Thanks so much for all your comments. This is the next chapter in the story. This is a long part so hope it makes up fin case I am not able to post every day going forward. I will be regular though every if there aren’t daily updates.
Ragini’s dadi Parvati Gadodia welcomed the newlyweds and the Maheshwari family with an aarti as they reached the Gadodia Mansion. Ragini had been away from her family just for one day but the look of happiness on their face as they saw her, was enough to make her beam.
As she stepped into the hall, a small boy of around 5 years shot throuth the room screaming “Laddo!!” before he hugged her tightly as she kneeled down to hold him.
His mother and Ragini’s Bhabhi Aditi, who was clearly pregnant rushed behind saying “Ashu! Behave!” even as everyone laughed
Ashu for his part ignored his mother’s instruction and Ragini’s mother assured her to let them be. Ashu pulled back from the hug and checked Ragini’s hands. Finding them empty, he shoved the aside and turned away from Ragini folding his hands around himself.
“So much anger on your girlfriend?” Ragini asked him as she tried to make him turn which he was stubbornly avoiding doing. “You don’t want your chocolates?” she asked. Ashu turned around quickly while Ragini took out two chocolate bars that she had hidden in her pallu.
Ashu grabbed them quickly. Ragini raised an eyebrow at him reminding him of their deal. He made a face but gave one chocolate to her as she smiled and kissed his cheeks. “Come” she said getting up and holding his hand, making the way towards the sofas lining the hall.
“Where is Shekharji?” DP asked Dadaji
“He had to attend a meeting that could not be moved” Ranveer cut in with a smile “He is trying to make it though” he added quickly.
Ragini’s eyes darted towards her mother quickly, but she avoided them. “I will get some cold drinks for everyone. It has been really hot these days” her mother told her in-laws with a smile
“Please don’t bother Jankiji” AP said kindly
“No bother at all” Janki said as she went towards the kitchen. Aditi followed her, but Ragini kept a hand on her shoulder signaling her she would go instead. Aditi nodded.
When Ragini entered the kitchen, Janki was busy, or at least acting busy “Maa” Ragini said softly
“He wanted to be here. He will make it, don’t worry” Janki told her
“Maa, please look at me” Ragini said walking towards her and turning her around “It’s okay. All of you are there na. That is enough.” Ragini squeezed her shoulder in assurance “Come Maa. I will take these out” she said carrying some of the glasses out.
As she served everyone, she saw that everyone was having pleasant conversation. Sanskar had been quiet, but as long as he didn’t make any comments on their marriage and didn’t snap, she was okay with it. He took the drink that she served but didn’t react in any way.
Ashu had been following her around holding her pallu. He seemed a bit apprehensive of all the new people. It was different when there were wedding festivities. He saw that as one of the ritual functions where a lot of guests arrived, there was fun and frolic and then they left. He did realize this was different somehow and Maheshwaris were different from the ordinary guests. He understood the concept of husband and wife vaguely based on his mom and dad. His mom stayed with his dad and now his bua, his laddo, was staying with this man who his mom had explained was his phupha. When he got confused by the word, she replaced it with kaka instead, since he had seen his own father call Shekhar dada as kaka. His interest was piqued by this new person, this kaka. He stuck around near the sofa that Sanskar was sitting on looking at him curiously as though he was a sample on display in the zoo.
Sanskar saw Ashu staring at him and said “Hi. You are Ashu right?”
Ashu nodded by didn’t say anything. He always took a bit of time to get used to new people enough to reveal his too loud energetic self. While the conversations were going on, Ashu slowly sat near Sanskar.
“Hi Buddy” Sanskar said extending his hand towards Ashu. Sanskar was feeling pretty awkward and wasn’t the least bit interested in being there. Ashu provided a bit of a distraction from the environment.
Ashu shook Sanskar’s hand “I am Sanskar” he told him
Ashu looked confused “But Maa said you were Kaka”
“My name is Sanskar” he said quietly trying his best to explain things “Like your Laddo’s name is Ragini” he said
Ashu nodded “You have a long name. Kaka is better” he declared “Laddo stays in the same room with you now, like Maa stays with Papa?”
Sanskar eyes widened as he looked at Ashu apprehensively. He was saved by Dadi asking everyone to start the rasam.
Ragini was asked to sit next to Sanskar, but luckily for both Sanskar and Ragini, Ashu wasn’t keen to vacate his spot next to Sanskar. So they went about it with Ashu sitting between them. Seeing both his Laddo and his Kaka being given a lot of gifts, Ashu felt a bit upset.
“Why are gifts only for Laddo and Kaka?” he asked pouting a bit
“Don’t worry I will get you something buddy” Sanskar told him
“What will you get me?” Ashu asked eagerly
“What do you want?” Sanskar asked
“I want Yo-Kai medals set and watch!” he said beaming.
Sanskar looked confused “What is Yo-Kai?” he asked
Ashu’s eyes widened and he put both his hands on his mouth before turning to Ragini. “Kaka doesn’t know Yo-kai!” he told her causing everyone except Sanskar to break into a smile.
Ragini bit her lips to stop herself from busting into a laughter before answering “Don’t worry I will explain it to him”
“Okay!” Ashu said satisfied for the time being
The shagun exchange was followed by a sumptuous lunch. Ashu had stuck to Ragini and tried to sit next to Sanskar most of the time during lunch. After lunch, Ashu demanded chocolate ice-cream and dragged Ragini behind him towards the kitchen.
“Ashu!” Aditi “Don’t make your Laddo run so much. She was hurt remember!” she said
Ragini turned her head “It’s okay Bhabhi. You get some rest” she replied only to bump into something solid in the way almost falling back.
The solid think turned out to be Sanskar who was just returning from washing his hands. He held her quickly and stopped her from falling down. Both of them straightened quickly, with Ragini muttering a quick thanks. She tried to make her way to the kitchen, but Ashu wanted to talk to Sanskar and held on to her hand. Ashu signaled Sanskar to bend down so that he and Ashu could talk. When Sanskar kneeled down Ashu signaled him again to come closer to him. When Sanskar did, Ashu asked him “You are my friend?”
Sanskar nodded confused
“Has Laddo been eating chocolates without me?” he asked narrowing his eyes. Sanskar eyes widened, confused by the questioning but he shook his head
“Promise?” Ashu asked him
“Promise” Sanskar said. Ashu seemed satisfied
“Is Laddo taking her medicine and applying her medicine?” he asked concerned now
Sanskar wasn’t sure what this was about
“Ashu, you don’t want your ice-cream? I am going to eat your share as well now” Ragini cut in. Ashu’s eyes widened and he ran towards the kitchen to secure the ice-cream.
“I will come and help you” her Maa said, stopping Adita Bhabhi before she moved
In the kitchen, Ragini put in ice-cream in the bowls. Ashu was watching her intently, ensuring that she didn’t put less in his bowl. He quickly grabbed two bowls
“Ashu! Two bowls! Maa will be angry” Ragini warned him
“Only one is for me” Ashu told her
“Who is the other for then?” Ragini asked, but Ashu ran away before answering.
Janki came and stood near her and started helping her. After a few minutes she asked “Are you okay there?”
Ragini gave her a reassuring smile and replied “Everyone is really nice. Don’t worry Maa. I am fine”
“And what about Sanskar. Are you happy with him?” Janki asked, worry etching her eyes
“Maa, we didn’t really know each other. We are getting to know each other now. But don’t worry, we will be fine” She said, doing her best to ensure that she had put up the appropriate mask.
Janki looked at her more closely “It is just that…” she trailed off, knowing her daughter would understand her worry. Ragini was always understanding that way.
“Maa, have faith in me. This is different” Ragini reassured her. Janki nodded, giving her a soft smile.
In the hall, Ashu had run out towards Sanskar and given him the ice-cream. He quickly, climbed up on the sofa next to Sanskar and sat down with his ice-cream, while swinging his legs.
Looking at his antics, Maheshwari family was amused. They decided to use this opportunity to ask him questions about his Laddo.
“Ashu, what does your Laddo like to do when she is at home” AP asked him sweetly
“Laddo and I watch cartoons. Yo-Kai, Pokemon and Tom and Jerry” before making his face and adding “She makes me watch movies sometimes”
“You don’t like the movies” Sujata asked smiling
Ashu shook his head
“Why?” Sujata asked
“It has that stupid boyfriend of hers. When she is watching his movies, she forgets me!” Ashu complained
The Maheshwaris were a bit startled hearing this and the Gadodia’s were keen to explain but Uttara asked him the next question before they could speak
“Who is this boyfriend?” Uttara asked while throwing a teasing expression towards Sanskar
“That monkey Aditya Roy Kapoor” Ashu answered annoyed making Gadodia’s take a breath of relief and make Maheshwari’s laugh.
“Bhai you don’t look like Aditya Roy Kapoor” Uttara commented making Sanskar roll his eyes
“Who are you?” Ashu asked her
“I am Uttara. I am your Kaka sister” Uttara explained. When Ashu looked confused, she added “You know how your Maa is Laddo’s Bhabhi” Ashu nodded hearing his “Well your Laddo is my Bhabhi” she explained
Ashu nodded thinking a bit, while eating his ice-cream “So when Laddo has a baby, you will become bua too, like Laddo?” he asked innocently
Sanskar had been eating his ice-cream. Hearing his comment, the ice-cream went down the wrong pipe and he burst out into coughs. Ashu kept his bowl aside and stood on the sofa next to Sanskar. He patted Sanskar’s back “Look up” he advised Sanskar and they gave him a glass of water that was nearby.
After his coughs stopped and he calmed down, Ashu commented “Kaka! You don’t know anything!” he said keeping his hand on his head “How will you take care of Laddo when she had cough when you cannot do it for yourself”
“Correct!” Adarsh cut in “How will you, Kaka?”
Sanskar shot him a look. Just then Ragini and Janki arrived with ice-cream for all.
After ice-cream session, it was getting late and Maheshwari’s decided to return home.
Ragini and Sanskar were in their room in the afternoon, having changed into comfortable clothes. Muh Dekhayi rasam was supposed to happen that evening, and they had been asked to get ready and be in the living room by 5:30 at the latest. Sanskar had gone back to his side of the bed and indulged in a small nap.
Ragini had taken the opportunity to respond to some of the messages she had received. Half way through it, her phone rang. She saw the name on the screen and wasn’t surprised to get the call, considering the message she had sent. Not wanting to disturb Sanskar she went towards the far end window and answered the call, trying to respond as softly as possible.
“Hello” she said answering the call
“Please don’t be mad. Calm down” she said responding to the outburst she heard from the other side
Sanskar hadn’t really been able to fall asleep. The call and the voices roused him enough so that he could hear what was being said, even though he did not open his eyes.
“It is not a joke. I won’t be coming back. I got married” Ragini said softly into her phone
“Yesterday” she said responding to the question
“Everything happened really fast. There was no time for it. You know I would have if I could” she tried to explain
“What can I do?’ Ragini said, her voice breaking a bit
“I don’t know what to do” she said resignedly
“I don’t think they will allow that” she replied
“How?” she asked
“That would be cheating, Mark. I cannot ask you to do that” Ragini reasoned
“But I am not okay with it” Ragini responded
“But will that work?” Ragini asked him
“Will you check that for me? I don’t want to lift my hopes up” Ragini told him softly
“Are you sure?” Ragini questioned, her voice feeling hopeful
“Okay. Thanks Mark. Talking to you had made me feel so much better” Ragini said with a smile
“Bye. Talk to you soon!” she said
“I will!” Ragini replied before cutting the call.
Ragini looked at Sanskar. He still seemed to be asleep. She sighed. She hadn’t disturbed him. She didn’t need that with everything that was going on. She walked to the bed and placed her phone on the side table before slowly lying on her side of the bed.
“If you want to make calls, do it without disturbing other person’s sleep” Sanskar commented annoyed, without turning to look at her.
Ragini got up and sat on her bed looking at his back “I am sorry I didn’t realize I had disturbed you. I tried to be quiet”
“Try harder next time” he shot back
Ragini left it and chose not to respond to it. Seeing that she was quiet, Sanskar got up and turned to look at her. She returned the look. He sighed after a while.
“I am sorry. You can make all the calls you want” he said trying to maintain some civil conversation
Ragini nodded but didn’t respond beyond that. After a few minutes, Sanskar asked “Is everything okay? You seemed a bit upset on the call”
“Yes, it’s all okay” Ragini said, not feeling sure if she should share it with him
Sanskar looked at her critically before asking again “Are you sure?”
Ragini wanted to stick to her previous response but stopped. They may be far from husband and wife. They may not be friends, but they were stuck in it together and there was no point in hiding something as simple as this from him “Actually that was one of my friends from the uni” she said “I was in the final year of my studies before I had to come back. I haven’t been able to complete my final year group project, individual project and internship”
Sanskar nodded “And you won’t complete your education and get the degree without those” he completed for her
She nodded “Mark said he thinks I could work on the projects from India and sent them through. He thinks uni will still consider those along with any internship that I do here.”
Sanskar nodded “What were you studying?” he asked
“Architecture” she said
Sanskar was surprised hearing that “What uni did you study in, again?”
“Cambridge” Ragini replied
“That is a good uni for Architecture” Sanskar agreed “So what are going to do now?”
“Mark is going to check on whether I can really do all of it from here for it to be considered by the uni. If yes, I will need to finish my projects. I had already started working on them before I flew home. All my things are still back in Cambridge, since” Ragini looked at him. Sanskar nodded understanding “Ranveer bhai arranged for it to be shipped back when the marriage was fixed, but it is yet to be delivered. I will call Bhai now, he was to get my laptop flow over separately anyway”
“But I still don’t know what I will do about the internship” she said resigned
“Why don’t you start with this first? I am sure something will turn up. When do you need to submit this by?” Sanskar asked
“In about 3 week’s time for the projects. I have to submit the internship certificate within 3 months from that” Ragini explained
Sanskar nodded “Look, if you want, you can use my laptop to start working on some of your projects while your own laptop is being flown in” he offered
“But I will need AutoCad and some other software programs to work on the projects” Ragini explained
“I have them” Sanskar explained pointing to the laptop which was on the coffee table by the seatee in their room.
“Can I?” Ragini asked. Sanskar nodded, observing her closely. There was another reason, beyond, helping her, for him offering his laptop.
Ragini sat on the seatee and opened his laptop, powering it up. As it powered on, the desktop revealed the photo of a girl. Ragini assumed this was the girl he was in love with
“She is really beautiful” Ragini told him sincerely
Sanskar narrowed his eyes “You don’t know her?” he asked. Seeing Ragini’s confused expression he commented “You don’t recognize your own sister, Swara?”
This is RagSan and will remain such.
Links to previous chapters