Thanks for your comments so far. I hope you enjoy this part too. Sorry I couldnt post sooner since their was maintenance going on with the site.
Ragini’s hands still on the track pad and her heart skipped a beat. She looked up at him for a second, unsure how to react. Her mind was a bit numb. Just the the alarm on her phone rang. She came back to her senses.
“We need to get ready for the rasam” she said softly before pulling her hand away from the laptop. She looked at the laptop against closing it a bit so that the photo wasn’t clearly visible.
“umm the laptop” she said looking at him, asking what he wanted done
“Leave it. I will take care of it” Sanskar told her in a neutral tone
Ragini got up gently and went towards the dresser where Sujata and AP had given her the dress to wear for the function. She took it with her and went to the washroom.
The ensuite washroom was big, similar to what she had at her own house with a large basin, bath tub, separate showing area, wc and ample space for a wooden bench and space to change. She kept the clothes on the bench and walked towards the basin. Her hands were trembling a bit. She held on to the edge of the basin tightly to stop the hands from trembling and turned on the tap.
Her mind screamed. Why? Why? Why was this happening to her again and again? Echos of the past with swara’s name being uttered flashed through her mind. She had made peace with her reality. She had accepted it and had tried to go as far away from it as possible. But fate had different plans for her. Fate had dragged her back to the same past again a month back after the incident and now she felt as the Fate was laughing at her, taunting her on her naiveté to believe that she could get away from it all.
But then again Ragini was nothing if not resilient. When she faced situations that would break an ordinary person, somewhere from deep inside her, she always found this immense strength to move ahead despite the obstacles. Find her own path to peace, if not happiness. Yes, this was a cruel joke of fate, but then she she reminded herself that she wasn’t really emotionally connected to Sanskar. He was in effect a stranger to her and now, maybe it was best that he reminded such.
She splashed some cold water on her face and took some deep deep breaths reigning her thoughts and emotions under control and then went on to get dressed.
When she came out, she walked towards the dresser and started putting on her jewelery. She tried her best to avoid looking at him, but once in a while her glance did go towards him, looking at his reflection in the mirror in front of her. He was still sitting on the seatee staring at the laptop screen. She didn’t need to guess at what. He had stretched his hand to touch the screen.
Just then Uttara called out from outside, before entering the room “Bhai!”
Ragini saw Sanskar surreptitiously wiping his eyes before glancing her way as he turned to look at his sister who entered the room. Ragini had quickly diverted her gaze from him before he glanced at her
“Bhai you are not ready yet!” Uttara exclaimed looking at him and he closed the laptop “Badi Maa has been asking about you”
“I don’t understand why I need to be in this function. It is supposed to be for women” Sanskar complained
“Don’t grad me into this. If you have any problems talk to Badi Maa” she said before walking towards Ragini. “Bhabhi you are looking really amazing!” she said complimenting Ragini.
Sanskar rolled his eyes at Uttara before making his way out to talk to Badi Maa. He caught her in the hall “Badi Maa!”
“Sanskar! You are not ready yet!” Sujata exclaimed
“Mom! Please! Why do I need to be part of this? None of the other men are! This is a women’s function! Why are you dragging me into this?” Sanskar complained
“You are not just any other man. Do I need to remind you that you are the one who has just gotten married and this is a function to introduce your wife to our relatives and friends? And your Bade Papa, Papa as well as Adarsh were all present with their wives for the function” AP informed him
“May be it is time to change that, don’t you think?” Sanskar said hopefully
“Don’t even think about it” Sujata scolded him “And Bhaisa, your Papa, Adarsh are all going to be in the house in the entertainment room, entertaining all the male guests. No one is getting out of it”
“Besides Laksh hasn’t been able to get properly introduced to his Bhabhi, so he will be around to give you company if you are feeling so scared of all the ladies” AP said with a teasing smile
“I am not scared of them” Sanskar countered
“Good! Then you should have no problems being there” AP shot at him
Sanskar grumbled and muttered a bit to himself before going back to his room to get ready.
Mooh Dekhaiyi rasam was in full swing in a little more than an hour. Ragini’s dada and dadi had come over to the Maheshwari Mansion. Ragini has been respectfully smiling and touching the feet of all the women who came to bless her. Sanskar had been forced to smile at all the guest as well. He couldn’t wait for this to be over.
Ragini must have met at least 50-60 women by the time she was nearly done. AP and Sujata were introducing her to everyone and lifting her dupatta/veil for each of the ladies, covering her face again before she met the next person. Uttara was helping manage all the gifts that she was being given.
“Laksh!” AP called out as the last women guest was done meeting Ragini.
Ragini saw someone come there, from under her veil.
“Where have you been? Everyone had already met Ragini. You haven’t met her all these days and you were missing even now” AP chided him
“Maa! Please!” Laksh grumbled
“Its okay jiji” Sujata cut in before things escalated
“Pari, give the gift to him” AP instructed Pari who had walked over just then. She had been looking after all the female guests till then.
“Gift for me?” Laksh asked
“Gift for you to give your Ragini Bhabhi for the mooh dikhayi” AP explained
“Okay lets hurry up. I need to leave” Laksh told him
Before AP could respond, Pari got the gift and handed it over to Laksh.
Ragini could see his feet moving towards her. He extended the gift to her. She took it from him. Before she could realize what had happened, he had lifted her veil.
“Laksh!” AP exclaimed
Ragini looked up at him startled. He looked at her and then collapsed.
“Laksh!” Sanskar, AP and Sujata exclaimed
Ragini stood up shocked, the gift falling down from her hand to her feet. Sanskar rushed to Laksh and lifted him up. Just then Laksh opened his eyes and laughed.
“Laksh!” AP and Sujata called out again confused
“What kind of joke is this?” Sanskar shot at him
Laksh looked at him with a smile before looking at Ragini “Bhai, when your eyes fall on an enchanting beauty, you are bound to lose your senses and faint” he said with a whistle
“Laksh!” AP warned him
“When are you going to stop your pranks? You had us scared” Sanskar said getting up and giving Laksh a hand to get up.
Laksh smiled at him “Thanks Bhai”
He walked towards Ragini “Hi, I am Laksh” he said extending his hand
Ragini responded by joining hers in a Namaste instead
“What is this Ragini? In this day and age” Laksh said making a face
“Bhabhi! She is your Ragini Bhabhi” AP warned him
“Maa!” Laksh complained before picking up the bangles that had slipped from the box “See, you dropped my gift” Laksh said pouting towards Ragini “Now I will make you wear it so that you don’t drop it”
“Laksh!” AP warned
“Maa! I was just kidding” Laksh said turning to Sanskar with a smile. Sanskar had been looking at the proceedings with a neutral look on his face “Bhai, make her wear this”
“Laksh” Sanskar started to reason
“Come on Bhai. You aren’t scared of doing it in front of the guests are you?” Laksh teased
“Ha Bhai, you make Bhabhi wear these” Uttara added in
Sanskar sighed and took the bangles from Laksh. He turned to Ragini extending his hand. He had a serious look on his face. Ragini gently extended his hand and he slid the bangles in her hand. Laksh clapped and the others joined in.
“Okay Bhai! I am going out. I will meet you later” Laksh said giving Sanskar a quick hug as he rushed off.
Everyone had been pretty tired by the time they had dinner and retired back to their respective rooms. It has been a long day for them. But Sanskar had a lot on his mind. He was sitting on his side of the bed. He glanced at Ragini. She was on the phone. He didn’t need to guess with whom.
“No, I didn’t have even a single chocolate” Ragini was saying in the phone
“I promise” she said adding “would I have it without you?”
“I will take them now and apply the cream” Ragini promised
“Goodnight boyfriend!” she said into the phone giving a smacking kiss as well.
She went towards her bag, took out somethings and went to the washroom. When she returned back and sat on the bed, all ready to lay down, Sanskar spoke.
“You hadn’t seen her or met her before, had you? Swara, I mean” he stated plainly
Ragini shook her head
“When I visited your home I didn’t see even a single picture of hers” he continued “Why?”
Ragini took a deep breath. This wasn’t something she liked to talk about. But there are some realities you cannot hide from and this was one which was almost public knowledge.
“My Baba had two families and two houses” she said softly looking at him. Seeing his confused expression, she added “One which has my dadaji, dadi, Maa, Ranveer bhai, Aditi Bhabhi, Ashu and me. And the other which has Swara and her mother”
“So you are saying Janki Maa isn’t Swara’s mother?” Sanskar asked surprised. Janki had asked him to call her Maa when they had interacted during the wedding rituals
Ragini shook her head “Did you know? Didn’t Swara tell you?” Ragini asked
Sanskar didn’t respond or react to her question but added one of his own “So your father has two wives?” he asked just to confirm
Had her mother been around, she would have been hurt hearing this, but technicalities didn’t change what existed. She nodded.
They both went quiet for a long time. Ragini glanced at him. He seemed to be lost in thought. She gently laid down on the bed and switched off the light by her side. That brought him out of the trance he had gone into. He laid down on his side and switched off the light by his side as well, but he was not sleeply. No, in fact he was far from it. His head was swimming in questions.
His mind went back to the first time he had seen Swara. He had been dragged by a friend to the sets of a fashion show. His friend had been into building ramps and stages and layouts for the show. They were supposed to go out for drinks after his friend’s work was done and Sanskar had gone there to pick him up.
She was there with some of the models pouting and taking selfies. He had been caught by her beauty. He had found her number. She hadn’t been easy to convince. He has courted and wooed her quite a bit before she gave in. They had only been able to have a short whirlwind romance before the incident last month changed things.
At first, he had felt drowning in pain and guilt, fearing that she had been hurt because of his background. He had hid his reality from her, not because he wasn’t serious about her, but because he wanted to leave behind the shadow of his past. She had known him as Sanskar Mehta. After the incident, he had been dragged back home by his family.
As more information came through, he bridged the pieces together and realized that she was the daughter of Shekhar Gadodia. Before that he had never pieced things together for some reason even when he knew she was Swara Gadodia. Then came the bomb of his marriage. The irony of it all was that the marriage was with her sister. A sister that he didn’t even know existed. He had objected to the marriage, but his family had forced him into it, emotionally blackmailing him. Seeing his Mom and Badi Maa breakdown he had given in.
Everyone around had been carrying along and celebrating the marriage functions as if nothing was wrong and it was with everyone’s acceptance. As the functions moved along, his frustration with that behavior increased as well and he blew up on Ragini on the wedding night when he entered the room. He felt a bit guilty about it later, more so because she was Swara’s sister, but not seeing even Swara’s photo in the house and seeing her not recognize her own sister, irked him. But then a new piece of the puzzle trickled in.
He felt bad knowing Swara and her mother were kept away from the rest of the family. She had grown up without their love, while Ragini had enjoyed it all. He had seen a picture of Swara with her parents on a holiday, but it wasn’t all that clear and it couldn’t make our her mother’s face enough to realize it wasn’t Janki Maa. Swara was at least a year older than Ragini if Ragini was still in the final year, did it mean that Swara and her mother had been rejected by the family and Shekhar Gadodia was forced to marry Janki Maa?
But then why did something about the way Ragini make him feel that things were quite like they seemed. The more he was finding out, the more questions were rousing in him. He needed to find the answers and he knew who he needed to talk to get him started on this. He was going to do that first thing tomorrow morning.
Precap – Rasoi rasam.
since this is supposed to be a story (vs screenplay) and a suspense story at that, I will have to be a bit vague with the precaps. sorry.
Links to previous chapters
Credit to: Azure