Hi, next part of the story is here. Thanks for your comments. I know a lot of you are looking forward to ashu scenes in this one…..they will be very different from the usual ones. i hope you aren’t disappointed. Thanks – azure
It had been a week since Sanskar had visited Sharmishtha and things had turned completely upside down, in terms of his understanding of who Swara really was. There had been no further leads on that front and he was desperately hoping for some.
Ragini had been getting busier with her project work as the deadline loomed on her head, but they did continue to squeeze in some quality time together. Their every interaction, every chat seemed so effortless and natural that he had not really realized when she started becoming integral part of his life and touched every aspect of it. She was the only one he could share his dreams and deepest fears with, without fearing judgement.
They had finished their dinner sometime back and Ragini had been back in the room just a few minutes before, after helping with the clean-up. A knock on the door brought him out of his thoughts. Ragini had been busy working on the project, he didn’t want her disturbed “I will check who it is” he told her as she made to get up.
Sanskar opened the door to see Uttara, standing outside the door, with a pile of clothes in her hands. “Bhabhi” she called out
“Uttara!” Ragini called out getting up “Come in”
Uttara tried to move around Sanskar, but he kept coming in the way. Finally, she dumped the clothes, in her hand, into his and shoved him aside exclaiming “Bhai!”
Ragini took Uttara’s hand and made her sit next to her on the seatee by the coffee table. Sanskar looked at them and the clothes in his hand, annoyed, before dumping them on the bed “Now that Bhabhi has come in, you are not bothered with the Bhai!” he shot at her
“Are you feeling jealous Bhai?” Uttara asked him
Sanskar rolled his eyes “Yes, as if I don’t have anything better to do than be jealous of your girly gossip”
“Bhai!” Uttara exclaimed, crossing her hands in front her, in annoyance
“Sanskar, stop teasing her” Ragini told him before turning to Uttara “So what are you going to do?” she asked
Uttara looked at her and then Sanskar, who was by now sitting with his book on his side of the bed.
“Don’t worry. It’s okay. Your Bhai won’t do anything” Ragini assured her talking softly.
Sanskar’s ear’s prickled hearing this. He continued to focus on the book, pretending he wasn’t bothered with the conversation that was going on.
Uttara glanced over at him once, before looking back at Ragini “I tried the clothes on” she said quietly
“And?” Ragini asked her, keeping her volume down
“I am not comfortable in them” Uttara admitted.
Ragini nodded “What about the other thing?” Ragini asked her
“I thought a lot about what you said” Uttara told her. Ragini held her hand gently in support “You are right” Ragini nodded with a reassuring smile, gently squeezing her hand. “Thanks Bhabhi. It felt good talking to you about it though” Uttara told her
“You know you can talk to me about anything. I am not just your Bhabhi. We are friends as well, right?” Ragini asked her.
Uttara nodded with a smile. She got up from the seatee “You get back to your project now” Uttara said before walking over to the pile of clothes “Bhabhi, this will look really good on you though” she said touching a black dress on the top of the pile, before walking out of the room, closing the door.
As soon as she left the left, Sanskar put his book aside “What was that about?” he asked Ragini
Ragini looked at the door and then back at him “You have to promise you aren’t going to jump the gun after I tell you”
“What is that supposed to mean?” He asked concerned “Is everything okay with Uttara?”
Ragini nodded walking over to the bed and sitting next to him “She has made friends with some of the popular girls in her college, they have told her that if she wants to be part of their group she has to wear more modern western clothes and not the salwar kurtis that she usually wears”
“What?” Sanskar asked surprised “What does she need such stupid friends?”
“Calm down Sanskar” Ragini told him, but he threw his hands in the air, signaling that that wasn’t going to happen. Ragini sighed “She was feeling a bit stressed because she wanted to be part of their group” Sanskar made to speak, but Ragini cut in before he could “I spoke to her. She understands. She isn’t going to change herself or her clothes to be part of their group”
Sanskar nodded, though he wasn’t completely calmed down “What did you tell her?” May be I should talk to her as well”
“I told her that if they were her true friends they would accept her the way she is. It is not true friendship if they expect her to do something that she isn’t comfortable with.” Ragini told him “I told her that if she compromises over this, she might feel good temporarily, but soon she will start feeling suffocated in that friendship and she will stop being who she is.” Sanskar nodded hearing this “I told her she was fine just the way she was. And anyone who didn’t understand it, wasn’t worth her friendship”
“So she isn’t going to put herself through that silliness then?” Sanskar asked.
Ragini nodded “I told her that if she still wanted she should try some of my clothes in the privacy of her room” Ragini told him “You know my clothes had been shipped back home along with the other things. I had some of them sent over here for her to try” she explained “I told her that if she really liked wearing them and felt comfortable in them then I would talk to you and we would talk to the family together to let her wear them”
“But she wasn’t comfortable in them” Sanskar stated, remembering their conversation. Ragini nodded
Sanskar sat back for a minute lost in thought. Ragini didn’t interrupt him. After a few minutes Sanskar broke into a small smile “You really are a lazy copy cat!” he told her
“Sanskar! How can you say that?” Ragini asked him
“Do you want to repeat what you said to Uttara again?” Sanskar said raising his eyebrow “I distinctly remembering hearing some of those words before. Hmmm now where did I hear them?” he asked her pretending to remember something “Oh! That is right” he exclaimed as if he has remembered what he was trying to recollect “Didn’t I say something on these lines to you just about a week back”
Ragini has the grace to blush hearing this “Okay! So you said it” she admitted “But the important thing wasn’t about which one of us said it, right? The main thing was for Uttara to hear it.”
Sanskar nodded and smiled warmly as her “Fine! But at least give me credit for my wonderful words” he said straightening his collar
“Okay! Thanks Sanskar gurudev for your enlightening words!” Ragini said bowing down to him “Happy!” she said making a face, before breaking into a genuine smile “In a way, I guess you can think of it as both of us talking to her”
“Fine! You are forgiven Ragini balike for infringing my copy written words this time” Sanskar told her. Ragini made to get up and go back to her project “Not so fast” he told her. Ragini gave him a confused look “Since you are going to get all the credit for my words, I need some guru dakshina as well”
“What do you want?” Ragini asked him
“Hmmmmm” Sanskar said pondering “It has to be a long list of things, considering the number of times you do this” he said looking at her critically
“Sanskar!” Ragini said in a childish tone “You won’t make it too difficult, right? I am your best friend” she tried to reason
“I have to think about it” Sanskar said looking around before his eyes landed on the pile of clothes in front of her “Okay! I will make the first one really easy. You are, as you have said, my best friend after all” he told her enthusiastically “You don’t need to do much, just wear this one” he said picking up the black dress that Uttara had spoken about earlier
“Sanskar! What if someone comes in? Family won’t be okay with me wearing this” Ragini told him, her eyes widening
“You are my best friend that is why I am not going to ask you to wear it in front of the family. It is just here” Sanskar shot at her
Ragini made a pleading face but Sanskar wouldn’t budge “Fine! When do I have to do this?” she asked finally
“ummmm now!” he told her rolling his eyes
“Now!” Ragini exclaimed
“Did you want me to call the panditji and find the right muhurat for you to wear it?” Sanskar asked her sarcastically “Of course now!”
“Fine!” Ragini said taking the dress along with her and going to washroom to change
Sanskar shook his head and went back to his book. She came out after a few minutes “How do I look?” she asked a bit nervously
Sanskar glanced at her. She was wearing a knee length black body hugging dress. It was sleeveless with a boat neck and some lacy details. When he had pointed to the dress, he had no clue what it was really like. Her protesting had, more than anything else, made him push her to wear it. Sanskar had only seen her in traditional Indian clothes, she had always looked good in them. But she looked amazing in this one. She had a grace and poise about her that made her look even more elegant in the dress.
She lifted her hair, tying it at the back of her head “The hair is supposed to be all tied up” she added “Does it look bad?” she asked seeing that he hadn’t commented
He snapped out of his thoughts and walked towards her “Leave your hair open” he said softly “It looks better that way”
Ragini let her hair down “Okay now?” she asked
Sanskar nodded “You look nice” he said
“Just nice” Ragini said a bit disappointed
Sanskar broke into a smile “You look really beautiful” he said “In fact, you look amazing in this. So amazing that if you wore this in public I would need to sock a few people for staring at you the wrong way”
Ragini blushed “Really?” she asked gently
“Really” he reassured her “So what was this dress for? Were you trying to impress someone?” he asked her
“It was meant to be for my graduation party” she said softly “I know it is silly to buy it when graduation was months away, but when I saw it, I really liked it. I called Ranveer bhai to check if he was okay with me buying it. He was, so I went ahead”
“Why did you need to check? He wouldn’t have stopped you” Sanskar commented
“I know he wouldn’t have, but when I was spending family money, I felt the need to” Ragini told him earnestly
That was one of the things he loved about Ragini. She was really conscientious. She had little ways of showing respect to others around her, showing that she wasn’t taking things for granted, that she valued what they were doing for her.
“So you were going to attend this graduation party, but do you even know how to dance?” Sanskar asked her teasingly
“I am not going to the graduation party, so you can never know now” Ragini said casually
“Not necessarily” Sanskar said tilting his head, before extending his hand towards her. Ragini looked at him questioningly “Can I have the dance?” he asked
“Where is the music?” Ragini asked raising her eyebrow
“You don’t need music in playing in your ears to dance. Music should be in your head and heart” Sanskar told her
Ragini raised her eyebrows hearing the comment “Are you trying to be Shahrukh or something?” she asked him
Sanskar rolled his eyes, pulling her closer to him, wrapping a hand around her waist and holding her hand in the other one “Please! You are no Kajol for me to pretend to be Shahrukh” he said
“Do you even know how to dance?” Ragini asked him, throwing the question he had asked just a few minutes back.
Sanskar twirled her around and then dipped her, before pulling her back upright “You were saying?” he asked with a bright smile and raised eyebrow
“Okay fine you know how to dance” Ragini said with a blush
“Hang on! You didn’t think I could dance, did you?” Sanskar asked seeing her expression “This isn’t like that judge prosecutor thing, right?” he asked narrowing his eyes
Ragini’s blush deepened
“Ohhhh! Come on, out with it. What did you think?” Sanskar asked amused. Ragini muttered something but Sanskar couldn’t catch it “What?”
“Ring master” Ragini said breaking into a laughter
Sanskar’s eyes widened “Ring master!” he exclaimed. He dipped her a bit too low in retaliation
“Sanskar!” Ragini yelped
“Say it!” he told her
“Say what?” she asked. Sanskar dipped her a bit lower “Sanskar!” she yelled “Okay! Okay! Sorry!”
“And?” he asked not letting her up
“And you aren’t ring master! Happy!” Ragini told him “Now let me up”
“And?” Sanskar asked
“And what?” Ragini asked. When raised his eyebrows and didn’t let her up, she quickly added “Okay! You are a really good dancer. Better than John Travolta”
Sanskar pulled her upright quickly “John Travolta!!” he exclaimed making a face “I am not an old pervert!”
“What do you think you are? Aditya Roy Kapoor?” Ragini asked him
“Please! I have no intention of being compared to that monkey!” Sanskar told her
“You called my Adi a monkey!” Ragini exclaimed affronted, pulling the hand, which he held in his, out and hitting him on the arm for his comment.
Sanskar wrapped his now freed up arm around her waist, without much thought behind it, wraping his hands one over the other, around her waist.
“That Adi is worse than Ityadi (etc)” Sanskar commented “And I am not the only one who thinks this. Ashu is with me on this” Sanskar told her
“You and Ashu have teamed up on this!” Ragini exclaimed feeling amused even as she rested her now free hand around his neck as they continued to swing together slowly. “How many chocolates did you need to bribe him with?”
“I don’t bribe him with cholates like you!” Sanskar told her “And he didn’t need any bribing for this. He agrees with me completely. We both think that that Ityadi is an idiot with a cuckoo nest on his head”
Ragini moved a bit closer, pretending to smell something “I smell something burning” she said softly “I think someone is jealous”
Sanskar moved close to her ears and whispered “Are you sure it not from the heat you are feeling around your cheeks, from all the blushing, because you have such a hot dance partner!”
“Sanskar!” Ragini exclaimed, hitting him, even as a blush started emerging on her cheeks
“What!” Sanskar said with a sly teasing smile “You look really pretty like this, blushing”
“Sanskar! Stop it!” Ragini said, even as the blush on her cheeks deepened
Sanskar smiled but didn’t push it further. They just moved about in silence for a few minutes, sharing warm smiles with each other before Sanskar broke through the silence “So when is this graduation party?” he asked
“In December, if I manage to graduate that is” Ragini told him softly
“You aren’t sure you are going to graduate?” Sanskar asked surprised “Have you been flunking your papers?”
Ragini hit him on the arm “I will have you know that I have always been among the top students in the class”
“Well then what is the problem? Your project seems to be going well” Sanskar asked
“Internship” Ragini said softly
“Why are you worried about it? You know you will get through in any of city’s top architecture firms, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen, you can always do it in the family business” Sanskar assured her
“I am not worried about getting internship” Ragini said
“Then what are you worried about?” Sanskar asked confused
“Will the family be okay with me doing the internship? I won’t be able to help with the house work. I would be away the whole day” She said softly
“Don’t worry about it. I will talk to them and convince them” Sanskar promised her
“No. Don’t!” Ragini told him
“What? Why?” Sanskar asked confused
“I will ask them. I know that if you talk to them, you will convince them” she said
“And you don’t want them to be convinced?” he asked confused
“I want them to be okay with me doing this with their whole heart. I don’t want them to agree to it because they had to be convinced about it” she told him “Please, let me do this”
Sanskar nodded. They continued to move in perfect sync without music, wrapping their arms around each other, for a while, before a ping of message on Sanskar’s phone brought them back.
“I better change and get back to the project” Ragini told him. Sanskar nodded. Ragini went off to the washroom to change, while Sanskar went back to check the message. It was a sales message “Idiots!” Sanskar muttered before going back to his book.
Ragini walked out of the washroom a few minutes later, changed into her comfortable night kurta and pajama. She walked over to the side table and picked up the phone making a call. Sanskar guessed it must be her usual nightly call to Ashu.
“Hello! Aditi Bhabhi” She said as her Bhabhi picked up the call
“Oh!” she said sadly after a few minutes “Okay I will call him tomorrow morning. Are you okay?” she asked
“hmmm. Okay. Good night” she wished her Bhabhi as she put the phone away. She looked a bit sad
“What happened?” Sanskar asked “Couldn’t talk to Ashu?”
Ragini nodded “He is already asleep” she said as she opened the drawer next to the bed to get her medicines.
Sanskar could see that she was feeling a bit low, not having been able to talk to Ashu. Feeling the need to make her smile, he spoke in a childish voice “Laddo! Did you have any chocolates without Ashu?”
Ragini looked at him confused “What?” she asked
Mimicking Ashu’s usual expressions Sanskar asked “Did you eat any chocolates without Ashu?”
Ragini gave him an amused look, before answering “No”
“Promise?” Sanskar asked mimicking Ashu still
“Promise” Ragini said breaking into a bright smile
“Did you take your medicines?” Sanskar continued asking her, playing the part of Ashu
“I will have them now” she told him the way she would to Ashu
“Okay! I have to go now. I have school tomorrow” Sanskar said “Good night” before blowing a flying kiss toward her
Ragini burst out into laughter. She leaned over toward Sanskar, ruffling his hair a bit “I didn’t know I shared the room with big Ashu” she said
Sanskar smiled brightly at her. She quickly gulped her medicine and went back to her project, the smile still intact on her face, as Sanskar went back to his book.
Sanskar glance over at her a few minutes later and she looked back. Both shared a bright smile before returning to their activities.
Sanskar had been reading a book that Ragini had persuaded him to – ‘Architecture of Happiness’. He had been reading it just for her. Though he had to admit it, that as he started reading it, he found it really interesting. But right now even the interesting book, wasn’t keeping him from getting distracted with other thoughts. More preciously thoughts of his best friend.
Sanskar glanced at Ragini. She was busy focusing on her project. If someone had told him, he would be best friends with her two weeks back, he would have laughed at them and right now, he couldn’t imagine her not being there. She was really something else.
He was not one to compare, but without meaning to, his thoughts drifted to how different the two sisters were. Swara had been a beautiful princess who knew she was beautiful and demanded to be treated like a princess. Her demands were meant to be fulfilled. She was meant to be indulged and pampered. And he had, and found happiness in doing that.
Ragini, on the other hand, was like a cool breeze taking away the fatigue not just from the body, but also from the mind and soul, leaving you feel refreshed. She was like the warmth that you yearned on cold night, protecting you from the chilly weather. She was like nature, who bore the brunt of harsh conditions and yet spread spring wherever she went, without really expecting much in return. She was the essence of life, and yet she worked in the background, without consciously making her presence felt. But once someone realized her presence, it was impossible to go back to the world where she didn’t exist. She didn’t boast of her beauty, though she was pure pristine beauty. She was humble and warm.
He glanced over at her again. She was tying her hair in a bun, but had missed a tendril of her hair, which still rested gently along the nape of her neck. Her eyes were lost in the drawings that she had been working on, when a fringe of her hair fell across them, bothering her. She gently tucked it behind her ears before going back to examining the drawings, tapping her ipencil along her delicate pink lips. Woah!! His mind exclaimed. He quickly dragged his eyes back to his book. What was that! Bring your thoughts back on track! She is your best friend! His mind’s warned.
He shook his head and decided to step outside the room for a while. As he walked past her, Ragini called out confused “Where are you going?”
“Just going out for a few minutes to get some fresh air” he said not really looking at her “I will be back soon” he said rushing out
Ragini looked at him confused, but didn’t stop him.
Sanskar went to the terrace. There was a nice cool breeze flowing. He closed his eyes trying to enjoy it, but his thoughts went back to their fun childish crazy Ashu discussion.
“Where are you lost little brother? What are you thinking?” came a voice next to him.
Sanskar opened his eyes and looked over to find Adarsh bhaiyaa standing beside him.
“Nothing” Sanskar said looking away
“It didn’t seem like nothing” Adarsh said casually
“If you must know, I was thinking about Ashu” Sanskar said trying to get Adarsh bhaiyaa off his back.
“Ashu?” Adarsh asked confused “Our Ashu?” Adarsh asked again using his hand to indicate Ashu’s height “Little Ashu?”
Sanskar felt a bit of blush rising on his cheeks hearing ‘little ashu’ as he remembered what Ragini had called him “Yes, why?” Sanskar asked trying to cover it up
“You had a smile on your face when you were thinking about” Adarsh said, pausing for a few seconds, before skeptically adding “Ashu. Usually such kind of smile is only brought about by thoughts of a girl. A special girl at that” Adarsh said raising his eyebrows
“You are really way off track” Sanskar said, before quickly adding “And what are you doing here?”
“Off track? Really? I came here to enjoy some fresh air. Why I cannot come here?” Adarsh asked looking at him amused
“Then enjoy the fresh air. Why are you going into such crazy topics?” Sanskar asked him annoyed
“Okay!” Adarsh said raising his hands in defeat “Lets enjoy the fresh air, shall we?” he said.
Sanskar nodded and looked away. Adarsh gave him an amused look, before looking away.
Precap – kuch toh gadbad hai
Links to previous chapters
Credit to: Azure