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“So Miss Ragini have you worked somewhere before?” Laksh asked flipping his cell phone in his hand.
“Don’t you think this is a question you should have asked me before giving me the job?” Ragini countered. Her response made Laksh smirk.
Raising his brows he asked again, “So? Any experience at this caretaking thing?”
“I have babysat a few times during my college days. Nothing more than that but I think I can handle your brother.” she replied honestly.
Ragini craned her next to the side and looked at Sanskar who was playing ludo with Parineeti, Sujata and Sharmishta, while his mother, Annapurna sat beside him, cheering and clapping for him. He looked so innocent and his laughter, totally contagious. It brought a soft smile on her face everytime even in such a stuck up situation.
Laksh gave her a nod, “He can be difficult at times but the way you handled him today, I think you can do it.”
“Thanks for the indirect compliment Mr. Maheshwari.” smirked Ragini.
“Call me Laksh.” Laksh smiled, Ragini nodded in positive. He then added, “You have a cell phone?” His question made Ragini give him a are-you-seriously-asking-me-this look.
“Relax..” Laksh chuckled, “Give me your number, I’ll message you the details regarding his daily routine, his likes and dislikes and other important things.” he explained.
“Cool.” Ragini gave him her phone number and saved his in hers as well.
Back in her hotel room, Ragini removed her ballerina flats and climbed the bed and switched on the television. Her body tense, frustration evident in her features. She was mad at herself for messing up the situation this bad and she was mad at God for creating such circumstances.
“Aaj khush toh bohot hoge tum…” came Amitabh Bachhan’s baritone voice.
Ragini narrowly eyed the television screen. Amitabh’s “Deewar” was being telecasted. All the pent up frustration, that was now flooding inside her,broke the dam of her patience and Ragini started yelling to herself.
“First a vacation, then a business meeting! What after that haan? I came here to meet him not to get a job damnit!” She threw a pillow off the bed and then another.
“And that stupid Chota Ghatothkach! Mujhe Ragini Khanna ko..that idiot guy, he thinks he gave me a job! I…I…I…aaarrggghhh…” she pulled her hair tightly but winced in pain the next second, “Ragini couldn’t you just say no! No you just had to land up in a more complicated mess! They didn’t recognize you know but what if they recognize me in future?! Damn!”
Her cell phone rang making Ragini stop her self-talk. Her phone screen displayed that it was her friend Ghatothkach calling her.
“Yeah?” Ragini asked directly, without any greeting.
Other side Salil realized that something must have happened that’s why Ragini sounded so off. “What happened Ginu?” he asked.
“You mini version happened.” she replied sighing heavily. She then told him about her disastrous visit at Shanti Sadan. Her meeting Sanskar, getting the job as his caretaker, Laksh the Chota Ghatothkach and all that stuff. Salil heard it all keenly and with patience. As Ragini finished her story, Salil just uttered one word, “Superb!”
Ragini could hear the laughter in his tone, “You Mr. Ghatothkach! You are laughing at me!”
“Seriously yaar Ginu, you surely know how to land up in a mess. But on a serious note you did the right thing.”
“What? How so?”
“Ginu you couldn’t have told them the truth na and if you had decline the offer then they would have asked you questions as they knew that you were there to meet Shekhar Gadodia. So take a chill pill and relax. Stay with them, do this job until you meet that man. Once our work is done, you can leave the so called job.” Salil reasoned.
“Hhmm you are right Ghatothkach.”
“I know!” he boasted, “Aurr waise bhi, you staying at GM mansion will save your hotel bills and see what a profitable offer it is, you will get to eat food for free free free!” Salil added in an over dramatic manner making Ragini yell at him and in response he just laughed.
They talked for a while but then sleep overtook Ragini and she decided to lay off her worries and get some sleep because tomorrow is going to be a big day for her. She picked up a pillow that she had thrown earlier, held it to her chest and went to sleep.
The next day, early morning Ragini went to temple. She needed God’s blessings and wanted to pray to not create further complications in the already enough complicated situation that she is struck in.
She was distributing the prasad among the poor people sitting on the temple stairs, when a old and wise looking saint called out for her;
“So he finally brought you here haan, you had to come here!” The saint exclaimed loudly.
Ragini went towards him and gave him the prasad and said, “I know Guruji, I had never thought that a situation like this will come but it has and now I am gonna face him for the first time.”
The saint smiled cryptic smile, “No no no..” he waved his finger and continued, “It isn’t about the man you came to meet, its about the man you are going to stay with. The God above has weird ways to unite the ones that are made for each other. You have a very bright future ahead my child. A future made with love, based on trust and care and all the joy you deserve. Stay blessed.” saying this the saint went away, chanting God’s name leaving a perplexed Ragini back at the stairs.
“OH MY GOD!! Sanskar what is this?” Sujata shrieked as she saw the mess in front of her. Sanskar stopped doing what he was doing, hearing Sujata’s shriek and looked towards her with so much innocence in his eyes that he could compete with a new born baby on that basis.
“Woh Chotti Maa, my new friend is coming na, so I am making a gift for her. See.” he pointed at the canvas in front of him. A weird looking thing was drawn on the whole canvas in red colour.
“What happened Sujata?” asked Annapurna who came running downstairs hearing Sujata’s shriek.
“Stop right there jiji, its a mess here. Apparently Sanskar has made Ragini a painting.” Sujata pointed out at the said painting first and then at the red colored water and the paint tube of the same color splattered on the floor.
Seeing their faces, Sanskar sheepishly said, “My other colors got finished only red was left. Me don’t like red but no other color was their so I had to use red.” Both his mothers couldn’t even yell at him.
“And this makes my day wonderful.” Ragini said sarcastically as she held her now damaged wedges, they were now broken, sole separated from the heel. She had worn beige colored wedges, contrasting with her dress, a white colored sleeveless top with golden color buttons paired with a red colour long skirt that had a simple designs round the whole skirt and the border end and a multicolour scarf around her neck. It was simple yet elegant.
Now barefooted, she stood at the side of the road calling for a taxi. Thanks to her remaining luck, she got one without a hitch. Within 20 minutes she was standing outside Shanti Sadan. Even a layman could tell that she was nervous, what ifs kept poking her with numerous possibilities. Like; what if they recognize her? What if they get to know why she is here? What if she couldn’t take care if Sanskar properly? What if…?
Her hands dusted off some imaginary dirt off her clothes. Just another thing she does when she gets nervous.
“Focus Ragini focus!” she commanded herself, “steel up your nerves and walk inside as if you own the place.” Ragini was still barefooted when she entered Shanti Sadan unaware of just another mess she was getting into.
The moment she placed her feet on the floor at the entrance, she felt something wet beneath. Cursing her fate, Ragini looked down and saw red colour water covering the floor. Few servants were trying to clean the mess. She raised her head and her eyes met an eager looking Sanskar who was holding something behind his back.
Ragini stood rooted at the spot, not wanting to enter the hall with her now red colored feet. “Could this day get any better?” she thought sarcastically.
Seeing her rooted at the spot, Sanskar placed the painting on the side table and went towards her, splashing his feet in the colored water much to the dismay of the servants who were cleaning the floor and Sujata and Annapurna who were instructing the servants.
“Hello friend!” Sanskar cheerily greeted Ragini, shaking her out of her momentary pause.
He held her hand and started pulling her inside. Ragini yelled out, “No Sanskar! Wait!” Hearing Ragini yell, Dadi, Sharmishta, Laksh, and other family members (except Durga and Ram Prasad, Adarsh and Shekhar who are currently in Chennai for business stuff) came out of their rooms and saw Sanskar pulling Ragini inside, their hands entwined. As the moved forward, they left a trail of red colored footprints on the floor. (imagine this mantra playing as background tune – grhaan bhadran sumanasah prapadye aviiraghni viiravatah suviiraan I iraam vahato ghrtam uksamaanah teshu aham sumanaah sam vizami)
While to the youngsters it didn’t mattered but the elder ladies of the house, Dadi, Annapurna, Sharmishta and Sujata were surrounded by a weird sense or intuition that whatever just happened might have a reason behind it but they brushed those thoughts off as their practical mind said that it was nothing more than a coincidence and that it didn’t quite mattered except Dadi.
Dadi tensed seeing the Ragini’s footprints. She’s a lady who believed that their is no thing as coincidence, everything happens with a purpose and because the almighty God wants it to happen. She really didn’t want her new suspicion regarding Ragini to come true.
Annapurna came running to stop Sanskar from dragging Ragini further and making the hall more dirty. She scolded Sanskar for his immature behaviour who pouted angrily and left Ragini’s hand, he turned sideways ignoring Annapurna, who made him remove his slippers and then asked him to go to his room.
“I am sorry beta….”
“Its okay Aunty there is no need to be sorry.” Ragini said smilingly. She then looked at her feet, they still had some color left on. Annapurna realized Ragini’s predicament, so she called out for Laksh.
“Ji Badi Maa?” Laksh asked.
“Beta can you please carry Ragini to her room? Her feet still have some color on them and Sanskar has already created all this mess, if Ragini walks to her room she will leave more footprints..so can you please?” Annapurna requested.
“It’s okay Badi Maa.” he smiled and then looked at Ragini whose cheeks were red due to embarrassment. Laksh chuckled, “Come Ragini, lets get you to your new room.” he said before he picked her up in his arms. Ragini’s hands went around his neck for support.
“Mohan will bring your stuff to your room.” Ragini heard Annapurna say as Laksh took her upstairs to her new room.
At a side there stood Swara who was fuming in anger looking at Laksh carrying Ragini in his arms. She puffed out a breath angrily and went back inside her room.
Upstairs in Ragini’s room, Laksh took her to the washroom so that she could wash her feet first. “So is there any reason you walked inside barefooted or you seriously took your work place as a temple?” he asked leaning against the door.
“Are you like this with everyone or is there something special in me?”,Ragini counter asked him.
Laksh laughed a little at her counter question. Ragini dried her feet using the towel and replied, “My sandal broke on my way here, and I could not unpack my stuff at the roadside. So..” she explained.
“Ma’am here are your bags.” came Mohan’s voice.
“Thanks Mohan Ji.” She took her stuff from Mohan and started unpacking. Seeing Laksh still standing there, Ragini asked, “Now you want to see me unpack my things?”
Now Laksh was embarrassed. Muttering a quick no, he hastily went away.
“Chota Ghatothkach!” Ragini giggled at Laksh’s retreating back.
Precap – Swaragini first meeting.
Credit to: Megha