“Sanskar..you’ll look perfect in this..” came Swara’s voice breaking the trance that Sanskar was feeling calm and content in. His eyes closed, his face expressions so serene. He had felt her, felt her presence around him, that always gave him this serene kind of feeling. But of-course, daydreams are never always true.
Rubbing his forehead, he glanced at Swara who had a weirdly bright green colored dress shirt, a color that he didn’t like but he said nothing. Why would he argue with a person who didn’t know about his changed tastes and preferences. The Sanskar, who was an intern at Sanjeevni hospital used to like such bright colors. The Sanskar, who had lost his first love, liked light colors. But the Sanskar who he now is, whom his Ragini, his wife, his second chance at love, his true love, his life had held him fixed him and loved him, liked colors which his Ragini liked. He liked things which his Ragini liked.
“Sanskar..” Swara shook him lightly, “Are you even listening to me?”
“Haan..nahi..uumm..yeah..it’s ust that..” Sanskar fumbled and stuttered.
Swara’s expressions turned into a serious and concerned ones, “Sanskar..kya hua?”
Sanskar sighed knowing it well that he can’t hide it from Swara. “Swara, woh I just felt as if…”
“As if..?” Swara proded, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“As if Ragini was here, close to me..” trailed off Sanskar and Swara’s hand dropped from his shoulder.
“I know it’s crazy. But believe me, she was here, I am sure of that!”
Swara placed the dress shirt aside and asked, “Sanskar tumne apni davayiaan li?”
Sanskar’s demeanour changed that instant, his expressions turned aggressive and he yelled, “For God’s sake, I am not hallucinating OK! I love her and that’s why I can feel her presence around me! I am not sick..”
“Sanskar..relax..please! It will affect your health. Listen to me…relax..”
“She was here Swara, she was here!” chanted Sanskar, by now people had started gathering around them.
“Fine! I believe you OK. She was here, alright! Now take this and have your medicines..” Swara made Sanskar sit on a chair and gave him a glass of water along some medicines.
“Excuse me Madam, are you fine? Is this guy troubling you?” asked a guy at the shop.
“I am fine and he’s not troubling me, he’s just not fine.” Swara exclaimed, then looking at Sanskar she said, “Sanskar chalo, I’ll drop you at hotel, you need rest!”
“Ragini was here na!”
“Uuumm..yeah she was! Now come, we’ll go and meet her soon, OK?”
“But will she..” Sanskar felt dizzy, so Swara asked the salesman to help her handling Sanskar.
Swara dialled Laksh’s number, she wanted to talk to him. She wanted to hear his voice that always has this calming effect on her;
Laksh smiled widely as he saw his cell phone ringing displaying his wife’s name and a pic of hers along.
“Yo wifey, missing me?”
“Laksh..” sighed Swara.
“Swara, kya hua? Are you OK?” asked Laksh, placing his lab coat and stethoscope at his desk.
“I am fine Laksh, but Sanskar..”
“Sanskar? Kya hua usse? Sab thhek hai na?”
“I don’t what’s happening Laksh! Hum shopping kar rahe thhe and he looked so calm like always but suddenly, kehne laga that he’s feeling that his Ragini is around him.”
“I know Laksh, and believe me Ragini wahan nahi thhi. Agar hoti toh mujhse toh milti na! Aurr iss sab ki wajah se Sanskar ki tabiyat kharaab ho gayi.”
“Ab kaisa hai woh? Is he fine now?”
“Yeah, he’s sleeping now.”
“Swara, are you sure Ragini wahan nahi thhi? Maybe when she saw you or Sanskar, she left.”
“Laksh I..it’s all my fault, l Ragini ke Sanskar ko chod-kar jaane ki wajah kahin na kahin main hi hoon.. Laksh, main..” Swara sobbed.
“Ssshh..” Laksh interrupted her, “Galat tum nahi thhi Swara, galat halaat thhe. And when situations are not right, even the righteous one commits wrong. Now don’t you cry! Araam karo and haan, khaana khaya?”
“Fine! Fine! Apne sasuraal jaane ka waqt aagaya hai, finally! Sharmishta mom makes delicious food. Finally I am getting to eat something that is edible.” Laksh joked, “Don’t worry I’ll eat, you go and rest OK!”
“OK! Bye..Love you!”
“Love you too…”
Ending the call, Swara went towards Sanskar’s room and after checking on him, she came back to hers. Looking out of the window of her room, she couldn’t help but think as to what happened that day, that made Ragini leave Sanskar.
“Sanskar.. Sanskar, ruko mujhe tumse kuch baat karni hai!” Swara said.
“Bolo Swara!” Sanskar asked smilingly.
“Why are you doing all this?”
“What, what am I doing?”
“Tum Ragini ko dhoka de rahe ho!”
“What? Whoa, woman what made you think that?”
“Tumhaari diary, jo tum galati se terrace pe chod aaye thhe.” Swara showed him his diary.
Sanskar visibly tensed and snatched his diary back from Swara. “Swara, please..”
Interrupting Sanskar, Swara continued, “Please what Sanskar? Ragini tumse itna pyaar karti hai or tum! Chee..Shame on you Sanskar, tumne usse shaadi, mujhe jealous karne ke li ki thhi? Just to show off! Sharam aa rahi mujhe, ki maine kabhi tumse..”
“Damn you Swara! Bas, now don’t you dare another..”
“Kya kar lo ge? Haan? Tumhe guilty feel nahi hota when you look at Ragini? Tum uske saath aisa..”
“Haan, kiya maine yeh sab! But that time I was not in my senses, and you know that. I was so obsessed about you ki sahi aurr galat mein kuch farak samajh hi nahi aa raha thha! It was just a craze, I just wanted you to be with me that time, but ab..”
“Ab kya Sanskar?”
“I don’t know OK! Nahi jaanta ki aajkal kya hone laga hai mujhe! Jin sapno mein pehle tum aati thhi, ab unme sirf Ragini hai! Uske saath hota hoon, toh pata nahi kya ho jaata hai mujhe, sab kuch bhool jaata hoon. Uske sivay kuch yaad nahi rehta mujhe! I know maine yeh relationship ek dhoke se start kiya but I..I am living this now! Yeh rishta zindagi ban gaya hai meri. Usse kuch hota hai, toh dard mujhe hota hai. Mere mann mein uske liye jo feelings hain, they are so intense that it all overwhelms me. It’s consuming me Swara! I am just not myself anymore. Woh Sanskar alag thha, jisse tumse pyaar hua! Woh Sanskar alag thha jisne tumhara pyaar kho diya, but ab jo main hoon..usme sirf Ragini ka aks hai.”
Swara sighed, placing a hand on his shoulder she said, “Tell her the truth Sanskar! Usse sach bata do, tum dono ki shaadi ka sach aurr haan, aaj uss se apne pyaar ka izhaar bhi kar dena, iss baar der mat karna.”
“Confuse rehne ka copyright mere paas hai Sanskar. You were always so clear with your feelings right? Now go and tell your wife that how much you love her! Go!” Swara gently pushed Sanskar, wiping her tears, she walked away, ignoring his constant calls of her name.
“I wish, ki main wahan se yun achanak se chali na gayi hoti! You weren’t emotionally stable Sanskar, I should have made you realize that what you had for me was over and the feelings you had for Ragini was love.”
“Har kissi ko dukh hi diya hai maine! Tumhe, Laksh ko aurr Ragini ko bhi! She’s my sister and I..I was so rude to her!” cried Swara.
Sanskar wasn’t sleeping. He was awake when Swara had came to his room to check up-on him. He had been just pretending to be asleep. He just wanted to be left alone.
“I have hurt you na! Ragini, bohot dukh diya hai na maine tumhe..I am so sorry!” cried Sanskar, looking at Ragini’s photograph. In the photograph, she was drying her hair, Sanskar had captured that particular moment in his camera and Ragini was unaware of it.
“It’s my fault that I never understood what you meant to me. Never realized that the feeling that erupted like a volcano in my heart and overwhelmed me so very much was love. Pyaar toh maine Swara se bhi kiya thha na, but me and Swara weren’t meant to be. You and me were. Tumse pyaar toh kar liya par uss pyaar ko na samajh paya aurr na-hi nibha paya. Tumhe sirf dard hi diya hai maine.”
“Kaash uss din woh sab..I am really sorry Ragini, please waapis aa jao..please..” Sanskar hugged Ragini’s photograph and cursed himself for not realizing what Swara’s words meant, what Ragini meant to him.
“Swara..” Sanskar yelled for the last time as he watched Swara run away from him.
“Why are you doing this to me Swara. Maine sirf tumse pyaar kiya hai sirf tumse. Ragini ko lekar jo mere dil mein feelings hain woh..bl**dy hell yaar! Main khud nahi jaanta mujhe kya ho raha hai!” Sanskar punched the nearest wall, as hard as possible. He was so emotionally unstable, so confused that he had a hard time controlling himself. He cried, he sobbed, but nothing helped him. He wanted to be with Ragini, but wouldn’t that hurt Swara. Isn’t she still in love with him? If she isn’t that why would she care for him?
Confused with his feelings, he was hardly able to balance and manage his erupting emotions. So he chose the easiest way, the way he could get free for such vulnerability. He went to a bar, and drank to the limit where he even forgot himself, his sanity. But just like they say, that you’re most truthful when you are not in your sane persona. Something similar happened.
“Open the door!! Open the door!!” yelled Sanskar as he banged at the main door of his house. The very next instant the door opened and Sanskar saw Ragini’s worry stricken face and he couldn’t help but feel immensely happy that there was someone who cared for him, who was worried about him, who would wait for him when he’ll not be at home.
“Sanskar..” he heard her sweet voice that had a tone of relief.
She had hugged him so tightly, so hard and had cried out of relief and he had relaxed in her warmth, forgot his worries, his problems, just enjoyed the love and care Ragini offered.
“Bohot pyaar karti ho mujhse?” Sanskar asked. Everybody told him that Ragini loved him, but she never said it, never confessed, so he directly asked Ragini about her feelings.
“Haan! I love you a lot Sanskar.” Ragini replied. And that confession had him on the highest cloud possible. Finally he won’t be alone. Ragini won’t leave him, right?
“How much you love me?”
“More than everything, anything!”
“Promise me that you won’t leave me ever!” He knew that Ragini won’t leave him ever, but this nagging feeling made him ask so.
“I won’t leave you alone Sanskar. Tum meri saansein ho, kya koi apni saans ke bina jee sakta hai?”
“I love you too!” And there he had confessed. Confessed that he loves Ragini. Confessed that Swara was no longer the love of his life, Ragini was. He loved Ragini and Ragini loved him back, and it was so very perfect.
He didn’t wanted to end this happy moment so soon, so he had done what he had always wanted too, always fantasized about. He kissed her, kissed Ragini, his wife. The lips melded so perfectly that Sanskar couldn’t help but think that they were meant to be together, for each other in every damn way possible.
He felt Ragini stiffen for a moment, as if she wanted to get away, as if she was thinking to walk away but he couldn’t let that happen. So he kissed her again, this time his lips found her sweet spot and the nape of her neck. That night he surrendered to his overwhelming and consuming emotions. He worshipped Ragini with his body, he loved Ragini by heart and soul.
Dream! That was so perfect, so it had to be dream right? Sanskar was in a semi-conscious state, so he felt that it was actually a dream. And the one-sided conversation, that happened after Sanskar had made love to Ragini, was only half truth.
Sanskar in his semi-conscious state, saw a dream. A beautiful garden where on a swing, Swara and Ragini together were enjoying swinging. Sanskar moved close to them. Seeing him, both Swara and Ragini giggled, while Swara continued swinging, Ragini came in front of him and hugged him tightly. Sanskar reciprocated the hug and kissed her hair lovingly.
Then suddenly everything changed, Sanskar felt Ragini let go off him, and saw an angry Swara in front of him.(All this is Sanskar’s dream, of which Ragini heard only few bits!)
“Why are you doing this to me Sanskar? Why are you doing this to both me and Ragini? I loved you Sanskar!” Swara stated.
“I love you too… Swara!” Sanskar felt a lump in his throat as he said that. As if, this wasn’t a right thing to say. Something was amiss.
“The why did you married Ragini?” Swara asked.
“I married Ragini only to show off that I too can move on!”, Sanskar admitted, “Just to make you jealous Swara..I don’t love Ragini!” Sanskar bowed his head. (By this time Sanskar had slept, Ragini heard only half of the story, but Sanskar’s dream continued)
“Liar! You are such a liar Sanskar!”
“I know you Sanskar. Tum jhoot bol rahe ho, that’s why you are fumbling now. Bohot pyaar karte ho na uss-se!” Swara’s expression turned calm, and sympathetic.
“Sanskar, tum hamesha mujhe kehte thhe, that I am confused all the time, but aaj main nahi tum confuse ho. Apni feelings ko lekar aurr apne pyaar ke liye bhi!”
“Swara…tum yeh sab..”
“Sanskar, close your eyes and tell me whose the one your heart calls for, whose the one you want to see everytime you return back home, whose the one Sanskar?”
Sanskar closed his eyes, and remembered each and every person that he had been close to. All those faces were blurred and fuzzy only one face stood clear and perfectly visible..
“Ragini..” he muttered, and again he felt his surroundings changing. He saw Swara walking away from him, but from the other side he saw Ragini coming towards him.
“Sanskar..” Ragini called.
“Ssshh..” Sanskar shushed her and, “Pagal hoon na main, jo na tumhe samajh saka, na tumhaare pyaar ko!”
Sanskar sat on his knees, while Ragini was still standing. Bowing his head, Sanskar held Ragini’s hands and continued, “You know Ragini, I loved Swara a lot, to such an extent that I went crazy for her. I thought I would never be able to love anyone like I loved Swara, hell I had thought that I won’t be able to love! But then you came! You slowly crept inside my heart and made a place for you. I never realized that when you became so important for me. My love for you has no boundaries Ragini, and that scares the hell out of me. Tum mere itni karee baa chuki ho, ki darr lagta hai mujhe, ki kahin tum mujhe chod kar chali gayi toh? Jee nahi paunga main Ragini. I love you so very much Ragini..I..”
Sanskar felt Ragini removing her hands from his hold, he looked up and saw Ragini’s tear stricken face. She was crying why?
“You lied Sanskar..you are a liar!”
“Tum mujhse pyaar nahi karte! Tumne jhoot bolkar mujhse shaadi ki, dhoka diya hai mujhe! I hate you Sanskar, I hate you!” Ragini yelled and ran away from Sanskar.
“Ragini..” yelled Sanskar, he was sweating profusely. Glancing around, he saw that he was in his room and realized that it all was a dream, a horrific dream, that lead Ragini, his Ragini away from him. He can’t let this happen, with this thought in his mind, he stood up from the bed and noticed another thing;
He was naked, just like when he was born. Rubbing his forehead, he thought about the previous nights’ events but that lead to a severe head-ache, so he just picked up his shorts and started calling for Ragini. He searched throughout the house but couldn’t find her. He felt as if someone had pierced his heart with a knife and twisted it. He placed a hand on his chest where he felt an overwhelming pain surge through him. His mind got clouded by negative thoughts…had Ragini left him?
He swiftly moved and opened the walk-in-closet and found all of Ragini’s clothes, accessories, and other things gone. Neither Ragini was there, nor there were her things. She had actually left him, why?
“Kahi usse sab sach toh..” trailed off Sanskar. He slid off the bed and tears formed in his eyes, cause his gaze to be misty. He cried and cried so hard and realized what Swara wanted to say when she had said, “Iss baar der mat karna!” But der toh ho gayi…
Sanskar couldn’t stop crying. Ragini had left him and now he had to deal with such overwhelming pain. The whole day went like this, he even missed his shift at Sanjeevni. Laksh and Swara tried to contact him but their tries went in vain. Swara had got worried and somehow felt that Sanskar being missing like this was related to her and Sanskar’s little quarrel and confessions. So she talked to Laksh and asked to go to Sanskar’s house, to check if he’s there!
When Laksh came, he found Sanskar on the floor in a foetus like position. He was wearing just his shorts, the whole house was a mess, and Sanskar was suffering from high fever.
“Tum toh chod kar chali gayi mujhe, aurr mere paas chod gayi apni kuch yaadein. Inhi yaadon ke sahare jee raha hoon main. It’s been years Ragini, and today I felt you, as if you were so near. Please come back Ragini..please come back..to me. Tumhaare bina, adhoora hoon main!”
After 2 days (Hospital’s auditorium, it was the day of “Doctor’s Meet”)
“Ragini, take these and do what you want to do with them!” Amol said, handing her a small bucket of flower petals, which they had used for decorations.
“Amol, yaar inka kya karun main, ab toh sabhi decorations..”
“Ho gayi hain..jaanta hoon, these are extra ones Ragini. Guests will start coming any instant, I have to greet them, can you please handle these!! Please?”
“Ok” and Amol went away. Ragini shook her head in annoyance and started looking for a place to place those flower petals, rose petals they were.
On the other side;
“Haan, Swara main pohonch gaya hoon yahaan, tum kab taka a rahi ho?”
“Yaar thodi jaldi karo tum, please!”
Sanskar was busy talking on phone, and Ragini was busy cursing Amol and looking for a place where she can put those flower petals. Both of them, coming from opposite sides, they hardly noticed each other. But their lucky stars were in good mood, so something like this happened;
Unaware of each others’ presence, Ragini and Sanskar were in busy with themselves and their tasks, that’s why they bumped into each other. Ragini lost her balance, Sanskar’s cell phone fell on the floor and the mini bucket, full of rose petals that Ragini was carrying, got bounced up and the flower petals fell out of it.
Before Ragini could fall on her back, Sanskar had his arms wrapped around her and pulled her close. To others it looked like a perfect movie sequence;
Ragini in Sanskar’s arms and the flower petals falling over them, like rain drops!
…To be continued…