Hi all, I am back as promised with the next part. I hope this helps shed some light on what happened. More will come in the next part. Thanks for all your comments. I am really happy you are finding this interesting. I hope I can sustain your interest.
Sanskar was waiting in the shaded part of the terrace, in their mansion, the next morning, waiting for the person to turn up.
“Sanskar, I am here. Tell me what did you want to talk to me privately?” a voice said behind Sanskar.
Sanskar turned to see Adarsh there. While Sanskar wanted to talk to Adarsh, he wasn’t sure where exactly to start and how best to put it, especially since his family wasn’t aware of Swara. He paused for a minute before saying “Ragini mentioned that Shekhar Gadodia has two familes. I wanted to know more about it” He hoped he would ask questions about Swara’s side of things when Adarsh came to it. He would ask why Shekhar left Swara’s family.
Adarsh looked at Sanskar critically for a minute. Sanskar wasn’t quite sure if Adarsh was going to respond looking at that. He wasn’t sure what he could or would tell his Adarsh Bhaiyaa if he asked why Sanskar wanted to know this.
Luckily for him Adarsh didn’t ask any questions “To understand that you need to step a little further in the past and know about Shobha Bose” he told Sanskar
“Who?” Sanskar asked confused
“Shobha Bose was a small time extra in Bengali movies in 60’s. She caught the interest of a small time producer. He was already married and not interested in leaving his family. Devoid of prospects she agreed to be his keep for the sake of the financial safety and house among other things. She bore him two daughters, Sheila and Sharmistha” he said looking at Sanskar
Sanskar looked at him confused “I don’t understand how is this linked to..”
Adarsh cut him before he could complete his question. “Patient my little brother. I thought you wanted to know about the two families that Shekhar Gadodia had, didn’t you?”
“So let’s get back to the story. The two daughters. Now it was clear that they would not find the respectable families given their background, Shobha was clear of that. But she didn’t want her fate for her daughters. She did what she could to see to that” He said looking at Sanskar before continuing “The eldest Sheila was quite lucky or should I say resourceful and proficient enough that she managed to trap the youngest son of a business family Raheja, Rajat, and succeeded in becoming his wife. Not just that, she soon ensured that the elder brother’s family was ousted from the business and the property and became the real power behind the business after she had her son, Aditya”
Adarsh paused for a minute before continuing “The youngest daughter Sharmistha didn’t have the good fortune of her sister, but she wasn’t unlucky like her mother either. Shamistha like her mother tried her luck in movies. She even got a lead part in a Bengali movie. That movie was being financed by a the youngest son of construction mogul who was also part of the nexus of land mafia and that so call underworld. Can you guess who I am talking about?” Adarsh asked him
“Shekhar Gadodia?” Sanskar asked tentatively
“Yes Shekhar Gadodia. Sharmistha caught his fancy and he went crazy after her to the extent that he would have left his then pregnant wife and married Sharmistha. But remember I said that Sharmistha wasn’t as fortunate as her sister. Shekhar Gadodia for all his love and craziness for Sharmistha, was still someone who would not go against his parents. And his parents would have never let him leave his wife or marry Sharmistha. So Shekhar build a new house for Sharmistha and created his own separate family. His wife lost the child in some incident, meanwhile Sharmistha bore him a daughter.”
Sanskar looked away listening to this. This wasn’t what he had expected
Adarsh continued “Why Sharmistha never had any children after the girl, I am surprised about but knowing how much Shekhar Gadodia was crazy after her, it was a miracle that Ragini was even born. May be his parents insisted on a legitimate heir”
Adarsh looked at Sanskar again “Is that all you wanted to know?” he asked
No. Sanskar wanted to say. He wanted to know about Swara and the incident, but his voice was stuck in his throat. He just looked at Adarsh.
“Let me tell you something more about us and our history with Gadodia’s then, shall I?” Adarsh asked casually, but it was clear that there was nothing casual about what was being said.
“Don’t worry, I won’t go into the entire history, I know very well how much you hate this business and the world we are part of” Adarsh assured him before continuing “Gadodia business was always under the oversight of Deendayal Gadodia. He started it around the same time as Dadaji. His sons Samarth and Shekhar took over the business when they grew up but Deendayal always retained his control. As the business increased and the nexus broadened Maheshwaris and Gadodias were the biggest fishes in the pond and fights were inevitable. When Ragini was about three, there was an attack on her. She was with her mother visiting a temple. Samarth had gone along with them instead of his wife, who was pregnant with their second child, who usually went with Janki aunty instead. Samarth was killed that day. Finger of suspicion was pointing towards us and there was a chance of counteract. Our political nexus allies stepped in a helped convey our message that we had nothing to do with it. Truce was agreed and it was decided that none of the children who weren’t part of the business would or should or could be harmed by the other”
Adarsh looked at Sanskar to see if he understood what was being said. He wanted the information to sink in before he continued. Sanskar knew what came next, but he didn’t initiate the question.
Adarsh looked at him pointedly, after the bout of silence “You know what happened next. When we heard about what had happened in LA, we went on alert. We got you back as soon as we could. We knew that the suspicion would fall on us. By the time we had everything arranged for you to fly back, we also heard about Ragini being attacked in UK at the same time. We were concerned about the safety of all of you. We had the message passed again and met Gadodias. A lot of people were worried about the consequence of the fight between us and suggested that we build stronger bond to maintain the truce”
“And so you made me a pawn of your business deal!” Sanskar shot speaking for the first time in a long while
“We did that for the safety and security of all of you children” Adarsh told him calmly
Something struck Sanskar as the discussion flitted through his mind “You knew about us, didn’t you? You knew about Swara and I” Sanskar said
Adarsh nodded “Did you really think that just because you were staying in a different country, that we wouldn’t keep an eye on you and ensure that you had bodyguards and protection?” he asked
Sanskar looked at him but didn’t answer, feeling silly for not having thought this himself
“We were really worried when we found out about her” Adarsh said “Papa, Maa, Chacha, Chachi, all of us. If it wasn’t enough that Laksh was being friends with that Aditya Raheja, here you were falling for that girl. They wanted to order both Laksh and you to break off all ties, but I stopped them. I knew it wouldn’t work. I, probably naively, hoped that the family’s upbringing would come through and you would realize what you were going and stop yourself from spiraling down the pit but then the incident happened and fate played its cards”
Sanskar looked at him startled by his words, a thought flitted through his mind “Did you do it? Did you get my Swara killed?” he asked
“No” Adarsh answered plainly.
“How can I trust you?” Sanskar asked him
“I am not surprised by your question considering the person and her family” Adarsh told him “But think about it for yourself. If we had to get her killed, we would have done that in the initial days when you had just started running after her or we would have done it when she was along. We would have never risked doing it while you were around at the same place. And if that isn’t enough, think about this. Ragini was attacked at the same time as that girl. What reason did we have for hurting Ragini?”
“If what happened a month back, had gone differently, would the family had allowed for my marriage to Swara?” Sanskar asked him
“You mean if Ragini had been killed instead of that girl?” Adarsh asked pointedly
“I mean if Swara was alive” Sanskar said “If as part of the truce it was Swara who I was supposed to get married to”
“We would have considered the suggestion but we would have never agreed” Adarsh told him frankly
“Why? She was Shekhar Gadodia’s daughter as well!” Sanskar asked
“Our concern was never about Shekhar Gadodia. If it was, we would have never said yes to Ragini. No, our concern was about the girl and the mother’s family” Adarsh explained
“Who gives all of you the right to judge Swara and her family? We have blood of innocent on our hand!” Sanskar shot at him
“Don’t speak about something that you don’t understand and don’t want to understand. Yes, there are some parts of the business which I am not proud of, but whether you like it or not, we are part of this world” Adarsh told him bluntly
“Then make me understand, because I want to understand how you were find with one daughter and rejected the other one because of her mother and grandmother’s history. What did that have to do with Swara? Why should she be punished for it! So all of this ‘our safety’ crap that you claimed was the reason for me being forced to marry Ragini didn’t existing if it was Swara instead” Sanskar countered
“Yes your safety matters to us and we would have done everything and anything for it. But that safety would have mattered less if the person would have caused the destruction of our family. In that case, either way we would have been doomed” Adarsh tried to reason, he knew quite unsuccessfully.
“And what about my love? My happiness? How could you assume that Swara would have done destroyed the family. What did you really know about her?” Sanskar asked, quite angry now
“For someone who you claim to love, you seem to know awfully lot less about her” Adarsh said calmly
“I know what I need to know” Sanskar shot back
Adarsh seemed to want to respond but held back. He knew now wasn’t the time to talk to Sanskar. He wouldn’t understand. He took a deep breath and looked away. The silence between them was tense. Then Adarsh spoke again, this time he was calm and gentle “Sanskar, I know you are frustrated with the situation and angry at us. I understand that. If you want take all of that out of me, I would fight back, I promise. But please do me a favor. Think about it as a debt for life” Adarsh looked at Sanskar to see if he was receptive. Seeing the slight change in his stance, Adarsh continued “Ragini is as much a victim in this as you. Don’t take out your anger and frustration on her. She won’t deserve it.” Adarsh looked at Sanskar for a second before walking off.
Sanskar stood there more lost than when he started asking his questions, unsure of things as they stood, unsure of what had happened and why and unsure of where to go from there.
Ragini looked around the table at everyone nervously. Having just served the food that she had made for the Rasoi rasam, she had been standing behind the chair that seemed to almost be assigned to her. It was between Sanskar and Uttara. Pari Bhabhi had offered to help her serve, but Ragini had insisted on her sitting with the family and having the dinner. She had assured Pari that she would manage everything. But now as everyone sat in silence and ate the food, she was a bit worried. Did she make the food too spice? Or was it too sweet for them? She knew how the traditional Marwari households worked. Her inability to cook well, would eventually be attributed to her mother and that was one thing she was absolutely not okay with.
After serving them second helpings when no one spoke, she was unsure of what it meant.
“Okay enough silence now. You are worrying the poor girl. She might faint with the stress. Just look at her” AP said making everyone smile
DP called her towards him and gave her some money as blessing “Food was delicious” he said with pleasant smile. Ragini took the money and touched his feet.
“Come here” AP called her. Patting her cheek kindly, she gave some money to Ragini “Jankiji would be proud of your cooking today” she said
Sujata elbowed Ram who then called Ragini over and gave her the money “I am getting good food after years” he told her with enthusiastic smile
“What!” Sujata shot at him
“I was just kidding. Your food is the best, Sujju” Ram added quickly
After taking the blessing from Sujata, Adarsh and Pari, Ragini went back to stand behind her chair.
“Sanskar Bhai, you didn’t like the food?” Uttara asked Sanskar
“It was good” Sanskar said non-committedly
“Just saying this won’t do, Sanskar” Adarsh cut in “You have to give her money. Come on take out your wallet”
Sanskar looked quite uncomfortable but took his wallet out and tried to figure out what to give her. Uttara walked over and took the entire wallet and gave it to Ragini. “Bhai, you are really a miser” she said teasing
Ragini looked at the wallet unsure herself before looking at Sanskar. Finally, she opened it and took ten rupee note and handed the wallet back to him.
“Wow, you have a really low maintenance wife” Adarsh said
“Adarsh you don’t know, that is the strategy of these wives. The take small amounts from the wallet first and then make the husband spend the rest of it and some more on their shopping later on” DP told his son with a twinkle in his eye. It was the first time Ragini had seen him joke around
“Absolutely true Bhaisa” Ram shipped in
“Really!” AP asked DP teasingly
“You come to the room, I will show you” Sujata muttered to Ram
“I was just kidding Sujju. You take everything seriously” Ram said making faces trying to make peace with his wife
“Did you like the food, Laksh Bhai?” Uttara asked Laksh
Laksh looked at Ragini and said “Ragini, the food was delicious. Where are your hands? Give them here. They deserved to be kissed for this”
Ragini responded with a soft smile “Devarji, looks like we need to find a bride for you and get you married off soon so that you can have someone of your own whose hands you can kiss”
“Ragini, what is this devarji and all. How can you be so old fashioned?” Laksh said annoyed
Ragini softly said “My Maa says that the respectability of any relationship only sustains if it is conducted the right way.” She gently smiled before adding “But you are right, devar Bhabhi relationship is supposed to be like mother and child and that might be a bit odd. Brother sister relationship might be more appropriate. Can I call you Laksh bhaiyaa?” asked asked
“Of course” Adarsh cut in before Laksh could answer “And you can call me Adarsh bhaiyaa” he added.
Ragini nodded with a smile. Laksh walked off from their annoyed.
With everyone’s lunch done, they walked away. As Sanskar was leaving, AP called him. “Sanskar, when everyone is done with their meal and wife is left alone to have hers, it is nice if the husband can give her some company” she told him gently.
Sanskar looked over at the table where Ragini was now serving herself. He sighed, looked back and AP and nodded. Sanskar walked back towards Ragini and sat in his chair. Ragini looked at him startled.
“Did you need anything?” she asked him gently
“No. You go ahead and have your food” Sanskar told her plainly and took out his phone.
Ragini looked a bit confused. She shook her head and finally say down to have her meal. Belatedly she realized he was sitting with her to give her company. It was also clear that someone in the family, most likely Badi Maa had made him do it against his wishes. Not wanting him to wait around for her, she tried to eat as fast she could, only to burst in the series of coughs. Sanskar looked at her unsure for a minute before patting her back and offering her water to drink, advising her to look up the way Ashu had once told him.
After Ragini’s coughs calmed down, she looked at Sanskar “Thanks” she said softly, her eyes still a bit teary from all that coughing.
“Eat properly next time” Sanskar told her
She nodded and looked away focusing on her food. God! This man was rude! It was miracle how she had survived the pag phera rasam without him making a mess of it, she thought. It was a miracle that the managed to talk warmly with Badi Maa. Or show the sensitive side when looking at the photo, her mind added on its own, making her feel a bit somber.
She ate in silence for the most part. The silence between them was awkward at best. So when she was eating her dessert, she spoke to him “Thanks for giving me company” she said adding in her mind, even if you didn’t really want to give me company and even if this cannot exactly be called company.
He looked away from his mobile and nodded but didn’t say anything else.
Feeling the need to change the subject, she asked “You were staying in LA before, right?”
He nodded but didn’t say anything
“What did you do out there?” she asked as general conversation. She felt almost silly for doing it considering his responses
“I worked” came his almost one-word answer. Then as if thinking something, he took a deep breath and looked at her, before adding “I am an architect by profession”
To say that Ragini was surprised by this was an understatement. Without intending to, she let out a “Oh!”
Sanskar narrowed his eyes “Why are you so surprised?” he asked
Ragini shook her head “It is nothing” she said
“What did you think I was?” Sanskar asked her
A couple of things came to her mind immediately, ‘judge’, ‘prosecutor’ but she went with the less controversial “Lawyer”
Sanskar looked at her confused “Lawyer? Reall? Why?” he asked her
Ragini just shrugged her shoulders. What was she supposed to say? She didn’t want to blow things up when they seemed to be having someone close to a civil and non-pricking conversation for the first time.
Sanskar shook his head. He was about to say something when his phone rang. He furrowed his brows when he saw the number and answered his phone. “Hello”
Sanskar glanced at Ragini for a second as the other person spoke before adding “I don’t understand. What is this about?”
“Okay?” Sanskar said dwarling, tried to make sense of what was being said.
Ragini tried to give him his privacy, even though she was sitting right next to him and could hear what he was saying, even if she couldn’t hear what the other person was saying or even who it was. She focused on eating her dessert.
“Where is that?” Sanskar asked
“Okay” Sanskar said cutting the phone.
He looked at Ragini “I need to leave” he told her pointing at her lunch.
Ragini looked at her dish as well before getting what he was saying “Don’t worry. You go ahead. I am almost done any way”
Sanskar nodded and left from there making his way out of the house.
Precap – Meeting with the caller
Link to the previous chapters
Credit to: Azure