
He is no different from any other male chauvinist. But I have to admit, he has something in him. Maybe because he is too handsome. I admit, I find him attractive. He is hot. That stubble of his makes me weak in the knees. Also, he is polished. He is witty, intelligent, unassuming, funny and sarcastic. And mysterious. Dark. I got attracted to it. I could easily figure out that he thinks that every woman in the ‘elite circle’ is a gold digger and leech who sucks the money out of their fathers or husbands. Or lovers. And to give him credit, even I think so. But I am not such a woman. And I think he knows that too. We have agreed on several factors. I never thought that I would get married so hurriedly and in such a manner but then, I never imagined marrying at all, to begin with. At any rate, things could have been worse.
I put on my best smile as Lakshya wrapped his arm around my waist. I felt a jolt of current pass through me and looked up to find him looking at me intently. I looked at his eyes. Black. Coal black. I looked away before I could get drawn. It is an agreement Ragini. Stop acting like a hormonal teenager!
The paparazzi seemed to be having a field day, clicking pictures and asking stupid questions. Meeting him a few times, I know that Lakshya had a great distaste for stupid questions. Keeping that in mind, I admired the way he handled them all with grace while I myself wanted to shove the mikes into the faces of the reporters themselves!
“Enjoying?” he asked me. I looked up at him and replied, “As much as an animal in a zoo enjoys being displayed.”
He chuckled and I felt a wave of pleasure wash over me. He looked even better chuckling. Good God! I am going crazy.
After that, we had almost no contact for a month. He had various deals abroad to take care of while I was busy in my surgeries. Our wedding arrangements were being done by a wedding planner specially hired by him from London. It was being dubbed as the biggest wedding of the year. This news had quickly overshadowed Swara’s elopement rumours. I couldn’t help but wonder if this plan had been my father’s, to ensure that Swara’s news didn’t get too much publicity.
And so, a month and only four meetings later, I became Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari, wife of one of the richest men in the country.
It has been two months since we got married. I must say, this arrangement is brilliant. We eat together but sleep in separate rooms, enjoying our privacy. She is a perfect hostess, hosting parties at our place which have quickly become exclusive and a must attend event and she strikes the right connections with her natural grace and beauty. Charming, really. I smirked to myself, remembering the first time we went to a party as a married couple.
I entered the hall and looked for any sign of my wife. What is taking her so long? I don’t get it, why do women spend so much time in getting ready when in the end, all of them look the same? Wasting precious time.
I heard the tapping of her heels and turned around. And my jaw dropped.
She was wearing a red blouse with sleeves till her elbows and a chiffon red sari which hugged her body, showing her perfect figure. Her long hair was straight but curled softly at the ends. She wore her mangalsutra and big golden jhumkas and a few bangles. She had on a matching red lipstick and nail polish and her sindoor. She looking AMAZING.
“Umm…….theek to hai na?” She asked with doubt masking her voice. Then, as if remembering something, she straightened up. “And even if it isn’t, I am not going to change. It takes too much time and effort!” She said.
“You are looking gorgeous. Very beautiful.” I told her. She blushed and thanked me. Seriously, why does she blush on being complimented? Is it fake? I hope not. But it could be. After all, all women are such.
We entered the room and it fell silent. We were matching as I had on a red tie with my white shirt and black pant and waistcoat combination. I was also wearing large black square spectacles to complete my fashionable look. I heard whispers like, “Oh my God! Is that Ragini?”, ” God! Lakshya looks so amazing.”, “She is hot!”.
I smirked and put my arm on her waist and escorted her to where the hosts stood. She was serene and composed all this while, in an effortless manner. I introduced my wife to the hosts and the hostess was gushing over her in a few seconds. I smiled and let them talk while I mingled with the other guests.
I came upon Swara at the bar who seemed indifferent to everything going on. I sat down near her on the barstool and ordered a whiskey for myself.
“You know, this popularity isn’t going to last long for her. They are all excited as she is new and raw. Soon enough, they will get bored and find someone new.” She told me. I turned to her and replied, “Find a better outlet for your jealousy. And a better method to hide it!”
She glared at me and stalked off while I chuckled. Ragini joined me soon and ordered a Martini for herself.
“Mrs. Raichand is unable to digest that I am a doctor! She keeps asking me questions on elementary biology to test me, which her son studies in class 8th, to confirm. I have a half mind to give my card to her.” She said in a whisper.
I don’t know if it was the alcohol in my system or the way she spoke in a harassed manner that made me double over with laughter. As soon as I stopped laughing some time later, I found the eyes of the entire hall on us. And I realised that I had just made a major blunder. Everybody was looking at Ragini in wonder, admiring the woman who managed to make Lakshya Maheshwari laugh. Ragini, the oblivious soul, was frowning at them, trying to understand what was so special. The situation was so funny with people frowning at her and she frowning right back, that I again started laughing like crazy.
“Aww…….she managed to do something that no one could ever do. They are truly made for each other!” Mrs. Sinha, the hostess, commented. Ragini overheard her and realisation dawned on her. She smiled awkwardly and turned towards the bar and bit her tongue cutely. It made me laugh harder. When I sobered up, she said to me “I have ruined your reputation.”
“And I had a jolly good time in that process.” I replied, raising my glass in a toast. She raised her glass as well and we gulped down our drinks, together in a companionable silence.
***End Of Flashback***
Ragini was well received by almost everyone in our circle. They admired her for her natural grace and elegance, her beauty and charm and her profession. It was a novel thing for a woman of their circle to have such a profession and Ragini was respected for that. There were a few ‘Sharmishtha Gadodia loyalists’ who disregarded her and proclaimed Swara to be better but Ragini paid them no mind. She slyly ‘forgot’ to invite them to our famous exclusive parties and soon enough, got their support and became everyone’s favourite.
Despite such moments, Ragini and I are not close. As soon as the doors to our house close, we become two strangers who sometimes discuss things but never get personal. We are not even friends. I never wanted an emotional attachment. It complicates things. Which is why I am really content right now. I know we would have to advance our relationship into a physical one soon. We would sort that out too.
I opened the newspaper and got a shock. The headline read, “Maheshwari’s stocks fall, account sealed!’ I quickly read the entire article and found out that a recent venture had cost him almost all his money and he even took a loan and those stocks had apparently fallen as the goods in which he invested went missing. Although the search was on for them, the shareholders of his company panicked amd sold their stocks in a hurry at one-tenth of their value. This caused a major meltdown and the loan he availed had to be returned with interest. He needed at least a sum of 200 crores to pay the banks as that interest so that all his property doesn’t get seized. And to think of it, even if he sells all his property, save this house, he wouldn’t be able to gather that amount. It would amount to a maximum of 120 crores at best.
I took a deep breath. Now I knew where he had been the entire night. Obviously arranging for money. But I know that no one would loan him even a penny. Our world doesn’t work that way. Lakshya may be a part of it but he is still new. I have lived in this world and observed it from the sidelines for my entire life now. They would close their doors on his face. They would refuse to even acknowledge him, let alone help him. But I won’t. He is my husband. I will try and help him to the best of my ability.
I quickly showered and got ready. And then, I set out to find my currently bankrupt husband.
So, 1st shot done. Sorry if the stock thing either confuses you or seems ridiculous, I don’t have an in depth knowledge of what happens. I just know it from the surface. Forgive me for any blunder.
Please comment and tell me how you liked my first attempt at a two shot. It is a change from my usual concepts. Criticism is welcomed.